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Writing Reflection 2008
A Year Come and Gone
2008 is at an end. I've accomplished little. Five chapters in the beginning of the year... and that's it. Well... not exactly "that's it". I've worked on writing at various points throughout the year, including completing one or two chapters. (I forget the exact count, because I can't seem to find my flash drive at the moment to take a look and see.)
So, what have I learned? What stood out? Where can I improve? What did I get right? And since I hardly wrote anything at all this year, what gets in the way?
What stood out?
The main reasons for writing this story is because it's fun and I want to use this as tool to improve my writing. I've hardly written at all this year. But looking back on the commentaries of the chapters that I wrote this year brings back so much. They're very detailed. I wrote them that way because I love commentaries on dvds. I've learned a lot about story structure from them, and they simply entertain me, giving me a better appreciation of movies, tv shows, and even Magic cards when I know more about the process of putting them together.
As a side note, I've also learned a lot from reading Mark Rosewater's "Making Magic" column on magicthegathering.com. Sometimes about making magic cards, other times about random things including what's most relevant to this very web page right now - writing.
Keeping copies of my drafts is one thing, there is something to learn from them, but the commentary will allow me to keep track of my thought process. I've also because writing commentary on my revisions, which will help remind me of the reasons behind even the smallest changes. (And be available for anyone who is also interested in reading them.)
Although I made this realization at the very end of last year, it's an important lesson to remember. Every chapter has to have a purpose and event. I had originally had them as one and the same in my head when creating my original outline as a general goal.
This wasn't a problem for twenty-two chapters. The main reason is that if my outline had a purpose listed as the overall goal of the chapter, writing an event would naturally come out of that, and if I had an event written as the overall goal of the chapter, they oftentimes had a purpose instinctively tied to them. Then came Chapter 210, which felt wrong somehow, and that's when I realized the distinction between event and purpose, and the need to have both when making my outline, which led to Writing - Chapter Construction in the extras section. (And once again very glad that I write my commentaries and extras.)
Where can I improve?
I put up five chapters this year. All on time, in the beginning of the year. That's it. That's horrible.
I think once I get back into my goove, I'll go back to the one chapter every two weeks, and then only add in chapters on the off weeks as a bonus. This way I won't feel pressured to get things done on time when my life gets hectic, but then at the same time I have an option for getting things out quicker if I want to. There's only upside in moving to that kind of a schedule.
What did I get right?
There isn't really much else to say. There isn't much work to evaluate where I've improved. Right now I'm re-reading all the chapters of Volume 2 to have all the material fresh in my head again, to make sure I cover everything as I finish off the volume, and get ideas for Volume 3. (Something I hope I will be able to get to.) And this re-read is showing me that I still think the story I've come up with is pretty good. The methods I've been using the create these chapters are working, and I'm looking forward to finishing up this volume.
What got in the way?
The first thing that put a pause on my writing, was simple writer's block. Like I mentioned in the Chapter 203 commentary, Stark's chapter's are harder to write. I realized that my original idea for the chapter that I came up during the volume outlining process simply wasn't going to work.
Life Got in the Way
What happened after the writer's block? Well... life got in the way. School was especially crazy at various points, I ended up changing my major. I started getting into poker, and spent a lot of my free time playing poker, which led to a crazy sleep schedule during the summer, and towards the end of the year I ended up moving to a new place.
New Thief Chapters
Chapters of Thief popped up in other shards. It's good to see them still popping out stories. How did that affect me? Yes, I'm writing a story, but I'm also part of a website. While I assume that most people came here for Chad's work, one of the reasons why I wanted to impose a regular schedule on myself is so there would be regular content put up on the website. Just simply so regular visitors would see that content was appearing on a regular basis and would want to come back. And who knows, maybe some of Chad's readers would also be interested in my work.
But with the development of chapters of Theif popping up on other shards, there was more content popping up on the website, and I felt less pressure to put up content, so I took the time to take a break as I was focusing on other things in my life.
Missing Flash Drive
This is the latest event that kept me from putting up a new chapter. I have the desire, but the bulk of my notes are on one flash drive that I carried around with me. I don't think I've backed it up in a while, and I know I have Chapter 216 pretty much fully completed, as well as a lot of work on Chapter's 217 and 218. I've learned that a lot of my initial drafts have a very organic feel to them that it's hard for me to recreate whenever I try re-writing a chapter from scratch. So at this point I'd rather take the time to find that flash drive and find that completed work. Once I find that, I'll make sure to complete the rest of the Volume and put them up on a weekly basis, just because there has been too much of a delay already.
Why come back?
Volume 2 Isn't Finished
I'm a little obessive compulsive in that it would be really hard for me to simply leave this without finishing it. I know where this is all heading. I have an ultimate ending. I don't know if I'll ever reach it because that means working on this for several more years to get to that point if I only do two or three chapters a month, but I know I can finish this volume. And I know if I can't get to the very end, Volume 3 has a nicer stopping point.
Because It's Fun
I love stories. I love reading them and watching them. And I've learned that I'm having a lot of fun creating one. It's enjoyable, it's relaxing, it's cheap, and it can be done anywhere. It's pretty much a perfect hobby.
With this story specifically, my re-read has shown me that I actually do like the story that I'm writing. It's not award winning work, but it entertains me, and I'm not embarassed by it. And while I do know the outline of what's going on, the actual writing reveals things that I didn't know was there. If no one else wants to see how it ends, I still do.
So what have I learned? I need to back up my flashdrive on a regular basis. I really do like writing, and it's something I'll always come back too, even after long breaks. I really do like my story. There's no point in finishing it, if I don't like it, but it looks like that's not something I have to worry about. We'll see how this upcoming year works out. At the very least Volume 2 will be finished, but I expect some substantial work on Volume 3 once I finish breaking down the outline that I've already begun working on.
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