Thursday, November 15, 2012

NaNo

How quickly these things flop. I was writing merrily along for the first week and a half, putting out an insane amount of words (for me, at least). Then I hit a brick wall. It's my fault, I was completely not prepared for November 1st. I started brainstorming on October 30th, and that just didn't work.

And for the past several WIP, I've always had a male protagonist. But the whole time I'm writing, these female characters keep popping into my head, disrupting the story. They was a voice, and I try to work them in, but then it completely derails the story I was trying to tell before. I don't want to add a female character if she isn't going to let me tell the story I wanted to tell. I still love the story I was working on, but now is obviously not the time to write it.

So, I am taking a completely different tactic, and writing something with a female protagonist driving everything. I might as well write about what I am thinking about, and not fight it. Maybe it will help to actually finish something. I am sad to leave my other story behind, but now I have something new and exciting to think about! So that is a very good thing. And I'm not rushing this either... NaNoWriMo is fantastic for all the camaraderie, but I need my own pace. I wish the NaNo chat rooms were open all year round though! Anyone know a substitute?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

On Hobbies

There's is something I've realized during NaNoWriMo is a problem, that I didn't think would be a problem. I thought I was going to get backed up with my plot, because I usually only plan out a few scenes at a time, and writing so much would mean I'd have to stop and plot every few days instead of every other week. And that's been happening, but the worst part is that I've just been so tired.

I don't say this to complain. I love that I am busily writing and seeing my story unfold. It's true that writing more and writing faster go hand in hand. It becomes more like watching a movie unfold in your brain than it does hashing out sentences. And I desperately want to know how the movie ends. But why is it that I can maniacally quilt for two weeks straight, stopping only to eat and sometimes shower, but less than a week of focusing on writing and I'm already getting burned out?

Well, for one, writing is mentally draining. After putting in a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is think. Whereas with quilting, while it does require me to think and work things out (especially when cutting fabric and trying to get everything you need from the piece you have), it is more something to do with my hands. My brain can wander, which is why I usually watch tv when I quilt. I can bang out a lot of seasons of a tv show when I'm quilting for six hours a day for wo weeks. (Quilting usually happens in marathons.)

And can we just, for a moment, focus on the crazy emotions? Your not just writing a death scene, your living through the goddamn death. How can you write in a character's voice if you don't momentary place yourself in their shoes? I make a lot of funny faces while I write when I am trying to get the right words for an emotion.

Word wars are interesting creatures, because they force you to write a lot of words in a short amount of time, and it doesn't give you a chance to feel the emotions. I've never written this much in so short a time. I like it. While I know there are endless problems with my draft, I'm an editor at heart, and I can't wait to have a framework to start playing with the words.

I don't really know how to combat this. Making sure I block out time to quilt would be the obvious thing, but my sewing machine is currently packed away. I have a really big project coming up, one that will be amazing and completely disrupt my NaNo schedule, but it's just so unspeakably awesome I don't care. It's going to be really tough to carve out writing time after the 16th. But maybe this project will be just what I need to recharge from all the writing. Who knows, maybe I'll see a jump in my writing? But I have a whole week of no work, so it'll be interesting to see where my focus goes.

So there's my NaNo update. I'm currently at 9k, and par for tonight is 13.3k. I hope to write a bit more tonight, but we'll see. I should have figured out my next three scenes but I wrote a blog post instead. It happens. Another thing I realized: the NaNo chat rooms are freaking awesome. Word wars every night from 9:30 to 11? Yes please! There's got to be a way to get people together for this all year long. Oh yeah, there is. Writing groups.

So who wants to start a writing group with me?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Write from your heart

Write from the gut, not from fear of prejudice.

I am tempted to just keep reading this article every day. Not only is it a very sweet road-to-publication story about writing the book of your heart, but I was particularly struck by the ending paragraphs:

Now, I’m not telling you this story to prove that getting a book about a queer character published is easy. Getting published in general is not easy, and sure, some things may make a manuscript a harder sell to some editors. But you know how you can make your manuscript stand out? It’s really pretty simple. Write the best book you can. Work hard on your craft. And tell a story you believe in.

In many ways, this goes against the majority of what we’re told about capitalism, marketing, and promotion. But I have to break it to you: Creative writing is not a lucrative field; it’s an art. There is no way you can focus group your way to a genuine, heartfelt story. The only way to get there is to listen to your gut — and your heart — and do what it tells you.

So this is what I think you should say when people tell you it’s harder to publish a book with non-”mainstream” themes or characters: SO WHAT. And then go back to your computer or notebook and finish that novel.


I need to remind myself that NaNoWriMo is about one very specific thing, and one thing only: to churn out words like there's no freaking tomorrow. This NaNo draft is going to be completely unrecognizable from the final, perfect version you have in your head. This month is all about getting words onto the page that can act as a springboard. You can't edit a blank page. Don't lose sight of your end goal, and keep walking against the wind to get there. Worry about making it perfect once you've already reached the end. And don't forget, this month is supposed to be FUN. If you're not having any fun, you're doing it wrong.

But after this month is over, keep working to turn the messy, godawful draft into the book of your heart.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

ASMR

So, instead of actually doing my writing for NaNo, I was browsing the internet (surprise, surprise). At least it was mildly related, because I was searching for a white noise-type track of keyboard typing to get me into the write-in mindset and to drown out the noise of P's video games. (A guy in a write-in last year made a writing track that was keyboard typing and classical music superimposed on top of each other. Pretty cool.) Anyway, I ended up finding this non-sexual fetish subculture called ASMR that is basically that good feeling you get in the back of your head when you fall asleep to something monotonous and repetitive, for example happily listening to the sound of typing, or of scissors clipping something, or a vegetable peeler, etc. While some people would find a youtube video solely of someone's hands peeling potatoes so insanely boring it makes them want to shoot themselves, evidently there are a lot of people who don't because the video has 350 thousand views. This immediately reminded me of yoga classes, because the soft music and the teacher's soft voice really are so fantastically relaxing. Anyway, some linkage:

ASMR, The Good Feeling No One Can Explain
Explanation of Synesthesia (not directly related, but still interesting)
Sound clip of typing and clicking

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Draft 1: October 2012

More than anything else, keep on truckin'. It's hard sometimes. Believe me, I know.

Novels don't get easier, but it's reassuring to know that it felt this impossible the last five times and I somehow managed anyway. -Alaya Dawn Johnson ‏@alayadj

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. —Ira Glass

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo Begins!

I'm so excited for NaNo this year! I'm already going to a write-in tonight, and I can't wait. Plus, we still don't have any power because of Hurricane Sandy, so I have to really squeeze in writing whenever I can. But all the houses are okay! I'm starting my story fresh. Not sure if that's the best idea, but I refined my plot a little more, and my characters a little more, so we'll see how it goes. Good luck everyone!

Be my writing buddy!