2010-01-06 11:10 pm


You knew it had to come, right?

I didn't write a single word today. I know what's supposed to happen in the scene that I'm supposed to be working on today, but the words have dried up.

I did, however, write 891 words yesterday, and I also have a new blog. And a new pseudonym.

Emily Cardinal
2010-01-05 11:06 pm



I think I'm writing erotica.

At least, that's how I feel after the one scene that anybody's read.


I've 8399 words. I'm not sure how I managed to write this much, this fast. But I shall attempt not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

According to my deadline (I had to have one to use Word Tracking in WriteWay), end of March 2011, I have to write 216 words a day, and I've been making that goal or more every day. Which is nice.


I have come upon a problem of immense size. And was laughed at by people on Twitter -- deservedly so.

The Laws of Love essentially spans 2 ten-year periods (that are separated by 30-50 years).

According to people who are better read than me, most books than compress such big timelines have come in at about 150k. (They recommended people like Michener, Clavell and Dunnett for my examples list.) In fact, they are all great big fat tomes of historical fiction.

My goal for this draft is 100k, and then to cut to 80k. Only, if the rest of the draft is anything like what I have at the moment, I'm going to be adding stuff more than cutting, I think.

WTF was I thinking?
2010-01-05 11:05 pm
Entry tags:

Aptitude, Affinity and the Ten Thousand Hours

As defined by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:
1 a : inclination, tendency b : a natural ability : talent
2 : capacity for learning
3 : general suitability : aptness

I tend to take the 2nd meaning to be the truest meaning of the word. That a person has an aptitude for something is a purely intellectual quirk.

1b, for me, is closer to what I usually term affinity -- though the M-W seems to think that I can't use it that way. Affinity is less cerebral a term, more passionate and intimate.

And then there's the 10000 hours. That's the amount of time that's been quoted ad nauseam that somebody needs to become good at something.

Most writers have affinity. Conversely, I'm not so sure that so many...I don't know...engineers do. Same for economists, by the way.

And as for the point of the original post? I don't know any more 

2010-01-02 11:39 pm

What Drives Me...or Why I'll Probably Be a Better Writer Than an Economist

Justine Musk:
In his book on human motivation – titled, conveniently enough, DRIVE — Daniel Pink notes that “intrinsic motivation is conducive to creativity; controlling extrinsic motivation is detrimental to creativity.” (He goes on to explain that as soon as you’re paid for creative work, what started out as ‘play’ begins to feel like “work”, which takes away the sense of autonomy that we need and crave. This wipes out the third drive and puts us back in the second drive, where we act simply to seek short-term rewards and avoid short-term pain.)

“In the early 1960s, researchers surveyed students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago about their attitudes toward work and whether they were more intrinsically or extrinsically motivated….The less evidence of extrinsic motivation during art school, the more success in professional art both several years after graduation and nearly twenty years later.” Painters and sculptors who were intrinsically motivated, those for whom the joy of discovery and the challenge of creation were their own rewards, were able to weather the tough times….”Those artists who pursued their painting and sculpture more for the pleasure of the activity itself than for extrinsic rewards have produced art that has been socially recognized as superior,” the study said. “It is those who are least motivated to pursue extrinsic rewards who eventually receive them.”

I see the difference very clearly. 

It's easy to want to be an economist. Easier than it is to be a writer. Economists tend to have stable livelihoods (never mind the current mess) and tend to be seen as 'respectable and safe' (especially from the point of view of Asian family). 

And it comes easy to me. Not super easy. I still have to work for it -- and because I'm a masochist, this is a bonus rather than a negative. But I get it easily enough that a career in economics seems possible, even more than likely. 

Writing, on the other hand...is none of those things. 

It's not that it's not easy. It is, because I have no deadlines and have temporarily given up setting deadlines for myself (well, I do have a goal of sorts, but 206 words a day is less than a page, right?). I don't struggle with the discipline either -- though, again, no deadlines to procrastinate etc. But after five years, I better have learnt how to make myself write every day, or nearly every day. 

Having said all that, I don't need to write. It's possible, and not unlikely, that I would gain more by turning all the time I spend writing towards economics. I could read more, absorb more, and skim less. 

I've tried to quit before. Nadia and I have had this conversation lots of times. But I'm still writing. The truth is that I miss it when I don't write, and I have yet to find something else that I can 'zone' into as well as writing. 
2010-01-01 11:28 pm


Quite a nice date.

I am re-learning how to write secondary characters. That is a problem I've been struggling with (and knew that I struggled with) for the past year. Somewhere along the way, though, I found a loose thread, and now I intend to keep tugging on it.

I am also re-learning how to write scenes with more than 2 characters. I used to write scenes with hundreds...well, at least a dozen characters. Sooper dooper long scenes, lots of words, lots of characters...not so much on the Happenings.

I think I will be happy to have this book come in under 200k, at this point. Then I'll cut cut cut cut cut Act I into 2-3 chapters, and Acts II and Acts III can have the bulk of the word count.*

Now I must go resurrect a zombie and write a Goodbye Letter.

*No, I'm not nuts. I just don't think Act I is very interesting, but I need to write it. It'll be good practice if nothing else, and then I can hope Act II and Act III will be better.
2009-12-30 09:52 pm


Complexities arise with every single word I add.

I've decided that plots are best thought of in chains. A leads to B leads to C. Boom boom boom.

Of course, I have thought of many other methods before and none of them have worked out very well for me.

Which is why I'm calling myself a fool ten times over for making this book even more complicated.
2009-12-29 08:53 pm


I have nearly 5k words.

It's not quite moving along. I randomly stop and start and decide I need to revise things.

Like today, I junked an entire scene, thought I rewrote it, but actually just wrote another scene that was in the wrong place (moved it, so it's fixed but still).
2009-12-28 12:54 am


I have the skeleton of The Laws of Love.

The thing is, how do you motivate yourself to write once you've written the candy bar scenes?

That's what I'm working on right now. One thing at a time.

I have achieved chapterification, with some horrendous/grandiose titles in the mix. I'm rather pleased with this, more pleased than I am about having the skeleton.

After all, skeletons are things you keep in closets to scare the little people come Halloween.
2009-12-24 11:42 pm


Fiddling with WriteWayPro at the moment.

I really like it. It's freeing me to write out of chronological order because I can start a scene, jump somewhere else, come back etc. Or just write a single sentence about the scene and move on.

I couldn't before. Doing it in Word always seemed rather messy and cluttery.

But I don't think the 59USD price tag for the pro version is worth it. I'll probably just spring for the 29USD Standard.

Having said that, as an economist, I applaud their pricing strategy. They've segmented the market such that people who really really want the ability to have up to 9 Acts and a few other extras will pay the 30USD more. People like me, on the other hand, consider 29USD to be a perfectly acceptable price to pay for the software. They are extracting a goodly amount of consumer surplus and turning it into producer surplus.
2009-12-23 12:26 am

You in Your Work: Pt. I

I have titled this on the assumption that there will be at least a Pt. II.

There probably will be, given how much time I've spent thinking about this lately.

I used to think that my stories were just that: stories. No deep, dark allegorical matter in them. Now I realise that it's kind of silly to assume that, given how much current affairs/economics stuff I read, my work would be completely and entirely apolitical.

Though, there is also the possibility that my work used to be that way.

I have...grown into my work, I think. I see more of what I think, believe and feel in TLOL than I have in any other WIP.

I wouldn't call it the book of my heart. That kind of book is the last thing in the world I want to write, and maybe, if I ever sought to write it, probably the last book I would ever write.

One of my favorite articles on writing is by Julie Leto:

A Book of My Voice allows me to explore the stories that spring from my psyche in their truest form. My voice may grow and change as I grow and change, but the essential foundation remains the same. My voice is mine and the more I write, the more I reveal of that voice.

Let me ponder this a bit more and I'll explain in Pt. II.
2009-12-19 09:59 pm


Hopping on the plane in less than 12 hours. Thinking about allegories and such, and other things for my other blog. It's a good thing I plan to blog more next year.

Working and reworking the laws of love in my head.

Wonder when I'll actually finish it.
2009-12-17 10:33 pm


Still working The Pathmaker, newly renamed The Laws of Love because I think I'm funny. 

It's not progressing because I've suddenly been struck by the fear of 'what if I won't want to write it any more once I've plotted it out?' 
2009-12-15 02:44 pm

(no subject)

Elizabeth Bear:
I just need to remember that in an interesting novel, terrorism comes before politics, rather than politics before terrorism.
2009-12-14 12:23 am
Entry tags:

And I Didn't Notice

In the five years since I've been writing seriously, I've written less this year than in any of the rest. 

I don't even need to do the math to say this. 
2009-12-13 01:15 am



I've decided to temporarily except that the writer-me has a romantic streak a mile-wide. I'll work on integrating rational economist-me with sighs-over-love-stories writer-me later when I have time. 

Which probably means never, but this at least means now I know what I'm writing. 


Given above, I have decided to change The Pathmaker to The Laws of Love. And no, that's really not the title. I just think it's fucking hilarious given what I currently think is the Key of the Book.

I've just sent Nadia a description that's in chronological order. I think this could work. I think this could be The One.

But, that's what I always think, isn't it? 


This SO isn't what I need to be working on right now, what with a test on Monday and exams next month. 

Typical, isn't it? 
2009-12-08 10:39 pm


I have decided that on January 1st, I'll set some kind of writing goal for myself.

A doable type goal. Maybe a scene a week. I was originally going for a scene a day, but then I thought about it some more and decided it might make me want to kill myself. I've done that enough times that you'd think I would have learnt a long time ago, but apparently on top of being stoopid, I am also extremely stubborn.

The point is, though, that if there's one thing I've learnt this year, it's that writing isn't like economics for me.

I can't just sit and work and work and work. I am perfectly working for 12 hour stretches at my studies with just short breaks for food and drink, and I can do this for days on end. Negative marginal returns don't set in until, maybe, the tenth hour.

With writing, it sets in much earlier. I don’t even want to estimate how early because it would just be depressing.

Shock treatments a la NaNoWriMo haven’t worked for me. Talk about burnout. Screaming and crying burnout.

So no. Never again.
2009-12-07 11:52 pm


Still thinking. 

Story 1 and Story 2 are very different stories. 

Maybe my approach to Story 2  is wrong. 
2009-12-05 10:00 pm


I think I'm not telling the right story. 

Or at least, I've chosen the wrong section of the narrative to write about. 

2009-12-04 10:33 pm


There is something about working on mathematical problems that causes part of brain to drift off and work on other things. Like WIPs. 

So I've raided an old epic fantasy WIP for an idea for the pathmaker. As things go, it's a very minor piece of the whole. Indeed, I could work it in without causing any ripples. 

Or I can embrace it, and rework everything that I already have.

I'm not sure what it says about me that I much prefer the latter. 
2009-11-30 08:59 pm


Every word is stilted and wrong. 

I should know better than to press on now. It's not 'the right time'.* 

*As much as this smacks of 'waiting for inspiration,' this is how I intend to write for the foreseeable future.