Fear of Failure, Fear of Success

Nothing creative to post today.

Although I have a correction to make in my timeline to post coming up.  A small bit of significant history I forgot to include.  Oh well.

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The second draft of my novel, (currently titled Reimarsoga) is now in the can and I’m letting it cool for a few days before I dig back into it.  I need to give my brain a chance to rest and think.  I have sent it out to a couple of alpha readers for feedback and seeing if I missed some major things that must be addressed, and then we move forward for the third and fourth edits… which I hope will be the last of them thanks to each step involving outside input.

What made the second draft so hard was simply how much new content I had to write.  The first draft was great exploration but when I started learning about editing and better storycraft and functional use of the three act structure, I realized I had a beginning hook and great middle build… but no real conclusion.  Part of this might be because I had expected this to be only the first part of a bigger book (which the remainder is now to become an even bigger second novel), the other is just because of bad planning and storytelling on my part.

So I re-plotted and decided to look at all of the “Chekov’s Guns” I’d drawn in the course of it all.  I considered major tropes that fantasy novels loved to have in.  I thought about all the things that I loved in novels and said:

“Self, you need to fix this and write write write.”

“Okay… but only if you hurry this up, rational thought.  I have a deadline to meet.”

“Deadline, Schmedline.  It’ll be done when it’s done and that’ll be when its good.”  Rational Mind snapped

“Isn’t it always good?” Self whined?

“No.  Now shut up, here’s a Vonnagut colored crayon for your mouth.  Get writing!”

And that was the way of it.  I put out over 120 pages of new content, scattered throughout the entire plotline.  There were so many holes!  Not to mention converting the whole book over from first to third person!  Ugh!  You realize how frustrating that can be?  It may be easy to change “I” to “He” and what not, but just that delay in moving forward can be disheartening.

Then came the worst sensations of the edit:  I started to fear its completion!  One half of the brain was freaking out because the book could suck and I’d be just wasting my time.  Many times I spit the crayon out of my mouth or bit it in two, frustrated at my own inability to make myself coherent.  Time and time again, like many a good writer I suspect, I threw out what I thought was good, but in the ended up with a “this fish tastes funny” so I spit it out and tried again.  At times, I was fortunate enough to be blessed with two very precious people to give me feedback just when I needed it most (take another pair of bows Torfinn and Francois… aren’t they lovely folks?) and help me conquer so many questions that finally… FINALLY, the end was in sight last on Wednesday night.

Then fear of success jumped up and kicked me in the ding ding.  What if I did succeed?  Then what?  I started having a bit of a freak out over that.  Now although it seems to be rare for people to have anxiety over succeeding, I get it, and it can be powerful enough to destroy the whole creative process.  Why?  Because you get comfortable with the creative process and do not wish it to end for fear of not knowing what is next.  Or something else more fitting for your own situation.  So I wrestled with it as it stole my creativity and voice.  It did not want me to produce anything of good enough quality that I could complete the work.  It was not writer’s block per sey for I could pump out pablum and be done with it… but my conscience would not allow that.

Thankfully, I was able to have a small spark of inspiration and make a leap forward and those last pages shot out like a lovely last silver salute and chrysanthemum (know your fireworks), and I could relax.  The hardest work so far was done.

And I was surprised at the peace that I had.  Now it was clear how often I was fearing doing this novel right as much as I was fearing doing it wrong.  I am looking forward to the third edit and the beta read and the cover competition, and hiring an editor…

and finally maybe… just maybe…

making my ultimate deadline and book release dates.

So much more to learn and do.

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Victory is Mine, Part Deux!

It is finished!

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Carlton nails the feeling.

I have completed my second draft and I am just so relieved!  Some statistics for you of book one of “Reimarsoga”  (that’s a working title so far).

290 pages (300-340 words per page)

104,333 total words

573,073 characters

Reads at about a 4th-6th grade reading level depending on what metric you use, (perfect for most big blockbusters.)

I sent out some of this to my alpha readers, and have gotten some response.  I hope they’ll forgive me, but this is so far what I’ve gotten back as a flash opinion of my final act.

I am loving it.  [My spouse] made me come down for supper but I am going to rush back.

I have received some other positive things about it so far, but will perhaps share those words later.

Now to let it rest for a few days, and then do one last clean up before I send it to my beta readers.  I’ll be contacting those interested in being a beta reader by email very soon, and post more details as that comes up.  I have to hurry, because I need to start getting ready for NaNoWriMo, which I am planning a novella/novelette set in Akiniwazi.

And then the bigger “to do” list for publication begins.

 

X-Post Fact Toast #3

Wordcount: 1,682 and 6 pages.
 
Woke up early… again… and puttered a little before I got to writing. The scenes are there in my head but are being “bocky-kookens” as my grandmother would say. Closest translations of that phrase is “stubborn cookies”.
 
Anyway… Latest chapter is “Stirring the Ashes”. It’s been incredible now to go back over many things I wrote and finding I’m echoing themes like a waveform, which is great! They are similar but not copies, illustrating and reinforcing each other. More writing later. One scene of the remaining few is in the can. So few left to go and they are just acting like that first bite of hot pizza where the cheese refuses to let go of the slice or cut with your teeth.
More to come later.
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If P.T. Barnum Was a Viking

I’m never going to fool experts in a few areas.

The best I can do, I hope is flatter them in the things I do try to get right, and fool anyone who isn’t an expert into thinking I know what I’m talking about.

To that end, part of Akiniwazi is to accept the fact that I don’t have to have doctoral level understanding of historical facts, but get the general points right to flavor the whole.  (This is a bit more than just decorating a home with furniture from Ikea and saying it’s Swedish… but some might buy it)  Plus, when dealing with alternate history, particularly in an area that does have some nice gray areas and outright blank spaces of the map… you can have a little fun and add plausible things to the mix.

To that end though, I wanted to give a thank you for the guys at Hurstwic for being a wonderful resource to pick through.  Their website has been a great resource for those who have a bit of a fan crush on all things Viking, and have taught me lots of terms and understanding on more common life during the Viking period.

Now I know I start going astray from true Viking history rather rapidly because, yes, firstly this is still a fantasy setting, and I have my own agenda here.  But secondly, it still must originate from truth if you are to assume (as I have with the setting) that it is ‘history as normal’ till about 800ad or so.  That’s why I created an imaginary Viking discovering Akiniwazi, and not relying on actual historical events on the discovery of Vinland… because in my setting, Vinland doesn’t exist.  Akiniwazi does.  So there’s your first major variance.  Well… major in the terms of the novel, not necessarily world events.

As for why eliminate the pagan aspects of the Vikings?  Simple.  It is based on the historical events similar to that of the Pilgrims, just… twisted a whole bunch.  Instead of being religious outcasts, it became instead a method for a set of Christian Kings to create a loyal power base abroad that was providing great wealth.  Since I considered it probable that the pagan kings and Jarls would be a problem and try to wrest control from the dominant infant royal culture, they just cut that problem off by forbidding them.  You wanted to go to the new world, you had to be of the same faith as the king.

See?  Plausible.

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The Battle Is Won

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Today’s Wordcount:  2,275  (Not counting minor edits and rewrites).

The final battle is done and amazingly, I feel the best about the final line for it sums up a thematic echo that lo many pages ago I had no idea would be in this work.

“…They hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.”

It’s amazing in a way to see how God keeps inserting Himself in very powerful and poetic ways.  This leaves only three scenes left, some half written:

Resolution

Arrival and Parting of Ways

Exile

I’ve been terrified today about what would be the upshot of the battle I had just completed, so I am once again so thankful for my very special alpha reader who was able to get in touch with me today.  When you deal with schedules on opposite sides of the planet, this can be a rare and special thing.  He gave much wise council that after an overly long nap I was able to implement, and I think it is all the better for it.

I can’t wait to share this with you guys!

X-Post Fact Toast #2

Thank you to my very special alpha reader who gave me some much needed feedback on the final battle. It was very instructive, and hopefully now, I can end it appropriately. It’s amazing how hard I’m having to pull, but this is going to be worth it in the end.

Writing Playlist

Yes.  I have a writing playlist that I use to put me in the mood.

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Many people listen to music while writing.  Others do not.  Some can even do it with the TV going and other distractions.

I like writing to music.  Tea at the ready in the wee hours of the morning.  I seem to not get really rolling till after 4am lately.  This I think has more to do with working nights, but I prefer to write when its dark out.  Just the way I am in my inconsistent manner.  So what do I listen to?  Here’s a list of songs and artists I have in my playlist.  I wish I could put up an actual playlist so you could all enjoy, but hopefully you then have enough information to look on your own if you are interested.

Okay, maybe some samples will show up if they are on youtube or something.

The “Official” Akiniwazi Playlist (exerpts)

Two Steps from Hell

  • Moving Mountains
  • Heaven Hell
  • Nero
  • Norwegian Pirate
  • Heart of Courage
  • Strength of 1000 Men
  • Breathe
  • Cry
  • El Dorado
  • Ocean Princess

Vangelis

  • Conquest of Paradise
  • Monastery of la Rabida
  • Light and Shadow
  • The Bounty

Mychael Danna:

  • Phoenix Anastasis
  • Nakawe
  • Visions of Bernadette

Loreena McKennitt:

  • Prologue
  • Marco Polo
  • Night Ride Across the Caucasus
  • Dante’s Prayer

James Horner:

  • Jack Dawson’s Luck
  • On Hallowed Ground
  • The Oglala Sioux
  • Proud Nation
  • Thunderheart

Dead Can Dance

  • The Host of Seraphim
  • Ascension
  • Circumradiant Dawn

 

Hans Zimmer:

  • Progeny
  • The Emperor Is Dead
  • Reunion

Other Cinematic music from:

  • The Civil War
  • The Fog
  • The Island
  • Schindler’s List
  • The Passion of the Christ
  • Hannibal
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • The Professional
  • The Crow
  • Prince of Egypt

Various Medieval music, both classical, modal and re-envisioned:

  • Hildegard Von Bingen “Illumination”
  • The Empire Brass: “Passage”
  • Gregorian Chants from the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos
  • “Sing We at Pleasure”
  • Native American Flute by Coyote Oldman’s “Thunder Chord”
  • Nordic Roots Albums

Classical classics like:

  • Faure’s Requiem
  • Night on Bald Mountain
  • Mussorgsky “Pictures at an Exhibition”
  • Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” plus a re-envisioned version.
  • Hall of the Mountain King  (you just knew it was going to be in there, didn’t you?)

And several dozen from various artists I found for free on Soundcloud and other sources.  I shall leave you with a favorite of mine.  I use all three “versions” out there.  The full, acappella and instrumental:

 

X-post Fact Toast #1

I publish more often short updates to Facebook, so I decided to start sharing the content here from now on.  They won’t occur on any set schedule, but usually happen after I finish writing for the day, making them erratic and very stream of consciousness.

So my posting will be increasing, but expect the beginning and weekend posts as usual.

 

How odd. Today’s word count: 4,444. Yep. Quad four. LOL
Of course I probably broke 5000, but much of that would be due to editing and little extra sentences and editorial cleanup. Boy, I feel like such a hack at times, but the story’s the thing.

But today was hard. I had to do a hard thing because I got wrapped up in a character and bad things needed to happen. So I did them… and that’s a good place to stop for the day.

One final scene and the battle is over. That leaves only three more to go. Conclusion, separation and resolution. Two of the three have been partially written already.

The Strange Dichotomy I Stumbled Upon

Akiniwazi is a complex project.  It’s roots are based in some big philosophical questions:

  1. Can you make a Christian based “magic system”?
  2. What would the world look like if the Vikings discovered the New World
  3. What would a civilization look like if it discovered steam power but not gunpowder?

Number two and three have been possibly some of the most fun while number one has been the most trying.  When laying out the rules of the world in my mind, and on many scraps of paper (I tell you if this thing becomes a blockbuster, there are going to be so many scraps of real source material floating around for collectors after I die if I don’t burn them).  The biggest, even before I realized the alternative history aspects that are many of its roots is that this is based on the philosophy of what I call the “War Behind the Veil”.  The idea that there is a war between God and his rebellious creations following Lucifer and the effects it has on the physical world.

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Now, originally, this was to be a complete fantasy world with nothing in common to Earth and the world as we knew it.  But… I hit upon a huge problem:  How can you have Jesus and Christianity in truth, if you tamper with the the world and make it all fantasy.

I was stuck!

I realized you could not have that if there were any changes done to the “Old World” of Asia, Africa and Europe.  I had to leave them be, untouched and historically the same.  That single realization was a terror to overcome.  How could I have this setting I envisioned with the world being exactly as it was historically?  Then I stumbled upon it,

The New World can be totally different!

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The map was mutable.  I could make the new world and have it all the way I wanted, save for one last issue:  The Skaerslinger.

It is painfully obvious that I have taken heavily from Native American cultures.  The names of the lakes are taken from corrupted translations of Ojibwa words, for example.  But something I want totally divorced from this is to make the Skaerslinger anything like the actual indigenous people.  While the old world medieval Viking culture and related materials have to be at least honestly researched (maybe not perfect, but darn good enough to satisfy all but the biggest nerds/experts who will pick at this), I needed to abandon the same level of research and historical accuracy to the Skaerslinger.

I can’t do this, because I am not going to be accused of hate speech or racism (though some might try it anyway) because they want real world accuracy on their cultures in a fantasy novel.  So there is a big reason why I have thrown historical research for all New World cultures out the window and thrown in multiple influences into the mix from Celts, Cossack to Zulu to Aztec and Inca.  Plus many other ideas I have that make for a good ‘spice palette’ of the culture as it develops.

There are some very strong black and white lines because that is the nature of the novel, but I do not want to have anyone claim I’m saying “insert Native American culture is Satanic”.  I’m not, and will not.  But there is a reason for the structure, what I have to say and what is to come. It will be illustrated throughout the entire series.

So that’s the strange dichotomy.  All things in the old world and before the discovery of Akiniwazi are going to be considered as truthful and attempts will be made to make it accurate.  The New World, its people and geography and events there are a rapidly diverging splinter timeline and world from the base because it is fantasy and it MUST be.  This gives me freedom to create from raw cloth as well as just spice things up a bit from time to time, or even take interesting aspects from those cultures and use them as a template.

Many of these things will not really come about till book 3-4 I think, but you’ll see hints as we go.

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BTW, I am toying with releasing another sample chapter as it passes through the third or fourth edit.  Let me know below if you want to see another chapter out of the book!