jacquelineb: (swing)
After a slightly giddy and harried feeling over the past few days, it's Thursday night, which is always a rest night for me, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday being occupied with dancing. Mostly, though, a few major dancing admin-y/organising matters have been sorted out, and my head feels a lot clearer as a result. I still hold the cash box and other such things for the Reel club, though am no longer officially treasurer - instead, I'm secretary/webmaster. Meaning I hold that position (well, not webmaster for Branch) on two committees. Ah well - at least a few weeks time I'll not be fiddling with change and hoping I've counted it right!

My flashy little mouse that I've had for a few years has finally died after months of irritating me no end, so I have a nice new mouse for the lap top. That said, the aptly named 'rave mouse' on account of it's multi-coloured flashing lights can still merrily flash away, even if it doesn't serve a functional purpose anymore. ;)

Yesterday the intern (who sadly will be leaving us next week) in the department we share an office with brought those us who sit in the 'fishbowl' central area a little item called a martenitsa. Said colleague is Bulgarian, as are the martenitsas, and I thought it was a lovely gesture: So here is my martenista )

Have a busy few days coming up, so am debating whether or not to go to sleep soon and wake up earlier, or stay up later and do things now...suspect bed will win out somehow.

And now some 'back dated' blogging, but wanted to share!

To my delight last year, I discovered we had not only a Christmas tree in Harry Potter's Room (ie, the cupboard under the stairs) but baubles for decoration, lights, and even a star for the top of the tree. Yay! I said, and my housemate and I proceeded to decorate it.

And it was lovely. Except the lights we discovered were a most...interesting colour for a Christmas tree...as you will see under the cut )
jacquelineb: (storykeeper)
At last I come to the final part of the review. And without much preamble, I'll jump straight into the big question I suspect a number people will be wondering: how is the Dragon novel going?

Well...the novel is still no where near finished. I spent a good chunk of last year working on a few other projects, which did take some of my time away from it, I'll admit. That said, those projects did lead me to be something that I wasn't really before: someone who writes, rather than someone who wants to write.

Somewhat tangentially: a major bit of work that I was quite pleased to get out of the way was transferring the work from SuperNotecard to Scrivener (not a simple task as it involved a lot of copy-and-pasting from one file to another, and as these programs break everything up into smaller scenes...). It was in fact because of Scrivener that I chose to buy a Mac laptop rather than a PC...and I have to confess I've not at all regretted the move. Well...apart from the time (which came about during the attempted transferal of writing) I managed to wipe the laptop completely. Who knew you could do that to a Mac? Thankful I had the whole thing backed up on my external hard drive via Time Machine, so I lost some emails but that was about it!

So I've been getting very acquainted with Scrivener, and I have to say I love it to pieces. Being able to have all the research files in the one spot along with the text is particularly good.

Anyway...as I was saying, it has been good to feel that I can actually say 'I'm writing' rather than 'I want to write.' The result also has been that I've learned a lot more about my own writing habits, needs, and quirks.

For instance, it turns out I work rather well having an outline and a direction. But whereas when I was a lot younger (pre-teen and teenager) and attempted to write novels, I sat down and wrote outlines before the writing process had started, and then got stuck because the outline felt fixed and immutable. The Dragon novel has had a solid outline for a while now, but solid doesn't mean inflexible. And also, while the outline of the *story* is pretty tight now, after a good two years of thinking about what I wanted the main plot to be and the message to convey, the *structure* is definitely highly flexible (that is, just *how* the story is conveyed is always changing in my mind. Not too long ago, I realised that I'd crammed all this plot info into the first chapter, which actually would be better to appear incrementally throughout the novel and in subtler ways, so Chapter 2 has now become Chapter 1).

Have also reaffirmed my need for word goals...whilst realising that I do not need them to be enormous either. As you'll read below, even the tiniest ones are quite effective.

Another really great thing I discovered was that the more I wrote, the more ideas I got, and the more inspired I became. The constant flexing of the creative muscles did in fact make me more confident at what I was doing. It's one of those aspects of any art or skill you read about, and I finally know what they mean by it. And it feels really good. Really, really good, actually.

Thus in short; Dragon novel still plugging along and the end is still way off in the distance, but I'm feeling a lot more confident as a writer and am happily more consistent with being one.

So...what are my hopes for Writing in 2010? Well, thus far, I've mostly managed to stick to my goal of at least 100 words a day. The brilliant thing about that goal is if I slack off, the catch up isn't so onerous. Put it this way - last week I major slacked off, so come Saturday, I had 1000 words to catch up on. And I can certainly manage 1000 words in a day if I need to.

The other benefit of this goal is that I am so far looking at the novel on a much more regular basis than I have previously. The constant 'contact' with it is proving very good, actually, my mind is more flexible with it and I'm less afraid of taking risks with it then when I was only touching it semi-regularly.

Besides which, I'm generally managing to do about 200 words a session anyway, so the plan is to stick to the '100 words without fail' (even if catch-up needed) till March, then think about setting it to a higher count of '200 words without fail.' Who knows, the mental trickery just might work.

(Note: if you are interested in my word goals, check my blog page itself, and you'll see two counter bars in the column on the right.)

I've also finished (unless told otherwise) the writing for the composition collaboration, and I believe it will be performed sometime in May. I'm waiting eager to hear what the composer has come up with for it.

Also want to get the short story I did the draft of last year finished by March, and then start sending it around to magazines, online or otherwise (online will be good as it means I can easily show them to people). Time also to start thinking about other possible shorter works.

And that brings 2009 in Review to an end. Wasn't meant to take all of January, but at last it's done. Now we will return to regular programming with hopefully more consistent updates throughout 2010. :)
jacquelineb: (lonely Lawrence)
I reread the short story over the weekend. Why yes, it does need a lot of work, but I discovered something as I was going over it and taking notes.

A lot of the struggle I had when doing the first draft was the structure of the piece. Where the scenes would lie, what would come after which part, etc. Once I found that, then the scenes came out faster.

And the great thing is that the worrying over it worked. I feel I have the bones of the story down know, and am confident that the bones will hold, but the muscles are still a bit misshapen (whole paragraphs and sections need rewriting) while the skin (the sentences) would indeed make someone's flesh crawl with how awful some of them are.

Interestingly, I didn't begin with a structure. Have tried that before; plotting everything out before setting pen to paper, and usually have floundered as I've wanted to stick too rigidly to said plan. This method of starting, getting into the story, getting a feel for what's happening and what directions it should take, and then mapping it out, seems to be working. It certainly did with my dragon novel; I started in a blaze of activity with Nanowrimo in 2006, got out 50,000 words, and discovered what the real plot was after that. A sure case of 'you can't work with a blank sheet.' Words are good. Even if they the order they are in is in fact 'bad.'

One thing I'm struggling with, and even though I know I shouldn't really be worrying about this until the story is actually ready to be sent somewhere, is the question of just what type of story is it. It could be called sci-fi; it is set some years in the future, a society that is coping with the reality of climate change but in a non-apocalyptic way. However, at it's core is a relationship that I struggle to define. It's not a romance (not enough reciprocation from one party to justify it as such) but concludes with a sex scene which I could skim over, but since the story's climax correlates with, well, the sexual one...

It occurs to me now that it is perhaps more of a bildungsroman plot (longish short story so that applies there) which kind of helps (not a romance then, which I was pretty sure of), but not quite. Well, rewrite, and have a think about it should really be the plan.

In other writing news, I found the perfect linden tree (known as a lime tree here in the UK) that would stand over the dragon cave in The Dragon of the Linden Tree. See it here.

Pity it is not actually on a hill. But trying to find a hill of any sort in East Anglia is a task doomed to failure, so this one will have to do for now.
jacquelineb: (scrapers)
My housemate fixed up a bike that was lying about the back a few months ago. I was, however, terrified of getting on the damn thing, and kept putting off even just taking it out for a go on it. Thing with Cambridge is that you kind of need a bike as it is almost everyone's preferred method of transport (aforementioned housemate cycles 14 miles a day getting to and from work, for instance)

Happily, today I managed to take it out for a 'test run.' A bit shaky, but I'm very happy that I did it. Feels like I really accomplished something. Of late, I've felt that I have, quite perversely, been writing as an excuse to myself not to do a few housekeeping things, which includes responding to various personal emails and writing ones as well. The 'getting on the bloody bike' was included on this list, so hopefully this will signal the end of this slightly hermit-ish existence.

Additionally, I've done a number of things that I do want to post on, but I've been considering the best way to do it since a lot of time has happened since my last 'update' post (or any post in general, that is). Have decided that I should do it 'thematically' - one on writing, one on work, one on dancing, another on travels, etc. Hopefully over the new week I'll get those up, and with that I'll send out another mass email update. Though before that I should respond to the individual emails people were kind enough to send to me.

Much to do, much to do. But happily have a few days off before I'm back at work so I hope I can get some of that done satisfactorily.

July 2015

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