Sunday, June 23, 2013

Clarion West Write-a-Thon

I attended Clarion West last summer. This year I'm participating in the Write-a-thon. The Write-a-thon serves two purposes: 1) It provides funds to support the program, including scholarships for students who could not otherwise participate; 2) It signals a commitment to writing on the part of the participants.

When I applied to Clarion West, I wrote that doing so was a signal to myself that my writing mattered. My Write-a-thon is a reaffirmation of that message.

Here is a link to my Write-a-thon page

Each day from June 23 to August 2, I'll come and post a sentence or phrase to mark my progress. It could be from any of the three projects: Revision of 1910,  drafting a new YA, and a speculative story.

I think I will try to write at least one sentence that fits in all three—because that is the sort of thing that amuses me. Maybe I'll call that a BINGO or a TICTAC. 

- - -
June 23:   I failed my first test before I was a minute old. 

June 24:   The blood of a boy will inevitably be spilled. and A hundred blue butterflies collected in the place I peed yesterday. (two works, two sentences) 

June 25: Murdered, murderess, ruined lamb, the sort of bride that requires bribes of diamonds: She could be any one of them at the drop of a hat, and everyone was waiting for the hat to land. 

June 26: I revise while I write the first draft; today I cut this from the new YA " conversation, but not the kind we have with the outside dark of space when radio waves tampered and ruffled escape the atmosphere." I like the ruffled radio waves. Sigh. 

June 27: I am juggling several chainsawkittens during the 1910 revision: Inserting a plot, keeping the pace snappy, and sustaining my commitment to historical fact. That last is a particular kind of booger. Until this morning when it finally dawned on me: In a world where the movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter* exists, I can probably give myself a little more latitude, have a little more fun. And that might also solve the plot and pacing problems. 
This is me reinventing the wheel called fiction.  
* I enjoyed the heck out of that movie.

June 28:  "They are always equal, give or take the weight of a thumb."

TIC TAC #1 happened on June 28. It is not the sentence above. This TAC TAC is a sentence that requires context (Boy Howdy does it require context.) I now understand how very hard it will be to get a BINGO, to write one sentence that works in 1910, the new YA, and The Radish. I mean, it would be easy enough if the sentence were: "I am." But I find that very dull. The BINGO project is not intended to bore me.

June 29: ...a fluctuating peacock flock of dramatic personalities.

First week progress report

I've managed to write a few new scenes for both novels. I keep telling myself I need to go on field trips or do research, but I tell you what: I get sidetracked by research. It is addictive, like this stuff I found while reading through the obituaries from vintage issues of the Chester Signal. 

Dick Richardson Joins The Silent Majority
. . .
"Dick has been a familiar figure on our streets, and was a rather bright man intellectually when not fighting booze." 

Benton Child Dragged to Death By Pet Calf
. . .
"A long rope was attached to the calf, and the other end to the three year old child. The calf became frightened and ran, dragging the child, and before it could be rescued it was dead. . . . though she made strenuous efforts to rescue the child, life was quite extinct when she succeeded in getting to the little one."

I've also been crashing though several indexing projects. Deadlines on the 8th and 11th to meet.(Imagine two trains trying to occupy the the same space at the same time; now add a flying saucer and triceratops to the mix.) 

Anyhow, I'm making progress.

JUNE 30TH"I am the DEATH of Pumpkins or the only friend a Pumpkin ever had. We won't know until the end of the story."--

--  This is not a line from a story. This is my Facebook status. I like it best of the things I've written today.

July 1: Today I lost a conversation, which is not to say that I consider conversation to be a competition. I was composing dialogue for 1910 in an email message to myself. I left the computer and it was deleted by another user: An unauthorized user. There are way more computers than human people in this house, and I always throw a fit when something I'm working on gets lost, but it happens. After the requisite searchingsearchingsearching, I have to give it up for lost. 

July 3 (because July 2 was 9.5 hours of indexing and one hour of digging with a long-handled shovel): Today I'm revising. My plan: To make sure that "Elephant, mustard, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dracula" are all in 1910 somehow. 

July 4: I assume he was at that moment turning the key in his own lock, stepping into his room, and being greeted by whatever sounds Orinoco Cuckoos make while they are dreaming.  

July 5 through 8: I've been moving a lot of things around during revision. The net change in length on 1910 is about +2K. I think I've managed to insert some motivating features will I've been moving the furniture around. Do not think of deck chairs on the Titanic. The Titanic hasn't happened yet, this is 1910.  Probably my favorite newly added word is Mamzelle. Now I have developed dire concerns about the last four months of the book (the book goes along by the calendar), especially September. 
I doubt I'm going to get much writing done tomorrow. I have many index revision matters to manage. 
But I have a super new book I'm reading for research. I have never heard the word polygonal applied to these topics. It is in translation, from the French, and I haven't sought it out in the original to see if that was a complete wackaloonacy or a faithful wackaloonacy. Polygonal. o.0

July 8: Watched a not-very-good movie that shall remain nameless. It was worth it. The plot was very much in evidence as the thing clanked along. Given my lack of understanding of plot, I think I benefitted from the time I spent. It is sort of like learning to dance by looking at a footprint diagram. At least I feel more confident about my rumba.

July 9: Les etoiles filantes, tombent sans connaissance de soi; ils tombent mais ils ne se voyaient pas. I haven't decided: Tidy it up? Scuff it up some more? The person hearing the words doesn't speak 

July 10: "I might be privileged to taxidermy a dog which had been petted by Teddy Roosevelt." It was a productive day. I'm starting to understand the structure of the newYA. I'd like to spend a couple days in Paradise Valley doing nothing but jamming on the revision of 1910, but I have an index deadline on Monday. Meanwhile, I'm just letting the Radish perk along. That thing is gnomic. 

July 12: "These ghosts are as much his  responsibility as mine, and I very much think that the naked Italian boy would be better off with his own kind: male and silent." 
Yesterday was all indexing. Today I cleared my desk. It gets mighty messy with a couple of books, a short story, and several indexes in the mix. And photographs. And drawings. I found a whole stack of little notes I'd made (on index cards, natch) about 1910. Most of them had already been folded into the first draft. 

July 13: 

I like that ghost story.

And I wrote this:

"We are all suffering from malaise. It is a disease of ghosts. It is to be forgotten. It is the final release from responsibility, when the ghost no longer responds to its own name, when that name means nothing anymore."

July 18: (Almost wrote "1910"...) I fell down the revision rabbit hole, which is a good thing. If I work very hard today it is possible that I will have fully revised the first five months of 1910. The most exciting development: I can put Carolina Parakeets in the book. I doubt that anyone else will know that they are Carolina Parakeets, but I will know. And I will know how very sad it is that they are only lingering in captivity for a few more years before they will be extinct. 

July 19: I wrote two bad poems today, for, as my protagonist observes, "poetry takes less time and intelligence to produce." And she is correct, at least when it comes to bad poetry. I started a third one, but when I got to the lines "While the broom sits in the closet forgot / Her stillborn baby in a cold grave rots." ...and I knew that one was off the rails. It was supposed to be about electrical toasters and irons, but it took a sharp turn to the left. Ahem.

July 24: Oh, shit. I fell down the revision rabbit hole.
 "I've fallen and I can't get up..."
 Anywho, today I think I might have broken the book.
 Maybe that's a normal felling during revision. Who would I know? Honestly, I've only written such short books that my previous revisions never amount to much. But this? Uncharted territory. Tectonic-scale change. I can't say I'm enjoying the experience. I dislike hard work for one thing. And this seems hard. When I invent something new, I have to go through the whole darn book and make it matter. EVERYTHING that makes it into the book needs to matter. A superfluous bluebird could be the death of the story. The bluebird of DEATH. Yes. I'm resorting to capital letters and hyperbole. Adjust your delicate selves.

August 1:  I just sent the revised book to my editor. I expect there will be need for further revisions, but I can say that there were significant changes. I have written a conclusion that is more like a conclusion than anything I've written before. I incline towards indecision. I think this contributes to my desire to "not end" stories. Start in medias res, end in medias res.
Revision bloated the book from 52 to 63 K. I did cut out swathes of stuff, but I also introduced a new thing: plot. Or something I think is sort of plotty. It has plottishness.
The book is made of words.
On other fronts, I wrote a poem yesterday. During revision, I wrote two poems to include in the book. (They will never see print, I can almost guarantee it.) Writing those poems made it easier for me to write something more serious...although it is a very funny poem. Seriously funny.
By tomorrow or this afternoon, I'll be ready to pick up the pieces of the new YA and start stitching them together.

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