“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live.... I'd type a little faster.”
Isaac Asimov

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Not Sleeping Only Means You Care
Tue 2006-07-11 08:16:47 (single post)
  • 50,830 wds. long
  • 22.25 hrs. revised

Things take time. If nothing else, that's what I'm learning from all this daily goal setting. Submitting critiques takes time, because I can't freakin' shut up. Finding and emailing interview subjects takes time, because I don't know many names off-hand in the fields I'm researching and I'm anal about getting my emails worded just right. Revising fiction takes time because I'm a freakin' perfectionist with maybe shades of ye olde obsessive compulsive disorder.

And four-hour training sessions on how to facilitate use of evil yet compellingly shiny electronic voting devices from Hart Intercivic take a really long time, especially if you hang around the county clerk's office for an hour afterwards to discover whether your out-of-town plans have turned out to interfere with your availability as supply judge. (They do. I won't be around on Saturday, August 5 to pick up the supplies, see. But I will be retained as a machine judge, so the training hasn't gone to waste.) And then if the bike ride to and from the county clerk's office exposes you to more sun than you prepared yourself for, afternoon naps take a really really long time.

So. After a night of not sleeping, where are we at?

  • Not a word written today on the freelance gig, but lots of progress made Monday morning in seeking interviews.
  • Revised chapter 3 of The Golden Bridle and will email it as soon as this poor old WinME-running laptop stops giving me hell via its context menus. Chapter 3 took so long that we'll just talk about chapter 4 next week.
  • Turned in a very long and wordy critique at the Critters site. One more by Wednesday and my ratio will be happy.
  • Poked my head in a friend's private novel critique forum, as promised, at Critique Circle. Although if my day's obligation is merely to poke my head in the forum, it's probably not worth a bullet point here.
And now it's 9:30 in the morning and I just really need some sleep. I'll be up again about noon or one with a single bullet-point goal for Tuesday, never fear. But for now, I sleep the sleep of the just. Or the just-plain-exhausted, I'm not sure which. Possibly both.
Goal Post: Mon. Jul 10
Mon 2006-07-10 08:30:42 (single post)
  • 51,743 wds. long
  • 18.75 hrs. revised

OK, so, it's nine-ish. Blearrrrgh. Bad enough that I was working until 2:00 AM this morning. Worse that I stayed up another couple hours with John working samurai sudoku puzzles. Blearrrgh, say I. Bleeaarrrghghgh.

Today, the plan is to do this stuff here:

  • Another 3000 words on the freelance gig [Never got there]
  • Revise chap.s 3 & 4 of Golden Bridle and email to beta(s) [9:17 AM, July 11. Only ch 3, actually]
  • Critique a story over at Critters [Done as of 3:15 AM]
  • Pop my head back in at Critique Circle [Done as of 3:25 AM]
I was gonna be all gung-ho and say "4500 words" but that would be insane, because I will be spending the hours of 1 to 5 PM at the Boulder County Clerk's office learning how to run the electronic voting machines for use by the disabled. I'm-a gonna be an election judge again this year. This time, I checked my calendar. There will be no lateness getting to the precinct due to being stuck in Raton Pass this time, because I'll be getting home from my travels two days before the primaries. So there. Plus, snow is not expected in August.

This, by the way, is your friendly reminder that you should plan on voting. It's easy, it's non-fattening, and it's your civic duty. Do it if you know what's good for you.

(Ha ha. I made a funny. Get it? Get the funny? See, if you know what's good for you, you'll vote for what's good for you. Get it?)

(OK, so I'm bad at making funnies. Blearrrgh.)

Right. Moment-o-truth is later on this evening, probably quite late indeed.

11:18 PM - Definitely "quite late." We're talking all-nighter here. It's OK though. We're approaching the full moon. Pagans run on Lunar power, right? (grumble grumble) But about that, more later.

On Setting Daily Goals
Sun 2006-07-09 16:38:47 (single post)
  • 51,743 wds. long
  • 18.75 hrs. revised

Hello. This is what we call the Spectator Sport of Professional Writing. Since this past week has been utterly dismal for productivity, I'm going to invite y'all (all, what, three or four of y'all?) to put the pressure on. What I'm going to do is this: I'm going to post my goals for the day right here. At the end of the day, I'm going to update the blog entry to reflect success or failure. In case of failure, y'all are allowed to laugh at me.

This is an important job, the laughing. I need to start outsourcing the failure-based ridicule and smack-talking. I've discovered of late that I can't both write and hold up the carrot-and-stick contraption. For one thing, the contraption takes two hands to hold up. Carrot, stick. Hand, hand. For another, it's hard to write when you're busy flagellating yourself for not writing. So. From here on out, it's my job to write and it's your job, should you choose to accept it, to weild the mule-driving devices.

There we go. Now. Goals for Sunday, July 9 (oh, crap! it's the 9th already) are as follows:

  • 3,000 words on the freelance gig (1300/3000 complete as of 1:36 AM)
  • Stick my head in CritiqueCircle.com and contribute as appropriate (complete as of 11:52 PM)
  • Revise chapters 3 and 4 of Golden Bridle as needed and email to beta reader(s) (Rescheduled, in a fit of realism, as of 12:00 AM, for Monday)
Given that it's already 5:40 PM MDT, I need to get on with it. So, ta for now. Check this space for updates.

Update, 1:43 AM: Well. Don't I just suck. Fiddlesticks, fudge, and fubar. Thing is, I've got an easy thousand-words-an-hour rate of progress when I'm writing fiction, sure, but fiction doesn't require research. Freelance gigs do. And sometimes the research they require makes the writer go, "What the flying bleep, exactly, do they want me to say?" And then the writer spends a lot of time looking things up.

And taking multiple video game breaks.

Anyway, today was at least more productive than yesterday. And tomorrow will be better, because A) less video game breaks, and B) not so much of the farting around until late afternoon.

Look for a brand new goal-oriented bloggity by nine-ish.

My Novel Has Been Deflowered
Wed 2006-06-14 23:55:04 (single post)
  • 51,743 wds. long
  • 18.75 hrs. revised

I am, in fact, still in both laptop and deadline crisis mode. However, laptop crisis is bandaged by the availability of my husband's old Compaq Presario, and deadline crisis is mitigated by setting myself a daily word-count quota and actually meeting it.

Thus I was able, this evening, finally, to make time to read the critiques that came in from the Critters crew.

My novel is no longer a virgin. It has for the first time been seen by eyes that do not belong to me. And it has deep and abiding flaws that were not visible to my eyes, because my eyes were my eyes and they sat inside a head that was my head. You know how it goes: I knew too well what I meant to see what I had in fact said.

Now, I have Doubts.

I am aware that Doubts are a natural side-effect, sometimes, especially when most of the comments are pointing out flaws rather than sparklies, but it is fruitless to speak logic to a writer who is in the middle of Doubting.

Just, y'know, give me a day or so. I'll get over it. Doubts do give way to Decisions and Plans, but it takes a bit.

(Meanwhile: if you critted chapters 1 and 2 this past week and have not yet received the fulsome thanks I owe you, it is because your email bounced. Now to hunt you down in the newsgroup. Mwahahahahaaa.)

I Am Taking That All-Important First Step...
Sun 2006-05-07 22:53:59 (single post)
  • 51,743 wds. long
  • 18.75 hrs. revised

...of allowing someone else to read my novel in progress.

No, no, the submission of the first three chapters of The Drowning Boy doesn't count. The first time, it was a submission to a Faceless Editorial Entity that would decide Yea or Nay without much feedback. The second time, it was a submission as application to a workshop; until and unless those folks say Yea, I won't have to worry about other people reading my novel. If they say Nay, once again the Nay will probably come back without feedback.

No, that didn't count. It's not anything at all like submitting the first two chapters of The Golden Bridle to the Critters.org queue.

If you who happen to be reading this happen to be someone whose story I once happened to critique, and who happened to have said to me, "Thanks, and let me know when you've got something in the queue so I can return the favor," then the week you're looking for, provided I can keep my crit ratio up, is June 7. No pressure; I'm just passing along the info. Do or do not. There is no guilt.

Oh. My. Gods. People are actually going to read it and tell me what they thought. Nervous!

Time to go work on something else just to get my mind off it!

Angelo's proudly serves Kronos Gyros.
Cities show up, cities pass by.
Somewhere East of Osceola, Iowa
Tue 2006-02-21 13:30:14 (single post)
  • 51,704 wds. long
  • 17.75 hrs. revised

Woke up this morning on a train. The earbuds from my husband's broken iPod were piping music into my ears. Breakfast was out of a lunch sack rather than my kitchen. My writing studio was a table at the back of the snack/lounge car. Otherwise, the routine was about the same: Wake up at 6:00 AM when the computer starts playing the Blue Man Group: Audio CD; snooze through until the playlist switches into Exchange: More Than Words; dawdle over breakfast; acquire caffeine; and finally, once I get around to it, write.

This morning we finish up in the approximate location mentioned in this blog entry's title. We have our first transformation scene. Hurrah! Diane has discovered the magical properties of Babba's talisman by way of getting turned into a unicorn. Yay! Mystical wondrous magic girl scene!

That means it's time for Purple Prose Avoidance 101.

Not, you understand, that I'm qualified to give a lesson in Purple Prose Avoidance. But since the hope is that the second draft will be less maudlin than the first, I can at least list some of the worst offenders that got nixed this time around. And here they are, in no particular order:

  • Single-sentence paragraphs.
  • Single-sentence paragraphs that aren't complete sentences.
  • Single-sentence paragraphs that start with "And then."
  • Overuse of words such as "forth," "very," and "wonder."
  • Overuse of parallel structures.
  • Overuse of, well, words.
No, I'm not going to give examples. I'm not even going to try to explain what made these things despicable symptoms of first draft purple prose. You're just going to have to take my word for it that rereading this section of the story was, to be perfectly blunt, embarrassing.

*shudder*

All better now? Maybe. Some better now, for sure. Meanwhile, it's now 3:30 PM CST and I'm at a deli in Chicago around the corner from Union Station. Angelo's, at the corner of Jefferson and Adams. They gots the wi-fi. My train out of Chicago leaves at 8:00, so I may be here awhile.

Once More Marches Forth My Army Of Words
Fri 2006-02-17 11:00:00 (single post)
  • 2,764 wds. long
  • 51,685 wds. long
  • 16.75 hrs. revised

At upper left (upper left in the current style sheet, anyway; I reserve the right to change it at any time, so there) you will find two manuscripts. One is a novel. One is a short story. You will probably not need to be told which is which, even if you haven't been reading along all this time. The word counts will be dead giveaways.

About the novel: There are things which Diane probably shouldn't know as early as Chapter Two. Today's session was mostly spent figuring out which things those were, and what other things to replace them with. Some of said figuring out took place over a plate of bacon and eggs, because I felt like it.

("Save all manner of bacon grease. You will be instructed as to its use later.")

About the short story: I and a veritable bouquet of postage stamps in various denominations have sent it out into the word again. My next assignment, in case the story should come back unbought, is to make up a list of four other editorial desks/slush piles it should visit, and be prepared to ship it off to the next one right away. And, should this exercise result in nothing more victorious than five rejection letters from five professional markets, I need to decide on a second tier list, because that's how this game is played.

("Send it out 'til hell won't have it.")

May every week end as productively as this one.

Primarily Concerned With Weather
Thu 2006-02-16 21:00:00 (single post)
  • 51,507 wds. long
  • 16.00 hrs. revised

Should anyone ask, "With what was today's novel-editing session concerned?" well, now you know.

Additionally, it was concerned with better placing Diane's fight with her father (Chapter Two) in the context of a well-developed plot arc. The scene ought to be an example of Life With The Lenner Family; it's far too early for stakes-raising earth-shattering revelations. First drafts, even those not of the NaNoWriMo variety, are often front-loaded with every great idea the writer has for the story. It takes a second draft to properly space them out.

(Oh, and, by the way, don't you just love the way I'm proclaiming Universal Truths About Writing in spite of my largely unpublished status? I'm so humble. No, no, really--just pretend I've said "I'm discovering that..." at the beginning of each of those kinds of sentences and we'll get along fine.)

But anyway, fight ends, Diane storms off from the dinner table, and heads out onto the balcony where she can see the stars "speckling a cloudless indigo sky" and yet complain that "it was cold and snowy out here." Snow falling. Out of a cloudless sky. Yeah... Plot doctor over here, stat!

Boulder snow is lots of fun. And by "fun," I mean entertaining. At least in hindsight. I mean, sometimes you get a decorative overnight blizzard that's done by the dawn, leaving mounds of dry sparkly flakes all over the trees and lawns but easily plowed off the streets. And then sometimes it starts up in the midafternoon and doesn't stop for three days, and the snow plows never quite catch up.

We had the latter sort of snow starting Tuesday night. We were fooled at first by the light dusting over the neighborhood that evening as my husband's birthday guests were leaving (yes, he's a Valentine's baby, cho~ kawaii), and the illusion of getting off easy was only enhanced the next morning by a stingy sky that had to practically be petitioned for each tiny snowflake. But it picked up Wednesday afternoon, and when one of our friends drove over around eight or so in his '74 vehicle with rear wheel drive, it was fish-tailin' fun for everyone. A Thursday night on the town revealed abandoned bicycles heaped with snow at every U-rack on Pearl Street, and though it stopped actively precipitating by the weekend, damn it was cold on Saturday.

Which is just to say that Boulder weather will accomodate all sorts of plot necessity, but the author has to meet it with at least some minimum of effort. So this morning I did a lot of combing over Chapter One and Two for places to wedge in weather references: that cattle smell coming in as Diane skipped out of class (what we at Chez LeBoeuf-Little like to call "A mean wind from Greeley"), the first flakes falling as she encounters Babba, a full-grown blizzard as she runs home, and a clear sky after dinner due to the storm having blown away to the south.

Of such glamorless minutia is a convincing novel made. At least, I hope it'll be a convincing novel. More convincing than the idea of snow actively falling from the freakin' stars, anyway.

I Am So Relieved.
Wed 2006-02-15 08:57:54 (single post)
  • 51,373 wds. long
  • 14.00 hrs. revised

According to this quiz over here, my protagonist is not a Mary Sue.

You have no idea what a load off my mind that is.

(Further fun reading on the subject can be found at Making Light.)

Weekends Include No Sunrises
Sun 2006-02-12 19:18:43 (single post)
  • 51,113 wds. long
  • 13.00 hrs. revised

Because I slack off on weekends. You know, like the rest of that portion of the human race that lives in this country. And given that I'm going out clubbin' tonight, it's quite likely that 6:00 AM and I will not be seeing each other tomorrow, either.

And I can go out clubbing. I did my homework. I met my deadline. Whoo-chaaaaa.

(Dear [any friends who have emailed me lately and are waiting for a reply]: Thank you for your patience. Now that I am All Done, a response will be forthcoming. Tomorrow, most likely.)

My husband and I had this conversation about work for hire assignments. On the one hand, they come with deadlines. Deadlines are good; they make writing actually happen. If the writing doesn't actually happen at a rate of 1,000 words per day over 15 days, it happens in dribs and drabs until one painful 8,000 word all-nighter at the eleventh hour. But it gets done.

(For the record, this project--which will be on sale here sometime soon--was somewhere in between the two scheduling styles mentioned above.)

On the other hand, they interfere with my Raisin Due Otter, which is to say, writing fiction. I haven't finished a new short story in, like, ages. And that's despite requests. And I really, really, really ought to be getting my VP application together, and revising a couple battle-scarred short stories so they can return to the front ranks of the slush wars, and, y'know, stuff. But no, I have instead been working on non-fiction/journalism stuff to which I don't even get to keep the copyright.

On the third hand (yes, I'm a mutant today), two of these projects right at the beginning of the year means that my business account has seen a profit. Writing paid for my cell phone coverage. That's cool, right?

In any case, I have marked myself as Unavailable To New Projects Of This Nature until March 3rd, the date on which--train schedules permitting--I return from a trip home. (For Mardi Gras. Quite possibly the most important, historical Mardi Gras since they brought in the megafloats and moved out of the Quarter. Maybe even since the first one. I don't think y'all need me to tell y'all why.) Until then, I am not only on Mardi Gras vacation; I'm on a writing vacation.

'Cause that's another good thing about WFH stuff. Yesterday, I was revising The Golden Bridle as a break from working on the WFH project. I was working on a novel for fun. Wow. Nothing like blowing a little perspective into my life, huh? So, yeah. Fiction is fun, and now I get like three weeks to do nothing but fiction. Whoot!

And then, when I get back to Denver, I'll probably pick up another "not so fun but it pays the bills" project. If not of the same type, then of another. Because all those good reasons above really do outweigh the bad, and really, with 24 hours in a day, exactly how much fiction not getting done can I really blame on two hours spent filling in the blanks on an editor-provided outline? I mean, really. Most people work eight hours a day five days a week. Surely I can work a bit more than two or three.

'Cause I'll tell you one thing. SkillJam.com ain't paying the bills or giving me much job fulfillment, and that's the truth.

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