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.

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 6

Star Trails

Thurs­day:

  • Big break­fast, in which I dis­cov­ered that Trap­per Bites, eggs, and pota­toes are an amaz­ing com­bo
  • 1,000 words in “Dried Flow­ers”
  • 6 km bike ride
  • A bunch of macro pho­tos in the camp­ground
  • Also met with the own­er of a “49-ish” Mer­cury truck (it’s a ’49, but it has A/C and an auto­mat­ic trans­mis­sion)
  • 1,000 words in Trans­la­tions (or more like­ly Daniel, Daniel, Daniel)
  • And before bed, I set up my cam­era in the cab­in’s cov­ered porch, and took pho­tos till the bat­tery died about an hour lat­er; the clouds rolled in, but before they did I got the star trails at the top of this post.
A cloudy skyA cloudy sky

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.

These things happen

fountain pen on notepad

And then I got home, and made some notes, and it turns out that the “bril­liant sto­ry sug­ges­tions” intro­duce some more con­flict, at the cost of mov­ing a few scenes around.

No spoil­ers for the short sto­ry, but it a) makes my antag­o­nist a more inter­est­ing char­ac­ter, b) makes my pro­tag­o­nist have to make a very dif­fi­cult deci­sion, and c) allows me to illu­mi­nate how the pro­tag­o­nist plays games with the truth.

And now, to actu­al­ly fin­ish this draft.

Two sentence Tuesday

fountain pen on notepad

All the lies he’d told her were, so far as he knew, still undis­cov­ered. To his cred­it, they were few, and most­ly unim­por­tant.

₣rom “The Slow Apoc­a­lypse”

I’m work­ing on the last flash­back sec­tion of my short sto­ry. It’s still in first draft. I’m not sure if these lines will sur­vive the even­tu­al edit, but I feel like they’re impor­tant.

Tonight’s writing

The river

I ham­mered out 1,100 words, give or take, in “Sum­mer­time in the Void”, which is a new short sto­ry about a man left behind by the Sin­gu­lar­i­ty.

Here’s a sam­ple, but be kind, it’s first draft mate­r­i­al:

His dad, not long before he left, had told John that you can’t ever cross the same riv­er twice, and John had asked why not and his dad had just smiled and told him “You’re smart, fig­ure it out.”

Because the water’s nev­er the same, he decid­ed. Some­times it’s swift and deep, and sometimes—like now, after a long, hot, dry summer—it was shal­low, lazy, and mud­dy.

I’ve got about 3,900 more words to make this into a coher­ent sto­ry. I think I can make it work.

Writing Retreat, Day 6

The Milky Way

Sat­ur­day, I:

  • wrote my 2,000 words in two stints;
  • crossed the 100,000-word mark in my nov­el;
  • debat­ed chang­ing the title from Trans­la­tions to Reflec­tion, Trans­la­tion, Inva­sion (which is a not-com­plete­ly-inac­cu­rate sum­ma­ry of the sto­ry, at a very high lev­el);
  • turned on the air con­di­tion­ing, because it was get­ting pret­ty hot;
  • bor­rowed the neigh­bours’ kayak and pad­dled on the lake for a half-hour or so right at sun­set;
  • went and got some more pho­tos of the Milky Way and (serendip­i­tous­ly) the Auro­ra Bore­alis.

Can I help you with some­thing?” Head­less man­nequins wore flim­sy cot­ton dress­es in earth tones. Coun­ter­top racks dis­played neack­laces and bracelets made of beads, pearls, or smooth and pol­ished stones. A sign at the back said RESTROOMS FOR PAYING CUSTOMERS ONLY.

I need a wash­room,” I said.

She motioned at the sign.

No, I need a wash­room.”

She sighed, though I couldn’t tell whether she was exas­per­at­ed with me or with the sit­u­a­tion I was evi­dent­ly try­ing to put her in. “Pol­i­cy,” she said. Then, giv­ing me a good look­ing-over, she said, much more qui­et­ly, “You okay?”

Yes, I want­ed to say.

No.”

From Trans­la­tions
Con­tin­ue read­ing “Writ­ing Retreat, Day 6

Series: Writing Retreat 2019

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2019; Writ­ing Retreat 2019, Day 1; Writ­ing Retreat 2019, Day 2; Writ­ing Retreat: Days 3 through 5; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 6.

Writing Retreat 2019

Reading Provenance and sipping Writer's Tears whiskey

Last night I arrived at Minnedosa, to start the 2019 edi­tion of my annu­al week-long writ­ing retreat.

Goals this year:

  • 2,000 words a day, or about 15,000 words, in the first draft of Trans­la­tions.
    • Sub-goal: Get to the end­ing.
  • Pho­tos of the Milky Way.
  • Pho­tos, gen­er­al­ly; there are a few spots I’d like to get to. The Cana­di­an prairie is pho­to­genic, and I want to cap­ture that.
  • Ride my bike a lot, and also go kayak­ing a few times. The weath­er fore­cast seems to agree with this plan.
  • Read at least a cou­ple of the books I brought: Prove­nance by Ann Leck­ie (I’m about ¾ of the way through, so that should work out); The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishig­uro; Drey­er’s Eng­lish by Ben­jamin Drey­er; and The Knight by Gene Wolfe (because it’s a tra­di­tion, appar­ent­ly, that I read Wolfe while I’m at the cab­in).

I’m also due in Win­nipeg for my nephew’s birth­day par­ty, which means I’ll be able to pick up the copy of Michael Swan­wick­’s The Iron Drag­on’s Moth­er that I pre-ordered in (checks notes) (…these notes are illeg­i­ble) Feb­ru­ary? maybe. And a friend is camp­ing at Clear Lake start­ing mid-week, so I’ll prob­a­bly go both­er him for an after­noon or some­thing.

As my dar­ling wife is wont to say, “Write faster, Johan­neson.”

Head­er image: last night, read­ing Prove­nance on the deck with a glass of Writer’s Tears.

Series: Writing Retreat 2019

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2019; Writ­ing Retreat 2019, Day 1; Writ­ing Retreat 2019, Day 2; Writ­ing Retreat: Days 3 through 5; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 6.

14th try’s the charm

I real­ly like my short sto­ry “The Overnight Shift”. I wrote it last sum­mer, in a week­end, at the start of my 2016 writer’s retreat. It was orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten as a con­test entry in the NYC Mid­night flash fic­tion con­test.

Since I wrote it, I’ve been try­ing to sell it. It’s right at the 1,000-word mark, mak­ing it what they term flash fic­tion. There are a decent num­ber of pay­ing mar­kets for flash fic­tion, and I was start­ing to think I was going to have to try them all.

Screenshot

That is a screen­shot of my Sub­mis­sion Grinder screen for “The Overnight Shift”. The num­bers in the square brack­ets at the end? That’s [the num­ber of cur­rent open sub­mis­sions for a piece / the num­ber of sub­mis­sions this year / the num­ber of all-time sub­mis­sions]. Those 14 are all the times I’ve sent this piece out into the world. 13 times run­ning, it was reject­ed (twice it made it to the sec­ond round, where it was then pruned).

And final­ly, this week, I sold it. It will appear some­time in Novem­ber in The Arcan­ist, a rel­a­tive­ly new online SF/F ’zine fea­tur­ing flash fic­tion.

I’ll be sure to post here when it goes live. Trust me, you won’t be able to keep me qui­et about it.