Jigsaw Puzzle Revisions

So for the past couple of months, I’ve been revising Book Two of the Aven Cycle. It’s been an interesting process, because while I’m not actually generating a ton of new content, it’s felt like that kind of heavy lifting.

Have you ever seen that thing where an artist puts together jigsaw puzzles that have the same die cut pattern, but different pictures? That’s sort of what it feels like I’ve been doing.

I needed to rearrange some major incidents in the Aven/Latona plotline. Her story’s pacing was all out of joint. Big chunks of story needed to be moved up a lot, and others needed to be sacked entirely. Sometimes, though, bits and pieces of a scene were not just still usable, but still desirable — an important emotional beat, or some necessary observation on the wider plot. Then, the trick becomes recontextualizing the old scene for the new pacing and character arc. How can I lift this conversation, or at least its main beats, and redress the setting? Do I need to adjust the dialogue for a different mood or sense of urgency? Practically, am I now referring to things that haven’t happened yet?
There’s a lot to keep track of.

I also have to do that without things falling too out-of-sync with the Iberian plotline, where Vitellius, Sempronius, and Rabirus all are. I think I’ve kept things fairly well-yoked, but as I approach the Big Moment in the Iberina plot, I’ve still got a lot of the Aven/Latona component left to get to. (I’m beginning to have a lot of sympathy for George R R Martin, trying to weave plotlines happening concurrently in so many different locations. Not coincidentally, the new project I’m percolating for consideration as this year’s NaNo will all take place inside a single city).

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The picture above is from my bullet journal, where I’ve been trying to stay on top of all of this. I listed out every scene in the earlier draft, by chapter, with the titles I used in Scrivener. Then I’ve been marking down when I migrate them wholesale (as I can do with most of the Iberian chapters), when I’ve migrated them with alterations, when I’ve struck them entirely, and where — as with so many — I’ve migrated only part of a scene, and what it’s now part of in the new draft. I’ve also made notes on some where I know I want to include a portion of a scene in the new draft, but haven’t found a place for it yet. Some of those may end up being jettisoned if there’s just not a place for them, but this way, I can tell at a glance what puzzle pieces are still hanging out on the table.

I’m wishing now I’d left a line in between each entry, though, because some scenes have been chopped up into three or four pieces, and it’s been hard to write small enough to note where all the pieces have gone!

Adventures in Bullet Journaling

20180131_223100419_iOSSo I’ve decided to start bullet journaling, for reasons that are still not clear even to me. They’re so pretty on Instagram, and perhaps it’s an endeavor wherein I’m trying to feel far more put-together than I really am. I’m liking it quite a bit, though, and certainly enough to keep up the experiment for a few more months, at least.

If you don’t know what a bullet journal is, Buzzfeed has a nice, succinct explanation, complete with pictures to illustrate. Mine is, thus far, pretty simple. I’m not working with the ideal journal type (but rather a gorgeous Targaryen journal that I got from the wonderful Heather), and my total lack of artistic talent (which I discussed in a recent Patreon video) will, I suspect, be a perpetual hindrance. When I started in January, it was with the recognition that this could be a good organizational tool for me, but that it could really easily also be something that dialed my usual high-functioning anxiety up to eleven.

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My favorite feature so far is the habit tracker. This little thing is an amazing motivator. I get shamed by too many empty boxes in a row, and so it’s keeping me on track with everything from reading to exercise to keeping the apartment clean. That anxiety does come into play a little bit, but there’s an inverse relationship, too — seeing lots of filled-in boxes gives me permission to have an occasional blank box. And, to tamp the completionism down a bit, a few of those boxes also currently have loose definitions. “Exercise” might mean a long walk, spending an afternoon skiing, or having an extended dance party in my apartment — or, it might just mean that I managed to do some crunches and stretches that day.

20180131_223042995_iOSThe two where I’m really noticing a difference are Reading and Cleaning. I read 11 books in January — way ahead of pace to hit 50 for the year! A few of those were “sort’a” books — a picture book, a 70-page guidebook, and an RPG corebook, but even taking those out, I still read 8 novels in a month, and it’s definitely because the habit tracker encourages me to set aside time for it almost every day. With cleaning, it’s helping me keep on track of the chaos. One or two things a day make for short-burst tidying rather than having to spend hours at a time on the weekend, and the apartment stays looking nicer all the time as a result. The Tarot tracker is a way of making sure I stay in better touch with my spirituality; the Patreon tracker makes sure I deliver content on a regular basis.

This month, I’m adding writing to the tracker. For the first part of the month, that’s going to include the page proofs I have to finish, but the rest of the month, it’s going to mean working on Book Two or the space opera. I’m not going to let myself count blogging or answering interviews. I only get to check that box if I’ve worked on something creative, something fictional. Something that might maybe earn me some money. 😉

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