Only A Fool Would Agree

fool

I’m almost afraid to tackle this one. Maybe I should do the math today instead of tomorrow to avoid the pressure.

I began 1000 days of daily writing on August 13th 2007. That was 1750 days ago. My original goal date was May 9th, 2010. I am almost two years late, but I am done. It’s hard to know how proud to be of this particular ending. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy and satisfied in many ways. I just can’t help but wonder what might have come out of 1750 days of consecutive writing instead of my near every-other-day reality.

I suspect it may not have been that much better. That’s not sour grapes. I think despite the later than expected completion I’ve put in about as much effort as I could have along the way. When I started I had three kids under four; I now have four kids over four. I also have one less dog, two more dogs and one more cat. I picked the eight o’clock hour to write which became school drive time and the oldest dog’s favorite time to eat and poop. I can’t blame him; developed similar habits. I started in one office alone and ended in an entirely different office which I share. These aren’t anywhere near as bad as being stricken with cancer or losing a limb, but they were niggling enough that they took a toll.

I took some breaks. I forgot occasionally. And sometimes I said, “Fuck it.” Those are the only days I regret.

There are more than a few standout efforts I like. Hartwhile, Shanty, Benhá, Grumphook, Malachi, Pixies, Terminus, Crainewood, and Bringer come to mind for threads. (There would be more if I looked.) Fanboy, dialogue pairs, 20 minutes, and 10 plots for craft.

I’m glad I took the time to play a bit with the second person. I’m glad I found some comfort in if not much success from learning about structures. I’m glad I played with maquettes. I’m glad I’ve developed a repository of pictures to inspire me. I’m glad I can use a picture to write something new I never planned to write thirty seconds before I saw it. I’m glad I could come back from breaks. I’m glad I practiced planning ahead for known outages. I’m glad I made one submission.

I wish I had learned to write for sixty whole minutes. I wish I had learned to stick with something longer than I did. I wish I had submitted more. I wish I had tried harder with first person. I wish the same of present tense. I wish I had developed a following. I wish I had written more non-fictionally. I wish I had found a thousand words a day rhythm. I wish I’d learned to be better at editing.

What happens now?

I don’t know. I’ve actively avoided thinking about the answer to that obvious question. Pointless question.

I don’t expect to stop writing, but I don’t know how I can continue in the haphazard manner I’ve been carrying on these past years. I want to do more, but I want to do much differently than I have been. I want to account for plotting time, planning time, research and thinking. I want to do something which values that kind of effort in the pursuit of a goal. I want to take a break. I don’t want to feel guilty for not creating. I want to feel compelled to write each time I do.

If I had to be concrete. If I had to start something new and different and the same on Tuesday the 1001th, I’d say that I now write at night. That I have one or two threads I can alternate between. I’d say that my week has a rhythm; not my days. I’d say there were monthly and/or quarterly goals. I’d say I bring in a partner of sorts—someone to regularly discuss my work with. A manager. I’d say there would be a checklist.

Shit.

That sounds much harder than 1000 days. That doesn’t sound like a break. That sounds like something only a fool would agree to.

Photo courtesy of boxlace.

690 words on day 999

Therefore…but

Therefore-Buts…

She comes in looking for more water but leaves having escaped a rape and getting her district’s water ration reduced.

Five options:
1) Therefore she determines to break into the pumping station to rig the timers, but she needs a magician who can hack the timers.

2) Therefore she determines to sell a family heirloom to bribe the mayordomo for more water, but he’s greedy and what she brings isn’t enough.

3) Therefore she goes to the mayordomo’s home to ransom him, but she finds him dead upon her arrival.

4) Therefore she must talk down an angry mob of her fellow Bel Avi upon returning home, but the city guard arrive to impose martial law before she can calm them down.

5) Therefore she determines to steal water from neighboring district, but discovers that district has been obliterated.

6) Therefore she shadows the mayordomo hoping to find blackmail material, but she’s caught and captured while snooping by the rapist guard.

162 words on day 947

In

If you read 1000 Days daily and in order you know that I posed a question at the end of yesterday’s post. Maybe it was rhetorical or maybe it was more of a public wonderment and not exactly a question, but I have an answer. I’m in.

Contingent upon not being in if I feel like it later or if I want to add more plots to the stable.

Doing this the way I want may necessitate some changes in how I qualify daily writing here at 1000 Days. There will be times I need to construct the plot and that may not seem much like writing to you or even I, but it will seem as such to end-of-day-desperate Doug.

I’m off to do some of that now.

127 words on day 682

Unbelievably Loose Plans for Writing in 2011

I think I made an unstated goal to complete some writing and to submit it this year. If I didn’t I should have. Since there isn’t enough time left in the year for me to accomplish this now—I’m being realistic—I suppose I’ll adopt it as an official 2011 goal.

The lameness of submitting a single piece in an entire year strikes me as skimpy. I expect it strikes you this way as well, so let’s call it three submissions in 2011. Tentatively one every four months. I’ve not given thought to the scope of these three things, so, for now, I’ll commit to three somethings. Maybe a short story. Maybe a magazine article. Maybe an electronic short on Kindle or Nook—whatever their new publishing gimmick is.

135 words on day 611

100 Plots in 100 Days?

Over the weekend—or Friday—I came up with a new exercise. An exercise intended to work writing muscles I hope I have but haven’t explored deeply. So far, these exercises have been sentence level. This is a good level for me to be sure, but I think I need to consider broader skills. Obviously I don’t have the time to write tens of novels to finally arrive at a publishable one. I don’t even seem to have the time to write short stories. What if I condensed the effort to just writing plot outlines? I could use the standard screenplay three (or four) act structure to hit plot points then be done with the day.

Frighteningly this exercise lit upon me in the form of an indelible phrase: 100 plots in 100 days. Also, I thought, that might be a great way to kick off the new year. The third phrase that came to mind,”What the fuck?”, dogged the first two across the daisy-covered hills of my brain. Possibly I could amend this to 100 plot points in 100 days?

188 words on day 590

Independent Clauses and the Commas That Separate Them

Benhá loiters in my thoughts. That story paces back and forth in a single small antechamber of creation. I need to get the door to the next room open soon. For now I’ll leave it to wear out the carpet on it’s own. I’ve got something else in store for today—something new.

I came across and educational, training, and coaching technique in conversation over the weekend. Like the karate kid you repeat succinct actions. Once you’ve iterated those actions sufficiently you move on to other core skills—repeating those until exhausted as well. Or alternatley building on the initial actions. If you trained at piano you might start with two notes over and over then move on to another pair of notes or add a third to the first pair.

My version of this—if I can find a quick resource—will be to practice one of the appropriate uses of commas: seperating two independant clauses joined with a conjunction.

The car careered off the road, and Lonnie was thrown across the backseat into the armrest.

  • Charming slipped the touris under a stack of shirts so they didn’t blow away, but Jun-kata didn’t pick them up.
  • Brother Gane dropped his flit to the scant pad atop [the leaf] as he had less than twenty years before, but touching down didn’t make him feel better to be back.
  • Independant clause, conjunction to another independant clause.
  • I would usually write this as two sentences, but I could write this as one.
  • The music played, but no one danced.
  • She smoothed the raised words on her thigh with her thumb, but they wouldn’t receed.
  • This wasn’t as many entires as I’d hoped I’d have today, but I can always write more tomorrow.

302 words on day 537

Three-minute Drill Inception

The one-minute drills worked well last night. I’m tempted to try them again this morning in lieu of trying to hard. Or to count something as writing that really isn’t.

Let’s try a variation on the 0ne-minute drill. Let’s take the time up to three minutes. Enough time that I cannot be saved by the bell exactly.

Robert stepped into the drug store. Crider Family Drug never bussled with activity. On Wednesday afternoons when the school down the street let out ten minutes early it could be said to be busy. But it was never a loud place. Today, now, it was uneasily quiet. Robert drew his weapon and loosed the saftey.

Spring water damped the soil and wetted the moss. It rose through the fissures of granite from an underground stream. It dripped and ran to a bowl and collected to a clear clean sink of the iciest water you might imagine. When the volume crested the downhill…

Dogs barked everywhere. They barked in my dreams. They barked in the apartment over. They barked in the apartment across the hall. They barked in the alley below. Everywhere. Something oily slipped over the edge of the roof and ran like slime down the brick and in through the open window. I watch it bubble over the sill and into my room.

Gail settled her hand onto Greg’s knee like the final leaf fallen from a winter tree. She had already done anything she could do. She had covered for him when it first came. She had helped him to the bathroom as it grew more obvious. She had fed him, bathed him, and clothed him in the middle. She had made arrangements for a nurse to help in the end. Now the time lay past the end. All she could…

The fence ran from the log house down the meadow and back up into the treeline again. You couldn’t make out the entirety of the thing, but an occasional break int he trees showed that it drove back the direction the sun set in Spring. On the line that paralleled the back wall of the log house it was lost entirely, but it was still out there, built by hand, built alone. It saw-toothed back and forth because wood was too precious to waste on a post and the ground to stiff to dig without a metal…

Cicadas fucking ruined the evening air. One or two in the distance and a third near up might be fine, but John sat in the center of what must be the Thursday night cicada nexus. There were so many around him and so close he could actually see two of them shivering like fire alarms ringing.

462 words on day 529