Sunday, July 23, 2023

The Novel: Cutting


I continue to cut the novel. The goal for the first draft was to have a coherent continuous narrative. The goal for the second draft is, primarily, a shorter coherent continuous narrative. I think it's best if I already have the size under control before I go after other problems. I may discover that I'm wrong, but, hey, learning experience.

I've been tracking its size. When I finished the first draft, in late April, it was 155.5K. This was after removing probably a good 80K of scenes already. (All in a "scrap bucket" project. I'm not deleting anything.) I want it down to 90K, but for this round I'm aiming for 110-120, after which I will Evaluate.

After a few downs and a few ups, it's at 129.9K. A fair bit of that was removed from just the first quarter--first quarter, plot-wise; the novel divides itself into pretty clear quarters in my head. That seems optimistic, except the first quarter has always been the flabbiest, with meandering scenes that just have a few essential points, so they're easy to either pare down to those points, or kill entirely and assign their jobs to other scenes. I'm under the delusion that the remaining three quarters are already fairly tight. I hope I find out I'm wrong. 

I realize that this post's title implies that it's about cutting, and, really, it's just communicating the score so far. I will hopefully engage in some more detailed burbling later (Cutting subplots! Cutting scenes! Removing words from existing sentences with tweezers!) but I'm trying to maintain the goal of keeping this blog awake, so I will be posting this soon.

Speaking of goals, I have written two pieces of fairly useless flash fiction in the three days since I posted my plan to write one a day. That's pretty good, compared to my usual record for writing resolutions.

Actually, that wasn't the resolution, was it? The resolution was half an hour a day. Somehow the idea that I have to finish a first draft crept in. I think an either/or resolution works. If I finish a first draft of a scene or tiny story in less than half an hour, I'm done. If I spend half an hour working on any piece of fiction of short story or shorter length, I'm done. Then I can go cut more from the novel, or even write a scene with my two main characters arguing over a meal and dump it directly in the scrap bucket, if I want to. I love writing those scenes.

That is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, July 20, 2023




So will I resume blogging? Hmmm?

I’m realizing that I got that “Hmmm” from the “Mmmm?” that Mary Robinette Kowal uses to indicate the end of a question when she’s talking to her cat. Her cat talks. With a button board thing. Go look her up on Instagram; you’ll see.

And it becomes clear that this post is going to be me burbling from topic to topic. And I’m going to let it stay that way, because right now the goal will be to Post Something.

Now, I could pretend that the post has a theme—for example, communication. Me restarting my blog. A science fiction writer (Mary Robinette Kowal) trying to introduce language to her cat. (Introduce her cat to language? “English, Elsie. Elsie, English.” Oh, my, it’s clear that my brain is in full incoherent whimsy mode.) That’s two pieces of a theme.

And, actually, yes, the third piece is that I seem to be starting two writing resolutions at once.

The first-draft-complete status of the novel means that now I’m in editing and cutting mode, and still potentially years away from so much as submitting the thing to anything like an agent, and nobody ever gets their first novel published anyway, right?

But I seem to be unable to start my second novel now, while I’m buried in editing the first one. Brain won’t go there. So I formed the resolution of spending half an hour a day on flash fiction writing. I wrote some flash-length fiction a few years ago (Aieee, more than ten years ago!)—the one about the cat and the marmalade, the one about the pink flamingo, the one with the royal barista—and I kind of liked them, despite seeing the flaws. ("Did I use that breathless-child voice on purpose? Um...let's say I did.") I’d like to write more.

I’m not sure why I’m combining this with resuming the blog. Because I’m not going to put them on the blog. I don’t think I’ll be putting any more fiction on the blog.  If I hope to get published someday somehow, I must stop giving away everything that I could be using as rejection fodder.

It occurs to me that since finishing that first draft, I also resumed reading new-to-me books. This suggests that the drafting was fully occupying certain parts of my brain.

Did I mention that I’m just going to post this? Here we go.

Image: By Alvesgaspar. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

I used to blog

I used to blog.

I kind of enjoyed it. No, I did enjoy it.

Now, my writing mostly goes into fiction. Probably a quarter of a million words in the quest to write a 100K word novel. I finally finished the first draft. (155K. Cut to 130K. There will be much more cutting.)

I feel faintly sad realizing that I could have burbled on about the novel here and celebrated that first-draft-finishing here.

But I suspect nobody's "here" any more--that is, I suspect that the lovely people who read and commented on my very intermittent posts long ago removed me from their Follow lists, because, well that blog is dead. Was dead. Maybe no longer dead?

Anybody there?


Now I go to Wikimedia Commons and find a cat picture. Because that is how I blog.

Image: fox kiyo, Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Decluttering: And Again


So. The decluttering continues. This post is basically a list. So, bonus cat picture. (No, not taken by me--credit below.)

  • Quite a bit of perfume has been given away. (No, I'm not getting rid of the collection, just thinning it.) I realize that perfume isn't that much volume, but I want to get the whole collection (plus decanting supplies) down to one specific shelf, with no stray bits anywhere else.
  • Also hand cream and unused notebooks. Given away, I mean.
  • And I ruthlessly dumped half-used notebooks. That was kind of painful. I went through a high-stress (work related) period a couple of years ago where I was buying pretty notebooks like they were mood-altering drugs. Roughly the same period as the Bead Doodles. But in the end, I do not write on paper. Just doesn't happen.
  • I went ahead with my wash-sweaters-on-the-wool-cycle plan, and have not yet destroyed anything. So some sweaters will be added to the donate boxes.
  • Those donate boxes are waiting for us to investigate the social distancing policies at Goodwill.
  • Similarly, some boxes of books are waiting for us to have the courage to enter the used bookstore. I would just donate them, but no telling when the library will resume collecting for book sales. And apparently I just can't throw books out. (Oh. Ack. In that case, what do I do with the ones that the bookstore rejects? We usually take those to the library.)
  • So the tower of "on its way out" stuff in the garage is growing. As is the huddle of trash bags. I don't remember what's in those trash bags, but I seem to be getting rid of a fair bit of stuff.
  • Five container-type things that I didn't want to get rid of, and five categories of things that had no home, have been nicely married. I don't approve, in general, of keeping containers that have no current use, but I'll take the win.
  • That leaves me with a bunch of Oxo "Pop" food containers that I should get rid of, despite the moderate likelihood that I would have some use for them someday. Right now, they're empty and taking up space. We don't have spare space.
  • Two bread boxes were successfully Driveway Free Piled.
  • I should do the same thing with the Oxo containers. Maybe I will, by the next time I post. Oh, and the miscellaneous canning jars.
  • My den closet has some empty space. There's more empty space than there is stuff in the trashcan that I used while cleaning it out. This is always weird.
  • A kitchen cabinet shelf is empty. This doesn't mean that there's nothing to store there--it means that some stuff can move in from the laundry room or the garage-based Zombie Apocalypse Food Storage area. It's been empty for two weeks, and I can't seem to make up my mind what to move. One empty shelf seems like both too much and too little space.
  • I moved the cleaners from the laundry room to join the cleaners in the garage, and of course found lots of duplicates. Not sure what to do about those.
  • There is, of course, the Toxic Day at the dump for the cleaners, but I feel like they skipped that this past year and might skip it again this coming year. Do my local friends want half-used bottles of Bona hardwood floor cleaner and environmentally correct stainless steel spray? Maybe.
  • I keep being mildly surprised to find that I'm perfectly willing to get rid of series of books that I quite enjoyed while reading them. What, exactly, is it that makes one want to re-read a book? 

That sounds like a different post.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Monday, March 15, 2021

Decluttering: Decluttering Again

Hey, look. I'm back.

I'm still decluttering. I'm trying to work up some ongoing decluttering momentum, so that every time I look at a cabinet or a drawer or a shelf I think, "What can I get rid of?"

And I'm trying to change rules.

  • No keeping "sets." This is a lesson I learned with books--the fact that I'm keeping the Tuppence and Tommy books doesn't mean that I have to keep ALL the Agatha Christies. But it applies to other things. For example, I have some shirts in an odd loose weave, some in brown and some in black--I think I bought three of each at deep discount, a year or three ago. Since I wear the black ones, I didn't even consider getting rid of the brown ones. But I don't wear the brown ones. So, off to the donate stack. I bought a set of dishwasher-safe water bottles that work beautifully and came with a weird little holder to put in the fridge. It took me way too long to realize that since I'll never use the holder, I should throw it away.
  • Not everything I give away has to be perfect. For a couple of years, I've put off giving away two water bottles, because even though they've been washed, they have some tea stains in the bottom, and I'm not sure how to get them out. Time to put them in the driveway giveaway pile and see if anyone wants them. Time to wash those sweaters on the "wool" cycle and hope they come out worthy of being donated, because I'm not going to dry clean to donate, and I'm not going to donate something that isn't clean. 
  • And if something is too imperfect for me to be comfortable giving it away, that's what the trash bag is for.
  • The fact that I bought something recently doesn't mean that I have to keep it. I'm about to give away several unopened, will-never-use, tubes of hand cream before they expire and go rancid. They were a mistake. Move on.
  • And sometimes it's not even a mistake. I'm reading my way through a glob of Patricia Wentworth novels, with the knowledge that I'm going to sell them to the used bookstore or give the to the library book sale. I'm essentially renting them.
  • Sometimes a sample is enough. I had dozens and dozens of old Threads magazines; I narrowed it down to, I believe, three. When I want a Threads dose, those will be enough.
  • Donation is all fine and dandy, but there's a lot of stuff that nobody actually needs. The example that I've used now and then is souvenir drink cups--bulky and with no real function. (Yeah, you can drink out of them, but is the world short on glasses?) That is, again, what the trash bag is for. I can't think of an immediate example right now, of something in this category that's in my house. I'd like that to be because I've cleared out all that kind of stuff, but, no chance. I just, apparently, can't see the current layer for what it is.

So. Decluttering thoughts end. For now.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Perfume: Decluttering: Rambling

So, it looks like the goal of resuming blogging didn't "take". But let's post again, just because.

I'm decluttering. This means that I'm decluttering perfume again. I could have sworn that I last did this, oh, maybe eighteen months ago. But it appears that it was ten years ago, as described in my post about The Ziploc.

That post has a lot of gnashing and near-lamenting. This time it's a lot easier to give away the perfumes that just didn't work--at least, the first group of them. I've learned that I'm never going to like aldehydes or musk--looking at the latest list of perfumes I'm offering to local friends, I see that fourteen out of seventeen have one or the other in their Fragrantica notes list, and several have both. The remaining three are Sand & Sable, Miss Dior Originale, and Boss Woman. And looking at my own blog, I see that I did like all three of these. Just not enough to continue to give them space in the Perfume Containers.

(I also see that I was trying to give away Sand & Sable then. Did I pull it back? Looking through my reviews yesterday did result in my pulling back Cuir de Lancome from the giveaway list, because even though I haven't worn it for years, apparently when I did I really liked it.)

(Yes, I could sell the perfume, but, Postal Regulation Phobia.)

Arguably, this is a whole lot of decluttering effort for an itty bitty bit of space reduced. I chose a big Rubbermaid bin of clothes to donate in less time than it took me to write the email offering the perfume.  I don't usually believe in putting in the effort to give things a good home. Except, apparently, for perfume. 

(And if you're one of my perfume recipients, reading this and feel that I've now assigned you to feed and walk a bottle of perfume like a puppy, until the end of time--no. If you don't like it, pass it on or throw it out and accept my gratitude for saving me from having to throw it out.)

So. Perfume Containers. I may or may not have mentioned the "container concept" as a guideline for decluttering, a concept that comes from A Slob Comes Clean, a set of decluttering resources (Blog! Podcast! Books! Audiobooks! Private Patreon group!) by Dana K. White, who has to be referred to as Dana K. White because if you Google plain old Dana White, all your hits are about a wrestler.

The idea of the container concept is that you don't get a bunch of containers to stuff your stuff into. You choose a container, and that container is your limit for how much stuff you keep. There are containers within containers--your house is also regarded as a container. Yes, this--the idea that you keep only what you have room for in a specified space--is no doubt obvious to those that Dana K. White refers to as "normal people".

So my container for my perfume is supposed to be two bread boxes with hinged lids. Those are full to an extent that means that getting a bottle out is Jenga, but in addition, there are three more shoebox-ish-sized boxes of bottles, one more filled with samples, and one large and one small glass jar of minis and naturals. 

Well, there were that many. When I hand out the brown paper lunchbags of perfume I'm giving away, that will eliminate about a shoebox. Those were the easy kills; it's going to be much harder to get rid of enough to allow the rest to fit the containers.

I'm also changing the containers. I recently did a Scary Thing for which my reward to myself is usually a bottle of perfume, but that seems to defeat the purpose right now. So, instead, I ordered some insanely overpriced Pretty Boxes to replace the bread boxes. In theory, that should reduce the Jenga. I should be able to--for example--take down the Serge Lutens And Parfumerie Generale box, tilt back the hinged lid, and fish out the desired bottle from above.

Then I'll need to declutter the bread boxes. Will anyone want bread boxes that have spent perhaps fifteen years absorbing perfume fumes?

OK. Off to declutter more. If I post again any time soon, it'll probably be about that.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Books: Pandemic Reading: Patricia Wentworth

So. Let's write something.

A pandemic calls for easy, friendly reading. If that easy, friendly reading caters to one of my prejudices, yay!

So. Patricia Wentworth. Patricia Wentworth is a British author who wrote a whole lot of mysteries and some romances and a fair bit of novels in between, most of them in the first half of the twentieth century. The protagonists and the detectives and all their friends are nice. Sweet. Amusing. With only friendly little flaws. The villains are, well, villains. They rarely have any good points that make you regret their eventual doom. But they're also not the creepy Hannibal Lecter type that keeps you up at night. They lose, and they flutter away with the breeze.

And in between, there's usually a passive-aggressive, narcissistic manipulative woman, or a few of them. And all the characters that you care about see right through them.

I enjoy that.

The other plot that comes up over and over again is what's called, I'm told, a "second chance" romance. A couple who were separated--often by a passive-aggressive, narcissistic manipulative woman--find each other again. It's always pleasing to watch them untangle whatever it was that went wrong however many years ago (sometimes five, sometimes twenty) and go on to their happy ending.

Patricia Wentworth always serves up a happy ending.

There are some bits that make me tilt my head a bit--like a lot of stuff that seems to be about taste, in both dress and home decor. I don't fully understand it. Patricia Wentworth's equivalent of Miss Marple is Miss Maud Silver. In almost every book, there's a detailed description of Miss Silver's home and clothes, with a thread of...contempt? Amusement? Contemptuous amusement? We always hear about yellow maple and prints of Victorian pictures--Hope, The Black Brunswicker, The Stag at Bay, and I think Bubbles. I suspect that if I were a British mid-century citizen, I would completely understand the message. Maybe you can look at those links and translate it for me.

If you want to know where to start, I recommend The Gazebo. You get the passive-aggressive, narcissistic manipulative woman on the very first page, so you know where you are.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, January 17, 2021




I have a blog.

I've been writing. The first draft of the novel is close to done. It's going asymptotic--the closer it gets to done, the slower my progress.  That's partly, I suspect because I foolishly abandoned the strategy that got me to nearly-done.

But meanwhile, as the world falls apart, I feel the urge for less goal-oriented writing. I realize that for many people, blogging is immensely goal-oriented. Not for me.

So much "not for me" that I'm abandoning the thing that kept me from publishing the last few posts that I tried to type: The idea that when a person walks away from a blog for two years, that person's first post when they return should really be something.

But...those posts didn't get published.

So, if anybody's out there, hi! I hope I'll have something worth reading next time.

Image: Mine.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Still Typing

Hey, look! I have a blog! Who knew?

I've been working on the novel. It's still in first draft. After...eighteen months since I started? Is that right? But it's getting closer to done--that is, closer to the first draft being done. Picture it, for a moment, as a patchwork quilt. For a long time, it was like a bunch of patches laid out on a table, a few here, a few there, but with no particular form. Now I can see the form of the quilt; it has big holes, but I can see them as holes, and holes mean there's a structure. So I'm progressing to the end of the first draft.

I may have already used that metaphor.

Anyway! I'm not sure how many drafts I'm going to go through, because I have discovered that my writing habits are weird. I like polishing. I know that many people hate editing--I love editing. I get no satisfaction from a piece of writing until it has a certain level of smooth readability.

So my "unit" of writing is the polished scene. I start a scene, write, delete, write, delete, figure out what the scene wants to be, finish writing it, polish it once, twice, probably three times, maybe five times, until it's as polished as my current level of skill can make it. Then I put it away, take a breath, and a day or so later start another scene. In theory, I write one scene every three days. In practice, it's more like every five days. But that's OK; as long as the progress is steady, it's OK if it's slower than the goal.

So when I go to the second draft of this novel, I'm not going to have a slimy mishmash of incoherent writing. I'm going to have a bunch of polished scenes that may, combined, make up a slimy mishmash of incoherent plot.


So. First draft not done.

That is all.

(Oh, and I sent off for fourteen perfume samples. So I may also be blogging about perfume. More woo!)

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Monday, July 9, 2018

Blogging: Still alive

Well, that took a while.

I'm now about 130,000 words into a 100,000 word novel. And only eighty percent done. There will be cutting, lots of cutting, but that will wait for a later draft.

The novel is filling my brain. When the novel briefly retreats, the Farm fills my brain. So, logically, if I want this blog to be alive, I should be writing about those things.

Except, I put my arms around the novel like a suspicious eater protects their plate--I have some beta (alpha?) readers, but I hesitate to put even a hint on the blog.

But I could write about writing, yes? And, of course, also about the Farm. I have no particular expertise for writing about writing, but I didn't have any particular expertise for writing about perfume or gardening, either. So why not?

So that might happen. Or you might not see me for another six months. Or you may have all deleted this blog as being idle.

Let's see.