Coming back to life

So, that blew, but it's pretty much over, and I'm catching up on everything that had to go on the back burner because I either wasn't here or was drowning in snot. (I'm also looking into ways of preventing sinus infections when I fly, because that keeps happening and it really sucks.)

In the meantime enjoy this Wall Street Journal article characterizing creative process as mental illness! Symptoms include:

1. Creating fictional characters

2. Creating storylines for them

3. Preferring creative work over working in retail

I am in huge trouble.

Glarb

I was traveling, but now I'm back, and I actually plotted out some stuff while I was traveling, but then when I got here I was feeling kind of crappy I thought because of jet lag, plus it's the height of allergy season.

But I was wrong.

Sinus infection. Fuck.

Progress report

1,050 words--I jumped ahead for a bit because, you know, I felt like it. And as you may have noticed, things have gotten a little hectic for me (May is going to have some hiccups), so I figured I should write what I can write quickly, then go back and fill in later.

Progress report

No writing today, but I actually did a lot of plotting out for the next few chapters, which was good. I'm all excited about this new voice, so I feel like I am kind of sticking it in everywhere, but I think that that's OK for the first draft--later I can decided whether I want the character to be so involved.

What today was like

Just to give you an idea of what can happen: Last night I finally sorted out in my head how I wanted things to go with the next few chapters. And today just as I was heading from the kitchen into the office to write, the phone rang.

And it was, of course, an elderly relative having A HUGE CRISIS!!!! TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS WERE MISSING!!!!!!!!

This was a False Crisis (the money is right where it should be). But as seems to be typical in elder care, the False Crisis, while utterly false, could not be dismissed, because it was caused by a True Crisis: This relative (who was very financially sophisticated at one point) could not read a bank statement properly.

Naturally it was my duty to call other, more-able relatives and let them know about the True Crisis. The problem with trying to manage a decline like this is that you're always trying to hit a moving target, and measures we have taken that seemed to be working are not really appropriate for someone who cannot understand a bank statement. The consensus was that fatigue was a factor, but that this was likely an indication that this person's control over their financial affairs may have to be curtailed even further sooner rather than later.

So, yeah. Not writing today. Got some great ideas though, and when I'm not freaking out over my family I'm really excited about them.

Zombieland

Yeah, it's allergy season--even with the shots, these past few days have been pretty rough. I'm going to go drool in front of the television.

I feel like I should attempt to edit the fantasy novel at least, but not today. Today I'll be lucky if I can follow the plot of Teen Wolf. (Which is not a bad show, by the way. I tried watching Girls but my God, does the main character become just a total Mary Sue in the second season. I felt like I was watching Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.)

At least it's supposed to rain tomorrow--that's helpful.

It's official!

I'm procrastinating! Yes, I realized this yesterday as I was driving through a MASSIVE downpour to go to a restaurant halfway across the county in order to . . . eat lunch.

It wasn't like I was meeting anyone for that lunch or anything. I just HAD to turn a simple daily task into a multi-hour excursion. Then I swung by the market to buy a bunch of food I did not need, which I ate very late, so then I couldn't sleep.

Today I am a useless zombie, apparently per my subconscious' cunning plan. I assume a drinking binge is next on the agenda. Or, you know, I could just get my shit together, stop freaking out, and get back to the novel.

I honestly don't know what the big deal is--in the next scene, [SPOILER] nearly separates [SPOILER]'s [SPOILER] from his [SPOILER]! It's going to be awesome! And so much fun to write!

The POV Games

I'll probably start writing again tomorrow, but in the meantime I've been watching the movie versions of the Hunger Games books, which has been pretty interesting from a writing standpoint. (Spoilers ahead!!!)

I really liked the book The Hunger Games a lot, but I found Catching Fire and Mockingjay to be very disappointing, in no small part because they were very repetitive. ("Let's play the Hunger Games--again!") I haven't watched the two Mockingjay movies yet, so perhaps I'll be let down, but I have seen the movie versions of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.

And I was really surpised by how good they were. With The Hunger Games I was surprised by how much the movie improved on what I thought was a very good book; with Catching Fire I was equally suprised by how much the movie improved what I thought was a tiresome and unoriginal book.

What made the difference? Getting the hell out of Katniss' head.

I realize that Katniss' voice is a big part of what made the series so popular with teenagers, and it's not like she doesn't have reason to be bitter and whiny, but bitter and whiny is what she is--the adults in her life suck, and she has to take on all this responsibility if she wants her family to survive. Being a teenager, she does so with as little grace as is possible, and she makes zero effort to understand the people around her--in her eyes, they're all just jerks and oppressors.

That's not a huge problem with The Hunger Games book, but it is part of what makes the movie stronger: The gamemaker, who Katniss just sees as a heavy, is revealed in the movie to actually be a naive idealist, which was to me much more interesting.

Her limited viewpoint becomes more of a problem in the Catching Fire book because Katniss knows less. In The Hunger Games, there are actually two games going on at the same time: The overt game where you kill everyone else off, and the PR game where you win viewers' hearts. Katniss knows about the second game, and she plays it very well--which is why both she and Peeta survive.

In Catching Fire the second game is political revolution, and Katniss knows nothing about it. Her scope of vision is limited to survival, and her experience is limited as well--in her mind, the second Hunger Games isn't meaningfully different than the first.

Of course, it's entirely different, and the movie makes that evident much earlier. You see President Snow's political calculations, and you know that the decision to put Katniss in the Hunger Games again isn't just another lousy thing to fall upon her out of the blue, which is all it is to her. (Adults suck, man!)

And honestly, I had much more sympathy for her tunnel vision in the movie, because I wasn't trapped in it for the duration like I was in the book. At the end of both the book and the movie, Katniss is shocked to hear that, in response to the revolution, her home district has been destroyed. In the book, that annoyed the piss out of me--she's been afraid of something like that happening the whole time, she's been blathering on about it at length, over and over again. Why is she surprised? In the movie, her bafflement at the speed at which events have unfolded is simply more understandable--she is just a kid, after all.

What's going on

Things have settled down on the tax & related activities front--of course stuff is still going to crop up, but it's not going to need nearly as much attention until, you know, next February. This weekend is going to be really busy, but I have my eye on next Tuesday as being a time when I can hopefully get a-writin' again....

P.S. I should add, that, yes, the confidence artists attempted to get one final "Fuck you!" in--easily neutralized at this point, but isn't it lovely to be remembered?

Marching into March

So, yeah, February was really a wash, word count-wise. But it wasn't entirely lost, because on my trip I re-read Trang and Trials, both of which I hadn't read in a good long time. That helped me reconstitute my old cheat sheet, but it also made me a little unsatisfied with Trials because at this point there's really only one plotline. I don't think it's going to reach the three-plotline glory of Trials, which is actually OK because it's a very different book, but re-reading the other books has gotten me thinking about what else in Trials needs to be developed. I've come up with some pretty good ideas, I think, so with any luck one of these days I'll actually have time to write them down. Imagine that!

Eeerrrgh

I'm looking at February on the calendar--ugh. I'll be out of town for part of it, then right back to meet with the tax accountant, which is going to require a LOT of homework (and is actually the reason for the trip). We managed to improve and simplify many things during 2015, but of course taxes are a reflection of the entire year . . . which . . . means . . . that . . . UGH!! . . . I may actually have to interact again with some of the lovely financial-service professionals we left behind last year. Or maybe they'll decide to actually do their jobs properly and won't require loads of angry prodding.

(Cue bitter laughter.)

Long story short--probably won't be getting a lot of writing done in the near future. Honestly, this is not what I'd rather be doing, but you know--the entire reason this all takes so much time is because it was neglected, and hopefully the work I put in now will mean considerably less work down the road. I feel like I keep telling myself that, but things have been easier these past few months (WAY easier than they were in early 2015, oh my God), so it is helping.

Tax time is just always kind of a bitch, though.

You know what I'm missing?

I cannot for the life of me find the cheat sheet I made up for the soldiers that lists all their jobs, when they came onto the station, etc. I made it first with Trang, but it really reached its glory with Trust because Patch had so many scheduling conundrums to deal with in order to keep his laser tag games going and still have a proper team to go to the Cyclopes planet. Now I can't find it anywhere--ah, the perils of a lengthy hiatus. I guess after I finish this draft I'll have to read Trang and Trust again, and take notes!

Tallying up

Obviously between the allergy shot and the monster Korean assignment, I haven't been able to write, but I decided to do a tally since I'm roughly at the halfway point of Trials, plot-wise. I'm at 37,500 words, which I think is about right given that a lot of the background and physical descriptions in this draft at this point are just notes to myself (e.g. "SNAKE BOY BACKGROUND" or "DESCRIBE HOSTS HERE").

Topsy-turvy

So, complete the opposite of expectations, I made progress Friday and none over the weekend. What happened is that my Korean teacher assigned us this big, end-of-quarter project--and then decided she wanted a draft of it ASAP. Writing an essay in Korean is a major undertaking for me, so it's a big time suck. It's a community-college class, so usually the workload's much more reasonable because it's expected that you already have a job and a life. But our group has gone further than others, so the teacher is having to cobble together a curriculum on the fly, and I think she misjudged exactly how much work this particular project would be.

Taking Korean is one of those things where I feel a bit like, Why am I doing this? I don't need to know Korean, and you know, this project is going to swamp me for a bit. On the other hand, it's a really interesting language (all languages are interesting of course, but Korean is very different from both English and Romance languages), and at this point I'm finally feeling like I'm getting slightly good at it (honestly, writing this essay is really helpful, if also a real pain). The other thing is, since I don't live in Seattle itself, it's hard to find Korean classes, and as I said, this particular group of students is really committed, so there's not the problem of not having enough students to make a class (which was a problem in the past--I actually started and then had to take a year off until this group came along). As a result, I'm not going to be able to just drop class for a quarter or two to focus on something else, and then pick up where I left off.

So, I labor on....