Brain Strain, Best Intentions and “Five Minutes”

 

Yesterday was a testament to the foil of the best-laid plans.

I’d been feverishly at work on the finishing touches to The Camille Chronicles. My rationale: I was THISCLOSE to finishing, then I would be free to concentrate on my commitments to the Clarion Write-A-Thon and Camp NaNoWriMo.  The sooner I finished, the more time I’d have to work on those other two projects.

Yeah, right. Man plans, God [or whatever deity you prefer] laughs.

I worked on tightening up the story, collaborated with my graphic designer on final touches to the cover, and then back to the story.  Then my eyes started getting droopy around 10 p.m., and I was so tired. I’d gotten a decent amount of sleep the night before, but I couldn’t deny that my eyes were starting to burn like they did during final exam times in college. So I told myself that harmless phrase of self-delusion: “I’ll just close my eyes for five minutes.”

I woke up around 3:45 a.m. :/

In retrospect, I should have worked on The Camille Chronicles for a while, then forcibly stop myself and move to the other projects. This is what I’ve been doing for the past few days. But then, I would just continue to string along three unfinished projects instead of focusing to give the attention to finishing one, so I could move on to the others. It’s like the process of getting out of debt: you pay off one bill, then take that money that would normally be used to pay that bill and contribute it to another bill, and keep that cycle going until everything is paid off. In this case, the currency would be time instead of dollars. I didn’t do that for the past few days. I kept paying the minimum balance, if you will, and carried three balances instead of working to get all of them paid off.

This also made me wonder about brain strain. Writing is a very mental exercise, as is anything that requires more thinking than physical labor. I used to get a similar fatigue when I was a full-time editor, poring through manuscripts and advertisements line by line for typographical, grammatical, punctuation, and subject/verb agreement errors. If an athlete can overtax him or herself to the point of straining a muscle, then it stands to reason that I overtaxed my brain to the extent that it was strained. This reminds me of a line from one of my favorite books, Firestarter by Stephen King: “The brain is the muscle that can move the world.”

I will catch up on Clarion and Camp NaNoWriMo this weekend, and I will finish The Camille Chronicles by tomorrow. And I will rest my brain by taking a walk to the farmers’ market later on today. I just have to keep reminding myself that accountability and pushing oneself are one thing; pushing oneself beyond reason is quite another.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Clarion Write-A-Thon Day 10

Target goal: 25,000 words

Target daily goal: 775 words

Today’s word count: 826

Total words written: 7,347 words

 

I found myself actually irritated that I had to work on my Clarion piece today.  As I mentioned in previous posts, today also started the first day of Camp NaNoWriMo. The book for that particular workshop required more research, as the first chapter is initially set in the 1940s. I am a research wonk so once I get started on a research project, I dig in and keep going until I give out of energy. I couldn’t do that this go round; I had to literally stop myself and switch to Clarion mode so that I could meet my word count for the day. Arrrrggghhh…

The Clarion piece is coming along. My main character is starting to realize just how big of a mess in which she’s landed herself,  and the effect it’s having on the people around her. She is also beginning to realize just how unfair life can be. This will provide a deep pond in which to fish for future plot lines, which is good. Hopefully, I won’t have a lot of writer’s block as a result.

The NaNoWriMo book is calling…or maybe I’ll watch Matrix Revolutions for the umpteenth time. Or play some more mahjong. Or have a snack. I’ll figure it out shortly.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Clarion Write-A-Thon Day 9

Target goal: 25,000 words

Target daily goal: 775 words

Today’s word count: 994

Total words written: 6,521 words

Well, according to the Clarion Write-A-Thon word counter, I am now officially 1/4 of the way through my goal of 25,000 words. *Tiger Woods fist pump*

It was a struggle to write today. I had gotten some crucial information from a research source for my upcoming novel, The Camille Chronicles. This required rewriting certain parts of the book to incorporate these changes, which would lend a more authentic flavor. I’m all about accuracy and authenticity, so I didn’t mind, but I also lost track of time. I got to 681 word and wanted to quit for the day, because I had been working on the final draft of The Camille Chronicles for most of the day. But I pushed through, wrote another 310 words, and managed to squeak in today’s 994 words under the wire. *whew*

My main character in the Write-A-Thon project has now been thrust into a journey where she will undergo trials that will reveal her true self. I now have to figure out what those trials will be. There can be the basic issues of trust: of herself, of others. There may also be the issue of finding out where she truly fits in the grand scheme of things, if anywhere. This will result in a profound alteration of the character’s character; all that I need to figure out is how dark do I want her to go. Will I have her retain a core of her usual ebullience, or will I have her become totally hardened (like Arya Stark in The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin)? It’s kind of exciting, actually; we as writers tend to infuse our characters with aspects of ourselves. It will be interesting to see how much darkness resides in me, that I can give to the character.

I really need to figure out where I put my copy of  The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogel. It is an extremely helpful book and will come in handy as I figure out the rest of this book’s trajectory. I’ve had it since 2003 and it never gets old. I should probably get the latest edition but until then, Old Faithful will have to do.

I’m about to crash. .Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Clarion Write-A-Thon Day 8

Target goal: 25,000 words

Target daily goal: 775 words

Today’s word count: 991

Total words written: 5,590 words

I almost forgot to work on the Clarion project today, as I was working on the marketing stuff for my upcoming book, The Camille Chronicles. When you’re self-publishing, you wear many hats–at least, until I can afford to have someone do it for me.

The story flowed pretty well today. I tried to figure out if my main character would really be that naive about office politics, or if it was a bit of a reach. Then I remember, from my days in Corporate America, that  there were people who didn’t have a clue beyond their workloads. Such folks tended to be blindsided by various corporate decisions and were under the impression (delusion?) that all was required was to show up and do their work. I know; I used to be one of them.

Anyway, the way the story is flowing, I’m going to write a rather action-packed scene coming up. How much blood and gore will be included will be determined as I go along.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Clarion Write-A-Thon Day 7

Target goal: 25,000 words

Target daily goal: 775 words

Today’s word count: 791

Total words written: 4,599 words

I took yesterday off (day 6) from writing, post-doctor’s appointment for my annual physical. Today, I was feeling under the weather, but I knew I needed to write something, so I pushed through it and did 791 words. Yay!

My character and plot evolution continue to amaze me, as I let the story take me where it wants to go. I’d always wanted to include an element of rebellion in the plot (e.g., the little guy takes on the big guy), and this new direction is definitely including that as a major plot element.

I also like how my main character is evolving in the face of this particular plot element. I am much more pleased with how she is shaping up. I never really connected with her original iteration; I had her as young and naive and since I am neither in real life, it was hard to make those traits come across convincingly on paper.

Now I need to turn my attention to more final edits on my upcoming book. Woohoo!

As for what I’m reading, I finally finished The Cocaine Chronicles and am debating on what to read next. Stay tuned.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Clarion Write-A-Thon Day 5

Target goal: 25,000 words

Target daily goal: 775 words

Today’s word count: 801

Total words written: 3,808 words

 

Today’s story path took a darker turn than I’d expected. This could be good, if I do it correctly. This turn of events is a direct result of making one of my main characters much older than originally written. When you’re younger, you tend to have a more optimistic view of things. As one gets older, it gets harder to hold on to that optimism. My character is slowly beginning to see that what she thought, and what is, are different. Not quite The Matrix, but there is a definite awakening of the true self.

I’m cutting this short because I am watching the NBA draft. In case you didn’t know, I am a die-hard basketball fan, with a special love for college basketball. I’m paying more attention to this NBA draft because some of my favorite players from this past NCAA season are in it, and this is heightening my interest in the NBA this upcoming season.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Clarion Write-A-Thon: Day 3

Target goal: 25,000 words

Target daily goal: 775 words

Today’s word count: 775

Total words written: 1,971

One of the challenges I’ve found in writing sci fi/spec fic is making it futuristic, yet identifiable and understandable. This can run the gamut to the setting (e.g., New Earth as opposed to the current one; a planet similar to Earth;  or even a recognizable planet like Mars), to technology, to everyday units of time and measurement.

Some authors do it well. One is the late Anne McCaffrey in her Dragonriders of Pern series. The series is set on another planet that was colonized after Earth self-destructed due to technology and war, and its denizens live and survive in prehistoric conditions. Even though McCaffrey uses different names for commonplace items (e.g., “klah” for coffee, “sevenday” for week), her descriptions made her nomenclature easily recognizable.

Another author who is surprisingly good at bridging the gap between present and future is J.D. Robb, the pseudonym for bestselling romance author Nora Roberts. Her Eve Dallas series is obviously  set in the future (the series starts at 2058 A.D.) and includes plausible devices such as flying cars, completely automated kitchens, and combination wrist phones/computers (hello, Samsung Galaxy Gear).

Unfortunately, I am not (yet) in these ladies’ league.  My attempts to try and use futuristic yet identifiable jargon don’t work; my terms come off clumsy and cliched. I have to admit that I’m not THAT imaginative; words currently in use sound good to me, but someone else created them, and to use them would be lazy and uncreative. In the meantime, I’ll just stick with using commonplace words and let my readers figure it out. It’s easier for me to create the world and the plot of the story. I’m enjoying the worlds that I created, and I’m glad that I dug in the crates to realize that I had some worthwhile stuff that needs to be developed for future works.

See you tomorrow for Day 4. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

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