Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: Nano (page 2 of 2)

Nano Winner

I have completed the 50,000 word goal of Nano.

I’ve won in previous years, but this year there’s a big difference. I still love my stories. Previous years, writing the gay romances, I absolutely detested them to the point of not wanting to look at them the moment I reached 50k and had won Nano. This was the same whether or not the project I’d actually worked on throughout the month was complete. I had to set it aside because I absolutely detested it.

I wrote more on TPOM3 than I did on Brotherhood. Part of the reason for it is that I’ve been struggling with the latter’s outline somewhat. The rest is simply because I have quite a number of plot cards done on TPOM3, and I knew I wouldn’t reach 50k before I finished those plot cards.

My problem with Brotherhood is that I need to organize the last plot points before I can finish the outline. I’ve done some math, and if I want the story to come out at 120-150k, I have about 25 plot cards left I can do on it. I’m not sure I can fit everything into it with that few. Now that I’m done with Nano, I can spend a day getting down the remaining plot points in order and work out plot cards for them. I have quite a number of things which must happen before the end of this book.

TPOM3 is a little easier to work with. I’m getting better ideas for what to do with the finale, and I need to work out a syllabary for the language. Then I’ll have to go through both wips, since Bremma is mentioned in Brotherhood, and change the name of the country and whatnot. This is simple and straightforward, so I should be able to get it done if I just focus on it.

To help me with the syllabary, I have Holly Lisle’s Create a Language Clinic book, which I’ll use judiciously. The way she has it worked out, I’m afraid I’ll end up with repetetive languages if I just go through as instructed and do everything as it advises, so I pick and choose the exercises I use to create my languages. This was a great help when I worked out some aspects of a language I created for a Science Fantasy project I’m not sure I’ll get back to, so I can’t see a reason why it won’t help with a syllabary.

Once I have everything done with the Syllabary and a new name for Bremma and Enemy Mage, I should be able to make further progress on TPOM3’s outline. I figure I’ll work the rest of it out, alongside the remainder of Brotherhood‘s outline, so I can pick them up and finish them in one fell swoop later.

For next month, I’m planning on printing out the online instructions for GIMP, a graphics program I hope will enable me to make decent covers. It’s a free program, which is why I got it. I can’t afford Photoshop, though I’d love to be able to buy it and use it. I intend to spend all of December working on GIMP, aside from necessary plotting on my stories. I don’t plan to add new words to my wips next month, but I may if I get desperate. I just want to get to know GIMP well enough to fiddle with it for my covers.

Nano Update 2

It’s nice having a three day weekend. That means there’s a guarantee the VA won’t be open on Monday, which means I have a day to work ahead on Nano. Thank you, whoever in the past suggested creating Veterans’ Day. I need the extra day this weekend, to do laundry and to work ahead on my word count in Nano (LOL).

So far, I’m keeping up fairly well despite all the appointments. I managed to work ahead enough to be able to coast through Thursday and Friday, though I got home early enough Friday to write a bit before bed. Yesterday, I slept in, and today too—must have been catching up on sleep missed due to the early hours rising despite getting to bed by ten each night. Oh, and walking all over the VA Hospital to my appointments and errands.

Yesterday, I did pretty well, getting a decent count of fresh words on TPOM3. Today, however, hasn’t been so easy. I don’t know why, but I had difficulty connecting to both my projects. I know the rewritten wedding scene in Brotherhood is worse than the original, so I may rewrite or try to combine the two scenes from both wips when I do my major edit. I think I’d have felt the new scene was worse than the original even if I’d been feeling more connected to the story. It’s just one of those scenes that’s going to need extra work.

TPOM3 was a bit easier to get into, but the writing of it still felt stilted and awkward. I did manage to do what I needed to with the scene, and it reads very well. It’s a keeper. I left out some things I’d outlined, added several things I didn’t think to outline and probably wouldn’t have been able to fit on the card even if I had, and created a very good scene which pleases me. I’d like to get one more scene on this project, but that relies on me getting a plot card on it, and I’m not sure I have the mental capacity to do so tonight.

Total wordcount on Brotherhood is over 51,000; total wordcount on TPOM3 is over 15,000; total Nano wordcount rests at over 20,000. I’m a little ahead, which makes me happy.

Nano Update 1

I’m off to a fairly good start in National Novel Writing Month. I’ve listed both TPOM3 and Brotherhood as my Nano projects, rebelling on both (which in my case means both were previously started and I’m adding new words to them until I reach 50k—there are other ways of rebelling, but I’m not going into them).

I wrote primarily on TPOM3 the first few days, doing about two scenes a day. On the third (yesterday), I moved to Brotherhood and have gotten three scenes on that so far. Both are progressing nicely, and I’m glad I decided to do a one plot card per scene written method with both. It seems to be working well for me, and it gives me a break going back and forth between doing plot cards and scenes. I may get to a point where I do a string of plot cards on one or another, but I’m content with this one-for-one method right now.

I like the way things are shaping up in Brotherhood right now. I’m keeping up with all the subplots better this time, and it’s gotten a lot more fun to write because of that. TPOM3 is producing more scenes that are longer than I expected it to, so it may end up going over 120k when complete. I feel like I’m being redundant in it, because I’m in a series of scenes where the POV and his party are traveling, but pertinent stuff is happening during these scenes, so it’s not really travelogue scenes. The scenes mostly concern Asthané trying to convince someone to do something new.

I’ve posted a new snippet from Brotherhood on its Project page. Snip is right at the top of the page, under the other stuff. Also, in case you haven’t looked, I added a TPOM1 scene to that project’s page several days ago. If you haven’t visited any of my Project pages, I suggest you do. Just so you have some idea of what I’m doing, if nothing else.

Progress on Brotherhood

I’m glad I cut Brotherhood like I did. It’s opened up a whole new storyline for me. Same basic plot, but I’m taking things a little differently. I’m cutting one side character out (a Priest Doéna befriended), moving Bréyan into her place, and using the whole switch-around to set up the relationship which develops between him and Doéna.

Right now, in terms of outlining, it’s moving slowly. I’m kind of struggling to come up with plot cards, but it’s not because I lack ideas. I have plenty of ideas. It’s sorting them into something I can use, then coming up with a scene combining a couple different plot factors.

I’m having fun, though, and I’m very excited about the story again. It thrills me no end to be making such progress on Brotherhood, even if it’s going slowly.

My original plan with it was to copy and paste scenes I wanted to keep from the original manuscript. It seemed to make sense, as there will be places where the two versions meet. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I learned how unwise that would likely be the hard way. I came to a spot where there was a scene I really wanted to keep. So I copied it over, rearranging the scenes I already had around it without paying much attention to what I had written. Then, I proceded to rewrite the scene a couple days later, after writing an interim scene.

I’d forgotten I’d already included this particular scene, which was one where Lorien and Necée spend their first period of Visitation Hours together with their respective chaperones—Doéna and the princess’s cousin, Anée.

I didn’t realize my mistake until I read through the wip from beginning to where it ends. Then I tried to cut/paste the scene from the old wip into a workable spot before finally giving up. It just would not fit. I deleted it completely, reread the past few scenes, changed some things which were mentioned previous to when they actually happened, and now have a story I’m well satisfied with.

Sometimes we writers cause ourselves more work than writing needs to be. LOL

Of course, I made the decision to cut the scene immediately after writing the brand new scene (I hadn’t even written the wordcount total for it down, which I should have done). After cutting the scene, I realized my mistake, but had lost only about 208 words in the cut, so just decided to go with it and recorded it on my logsheet. Thus far, the new logsheet I started has more lines used for cuts and totals following them than for actual additions of words I’ve written. Makes me chuckle. My recording of Brotherhood‘s words has not gone well. This set of logsheets was started off with a patch-in of wordcounts because I shredded the 5×8 index card I had the original logs written on before copying the times and chapter counts over to the proper logsheet. That was, I assure you, enough to convince me not to use index cards for makeshift logsheets again.

As for my Nano project, I’m not moving on that. Need to look at it, see if I can get some more plot cards for it before November. I doubt I have enough written on TPOM3 to make it to 50k words, and I’d rather not have to do the outline as I write. Yes, I’ve left it for the last minute, but I’m backbraining a lot of stuff still, so I haven’t been able to make much progress when I have tried.

Then again, I’ve been really into Brotherhood the past weeks, so I may switch my Nano project over to that and go rebel—add 50k words to what I have already. It’s just moving too slowly for me to have much confidence I’ll be able to keep up with Nano if I use it.

Oh, well. I’ll get something going.

Writing Downswings

One of the really great things about my bipolar disorder is the writing downswings it causes. /sarcasm

Actually, sarcasm aside, it does serve a purpose. It keeps me from getting burnt out on what I’m writing and enables my subconscious mind to catch up to what my conscious mind has been doing with my writing. I just wish it wouldn’t happen. There are times I wish I was more like average writers, whose minds generally don’t go on hiatus in the middles of projects.

Usually I have this wish when I’m in the middle of a writing downswing. Like I am now.

I’m kind of glad this one’s happening now, and I’m hoping it won’t last more than a week or two longer. I’ve been struggling getting plot cards on both my current projects since the fifth of this month, and it’s now the fourteenth. That’s nine days. As writing downswings go, this isn’t too bad yet. I’d like to be back to creating by the twenty-fifth, so I’m “willing” to hang out doing nothing on my writing for about another ten or so days.

With any luck, I won’t come back into writing focused on the other genre I spent a small number of years writing. Gay romances. Nothing wrong with them, except I spent the entire time writing them full of anxiety. I was afraid of so many things, not the least of which was that I was going to completely run out of ideas to write. No matter now many new ideas I got, I had that fear. I also hated writing them, I was just so desperate to write anything I wrote them. They weren’t as fun as Fantasy is for me. Neither were they challenging; I love the fact I have to keep an eye on making my worldbuilding and magic systems consistent in Fantasy. I also don’t doubt the ideas; I’m much more confident I’ll get fresh, new, fun to write ideas when I’m writing Fantasy.

I simply love writing Fantasy, and I think it shows.

Even when I was writing the gay romances, I got writing downswings. They were just more frequent, and, in some ways, more traumatizing. Probably because I wasn’t writing what I really wanted to write—but I just wasn’t getting any Fantasy ideas. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t find any joy in the gay romances, but I don’t want to go back to that, even on a temporary basis. When I swung back into Fantasy writing last year in the middle of December (after a Nano where I forced out Yet Another Gay Romance via outline), it was a great relief. I was happy again.

This year, since starting writing Fantasy again, I’ve had one downswing. Sometime early in the year. At the end of May, before which I segued into writing the gay romances again. On June first, however, I was back into Unsought Gifts, the first book of my Power of Music trilogy. And Fantasy’s all I’ve written since then.

What I’m really hoping is that this year is an example of a trend with Fantasy writing. That it’ll be something I’ll spend more time writing, that I won’t have as many writing downswings with it, that my confidence level and joy in it will fuel the fires of inspiration enough to prevent too many severe writing downswings. After the hell of last year where I didn’t make substantial progress on anything unless I had an outline and was participating in some sort of mass writing event (Julno, Nano), and where I was absolutely miserable and depressed with what I was writing, I really want my return to Fantasy to be something of if not unalloyed goodness, at least something I can count on to keep me going.

And I’ll say this. I’ve written a couple scenes on Brotherhood since the downswing began. The outline makes it easy. I mean that. It’s easy to write outlined Fantasy scenes, even in a downswing. Every gay romance scene I forced out last year was forced. I had to work to write them, and I felt disconnected from the writing, and I was always surprised at how well the scenes turned out. I’ve had none of that on the scenes I’ve written in Brotherhood since the downswing began. My only issue is that I’m not coming up with plot cards because of the lack of muse, I guess you could say, induced by the writing downswing.

I think last year was my rock-bottom in writing. I was miserable and spent most of the year in a writing downswing. It was depressing, not just figuratively but literally as well. This year has been the complete opposite. I’m happy. I’m enjoying writing like I used to. I have my confidence back—and that is a great thing. It feels wonderful.

So I think I can weather this and other writing downswings as long as I can feel confident I’ll be returning to Fantasy following it, and I do.

Nano and Chemo

This entry is part 05 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

For the past few years, I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month (Nano, where I can be found as Ashe Elton Parker with The Power of Music 3 listed as my project), which happens each November. A few weeks ago, I wasn’t certain I’d be participating due in part to the cancer treatments I’ll be undergoing during that month and in part to the fact I didn’t know what project I’d be writing for November. I wanted something I could either prepare quickly or which was already somewhat prepared and only needed finishing-up in the way of outlining so I could hopefully work in the word count around my chemotherapy treatment visits up at the VA.

Night before last, I started making progress on TPOM3’s outline once more. I’ve also got ideas for how to handle the big major conflict that’s supposed to happen in it, which was primarily what I needed in order to continue with the outline. Now that I have those bits, I can finish the outline, hopefully before the end of October, and be ready to jump into Nano on November first. I’m not sure I’ll be sitting up ’til midnight to start progress on it, but I’ll definitely be doing my best to get words later on that day.

I expect to be starting chemotherapy up at the VA sometime either in late October or early November, so this will have some effect on my writing. I won’t know for sure the start date until the 17th of this month, when I see the Oncologist again. By that time, I’ll have seen my surgeon again and I hope I’ll have my drainage system removed then. Since I expect to be taking weekday-daily trips up to the VA, for two or three weeks in a row for the chemo, I’m kind of hoping they have at least a place where I can hook up my laptop so I can work on my writing. If they don’t, I’ll probably just read, or I may start working on another story I plan to write after Brotherhood is finished.

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