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Sunday, September 28, 2014

75,000 words!

As of today, the book project has officially smashed through the 75,000 words mark.

This is considered the minimum point of a memoir. And that's what this is (among other things).

That is enough material to quantify as being a book. But there is much work still to be done. It wouldn't surprise me if at least one of the "locked-down" chapters was re-written, and that's what I'm considering even now. One of the first chapters written is also now being taken apart piece-by-piece and those parts implemented in a chapter I've just started.

And based on input from a good friend, Robert Frost is no longer referenced in the prologue. Lord willing that this is published, you will probably correctly guess what was going on there.

Two chapters finished today and I'm at the point I was aiming for! Think I'll celebrate by watching this week's new episode of Doctor Who.

EDIT 08:27 p.m. EST 09/28/2014:  For a few years now and especially since I began this project some friends have asked if I had ever done National Novel Writing Month in November.  I haven't yet.  And I'm going to be totally pooped after finishing this book up by the end of October (Lord willing).  But maybe next year?

Writing (TITLE REDACTED) has become a far more amazing experience than I could have possibly anticipated.  I don't know if I could have written a book until now.  Just the way that my own mind has worked against me for all this time.  It's like I'm being born again as a writer.  Entire new vistas are opening up for me and this project was the first real step toward reaching those.

I do not doubt that this will not be the last time that Robert Christopher Knight writes something this big.  National Novel Writing Month requires 50,000 words for a novel to qualify as being fulfilled.  Not everything has to be done within the month of November: you can take however long you need to in order to outline your story.  It's just the novel itself that has to be started and finished within those thirty days.  If I have an outline to work with, I'm confident that I could easily reach 50,000 and maybe even 60,000 words within that window.  And already I've a few ideas for stories.

NOT this year though, LOL!  I'm not Stephen King after all.  Then again I'm not George R.R. Martin either :-)

(Please Mr. Martin, don't hate me for saying that.  Or hate away and kill me in the next book.  I'd be down with that...)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book report: What is old is new again

Some developments since the last time I posted about how my writing project is going...
  • The original title of the book, which then became another title by changing one word, is now the title once more.
  • Manuscript is now hovering around 73,000 words.  It's going to hit the 75,000 mark that I've aimed for since starting writing this!  But still a lot more work to go.
  • There are now two definite "parts" to the book completed.  I just began writing Part 3.  As things stand now there will probably be five parts, and an epilogue.
  • Each part has a title.
  • The parts are separated by theme, not necessarily by span of time.  Whereas Part 1 covers many years, Part 2 encompasses about 18 months... but those are 18 crazy months.  Lord willing that this gets published you'll understand why.
  • I just began writing stuff specifically for Part 3.
  • The book's original prologue eventually became the ending of what is now Part 3.  In the past few days however it has shifted around and now it's the very first chapter of Part 3!
  • Some of the very first chapters that I wrote will wind up making up the bulk of Part 4.  Again, if this gets published you'll see why that is.
  • It now looks as though I'll have a finished product this time next month.  'Course, I was saying that last month at this time too.
  • I've discovered that I do some of my best writing while hopped-up on Mountain Dew and Fire sauce from Taco Bell (usually 4-5 packs per each soft taco).
  • Have also discovered that I do some of my best writing while wearing a button-up shirt open with a gray t-shirt beneath, with music playing from my iPad nearby (lately it's been a lot of Lindsey Stirling especially her album Shatter Me).
  • There have been other developments, which I am keeping close to vest for the time being.

I had no idea writing a book could be so much fun!  I may have to do another one sometime :-)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Just watched the premiere episode of GOTHAM

I rarely watch television.  A show has to be very good for me to invest any of my valuable time toward.  As things stand now the only shows that I can think of that I indulge myself in are Doctor Who and The Walking Dead.

It is much rarer still that I will watch the pilot episode of a new series when the show has its premiere.  In fact, I can probably count the number of times that I've done that, across my entire life, on one hand.

It is almost inconceivably extremely more rare that I will watch a premiere episode and find myself impressed.

All of that said, having just watched the premiere of Fox's new series Gotham, this episode wildly exceeded all possible expectations.

This is potentially the finest and most faithful take on the Batman mythos than anything we've seen yet, including the Christopher Nolan film trilogy.  Very astounding that, given that this series is taking place years before Bruce Wayne pulls on the cowl for the first time.  Speaking of which, I thought that Gotham's interpretation of the Wayne murders was the best on-screen adaptation of that iconic moment by far.

Fox, congratulations.  You've pulled off the seemingly impossible by compelling me to put Gotham in my DVR's queue right from the getgo.

Friday, September 19, 2014

This is one of the greatest photographs ever taken

"Weird Al" Yankovic, Neil Gaiman, and George R.R. Martin... all three together in one epic image!

I should make this the wallpaper image of my iPad, since I have all of Gaiman's Sandman series and Martin's complete (thus far) Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire books loaded on it.  To say nothing of practically every song and video that Weird Al has produced throughout his career.

Seriously, that is a very, very cool picture.  Oh, to be a fly on the wall when those three geniuses came together...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Holding pattern

For the past few posts I've been chronicling the progress of my book. Friends on Facebook are getting to see more in-depth "as it happens" but I still want to keep a more public record about how it's going. The past few days merit that.

At the end of August I had 66,000 words and when I read over Part 1 this past Sunday it took around 2 hours time. That wasn't everything that's been written, just the continuous material that flows from the prologue on through the point where I'm in the... uh-uh-uhhh, that would be telling ;-)

So how much new material did I generate this week?

Only a little more than a thousand.

However, it should be stressed that while that's just the new stuff, there's been a lot of work done in the past four days. Okay, three actually: I took yesterday off to... well, to be honest I needed to re-focus my thoughts on God. I needed to be refreshed as only He can provide. And He provided something for my book, when I least expected it to happen. That is now something that I'm going to use toward this project.

So in the three days that there's been work going on, I've edited some stuff, taken some things out and re-arranged a lot of manuscript.

One example is the prologue. The original is now further into the book (perhaps at the end of Part 2), and the new prologue - which was already written - was further along in Part 1. What is now at the beginning of the book is something that, without fail, everyone I've shared it with has been very disturbed by it. When I told Dad about it, to be frank, he was rather horrified.

But that can't be helped. This is the story of me, and everything that I've gone through. The good and the bad. One friend said that this book is going to educate those without bipolar and it's going to be an inspiration for those who do have it. I want to believe that he's right.

Everyone is telling me that this is going to be published. I want to believe that, too. I feel like my book is in a kind of limbo already. On one hand memoirs can be a tough sell. On the other hand however, memoirs about manic-depression are few and far between and tend to sell quite well in bookstores and on Amazon. I guess there's that going for it.

There is one other thing that is happening behind-the-scenes about this project, but I don't know if I should write about that. Don't want to "jinx" it. It does have to do with what God showed me yesterday, though. If (okay my friends keep telling me "not 'if', it's 'when'") this is published, I may post that little thing here.

In the meantime, the manuscript is holding steady, undergoing a little pre-emptive maintenance, as it were. It didn't start as a memoir but for all intents and purposes that is what it has become, in addition to being about aspects of bipolar that are very, very rarely written about (that also, I think will play in its favor).

And in case anyone is wondering: I'm having a lot of fun doing this. I'm growing as a result of it. God has truly been leading me along with this endeavor and I'm coming through it as a better person than I was before. And that's always a good thing.

Expect another update soon. Like, whenever. Or something...

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Thoughts on this season's DOCTOR WHO thus far

Two things have been the focus (okay, focii) of my faculties in recent weeks.  The first, of course, has been working on my book.  Chapters 1 through 11, as well as the preface and the prologue, are now locked-down and pretty much finished apart from some, shall we say, "supplementary material" that is going to provide a very intimate look into the mind of a manic-depressive.  Those chapters constitute Part 1.  I'm going to start writing Part 2 tomorrow.  And the chapters for Part 1 aren't the only ones already finished: the first several that I wrote haven't been assimilated into the main manuscript yet.  Those will add substantially more material.

But yesterday afternoon I took some time to read the preface, the prologue, and Part 1.  I made note of how long it took to read all of that.  It took a little over two hours.  Factoring in that my reading was probably faster than a first-timer's because I'm already intimate with the material, that might be two and a half, to three hours reading time thus far.  If it comes out around five or six hours, that should be plenty.  Anyway, I'm quite happy with progress thus far!

The second thing that has been on my mind has been Doctor Who, and Peter Capaldi's first steps as the Twelfth Doctor which began in earnest with the season premiere "Deep Breath" two weeks ago.  Since then we've had "Into the Dalek" and last night's "Robot of Sherwood" (penned, I noticed, by Mark Gatiss, who seems to be everywhere lately).  And I've had some time to think about it all.  And what do I make of the Doctor's adventures thus far since his regeneration from the Matt Smith era?

There is a scene that accompanies every regeneration.  It has never had a formal name.  I call it the "assumption scene".  The regeneration itself is the renewing of the Doctor's body and the beginning of his new personality.  Everyone knows that.  But for me that's never been the real beginning of a new Doctor's career.  That comes later.  It comes when the Doctor properly assumes the role along with whatever costume he has chosen for the part.  "The Christmas Invasion" in 2005 has David Tennant's Doctor running around in pajamas and defending the Earth, but for the most part that was not the Doctor.  Not yet.  He's the Doctor when he comes out of the TARDIS's wardrobe in his now-classic duds and shows up at the Tyler's flat for Christmas dinner.  Then he was the Doctor.  The rest of the time since regenerating from Christopher Eccleston he was a "quasi-Doctor".  And then in "The Eleventh Hour" there was Matt Smith running around in the Tenth Doctor's rags.  Toward the end of the episode he takes new clothes from the hospital's locker rooms, takes on a new look (especially the bow tie) and stares down the Atraxi... and then in that climactic moment he declares once and for all "I am the Doctor".

That is the moment when Matt Smith truly became the Doctor.  The assumption scene.  Which to me is just as crucial for the new Doctor's career as is the regeneration itself.

So I was looking forward to the assumption of Peter Capaldi's Doctor into his role.  And I'm still trying to digest it.  It is definitely Capaldi stepping into the role he has dreamed of having for most of his life.  I just wasn't expecting... well... a Doctor so dark taking over the controls of the TARDIS.

And I think that's a good thing.

His costume alone says volumes.  I didn't write about it when it was revealed but I've loved that look ever since.  It definitely has a healthy dose of Jon Pertwee's ensemble (absent the ruffles) but there's also the First Doctor's look, a dash of Eighth Doctor's attire and a healthy pinch of the Ninth Doctor's outfit.

Peter Capaldi's outfit is what I call "the Johnny Cash costume".  He's the Man in Black of the Time Lord set.  This costume confidently tell us "The fun and games are over, time to get serious."

But of course, it's not the looks alone that a Doctor make.  Most of all, there is the personality.  What that actor brings of himself into the role.  What makes the current generation of the Doctor his own.

Three episodes in, and Capaldi is nailing it.  He is absolutely bringing it as the Doctor.  And the more I watch him the more I'm discovering that he's already among my favorite incarnations of the runaway Time Lord.

Now, a look at the individual episodes...

"Deep Breath" almost... almost... completely satisfies as a story.  That, despite having all of the elements there for a proper explosive first story for the new Doctor as was his regeneration in last year's Christmas special.  I mean, we have dinosaurs.  We have mysterious deaths.  We have the return of Vastra, Jenny and Strax (who never fails to crack me up).  Clara (Jenna Coleman) is increasingly becoming one of my fondest companions in the entire history of the show, especially with her performance in that final scene.  And the new Doctor's gradual process of taking on his proper role is frantic and manic and just plum delightful to watch in spite of his utter confusion (again, this is a good thing).

Where "Deep Breath" went wrong for me is that it seems too long of an episode.  I think it was an hour and a half?  There could have been some editing of the second half and it wouldn't seem to have been bogged down in that section of the episode.  But that's really a minor quibble in the scheme of things.  And it more than made up for it in the the scene with the telephone at the end (you know what I'm talking about if you've seen it, and if you haven't then I'm not going to spoil it here).

I will also say this: the return of the clockwork robots was an utter delight.  When I first saw their inner workings in the half-faced man I wondered if Moffatt was taking us back into "The Girl in the Fireplace" territory.  And when the Doctor pulled that circuit out of the console and we see the name imprinted upon it... well, I nearly shrieked with delight.  Because "The Girl in the Fireplace" is my #1 favorite episode of the revived series's run and some consider it to be the finest Doctor Who story ever.  That also made up for what might have been too long of a running time for this episode.

I'd give "Deep Breath" 4 and 1/2 sonic screwdrivers out of 5 on The Knight Shift's longstanding rating system for Doctor Who.  Didn't quite hit the mark completely, but it's pretty dang close.  And I will go on record as saying that I thought the "assumption" scene was spot-on for this new Doctor.

Now... "Into the Dalek"...

With all due respect to Mr. Capaldi and that this was the one thing he was looking forward to most as the Doctor, this episode came way too SOON for his tenure.  For two reasons.  First, out of the four most recent stories ("The Day of the Doctor", "The Time of the Doctor", "Deep Breath" and now this episode) the Doctor has faced the Daleks three times.  Dear Steven Moffatt: please give the Daleks a rest for a while.  Yes, we love the Daleks.  We love to hate the Daleks.  But there is such a thing as too much Dalek.  I'm sure Terry Nation's estate is eating all this up like gangbusters but it's simply over-saturating the Doctor Who mythos right now.  I wouldn't mind if the entirety of next season was without a Dalek story.  If there is one, then the only way it could merit that is if it had the return of Davros... and even that would have to be pretty gosh-darned worth it.

So for the Twelfth Doctor's sophomore outing what do we get, but a Dalek episode.

I thought "Into the Dalek" was a fairly good episode, but as I said it just came too soon.  And this goes to the second reason why I say that.  It's because Peter Capaldi needs to "earn some flying time" before taking on the Doctor's oldest and greatest adversaries.  He's still showing us that he really does have the chops to fight the classic bad guys, and not just the Daleks but also the Cybermen and the Weeping Angels and all of that lot.  But I will also say that "Into the Dalek" is the first episode that gives us the Twelfth Doctor in all his magnificent glory... and I think that it will only get better.

"Into the Dalek" receives 3 and 1/2 sonic screwdrivers.  With most of the deductions going for, I say again, that it comes too soon in Capaldi's reign.  Here's hoping that Moffatt and crew will recognize this and lay off the Daleks for a spell.

And then there's this weekend's entry "Robot of Sherwood".

This was a total hoot of a story to watch!  Not the least of which is that the chemistry is getting better and better between Clara and the Twelfth Doctor.  In "Robot of Sherwood" she really does come across as having accepted that this actually, seriously is the Doctor that she once knew with Matt Smith's face.  It's not just her playing alongside a different actor carrying the name now.  "Robot of Sherwood" I think marks the true beginning of the dynamic between the Twelfth Doctor and Clara.  We see that in the first scene when the Doctor asks Clara where she wants to go and she gleefully replies Sherwood Forest in the time of Robin Hood.  Which of course, the Doctor knows wasn't real.

Or was it?

Without spoiling it for anyone who hasn't watched it yet, "Robot of Sherwood" was just plain rollickin' fun to behold.  Capaldi gets to show us a more action-oriented Twelfth Doctor, maybe even a Doctor that we have rarely seen embrace the role quite so vigorously.  The archery scene is hilarious.  And the revelation of what is really going on was quite satisfying.  I thought that there was quite a bit of "Robot of Sherwood" that hearkened to "State of Decay" from Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor era.  And that's not a bad thing either.

I'm going to give "Robot of Sherwood" a score of 4 sonic screwdrivers.  And I'm going to note that if this episode is any indication, the production and the writing for the Twelfth Doctor's time is getting better with each new story.  It's going to be a lot of fun to see what is going to transpire throughout the rest of the season.  But please, Steven Moffatt: NO MORE DALEKS FOR AWHILE!

(But I won't mind an extra helping of Strax, if you won't mind :-)