Friday, April 29, 2011

The Muse is [IN]

Yeah, and my ass is purple.

I figured I'd address this common(?) belief, and also give my thoughts on it. Many people believe that they can only write when the Muse is speaking to them, and if said Muse is elsewhere, bowling with the gods, let's say, all creativity will cease. If you haven't guessed, I don't believe in this little hoopla. If the Muse is "Not in" for me, I'm just being lazy.

I write somewhere between outlining and discovery writing. I have to see the scene in my head like a movie before I can write it, and then there is a furious scrambling to get everything down before I forget it. This past week I couldn't write anything, even when I sat down and tried. I would scroll through my list of scenes and have absolutely no idea where to begin.

But that was just my problem: I didn't know where to begin. None of the scenes were developing in my head. There was no mythological epiphany when I finally started writing, either. As a matter of fact, it came completely devoid of thunder, and I had to really sit down and think just to get out the 500 words. But I figured out where in the story I need to write RIGHT THEN, and I sat down and wrote it. (This was just today, by the way.)

I'm telling you this for two reasons. First, whenever you (or I) are not writing, it is no one's fault but your own (mine). Nearly a whole week went by without me writing a word, and even though I only got 500 words out today, it's still getting me somewhere. Second... okay, so I'm really only telling you this for one reason. If you are waiting for the planets to align perfectly before you begin writing that novel you always meant to get to, it's never going to happen. You do realize that planets will reach a certain alignment every 3.5 billion years or so, right? I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you'll be dead in 3.5 billion years. I know, it comes as a shock, but you need to know. I personally would like to be able to say I wrote a book (or hopefully, several) in my measly human life span. And trust me, it's NOT easy. Sometimes getting 100 words out is like pulling teeth. Other times I write over 1000 words in less than an hour.

April 1 = 0
April 2 = 0
April 3 = 0
April 4 = 400
April 5 = 0
April 6 = 900
April 7 = 0
April 8 = 0
April 9 = 0
April 10 = 0
April 11 = 0
April 12 = 350
April 13 = 550
April 15 = 100
April 16 = 100
April 17 = 600
April 18 = 450
April 19 = 470
April 20 = 700
April 21 = 160
April 22 = 0
April 23 = 1300
April 24 = 0
April 25 = 0
April 26 = 0
April 27 = 0
April 28 = 0
April 29 = 550
APRIL TOTAL = 6630
MANUSCRIPT TOTAL = 10,100

(The manuscript total includes the story PLUS all my notes, I have everything in the same file.)

Come on, look how pathetic those numbers are. I have at least a week on either end where I did barely any writing. But I still wrote SOMETHING. All you need to do is write a little bit every day. I was doing really well in the middle of this month, if you look at the 12th through the 23rd I look like I really know what I'm doing. It's when you look at the beginning and end of the month you realize that I, like you, cannot get my ass in the chair as much as I would like. But I didn't let my lack of writing stop me from getting out 900 words on the 6th, or 350 words on the 12th. And look, those 350 words led to a solid 8 more days of writing. And that's NOT a lot. I know there's still one day left in the month, but I'm not going to delude myself into thinking I'll get a significant amount of writing done. It is a Saturday, after all.

Yes, I do find these numbers embarrassing. The whole point of keeping track of them is to force myself to make sure I do a little bit more every month. You don't start running marathons, you start by running to the end of the block. This month, I think I made it to the next street over. At least.

And how appropriate: a tidbit from Advice for Writers today: "Writing doesn't mean necessarily putting words on a sheet of paper. You can write a chapter while walking or eating." UMBERTO ECO

Hilarious

Last night we went to Chipotle for dinner, and it was delicious. Not wanting to shit myself stupid, I forced myself to only eat half of my bowlofdelicious and save the rest for lunch today.

But naturally, I couldn't wait for lunch and ended up eating it as soon as I got in. Then I tweeted about my bowlofdelicious:

Chipotle is my best friend. Actually, I'd be happy with just bowl of guacamole. #leftoversforbreakast

The day goes on, natural biological processes begin to rumble, and before I know it, I'm leaving this gem of a tweet:

It's 5 minutes before I have to catch my train, and I have to poop. #shit #inmorewaysthanone

That's not even the funny part. Little did I know, @PhillyFoodBuzz retweeted my Chipotle tweet, because I'm so clever with a keyboard. That makes this day momentous, because I've never been retweeted before! (If someone reading this didn't know what Twitter was, all these "tweets" and "retweets" would make me sound like a sex junkie.) The glorious part of this post is that anyone who clicks on my name in the PhillyFoodBuzz tweet automatically brings up my poop tweet, because Twitter highlights the most recent tweet you've posted.

Yes Philadelphia, I do not know how to censor myself on the internet. Read it and weep. (The weeping is a hazard of the fumes.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

OMG. It's finally HERE.


Not for lack of trying

I can't believe how little I have been writing. And it's not like I've just been ignoring it, I'll sit down and have no idea where to begin. Writing scenes here and there and everywhere was great, but now that I have all the scenes down that were at the front of my mind, I have to do some digging to keep going.

I'm getting that all-too-familiar feeling, the one with the whining, high-pitched five-year-old voice in the back of my head, crying and stomping her feet and shouting "It's too hard" and "I don't wanna."

I've never done NaNoWriMo, but I know the second week is supposed to be the hardest. When all the easy stuff is done and things have to start making sense. I'm getting overwhelmed by all the things I know have to link together, and how it is so hard to scroll through my manuscript because it is*GASP* twenty pages long, and the omg-how-does-anyone-ever-actually-write-a-whole-book feeling is getting overwhelming. I finished The Name of the Wind—and holy cow it was amazing—so now I've lost that excuse. If the next one is as good as the first (which I'm sure it will be) that will become a problem again. I need a motto, or better yet a BIC HOK friendship bracelet. I haven't made one in a really long time, and I have a couple I keep meaning to finish. I can make this one in the colors of my manuscript and everything! I love colors...

And so, the gauntlet begins...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Seriously? I can't believe these are my problems.

The past two days I haven't been able to write anything. Not even I just didn't feel like it, but I have been way too distracted.

1. Trying to write after running is a really bad idea. I've already put in a long day at work, and when I run my mind starts to float and daydream and just enjoy the weather. Trying to get it to focus again after that is just futile.

2. Patrick Rothfuss, how dare you. I mean, seriously now. Way to ruin every fledgling author's chance at getting a book published. I'm re-reading The Name of the Wind, and I'm DROOLING over it! It's so freaking good! And this isn't even the second one, which by the way I am totally diving into as soon as I finish this. I may lug that brick of a book in to work tomorrow on the offchance that I finish NotW before I get home. All of my writing time has been sucked away because I can't stop thinking about it! Seriously Pat, this relationship is going to have to change if we want it to last. I can't have you taking time away from my other boyfriends. (And by other boyfriends, I mean Name of the Wind. Sorry Phil. Priorities.) The first time I read this book was my sophomore year of college, during my tremulous semester of Physics-or-English. I missed so much! Like how awesome it is just to read the writing. Who cares about the story, I just want to look at how nicely the words come out. I gave this book a nine when I read it back then. (Yes, I have a book where I list all the books I want to read by season, and cross off and rate the ones I get to.) This time around we're approaching the Harry Potter Singularity that has yet to be surpassed. Actually, I think it may have already been surpassed. Anything that can get me to tear up while sitting on the train next to a farting fat man has to be pretty amazing... and then two pages later I'm laughing out loud. Yeah. It's that good.

3. I've been busy at work, and haven't been able to take any writing breaks. I'm working on a reprint that has a ton of changes, and we just got a new book in that I get to process tomorrow, and the last book we got in is finishing up it's pretransmittal routing this week. (There's some pub speak for ya.) Now, I really like having work like this. I like reprints, and I like getting new books in—that's my favorite thing. (Actually, requesting permissions is my favorite thing. I will be the happiest person in the world if the new book has twenty permissions I need to request.) But not being able to write is just leaving me a little empty. I can't believe I'm saying that. I used to laugh at people who said that. Now I'm going through writing-withdrawal.

The entire purpose of this post was to just get me to write SOMETHING. I feel a little better. Now it's time to get back to my first love... reading.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yagh! Why do you have to be so successful!

I love reading the blogs of authors and following their websites. I'm just guiltily curious about how they live their writing lives, especially their writing process. I used to read them so I could get all kinds of writing tips because I thought if I compounded enough information the Secret To Writing would be found! But that's not how it works, and reading the blogs helped me discover that. (The Secret To Writing is to just sit down and write, by the way, no matter how bad you may think it is.)

But my least favorite time to read a blog is when they just sold a book, or their new book just released, or some other form of successful awesomeness. And no, I'm not bitter about it, as a matter of fact I'm quite happy, but that's ALL THEY TALK ABOUT FOR A MONTH. First it's the YAY, then about all the phone calls they've had with their agent/editor, then about their book tour, then more about how excited they are to go to all these places, non of which are Philadelphia because no one goes to Philadelphia (ever), and you know that gets old.

I recently discovered Let The Words Flow (a great blog, by the way) and Kat Zhang. Don't remember how. But Kat Zhang just sold her book Hybrid, which sounds really good, but I want to read more of her thoughts on writing and stuff like that and not more ZOMG I SOLD MY BOOK.

This is really unfair. I know. And if someday the planets align and I sell a book, I'm sure I will be more guilty of this than all of them. But still at the writing part, and I want to read about that.

Dear bloggers, if you are reading this, please keep posting about how happy you are. I'm happy for you too! But I don't want to read about it for a month, so I'll just be reading elsewhere for a bit. BUT one thing to keep in mind: don't EVER start marketing or any of that other crap on your blog. I will stop following it and I may even think twice about picking up your book. I think it was Neil Gaiman who said that blogs are for connecting with your readers. Tell me about the quirky things that happened in your writerly life, make me laugh at how funny the Samauri Squirrels are, and then I'll be much more likely to read everysinglethingyou'vewrittenEVER.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Among Others by Jo Walton

I really liked this book. I had also thought of something really snarky and clever to say to open the review with while I was riding the train home, but now I can't remember what it was.

In any case, if you've grown up reading SciFi and Fantasy, this is the book for you. There isn't much to say about it though, it's just... sweet. It's a very laid back book, but I flew threw it before I had even realized it. (When I went to grab my bookmark on the way home I grabbed the back cover, and only then I realized how close to the end I was.) I only got this book last Thursday, so this is really fast for me. But it was an easy read also.

The main character, Morwenna, has a brilliant head on her shoulders that makes you love her the way you love Arlen in The Warded Man. She can see past the triviality of her peers, and while that makes her life hell in prep school, she is more mature for it. Also, I really liked the subtle magic system. It was very simple, but simple in a way that I know I would have had a hard time explaining. The magic was good because the author described it that way.

It had a very inconclusive ending. One, I wish it had stretched out a little more, and two it fit perfectly with the mood of the book. It's essentially about her getting over the death of her sister, and it's very sweet (like I said).

ZOMG I totally left out the best part of this book! Mor loves to read SciFi and Fantasy! Everything that happens to her is compared to characters in stories (the same ones we grew up reading). I love getting her thoughts on the books she reads, especially the ones I have also read, and I love that even though she craved human interaction, her best friends were her books. And that's okay in this book.

PS. It's my birthday! =]

Monday, April 18, 2011

What a difference a weekend makes

Another weekend, another three movies. I promise, I don't always sit around all weekend watching movies. Only on Sundays. But we enjoyed everything we watched, and this weekend they came complete with Thai food. =]

First, Tangled. So cute! This movie was in the style of Old-Disney wonderfulness, and it was just awesome. We were cracking up at Eugene and Maximus's goofing around, and the chameleon was by far the best character. Oh yeah, Mandy Moore was good too. (I'll admit, I like her. Plus, Disney/animated stuff suits her very well, better than her chick flick exploits.) Not much to say about this movie, it was your typical Disney fairy tale, but it was good. My one complaint was the extremely hokey Beauty-and-the-Beast-swirling-eddies-of-magic ending. You'll know it when you get there. You can't miss it, actually. It takes up THE WHOLE SCREEN FOR AN ENTIRE 30 SECONDS. The songs, as far as Disney sing alongs go, are lackluster, but the original soundtrack by Alan Menken had some great tracks.

Second, The Game of Thrones premiere episode! Ok, so this isn't a movie, but it still rocked. There are so many characters thrown at you in the beginning of the book that I was wondering how they were going to handle it. They did a remarkably good job, actually, except with the Stark brothers. Needless to say, I'm hooked for the rest of the episodes, and I really want to know how they are going to organize everything. They called the series A Game of Thrones and not A Song of Ice and Fire, so does that mean that they are only going to make the first movie into the miniseries? How on earth would they end that? The first book has such a non-conclusive ending. But, the tv did a GREAT job of portraying the world in the books. Super excited for the next episodes! And I'm glad to have a Sunday-night show again.

I've read the first two and a half books in this series. Don't get me wrong, they're good, but there's no avoiding the slogging. These books are nothing like The Name of the Wind, but definitely more with LotR on the boredom scale. They have amazing characters and a freaking awesome world and really cool plot arcs, but it just takes SO LONG to get any information, and most of the time I miss it because I started zoning out while I was reading. Watching this first episode really made me want to 1. reread the first two books and 2. keep reading with the rest, especially since A Dance with Dragons is coming out in July, but I just don't think I can do it. I'll stick with the tv show for now.

The last thing we watched was Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express (the new one with David Suchet). I've seen this before, and I love this movie. Even if you haven't read the book (which I haven't) this is such a great movie. One of the best endings in a movie ever. You have to see this movie. The characters are just meh, I think they played out way too much and I think a lot of them are hokey, but don't worry about them. Just watch the movie for Poirot.

Overall, a great movie weekend.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's okay to trash words

And by trash words, I mean put them into the Boneyard at the bottom of your manuscript. They may become useful again. What I mean by this is, it's okay to write a scene with your characters that you have absolutely no intention of putting into your book.

Since I cut out the second plot arc of MERPEEPS, my writing has essentially halted. Why? Because I was writing everything in that second setting, which was the easier one that looks more like our world, even though the story I am trying to tell takes place in the Merpeople kingdom. For the record, it's really hard to write an underwater setting. Even simple things like "she exhaled" have a whole new meaning, and more complicated things like describing a market are just ridiculous to have to do on the fly.

I hate worldbuilding setting. Once I have the general ideas of the place, I want to just write and let pieces of the scenery fall into place. But this is so different I freeze up when it comes time to add in a description. There are just so many questions: How they move in a crowd of people? What do the stalls sell? Do they even HAVE stalls? Does the market go up as well? How do they suspend these "upwards" stalls? How do people SEE however many leagues under the sea? (A question that I am resolutely ignoring--they just can. Move on.) How can I make these people still seem like people when they have the bodies and mannerism of octopuses and fish and seahorses? I still want them to be human-like... but finding the balance is hard.

I was laughing at work earlier today because Lesa next to me was describing the book she's reading, and it sounded really weird, but she's like "No. Trust me. It's awesome." and then we were laughing at how any science fiction or fantasy book you describe sounds SO WEIRD. It's all in the execution.

That's my defense for writing sea-people. China Mieville style.

No, I am not comparing myself to China Mieville. He wrote them so much better than I will ever achieve (within this first book at least, give my potential awesomeness some credit). To be honest I probably bit off more than I can with this as my first book, but I'm TRYING to challenge myself. I just need lots of sushi and french fries to get me through it. And jalapeno-stuffed olives.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Writing Resources Page

I've been spending my lunch breaks working section by section on my Writing Resources page, and it's finally starting to take shape! It would be nice to focus on actually WRITING, but this page just keeps burning a hole in my pocket and it's a nice way to recharge my brain. It's definitely wordier than I intended, but I think a little bit of explanation is nice instead of straight and boring lists of links. Besides, I'm always interested to see how different writers do things differently. When this is finished, I'll do the Other Stuff page as well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Two Thumbs Down, One Up, and some of everything else.

Saw three movies over the weekend: Hanna, Hard Candy, and Gosford Park. We were so excited for all of them and had been waiting to see them for a while, and two of them were flops. Color us disappointed. Spoilers will ensue. Don't be upset.

Gosford Park was the first movie we watched, in our awesome stay-in-bed-until-4:30 Sunday. I highly recommened it. If you have kids and think you can't swing it, ship them off to a family member or neighbor for a sleepover and then return the favor for them another weekend. Anyway, it's a multi-storyline movie that showed the weird connections between the servants and the served, all while sorting out a murder mystery. The murder doesn't happen until past halfway, and the inspector who investigates is so awful at his job I don't really know what they were trying to get across with that. But the movie isn't about the murder, it's about the relationships, and you spend an hour not knowing who anyone is. Sounds confusing, but it was a really good movie. There are so many recognizable people, even for the really small parts, and it's fun to pick out what else they were in (still looking for some). I'd recommened this one--it's on Netflix.

The preview for Hanna was SO BADASS. This little girl is just a cold, hard killer, and she has the moves to escape from a high security whatever-that-place was in Morocco. Then she joins up with a family on a road trip and we have an hour of her discovering electricity and making her first friend and hiding under the bed in the RV watching the family dance. It was Bo. Ring. Thenthere'sthiscoolscene with her father kicking ass in a subway station. Then another half hour of her on her first date. Then a weird creepy man who lives in a cupcake who knows her father and is brutally murdered and Hanna chasing the Big Bad Woman through a dilapidated theme park. Then a cliched last line that repeats the beginning scene and it's over.

It was between this movie or Sucker Punch, and we spent a long time deciding which to see because we REALLY wanted to see both of them. We should have seen Sucker Punch, and I'm sad we didn't.

Then, we watched Hard Candy late Sunday night. This is a little known flick with Ellen Page where she tricks a guy (who's a closet pedophile) into meeting with her via online chat. Everything gets turned upside down when SHE is the one to slip drugs into his drink. Turns out she's a sociopathic vigilante who wants revenge for a teen murder. We never find out if she was friends with the murdered girl, but she does say she is doing everything "for all the fourteen year old girls out there." Ellen Page did a great job in this movie, there isn't a single flinch through all the demonic scenes and she is totally believable as a crazed fourteen year old. She is ruthless. But it was a little much for so late at night, and I wasn't expecting to have to watch a castration (yeah, it's that brutal), and after Hanna's flop earlier in the day this just compounded the disappointment. I guess I would still recommened to see it because Ellen Page did such a great job, but know what your getting into. P didn't like it all. I think he was a little tender about the tender bits.

---

I didn't write anything last night and that makes me sad. But I was able to get a short run in the nice weather even with my train running late and having to run a bunch of errands, and that makes me happy. Back to writing: I organized a lot of my outline after cutting out the entire plot arc. Unfortunately, the majority of my writing so far was in that plot arc, but it just doesn't fit in with the Merpeople story I wanted to tell. The character was kindof lame too, even though he did have certain traits that I liked. But some of his minor traits that I just threw in to make him "more rounded" should have been his major traits, and they didn't work with the story. But that's okay. I have a plot arc that is more internally contained (a good thing) and I won't have to bouncing back anf forth between disparate settings.

---

I have been re-reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and I am just taking my good old time and absorbing every word. His prose is just sooo wonderful. I hope I can sound as clear and articulate as he does. I follow his blog, and he will spend HOURS reading his work, tweaking a word here, a word there, and I thought it was a bit excessive at the time, but WOW it was so worth it. There isn't a word wasted. And his characters are so appropriately snarky it's wonderful. After finishing this (I'm trying to get it to last while I write a chunk of my book--hopefully his voice and style will sneak into MY writing a little bit) there is no way I'll be able to avoid reading the second book. And hopefully the library will have it by then, because I think I already missed getting the hardcover 40% off at BN. EVERYONE MUST READ THIS BOOK.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Goodbye, Other Half

I worked out some of my plot issues by nixing the second arc of the plot. The two were going to merge, but having two settings that are so disparate was slowing me down, but frankly I don't think they would have meshed very well anyway. Unfortunately, the one I nixed was the one I had been working on, so most of my writing doesn't count towards this new outline. The setting I kept didn't have a strong plotline, but the nixed plotline actually works better in the kept setting. (Follow all that?) In any case, I need to remember to keep it simple. I like the setting I kept better anyway, and it will be more of a challenge to write (for better or worse).

My goal is 50,000 words for this story, which is a very short book, and also NaNoWriMo standards. I'm not shooting to write this book in a month, but I do plan to get a decent chunk of words out everyday. Goal: 1k/day, even though I know that is a stretch. I had a long stretch of zero-writing this past week, and I hope to change that tonight, even though I have editing and errands to do. I want to write while I need to write.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

BEGINNING-MIDDLE-END

I'm at that point in my Merpeeps story where things are getting hard. I am already thinking of different directions to take my story into because I am trying to keep it simple, but it is hard to know when to stray from my plan and when to stick with it. Often, the ideas that end up taking my story way off course start out as just a tiny simple thing that is indistinguishable from the other tiny simple things that keep the story on track. But I am going to keep hammering out BEGINNING-MIDDLE-END so I know exactly what Needs To Happen. I can't tell you how much I want to stick with this story, how much I want to finish something. Because once I finish something, that will mean that I can go on to the next thing. I want to tell stories.

At this stage in my writing my blog is probably going to get quite boring, because all it will consist of is kicking myself in the ass to get writing, and then putting off my writing by writing about kicking myself in the ass. It's all very circular.

Some real life updates:
- I have tomorrow off of work! I don't mean to brag, but thankyoufuckinggod.
- My day off work will be spent at the dentist. (Ha! And I had you jealous of me...)
- Eggnog flavored coffee is disgusting.
- I was looking at ultra-portable laptops/tablets for my birthday (I always get a present from myself, I'm generous like that) but I don't think I'm going to get one anymore. I have specific features I want, and I don't want to pay for the features I don't want because I don't have the extra cash, but honestly, keeping my files with me on a flash drive has been working pretty well. Besides, I don't have the energy to focus on writing on the train.

BEGINNING-MIDDLE-END. I can do this.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LIFE

Has been stressful. My Outside-Writing life, that is. My writing life has just been trying to keep up. I haven't been able to keep with new books I am reading because I am so distracted by everything I am NOT writing. So I am going to keep it to rereads for a while and see if that helps. I'm starting with The Name of the Wind and Deathly Hallows. NotW I haven't read in a LONG time, so I hope that isn't going to be like reading a new book.

And I am going to KEEP WRITING. As much as I can. Just try to get the words out in an emotional flood so I can move on, if for nothing else than the fact that there are too many good books in the world to go not-read.

Friday, April 1, 2011

March Word Count

So here they are folks, and they're pretty embarrassing:

March 15 = 350
March 16 = 450
March 17 = 300
March 18 = 300
March 19 = 0
March 20 = 0
March 21 = 1200
March 22 = 0
March 23 = 0
March 24 = 0
March 25 = 0
March 26 = 700
March 27 = 0
March 28 = 450
March 29 = 300
March 30 = 0
March 31 = 1400
MARCH TOTAL ON MERPEEPS = 5,450

Granted, I didn't start this story until halfway through the month, but still. That's pathetic. Not really pathetic, it's much better than nothing, and it's been a very revealing five thousand words. But I want to do much better than that. Mainly, I don't want to have any more streaks of four or five days without writing anything, especially during the week like this lull was. I'm pretty bad about weekends, but I figure it's the weekend so I can't bum myself out too much about that. I do want to start writing on the weekends too, though.

No sense talking paragraphs about it when you can see the results right there. Next month will be better. OR ELSE.