Cringing at your old writings

January 31, 2009 in Fantasy, Novel, On Writing by pacejmiller

cringe

I cringe more when I read my writings than when I watch David Brent

Reading back on old writings can be cringeworthy.  I had a firsthand experience today.

My fantasy novel has been making decent progress lately.  Today I added another 5,000-6,000 words to boost the total word count to over 40,000 words (I even finished my first battle sequence!).  But not ALL of my work today was brand new.

I had been working on this novel on and off for 7 years (mostly off).  But until recently (when I decided to really give it a shot), I had never written chronologically.  Instead, I picked specific scenes that I felt like writing at the time.  As a result, it was a bit all over the place, and some scenes I even attempted more than once.

Anyway, today my novel finally reached a point where the story converged with some of my previous writings.  So I thought it would be real easy – just whip out my old writings and paste them in.  Not so easy.

I could not believe how shithouse my old stuff was.  It told a scene (a very good one too, in my humble opinion), but the writing was garbage.  There was no technique.  There was no emotion.  Even the grammar was bad.  How on earth did I ever think that stuff was any good before?  I’d understand if I was reading my first ‘novel’ attempt, a cliched teen horror story that didn’t make any sense.  That’s because I wrote it when I was 12.  But most of the stuff I read today was written in the last 3 or 4 years.  I’m not even close to being a good writer now, and yes, it was all first draft material, but reading that crap was still deeply depressing.

Am I the only one here?  Anyone else have the same experience?

I tried my best to adapt some of the old stuff into the new, but it was hard.  I ended up rewriting most of it, but at least the basic features of the scenes remained in tact.  Nevertheless, I think it saved me some time. 

The funny thing is, chances are I will read back at what I’m writing now some time in the near future and cringe the same way I did today.  Actually, I’m sure of it.  But at least that would mean I’m improving.

Pacers beat Heat, leap from 14th to 12th

January 31, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA by pacejmiller

Mike Dunleavy Jr is officially back.  But what's the deal with the moustache?
Mike Dunleavy Jr is officially back. But what’s the deal with the moustache?

All smiles as Indiana overcomes Miami

It’s all good news today for the Indiana Pacers.

First, they beat the Miami Heat 114-103.  Secondly, Mike Dunleavy played 36 minutes and scored a season high 30 points, indicating a long-awaited return to last-season’s form.  Thirdly, newly annointed All-Star Danny Granger shook of concerns about his knee troubles (see my worried rant on this) and scored 19 points in 34 minutes.  Fourthly, not to be underestimated, seldom-used Maceo Baston finally got some game time and had 12 points and 7 rebounds in 19 minutes.  Why don’t they use this guy more?

Finally, a move in the standings

Most importantly, the Pacers finally made a move in the standings after improving their record to 19-28.  With the win, coupled with losses to the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats, Indiana leapt 2 spots in the Eastern Conference playoff race from 14th to 12th (half a game ahead of Toronto and identical record with Charlotte but ahead on tie-breakers).  New Jersey, Chicago and New York (whom the Pacers play next) are in the next 3 spots, each other 20 wins.  Unfortunately Milwaukee, in the 8th and final spot, is still comfortably ahead on 23-27.

Can they keep going?

As great as this current run of sorts (4 wins in 5 games and 7 straight at home) looks at the moment, years of unrealistic expectations and disappointment as a Pacer fan have taught me to be extremely cautious.  Their last few wins have come from Houston (without Artest and McGrady, and Yao played only in the first half), Charlotte (no explanation necessary), Milwaukee (without Redd and Bogut) and Miami (Marion was out and Haslem got tossed after 2 technicals in the first quarter).

The good news is that the next 2 games are still at home – against New York and Minnesota (not good teams but they’ve been playing well and are formidable by the Pacers’ standards).  The bad news is that after an away game against Philadelphia (and I believe this game is winnable), they face Orlando again (this time at home but the outcome is just about guaranteed to be the same).  Nevertheless, if they can go into the Orlando game with a 5 game winning streak I will be more than satisfied.

Latest Novel Progress!

January 30, 2009 in Fantasy, Novel, On Writing by pacejmiller

It’s been a little while since I gave an update on the progress of my fantasy novel.

What I’ve been up to

If you just looked at my recent posts, it seems like I’ve been preoccupied with other things, such as the NBA All-Star selections, the upcoming Academy Awards, and other news items such as the 100-0 basketball game (I’ve noticed that whenever you mention “religion” or “Jesus” in a post, the hits go through the roof!). 

If you saw me at home, you would think that all I’ve been doing is study (still trying to catch up for the thousands of pages of readings, some dating back to last term!).

However, I have been working on the novel despite all these distractions.  I’ve been writing in the mornings, at nights, during study breaks.  Finding time, I suppose.  And I’ve been loving it!

Where I am up to

laughMy last novel update stated that I had just completed my first sword fight.  Well, now I’m right in the middle of my first battle and things are beginning to get exciting.  My fantasy world is finally starting to take shape, but it’s also only just the preliminary stage – a lot of wonderful and unique characters and fascinating worlds have yet to make an appearance.  I can’t wait to get to them.

I’ve been less worried about the rules and techniques of writing lately, which is probably why I am making more progress.  I’ve still yet to master “free-writing”, but I’ve abstained from reading over each sentence a dozen times before I move on to the next.  I would like things to move a little faster – I get impatient; I want to tell the next part of the story, but I also want to make the current part good.  It’s a dilemma.

Word count

It had been a while since my last word count.  I believe so far I’m on track to keep my promise of 10,000 words a week.  Anyway, the current word count is approximately 35,000 words!

However, I am having second thoughts about my prologue, and I think I will end up cutting it out completely.  It’s one of those prologues where you don’t know what the heck is happening until very later on, and it’s also quite similar in style and pace to the first chapter.  I spent a lot of time on it because it was the first thing I wrote, but I may have to let it go (sob).  If I do, the word count drops back to 33,000.

Next target is 50,000 words!

What’s next for this blog

The blog’s also been taking off a bit, glad to say.  I’ve been putting up posts on whatever I feel like lately, and I think it’s good.  Even though not everything is on writing, at least I’m writing it and keeping the creative juices flowing.  I’ve got a whole stack of ideas lined up, and I’ll be trying to get them out over the next few weeks.  I think I will also go back to doing more posts about writing techniques and fantasy writing resources – get back to my original plans for this blog a little more.

Holy crap it’s Danny Granger’s knee!

January 30, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA by pacejmiller

granger-block

Van Wafer can't bear to see his dunk stuffed by All-Star Danny Granger

 Before we all start dancing in the streets over Danny Granger’s somewhat expected All-Star reserve selection (yay!), the news is that Danny’s been suffering from a nagging knee injury (which caused him to miss the last game against Milwaukee and makes him uncertain for the next game against Miami).

Apparently, the knee has been bothering him for a while, bad enough to cause him to miss workouts during the summer.  He also says he’s been icing the knee during timeouts as of late.  This might explain why his shooting has been off for quite a few games now.

This is enough to shoot a chill down the spines of all Pacers fans (and Granger fantasy owners).  So far, Granger’s been the only bright spot in this lackluster season.  And if he’s going to miss any significant amount of time, the Pacers might as well start looking at the top 5 picks for next year’s draft.

It seems Pacer players have a tendency to get injured more than other teams (or am I being too sensitive here?).  As of today, Jarrett Jack has been the only Pacer to play in all 46 games of the season.  Granger, Ford, Daniels, Murphy, Nesterovic and of couse Dunleavy have all missed a few games here and there.  And if we go back a bit in time, you have chronic injuries to Jermaine O’Neal (which led to his departure) and Jamaal Tinsley (what’s going on with him, by the way?).

Remember that other hugely talented player the Pacers drafted, Jonathan Bender?  He’s doing great things with his life now, but the Pacers can only wonder what type of player he could have been.  Let’s pray this knee injury is not serious or long-term.

PS: Has anyone seen the Pacers’ website?  It’s like Danny Granger’s been elected President.  Within hours of the announcement, we’ve got interviews, videos, pictures, wallpapers – even an extra front page – all dedicated to Granger’s All-Star selection.  They even had a dig at former Pacer legend Reggie Miller for suggesting that players on losing teams should get less recognition.

NBA All-Star Reserves Announced!

January 30, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA by pacejmiller

allstar2

The reserves for the 2009 NBA All-Star Game (as picked by league coaches) have finally been announced.

Eastern Conference:

F Paul Pierce, BOS
C Chris Bosh, TOR
G Joe Johnson, ATL
F Danny Granger, IND
G Devin Harris, NJ
F Rashard Lewis, ORL
G Jameer Nelson, ORL

Western Conferience:

F Dirk Nowitzki, DAL
F Pau Gasol, LAL
G Chauncey Billups, DEN
G Tony Parker, SA
G Brandon Roy, POR
C Shaquille O’Neal, PHO
F David West, NO

Just to recap, the starters of each conference are:

East: Dwayne Wade, Allen Iverson, Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard

West: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming

Comparing my picks

Well, I’m glad Danny Granger made it, but let’s see how the other selections stacked up against my personal picks

The one selection that shocked a lot of people was David West

The one selection that shocked a lot of people was David West

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In the East, I had omitted Allen Iverson completely (due to his drop off in numbers and Detroit’s performance with him on the team) – but he was selected by the fans.  The other difference was that I didn’t have Jameer Nelson on the squad.  I mean, Orlando’s doing well and all, but to give the Magic 3 All-Stars was a bit too much.  Even though I didn’t select him, I thought Mo Williams (17ppg, 4.1apg) of Cleveland had just as much merit as Nelson (17ppg, 5.4apg), and probably would have picked him ahead of Nelson because Lebron’s the sole representative of the Cavs whereas Orlando already had 2 players on the squad. 

The picks I had that didn’t make it were Vince Carter and Michael Redd, but that was before Redd got injured for the rest of the season.  In hindsight I would have picked Mo Williams or Ray Allen instead (but definitely not Rajon Rondo).

Out West, David West was the only difference compared to my picks.  This was a bit of an odd one because while you can’t say he’s not deserving, there are plenty of other players that at least on paper look like they deserve it more.  Like the guy I picked instead of him, Al Jefferson.  If Danny Granger can make it for Indiana, Al Jefferson should make it for Minnesota.  Although I didn’t pick him, another guy that probably deserved it was Kevin Durant – he really is a scoring machine.  If the Thunder can just get a little bit better then he should be a lock for next season.

My All-Star Game Prediction

I had picked the East to beat the West in a tight one with Dwayne Wade named MVP.  Since the actual teams selected aren’t all that different, I’ll have to stick to my original prediction.  The Eastern Conference to beat the Western Conference by less than 7 points with Dwayne Wade taking out MVP honours (though I would not be surprised to see Dwight Howard win it).  If the West won, the MVP will have to be Chris Paul.  Lock it in.