I haven't been idle, though. In addition to restarting a 'character draft' in Dramatica with new characters I know about now, I've been working with Acta, a free outliner for the Macintosh (once a commercial program, circa 1991-93). What I'm doing isn't quite a conventional outline. At the last Further Confusion, I went to an evening writing panel conducted by Pat Murphy--essentially a "how to brainstorm a novel" session, explaining a series of questions that she asks herself when she's developing a story idea. I turned those questions into an outline, and I'm going down the line--well, actually jumping back and forth--filling in the answers I already know and trying to come up with the answers I don't.
I'm at a point now where I'm sick of the outline, which probably means it's a good time to go back to the story and see if I can add another couple thousand words and close out chapter 3. I don't know how many chapters it's going to be yet; my guess is 20-25, which might put the novel at 80-100,000 words. But I could be completely wrong! I'll have to keep bouncing back and forth between the outlining documents and the actual story until I have all of the questions answered, so to speak. I'm telling myself that this isn't a tremendous undertaking.
Meanwhile, it's the fourth day of my five-day weekend. I haven't done that much in the way of cleaning like I'd told myself I would. Maybe tomorrow, or maybe even later tonight. (Ha.) I did make a batch of chili on Sunday, the first time I've done a fairly traditional Texas pot in years. It's not bad at all--improved over my old version by using stew meat rather than ground beef, whole tomatoes instead of chopped, and just simmering forever until the meat's falling apart. But it needs something. Next time I'm going to see if I can get some dried New Mexican chiles as the base, and add the onions and bell peppers in the last hour of cooking so they hold their flavor.
So what did I do for New Years' Eve, you may ask? No wild parties, for better or worse. I went over to a friend's house and loaded new software onto my PowerBook, and we toasted in the new year with raspberry lambic (a Belgian drink, kind of like a fruit beer but--as far as I know--not a malt beverage).
Incidentally, since my orange iBook is named 'Habanero,' I tried to think of an appropriate chile to name the PowerBook--but there aren't any white chiles I know of. I've dubbed it 'Peroxide.'
What do I want out of the new year? I haven't made any resolutions, exactly, other than resolving to focus on where I might want to be next new year--in terms of my life, not geography--and trying actively to get there. Even it's small steps. I want to learn Cocoa programming (OS X's native API). I want to learn a little about video editing and directing. I have the opportunity to learn both of those now.
And, of course, I want to write. I've always had that opportunity. I just need to focus on making time to do it. I want to get to a point where I'm regularly sending things out to editors and agents--but I don't want to worry about that now. I just want to keep writing.
One thing I'm considering doing is getting up a lot earlier and trying to write for an hour each morning (whether "writing" is actual story drafts, outlines or maybe even this journal!). That will--well--be pretty difficult for me. But since my common complaint in the evenings after work is barely having the energy to cook anything more complicated than a microwave meal, much less be creative--maybe the solution is to try to be creative earlier. This one's been staring me in the face for years, but I've been successfully ducking it until now. We'll see.
At any rate, to anyone reading this--happy new year, and best wishes for your 2002.