Archive for December, 2004

12/30/04: David’s Index for 2004

Novel words written: 77,431
Short story words written: 11,082
Notes, outline, and synopsis words written: 13,809
Blog words written: 32,168
Total words written: 134,490
Novel words edited out: 6,103
Net words written: 128,387

New stories written: 2
Existing stories revised: 2
Old stories trunked: 5

Short story submissions sent: 36
Responses received: 38
Acceptances: 7 (4 pro, 3 semi-pro)
Rejections: 30
Other responses: 1 (rewrite request)
Awaiting response: 5

Short stories published: 5
Short stories made available on 6

Hugo nominations: 1
Campbell nominations: 1
Nebula preliminary ballot nominations: 1
Major awards won: 0
Honorable mentions in Dozois’ Year’s Best: 4

Novels completed: 1

Happy New Year!

12/21/04: Solstice Squid

Word count: 119459 | Since last entry: 0 | This month: -2718 In honor of the Solstice — a phenomenon which has been going on since before there was life on this planet and will continue long after humanity has departed (assuming we don’t blow the damn thing right out of its orbit) — Kate and I celebrated in our usual fashion, with pepper-salted squid at Thien Hong and a movie (in this case Flight of the Phoenix — a little implausible, perhaps, but I liked it). We held a kitchenwarming party this weekend. Large numbers of people attended, from all our various interest groups (neighbors, co-workers, science fiction fans, writers, square dancers, and various others even more obscurely connected), and they all seemed to find something to talk about with each other. Many were the oohs and aahs over the new kitchen. We made and bought massive quantities of food and drink, which of course guaranteed that everyone would also bring plenty of same. I figure we’re set for something to bring to the next five parties we attend. No work on the novel since the last post. I have a pile of manuscripts to critique, but since putting the novel in the mail I’ve been focusing on various other holiday traditions, notably decorating the tree and buying presents for friends and relatives (just about done with that, unless I change my mind). One bit of writing news, though: my story “Tk’Tk’Tk” will be in the next issue of Asimov’s. Happy Solstice to all!

12/15/04: It sucks

Word count: 119459 | Since last entry: -5467 | This month: -2718 In the last week, I… …added a graphical “time map” to the top of each chapter to help the
reader make sense of my unconventional timeline. …went through the critique comments and made a list of things I wanted
to do to the novel. Actually, I only looked at my notes from the oral critiques, and I only put the most important comments on the list. It was still eight pages long. …went back and highlighted only the most significant issues. That was
about half of them. …did a quick red-pen edit of the manuscript.
This was something half-way between Holly Lisle’s one-pass revision method and Neil Gaiman’s rather facetious six-step revision method and took most of three days. …checked off about one-quarter of the items on the things-to-do list.
Most of those were the simple ones, the ones that could be addressed by adding a sentence or a paragraph. The big ones, like almost all the ones under the heading “make the aliens more alien,” remain undone for now. …sat down and keyed in the red-pen edits, which took only half as long
as the editing itself (still a couple long evenings’ work, though — I haven’t had more than about 5 hours’ sleep in a night this week). …cut two complete scenes, several partial scenes, and a whole bunch of
paragraphs, sentences, and words, for a net gain (by which I mean loss) of over 5000 words (4%). I am proud of this. …reformatted the manuscript in Courier 12, printed it out, and sent
it off to the novel workshop just under the deadline. 509 pages plus cover letter and synopsis. Go me! So how do I feel about this significant accomplishment? See the title above: It Sucks. I have been looking at nothing but the flaws, missing details, missed opportunities, and most especially the petty, whiny, reactive, boring characters in this novel for the last week, and of the dozens and dozens of changes I wanted to make to address those flaws I was only able to make the simplest 25%. But. There were also many positive comments (about as large, and welcome, a percentage of the total as the raisins in raisin bran, but critique is focused on the areas for improvement) and at least I am done with the damn thing for a while. And I did feel a sense of accomplishment as I put the tightly-wrapped manuscript in the mail. Next: catch up with everything else in my life, which has been on hold for the last week. Then start in on critiques for the other novels in the workshop.

12/8/04: Oof

Word count: 124926 | Since last entry: 58 | This month: 2749 I had a number of things to do this evening. The main one was to write a list of things to do, and watch out for, during my quick revision pass. (It has to be in the mail by next Wednesday, aiee.) I started with my file of miscellaneous notes (which I haven’t added to in months) and the notes I have written at the top of some chapter files. While I was looking at those chapter notes I decided to go ahead and put all the chapters in one file. It took me, fundamentally, all evening to do that — put all the chapters in one file, in the right order, with consistent formatting and spacing. The file is 893 KB. It’s 317 pages long — with 1″ margins in 10-point Times New Roman. It’d be 532 pages in industry-standard 12-point Courier, which is what I’m going to have to do for submission, but since this printout is just for me I’d rather save paper with the smaller font. Oof. No wonder it took two years. Next steps: Look at the notes from all my chapter critiques and finish the to-do list. Print the giant document out. Start revising. I think my little WinCE device may not be up to the task.

12/7/04: Shuttling between to-do lists

Word count: 124868 | Since last entry: 126 | This month: 2691 I made a few edits to the last chapter and epilogue before printing them out and giving them to my crit group. Also got my crits on the previous chapter, chapter I (that’s letter “eye,” not Roman numeral one); generally positive. That was Friday and Saturday. Now it’s Tuesday. I seem to have spent the intervening time commuting back and forth between my to-do list at work and my to-do list at home (a mix of novel-related, kitchen-related, and general life stuff like groceries and laundry). Tonight I folded large quantities of laundry and did the thing of going through the last couple of sets of critiques and recycling all the pages with no marks on them. Not exciting, but necessary. During these tasks I also watched a couple of truly Godawful reality shows. Another reminder, if one were needed, why I so rarely watch television. Next step is to go through all the critiques and my various notes to myself from the last year and make a to-do list of changes to make during the editing pass. I’ll have to prioritize it, because there’s not enough time to do everything I want to do. Yes, one of the items on my to-do list is to make a to-do list. Truly I am lame. Oh, as long as I’m here I thought I would share with you something that came to me in the shower this morning:

Blade runner, that replicant’s after you
Blade runner, if he catches you you’re through

That Roy Baty is really a crazy clown
When will he learn that he never can mow him down?
Poor little blade runner never bothers anyone
Just huntin’ down a skin-job’s his idea of havin’ fun

12/2/04: All done

Word count: 124742 | Since last entry: 1482 | This month: 2565 Okay, now it really is all over, including the shouting. I thought I’d finished the penultimate scene in the last chapter yesterday, but when I woke up this morning (at 5am, after going to sleep at midnight, oy) I realized the villain had been defeated too easily. So tonight I extended that scene with about five hundred words of serious physical action. Then I wrote the anticlimax, as planned, and dove right in and wrote the epilogue too: 775 words. I thought it would be brief, but I wonder if it’s too brief. And the very last sentence seems kind of weak. But… it’s done. The first draft is all done. One hundred twenty-four thousand seven hundred and forty-two words (plus about 87,000 words of notes, outlines, and journal entries) in just under two years. I still have some summary and synopsis stuff remaining to do, but… I wrote a novel. I WROTE A NOVEL! Falling over now. Thud.

12/1/04: Finale

Word count: 123260 | Since last entry: 1083 | This month: 1083 It’s all over now but the shouting. Dozens of bodies on the floor, including several main characters. Blood everywhere. Just a short anticlimax left to write, explaining how the few survivors make it home, and the last chapter’s done. The last chapter. Done. And I just killed off… someone I’ve spent the last two years with. Jeez. It was a good death, I think. Deserved, but not unredeemed. I’ve been planning this moment for so long… I’ve had this scene in mind for months, maybe in some form all the way back to the beginning. (Yep — I just checked, and this character’s death was in the “Sketch a Novel in an Hour” outline I did at OryCon in 2002, though I didn’t know then exactly how it would happen.) So it’s not unexpected, and I’m not particularly upset about it. I think? At the moment it’s nearly midnight and I do have to sleep. Maybe I’ll cry later. Maybe not. Good night, sweet prince.

11/30/04: In orbit

Word count: 122177 | Since last entry: 1210 | This month: 9995 Back from a long weekend in Seattle and Vancouver, where we visited with relatives, had at least three Thanksgiving dinners that couldn’t be beat, and did much square dancing. Weather was great and I only gained two pounds for the weekend. Thanks to Will and Grant for their hospitality, and to Jeremy for taking me out for a late lunch on Sunday. I generally managed to write a couple hundred words a day, which is really unusual for me when traveling and brings my total for the month to a very respectable figure of almost ten thousand words. I got Jason and Sienna safely into orbit, where Green Hills soldiers menace them with maser pistols as they prepare to take them to Raptor. Only one scene to go, I think, in this final chapter — probably about a thousand words — and then I just have a brief epilog to write, plus the usual summary of the previous chapter, before Saturday’s critique group meeting. I might not get the epilog written in time, but I’m going to try. Preparations have begun for the novel workshop in January. I need to send out the complete novel to two people, plus chapters and outline to five, by December 15. I won’t have time to do much more than a very cursory editing pass, unfortunately. Then I’ll have two complete novels and five chapters-and-outlines to critique by January 15. Plus all that holiday stuff. Whee. But the workshop itself should be a lot of fun. One other bit of good news: I sold another story to Realms of Fantasy. It’s “The Ecology of Faerie,” AKA “the one with the frogs,” which I originally wrote for The Faerie Reel and then nearly sold to the Usborne YA Fantasy anthology. This is my first YA story sale, a sweet and gentle tale of magic and batrachians which nonetheless is a bit of a horror story as well. It’s also the first time I’ve sold a second story to the same market.