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Write-a-thon, Week 5

Another slow-starting week. Monday, I had an appointment in Seoul, and then some things to do. After a tiring day of errand-running in Seoul, I returned home and slept for a incredible 13 hours, though I was woken by Lime for a short while so I could eat something. Needless to say, I got no writing done on Monday.


….was a little more fruitful. I managed to draft a non-working, but perhaps fixable, ending for “The Truth About Mughals.” The end is a bit deus ex machina, but I think if I play with it, it might be less so. We’ll have to see.

“The Truth About Mughals”: 2372 words
131 words
Weekly Total: 2372 words
Write-a-thon Total:
66,669 words

I also went for a hike with a guy from work, and he showed me a trail, heretofore unknown to me, which leads to a graveyard on the side of the mountain, one overlooking a brand spanking new apartment complex. I also banged up one toe something fierce on the mountain (and banged the other something fierce on a dark, uneven stairway on campus on the way home from my office tonight.) Tomorrow, I need to pop by the hospital, and I’ll try to get some more substantial writing done in the evening.

A note on writing: I’ve finally capitulated to the fact that, at least for To the Happy Country…, the process of writing the thing by sitting and pumping it all out isn’t working. It worked for a previous novel-draft I wrote, a few years ago, but it’s not working for this one. So I’m going to focus on short stories for the week — completing things left mouldering, which is something I wanted to do anyway — and I’ll get back to the novel draft when I’ve had some time to get things ordered in my head, as well as had time to get some feedback on the stuff I have so far (which is about 30,000 words of new material on top of the 16,000 words of ready-to-go-except-for-a-final-proofread material). For now, To the Happy Country… shall have to wait. Anyway, for now, short stories and, if I really get stuck, or finish all extant story drafts, I’ll focus on drafting some of the nonfiction book I’ve been thinking about writing on the subject of my perceptions about the Korean education system from a foreigner’s perspective.

Wednesday Stats:

Jing the Quae: 1521 words (to a completed-story total of 7836 words)
Weekly Total: 3893 words
Write-a-thon Total:
68,190 words

Less productive than it could have been, but I did end up having to spend a few hours in the hospital. Seems the weird nagging tightness in my chest I’ve felt lately when I exercise is due to what seems to be a partially collapsed lung. Nothing too serious, but the doctor thinks it has to do with bronchial congestion. (And yeah, he’s given me some medication for it, and I’ll got back in a few weeks for a checkup.) I’m not in pain, but I did burn some time worrying, then burned some more time distracting myself from worrying (by watching a horrible movie and reading a little for enjoyment), and finally, picking up some needed groceries. I’m not too far behind my own schedule, though, and I think I will probably manage to fulfill my quota of 75,000 words by Saturday night. In fact, I might even end up ahead of that, which would be nice.

One more thing: my sponsor Stephanie‘s namesake character is going to appear in the novel once I get back to drafting it — maybe in week 6, maybe sometime later on — but she has a second namesake character in “Jing the Quae,” a story which may or may not be working in the final draft it’s in. I know it’ll need some fiddling, later, but I think I made the story work as is, instead of cutting everything previously written and telling the story much later down the line, after a kind of calamity that forces characters back together.

And it is now way past my bedtime. Must sleep if I am to get healthier.

Thursday Stats:

I’ve finished drafts of a number of stories, and have set aside my novel for the moment, but I’m going to fulfill my write-a-thon quota, so I’m going to work on a few more stories, as well as doing some work on the nonfiction book I’ve been wanting to write for a while, a discussion of education and the English teaching industry in Korea, for Koreans, from the point of view of a foreigner. “English Mania” is my attempt at a chapter from this book. My biggest learning experience is that switching from fiction to nonfiction modes is tough, or at least it is for me at the moment. I think another part of it is that I’m working without an outline, and have so many ideas and approaches floating around in my head that I want to get them all down as soon as possible.

I’m also going to try work on a new story — the tale of a monk in a country something like Korea, a few hundred years ago, who gets lost on a mountain trail and discovers something very strange there — and maybe try to rewrite “A Killing in Burma” this week and next. But for now, it’s time for a break — I’m thinking a walk would be nice, as it’s been raining and the sun hasn’t yet set. Thursday’s stats will probably be updated later today, in any case, as it’s only 7:00pm now and I plan to get some work done on a story later on, so expect some changes to my progress for the day.

“English Mania”: 2100 words
“The Broken Path”: 1370 words
Weekly Total: 7363 words
Write-a-thon Total:
71,460 words

(Later on:) I got some work done on a story that’s been jiggling around in my brain, a fantasy in a Korea-like land that focuses on Oriental medicine and geomantic warfare (or at least, what may have been mistaken for geomantic warfare). They specify mid-to-late 1800s as the latest period to venture into, but that’s fine, I can make this either an alt-history in which Japan’s takeover started a little earlier, or else I can make this a fantasy world with more differences that dehistoricize it. Fantasistent is looking for fantasy in Far-Eastern settings, and I may just try them with this story, though I was also thinking of writing a story about Sado Saeja, Prince Sado, who went nuts and whose father killed him by stuffing him into a rice chest. Recently, a document was made public, which apparently was a letter by Sado begging an uncle to send someone to find a rare herb or plant that he believed could cure him of his torturous madness. That sounds like a story that deserves a fantastical (or maybe horror) retelling, if ever one did. So anyway, that’s two quasi-Korean stories and quasi-Korean settings, which should be more than enough. And I have lots of time, meaning the stories could be sent to other, more well-known venues before Fantasistent’s submission deadline.)

Anyway, time to sleep. I promised Lime a trip to a nice restaurant today, and a trip to the place where we buy our bagels. Happily, I’m no longer freaked out about meeting my weekly quota. I will put in one session on Friday night, and another two on Saturday, and that should do it… and if not, I don’t mind since I’ll still be on quota for the write-a-thon, having banked a bunch of extra words in previous weeks. I won’t feel guilty, since, hey, it’s not every week on discovers a partial lung collapse. :)

And no, it still doesn’t hurt. Maybe it’s back to normal or something.

Friday Stats:

I’ve made some headway with “The Broken Path”, though there is a subplot I may or may not have a use for later on… we’ll see what happens when the s**t hits the fan. One neat thing I’ve decided to do is set the story in my neighborhood — in fact, on the very mountain I hike on. The Peach Village, Sosa, that one character visits in the opening scene is one subway stop from my place, and the mountain I’ve been hiking lately is the setting for most of the action in the first 4000 words. I don’t know of any mountain temples nearby, but I’m making one up just the same… a small, non-famous temple.

I may get more work on it done tonight, but I’m quite pleased with the progress I’ve made. The story, though, is about to take a turn — introduction of a couple of new characters and so on, so I’m going to need a little time to roll it around in my head, and think it over some, especially if I’m to find a way to connect the earlier-mentioned subplot to the action that will follow. I probably will write a few thousand more words tonight, but we’ll see. Some changes might be necessary, too, depending on what kind of information I can get on the practicability of a monk knowing how to perform acupuncture. Hmmm. Anyway, this total for the day is probably going to be revised tonight.

“The Broken Path”: 2701 words (by dinner time)
Weekly Total:
10,064 words
Write-a-thon Total:
74,161 words

Saturday stats (early edition):

I never did get back to the story, but that’s a good thing: I got a good 3600 words in on it today, which is more than I thought would be possible with the story. It’s now at a little over 7000 words, and stuck, but that’s fine. Optimally, I would have stopped at 3,000 words, as the story has begun to lose focus and move in a direction I don’t like. I’m not sure that I want to have Mo Sa, the young monk protagonist, really move in a direction more fitting of the TV series 24‘s Jack Bauer. (Yes, torture seems a little wrong for an essentially decent monk, even if he is fighting to save his homeland from invasion.) Mo Sa’s failure of imagination is really just indicative of the failure someone else’s imagination, namely, mine.

“The Broken Path”: 3600 words (by 9:00pm)
Weekly Total:
13,664 words
Write-a-thon Total:
77,761 words

I’m sure to return to the computer this evening… 1400 words is all I need to meet my weekly quota, and then I’ll have just 10,093 words left for my overall Write-a-thon quota of 90,000 words.

Okay, I admit it, I may keep going and writ 15,000 words for the week, IF I find myself on a roll in terms of short stories and have something else I’d like to finish drafting. At the moment, “A Killing in Burma” and “Chingu-ya!” and maybe “Peaches and the Flower Underground” are the only things I have in queue that are even ready for any drafting action. Once those are drafted, I’ll have pretty much cleaned out my “to-draft” folder of decently-though-out ideas, and I suppose that’ll be fine, as I’ll be moving into more of a revision mode for the rest of summer — at least, for the few weeks I have free before I leave for Japan. I may stick a printout or two into my bag for reading/marking-up on trains, since I can always mail them to myself and expect them to arrive in good time, too, I suppose. But I was hoping to read something like Soseki’s I Am A Cat or The Brothers Karamazov or maybe even  Rashomon on the train rides I’ll be taking in Japan.

Anyway, we’ll see. I have a bunch of words left to write, and while I’m in the home stretch, the next week is still going to be a long one.

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