Failed the challenge

I missed three days of updates but I do have an excuse. Monday I had a family crisis, Tuesday looked at a house and yesterday bought a house, it’s been a hell of a week.

However, small retrospective on what I learned in the last two weeks of attempting the challenge.
1) It is really hard to think of enough topics that are interesting enough to cover as blog posts. I like to say something and not just ramble, I probably did just ramble on occasion anyway but never mind.
2) It is possible barring crazy life altering days, case in point, to find time to write everyday. If I had been a little more diligent and prepared then I would have had time to write even then. I spent the vast majority of yesterday pacing up and down so much I got blisters – literally. Waiting to hear if the offer was accepted was incredibly nerve-wracking. My phone was out of battery, I didn’t have my laptop with me, I obviously wasn’t home. Concentrating would have been hard but it might have made the time go faster.
3) Miniposts or short posts are nothing to be ashamed about, so long as obviously they aren’t the only posts that ever get written. Sometimes there’s not enough time to write a full in-depth post, sometimes the brain won’t cooperate and think of a topic for a long post, sometimes that’s all I can do and that is enough. I wrote that day, it wasn’t much but I sat down and tried. Other days the posts will be on the long side of regular, so it evens out. Far better to write a small amount than nothing at all.

Looking at what I learned I don’t think the challenge was a failure, sure I failed to complete it but much like NaNo, I took something else from trying, it was a success in another way.

In other news I got a library card as intended on Tuesday, ready for my book challenge in January. Although my friend told me to sign up to GoodReads, I discovered then that I have 9 unread books on my shelves, exactly how that happened I don’t know. I should probably start with those books before I check random books out of the library. Maybe I should do a challenge warm-up, going from no reading to a book a week might be tough. Perhaps I should start reading now, and just say find time for a chapter a day. Even though my focus is going to be as much on writing as possible, that should be pretty easy, knock it out in a few minutes before I go to sleep, it’s definitely worth considering.

Another friend of mine teases me often about Warcraft. To be honest a lot of his objections in regards to how much it costs, the subscription, the long content droughts etc. I share and have ranted about on this blog more than once. It’s probably a bit like doughnuts or another sugary item, it’s bad for you but that doesn’t stop you from liking it, you may also hate yourself slightly for succumbing but do it anyway, just the way it is. Anyway, the Warlords pre-patch dropped yesterday and there’s some new things to do and explore. I decided, back when I decided I would resub and try Warlords out, that I wouldn’t do so until a week before release so I wouldn’t waste any sub time. I am tempted to resub now, I’m a very impatient person, but for a change my resolve is staying firm. I have a lot of other stuff to do, the pre-launch stuff won’t take long and plus waiting means all the bugs will be fixed, and a big patch like this brings a lot of bugs.

Agents of Shield 2.03 will now be available for me to watch, so there may be a post about that later when I get a chance to watch it. I love that show but if I get more free time later, and my brains still working, I have NaNo Prep to do.

End note – how can it only be Thursday? It feels like a month since last Friday, that’s just crazy but then it has been one hell of a week.

Minipost – NaNo Site Relaunch

It’s Sunday, which technically means that the site relaunched on schedule. They said last week that it would be this week, the fact that it was anticipated and intended for the beginning of the week is immaterial, it made the week – barely.

Launching on a Sunday was unanticipated but on the surface not much is new. The homepage has had a slight re-jig, there’s still no countdown which is disappointing but it does look very nice. The forums are a different story, they didn’t do a hard wipe this year. They kept all threads that had been posted in since August 1st, so there’s a lot of old threads knocking around. Personally I don’t like it, they don’t have that clean, fresh start empty feeling. It’s messy and that bothers me. Thankfully the only part of the forum I really use is the Beyond 50k area and that was almost completely wiped. I’ll just stay there where it’s comfortable.

Anyway what the site launch mainly brought was the ability to officially sign up for this years NaNo. Creation of 2014 novel profiles, the donor halo for this year etc. all become active. This always gives me such a burst of enthusiasm. I rather predictably spent the day logged into OA chat, refreshing the forum and planning my novel. I managed to get pretty much all the background ironed out, so I understand the world and how it works, which given that it revolves around time travel took a while. I also needed to get a consistent backstory because it’s going to set up a series. The revelations about the past won’t all be told in this first book but I need to know them, so I don’t contradict myself later.

I was reminded of the importance of knowing where things will go, and hidden connections, when I watched NCIS tonight. It was the first episode Yankee White and it was the first introduction of Agent Fornell. He was just the FBI representative in this episode and likely intended to be nothing more. However, they must have liked the actor or they just brought him back, as they do with secondary characters, to ground the world so he was the FBI representative many times. Then they decided to give him more of a backstory, and they made him and Gibbs share an ex-wife. That’s where the episode Yankee White hits an issue, as Fornell didn’t recognize Gibbs and had no idea he was NCIS in this episode. However, at a later appearance they’ve been friends for years. Gibbs warned him away from marrying his ex-wife, Fornell didn’t listen but I suppose that at least saved Gibbs the alimony. It means Yankee White doesn’t fit into the continuity, it’s been retconned and the fact that it’s inconsistent is never mentioned or explained, it likely only bothers someone like me.

However, I don’t want to make a mistake like that in my books. I don’t like logic errors, inconsistencies or the unexplained. As it’s a series I need to decide as much of the world as I can now, as once I’m committed I won’t be able to change it later. Details matter, it has to be right.

I now have a title for my book and the series – Singularity, Book One of The Nexus series. Naturally it’s subject to change but it works for now and it’s about time I had a title. Usually I find titles easy enough to find but this one was trouble. I haven’t written my synopsis yet for the NaNo site but then I haven’t got book one’s plot nailed down yet.

As always because I spend time on the Beyond 50k section I’m tempted to pledge to do more than 50k. Considering I barely scraped 50k last year, even contemplating it is stupid. Not to mention we sold the house last week, so I’m helping look for a new place to live, and then there will be all the house move type chores to do. I just wanted to acknowledge the temptation to make an unreasonable, unattainable goal. I’m good at that, jumping in with both feet at the deep end, naturally sinking as I didn’t even test the water temperature first. We’ll see how the month progresses, if I have an amazing month, then maybe Beyond 50k will happen on it’s own. It never has yet but there has to be a first time for everything. There’s still a lot of planning to do but it’s not halfway through October, there’s still time.

19 days to go and counting.

Agents of Shield Wishlist

I could have entitled this post “I have no idea what to write” as I really struggled to think of anything at all. In fact I didn’t think of anything, I did what any sensible person would do when they are really stuck, I asked my friend. Who is probably getting a little fed up of having to help me think of blog topics, and it’s only day 11, this is serious.

Anyway, they suggested writing about what I hoped would happen in this season, season two, of Agents of Shield. I am completely spoiler free for this show, not by choice but just because I don’t know anywhere that gives out spoilers. I have seen the first two episodes and I have no idea what’s coming up next.

So what do I hope will happen this season? I better put it under a cut just in case.

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Statement of Intention

This is my third attempt at writing a blog post today. I’ve found it really hard to a) think of a good topic and then b) write enough or write something decent on that topic. All I keep coming back to is no particular topic, just things in general. Time management, routine, priorities, to do list, all those things that I worry and think about and shouldn’t blog about.

There are only so many hours in the day and in all honesty I waste most of my time. It disappears somehow, slips away and I have no idea what I spent the day doing. That isn’t good, though I do wonder if people were honest with themselves, how many would recognise something in that admission. It’s so easy to browse a few forums, play a facebook game, watch some YouTube videos and lose a chunk of time. Easy and decidedly non productive, it’s not even all that enjoyable.

There is a ‘to do list’ page on this blog. It’s entirely Warcraft related and therefore hasn’t been looked at, or attempted in over six months. When I resub I will have new priorities in game and so the old list is redundant in every which way.

It’s time for a new list.

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Minipost – Heavy is the Head (AoS)

I woke up with a migraine this morning and while I’m better, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post, I still feel rather ill. I know miniposts are a bit of a cop-out, I definitely usually wouldn’t do two in a row, but at least I’m keeping my promise to write something everyday.

Anyway, I just saw last weeks Agents of Shield episode and figured it would make a good post for today. I don’t usually put miniposts under the cut but given that it has only just aired, I don’t want to accidentally spoil anyone should they stumble across my blog somehow.

Warning, there will be spoilers for episode 2, season 2, enter at your own risk.

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Minipost – Shadow of Revan Brings A New Hope

What I love most about Swtor is the class quests. Levelling the different classes, questing, all that class story, that is the game to me. I also love the companions, the dark side and light side choices. I just love the whole questing experience in Swtor, it’s absolutely brilliant.

However, when the first expansion was released – Rise of the Hutt Cartel – it didn’t include any new class quests or any updates to the companion storylines either. I just checked and I don’t believe it added a new companion either, though it might have done. Anyway, from my point of view it was disappointing and a little concerning. They have also released a couple of mini-expansions with Galactic Starfighter and then Galactic Strongholds.

There are a lot of posts in various different places where people stated their opinion. They said that class quests would not bring in enough profit, compared to what they would cost, and that they would never be revisited. I didn’t like this but resolved not to worry about it as I’ve only completed the Bounty Hunter story, and forgotten most of it already. I still had a lot of class quests to complete.

This did mean that Swtor had an expiration date. I don’t play it nearly as often as I should, whenever I play Swtor I enjoy it a great deal and wonder why I don’t play more often. The answer is that I need to set aside a few hours per session, as it isn’t something easily played with a small time limit. As the game has been out nearly three years, and I’ve only completed one class, that means it’s going to take me a long time.

However, I liked the Bounty Hunter class. I didn’t like the spec I chose, I went Powertech and I should have gone Mercenary. However, as the specs are mirrored on the Republic side, when I roll a trooper I will pick the opposite spec which I think is Commando rather than Vanguard, that way I get the complete experience. Anyway, that’s off topic. I loved the Bounty Hunter story, the companions, the lore, the approach, everything and it would be so awesome to play that character again. Right now, it’s level 50 and it’s mothballed as the class quest is done.

There weren’t really any unanswered questions with the Bounty Hunter storyline. There were however unanswered questions with the Mako companion storyline, which given that the companions are different for each class make it like a class storyline. This should be followed up, the story had more to go. As a class it did too, it was open ended and as the top Bounty Hunter in the galaxy, someones going to try and tear me down. Plus I think I killed a sith, though there was a choice there, I didn’t have to, I could have aided him instead but I’m a light side Bounty Hunter. There could or should be repercussions from that.

What I’m trying to say is that this quote that there will be some kind of class storyline continuance in Shadow of Revan is amazing news. It’s proof that they aren’t just going to abandon that aspect of the game and that they will be adding to it. They might not add to it very frequently, or add as much, as we would like but that feature of the game lives. As, in my opinion, it’s the best feature of Swtor I think that’s great news. Obviously the proof is in the result, this expansion isn’t released until December, so no-one knows until then what these new class storylines will be like.

Though even if they aren’t a good continuance, it’s still proof that, the class storylines are still on their radar for development. That can only be a good thing. I really want to play Swtor now. I just don’t have the time.

Clear Measurable Progress

Ah finally a gaming post to break up the writing obsession. I had a spare few minutes yesterday, not long enough to really do anything but long enough that I started clicking round all the sites I check for updates everyday. The Grumpy Elf has a sidebar where he links to other blogs, this updates somehow with their latest post. I clicked on a couple and one of them made me think, and not even really about what they had written.

This blogpost said that they had boosted a level 90 Horde for the Double Agent achievement, that they might finally try and see the game from the other perspective. This reminded me that for a long time this was a goal of mine, to complete Horde Loremaster. When I quit Warcraft I didn’t even feel like doing this, I was just burned out of the game completely I guess. My perspective had narrowed and focused so much on endgame, that it tainted every other aspect of the game.

This in turn made me consider again my number one complaint about Warcraft’s direction. It made me think about the games that I do play and what they have in common. The answer is very simple – clear measurable progress.

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Calling Down Lightning

In yesterday’s post I talked about how I plan a story. However, before you can plan a story you need to have an idea. I was trying to think of a topic for today’s post and this thought crossed my mind – “If I’m even going to contemplate attempting to make a living at this writing business, I’ll need to write prolifically.” A scary thought for someone who’s mostly just been redrafting the same story for years.

In the vault I have a fair few ideas that I’ve never done any serious work with. I rather suspect that should I try and develop them they would fall apart. They are ideas I came up with years ago and they no longer match me as a writer, nor were they ever properly thought out. That being said I’m not incapable of new ideas. The novel I will be writing this November is a brand new idea I had recently, which brings me to the point of this post.

How did I come up with the idea in the first place?

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Preparation is Key

I’ve a feeling that this October blog challenge may just turn into a string of posts talking about NaNo or writing in general. This blog is not my first blog but it’s the first one to survive and be semi-consistently updated. I achieved that by giving it a focus which has pretty much just been video games with a few TV/Film reviews thrown in. I don’t exactly have a readership to alienate, and I guess if writing takes it’s rightful place as my main focus, then it’s no bad thing. Only time will tell for sure.

Anyway, today’s topic is going to be about prep work. Now personally I am terrible at prep work when it comes to anything. A few months ago I decorated my house and partway through the prep work I got impatient, I just wanted to dive in and start with the painting already. I have a similar flaw when it comes to writing. I want to dive in and start writing before I’ve finished the planning. I would not recommend this.

There are a lot of different techniques out there when it comes to planning your novel. What works for me, won’t work for other people. Some writers like to plan every last detail, others just have a general direction and write whatever comes to mind. There’s no right or wrong. However, in this post I’ll obviously just talk about what works for me.

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Minipost – My NaNo Survival Kit

A friend of mine posted in the “NaNo Survival Kit Anyone?” thread, on the NaNo forums, which I won’t link to as the forums are getting wiped next week. They wrote a long list of all the things they had been gathering ready for November, everything except planning their novel apparently.

Anyway, I wasn’t sure what to write today, I know it’s day four and I’m already having trouble – this is a bad sign – but at least I’m forcing something out. It’s a minipost and it’s on NaNo which truth be told is consuming more and more of my thoughts as the days go by. Last year it was NaNo and I should have been looking forward to it and I kinda wasn’t, this year I think I’m making up for that meh of last year.

I don’t want to jinx myself but I’m cautiously optimistic that my brain can be retrained. It’s had a couple of years of only thinking about TV, which is probably why last years NaNo was so painful. However, everytime I start thinking about Stargate I’m forcing myself back to asking questions about my novel. I’ve actually managed to quasi-concentrate on that the last couple of days. True I’ve been working as well, so my hands have been busy doing repetitive production work which has perhaps helped focus my mind. Who knows but hopefully I can keep it up. I would like a solid plan this year. Last years fell apart about 500 words in (ok that’s an exaggeration but not by much) and it was brute force that finished it. I don’t want to do that again.

Erm, ok I just seriously got off topic. Back to the survival kit, what do I need/want to have in November.
– Previous years winners t-shirt. I have 4 of these now but only 2012 and 2013 are comfortable to wear as I may have possibly … erm … /hides … put on a bit of weight. Let’s kinda gloss over that and just say winner’s t-shirt to wear during writing time.
– NaNo sweater as I get cold and if I have to cover up my winner’s t-shirt it needs to be with this as a sign that I’m writing. I actually change for a writing session. I suppose it also makes for a visible “do not bother me” sign.
– My NaNo travel mug. I would like a proper mug but they didn’t do them when I bought this one and then the only mug they had in stock last year isn’t dishwasher safe. Anyway I like to have my coffee in this, bonus it stays hot for a long time if I forget to drink it and it’s portable.
– NaNo poster on the wall. There is a sort of theme here. I like to surround myself with NaNo paraphernalia, as if to say “yes, it is that time of year” as it’s like decorating for Christmas, only NaNo is a ‘holiday’ I actually like. I won’t be able to put this up this year as we’re selling the house, so I will have to do without.
– Apocalyptica playing on iTunes. It’s mostly instrumental and it’s also like a film score, only without that mental link to any specific film, so it works like a soundtrack to what I’m writing. Plus I only listen to this when I’m writing so I have a mental association, this is playing, I need to be typing.
– A solid novel plan, preferably bullet pointed scenes, so I can check them off and know what’s happening next. This actually forces me to write some days as I don’t have to think of what to write. This is part of the reason last year was so painful, I didn’t plan properly. I can add scenes in as I go if something needs to be put in, but I need my outline.
– Trillian running for the OA IRC chat. I don’t talk much but I just love having it open. Some say the OA crowd puts them off, as they can’t match up, well just by soaking up the atmosphere I’m inspired to try harder. I doubt I will ever join their ranks, though I would certainly like to, but they kept me going to 50k last year and I needed that.

That might be it actually; NaNo paraphernalia, a solid outline, music and OA chat. Pretty much all I have to prepare for the ‘kit’ is the outline so NaNo prep is in full swing. I really need to do a better job on the plan than last year.

Not much of a post today. I will try and think of a proper topic for tomorrow but at least I actually wrote something, maybe if I can force myself to write something everyday this month, then I will do the same for NaNo, rather than taking weeks off and crazy catch up which is not a good way to do it. Some kind of routine would be better.