Posted by: Casey Lybrand | August 4, 2010

What is equality, and where does it come from (etymologically)?

Okay, so I was working on this whole big thing about rhotic vs. non-rhotic pronunciation. But you know what? My heart is just not in it today. Next week. This week, lets have a quick look at equality. Topical, yes? [1]

The court decision striking down California’s Prop 8 — which is all I can think about today, by the way — is all about equality. But where does that word come from, and what do we mean when we use it? I’m going to look at etymology and everyday usage, not legal terminology. (Mostly because I have some hope of hitting it in the language department, and none whatsoever in the legal department.)

Equality: An Ancient and Enduring Concept

The root word of equality is equal. OED has several entries for the word equal as an adjective — concepts involving numbers, music, and so on use this term. Here are some definitions that best relate to people and equality:

2. a. Possessing a like degree of a (specified or implied) quality or attribute; on the same level in rank, dignity, power, ability, achievement, or excellence; having the same rights or privileges. Const. to, with.

4. a. Of distribution, mixture, etc.: Evenly proportioned. Of rules, laws, conditions, processes, or actions (hence of agents): Affecting all objects in the same manner and degree; uniform in effect or operation (often passing into 5).

And this one:

5. In sense of L. æquus: Fair, equitable, just, impartial. Obs.

That last one is the one we’re going to look at. Because, yes, Latin. That’s how the word comes to us, after all: from the Latin aequus.


Perhaps not surprisingly, given the variety of definitions of equal in English today (remember: numbers, music, etc.) the Latin aequus, from which it is derived, is also one of those words with a number of definitions. For example, it means “even, level, flat” when used to describe a place. “That is equal to another in any quality, equal, like” is more general, and is particularly relevant to what we’re looking at today. Some definitions of aequus pertain to morality:


Of persons, fair, equitable, impartial in conduct toward others

Of things, fair, right, equitable, reasonable

…what is fair, equitable, or just; fairness, equity, or justice

Yup. That’s the word we’re looking for. Wanna see it in Ancient Greek? How about Sanskrit?

Also Equal

ἔοικα – Ancient Greek – “to be like, look like”, “to seem likely”, “to beseem, befit”

ēka – Sanskrit – “one, as if properly, one and uniform”

So there’s that. Scholars don’t seem to be in agreement about how the Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit relate, exactly. But that’s okay. Equal is an old word and an old concept, with a fairly direct transition from Latin into English. Simple in theory.

Let’s hope for a fairly direct resolution to this whole equality issue we’re struggling with when it comes to equal rights under the law. Which, unfortunately, is less than simple in practice.

Just the one this time:

1: Yes. Marriage equality has been “so ordered” in California by a federal judge. This is excellent, but a temporary stay has been issued on the court’s decision. This means the order won’t go into effect until the stay has been lifted. Which may not be until the case reaches the US Supreme Court.

Still, it is a very good decision:

  • Equal protection and due process are affirmed.
  • Gender-based marriage bans violate the US Constitution.
  • Gay people are a “suspect class” — which requires the highest level of scrutiny when looking at discriminatory laws — but the marriage ban would not have stood under “rational scrutiny” (the lowest level of scrutiny).

Looks airtight. Let’s hope the appellate courts agree. Lots of info in this post and at the Prop 8 Trial Tracker in general.

Posted by: Casey Lybrand | August 4, 2010

You’re Going Places: Blog Award from Here Be Dragons!

Alannah (Agatha82) of Here Be Dragons has also been so cool as to give me a blog award — my first ever! Alannah, thank you so much! You certainly deserve this award, and I am thrilled that you thought of me as well.

The Award: You’re Going Places, Baby

Going Places Award

Going Places Award - Thank you, Alannah!

The rules

This award comes with rules. Writers love rules, right? Here they are:

1) Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2) Share 7 things about yourself.
3) Pass the award along to 5 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason!
4) Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.

Okay, I can handle most of that. First off, Alannah, thank you again. :)

Now, seven things? I think I can manage that.

Seven things about me

  1. My once-in-a-lifetime cross-country road trip was done with a toddler in tow. While I was pregnant. During the summer. [1]

  2. When I was thirteen, my favorite book was a Klingon-English dictionary. I bought it at a used bookstore, and promptly fell in love.

  3. I do not, at this point in my life, know one word of Klingon. (Okay, maybe Qapla’. But seriously, that is it. And I had to look up the spelling on that one. So one word of Klingon. Sort of.)

  4. I know what the terms rack focus, 180° rule, and match cut mean. (What do I do with this knowledge? Next to nothing, at the moment.)

  5. I know the difference between a relational database and an object-oriented database. (And what do I do with this knowledge? Also next to nothing, at the moment.)

  6. I can, and do, cook varenyky. From scratch. [2]

  7. I am a Pastafarian. The Eight I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts inform my ethics. Which goes a long way toward accounting for my flimsy moral standards. Ramen.

Passing along the award

You guys, I am just going to be hopeless with this part. And cop out a bit. (Not helping me is that a number of the people I would want to give this award to have it already — awesome!) So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m taking a page from Em the Merit Badger‘s book. Em invites her blog readers to say why they have earned a merit badge, and then just go for it. I’ve also seen other bloggers freely re-award blog awards they’ve received. That seems the best solution to me. So here we go:

If you are a writer or are engaged in a writing-related endeavor, and if are going places — tell me the how, why, or where! Right here in the comments. Then this award belongs to you, and you can post it on your blog (and cop out or not with it).

So, who is going places with their writing? And what does that mean to you? To me it means I’m going to keep working on my MS and get it ready to submit to agents.

Up Next

I do actually have a Word Wednesday entry for today. I’m finishing it up now, and I’ll post it later this evening.

Q: Why was “I’m way too into footnotes” not on my list of seven things you don’t know about me?* A:

1: I don’t do things by half. I did not, however, have to drive. Here’s how it went, between me and the Spouse of Awesomeness (SA), on the road trip:

First thing in the morning, every morning:
Me: So, I thought I could drive today.
SA: Yeah, okay. But I’ll take the first shift.

Two or three stops later, every day:
Me: So, I thought I could drive this afternoon.
SA: Yeah, okay, just let me go a few more miles.

And so on. And yes, we did this everyday. Now, I hate driving. Hate. The Spouse of Awesomeness knows this. I didn’t have to drive once while preggers, in the way-too-hot-for-this-creature-of-the-coasts middle of country during the summer, on our moving-to-California-road-trip. I mentioned the “awesomeness” part, right? Also, as it turns out? The Spouse of Awesomeness can parallel park a moving van. I know.

2: My fav is with potato filling, topped with lots of caramelized onions and a bit of sour cream. Yum!

* Bonus Footnote: I am a
nerd. We’re all clear on that one, too, right?

Posted by: Casey Lybrand | August 2, 2010

What happens in Vegas…

I was in Las Vegas. [1] Many things happened which need to just… stay there. I do, however, have at least one story to tell. I’m editing a short piece about something special from my trip. Here’s how it begins at the moment:

I let my mother put flowers in my hair the first time around, but I refused to carry any in my hands.

More to follow. Right now it’s all scratched out on notebook paper in the desperate scribble which passes for my handwriting. I’ll get it into the computer, along with all the other words I wrote while I was away, and get to editing.

First Draft Update

In other news, a bit of writing and a few days away from my computer helped me realize that I am, indeed, done with my first draft. I wrote a few missing scenes on the trip, and now… I’m done. Nothing left to write until I go through and impose some order on the draft, and–


And oh, my FSM. I’m. Done. [2]

(Thoughts to follow when I finally wrap my mind around this new and bizarre state of being which is “done with the first draft”. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet.)

1: Yes, there is internet in Las Vegas. I was at a conference where accessing the internet is very much at-your-own-risk. (To be fair, accessing the internet is never risk-free, but some times and places are riskier than others.) The break was nice. I think I slept about five hours a night. It’s nice to be back. I’m exhausted. In a good way.

2: And if I understand the process correctly, “I’m done with the first draft” means “now the real work can begin”. Too giddy to feel intimidated just yet, though.

Posted by: Casey Lybrand | July 27, 2010

Flying the coop

It’s less that internet will be totally unavailable where I will be from now until the end of the weekend, and more that internet will be . . . complicated. I’ll be back on Monday. Hope everyone has a lovely week and weekend!

Falcon flying

Falcon flying by Alexollon, on Flickr

Posted by: Casey Lybrand | July 26, 2010

State of the WIP, Take II: Blowing Past the Ending?

Yes, I State-of-the-WIPed on Friday. Yes, I need to do it again. Oh boy, do I need to go again on this topic.

Mazed and confused

Mazed and confused by Jacek Sniecikowski, on Flickr


You know how I’ve been going on about trying to find my ending? Yeah. I think part of the problem may be that I’ve blown past my ending already. And now I’m in book two. It’s possible! [1] I may need to go back and rescue those eight chapters I thought I was going to cut. That may be the beginning, after all. Like I originally thought.

How did this happen?

That is not, by the way, a rhetorical question. It’s a real one, which I am asking myself over and over. I had an outline! Then I went off of it. Now where do I go? Well, I go back to outlining. I have to figure out the book I’m writing before I can continue writing it. I also feel I should finish up book one before continuing with book two, if that’s what I’m dealing with, here.

What about that 1,000 Words a Day commitment?

Not much change there, actually. I said about 1,000 Words a Day that on days my 1,000 words of creative writing were not for my WIP, I would also spend at least an hour working on the structure of my WIP. That is just and exactly what I am going to do. I may also write missing scenes from the earlier part of the MS for my 1,000 words commitment, but I feel I need to stop writing forward in the plot until I’ve worked out the structural issue.

After the idea occurred to me that I’ve leaped forward into book two, the scene I was writing (in what seems to be book two [2]) became about one hundred percent easier to write. Thinking of it as the early stage of building something up, rather than rushing to the climax, felt so much truer to what the scene actually was. This makes me think I’m on the right track, and that I need to slow down and examine the structure again.

The End?

I think I’ve found my ending, after all. It’s just that it’s several chapters back and requires some missing scenes filled in ahead of it to have the impact it needs to have. I’m pretty sure that in order to finish my first draft, I need to go back, fill in some bits I haven’t written yet and make sure the ending (which I’ve already written) is right.

In other good news, if I’m right about this structural issue, I will be back on track with my theme again. I’ve felt for a while that I’ve been moving away from it. If I have, indeed, moved into book two, that would make sense: the second book [3] has a different theme.

Your Thoughts, Please

Is this normal? Does everyone have problems like this? Does anyone else have problems like this? I feel very grateful for all the helpful and encouraging comments I receive when I reach out on my writing issues. Any help or guidance on this one would also be most appreciated. These are some of my closest thoughts about this novel, and I feel a little shaky sharing, but I could really use some input.

Don’t be surprised if I come back in a week and declare that there is nothing wrong with the plot and it’s all book one anyway. (Oh, except just writing that didn’t feel right.) Also don’t be surprised if I come back with a new, improved outline which puts the scene I’ve just written right in the middle of book two. It really feels that way. I’ll keep you posted!

So totally footnotes:

1: Now, that would make my word count a little low for book one. There are quite a few missing scenes from what I’ve been thinking about as the back story, beginning, and the middle of the book, and what may instead be the beginning, middle, and end. I stopped working on those scenes when I thought I would need to cut so many chapters at the front – I didn’t want to write things I would have to later cut. Now I think all those chapters and scenes (some of which are not written yet) belong there after all.

2: By “book two” I mean “this work has series potential“. Of course.

3: Series potential, remember! The second book of a trilogy should have a different theme than the first.


Wanna know how this kind of issue plays out at home? My novel is big conversation at my house; it has been since, several months ago, it ballooned from a short story into a work of (at least) novel-length proportions. This weekend, I go to the In-House Literary Critic the First (LC1) and drop some news. I present the scene here in script form, in a work I have entitled “Lofty Thoughts on the Writing Process, Featuring the Very Sensitive Writer and the In-House Literary Critic the First”:

Me: “I think I know what the problem is. With my work-in-progress. But it’s a secret.”

LC1: Shoots an incredulous look, topped off with a smirk. “No, it’s not.”

Me: “Okay, no it’s not.” Glances away and bites lip. “I think I’m working on book two. At this point. And that’s why I can’t find my ending. Because. Um.”

LC1: Deepens incredulous look, now with added jaw-dropping. “So now you’re saying you can’t even write
just a novel?”

Me: Scowls and considers explicating the relative structural and technical merits of works of various lengths, from short stories to trilogies. Catches on to the smirkiness lingering in the incredulity. “Just. Shut up!”

LC1: Snickers.

Why, yes, this is what passes for advanced literary conversation at my house.

Posted by: Casey Lybrand | July 23, 2010

State of the WIP

Ten days into the 1,000 Words a Day Challenge, and what is the state of my work in progress? Not too bad, actually. (And look for that progress bar on the sidebar to go up before the end of the day.) This week I have uncovered things about my story I did not know were there: a motivation for one character I’d been a bit fuzzy on, a motif that had been trying to emerge, a new character who was hovering in the wings just waiting for me to realize she needed to step on stage. It’s been something of an amazing week, when I stop to think about it.

I’ve stepped away from thinking in terms of a final word count for the first draft. I’m well into novel-length territory at this point, but the end seems to be farther and farther away as I continue writing. I know I have a lot to cut from the beginning, and I’m comfortable with the roughness of the first draft, so I’m not too worried about length at this point. I’m just going to keep writing, a thousand words at a time if that’s what it takes, until the story is done. I’ll worry about total word count in the second and subsequent drafts.

Keyboard Cress 06

Keyboard Cress 06 by Dirk Gently, on Flickr

I went through a slump shortly before starting the 1,000 Words a Day Challenge, but it passed as I just kept writing. Accountability is a big help – even just ten days in, and there have been several days when the only reason I wrote is because I said I would. I took my notepaper out with me one particularly busy day so I could squeeze in words for my WIP — and I’m a hardcore computer writer. Handwriting was … interesting. But at least it got done. (This is in addition to roughing out Wednesday’s blog post by hand. I’m dedicated, I tell you!)

Now that the story is progressing again, I’m glad I wrote on those days when I would not have otherwise. This is not the first time I’ve hit a slump and come out of it. I can’t imagine it will be the last. The same thing seems to work every time: figure out a way keep writing.

I’m off to write now. Happy writing to you all!

Posted by: Casey Lybrand | July 21, 2010

Can’t See the Meta for the Data

What does meta mean, and how do we use it? Have to go back to the Latin and Greek, and then forward again, to find the answer to that, as we do for so many English words. (Though not, by any means, all of them.)

In Latin mēta has several related meanings, one of which is “a turning-point”. In Ancient Greek, μετά (meta) means “amid, among, after”.

“Change” (from “turning-point”) and “after” are still part the English usage of meta- as a prefix. Think metamorphosis for “change” (literally, “a change of form”). More about “after” in a moment. First let’s look at another way we use meta as both a word and a prefix.

Vôo de resgate na foz do rio Breu

Vôo de resgate na foz do rio Breu by Vihh, on Flickr

“That is so meta”

Have you ever said that? It means something along the lines of “that concept is overarching” or “that idea goes above everything and takes it all in at once”. Meta- can also be used as a prefix to indicate the same thing, such as in meta-analysis or metadata. Why use a word that means “after” or “change” to indicate transcendence?

The Online Etymological Dictionary has this to say about the modern usage of meta to mean “higher, beyond”:

“higher than, transcending, overarching, dealing with the most fundamental matters of,” is due to misinterpretation of metaphysics as “science of that which transcends the physical.” This has led to a prodigious erroneous extension in modern usage, with meta- affixed to the names of other sciences and disciplines, especially in the academic jargon of literary criticism, which affixes it to just about anything that moves and much that doesn’t.

Oh, so the problem is metaphysics! As an aspiring SFF writer, I can relate. The metaphysics can really get you. In this case, it can get you to use meta to mean “higher than, transcending, overarching” instead of “after” or “change”. That’s okay. Words can do that. [1]

Interesting tree in the forest

Interesting tree in the forest by footloosiety, on Flickr

“After”, after all

The prefix or root meta still retains the meaning “after” in some words. For example, the word method comes from meta, in the sense of “after”; hodos is “a traveling”. Using a standard logical method, we start at a solid point — something we know to be accurate (like a fact) — and travel from that point to a conclusion. [2] Such as about why we use meta as we do.

Quercus Robur Leaves

Quercus Robur Leaves by EssjayNZ, on Flickr

Thank You

A big thank you to Em the Merit Badger for suggesting the word meta for Word Wednesday. And while we’re on the subject, let me just point out: digital merit badges for grown ups, dispensed by a badger — that is so meta.

Deep in the Forest

Deep in the Forest by ecstaticist, on Flickr

An obnoxiously self-aware comment on the concept of footnotes would be meta:

1: I should point out once again that I am a descriptivist. (Also, I love the Online Etymological Dictionary. Yes, both at the same time.)

2: There’s a practical application of the idea of method to mean “traveling after”. Let’s say we have something as a given, for example, “I am obligated to be at the public pool this morning for swimming lessons (not my own), but I would rather be blogging.” We can travel from that given condition to the practical solution: today’s blog post can start out with etymologies printed from the computer and notes written on, of all things, notepaper. (Or as I like to think of it, the “Look, Ma, no vampires!” approach. All in good fun, of course.)
Meta at the Pool - Text on the Etymology of Meta

Meta at the Pool - Text on the Etymology of Meta

Meta at the Pool - Notes for Blogging

Meta at the Pool - Notes for Blogging

Meta at the Pool - Bathers in the Water

Meta at the Pool - Bathers in the Water

Posted by: Casey Lybrand | July 19, 2010

Writing, Time Management, and Blogging

When does blogging become too much? I love blogging every weekday, but I think this volume of blogging is (one of the things which is) impacting my novel writing. I could happily sit here and write a blog post every day, then edit and polish it just enough that I am content to post it in the relatively informal realm of personal blogging. But writing my novel is the most important writing task I have, and I’m concerned my WIP not getting enough attention at the moment.

Layla Messner posted yesterday about time management for writers. This helped me work out something I’d been thinking about for a while – I blog too much! I had already all but made up my mind to reduce my blogging, and as is so often the case, seeing someone whom I respect address an idea online – in this case the idea of time management – helped me solidify my own thoughts on the matter. (I think these thoughts started percolating up when Lua Fowles posted about balance recently; sometimes it takes a while for things to seep through the morass of my mind.)

The answer to “how much is too much” is a very personal one when it comes to blogging. I admire people who can manage blogging every day: Em’s Merit Badger merit badges for writers, Layla’s daily writing updates (and other writing topics), Cassandra Jade’s writing blog; it’s just a bit much for me to do myself. Two blogs I’ve been reading for a while, which I admire greatly, and which update plenty — but usually not daily — are Here Be Dragons and Bowl of Oranges. I love your blogging, ladies — all of you — and I’m trying to work out the right balance for myself.

Here’s my new and improved blogging plan, for now: Monday (something light), Wednesday (still for words!), Friday (something more in-depth, with a book recommendation thrown in every so often). I may, at some point, pull back to two days if three is too much. I may also throw the occasional post out there on another day, but having a regular schedule helps me keep in balance; it’s too easy for me to fall into doing too much or too little of important things.


Blogging? by Anonymous Account, on Flickr

Blogging is great! (And so is Twitter!) I have met so many wonderful, interesting people on the internet recently, and I want to participate on your blogs as well; as there are only so many hours in the day, something has to give. I hope by cutting back on my own blogging, I will also have more time to comment on other people’s blogs, which I love doing!

Any thoughts on balancing online life with getting your writing done? Feel free to share!

P.S. I am done writing my 1,000 words for today! Now I am going to go have fun online for a while! See you all soon!

In Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English, by John McWhorter, words are only part of the story, and the story is about more than just English. This is a book about linguistics: language and culture. [1]

Talking in Languages

Talking in Languages by zinjixmaggir*, on Flickr

McWhorter starts off the book inviting us to “go back to the middle of the fifth century A.D. in Britain, after the Romans left, and look a little more closely at the landscape than we are usually taught to”; he ends up with the Phoenicians. In between, McWhorter takes us on a journey through linguistic analysis — one which impacts how we view ourselves, as well as those whom we consider others.

Issues in Language

We live in world of language — language makes us human — and McWhorter gives just a glimpse of the totality of that. [2] English is a jumping-in point, a site of access for English speakers. This book brings up differences in our languages, but ends up highlighting our commonality. For example (from a section in which McWhorter challenges the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis elegantly) [3]:

… by and large, all humans, be they Australian Aborigines, Japanese urbanites, Kalahari hunter-gatherers, Cree Indians, Greeks, Turks, Uzbeks, Amazonians, or Manhattanites in analysis, experience life via the mental equipment shared by all members of our species. No one is “primitive,” but just as important, no one is privileged over others with a primal connection to The Real.

He says this not to diminish our differences in language, culture, or lived experience, but rather to emphasize those things which tie us all together — the basic experience of being human. [4] McWhorter builds to important social issues so organically that you are captivated by them before you know it.

Fun and Interesting

Gwyrdd = Green

Gwyrdd = Green by willposh, on Flickr

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue is also a book with a lot fun and a bit of whimsy. If you’ve ever worried about using “they” as a genderneutral singular pronoun, McWhorter has a whole section on that. Of special interest to writers, that section includes a brief account of the many struggles McWhorter lost to his copy editors, and the one he won. McWhorter also tackles the question, “Why is English so (comparatively) easy to learn?

One thing I particularly admire about this book is that it is engaging and accessible for folks with various levels of background knowledge. I suspect that even if you are familiar with what linguistics is and is not, you will still be entertained and engaged by McWhorter’s description of it. On the other hand, I know that people who have never read any linguistics before enjoyed this book and found it easy to understand and fun to read. I consider the ability to reach a variety of audiences a mark of a very good book.

The book is well worth a look for anyone who enjoys the English language, etymology, or both. It should also be of interest to folks who want to read about how language and culture shape our experience, how they are shaped by our experiences — and how there’s more to the story than that. I highly recommend John McWhorter’s Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English for a fun and thought-provoking read.

Feeling the footnotes again:

1: This is not a new book! I read a mix of new books, books which have been out for a while, and classic books. I have no compunctions about offering reviews in any of these categories. Seriously, I am compunction-free. Thought you might like a look at this book, if you haven’t seen it yet.

2: A brief, and I’m sure incomplete, list of the contemporary languages McWhorter turns to — some only for a word or two, some for an entire section — in telling his story: Arabic (many dialects), Boro (a language in India), Cree, Danish, French, German, Hopi, Italian, Mandarin, Montagnais (an Algonquian language, the same language family as Cree), Nanai (a Siberian language), Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Twi (a West African language), and Zulu.

3: If you read McWhorter’s footnotes — yes, there are footnotes, but not too many — you will find lots of useful references, including a couple of what McWhorter calls “plugs” for other books he’s written (they are relevant to his points). I haven’t read his other books on language yet, though they look interesting, too!

4: I don’t always agree with McWhorter’s opinions on political or social issues, but I think he is right, here, to interrogate the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

* UPDATE: Illustration by Markus Koljonen. You can see more of his work at or

Confession time! I’ve been having plot challenges, just as the end of the first draft of my WIP is in sight. I’ve been working from an outline, but not adhering rigidly to it… and, well, things have gotten out of hand. I have all my characters almost in place for the grand finale, and I’m not even sure I know where center ring is.

I need to work on this, so I’m reaching for some motivation. This week’s motivational boost is coming from the Merit Badger — as it so often does — and Layla Messner’s 1,000 Words a Day Challenge — which is a new one!

First some merit badges I’ve claimed recently, then I’ll tell you about a badge I have my eye on, and about the writing challenge.

Merit Badger Merit Badges

Let’s start with the easy one:

Feline “Assistance” Badge

Feline "Assistance" Badge by Merit Badger

Feline "Assistance" Badge by Merit Badger

Had to snag the Feline “Assistance” Badge. Sure, I could write without my cats, but why would I want to?

Don’t I have a picture of one of my feline assistants around here somewhere? Yes, here it is!
Crashy the Computer

Crashy the Computer with Her Friend, Bitey the Cat

Here’s Bitey, off to the side, next to the laptop. Pretty sure in this shot he’s moments away from either biting me or leaping up to pounce on the other cat. Either way, that’s just like helping, right? (It’s okay, Bitey. I love you anyway. So does the other cat.)


Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard Badge by Merit Badger

Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard Badge by Merit Badger

Don’t you just love that acronym? When I sound it out, it brings out my inner-twelve-year-old. Hee!

Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard is the way to go. I have forced myself to write many times in the past few weeks, including today. I feel comfortable claiming this one, and I am making a commitment to re-claim it as needed.

Research Badge

This one is both a blessing and a curse. I love research. I love reading well-researched books, and I aim to write one myself. I think, though, that part of my plot problem emerges from my research.

Research Badge by Merit Badger

Research Badge by Merit Badger

I’ve played fast and loose with my outline is because things emerge during the writing. And I want them to. I realize as I’m writing along — “Aha! The world would work this way!” or “No, I think it’s more likely that they would react like that, instead.” Those realizations are based on the research, much of it into how societies and people work, which I am using to inform my world and my story. And that’s all well and good. But did I mention going off my outline, and having plot issues now? Yeah.

There are many, many ways to wind up with plot problems — probably as many as there are writers. This is just my own particular path, this particular time. *Shakes fist* “Research! This is all your fault!” Okay, so not really. I’m claiming the badge, too.

The Badges I’m After

What I need to earn is the Painting Yourself Out of a Corner Badge. That should get me to the Finished First Draft Badge as well. And how, exactly, am I going to paint my way out of the corner and finish up the first draft?

1,000 Words a Day

Layla Messner’s 1,000 Words a Day for a Month Challenge! Here’s what Layla said yesterday about her plan to write 1,000 words of creative writing (email, twitter, and blogging don’t count) each and every day for a month:

Today, July 14 through August 13, 2010, I commit to writing (at least) 1000 words a day.

Simple enough, right? It’s a great goal! With all goals, the real trick is the follow-through. Layla has opened this challenge to any writers who want to join in. Go over to her 1,000 Words a Day for a Month Challenge for more details about her approach to this challenge and to learn how to put a progress bar on your blog to track your words. Here’s what my bar looks like today: [*]

The bar on this post will stay at 2,000 to document my progress as of today. There is also a progress bar on my sidebar, which I will update daily. (Between the Merit Badger Merit Badges and the Links.)

Layla encourages making this goal your own. More or fewer words, for example. Here are the details on what I’m committing to:

  1. I will write 1,000 words of creative writing every day for a month, from July 14 through August 13. (So far, so good!) I will make every effort to write those 1,000 words for my novel until the first draft is complete. On days I don’t write for my novel — or if I finish the first draft before the 31 days are up — I will still write 1,000 words of creative writing for something (such as a short story).

  2. Throughout this challenge or until my first draft is finished, any day the 1,000 words I write are not for my novel, I will spend one hour that day working on my plot issues. (Outlining, brainstorming, writing story notes: whatever it takes.) This will be in addition to the thousand words of creative writing in another work. I’m starting this one today, as I jumped into Layla’s challenge rather late in the day yesterday. This part of my personal challenge will wrap up August 14 or when I have a finished draft of my novel, whichever comes first.

Wish me luck! Anyone else want to join in?

And, wait. Did I write a huge long post with no footnotes whatsoever? Must be having an off day. I’ll try harder next time!

* UPDATE: Well what do you know, looks like there was a footnote lurking about after all. Here it is: I *think* having a bar in this post was interfering with my blog feed, so I’m taking it out for now. If the feed improves, I’ll leave it out; if it doesn’t I’ll put it back and try something else! The progress bars on my sidebar seem to be okay.

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