Saturday, October 12, 2013

How long did this take?

This is the blog where I get a little personal. 
I started the novel that I’ve been working on as a Nanowrimo back in 2011.  I made my 50K goal on Thanksgiving Day just before I was supposed to start stuffing the turkey.  I was pretty damn proud of myself and happy with making the goal, but the story was far from over.  Not even close.  But the Turkey turned out really amazing that year.  I cooked with some serious passion that year.  
 I kept working on the story through the rest of the month and put in another 6K words and it still wasn’t done.  When I got to December I wasn’t able to keep up with writing because of life being life during the holiday season and I set the story aside for several months. 

When I finally got back to work it was well into 2012 and I only got another 10K into it, so there I was at roughly 65K.  I’m was  thinking this thing is never going to be done.  I love the story, the characters, the world I’ve made.  I know exactly how it ends.   But getting there was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be.  Far more twists and turns that I ever expected there to be, as historical research changed the path a few times.  When October of 2012 approached I realized I should be preparing to write something new, but I wasn’t ready.  I also knew this book had another 50K worth of words to be written at least.  Well, it’s technically “cheating” to the Nanowrimo purists but this was what I needed to work on.  So I kept going with this story.  Kept up with word counts and everything except for when I had the flu.  Then back to business with my writing, right up until my cat kept vomiting up his food constantly.  Turned out he wasn’t a fat cat, he was all liver.  It was a mass of liver compressing his stomach.  We tried for surgery, but they found it was much worse than they thought.   He died before we could even bring him home.  That was right after Thanksgiving.  Didn’t finish the Nano, and didn’t write again for about three months.  
When I finally got back into the swing of things, I knew I needed better discipline and a schedule.  I set up a real office in my garage where I wasn’t going to be interrupted when I did sit down to write.  Or I’d have to leave the house.  The local Panera Bread is my other office.  Can’t deal with Starbucks, too crowded and there are no earbuds good enough to block out that many people drinking coffee and being hip.   
About a month ago I realized my story had a sequel.  Well, technically I tossed the idea out vaguely to a friend and to my dad six months ago and they didn’t hate it.  But a month ago I realized it definitely had to happen and I was at the turning point in the story where I needed to work specific characters in that would appear in the next book.   So, if I was going to do it, this was the time.  Well, that led me to restructuring the end and changing the beginning.  All of this made the whole thing stronger.  At least, I hope it does.  

This brings us to the end of September 2013 and just a few days before my birthday when I finished the book.   So, that’s two years to finish just one draft.   Just how it worked out for me.   I’m not sure how the pro’s who maintain a day job keep up the writing discipline.  It’s really hard.  But I do also take care of my 90 year old grandmother in addition to the day job. 
It's possible no one is interested in any of this, but here it is anyway.   Next time I'll write about something fun, like the never ending research spiral that is the internet.

Still raising  money for Night of Writing Dangerously.  Please consider donating, it's a good charity.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter G

I have at least six characters in my novel with names that start with the letter G.  Now, in the grand scheme of things I suppose this shouldn’t be a problem but most of these are the main characters.  The perspective characters romantic interest was named with a G.  Her mother AND step mother were named with a G.   The step mothers twin was named with a G though I admit that actually makes sense since twins are often named with like letters.  At that point I still didn’t realize I had a problem.  Nope, because then I even named the romantic interests MOTHER with a G name.  Yes, you read that correctly. 
Let’s count them shall we? 

Ok, that’s actually five, but I think there’s another character somewhere in the middle of the book that I can’t recall at the moment.  I finally realized I had a problem when I was updaing character profiles in the writing software I use and then arranged them alphabetically.  Half the characters in the story were in the G section.  What gives self?   What’s with the love of G?
Part of the problem is that when you write a story set in a specific historical place and time you feel obligated to use names that fit in that place and time.   So I would spend time looking for names that were appropriate for ancient Trace, and Ancient Gaul, Celts, or Teutonic peoples.   This also leads you to baby name sites, and then on to a never ending Wikipedia loop of wondering if this is the right name. 
Then there’s just picking a random name for a character because you need a name RIGHT NOW.  The first half of the novel I’ve just finished the first draft on, I started as a NanoWriMo year before last.  When I got to the point of naming this romantic interest, I was in a book store.  I picked a random book up off a shelf next to me and flipped open the book to a page and picked a name.  Luckily it was a book on history and was actually a name that sort of fit. 
The name was Gron.   It is a terrible name.   Horrible.  Don’t worry; I’m going to change it.  It became a running joke between myself and a couple of friends.  One friend even jokingly started calling my book “Gron's Woman.”  Though that is nothing even close to what the story is about.  But the name is so bad, and so cliché it was hard not to joke about it.  Another friend borrowed it for a time for another story, but dropped it in favor of something better.  After awhile I started to like the name.  Then hate it again. 
Eventually I realized I had to change it even if I did like it because of my G problem.   It needed to be something appropriate to the place and time, so I asked a friend from Iceland for a good name, and he gave me one.  When in doubt, ask people for good suggestions.  People are better than the internet.
Ultimately I will change about half of the G names for others.   I will also learn to not give people such a hard time about finding names for characters on the fly.  I used to be part of this gaming group, and half the fun was asking the GM the name for characters she’d never once thought of naming.  The poor characters would end up with names like Mr. Paper or something along those lines.  Well, now it’s no so funny is it? 

Today’s blog has been brought to  you today by the Letters G, B and the Number 5.
PS - Still raising money for this.  You know you want to help out.