Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

Recently in Writing Journal Category

NaNoWriMo update: slightly less screwed.

After a hu-u-u-u-uge push tonight, I've managed to get my NaNoWriMo novel more or less back on track. Still a ways to go yet in too little time, and good Lord why won't the NaNo system update its tracker already, but I'm now at 41,355 words where I was at 36,764 when I woke up this morning. For the mathematically challenged, that's a gain of 4,591 words. As a great cyborg detective once said, wowsers!

Can't quit yet, though - I still have 8,645 words to go, but I'm feeling much more confident now that it might be doable after all. Woo-hoo!

Also, on a side note, old SXSW friends should be sure to wish our not-old friend Molly a very happy birthday today. She's just dinged 37 (insert inappropriate Kevin Smith joke here) and is still showing us how to rock academia in your thirties. This is especially appreciated in my own personal camp, as I also spent a small chunk of time today revisiting the Ph.D. problem. Long story short, when I do get to be Dr. Long, I may very well be about the same age. So you go girl – thanks for being so awesome!


NaNoWriMo update: I'm so screwed.

Here's a tip: if one is considering doing NaNoWriMo, there are a number of dumb things you can do. The first is attempting to do DrawMo at the same time, although that's really not that big a deal at all, especially for those of us who think in pictures as well as in words. No, the really dumb thing to do is to attend a conference near the end of the month, especially one as awesome as Futures of Entertainment, because that will suck up not only your time, but also your brain cells. Placing any remaining neurons in the service of a journal for which you are doing some guest editor-type of work is also a bad idea, and following that combo up with another dose of intellectual awesome in the form of a lecture/workshop on transmedia and adaptation from 7-10 on the Monday night immediately afterwards means that your Tuesday morning writing time is completely blown out with fatigued bleary blinking at the monitors and saying blirf? Blorg? Bleeeahhhh.

So, yes. Blirf. Blorg. And most definitely bleeeahhhh.


NaNoWriMo Update: a preview.

"Here we are," Michael said in a low voice as we filed out of the tunnel and gathered around him, all of our necks craning as we stared up, up and further up. The tunnel must have led us into the mountains, all right - because right then and there we sure seemed to be inside of one. The chamber we were in was massive, easily ten times the size of the cavern outside of the catacombs, but that wasn't the most impressive part. What really took my breath away, what was so completely unreal, was what was set into the stone. Spread out above us, branching through the cavern and running through the solid rock were roots, huge towering root structures the size of redwood trunks, easily thirty feet across. They spiraled through the chamber as it stretched up into darkness overhead, leapt across the space like footbridges, and crisscrossed back and forth to a main, towering taproot that stretched up from the center of the chamber like nothing so much as Rapunzel's tower. And the icing on the cake? The bit that really sent my mind over the edge? Carved into the roots were windows, tiny little portholes rimmed with wood and stone edgings and composed of intricate quilts of stained glass panes - and the windows were lit. The result was a beautiful patchwork rainbow of color that bathed the chamber with a warm, beautiful light.

"It's the root of the world," Simon said quietly. "Michael. You found the root of the world."

(from my NaNoWriMo novel, Children of Winter, Children of Wolves)


NaNoWriMo update: Yay Ugh Yay Ugh.

A bit of a hiccup in my NaNoWriMo scribblings, due to this turning out to be an incredibly tempestuous week (and it's only Tuesday). Big news is breaking here in the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT, which I'll link to as soon as it is officially announced... And now the cat is out of the bag: Henry Jenkins III, my friend and mentor and advisor and academic hero, is leaving MIT for USC. After that announcement, suffice it to say that I didn't feel much like writing yesterday.

Oh, I still banged out about 500 words, but that didn't happen until after midnight, and the scene that resulted is likely to be the first thing that I've ever written that I may wind up self-censoring out of a project. Most of the evening yesterday was devoured by a freelance consulting project I'm working on, for which I've been mucking about in the wonderful and woolly world of online video, so between that and the weird vibes here at the office, yesterday was a wash for NaNo'ing.

Today, however, has been an altogether different kettle of fish. I woke up with a little click in the back of my head, and like the tumblers in a lock, several very important pieces fell into place for the story. I realized that something I'd put in as more or less a throwaway concept was actually the cleverly-disguised key to making the third act work and giving my protagonists a way to defeat the villains, which is awesome, and that I suddenly had a very strong idea about how Children of Winter, Children of Wolves will end, and I even had an idea about what the main plot of the third book, tentatively titled The Wild Hunt, will be and how it will unfold – and until this morning I didn't even know that there was a third book in the wings. That was fantastic all on its own...

And then I checked my e-mail.

This morning a press release went out announcing the Media Lab's new Center for Future Storytelling. Just like that, my various plans and schemes for possible directions for my Ph.D research were completely upended, like that scene in Ghostbusters: "The flowers are still standing!" There's also a write-up in the New York Times under the title "Saving the Story (the Film Version)", but there's very little additional content about the actual 'labette' than in the original press release. Believe me, I'm watching this with both eyes. The best thing about this possibility to my mind so far is that it won't officially launch until 2010, which gives me a year to get certain other massive projects done or well underway, but, as always, we'll see what happens...

Plus, now USC has a very definite allure for obvious reasons! So now I have multiple programs that could provide a great home for my Ph.D research whereas before this last year I was still wandering in the desert. The Media Lab, USC, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Queensland, Madison... Dang!

So, yes. Wild, crazy times – and the week's just started. Heaven only knows what will come of the Futures of Entertainment 3 Conference coming up this weekend, aside from getting to see some friends absent too long... But I do realize that this means I have to get some serious writing stockpiled before Friday morning!


NaNoWriMo update: 30,185.

Only 11 words shy of another 3,000 words banged out this morning means that I've tipped over the 30,000 word mark, and am now over 3/5ths of the way to being done. Woo-hoo! I'm acutely aware that the majority of the book so far has been dialogue with a couple of action scenes thrown in, and I definitely need to work on that, but maybe I can make the entire third act an extended case of the fit hitting the shan, so to speak. Which actually brings up something else – in this one, I've been taking careful measures to have my characters swear off-stage, by which I mean using the phrase "I swore" instead of the actual curse words. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, or maybe it's because of my recent research into negative capability, or maybe it's because when and if I do try to get this published I'm aware that it might be best targeted at a young adult audience – or at the very least, shouldn't exclude that audience due to something as arbitrary as foul language.

Best of all, I'm finally getting to introduce a character that I invented over a year ago in Frank Espinosa's class. This book has now officially given me space to trot out three of the characters that have been rattling around in my head for way too long now – and it's terrific getting to see what they actually do when placed on stage instead of being all cooped up in my notebooks and gray matter.

Also, Laura's been awesome throughout this entire project, completely supportive and curious about what happens next, and has largely left me alone when I need to be banging away at the keyboard, which as any author knows is amazingly endearing. Further, she's also using the time to create herself, and is currently in the middle of a Munny version of Captain Jack Sparrow that will blow your hair back.

Right. Now the lady and I are headed off to catch a celebratory matinee of Quantum of Solace and perhaps pick up a (very) early Christmas present for me, and then after that it's back to the grind on a freelance project and some other writing... Now rest for the wicked, hey?

Today's high point of the work-in-progress: an extended flashback scene that describes the actions of a Wolf Child during the Nazi occupation of Romania during World War II. Anyone who reads this will be able to see my Mignola fanboyhood painted with big, broad strokes, but it's still an incredibly fun thing to see unfold on the page!


NaNoWriMo update: 27,196.

Despite having come down with the plague that's been going around the lab, this evening I successfully cleared the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo with room to spare. Yesterday I turned in 2,446 words and today I turned in another 3,540 to bring me up to 27,196. I need to be stockpiling some for next weekend, since I'm going to be booked almost completely with the Futures of Entertainment conference, but right now I'm feeling pretty good about things. I'm acutely aware that the novel so far is really dialogue-heavy and needs some more action-y setpieces, but the couple that I have in so far (especially the two chase scenes) I'm pretty proud of. This evening I had another one of those wonderful "Ah, so that's why I wrote that fifty pages ago!" moments, which are always fun – they're like little reassuring messages from your creative subconscious that say "Relax, I really do know what I'm doing here".

Nothing new to report on DrawMo, alas – maybe I'll have some catch-up stuff done tomorrow. For now, to sleep, perchance to dream... And get back up again tomorrow to hit this project again before tucking into some freelance work and some academic writing. Onward!

PS: So far the biggest concern that I had about BotA is finally being addressed in CoW² (which, by the by, is a greatly preferable shorthand for the title in my mind than CoW, CoW or CoWCoW) – the main characters are really taking on differentiated personalities. Callie always stood on her own, ever since she first showed up on the page (and in so doing completely obliterated my early character sketch in which Caliban Davies was a seventy-year-old man) but Michael and Pi kind of blurred together a little more than I was comfortable with in the first one and Vicky all too often stumbled into 'damsel in distress' mode, which was, well, distressing. In this one Pi is a lot more well-defined, and Michael (what little of the book he's in so far) is coming into his own too. Vicky still needs some tightening, character mechanics-wise, but we'll see. Part of the trouble there is that she still hasn't completely found her voice in my head so she's still a little too one-dimensional, but I suspect she'll get there soon enough. I hope.


DrawMo and NaNoWriMo updates: 23,656

The steady march to 50,000 words nears the halfway point, as I hit 23,656 words this morning. I elected not to attend the Simon Winchester lecture last night after all due to feeling a little under the weather, so I used the time instead to get a mess of work done on both this and a number of other projects (including some editorial work I'm doing for the Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures, which is taking me back to my Inkblots glory days. I also uploaded DrawMo entries for November 12th and November 13th – the one from the 13th is probably my favorite so far because it's the first time I've successfully done a cartoon of a cat that I'm really happy with. (Thanks for modeling, Albus.)

I am, however, slightly annoyed with how NaNoWriMo is suffering from its own success. Although I made sure to update my word count last night before midnight, it didn't count it until today, which means that the little widget on the side of my blog there has yesterday marked down in red, which it shouldn't have done. Also annoying is the fact that since I didn't start entering word counts until the 10th, and since the system automatically ignores outlier numbers, the report card page that they have set up for each author has my average word count at around 91 words a page, which is obviously bunk. For the curious, 23,656 divided by 14 is 1,690, rounded up - so that statistic is only around 1,600 words off!


DrawMo and NaNoWriMo updates: 19,629.

First of all, I've just uploaded a mess of illustrations from the last 10 days or so to my Flickr account as part of my DrawMo 2008 experiment. I cheated a little by doing three drawings yesterday to make up for missing two days before (shhh, don't tell). Mostly they're influenced by my recent obsession with Mike Mignola and Guillermo del Toro, especially the ones I did last night while watching the special features on the Hellboy II Blu-Ray discs with Laura, but there's a couple character sketches of the new blood from Children of Winter, Children of Wolves in there as well, including this guy:

Carson Reilly

Does he look like trouble to you?

That brings me to my NaNoWriMo update. Although I fell short yesterday thanks to the siren song of the long-awaited and aforementioned Hellboy II Blu-Ray release, as well as last night's episodes of House and Fringe, I woke up early this morning to bang out an additional 2,265 words in the form of a chapter wherein a college professor meets a grisly end. Mwa ha ha. Hopefully I can tuck back into it again tonight, because tomorrow night I have a lecture to attend (Simon Winchester on the OED, woo-hoo!) and Friday night is Quantum of Solace, which I am well and truly geeked out about.

It has just occurred to me that I should probably apologize to any readers out there who follow this blog for deep, insightful intellectual observations, but then again, if you know me then none of this recent geekery should come as a surprise. As Heath Ledger's Joker said, "It's all part of the plan."

See? Even my apologies are rife with metageekery. There's no escaping it, so I might as well revel in it.


NaNoWriMo update: 17,364.

Ever since I first dreamed up the premise for Children of Winter, Children of Wolves (which has the unfortunate shortened name of CoW, CoW) last year in Frank Espinosa's world-building class, I knew where I wanted to take the story: Romania. There was something about the lore of Eastern Europe, tied up in all its delicious stories of vampires, werewolves and specters, along with the beauty of the gypsy culture, that I wanted to play with, and so, last night about six o'clock or so (or at the 10,304-word mark) I threw my protagonists on a plane and sent them to Romania.

This has been both awesome and slightly sucky. Awesome, in that I'm having a ton of fun sending them through places with names like Tîrgu Mures, Cluj-Napoca and Alba Ilula and investigating things with names like Biserica Neagră, or the Black Church. Sucky, however, in that it's tricky to conduct a lot of research when you're on a strict timeline. Hence, my writing this morning has only generated a little under a thousand more words. That's okay, because I'll give this another go when I get home tonight, but still... Rats.

That said, how can you not see something like this and think it's awesome?

The Black Church

See? Awesome.


NaNoWriMo update: 16,483.


And, in one half-decent scene, I have introduced Vicky's ex-boyfriend, finally gotten to riff on Pi's unusual name, and demonstrated the uncanny power of women to impose their will over both their current boyfriends and their past ones. Man, this story is turning out to be fun.