Finding Time (and Space) in the Land of Exposition

So, Summer 2015 is (slowly) winding down – the temperature is (still) moderately high, as it should be, though I could do without the intermittent bouts of humidity, and (for the most part) all is quasi-quiet on the Western Front (and probably on the Northern, Eastern and Southern Fronts as well, Who knows?).

Anyway.

After my quasi-meta/trippy post last week – absurd yet brilliant (or brilliant yet absurd) – not (too) actual!writing, plotting or pondering has actually!happened, as Real Life has gathered its minion Muse army to form a formidable barricade around the roads to the Land of Exposition. ‘Twas an unexpected move that happened whilst I was away distracted in Camp NaNoWritMo, pondering the ponders about 50 Shades of Sunset, that quasi-parody (with not as much smut as initially giggled) of the (amazing) film and (equally amazing) stage musical Sunset Boulevard. While I actually!managed to write (and record) a word count that exceeded previous Camp NaNoWritMo sessions (and somewhere in the midst of the regular NaNoWritMo sessions), I fell (extraordinarily) short of the goal word count (which was set at 10,086, for the obvious reasons). Yes, I’m (almost always) pessimistic about most everything but that’s just how I am – I should be reveling in my (minor-ish) achievement but somehow, comparatively, it still fell short. The aforementioned (incomplete) story has joined the other works in progress waiting (quasi-patiently) to be dusted off and continued – that waiting room has grown considerably, and redecorated a few times to accommodate the different personalities and perspectives of the characters within those yet-to-be-finished stories. A minor, merry war erupted once, and was resolved with the addition of sturdy, soundproofed partitions.

But I digress.

Again.

Whilst I was in the home stretch of failing to complete yet another Camp NaNoWritMo objective, the Real Life Brigade plotted and gathered enough debris to build that barricade around all the known paths leading into the Land of Exposition. Emotive singing ensued, along with a elaborate dance break (so I’m told), ending with a huge red flag fluttering atop the barricade. While it was distressing to see it there, impeding my entry to my writing sanctuary, it was (still) a marvelous sight to behold. A stern yet quasi-friendly bunch of sentinels were keeping watch at all times, firmly yet politely informing me of the reason behind the creation of the barricade. According to them, in an effort to maximize productivity, major renovations were commissioned, rendering the entire area “unsafe” for visitors at the present time. When pressed for an estimated time of completion, and when the barricades would be taken down, they presented me with a non-answer, and gave me an all access, carte blanche voucher once it was “safe” to return.

Needless to say that there was Something Rotten in the Land of Exposition.

As the sentinels were heavily armed, I dared not to ask further questions. Nevertheless, the yen to investigate this sudden, strange (yet not unwelcoming) turn of events compelled me to search for answers. So for the past few weeks (or so) I’ve been focused on the search for clues amid the Real Life contingent, finding a massive amount of red tape and shuffling between office locations. The literary plotting and pondering has happened (albeit sporadically) during this time, but it’s remained (mostly) in the back of the Mind Palace and has yet to reach the fingertips and into Word.

Eventually it will, but not as yet.

Anyway.

This interesting turn of events has consumed (far too) much of my time and energy, yet I will continue these weekly entries, because I am committed to writing and posting something every week, with the (unrealistic?) hope of actually!writing about actual!writing about the works in progress.

TTFN!

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Updates on Works in Progress (and other Random Musings)

Well.

Not so much an update but more of a way to remind myself where I am in the process of plotting, pondering and actually!writing of the various stories that (more or less) make up the epic series saga that is the MASC Chronicles. Last month, I spent (most of) my time at Camp NaNoWritMo, with the most sincere intention of actually!writing a story totally unrelated to the aforementioned series saga. As quasi-detailed in the last four blog posts, I did manage to start writing that new story, which started as a daft idea during a Facebook chat session with a fellow writer that quickly escalated into a crack!fan fiction story that blended one of my favorite films and musicals, Sunset Boulevard with one of the most ridiculed book series, 50 Shades of Grey. For the record, I’ve never read 50 Shades (nor would I ever want to) but I knew enough about the plot and the (undeserved?) hype around it that I could attempt to use it as a launchpad to write a satire. After all, there are many, many other writers writing parodies of that series, so why not join them? Also, if there’s anything remotely positive to be taken away from E.L. James and her 50 Shades saga it’s that bad writing can be profitable (and marketable if the subject matter generates enough buzz – after all, bad press is still press) and that quality writing is a rare commodity. Whether it’s in literature, or in the entertainment media (TV shows, films, theatre) good writing, or rather original writing is hard to come by – almost everything is either a remake, a sequel, or prequel, usually with younger, “sexier” actors or gender reversed casting. Of course, there’s a reason for this (or rather several reasons):  with a remake, sequel, and/or prequel, there’s already a built-in audience/fandom that will (for the most part) go see it, though depending on the subject of the TV show/film/musical, a part of the fandom (actual size may vary) will rage over the (seemingly) unnecessary changes/omissions/additions made, while others will gush over the “hot” young eye candy.

But I digress.

Yet again.

While I did make (some) headway into actually!writing 50 Shades of Sunset, I never actually got to the absurd part of the parody (though I did have intermittent giggle fits thinking about it). And as a quasi-post Camp NaNoWritMo summation session, I did manage to actually!write and log in a higher word count than I had in the two previous Camp NaNoWritMo sessions. So that’s a quasi-victory in and of itself. Whether I have enough giggle fits or the (pardon the pun) balls to continue writing that absurd story, is debatable. It’s a crack!fic I want to write some day, but first I have the (more serious-ish) novels to actually!write.

Which leads me to the actual!point of this blog entry.

Since I had been (mostly) focused on the crack!fic for Camp NaNoWritMo, I hadn’t given much thought to my other works in progress – which was good for the purposes of focusing on that crack!fic and not getting distracted by the (literally) thousands of other ideas, musings and such for the MASC Chronicles or the Meta series. Yet now that that session of Camp NaNoWritMo has ended, I shall need to shift back to “reality”, which means I’ll be heading back to that fantastical realm that is the Land of Exposition.

Fun times.

Checking (back) into the Character Development Inn will be interesting, as is finding out what the Muses have been up to whilst I’ve been away, and seeing what new bells and whistles the FanGirl Meter (patent pending) has.

Actually, most of these blog posts could be construed as a running commentary for the Meta series, and the (lack of) progress thus far. I’m still stupidly proud that I’ve kept up posting weekly for the past two and almost a half years. It’s certainly the most actual!writing I’ve actually!written in that time span. Surely the fact that I can focus on writing on average 400+ words quasi-continuously in a (roughly) 1-3 hour span every Saturday is a positive indication that I can actually!write (and complete) a novel.

Right?

Well, enough blathering here – might as well pack my (metaphoric) bags and get thee back to writing.

TTFN!

Camp NaNoWritMo [Summer 2015] Update #4

It’s down to the final few days for this Camp NaNoWritMo session, and (not surprisingly) I’m nowhere near reaching the (self-assigned) word count to “win”. Real Life things have cropped up, which (in the grand scheme of things) take precedence, and will definitely require my full attention – though that doesn’t necessarily mean that the plotting, pondering and (gasp!) actual!writing will cease. In the immediate future, there will (most likely) be intermittent hiatuses with the actual!writing, and the plotting and pondering will always be a never-ending, complex occurrence. As for 50 Shades of Sunset, the odds of the story leaving my (cluttered) brain space and onto a Word document are most certainly not in my favor, but compared to my previous Camp NaNoWritMo efforts, I’ve actually!written (with little to no editing) more this time ’round.

So that’s a quasi-victory in and of itself.

While this month’s efforts have been sporadic, and prone to unexpected giggle fits, it’s also been quasi refreshing to focus the Muses, plot bunnies and other writing entities on a story unrelated to my various works in progress. It’s afforded me some distance from those works, though I’m sure a few of the aforementioned Muses have secluded themselves in an undisclosed location within the Land of Exposition to plot and ponder about the various narrative arcs within the MASC Chronicles. Considering all the moving parts (narrative arc, characters, etc.) within that series saga, it’s a wonder how my mind hasn’t wandered to that part of the forest this month. I suppose it’s a testament to my (quasi) promise to my fellow Camp NaNoWritMo participant (who has already “won”) to adhere to some of the “rules” set forth shortly before this Camp NaNoWritMo session, one of which was to actually!write an original story unrelated to the various works in progress (a “rule” she almost immediately “broke”, though I failed to adhere to the subsequent “rules” of not keeping up with the recommended daily word count quota and refraining from editing whilst I write).

Anyway.

Six days left until month’s end and a good portion of the narrative is quasi-written in my head, stuck somewhere between there and my fingertips. What’s been written thus far has been rambling and expository, which will undoubtedly be relegated to the “deleted scenes” portion of the story (if I ever get around to actually!writing this fan fiction quasi-parody.

Whether or not I will continue to work on this story beyond these next six days is questionable, as my works in progress have been on their (partial) summer hiatus and no doubt would want my full attention. Then again, I can easily add this to the (ever increasing) list of works in progress and figure out how to juggle all these stories.

Total Word Count (thus far): 1,242 (out of 10,086).

Camp NaNoWritMo [Summer 2015] Update #3

So here we are at the midpoint (give or take) of this round of Camp NaNoWritMo and actual!writing has moved at a quasi-glacial pace, since last week, but that was more due to real life (non-writing) commitments upon which I needed to focus.Not that that had stopped the (internal) plotting and pondering (and intermittent giggle fits) for 50 Shades of Sunset. Plotting and pondering how to tackle (as it were) the “missing” (rated R to borderline NC-17) scenes from Sunset Boulevard that (obviously) could not have been included when the film was made/released or when the musical adaptation was produced (though there are quasi-vague rumblings that the show might have a comeback return in the (relative) near future.

Anyway.

In a quasi-promise made with a fellow Camp NaNoWritMo participant, I have resisted the (overwhelming) urge to edit/rewrite the (little) actual!writing I’ve actually!written for this project, electing to plow ahead with the plot as it unfolds.

Well.

Mostly resisted.

I’ve made a few edits – a word or phrase here and there – but no major rewrites, as I realized that I (probably) should have started the story at a different point in time, which would have led right to the sex and the killing [spoiler alert!] then flashed back to how it all began. Then again, I could still write that proposed, plotted and pondered opening and plop it in front of the already actually!written bit, but that would defeat the objective of the whole NaNoWritMo (camp or regular) concept, which is to just write something for the duration of the month.

Well, I still have the remainder of the month to catch up on my Word Count quota and get some actual!writing actually!written. After all, I have managed to write (at least) 300+ words every week for this blog for the past 2.5 years, even though most of it is quasi-conversational musings and quasi-rambling ramblings with not too much (actual) substance. But then again, the title of this blog is “Musings of A Mystery Novelist” so the “musing” part has become the more prominent component, though I hope I can actually share details about my various works in progress (or at least when I quasi-finalize the actual details and such).

Enough blathering – back to actual!writing

Total Word Count (thus far): 928 (still out of 10,086).

Camp NaNoWritMo [Summer 2015] Update #2

So, a little over a week into Camp NaNoWritMo and the actual!writing process (once again) is moving ever so slowly, though the plotting and pondering (along with the quasi-usual giggle fits) is moving along at the usual pace. While it’s quasi-liberating to not focus on the Usual Suspects – my various works-in-progress – it’s a challenge to actually!write something new.

Well, kind of new.

This camp session’s novel (as announced with little-to-no reaction last week) is 50 Shades of Sunset – a quasi- mash-up of Sunset Boulevard [drawing from both the 1950 film and the 1994 musical adaptation] and 50 Shades of Grey, though as I plot, ponder and actually!write my (quasi-twisted) version of the story, the more salacious aspects of the 50 Shades series is less evident, yet the title will still remain. I suppose it has more to do with the fact that my writing style up until this point, has (for the most part) been asexual or at best indifferent to romance and stuff like that. As mentioned (several times) throughout this blog, I’m pretty indifferent to romance (as it’s probably my least favorite literary genre) so my mind just doesn’t “go there” (though for the sake of full disclosure, I have read some “M” rated online fan fiction, so I have a general idea of what goes on after the camera fade out)

Anyway.

As a return to my writing roots, 50 Shades of Sunset is written in 3rd person perspective (though it’s turning out to be 3rd person limited rather than omniscient, though as the writing-as-I-go-along process moves along, that might change) and there’s a bit of italicized flashbacks and internal monologues. Perhaps I might have been better off reinterpreting this story as a screenplay than as a novel – I have fleeting thoughts of adapting this (somewhat darker, a little bit dirtier, yet still PG-13) version of the story as a stage and/or screen production. But as I’ve already ensconced myself in writing in prose, I’ll carry on with what I’m doing – as quasi-challenged by a fellow Camp NaNoWritMo participant, I’m going to keep actually!writing, without editing (much), though I’m 89.6% sure that the beginning I’ve written will be scrapped during the editing process.

Of course, as time is a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey ball of… stuff, I could make some leaps in the story, writing in a non-linear fashion, figuring out the actual sequence of events afterwards. There have  been scenes / sequences written in my head, but they occur later on in the story; a good number of them are scenes I feel are “missing” or off-screen/stage  from the aforementioned film/musical which could explain/expand upon exposition and situations left quasi-vague or unexplained in the film/musical.

That’s all I’ve got to say about the process thus far, or at least as much as I can detail right now.

Hopefully, I’ll make more headway in the coming weeks.

Total word count at the moment is (a mere) 775 (still out of 10,086).

Camp NaNoWritMo [Summer 2015] Update #1

To all Americans, (at home and overseas), Happy Independence Day! To everyone else, Happy Saturday!

In quasi-honor of Independence Day (and America’s 239th birthday), and to kick off the summer session of Camp NaNoWritMo (my 2nd attempt at the summer Camp NaNoWritMo session, and my 6th overall attempt at NaNoWritMo), a (quasi) declaration of (writing) independence.

I decided to attempt to write (and hopefully finish) something absolutely and utterly unrelated to any of my works in progress, many of which were past (failed) attempts. Well, technically speaking I was challenged by a fellow writer and frequent NaNoWritMo participant to actually!write something original and unrelated to my (many) works in progress, as I seem to be quasi-stuck in the Land of Exposition and hardly get any actual!writing done for any of the novels within the (Epic) Series Saga.

So here we are.

My initial thought was to write a variation of the Meta story, which would not have violated the aforementioned challenge of actually!writing something new, as I haven’t actually!written anything for the Meta story aside from pondering notes about the Meta story. The Land of Exposition would have figured into that story, with a possible “skirmish of wit” between two different groups of Muses (loosely based on the shenanigans in one of the Facebook writing groups into which I belong). That idea fizzled out shortly before I “declared” my novel on the Camp NaNoWritMo site, as it became to complicated to tackle (at least for the duration of the Camp NaNoWritMo session).

Thankfully, a deliciously absurd idea sprang up from an equally absurd Facebook conversation with a dear friend of mine (and fellow writer/playwright), coupled with Facebook newsfeed posts about the Twitter Q&A Session with E.L. James. For those who might not know (though I doubt there is anyone out there in the dark who doesn’t know) E.L. James is the author responsible to blame for the 50 Shades of Grey train wreck trilogy, a series based (stolen?) on the Twilight saga written by Stephanie Meyers. Both series are most definitely not in my preferred genre, and both are badly written/plotted out (an opinion shared my millions of other readers, even though there are those who actually like them… to each their own I suppose…)

But I digress.

Anyway.

The deliciously absurd (yet utterly brilliant) idea borne from a confluence of bizarre circumstances was to incorporate elements of 50 Shades into other existing works – a parody of sorts, as there are plenty of those out there (since that concept has made E.L. James a buttload of money). As I have a great love for musical theatre, my first inclination was to attempt to write 50 Shades of Phantom, injecting Phantom of the Opera with shades of 50 Shades (see what I did there?). There are some parallels between those two stories, and it would have been fairly easy to mash them together, but then I thought, surely that’s already been done – (possibly) written by other fan fiction writers, and, from a certain point of view, already covered by the Sequel That Was Never Needed or Wanted and Therefore Should Not Even Exist (those who know me know what this is).

So, with that notion thrown out the window, I moved on to another favorite musical of mine (which kinda sorta has a similar plot line), that could benefit (?) from this mash up. The more I thought about it, the more giggly I became, and the more I thought it would make for an interesting change and something completely different.

Of course this is a (very) long-winded explanation/preface to the July 2015 Camp NaNoWritMo project:

50 Shades of Sunset

As in Sunset Boulevard, my third favorite musical of all time (Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera occupying first and second place, respectively) and one of my favorite (classic) films. I plan on using the film and the stage adaptation as the basis for this mash up, with (perhaps) a dash of horror thrown in (because, why not?). I’ve actually got some actual!writing down for this, with a good deal of internal plotting and pondering, and have great expectations to actually!write and actually!finish this effort.

Whether or not I’ll muster the gumption to insert some of the more smutty aspects of 50 Shades story remains to be seen, but at least I’m motivated to make a valiant attempt.

Word Count thus far: 422 (out of 10,086 – one can set the word count in Camp NaNoWritMo, and that number is of great significance in Sunset).

This should be fun.

I hope.

Camp NaNoWritMo (Spring 2015) Update #4

Here we are once more, at the home stretch in the Camp NaNoWritMo experience (at least the spring edition), and curiously enough, some actual!writing (well, technically speaking/writing, actual!editing) has started.

Nothing like a deadline looming over the horizon to motivate the Muses and Plot Bunnies into action.

Of course, it’s not as if there hasn’t been any actual!writing happening during the month (or rather, there should have been editing and revising, as The Revision of the Draft was the original intent in participating in this round of Camp NaNoWritMo) – at least three attempts were started and quickly discarded, as those (false) starts encountered the (in)famous Writer’s Roundabout and Writer’s Speed Bump. While the Revision of the Draft was the springboard, I quickly realized that the Draft was a jumbled mess which seemed beyond revision (or at least I’d need more than a month to sift through the disjointed plot twists, melodrama and plot holes), so I subconsciously started a new(ish) story based on the Draft (which I’ve now dubbed the “Hot Mess”), with illusions of grandeur thoughts of it fitting (somewhere) in Series Two of the Series Saga I’ve quasi-planned out.

Anyway.

Too many ideas and possibilities loom large in my writing process – a lot of large scale summation and bullet points of character development, narrative arc, and causality, and not as much detailed exposition, dialogue and character interaction. Then again, I’ve been more a “big picture” plotter, as my notebooks, and files of summaries can attest.

For those who have read some/most/all (?) of my blog posts over the years (as the two year anniversary starting this blog just passed), the tone of most of these entries is indifferent, almost defeatist (and rarely uplifting, though I have made attempts to be somewhat optimistic). I suppose I’m a pessimist by nature, along with being highly introverted – despite these melancholy tendencies, I do have (moderate) hopes that one day (some day) I’ll actually!finish writing at least one of my book series and get it published (by which method remains to be seen – I suppose I’ll cross that bridge when I get there).

The novel ideas I’ve had are good (I think) and original (I hope), even though I’ve been (purposely) vague on the actual details, since they have a tendency to change every now and then.

Then again, while I struggle with actually!writing for my stories, there seems to not be so much of an issue of writing up these blog posts (which I type in directly via WordPress, and rarely ever edit or reread once I post them), which kinda makes me think that I’m writing for the wrong genre. Then again the majority of these entries are quasi-random streams of thought that pop into my head at any given moment and are more like a one-sided conversation,which for the most part consist of run-on sentences with lots of punctuation. (This last sentence being an apt example.)

On the other hand (to paraphrase a Sondheim lyric), writing isn’t easy: every minor detail is a major decision, and with all the characters, plot points and such, it’s hard to keep things in order. Nevertheless, I’ll keep at this writing thing, and hope for the best – the odds of completing the Camp NaNoWritMo goal is (as always) slim to none, but I’ve never been overly concerned with “winning” anyway.

Back to the writing board.

Again.