Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Overdue Update

I’ve been so focused on writing for the past few weeks, I have pretty much ignored my contact with the outside world. So, I figured time had come to take a break from writing and do some, uh… well– writing.
The dead computer continues to be an ongoing issue. It will be some time before I can replace it. Until then, I limp along using borrowed time on someone else’s computer. I’m confident that once Dragon is released, I’ll have enough sales to be able to replace the computer and be able to ramp up my productivity.
I picked up a part time job. No income equals no bills being paid, which is not a good thing for one’s sense of security. So at least I can start paying something.
Overall, the two combined make for a roughly 60% reduction in time available to write and in my productivity.
So, every bit of time I’ve had available I’ve been pushing into trying to get as much writing done as possible. Even the smallest of interruptions have a large impact on my output.
On the other hand, the intensity has an effect on my writing.
November is known among writers as NaNoWriMo, or “National Novel Writing Month” which puts forward the challenge to writers to produce 50,000 words in one month. That translates into about 1,667 words per day—a number that is easily within my capability. If you do the math, you’ll realize that the three days per week that I am at the part time job translates into 20,000 words that don’t get written in the month.
If you are looking for some motivation to get yourself to actually sit down and try writing something, NaNoWriMo fills that niche. Basically, it gamifies writing. It gives a way to score what you are doing and show some progress. The score gives you a target to shoot for and beat and in the process, you actually get some writing done.
I didn’t officially take part in NaNoWriMo, but I did use it as a way to drive myself and finish Dragon. John Scalzi wrote his latest novel, Lock In, as a NaNoWriMo exercise.
Did I hit the goal of fifty thousand words? No. (Remember, as I said above, three days of the week I can’t get any work done.) But I did get it a lot closer to completion.
Overall, I would say that Dragon is now past the 75% mark. That is to say, 75% of it is pretty much gelled into the form I think it should take, there is still that pesky 25% I need to complete. Then, I have to set it all aside for a couple of weeks and then actually read what I’ve written. That is what we call the “author’s edit.” I use that to see if I can spot any glaring errors, notes to myself in the narrative that need to be removed, continuity issues, etc. before I pass the manuscript to my editors and proof readers.
In editing, the manuscript probably loses between 15%–20% of its size as messy bits, apocryphal or tangential parts, and just plain bad prose is removed from the narrative.
Once the manuscript goes to edit, then I can announce an estimated release date for Dragon. Much as I want to release it in 2014, it doesn’t look like that is going to happen.
But during this period of intensive writing, I’ve found my speed has picked up considerably.
It isn’t just Dragon I’m working on. I’ve also been putting some time into Privateer, Music On The Wind, and a couple of other experimental pieces which I’ll probably release under a nom de plume to see how they fare.
As much as 2014 has been a bust year for me, I’m hoping that all this work will make 2015 a boom year.
I feel that I’ve justified to myself that I really can produce up to three novels per year—barring any more life-changing interruptions. I just need to clear out the remaining bugs in the system so I can move forward.