Things are becoming busy, but I’m still writing

Yesterday was an extremely busy day! Much more than I was expecting. I probably would have accomplished more with a better plan and more self-discipline, but it was a good day. However, there were a few things I didn’t do–like write.

I think things are still going well, though. The day before, I wrote 1,300 words. I want to get to a certain part of the story before nanowrimo in November, because we’re probably going to do something for that contest as a writing group. Several people have voiced interest, and I would also like to participate.

For those of you who don’t know, “nanowrimo” stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s basically an informal worldwide (despite the name) contest, where the goal is to start and finish a novel of 50,000 words within the month of November. The idea is to focus less on editing and rewriting, and more on actually finishing something.

I would personally like to do this, since I’m so bad about finishing any of my stories. Also, there has been some interest in the club, and I think this could really be an awesome writing group activity as well. It takes place during an extremely hectic time, but I think we can do it–if we really want to.

Of course, it wouldn’t make sense for the writing group to do it if the leader of the writing group wasn’t doing it as well, so come this November, I’ll probably end up putting aside The Lost Colony for a while and focusing on the nanowrimo project.

I think that my story needs a lot more work than just writing the stuff down. There are some things that I’m going to need to think through a little more carefully. I watched a movie today in my Middle Eastern Geography class, about pastoral nomads in the Zagros mountains. It made me ask some questions about the nomads in my own story. I’m patterning the culture of the people of the lost planet loosely off of Middle Eastern cultures, and I’m getting to the point where questions about this culture are becoming more and more important.

As I watched the movie, I started thinking about the nomads that Ian runs into in the second chapter. Where do they live? What do they do for a living? Why are they nomads? What do they produce? Do they have any flocks or herds? If not, what else do they do? Why do they travel with their women and children on their raiding forays? How do they migrate? What are their relations with the villages and kingdoms in the more pastoral lands? World building questions like this.

Fortunately, this is where half the fun is. If I didn’t invent worlds like this in my mind for fun when I don’t have anything else that I have to think about, I probably wouldn’t want to be a writer. It does take a lot of thought, though, and that takes time and effort. Probably I’ll be spending most of my time between classes thinking these things through–you know, when you’re walking from one part of campus to another, and don’t have to think about anything.

But still…one month…and I’ve got a lot of ground to cover! This is where I either start getting serious or where things putter out. But this time, I’m going to be serious!

A friendly review and some revision

This isn’t going to be very long, because it’s late at night.  Aneeka was kind enough to read my story, and gave some good pointers.  I was pleasantly surprised that she felt that she could understand and sympathize with the characters.  I was especially surprised that she sympathized with the main character, Ian, because he’s the one who eludes me the most.  He’s basically a quiet yes-man who keeps to himself, an average guy who prefers anonymity.  Definitely the opposite of my personality!  But I might have struck the right note with that.

She also pointed out a couple of flaws in the way I chose to develop two of the characters.  First, when I introduced Melinda before the crash, I introduced her as a very strong woman who had risen quickly in the military ranks.  After the crash, she broke down and displayed a lot of stereotypical feminine weakness.  I had done that in order to put Ian in a position where I could show something of his character, but later decided that he wasn’t like that after all, so I was more than happy to rewrite this scene.

She also pointed out how Leila, in the first scene in which she appears, does some things that are just stupid, which makes it harder for the reader to connect with her.  She’s a very independent young woman, but I had her stand up to her captors in a way that was just asking for abuse.  I wanted to introduce her as a prisoner receiving abuse at the hands of her captors, in order to generate sympathy for her right at the outset.  Having her do something stupid takes away from that, so I decided to have her think out her defiant thoughts without saying them out loud.  It did seem to work better.

So, instead of adding on any words to the story, I quickly ran through it from the beginning to end and made the revisions that made the most sense after chatting with Aneeka.  It took me about an hour, so you couldn’t exactly call it a major rewrite, though you could say that it helped to put me on a better track.

I’m not going to do much revising at this point–I’ve just got to get the darned thing down on paper.  You can’t rewrite what you haven’t yet written.  Just got to move forward.

1079 words and a goal adjustment

1,079 words today, but I decided to throw out the last 487, so it balances out to about 500.  The really cool thing was that I wrote all this in the two separate hours I had between classes.  I’ve always thought that I should only write if I have a large amount of time set aside in which I could just focus on it.  This shows me that I can jump right into it and do fairly well!

I need to adjust my goals…basically, this weekly goal thing just doesn’t work for me.  I need a daily goal.  500 words sounds as good as any.  I’ll try it again.

But there are so many other things I should be doing that I never do…the story of my life…at least I’m only taking 15 credits this semester.

Aneeka is reviewing my story right now.  It will be interesting to hear what she has to say about it.  I know she can be pretty thorough, but all I wanted was an initial reaction, so I told her just to read it casually and tell me what she thinks.  She told me that sometimes, if she’s reading a book that has bad characterization or other elements, she’ll chuck the book across the room.  I told her not to throw her computer across the room!

Hopefully it won’t be that bad.  However, I still haven’t really figured out the main character’s character.  That’s probably for the best, though, because I won’t be falling back to stereotypes (like I am with some of the other characters).  It’s very easy to write a character when you have an archetype in mind.  It’s a lot harder when the character’s personality and life experiences just don’t match your own.  I’ve got some figuring out to do, but I won’t let that stop me from progressing forward.

Something happened the other day that worried me about how the story is progressing.  I was hanging out with my sister, and her boyfriend asked me to tell him about the story I’m writing.  A few months ago, I’d be dying to tell people about the story, and I’d go into great detail of the history of the story’s universe, how everything is set up, what ideas I’ve got for it, etc.  Usually, it would bore people to death, so I’ve gotten used to just not telling them about it.  This time, when he was actually asking me to tell him all about it, I told him but it just didn’t seem as exciting or compelling as it did before.  Am I losing my belief in this story?  Or is it just that I’ve got so many other things on my mind that this is getting pushed down the ladder?

Either way, I think the solution is to write more often, and just be immersed in the world that this is taking place.  You see, when I write, my writing surprises me.  I’ll find myself describing things about the world that I hadn’t thought up at all, but it will make perfect sense and fit in fairly well.  It’s pretty cool

So, the new goal is: write every day, at least 500 words.

Awesome Quark writing meeting!

We had another writing meeting this Saturday, and it went really well! We had quite a few new people! I was pleasantly surprised! I knew we would have a few newcomers, since we got a few submissions from some new people, but I didn’t realize that people would come and bring friends! It was great. Hopefully, many of them will stay with us!

Two of the new people are really into illustration as well as writing. One guy (I think his name was Travis but I’m really horrible with names) told us that he uses autocad to draw out spaceships and dragons for his stories. Pretty cool! It reminds me that the Quark writing vp is also supposed to be involved with the art section, which has pretty much been dead or dormant for the past year or two. I’m not that much into illustrating, so I’ll have to talk with the rest of the Quark leadership to figure out what to do about that. Hopefully, with the right person over it, we could do really well! We’ll see.

We had more submissions than we could handle this time, so I had to put off Evan’s and Ben’s stuff for the next meeting, as well as my own chapter from my story. I wasn’t expecting that, so I wasn’t sure how to handle it. If I put off someone else’s stuff so that I could get some feedback, I was worried that would seem a little self serving, so I decided to just wait for the second chapter to get critiqued. However, I think from now on it’s going to be whatever chapter I’m working on plus the first five stories to come in.

Jakeson and Gamila both submitted stuff that they’ve been working on for a while, and I think they got some good feedback. They’re both agreeable to the new rule that you can only submit the same thing twice. I hope it helps them to move forward on their projects rather than endlessly rehashing the same chapters. That’s the goal of the new rule.

A couple of the new people who submitted didn’t show up. They later told me that they got mixed up about the time, and apologized for missing the meeting. It was fine, we finished a little early, so all was good. One of the stories seemed a little bit risque to me–not so explicit that we couldn’t look at it, but it had a few sexual references that seemed a little awkward. He ended up missing the meeting, but I read his piece. It had some really interesting ideas to it, such as a giant hunter who ends up getting captured by a female giant who doesn’t want to kill him. The sexual tension was hilarious and I liked it. It was just a few references he gave to some scenes in the local tavern that I didn’t like very much. Not just for the sexual innuendos, but because they didn’t seem to help the story at all, BYU standards or not. Of course, that’s all the more reason to discuss it. Maybe we’ll be able to look at it at the next meeting.

What with Joel and this new guy, it looks like we might have a little bit of controversy down the road. And, actually, I’m kind of looking forward to it. I like controversy–otherwise, I wouldn’t be a Poli Sci major. I just hope we can handle it in a way that everyone takes something positive and useful from it. It would be a shame if people ended up getting turned off to the club over it. But I think we’re perfectly capable of expressing ourselves and having an enlightening discussion on the edgier topics.

We decided to start a short story contest for the club: the word limit is 1,000, and the requirement is that the phrase “because I’m awesome” has to appear somewhere in the story. The reading club will be doing the judging (hopefully that’ll help to connect us a little more with the rest of Quark), and the deadline is October 6th. We got the idea from something Jakeson said at the Sept 11th meeting: we were talking about this one scene in John’s story (he’s one of the new guys) where this huntsman bursts in through the window and kills a couple of the bad guys, and Jakeson said that the huntsman should say something like “because I’m awesome,” or something like that. I forget, but it was pretty funny. So, I figured it would be good to do that for our first flash fiction contest. Something light and funny.

Everyone seems to say that Saturdays work better than Tuesdays, so it looks like we’re going to have more of those meetings. However, the day after I scheduled a meeting for October 6th, I realized that that’s the weekend of General conference! So, now the next meeting is rescheduled for Tuesday the 2nd.

1,200 words and another story idea

1,200 words today. After going to a BYU Freedom Society meeting (it’s a new political club), I went to the LRC and just wrote. It’s been so long since my last writing session that I had to read over what I’d written last time, and in doing so I found out that I wanted to rewrite a lot of it. However, I (mostly) resisted the temptation, since I really have to just move forward and leave the rewrite for later. The hardest thing isn’t going to be editing the story; it’s going to be getting it all down, from beginning to end. That’s what I’ve got to focus on.

It was good to write. It’s been too long. However, I’ll bet I could have more time if I just was more efficient with it. Procrastinating homework by playing Street Fighter on my desktop is probably something I could do without. Maybe if I could get into the habit of doing my homework asap every day…

Tonight was the submission deadline for Saturday’s Quark meeting, and I was really surprised that we got so many submissions! About five or six new people are probably going to show up at this next meeting! Apparently, placing the fliers in the dorms was a good idea! I’ve been getting emails that go like this: “hi, I saw the Quark flier in the dorms, I’ve been looking for a writing group since I started coming to BYU and I love writing sci fi / fantasy, so when I heard about your group I got really excited!” In fact, I’ll probably have to not send out the next chapter of my story to this next meeting, just because there are so many submissions! Not including mine we’ve got six, and I’m debating whether or not to send Jakeson’s out, since he said he’d be ok with not sending it out if we’ve got so many other submissions. But I don’t think I should send mine out if I don’t send his out…I don’t know. I would like to get some feedback, but we’ll just have to see how this goes…

Oh, and my cousin should be coming to this next meeting! That would be pretty cool. He’s been writing some really cool stories and poems, such as a conversation between a man waiting in line for the final judgment and the angel St. Peter, where they talk about his life from his point of view (life sucks and God didn’t help me), then the angels’ point of view (you were the one who caused your own problems, not God), and then God’s point of view. It honestly sounds really cool and I’d like to read it sometime. Plus some quantum poetry. Yeah! I hope he can find the time to come to a few of our meetings.

And, on top of all that, I got this really cool idea for a short story as I was walking out of the library. Well, I suppose you could say it’s been bouncing around my head for a little bit longer than that, but it really started to solidify into a story today.

Basically, I thought to myself “what would space combat between single-pilot fighters REALLY be like? Star Wars is pretty cool, but when you really think about it, the real thing (at least, as “real” as spacefighters are) would be completely different. First of all, there would be no sound, since sound can’t travel in a vacuum. Second, the maneuvers would be very different due to the lack of an atmosphere and a zero gravity arena–I imagine they’d fly a lot more like BSG’s Vipers than Xwings. Third, they would probably travel at relativistic speeds, like in Joe Haldeman’s Forever War. I don’t have a particular reason for believing this, other than the notion that the evolution of war in space would probably favor longer range weapons and faster range ships. That, and it would just be cooler.

Joe Haldeman’s space combat scenes, as well as the opening scene in Roger Allen McBride’s The Depths of Time, just really opened me up to a new idea of what space combat could be like. Instead of it being air combat in space, it would involve a lot more physics, more computers, less visualization or reliance on what you can see through a cockpit window, relativistic speeds, high g forces, a lot more danger from relatively small particles (kind of like how a submarine, when it gets hit, gets annihilated), and a ton of other stuff. Basically, something completely different from star wars.

I imagined what one of these fighters would look like, how it would operate, and what would go into this kind of combat. I then started wondering what it would be like to fly one of these things, and then what if, in the course of battle, this guy got thrown out into space at relativistic speeds, and by the time he came back (which to him would only be a few hours) a couple of generations would have passed and the war he’d been fighting was over, replaced with peace! What would that be like?

Basically, that’s when a story really started springing up from this idea. Now, I’m reluctant to start it because I know that I should be finishing stuff instead of starting tons of things and never finishing them. This is an idea for a short story, possibly one I could submit to a few places, and for that reason alone I think it would be good to get started on this. Maybe, like with LZ150207, I could spit out a complete rough draft in one sitting. That is. if I can find the time.

Well, if you’re still reading this incoherent blogfart, all I can say is wow. And thank you. And I hope that I’m not boring you with talking about “me” all the time (though that is one of the basic things that blogging is all about). Now, sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep…