Tag Archives: Scrivener

NaNo Day 20 – And Reflections So Far

Still playing catch up from a rough weekend. Posted 2568 today for a total of 32,436 words so far this month. And that leaves 17,564 to go.

The tracker on the NaNo says that I will finish on December 3rd at my current rate which is an improvement from yesterday that had it for December 5th. I need to reach at least the same number of words tomorrow, the minimum on Wednesday (a workday) and then max out on Thursday (Thanksgiving, challenge day!).Too bad before last Thursday I was at finishing on November 28th.

I am treating this not only as a teaching exercise in actual writing (as opposed to my professional procrastination (which I think I’ve achieved the rank of MASTER – bonus to me for double parenthetic comments, btw)) but also as an exercise in reaching deadline. I will reach that deadline, so help me God!

I have learned a bucketful so far in just twenty days. Number one, every single writer you have ever heard say that the way to learn how to write is to write is one-hundred and fifty thousand percent absolutely freaking correct. And I’m not saying that because I have acquired the skill in twenty days to write. Far from it. What I have learned is how much there is to it.

There is so much that goes into a story you can barely keep it in mind. Every single thing that is potentially a variable out there comes at you every single second, and there are always twenty or more of them. Now I think some of those can be eliminated with a little forethought and practice. Surely I could have reduced mine if I had thought of doing NaNo even a couple of days before November 1st and not the night of Halloween!

Even then your story may not go the way you anticipated. I had no idea what I was doing at all except for this idea that a Dark Lord of sorts who lives outside of time in a (outside of, that is) cyclical universe. It was an idea I toyed with briefly five or so years ago and then forgot about. He keeps killing a recurring iteration of this person who lives multiple lives (so think Shirley McClain meets The Matrix).

That’s it. And… write! And I have wrote some stupendous piles of crap in the last twenty days (and perhaps a few decent passages that would be alright with a little tweaking). It is scramble writing, I’m scrambling to a finish line. So yesterday I wrote this one scene where this Dark Lord (he’s actually now referred to as the Dark Surfer but that is just a placeholder as that name is already taken) kills this man yet again but this time as a newborn – he breaks the newborn’s neck.

I was very displeased with myself for having written such a thing as I do not like writing something that is evil merely to be evil. But then I thought, “well, I’ve been looking for a way to extricate the main character from this cycle of being murdered, and as long as the main character never remembers his prior life and demise there is no way out. How about make the Dark Surfer’s heinous act of murdering a child be the way out? That, somehow (and right now I don’t know even though I’m right in the middle of writing the scene) it causes his next self to recollect his past deaths and lives. I got this from listening to Father Mitch Pacwa on his call in show on EWTN answer a question about the souls of aborted children and whether or not they get to see the Beatific Vision. Pacwa answered in the affirmative.

Problem – Answer – Muse – QED.

That started a snowball where I wrote in three separate parts of the story tonight. I finished a meta-fictional piece (the novel is littered with such things that hint at the overall cosmology by the use of questionable sages and the esoteric writings of biographers without having to be explicit and dry – R.A. Lafferty uses this technique all the time and I’ve always wanted to do it myself)

– I also started what I thought was the final segment and the penultimate segment, then switched them, and then wrote a little back and forth in each section as one would make the other clearer the farther I went until I petered out (and my back as well!).

The switch occured when I was writing what I thought was the final segment when the character, (named in this iteration Dobromir Danneskjold – I like it!) who has gained the memory of his past lives in a dream, asks his priest what is eternal. The priest answers – Love. Ah, and what is love? And how has this man died up to now? Fearfully and cowardly and selfishly. There is only one way to end the cycle and that is to die by love, die in an act of love, and love is self-sacrifice.

And in Scrivener switching scenes around is easier than flipping a pancake.

Wala.

And the important lesson here, for me, is that even though I could have planned some of this, I do not think I could have got all the way there (at least not at first – maybe not at all?) without first actually writing. I don’t think I would have got to the riddle to even come up with the answers. But that last, to die in an act of love, is a bonafide story solution, a thematic solution even. I was just hoping to have a coherent series of decently written events with some sort of physical resolution for my first try.

Well, I won’t have a coherent series of decently written events on November 30th. If I were the Demiurge (and I certainly was for this story) you would all have asses where your heads are supposed to be and you’d all have wings for feet and genitals for ears. But I solved a story problem through writing it. And in a much bigger fashion than I gave myself credit for being able to come with. Also I think there might be a few short stories in germ form sitting in that muck of chaos.

On December 1st I will have the material necessary for writing an actual novel.

I’d like to also write down the observation that in all the time I was an Objectivist I was never able to solve one story problem. It was always like trying to jam a fist down a dime-sized hole. But now that I am of Catholic mind, the story solution literally fell into my lap. Actually a priest on the radio dropped the first part right into my ear on the very day I was considering one of the problems. Plink!

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I HAVE FOUND THE ELLIPTICAL GRAVE!!!

Sing that as falsetto or Norse metal growl it still sounds great! I HAVE FOUND THE ELLIPTICAL GRAVE ARRRR!!! ONTO THE VILLIAGE, MATES FOR TONIGHT WE FEED ON HUMAAAAAAANNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously though. For about four years I have been on the hunt for R.A. Lafferty’s The Elliptical Grave. I searched for a hard copy with absolutely no luck. The closest I got was some sort of online documentation that a private copy with handwritten page numbering had sold on eBay in 2009.

There were a couple of links in earlier searches that claimed to have The Elliptical Grave but took you to dubious websites written in the Cyrillic alphabet. Probably Russian, and no one not internet-stupid clicks a button on a Russian site – or does anything but high tail it out of there. Erase history, wipe all caches, and pray to St. James they have a dime left to their name come morning!

But I went a little further today and landed on a site that turned out not to be a link to the cesspool of the internet but just a plain old long online text of the book. Man, I copy and pasted that sucker into Scrivener, hit the Compile as ePub button and flopped that baby like a eel onto my iBooks on my iPad.

Kudos to iBooks for letting me just put a file like that right into the program to read. Kudos to Scrivener for being the awesome product it has always been, but manages to surprise me anew every time. It made a great formatted book in about ten seconds with little effort. All I did was hit command c on the website, opened new project in Scrivener, opened a single chapter file, commanded V that whole book into the single chapter and ran it off in compile. Less than a minute for the whole operation.

Later I think I’ll work with it in Scrivener and make it into a more presentable eBook, maybe even give it a cover (for myself, I’m not the bootlegging type) and break it up into chapters. Although that last would require me to read it first.

And, lastly, a little thumbs down to Kindle for not being able to do anything with it that wasn’t from Amazon.


It is Time

Gather around, brothers, sisters. The campfire is grown now and mature, she will burn through the middle of her life for a time and keep us warm. It is time to get back to it.

To writing.

20161201_204136

The last time I wrote was January 21st 2015. And then I had that catastrophic idea of going into medical coding.

Still haven’t found work in that area. They do not like newcomers in that field. I might never. But, and pardon my French – fuck it – I gotta write. Over two years with not even the time to think about wanting to write. Nothing.

I fear, like a person who finds an ominous lump in the wrong place on their body (but mine would be the anti-lump, a hole, a void where flesh should be) that I may have lost what I had. Like the last two years twisted me as though through some twisted form of baptism, from poet (at least in heart, I can be quite hideous in my use of language) to logician.

But there is nothing for but to dive – not step! DIVE! with thy whole body! – back into that river and lose self to its churning flow. And to see whether I still have the scales to survive or to be torn apart by my rigidity.

It is really too bad that I had to decide such a course at the time that I did.I had just started to produce sentences, and even paragraphs, son, that I felt good about. The lack of a desire for a match tells me the prose is good. Good, at least, enough for me.

I’m still going to go the typewriter route for the first draft stuff. I did a self-taught touch typing course last month and got myself up to 49 words a minute. I imagine I can attain 60 when I am actually looking at the paper! I just can’t do it on the computer. The thing is a distraction machine.

Hold it, is that the color I want to use? Let’s Google a red color palette so we can peg the exact hue we want! Yes! Right now! I couldn’t possibly write another line without this knowledge!

Two hours later I’m checking out yurts in northern Arizona.

However such meanderings have their place in dreamland where you wander wherever ye may. And so I do not have a problem with throwing together ideas and rough outlines on the computer. In fact, with this program:

scrivener

it is optimum.

I had, before the school debacle, thought of pursuing a degree in theology. It is my humble opinion that there are more answers about man and the world to be found in theology than in modern “wisdom” or even in science. Note, that is a very limited statement referring to ultimate ends and aims and morality. Obviously theology will not inform you on how the eye works, nor on its physiology, that belongs to science. But theology will answer many of the very crucial questions that science can say nothing about.

That would be a discussion unto itself, I merely state my motivating factor and go about my way. But I had been thinking about an AA in Catholic Studies from Catholic Distance University. Two years later and I’m thinking about my approach to my 50’s. Damn me, I’m thinking cash value nowadays.

I have many things to repent.

There is a backlog of projects stored in Scrivener I haven’t looked at in over two years. That, my friends, if you don’t already know, is like going into an old family chest, the contents of which you only vaguely remember and you are not the same person you were when you first engaged these objects. Or maybe the photo album analogy is better?

If any of you play a music instrument then you know the feeling. Sometimes I get to play my guitar a couple times a week and I can get rather stale. But stay away from it for a few weeks and suddenly I’m riffing and chording from a whole new perspective.

Anyway, I am looking forward to opening the chest and looking forward to going back to Elfland, to my imagination. Lot’s of friends there.


Adventures in Editing

I got the chance last month to participate in some actual editing. An author I know was preparing a collection of essays for publication and solicited readers of his blog for help with editing. I have never edited anything but my own work (although if you work with me, I have edited at least a sentence of yours as it is a compulsion) and have always enjoyed the process.

Each of us was given access to an online file sharing site where the raw first draft lay. Now I have always had my own way of doing things and I guess it is rather behind the times. I write on a word processor (the excellent Scrivener) but I print out a draft and edit it longhand. I do so for the same reason that I dislike mind-mapping software – doing it on the computer lacks speed and spontaneity.

The process was to be to download an rtf copy of the manuscript into Word and keep corrections visible through Track Changes and their add comments feature.

I do not own Word being a Mac user and not of favorable opinion on most things MS. I quickly found that Continue reading