June 10 Row80 update

10 06 2012

It’s Sunday again, already. Last week was insane, with three days of symphony auditions (I was on the judging side of the screen), most of one day spent hanging out with a close friend, a 100-mile roundtrip to meet Irene Preston (Sally Driscoll was there, too), and yesterday I was so tired that I was wondering if my sleep apnea was acting up again. Today I’m back to normal, so I guess that wasn’t it.

I can’t find my list of row80 goals. Perhaps being better organized should be on the list for round 3! (Starting July 2, oh my!)

The house looks like a bomb hit it. In my defense, I spent much of last week exhausted, shell-shocked, battle-weary. The symphony season ended on a high note, and now a vast expanse of four months with no symphony work stretches before me. Said four-month period will also be hellishly hot (90-105F/32-40C), severely limiting outdoor activities. Thank heavens for iced tea with mint! I’m grateful for this free (read: unpaid) time to work on the book and my other business… and it’s also enough time for me to (hopefully) establish the life habits that fell by the wayside in the last two weeks.

Okay, enough with the excuses. Better life habits were down the drain for me, but that will change, immediately.

Creativity abounds. No, really! 5532 words. I started working on my synopsis of His Original Sin. I ended up Macro Editing as I wrote my synopsis (a term I hadn’t heard until I read this blogpost by Jody Hedlund), which was big fun. Here’s Jody on macro editing (my bolding):

I like to refer to the macro edit stage as rewriting. I think the term sufficiently sums up the entire process, which involves analyzing the big picture elements of our stories and rewriting, adding, or deleting major parts in order to make the story more appealing to readers.

It’s that adding/deleting/rearranging that I was doing. The rewriting is coming next, after I finish writing all the scenes. Oy. It seems that I had some kind of row80 goal that the first draft be finished this round. Three more weeks? I think I can do it.

I’ve also added a page to this website, a preliminary blurb about my WIP, His Original Sin. It’s linked above – let me know what you think of it, if you wish. I’d like to add a pic or two to the page, but since I haven’t even begun to think about the cover art, it will have to wait.





Row80 update 6/3/12: I’ve been bad!

3 06 2012

Sort of, that is. Last Sunday I simply couldn’t bring myself to write an update for row80. I had company, so I gave myself permission to skip a week.

To recap the last two weeks: two weekends of amazing concerts, one with our usual guy, the other with the amazing Cristian Maselaru, who stepped in at the last minute for Alondra de la Parra. I would make a comment on the orchestra’s reaction to the substitution, but let’s just say that we can’t wait to see Cristian again.

As far as creative goals, they are blossoming. Here’s my word count.

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: 5/13-5/19: 6611 

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: 5/20-5/26: 933

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: 5/27-6/2: 3416 

Again, it’s obvious when I had company. Late last week I started working on my synopsis, so much of the 34k words was on that. In writing the synopsis I’ve inadvertently done a large amount of plotting and macro editing – I don’t know how many words/scenes I’ve ditched in the meantime, but I’m sure that the WIP’s 116k has been trimmed significantly. I’m aiming for 85k total (and yes, I pulled that total out of my behind), and I’m 90% settled on a title: HIS ORIGINAL SIN. The macro editing has resulted in more shaping of the complete manuscript, with inserted ‘Soliloquies’ in the voice of a couple of important characters. It’s turning into an opera, with the Intermezzi and Entr’actes. Oh! Maybe I should stick with the opera meme and call them ‘Arias’. Hmmm…

My other creative work is at a standstill: no knitting, no mask-making, no practicing. That last bit will change this week. More on that another time.

In the Better Life Habits category, I’ve averaged 112-115 minutes of walking per week. That’s not enough, but given that it’s already summer in South Texas (and bloody HOT), I’m more-or-less satisfied with this. I’m looking into other exercise programs for the summer, after encountering a retired female neighbor who has abs of steel. Me?

Abs of flab. Ahem.

As far as generic household habits, they are coming along much better. Sort of. Actually, it varies from day to day.

Social Media = FAIL.

I missed last week’s check in, I didn’t write a third blogpost (though I have a backlog of Tuesday quotes posts, so I’m keeping up with that.) Between the end of the symphony season, my guest, and the dog being sick (she’s better), I let blogging slide. I did have a last-minute meetup with Ali Dent last week, so my 1x/month get together with writer friends happened, even though we thought it wouldn’t. Yes! And there are plans for more meetups in June, stay tuned for that. My plan is to finish the synopsis and get it to my writing partners for their critique, then finish the first draft – I have a few more scenes to write. Then comes printing out the WIP, and doing a major edit/re-write. My goal? Have it ready for beta readers in August.





Inventing Characters

18 05 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

 

Exhibit A: Barry Douglas.

  1. Who is Barry Douglas, this guy from Northern Ireland with two first names? (He was our guest soloist/conductor two weeks ago. Please take the time to check out his website here.)
  2. And what does he have to do with inventing characters? (See below!)

Guest artists are a bit of a crap shoot. We musicians often suggest conductors and soloists to management – many of us play in other orchestras during the summer, and if someone makes a strong artistic impression, whether as a conductor or guest soloist, we are likely to bring them up to management. But it’s not our call who gets hired. That is a management priority, in consultation with the Music Director or Artistic Advisor. This is true all over the orchestral world. We staff musicians come to work, and deal with whatever management has cooked up for us. Sometimes it’s life-changing, other times… not.

Barry Douglas at the Piano

Barry Douglas at the Festival des Nuits Romantiques du Lac du Bourget à Aix-les-Bains – 2011

In the case of Douglas, we thought he was terrific. He’s the yin to our Music Director’s yang: his low-key rehearsal style was a breath of fresh air, as our Music Director is all sweaty intensity in rehearsal. Douglas was unfailingly polite, while our guy ripped a section of the orchestra a new one just this past Tuesday. Our Music Director can get carried away in performance, leaving us stranded, but Douglas kept his head. That’s one thing that I wish more conductors realized – we need them to remain somewhat apart from the emotion of the music, so they can be there for us, to help us when things go sideways, which they do from time to time. And things are more likely to come apart when the conductor doesn’t stay present, because that’s when they make mistakes. But I digress…

I listened to the concerto both nights, with Douglas conducting from the piano, and was mesmerized by the performance. At the piano, Douglas’ Mozart interpretation was unapologetically Romantic, and he drew a brilliant, yet silky sound from the Symphony’s grand piano (which usually sounds like heck). I was moved by the performance, and I liked how the orchestra sounded under his direction… if you can call it that. Far from the usual ‘conductor as metronomic time-keeper’, at times it was as though he was doing Tai Chi, hurling bolts of energy at the orchestra. I loved it! You never knew what was coming next, and that kept you on your toes. No sleeping through this Haydn symphony! It was straight-up collaboration – chamber music – rather than someone standing up in front of the orchestra, waving his/her arms around to impress the rubes in the box seats. (And yes, that definitely happens!)

If you checked out his website above, you know that he was the second non-Russian to win the Gold Medal in the Tchaikovsky competition outright, in 1986 – Van Cliburn was the first, in 1956. I bet you recognize Van Cliburn’s name, dont’cha? And I bet you’d recognize Douglas’ name, if he was an American. Such is the spin machine in the US – all you have to do is watch the coverage of the Olympics. If there’s not an American within medaling range, you don’t get to see the sport. But I digress (once again).

Barry Douglas and Van Cliburn before the judging of the 2011 Tchaikovsky contest. Douglas was on the jury.

As I sat in the hall, listening to the concerto, a thought occurred to me. Here’s this man: friendly, approachable, not an ounce of attitude or ego, Tchaikovsky contest winner, amazing musician, damned good-looking… and even though I have over thirty years in the music business, I’d not heard of him. He’s been living his life, traveling all over the world, playing concerts for decades, while I have made music here in Texas, and our lives intersected the first week of May, 2012.

Besides wondering how many other fascinating people are out there just waiting to be discovered, it occurred to me that when we writers encounter interesting people we may put them on the page, drawing forth details from our imagination a story at a time. We look for inspiration everywhere, and when we find it, we chew on it, toss it in a boiling pot or a quiet pond, and see what it becomes. I could easily conjure Douglas’ doppelganger if I had need for a concert pianist in a story/poem/novel. Take the talent, the looks, even some of the history (make sure that the character you invent is significantly different from the person in real life!) then go for broke: add in a couple of quirky habits, or a wandering eye, or a history of DUI. Bingo – I have the beginnings of a tale I can tell. That’s what we writers do – we invent remarkable people, give them problems, and stand back to see what they do on the page, how they react. Once I learned of a real life college professor, a scientist, a tall man, who had endured tragedy in his life. That was all I needed to come up with the seed that became Steven Canelli, the protagonist in my current work in progress. In the end, they are so different that no one would ever connect Canelli with that other man, the one who’s story grabbed my attention and didn’t let go. Even if that man were to read my book, he would have no inkling that his life inspired the tale.

What larger than life people have you been privileged to meet? What about them surprised you? Have you been inspired to riff on someone’s famous (or not so famous) persona, to flesh out a work in progress? Let me know in the comments!





In Which I Become Productive: Row80 update

13 05 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

This has been a week. Well, yes, that’s true. More than that, it’s been a week that went from OMG to YESS!

Last Sunday I finally got on board with the whole Row80/blogging thing, and it solidified my Social Media preferences. That is, I’m a Blogger. Not a Tweeter, or a Facebooker. I went to the Row80 homepage, and took the time to actually read and comment on a good number of blogs, and while that could have deep-sixed my email (I subbed to all the comment threads!), I kept that window open and was diligent with scanning and deleting comment emails. I discovered that the blogging community means the most to me, and is more to my taste than Twitter. As far as Facebook, I’m keeping my personal FB for friends (including my writer friends, yay!), and eventually, when I get to the point of publishing something, I’ll go with an author fan page. Yes, I found Row80 and other writing friends on Twitter, and will still be there from time to time, but for now, I think that blogging is where it’s at for me.

So, on Sunday I was on the computer for hours – FUN hours. Then work started to intervene. Let’s just say that rehearsals this past week were pretty hellish, and though I played well (mostly), it was damned stressful. Beer helped, specifically the new Shiner brew: Wild Hare. I’ve been alcohol-free for months, but this brew made the week go better. Now that the 6-pack is gone, I’ll get back to my teetotaling days. My stomach acid is relieved (but wishes I’d also deep-six the coffee. Oy.)

Then came Friday, and my muse put her feet back on the ground and started running. 1,100 words, in a scene that I may use. Not sure yet. Because yesterday I fired up Scrivener (which I love with a mad, passionate, and completely inappropriate love) and printed out all my chapters and scene headings. While I’m still not convinced that my WIP is one novel (as opposed to, say, THREE), I went to Starbucks with the file, and organized it into three acts (including three intermezzos and two entr’actes). That took over two hours. When I got home I fired up Scrivener on the iMac once again, and re-arranged the file per my earlier work.

With that, I’ve taken my writing to another level. You see, it’s been driving me absolutely crazy that I hadn’t settled on the shape of the story. I’d written scenes from my protag’s entire life, and there was no way that anyone would buy a chronological book of that magnitude. I hadn’t determined where to begin, and how to incorporate some earlier scenes (if at all), and it had me in knots. I knew that I’d eventually figure it out – though I may not have it completely figured out just yet – and you cannot imagine the relief I feel.

Until last night.

I woke up several times, reminded of scenes that I’d intended to write, that seemed to be quite important to the novel, but wouldn’t fit into this structure. Ahem. But I’m not back to square one. Maybe square three. The important thing is that I have a huge smile on my face. This is such FUN!

Onward to my goals.

This week has been a bust in the Better Life Habits department. Too much stress, too little concentration. In addition to my work stress, my Mom had a lumpectomy on Thursday (she’s fine, just waiting on the final pathology report. Looks like Stage 1 and five days of radiation therapy), my Dad is having an angiogram on Monday (he had three stents in ’03, I’m hoping they’ll just put in a couple more, versus bypass surgery). They are 81 and 82, respectively, and in excellent health, except for the above. All this has affected my sleep – I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep. That’s very unusual for me. I’ve walked some, but I live in Texas, and the recent rain and storms put a dent in that (though we really need the rain!). The house is not spotless, and won’t be for a while. Oh. Well.

My Creativity is flourishing, as above. Too much music-making to do any knitting – it’s too hard on my hands. I’ll get back to that soon enough.

Social Media goals are working out well, as above, though I’m not going to meet with my writer friends this month. We are all too busy – or rather, when one of us is free, the other two are busy. June, for sure!

I’m adding a second blogpost series, Tuesdays will be for quotes that spark something in me. I inadvertently started that last week, with my post on the Cambrian Shoreline. I’ve got to get cracking on Tuesdays’ entry in the series, because I’ll be with my parents all day Monday… and Tuesday is full of (stressful) work.

Oh, and here’s a fabulous link for writers. Raelyn Barclay’s current Row80 update has a great link to Jami Gold’s post on Scenes and Sequels that you must read. Oh, and cute pics of Raelyn’s family’s three new members, Sonic, Neptune, and Poseidon. Squee! So cute!





Row80 update May 6, 2012

6 05 2012

Cinco de Mayo is behind us, and a great and fun week at the symphony has been put to bed. More on that this next week.

Concerning my Row80 goals – once again, it’s a mixed bag. I had my frequent house guest, and between that fun and work, the beds didn’t get made! The one thing that I’m bitchin’ with is the walking – I walked every day, mostly 30+ minutes, even though the heat is ramping up here in South Texas. The bathroom is still a science experiment. I’m grateful that my guest didn’t mind!

Last Sunday I wrote over 1800 words… then didn’t write another the rest of the week. This is not okay with me… and will change this week! I spent a lot of time on Social Media on Sunday, and continue to read blogposts and comment. I feel good about that.

I was supposed to write a non-row80 blogpost last week. As you can see, I didn’t. However, I have 2 posts in mind for this week, and they will  be accomplished!

I have been practicing, mostly due to necessity. I have some big parts to play in the next two weeks, and would like my stress level to be as low as possible. Right now it’s off the charts. By the time we get to the concerts, all will be well.

I started a new knitting project – a mohair cardigan – and am almost finished with a very generously-sized gauge swatch. I have no idea if I’ve “gotten gauge”, but the fabric is so wonderfully light and airy that I don’t care if I end up knitting another gauge swatch, or two before actually getting to the sweater. The wool scarf that I started a while back is on the back burner for now. As I’ve mentioned before, I have creative ADHD. I have a gorgeous AVL weaving loom that I’ve been trying to sell for some time to no avail. However, the weaving bug may be biting again, so I guess it’s a good thing that I haven’t sold it yet!

I haven’t done anything toward learning mask-making, even with inspiration like this.

I still haven’t managed to schedule a meet up with any local writer tweeps for May – we’re all so busy!





A successful week: Row80 update

29 04 2012

I feel a sense of satisfaction, glancing over my list of Row80 goals. I’m happy with my progress in almost every area under Better Life Habits, so much so that I’m adding a couple of other goals.

While I haven’t been religious about walking every single day, I’m well on my way to establishing the following habits: turning off lights, making my bed, shutting cabinet doors, having a clean kitchen sink, so I’m adding the following: keeping the bathroom clean, and brushing the dog 1x/week. My canine is a miniature poodle, so brushing her is essential… and I’m a bad doggy mom. I let her go, and then it’s a huge chore when I get around to it… which is a task that I’m still putting off. TODAY, Ms. Blossom – I promise! I’m sick of the science experiment that is my bathroom, oy. Enough said, or perhaps too much.

Creatively, I’m now officially unblocked! As I blogged two days ago, I had a major realization, and the ideas (if not the words) are flowing again. Yay! Unfortunately, I haven’t been practicing, knitting, or starting on the mask-making project, because I’ve been rather out of control re: Facebook, Tiny Wings, and Stoneloops of Jurassica. And instead of finishing my scarf, I’m thinking of starting on a sweater. Or a weaving project. I must have creative ADD.

I posted a non-Row80 blogpost (linked above) this week, and have another planned for next week (yay), this is my Sunday check in. I’ve been on Twitter and reading blogs, and did the monthly get-together with local writer tweeps. Come to think of it, we need to schedule one for May.

Next week will be more of a challenge, because my houseguest will be back on Tuesday for 5 days. I hope I can have some boundaries with her, and get some stuff done while she’s here. I know she’ll understand – and she has a couple of projects to work on, too.

Row80 is turning out to be a positive thing for me, this time around. Last time my health issues got the better of me, but that is more or less in the past, and I’m looking forward to the next several months. Except for the temperature part. Summer is tough here in South Texas.

How are you doing, at the end of April? Have you made Row80 or New Years’ Goals that you’re struggling with? What are your success stories?





Quit Resisting the Muse!

27 04 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

 

The past several weeks have been, for all practical purposes, novel-writing free. As you might remember, I received a sleep apnea diagnosis a while back, and have now completed two months of treatment using a CPAP machine. I’m finally feeling mostly better, having more energy. If I wasn’t superstitious I’d say that I’m over the hump.

:::knocks on wood:::

Most weeks I’d barely managed 1,000 words, and that mostly blogposts, some weeks were a big, fat zero. Then on April 22nd I knocked out over 2,100. What happened? I stopped trying to tell my muse what’s what, that’s what!

I have been trying to hog-tie my (now 116,000+ word) novel into something that made three-act sense. I was looking for that opening scene, that inciting incident which would hook the reader into reading something that I hoped would be around 85,000 words. And it wasn’t working. I was blocked up, unable to move until I figured out where the heck to begin.

Then on Sunday morning, in the shower, my muse hit me over the head. (She has a way of jumping me when I least expect it).

“Just write the damned thing! Tell this man’s story! Damn the word count! We’ll figure it out later!”

Um, yeah. By the time I had dried my hair, I had the beginnings of three new scenes begging to be put on paper, and was ENTHUSED about writing again.

Today? I’m all WTH if it turns into a 210,000 word-trilogy. I’m unblocked, and writing better than ever.

And… I found a website with a novel-writing system that really appeals to me: the Snowflake System.

 

I’m going to take that out for a walk today, going through the steps for this particular novel, and fitting in the scenes that I’ve already written as I find them. Then I’m going to finish this novel, and self-publish it.








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