jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: call it 500
Total words: 2566
Neat things: A ship of silver and starlight. An AI that's just smart enough to come to terms with being an AI instead of a person.

I spent the last two weeks beating my head against this, in the same way that I was beating my head against "Junkyard Dog" towards the end of last year. I sort of knew what I had to write next, but I didn't know what it was setting up for, and suddenly that mattered.

Last weekend I sat down and worked out a backstory and a motivation for the aliens. That helped some; I felt like I was about ready to start writing again. (Then life intervened.) Today I still wasn't ready to start writing new stuff, and on top of that the plot I'd worked out made no sense. I went back through and rewrote some of what I'd already written to change a few key details about the world. That didn't help.

Then I said "screw it, i know pretty well what i want the last scene to be, i'll write that because at least that's writing something." And about thirty words into the scene I had an epiphany, and then I had a plot.

And now I have a pretty good idea of what the rest of the scenes for this are going to be (there's some uncertainty around the climax, which is all for the better), and I've mostly written the scene I was stuck on and part of the next.

This is another one of those damned things I'm not good enough yet to write. Characters who are flawed and sympathetic and real enough that the audience cares about their fate are pretty much vital to this story working, and I don't know that I can pull that off yet.

Oh well. The only way to learn how to do that is to try.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: Um. . .
Total words: 4218
Neat things: A mouse on wheels. Also, whatever it is that Bella does, she can tell Janey does it too, assuming she's willing to see.

No additional plot content, but I went through and cleaned up nearly all the TBDs and missing bits so that I can submit what I've got to CVS tomorrow. And then next Thursday I get to hear what they think of it.

Eep.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 259
Total words: 3732
Neat things: Janey getting through to Bella. Maybe.

I'm starting to suspect this story wants to go somewhere other than where I think it wants to go. Maybe it's about the dog after all.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 167
Total words: 3204
Neat things: Janey tries to be sneaky.

That's only like half a scene, but most importantly I AM PAST THIS STUPID BLOODY BLOCK I'VE BEEN STUCK AT FOR A MONTH AND A HALF. I finished the Scene from Hell at a waterfall in Washington State and wrote another one that turned out to not actually belong in this story. And since then I've been tapping out bits and pieces trying to figure out what on earth is supposed to happen now. Partly I didn't want to write the next scene because it's involving two unpleasant characters, so that took me several times to get through. And partly. . . I know the shape of the plot but not the story that goes into it. Today I got a better sense of the story.

Also? Prose is hard. Dialog is easy, I can write dialog all day long. Action scenes, even action as simple as going outside to find out what that noise was, take effort to craft. Perhaps I should be writing plays. Except that there's not much room in the theatre for spec-fic or "magical realism" or whatever we're calling it this week. Perhaps I should launch a dramatic movement.
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Words: 465
Total words: 2420
Neat things: Janey, Turk. Turk, Janey.

That's wordcount over the course of the last couple of days. Taking the Neo and writing at lunch seems to work alright as long as I don't sit in the sunny spot. (Naptime is good and useful but it doesn't increase the wordcount any.)

This is the scene that never ends, it's twice as long as the previous longest scene and still not done. Tonight was only a hundred words or so, plus whomping a few TBDs elsewhere. I think I'm avoiding finishing this scene. I think that's because then I have to write the next one, which involves figuring out what the heck it is.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Writer's gloom: The absolute unshakeable conviction that your work is horrid, that the piece you've been slaving over is fit only for birdcage liner / a waste of perfectly good electrons, that you've been deluding yourself about any ability you might have to string three words together in an entertaining or insightful or even coherent fashion, and that you'd be much better off chucking the MS / computer off the nearest cliff and getting a job scrubbing toilets, because then at least the crap you'd be exposed to every day wouldn't be your own.

Which is to say, last night was rough, and I'm grateful that I have people who are willing to say "no, really, it's pretty decent. especially this thing you did here, i liked that a lot."

Have very nearly hit a brick wall on Junkyard Dog. I know how this scene ends and I know in general terms how the story wraps up (unless it doesn't), but everything after this scene is a big blank. Oh well. I'll finish the scene tonight (and post a wordcount), and then I'll type a few lines of dialog, and then a bit more, and then I'll know what the next scene is. The only way out is through.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Because it might be interesting later to see if anything comes of these, I give you Works in Progress, with first lines. Some are In more Progress than others.

"Scavenger Hunt," started 05/2006. Inspired by hearing Gene Wolfe read at Balticon. The basic premise can be summed up as "on distant colony planet, scavenger hunts YOU." Stalled out because I wasn't that interested in writing it, and because I have literally no idea what can possibly happen after a certain point.

Billy had been playing with the ruined gears from the machine shop all afternoon, so he was pretty bored.

Untitled / Words, started 12/2006. Inspired by UKL's Orsinian Tales and Stoppard's Every Good Boy Deserves Favor. I started writing this for [livejournal.com profile] uilos when I was away for my grandfather's funeral. It was meant to be only a couple of pages. It got away from me, and now it's "that thing I'm not good enough to write yet."

When they kicked in the door to the attic apartment they found Edard Sherko alone at an empty table, reading Kalariov's last poems.

Untitled / Scarythings, started late 2008. I no longer remember where I thought this was going. It's got potential.

Sometimes the things in the night just laugh.
Sometimes after they laugh, they eat you anyway.


Untitled / Jasper, started 06/2009. This is only barely a fragment, but it's the kind of fragment that makes me curious to see where it goes next.

Jasper Five Niner Leaf Three: this is a recording. Pay careful attention.

Untitled / "Steering the Craft" exercise, started 06/2009. I love the sound of this piece. Definitely going to do more with it at some point.

One could, if one wished, cut straight through the greenwood twixt Hillestang and Arx.

"Junkyard Dog," started 07/2009. The Work I've made the most Progress on. I know the end and I've mostly written the beginning. It's all that stuff in the middle that's likely to trip me up.

"I didn't hear anything."
Snap.
"Okay, I heard that."




Words: 543
Total words: 1970
Neat things: Bottled ginger ale. Janey gets defensive about her Camaro.

How this scene gets resolved shapes a lot of the middle of the story. Thus, it's being exceptionally difficult to write. I've already had to go back and fill in extra space in the first scene to explain why this one's happening at all. With luck and persistence I'll get through it on Tuesday.

And once I'm through it, all the pieces will be in place. All that remains is to push and see how they fall over, and what else they take down with them. (Plus, you know, editing and revising and filling in WRITE MORE HERE and all.)
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 306
Total words: 1335
Neat things: Doggy dreams. Bella has a last name.

Characters are starting to take shape, in my head if not on the screen.

Also, in a surprising development, I can totally take my laptop to the coffee shop and still get some writing done.

It occurs to me that I probably can't call the main character Bella if I expect anyone to take this seriously. Even if she is a hard-drinking Southern mechanic / clockworker instead of a teenaged vampire groupie. Curse you, Stephenie Meyer.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 551
Total words: 969
Neat things: The Camaro belongs to Janey, not her boyfriend. Bitter machinists are bitter.

(Yes, I know it's a minimal amount, especially for, mm, three hours "work." Shut up.)

I wasn't expecting this to be set in (a fictionalized) Helena, AR, when I started writing it, but "machine shop" makes a lot more sense than "junkyard" for a clockworker.

The next scene will be fun, though. A half page or so of pure dialog and not-quite-banter. Then I have to find some plot again.

This is a new thing for me. Usually plot's the easy part, and the "and then what happens?" comes with no problem, it's fleshing out the characters that gives me trouble. This time. . . I know the characters as soon as they show up (although, as eBear says, There's Always One More Character Quirk). I just don't really know what they're doing. I'm pretty sure I know where it's going eventually (and it's not happy), but how and why it gets there. . . no clue. And it's a struggle to find out. Especially since that fun next scene? Doesn't move the plot much at all, it's more character-building.

We shall see.



The Cat Vacuuming Society actually met last Thursday (the week before they were all in Vegas, apparently), so I got to meet them. Most of them, anyway. It's a half-dozen people who seem to be relatively serious about their (and each others') writing, and get published on occasion. Works In Progress include a couple of fantasy epics, some urban fantasy, some SF/horror, and at least one mystery.

I'm not totally sure how well I'll fit in there but then I'm not sure how well I'll fit in anywhere, so I'll keep going for now and see how it goes. I'm under no obligation to stick with them if it doesn't really work out well for me.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
"To be a writer, you must write. And no amount of prep-work is writing. Research is not writing. Taking notes about the world is not writing. Thinking about writing is not writing. Only writing is writing."
--Gene Wolfe, May 2006

What follows is not writing )

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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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