Tough Love

My newest project, “The one with the mask,” got generally good reviews from the crit group today. No, it’s not on the sidebar yet, as Zokutou seems to be down. As much as I was loath to bring in an unfinished piece, the group seemed to understand and I got exactly the sort of comments that were appropriate for a piece in the stage it’s currently in.

The Good

  • People found the protagonist to be sympathetic.
  • No one found fault with the use of flashback, thus far (though someone made the comment that the prose might need tightening, depending on the story’s final length).
  • Most importantly, they wanted more!

The Bad

  • The relationship between the two characters shown thus far needed to have been specified up front, maybe with some dialogue.
  • Someone stated they would’ve liked more dialogue in the beginning because they didn’t get a sense of the protagonist’s voice. This one actually disturbed me, because the critiquer was right–there wasn’t a clear sense of the protagonist’s voice, partly because I’m not sure I know what it sounds like yet.
  • The secondary character needs to be the reality anchor. The story’s a contemporary fantasy joint, you see, and there needed to be a stronger sense of the general whereabouts of “reality.”
  • I referred to the secondary character by a real name and a nickname. I should’ve picked one or the other.

The Ugly

There didn’t seem to be an ugly this time around. Of course, I was only five pages in, so there’s lots of room to fuck it up. Speaking of which, no one mentioned being as bothered as I was that I somehow managed to cram more swearing into five pages than I have into some of my other stories.

Anywho, like I said, I’ve got most of the beats worked out. And, during our post-critique chill-out Kaffeeklatsch, a fair amount of interesting details came to me that I just had to get down. Remember the King quote from the other day? Eh, I’m sure they all understood. They’re all writers.

“…all alone and unprepared”

One of the reasons I wanted to hook up with a critique group is that I wanted a reason to regularly produce stuff. For the group. Oh, I’ve produced stuff since last time, but nothing the group (because of its parameters) would be interested in reading.

I’m not bitching about how and why I couldn’t. You can read the other blog for that. That’s not even the point.

The point is that instead of furthering work on the various unfinished projects I have listed on the sidebar today–well, okay, only one of which is suitable for the group–do I pull those out and work on them? Hell, no.

What I did was delve into the journal and reworked some pages I wrote one early morning during our camping trip last week. It would’ve been last Sunday, around 7-ish, sitting with my back to the sun, facing into the treeline surrounding the area where we had our campfire.

I’ve got five pages of the best “shitty first draft” I’ve ever written. It’s not a complete piece; hell it’s not even all of Act I. But I’m pretty happy with the progress. I just wish I could shake out a little more of the story, but I spent a fair amount of time working out some of the major beats. I know exactly what the story’s about and how it’s going to end (more or less).

Maybe I’m not so unprepared, after all.

Gonna Be a Bright Sunshiny Day

Just this second, I noticed a small family out on the Arts Quad at the Big Red School on the Hill. A young Mom and Dad, probably both grad students, were throwing a bouncy rubber ball back and forth while Little Baby Girl (who can’t be more than a year old) was reading her little baby book. Mom miscalculated her throw and the ball bounced off of Little Baby Girl’s head.

I couldn’t hear anything from inside the library cafe, but you could tell the baby was screaming. Mom and Dad didn’t seem too worried, though. In the time it took me to write this, Little Baby Girl was hugged and soothed, and is now back up and around, enjoying the sunshine and the grass, almost like nothing ever happened.


I’ve just now had to stop, take a deep breath, and just accept that my creative energy is pretty scattershot right now. I thought that some of the writing I’ve done over the past couple of days would take the edge off, but it hasn’t.

Aside from the Raketenwerfer thing, I’ve scrawled about three or four pieces of my patented Vogon poetry. Just the usual stuff I’d never show to another living soul. Though I spent an inordinate amount of time polishing. I might never plan to show them, but at least they should be somewhat presentable in the unlikely event that they are ever seen.

I actually started two first drafts of things that will most likely end up as stories, once I figure out where they’re going. That’s six or seven pieces of writing, NOT counting the random stuff I’ve been cramming into the notebook, before I’ve even opened up the project folders of some of the stuff on the sidebar.

I had the idea that I could take a couple of past ideas, one unfinished and one I thought was finished, and hopefully polish one up in time for the crit group this Sunday. So far, it’s not looking good. Luckily, I have tomorrow off, but I was really hoping to get a jump on things today. Maybe I won’t.

I need to get up and walk around.

Brain Dump

I ranted like some rabid dog on the other blog some days ago. In case the context might have been lost, the story was that life conspired to deny me the writing time I took off from work to get (i.e. my first paid vacation in years). And since I couldn’t get it because, frankly, there were other needs to be tended to, I went and turned into a brat and went all “scorched earth” on my time. Meaning that I utterly refused to be a good family member and make myself present to attend to others’ very real needs if I couldn’t attend to my writing. Needless to say I made other people’s lives, and my own, pretty hellish for a while.

I’m not proud of that.

Luckily, by the end of last weekend, I got over it, even as I managed (to the possible chagrin of others) to beg, borrow, and steal writing time away.

Stephen King said in On Writing:

Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects.

Well, I managed to jot some things down, anyway. Oddly enough, though, I really don’t think a lot of my company seemed to mind. I made a little bit of progress on the 3rd, and hopefully salable, draft of “The one about the angel”

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
288 / 4,420

I’ve also started drafts of things. Good beginnings of…something. Trouble is, see all those projects on the sidebar, there? Regardless of what I choose to work on, if I can’t get anything finished come Sunday’s critique group, I’m going to be sitting there twiddling my thumbs, and I’m damned if I’m going to do that.