Archive for October 4th, 2006

10/3/06: Local boy makes good

Word count: 1396 | Since last entry: 1396

Joined several other writers at a pizza place for convivial-sitting-and-typing-together tonight. I had been kind of worried about what I was going to do, since I just finished up a project and I didn’t feel ready to start on my novel. So what I did was just start typing notes. It went really well (1400 words in less than 2 hours), despite the fact that the place was too bright and too loud. If we do this again we’ll go someplace else.

So far what I’ve written is mostly the natural history of the Drur, the main alien species in the novel — how did they evolve, what is their history, what is their culture. I also wrote one paragraph about the main human character but, apparently, I find it easier to understand aliens than a 14-year-old girl. Because Keelie was raised by an alien of one species while they were both enslaved by aliens of another species, I’m going to have to build both species’ cultures from the ground up before I can understand Keelie.

Apropos of which, Karen Berry mentioned that she saw something on the Discovery Channel about children raised by wild dogs. This really happens?! I must investigate, because the enslaving species has a pack culture (though they aren’t nearly as warm and fuzzy as a pack of slavering wolves — they’re more like wasps, only more competitive). I also need to call my psychologist neighbor to talk about what a girl with such an f’d-up upbringing might be like — what will she fear, what “issues” will she have?

It’s much easier for me to write this sort of stuff than actual drafting. It doesn’t have to do more than one thing, it doesn’t have to lead anywhere, it doesn’t have to echo the theme or even be particularly well written. I just make stuff up and type it out, which I can do almost as fast as I can type. One interesting aspect of the exercise is that it points out all the stuff I do when I’m writing fiction — I don’t draft as fast as some, but it’s really solid for a first draft. These notes… aren’t.

As he mentions in his blog, Jay Lake and I talked a bit about his word counts and whether he should post them. I said that, though I do find them a bit intimidating sometimes, if you’re capable of producing that quality of work at that speed, why not say so? Some may find it an inspiration. As the joke goes: Q: Why did the chicken cross the road? A: To show the opossum it could be done!

I figure I’ll work on this notes file for a while (days? weeks? months?) before I’m ready to outline. So, for now, word counts above are all notes. I wound up with over 32,000 words of notes on Remembrance Day before I was done.

In other news, the Southeast Examiner story came out, and… well, on the cover it said “Sci-Fi Guy, page 18” and I actually did say most of the things I am quoted as saying. It’s not a bad article by any means, but I still find it a bit wince-worthy in spots. I’ll probably scan it and put it up on my web page anyway.

Also, I have been invited to be a speaker for A Writer’s Weekend, June 30-July 1, 2007 in Seattle. I’ve never been to one of these before but I’m looking forward to it.

And I talked to my agent today. The first novel’s been at the same place for almost six months and it’s time for them to fish or cut bait. There may be news, one way or another, later this week.