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  1. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Diary of a Homer

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by Homer Potvin, Nov 29, 2017.

    Started a new book today. Working title is Halcyon... think Titanic in outer space. Instead of a boat it's a spaceship, and instead of hitting an iceberg it hits a war/revolution/uprising thingie that brings gilded innocence to a unceremonious halt. Lots of sex and tastelessness. It begins with a Countess of some repute dying of a massive coronary while in coitus with two of Halcyon's most coveted escorts. Not a remarkable event by itself, but while Halcyon continues her scenic pleasure cruises around moon, comet, and nebulae, shit has gone bad back home and the iceberg of retribution is about to hit our poor characters like... well, like a metaphorical fuckton of ice.

    I gave it a 19th century, War and Peace vibe in the opening line, deciding that the best way to describe an old lady dying in the throes of extramarital sex was to come at it obliquely:

    "After four drafts and innumerable corrections it looked as if the Countess wouldn’t be making her commencement address on Provost."

    Not the greatest opening line ever penned, but you get the idea. I got a weird feeling about this one. Gonna try to do it quick and dirty without a lot of hand-wringing or critical thinking. And use the progress journal for what it was intended.

    Day 1: 1359 words
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
  2. SethLoki

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    ^ There's the nub of your query letter!

    Bon-Good-Voyage-Luck to you, the Halcyon, the Countess and all that's gonna sail in yous.
     
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  3. GB reader

    GB reader Active Member

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    navigare necesse est

    Is the only full sentence I know in Latin.

    If i try to translate to English by bouncing on Swedish

    it is needed that you sail

    But i am sure there is a proper english version.

    --

    I want a Piano Bar in the Halcyon.

     
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  4. K McIntyre

    K McIntyre Active Member

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    At least one piano bar. And maybe a Tiki bar?
     
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  5. Stormburn

    Stormburn Senior Member

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    Sorry, I couldn't resist
     
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  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Funny you should mention it, but I sketched out the query letter beforehand and made it as interesting as possible before I wrote the opening lines. I probably won't hit all of my bullshit plot points, but I figured that maybe the query/genre/conflict/character/why-the-hell-would-anyone-want-to-read-this-book conundrum would be much easier to deal with it made all of that up first.

    There will be many bars, I think. Some of them might even have glory-holes built below the bar stools or other prurient things. I might go a bit grimy with this one. Maybe use sex as some kind of leveling effect to counter all the futuristic sci-fi thingies. Sex is one of those things that is hard to embellish because it hasn't changed much in ten thousand years. Sure we've got more props and costumes and creative participants and such, but when you get down to it it's hard to improve on what God gave us. I mean, you can have all the gadgets and innovations in the world but there's still no substitute for good head. Not to put too fine a point on things, but here we are.

    Day 2: 1148 words
    Total: 2507 words

    Didn't get a lot done today. Woke up a bit late and had a windstorm knock the power out for a hour or two. Normally it wouldn't be a big deal but I have an electric well pump so the shower was out of commission right when I needed to get ready for work. And a shitload of deadfall came down over the driveway so I needed to clean that up too. At least no trees came down this time. I'm surrounded by 100+ foot widow-makers that would turn my house into Popsicle sticks if they ever came down, but the big boys have survived for centuries without any intervention, so I'm not to inclined to monkey around with nature if I don't have to. Kind of like sex. They got it right the first time, so leave it alone.

    As for the story, I have the Captain and the security chief pow-wowing about how best to deal with the Countess's untimely death. It's more of an inconvenience than anything else with all the bad news from back home and the pro-labor pamphlets that keep circling among the staff. This will not do. Their business is pleasure, not politics. Oh, and the Count just showed up in her room after being pulled away from his own dalliance elsewhere on board. He comforts the two young escorts that were "with" the Countess when she died. The courtesans (wrong word, I know, but I love the way it looks on screen) are practically inconsolable, but the Count takes them in his arms and offers a philosophical take on things:

    “She’d been sick for a while,” the Count said. “This was probably going to be her last trip and she was so looking forward to seeing the two of you.”

    I'm not sure how far the gag will fly--creepiness becomes mundane if over-saturated--but I'm going to ride it for awhile and see what happens. I've yet to do much planning or world-building in my head yet, but I think I know what notes to hit in the opening chapters.
     
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  7. K McIntyre

    K McIntyre Active Member

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    Not sure why, but I kept envisioning scenes from the movie The Fifth Element when you were describing the ship and some of the on board activities. They're not the same, but it struck a familiar chord.
     
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  8. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Yep, I thought of that too. No alien singers with 5 octave ranges though. And no Chris Tucker with a funky hairdo, though that would be supercool!
     
  9. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Active Member

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    edited: don't you hate when you pick up the wrong quote?
     
  10. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Active Member

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    Way to go, Countess! ;-D

    :cheerleader::cheerleader::cheerleader:
     
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  11. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Day 3: 1725 words
    Total: 4232 words

    Got chapter 1 in the can . I edited some things and reframed the chapter around the commencement address the Countess was due to deliver on the planet Provost when she died in one of Halcyon's staterooms. She's not the most important countess in the world, but she has a pop-culture, tabloid-ish repute, so people tended to listen up when she spoke. The speech is referenced in the opening line so I brought it back into the chapter later after the Count received the sad news. It's a royal marriage of patronage (the Count is half her age), so the boo-hoo-hoo-ing comes from a slightly different place.

    So speaking about show and tell and info-dumps, I played it out and waited about 3k words before I mentioned that Halcyon was in outer space. I went info-dumpy and had the POV character look out a window and describe what she sees, but fuck it:

    "Jolena could just make out the penumbra of the brown dwarf star they’d pinged as a navigation point. And something else moving against the starscape, flashing red on green. Another ship. And it looked Navy. That was weird, but certainly no weirder than the events of the last hour."

    I'm sticking with a 19th century vibe and trying not to think about it too much. There's a time to write and a time to think.
     
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  12. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Active Member

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    Damn! Well done!

    And, that doesn't sound so info-dumpy...I'd call it "informative description that reads well."

    Current writing advice may be to tell the reader everything they need to know as soon as possible, but...I think that's why a lot of current books seem so dumbed-down. Give the readers some credit for being intelligent humanoids, I say.
     
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  13. K McIntyre

    K McIntyre Active Member

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    I agree with @Shenanigator - not info-dumpy at all. In fact, just enough info for the reader to visualize and understand.
     
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  14. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Thanks. Lines themselves aren't too bad but some of the structure and setup and the scene verges a bit, which is fine. Tells and info-dumps aren't really a problem for me. On the contrary, I've had editors recommend that I dump and explain more often.

    On a side note, I've started doing Pilates, yoga stretches, and back exercises first thing in the morning. Doctor's orders, but I've found it really gets my mind and body relaxed before I sit down to write. And I listen to writing podcasts while I do it, which gets the creative juices awake and stretching as well. Anyone have podcast recommendations? I like the shorter ones so I've been working through "Writing Excuses," which are all 15 minutes because "You're busy and we're not that smart," as the dudes that run it claim. Good stuff.

    Bit of a late start this morning and I have some domestic things to attend to before work so it might be a light session today.
     
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  15. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Day 4: 172 words (yay!)
    Total: 4404 words

    Not much traction today. Had to make some calls and had some contractors come by the house, so I kept getting called away. Then I got my ass kicked at work so a PM session is probably out of the question. Weekend will likely be a wash too. Saturday is a 10 hour (minimum) work day. I'm off Sunday but Sundays are for food, football, and family. I almost never write on Sundays, though I might get up early and try to get after it. Not sure. When I get deeper into the manuscripts I sometime use Sundays as an editing/clean-up day for that week's work. Honestly, I'll be thrilled if I can get five solid writing days and hit 6k-7k words each week. Not gonna sweat it... whatever happens happens.

    Hard to pick a line of the day with less than two hundred to choose from, but this one made me chuckle. Chapter 2 begins with the security staff moving the Countess's body through the service corridors to avoid the guest milling outside. The trouble is that the Countess is quite portly and the service hallways are narrow and full of obstacles:

    "They had to squeeze the stretcher past a room service cart and a plate of half-eaten pheasant slipped off into the Countess's lap.

    'Don't eat that, Countess,' Tett said as he flicked the bones back onto the cart."

    Probably end up losing that line, but it give me my one giggle of the day.
     
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  16. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Day 5: Zilch

    No writing. Got my ass kicked around the kitchen like a forsaken romaine heart for 11 hours. Gonna keep updating the journal daily though. So far, I feel it's helping me keep my business in order, which can't be a bad thing.

    Good news is that my promotion went through after a couple of weeks of negotiating. New title is operations manager. Essentially I'll be supervising all the rubber-meets-the-road shit so the GM can focus on the big picture and the executive chef can make all the magic happen. I'll be spending about half my time running the dining room and the other half running the line in the back. Should be interesting. We've only been open for two months and been so busy that there's been no time to codify the training, which is my specialty. Server training starts next week... I'm gonna put these kids through the ringer! Most of them excellent but the lazy ones are in for a world of shit like you read about. They'll shape up or quit. It's a foolproof method.

    Even better news is that I'm still being paid hourly (plus my cut of sales when I expo), so I'll have plenty of time for writing. Not a chance they'll let me breach 40 hours, which is how Homer likes it. Work time, play time, write time. Bing bang boom.
     
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  17. K McIntyre

    K McIntyre Active Member

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    Congrats on the promotion! That's great!
     
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  18. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Day 7: 635 words
    Total: 5039 words

    Word count looks low in the official sense, but I probably deleted 5-600 and reworked them, so it looks worse than it is. I'm getting close to having to do some world building here... keep writing things that don't make sense, like "the ambassador of Kliza" and "sector 11 command." They look good on the page, but I have no idea what they mean, so that will have to dealt with soon. I've got some work things and a doctor's appointment this week that might throw a wrench in my flow, so I'm thinking of maybe tackling some notes and brainstorming things.

    Haven't thought much about the characters yet--just names on a page at this point--but I had my first "a-ha" moment today when the potential MC, the security chief/master at arms/lead investigator (???) on Halcyon gets her foot run over by an overenthusiastic chef pushing a speed-rack through the galley. It was a just a scene filler, but then I thought about how she would react to it. Would she slap him on the shoulder and say "that's okay" or what she backhand and threaten him? No idea, but I feel there's an opportunity there for some character development. Or a seed that could germinate later. Classism is going to be a thing in this book--there are things that are unwell in the world of Halcyon--and I felt a real labor vs. management/patrician vs. plebeian moment in this scene that could be important or not. I'm feeling the 19th Century/early 20th vibe of a rapidly ending Enlightenment that nobody really sees coming at first, but then nobody is surprised later when they look back on it. Not sure about all of that, but hopefully I can put my history degree to good use for a change!
     
  19. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Day 8: 621
    Total: 5660

    More deletion and makeup, so maybe I did 1000? Not sure. Not the greatest day, overslept a bit and had to pop into work early (for some reason nobody knows how to drive to a liquor store and, you know, buy shit we need instead of standing around wondering how to make a pomegranate martini without pama liquer--seriously, sometimes I think I'm living on the fucking moon). Happy with the progress so far, though. Current scene has the Captain handing the Inspector the obligatory oh-shit message that Halcyon has just received from back home (wherever that is) that introduces the systemic conflict that drives the story. Then they take the obligatory walk through the ship so I can elaborate on the setting and show cool things (once I think of them). It's all fairly tell-y and info-dump-y in an expository sense, but that's okay because I need to get it on the page as soon as possible.

    Real life side note: had to hire a new plow guy after my old plow guy retired. Talked to a few dudes, all of them told me $50 a plow (150-200 foot driveway), and the best all-inclusive rate I could get was $875 for the season. It's a roll the dice thing... if I go all-inclusive I need 18 plows to save money. Less than that and it costs me more. Been deliberating over this for days. Last year we got something like 135 inches. Year before that was probably less than 50. Average is somewhere around 80-90, but it's not the aggregate, it's the frequency of storms. Think I'm going to pay the lump sum and hope for the apocalypse... I can see myself standing on the deck in April screaming "Snow, snow, snow!" at the sky just for the satisfaction of making a good business decision.
     
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  20. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Day 10: 1167 words
    Total: 6827 words

    Decent day... felt like I made some headway after a few days of dithering. I'm just too busy with work now to build up much steam, so I'm thrilled with any progress, even if it's only 4-5k a week. It's not so much about time as it is mental real estate. My brain just can't handle two massive creative projects at the same time, so I'm trying to budget my mental calories as best I can.

    Transitioning Halcyon from my opening thoughts, the death of the Countess, and other prurient shenanigans (my favorite was a Senator of some repute in full fish-scale body paint saluting the Captain with his wiener out when they pass in the hall). I'll be drawing the macro conflict in soon... that metaphorical iceberg that Halcyon hits face first. Still leaning toward an analogue of turn-of-the-century classism with a bit of an emphasis on labor and trade-unionism clashing with the vestiges of aristocracy and monarchy. It's a bit anachronistic when set in outer space because we would think that a civilization that could invent FTL space travel would have at least a passing familiarity with Liberalism, but there might be an opportunity there to refashion old historical forces in a different ways.

    That's all I've got today. Hoping to get up early and bang out 1500 words before the weekend turns my brain into beer cheese, which, as we've come to learn, will solidify in less than three minutes after it's removed from the steam table. I used it to "glue" a fork to the wall, and the thing actually stuck if I held it there long enough. That was the highlight of my day.
     
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  21. K McIntyre

    K McIntyre Active Member

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    Re your getting that info-dump-y scene on paper - reminds me of a quote from C.J. Cherryh: "It is perfectly okay to write garbage - as long as you edit brilliantly."
     
  22. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Day 11: 533 words
    Total: 7360 words

    Well, getting up early and writing 1500 words didn't happen, but I'm happy I got something done. Not sweating the words anymore... just glad to be working. Weekend will be a dud too, but I'm hoping to step up the word count in the few weeks before the holidays. Once xmas school vacation hits my world turns into a fire hose of shit. Every hooplehead from Maine to New Jersey will descend onto our sleepy like ski town like ass spores from outer space. Or zombies, though the undead have nothing on New England tourists.

    Overall, I'm happy with the book. Lots of little threads to tug. And there's a weird insular logic to it that has the potential to elevate the absurd to the sublime. Or something like that. I'm tired. Words hard. Need wine. Good night.
     
  23. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Day 12: 0 words
    Total: 7360 words

    No writing as suspected, but I'm updating the journal anyway because it's part of my nightly routine. Work, come home, back exercises and stretches, make drink, update journal... bing bang boom. I almost never write on Sundays during football season, but I might do a bit of research. Things I'm interested in are class and labor conflicts, most of them from a European perspective since American history kind of followed its own arc as far as Liberalism is concerned (the capital "L" is to delineate classic liberalism from its modern interpretation). I'm fairly certain that Halcyon's iceberg will be a revolution/uprising/civil war that breaks out on their home planet while the upper-ups are cruising space, drinking and screwing with wanton abandon.

    Things to look into:

    1. Early Bolshevism, particularly the Reds, Whites, and Czarists in the last days of the Romanovs
    2. De-Stalinization in Poland in the mid 1950's and the successful "Polish Thaw"
    3. Imre Nagy and the failed Hungarian uprising of 1956 (wrote my thesis on that one, so piece of cake there)
    4. Lech Walesa and the Polish Solidarity movement in the 70s-80s
    5. Astronomy as needed, but I'm pretty good with that...

    Been a loooong time since I looked into these, so that should be fun. I kind of write historical science fiction, which is ridiculous, of course, but my gag is to take historical forces or events and refashion them into futuristic, outer-space shit. Never run out of ideas or vibes.
     
  24. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributor Contributor

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    WHOA whoa! This is not ridiculous. It sounds amazing. Case-in-point: His Majesty's Dragon, a Napoleonic era war book, with Royal Hussars mounted on fire breathing fucking dragons.

    You keep up the good work, sir.
     
  25. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I dress myself! Contributor

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    Yup, so crazy it might work! I borrow the attitudes, arguments, and historical forces of the time more than the events themselves, but I've been known to rip those off too. The last book had more of a Central American history theme to it (economic "occupation," imperialism, guerilla warfare) while this one will probably be straight early 20th European (Nationalism, propaganda and mass politics, and the end of the Enlightment in the buildup to WWI). The MC in my last book was even named Santino after Augusto Sandino of Nicaraguan "Sandinista" fame. He was an early revolutionary leader (~1910) against US imperialism and the namesake of the more famous communist group who fought the Contras during the Reagan era. Nothing so dramatic this time through, but you get the idea. The trick is to keep the characters largely ignorant of the big picture because in real life people can't see their own historical paradigm while they're still in it.

    Managed to sneak a couple of hundred words in this morning. I switched to the POV of the two young courtesans, Michael and Bliss, who were in bed with the Countess for her untimely demise. Might not keep it... I'm trying to stay away from the multiple POV rabbit hole this time. I'd love to stick with the MC as often as possible and then curveball it here or there. Got some plans for Michael later on though, so if adding his POV early on will save a few headaches later, I'm all for it. But I don't want to produce any drag where I feel like I need to pass the mic to him in order to justify his perspective. That's a deal breaker... I'm not playing that game again. Tight, quick and dirty is the play this time.

    Day 13: 323 words (what's that? three paragraphs, haha)
    Total: 7683 words (gotta hit a stride soon)
     
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