Podcast: Vacancy 1.12 – A Different Path

Episode 1.12 – A Different Path

Vacancy is an ongoing web serial. Find out more about it and start reading or listening here.

Vacancy’s Theme is “Planet Bullspit” by Corey Major

This episode is sound-effect-less in an effort to produce it a bit quicker. I prefer it with background sounds immensely, but I wanted to try one without, and this episode doesn’t have a whole lot going on, so I thought it would work. Let me know what you think!

Camp NaNoWriMo: 40K Words And The Finish Line Is In Sight

10K Post
20K Post
30K Post

As excited as I am about hitting this mark and having less than 10,000 words left to write to meet my NaNo goal, it’s become abundantly clear to me that this book will be well over 50k words. That’s pretty typical for fantasy quests, and I’m not surprised (in fact, I’m excited about just continuing on and churning out words) it just makes the potential of hitting 50k a little less of an achievement and more of a marker along the way.

REGARDLESS, we are so damn close!

Even with me missing a few days while we had visitors (writing is a very solitary task and as hard as I’m working to turn writing into a skill it’s still emotionally draining), I sailed through 40k like it was nothing. Sprints are a godsend and treating writing like it’s a job is the way to go. Don’t wait for inspiration, wrap your hands around your muses’s neck and choke out the damn motivation!

I’m still not sure I’m getting particularly good prose, but I do know there are some gems on those 80 odd pages and the foundation for something pretty great. This isn’t to say I know this whole thing will be gold in the end, I just have quite a good feeling about it all. I’m not second guessing the plot or even getting bored of it, but discovering more about my characters and loving their journey.

Here’s what the last few days looked like:

nano 40

My sprints kind of fell apart today (also note I didn’t adjust for military time there at the end, oops!), but that’s because I kept having ideas that made me jump around the story. I’m not in favor of that in general (going back and adding feels too much like editing), but I’m at a place in the story where certain occurrences need to call back to other things, and I pop back to enter those details, even if only in a note.

For instance, in a very early chapter, my main character, Ellyson, looks out on a patch of trees and reminisces very briefly on her childhood. Later, in chapter 16ish, she tells a story about a specific tree, so I made sure to pop back up to that initial reminiscence and reference the specific tree so the call back is more meaningful. I don’t want the reader to hear about this very significant-to-Elly tree for the first time in chapter 16 because if there’s no basis to the tree existing for the reader, then it’s just a damn tree (and the emotions she attaches to her story feel fake). But if they saw her look at it longingly early on, even if they don’t know why she gave a shit about it then, the seed of significance was planted, so later it means more. Look at the fucking tree, Dear Reader. You can forget about it immediately, if you want, but you’ll fucking remember it when Elly tells you about climbing it.

First 10K – 426 minutes or 7 hours and 6 minutes.
Second 10k – 352 minutes or 5 hours and 52 minutes
Third 10k – 287 minutes or 4 hours and 47 minutes
Fourth 10k – 295 minutes or 4 hours and 55 minutes

So have I hit my stride? There is a part of me that likes to see some consistency, but of course I want progress. It should be noted that the further I go into the story the less specifics I know ahead of time. I know, for example, my heroes are about the head off to a bay city to look for some pirates, but I don’t know anything about the city except that it’s in a basin, and I don’t know anything about the pirates except that they’re not going to be exactly all they were cracked up to be (whatever the hell that is). This is hugely different to when I started out in chapter one when I knew right down to some of the dialogue how those scenes would pan out. I imagine if my plot were even tighter and better thought out this thing would be going by much more quickly. Plans for the future, my friends.

The next time I drop a camp update it should be about winning NaNo for the first time in my entire, ridiculous life, and I can hardly believe it. July’s been pretty good to me, so thanks, birthday month, you always bring surprises.

10k | 20k | 30k | 40k | 50k

Thoughts On Turning 31

Somehow it’s theoretically worse in my head than turning 30. That “1” is solid.

All I want for my birthday now is to eat.

Did you know up until recently becoming pregnant at or after 35 was called “geriatric pregnancy?” They now use the term “advanced maternal age” which is…better?

Adult birthdays are horseshit not because they’re not fun anymore–you can make any day fun–but because the government makes too much shit expire on your birthday. I do not enjoy walking to the post office to mail off a third request for something from the state of Florida on any day, least of all my birthday.

People my age are grandmothers in some parts of the world (and the US). That’s a lot.

My mom always calls me at the time that I was born every year, and I always say “thanks for pushing me out of you.” That’s just a fact you should know.

If I were born today I would be a Cancer which I’m on the cusp of anyway, though I do identify more with Leo because cats, obviously.

I heard Tom Petty on the radio at lunch, and I really had to hold back the tears. What the frickle frack, man?

My cats don’t know what day it is. To them I am eternally their caretaker/slave. I have always existed and always will, my sole purpose to bring them food, scoop their poop, and give them scritchy scratches when and only when they are feeling it. My birth, age, and death are barely concepts that register with them: all that matters is this moment, providing a leg to lean up against or an ice cube to chase across the floor. We should all be more like cats.

ruth

Podcast: Vacancy 1.11 – An Inconvenient Number

Episode 1.11 – An Inconvenient Number

Vacancy is an ongoing web serial. Find out more about it and start reading or listening here.

Vacancy’s Theme is “Planet Bullspit” by Corey Major

Woohoo, you guys, I did it! All the recording and editing and posting in one day! Just a few hours actually, leaving me a little time to write today too. I am on a godamned roll!! Warning: there’s a bad word in this episode.

Vacancy Episode 1.11 uses these sounds from freesound, all of which have been remixed. The inclusion of any sound does not indicate endorsement of this completed work or its author:

Camp NaNoWriMo: Over The Hump And 30k Words

We’ve sailed past the halfway point of camp and I’m excited to report I hit 30k words yesterday. THIRTY THOUSAND. This is the farthest I’ve ever gotten during NaNo. This is monumental for me!

Check out my eval of 10k and 20k if you’re interested in how I got here.

I got to 30k faster than I expected, and I’ve got myself an almost 5000 word buffer with the official camp schedule, and yet when I look back at the last few days I’m a bit like “wow, you sucked for a bit there.” Take a look with me:

Nano3

I bumped up the sprint length to 20 minutes, but only for the last two days. I started off strong with a great day then the weekend came and I just kind of ran out of steam or something. I did one sprint on Saturday and then just a random little free write at 10:00pm just to say I did something that day, but…BUT Monday I came back strong with a solid 5000+ words, just like my day one! And I know what happened: I got excited about my story again.

To be clear, I was never really bored of the story, I was just a little stuck. My plot was murky around this section, generic questing was all I had in mind and it was just too vague. The characters were also getting a little lifeless, playing their roles, but not doing much more than existing. “Grow, damn you!” I screamed at them, but they just huffed and stomped and acted like they’d only been in existence for a few days which, to be fair, yeah that was kinda true. Then genius struck, and I paced around my living room and kitchen, asking the cats what they thought of throwing some trolls and dwarves into the mix. They didn’t really care, but I thought it was fantastic!

So 30k came up on me fast yesterday, and you can see in my “section” column that I broke away a little from my pre-written plot. At first I started adding in the ideas to the plot I had written, but that wasn’t working, so I opened a new sticky note in Google Keep (another really great application I’m integrating into my writing roundhouse) and just quickly plotting everything that needed to happen between where I was and the next major point.

I’ve also been keeping track of how much time is passing and a simple-to-skim list of what is happening in each chapter. This is going to help me immensely in editing, I can already tell, and I really recommend it, but I’ll go more in depth in the future when I see how it pans out.

I’m pretty much doubling my words when I double my sprint time, so thankfully I’m not going backward, but I’m bummed to not see progression. Then again, that progression is probably more likely to come with the completion of more books, not just more days writing. Patience is a virtue, they say, whoever they are.

First 10K – 426 minutes or 7 hours and 6 minutes.
Second 10k – 352 minutes or 5 hours and 52 minutes
Third 10k (words 20737 through 30319) – 287 minutes or 4 hours and 47 minutes, so I guess that actually is progress. I mean, I cut off about 2 hours total to produce 10k words, that’s pretty freaking good!

I’ll be sticking with 20 minute sprints going forward, I think, since I just started using them, and since I drink so much water, my bladder needs really frequent breaks. Speaking of, time to pee and start another sprint! Dwarven summit, here I come!

10k | 20k | 30k | 40k | 50k

Just A Little Something About Your Voice

When I was in college I took a few writing-centered courses. I was in my late teens/early twenties and developing my “voice,” as one does, and learning through practice. I tried to write like someone who knew what they were talking about, but that didn’t really feel very good, so instead I focused on what felt more natural.

I turned in a few pieces as the voice came to fruition. I tweaked it each time, and when I started to figure out what I really loved about it and how I would apply it to the big project in the class I was taking, I got this advice from my professor: “You’re really good at this voice, but I’d like to see you do something else.”

Damn, I thought, I had it planned out. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I’d gotten to know her, and I wanted to use her. And therein, I think, lay the problem: She wasn’t good enough.

A lot of my classmates, women and men, were writing from a more neutral perspective, and let me be clear: when I say neutral, I mean male. There is no such thing as neutral in American culture, there’s just the un-feminine version of a thing that’s not so masculine that women can’t pull it off. There’s no pink-neutral, there’s no skirt-neutral, there is only grey and pants.

So I started to feel bad about that voice. I was one-note, I was too specific (and fuck me, I thought that was what made comedy), I only had one trick. So I abandoned her, and sitting here right now I can still remember the piece I wanted to write as the final for that class, but the piece I actually wrote? Who fucking knows. I eroded the voice I was cultivating so much that it became generic, trying to appeal so much to everyone that in the end it was for and by nobody at all.

Here’s the thing: that voice was by no means perfect. It needed work, and there’s nothing wrong with getting out of your comfort zone, especially when you’re learning, but when you’re on the cusp of learning who you are, I really think you gotta go for that first. Trust your gut, or your heart, or whatever organ appeals to you.

It’s taken me a long time, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get her back, but I’m trying. Here’s to you never losing yours.

Camp NaNoWriMo: 20k Words, Obstacles, and Achievements

Well, it’s Thursday and my post today should have been a Vacancy podcast, but I did not get that done this week! I have had quite a busy past few days, but with what is unimportant, it would all be excuses anyway. The fact of the matter is, I failed at keeping up with the cast, but I DIDN’T FAIL WITH MY WORDS SO FUCK YEAH!

I’m right on schedule with Camp NaNo with 20,737 words completed. The day 12 goal is 19,354 so I’m chugging along nicely overall, but on the micro-scale I’m not quite as pleased with my progress, or lack there of. Let’s take a look and evaluate shall we? (If you’re confused by anything in the below chart, take a look at my first 10k eval for more info.)

camp 2

So right off the bat you can see there are fewer sprints here, but a longer sprint time (all but the first are 15 minutes as opposed to the 10 minutes I was doing before), but I did accomplish the same amount of words.

First 10K took 426 minutes or 7 hours and 6 minutes.
Second 10k took 352 minutes or 5 hours and 52 minutes (not including the two “all days” which were trash anyway so forget those!).

There are a number of possible reasons for this including that I’m getting back into the swing of writing or I’m getting more comfortable with the plot and characters, but I’m fairly certain that there is actually just more value in a longer sprint. I find myself writing slightly less intensely during the 15 minute sprint, and take a moment sometimes to think, but I started out consistently putting out more than 1.5x the words of a 10 minute sprint. Admittedly I fell off the wagon a bit on the 9th, but extenuating circumstances, people!

The story itself is getting more complex now, and over the last week I bumped into my first real “uh oh, I dunno what’s going on here” part. I have a few scenes with the antagonists that I am skipping for now as I’m not exactly sure how I want them to play out, but our main characters’ quest also has a couple holes I’m needing to fill in. Having the mostly fleshed out plot, though, has been a real godsend: if I ever really get stuck I can just move on, but having this map to follow, knowing where I came from and where I’m going, makes filling in the little path from A to B even easier.

One thing I’m not sure is actually improving, though, is the state of the prose. I know this is a first draft, and I’m okay with it being word vomit, but I’d hoped it would improve a bit as I went on. I’m not sure that’s happening, but I am pleased with the dialogue which I always felt was my strongest suit.

Tomorrow will be my first full day at home in a week, so I’m hoping that I can knock out a whole lot of words and set myself up for greatness to come. My characters are really getting into the thick of it now too, so I’m pretty pumped about where they’re going. Bonus: I’ve used the word “fuck” five times so far, four of which all happen within the same couple lines, so here’s a little sneak peak which will no doubt make absolutely no sense out of context:

“To fuck the king?” The twins looked at one another with mounting confusion.

“To fuck Quilliam, I gather.”

“Please don’t talk about my sister fucking anyone,” Voss pinched his nose and closed his eyes, “It’s bad enough she’s been fucking my best friend.”

Like I said, they’re not all great words, and some of them aren’t even good ones, but at least four of them are fucking superb.

10k | 20k | 30k | 40k | 50k

A Poem For Husband On His Birthday

Roses are red

You have my whole heart

I’m thankful for you

Even when you fart

2018.04

Is “Semi-Charmed Life” The Best Pop Song Ever Written?

Yes.

Oh, you wanted a whole post about this? I don’t know if I can manage that, but how about a top ten reasons list? Wait, you’re sick of numbered lists? Bullet points it is! Here’s why Third Eye Blind’s “Semi Charmed Life” is the best pop song ever written.

  • You know this song, at least peripherally. That’s how great pop music works: everyone who was around when it was released is familiar with it.
  • This song is about drug addiction, overdosing, and oral sex, but you probably didn’t know that. That’s also how great pop music works: the song is so good you bop along with your mom and dad to a radio spewing intimate details about blow jobs and crystal meth.
  • It dates itself just enough to feel 90s (see lyrics “velvet dress” and the poppy grunge sound of the guitars) but not so much you can’t love it in any decade.
  • “Do do do do do do dooooo, do do do do do do dooooooo”
  • There are about three different versions of the song played on the radio not including the versions with various levels of bleeping. I remember when it came out that the pop station “B103.9” of my youth would reverse A LOT of tiny parts of the lyrics to the point that today I still sing “Doing cnvkweroiufsckncdhffhsdkfh til you break IT WON’T STOP!”
  • Did I mention the “dos”?
  • “The four right chords can make me cry” and the song is basically just four chords (like all great pop songs).
  • It starts all at once with this weird little intense drum solo thing and as soon as you hear it you know you’re in for a good fucking time (like I imagine one’s first time on speed might be).
  • The breakdown where it’s all chill and cool which seems to mimic the slow, dreamy, trippy sleep you might slip into when you start coming down.
  • “But I’m not coming down!”
  • This is one of those 90s songs that’s simultaneously sad and happy at once. Even if you don’t know the theme or most of the lyrics, the concept of a “semi-charmed kinda life” is one of those “aww that’s nice…wait” kinda phrases. Stack on top of that the reaching “good-byeeeeeeee”s and sandwich it all between how happy a “do do do” should be, but how strained and almost mocking they sound and you’ve got a good feel-weird hoagie going on.
  • “And I speak to you like the chorus to the verse / Chop another line like a coda with a curse” is pretty fucking great. Any song that’s kinda meta really gets me.
  • DOO DOO FUCKING DOO, BITCH!

 

Thoughts On TV

I haven’t had cable for years now, and no Netflix for probably a year. While I do have Amazon Prime and access to a couple other avenues for watching television and movies, I haven’t watched actual television, with the channels you can click through and commercials,  in a long time. Until today.

What is going on with America’s Funniest Home Videos? It’s basically exactly the same show as when I was five years old. Confusingly, it has this ad for uploading your video from your phone to their site, and yet many of the videos look like they were shot on a big ole camcorder from the 90s. It’s very anachronistic, this show that has worked in current technology but visually remains unchanged.

Here are my AFV conspiracy theories: 1) An intentionally grainy filter has been put over all videos, 2) It is a requirement that people wear swishy windbreakers in at least half of all new videos, 3) Swishy windbreakers are computer generated onto the people in the videos 4) AFV is really just a huge ad to bring back swishy windbreakers.

“Ree” Drummond is ADORABLE. Please tell me more about ranching while toasting me up a bun, ma’am. Also, you deserve a better husband.

“Sci” might be a channel, and that might stand for “Science.” There were like a bunch of shows about space in a row that I couldn’t differentiate between. Now that’s all well and good, but the channel kept running a commercial for a show called something like “Evidence For The Truth” which appears to be about…reptilians? Aliens? Fish people? I don’t know, but it worked and I wished I’d been watching it, but I did learn you can fit two Earths into that one big red storm on Venus (which is grey in the middle, not red, conformed by science).

SAME COMMERCIALS EVERY BREAK, but those Allstate Mayhem commercials are top notch. Also did you know that J.K. Simmons is the voice of the Yellow M&M?

Cake Wars still exists, and it’s very clear they are faking everything, and yet, AND YET, it’s still on. People are acceptable actors, it turns out. At least acceptable enough to warrant a three hour block of Food Network.

Jackson Galaxy and his facial hair will always have a special place in my heart.