Writing Retreat 2020: The Numbers

Cloudy prairie sky

My goals for this past week’s writ­ing retreat were:

  • Fin­ish the last scene in “The Slow Apoc­a­lypse”, first draft
  • 1,5002,000 words a day in either Trans­la­tions or “Dried Flow­ers”
  • Pho­tos of the Milky Way (pos­si­bly a video) and Comet NEOWISE
  • Pho­tos of the coun­try­side
  • Dai­ly bike ride
  • Some kayak­ing

Let’s see how I did.

  • I fin­ished “The Slow Apoc­a­lypse” on my first evening
  • I wrote 13,000 words between Trans­la­tions, aka Daniel, Daniel, Daniel, and “Dried Flow­ers”
  • I got all kinds of pho­tos of the Milky Way and the comet—even on the nights where clouds were fore­cast, there was usu­al­ly at least some time where the stars were vis­i­ble
  • I also took all kinds of pho­tos in the day­time
  • I rode my bike every day, for a total of over 60 km (which sur­prised me)
  • And I went out in the kayak three times, cov­er­ing about 10 km in the lake

So, on bal­ance, that was a good week.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers”

Series: Bike Ride Photos

The entire series: Down by the riv­er; Bike ride birds; The ex-gar­den and the weir; Snap­shots of a ride; Across Town; Black­bird; North Hill cam­pus; Lilacs and coun­try roads; A pop of colour; Back lane flow­ers; More Breniz­ers; The riv­er is high; A bird and a reflec­tion; Rideau Park; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers; Storm dam­age, sun­flow­ers; Eleanor Kidd gar­dens; Scenes from today’s ride.

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Writing Retreat, Day 4

Canola field panorama

Tues­day’s action:

  • Processed last night’s astropho­tog­ra­phy (it was past 2 AM when I got back to the cab­in)
  • Biked up 16A again, fur­ther this time (a bit over 10km round trip), and got a cou­ple panora­mas of the fields and skies (the image at the top is a wide panora­ma of a canola field)
  • Wrote 1,000 words in the morn­ing
  • Went to town for some gro­ceries and a (short) cof­fee / WiFi break
  • Read a few more chap­ters in The Knight
  • Wrote anoth­er 1,000 words before sup­per
  • Took some comet and Milky Way pho­tos, since it was clear again despite the fore­cast

I wish I’d noticed that there was some flick­er­ing north­ern lights just as I was pack­ing up for the night; I’d have stayed longer, even though I was tired.

It’s sup­posed to be clear again tonight, and hope­ful­ly the solar wind will strike twice.

As always: if you’re inter­est­ed in prints of any of these pho­tos, let me know. We’ll see what we can work out.

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Writing Retreat 2020, Day 3

Mon­day, I:

  • wrote 1,100 words in the morn­ing (even­tu­al­ly)
  • went for a 11 km bike ride (top speed, com­ing down a hill: 48.5 km/h)

This rein­forces my pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence with the Lens­ba­by lens: it’s great for macro shots, like the one with the sin­gle stalk of flow­ers against the grass, but in most oth­er uses it reduces most if not all of the frame to an impres­sion­is­tic blur. If that’s your aes­thet­ic, great, but more often than not I’m dis­ap­point­ed in the pho­tos I take with it.

It’s still fun to play with, though.

  • wrote 1,000 more words before sup­per (a lot of con­ver­sa­tion; sto­ries being told)
  • evad­ed clouds and fog (oh my so much fog — I had to change loca­tions 3 times because fog rolled in) to cap­ture shots of Comet NEOWISE and the Milky Way

The bluer pho­to of the comet, the close-up, was tak­en with my 50mm f/1.8 lens. Look close­ly, and you’ll find I caught both tails. You might have to view the pho­to at full size.

As always: if you’re inter­est­ed in prints of any of these pho­tos, let me know. We’ll see what we can work out.

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Some themes & references

Aurora Borealis at Minnedosa, MB

Here’s an incom­plete list of the themes and ref­er­ences that I’m con­scious­ly includ­ing in my new short sto­ry, “Sum­mer­time in the Void” (1st draft com­plete, work­ing on the 2nd draft):

Parallel Prairies review

Parallel Prairies cover

This is the first review I’ve come across for the new made-in-Man­i­to­ba anthol­o­gy Par­al­lel Prairies, and I’m glad to say the review­er appears to have enjoyed my short sto­ry “Vin­cent and Char­lie”.

Anoth­er rur­al close encounter of note in the col­lec­tion is Bran­don-based Patrick Johanneson’s Vin­cent and Char­lie. The sto­ry explores the con­cept of alien telepa­thy and mem­o­ry manip­u­la­tion from inside a mind descend­ing into demen­tia. Johan­neson finds an art­ful bal­ance between sus­pense and sen­ti­men­tal­i­ty and adds a soupçon of Men in Black for good mea­sure.

Sarah Jo Kirsch, The Uniter

Read the full review here.

Par­al­lel Prairies launch­es Oct. 11, 2018, at McNal­ly Robin­son Book­sellers in Win­nipeg, and Oct. 13, 2018, at Bran­don Uni­ver­si­ty’s John E. Rob­bins Library.

You can order the book from McNal­ly Robin­son, too, if you’d like (there will be copies avail­able at the launch­es, of course).

Writing Retreat 2017

The Office -- writing at my friends' cabin

As is rapid­ly becom­ing tra­di­tion, I spent most of the last week of July in a friend’s cab­in up at Minnedosa. (Thanks, Karen & Ed!) My goals for the week are post­ed here, and here’s how it went:

Beat sheets for the major characters in Translations

I have a com­plete out­line for the POV’s arc, which is the most crit­i­cal as it’s nar­rat­ed in the first per­son.

Also, I had a major epiphany about the POV char­ac­ter, one that will shake up the last ⅔ of the book.

10,000 words in Translations

I wrote 12,500 words in Trans­la­tions, the bulk of it writ­ten as I sat on the deck, pret­ty much all alone in the cot­tage area.

At least a few shots of the Milky Way

Yeah, that turned out okay.

The Galaxy

Hav­ing access to a car this year real­ly helped me get to the dark places (lit­er­al­ly) so that I could get some great pho­tos of the night sky.

Also, I sold a print of one of my pho­tos to a friend. (Thanks, Bri­anne!) Does that mean I’m a pro now?

Lots of bike riding

Well. My bike’s left ped­al arm has been com­ing loose more and more fre­quent­ly. It’s got to go into the shop. On my first ride in Minnedosa, I had to stop twice to tight­en the ped­al arm, both times on my way up a hill. So after that, feh to bike rid­ing. (At least, my bike in its cur­rent con­di­tion.)

For­tu­nate­ly, I had access to a kayak (thanks, Car­la!), so I put in about 15 km of pad­dling time, going up and down the lake.

Stretch goals

I read James S. A. Corey’s amaz­ing Leviathan Wakes, cour­tesy of my pub­lic library’s e‑book pro­gram. I’m now hooked, and need to read the rest of the Expanse saga.

I also re-read the first ⅔ of Gene Wolfe’s sub­tle and mys­te­ri­ous The Fifth Head of Cer­berus, which, I’m not gonna lie, prob­a­bly had at least a lit­tle bit to do with my afore­men­tioned epiphany. (It’s also the first Wolfe nov­el I’ve re-read, and it’s amaz­ing how much less con­fu­sion I feel, how much more I’m pick­ing up.)

And we bought a sec­ond car, which is why I could have a vehi­cle to go gal­li­van­tin’ around the coun­try­side, look­ing for dark loca­tions to get pho­tos like this:

The Galaxy

I think that went well.

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