2012-10-29

10-29-2012: The Perils of Not Outlining

Last week, I spent a great deal of time thinking about a tiny piece of my current work in progress.  It revolves around how a potential enemy could gain access to an unsecured link into the military's communication network.  Because of my work schedule, I didn't get any writing done - just a lot of thinking. By the time Saturday rolled around I still had not solved the problem but while thinking about it my subconscious had been busy revising what I had previously written.  Saturday is the day we usually go to the bookstore.  I write and drink wonderful coffee while my wife reads.  I fired up the laptop, opened up Scrivener, and started re-reading the last few paragraphs to get the creative juices flowing.  That's when my brain informed me that the plot needed a bit of action and I would have to throw out most of what I had written last weekend.  Even though I've ended up rewriting the last two chapters, my subconscious was right and the story is better with the new material.

Peacekeeper is starting to solidify into a respectable novel.  I have a whole list of things I need to go back and fix but I won't work on those until the rest of the story is complete.  With my work schedule of late and the holiday season upon us, it's going to be a challenge to finish the first draft before I start working 6 days a week, 12 hours a day for the refuel outage.  I will do my best.  As for retirement - I seriously doubt I will be retiring any time soon so slow writing will just have to continue.

I've said this before, I don't do outlines.  The story pretty much comes to life as I sit at the computer.  Often, this way of writing can result in the destruction of previously written material to make the story better.  I've tried outlining, it doesn't work for me.  The human brain is a marvelous hunk of complexity and it works in mysterious ways.  I've come to trust that little voice I hear every so often because more often than not it's right.  I also know that when I'm 'in the groove' and the words are flowing off my fingers as fast as I can type, I might, at times, discover that I'm writing something I never planned.  Instead of stopping to figure out what the heck is going on, I just keep writing.  I love it when I can surprise myself.

Yesterday, I dropped by Createspace to change the cover on "Off Course".  I discovered two things: 1) Createspace has a new distribution channel which I did not know about - I signed on.  2) My prices were way too high.  I went through every single book and dropped the prices as low as I could while still making a tiny profit.  I'm surprised someone hadn't said something about such high prices.  I think Createspace must have lowered their production cost allowing me to sell the books at a much lower price.  If you want to buy a printed copy - check out the new prices.

In other news, we have taken over custody of two very lovable outdoor cats.  They're brother and sister.  I love cats but I'm also allergic to them which means that even though they are allowed in the house they will be spending the majority of their time outdoors.  For the summer, we bought them each a small cat house where they can sleep during the night.  For the winter, I built them a house.  I took a child's playhouse, set it on a platform, sealed up the openings with plexiglass, insulated it, put up a shelf for them to sit and look out the window, installed a small thermostatically controlled heater, and gave them a heated pad to sleep on.  It took some training but they now use the cat door without any problems.  Late last night I discovered a flaw in my design - I forgot to caulk the edge.  The carpet inside the house is soaking wet because of all the rain we've had.  It wicked in from around the edges.  A dry floor was installed and caulking will be done first thing in the morning before I head to work (I'm on second shift this week).

2012-10-17

10-17-12 Peacekeeper and Scrivener

Peacekeeper is beginning to move along albeit slowly.  I'm having a hard time finding my 'groove' recently.  I believe the issue has to do with distractions.  There was a time when I did a lot of computer programming.  I loved it and there are times I miss the thrill of watching a complex piece of code execute flawlessly.  Speaking in the tongue of C or VB was always fun.  A few weeks ago, I was asked if I would like to finish a project I started nearly 2 years ago.  Even though the possibility of being allowed to continue work on the project is slim (manpower issues) it triggered that old 'programming' mode inside me.  I've been reading a couple books on Visual Studio and C# programming.  That's my major distraction right now.

I recently picked up a book titled Philosophical Explanations by Robert Nozick.  I didn't realize that philosophy books were so hard to read!  It's like reading a book on quantum physics when you have only a knowledge of basic algebra.  Heavy stuff.  But, I'm plugging my way through this massive 650 page book in the hopes of expanding my limited awareness of my surroundings.  I also have magazines to read as well as several books on how to improve my writing and some science fiction I've been wanting to get to.  Time seems to be something I'm in short supply of.  Anyone know where I can buy some more?  Perhaps when I'm retired. . .yah--like that's going to happen soon.

I thought I would give one final update on Scrivener.  My bottom line after using it for quite some time now is that I like it.  I haven't tried to compile anything yet but for creating the first draft of a book I find it to be most useful.  The ability to display document notes as well as two separate documents simultaneously is a big advantage.  I like that it remembers where I left off.  There are ways of getting something about the same with Word or OpenOffice but it's not as smoothly integrated as Scrivener.  In the past, I would have to create two documents and then open then up and resize them so I could see them both.  With Scrivener it's part of the program.  I do have one word of advice - read the manual carefully!  I wanted to work with my manuscript as a single, large document and I thought Scrivener had a way of doing so.  It took some digging and I had to read the words carefully but I did figure out how to do it.  Many of the features are not self-evident so, please, read the manual.

2012-10-11

10-11-12 Short story complete

This last week has been an incredibly busy one for me.  Even though I've been off for the last 7 days, I've not had much time to write.  We have taken over the care and feeding of a pair of cats (brother and sister) from across the street.  Mamma cat had kittens some time ago and lost both of them.  We decided to get them spayed and neutered.  With winter on the way, we decided to set them up with a nice shelter.  My wife ordered a playhouse which I had put together a couple weeks ago.  I spent most of my 7-day finishing that project.  The playhouse now has plexiglass windows and is insulated.  There is a nice ledge inside for the cats to lay on and look out the window.  The floor is carpeted and a heated pad is as well as a heated water dish are inside.  Tomorrow we begin introducing the cats to their new home.

I also spent time doing family things.  We drove to Sandusky to visit my daughter.  I spent time mulching the leaves and putting the outside in order for winter.  Even though I was busy, I still managed to squeeze in some time for writing.  I put Peacekeeper on temporary hold in order to work on a short story.  The people I went to Launchpad with are putting together an anthology of sorts and they put out a call for short stories.  I normally don't write them but an idea for one did pop into my head.  I didn't want to forget about it so I decided to write it to make sure it was complete before the submission deadline.  The first draft is now done.

Peacekeeper will be back on my radar as of tomorrow night.  I'm rolling to night shift starting on Thursday night.  I can usually get a few hours of writing in when I'm on this shift.  But, things are starting to get very busy at work so I may or may not have the time.  I will have to go back and edit the short story in the near future but until then I'll be working on Peasekeeper.  I have a little over 30,000 words written right now.

Right now it's a little after three o'clock in the morning and I'm pretty tired.  I need to stay up for at least another 3 hours.  If I try to work on Peacekeeper I will fall asleep at the keyboard.  So, instead of working on writing, I'll be firing up an action-packed movie (Avengers comes to mind) to keep me awake.  Hopefully though, when I next blog I will be able to report some progress on Peacekeeper.