jacquelineb: (swing)
Bloody hell, it's been a while since I've updated here. Or really interacted with anyone on DW - I have been reading on and off, but my attention has been diverted elsewhere for the past few months. With summer approaching and dancing things (at any rate) winding down, I may have more time to be here (though I may just be outside relishing the English sun - all that you've heard about the weather in England is true!)

So, what's been happening with me? )

And that's about it I think...
jacquelineb: (one and miette)
In brief, these are my plans for December:

* Read back over the Nanowrimo novel that I won with back in 2008. I've been thinking about it on and off since then, shown it to a dear friend who thought it had potential, talked about it with other dear friends who gave some good advice on it, and I think I've finally figured out some of issues that were there. So now I do the read over properly. Take notes, not rewrite yet, but take thorough notes about the characters, the world, and the plot. Think up scenes that need including or scenes to be removed. Properly more that need to go in, as it really is just 50,000 words, and it does need to be longer. Will keep updating on that.

* I'm going to take it a bit easier with the dragon novel. Just simply do 100 words a day. Very easy to catch up on if for some reason I don't write, or alternatively if I write for longer than that's a success.

* Aim is also to work on and send off a story to Circlet Press for their online micro-fiction. 1000 words max, so it will be a nice challenge.

* Celebrate when I get my copy of Filament later this week! Yep, my story will be in there. The cover looks wonderful, and the articles inside intriguing. A post of itself when I have it in my hot little hands. ;)

Dragon art!

Nov. 1st, 2010 10:51 pm
jacquelineb: (scrapers)

* It has been a very good day of writing
* It has been a less good day of various chores (but the night is...ok, not so young, but am trying to focus solely on dancing admin for the next hour or so)
* Thanks to [personal profile] threeoranges for finding what I completely forgot was also part of the Kammerklang concerts - art work based on the pieces I wrote for Damian to compose to! And it's awesome! Please see:

Guardian of the Linden

Right, cup of tea and then to get stuff done.
jacquelineb: (beanstalk)
Title: Zmey Lipa: In the Cave and On the Hill
Genre: Musical composition/written word collaboration
Composer: Damian Griffin
Summary: Two pieces taken characters and situations from my novel-in-progress, The Dragon of the Linden Tree.
Accompanying artwork: Guardian of the Linden Tree by Tiffany
Company: Kammerklang
Performed at: Kammerklang Vox, May 2010.

In early 2010 Kammerklang Artistic Director Cameron Lam asked me if would be interested in writing a piece of prose to be set to music by a younger Australian composer. The opportunity sounded exciting, and so I said yes, and was exceedingly lucky to be paired with a high school friend, Damian Griffin. After some talk, we decided that I would write two short pieces based on my novel in progress The Dragon of the Linden Tree. (If your curious to read about Damian's creative process and how he approached the work, read here.)

A CD and DVD of the concert are available for purchase as well. See the Kammerklang Store for details.
jacquelineb: (scrapers)
I have a small backlog of posts to do (Friday's task I think), about the rest of my time in Madrid and then the few days I spent in the French Alps, but there is one thing I wanted to get out there.

Whilst I was in the alps I spent most of the time writing. I got just over 6000 words done in the three full days I was there, which was great, but more importantly...

I struck the 100,000 word mark.

Yeah, that needs to be in bold. :)

I'm very happy about this. As I've been telling people, I feel like I'm over the top of the peak, and can see a great view...though the other side of the mountain looks pretty steep and somewhat treacherous. But the finish line is in clearer sight than it ever has been, and that is very good feeling. I'm fairly confident I'll have this draft done by the end of the year, which will be fantastic.

And then there will be the rewrite and the actual, better, proper research. But I'm trying not to think about those things too much now. First priority, get Draft 1.5 done.

As a result of the productivity in the Alps (a lot of which was admittedly playing catch up with the words I didn't finish in March; still, 7700 was more than the words in February) I'm almost at my April target already. I'm sorely tempted to have a small break till May once I hit there (which will be on or before Friday) so I can have some thoughts about other projects and just other bits and bobs of life in general, dancing exam included. Then I can have a slightly heavier May with words, but that'll be alright, I think.

But now, I do need to go to bed.

(Side note: you can, if curious, always check my progress if you come to my blog itself - I keep a word count meter on the right hand side of the page. ;) )
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: (storykeeper)
Writer cliche approaching...I think I need some fingerless gloves. I can keep most of my body warm in the house but over the past few days my hands have been getting a little bit chilly...*adds to to-do list*

Over the next week and a bit I'm going to be working on a project for Kammerklang, which involves me writing text for a composer to put in someway to music. The composer happens to be D., a high school friend who I did Tournament of Minds with years back, so it's great to be working with him again. After some ideas bounced back and forth, we've going to go with some themes from the Dragon novel. The chance to hear how someone else might musically express aspects of the novel is very exciting. I do need to get to work on it quite quickly, though, but perhaps the pressures of time will bring out something unexpected? We'll see.

Am trying to get a number of things done before work starts back on the 5th; emails, the year in review posts, other organisational things before the year really kicks off. I think my word for 2010 is going to be 'preparedness.' I tend to stumble from one project/event/chore/thing to another, and scrambling gets a little bit tiring and above all, stressful. I always tend to make 'be more organised' my New Year Resolution, but I wonder if approaching it from the mindset of 'preparedness' and also the idea of apply consistent pressure will work better.
jacquelineb: (lives of others)
So, Nanowrimo came and went...and I didn't hit the 50,000 words.

The reasons for it are various, including:

* not making a good start on the first day I could write (2nd November).
* stupidly trying to plan to do enormous chunks on my days off (5,000 words).
* lack of enthusiasm. I had it, but not quite enough to make me want to get in there and actually do it.

In short, I think next time I do Nano I really should start with smaller daily word count goals, and with a completely new project, because that's what has worked the two times I have won it. The flurry of activity that is Nano better suits a brand shiny new idea, not one that's be gestating for...bugger, that's three years now the Dragon novel has been bubbling around in my head.

I did manage to get just shy of 14,000 words down though, nearly half of which was a quite exposition-y but fairly important scene. And it does bring my total word count up to 79,000, which felt wonderful to see when I plugged the addition words into Scrivener last night.

More on the writing front, am currently discussing with a composer friend the possibility of me writing some text for a collaborative project. No further details yet, but it sounded intriguing and I was very flattered to be asked, so we'll see how that plays out.

Meanwhile, I've been doing a lot of dancing and dancing exam preparation. I already have Part 1 (Units 1, 2 and 3) of the certificate, which I gained in 2007 in Sydney (written exam for Unit 1) and Wellington (dancing exam for Unit 2 and partial teaching exam for Unit 3). Now I'm on to Part 2, which is a kind of reflective work book (Unit 4), and a full teaching exam for (Unit 5).

In order to take the Unit 5 exam mid-next year, I need to complete a course of a certain amount of hours. This so far took up the weekends at the start and beginning of November. Intense and exhausting (as it's a lot of talking information as well as dancing, and dancing to our best ability to prefect our steps) but it is oddly fun as well, and I really like the group who are going through it with me.

Unit 4 is due before Christmas. This is...concerning, but I'm not too panicked about it (though I might be saying something different next week!) The bulk of that is reflecting on 6 hours of class taught, which I have done about half. Tonight, for the first time, however, I'll be teaching a full two hour class completely designed by me, which I'm nervous about, but hopefully it will be ok. If I can remember to give instructions and practice in small digestible chunks that will probably help enormously, as will getting in there and doing things with the class rather than standing at the head of it and just barking at them.

It's getting a lot colder here now. Am definitely going to have to get some warmer clothes and a proper winter coat for the coming months - I've experienced cold in small doses but nothing like what people are telling me to prepare for. I've shown people here pictures of where I grew up (sunny, coastal Coffs Harbour), and after a moments admiration I inevitably get '...and why on earth are you here?'

Why indeed. Fact is, there are many wonderful things about Australia, but at home I wouldn't see Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, John Simm, or Ian Hart on stage with much ease, and I have managed to do that this year, and I dare say I'll be able to see more actors I admire, though after reading this about Ian Hart's outburst at a performance of the play I saw him in in September, the admiration is rather tempered now. Still, the point remains. (I also really want to do a post about the plays I have seen this year, but we'll see if I have time.)
jacquelineb: (Nano09 Participant)
For those who don't know, I'm doing Nanowrimo again. Taking a slightly unusual track, I'm trying to actually finish off the draft of The Dragon of the Linden Tree rather than starting something new. This was a bit challenging at first. For one thing, it's been a few months since I last properly looked at it, so it took much of the first week to actually get back into the characters, situation, and figure out just where I was up to in terms of the draft (maybe next time I should flag that better on Scrivener...hmmm.)

Meanwhile, I'm very, very far behind on the expected word count. 11,200, when I really need about 6,000 more to be properly on track. It's not undoable, but what it really means is that I'm going to need to get a motor on on Friday, really force myself to get the words out in order to stay on top of it for the rest of the month.

Also, for all I know, even if I hit 50,000 words, it might need more still...but I think I've hit the halfway mark. At least I hope so...

But I'm rambling now, when I need to be writing. Good luck to any one else taking it on!
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: (blue figure in water)
Realised this morning that the reason I need to actually get into research for the Dragon novel for the next couple of months isn't just that I, well, need to do it, but because I'm actually up to the part in the novel where I can't fudge and write around it anymore. Because this is the part where the dragon gives Our Hero his life story, and as that spans several thousand years of human history...there is only so much I can make it on my own steam without a good knowledge of history to back it up.

It's an interesting conundrum; on the one hand, I didn't feel I could write a novel around an existing dragon myth and in an actual country (the novel was inspired by reading the story of the Polish dragon, Smok Wawelski) because of a) the obligation that a writer has when dealing with history to 'get it right', and b) the constraints that an already well-known story imposes. By that I mean that as a key conceit of the novel is an alternative 'reading' of a 'known' dragon myth, were I to use an actual as opposed to invented myth, I would have to do some very clever thinking to make what I want to say about dragons and such fit the 'real' myth.

(not sure how much sense that above paragraph makes...)

On the other hand, I am still beholden to make the history of my invented country 'true.' I need to have a good grasp on the history of the surrounding countries, and indeed the shared history of the region itself to make the invented country's history believable. In someways this is slightly trickier as I have to, along side the already known history, 'make up' my own as well, as opposed to having the ready made template of the history of real place.

Anyway, just some random thoughts on the process.

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