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Novel Progress Notes - 0201
Jewel of Eternity

None today; count for September 10 was:

New words: 1,129

Previous Total:1,129
Total wordcount: 2,372
Deadline: Too soon to say

For those of you have kindly offered to be beta-readers, I hope to post the first link tomorrow afternoon. If not tomorrow, then Saturday fer (almost) sure.

Friends Cut A'Comin'


I c'n feel that cut a'comin'
Comin' down the the line ...

Well, not people (not you!), but communities. My friends list is becoming cluttered with multiple posts by add-me posts, perverts, readers and writers and I need to slim it down. In fact, it's already started. I removed [livejournal.com profile] omg_too_soon (I think that's what it was called) this afternoon, after 1,000 too many "humourous" (yet sadly similar) 9/11 memorials), but am going to do some serious pruning in the near future. After I egotistically make use of all the "add me" communities currently polluting my friends list, of course..

* * *


Speaking of friends cuts, if one of you decide to cut me loose, and if we've actually had some significant interaction (such as back and forth comments and, er, sending me your fucking resume when you were looking for work), I'd appreciate it if you'd actually say goodbye, rather than being "discrete". Good manners means having the balls to say "you're boring/offensive/stupid/etcetera" rather than just slinking off into the darkness.

Yes, a couple of people — one of whom I've had beers with and with whom I know people in common — have done that recently and, well, it pisses me off.

Fortunately, even when drinking, I'm a civilized man and haven't email-bombed either of them, but the truth is, I've thought of it.

(If we've seldom or never interacted beyond our first friending, of course, these "rules" don't apply.)

* * *


I'm a little irritated that Layton and Harper backed down so quickly on Elizabeth May. I'd wanted to add my voice in support of her participation of the up-coming debates and now it's too late.

Phooey.

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Jewel

New words: 4,599(!)
Total wordcount: 97,936
Deadline: May 1 (possibly reached only three days late)

I think I'm done. Sort of.

Or else.

I might have another 200,000 words to go. Or 100,000. It's really hard to know.

Two nights ago, I thought my protagonists, my brilliant, (almost) impossibly brave and brilliant young heroine, was nearing the end of her journey. All I needed to do was offer a little guidance to get her there.

Last night, I wasn't so sure. Today, after more words than I think I've ever written over one session in my entire life, I am almost certain she (my (almost) impossibly brave and brilliant young heroine, has only reached the end of the first stage of her journeys, of her trials and tribulations.

The battle she won today feels like a psychological, if not necessarily a dramatic, end-point. Suddenly, what I had thought was a short, four-section novel of light-fantasy threatens (promises?) to in fact be a much bigger, 12 section trilogy.

I swear to god, I didn't intend this. I didn't want this. But "this" seems to be what has happened.

Unless I am sadly mistaken (which is certainly possible; see below), I have written a novel that will satisfy and frustrate at the same time. It feels right to end it where it has ended - a story has been told - but the story has not. It's not over. It's the first volume.

Oh shit. This really wasn't what I thought would happen. Worse, it isn't what I wanted to happen.

But I think it is what has happened.

Instead of finishing (the first draft of) a small piece of light entertainment, I've only completed the first section - of three(?) of a much longer, much more ambitious, piece of "epic" light entertainment.

Shit. SHIT. SHIT.

Had I not enjoyed so much of what I typed today, I might have been willing to give up these 4,600 words as a botch and go back to them tomorrow. But I did enjoy them.

They felt right.

And the story seemed to expand as I wrote.

So. Have I just finished my first novel in something like 20 years? Or am I only a third or so of the way through it?

I am honest to god not sure.

If I am right in thinking it's going to be a trilogy - (and Jesus god - "Jorslem was sick of following after his mother, sick of being a little boy. He was nearly 11 years old and only he, of all his old friends, had yet to be taken away by the men to learn to hunt. Only he still gathered berries and roots with his mother!

"But if he had not been called? His heart sank as he thought of his uncle Shyman, an old man who was mocked by all his friends, for he still sat with the women in their patches! Surely he would end up as a figure of mockery like that!" Ahem. A little digression, there. For the record. For my record) - and for the moment, I think I am - then I guess I can, in good conscience, avow that I have finished it tonight.

It's done.

The first draft, that is.

But the story continues. And not in the episodic way I had first (and even until Friday night) envisioned.

Shit. I think I'm writing a trilogy.

* * *

But I'm not sure.

I'm going to take tomorrow off. Off to see an optometrist. Off to monster.ca and charityvillage.ca and any other job-site I can think of; no more picking and choosing - resumes off to every job for which I might, possibly, be qualified. I don't want to lose my apartment.

And on Tuesday, I'll either start a short story, or try to jump-start the "literary" novel I talked about a couple of weeks back. Either way, I'll go a week without giving any thought to "Jewel".

And a week Tuesday, I'll print out these 97,821 words, and I will hie myself off to a patio if it's sunny, and I will read what I have wrought.

And then?

And then, Gentle Readers, whether 'tis good news or bad, I'll report back to you.
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Jewel (May 2nd, 2008):

New words: 2,063
Total wordcount: 91,944
Deadline: May 1

* * *

Jewel (today)

New words: 1,393
Total wordcount: 93,337
Deadline: May 1

* * *

I really am sorry Douglas Adams died such an untimely death.

"I am not, I should say at once, in any formal relationship with a dog. I don't feed a dog, give it a bed, groom it, find kennels for it when I'm away, delouse it, or suddenly arrange for any of its internal organs to be removed when they displease me. I do not, in short, own a dog."

- from The Salmon of Doubt
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Jewel:

New words: 1,255
Total wordcount: 87,392
Deadline: May 1

Seeing as how tomorrow is the first, I'm obviously going to miss the deadline.

Those of you (if any) paying attention will note that I've missed a few days. The novel's been giving me fits and, indeed, I had to force out today's production. Much like my characters, I feel trapped in the middle of nowhere with an uncertain road to the finish. At least, I had been. I thinkhope I've got a handle on it at last. But I seem to recall thinking the same a couple of weeks back, so who the hell knows?

Right now, I'm hating just about every word I type.

* * *

One of the dumber ideas to come down the pipe recently was something called "Open Source Booby" (google it if you want the details; I did and don't want to bother doing so again), which I know that some of you were aware of.

In a nutshell, the idea was hatched at (go figure) a comic or science fiction convention. As I understand it, the women in attendance were to wear little badges, I think there were three variants. One to say, in effect, "Yes, please grope my tits"; another saying, "Ask first"; and the third, "Hands off!"

And a whole whack of presumably desperate nerds all nodded in mutual self-congratulation at what a great idea they had, apparently never stopping to think that the vast majority of women attending an SF or comic convention are there because of their interest in the art and that they might, just maybe, not appreciate having every pimply-faced fan-boy ogling their chests even more than already occurs.

Anyway, like I said, a remarkably dumb idea and one which, as one of you pointed out in your own journal, could have come only "...from someone who doesn't perceive their place of relative power and security."

Unfortunately, to my mind, this person too that male sense of security and entitlement a step too far and also in the wrong direction, conflating statistical facts with and feelings in a destructive alliance. A longer quote is in order.

This whole Austria-incest thing has really got me thinking, and this is the thought: Women aren't safe. We aren't safe from our fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, random acquaintances, strangers. We aren't often particularly safe wrt members of our own sex, either, or gay men, or transgendered people, or anyone. And I think the whole Open Source Boob thing demonstrates, if anything, how the N. American white male dork (I guess that means all white N. American men, sorry) doesn't even remotely get the reality of constant unsafety. You guys are so safe, comparatively. Everyone else is less safe, even if sometimes we think we're safe.

Leaving aside the blanket condemnation of "all white N. American men", the larger statement simply isn't true, at least by some standards. Like being safe from murder.

According to a recent Statistics Canada report, Homicide in Canada, 2006, very nearly three quarters of the murder victims were, er, men. (And, yes, 87% of the accused murderers were also men.)

Now, I'm not (really I'm not), trying to negate the shit that women all too often have to go through while living their lives, but to say simply that "women aren't safe", from their "...fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends..." etcetera is simply wrong. The fact is, most fathers, brothers, husbands and boyfriends (&ct) are nothing at all like the Austrian guy who locked up his daughter for 20 years, and fathered (clearly, via rape; there's no question of consent in this one, folks) six or seven children by her to boot. Most men are actually no more and no less than the flawed but basically decent human beings that most women are.

Neither my mother nor my niece is "unsafe" in my presence nor, as a number you, Gentle Readers, can at attest to from personal experience, if only provisionally.

The point being, people aren't statistics. People are individuals. While most murderers are men, in actual fact, most men are not murderers. And most individual fathers and brothers are actually people in whose company most individual daughters and sisters are safe.

The problem with murder is murderers, not men; the problem with rape isn't men, it's men who rape; the problem with the drunken lout who beat the shit out of me a couple of winters ago isn't men, it's that particular drunken lout.

Ultimately, none of us are completely safe. And yes, statistically, a man is more likely to kill you than is a woman. But we are not statistics and neither are the people in our lives. We are individuals and we live and interact with other individuals.

All right. Enough ranting. Onwards.

* * *

Sunday actually saw me out of the house for a change!

I got a call from my brialliant and beautiful ex, Siya, reminding me that Sunday was the last day of Soundeye, an exhibition of film and music she had been involved in organizing.

And so I hoped on my trusty bicycle and navigated the remarkably crowded downtown streets (if any of you drive a car, you should pray to each and every god/goddess you have for The Toronto Transit Commission!) until I reached the University of Toronto's Hart House.

And soon found myself "volunteering" to stick around until 8:00, when a feature film on Chinese rock and roll was to be presented. Without sub-titles.

So I had my first experience as an "interpreter", speaking into a microphone as I tried my best to provide translations for a film I'd never seen.

Now, I don't speak a word of Chinese, Mandarin or the other one, so I was utterly dependent on Siya's laptop, which contained a typescript, along with the number of seconds each section occupied.

But even so ...

Even so, I think I did a decent job, given the circumstances. Towards the end of the first half (there were two of us who had been dragooned into doing it) I was getting fairly good at the timing. But still, "translating" something when you don't actually have any idea of what's been said is not an entirely comfortable experience.

But I'm very glad I did it. I miss hearing my dulcet tones through a microphone.

* * *

What the hell, I'll make it public.

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination in the States (and, until today, I thought Obama had it wrapped up) is going to get creamed by John McCain.

Believe me, it gives me no pleasure to say this, but I think we're looking at a landslide not seen since Nixon's second victory back in 1972. Between the divisive Democratic race and a significant number of voters who, in the secrecy of the ballot booth, won't be able to vote for either a black man or a white woman, I fear it's a lock. Worse, I fear McCain is only just enough smarter than Bush to be able to competently lead the US down the Bush path of bloodshed and economic suicide.

* * *

To comfort myself, I'm going to shortly (as how else?) sack out on the couch and see if Montreal can figure out how to win a fucking hockey game whilst stroking my kitty.

And by "kitty", you pervs, I mean my cat, who deserves no end of praise, come to think of it! I awoke this morning to find a dead mouse by his litter-box. And my father keeps bitching about the feline ...
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Jewel:

New words: 766
Total wordcount: 86,137
Deadline: May 1
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Jewel:

New words: 861
Total wordcount: 79,161
Deadline: May 1

Don't even ask. A very frustrating day.
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Jewel:

New words: 1,053
Total wordcount: 78,300
Deadline: May 1

* * *


Yes, there's a (working) title on the above entry, and will be from here on in. The reason? I think I'm about to start a second novel and - if so - will be keeping a similar word-count. Rest assured that "Jewel" will have first priority on my writing time until it's finished, but I'd like to keep track of "Use Me" from the get-go.

Where Jewel is intended to be strictly a fun fantasy, Use Me looks look being a so-called "serious" psychological novel, probably with pornographic undertones and hopefully of some sociological and political significance - Jane Austen better watch out! Or else only a self-indulgent cri de coeur that, maybe, will appeal to "chick-lit" aficionados, if from the distaff side.

* * *


Last night's game between Montreal and Boston was marvellous hockey. Though the final score was only 1-0 (happily - very happily! - in favour of les Canadiens, it was everything hockey should be. Fast-paced, with end-to-end action, lots of scoring chances, excellent goal-tending and lots of (mostly clean) body-checking.

What a beautiful sport.

Edit:

Use Me:

New words: 550
Total wordcount: 550
Deadline: None yet
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New words: 910
Total wordcount: 77,247
Deadline: May 1

Memo to self: Don't let your heroine do any more boozing. She really doesn't know how to handle it.
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New words: 1,617
Total wordcount: 73,740
Deadline: May 1

Yes, another fallow period. And truth to tell, I hated almost every word I wrote tonight/this morning. And my schedule's an utter mess.

On the upside of the things, les Canadiens won a game they probably shouldn't have and the 2nd episode of this season's Doctor Who was quite a bit better than the first. And BSG seems to be on a good track.

All right. Some breakfast/supper, and then to bed.
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New words: 1,072
Total wordcount: 72,123
Deadline: May 1

It was as if my subconscious went off on a week-long vacation following my last, triumphant, progress note. For the past week, I'd fire up the machine, stare at the screen until the emptiness became too much, then shut down the word-processor in favour of a game or a movie. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Today's 1,000+ words didn't flow, but at least they came. My heroine is still in the same bar and I am still not sure how she is going to leave it, but last night my imagination began to play again and I think I see some kind of light at the exit.

The thing has structured itself in four parts, I see that now, and I have at least a vague idea of how the final one needs to happen. Will happen. Should happen. Something like that.

All right. I know. I'm babbling.

* * *


Speaking of babbling, last night I had the strangest transportation-related dream it has ever been my pleasure to experience. I speak, of course, of long-distance skateboarding. Y'see, I created a new way to locomote on the thing: crouching on the board with my feet splayed so that I could use my toes to keep myself in motion. I was half-way to Sudbury before I woke up and realized just how anotomically impossible it was. Dreams are funny things, yessirree Bob.
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New words: 2,392
Total wordcount: 71,061
Deadline: May 1

"'Oh my,' said Amanda McHugh'."

Oh my indeed. Yes, I got to the fight scene, after adding some dialogue to what I'd done yesterday - the better (I hope) to set it up - and even got all the way through it. It was less violent than I had expected - no one died, no one even broke a bone - and there was less talking, but it was funnier than anything that's come thus far, or at least the aftermath was.

Typing The quote with which I opened this entry cracked me up, just as did a dream I had very early on in the writing of this novel.

I think I'm finally finding the light-hearted voice I'm been striving for since the beginning. Excitement and adventure, yes; danger and fear, yes; a little romance, sort of - the sidekick really has to step up if he thinks she's ever gonna kiss him again; but also comedy - and I think I've managed it at last.

I'm fairly certain now that the first draft will run about 100,000 words, which means I'm 70% of the way there. May 1st is starting to seem like a realistic target if I can keep up this pace.

And then, I fear the rewriting will have to be massive. Even without having read it, I am aware of plot-holes, inconsistencies and, especially, that there the auctorial voice is not consistent.

But all in all, I'm feeling damned fine about the project right now.
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New words: 1,998
Total wordcount: 68,769
Deadline: May 1

Who knew it would take nearly another 2,000 words just to get to the start of the conflict? I want to carry on - Amanda has left her sword on the floor above and dozen angry Elves have just cornered her - but I'm tired and need to take a break. But I don't know, I can't wait to get to the next scene. And this weird thing of liking my work as I write it makes me nervous. Aren't writers supposed to hate their stuff while they're working on it?
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New words: 3,782
Total wordcount: 66,771
Deadline: May 1

Today's session was a strangely frustrating one, despite the nearly 4,000 word count. You see, last night while I was trying to get to sleep, an important, possibly pivotal - and certainly exciting - scene came into my head and I couldn't wait to get to it today.

Unfortunately, yesterday I had left my heroine quite a ways from the River's Inn and her upcoming bar-room battle with a band of malleavalent Elf-like creatures. And so it was that, just as my heroine and her not-entirely reliable companion had a long walk ahead of them before that scene, so too did the author have to struggled through nearly 4,000 words to get her to that scene.

And so it, she and I must all wait until tomorrow for that confrontation ...

* * *

Because today is supposed to be Earth Hour, a "consciousness-raising" environmental event with which I imagine most of you are least vaguely familiar.

If not, the idea is that all of us are supposed to turn off our lights, our teevees and our computers, thereby apparently somehow "taking a stand against climate change."

I suppose it's possible that this sort of stunt really does cause some people who might not already have done so to give some thought to climate change and all that that implies for both human suffering and what may well turn out to be a major global die-back - a genuine eco-catastrophe. And I suppose more people thinking about the state of the world can't be anything but a good thing.

But (and apologies to the Globe and Mail's delightfully ascerbic television columnist John Doyle, who said similar things earlier in the week), I'll be cracking the last of my beers and watching the Habs versus the Leafs come Earth Hour this fine evening.

Frankly people, my ecological footprint is about as small as a Westerner's can get. I usually remember to turn off my (now mostly harsh, energy-saving) lights when they're not in use. I use a power bar so that my television, vcr and stereo aren't burning electricity when they are idle; I don't eat much meat and try to buy local produce; I'm even more than pretty good about recycling.

More important, I live in a city, not a suburb, I don't own a car and seldom rent, and most of my local transportation is done with my feet or through the use of a 30 year-old bicycle.

This Earth Hour thing reminds of me an email I received from various well-intentioned people after 9/11, when a bunch of well-intentioned nobs thought that if everyone in North America went out into the streets in front of their homes holding candles, that somehow that would "send the terrorists" a message.

Give me a break. Whatever you think of Al Qaeda's goals or methods, what they want is for the West to get the hell out of the Middle East. (Yes, I'm over-simplifying things; work with me, people.)

And whatever you think about global climate change, turning off your machines for an hour on an arbitrary Saturday night is not going to do a bit of good.

Off the top of my head, here's a brief list of things that actually might do some good. And note that almost all of them require as a first step that we get involved in the ugly, frustrating and slow-moving business of politics.

  • Stop driving your car, unless you absolutely have to;

  • don't buy a car, unless you absolutely need one;

  • vote for a government that will impose a carbon tax with teeth;

  • stop building new suburbs

  • stop building new highways that subsidize those suburbs;

  • stop buying crap you don't actually need;

  • buy locally-grown food when possible, especially organic; and

  • generally think about the long-term impact of everything we do.

Yes, it's a tall order. Yes, I personally could (and should) be doing more than I am. But for god sake's don't tell me that I "must" take part in some essentially meaningless feel-good ritual.

As a post-script, David Suzuki himself just appeared on the screen giving hockey fans special dispensation to keep their sets burning during the game. Probably a politically astute move, but the larger logic escapes me.

Fuck it. They're about to drop the puck. Go Habs Go!
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New words: 2,303
Total wordcount: 62,994
Deadline: May 1
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New words: 3,626
Total wordcount: 60,691
Deadline: May 1
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Saturday was one for recovery and little else. No progress. Today, on the other hand, was better, though I am once again doubting the story's latest turn. But we shall see (or I shall).

New words: 1,711
Total wordcount: 57,065
Deadline: May 1

Other than that, I have little to say that wouldn't bore me almost as much as it would you.
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I have little to relate, other than than I've been in a funk and have behaved foolishly a couple of times in the bast week, and that last night's dreams were filled with anticipation about the upcoming start of Battlestar Galactica's fourth season. Sure, there was some kind of plot to the dream, and even a number of old friends made an appearance, but it was the Season 4 finale that made for the climax.

Anyway, I'm stealing (with modifications) the following chart from matociquala, even though she doesn't know I'm alive - nor does she have any reason to.

Progress notes for 21 March 2008

New words: 1323
Total wordcount: 55347
Deadline: May 1

I am now guesstimating the first draft will clock in at around 100,000 words, which I suspect will be chopped by 40% come the first revision.

Thursday, I felt really good about where things were going, felt I was beginning to see the underlying structure and dramatic narrative. Today, less sure, but plugging on optimistically. There have been moments over the past week when the writing was an actual joy, as elements became clear almost as if I was the writer and not the reader. Today though, the air has grown foggy and I was feeling my way through the miasma.

Still. 1323. I'll live with it.

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