1. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    The Island of Misfit Words - a progress journal

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by hyacinthe, Aug 15, 2020.

    An Introduction and an Explanation

    Okay. I'm really struggling with writing this year and I'm trying to change that. I've tried journalling to myself but I don't really commit well, so maybe doing this where other people can see it will help.

    First, a little about me. I'm standing right on the cusp of becoming a mid career author. I have two thirds of a fantasy trilogy published (the last book will be pubbed next year) and I have a standalone coming out this fall. I have won a writing award you might have heard of even if my books are fairly obscure. I have a deadline coming up but the story has lost its shine and I don't know how to get it back.

    What's worse - I have a totally different idea that is much more appealing to me. This has happened to me before - when I was trying to write book three of my trilogy I got waylaid by another book idea, and I wound up writing and selling that book to Publisher B (the one who has me on deadline right now) and then I had to scramble to write book three, but I got 'er done.

    And if that wasn't enough, Publisher A (the one who did my trilogy) is looking for more work from me, and so I'm trying to spruce up an old story just in case it's something they're interested in.

    But wait! There's MORE! I wrote a contemporary romance a few years ago, and I was ready to just chuck it into KU. I mentioned it to my agent, who said, "hold on now, let me see it." and she got back to me with revision advice, because she would like to try selling it to a publisher.

    Okay this is going to get confusing real quick.

    Project Codenames, for Your Reference

    Project Art Gallery - (the book I'm supposed to write for Publisher B.) An art historian uncovers the truth behind a mysterious painting that thrusts her into a power struggle between immortals.

    Project Libretto - (the book that I might write for Publisher B instead.) A composer and a contralto become involved in a high stakes gambit to keep the wrong man off the throne.

    Project Bone - (the book that's bothering me to write it right now.) A magically enhanced warrior and a rule-bound spirit psychic on opposite sides of a war unite in an effort to save the world from the rage of ancient beings.

    Project Gumshoe - (the story I'm sprucing up for Publisher A.) A detective uses high magic to track a serial killer for the demon who owns her soul.

    Project Tetris - (the contemporary romance I have to revise at some point to try and sell to a romance imprint.) A game developer and a voice actor who bonded over the phone in college finally meet while working on the same video game project.

    Okay. Those are my projects, all code-named.

    What I mean to do with this progress journal

    I mean to use it as public accountability to talk about what I've worked on and the progress I've made. I would like to log my progress daily, but we'll see if that's a sustainable schedule.

    In a typical progress journal, I'll be talking about what I did the day before. I could also use it to talk about what I hope to do today. That's the format I'm thinking of, at any rate. We'll see what happens as I go on.

    If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, they are welcome, and I will try to answer questions I get. I'm being vague about some things though, so I may not be able to answer some questions.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
  2. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    okay there's no point in waiting so let's start logging progress

    Did you write yesterday, August 14, 2020?

    No!

    I am stuck on a scene in Project Bone. Yes. Already. I have introduced H. and K. and put them together, and they've already had a clash of opinions and H. has barricaded herself in her room after telling K. that she should go have a bath. I know what happens in the scenes for the next day, but I feel like I need one more scene right here.

    My idea is that K. decides that she should indeed have a bath, but instead of lingering in H.'s suite where she'll just fume and think negative thoughts, she should find the other students who came to the capital and see how they're doing. Then, while she's sharing a bath with friends and strangers, she can find out more information about H. who is an excellent student but considered a difficult teacher and hard to get along with. But I think I need to write something that will tie into the central external conflict here too - like the reason K. and the other students are currently in the capital.

    I don't know if I should explain that, because it goes into detail about politics, history, and my book's magic system and I'm not sure anyone will be interested in that. But one of the capital's students wants to know if it's really true that K. and her people worship their node as a god, and so K. explains that their spiritual practice includes meditating and grounding into the node to seek spiritual wisdom, and that sometimes, when you ask the node a question, you get an answer. The capital kids think that's weird and superstitious because everyone knows that the only guidance you need comes from a collection of writings known as the Ethic, and the Ethic doesn't say anything about gods at all, so that's just believing in primitive myths and stories.

    And so I have continuation on the H. + K. plot, and I get a little bit into the worldbuilding that I did for Project Bone - but something's nagging at me. I'm not sure that I have enough plot progression. I think because I don't have an inciting incident on the page? The inciting incident is that the Empress decreed that a ley line be built between the node in K.'s homeland, now a province of the empire I really need to name, and so the Provost of their college is going to the capital to protest the decree, and he's taken his students with him so their educations aren't disrupted. (other people have come to the capital too but I'm concerning myself with the Provost and his lineage.)

    so hm. I think I could just write the scene and see if inspiration strikes. I'm trying to perfect the scene in advance of writing it, and that's not working out so well.
     
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  3. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Senior Member

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    You could say that they .... slot correctly together in the end! Bad dum, tish! (Thank you, thank you, im here all week.)

    Good luck with the projects, Hya
     
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  4. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 15, 2020?

    HEY, I DID! 1189 new words, in fact.

    but it wasn't on Project Bone. I had a writer's group meeting and feedback on project gumshoe, and I inserted a scene into the novella. It worked out well - better than trying to find someplace to insert a sentence here and there.

    So I'm going to do what I wanted to do, and people kept trying to stop me: I'm going to rewrite it.

    now hold on, if you're shocked and appalled at me throwing all that work away. This is what I mean when I say that. From

    :


    I've done this before with short fiction, and the results were excellent. just shuffling sentences around isn't helping me get the emotional landscape I want in this story, so I'm going for a deeper solution.

    And hey, it gets my fingers on the keyboard, which has been a problem of late.
     
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  5. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 16, 2020?

    I did! A stinking lot of words, though many of them were transcribed from the original 3607 words. my rewritten document is 4839 words now.

    I am worried about one of the changes I've made. some beta readers are concerned that nothing seems to touch the character emotionally. I was originally trying to make it so she compartmentalizes things for specific reasons. so now I put her in situations where she's having emotions, and I feel like I went too far the other way and now she's histrionic.

    I went back and read it, and I think it's okay, but it's a very different image. it's softer, squishier. I was looking for someone more stoic, someone with sisu. I'll roll with it--she is facing something deeply emotionally turbulent. Can you still have sisu when you're fighting back tears?
     
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  6. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 17, 2020?

    oh boy, did i. first, I finished rewriting act one of Project Gumshoe, bringing the new document to 7516 words, up from 5977. I'm still not convinced that Helen's characterization is what I originally intended, and that I was asked to change her emotional landscape because she's a woman, and people expect women to be more emotionally expressive than men.

    I had originally written a woman who wasn't trying to resist her fate any longer. She knows she's going to die, she knows that this is what she signed on to do, and if she could do it all over again, she would, even knowing the price she was going to pay - so there's no point in fussing about it and no time for regrets. she compartmentalizes so she can get on with it.

    But she loves two people in this world beyond reason, and they both show up in this story, and what I'm reacting to is that i've moved the first encounter with her brother to the first scene in the story, rather than the tenth - and she wasn't expecting to see him. She hasn't seen him in ten years, and she thought she would go to her death without seeing him.

    But while she's overwhelmed by his presence, he closes off. he calls her Miss Brandt. He won't converse with her. He's cold - and it hurts her. I think too much. I think it should be a little more "ah, this is exactly what I should have expected." a little wry, a little stoic, and not "he rejected me, after all that I'd done for him" which doesn't fit because she knew the risk she was taking when she made it. woo, talking this out helped!

    But that wasn't all that I did. Later on I was looking at pretty gaming dice with friends, and thought, "I should develop a divination method for Project Bone that uses 20 sided dice."

    the next thing I know, I'm creating the system. then a friend helped me organize that system. then I wrote the interpretations for each individual die result - and the system uses three types of dice, so 60 divination results that add up to an incredible number of results, because the divination set has you grab three dice out of a bag without looking (from a set of nine dice, three of each colour.)

    and then there were ideas about how different methods of casting the dice were used, and the difference in belief and techniques around using them, and I don't usually get into explicit detail like this when I'm worldbuilding, but I had so much fun making up this divination system. now i'm thinking about regional fashion and traditional dress, which is more in my wheelhouse.
     
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  7. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 18, 2020?

    um. *sort of.*

    I did about 200 words on Project Bone, changing a cultural ceremony so it wouldn't make people think, "Fantasy Asia" because it involved tea. it still involves a drink that involves steeping the flavor out of a plant, but it is no longer Camellia sinesis.

    But I had one HELL of a morning yesterday. first I was interrupted by someone who stole my Netflix account. Then I got a call from the bank reporting that my everyday use credit card had also been stolen. it tied up my morning completely, stealing the hours I usually use to write.

    and my city is currently suffering with a heat wave and it's so uncomfortable I can't deal with it (I don't have air conditioning because it's not supposed to get hot like that here.)

    So I transcribed two short scenes from Project Gumshoe. I didn't change them much, so it kinda feels like it doesn't count. but it was good for 1088 words. I don't know how much I'll get done today in this heat!
     
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  8. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 19, 2020?

    no.

    every once in a while, I have one of those days where everyone needs to talk to me about business related matters, and it's not something that gets handled in a one line email reply. I wound up with a collection of email discussions yesterday, all day long.

    I'm one of those people who takes a long time to ramp up the focus. it takes about 20 minutes for me to settle into a groove, and any interruptions where I have to stop thinking about what I'm doing to answer questions, make a decision, formulate a coherent response, or just *distract* me means that my focus is shot and I have to start all over.

    And I did try! but it was no good.

    So here's what I managed to do.

    I wrote up a description of Project Bone for my agent that described the geography of the book's magic system, the central conflict between my main characters, the spoileriffic truth behind the magic system, and a little bit about where I would like the story to go, but it wasn't a proper pitch and outline. I really want to avoid outlining this story - I kind of have the feeling that detailed outlines destroy the story for me by defining it too rigidly.

    I then went through the manuscript for Project Bone and cleaned it up a little, changing some of the place names to strip the worldbuilding of any hints at a particular earth culture. very light editing really.

    I proofread a few pages of a galley that I need to get handed in

    I talked to my publicist about a virtual book tour for my new release - I'm going to be doing some online events. I'm not wild about this, especially because I was slated to go on a *real* book tour that would have taken me to NYC this year, but I'm going to do what I'm going to do.

    I came up with a wild idea for one of those online events, but I don't know if my publicist likes the idea yet.

    for today, I need to proofread and transcribe/rewrite Project Gumshoe, so i'm going to try doing that in 30 minute bursts.
     
  9. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 20, 2020?

    No!

    I have been reading my galleys and OH MY GOD I want another editing pass, but I can't have one. I'm looking back at old writing and being like ARGH what was I thinking? Galleys will pretty much be my weekend, I think, though I should really do a little bit more transcribing of Project Gumshoe because that has a deadline too.

    But I want to work on Project Bone! Why can't I have what I want?
     
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  10. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 21, 2020?

    I did not!

    But that's because I was trying to get through my galleys. I nearly finished! tomorrow I have to write my dedication and acknowledgements. and I swear I made a document to track who helped me, but DAMN if I know where. argh!

    Still thinking about Project Bone, like a dummy. I still have to get through Project Gumshoe yet. I really should be thinking about Project Art Gallery, but that's not the story in my head.
     
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  11. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Senior Member

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    *Somewhere near the local garbage dump, a tramp is busy clutching a note to his chest as he sits in the gutter. He's happy because it told him that this page was dedicated to him, and thanking him for all the care and support he's shown you over the last year or so.*
     
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  12. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    That's got to be it!
     
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  13. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 22, 2020?

    Nope!

    I finished reading my galleys, though. and I spent HOURS discussing a few details of worldbuilding with the friend who knows everything about my books. Today I have to write the dedication and acknowledgements.

    I am making a document for tracking who helped me with Project Bone RIGHT NOW. UGH.

    I've been trying to figure out a solution for storing all my worldbuilding in one place. One Note is no good because I can't copy/paste from it. Evernote doesn't feel right and the search function sucks. I've never really liked putting my worldbuilding stuff in scrivener because it's not easily searchable.

    I think Google Docs is what I have to settle for. I wonder if I should figure out templates for all this background stuff or if my disorganized notes are fine. I like tidy looking documents, though!

    Basically I need it to be easily searchable, capable of doing find/replace, capable of being copied for pasting, usable across devices, and autosaving. Google Docs does all of that.
     
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  14. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 23, 2020?

    I wrote the dedication and the acknowledgements for the book that's coming out in the spring. but at least that task is over. next task: get back to transcribing project gumshoe, as that deadline is coming up fast.

    And I better get on it early, as I expect I will have a bunch of business related emails to get through later on today.

    this is a really short update. but I really appreciate doing it. It's showing me what was happening on days I didn't write. I tend to look back on those days and judge them as laziness, but this record is hinting that maybe it's because I wind up with external distractions that shatter a really fragile sense of focus. I will need more data to see if that's the only pattern, though.
     
  15. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 24, 2020?

    No!

    i did something terrible instead. I found a tweet that asked:

    okay, you’ve got a book deal to retell a story that ISNT king arthur, robin hood, shakespeare anything, or jane austen anything
    what story are you writing?

    And I was like, "oh gee, I don't know." but the idea wouldn't go away, and so I had to think about it. And I realized that I haven't really read that many old books. I read a bunch when I was a kid - I reread Jane Eyre four times before I was thirteen - but I basically left all that behind for fantasy, and so I really had to think about it! and then a terrible thing happened. I figured it out. and then I figured out how I would re-make a novel from the late 19th century, and it snowballed really, really fast.

    But I'm not going to work on it. I'm in enough of a mess with multiple projects as it is. so I recorded my stream of consciousness ideas and put it in a file and there it will *sit* until I get around to it.
     
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  16. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 25, 2020?

    Nope.

    But I had to disrupt my morning routine totally, so I don't feel bad. I had to go out and do an ophthalmologist appointment and get a new glasses prescription. I did something I never do - I chose the first pair of glasses I looked at. Usually I look at every frame and hem and haw and take an hour, but I just picked this pair up, tried them on, and was like, "these ones."

    So my city has a mask by-law. Mask use is mandatory in all public indoor locations. so I went to the bank and I learned something: I actually know how to read lips, because I couldn't hear/understand anyone with a mask on.

    Then I went to the dispenser and bought something that might help with my anxiety, picked up a package from the parcel drop off, and went on home.
     
  17. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 26, 2020?

    Yes! 1147 words on Project Gumshoe. And I haven't had my AM caffeine yet, so I should make some tea and get on it.

    I really need to finish Project Gumshoe so I can get on with writing something else. which I guess should be Project Art Gallery, as the clock is ticking on that project and I don't have a lot of time left for it. But all the fire has gone out on that project. I'd much rather write Project Bone.
     
  18. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 27, 2020?

    I did not! instead I ran errands and had a looooong talk with my psychiatrist about the themes of Project Art Gallery (I have a weird relationship with my psychiatrist. we do a lot of talking to each other)

    And I did book promotion for the book that's coming out in October. I never named that. um. Project chintz? very well!

    And then I played world of warcraft with my friends and went to bed.
     
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  19. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 28, 2020?

    yes! but not a lot. I did some work on project gumshoe. i wanted to do more than i did but it counts, I think.

    i think i’m going to take it easy today as i have a headache that i can’t really shake.
     
  20. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 29, 2020?

    I did! about 2400 words. so much for taking it easy! I transcribed Project Gumshoe up to the point where I have to actually have to write a new scene rather than just tweaking word choices. I really have to get moving on this project. I was supposed to be finished by now.
     
  21. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 30, 2020?

    nooo....

    I got distracted right out of the gate and then everyone wanted to talk to me and then I got the bright idea to play world of warcraft for ... HOURS. let's not talk about how many hours.

    Oh and I ordered a new computer. I bought a desktop, as that's still my most favorite kind of computer. I bought a Predator Orion 3000, and it should get here in the next couple of weeks. It'll go with my outlandishly expensive keyboard!

    Today I'm going to work on the new scene. Right after I hit send...
     
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  22. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, August 31, 2020?

    Yes! but not as much as I wanted to. I only did about 1000 words on Project Gumshoe, but since I needed to write new material, I guess that's all right. I didn't finish the scene, though. I guess that just means I know what I'm doing today.
     
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  23. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    oh dang! I missed a day!

    okay.

    Did you write yesterday, Sept 2, 2020?

    well, I *worked.* but it's complicated. I'm taking a look at an old project and i might write it really quick. I'm taking the week to look at it and decide if I want to commit to it.

    I think I'll call it - Project Libretto, and I'll add it to the first post after this.

    so I worked out a scene list that's kind of an outline, and I know what's going on in the front half, but I am still trying to figure out what happens in the back half - I have a climax and denouement worked out, and I'm nervous about it because it's not a 100% happy ending, like my stories usually are.
     
  24. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, Sept 3, 2020?

    I did some work on Project Libretto. I wrote a synopsis of the main plot, talked myself out of the unhappy ending, and decided that I could probably write the novel before new year.

    and that means I should probably finish Project Gumshoe, but DAMN am I ever over it. I don't want to do all that work, haha
     
  25. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Active Member

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    Did you write yesterday, Sept 4, 2020?

    But did I talk myself out of the unhappy ending, though? I'm so wishy washy! I figured out a way to illustrate all the different choices I can make for the ending and I realized that the whole story changes subtly depending on the ending combination I choose (mostly whether I have romance plots in the story or not.)

    I'm very conflicted about this. When I originally wrote the old outline, I had a super dramatic swordfight, where one of the heroes dies to make sure she defeats the bad guy. But my brand has developed into "Romance Plots and Happy Endings" and heroes dying at the end do not make happy endings.

    But I have written... 3 books where one of the heroes takes a should be mortal wound, and thanks to healing magic, survives it for the happy ending. (I've written 5 books and one of them is a contemporary romance.) so if I nearly kill my hero that'll be four times. i don't know what to do. I think I need to ask my agent, who will think about the business and marketing end and have advice for me.

    But I didn't do any more work than that, because I had to set up a brand new desktop computer and whew, folks, it's a nice one.
     

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