Come to My New Blog!

If you followed a link here from a comment I made on somebody's google blog, I would love to have you visit my blog, but this is no longer it. While I may occasionally post things here again once in a long while, virtually all my content will be at from here on out. If you were curious enough to come this far, why not give me one more click?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Still . . . *gasp* . . . alive

Work is killing me . . . two nights in a row going to sleep after 2 am. (And that's all I'm going to say about the time). But still I've managed to find some time to write, if only a little bit--fifteen chapters done so far! Senior grades are due Thursday and my professional development binder is due more or less now, and then I'll get a (relatively) quiet week or so before it all starts again, but for underclassmen.

People don't realize the extent to which the last week of the school year is hell for a high school teacher. (And if you teach a mix of seniors and underclassmen, it's two weeks of hell.)

But this blog is about writing, not about teaching. So let me talk about that. Once again I had the experience of finding a scene impossible to write until I realized that I was keeping a character from acting consistently with his motivations. It's freaky and awesome all at once how the story won't let itself be railroaded. If I'm doing something wrong, I just sit there, paralyzed, unable to write.

I had another cool (to me) experience last Friday. I was on a plane and hoping to take advantage of the time to get some writing done. This was when I realized that I had totally failed to consider my protagonist's mental state and motivation in the scene I was struggling with, and had the epiphany that made it possible. But I still wasn't ready to write. I needed to re-envision the scene now that I better understood how my protagonist was feeling. So I daydreamed, basically, trying to get in his head. Well, Chris, my protagonist, had just been through a pretty awful experience, something humiliating and heart-breaking. As I put myself in his shoes, I found myself becoming more outwardly angry and sad. Intellectually I knew these were not my emotions, but I found myself genuinely feeling Chris's, and I had this sudden realization of what I must look like if anybody happened to look my way--I bet it was scary!

Anyway, I'm probably the only person who finds that interesting, but that's the whole reason I started this blog. So I could gush about quasi-mystical experiences like that without boring anybody who might find him- or herself my captive audience. Those are the moments I'm finding astounding and rewarding. I need a blog label for the posts that have these rambling reflection. Maybe "gushical."

In other news: Fifteen days! Fifteen days until vacation! :)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Torturing Characters, Students, and Prose

I finally finished chapter 14, a week later than I'd hoped. 26 intense days of work left before vacation, and I hope I can juggle both my day job and my writing and not fall any further off the pace. I know I'll be able to write faster once I'm on vacation, but I don't want to count on that.

I know part of why this chapter was hard to write was my work demands. Every week from here on out has at least one big task that I must accomplish. Formal observation tomorrow, write finals by Friday, finalize Professional Development Plan by the end of the next week, then grade senior exams, and then everyone else's finals. And, of course, the usual stuff. But I think this chapter may also have been intrinsically hard to write . . . it might not be all about the day job.

This chapter, I took Chris, my protagonist, out of a setting that was tense because of what he was bringing to it, but, in many ways, idyllic. Idyll is not the stuff of good stories, so he had to go. But it was hard, you know? I really like the characters he was spending time with, and don't like the characters he's with now--as people, that is. The conflict is getting ratcheted up as I head for the ending. Hopefully now that the transition is done, it will get easier.

I've been giving thought to where I can cut. I think the bad guy that sets the plot in motion needs to appear earlier . . . like about five to seven thousand words earlier. I'm pretty sure I can spare the wordage, so I'm looking to cut stuff. (I suppose I could also move some stuff that comes before this point to after it, though.) I think I see where the cuts can come. I'm also finding that the later chapters are getting shorter, which I think, at this point, is a good thing. To me it suggests that the pace is picking up, which it should at this point. I don't think I need to worry about my novel being too short at this point.

I spent several hours last night waxing the cat by thinking about a story concept for Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas's new horror anthology. I'm desperately trying to finish this novel by August, so what the heck am I doing thinking about other stories, but an open call for submissions for an anthology like this seems like a golden opportunity. And I have an idea I think may be unique. Do I have the horror chops to pull it off, though? Therein lies the question . . .