Still Writing

I haven’t been posting much, and I haven’t mentioned writing in a while, so here’s a quick update. The novel edit is on hold right now. I need to rethink my approach. There are some problems, and I have a good feeling what they are, but I’m not sure how to fix them yet. Every time I’m sitting still for 10 seconds to think about it someone gives me something to do. So I’m working on other writing related tasks. I’m doing world-building work for another novel, and I’m writing some short stories set in that world to help flesh some things out.

Life, the Universe, and Chapter 12

Everything has been way too hectic of late. Family, work, writing, you name it. I’ve been overwhelmed, and not overly motivated these past few weeks, but I’m hoping to change that starting now.

I need to come up with a schedule for finishing this draft. Writing as time permits is pretty much a recipe for me to be lazy about it. It seems I need a deadline of some kind. I did some fairly major rewrites of Chapter 12, but I now need an entirely new chapter to stick between 12 and 13.

2005 Year End Clearance

Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 00:00:54 -0500
From: Jason Penney <...>
To: Jason Penney <...>
Subject: story idea

an epic battle/war is tearing apart the land. A small time thief sees his opportunity to make good, but becomes involved in helping a refugee family (maybe just some kids?)

I found this email earlier this week. I have a lot of these ‘story idea’ emails, but this one is the novel I’ve been working on since shortly after sending this to myself two years ago today. I’m slightly less than half way done my second draft, and while the story has changed with time, I can still see how I got from there to here.

I’ve been a writer most of my life. When I was younger I sort of just assumed that you learned to read, learned to write, and then wrote down the stories in your head, and that’s how books were made. Today, I’m still pretty sure that’s how it’s supposed to work, but three years ago I didn’t feel that way. That type of thinking was schooled out of me. I never stopped writing, but I really forgot about writing books.

Throughout high school I wrote poetry. Lots. Every emotion I felt hit the paper while it was still fresh. I probably wrote four or more hours a day. I have stacks of notebooks filled with the stuff (which are fading away because I can only write long hand in pencil). Inside these notebooks I can find a few first chapters or unfinished short stories. I never stopped wanting to write fiction, but I stopped believing I could (or maybe that I should). After high school the writing mostly stopped. A few ideas here and there, and the occasional poem, but mostly nothing.

Sometime in 2003 I decided to take this whole writing thing more seriously. I worked on short stories a few nights a week. Then, near the end of December in 2003 I found Mugging the Muse: Writing Fiction for Love AND Money by Holly Lisle. This free book on writing really got me going. It helped me organize my thoughts on being a writer, and commit myself to making it happen. I set out a series of goals and started working towards them.

Have I met them? Not exactly. I originally planned to write short stories for all of 2004, and try to have a draft of a novel done in 2008. Right at the end of 2003 Lazette Gifford posted on Forward Motion that she would be teaching a 2 Year Novel class. Moving from idea to completed novel over a two year period. I signed right up. So I missed my 2004 goals, but I’m ahead of things for my 2008 goal, so I figure I’ll call it progress and keep moving forward.

As 2005 winds to a close, I want to take this time to thank Holly and Zette. If it wasn’t for them I’d probably still be floundering around wondering how to get from A to B instead of making my way along the path. I also want to thank my wife, Denise, for being so supportive of my writing, even when she’s frustrated that I’d rather write than vacuum.

Quiet around here…

You may have noticed that I got really quiet after posting almost every day. Well, I was participating in the “March Madness” writing marathon over at Forward Motion. If you’ve been keeping an eye on my progress bar at the top of the site, you may have noticed it moving quite a bit. My goal was to write 1000 words a day for 7 days, and I pulled it off! That means I pretty much doubled my daily output, and didn’t miss a single day for seven days. That’s including working about 50 hours this week, and spending 2+ hours a day cleaning the house. Phew! I hope to keep it up, but I’m giving myself a lower goal for this weekend as it’s a bit crazy.

I hope to have more detailed reviews, but in case I don’t get to it I finished a few books since my last post. First, I finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time . Wow. It was an amazing book filled with surprises of various kinds.

More recently I finished listening to Ender’s Game: Special 20th Anniversary Edition by Orson Scott Card. I’ve always wanted to read this, and my friend Matt had recommended it. When I realized that Audible had the majority of the series available unabridged I decided to give it a try. I really enjoyed it. I’ve read some of Card’s books on writing, but this is the first novel of his that I’ve read. It’s the story of a young boy being schooled in the art of warfare to fight a war against an alien race he has only seen on propaganda films. Ender’s story is filled with interesting and fully realized characters. I thought I saw the ending coming, and while the events I suspected did happen, it was not the ending at all. Great stuff!

Half way through Ender’s Game I knew I’d want more, so I already had Speaker for the Dead on my iPod and started it after taking some time to digest the ending of Game.

More soon, unless I’m busy, then more later.