Monday, March 31, 2008


I have done a little work recently on Jack & Jill, in addition to reviewing a short story for another writer. I'm half-way done with my comments for the other writer, and still only half-done on my novel, but at least I've managed to get something writerly accomplished in the past week. I plan to continue, even at a snail's pace, which is usually not my modus operandi, but better that than no work at all on what is most important among my creative projects: my writing.

Apart from that morsel of progress, I am looking at the prospect of learning CSS in the near future. It seems Scott Marlowe's new site has inspired me to do some much-needed work on my own site. Not the blog -- I recently enhanced its presentation and am still happy with it -- but on my actual internet site, or homepage, or whatever you want to call it. I need to learn CSS as a better way to control the look of the pages, and to make changes, without having to go into each and every page and change a thousand little format instructions in HTML. CSS is a new (to me) way of doing that and it saves a lot of time -- if you know how to do it. With my progress with Java I'm emboldened to tackle CSS, which should hopefully be a little (or a lot) less daunting than Java itself.

Otherwise, I'm almost ready to start making my first Java applications. Spilling coffee down the front of my shirt regrettably does not count as a Java application, at least in this sense [boo-hiss, I know].

It's gratifying that my yearn to write is growing steadily. The creative side of me is saying, "Hey, if you can let that logical part of you do all that good work, then why not let the illogical part of you continue its good work, which it was already doing so well previously, and which is more important anyway?"

Can't argue with that logic.

I'm remembering some of the tenets of my belief in myself as a writer, ideas which I had conveniently forgotten about in order to shy away from writing. One of these tenets is, "Don't think about it, just write it". I only distract myself by thinking about my writing. It's better just to immerse myself in the stories and focus on writing them, rather than thinking about the fact that I'm writing them. Another tenet is, "This present task is only piece of a much larger puzzle." I let myself get bogged down in the specifics, and the issues surrounding this one story. I need to remember that the task at hand, and indeed this story itself, are just steps along a greater path. I need to finish this edit so I can get the story out for feedback and move on to my next writing project (probably finishing the Jasper story). I need to finish both of these stories so I can get back to the STONE novel, and then the ISLE novel, and then on to other novels. Can't let myself spend too much time in one place. Gotta keep on keepin' on. Get a move on.

Tally ho,


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Scott Marlowe's Impressive New Site

I wanted to offer a plug for Scott Marlowe's impressive new site: If you haven't checked it out, you should!

Scott's old site is still up, but he launched a new site not long ago and raised the bar. It's a very professional-looking site for a serious, aspiring fantasy writer.

May the arrival of Spring inspire those of us who need to get back to our writing,


Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Brain Hurts!

I don't know if it's technically plausible or not, but my brain actually hurts these days. I've been working very hard for a couple of weeks now on one of my creative projects and it has me floored, or spinning in circles, or whatever effect it's having. If my "instances" hint in my last comment wasn't enough of a tip-off, I'll share that one of my creative projects involves learning to write computer programs in Java. This is purely as a hobby, a leisure-time pursuit, but also a means to an end -- there are some simple programs that I very much want to write.

In spite of the cold, hard, inhuman logic of it all, programming is actually a very creative activity. It's also a real challenge. Anyone who has ever struggled to make sense out of something they call object-oriented programming will know that it's a bit confusing for someone who knows absolutely nothing about it. I'm very proud of the progress I've made. I'm already close to where I need to be to begin work in earnest on my first project, so that's a lot of progress in picking up this difficult material in a very short, if grueling and painful, time.

I think whenever we devote our minds to some organized study of something, we glean from that a sense of the underlying structure or system of whatever we are studying. We force a certain logic into our thinking, and it helps us see the logic in other things, too. Anytime I study anything complex, in a serious and protracted effort, I always feel more "logical" myself afterward. The effect is only temporary, but it is very interesting to experience.

I have to ask myself whether the short-term benefit of all this hard work is worth the pain incurred. I won't know for sure until I write my first Java program. I also won't know for sure until I return to writing, and see whether I think I'm thinking more logically in some sense, able to see the complex system which is a novel, its many interrelated parts interwoven and, well, interrelated, with some greater depth of understanding due to the imposition of another system of logic. Is there a carry-thru? I think there is.

For a long time people said if you study Latin you will learn to think more clearly, or be more smarter, or speak English better, or whatever. I think that is true, even if it isn't. My other significant creative project at this time is learning Ancient Greek. I chose Attic Greek, the language of the Classical era in Athens, as opposed to Homeric Greek, which predates it, or Koine Greek, which follows it. I have a terrific book to study from and I'm enjoying immensely the exposure to this tangible piece of the reality of that long-ago world. If a study of systems is of any benefit to the mind, then learning both Ancient Greek and Java programming at the same time ought to qualify me for a discount on my next purchase of a scientific calculator, at the very least (I have never purchased a scientific calculator because I am not very scientific, but with my brain bulging with organized thoughts, I might become more scientific in the future).

All of which leads me back to the brain-related impact of this logical effort. Since I am so into logic right now, my creative side is feeling, well, rather neglected. The whole "arts and humanities" side of me is reeling from disuse. Just the other day the creative part of me threatened to sue the logical side of me for wanton neglect. It's not something I take lightly, that part of me that cares. The other part, the reckless, adventurous side, refuses to worry about it and urges me to carry on with wild abandon, learning all I can about loops and class declarations and public access, about declensions and verb stems and theme vowels, about GUI's and passing methods and operands, not to mention the dual, the aorist or the vocative.

That tiny portion of me that is left in between this struggle wishes with utmost sincerity that my brain would stop hurting, that my foray into logic would wind gracefully to an end, and my heart would be allowed to sing again as I merrily produce the sort of emotion-laden fiction that, well, makes my heart sing.

And all this because I'm getting too close to a finished product. Yes, I think I got into these projects as a way of distracting myself because I don't feel ready to actually finish a novel yet, as silly as that sounds. I have to learn to step out of the way and let the part of me that wants to be a writer pass through and become that writer.

int confidence = 10;
int apprehension = 100;
int diversion = 0;
boolean ready = false;
if (confidence < apprehension) {
confidence = diversion;
if (confidence >= apprehension) {
ready = true;

Wishing us a peaceful Easter in all parts of the world,


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Working Hard ... On Other Things!

I've been working very hard since my last posting, but not on my writing! I did a little more with it, but I've been very preoccupied with two other projects that have been long in coming, and much expected. The timing seems to work for them. Perhaps because they are providing me with a thorough distraction from my writing. In any event, I am working very hard again with my creative time, just not on my story. Perhaps this is good in that at least I am back to hard work, and momentum, etc. This will carry back to the story once these other projects get to a point where I need to slow the pace. I think this hard work will stimulate me to continue the flow of hard work once my creative energies cycle around again to writing. I've been trying, and it's on-again, off-again. Perhaps I realize I'm getting closer now to an actual finished product (manuscript), and that scares me.... I must have some reason to work so hard at avoiding my story! I had other distractions, but at this point I should be hard at work on it.

I won't worry about it, though. I am happy to be working hard, and I think my theory is a good one -- this hard work will pay off by putting me firmly back in hard-work mode, and as soon as I get back to the story in earnest, I'll already have the pace and momentum of hard work to carry me along. Now, I just need the focus, when I'm ready for it. In the meantime, these other two projects are incredibly satisfying to be working on. They're not writing projects, but they are creative projects that are very engrossing and exciting to me.

I love being vague, if that's not clear enough already.

Wishing everyone else the progress on their novels that I should be making on mine, and I'll catch up before long, really,


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Excellence Award

Something unexpected and very pleasant came my way. Writerwoman has bestowed my blog, Chronicling the Novel, with the following auspicious award:

Thanks, Writerwoman! That really made my day. Since good news is best shared, I'm supposed to nominate others to receive this award. The actual number I'm supposed to nominate is higher, but I'll shorten it to only three, which makes it more special. Here are three blogs of excellence, focusing on other aspiring writers:

Living the Writer's Life

The Lost Fort


Congratulations one and all!


Some Significant Progress

Within the past few days I managed to substantially rewrite most of Chapters 9 and 10. The same basic events occur, but I needed to draw out questions/issues that were of concern to the main characters, Jacques and Giel. There was a lot of tension that was building over all the previous chapters, and they had stuff on their minds, and the situations they found themselves in presented them with opportunities to raise those questions/issues and seek some answers. I had touched on this stuff lightly, but needed much more focus on the main story questions, since this is now leading in to the mid-point and it all comes together with a decision that Jacques must make. The new version is much stronger and more directly connected to the rest of the story. I'm very happy with it. Now, just need to ride this out to the mid-point to complete this transition sequence, then it's on to the new, as-of-yet unedited material of the second half.

It feels good to have made some progress!

I'll also mention that some of the other research I'm doing these days involves philosophy, ancient Greece and Ancient Greek. Perhaps the blogs of certain historical fiction writers have inspired me.... ;-) Unrelated to those topics, I've also conceived of a new novel I'd love to write. It is definitely "high concept" and would make a great best-seller and film version, not that I'm seeking to write only for commercial reasons -- my writing is my art, a way to take my life and experience and seek meaning in it and all that sort of thing. But it's fun to realize I've got a really cool, potentially hot idea.

So, the inspiration is there again. Now I just need to buckle down. I think that part is harder, since I know how much work I do when I'm writing and taking a break from all that is such a naughty pleasure in itself. Perhaps Janet Jackson's new album will inspire me. [Disclaimer: The preceding was a joke, it was only a joke, and nothing other than a joke.]

Wishing everyone the discipline they need to get things done,


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Making Progress

Thanks to those who shared their comments to my last posting. I do appreciate your kind words of support.

It has felt like the doldrums, where sailors loathe to sail, that place where you have your sails at the ready yet no wind rises to greet them. Patience is the key. Eventually the currents themselves will cause you to drift to a better place, a place where there is a breeze, and before long that breeze will lead you to better seas and stronger winds.

I have not worked on my writing nearly as much as I had intended, but I have kept it in mind, and have spent the time whenever I could manage it. I am still editing JACK & JILL and the results are positive. The first half of the novel now reads very smoothly and is nearly finished, except for any minor polishing that may yet occur to me. I feel much more confident about the story overall, and just need to press on to complete this work, which with any reasonable effort could well be done in 2-3 weeks.

I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel where this difficult time is concerned. I'm feeling a little traction, and a sense of hope again that I'll actually get fully back into the swing of things. It just takes me time sometimes to rebuild that focus which is so essential to my work: the more utterly it's lost, the more effort it takes to recapture it. I'm making progress and the editing work continues. I'm beginning to feel the joy again, and the excitement, associated with my writing. I want to cultivate these feelings and others which will lead me back into the swifter currents. The breezes are tugging at my sails even now.

To help things along I've been reading and researching, finding much enjoyment and food for thought.

Wishing us all progress and satisfaction with our work,