Saturday, November 30, 2013

51, 334 words!


The story isn't done, but I have managed this milestone.  Woo-hoo!  I unironically feel very proud.

I know there is a lot of criticism of NaNoWriMo and I understand why.  I have not, in fact, written a novel, but only around 3/4 of a first draft of a novel.  Some of my motivation for writing is now gone and if I needed it to get started, will I need similar motivation to actually finish the darn thing*?  Why would anyone want to read my made-up-as-I-went-along story anyway?


Well, they might want to.  I do know that my story, as a commercial product, is not even half done.  As long as I, and other NaNoWriMo authors keep this in mind, there is real value in the event.


And I have really improved.  My story started as half-assed but is now at least 4/5-assed.  The characters have filled out and possess individual motivations  Friends sometimes have conflicts and enemies sometimes agree.  I am not saying I have written a profound story, but it is deeper than when I started.

I had forgotten the grammar forms for a few situations and have relearned them. I have learned some of my weaknesses and strengthened them.

I am a better writer and it is because of NaNoWriMo.

I hadn't planned to donate to them but I now think I will.
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*As a sorta-writer and a sorta-carver, one thing I have learned is that no one ever finishes a creative piece.  The best one can do is decide at some point to stop editing. This story needs a lot of work before even the first draft can be considered done.  I have to end the story (and most of these arguments also apply to choosing where to end) and run it through spell-check, then check continuity and such before daring to show it to someone for commentary.

Friday, November 29, 2013

November 28th update

I'm surprisingly upbeat about my InNoWriMo book now.  I know my last post was negative about my writing, but my point in writing about the cowardice I described was that I had seen it and understood it enough to fight against it.

There are two days left in November and I have less than 2000 words to go.  I can do this and, after much revision, will have a thrilling tale that I created.

One place where I was not overly verbose was in describing how a character gets killed.  I don't think this phrasing will survive revision and it is probably wrong that I chuckle when reading how I killed someone, but here it is now:
    She was moving to the river when the car of 'ndrina toughs arrived.  She was at the river when they beat the shit out of her, protected from her powers by the approaching car of psychics.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Courage

Today, I wrote around 1900 words for InNoWriMo and managed some carving at the Wye Marsh Woodcarving club.  I found something interesting and similar about my two my projects.

I was a coward.

For the writing, I have what I think is a good premise and plot points but still need to write the actual plot.  That might not be clear: I needed a mentor to be killed, then one of the students before the group digs in to fight back.  I'm having great trouble deciding how to kill the student and have mostly been writing background and exposition, rather than getting into the emotionally charged material.  I am ahead of schedule to make 50,000 words by months' end but it won't be a complete story, or, at best, it'll have a very rushed ending.  I guess what I'm saying is I'm writing about the easy stuff - how or why I think some parts are easier than others is worthy of another blog post - and waiting to do the hard stuff later.  Well, I'm running out of later and it may be that I've filled my story with boring stuff.

For the carving, almost the same thing.  First, have a look:




I can see big differences although perhaps someone who isn't actually working on the piece cannot.  The places where I am working do need the work, but are also the easy places.  I am concerned about how to do the face and paws and when I sat down to carve, I meant to work on the hind paws at least.  Instead, I thinned various sections, especially the neck.  It's work that needs to be done but isn't difficult.  I must admit, I do like the tail though and that didn't feel easy.

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 24 productivity report

This is a big day for my InNoWriMo story.  I need to produce a lot of words.  Yet,the first thing I did this morning was delete 400 words, the second thing I did was read this:
Bonus Pep Talk from Tai Reichle"Don't go down the darker path, Wrimos. Every word you delete, every font you change, and every link you click will bring you closer to my hopeless state. Even when devoid of inspiration, keep writing seemingly dumb, uninspired words until November's up. Then read them, and you may discover that they're more inspired than you originally thought."
I never know when I copy hyperlinked text if the link will work.  Here it is again.

My original plan involved one character being killed and then another but the way I'd written it last night, the two were going to go together.  The level of violence seemed to ramp up too quickly.  Well, now today needs to include 400 more words.

2:00 PM I'd planned to drive to Barrie and meet other writers but we've had unpleasant weather for the past thirty hours.  And if we have unpleasant weather, Barrie is experiencing fimbulvinter.  Don't worry too much about them, they get through fimbulvinter several times a month in the winter.  So, I'm staying home and possibly going to a Tim Horton's for a change in writing space.
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Late evening: Finished the day with 1680 words to the good - just over 2000 total.

No carving.

Itchy mustache.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nov 23 productivity report

The writing is getting tough.  I am a little ahead in my numbers but I didn't write much yesterday or today.  Tomorrow, I will kill at least two main characters and the story is going to get grim fast.  I wonder how I am at writing bleak stuff?
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Jeff Vandermeer writes about completing a book in two months.
 I think you’d also have to factor in that as a writer in your twenties and, to some extent your thirties, you are still getting comfortable with your writing. You don’t know how to do a lot of things and so some of your time is spent puzzling out how the pieces fit together, how this or that technique works, why this doesn’t, etc.
Now that I don’t have a full-time job and am approaching the age of forty, two things have happened: (1) I can put more of the full force of my attention into a novel or short story more intensely over a short period of time and (2) I’m much more relaxed and as a result my rough drafts tend to be more complete than in the past; I still do a ton of rewriting, revision, and line editing, but I find that more of the initial vision in my head is in the draft right away.

Sci Am on Creativity and Mental Illness (again) 

Apparently, writers have the greatest rate of mental illness and perhaps it powers their efforts:
Jamison concludes that the manic phase of bipolar disorder infuses the writer with furious energy and limitless stamina. The author foregoes sleep, is driven to take daring risks, expands their imagination and embraces grandiose thinking.
The crash of depression ending the manic phase immerses the writer in the depths of human suffering. This infuses poets and writers with the most monumental and profound dimensions of human experiences, moving them to contemplate the meaning of life, confront the certainty of death, and struggle against the agony of despair to survive adversity.
Am I happy that I don't seem to suffer from this kind of illness or upset that it means my potential is limited?  If I can be one and then the other, ...nah, no diminishing of the severity of mental illness here.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 21

7:30 - InNoWriMo goal: 2000 words
      Carving - understand what the cheetah shoulder should look like, thin out shins and fore-legs.
      Movember - condition the 'stache! - ah, I really don't use conditioner much, but am still trying to soften the mustache.
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2:00PM, Just finished 1700 words and it's time to carve.

I don't think I've mentioned this already on the blog but my story narrative grammar sucks!  Wait, I did write about the grammar rules for dialog.  Well, that was just one example.  Having been a blogger for nearly ten years, I felt that my writing skills were better than they are.  Also, I hadn't realized how many times I would write 'teh' in a day.

5:10 PM, 2100 words today.  Still spinning my wheels a little. I need to fit in a lot more excitement than currently exists.

Oh, and the carving went well although the time was short.  The legs are looking good although I still don't have a feel for the head or body- the body especially feels too square.

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Neat links - maybe needed to encourage Nano people struggling to finish.

Be friends with failure - a lesson I've heard countless times but still be to be reminded of every few, ...months? ...hours?
Mother and daughter work together on paintings.  I'm seeing a lot of beaver tails so perhaps this is a Canadian duo.  The above link is an article about the collaboration.  Here is the duo's blog.

Scott Adams considers how to manage creativity:
Find the Dilbert's explanation for his creativity crisis here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 20 productivity report

Today's goals (written 11:00am):
One hour of woodcarving - this might be a challenge because, at home, I carve in the garage which is not heated.
2100 words for InNoWriMo
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Five PM, I am now at 2,200 words for the day.  I am concerned that I worked on three points in the story and in two points, I mostly wrote about relationships and the connections my characters have.  In the third, I advanced the plot, but again, not as much as I want.  There are several points coming up were I need more tension, excitement and creativity and I am mostly nibbling around the edges, preparing the field for violence and excitement, but not what that will actually entail.  A group of young psychics, only partially trained but free of ancient preconceptions and biases and beliefs need to defeat a larger group of well-trained but set in their ways psychopathic psychics.  I wonder how they will do that.

A small flash of insight at ten PM:  a main character does a terrible thing and his friends are angry with him but accept his pretty horrible actions quickly - I think they accept them so quickly because it was easier for a lazy writer but now I also think he was partially forgiven because another character has forced them all into strange new tasks and his goals aren't precisely theirs -they're doing strange things and able to spread at least some of the blame to this other character.
I hope that wasn't too cryptic.  Perhaps if and when this story is done, I will explain it better.  This blog is about recording my creative output so I felt I needed a note even if my reader(s?) don't so much.

I didn't do much wood carving today, just enough to retain my feel for it.  I find that when I step away from carving for a few days, the gouges feel strange in my hands and I really have to study the pictures to decide what my next moves will be. When I keep up the habit for a few days running, I can start as soon as the tools and workpiece are in my hands.  Here is a picture of the sculptor at work:

I am sitting on the stairs in the garage.  My eyes are becoming far-sighted so my glasses are beside me.  The lighting is from a bad angle so I am wearing a headlight.  The pictures I use as models are sitting on top of a garbage can lid.  The garage is cold so I am wearing slippers and a cardigan.  I don't know why everyone doesn't want to take up a cool hobby like wood carving.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 19 photos.

Only eight hundred words in InNoWriMo, so far so I have more to do tonight, but we have internet access again!

First, the thing the internet was built to promote- a cat picture!  Here it is wearing an 'American Girl' Canadian winter hat, part of the Canadian Winter package.  It is actually part of a Christmas gift to my niece.

I hope you can see my Movember mustache.

Cheetah tail.  I am very near the final steps of detailing the paws...and working on the rest of the body.

November 19th update- no internet at home!

The Horror, the Horror!

I had just gotten caught up to the minimum number of words per day to complete InNoWriMo when a few small things happened to take me away from the story.  When I got back, I was unable to post anything here.  As of last night, I was a little ahead of the count and we will see what today results in.

I think what I had been typing before was necessary and interesting - to me, at least - but now I've used all the 'slack' in the story.  Now, each event needs to be more planned and choreographed; I am having trouble just sitting and typing.  For example, yesterday, two members of a psychic mafia were arranging to meet.  One had left the family with a priceless tool and the family wanted it back and possibly to kill the him.  He had to follow espionage tactics to arrange a safe meeting.  I think my solution worked but it depended on the premise that the two men meeting had been friends for a long time so the subterfuges might not have been heavily tested or needed.  There will be more of this and I my words per hour have dropped greatly.

Today, i should also get back to carving.  I need this cheetah done for Christmas, or, in fact, December 18, before we fly out to spend Christmas with my sister.  I have a little more time for it, but it is of far greater value at home than the writing contest.

My mustache looks great!  Well, it is noticeable, I think.  And it has softened enough to stop itching.

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 14th update - characters making decisions I don't care for

The characters in my InNoWriMo story are coming to life, sometimes in annoying ways.

Two surprises today:

I'm attempting to be subtle - never my strong suit - and making some balanced characters. Now, my monsters are becoming too human and my heroes are becoming too monstrous.  The bad guys have honour and don't blame the son of a traitor for his betrayal.  Things are gonna change in the editing stage!

My story is topical: I wanted the villains of my story to connected to a mafia so I Googled Mafia, Ontario and learned of the " ‘Ndrangheta". The villains, or the monsters, as described above, are part of a 'ndrina based in Vaughan. Now, I've learned that the ‘Ndrangheta in Italy is trying to kill the Pope. Man, that's cooler than anything happening in my story!

I think you see my mustache in this picture.  Well, the picture's terrible but perhaps you can see a few wisps of hair.

Picked up my gouges today for the first time in too long.  Mostly, I reacquainted myself with the cheetah and scraped a little off here and there.  I found some pictures online of cheetah paws but didn't bring them with me to work on detail.  Next time.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

This is not me!

To be clear, I write the Creativiti Project blog and have nothing to do with the Creativity Movement.  I am not religious, I don't use religion to promote racist ends nor racism to promote religious ends.  Those people are monsters.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monday evening progress report


I just finished the minimum number of words to keep up with the InNoWriMo.  Still no carving done.

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Jeff Vandermeer is doing the next pep talk at Nanowrimo.  I have his book on my table now. I'm not sure how it will help me this month but it is beautiful and full of advice and suggestions for writers.

Writing courses and some silly advice at the Water Mill

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11th Productivity report

Yesterday was my toughest writing day yet.  My story deals with a group of ordinary young adults whose lives are turned upside down by fantastic events.  I started by writing about their normal, mostly carefree existence and that wasn't as easy as you might think but I now need to write about some dangerous people and their desperate existence and their motivations for their actions.  I had left quite a plothole, motivation-wise, and am am trying to fill it.  But, it can't just be superficial, this is an important part of the story.

Around ten thousand words were thinly disguised accounts of my youth.  The disguising was the toughest part.  Now, I have to make some strange behavior seem reasonable.

Part of the problem is the episodic nature of my writing.  Yesterday, I wrote that I liked to jump around in the story, filling in part here and there as I saw fit, but now, I need continuity and to remember previous points.  Time to read what I have written.

I have also opened a few browser windows on 'grammar and punctuation for quoted dialog'.  Everything I have done this month on the subject has felt wrong and I have tried several styles -comma at end of quote but inside quotation marks, - outside of quotation marks - etc.  I will fix it in editing, but I'd like to not have to fix everything.

Oh, around 1,800 words yesterday and I am now slightly ahead of the InNoWriMo schedule.

No carving to report.

The mustache is pretty itchy.  Photo tomorrow.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 9 productivity report

Writing on my InNoWriMo work continues without difficulty.  I wrote down the (let me check) 12 key plot points and then some notes under each plot point.  Now, when I slow down on a part of the story, I jump to a different part.  I have gone back and forth a few times to repair continuity issues but that hasn't been a horrible problem yet.  Anyway, the writing has been episodic and that has been working for me.

The wood carving is also going well.  I am still digging out large chunks but I will soon need more subtlety and precision.


My mustache is somewhat noticable now.


Only about 500 words in as yet so I have to get back to writing.  See ya on the flip side.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 8 evening productivity report

The mustache is growing in well, I guess, and I will post a pic tomorrow.

InNoWriMo numbers:
November 6:   1900
November 7:  2068
November 8:  1791 (as of 4:30pm, there's time for more)

I have been going comfortably, though without really brilliant dialog or action but in the first few days I fell behind a little.  I am currently at 12, 999 and should be at 13, 336 to be on track at the end of the day.

I managed very little carving the past few days but may get some big things done tonight.  Expect a pic of that too, tomorrow.

One thing that had me a little busy was a creationist seminar I attended last night.  I had expected it to be about the origin of languages but that topic had been dropped and the talk was about snowflakes, dragons as dinosaurs and evidence of design.  I recognized a whole lot of quote mining and half-truths, but not much new.  I didn't speak up during or after the meeting and I feel bad about that.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A report of no report for Nov 7

I spent several hours at the hospital this morning - I'm fine, most of the time was spent waiting - but I don't feel like making a full report.

I think I'll post mustache photos only once or twice a week - the novelty has worn off.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 6 morning productivity report

Have you ever used the word 'placket'?  Is there a more common term?  Details somewhere below.

A busy day at home.  I wrote around 2400 words for InNoWriMo and am nearly on track for where I want to be and should be.

I also had time for some carving.  Discussion below the images.

I am still having trouble accepting how thin this slab of wood is.  The original image is here and translating it basically into bas-relief is hard work for me.  Oh, the giraffe is now done.

One thing I am learning is how these art-forms are so different.  In InNoWriMo, I am practically vomiting words into the word processor and am both aware of, and concerned with, how much feels like placeholders; A sort of  "This is the general idea.  Fix it later."  Some material is good but a lot just isn't.

A lot of that is the result of my personality and observational skills.  Like any red-blooded male, I can describe a woman's sexy apparel, but my eye and memory seem to have simply drifted past women in comfortable clothes.  Further, I have never been interested in fashion and am now struggling with my vocabulary limitations.  I wanted to describe a woman's button-down shirt with some frills on the, uh, button-down part and didn't know what to call it.  Apparently, it is a 'placket'.  Is this a term in common use?

I read and noted somewhere on this blog (oh right, here) that Wodehouse would tape his pages under revision to the wall and place them higher or lower on the wall according to their quality.  As he edited and improved pages, up they went.  Experiencing it and imagining wading through 50,000 words is troubling, but necessary.

In contrast, my carving needs to be error-free.  If I dig in too far, I either have to cover it up, adjust the whole shape to accept the missing chip or throw my hands in the air in disgust and get a new piece of wood.  By this criteria, writers have it easy.  Up until publishing, huge revisions are possible.
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In January, everyone should try and choreograph a ballet. In March we should all write an opera, and in June everyone should paint a fresco. Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? And yet the idea that everyone could write a novel in November gets a good deal more acceptance. Why do we assume that, while these other forms would require skills, knowledge and practice beyond most people’s experience, anyone can write a book? It drives me round the bend.
I really do get that there will be a lot of trash out there in December.  I've been pretty open that large portions of my novel will need to be gutted and replaced.  I am also aware that 50,000 words is short for a book.  And yet...

Firstly, I would like to compare two forms of physical fitness training: swimming and running.  Most people have walked and ran at some point in their lives.  Relatively few people have swum (If it matters, I have lived in South Korea where only a small minority can swim.  Things are different here in Canada).  Yes, there is some technical skill involved in running but most people can finish a 1,500 m or 3,000 m run however slowly.  Few people could complete such a distance in swimming and their lives might be at risk in the attempt.

So too, with the attempt to compare writing with choreography, opera writing and painting.   Everyone can write to some poor extent while most have never even tried the latter three art-forms.

Secondly, writing 50,000 words in a month is an achievable but very challenging goal for most people.  I will be proud of myself for simply finishing the 50,000 words.  I have run a twenty-six k, swam a twelve k, and cycled across the country.  These acts did not make me a professional runner, swimmer or cyclist but I am proud of the accomplishments nonetheless.  If Nimue Brown completes a three k swim or a 100 k ride, I will not chide her for trying to become a professional, I will compliment her on the accomplishment.  If she completes a run, swim or ride entirely on her own, I might be more impressed than if she completes a Terry Fox Run  or the like that is organized to assist her, but I'll be impressed either way.

Nextly*, it might make me, or any of the hundreds of thousands, a capable writer.  The last line I quoted mentions experience.  Well, how does one get that experience?  On the other hand, I find that I have forgotten how to properly use punctuation in and out of quoted speech and have included comma in, comma out, period in-but- comma out, and more trying to decide which one looks right.
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The mustache is coming in great.  Time to start rubbing lotion into it to soften it and avoid the itching.


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*I figured this word would drive Brown mad, should she have any reason to visit, if the other errors I made and missed do not.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 5 morning productivity report

Already this month I have taken more selfies than in the rest of my life*.  Note that I am holding the camera high enough that you can't see up my nose.  I think  you can now see the whiskers without a closeup.


I typed a few hundred more words in my story and only sanded a carving yesterday.  At this rate, this blog will consist of detailing my purely biological acts of creation - perhaps the progress of my son, but more the replenishing of my blood after last month's donation and the growth of (intended) facial hair.

_______________________________
* I traveled extensively after graduating from university and have many pictures of myself with friends and at historic sites.  I think the strict definition of 'selfy' does not include such photos.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4 morning productivity report

I think you can tell that I am trying to smile in this photo.  Movember continues, as it is wont to do.  The toughest part of these photos is not giving people a view into my nose holes!

The giraffe is finished except for the sanding.  I had simply picked up a chunk of wood before organizing a children's game and while the game was running, I carved and waited for players to come to me with various problems.  I couldn't leave the area as I had the emergency radio.  Enough excuses; this was a simple project to fill in some time at work when I wasn't otherwise occupied and here is the nearly finished result.  I am expecting the sanding to dim the spots somewhat.

On the InNoWriMo front, I am at around 5000 words and am ready to devote significant time to the story tonight and tomorrow.  As I have time, I want to get ahead of the wordcount - 5000 after three days is exactly on track allowing for no accidents and I want some kind of cushion.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 3 morning's productivity report

Movember continues.  I wonder how long it will be before I don't need closeups to show off my mustache.  The light brown and white (I no longer gasp in horror) whiskers make it hard to see even when it is reasonably long.

The cheetah is looking good, if I do say so myself.  I am learning that one difference between a novice and an experienced carver is in the bravery in taking the first strokes.  I am shy about digging too deep into the wood.  I know the head should be much narrower than the shoulder muscles - sharing the widest point with the thighs - but I tend to scrape down a few millimetres on each side at a time in fear of going too far.

 One more gash, this time no picture, on my right hand baby finger.

About 1700 words on my InNoWriMo novel.  I'm not emphasizing it here because it has been stuff I'd been thinking about for months, even years, as I tried to write this story in InNoWriMo 2011.  I have only recently written it down but it is not creative production from this year.

My son's jack-o-lantern.  Yes, it was done in time for Hallowe'en, but I was late in shooting it.


Not my work, but remarkable enough for me to offer a link: What is the most philosophical thing that you have heard a child under 5 say?



November first's productivity report

First off, I managed 1200 words toward my InNoWriMo work.

Second (well, this was done in the early hours of November 2): Work on my son's Christmas cheetah wood caving project And two gashes on my right hand - I'm left-handed, if you wonder why that hand got struck.

Finally (and again this image was taken around 7:00am on the second with the final upper-lip shave on October 31st so 48 hours after the last pass by a razor) my Movember project work.