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Posts Tagged ‘Writer’s Block’

I’ve come to the conclusion that part of my problem with making more progress on MAGE STORM is balance.

Mage Storm

See, in addition to getting back into the habit of writing every day, I’ve also set myself a couple of other goals for this summer–which, for this purpose, ends in two weeks when school starts again.

I also wanted to get a fair amount of work done in the yard. It had gotten out of control and I’m gradually trying to bring it back–in a hopefully low-maintenance kind of way. Naturally, I try to accomplish whatever task I’ve set myself done in the morning, before it has a chance to get too hot. Usually, I get hot anyway. Gradually–one moderate goal at a time–I’m making progress with that.

Then, too, I want to get a whole-house cleaning done. And naturally, since I’m already wearing my grubby work clothes, I tend to do that shortly after I come in from working in the yard, allowing a little time to rest in between. That also is coming along, although I don’t expect to be completely done before school starts.

And then, I sit down at the computer. I’ve been sitting here–and then getting up only to wander somewhat aimlessly around the house and come back again since lunch. Trying to work up the concentration to finish this chapter

And all I really want to do is take a nap. Especially today, between mowing, laundry, and starting in on cleaning the dining room, I’m tired. Might be that I just can’t do as much in a day anymore as I could ten or twenty years ago–though I don’t like to admit it.

Balance won’t be any less of an issue once school starts, especially the first couple of weeks. The challenges will just change. Though, at least, I’ll likely only be working on they yard on the weekends. House cleaning never ends, though once the hard cleaning is done it will hopefully be the lighter kind of maintenance cleaning–at least for a while.

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The rewrite of MAGE STORM is flowing better now.

Mage Storm

What I need to work on is regaining the habit of spending enough butt-in-chair time on it. In fairness, I do have several other projects I have to work on this summer, both in the yard and cleaning the house. But I used to have this habit and I’ve lost it during the protracted writer’s block. (Ever notice it’s a lot easier to break good habits than bad ones?) I need to get that back.

Meanwhile, I’m finding more sources of inspiration, which will certainly bear fruit down the line. I mentioned, I think, that during the writer’s block I decided to subscribe to The Great Courses Plus.

I started with a series of lectures about the Celtic World, which was very good–and some of that is a portion of the new inspiration into my secret history.

Then I tried one on King Arthur. That one started out well, but turned into a sort of literary survey of who wrote what about the legend and when certain elements got added. (Hint: Lancelot is a French addition that was never part of the original Romano-Celtic tale. Though Guinevere is part of the original cast.) The stories themselves tended to get lost.

I very briefly stuck my toe into one on the great mythologies of the world, but I’m interested in them as stories, not comparative religion.  So, that didn’t last long.

Of course, it’s all a question of what interests me, in particular. For both Arthur and mythology, I’m all about the stories, because that’s what’s likely to spark something that I can work with. (Like taking off from the Hercules legend with my BECOME series.)

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But, see, that’s the beauty of this subscription service. If a lecture series isn’t for you, you can just move on. Now I’ve started one on Heroes and Legends, which I’m really enjoying so far. The first lecture was . . . wait for it . . . about Tolkien’s Bilbo and Frodo, with an argument for why they are the unexpected, but needed heroes for the time following the World Wars. Then Odysseus (the ultimate trickster hero, perfect for his time) and Aeneas (Rome’s answer to Odysseus . . . and a bit of a prick, really.) Today I watched the one on Guinevere. I’m not sure I entirely agree with his analysis of her. But the summation of how depictions of her changed over time along with the expectations of the societies who were retelling her tale was very interesting.

This one may definitely inspire some new stories. Or new ways of looking at heroes. Or . . . well, who knows?

 

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A little bit forward, some sideways. Hey, it’s still progress.

I have gotten a little more done on the first draft/rewrite of MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

Not much yet, but sometimes it’s starting that counts.

Then a bug bit me (not literally) and I wrote seven pages of notes for my potential secret history story–uh, saga. I’m not sure it’ll actually be a secret history. I may ditch the history and write it as a second world fantasy, using the actual history as inspiration. Among other things, that would allow me to compress the time frame, which would be nearly unworkable if I had to stick more closely to history. Either way, it’s nowhere near ready to write yet.

But the thing about inspiration is that it hits you with what it wants to before it gives you what you want, so . . . this may be a sign of more progress on the horizon. Maybe things are really about to break loose.

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All I can say is this week so far has been abysmal. Horrible. I want this week to be over. The last two days have been mostly interrupted by plumbers.

I’ve gotten the chance to work on maybe three or four sentences of MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

This too shall pass–eventually.

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I’m gradually getting momentum on the rewrite of MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

Very gradually. I’m still working on Chapter 1. But I am making progress. And I really think that this version is much better. Which, in turn, feeds my desire to work on it. And helps build momentum.

For the moment, I’m copying the old chapter into my new document in a different color. In fact, I’m using Word’s Heading 3, which allows me to track every line in the navigation pane. Then I’m rewriting paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, deleting the old version from the document as I go. This works, for now, because the first few chapters will remain mostly the same–in terms of what happens in them. After about chapter 6, things will begin to diverge from the original plot. I may still refer back to the original in much the same way in some places, but not wholesale.

Meanwhile, I’m continuing with the clean-up of the yard. And the house cleaning. Well, at least it keeps me from sitting in my desk chair all day. And I’m making progress with those, too.

 

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I have started the rewrite of MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

I like what I’ve got so far much better. However, it seems starting a rewrite is very much like starting a first draft. It just takes a while to build momentum.

I also need to rebuild the habit of writing daily. I didn’t do any yesterday. Well, maybe one sentence. That’s not going to get this done. So I’m going to have to make sure I put in at least some time every day to get back to where I need to be. Just takes discipline–and not allowing procrastination.

Yeah, right.

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I’ve finished the read-through of the old version of MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

It reinforced my belief that I just need to do it over, not try to fix it. Well, mostly. There were a couple of new chapters that I’d written for the previous attempt that can probably stay. It’s a good story, but I can just do a much better job of executing it now. It’ll be like a whole new first draft.

I copied over the (new) Prologue and then revised it some more.

I haven’t yet started on the first chapter, which will be a rewrite. Yesterday, I had to have the refrigerator fixed and that sort of shot my motivation to deal with anything else.  Poor Sadie didn’t even get a walk–although she did get to play in the hose until her tongue was hanging out so far I thought she’d trip on it.

I’m just about to get down to writing today–after some more yard clean up and some heavy cleaning in the laundry room–well, one corner of the laundry room. So far, anyway. Oh, and a load of laundry, of course.

But things look like beginning to move again, anyway. Fingers crossed.

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I’ve been making excellent progress on the read-through of the old version of MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

So good that I only have three chapters left. So, by this weekend at the latest, I’ll be ready–hopefully–to restart the rewrite.

I have confirmed that yes, as much as I like this story, I am going to need to just start over. I can do much better now.

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Inspiration is where you find it–and it can come from anything.

A couple of months back, I posted that one of the things I was doing during this bout of writer’s block to prime the pump was to subscribe to The Great Courses Plus, which has lecture series by experts on all sorts of topics. I probably should mention here that I’ve always been a little bit of a history geek, though of an eclectic selection of eras and locations.

The first one I watched was “The Celtic World”, which was very interesting. It didn’t spark any immediate inspiration, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if something I heard there cropped up in some later story.

After finishing that, I decided to start one on King Arthur (though it was a close thing between that and one on the great mythologies of the world). King Arthur edged the other out mostly because there’ve been a couple of stories simmering on the back burners. One is based on an ancient Welsh story of the greater Arthurian cycle, but not near the core of what we, now, consider to be the central story (much of which probably wasn’t part of the original tale). The other would probably start off of part of the Arthur legend as a springboard, but move on from there.

So far, this is also a very interesting course. But the big inspirational moment so far . . . well, it has more to do with world building than story, per se. Still, it’s something I don’t ever remember hearing anywhere else. And, so far, I haven’t been able to turn up anything on line.

Nevertheless, I like it very much. This was a little rule about travel time in medieval–or medievalesque–settings. And it could apply to others as well, I think. Anyway, it went like this:

If it would take you 23 days to walk to a particular destination, it would take only 6 days if you rode a horse, or only 1 day, if you were able to go by ship.

Now that is a cool little world-building detail. It’ll never be a story in itself, but it doesn’t have to be. And . . . it’s just possible that this might find a place in the new and (hopefully) improved version of MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

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Well, as far as I’ve gotten on my read-through of MAGE STORM, I’ve come to one conclusion.

Mage Storm

When I restart, this is going to have to be a scrape-it-down-to-bare-earth-and-start-over rewrite. I’d been trying to do a sort of light version of a rewrite–heavy revisions and insert new material where needed. That’s just not going to work, here.

It’s not that it’s bad as it stands now. It’s just not as good as I’m capable of after writing several more books since the first version of MAGE STORM. Plus some of the changes that need to be made. Well, it’s not going to work that way. I suspect that I already knew that, sort of subconsciously, and that’s why–or at least part of why–I got blocked.

Oh, well. It’s not like I haven’t done just that before.

 

 

 

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