Sunday, March 11, 2012

On the Double, Half the Trouble

I skipped last week without even meaning to. Writing the blog on the tablet just seemed like a hassle, so I figured I would do it later (when I was out of bed.) Then this led to that, the other intruded, and poof (or ta-da, or kaboom, whatever sound onomatopoeia seems appropriate)-- no blog. It slipped my mind so successfully, in fact, that I didn't even realize I'd skipped a week until around Wednesday (cue sad trombones.)

Sorry about that, folks.

I haven't had a particularly busy last few weeks, anyway. I restarted Novel Number Two (very tentative title) at the beginning of the month and have been slogging away at it. I am again finding that the Nano model of 2k a day come Hell or high water just isn't working, the same as last month. I am persevering anyway, sometimes only getting a page or two, sometimes getting nothing. In the last two weeks I've managed to write four chapters (out of close to forty planned.) I have no idea why this novel is so much more difficult for me to get going on, but...

The ultimate answer here is--it doesn't matter. I want to write this novel; I'm going to write this novel; the end. If it takes me six months or a year or whatever, so be it. I really would love to figure out what's slowing me down and correct it, and I will continue to devote some mental energy to doing just that, but the most important thing is that I keep pushing forward until I hit the finish line, irregardless of whether I am doing so in the most efficient way possible.

When I first tarted writing fiction, lo these many months ago, my goal was simple: finish a story. I've always had a hyperactive imagination, but plotting was an absolute mystery to me. It took me a few weeks to write 3k (and it wasn't a particularly inspiring first effort at that.) But I finished, I showed it to a few first readers, I edited and submitted, and i collected a stack of rejections. And I wrote the next one.

I believe finishing the second story was even more crucial than finishing the first. One of the things I learned from that first story was that I could write a complete story, featuring both characters and a plot. I learned from the second (and every subsequent one) that I could do this more-or-less at will. I've completed the majority of the stories I've written since then, although I've abandoned several that just weren't working as well. But I made sure to finish those first few, to establish the habit and to give myself confidence.

I'm in the same boat now. I'd actually started several novels prior to Nano last year, when I finished the zero draft of The First Novel (or Fnerge!--another tentative title.) One novel made it up to about 14k before I fizzled on it (and I might still return to it.) So I've had enough of unfinished novels. That sort of thing wrecks my confidence. So I am keeping my concentration firmly on this novel until I hit THE END.

My plan to do 2k a day five days a week is going right out the window (and has been all year.) I am going to still try to keep at the self-pubbing (on weekends,) but I am willing to let that slip as well. For the long-term health of my career as a writer, I have to learn how to produce quality novel-length fiction at a reasonable pace.

Plus, like many others have commented, novels are actually easier. At least in terms of effort per page, if not in terms of total time commitment. Short fiction takes a lot of work to pull off. I'm certainly not abandoning the form, but I want to be able to write at whatever length suits me, and write well. Which means practice. Which means I have to keep at the novelling. Ipso Facto Ergo Sum Lorium Axiom Non Serviam. Which translated from the Latin, means (roughly): I don't know any Latin.

Media breakdown - I finished listening to Halting State by Charles Stross. The second person multi-character POV was a little hard to get into, but he pulled it off, overall. I wouldn't say that the POV added anything essential, but it was an interesting change of pace. The near future media/connectivity/hacking and security focus was quite well done. The world-building and character interactions were the main draw; the actual "mystery" at the heart of the plot was rather hum-drum and mostly involved people standing around in rooms explaining things to other people. There were some fun action bits, though. I enjoyed the book and plan on reading Rule 34 (the semi-sequel.)

I've been enjoying the heck out of the recent episodes of The Walking Dead. The show is still as drama-queen focused as ever, but they've gotten pretty good at including a few juicy action bits every episode. Good stuff and probably my favorite current TV show. The upcoming second season of A Game of Thrones might change this, however.

Gadget Corner - I've been using the Android OS a lot more, now that I have two tablets. My older tablet is rooted, but not the newer one (Acer Iconia A500). I find them convenient, if a bit underpowered (in utility, not in actual processing) compared to my netbook (which mainly functions as a desktop.) Android is lacking in quality applications, plain and simple. Even worse, the OS encourages applications to be far more intrusive than I am comfortable with. I am becoming increasingly annoyed by this. I use Ubuntu

The one thing Android does better than Ubuntu is games. The repositories (Android Market and Amazon are the main ones I use) are much flashier as well, and somewhat easier to navigate. This is more than offset by the difficulty getting root, the lack of customization, the paucity of apps (no Openoffice or Audacity, Firefox is still in beta, and so on), and the OS's insistence on constantly trying to monitor me, and apps insistence on launching themselves and/or reporting back to wherever they report back to.

In other words--in terms of my privacy, Android is insecure; in terms of utility, Android is inadequate. Android feels very much like an OS that is more concerned with telling me what I can do than with allowing me to do what I wish. I'll say it again: I can't wait until I can use Ubuntu (or any other open-source Linux distro) on my tablets.

I hate having to hack on the OS just to get root. It's my hardware: I bought it; I own it. I should be able to get root as a matter of course. I should be able to set it up however I want, to do whatever I want, and to prohibit it from doing anything I don't want it to do. Seen in this light, the Android OS is an absolute failure.

And with that rant, I'm done for the week. See you all next time.

EDIT: I just had to switch over to my Ubuntu desktop computer to finish publishing this blog. It took me nearly as long to pub it as to write it on the tablet, and I was still getting screw-ups. Grrr... Android + Safari + Blogger = Suck.

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