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.

Taking a Break

So much for not being a stranger

The rough draft of chapter 8 was completed on time (final post was on April 30) and right on budget (just over 20K words). Not entirely happy with the result (that last post was particularly disappointing), but I knew when I started on April 1 that this wasn’t going to end with a finished product. But that’s fine — what matters to me is “winning” the CampNaNoWriMo challenge for April, and more importantly, producing an item that I can craft into a more polished document for this year’s NaNoWriMo event.

As I do at the end of each of these events, I felt satisfied yet enervated at the conclusion. Decided to step away from blogging for a while, until my energy and enthusiasm return. Which it most definitely will, perhaps soon — I’m contemplating a return to The Chosen, the sword and sorcery project I started on a lark and wound up enjoying considerably.

But for now, a little more rest, then get back to indulging my enjoyable obsession.

Update on Chapter 8

We’re half-way into the month of April, and the eighth chapter of Gray Metal Faces is progressing well. The goal was to draft 20K words, over ten scenes, and on Thursday I both finished the fifth scene and passed 10K words, putting me a couple days ahead of schedule. Not bad, especially considering that it’s only been about a month since I’ve given serious thought to the chapter.

As I mentioned previously, I’m drafting my remaining work on the novel on a private site (and yes, I will at some point explain why I’m doing this), but am inviting all followers of this blog the opportunity to read that work. Just like this post, or leave a comment, and if you haven’t already been added as a reader, I’ll give you access.

Distractions

[A response to today’s prompt from The Daily Post]

“I mean, do they ever wash these things?” Lana’s scowl, and the way she held the fencing jacket at arm’s length after pulling it from the team’s equipment sack, told Annie that she needed to work with the newest potential recruit for the Bark Bay High School fencing team.
Stepping in front of Lana, Annie took the jacket from her. “Coach Dan sends them to the cleaners once a month.” The fencing team captain shook her head, waving her brown pony-tail, then released the jacket — “That one’s too small.” Squatting, she began rummaging through the sack, finally pulling one of the other jackets from the heap. Annie stood, and nodded at Lana — “This one should fit.”

Like all of Bark Bay’s jackets, this one was zippered in the back; front-zippered jackets were just as common and no more expensive, but since right-handed fencers could only use a jacket zippered on the left side, and left-handed fencers required zippers on the right, back-zippered jackets were more suited to the fluctuating membership of the Bark Bay squad. After explaining to Lana how to put on the jacket (first, step a leg through the hole formed by the nylon strap at the bottom of the jacket, then insert your arms), Annie fastened and raised the zipper.

“I mean, doesn’t it bother you?” Annie knew Lana was still talking about the distinct scent of the team’s equipment, the stale perspiration that permeated everything, even after it came back from the cleaners.

“A little, at the start.” Annie actually couldn’t remember her initial reaction to the scent, but felt she needed to establish some sort of bond with Lana. “But when I started scrimmaging, trading touches with other fencers — I didn’t care what I smelled.” She laid a hand on Lana’s shoulder, and smiled. “I knew right away, that fencing was the coolest, most exciting sport ever. From that point, all the smelly equipment, the noises, the bruises — those were all distractions. And I was too busy having fun, to let any distraction get in my way.”

For a moment, Lana stared back blankly. And then, to Annie’s relief, she smiled. “So when can I start scrimmaging?”

“Soon as we find you a mask.” Annie then led Lana to the team’s other equipment sack, which promised to have an even more pungent odor.

Revising to Build Relationships

Via Krista Stanley, I came across some interesting tips on ending scenes in a novel and creating links between those scenes. Feel like I’ve given insufficient attention to these concepts so far in Gray Metal Faces, as I’ve had a fairly narrow focus on each chapter during the drafting process. Will make these relationships a point of emphasis during the revision of The Land Without Mosquitos.

Final Thoughts on NaNoWriMo 2016

It’s been a few days since the end of this year’s National Novel Writing Month event. I’m happy I participated, and very satisfied at having reached the goal of 50K words. Chapters six and seven of “Gray Metal Faces” have been completely revised, and the first draft of chapter eight has begun; honestly, I don’t think I would have accomplished so much if I hadn’t been trying to “win” NaNoWriMo.

But I’m not happy with those last few days in November. Getting those final few thousand words was difficult, and while I got the job done, I certainly didn’t enjoy myself. Writing shouldn’t always be easy, and I’m definitely not afraid of the work; however, during those last few days in November I was writing because I had to, not because I wanted to. Working on the novel became just another obligation, and I approached those final blog entries with all the enthusiasm of a dental appointment.

That’s not a feeling I want to experience again, and makes me wonder if I’ll participate in next year’s NaNoWriMo. Yeah, there’s a real good chance that I could end next November with a complete draft of the entire novel, which would be completely awesome. But to have that empty, joyless feeling — I’m not sure any accomplishment would be worth that.

So yes, I’m happy to have participated in this year’s NaNoWriMo, but whether I take part in next year’s event is an open question.

And There You Have It

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winnerIt hasn’t been pretty these last couple of days, but my NaNoWriMo goal of 50K words has been reached, with about 75 minutes to spare. Don’t have much energy (physical or mental) left to say anything more profound than that; right now, I don’t even feel victorious. Just tired, and a little grateful for being able to accomplish this feat.