Camp Nanowrimo: Day Eight

I’m still alive!… and woefully behind on my word count. As it stands, my novel is currently 7,012 words, two and a half chapters long. Which – really – is great… considering I made a bare 621 words last time. I’ve done that more than ten times over. It’s something to be proud of. Progress made!

But – to keep up with the minimum word count I should be hitting each day – by tonight I should hit 13,336. Um – yeah. Not going to happen, I’m afraid! Going along with my own personal goal of two thousands words a day, twenty five days of the month  – that total increases to 14,000.

These are all just figures and statistics. They can easily be surpassed with time and dedication, even over this weekend, if I put my mind to it. What I should be more worried about is, where my novel is actually headed. I feel that I should know, as the writer of it – but I’m pretty clueless mostly. It’s come as a bit of a surprise, the direction I’ve started to take with it. The basic story of Figment is going to be a lot different to how I imagined it three years ago – less melodrama, more reflection.

It’s still very much indulgent – on my part – teen fiction.  But I get a kick out of it and I love that it’s gotten me into writing again. My goal with this was never to craft a well-written, publishable piece of fiction – the former would just be a bonus, the latter seems completely out of reach – but just to start and finish something. I’d really like to be able to say, ‘Oh yeah, I wrote a novel last June. Beginning, middle and end. In thirty days!’ Admittedly it’s not even something I’m going to publicise (much) in real life. The personal satisfaction is what I’m chasing.

So: Figment, then. With a bit of luck, whoever might be reading this won’t have read its previous prologue-only incarnation. It’s crappy teenage writing at its finest – not saying that what I do now is so superior, but I’ve definitely improved since then – and it also gives the game of my current novel away. I’m hinting at the twist as I go along, but the revelation isn’t going to emerge until maybe halfway into the novel – while the other half will revolve around how the characters deal with it. It’s messily done so far – mostly it just looks like a lot of writer oversights on my part – but there’s no time for rewrites. Maybe I’ll save those for a later stage.

There are all of four (prominent) characters in my novel, two of whom can be called the protagonists. The narrator is Seth: a gawky, introverted boy who lives with his mother in a cottage in rural Ireland. He spends his time drawing, painting, reading… and with Liz, the other main character, and his best friend. She is more outgoing, more vivacious than him – yet she is also a social outcast. They are all the other has, but cracks are beginning to show in their friendship; and as his eighteenth birthday approaches, what’s being left unsaid between them threatens to pull them apart indefinitely.

The other two characters are Seth’s mother, who loves her son but worries hugely about him, and Eve, the daughter of the woman who employs Seth in her shop. Although I’m writing as a male character, the male-to-female ratio of characters is fairly imbalanced. Especially as I feel my narrator has a pretty feminine world view; that’s not a dig at any personality but in general, you can tell that the author of this is female! To round off this entry, I’ll throw in a brief extract – nothing much happening in it, but it’s significant. 🙂 Let’s hope next update, I’ll have something more to show for myself!

– – – – –

‘Am I… am I going to see you again?’

That’s the big question these days. It’s something I ask myself every time Liz walks away like this, which has been happening more and more frequently lately. Her answer hasn’t changed yet – but I’m scared to death that someday, it will.

‘Of course,’ she answers smoothly, unemotionally – but her eyes look to be not far off teary. The alarm bells turn to sirens, as my heart stops beating altogether. Liz was, in effect, my only friend. Our relationship was about as unorthodox as it could get – but if I lost her, a great chunk of my life would come to an end. I didn’t think anyone or anything could fill the gap Liz would leave if she was to disappear.

She must see the consternation in my expression, because she smiles to reassure me. ‘I’ll be back maybe the day after tomorrow – you’re not working Sunday, are you?’

‘No, Mrs. K is giving me the day off, with school coming back and everything.’

‘Then I’ll find you on Sunday,’ she promises solemnly.

‘I’ll… miss you,’ I manage to sputter. Again, expression of feelings is not something I’d win medals for.

‘Your soup is getting cold,’ is all she says in reply, pointing at the bowl, which I automatically swivel back to look at.

When I turn around again, she’s already gone.

Proof of my masochism

November tends not to be the best time of year for me to try and write a short novel in. So, when I discovered this I got excited. June is a far emptier month for me, with no exams, no college, no major holidays planned and a quiet social life, given that most of my friends are tied up with school/study/exams themselves. This is something I’d really like to see through to completion.

As for what my novel is going to be about? Anyone who’s lurked through my old TS2 stories might recognise the title. I’m planning a rewrite of this story – using the same idea, but with different themes and tweaked characters. I’m trying for a dramatic improvement in the writing quality. 😉 Also, I’m hoping planning on getting further than just the ‘prologue’ or first chapter this time around.

I don’t want to gush too hard about this, because let’s face it – I’ve planned to do this twice already and I didn’t get further than six hundred or so words… on the FIRST day. Also, my planning in general hasn’t been stellar. I have the bones of two days to work out how many chapters I’m doing, how many words to a chapter, the significance of various characters, what will actually happen in this novel etc. I’m working off about twenty five days as well, as I’m trying to work around existing plans that I’ve made; so, that’s a target of two thousand words a day. Yikes. I’ve managed that with essays when a deadline crept up on me – but doing it every day, for a month? …

Anyway, that’s just a little update. I felt I was neglecting this place a little – not as much as my Flickr account, but it definitely hasn’t seen much action of late. Hopefully that’ll just be a temporary thing!

I would drink sun cream to hasten April along

Wow, guys. We’ve been having a serious heat wave over here on the Emerald Isle. College has become a swarm of shorts, sandals and sunburn. It’s brilliant, the weather… I’d love to be enjoying it more, but this week has been assignment hell for me. Two essays, one presentation, an online worksheet assignment and two graded scene enactments – thankfully by Saturday they’ll all be done and ready to be forgotten about. …Sadly, rain is forecasted for the weekend. Murphy’s Law: never fails as far as work and weather are concerned. 😛

Despite the blissy mood I’ve been in all week (result of all the extra Vitamin D I’ve been getting) my writing’s been leaning towards the grim, depressing and potentially obscure recently. No, I’m not talking about my 2500 word essay on the effect the Cold War had on theatre which I’ve only just started; I’ve actually written some non-obligatory things recently! This is a revelation for me, given I’ve been fairly idle wannabe-writer-wise for the last six months. I’m feeling vaguely pleased with myself, so I’d figure I’d share something. Nothing stellar at all, but sure I’ll stick them up anyway.

First up: random poem I had to write based on a postcard. Bit difficult to make sense of it in the first place, but it’s even more difficult when I can’t supply the exact image in question. It was of the Piazza Di Spagna in Rome however and it was a fairly enticing picture – you’d certainly feel jealous getting that in your letter box!

Passing up the stairs
It felt like they were walking through a tapestry.
Red and gold but not
Brilliant; faded,
Like frail threads of a medieval relic.
Unused to the lack of banister, they
Clutched each other
Not just for support
But with the tentative grasps of promise.

Not Paris, no; but perhaps the eternal city
Was a better omen for the journey they would embark on.

Secondly, something a lot shorter (and possibly more ambiguous). It’s prose, very short, too adjective-filled and something I’d like to explore further once my life is exam- and assignment-free. 🙂

Sterile beeping. The clack of decisive feet through linoleum-paved halls. A sustained hush, broken only by laboured breathing, the rattle of a trolley passing or the subdued sniffs of relatives and friends. Hospitals have distinctive sounds; none so much as those found in the intensive care unit.

After giving Jen’s hand one last squeeze, I released her unfeeling fingers and got to my feet.

Busy-ness.

It’s been a while.

I have to admit, I’ve been more inactive in the Sims community in the last few months than I thought I’d be. In fact, once I’d finished secondary school I thought I’d have all the time in the world to play Sims, write stories, edit pictures and to generally be unsociable. Erm. I was wrong. Turns out that college is more time-consuming than you are lead to believe. It’s not that I have heaps of lectures and coursework to get through (though I have enough, considering it’s only a humble arts degree I’m doing), but you don’t count on the social side of things. These days my free time is spent on campus rather than on the computer. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last three months, but despite the lurking and occasional posting I’ve done over on The Unofficial BBS, I’ve haven’t been around much.

I really don’t think that’s going to change much either. There’s no way I’m going to get back into playing or even loading up the game. It’s only installed on our nearing geriatric family desktop, which I haven’t had to use recently thanks to Barney the purple Sony Vaio laptop. There’s also no chance of Barney handling TS2 with expansion packs and CC–which is the only way I’d play the game–so my pixel dollies aren’t coming to college with me any time soon.

What I’m saying is – don’t count on getting many (or any) TS2 updates from me these days. It’s not so much that I’ve moved on from it – we’ve just kind of drifted apart, like two friends that don’t see each other as much as they used to. It’s weird likening the game to an old friend, but I think many people out there that have played and loved The Sims 2 can relate to that.

That said, I’m still hanging around. I know people are going to roll their eyes at this but, I’ve actually been booting up TS3 recently. It’s installed on the laptop, which means on a rainy day the citizens of Sunset Valley come out to play. My graphics aren’t great and I’m running the game CC-less at the moment, but it’s a fresh experience for me after years of playing its predecessor. I’ve said this before (grudgingly; as I do now), but EA got some things right. Moodlets, traits and wishes are cool (though I missed wants and particularly fears at first) and I’m come to accept the look of the game (the sims’s appearance however are always going to be trumped by the CC-laden sims of TS2). I’m sure that with expansion packs installed and a capable computer to run it, the game can be considered a decent sequel to The Sims 2. I’ll never be as hooked though as I was with TS2. That probably has more to do with my age and current situation though, rather than the quality of either game.

The writing thing has taken a nose-dive also – something I’m more regretful about, to be honest. I think a part of it is that I do enough writing for college these days – some of which I find stimulating (you know you’re an English dork when you never miss a lecture and enjoy doing essays for the subject). I’m pretty uninspired to do any extracurricular writing however. I did Nanowrimo for about two days… after which I subconsciously threw in the towel. I got to about six hundred words (which I might expand upon and stick as a scrap under the Short Pieces part of the site) before promptly abandoning my ‘novel’ in favour of school work/television/internet surfing/a social life. It’s not such a loss though, because it really wasn’t going anywhere. I’ll say provisionally, ‘Maybe next year’.

That’s pretty sketchy though, given I remember saying the exact same thing this time last year. 😛

I really do want to get into the swing of writing again though. I’ve got a couple of buddies now who are also closet scribblers, one of whom completely put me to shame when she told me she had 140,000 words of a novel written. I felt like a bit of a twat when I told her I  had written a lot… just not a lot of any one particular story. I’d never be so petty as to want to challenge her feat, but I do think I should get better at starting–and more importantly, finishing–things.

Speaking of things I should have finished… I feel there’s no harm in making this public now.

It’s not finished, in that there’s a severe lack of pictures in the middle, and the writing is not my finest. But hey, I harped on about this for long enough – might as well let people see what all the fuss was about. Since I’m on WordPress (and because there’s little to no possibility of this ever reaching the Exchange), there’s mild bad language, very harmless sexual innuendos (The Belle Metamorphosis was HEAPS worse), the suggestion of violence and a reference to under-age drinking of the alcoholic nature. If you’re, say, under the age of thirteen (or a highly sensitive over-thirteen year old), read at your own peril. Also be aware that the second chapter of this, as well as any subsequent chapters,  may never see the light of the interwebs, except maybe in text-only format – if I ever write any more. Still, I hope people get some scant enjoyment of this, even in its unpolished state. 🙂

Shades of Grey; The Scheme.

Just out of interest, I recently stumbled upon a book of the same name in my local branch of Hughes and Hughes. I didn’t buy it, but I’m planning to. If you ever want to read a completed, superior (if completely non sim-related) Shades of Grey… then this one by Jasper Fforde should be your first port of call. 😀

Full steam ahead

I’m back at home after a pretty good break, where I got to build the last sandcastle of my childhood – or rather, the last fifteen. I figured, since I’m no great shakes at building them, instead of making one really great castle, I’d make a series of really crap ones – with the help of my three-year old cousin, who also supplied the bucket and spade.

I got a little sentimental actually. Not tearful, but it felt like I was gradually waving off my childhood. This whole summer has been a bit of a fond farewell to it, what with finishing up school, taking state exams, going on my last family holiday (maybe), seeing the final Harry Potter movie (date with him went very well – though I thought Deathly Hallows Part One was heaps better, the real highlight of the series) and the prospect of college in the autumn. Not to mention, my Leaving Cert results are due out in two weeks, followed by my debs (read: prom). Then comes my birthday and I’m legally an adult, whether I feel like one or not.

I’m not  really sad or anything. It’s just that, I am aware that I’m leaving one stage of my life and entering the next. But I’m looking forward to it. After all, you can make a sandcastle at any age, whether you’re eighteen or eighty-eight. 😀

– – – – –

Ahem. Anyway. Shades of Grey is back on track. I’m making good progress and most of the groundwork is done. I’m going to take my time with the editing though. I didn’t with the Figment prologue pics – a seriously old and crappy story that to this day I regret not doing properly – and that tale never got as far as the first chapter. I’m hoping to learn from past mistakes with SOG. That means that I’m going to make sure that the pictures are decent and the writing is acceptable. To be honest, I toyed with rewriting the first chapter – 😛 not to worry, it ain’t gonna happen at this stage – because I felt the standard wasn’t particularly good. In fairness, I wrote it a year ago before having any concrete idea of what was going to happen in the second chapter. When I compare it to what I’ve written more recently, it comes across as pretty limp. But, other than a few minor adjustments to the script, The Scheme is staying the way it is – and I’m just going to have to make up for any lack of quality with a great Chapter Two. 😉

All the same, there’s no more putting off on my side of things – I’m feeling more focused than ever when it comes to this. So, keep an eye out for the next post because it might just be called “At last”… 😀

Knew this would happen

Shades of Grey will probably be August at this stage.

Yes, I know – I said July. Yes, I know this will be the umpteenth deadline I’ve set for myself, that I will fail to keep.  Yes, I’m pretty disappointed in myself.

But it’s not really laziness holding me back this time. For one thing, I’ve been drafted in as a painter. My mother has decided to paint the main bedroom while my dad’s away at Tai Chi summer camp (yes, you read that correctly. Heard of iPod widows? Well, Mom’s been a Tai Chi widow long before that phenomenon came along). I’m her semi-willing partner in this endeavour, explaining why I’m typing this while covered in paint splatters and with sore muscles after wielding a paint roller for a few hours. It’s a pretty big room and, given we’re putting up white over terracotta (it still looks orange, with one coat), it’s going to take a while. I can’t bail to go off playing Sims after promising to help.

Also – the computer’s under timeshare. My brother and I have a kind of unspoken agreement going on that we’ll take turns on the desktop, so I’ve been on Monday, today and am going to be on Friday. (He went on Tuesday, will be on Thursday etc.) So far that gives me… one and half days until my deadline.

Yes, I can count. Technically, I should also have Sunday to work on this too (Sunday being 31st July). I thought I would. But nope – on Saturday, I’m off to Sligo for four days, to visit family. Which I don’t mind. I don’t resent going at all. I do regret though, that I made a deadline that coincides with it. 😦 I was totally going to make an effort to keep this one. I’m disappointed that I’m probably not going to be able to keep it.

Maybe it’s because August was the month I began to write SOG. As in, August 2010. o_o It was towards the end of the month, like the 30th, but I really don’t want it to have taken a year to go from paper to the internet. Eleven months, twelve months; there’s not a heap of difference there. But I’d rather be able to say “it took me eleven months” than “it took me a year”. 😛

I’m glad to say that the story has come on since eleven months ago. Although I think the first chapter is more introductory than gripping (shaky plot, but you get to meet most of the characters), the rest of the story has changed drastically. For example, what will occur in the third chapter (imagine how long it’s going to take me to get that out :o), I hadn’t even envisioned when I started writing the first. Literally, none of what goes on there would have happened, if I’d kept the story going along the original course I’d had in my head.

The characters have come on too. Jade has a bit more personality that she did at the beginning. Although she’s mostly just the eyes and the ears of the reader in the story, she has a bit more  spark to her now (that’s the idea anyway). The persona of Hermie, her best friend, used be just that she was a girl with pink hair. As in, I literally thought, “there’s going to be this girl called Jade, and her best friend will have pink hair”. 😀 Now Hermie does have a few actual personality traits, and is more interesting than Jade in some ways. Blake is less black-and-white than he used to be. Gwen has more depth. Jem simply exists. (Hermie was never going to have a twin – maybe a younger brother, but not one that had a speaking part.)

None of this will have any relevance to anyone, me excluded. But I get a bit of a kick seeing how the little people in my head have changed and developed over time.

That’s my  Sims update. One spot of real-life, self-absorbed bad news? Apparently I need braces. This is a terrible revelation for me. It wouldn’t be so earth-shattering if I’d been fourteen when I was told this. Braces at fourteen is pretty normal. Braces at nearly eighteen, when you also wear glasses and are going to university, is a personal hell. I’m not a real emergency case, so I don’t have to get them right away, but I will have to get them probably somewhere along the road. I’m making it out to be a lot worse than it probably is but, this is preying on my mind heaps. I guess I should look on the bright side. It just means I won’t be able to smile in pictures for sixteen months while I have them and that I’ll be picking up my lens prescription every month.

The pictures are a couple of random shots/edits, of Ms Henderson, Jade and Merissa (an ‘extra’)  respectively. Really just to show off my mad school making/decorating skillz. 😛 😀 As I said in the last post, it really is just two classrooms and a corridor – but hopefully in the story, it will look genuine. Want to see what it really looks like?

Some school. 😛

Done!… with layout changes

Goodbye neon-puke colour scheme; hello slightly less-painful-to-look-at, mellower one! I did a bit of tweaking with the blog layout and, although I ended up keeping the Vigilance theme, the site got a bit of a revamp. Nothing to write home about (yet here I am) .

The only thing I’m not completely happy with is the header. I really liked the last one and I don’t think this new one lives up to it. I went through a couple of versions of it, having  originally had Jade, Gwen and Hermie of Shades of Grey blazen across it, but in the end I went with a text-only version – the plumbbob rounding it back to The Sims. Everything goes back to The Sims in this blog. 😛

I don’t know. I shall fiddle with it further, I think.

Next on the agenda – Shades of Grey itself. I’ve finally got the consistent free time to work at it, so I’m expecting to finish up the first chapter soon. All I really have to do is build a school set – not even a full one, just two classrooms and a corridor – take two or three ‘scenes’ worth of pictures, edit the meh out of them, come up with a new cover,  put everything together and do a quick read-through, before plugging it everywhere I can think of.

Actually, looking back at what I’ve just typed, that is quite a lot. But! It’s thinking like that that has already delayed things by about four months. Basically, I need to get off my behind, park it right back down on a swivel chair and get building/posing/editing. Like crazy. Handy really, because I think I might just might be. o.O I think I’ll stick with non-sim writing once I’m done with this.

There was a time once when the writing was the biggest obstacle between me and uploading… funny how things have reversed as I’ve gotten older.

I mentioned that I need to make a new cover. In reality, I shouldn’t have to – I’m about to show you why. 😛 I’ve made eight covers so far – all for the first chapter – and I’ve rejected all of them. Either I’m a masochist or I’m just really, really fickle. Maybe it’s because I’ve been looking at them for so long, without uploading, that I get fed up of them. Actually, that might be it. 😀

  

In all their garish glory, that’s the eight of them. It’s amazing, how something with the word ‘grey’ in the title can have some much colour going on in its covers. Then again, it’s a kind of happy-go-lucky story in general (which anyone reading would know, if I’d friggin’ uploaded it by now… little note to self there), so it’s not really misleading – although the title might be. 😮

Moving on swiftly from that train of thought, I’m hoping to get The Scheme up in about a week or so. I’ve got a few things going on in the meantime (necessary shopping trip, friend’s birthday, orthodontist appointment, possibly a date with Harry Potter) so it mightn’t be out until after Monday of next week, but I do want to get it out before the end of July. So I’ll say before or on July 31st – though me and deadlines, we don’t usually meet. 😛

Just before I go to boot up the game – a preview, if you’re interested.

“I suppose that’s possible. Miracles do happen, after all.” That was Gwen all over. Ever the sceptic. “But you want to go with Blake.”

For the first time that evening, she made eye-contact, her expression and words very matter of fact. “You don’t even have to say it – every time he walks into a room, you blush. Every time he so much as glances in your direction, you freeze and you don’t move until he looks away. Right now, you’ve turned a not-so-attractive shade of tomato – and he’s not even here!” As ever, Gwen had skipped the niceties and hit the truth squarely on the head.

Hermie perked up somewhat. She plonked herself down on the bed beside me, blasting me with a wave of whatever perfume she had on. “She has a point. You’re hopelessly pining for him. I’d say something if you smiled at him once in a while, laughed whenever he passed a comment in class – or something. But you don’t. You’ve made no effort whatsoever to catch his attention. No wonder he hasn’t noticed. Jade, we wouldn’t have noticed if you hadn’t been the same way around Sean. At least that went somewhere! How can you like someone, but not want to let them know about it?”