Monday, June 29, 2009

Marathon Training Day 16

Today's Training: 3 Miles
Total Mileage : 31 Miles (Not counting the 3 tonight)

It seems that the service I am providing at the library where I am interning, Book-a-Librarian, is starting to become recognized by the public. Tomorrow for the hour which it's open, 9-10, it's booked solid! Two very different questions should test the range of the service.

I'm starting to feel the itch of not writing now. I've produced maybe 500 words in the past week, and it's frustrating, having come off of the grand-slam swing for the fence that I did when I finished the novel (something like 13,000 words over 2 days). The ideas are floating about. I'm thinking of maybe trying a golden age of science fiction esque short story to send to the eMag, Ray Gun Revival, or maybe a second short story set around the Society of the Miracle Workers (The first of which I read at Twilight Tales last July), or maybe restart the post-apocalyptic stoner comedy novel I've been occasionally writing on, called Bombed! We'll see what the day brings. Really I should be running drafts over some of my short stories, repackaging them and sending them out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Marathon Training Day 8

So I'd been intending to update this sooner after the first day of marathon training, and do a sort of day to day update of "this is how much I ran," "this is how much Ihurt," "this is how far I have to go." But that clearly is not the case as it's been a week since my last update. But you know what? I have a great excuse this time! I finished the novel!

Yes, that's right, you read it here, and you read it clear. I finished writing my first novel on Sunday after a really good 6 hour session of sitting at Starbucks that resulted in about 8,000 words getting written (that's not including the 5,ooo that were added the day before at the same Starbucks). This marathon weekend of writing ended me with a completed book. The Rider (as it's being called for now) is about 117,000 words long (which is about 520 typed pages for those who need a better reference). There are still two scenes (roughly) that need to get added in, but in order to do that properly I need to rewrite about 50 pages of the book, so I figure I'll be getting on that here in the next week or so.

This is the part that I was very excited to get to. Gone (at least as far as The Rider is concerned) is the day to day "the writing was good!" or "the writing was shit...why am I even doing this?" sorts of posts. Putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard as it were, is interesting only so far. It's something that we all know how to do. And Stephen King said it best in his book, On Writing (an absolute masterwork of the craft, and a must read):

"A radio talk-show host asked me how I wrote. My reply--"one word at a time"

(King, 151)

That's all writing really comes down to. Just putting one word after another. Story on the other hand takes editing, and a story that really works takes the fine-tuning and discerning eye. Examination under a microscope. And above all else, editing takes time.

The first question I was asked when I finished the novel (other than my friend James who called shotgun in my post-published private jet, to which I told him he clearly didn't know any authors, and could gladly call basket seat in my post-published private bicycle) was when's it going to be published, now that it's done?

"It's not done," I tell them, and they look at me perplexed (especially my dad).

"I thought you said you finished it," they say.

"I did," I say. "Now begins the editing process."

"How long is that going to take?"

"I dunno," I say, "six months?"

"You're crazy," they say.

And irregardless of my sanity, it is this part of the writing process which I find more exciting than anything else. I've mounded up all the clay into a very rough, vaguely elephant-shaped statue. But really it doesn't look like an elephant yet. Now I get to work the clay, chipping away the parts I don't need. Detailing the finer points. Refining the story down until that mound of clay I've piled up looks like a damn realistic elephant. It's here where the real craft begins, and I have the feeling that it is here where I'm going to learn the most about writing.

While that's happening of course, I'm getting started on my next project(s). I'm taking a couple days to oggle stories that I've started and left unfinished. I've got a project with my friend Duke, where we're writing each other stories, and challenging each other to push a cohesive narrative forward. It's steeped in the New Weird (think China Mielville) genre, and it's a very interesting exercise in world-building, and thinking on the fly. I'm also looking at a story of which I have about 100 pages done (most of which are in serious need of a reexamination) called Bombed! I think I've talked about it here before. It's Harold and Kumar meets the Road. Superbad meets Fallout. A post-apocalyptic-stoner-buddy-roadtrip-comedy. Something far lighter than The Rider, which sounds nice after dealing with such a heavy, heavy topic as The Rider was. We'll see what piques my interest.

And on to the Marathon training for the end of this exorbitantly long post.

It's day 8 of training (see the blogpost title). My current mileage is 15 miles. They've been far more grueling than I'd thought they would be (especially the 6 miler on Saturday). I also have rediscovered the importance of hydrating (something I seem to rediscover every time I start running regularly).

Tonight was supposed to be a night off, but because I took yesterday off to finish the novel, tonight is an hour of crosstraining (walking the dog, riding my bike, punching bag, or whatever). Tomorrow is another three miler.

And on that note i need to attempt some more productivity at my internship. More to come later!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Marathon Training Day 1

"Monday is always a day of rest...Let's begin this Monday, the first day of your marathon journey, by contemplating the training that will begin tomorrow."
I'm not kidding you. That's what it says under the Monday slot of the marathon training program (follow the link above if you don't believe me). Best marathon training ever.
For those of you who don't know, I made a point of in my first of the year post about how I was going to train for the Chicago Marathon. Sadly that fell through, as the Chicago Marathon was sold out when I went to register for it in April. So after a quick search of US Marathons in Wikipedia, I discovered that Detroit has a marathon and that, for starters, it is marginally cheaper than Chicago's (Detroit is 75, Chicago is 125), and that there are still spots available. I also managed to convince my friend Kate (who has now run two, maybe three marathons) that she should train out in LA, and then we should run it together (and I was successful). So now begins my mad dash towards the gloried 26.2.
That's not the only big news.
Yesterday I hit 100,000 words in the novel. I'd thought when I set out to finish this thing, that this would be the end, but it's shaping up to be about 110-120k...Not a great prospect, but for a first time novel, I'm ok with that. The goal now (after many sad revisions) is that I can squeak out the first draft sometime this week. Then begins the fun editing process...
And on that note I've got to start focusing again back on the internship.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Internships, Novelling, and Other Summery Things

I'm sitting in the office of my internship, taking a few moments to update the blog while waiting for my boss to get out of a meeting so we can figure out the structure of my internship. The folks at CADL are pretty laid back about the whole thing. I guess that comes with free labor eh? They've got me working on a series of projects.

  • Book-A-Librarian has me figuring out the ins and outs of the reference interview, how we can set aside a couple librarians for 1 on 1 time with the patrons helping with things like in depth research, or technology assistance similar to my old job at the Knowledge Navigation Center.
  • I'm working on figuring out how to implement a teen literary magazine that will be designed, edited, and basically run by teens but facilitated by the library.
  • I'm also working with English Discoveries Online, a web based ESL program that doesn't get much use by the patrons. Outreach Services has me designing and preparing a proposal for a 20-40 minute class teaching non-native patrons how to use it.
My internship mentor, Jim Maclean, is really intent on giving me a working hands-on approach to the behind the scenes of library outreach services, and not sticking me with dead desk time (like time to update my blog...). We've also spent a bit of the downtime I do have, especially later in the day discussing the future of libraries, something he has a very cynical outlook on.

The internship is interesting, and while I am still excited about libraries, it has worn on me a bit, which brings me to the writing.

Last update here I was at 76k. I'd wanted the novel done by summer. It didn't happen. Now it's June and I'm at 92k. A nice fruitful jump, but not hard or fast enough to bring the book quite to a conclusion. I figure I've got roughly 10-15k more to go before I've finished it. I'm hoping to knock it out this weekend.

I've also made a pact with myself to up my daily writing dosage to 1000 words a weekday, and 5000 for the whole weekends. That output I figure will guarantee novels being knocked out at a regular pace, and short stories by the load. I don't expect everything to be good, but it's time to refine the craft.

Boss just got out of his meeting, so I've got to go. Next up is summer trips, weddings, marathon training, and hopefully the next part of the American Gods Road Trip