An update!

Jan. 13th, 2011 10:10 pm
[personal profile] unforth
Well, I'm pretty sleepy, but I didn't want to let too much time pass before updating again, so here I go!

Work is very busy just now. I've been scheduling classroom observations for three different programs, with the result that my calendar in the next couple of weeks is filled with running around, and I have at least one meeting every school day between now and almost the end of the month - and still trying to squeeze in more! It's a little frustrating just because a lot of these are things I've been pestering people about for months, and it's just so hard to get anything actually set. I'm gonna be pretty grumpy by the end of the month, I suspect. In other news, I've been having some strained relations with one client, but it's going okay. I guess.

Also, and difficult and new, I've spent some time actually being in charge of the fiscal end of this company, as was my new years mandate. It's been interesting, in that things were better in some ways and worse in others than I expected, and I've spent almost a days worth of work just sorting things out, but now that I've gotten a handle on it, it shouldn't be too hard to maintain - once a few current mysteries are solved, anyway. It's tough, because all of our money comes from different clients within the NYCDOE, but when the DOE does a direct deposit there's no way to tell which client those payments represent, so it's sort of a reconstruction jigsaw puzzle where half the pieces are blank but do, somehow, fit together.

I haven't been getting much crafting done, which has been exceptionally frustrating, and I'll admit that I'm being pretty hard on myself. Still, I've managed to get most of a doll made that I want to start testing on. After that, I've got two other dolls that I'd really like done by the end of the month, one of which HAS to be because it's a commission, the other of which is supposed to go to charity and I'd really like to do it, but if something gets cut it will unfortunately be that. On the plus side, I've already made a profit this year, as I've sold 5 patterns since the New Year. Considering I didn't sell a single one in December, I'm mystified but gratified that this has happened. It's not a big profit, but every little bit helps. :) (it was four, but I actually sold one while writing this post! :) )

As to the writing, that's what I've been doing instead of crafting. Thankfully, now that I've got my feet under me, it's not requiring nearly so much research. I knew that would happen - that once I got in to the narrative part of the story things would go a lot more smoothly. I still have to look things up, but it's not hours and hours of research just to hit my minimum goal of 750. Quite the contrary. This week I've had two full-day things that I had to attend but could get away with not paying much attention during, and I wrote pretty much all day during both of them (by hand, no less!) and while there were notes on things I had to look up (like, which battles were the 1st OVI that served in the Mexican War at?) they were easy to note down and pretty quick look ups. I finally spent some time today looking at some slang dictionaries, too, and I'm feeling more confident about that. I'm able to dodge it a bit, because while the armies end up with TONS of slang, they're still pretty new at this point, so I think it's okay if the characters don't use much to begin with.

All in all, I'm VERY happy with how things are going. I'll own that the voice I've found for my main character isn't quite the one I originally envisioned, but I think it's working, and I'm finding that it flows very naturally. I mean, I wrote (exactly, and not intentionally!) 4500 words today, and had to make myself stop because I was pretty sure I could write more. I think this is happening because I know who my characters are and I know the basic outline of my story. Not that it's easy - I've got...er...13 named characters who are important enough for me to want to develop them a bit and are likely to be around for at least an entire book (Trommler, Pope, Burrows, Ogden, the Seybolds, McInerney, Bellamy, Jed, Mat, Jack, dammit, I had them all down a couple days ago but now I can't think of two of them, wait, Berliner, and...Adam...er...dammit, I can't think of it. Meeuwsen, that's it. There's also a handful of lesser characters - many of whom are the actual historical people, and are really only straw men - and also a bunch of others who are my Sergeant's superiors, all of whom are currently getting called "Lieutenant X" or "First Sergeant Y" because I haven't had the patience to go through another round of concocting names after getting through the first whole crew. I'm at 15,140 words just now, and I've "banked" 5,390 - that's how many words I've managed over my average goal of 750 a day, which is enough for me to miss a few days when things get rough and I get tired. The last handful of days have been fun because after various intro type stuff I got to the meat and potatoes - the first murder of my mystery has taken place (there will be two), and my primary detective has noticed that something isn't right, in a way that I think makes sense and is conceivable with what little I know of police practice in the time period (because damned if I STILL haven't found ANY sources that really talk about this in a useful way - though I've got a couple now that I need to look through). I think I wanted to keep going because the next section should be fun - where he goes to his higher ups and gets told that people die in war and he's wasting everyone's time - which turn around will prompt him to go to his men, give them a stirring speech, and convince them to help him figure this out. Yeah, I'm kind of excited, not least because it's nice to know at any given moment what your next 1000 - 2000 words are going to look like. I've never really had a book take shape that way, but that's how this one has been all along. In the meantime, I'm REALLY happy with the extent to which I've managed to start working in foreshadowing and necessary hints, and I'm really working on using the fact that it's a diary that was edited after the fact by it's own author and then annotated by a "modern historian" to my best advantage. I find I really, really like writing my snooty historians silly long footnotes explaining things in way more depth than is really necessary. Even though writing them invariably requires that I do a little research. Meanwhile, I'm doing it all while hopefully painting a picture of what things were like in the army right at the start of the war, with a liberal helping of as much historical accuracy as I can muster up. I just hope that when I finally show this to other people, they don't find all the little historical bits that make me grin to be annoying. :) But if they do, I'll just have to tone it down!

Another bit I'm happy about, though granted it's still only 15k words, is that so far I've avoided two of what I consider to be my biggest writing problems: a tendency towards dialog over description, and a tendency to have all my characters run together. I've spent a fair amount of time with about 6 of the characters already, and in my head I know how they are distinct and how they are different and what some of their quirks and habits and interests are. This is because before I even named the characters, I sat down and in a couple of hours I did quick sketches of each of them as if my diary writer were asked to describe what they were like. Now, that doesn't mean they won't change - I've spent a lot of time with one of the characters, a guy named Pope, and it turns out that he's a bit smarter than my main character gave him credit for, and - much to my surprise - that he's the hook for getting my main character knowledge of the murders. Turns out he's old family friends with the deceased and the deceased-to-be. I hadn't planned that, but it fit so perfectly as I writing, and I knew that it made sense because I did write out enough about Pope to know who he was and why it would make sense for him to know these particular people. It's funny, because in the past I either totally winged my characters, or else I felt that I had to write entire essays about them. This time, I just wrote one-paragraph descriptions, yet I feel like if I was put on the spot and said, "okay, your characters find XYZ unusual situation, how does this one react? how does that one react?" that I could do it, and that those reactions would be different.

Anyway, I'm babbling, which surely means I'm pretty pleased with how things are going. It's nice, because with all the research the first week I didn't feel like I was falling in love with writing this book, and right now, I DO kinda feel that way, which is good since I've got about 75,000 words to go (at least, 90k is the goal!) and then editing and then trying to get it published and then, in fantasy land, sequels!

I had a very nice visit to the Met last week, my second since the beginning of the year, as I tried to catch up with the exhibits that were about to close that I hadn't gotten to. The Khublai Khan exhibit was, as I've mentioned before, excellent. On the following, I wandered through an excellent exhibit of the art of Jan Gossaert, who is one of the early Dutch masters. It's the first exhibit I've seen that, in attending, I could really, really tell how my trip to Italy in September has widened my understanding of art and art history. Gossaert was one of the first of the Dutch painters to go to Rome, and so an important theme in his work is how in integrated northern European painting traditions with the "discoveries" of the Renaissance, and so I found it really interesting. He also did some very fine work, a fair amount of which I'd seen before. His ability to paint textiles was absolutely amazing, and the last room of the exhibit, which was filled with portraits, was definitely the finest. There were also some interesting sketches of his - I loved a couple of guys in fanciful ridiculous armor - and there was one amazing triptych that he did in collaboration with another artist which was simply exceptional. I was really glad I got to see the exhibit, and I really hope that I'll be able to get the book ultimately - it was $75, so not a purchase for right now, considering I haven't been paid in six weeks and have no way of knowing when I will be. :)

I've found that burning the slips of paper I've been writing based on my dad's recommendation is wonderfully cathartic, and I'm definitely going to continue doing so.

On Sunday, after some e-mails back and forth with some folks, I managed to put together a meeting time for play board games with some locals. Only one of my building mates showed up, but it was the one who had expressed the most interest in the actual type of games in questions, and I think we're hitting it off decently well. Certainly, I like her plenty. I've noticed that when I meet people I end up feeling like I'm coming on way to strong, especially in the "not shutting the fuck up about myself" kinda way, but I'm trying not to worry about that, and she's pretty awesome and very interesting, and has traveled a ton, and she's pretty good at board games and not competitive, all of which I'm hoping will add up to my maybe, actually having made a local friend for the first time since I moved back to NYC. Wouldn't THAT be something! We met up again last night, and it was fun too, and both nights I ended up staying up way too late but finding that I didn't ultimately mind much.

This week has been a week of staying up - by my standards - late. On Saturday, I stayed up in the hopes of a Colts victory, hope that wasn't dashed until 11. On Sunday, after getting back from board games after 9, I was up till 11:30 reducing the stew that I've been eating for dinner all week (my first stew, and it turned out really yummy so I'm pleased) and then til 12:30 cause at that point I wanted to finish my book (given my 5:30 am Monday morning, not my best choice). Then on Monday and Tuesday I stayed up late reading Georgette Heyer (like, after 11) and last night, I didn't get home from hanging out with the new friend until just after 11...and now I'm sitting up writing this, but I'm going to go to bed as soon as I finish, and it's only 10 so far. :) I'm really, really trying to remember not to beat myself up about this, cause in the end it doesn't matter, but I can't deny that I'm ticked at myself that I'm spending so much time awake yet don't feel like I'm getting all that much done, especially in terms of the crafts end of things. Of course, that's patently ridiculous - in the past 13 days I've worked 55 hours of day job, written 15,000 words of a novel that has required hours and hours of additional research, read 15 books of manga and a novel and about a hundred pages on history, and made almost all of a doll. And made a new friend and learned two new board games. And got a visit from dad, and lunch with A, and dinner with W, and met some other new folks, and went to the Met twice, and wrote a critique for a friend, and read her critique of my own work, and have cooked regularly since the year started, and have managed to get the dog to the dog park like 4 times a week, and practiced drums though not as much as I should, and gone to my drum lessons, and completely reorganized my writing research so that I could maybe maintain it long term, and gone to the gym regularly, and...wow, when I start listing it, I've been really, really busy. I know that I'm being ridiculous when I say I've not accomplished much (I feel extra ridiculous now that I've actually listed it all) yet somehow I do feel that way. I guess I'm just an idiot sometimes.

Exercise was going pretty well until Tuesday morning, when I pretty much came up lame while running - I didn't do anything and there was no incident, but early in the job my right knee starting hurting, and by the end of the jog it was hitting a 2 or so out of 10 on every single step - not enough to stop, but definitely noticeable and unpleasant. I iced it, warmed it, took ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory, rubbed a bunch of icy hot on it, and finally got a knee brace (I've needed one for a while because I've been having minor problems with my other knee for a couple of months). Yesterday morning when I woke up it hurt a lot more, but then stopped while I was in the shower...so I went to the gym despite my own better judgement, and then it hurt even more...and yet when I sort of stupidly decided not to change my afternoon plans (which included walking about 2 miles), by the time I got to my destination it had stopped hurting, and didn't really hurt the rest of the evening, and has hurt much less today than it did early yesterday. All of which is to say, I have no idea what caused it, no idea what's wrong, clearly no idea what exacerbates it, and I'm probably going to go to the gym tomorrow (and ellipt, not jog) just because I have ZERO evidence that anything I'm doing is making a difference one way or the other - except that the brace seems to help, and that earlier today when I had to jog a block for the bus, that was bad and hurt a bunch and shouldn't be repeated. :)

Another random incident of late was on January 2nd, but I left it out of last post by mistake. I decided to go to a new years buffet at a local deli, and I met some of my fellow residents, and they invited me to join their synagogue, and I'm seriously considering going. I would have gone on Friday, except that I instead got lunch with A and then went to the Met and didn't get home until late enough that it didn't pan out. But I just realized that gah, it's Friday again (this week has poofed) and I guess I'll see how tomorrow goes and decide then. :)

Right around the new year, I started using Pandora again. When I first tried it a couple years ago, I'll own that I wasn't too impressed - the music it played that was supposedly similar to what I liked was really not on the mark. However, it works a lot better now, though I am finding that it repeats stuff a LOT after the first ten hours of playing it. That said, it's been playing a lot of music I like, a lot of music I already knew (which is impressive, really, given that I told it I like Motion City Soundtrack and it's been able to produce "randomly" a lot of other songs that are not only on my playlist but that I really like), a lot of songs I didn't know by artists that I was passingly familiar with but am now getting interested in, and a lot of songs that I heard once like forever ago and hear now and am like hey I always liked that song but never knew what it was now I can go download it! Taken in tandem with my shiney iTunes giftcards that I got for Christmas, I've been able to get some new music - FINALLY - and it's glorious. The big discoveries so far are that I am completely in music fangirl love with Bowling for Soup (who I only previously knew one song by, though I'd heard a couple of the others once or twice in passing) and have renewed my interest in All Time Low (who I liked all along but never got around to investigating further), found I really don't like a high percentage of Dashboard Confessional songs, found that I could get to like Relient K (who had one song I already knew and liked), and discovered some of the songs from the 90s that I liked from the radio but never got around to finding (like "All for You" and "Absolutely"). I'm actually seriously considering getting the pro version - it's only like $35 a year, and there are no ads, and it kinda looks like you have more control over what it plays. Any one tried it?

Oh, and I bought tickets to Bali. Which is going to be super awesome.

So...I think that's everything. It should never have been that much, given that it's only been a week, but I think it just goes to show, the level of detail one goes in to on something like this is directly related to how often you do it - when you don't do it often, there's a lot to say but all of it get says vaguely. When you do do it often, there's not much to say, but it's all so recent that it's easy and kinda fun to go into detail. :)
Man, a part of me thinks I should have spent this time writing more. I'd forgotten how nice the puppy love stage of novel writing really is. It's been almost two years since I started a book and actually really got somewhere in writing it. :)

Date: 2011-01-17 04:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sapphohestia.livejournal.com
Bali?! When will you be going?

Date: 2011-01-18 01:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unforth.livejournal.com
My friend [livejournal.com profile] bakaneko is getting married there in May, so I'll be going for the third week of that month. I'm excited, though I'm already a little overwhelmed in advance. My schedule is so packed this spring, it's freaking me out...

Date: 2011-01-18 01:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bakanekotoo.livejournal.com
Yay! Can't wait for May :-)

Date: 2011-01-20 12:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unforth.livejournal.com
Me neither! Man o man do I need a vacation! :)

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