Thursday, September 10, 2009

all novel in a day

Okay, in 3 days.
Yes, last weekend was the 3-Day Novel Contest! With my desktop computer being much deaded, and connectivity downstairs being kind of spotty, I didn't have much luck posting regular progress reports. So this is my roundup:

Initial plot-like object was the idea of a woman scholar who is a fairly high-profile prisoner of conscience, refusing to recant the anthropology studies of her youth (published) which establish the distinct culture and language of a nomadic ethnic minority that she'd lived and travelled with. Interspersed with the folktales and legends of the nomads, and other random folktales as appropriate--because in litfic it's perfectly reasonable to drop the story as such and throw in bits of letters or encyclopedia articles or ballads or conversations that took place decades ago. Anyway, she suddenly 'births' (in the Zeus's brow, warrior's thigh way) a culture-hero. And then, um, stuff happens. Some of it rather gross in a bodily-secretions way, because there are all these great folktale motifs of children born from blood clots and mucus, and generally they do not get much love in the Folktales-of-the-World way.
Inspiration and ready-ref was the Funk & Wagnall's Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, 1236 pages.

Supplies included black tea, ginger beer, coffee (made by Supportive Husband); cold pizza, frozen meat pies, corn chips, bag of veggies, dried apples, dried plums, sugared ginger, Cap'n Crunch cereal.

Distractions included ripe blackberries and dropping plums; telephone calls from cheerful relatives and distraught friends; library books left in plain sight by Supportive Husband.

Saturday started off well at 6 am, with 2428 words before an early lunch break. Return was delayed by filling the dehydrator with a load of plums, and picking enough blackberries for a pie. Because obviously those things Could Not Wait. At dinner break I had only 4045, and determined to hit 7k before bed. Unfortunately by 11:45 I was falling asleep sitting up and had only hit 6600. Still, that was better than both previous years.
The story was chugging along, with Nima (yeah, perhaps such an easily mis-typed name was not the best choice for a story written at widely varying levels of alertness?) resigned to her captivity and amusing herself by thwarting her jailers in various minor ways, then dealing with the supernatural events that decided to make her their agent. I was having fun playing mix'n'match with motifs.
Sunday was slogging. Didn't get started until 8 am, and had only brought the total to 7513 by lunchtime. The 2pm slump hit me hard, and Mark suggested walking into Oak Bay with him for some air and exercise. That helped a bit, as did the pre-dinner nap, but I was still lingering too much over word choice and bending myself out of shape over whether I was keeping the 'voice'. I broke 10k after dinner, and was just under 12k when I called it a night at a quarter past twelve. What really helped me pick up speed was adding another viewpoint character, Rasa, a young girl of the nomads living in a reserve / prison camp, who witnesses the 'birth' of another culture hero, from the tears & mucus of her outcast mother. I also got the ending down, so I'd just have to fill in the middle on Monday!
Monday, split the difference and started at 7 am. 13625 words at lunchtime (again, very early lunch). From there on, a pretty steady 400-700 words an hour. Supportive Husband made a big pot of strong coffee and went to bed, leaving me to it.
The last couple of scenes before the climax were badly scanted, because I was getting right down to the wire for time, and needed to have the two halves of the tunnel at least touch in the middle. So Nima being injured (proves fatal) while releasing the oxen from the barn was barely there, but, well, triage.
Final wordprocessor count, at 11:55 Monday night was 18768 words, barely above the last 2 years. That may be my natural length for a 3 day push.

It was fun. I was sorry I had to skimp on the latter middle, but it's a bit facile to say 'ah, you should have done more on Sunday' because on Sunday I still didn't know what was going to happen in the middle of the book. This one, of all my 3-Days so far, is open for rewrite and expansion--in fact I'm eager to fill it out, though as usual I can't think of a market for it.
This is the third story set in the alt-Europe that I used for Fold. I'm enjoying expanding that setting, exploring different views of the societies. Maybe I can take those three and turn them into a decent-sized collection to print through Lulu.

And now to bed, for I have sleep still to catch up on.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

late blooming and general lateness

Haha, I was right, the Gruss an Teplitz is not dead! That's it to the left above, and besides the flower, it has put out shoots and leaves. Yay!
The cluster of pink, photographed from below, is Old Blush, which I've dragged up over the gate-arch. Otherwise, the Dortmund is blooming steadily away in red clusters and clumps, and Sir Clough has produced a couple of large blooms in sympathy with the recent heat-wave. The rugosa is dotted with bright red hips, its autumn show.
In the back yard, one of the gallicas is still blooming with manifold redness.

And this is my half-sister, from my dad's first marriage. Hi Darlene! Who cleverly found me and my brother, even though Barbara and Peter Gordon are not the easiest names to track down, especially when one of those names has been unexpectedly changed. This makes her cleverer than me, because my own haphazard googling for Darlene and Lorene over the last few months had come to nothing.
So on Monday, after she had returned from Mexico and I had returned from Pennsylvania, she visited, and we met for the first time.

It felt surprisingly comfortable, at least to me, as if we'd known each ther for a long time, and were just catching up on recent news. Now I'm looking forward to meeting Lorene, and for Pete-and-family to be moved in to the new place so we can unpack the family photos and see how many we can identify properly.

In other news, the 3-Day Novel Contest is this weekend (glyph of writerly excitement), and what with my wonderfully eventful regular life, I've barely thought about it. This year it will come with extra bonus GUILT because I had hoped and planned to have Willow Knot all revised and mailed off before Labour Day weekend, free and clear.
But no. The structural revision is done, but I haven't filled in all the new scenes in the last part of the story, plus as I read over I keep finding little traces of the previous chronology, and have to fix them. Apparently I did a lot of work tying down the sequence of events and marking how many years / summers / antlers / etc. had arrived. A lot, and have had to do it again.
I'm not sure what this is most like, whether unpicking embroidery or like the ravelling that the court ladies do in the story, unlacing goldwork into spools of thread. Or, for a more guy-like metaphor, imagine you've made the Lego(tm) Space Station, but you have to take it all apart so you can build the next thing. How hard is it to turn the little command centre into a pile of blocks? Do you want to keep at least the captain's chair out of the general undoing?
Yes, I know, this is why one saves each draft, to avoid 'really' losing anything. I've been telling myself this a lot. It should be done by the 14th, though I'll have to do a thorough read-through to make sure that I haven't done anything really embarrassing with the chronology.
But this weekend--this weekend is dedicated to squashing a messy first draft down onto the page, and not thinking about it. Wheeee! I even have a really disgusting plot element, though perhaps not as intense as previous winner Skin, by Bonnie Bowman, or Tacones, which I still have a hard time reading.

To bookend with garden news, the Transparent is done, thankfully, but the pears and plums have started falling and it's time to fire up the dehydrator.
Blackberries have reacted to the severe cutting back by, of course, fruiting madly. I've frozen and bagged a few quarts and made 6 pies so far, 3 for the freezer and 3 baked. Here's a pic of the second baked pie--look, flaky pastry!