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Posted by Dirck on 18 January, 2018

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  •   2,173 words typed.

Some real excitement here, which may have affected my rate of production.  First, there is a signed contract in place now, so I can reveal that “Free Balloons for All Good Children” was bought by Pseudopod, and that it is at least tentatively scheduled to appear there in the latter part of April.  I will of course be adding links to the story itself once it appears, in addition to yelling from rooftops and possibly breaking into your house to make sure you’ve had a look at it.  Yes, you.

The other item that has set me all a-bubble is a second note of acceptance, this time on “Without Fear, Favour or Affection,” which some who persist in following this low-impact content of mine may remember I took a hiatus from the novel about this time last year to work up.  It will be going into an anthology, about which I will reveal more as matters the phase state of the arrangement moves closer to solid.  But I am giddy on the current liquid-approaching-slurry, I assure you.

Cripes.  I can actually start to wear the mantle of professional author.


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Posted by Dirck on 11 January, 2018

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  •  1,889 words typed.

Another subpar week; this is not down to the old-style entry I indulged in on Tuesday, but stems from having to rearrange some plot elements convincingly and from today’s visit by Mr. Throbbing Migraine.  Fun.

It’s also the reason this appear HOURS later than usual.

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Posted by Dirck on 4 January, 2018

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  •  1,862 words typed (New Year’s Day, eh).

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The Last Progress Report

Posted by Dirck on 28 December, 2017

Oh, wait, that should have “…of 2017” on it.  How sadly click-bait-y of me.

I’m doing this somewhat to camouflage the complete lack of progress on the novel this week, although if pressed I will shout something about wanting to relax and enjoy a day off with my family.  And then having to do other stuff during writing time yesterday.  It happens.

So, what of the year just passed?  I won’t just dwell on the writing, and frankly I won’t have anything at all to do with the situation of the wider world.  You can get at a reputable news outlet just as easily as I can, if you want to spend some time lamenting.

I will start with the writing, though.  You will of course remember this from August:

Well, let me show you its kids:

Three gauges reading 68.9, 57.6, and 46.22

Huey, Screwy and Blooey

What’s with the triplets? Well, you’ll remember that I mentioned back in November that my estimate of length seemed off.  Rather than abolish the probably-wrong dial, which is also the closest-to-done, I supplemented.  The least-done dial represents what the November measurement of first-draft thickness suggested.  The middle child is a mere average of the two, and on the most recent application of ruler to manuscript it seems to actually reflect reality.  This means that I can confidently declare that I am somewhere between eight and twenty weeks from finishing a second draft which will be between 254 and 379 pages long.  I will gild this uncertainty by declaring it to represent comfortable margins.

Proper professional writers will, I’m sure shake their heads at this, and I’ll accept that.  I’m not under contract, I’ve got no deadline; I’ll take what comfort the latter provides, given the chilly winds blowing from the former.

I would also, had I not been banging away at the novel, be a little worried about an apparent loss of momentum represented by this:

Oh, no! He’s falling to bits!

Now, when I add in the progress on the novel, which I don’t include in that chart until it’s actually finished, then it’s… actually, now I am starting to think I’m losing my powers, because it’s just shy of 60,000 for the year.  Perhaps I will claim the suppressant effect so many writers have noted inflicted upon them by the political events of the year.

But, to end the writing portion of this retrospective on a high note, I will remind myself that I made a sale to a relatively big-deal publication… which I still decline to mention until things are a little more certain.

Yes, I showed this recently. I show it again, because it releases endorphins every time I do so.

This went home in exactly this state (clicky for bigness, if you want to gander at the horror in detail).

In the pen department… no huge triumphs, but no horrifying debacles, either.  I didn’t utterly smash anything (important)(that wasn’t mine)(that wasn’t already mostly broken), which is nice when repairing pens.  I did fetch up against a Parker 61 which was utterly resistant to repair– bits were loose which shouldn’t be, and those that needed to be to do something about couldn’t be undone because of the loose bits.

Sleek, to be certain. Very sleek.

The latter part of the year brought a couple of minor triumphs.  Yesterday’s pen, the Sheaffer Taranis, was something I had been very curious about since its release four years ago, and a recent sale brought one within financial reach.  Hurray!  Happily, ‘curiosity’ is not quite the same thing as ‘desire,’ so the appearance of the actual object did not bring with it a shattering disappointment.  It did not, alas, bring glee, either.  I was completely whelmed by it, neither over- nor under-, because it was very nearly precisely as I had expected it, and I had expected it to be good enough as a pen but not particularly amazing… and almost certainly not worth as much as Sheaffer wanted for it.

One of the other pen purchases of the year did bring glee.  I have been intermittently enthusiastic about TWSBI for some time, but even with that as a background, I was surprised by how much I enjoy writing with their Classic.  I suspect I’ve got an unusually good example of the 1.1mm point, a real point-bit-of-bell-curve individual.  This combines with amazing mileage (if you check back, you’ll find I’ve been using the same load of ink since the end of October, and it still doesn’t quite need a reload) to fill me with glee, to the extent that I’m amazed I haven’t been shouting “You must buy a TWSBI Classic if you hope to lead a happy life!” into the faces of strangers I pass in the street.  It really is jolly nice.

Of course, you might not like this colour. That’s cool– they’ve got others.

This past year, then, was not so very terrible for me as an individual.  And I’m very, very aware how lucky I am in this.  I hope, indeed, I almost literally grovel in the dirt in hopes of convincing Fate that it will treat me no worse in 2018.  And, as the new year looms up on our collective horizon, I’ll hope that you are all treated at least as well.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Snorkel Sovereign
Today’s ink: Herbin Violette Pensée

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Posted by Dirck on 21 December, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  • 3,526 words typed.

Thank you, extended action sequence! That balances out last weeks miserable plodding nicely.

This week has been remarkably productive, indeed.  Not only that great outpouring of novel, but I got a little story up on the other enterprise as well, AND… well, let me show you a very nice thing indeed from my profile on Submittable:

I have not been diligently submitting my stories, since most of my thoughts are filled with novel, but I have been poking away at it, and that poking had pulled out a plum!  I won’t mention the name of the publication just yet, fearful of drawing the ire of Fate under the Counting Of Chickens Act of 1609; rest assured, there will be a big fat link to them as the date of presentation firms up.  This is a pretty wonderful Christmas present for me, even if it did appear a couple of weeks ahead of the official day of HoHoHo.


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Posted by Dirck on 14 December, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  •  1539 words typed.  Wait… what?!

Yeah, that word count is accurate.  Technically.  I did a stupid thing yesterday– I took another look at my first chapter.  It seems that despite having been conscious at the time, or so I claim, I did not apply sufficient thought to the thing.  It needed a good deal of work, because it spent a sad amount of energy introducing a character who does not appear in any subsequent chapter.

That is… not a good way to tell a story.  I know this.  I have known this for a while.  Why I forgot entirely not only back in August but also the previous November (second draft, yes?) is a dark mystery.  At least I noticed it before I handed it around to a lot of readers, so I haven’t damaged my reputation in the eyes of any but myself– and I’m well aware than I’m a vast collection of flaws lodged in a matrix of well-marbled meat.

The fix, which had created a vastly superior opening chapter, did so at the cost of about eight hundred words of length.  Eight hundred gangrenous words that needed to go, certainly, but however medically necessary, an amputation always leaves a smaller patient.  That and a relatively steep bit of revision on the part of the story I was already working on this week produces what looks like a very poor week for output indeed.

But I am working, damn it.  To the spectral figure of Work Ethic who floats about my head, I say stop hounding me!

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Posted by Dirck on 7 December, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  • 2744 words typed

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Posted by Dirck on 30 November, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  • 2130 words typed

Why such a low week? Well, apart from the efforts called for by events mentioned on Monday, yesterday’s writing session finished with me saying, “Well, that’s it for today.  Time to save!” followed immediately by the failure of power in the entire northern half of the city.  Autosave meant that I only lost about a third of the work… but still.  Boo.

Oh, for those who are putting a bow on their NaNoWriMo efforts today, let me offer this admission of marginal defeat:

Marginal defeat, of course, because I’m not actually running that race, and if I claimed to be you could all shout Cheat! because that’s not talking about the first draft and I started in late August.  I mention it only because it’s (sort of) close to the official participant’s goal.

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Posted by Dirck on 23 November, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  • 2992 words typed


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Posted by Dirck on 16 November, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  • 2125 words typed (long weekend)

Also, here’s a thing that happened this week:

Which is encouraging in two contradictory ways.  The first is obvious enough– oh boy, halfway done!

But… am I, really?  Remember, the gauge is based on an estimate of the word count based on a comparison of previous projects’ first draft page counts to final word counts.  “Estimate” can be accurate, or not.  So, let me run something by you.  When I finished the most recent bout of typing, I closed my manuscript and held a ruler up to it.  When gently compressed, it is a stack of paper roughly 3 cm tall.  The sticky-note which indicates where I left off is about 1 cm from the top.

…so I may be more in the order of 33% finished.  Which is great in terms of what the final word count may be; possibly as much as 100,000, a much more genre-appropriate weight (in as much as this thing fits a genre– closest to horror, although… have I mentioned this?… there is a tendril extending into the camp of detective fiction).  Wonderful!  Fantastic!

Those who know my capacity for dashing cold water on my own head will already have noticed the other hand presented by this second encouragement, though– I have been speaking of an estimated finishing date sometime in the first half of February.


It begins to look as if I’m in for a longer haul….

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