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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Writing Blather: Marathon Season and (Many) Works in Progress

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Writing Blather: Marathon Season and (Many) Works in Progress

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noldolante
This has nothing to do with writing but, damn, it's been hot! Coming home today, through Columbia, it was 100F/38C. By the time I got up to Manchester, it had dropped to a chilly 88F/31C. Humid as hell, of course. I've been trying not to use the air-conditioning. I've been successful in the car--haven't had it on once this year, no matter the havoc open windows at 70 mph wreak on my hair--but have had to put it on in the afternoons in the office.

Yesterday, Charlie (one of the warrant officers) came into my office around 1:30.

Charlie: Dawn! It's hot in here!

Dawn: Yeah, I'm trying not to put on the air-conditioning, but it's getting really hot.

Charlie: ...

Dawn: Yeah, I'm sort of a radical environmentalist. I'm trying to save energy.

Charlie: I'll say!

Bobby called about fifteen minutes later, and I told him about my air-conditioning dilemma, and he thought me pretty silly for trying to sit in 100-degree heat without the air-conditioning. So I put it on for the last two hours. Last three hours today. Bah! I have no willpower!

Anyway, we're coming up on crazy writing marathon season. Okay, only one of these marathons is in any way official; the other two are just things to which I voluntarily subject myself on an annual basis.

In October, we kick off the marathon season with Haunted October. This year's haunted day is Wednesday, so as we had Haunted Tuesday last year, this year we will have Haunted Wednesday because Halloween is on a Wednesday. The goal is to post a scary short story every Wednesday for the month of October. Generally, I try to make each different in style and sub-genre from the others. For example, last year's stories had touches of romance and science fiction, were set in the modern era, the future, the past, and bridged the present and past. *whew*

The stories don't have to be written in October, but I didn't finish most of them before October last year and doubt that I will this year either. I have an idea that's been bugging me that I hope to start this week, maybe finish.

Then comes November and NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated. The goal? To write a 50K-word novel in one month. Technically, one has to start a new project. That is why last year--and this year as well--I will not be an official participant as I was in 2005. I'm not quite sure what my project will be this year, but I have three novels-in-progress at the moment, so it will certainly be one of those.

Still, one of the things that I love about NaNoWriMo is that it's an official project; thousands of others are doing the same thing at the same time, so I feel less bad copping out of things in order to write. "Well, you know, I can't; I'm working on a story," never cuts it. "Well, I can't; I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month," sounds all official and sort of highbrow (for one who isn't familiar with NaNoWriMo's "embrace the crap" outlook anyway). "Well, Dawn, in that case ... good luck!"

Is anyone else bothered by the lack of hyphen in "Novel Writing"? Man, I'm pathetic ...

Finally, December is holiday story time! Not "holiday stories" in the sense of stories about the holidays, oh no no ... Last year, I wrote about Maedhros in Angband for oloriel; the year before was a story about Celegorm dying for ford_of_bruinen and a spooky story about Finrod's re-embodiment for fanged_geranium.

Like last year, I'll probably do fixed-length ficlets and series again. It's just too much for me to write twenty-odd short stories in a month, though I've done it before. This was pre-SWG, though ... and pre-house ... Anyway, this will be my third year writing gift stories for people, and it's one of the writing "events" I look forward to most every year.

I'm feeling very non-productive as a writer right now. I have a daunting list of works-in-progress. And they're all long projects, so it's not like I can sit down in an afternoon and knock one off.

I have two original novels going right now. Both are Midhavens novels ... that is, my original fantasy universe. They are part of the same series of stories. The first is about the early life of Mennik, one of my original characters. He's a half-Elf with a rather dark background who ends up a hero. This story was my project for NaNoWriMo 2005, and it's not finished because it requires so much revision that I'm a bit afraid to approach it. But Mennik has been tapping me on the arm incessantly, asking that I finish it up. I left him right in the middle of a predicament, it seems, and he requires resolution. Also, he gets to get laid in the next few pages, so I'd imagine he looks forward to that too.

The second story takes place during the childhoods of Meryth and Talban, Mennik's sons (and the oops from the aforementioned lay). I am writing it like I wrote AMC; in other words, without a plan or any idea what will happen aside from a few plot points that I know I want to include and so must somehow string together. I don't know if this will ever be readable or will die as nothing more than a characterization exercise (which is, indeed, how AMC started), but I thought it a good idea to get a really solid grasp on the voices of Meryth and Talban since they are my main characters and all.

Then I have an original novella that is based on the alliterative verse Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I'm just over halfway finished and could probably knock this one out in about two weeks, if I set my mind to it. This might be the one I tackle next, for that very reason.

Now we come to fanfic. I have started the prequel to AMC; I had five chapters, but they got eaten when my USB key corrupted. Now I have two chapters and an outline, a map drawn in Paint, and a good idea of what I want to happen ... but no real time to work on it. This is actually a strong candidate for this year's NaNoWriMo since I know that it's completion will make many people very happy and I could pretty much just sit and write it without a lot of angst that inevitably accompanies my Midhavens novels.

Aaaand I have a fanfic novella as well: the Darkening of Valinor story from the PoV of Eärwen. This is close to completion too and so is a good candidate for my focus in the next few weeks, just so I can feel like I've accomplished something. And so I can knock one of these off the list.

For once, I have no short stories in progress aside from an original literary story (I know ... shoot me now) that I'm not sure I'll even finish. It'll probably be one of those things that I come back to two years from now, wonder, "Why didn't I finish this?" then sit and crank out an ending. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I'm also angsting over Critters, more specifically, "What will I send them next??" Which is stupid; I have more than a dozen stories and only two have gone through Critters, so just send something, right? Why do I bother revising like crazy before sending in a story to a group that is supposed to help me with that? I dislike letting people read my crappy drafts, though, especially for o-fic.

I should send something, though. It's rather silly to spend hours each week on critiques for other people without ever forcing them to schlep through my stories.

Speaking of which, I am putting off finishing my Critters critique for the week to write this ... *sigh*

Back to work, Dawn.
  • Dawn: Yeah, I'm sort of a radical environmentalist. I'm trying to save energy.

    All well and good, but sometimes, using the air conditioner is necessary. I've tried to not use it at my home myself, but it's hell on the animals. Especially when they both have fleas and the cooler air helps keep most of them at bay. Though I'm beginning to think those little monsters have mutated into bigger, more nastier, fleas...

    Technically, one has to start a new project. That is why last year--and this year as well--I will not be an official participant as I was in 2005.

    I'm 1-for-2. I completed NaNo in '05, but was decidedly lacking in '06. Besides, last year's NaNo was not a new project, but a continuation of the '05 project, seeing as how I reached the goal, but didn't finish the story. It still isn't finished! *sigh* Not sure I'm going to attempt it this year. At the rate I'm writing, I'll never reach 50k, much less 25k. *sigh*
    • We use the AC at home in part because of Alex and in part because no AC is hell on the husband. ;) He doesn't have my ability to tolerate heat. Two window units cool our entire house, and when it's pleasant outside, we can shut them off and use windows and the whole-house fan. But I only subject myself to no AC in 100-degree heat. I don't ask others to do the same. (Except my coworkers for the brief stints they must be in my office.)

      Fleas SUCK. Alex came to us with fleas, and many a night I spent flea-combing him while he slept since he was too little to treat chemically yet. I used to drown the bastards in hot lemon water. :^P

      Word counts are never a particular problem for me. I've written 10K in a day, when the muses are in the mood ... it's focus, lately. I want to work on a new project each day so nothing ever goes anywhere. NaNo kind of forces me to focus on one project, and that's a good thing.

      But hey, November is still many months away. Maybe the muses will be more in the mood? Either way, I'm really not too fond of forcing a word count just to meet a certain word count. I know NaNo's all about "embrace the crap," but hey, we all know you can write, so maybe it's best to wait till the muses are more in the mood. :)

      Muses are so stoopid sometimes.

      *looks around to make sure muses didn't hear that comment*
  • Radical environmentalism is all well and good, but there's a reason that God invented air conditioning! I had an air conditioner in the old apartment back in Grad School Town, and one of the things that I loved about it was the way it worked as a dehumidifier. I'd run it as an AC long enough to dry the air out, and then switch it to its fan setting. Central air is one of the things that makes me excited to go to work or to study in the library.
    • I agree that AC has its place. It's on for most of the summer at home, for example. It's on now ... though we don't have central air but two window units to cool the whole house. But mostly, it's on because Bobby has a low tolerance to heat, so I ignore his use of the AC in the summer and he lets me turn up the heat a bit more in the winter.

      But when it's just me, since I usually don't mind the heat (barring major humidity), then I don't put it on. Every year, I find this gets easier to do.
  • Well, at least you HAVE air conditioning... *mopes*

    Oh and congratulations on the book thing! :o)
    • Thank you! :^D

      Maryland is an unbearable state to live in without air conditioning at all. We have the saying, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity, hon!" Our house doesn't have central air, so we use two window units, mostly to keep the humidity down.
  • Air conditioning is a foreign concept in Britain. I admire your environmentalist willpower but it does get tough when there's no relief (hot house to hot bus/Metro/car to hot shop and home to hot house again). *Whispers* It's okay to use sometimes.

    Also, we happen to live in a house with windows that don't open... yes, such a thing exists! We have sash windows without screens (another foreign concept to Britain) in the two bedrooms and that's it for airflow. Damn heat.
    • I'm okay with using it occasionally. Bobby keeps it on at the house for most of the summer; I'd probably be content to use natural air a bit more, but then come winter, I get to use my tolerance of his AC use to justify putting the heat on. ;)

      The windows don't open at all? I'd be more concerned with that being a fire hazard than even the practicality of airing out the apartment!
      • I don't mind natural air except the bugs get in and, aside from my dislike of little buggy creatures, Maggie likes to chase them around and generally act like an asshat. :-P

        The windows don't open at all? I'd be more concerned with that being a fire hazard than even the practicality of airing out the apartment!

        Just the two bedrooms. Fire hazard-wise, it's not as bad as it seems. We can escape out the front door at one end of the flat or the bedroom windows (one story up) at the other end. Kitchen is between the two so I don't feel blocked off either way.

        (There is actually a law in Britain now that all non-ground floor flats must have a fire exit window [giant, opening window] but the build-year of our house - 1990ish - somehow makes it exempt.)

        Still, if we were ever to buy this house, the first thing we'd do is install windows that open. It's hell cooking in the kitchen (literally - quite hot) and in the bathroom the toilet sweats constantly because it's too moist in there with no airflow.
  • Good luck and lots of energy for your writing! :-)
  • Uh-huh. I also try to avoid the air-conditioning as much as I can (asides from the harm to the environment, it´s also pretty bad for one´s health), so my first choice is always to get cold showers at intervals. Here, it´s pretty much assumed that in summer you don´t go out by day unless it´s absolutely necessary or unless you´re going to the beach.
    But when the East Wind kicks in, now, then there´s nothing that can be done. You have to keep all the windows closed under pain of a worse fate, so you suffocate, and whenever you get wet you´re dry in two minutes, so it´s stupid to bother. Lasts until 9.00 or 10.00 pm, too, and you can´t be all day in the beach. That´s what the air conditioning is truly for.

    (luckily, there have been no more than 5 or so East-wind days this summer so far - we´re a bit stunned, to be honest. )
    • Your hometown sounds a bit like Maryland. It's not only hot but very humid, so it's usually recommended that people limit their time outside by day.

      Unless you're going to the beach. ;)

      The good thing about moving to western Maryland is that it's so much cooler: about 12F cooler than where we used to live, and it's only an hour northwest!

      We don't have an East wind, however. Hot and windy? That's strange to consider!
      • ´Course it´s very humid here, it´s an island. (the positive side is that it has loads of beach. ^_^)

        The East Wind or Levante is a wind that brings hot masses of air (and sometimes also sand and insects) straight from the African savanna. You wouldn´t have heard of it before, which is really a lucky thing!
  • Yeah, I'm sort of a radical environmentalist. I'm trying to save energy.

    O-o.. we even don't have airco and always hit above 100F here (and the house doesn't cool off)... it's all a matter of perspective I guess :)

    I dislike letting people read my crappy drafts, though, especially for o-fic.

    Because you want things to be perfect?

    Oh gosh, I am just looking at your writing progress (ooo a prequel to AMC (I got the hasa note on amc's final chapter posted there), and the 'the Darkening of Valinor story from the PoV of Eärwen', been looking forward to that one as well. I will admit it, I just wish I just had the same amount of time you have to write. So many ideas, very antsy muses... I even am doubtful if I can find the time to write for the NaNo this year. It was 6 weeks ago that I wrote something. :-/
    • O-o.. we even don't have airco and always hit above 100F here (and the house doesn't cool off)... it's all a matter of perspective I guess :)

      It is. I am quite used to survived without AC. The only time that I begin to be bothered is when the humidity rises. That's extremely common in Baltimore but not so bad out here, where we live now.

      But a few years ago, on a hot day, I had to put on the AC. I'm slowly training myself to live without it, which isn't easy, having grown up in a world with central AC everywhere.

      Because you want things to be perfect?

      Moi?
      Nevah! ;)

      Yes, I am a perfectionist, and I dislike even more when people find out that I am fallible and do make the occasional mistake.

      As my dad says, "Once I thought I'd made a mistake, but I was wrong." :^P He's a perfectionist too; in many ways like Feanor, actually.

      I hope that you find time to write. That's the worst: I get very strange and then cranky when I can't write for extended periods of time. I am lucky now that my job was set up for morons, so I have a few hours each day to work on projects. That has been the key motivator in me staying at this job as long as I have, strange as it seems to say.
  • I'm feeling very non-productive as a writer right now.

    To me you're feeling far more productive than I! You know, I have all these WIPs right that feel like they're never going to be finished. It's always the same: Some idea hits me, I pen down a few quick lines and leave it. But somehow right now I'm really lacking the energy to sit down for a few hours to really finish a story (and it's not that I didn't have the time to do so...). It's frustrating. I've even been too lazy to review what you've been posting recently... but then, I always like what you're writing so several times "OMG, Dawn ♥" would have been a bit repetitive anyway right? ;)

    But I'm having a summer holiday train ticket right now and I'm writing some kind of travel diary about my day trips to various Bavarian sites. The first part is about me visiting a famous pilgrim's church. You have just to believe me that it will be cool. It has spots of dirts, mummies and even St. Francis of Assisi plays a (literally) tiny part. ;)

    Oh, and I just realized I've never congratulated you and Bobby on your house. So, congrats! and I'd really like to see pictures one day!

    (And congrats to for your story getting published! :-D)
    • It's always the same: Some idea hits me, I pen down a few quick lines and leave it.

      I have to actively fight that too, believe me. It is a rare gift when a story "writes itself." Especially longer works require concentrated coaxing at some point. I generally have to set aside a time slot and force myself to write. Once I get a few paragraphs into it, it comes easier. Or I set a deadline for myself.

      I've even been too lazy to review what you've been posting recently... but then, I always like what you're writing so several times "OMG, Dawn ♥" would have been a bit repetitive anyway right? ;)

      Hehe ... I don't mind repetition but nor do I expect reviews. I'm glad you've liked the recent stuff! Honestly, lately, I judge the success of a story more on the page clicks than the reviews. I figure that after more than two years, some of y'all are tired of talking about my stories. ;) (Sometimes, so am I! :^P)

      But I'm having a summer holiday train ticket right now and I'm writing some kind of travel diary about my day trips to various Bavarian sites. The first part is about me visiting a famous pilgrim's church. You have just to believe me that it will be cool. It has spots of dirts, mummies and even St. Francis of Assisi plays a (literally) tiny part. ;)

      Oooo ... can't wait! :^D

      Oh, and I just realized I've never congratulated you and Bobby on your house. So, congrats! and I'd really like to see pictures one day!

      (And congrats to for your story getting published! :-D)


      Thank you, squared! And I will have pictures shortly. I've started taking them but just need to take an evening to finish up.
      • I generally have to set aside a time slot and force myself to write.

        Now that sounds like a strategy to try out! It has worked for university for me, but somehow I never applied it to the writing of my stories...
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