Taking Shape

Finished drafting chapter 9 of “Gray Metal Faces” this evening — and that means I’ve reached a significant milestone.

Nearly seven years ago — the exact date was October 16, 2010 — I posted a character study for what would eventually become Coach Dan. This was the start of a novel I’d been contemplating for years, and knew I would never be satisfied unless I actually wrote the damn thing. With tonight’s post, I have completed the initial draft of “Gray Metal Faces.” It’s not finished, and it certainly ain’t pretty, but it now has a sense of completion it lacked before tonight.

It’s like seeing the shape of a bowl emerge on a pottery wheel. You know it requires a lot more work, but it’s no longer a lump of clay. It has a recognizable shape — it’s a bowl, and seeing its shape emerge gives you a burst of inspiration. That’s where I’m at now with “Gray Metal Faces.” I can see its shape, imperfect as it may be, but still, there it is, after seven years of work.

Experience has taught me to take a step back and catch my breath after reaching a milestone with this novel. Not sure when I’ll get back at it (the next milestone will be a revision of the eighth and ninth chapters), but that time will come. For now, I’m going to exhale, and let myself appreciate this accomplishment.

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Finish Strong

In a good position with chapter 9 as I head into the next to last weekend of the month. The first eight of the nine scenes have been drafted, leaving just the final scene in the novel’s final chapter. But I’m still climbing up a hill, rather than coasting to a conclusion; in many ways, I’ve been leading up to this last scene through all the years I’ve been working on this project. I can see the finish line, however, and I’m feeling a surge of psychic energy that I hope will allow me to finish strong.

Goal for this last scene is 6000 words (and I’ll say it again — having word count goals has been extemely helpful), a daily average of a little under 700 through next weekend. One last kick…

Getting There

Got a good start on chapter nine this holiday weekend. Eight hundred words or more each day, another five hundred the first day back to work. I’m at around twenty percent so far — still a long way to go, but at least I’m not playing catch up yet.

The pace will slow as the weekday grind sets in. Four hundred words on the days I work, double that on days off — I’ll have to pick up the pace on more than a few days to reach my goal, but I can get there. May have to push myself that final week, but this chapter is going to drafted at the end of September.

And now, chapter nine of Gray Metal Faces

There’s one more chapter of Gray Metal Faces that remains to be drafted, and I plan to cross that task off my to-do list this month.

Like I did with chapter 8 in April, I’ll be drafting the ninth and final chapter on a private site. (I’ll get around to explaining why I’m doing this at some point.) If you leave a comment on this post, I’ll send you an invitation to the private site so you can see the work in progress.

Complete the draft by October 1, and I’ll be ready to update the final two chapters for NaNoWriMo in November. A completed draft of the whole damn thing… not sure what I’ll do when I get to that point, but I’m looking forward to that great unknowing.

Misnomers

[Been a while since my last prompt response to The Daily Post]

“Know what bothers me?” Seeing Kara look up, Harriet laid her sandwich down on her paper plate, and pointed with both index fingers across the cafeteria table. “The word toothbrush. Totally wrong!” The older woman’s hands flew into the air, causing a diner at another table to flinch. “You use it on all your teeth, so it should be teethbrush! Or mouthbrush, since you can also use it to clean your gums!”

Kara waited for Harriet to bring her hands back down to the table before responding. “It’s a marvel how anyone maintains proper dental health, using such a horribly named product.”

“Don’t you agree?” Harriet leaned across the table, her face so close that Kara could see the dust on her colleague’s eyeglasses.  “It’s like jellyfish — they’re not fish, they’re actually… ” She bit her lip, as she sat back. “Something that’s not a fish.”

Friday Fictioneers: Who Woulda

“Now THAT,” Mina’s voice rising in surprise, “is not something I expected to see.”

Wendy looked at the object at the end of her aunt’s extended finger, and blinked. Mina jabbed her finger at the car’s fender. “I mean, who woulda thought! A VW, here, in Israel!”

“Oh.” Wendy looked up at her aunt, a look of satisfied comprehension on her face. “Do they call it Tet Shin here?”

Every week, Rochelle Wisof-Fields hosts Friday Fictinoneers, where the objective is to write a complete story in 100 words or less in response to a photograph. I encourage you to learn more about Friday Fictioneers.


What Works

I’m not blogging regularly, and I want to change that fact.

There are reasons for my blogging inactivity, good ones for sure. Been actively revising some the stories I’ve drafted on this blog, such as The Land Without Mosquitos, with an eye towards getting those works edited and published. Also taken a more active role in my wife’s home business; she’s a cake decorator, and I’ve started doing a good portion of the cake baking, which to my surprise has been a wonderfully satisfying experience (I’ll have to expand on that last thought at some point). There have been several big events in my personal life as well — graduations, managing my brother’s finances, college applications, the bittersweet journey of selling my late parents’ house, and planning for a major career change. So yeah, I’ve kept myself busy, and while I’ve kept writing and have enjoyed living my life, I’ve never been able to ignore the niggling regret over not blogging, an activity that brings me great pleasure.

To restart my blogging, I’m going to revisit techniques that have proven effective in the past — reblogging, prompt responses, the occasional movie review and political commentary, and yes, more bad poetry. But let’s start with some good verse, from puttingthedogtosleep, an imaginative rumination about serving breakfast to Death.

The Chosen, Chapter 3J

Archilochus shook his head dismissively. “If this thug knows that Crim and I were at Judge Oliver’s manor last night, other members of Yungen’s gang must also know. We can’t pretend I’m a spice merchant any longer, that identity’s been compromised. You — ” he jabbed a finger into Jay’s chest — “we need you to take us directly to Yungen, tonight.”

Jay rustled under Wolf’s grasp, and she released him. “He’s at his cabin this evening, outside the city.”

“His guards will be all over the place.” Wolf sheathed her knife. “Yungen goes there whenever he feels threatened.”  

“He believes the Imperial Guard’s after him. I can get you there, but there’s no way I can get you in.”

Archilochus nodded. “We’ll figure that part out, once we get there.” He then turned to the turbaned man — “Gil, we need you to get a message back to Crim, let her know there’s been a change of plans.”

Gil laughed. “You can tell her yourself.” Twitching his head back, he whistled sharply down the alley, and three familiar figures stepped out from the shadows. Archilochus could not hide the surprise in his voice — “You’re supposed to be at the courthouse!”

Crim stepped forward, followed by Ukhala and Billy. “That’s where we were, until we were… ” The priestly woman frowned — “until Gil decided that we needed to be rescued.”

Archilochus spun towards Gil, anger in his face. “What made you decide — ”

“I heard something suspicious in Grendus’ voice, and made some inquiries in the market,” Gil speaking in a flat, disinterested tone. “I found out right away that your cover story had been blown, so I knew we needed a new plan. I could have stopped the mission and let you return to the courthouse, but I suspected the Safety Committee wouldn’t release Wolf again. Getting our comrades out from house arrest, seemed the best option.”

“I disagreed — ” Crim glared back at Gil as she spoke — “but Gil’s plan had gone too far by the time I could object.” She looked around at everyone. “Congratulations, friends. We are all officially outlaws in the town of Philos.”

Archilochus slapped Jay’s shoulder. “Then I believe it’s only appropriate, that we meet this town’s leading outlaw.” And moments later, they exited the city’s gates, and headed north from the colony.

End of The Chosen – Chapter 3

The Chosen, Chapter 3I

“As I was saying,” Wolf explained, “my friend — ”

“Is a member of the Imperial Guard,” Jay replied angrily, as Carp pushed Archilochus against a wall. “He was Judge Oliver’s guest last night, did he forget to inform you of that?”

“Please, please!” Archilochus’ plea sounded more amused than concerned, as Carp searched him frantically. “This doesn’t have to end in violence!”

Carp then spun Archilochus against the wall, and called back to Jay — “No weapons, no coin, no documents. He’s got nothing on him.”

Jay scoffed at Archilochus. “Whoever sent you, must not trust you. They gave you nothing that could lead back to them.” Jay turned to Wolf, anger in his face. “Yungen was furious when you were caught, and even more furious by your lame attempt to bring one of the Empire’s spies to him.”

Wolf’s eyes widened. “Ah — ”

“We’ll dump his body in the ocean, keep the Empire out of our business.”

“Um — ”

“Yungen told us to bring you to him alive. Says he has a plan for you.”

Frowning, Wolf pointed beyond Jay’s shoulder. “Might want to think about changing your plan.”

“Carp, what the hell you doing back there?”

“Lying down on the job, it appears.”

Jay spun on his heels at the unfamiliar voice, and saw Carp face-down on the ground, a knife in his back. Above him, standing next to Archilochus, was a short man, a turban covering his entire head and ears. The short man looked past Carp, directing his words to Wolf — “Two days in a row. Nothing personal, but I’d be a bit embarassed if I were you.”

A hand then clasped over Jay’s mouth, and he felt a blade at his throat. “Yungen’s never loyal to people who fail him, so protecting him won’t do you any good. So you might as well tell us where he is, and hope we’re a little more forgiving.”

The Chosen, Chapter 3H

***

As twilight descended over Philos, Archilochus and Wolf entered through the town through a hidden path. They worked through the town cautiously, taking care not to be seen, until they had reached the estate of Wilhelm Grendus, Philos’ most renowned butcher and a man with a known relationship with Yungen. Grendus, a balding man in his forties, was standing outside his home as they arrived, as if he were expecting them.

“You’re taking a big chance,” Grendus said in a deep voice, pointing at Wolf, “returning to town so soon after your escape.”

“The Safety Committee’s focusing their search on the woods,” Wolf replied. “And I know this town much better than the woods. Figure I’m as safe here as anywhere else.” She nodded in the direction of Archilochus. “This is Varnarius, from the continent. He’s a spice merchant, and is looking to begin trading in the colonies.”

“Spices?” Archilochus nodded at Grendus’ question. “Sorry, but I can’t help you. I’m a butcher, and don’t trade in spices.”

“But you are also the most respected tradesman in Philos,” Archilochus explained. “And I have heard that, in order to do business in town, certain… requirements, need to be met. I believe you, more than anyone else in Philos, would know how best one could meet those requirements.”

Grendus rubbed his chin. “I see. There is a man you need to meet — his name is Harold Shot. He is an agent for several farmsteads in the colony. He also trades in other goods, including spices. He’ll be at the market this afternoon.”
Wolf and Archilochus soon left, and made their way towards the market, taking alleys wherever possible. Archilochus asked why Grendus had not arranged a meeting with Yungen.

“You’ll meet with Yungen, soon enough.” They had reached the end of an alley, and waited for a group of people to pass. “We need to make this seem like a legitimate transaction. If Yungen senses anything’s unusual, he won’t let us near him.” She looked out into the market. “I see Shot, he’s just a few stalls away.” Waving Archilochus forward, Wolf stepped into the market — and was stopped almost immediately by two men stepping in her path.

“Wolf — good to see you’re no longer in prison,” the taller of the men said.

“Jay, Carp — ” she tried to push between the two men — “This man I’m with — ”

“Is about to have a meeting with the three of us.” Jay and Carp then forced Wolf and Archilochus back into the alley.