Random Ravelings

Thoughts on knitting, yarn, writing, and life, as the mood strikes me.

My Photo
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Magic Number

After writing almost 5,000 words today, I crossed that magic line, 50,000 words and even managed to hit the end of the story. Or at least, an end of the story. So here's the official celebration photo:

Now I'm going to go unwind. Maybe sleep. Now there's a concept!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Still Writing

Word count is a bit over 41,000. Story is actually in or near the last major section, I think. I'm summarizing a lot since I would like to reach the end of the story somewhere around 50,000 words. Which, with two days off this week, plus the weekend, I should reach by about the 25th, if not sooner.

As I write, whole scenes get condensed to a few sentences, whole subplots get sketched in, to be filled out later. Little details like weather and clothing and most descriptions get reduced to the minimum necessary. Right now I'm trying to finish the story, not pad the word count. In fact, after several 2000 word days over the weekend, I've been writing only around 1000 words per day this week. This kind of sketching is actually harder in some ways than writing out the whole scene. If I write the whole scene, then I usually can figure out what happens next while writing the current scene. When I'm summarizing and condensing, I get through each scene a whole lot faster, and thus write slower while I figure out what happens next. I do still write out at least some scenes, it helps keep me in synch with the characters.

And I've found a little time here and there to knit a bit on a couple of current projects. I've not started anything new and won't until November is over. I've got one two color mitten about to the decreases for the top of the hand, and I've gotten sock number two of a pair started in July to the point of starting the toe decreases. This particular pair of socks is not actually one of my favorites. The colors are so bright I've named the project the "Clown Socks". The first sock was started on a road trip to Canada where I didn't have to do any driving and got a lot of the first sock done in the car both ways. The second sock was started in mid July and here it is four months later and I might finish it before the end of the month. I will wear them though. Just really wanting to move on to a different kind of sock. Stockinette in self-striping yarn really does get old after a while.

All of the leaves are pretty much down now. Even had a brief snow flurry yesterday morning, which I missed due to working in an interior office. The snow didn't stick though. It almost never does this early in the season.

Haven't heard rats in the walls since I last posted on the subject. This is a good thing. I'm still skeptical about the critters being truly gone, but at least they're not anywhere I've noticed them. I did spot what I suspect was an owl flying around the corner of the house last week at dusk one day. It looked brownish in the light from the porchlight, and I suspect it was too late in the day to be a hawk. I can only hope it might be helping to reduce the rodent population in the area.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Over the Hump ...

The month is half over, I've written a bit more than 30,000 words and the story is probably less than halfway done. Following Chris Baty's advice in his book (No Plot, No Problem,available here) for week three, I've started attempting to leapfrog through this novel so I actually reach the end of the novel somewhere aroung the 50,000 word mark. This means writing some scenes, but leaving others as brief descriptions. E.g. [Main Character travels to X by boat. It's cold and wet. Someone gets eaten by the sea monster.] Then write some more. Throw in some more short scene references. Keep going. This process does move the story along, but sometimes leaves me feeling like I've left out important stuff. Still, Chris does give the writer permission to go back later, after the 50,000 word deadline was reached at the end of the novel and there's still time left in the month, to go back and start filling in those sketched in scenes.

So, I figure I'm really kind of sketching in the plot in this draft. Trying to get the whole story down inside of 50,000 words, leaving out some detail, but including enough that I can go back later and have something to actually revise. And more importantly, a whole novel at the end of the month. If I'd continued as I had been, I would have hit 50,000 words about halfway through the novel and probaby continued past the November 30th deadline before finding the end of the story. This way will be more challenging, but the increased pressue to get the thing DONE may help keep the internal editor at bay.

Now, my editor is getting some work these days, on posts like this, on work related projects, but she is getting time off while I work on the novel. Instead of shipping the editor off to the Internal Editor's Spa and Retreat Kennel for the month, it's more like she gets sent off to a sound-proofed room in the attic for a mini-vacation, complete with any amenities she wants while I'm slogging away at the novel. A compromise that' s mostly working.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Write Goes On

The writing continues, making good progress, now officially past the half-way point for the NaNoWriMo challenge, but probably no where near the half way point of the story.

I got out to my first official Write-in this past Saturday, and my first "writing in public". Sort of like knitting in public, but fewer people seem inclined to watch. After all, everybody's seen laptops these days. Nothing special there. On the other hand, one of the other WriMo's was writing on a Neo -- a single-purpose computer designed solely for word processing, with a tiny screen that shows about four lines at a time. This did get some curious stares. Most of the group in attendance left early to go see a movie. I've not checked their word counts lately, but ...

Saturday was rainy, which made it a perfect writing day for me, because I didn't have to feel guilty about not doing anything about the accumulation of dead leaves in my yard. It was just too wet to even consider raking or mowing. Sunday was nicer, but I didn't get into the yard that day either. Errands took some time, and some more writing.

The story has started to move along. After finishing a section last night, I felt rather dissatisfied with the story progress. I was okay with where the story had ended up, but felt like I'd left out a lot of stuff that should have been in there. So, I'll probably be writing some additional scenes to retrofit in later, as well as adding a section for a major supporting character (and part time point of view character). Yes I'm being vague. On the other hand, three characters did die. And these were three characters who had already had on-stage time in the earlier parts of the story, so I can count them. I had a couple of characters who had died before the story began and whose deaths were described or mentioned, but I've chosen to not count them for that tally.

Confused yet? Don't worry. I'm not sure what's going on yet either. It ain't officially part of the story until it gets written down in the story. Notes don't count.

Remember, write down now. Make it pretty later!

Write On!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Week Two, continued

I gave myself Thursday night off from writing, because I had a meeting in the evening which took a chunk out of the available time for writing. I was, at least by my calculations, still a bit ahead of the pace as of yesterday, and I did take some time to brainstorm directions and options for the story even if I didn't write. So, I'm at least feeling better about what comes next in the story, as well as finding new ways to talk back to the internal editor:

"No, I don't have to go back and write the scene into the earlier chapter that would be absolutely essential to properly support this scene I'm writing now. I can write it now and move it into position later. Who says I have to write the whole novel in order anyway?"

"No, I'm not going back to remove chunks of novel that I've already written which are silly or no longer fit with the rest of the story. At best, I'll flag them for deletion (in a way that doesn't change the word count -- like changing the font or color) and deal with it later."

"No, it really doesn't matter that what I'm writing now directly contradicts something I wrote earlier. I can fix that later."

"Yes, I really can change viewpoint characters right now. Deal with it."

And I'm realizing that I'm going to have to take control of the plot and throw something unpleasant at my characters so they'll do something more interesting than talk to each other. It's time to do something to threaten the main character's person, family, home or friends. Time for some looting and pillaging! Or a little murder, mayhem and bloodshed. Watch out boys and girls, someone is going to get hurt! Fictionally speaking, that is, of course. Remember, it's just a story.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One week down, on to week two

It rained and rained yesterday. No thunder or lightning, but my power went out a couple of times last night. The first time was very brief, the second time was longer, but more annoying because I'd been in the middle of working on my Spanish homework, on the computer and on-line. I'm sitting there composing a sentence in Spanish and everything goes black. No computer, no lights, nothing. No laptop, so I couldn't pull that out and work on the novel. I decided to wait it out by taking a nap since it was too dark to see and I didn't feel like reading by flashlight and it was too early to go to bed. The lights came back on about twenty minutes later.

I gave up on the Spanish for the evening and wrote some more on the novel. Continuing to make progress, though slowly. Stuff is happening, but I notice that there isn't a whole lot of conflict in evidence yet, it's mostly the characters running around doing stuff and meeting other characters, but for the most part everybody seems to like everybody else, or at least they don't hate each other. Or if they do, they haven't told me about it yet. I'll have to see what I can do to get things moving a bit. Like get the characters out on the figurative tree limb and then start cutting the tree down and see what they do. Probably come after me with swords and spears. But at least they'd be doing something interesting then. Hmm, maybe it's time for one of the characters to do something unexpected.

On the other hand, this could just be the part of the story where I'm establishing the characters, giving the reader a chance to get to know them before stuff really starts getting exciting. Hmm, maybe I'd best not try to over-analyze this. Just keep writing!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

NaNo One Week Almost Done

Let's see, it's raining here. A lot. I'm tracking dead leaves into the house every time I take Jazzy (the dog) for a walk. It's election day, but I voted early last week, so at least I don't have to go out to do that tonight. It's the kind of day that I just want to go home and settle in and not go back out anywhere again. It's November and it gets dark early too. Perfect night for working on the novel.

Except, I really do have to go get gas in the car before I'm driving on fumes. And I really should restock the groceries, though I may wait one more day on account of the rain on that one. And I'm getting behind on my Spanish homework as well.

I did manage to keep up the writing last night, though I about fell asleep through the last couple of hundred words. I'm trying to not lose too much momemtum from not writing on Saturday and would really like to get a little further ahead. I tend to write at night, but not post my word counts until the next morning, when the website isn't quite as busy. So even though I'll write tonight, it may not be counted until tomorrow, which officially begins week two. Minor details.

The story keeps morphing on me though. For example, last night my main character acquired a twin brother I didn't know she had. It will be interesting to see exactly how that works out. Hmm, and I've not actually killed off any characters on stage yet, though a couple have been talked about who died before the story started. Personally, I don't think that really counts.

Rats: no further sign, so far. However, I have no illusions about them being truly gone. Just not anywhere I can hear them. This allows me to pretend that they're gone, which does make it easier to sleep at night.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Rats Part Two and NaNo Continues

Continuing the saga of the rat patrol, on Friday, I returned to the scene of the crime, i.e. my dirt basement, aka the crawlspace I can stand up in and that has lights and everything. So while it's cool, damp and dusty and full of amazingly ugly crickets and a bunch of junk, it's not terribly dark or particulary scary. I headed straight for the spots where two of the heating duct lines run up through the floor to ascend to the second floor, pulled away the insulation and found -- gaping holes in the floor around the flexible ductwork. Rat highways. No attempt to close it off. It's not like insulation is going to stop a rat, just lull the homeowner into thinking everything is nice and tidy. And as I poked around one of them, little bits of pink insulation were falling out around the heating duct, which was rather suspicious since the basement insulation is not pink, not even close; it's actually kind of yellow. There is pink insulation elsewhere in the house though. So, I'd definitely found a spot where a rat or other critter had in fact been making itself at home.

Then the hard part of the job begins. Go get the hardware cloth. Cut suitably shaped portions to cover the largest parts of the gaps. Screw to the underside of the subflooring with woodscrews and washers while trying not to damage wiring going through the same hole. Then stuff the remaining gaps with coarse steel wool. Lots of it. Then having finished the first one and put the insulation back in approximately the same places it started, go to the second one and repeat the process, sans wiring, plus the complication of trying to use a screwdriver in a much more cramped space. Finish second one. Put the insulation back. Take everything inside and change clothes immediately (dirt, dust, fiberglass) and throw everything in the washing machine.

Later, after supper, actually manage to write a couple thousand words. Then to bed. Rejoice to not be woken up by rats. So, maybe, I got all the entry points. For now.

Saturday and most of Sunday was a weekend tai chi workshop. No writing on Saturday. Did get a couple thousand words done on Sunday evening. Hoping to attend a write-in with some of the other local NaNo's this week.

Friday, November 03, 2006

NaNo Day Two and Rat Eviction Part One

I tackled the problem of rat exclusion before the writing yesterday. I found the spot the little beastie had chewed a new hole where some flexible ductwork went through a hole in the floor and I stuffed a lot of coarse steel wool into and around that area, as well as checking and packing several other gaps and potential rodent entry points. While I don't actually have to crawl to do this, it's not a really fun job. The space is high enough to stand or crouch in and there's a couple of bare bulb light fixtures down there, but it's still a dirt basement and the fiberglass insulation is always so much fun to work with. I also closed off the basement entry point to an old, now unused, air return down there, where rats or mice had occasionally been running around. When I finished up the job, I believed that I'd taken care of the problem, at least for this year.

However, about three in the morning, I awoke to the familiar sound of little rodent teeth gnawing on something in the wall (hopefully not anything important, like, the wiring). The good news is that the critter was in a different place, meaning I had succesfully closed off the previous entry point, and also it didn't hang around there very long. The bad news is that I get to go back under the house again today and see if I can figure out what entry point it used this time. Sigh. It's an adventure every time I pull down the insulation and see what gaping holes the previous owners and renovation crews managed to leave wide open. It's a wonder the whole house hasn't been overrun already.

This is also the time of year I start thinking about getting a barn cat or two. Not that I have a barn or anything like that. Just a small, old house that sits maybe eighteen feet off a pretty busy two lane road. I'm just not comfortable trying to keep an outside cat that close to a busy road.

I was able to get some writing time in and the story is beginning to move, a bit. The challenge is to resist the temptation to go back and fix the early stuff, but to complete the 50,000 word challenge, you just can't do that. It's time to just turn off the internal editor, and just tell yourself, "you can fix it all later." The word count is slowly accumulating and I'm still running a bit ahead of quota, for the moment anyway.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

NaNo Day One and Rats in the Walls

First day finished out well, since I was able to write another 2500 words or so last night after work.

Then, in the wee hours of the morning, my annual unwanted visitor made his or her presence known. Yep, a rat found it's way back into the wall between my bedroom and the adjoining bathroom. I think they've been hauling walnuts from the yard behind me into that space for years and then come in occasionaly to gnaw on them. It's the gnawing that wakes me up. Sounds a lot like a squirrel, but at 3am, it ain't a squirrel. The critter was still at it at 3:30am, so I got up and decided to put the time to good use and wrote another hour on the novel before I normally would have gotten up. So all told, that's 4315 words down. I'm running a bit ahead at the moment.

However, this afternoon, I get to go down into the basement/crawlspace and see if I can find and block whatever access point the little beastie is using to get up into the walls this time. It's an old house, with an amazing number of odd gaps and openings through the floor down there -- pipes, heating ducts, odd gaps where previous renovations created spaces to run ductwork to the second floor (former actic), all of which have to be blocked off with something rodent teeth can't chew through. I've used coarse steel wool, 1/4" hardware cloth and anything else metal that I can scrounge. Sealing the crawlspace itself is impractical without major renovations, given the way the heat pump is installed, so I settle for keeping the critters out of the main part of the house (and the walls). Wish me luck.

And I'd like to get some more writing done on the novel today as well. I've got a busy weekend ahead of me, with little writing time in sight Saturday or Sunday.

To Ronn: Thank you for your thoughtful comments yesterday and camera recommendations. I actually have acquired a camera (5 megapixel Canon), which I like, but haven't had time to upload anything here yet.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Change of Subject

September, I drove to Florida and managed to visit several yarn stores during the trip, one in Florida (Uncommon Threads in Palm Harbor) and two in the Atlanta area. Money was spent at both.

October turned cold and rainy. Some knitting got done. The Doctor Who scarf has now reached approximately the 75% mark, and it's already insanely long. I'm wondering if I'm actually going to have enough yarn to finish it. I might actually have to go get some more at some point.

Other projects included a tiny little drawstring bag knit out of purple sock yarn on small needles as a birthday gift for my niece, with a couple of goodies inside.

November is going to be a very knitting-light month. I've signed up for National Novel Writing Month, and will be working on a novel instead. This does mean that my planned holiday gift knitting may end up getting totally derailed this year. On the other hand, I've not been very organized about it either and have only started one knitted gift from the list. The mittens might actually get done in time.

I'm going to try posting a little widget on this page to track my progress with the novel.

Meanwhile, I did get a whole 444 words written this morning before work. Only about 1200 more for today's quota (1666 per day for 30 days = 50,000 words).

I'm probably not going to say much about the content here, other than it is a fantasy novel set in a world bearing some resemblance to early northern Europe, circa 1800 years BCE. Title, for the moment, is "The Raven's Gift". Enough said.