Today feels like it’s gonna be different somehow. For one, today is the tenth month I’ve been out at work as myself, and therefore I’ve been living true to myself, or as about as true as one can get, because there’s always things we can change to be better. But I do feel pretty good–
Oh, and I also have on pink, because it’s Wednesday, and we all know what we do on Wednesdays, right? You don’t? Get in the car; we’re going shopping.
There was also writing last night, nearly six hundred words. This has been a hard scene to start, mostly because this is one of the first times I’ve went nearly a thousand words without any dialog. In face, the first line of dialog appears near the end, about nine hundred words into the scene. And what is going on? Well, here’s what:
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
Since her students’ return from Yule holiday Jessica saw a visible drop in their ability to craft, but she knew this situation would clear soon; her experience with B Levels indicated that by the second or third week of February her students would settle down and regain their normal abilities. That sort of drop off might be fine for Wednesday and Erywin, but Jessica had a schedule to keep, and she needed all her little B Levels to put aside their fears and start crafting correctly right now . . .
That was why she reached out for some help.
This last Sunday after lunch Jessica approached Annie and Kerry and ask if they’d help out in the next B Level class. She knew they could craft the spells she wanted demonstrated, for Kerry had already master both early on in Advanced Transformation, and he’d confirmed he’d taught Annie the same well before they left on Yule holiday. She explained what she wanted, and what she hoped they would accomplish. She also let them know that their participation in her Tuesday afternoon class was completely voluntary: unlike Helena and Wednesday she’d never considered using people from her advanced class to come and work with students on their own level—
She wasn’t surprised that agreed to help.
Jessica began the with a twenty minutes on today’s lesson, which would involve starting to learn Minor Inanimate Change and Minor Personal Change. She had actually went over these spells with these same students right before last Ostara, and at that time no one was able to do the spell—well, almost no one. Kerry managed a simple Minor Personal Change during lab, and Annie accomplished Inanimate Change before she dismissed class. It wasn’t until later she discovered they’d begun working on both spells after they returned for the holidays, and mastered both well before they showing up for that particular class. Jessica hadn’t been surprised then: they were both driven to be not just good witches, but far more advanced than their fellow levelmates, and developing a mastery over those spells only seemed natural for them.
Annie and Kerry entered the classroom just before thirteen-thirty, and Jessica felt the atmosphere change before the door behind them clicked shut. She was aware of the hostility they’d encountered assisting in B Level Spells and Sorcery, and given that this was their first appearance in a B Level Transformation class since the start of school, Jessica expected a few students might likely object to the lesson plan, or even become surly and try to push back against instruction, but there wasn’t a chance in hell she was going to allow that to happen.
She let the class know that her two advanced students were there to help their fellow levelmates become proficient in the spells she’d lectured on today, and she expected the class to listen, to pay attention—and most of all, to learn.
“And with that—” Jessica took a single step back and held out her right arm towards the students standing off to one side of the class. “I’m going to turn the lesson over to . . . my minions.”
Annie and Kerry moved to the spot at the front of the class while Jessica leaned against her desk. Kerry and she went over their lesson plan that Sunday evening in their private lab, so there wasn’t any need to wonder what they were going to say and show.
If they could teach each other various kinds of advanced magic, they could teach what were now normal spells without a problem.
Now we know: Jessica doesn’t like to ask people for help. But at the same time she’s in a pinch and it’s time to ask for help, so she goes to the people she knows can help. Oh, sure, she could have asked students from a different level, but if these kids can do the job, let them. Also, if there’s someone who does what they damn well please, it’s Jessica–but then, that’s also every other instructor, too. If I don’t get too hammered tonight–I promise I’ll stick to just two drinks–then I’ll get into what the kids are getting into, because it’ll be interesting to see how they teach their fellow students.
One last thing and then I’ll go and leave you alone . . . one of the things I like to harp on is that writing is work, and if you wanna get that novel out, you gotta write. There’s nothing magical here: fairies don’t come out and work on your computer when you’re asleep, nor do your characters actually write out the story for you. It’s all on you, Bunkie, and if you want the words to appear on the screen, you gotta get your fingers to tap-tapping on the keyboard.
I did a quick check yesterday and found out how long I’d been working on B For Bewitching. Counting last night, it’s been two hundred and thirty-five days.
I know I started this novel on 11 April because I made a point of noting this on my Facebook author’s page, so there are no mistakes. Actually, I’ve probably worked closer to two hundred and twenty-five days on this novel, because I’m likely telling the truth when I say there are at least ten days that I wrote nothing. But I’m not going to knock those days out of the calculations, because it’s time I could have spent writing even a hundred words, but didn’t.
Chuck Wendig, an author I like and admire, has stated many times before that if you write just five hundred words a night, in a year you’ll have a novel. How big a novel? Well, 500 words times 365 days = 182,500 words. That’s a pretty good-sized novel. I know: I’m there now.
Actually I’m beyond that, because as of last night, my total word count was 195,038:
If we wanna do the math, 195,038 divided by 235 days = 830 words a day. That’s my average, and it’s a good average given that I usually write a couple of hours a night, editing and sometimes doing research as I go along. Today is day 236, and that means there are 130 more days until I’ve got one year down on his book, and if I can maintain a rate of eight hundred words a day, I’ll add another 104,000 words to the story. That means, give or take a few hundred words here or there, this book could end up around three hundred thousand words and completed–the later of which is most important to me.
Writing is work. You have to hone your craft by sitting down and getting the words out. There are no easy ways about it: you gotta put in the time, and you gotta sweat the product. You got a story inside you, be it short or long, sit down and get it out. If you do three hundred words a night–which is gonna be about an hour of your time–you’ll have three thousand words in ten days and close to ten thousand in a month. That’s a good short story, and and if you wanna keep it up for a few more months you’ve got a nice novella.
But you gotta put in the seat time to get there. This is why, rain or shine, feeling good or feeling bad, I sit and get some words into the story.
Because while my kids may be damn good witches, they don’t do jack when it comes to telling their own tale.