717 words

Today, around midnight, I just had this urge to escape reality and jump into my novel. That, so far, has proven to be the most effective way to escape the strange sense of procrastination that keeps me from writing when I can. I stopped caring about sleep and just dove in. Now, I’m 717 words in, and the story is progressing very nicely. Yay!

Also, I decided to change the font from Courier New to Times New Roman.  The idea was that I’d write the novel in the format of the manuscript that I’d actually send out to get published, and the publishers I’ve submitted too all have Courier as the required font.  However, from talking with some of the members of the writing group in last week’s meeting, and also with Locke (the leading editor of The Leading Edge), I figure it’s better to write in Times New Roman.  This is because 1) it’s easier to read, 2) TLE prefers Times New Roman, and 3) some of the writing group members (Xen!) really have a thing against Courier new.  So meh.  It reduces my page count from about 170 to about 130, but I can handle the blow to my ego.

Thank goodness we got an extra hour of sleep this weekend! I can tell you I’ve already spent it!

Um, yeah…only 66 words tonight…

But at least I wrote SOMETHING.  Around 10:30 at night, I went and visited my old roommate Steve who’s a film major.  He was trying to finish a screenplay and get it in before midnight, so I decided to come and write with him in the same room.  So then, got home, took a shower, had a bowl of cereal, called my parents while in the car on the way…and finally sat myself down writing at about 11:15.  And then he sent in the screenplay at 11:45, and we ended up just hanging out and talking about stuff: life, girls, school, work, feelings and emotions, spiritual impressions, marriage, regrets, finances, Israel and the illegal settlements, Yasir Arafat and Black September (ok, I did most of the talking there–but at least I kept it short!  And Steve WAS interested, otherwise I wouldn’t have talked about it!), classes in the coming semester, pirating illegal music, the singularity, the possibility of space travel in the Millenium…basically, all kinds of stuff.  Man, friends are really awesome!

So, I’ve been thinking about the goals that I’ve set.  Back when Aneeka inspired me to actually give this novel idea a shot, she said that I should set goals.  I reviewed that conversation tonight, and was thinking about it.  I’ve got a 500 word per night goal…but I don’t always keep it.  Usually, I can just tag how many words I miss onto the next day, so if I miss one day, I’ll make it up by doing 1,000 the next.  Or 1,500 if I miss two days in a row.  But anything longer than that, and I just end up never making the goal at all.

So, I’ve been thinking that I should approach this writing with two goals: the first is to write 500 words per night, and the second goal is just to sit down each day and at least write something–even if it’s only a sentence or two.  That way, I’m still doing what I’ve been doing, but if I can sit down for even ten minutes, I can at least feel like I’ve accomplished something.  Also, if I can really get into the habit of writing daily, then that alone will probably do a lot to help me move from a hobby writer to a semi-professional one (about as semi as you can get…).  We’ll see.

Thank God for Political Science!

Man, I am SO happy that I’m a Political Science major!  I can’t say it enough!  I will NEVER have to worry about looking back and saying “man, why didn’t I major in Political Science?” That right there is a mightily compelling reason!  But there are a lot more reasons as well!  A LOT.  For one, the stuff that I’m studying here for Political Science is REALLY giving me a lot of good ideas for writing fiction!  Man, the Middle East is such a complicated area of the world, with so many conflicts and such diverse cultures, religions, and ethnicities…there is no shortage of questions to ask and stuff to explore!  And Science Fiction (and fiction in general) is one very valid and interesting way to explore it!  I mean, take any aspect of the Middle East, and say “what if we do this to it?” Put it in a sci fi setting, and you’ve got the potential for an amazing story!  Or take the problems that we’re struggling with in the region, isolate them, and write a fictional world where the characters struggle with those same problems.  Add in some imaginative stuff, some awesome technology, compelling, well-written characters, and all that, and you’ve got something EXTREMELY relevant to the real world!  Even more so because it’s fiction, because if it’s written well, you’ve put it in a setting where people can look at the problem without being so burdened by their silly and irrational prejudices!  But besides that, just from studying something like Political Science, I’ve tapped into an AMAZING source of ideas and inspiration for my own writing!  Even if I just wanted to write fiction for the sake of writing fiction (and honestly, I really think that almost any other approach is going to backfire–ESPECIALLY the dogmatic approach), by studying Political Science, I’ve opened a fountain of ideas in embryo that are just screaming to be born!  MAN!  I am SO happy that God put me in a place where I could study Political Science!!!

There was an amazing lecture today at the BYU Kennedy CenterReza Aslan, author of No God But God, gave an excellent lecture on Iran and US-Iranian relations.  Just in case you don’t know, relations between us and them are…well, let’s just say that they’re pretty freaking bad.

<political rant>

Please, PLEASE, PLEASE pray that we don’t start bombing them!  Just when you thought the US couldn’t shoot itself in the foot any more (because the freaking Neocons have been doing a @#$@! good job of that since Sept 11th–either they’re EXTREMELY stupid, or, for all intents and purposes, they are traitors to this incredibly wonderful country we call the USA), Dick Cheney and his neocon goonies start sounding the war drums.  Right now, just about every missile in the Middle East (and we have troops in EVERY COUNTRY bordering Iran) is pointed at some target inside the sovereign Islamic Republic of Iran.  Not good…definitely not good!

But I learned a little bit today WHY it’s not good…and the reason was very surprising!  If we launch airstrikes against Iran (and we almost certainly won’t do a ground invasion–not because the Neocons aren’t stupid enough to make that blunder, but because our military simply doesn’t have the capability to do it!), it will play right into the hands of the extremists and tyrannous clerics who rule (under, may I add, upwards of a 90% popular disapproval rating)!  In fact, according to Mr. Aslan, EVERYTHING we have done in that region FOR THE LAST THIRTY YEARS HAS PLAYED INTO THE HANDS OF OUR ENEMIES!!!  It’s been an unrelenting disaster!  Reza Aslan made a very compelling argument that if we were to end sanctions, recant regime change as the stated policy of the United States, and do everything to open up that country to the rest of the world (“we should be prying it open with a crowbar,” he said), the horrible, cruel, autocratic clerics wouldn’t have a leg to stand on!  It would be like China–you look at it now, and it is DEFINITELY not a communist country!  I mean, in name it is, and it’s not yet a democracy, but it’s a far cry from what we saw under Chairman Mao–that spawn of Satan himself!

And the big difference is that Iran ALREADY HAS almost everything a liberal democracy needs!  It has a thriving civil society, with all kinds of NGO’s, Foundations, Institutions, etc, it has a rising middle class, it has a constitution with legislative, judicial, and executive branches, it has regular elections…it’s just that all that power rests with a handful of tyrannical clerics!  And the only way that tyrants stay in power (according to Mr. Aslan) is by isolating their people!  Man, if we would just OPEN UP to that country–I mean, if they weren’t so scared of us, it would be a LOT harder for Ahmedinejad and his cronies to get people to support the Iranian nuclear program!  I mean, the average Iranian cares a lot more about the economy than their nation’s foreign policy!  That’s the only reason they elected Ahmedinejad in the first place–and the reason why he’s so unpopular back home right now!  Everything we’ve been doing in the history of our dealings with the Islamic Republic of Iran has either helped our enemies or hurt our own interests, and it’s HIGH TIME we had some change!

</political rant>

Ok, I’d better calm down (note to self–breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out).  But MAN!  You see why I’m so happy that I’m a Poli Sci major!  And the cool thing is that this stuff really has some potential for some good stories!  I mean, just about every time I learn something new about the Middle East, I think to myself “Oooh, that would be really awesome to put into the story I’m writing!” It’s gotten to the point where there’s just too much stuff to cram into one novel!  Fortunately, I can write others.  But man!

I mean, I felt like my eyes were totally opened today!  Up until this point, I’ve seen Iran as this scary, totalitarian nation led by a crazy, maniacal leader, bent on the destruction of all that is good and holy in the world.  Even when I’m rational enough to realize that that’s probably not all true, the idea has been lurking in the back of my paradigm.  But this lecture painted the picture of a completely different country!  A civilized, rational, highly cultural, and essentially peaceful people who are working, despite the interference of the United States, to free themselves from the rule of a few bad men!  Man, this lecture made me want to study Farsi and travel to Iran, for heaven’s sakes!  I might just do it!  I just might!

At the very least, I’m going to read this guy’s book and subscribe to just about every raw news RSS feed that I can (AP, NPR, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, Agence-France, etc–basically, the ones that Drudge links to) so that I can have a heads up on what’s REALLY going on in this wonderful world!  I mean, I just learned from Mr. Aslan that representatives from EVERY MUSLIM SECT got together a few months ago to sign a document calling on the Christian world to help improve relations and fight extremist fundamentalism in both religions!  I mean, imagine the press we’d be hearing if all of the Christians sects did something like that!  It’s unprecedented!  I don’t even think it would even happen!  And yet…where was that in the mainstream media?  Buried somewhere.  Time to start digging it up.

Man, I am SO GLAD that I’m a Political Science major!!!

1,100 words and a very fun Nanowrimo writing party!

I’ve been wanting to organize some more informal get togethers with Quark.  I heard from Gamila that it’s really the informal get togethers that Aneeka threw together back in the day that got the ball rolling with the writing group.  Of course, when I was talking online with Drek about this and venting / bouncing ideas off of him, his response was “doesn’t informal mean that it isn’t planned?” Well…maybe…

So, today was the first day of Nanowrimo, and Drek and his wife Kyla were kind enough to host a sort of “informal” (but planned) writing party.  It was a lot of fun!  We basically all got into the same room and wrote in our stories together–while listening to music, snacking on food, sharing our wordcounts, playing with the cat, etc.  After long days and lots of studies, it was very relaxing and a lot of fun!

I gave Danke and Onlera a ride to Drek’s house, which is pretty far away from campus.  It was really just the five of us, but I think we all had a good time.  Onlera hasn’t really made it out to too many meetings before, but she seemed excited about it now.  And Danke has been showing up to almost every meeting, but hasn’t yet submitted anything.  I think that’s about to change, though.  As writing group leader, I’ve taken it upon myself to help everyone overcome the shyness and lack of self-confidence that seems to prevail among aspiring writers (holy cow!  It is easier to write 50,000 words in a single sitting than it is to convince Aneeka that her novel is not the worst story in existence!  Even with empirical proof!) 😉

I was a little bit surprised that I only got 1,100 words in two hours.  400 of those were from something that I realized I needed to insert in a certain place, in order to give the novel a little bit more direction and build up the tension earlier.  Basically, Ian and Aaron consult with each other on what they should do, after they make it to the capitol city, and they figure out that the coalition rescue fleet will arrive in about nine months, so they decide that their highest priority is to find out what hit them and do what they can to disable it before the fleet arrives and gets hit.  Other than that, just continuing the scene I’m at right now–at the feast where Ian realizes that by local law, he won all of the bandit women as slaves when he killed their husbands in self-defense, and he makes the extremely unusual decision to free them.  More cultural awkwardnesses and misunderstandings!  How fun!

So, basically, the writing party was a TON of fun and I’d love to do it again!  I don’t know if I’ll be able to host parties here at the FLSR, since there really isn’t a space that’s empty and relatively quiet for 2 full hours.  I’ll see what I can do, though.