From the Desktop: Writing Update 9/26/2016

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Greetings! As always I hope you’ve had a good week. Mine as it turns out was happily, if unexpectedly, productive. One thing I’m starting to notice is that I set these goals for myself, but then during the week I get lost in the trenches day by day and forget what goals I actually set. Which could be good or bad. Not sure myself.

Anyway! I managed 5380 words this past week, almost 2000 words more than my goal, which makes me feel good, especially since I probably cut about 1000 words as well, meaning my actual word count was a little higher.  As always the number of completed edited/rewritten chapters is slightly more important, and I managed to complete 4 and a half last week meaning that I’m almost done with the rewriting/editing and will be able to get back to uninterrupted drafting. All in all a pretty good week.

This week (9/26-10/2) I’m going to keep last week’s goals of 500 words a day/ 3500 total and 4 edited/rewritten chapters. I did better this week, but that was largely because I managed 1600 words on Saturday. At my absolute height a few years ago I was able to do 2000-3500 a day, but I need to get back into the flow before I can assume that level of productivity.

The idea was to hold myself accountable and build myself back up one week at a time, and so far at least it seems to be working. Digits crossed…

Have a good week. Happy reading and happy writing!

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Flash Fiction Friday: The Rabbit Dilemma

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Our Loving Couple

“I shall endeavor, darling, not to become a rabbit,” the man said solemnly.

His wife looked up from her breakfast and studied him silently for a moment. A reticent man by nature, especially where his wife was concerned, he did his best to convey his utmost sincerity. Whatever she found on his face must have been convincing.

“Good,” the woman said with a firm nod. “See that you don’t.” Then returned to her coffee.

The silence lingered over the table, festering as it had many times before. He had learned to accept, even enjoy the silences. His wife was not a morning person and had once managed to fling a cup and saucer at him with deadly, half-awake accuracy. The bruises had lasted for weeks. Her laughter, when she finally woke, had never fully ended.

There was a question, however, that needed to be answered. It marinated in the juice and crackled in the cereal until finally he thought he was going to burst. He opened his mouth, thought for a second, then closed it again.

“What is it?” his wife asked without looking up.

“Nothing.” He hesitated. “Only…”

“Yes?”

“WouldyoustilllovemeifIwasarabbit?”

“Excuse me?”

“Would you still love me if I was a rabbit?” he repeated.

“Yes,” she answered instantly. “I would.”

The man sagged in relief. “Thank God,” he said. “Because I’m not sure…”

“But I would love you,” she continued, “as I would love a rabbit and all other furry creatures. Except squirrels. I hate squirrels.”

He nodded, despite himself. Her opinion on squirrels was long-standing and vigorous. “But that’s all?” he half asked, half pleaded.

“Well, I couldn’t love you as a husband,” she said. “That would be bestiality.”

“I-I didn’t mean…”

She sighed and reached across the table to pat his hand. “I know,” she said with a smile. “I was only teasing. And it doesn’t matter anyway. You’re not going to turn into a rabbit.”

“You can’t know that!” he said. “Look at Lisa and Tim! She turned into a bunny just last week!”

“I am not Tim,” she said stiffly. “And you are not Lisa.”

There were a great many things he could say to that, but h wisely held his tongue. Although his nose did twitch, ever so slightly. A nervous habit. Probably.

“What was that?” His wife cried accusingly.

“What?”

“Your nose,” she said through clenched teeth. “It twitched.”

“No it didn’t,” he protested. “…Did it?”

“Yes,” she said. “It did. And you shall desist at once. I. Shall. Not. Have. It.”

“Yes, dear,” he said and meant it, but deep inside he knew that there was no fighting science.

The Rabbit Plague had no known cure. And the vaccine was a joke. Some people were simply going to turn into rabbits and there was nothing anyone could do about it. It was genetics.

And he was certainly not going to mention that his wife’s ears had started looking a little longer recently.

He was a rabbit, not a fool.

From the Desktop:Writing Update 9/19/2016

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Hello all! I hope you’re well.

Progress this week was a bit like running on a treadmill. Did a lot of writing, and nipping and tucking, and a little restructuring. The end result is better and stronger than it was before, but it’s also more or less exactly where I was a week ago. I managed to finish my goal of 3 edited/rewritten chapters, although two of them are ones I had already done last week. Rewriting the rewriting! One step forward, two steps back. Well, half a step back anyway.

My word count was actually fairly strong. I did manage 3600 words although in the process of editing I also managed to cut around 1500. Which confuses things slightly.

This week (9/19-9/26) I’m going to maintain last week’s goals of 500 words a day/ 3500 total and 3 edited/rewritten chapters, since despite feeling unproductive and circling back on myself, I did actually come much closer to my goals than I thought. Hopefully this week will be better.

Have a good week. Happy reading and happy writing!

From the Desktop:Writing Update 9/12/2016

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Goals and deadlines. Writing on the clock. (Not literally.)

Hello all! I hope you had a good weekend. Mine was filled with writing and relaxation (and thai food). This has been a long week both at work and at home but I did manage to get some writing done every day. As expected I did not quite manage to reach my perhaps overly ambitious goals.

The week started off well, with an unexpected bout of productivity before trailing off slightly. I set myself the overall goal of 5600 words for the week and managed 3056, which isn’t terrible. Especially since one day was largely spent cutting a 3000+ word scene down to 1800.

More importantly, I intended to edit/ rewriting 5 chapters and managed to finish 4 and a half chapters. Over all it was a reasonably productive week. All things considered.

This week (9/11-9/18) I’m going to lower my my word count goal to 500 words a day/ 3500 total. At this stage the chapter count remains the more important goal and I’m also going to revise that down to 3 edited/rewritten chapters. I have a number of scenes that require more serious rewriting, so it may be slower going. We shall see. I’m still learning how to gage the editing/rewriting process.

 

I hope you have a good week. Happy reading and happy writing!

Flash Fiction Friday: The Artist

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They came for the artist in the night, dragged him down the stairs roughly, but careful always of his fingers, and threw him into the back of an unmarked van. Despite the commotion, his neighbors deliberately did not wake, did not hear, did wonder. To notice was to be noticed, as the artist had been.

That would have puzzled them, if they had dared to think about it. He had never struck them as particularly noticeable. His name was Mendoza. He sold his paintings in street fairs and on the boardwalk—solid, if uninspired, knockoffs of familiar classics. He had painted at least two hundred dogs and other assorted animals playing poker, before branching out into parcheesi and yahtzee. He also had a reasonable successful side-line in portraiture, drawing tourists for what amounted to drinking money. Mendoza was not, in short, the sort of man one expected to be taken in the middle of the night.

The neighbors were not the only ones who were puzzled. The artist himself was utterly confused, as well as frightened, and more than a little cold. He had been taken and given no time to procure a pair shoes or even socks.

Outside his window, a light snow was falling. It melted on a pavement. As he watched the snow fall, shivering, the artist couldn’t help but imagine the horrors that awaited him. He had heard the rumors and the stories of dark, forgotten prisons, of internment camps and torture. He had a vivid imagination, perhaps too vivid at times like these, but no matter how hard he tried, what he had done to deserve those looming horrors continued to elude him.

The car passed through the dark gates and past the ravenous guard dogs, and pulled up outside the governor’s mansion. The governor’s men escorted him up the stairs and into the mansion itself. The wind was biting and the ground felt cold beneath his feet.

The guards did not speak. Not that the artist could have heard them over his own heavy breathing, the chattering of his teeth, and the thundering of his heart. His stomach churned and twisted, and his world contracted into his body and his fears.

They deposited him in a dark room at the back of the house. The curtains were drawn and the shadows were long. The walls were covered with paintings from floor to ceiling and half a dozen more were stacked on the floor. He could not make them out in the gloom, but the governor was known to be an art collector par excellence.

As he began to calm down and his teeth stopped chattering, the artist slowly became aware that he was not alone. There was a tall, straight-backed figure standing in the far corner, studying him as intently as he had studied the paintings, to much greater effect. Realizing that he had been noticed at last, the figure clapped his hands, and suddenly the room was illuminated.

The artist blinked in the sudden light. He was alone with the governor, but there was a greater surprise waiting. The paintings.  They were his. Every single one.The artist gapped, unable to even gasp, so great was his shock.

“It’s an honor to meet you, Mr. Mendoza,” the governor said.

“S-sir,” Mendoza managed after a long moment. He could feel the governor’s eyes on him, taking in his shivering form, barefoot in his pajamas.

“I hope my boys weren’t too rough with you,” the governor continued. Mendoza said nothing. There was nothing to say.

“To business then. I’m sure you’re wondering why I invited you here this evening.”

The artist nodded.

“It’s simple enough,” said the governor. “I want you to tell me about her.” He pointed.

There was a young woman in every painting—in the shadows, peeking out from behind corners, reflected in mirrors or windows. She was easy to miss, but once you knew what you were looking for, she was everywhere.

The artist coughed. “Sir?” he asked. “She’s just a little joke. Something to keep myself amused.

“Yes, yes.” The governor waved his hand. “But do you know who she is? Why do you paint her as you do? Why those eyes? Why that hair?” There was an inexplicable need in his voice that Mendoza could not understand.

“No one,” he said. “She’s no one. Just a figment of my imagination.”

“No,” the governor snapped. “She is not no one. She is my daughter.”

The words hung in the air with terrible, perplexing certainty. The artist was dumbfounded. “Your daughter, sir? But I thought…”

“You thought she’d died as a child,” the governor finished. “She did. It was the worst day of my life.”

The artist stared in mute incomprehension. Whatever he had been expecting it was not this. He hadn’t even expected anyone to even notice the woman.

“You have painted her,” the governor continued, “as she would have been. Those are her mother’s eyes. That is my hair. She has come to you, Mr. Mendoza. She has chosen you as her instrument, out of everyone in the world, and now you will paint her. Not in glimpses but as herself, full and proper.”

“I…I’m sure I understand, sir.”

“You will paint my daughter’s portrait, Mr. Mendoza. You will paint her, or you will die.”

From the Desktop:Writing Update 9/5/2016

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I wish my desk was this neat

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful summer. It is September already and as ever I am hard at work typing away at The Fall of the House of Talis, Book 2 in the Chronicles of Talis. This has been a protracted process filled with a number of false starts and stops, which I will write about at greater length at some point in the near future if anyone is interested in the trials and tribulations of my writing.

For now though, I’m going to try something a little different. At the start of each week I’m going to share my immediate writing goals for the next 7 days and my successes and failures in meeting last week’s goals. In theory this will hold me accountable, and might prove an interesting (if only to myself) way to chart the writing process in perhaps too much detail.

Since this is the first week, I don’t have any results to share, which means that for the first and probably last time I haven’t failed to meet my goals. If only because I hadn’t set any.

This week (9/5-9/11) I’m going to set myself the goal of a relatively small 800 words a day, 5600 words total. More importantly I intend to finish editing and rewriting 5 chapters. Some require much more work than others.

This is going to be a very busy week non-writing so I think I’m being both conservative and over-ambitious. We’ll see how it goes…

I hope you have a good week. Happy reading and happy writing!