Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ubermadchen Autumn 2014 Progress Report

Innsbruck, Austria
(source)



This progress report encompasses the writing I have done from the beginning of the school year to Monday night, and refers to the progress I've made in writing the first draft of my novel which bears the working title Ubermadchen. The summer progress report, found here, is a whole lot more impressive in terms of numbers.

I actually don't have hard numbers here, since a lot of my writing was done longhand, but here's what I do know: 4066 words added to the word document, + 28 handwritten pages, + a lot of planning writing.

Time elapsed, real: 10 weeks. Time elapsed, story: 18 days.

What I see, looking at these numbers, is that something about my current system isn't working anymore. This happened when I started high school, too: in the transition, I let my creative work fall by the wayside.

I'm not going to see the numbers I got during the summer, but there's a whole lot of room for realistic improvement. I need to remember to write a little, more often, in adherence to the 20-mile march principle.

I think, too, that I'd see my writing output go up if I read more fiction. This may seem paradoxical, since time spent reading is time not spent writing, but consuming stories helps put me in a mindset to produce them. Finishing a book by reading it inspires me to work toward my goal of finishing a book by writing it.

I don't prefer writing longhand. The writing I did longhand seems, to me, to drag on and on more than my typed writing. Also, there's something that's too personal about it, which makes me reluctant to write really daring stuff because what if someone read it? The impersonality of a screen and 12 pt Times New Roman font separates me just enough from the fantasy that I'm willing to go there. This is probably a character failing. Lately, I've been typing the "main storyline" (the one with Marilla in it) and writing out the secondary strand (to say more would be a spoiler. Also, why do I always end up with multiple POVs?).

I think I've lost some of the wonder that first pulled me toward this story--the elements of feminism, 18th century trappings, Enlightenment philosophy, and travel writing that make it really cool to work on this project. In a way the story is even informed by steampunk, just one century earlier. A specific period aesthetic + perturbations in the political and social forces at play. I need to bring back the fantasy, the wonder, the coolness factor, because a straight-up historical novel was never my goal and never has been my goal.

I remember when I was revising The Utopia Project I had similar periods when I just couldn't remember why I wanted to write this story in particular. I need to remember. I need to remember, and keep remembering, why I am lucky enough to work on this story in this world with these characters.

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Last year, I finished writing Orsolya over Thanksgiving break. I also wrote, somewhat hilariously, that I wanted a simpler project, a novella that would "clock in at 150 pages." (The Ubermadchen word doc is at just under 300 pages.)

This post is embarrassing for me. I finished a whole novel in 2013, and in 2014 here I am having written probably averaging less than 1000 words a week for the past ten weeks. I did expect that I'd have all my time taken up by college work, but I really haven't been trying as hard as I could to keep up with my writing.

I want to do better. So here are some things that I mandate:
  • Skip boring scenes
  • Remember what you learned during the summer and plan sequences out before jumping in
  • Use the odds and ends of time that you find throughout the day to write instead of checking your email for the 12837182th time. Five minutes == a solid paragraph
  • Bring back the logbook. I stopped using the log sheets that I started using in...sophomore year, I think? I think I should bring it back, because seeing the squares with Xs in them definitely helps in keeping me accountable

So there you have it. This season has not been a productive one for writing, but I promise that I will do better. The Ubermadchen and their story are worth my time and my creative energies, and I want to bring their journey to the page.

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I've been listening to this song a lot, and I think it suits the girls well:

Kingdom - the Good Natured

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