Sunday, April 27, 2014

Draft Finished!

Well, I said it was likely I'd have good news, and I do!

My WIP is no longer progress. The draft is finished!

Most of the scanned pages were easy enough to copy and past, but I had to retype the last 40 or so directly into the computer. The manuscript tops out at about 65,000 words. I was a bit concerned about this at first, but since the book will most likely considered YA, I've changed my mind.

Ultimately, so long as I tell a good story, that won't matter. The first Harry Potter book was 77,000 words long, and a LOT happened.

So, for the moment, I'm putting it away and reading to cleanse my pallet. After a month or so I'll pull it back out and start revising. I've got a running list of things that need to be fixed, but nothing major. I still like the core concept and execution.

I hope to be sending it out to agents no later than the end of the year, maybe even the end of summer. We'll see.

Lessons learned:

1) Get some real typewriter ribbons. Calculator ribbons are fine, but they are half the length, and thus, wear out much faster.

2) I can work on a long-term project no matter what life throws at me. Seriously, I got interrupted so many times. School. Stomach flu in March. Two funerals in April. Case of the blahs.

But writing isn't about setting a speed record. I wrote the book in 84 days.

That's the key. Wrote. As in it's done.

3) Deviating from an outline has always produced things I like. I plan the general course of events, but something suddenly hits me while I'm in the zone, BAM, it goes into the book. If you saw my outline and then read the book, the differences would be crystal clear.

I'm neither an architect or a discovery writer. At this point, to rip George RR Martin, I think I'm more of a gardner.

4) I still LOVE doing this.

Power to the pen!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Running All Around

I planned to have this posted earlier in the day. Sadly, I have just returned from another funeral weekend.

Being mentally and physically exhausted, I'm going to keep this brief.

Bad news: my beautiful and insightful girlfriend lost her grandmother

Good news: the family rallied to each other and bonded through the pain

Further good news: I've only got one chapter left on the current WIP. By this time next week, I expect to announce its completion and total, unedited word count.

Even better good news: this is Easter, the day Jesus arose from the grave

Until then readers, whoever and wherever you are...

Good night.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

And Then There Were...Three???

Holy epic gale force winds, Batman! The trees sure are sneezing today, and the day before that, and the day before that. I think they're allergic to themselves!

Fortunately, I was anchored quite safely.

Mommy, it followed me home. Can we keep him?
Yes, I now have three typewriters. This little gem is my very first desktop machine. I got up early on Friday morning to see the doctor. When I tried to check in, not only was the doctor not in his office, but my appointment was scheduled for another two hours. Soooo, I moseyed back down to the house and Mother suggested that we go to a nearby flea market to pass the time.

I found this Underwood Touch-Master Five sitting next to a rusted oil drum. It looked at me with big sad eyes and whimpered, so I asked about it inside. $20 later, we were on our way home.

Typewriters are like cars, computers, or just about anything else made my multiple companies and used by millions of people. When you've been around them for long enough, you're able to figure out the essential features in just a few minutes. Some of the features were arranged differently or not labeled, so I had to consult one of my reputable sources.

The difficult part is figuring out the history of this model and when mine was made. The Touch-Master Five was one of the last desktop machines produced by the Underwood company. Very little information is available on the internet, but what I did find said that the Five was the third incarnation of the Touch-Master. These machines were produced in the early 1960s, and that's about all I know.

There are no accurate serial number logs for this model online, so it's anyone's guess as to when my specimen was assembled. What I do know is that it types beautifully. Desktop machines were made with thicker steel parts. As a result, they are often considered more durable than the smaller portables and capable of typing at much greater speed without jamming.

As an office machine, the Touch-Master features a large carriage that's able to accept sheets of paper much bigger than the standard 8.5x11 used by all novelists. Rumor has it that many large police departments around the country still use desktops because of the forms they have to process. What exactly those are, I have no idea.

I'm very pleased with this purchase. It came with an all-black ribbon that still prints clearly. The only identifiable problem beyond a few scratches and dirt, is that the type slug for the letter R is misaligned. As a result, the slug strikes high. The letter R looks like it's flying up in the air, and r only half-prints on the page. It won't hinder me from using it for a project, but I'll be sure to have it fixed.

Yes, my new Underwood is still a collectible by most standards, but it's not as collectible as my two Remingtons. I'm not worried about overworking it.

It's been a good week with good weather. Now if only the temperature would stay like this for the next six months until October....

Power to the pen!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Optimism Pays Off

I got in late last night after a long road trip. Hence, my tardiness.

Last week I mentioned that I was having trouble with my WIP and hoped this post would be happier. Well, it is in a way. In the time since I last posted to this blog, I have written an additional 20 pages to the book. I only have three chapters to go until the first draft is complete!

I haven't decided what I'm going to do after it's finished. Should I take a break from writing completely or should I go back and edit my other novel, The Hammer and the Keys? I've been thinking about changing that title. I've been away from it for so long that my brain has worked through some of the major plot holes that need to be filled.

Sadly, the aforementioned road trip was to my girlfriend's grandfather's funeral. The good news is that it happened to fall on the weekend, so I didn't have to miss any classes to be with her and the family. She sacrificed a lot of her Christmas break to be with me when my grandfather died three months ago, and there was no way on Earth I was going to leave her in the cold when she needed me. The weather couldn't have been any more cooperative.

While I was gone I picked up my copy of The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck. I'm halfway through James Michener's Chesapeake, but I've decided to jump ship.

The novel was Steinbeck's last work of fiction before his death in 1968. Critics didn't like the book when it first came out, especially after the Nobel committee cited it as one of Steinbeck's greatest when they awarded him the Prize. What I think is interesting is that the book was published in 1961, before America was mired in the Vietnam War or the counter-culture's rabid challenge of the establishment. The mid-1960s is often cited as a point where America's moral decline began in ernest.

Of course, trying to pinpoint an exact time when any nation begins to misbehave is absurd. Once a heart turns away from God, that's when decline begins. There were plenty of men beating their wives and drinking themselves to death in the 1950s. There were sexual deviants in the Victorian Era. The only difference between now and then is that you had less to gain by publicly airing such scandal, and the perpetrators were often protected by social prejudices.

I marvel at any writer who's able to capture the mood and outlook of a group of people. Steinbeck is most famous for his "California" novels: East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men. These works tell the story of people during the Great Depression in a land that was marketed as a paradise.

Steinbeck is most identified with migrant workers. Hemingway is championed as the man who represents America post-WWI. I wonder, if someone wrote a novel about my generation, 1989 onwards, what would it look like?

Last week was neither the best of times nor the worst. There was plenty of good to mix with the bad.

Optimism, I've found, is the ability to endure the bad.

I got sick and had to stop writing. Then, I got better and started writing again.

My grandfather died and my girl was there to comfort me. Then, her grandfather died and I was able to comfort her.

Gee, it's almost as if everything in life has...a purpose?