To Go Boldly…Where? (Part II)

2013/05/06 § Leave a comment

The Wanderer came to the Man’s house on a warm summer day at dusk. She found the Man siting on his porch sipping a cool beer and watching the night fall.

“Come have a seat,” the Man said, gesturing to the empty chair beside him. “You look weary from your travels.”

“Thank you,” replied the Wanderer. “I have long been on the road.” She walked to the porch and settled in the chair with a contended sight.

“Beer?” the Man asked.

“Please, that would be wonderful.”

The Man reached behind him and pulled a glistening bottle from a bucket filled with half-melted ice. He twisted the cap off and handed it to the Wanderer. She took a long swallow. “This is good stuff.”

For a while they sat there in silence, listening to the crickets and the wind stir the leafs. Soon the night was full, lit only by the twinkle of the fireflies in the meadows and the clear light of the fields of stars above.

“You have been gone for many years,” the Man said. “What have you seen this time?”

The Wanderer gave a small smile, the corner of her mouth turning up. So many things in that question! The curiosity and the reproach, The bitterness and the longing. She turned to the Man. He sat straight, looking not at her but into the darkness, nothing in his bearing hinting at the weight of his question. She sunk into her chair and lost herself in memories.

“I have seen many wonders, my friend,” the Wanderer said. “I have seen the crumbled towers and ruined streets of lost Andaï, which they once called the jewel of the south. I have seen and heard – the sound is terrible, a roar of the gods that resonates in your every bone – the five cataracts of the river Quel, each taller and wider than the previous, each spilling in an hour more water than Calyrshan drinks in a year. I have walked the thousand bridges of Maekhin and talked with the Necromancers of Dis. In the West, on the shores of the Endless Sea, I have seen the winddancers of the Ekemel perform their sacred rituals and summon the Kaishi-Gar. I have seen armies and walls and dead bodies littering the fields. I have seen giant trees and endless forests and prairies the color of emerald. I have seen countless cities and roads, majestic rivers and mountains, humbling storms and sunrises. I have seen the world, my friend, and now I am home.”

Her words hung over them for a moment, the rest of the world silent, as if it was holding his breath. Then a breeze ruffled their hair and the night sounds came back.

The Man lowered his chin to his chest and sighted. The sound pulled at the Wanderer’s hearth. “I wished I had come with you,” he said. “I wish I’d had the courage to leave as you did.”

“It’s not too late,” she replied. “It’s never to late. You just have to go one step at a time, and soon you’ll be boarding a barge at Urmil, on your way to the wonders of this world.”

The moon had risen now, and when the Man turned to look at the Wanderer she could see its reflection in his eyes. “A step at a time,” the Man said. “That’s something I could do. I could give myself an objective, you know, something to strive for. What about 20,000 steps to start? That should get me somewhere interesting.”

“Maybe,” replied the Wanderer. “The important thing is to get up and get going.”

“Excellent!” He was excited now, sitting at the edge of his seat. “One step at a time, 20,000 steps to start. But, now that I think about it, I walk a few steps every day. Just to go to the outhouse from here, it’s about 25 steps, so 50 there and back. Since I usually go about twice a day, that’s a hundred steps right there.”

“Wait,” said the Wanderer. “That’s not what…”

The Man seemed not to hear. “So, in 200 days, I got all the steps I need. Shit, seven months and I’m done. That’s shorter than giving birth to a baby! You’re a genius, my friend. I’ll see the world, one step at a time.”

The Wanderer groaned…

*****

All that to say, writing 20,000 words is all well and good, but it can’t just be any crap, otherwise all it’ll do is stink (maybe I’m pushing the metaphor a little too far here). So, to go forward with the 20,000 objective, there are two more things to decide: 20,000 of what, and for when.

WHAT? Essentially, there are three genres I read: fantasy (including urban fantasy), scifi, and crime. They all have their pros and cons from my perspective (that of somebody settling down to write for the first time in his life). I think I’ll try fantasy. It’s my first love, what I read the most and imagine the most, and it lets you do pretty much anything setting-wise as long as its coherent. It does require more world building than, say, crime (I have concerns regarding my ability to describe stuff…), but again it will be good practice. I think the story I want to try will have hints of crime fiction in it, but we’ll see. It may also lean towards the steampunk (for the trains, airships, and rifles, mostly), but I’ll have to think on that too.

WHEN? I’ve been thinking about this one a lot (I seem to be doing a lot of that recently…). The key, apparently, is to write everyday, no matter how much, just to get the muscles going. I can probably do that, or something close. But, I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to produce each day. I’ll probably write a post about the obstacles I face, but suffice to say here that between my work and my home duties and not sleeping well and this being really hard (duh), I think aiming for 2,500 words a week is a reasonable start. 500 words per weekday, with the weekend as a bonus to catch up when I’ve missed it (and that’s not counting the time to keep my dear reader(s) abreast of my progress via this blog). It’s a very tame number, and I’ll readjust after two or three weeks, but to start I think I need to be careful (the maxim of the public servant: under-promise but over-deliver!). At that pace, I’d get my 20,000 words in 8 weeks. Plus 2 for the planning, and I should be done the first draft in two-and-a-half months. Sounds reasonable I think.

To conclude, my objective now is: To write the first draft of a 20,000 word fantasy story within 10 weeks. With the start of the counter set at today, that means it would be due July 15. This is good since my birthday is a few days after that. A present to myself!

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