An update on something pretty important

It’s been a while since I posted anything. The main reason for that, aside from being busy, was simply that I knew what I wanted to post about, but had trouble collecting my thoughts as more aspects of this whole collected topic came to light. I am talking about the ongoing situation with the protests and other fallout from what happened in Ferguson, New York City, Cleveland, and many (far too many) other places.

I also went back and forth for some time on just what I wanted to say. Certainly, much (much) has already been said on these issues, and it’s not as if I actually have the power to effect change on any kind of significant scale. What good will adding my voice to the pile really do?

The answer may be, “none at all.” So, while originally I thought about trying to write something really eloquent and long and nuanced, I don’t think that’s going to happen. So instead I’ll just point to a couple of things that have happened recently, that I think are important and actually show some semblance of progress, and give me a bit of hope.

On the heels of this (which was incredible – look at all those people!), I stumbled on a couple of other developments that seem to indicate we might have actually learned something from all of this. That progress is actually being made.

First off, there’s this, which came as quite a surprise. Not only because it’s indicative of real progress, but also because… congress actually did something? Aside from bicker and talk about nonsense and waste time? That’s nothing short of shocking.

It’s only a step, of course, and the federal government stepping in and saying “change needs to happen and here is some change” won’t simply solve the problems of systemic, institutionalized racism, or the issues of police brutality and grossly inappropriate use of force. At every turn, police have escalated tension and violence – the exact opposite of what they are supposed to do – in response to protests which were sparked by their unjust actions in the first place. That’s not all going to simply go away overnight because of the government telling them change is needed. Nor does this address the issues of the grand jury proceedings that have taken place – certainly, the one in Ferguson was a joke, and prosecutor Robert McCulloch clearly did not want Wilson indicted, and even then, the problem still goes beyond that. Expecting prosecutors who regularly work closely with police officers to make cases to turn around and truly, zealously pursue indictments (let alone convictions) against those same officers is ludicrous.

But this is still significant. It’s still progress. And it really is one of those things that, when you stop and think about it, you realize it’s kind of weird that this wasn’t ALREADY the case. ALWAYS the case. Law enforcement agencies don’t have to compile and report statistics on those they kill – justified or not – to anyone? Why the hell not? Hopefully this new legislation is carried forward by the momentum from all the recent attention on this issue, and doesn’t fizzle out after several years as previous, similar legislation from 2000 did, according to the linked article. It’s interesting, too, that this really did happen “while no one was looking”, as the title purports – I have seen very little on this development from most mainstream media sources.

So it’s at least a good sign, as is this. The article refers to the restraining order itself as “temporary”, but again, it is a step in the right direction, as it acknowledges the fact that the police were in the wrong (on a number of levels) throughout the situation in Ferguson.

Hopefully this is all indicative of some kind of positive change coming out of these tragedies. Nothing can change what happened, but at least these are steps toward trying to change what happens going forward.

-Saito S

 

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 – closing thoughts

One more day to add a little bit more to the word count; 571 words added on the 30th, for a final Nano 2014 total of 51,700. Nice round number – didn’t plan that, it just happened!

This was a pretty fun Nano. Went to several write-ins (just about every one of the Tuesday in Berkeley and Friday in Emeryville ones), met some cool new people, reconnected with friends from Nanos past (shout out to all of you! Nano wouldn’t be Nano without people to write with and make stupid jokes with! XD). And, while I ended up working on SA specifically a lot more than I’d planned, I still met my goal: 50k words in existing works. Granted, it would have been nice to make more actual progress in Crafters, but I did get a lot of new ideas and notes for it. I’ll be continuing to work on it in 2015, and I’m hoping to make serious progress and maybe even finish it (or at least, finish the first novel; the story as a whole would probably take more than one). While I doubt I’ll actually try to write a full 50,000 words in a single month, I’ll probably take some specific weeks here and there and make them “writing weeks”, during which I’ll really try to put a lot of time into making progress.

As for December, I won’t be doing much – if any – writing during this month, because I have a bunch of other things I want to get to, and because I think it’s okay to take a writing break. After all, I just wrote fifty-thousand words in a month! I’d like to get back to mapping projects (Valocea, of course, but some other things as well), I’ve found myself actually wanting to play video games again (after months and months of just being completely uninterested in them. I guess I just needed a really massive hiatus! This month I plan to FINALLY play through Mass Effect – yes the first one, I am way behind I know), and my roommate and I really need to go some work on cleaning up our mess of an apartment. That last one, I am not looking forward to, to say the least, but eh. Has to get done. Also, with my “30 days, 30 blog posts” thing done, I’m going to get back to using this space for other things – obviously any writing developments that do occur will be documented here, but there are other things I’ve wanted to talk about as well, now that I’m not quite so focused on word counts.

So! Another year, another Nano. Back to regular life I go!

-Saito S

NaNoWriMo: Day 29

I’ve passed the 50k word mark, but I had two days left, so I decided, why not write a bit more? So on Saturday, I managed to write another 907 words. Writing a bit more tonight, too – not a lot, but again, might as well up my final Nano word count a bit! The post for the last update, day 30, will probably go up tomorrow, December 1st.

-Saito S

NaNoWriMo: Day 28 – Finito!

So! Went to write-in, wrote 878 words, which brought me to a grand total of 50,202 (though my word count is officially 50,250 according to the Nano site, a quirk of the fact that Word and the Nano word count validator process things a little bit differently). So I am DONE! Hooray!

The vast majority of the words written for Nano 2014 (42,761) went to SA. Which is a bit odd, since out of all my story ideas, that’s the one I’m least likely to ever try to publish. Yet I can’t say I regret all those words written; I have a lot of fun writing those characters, and even if I never try to clean up and publish the story itself, it’s still practice, it’s still writing exercise, it still gives me something I’ve written that I can look back on and be proud of and enjoy, and that also provides more insight into how I write, what my habits (good and bad) are, etc.

The only other story I wrote for was Crafters, which gained 7,441 words. Which isn’t a lot, especially by comparison, and I DO want to try and finish and then publish that story (hopefully will be able to get to the “finish” part, if not the “publish” part, in 2015). But, once I’d gotten way ahead word-count wise and felt like I had time to do other things more, I spent some time just thinking about Crafters. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve reached a point where I don’t feel I can write too much more narrative anyway without first doing more world-building and (especially) character creation. So, some of my Nano time basically went to fleshing out that story and world, so that in the near future I will be able to write more. Thus, I’m still satisfied with how things went.

There are two days left of Nano, counting the 29th, so I might as well try to get a bit more writing in – why not finish with even more than I have now, right?

-Saito S

NaNoWriMo: Day 25

Day 25! Went to another write-in, but didn’t get a whole lot done. Only wrote 443 words. There was a lot of talking, and on top of that I spent more time mulling things over for Crafters and writing down some notes than I did adding any actual narrative to any of my stories. But I had a lot of fun (mostly because of the aforementioned “lots of talking”), and really, I’m pretty close to finishing anyway so why rush it? As I said in my last post, I’m going to drag it out just long enough to finish on Friday at the final write-in of the month, because that will be more fun anyway.

-Saito S

NaNoWriMo: Day 24

Didn’t get a whole lot done on Monday night (514 words), but by this point, it’s started to become almost intentional, because I’m planning to go to the write-in (the last of November, at least in my general area) on Friday night. So, I’d rather cross the finish line there, in the company of fellow Nano’ers! I’ll work a bit between now and then, but just not enough to finish. This gives me some extra time to devote to more mapping, and some more story planning, especially for Crafters.

I’ve slowed down on that story a bit in terms of writing actual narrative. When it comes to Nano, I’m so close to reaching 50k now, I kind of feel like it doesn’t matter which story I write for – I can just add the remaining words as a few more SA scenes that have been kicking around in my head. And, the thing with Crafters is it’s becoming harder to just write new scenes for it, because I’m running up against my lack of planning, world-building, and characters.

When I originally wrote the first 50k words for this story back in November of 2012, it was… well, it was Nano. It was fast and loose and didn’t always make sense and whatever, because that’s how Nano can BE sometimes. But, I did really like the underlying premise and characters that I’d come up with, and knew I wanted to try to refine and expand upon the ideas I’d had. So, when this year’s Nano began, I just dived back in… but the thing is, I’m getting much deeper into the story now (since I started with 50k already written), and the lack of the above mentioned things is becoming a problem. Sure, I can just crank out more scenes, Nano-style, but I’ve only created like four characters (out of an extended cast that’s likely to be at least double that). How many more scenes do I want to write – even if the writing is “only the first draft” – involving only those characters? Before generating too much more actual narrative, I want to stop and do some serious refinement of concepts, world-building, and character creation. Because this story has reached the point where I feel I’m really serious about it; I want to see where I can take this, maybe even ultimately see if I could get it published at some point.

So with that in mind, what’s left of Nano in terms of word count will probably all go to SA, since most of the characters I’d want to use for any given scene in that story have long since been created, and the setting is much more well-realized (the fact that, Valocea aspect aside, it’s basically the real world, certainly makes that easier).

-Saito S

NaNoWriMo: Day 22

Another good day yesterday – 3,610 words total, split about evenly between more Crafters and more SA. I continue to get ideas for the latter that simply won’t leave me alone until they are written, whereas writing the former is more about me sitting down and going “okay, now to come up with ideas to write for Crafters…” so it’s kind of an interesting mix.

Today I’m kind of taking a day off – been working on more Valocea mapping and just generally goofing off. Decided to since I’m so far ahead now, there’s no reason to push (I know I said before I’d try to do at least the Nano amount each day, but when I wrote that I didn’t think I would then get double the daily amount on day 22). I’ll still write a bit at some point before the night is over, but I’m not going to worry much about if it’s 1000+ or not.

-Saito S