Spending as much time sitting in an ambulance as I do, there’s a part of the job that I’ve come to enjoy that I never would have thought of before: listening to the radio chatter. The company I work for is relatively small, so I actually know/have met most of the other EMTs. That being said, when we’re working, it’s generally just the two of us on a single crew, or sometimes two crews depending on what the call is: not exactly a busy, bustling office surrounded by lots of coworkers.
Now, when I drove for a rideshare company a while back, one of the things that drove (ha!) me nuts was the fact that it was so very lonely. Sure, you had your passengers, many of whom were enjoyable to talk to, but of all the jobs I’d ever worked, that was the most isolating by far.
You might think that it could feel the same way, though perhaps to a lesser degree, with it for the most part just being you and one other person all day, though I’m the first to admit that even one other person doing the same thing as you and working with you is so much less lonely than the alternative. But even then, I suspect it could get a little alienating if it was just the two of us.
Which is where the radio chatter comes in. We get to hear what everyone else on shift is doing– for the most part. Who’s going to a call. Who just got on shift. Who just finished theirs. It’s so little in so many ways, but it’s a reminder that there’s a whole bunch of us out there together. Perhaps I’m romanticizing it. Perhaps not. Either way, I enjoy it.
((On an entirely different note! Check back in tomorrow for a new short story!))
As someone with a propensity for writing and planning to write, it should come as no surprise that I also enjoy stories told by other people. Part of that is the same love of a good story that so many people share, of course. And a part of that is genuine awe for how some storytellers structure and build their stories, particularly the longer ones with oh-so-many moving parts.
Like, for example, the Harry Potter series.
I recently read through the entire series again for a second time (yeah, yeah, I know… only two times?!), and was utterly amazed at just how much was set up from the beginning. Or at least, how many things from the early books J.K. Rowling managed to work into the later books– and honestly, I’m not sure which is more impressive. Characters and tiny tidbits about their history that we find out when we are first introduced become, if not central to the entire plot, then at least salient plot points.
And most of it is stuff I’d never, ever have noticed if I only read through once. (So it’s definitely a good thing various friends recommended that I do it at least twice.)
I’ve also been re-reading/restarting Girl Genius, which has been so fun. For those of you unfamiliar, Girl Genius is a steampunk webcomic that’s been running online for over seventeen years. It’s absolute madness, and after successfully keeping up with it for years, it kinda got away from me a few years back. Mostly because it’s so very convoluted that I was getting thoroughly confused.
Funny thing is, though… it’s a whole lot easier to follow when you read it from the beginning. (The trouble with that, of course, is that it’s been updating three times a week for over a decade and a half, so it’s not exactly a quick read, per se.) Which brings me back to my earlier point about structure. Sort of. I’ve caught up almost to the point where I stopped reading earlier, and it already all makes so much more sense. Kinda like it’s actually a cohesive narrative or something. (Gasp!)
What I’m trying to get at is this: good writing requires structure, and that applies to any writing, be it novels or webcomics/graphic novels. Or video games. Or short stories. Or screenplays. Or…
You get the picture.
The other thing that I’m trying to get at is that good, solid structures is really cool. And sometimes can’t be seen until you take a step back, particularly with longer works. Then again, maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to lob reading recommendations at you. But is that such a bad thing?
Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays, and that you’re all ready for the new year– as much as anyone ever can be!
Speaking of the new year, I’ve got a couple of announcements regarding my plans for this blog! First, weekly Wednesday posts are back on, so if you happen to be looking forward to those, you’re in luck! I’m also going to be playing around with actually writing posts ahead of time, in the hope that it means I actually update on time, and not at 11:55pm on Wednesday nights. Heh. With that in mind, if there happens to be a subject that you’d like to see written about by an unrepentantly nerdy amateur blogger, do let me know!
Second, it’s also high time for me to start posting regular stories to the blog, like I was when I first started this thing. They fell by the wayside for a number of reasons, but at this point, I have no good reason to not push myself to do them again, and a whole lot of good reasons to just go for it.
Honestly, it puts me in mind of one of my favorite Ray Bradbury quotes: “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.” I’m not going for the one-story-a-week goal, but two a month isn’t bad, and with any luck, it’ll pull me out of the panicky over-editing loop I’ve gotten myself stuck in. Again. Oof.
And finally, I will of course continue plugging away at Tanner and Miranda. Expect a full update on what’s going on with them in the next couple of weeks!
How about for all of you? Any exciting new writing related goals? Any exciting new non-writing related goals? Let me know in the comments below!
I’m pretty sure the months are actually passing faster than they used to. It feels like this year’s NaNo event just started, and here we are several days into December. It’s madness, I tell you. Final wordcount for this year came in at right about 56K, which is not too shabby, though definitely not the 100K I was going for. Maybe next year!
Also, as is often the case, reaching the 50K goal doesn’t always equate to finishing the story. It certainly didn’t this year, so I’m still chipping away at it, and will hopefully have a completed pre-rough draft before the month’s up. And then! On to the editing!
As of five minutes ago, I reached the 50k goal for NaNo 2019! Which I’m super happy about. There was definitely a little while there, when my poor old laptop gave up the ghost, that I actually wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to finish this month. I’m very happy that wasn’t the case.
As for that 100k goal… I somehow don’t think I’m quite going to get there this year. I’m not done writing, and I still have three days, but that’s a pretty wild pace to keep to finish. We’ll see how far I get!
For all of you doing NaNo, how are your projects going? Are you ahead? Behind? Right on track? Keep on pushing! You’ve got this!
I’m back! Mostly! Problem is, I’m also thoroughly distracted, because there’s a billion and one things that don’t quite work on the new laptop, and right now my brain is far more interested in fixing those than writing a novel. But! I’m writing this post from the new machine, which is a huge step in the right direction.
Also! Here’s a (short!) snippet from my current project:
I can’t imagine what Paul thought when he saw me. Or rather, I could, but I would rather not, as it wasn’t bound to be flattering. I was covered in dust, grime, sweat, possibly a few tears, and definitely a little blood– mine as far as I knew, but I couldn’t be certain. It’s a testament to the relationship he had cultivated with me and Tanner over the last two years that he didn’t reach for his gun and point it at my head as soon as he caught sight of me.
They say there are two types of people in the world… those who do backups, and those who have never had a hard drive fail.
Well, I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that I don’t belong to that second category! Sadly, my faithful laptop of the last four and a half years bit the dust on Sunday. Now the good news is that my current NaNo project (and all other important projects) are thoroughly backed up, so I haven’t lost anything. The bad news, of course, is that I am in the middle of NaNoWriMo without a functional laptop. It was bound to happen sometime?
Of course, the other good news is that I have a tablet and a bluetooth keyboard. It’s a little laggy, but totally workable, and I no longer have the excuse of “I don’t have my whole project with me so I can’t write during downtime at work.” So, net good?
How is everyone else doing with NaNo? Any unexpected setbacks? Are things going more smoothly than usual? Let me know in the comments!
Super quick update this week! According to the calendar, apparently the first week of November is almost over! My wordcount is currently sitting at a little over 11,000, which is a little ahead in terms of the 50K official goal, and really, really, behind for my personal 100K goal. But! The last couple of days have been fantastic for getting into a groove, and I am optimistic!
For those of you doing NaNo this year, how’s the first week treated you? Any exciting scenes? Fun plot points? General mayhem?
It wasn’t like Tanner to go it alone. Not usually. Not unless my brother was feeling like a white knight, at any rate, and there was nothing about an old wrecked ship that should have been attracting that particular part of his personality to the fore. Which was why I was confused. And curious. And concerned for Tanner’s wellbeing, of course.
But also kinda hoping that he had gotten himself into the sort of trouble that would give me teasing rights for the next month after saving his butt.
I was still a little surprised we’d been asked to investigate the wreck. Even on a colony as young as Verdant, crashed ships were hardly uncommon. It was a little odd that no one had any idea what ship it was, sure, but between the wildcatters and the outlaws, there were a lot of possibilities for an unregistered ship. The weirdest thing about it was that the flyover scan that turned the thing up had suggested that the ship was old– seventy five years old. Old enough that there was no way it should be on this side of the galaxy.
And that’s when everyone with a ghost story to tell crawled out of the woodwork. Serves me right for talking about it while Tanner and I were goofing off in the big common room at Teddy’s.
“You know they say there was a mutiny aboard an armadillo-class like that one back in ’43. Its last transmission was cut off right after her captain started cursing the traitors with some sort of old world hocus pocus.”
“I heard they’d tried uploading an honest-to-god AI to a private freighter back when all the big corps were still messing around with thinking and feeling computers. Could be a real ghost in the machine, you know?”
“Galaxy’s a big place. Could be aliens.”
And those were the most well-thought-out theories presented by our fellow denizens at Teddy’s: stuff and nonsense everyone one. Which made the fact that I found myself actually a little spooked as I started out for the coordinates of the wreck on my own all the more annoying. When I found Tanner, he was going to get a piece of my mind.
If I’d thought it would be better as soon as I got to the coordinates, I was wrong. Wrecks are always a little creepy, especially once you get to thinking about how they used to be functional, beautiful vessels– some of them, at least. Or, maybe, a home. Or maybe just a place that used to see living, breathing humans every day. Seeing empty ships like that just felt wrong, like a graveyard without the bodies.
I stopped just outside the wreck and gave a disgusted snort. Now I was creeping myself out.
Not that the remains of the ship in front of me were making that hard. Of all the derelicts I’d ever seen, this one might have been the most derelict. The hull was worn through in a dozen different places, and the sand and the sort of scrappy vegetation common on Verdant were sneaking their way inside. The hatch had fallen open what must have been decades ago, and while I suspected I could probably find it in the dirt below my feet if I dug long enough, I wasn’t about to put in the effort. So instead, the hatch just stared at me with a sort of death’s head grin, and I stared back and tried to remind myself that I was a stone-cold badass of a freelancer, and I shouldn’t be scared of some old empty ship.
And I had almost managed to convince myself when I heard someone behind me…
Happy Halloween! Looks like they still celebrate the holiday all the way out on Verdant, much to Miranda’s probable chagrin. Not much else to report, save that I’m equal parts excited and terrified for NaNo to start, since I’m not sure how my personal goal of 100,000 words is going to treat me. We shall see!
Anyway, good luck to everyone participating next month! May your writing be swift and your editing minimal!
Not a whole lot to report this week, save that I did manage to get some decent prep work done for NaNo next month. This, of course, means “decent” prep work by my own loose standards, which means that it’s still leaning pretty heavily towards pantsing it (as opposed to truly planning it), but hey. You gotta start somewhere!
I am excited, though! Because I have a whiteboard now! Apparently they make adhesive whiteboard material surfaces, which happen to be a bit more affordable and so much easier to mount than a standard whiteboard, so I now have a shiny new plotting surface stuck to one of my closet doors. (This, of course, would be why it’s been easiest to find me cackling and petting my dry erase marker collection of late, but I’m sure that will wear off soon.)
In preparation for next month’s marathon, too, I’ve also jerry-rigged some yarn to create a sort of makeshift timeline, which I’ll be using to organize various scenes/keep all my character sketches easily accessible. It’s so much more than I’ve ever done in the past, so we’ll see how well it sticks. Either way, I’m super excited, and it’s already helped me plan some things out, and at the very least should do a fantastic job of keeping things visible.
Do any of you have any tried and true methods for NaNo prep? Or maybe you’re like me and trying something new this year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!