1/31/09: Thirty-one random days make a month

Word count: 1303 | Since last entry: 1303

Wow, it’s been a while since my last progress report. Sorry about that. Here’s what’s happened since January 15…

I wrote at least 500 words every single day since January 1 (this is not a new year’s resolution for me, but it is a goal). However, I’ve been a terrible procrastinator, putting off the writing until the end of the day every day, and often don’t finish until well after midnight. This habit is costing me sleep and I want to change it. However, that’s not going to happen today. Maybe tomorrow.

I completed the story I was working on in my last post. The first draft was8588 words, which I immediately whacked back to 7199 words. I sent it to my critique group and the reactions were quite positive, though I do have some changes to make before I submit it. To be honest, though, between changes in my writing and changes in the critique group, I wonder how much they can do to help my stories any more. They’re great at spotting big problems, but I’m not sure they can make the difference between “publishable” and “no editor worth her salt would possibly pass this one up,” which is what I’m shooting for these days.

I started another story immediately after completing that one (that’s the 1303 words above). Because I was unsatisfied about the lack of brainstorming and outlining I’d done on the previous story, I decided that notes and outline count toward my 500 words per day goal. This may have been a mistake, as I spent 11 days writing 6000 words of notes and outline, which feels like too much. I need to find some kind of middle ground. (This particular story may have suffered from some other things going on that made me reluctant to commit to the story and begin drafting. I think I have overcome that now.)

We spent MLK Day Weekend in Seattle, doing a belated Christmas present exchange with Kate’s family. We also had a delightful brunch with Janna Silverstein and visited the exhibit about Lucy at the Science Center. The compressed history of Ethiopia that made up the first part of the exhibit felt tacked on (“okay, we’ll let you take this unique artifact on the road, but you have to tell something about our country”), the hands-on section in the middle on the practice of paleoanthropology and the structure of Lucy’s skeleton was fascinating, and the final room, where Lucy’s actual skeleton was accompanied by a standing reconstruction of the same bones and a full-size sculpture of what she might have looked like, was excellent. I think the sculpture was the best part… somehow the artist managed to give Lucy chimp-like features but put a human soul in the eyes.

I spent Inauguration Day in the hospital. Don’t worry, it was just a minor medical procedure for Kate. She came home the same day and has had no problems since.

We saw three plays, Apollo (a kind of collage of a performance piece, combining multimedia, dance, and words in a story of Nazi scientists, African-American civil rights, and the race to the moon), The Seafarer (a bunch of messed-up drunk Irishmen beat the Devil at his own game), and Vitriol and Violets (a “play with music” about the Algonquin Round Table, with a superb local cast). We also attended a performance by musician Jonathan Coulton, who was great fun as always (though the opening act, Paul and Storm, were good, they did an awful lot of the same material we’ve seen before).

And our neighborhood book group met to discuss Podkayne of Mars. Oh my god, the sexism! And the plot, practically nonexistent! And the supposed lesson of the book comes out of nowhere! What an awful, awful book. How far we’ve come since it was written.

I’ll try not to let so much time pass before my next update.

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