Edits and Sophomore Year

It’s almost halfway through the sophomore fall semester at Colgate, and there’s a lot of new updates:

  • The Tapestry first draft is finished, edits are going forward.
  • I’m going to Wales in Spring 2016
  • I’m now officially a mathematics and computer science double major.
  • I’m planning a new novel.

The Tapestry

A writer friend read through the entire book and gave me some great critiques for fixing the ending. The book will be ready for beta readers by the beginning of November, then I’ll hopefully have final edits and perhaps another beta finished by February, when I’m hoping to actually publish. But we’ll see. I was going to finish the book completely so many times before this.

The new book

The new book is only just now being planned. It’s based on a Blackfoot Indian legend, and the setting is based in the Arctic. This is actually for a class, and I am outlining the entire novel (or at least creating some type of query package) by the end of the semester.

College

Number theory is fascinating, calculus 2 is boring me, and my other classes range in levels of fascination. More to come, if I feel like it.

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Schedules and Procrastination

The good news is that I’m at 55k in The Tapestry. I finished Ivanhoe (you can read my woefully short review by clicking). And The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov. (Unfortunately this one’s review is even shorter). I’m getting up in the morning and exercising about five mornings out of seven. I am making progress in math. My professor recommended The Beginner’s Guide to Mathematical Logic by Raymond M. Smullyan. I am enjoying it thus far—but I move very slowly through it.

About this slowness anyway—when did it start taking me a week to finish a 100 page play? Or a month to get through a 500 page novel that I would have devoured at 15? I was certainly writing much less five years ago, but the gist of it is that I did not have a smartphone, I did not use websites that stream or social media (e.g. Facebook or Snapchat). I did not have friends to message (this may be crucial), and I certainly did not watch YouTube videos. I was also motivated. That may be because schoolwork was boring at the age of fifteen. (Was it?) It may be because I had a greater capacity to focus. It may be because I had fewer distractions. (Scratch that. It’s definitely because I had fewer distractions. And more motivation.)

I still have a great capacity to focus. If it’s something I like, I’ll look up once in two hours. Just last semester I did one particular math problem three times, trying to figure out where 1) my drawing had gone wrong, if it had, 2) where my calculations had gone wrong, if they had. I ended up going to the professor’s office, having basically memorized the problem. I can no longer remember the solution, but I do remember the pure exhaustion after, I kid you not, almost three hours of trying to finish that problem, and when that failed, to move on to another. Unfortunately, I was still very fixated on that problem and it took time to focus on the rest of my homework. It’s obvious that when I want to, I can still focus very well.

The trouble is that typically, I don’t want to start work. I will—and this is embarrassing, but not as much as it should be—look at my computer, know that I’ll be very happy and proud of myself if I finish Chapter 21 of The Tapestry today, and then pass over that in order to—*cough* read a romance novel. (Another good thing? Monday I’m quitting those. For permanent.) Then I beat myself up for the rest of the day for not responding to my professor’s e-mail about “Smullyan’s Problem 6” (Chapter 2, in case anyone is wondering), with a question about “Smullyan’s Problem 10” (Chapter 2 again). When do I get excited about doing work? At about 5pm, when the work day is almost over. In college, my workday will be over by 5pm.

So this has to be fixed—I’m instituting an absolutely no-work rule between the hours of 6pm and 8am. I’m also trying to cut that back to 5pm, and to not work at all on Sundays. 

I’ve tried this before. Then I don’t do any work, to call my own bluff—I resist for about three days, then I cave. Now I’m not going to cave. It’s my grades or working before 5pm. Quitting romance novels will help with that—my schoolwork is going to be fascinating (I’ll make that the subject of another post, perhaps), I have friends that I can talk to at college, and I’ll be finishing the novel. If at any point I’m bored, I have ballroom and belly dancing, and if that isn’t enough, there’s doing more math with the guidance of the math professor via e-mail. Plus minor procrastination. I dislike procrastination. I’m trying to figure out how to ruthlessly curtail it to Sundays, when it’s allowed, and to evenings… when it’s allowed. Will this be hard? Yes, quite.

The plan:

* On Monday, when my SelfControl thing runs out, peruse the list of websites and add more time-wasters to it. Migrate the ones I never want to visit again in my life to the hosts file on my computer. <— This will probably include Netflix

* Stop checking e-mail or reading the news before lunch. <— this morning I spent about 10 minutes longer than needed upstairs because I was reading about Cecil the Lion and trying not to cry.

* Have to-do lists (I’ll make a post at some point about how I use Habitica)

* Have a flexible schedule for the day-to-day. I’ve realized that while I love scheduling things ahead of time, I also really like spontaneity. That may be why I really like Mark Forster’s Final Version (when I actually get around to it). The trouble is when I don’t have enough to populate it with, though I’m certain I could if I went through a trigger list of things I want to do.

* Happy thoughts! This one is a big deal. It works when I’m running on the elliptical*, it should also work for writing.

* I never quite understood this thing called a runner’s high until I ran on an elliptical. I like the quantification I get, and the fact that I don’t have to depend on the weather or people staring. I’ll get over the staring part soon, though.

That’s the plan—tomorrow I start work by 7:30am (I’m preparing for college when distances between buildings are larger—starting earlier while at home means that travel time impacts me less. I hope.)

Trouble with The Tapestry

The alliteration in the title of this post frustrates me a little… partially because I feel as if there should be no alliteration in a grown-up post. But there you go.

I’m rewriting The Tapestry… which is something of a process. I planned out the entire novel (in its entirety! THE WHOLE THING!) in January, in little things called incidents. Which, if you look at the idea, is something like this:

Explanation of Incidents

If Emeli wants to take X action…

A determined/sad/desperate/ridiculously-happy Emeli, after/before/at some period of time, attempts some Big Thing (or small thing, it’s really your choice), and experiences a setback.

^ That thing leads into another incident, either another action incident or… a dilemma incident!

If Yazmeen is deliberating on X problem…

After/before/at some period of time, a perplexed/frustrated/dying-of-hunger Yazmeen needs to make a decision between X and Y thing. After a ridiculous amount of deliberation, a yak butts Yazmeen in the head/some action happens to force him to make a decision.

And onward to another incident!

So that’s the gist of it. Please note that I did not invent it. Rather, Ruv Draba off Scribophile did—or at least, that’s where I got the technique.  I wrote 150 of those little incidents instead of the 50 I’d planned on writing in December, because the book kept expanding (and scaring me). Now I’m faced with actually writing those scenes. I’ve written up to the 42 incident mark… which according to my guesstimations means that the book itself will total about 120,000 words. < This is a scary number. I would have loved this number when I was 15. Now it just tells me it’s a bit too long.

However, even that marvelous discovery does not solve my current problem—the fact that I am now entering the scary middle part of the book, where Emeli, Yazmeen, Margya, and Lizzi (and Nakong!) all have interesting things going on at the same time. I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to have six adults living in close quarters. I don’t think I’m yet skilled enough to keep them all happy with the amount of screen time they’re getting, nor do I feel as if I know what two-thirds of them are doing at any given time. It may be a writer myth that we’re supposed to know that… because I certainly do not.

The next book will feature fewer mandatory characters.

In any case, the trouble currently is that Emeli has one thing that she needs to prepare, Yazmeen has talks and errands to run, Margya is beginning to get out of the house, Lizzi and Nakong also each have their own deal that must be resolved and is rather a big thing for the rest of the book. And I’m not certain any longer how to fit it into however many chapters I have left.

But! I suppose that probably just requires a small piece of white paper so that I can hammer details out of how I want the next three chapters to go. Thankfully the true hard work was done in January.

Updates

It has been a long time since I posted… hence a few updates before I (try to) post here on a more regular schedule.

College I started (and finished) my first year of college. Soon I’ll declare a mathematics major, and afterward either a computer science major or minor. We’ll see. Thus far I’ve learned Python, first-semester single-variable calculus, and first-semester multivariable calculus. I’m rather annoyed with my math department for not offering a second semester of multivariable calculus, but that’s what studying abroad is for.

Writing Still working on editing Perfume, which I retitled The Tapestry. I’m currently doing a rewrite of the whole book. The entirety has been planned out and I am currently at Chapter 11, at about 29k.

Reading If I had a schedule I’d be behind. As I don’t have a schedule, I can consider that instead I’m woefully unread this year. Currently fighting through Ivanhoe, which would be interesting if I had the patience to sit down and read it in one or two sittings.

Hair I’m growing my hair out and trying to figure out things that make it happy. This includes styles, washing methods, what ingredients work well with it, etc. It’s about 25″ long right now, which puts it at about midback level. Or, according to the LHC’s (and other’s) length markers, about one inch below Bra-Strap Level (BSL). Typically I practice benign neglect with my hair, so I fully anticipate that once the semester starts I’ll forget about it completely.

Languages According to the Parisian language school I went to for two weeks this summer, I’m now at a B2 level in French. I’ll be taking FREN 202 this fall and hopefully that will be at a good level for me… if I’m slightly above where I should be for the class I’m planning on taking Italian. (I’d take Russian or Arabic, honest, but the language will be my fifth course on top of a busy dancing and tutoring schedule, so I’m going for something that will be easier to learn.)

Ballroom Dancing I’m part of the Ballroom Club at Colgate University and am planning to lead it with a good friend by junior year, and just with myself and my dance partner by senior year. So I suppose I ought to start coming up with ideas about now. Thus far I’ve learned enough dances to make it into the auditioned dances.

 

 

Les Trois Mousquetaires en francais, jours 1 et 2 (English)

So! I’ve decided this is the end of the second day’s post, because I have nothing else to do right now.

We were driving in the car today, and for most of it I either slept or read a romance novel, which probably explains the fact that in two days I’ve reached 10%, rather than the 20% I was aiming for.

But, no problem. On the first day, September 7th, it took me about 4 hours and 8 minutes to read 5% of the book. On September 8th, today, it took me 2 hours and 14 minutes to read 5% of the book. The fact that I almost gave up on looking up words in the dictionary may have contributed to this, but I figure it’s also the random French phrases popping around up in my head.

The interesting thing about reading in French is that I have no idea what’s being said. I get the gist of it though, and I know almost exactly what’s happening at any one moment. I just cannot explain to you, word for word, as I could Much Ado About Nothing, what’s going on. Soon, I will, though. When I first read Much Ado About Nothing I thought it was okay. (Now, of course, it’s the best play ever.)

Math, Biology, and French

Hi. So I know I haven’t been posting often, and frankly I don’t have a good excuse, so we’ll skip over that.

I’m taking the SAT IIs in October, and I have selected Math II, Biology, and French. To be honest, in August the most I really knew about any of these three subjects was the basics: I can get by quite well in basic math (my basic math includes basic trigonometry, quadratic equations, and some functions and logarithms, as well as arithmetic, algebra, geometry. Not permutations or limits or polar thingamajiggers or radians), my biology was literally the basic digestive tract. I had a very good grasp of neuron structure. French? I haven’t spoken it since Madagascar, and I never was up to conversational level.

So maybe I’m crazy. I like to think that, actually, because when I do get an 800 I will remember why I worked so madly.

And I have been. I have read two biology textbooks cover to cover, and have outlined one of them completely, writing down review questions for myself. The second book, an SAT Biology prep book from 2001, is in progress. I’m not worried too much about it being from 2001. A guy reviewed it in 2010 and said it helped him get a 780, so I figure I’ll be fine. A math prep book has been gone through and review questions have been written. If I actually get to review them, I may be able to get above the 620 I got in the practice test.

As to French? That is the fascinating, crazy thing. In India, I was reading The Three Musketeers in French. I think I reached the middle of the first chapter before giving up on the book entirely and devoting myself to romance novels and English, American, and Russian literature. I haven’t gone back to the Three Musketeers, despite that it’s on my reading-now list and has been since January 2012. I think I decided somewhere in my brain that if I didn’t read it in French I wouldn’t read it at all.

So, that’s the plan. I’m planning on reading Les Trois Mousquetaires in French, in its entirety, in ten days. I’ll be updating with my progress on the madness daily, I hope. Probably first thing in the morning to comment on the past day’s endeavors. By the end of the whole thing, I should have, if not fluency, at least a grasp of basic literary French, while maintaining a love of reading.

God help me.

10 Things I Learned at Camp (pt 2)

For the next two weeks, Mom and my sister were off at camp… which meant that we had only three people in the house. I was cook part-time, and housekeeper, and student.

  1. Reading a biology book cover to cover is fun. In an effort to implement what I was reading in How to Read a Book, I read my biology textbook cover to cover. I can’t really remember much… but I know that there’s a lot of carbohydrates and fats, and of course Mendelian genetics I’ve known since I was twelve. I’ll be going through it again, this time with a fine tooth comb, but I found out that getting the high-level stuff is quite enjoyable.
  2. Blisters are not that bad. I was walking on the treadmill barefoot, because I don’t like my shoes most of the time, and if I have to get shoes on, I’m never going to walk. Hence, a couple of blisters, because I was walking faster than I probably should have. 
  3. Your father and brother will not remember where the bread knife goes. It has a little spot to the right of the bread’s cutting board. It’s made specifically for the bread knife. But aforementioned father and brother believe the counter is the best spot for it.
  4. Movies are awesome. I’d forgotten how awesome. On the 2nd and 3rd I watched about 6 movies off of Netflix.
  5. Days pass really really quickly. Two weeks disappeared in the blink of an eye. I’m not sure what I got done and what I didn’t. (But then again, I can’t really remember what I did today, let alone  a week ago).
  6. I am a minimalist. I may have stated this before, this minimalism thing. It really came home while I was dusting and I realized that the one reason I wanted Mom back was so we could go through everything in the house and throw out what we no longer needed or used.
  7. Reading was easier when I was little. I drew this conclusion because I think I was slightly more disciplined when I was younger. Back then I didn’t know what romance novels were, and thus couldn’t get sidetracked. Also, back then, online lending libraries didn’t really exist.
  8. No one really knows how to boil pasta in this house. I made my brother boil pasta. About two minutes into the process, I realized the water was supposed to be boiling BEFORE the pasta was put in. We had slightly brown smoky spaghetti for lunch.
  9. Cleaning a big house sucks. I’m not sure which part I disliked most… probably the fact that I kept taking breaks every hour or so… and moving really slowly. It turns out if you don’t have much to look forward to that day, everything takes ten times longer than it would if you were anticipating, say… someone coming over at 4pm. Everything moves faster the hour before the guests come.
  10. I’m probably a good candidate for hermitude. The house suddenly seemed very small with two more people in it.

On Friday I’ll put up a great deal of updates. I’m not sure what they’re about yet.

10 Things I Learned at Camp (pt 1)

I was a counselor at the Romanian Archdiocese’s summer camp this year (7-13 year olds). I had 4-8 girls in my cabin. This is a post of all the things I learned during the two weeks of being a counselor.

  1. “I Can’t Fall Asleep” only happens the first night at camp. I’m not sure what the purpose behind this statement is, but I’m guessing it’s testing out the limits. I simply told them that it takes 15 minutes to fall asleep, and that I’d tell them when the 15 minutes were up. (I, of course, fell asleep in about 5 seconds). After the first night, we only had moans and groans about nap time, which persisted the whole two weeks.
  2. The inventor of “three more bites,” “you can’t have any more spaghetti if you don’t finish your broccoli,” and other such statements was a genius. I don’t know where I absorbed these things from (I certainly never did it consciously), but they burst out of me on the second or third day of camp, after one girl after another had ignored the ‘icky’ part of her meal in order to grab a second helping of the ‘yummy’ part. Having  stated that everything on the plate must be finished, I firmly held my ground and most, if not all the girls, ate everything on their plate before having dessert, lemonade, or second helpings of spaghetti.
  3. “No dessert if you don’t…” is a fantastic incentive for listening to your counselor. One of my girls was a little wild child, running with the boys to capture grasshoppers, hornets, bees, wasps– you name it, she was trying to find it. As a counselor, my job is to keep the girls together at all times while keeping them interested, happy, and what-have-you. Grasshopper Girl did not understand this, and would go running off while I used the facilities, or had to make sure that the table in the dining hall was cleaned, or whatever. She taught me more than the other girls combined, including the fact that revoking dessert is usually a very powerful motivator.
  4. Taking away dessert for a long time is not a good idea. Grasshopper Girl lost her dessert for a week after repeatedly going past the safety boundaries near archery. I quickly, to my chagrin, realized that, having lost dessert, Grasshopper Girl could not be threatened with anything.
  5. A little bit of dessert for good behavior is also a great incentive. Grasshopper Girl was speedily told that if she was good, she could have a little bit of dessert. (This was a win-win, as she got a little dessert, and the other girls and I could split the rest of hers.) The interesting thing about this is that Grasshopper Girl was happier to have a bite of chocolate chip cookie after the archery incident, than she was to have a whole chocolate chip cookie BEFORE the archery incident.
  6. How to Shout. Grasshopper Girl and Miss Ballerina (who stayed with her grandmother and little brother in their cabin because she didn’t like sleeping with strangers), must have some deafness (or really, really good concentration), because I learned how to shout without hurting my voice (too badly). With as many acres as the property has, and as noisy as kids are, (and as tired as your feet will get), shouting is sometimes the only way to make your voice carry. I have scared people before by shouting for the girls while being next to other campers. The idea, if you want to learn to do it, is to suck your stomach in as you’re shouting. 
  7. Kids are nice once you know them for about three days. Many, many of the older boys  think that a lot of dumb things are cool and funny and awesome. Like twisting a waterbottle until the cap shoots off and then inhaling and breathing out the water vapor formed. This actually is pretty cool, but they don’t quite understand the concept of throwing away the waterbottle and the cap after using it, instead of leaving it in the grass. They drove me nuts, until I saw a couple of instances where they were being ‘normal,’ instead of trying to impress people. What I saw then impressed me, and made me be a whole lot nicer to them in future encounters.
  8. You can get a whole lot done without talking. One morning in the second week I didn’t speak to my eight girls from 8am (when I woke them up) to about 10am. Two hours in which I got them: dressed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, beds ‘made,’ up to the dining hall, fed, table cleaned, down to prayer (with skirts and head coverings on). I had to talk partway through because one wasn’t feeling well at all. They thought I’d lost my voice, and asked me, at one point, if I’d answer the priest if he asked me a really, really important question. I’m glad they don’t understand anything below a certain level of decibels, because I was talking to the priest right in front of them at breakfast. 
  9. Twelve year old girls are impossible. They need to change their shirts, pants, sunglasses, all the time. They don’t have anything to wear, despite their entire suitcase being all over the cabin floor (I don’t have any energy to make them clean it up during nap time or at bed time, when they should). The younger girls take the older girls’ example and start with the same idea.
  10. Kids have to learn to do things by themselves. Little Questioner, the seven-year-old whose grandmother stayed with us in the cabin, is one of the sunniest, happiest people I know. She also has a question for everything (“What time’s breakfast?” “Are girls swimming before boys?” “Do I need my sneakers?” “What are we doing after nap time?” “How long is church?”), despite the answer being mostly the same. If she has a water bottle in her hand and is in a room full of tables, she will ask, “Where can I put my water bottle?” I learned and implemented (sometimes not very nicely), the art of asking HER the question, or guiding her through the thought process of how to find a cup so you can drink water from the water cooler

I’m certain there were a few other things I learned, but currently these are the ten things I learned in two weeks of being a counselor at camp. Part 2 deals with what I learned while being with my father and brother at home, while my mother and sister are away at camp. It’ll show up sometime in August.

Accomplishments #9 and #10

June 30th:

– Finished Return of the King, which was great.
– Also Finished Two Towers, before Return of the King.

July 1st:
– Woke up using Sleep Cycle, which was very fun except for the factt that I stayed in bed 20 minutes over time in order to check out the graphs and such. oops!
– Cleared out my gmail inbox, which does not understand when I delete something in Mail. It’s clean. I’m happy.
– Formatted Perfume for printing.
– Formatted the One-Pass Revision by Holly Lisle into a quick checklist to refer to regularly.

 

Accomplishment #8

I cleared out my inbox and parts of my archives and parts of my folders (then stuffed foldered emails into four folders: Writing To Do (which will be deleted ASAP), Scott Young, School, College Reference). School is for Romanian literature in the public domain, and College Refreence will disappear May of next year. I cannot wait. College searching is no fun when you have to put everything on hold for two weeks. All I can do now is locate textbooks for something to do in the next few months (and that is a whole other complicated thing I tried but didn’t succeed at today, because the parents have been away all day and I find I need an older-person opinion).

Also, I read a lot of things on how to edit, in preparation for Camp-NaNo-which-will-be-called-Editing-Month. After reading all those, I figured out a ‘quick’ 13 step process that I think will work best for me. Here it is, reproduced for your benefit. (you can find all the resources I used by googling ‘how to edit a novel’ and clicking all the links on the first page, then googling ‘one-pass revision’ and using the Holly Lisle link that pops up)

1. Read through. Check for bad plot, bad storytelling, etc. Use Chuck Wendig’s two column thing for the writing and storytelling.

2. Re-outline the beast as you read. (chapter, plot, core conflict and changes, comments)

3. Have the theme, subthemes, micro summary, main character story arc, and blurb written down. Print them out, hang them somewhere where reference to them is easy.

4. Do 10 scenarios. Find the best way to tell the story.

5. Do the re-re-outline, based on one of the ten scenarios. (same as the re-outline)

6. Take a deep breath. Print out the manuscript if you’re going to print it out. If not, save the Scrivener file somewhere, back it up, and duplicate the first draft somewhere. Don’t touch the first draft).

7. Print out the One-Pass Revision checklist which you either have created or will create.

8. Begin the One-Pass Revision. Take notes in a notebook next to the computer if necessary. Keep revising. NEVER GIVE UP.

9. Having finished the one-pass-revision, you will have good scenes, lovely grammar, and pretty spelling. Few typos, also. Make it clean, now, by making sure that there’s only black text. If you do the print-out, this is the ‘type-everything-onto-the-computer’ stage. Once you’ve done that, you’ve got

9b. Fix any typos you may have made while typing up.

10. Print out again, this time in ‘book’ form (or perhaps a Kindle). Read the whole thing out loud. Fix any malingering typos or weird sentences.  fix the typos on the laptop.

11. Give the manuscript to an ‘editor’ or ‘agent’ (or very good friend you trust to critique it)

12. Make any other needed revisions suggested by the agent-editor-friend.

13. Regale in awesomeness.

Tomorrow comes the step of assigning each of these steps to a certain day in July. I’m definitely not expecting to FINISH this in July, as actual real-life camp will interfere for 14 days, but I am planning on getting at least part of this done. Wish me luck!