Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Sistine Chapel

Current Word Count: ~73,500 in the manuscript, ~88,500 with later material that is already written.

Listening To: Flow Like Water by James Newton Howard from The Last Airbender soundtrack.

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My last update was written from my vantage point at my grandparents' kitchen table in North Carolina. Despite having traveled from Tampa, to Alabama, to South Carolina, to North Carolina, to Virginia to Ft. Lauderdale and finally back to Tampa, I managed to get a significant amount of writing done. My last update had us somewhere in "chapter 13/14 land." We are now staked knee-deep in the middle of chapter 17, bracing for the upcoming moment when the dual plot lines will collide.

I find myself at a difficult juncture, because as Jerome K. Jerome wrote, "Idleness, to be sweet, like kisses must be stolen."

Now, I don't want to say that writing is idleness. Writing is not idleness, and if you want to tell me writing is idleness, I will print out all 287 pages of my manuscript and make you eat them one-by-one. Maybe the fiber will be good for your digestive system, but I promise you will have a lot of paper cuts.

No, writing is not idleness, but there is a lot of truth to Jerome's words. I find that my days are a monotonous grind of awakening to a 3-year-old crawling on my face (usually before I've had adequate rest, which is self-inflicted because I know darn well the kid gets up early) grabbing a bit to eat, avoiding my actual responsibilities like signing up for my classes and finishing the Trinity yearbook addendum, and settling into the nice butt groove I've molded into our wooden dining-room chair. At this point, things really pick up, as I will the fight my tiredness and proceed to enter a vicious cycle of writing and playing World of Warcraft.

Honestly, I don't understand this persona people have of writers, where they go sit in a cabin in Washington state for 3 months and by the time it's over they've got a novel. That makes no sense to me. I'm not saying some peace-and-quiet wouldn't help (7 adults, 1 small child, 4 dogs, and Danny sleeps on the couch in the living room.) I'm just saying, if my mind is occupied solely with the work of writing and gearing out my Druid/leveling my Warlock to 70 so I can raid Burning Crusade content, well, it tends to get a little stale. That's just the truth, and even if my ideas are good, they don't have the same kind of artistry that they do when I've just spent 6 hours parsing Greek and all I wanted to do the whole time was go and write something pretty instead of mind-numbing.

I feel that there is something lacking in writing that is not stolen, perhaps in the way that a kiss is not as sweet when it has been regulated to a schedule.

As a man who falls flat on his face when it comes to stealing kisses, I have no choice but to steal writing. Some men can steal kisses, and I hate them. But writing is what I do, darn it.

I'm not saying I have writer's block, because that would imply that I don't know how to connect dot A to dot B. I know perfectly well how to do that, and I have known for quite some time. In fact, the climactic end to Act I was one of the first ideas I thought of when I began to form this story back in 2002. I do not have writer's block.

No, the problem, you see, is that nearly a decade of mulling this over in my mind should probably require that I write it very well, and that is the issue, I think. I'm not talking about writing over-the-top fluff about how my characters are impossibly beautiful and it constantly leaves the people who see them breathless. I'm just saying: I spent 8 years thinking about this, and writing is an art. There's a reason people want to see the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo didn't just spend a long time thinking about it and then finger paint it during his off time one afternoon. However long it took him to do it, one thing is clear: he worked very hard to bring his vision to life in a vivid and memorable way.

I don't know; I think he did a good job.

What I'm saying is, I have my vision. I've reached the point where it needs to be put down, and I'm really hoping that this monotonous last few weeks doesn't spoil that vision.

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My estimates keep changing. Originally I had hoped to have the climax in 15-16, but now I know we're going to see it in 17-19. As I have stated before, I am continuously amazed at how so much of the story seems to write itself. I am truly shocked at how some things I have never even thought about come to life as I write. It is almost as if the words I put down are the actual transcripts of who these people actually are. That is exciting and also scary, because while I understand in my rational mind that this is a world I have created, it is odd to see and feel, somehow, that it is not.

So I think we'll have the first act wrapped up by chapter 20, and you know what? That's a nice round number. I'm satisfied with that, and with how things have been going in general.

I was initially skeptical about my ability to get the whole story of the first book across (did I mention this will be a trilogy?) in a single book, but looking at how I will probably have somewhere around 82,000 words for Act I of a three-act book, we will have, approximately, 240,000 by the end of this puppy. That's certainly a lot for the first novel of an unpublished (well, that one time in the St. Pete Times...) author, but if the responses I'm getting from readers are any indication of this thing's ability to sell itself, we should be all right.

Assuming I can paint my Sistine Chapel.

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This weekend I'm going to Orlando to see some old friends. Maybe I'll get lucky and the trip will inspire me to get back on track?

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ON AN UNRELATED side note, I've been doing a lot of work on the contextual stuff, namely the WORLD MAP, which I have decided to expand upon by adding a southern hemisphere...which I think is kind of a big deal. It looks pretty good, considering the entire thing was made in MS Paint.

Also, I have asked two friends to consider doing a bit of CONCEPT ART for TRU, though it is a very big "if" as both individuals have their own lives, you know. If they do manage to get something together, prepare to see it in a future update. For now, you'll just have to read my words, heaven help you.

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