December 4, 2009

Life after NaNoWriMo

Anyone else getting the shakes? You know exactly what I'm talking about. You wake up and the first thought through your mind is, gotta write, gotta write. So you sit down and almost instinctively, you pull up your NaNoWriMo file. But then you realize that you finished it. The stories over, it's time to move on.

And a part of you is completely relieved. I mean, NaNo was intense. There's something about invisible deadlines that drive one up the wall. At the same time, however, you miss it. NaNo was so there for you, all through November. It was there through the cold nights and long days. It was always patiently waiting, just hoping that you'd check in every day and leave it little notes.

It's kind of like breaking up with a boyfriend. Sure, you know that it was an amazing ride and you have some wonderful memories. You still sometimes wear the perfume he sent you and occasionally don the necklace he gave you for your one year anniversary. Sometimes you pick up your phone and start to dial his number, only to stop halfway because you know talking to him again is a huge mistake.

And now that it's over, you forget just how NEEDY he was and how he was ALWAYS THERE begging for attention. You forget that he called at strange hours of the night and really didn't let you see your other friends and family. You FORGET just how all consuming he was and that he gave you some bad habits, like skipping over important things and doing what's easy first.

So then you realize that maybe it's time for a clean break. That November is over, so maybe you should stop dwelling on NaNo and focusing on new projects.

And that's exactly what I'm going to do.

After I glance at my NaNo project JUST ONE MORE TIME and work on editing it...

Yes, just one more. I can quit anytime. I can. Really.

November 8, 2009

NaNo Day Eight: Interspection Begins

Today's officially day eight of NanoWriMo. It's rather amazing just how fast it's moving! After today, everyone should have 13,336 words.

Are you there? Have you made it? If not, don't be discouraged. The thing is, very often to we write by word count. Even though NaNo is a word count based challenged, I'm inclined to think that we shouldn't think of it solely by the numbers.

Most of us when we write, we write by scenes or ideas of scenes. Why should NaNo be any different? Sure, some days we might write and only get three hundred words if we're lucky. But other days when we sit down, the words might just pour out of us.

Too often this month we get hung up on word counts and not on just the simple act of writing.

There is something great about closing your eyes and just letting the words pour out of you, so do that. But if you don't make 1667 in a day, don't beat yourself up over it. You wrote. You created. You are a writer and that is what matters.

November 7, 2009

NaNoWriMo

So yes, I'm one of the thousands who decided to make November a month to remember. I'm currently participating in NaNo. This is my second year taking the plunge and already I'm shocked at exactly how different it has been.

First off, the goal of NaNo is to write 50K in exactly one month. It averages out to 1,667 a day. Easy enough right? Well for the most part, getting word count down isn't hard, if you push yourself. I can get 1,667 in less than an hour without trying to hard. The difficult part lies in motivation and keeping up with it. Sure, 1,667 a day isn't too hard, but imagine how quickly those words building up over a few days of skipping. Suddenly you find yourself staring at an immeasurable word count that has you barely able to breathe.

So the trick to NaNo is staying on top of things.

I've noticed something about NaNo though. So far, I've written roughly 13,000 words. And the first 9,000 were utter and total crap. No, I'm not just saying that, they were. It look me a long time to get into Murmur and find the voices of the characters. Even still, I haven't full developed my male lead. But that, however, is the fun of NaNo.

Don't believe me? Here's a passage. And guess what, it's already been rewritten.

The headmistress’s square heels clunked and thumped against the heavy word floors, each step adding a beat to her welcoming speech. Elizabeth was trailing behind, carrying her suitcase in one hand and a bag in another. She had another bag strapped across her body. Behind them, the groundskeeper was wheeling a cart containing the remaining few boxes of Elizabeth’s possessions.

Oy. That made me blush just looking at it. However, that's the point of a rough draft. It's a raw idea that needs a lot, a lot of tweaking.

The great thing about NaNo though, is that one has to force themselves to push past the muck and the junk and the crap and just keep writing. So often we see a paragraph go sour or a character go in a direction that we never would have imagined and we get discouraged. We shouldn't. We should just keep pushing forward, in the hopes that at the end, we have a great novel.

That's what NaNo has taught me and is still teaching me. I need to get up with my diligence and not get discouraged over a few bad chapters.

It's not too late to sign up, if you're interested. Yes, you'll have to play catch up, but you can easily do it! We're only one week in and there's still plenty of time to take the plunge into utter insanity with the rest of us.

September 8, 2009

Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

BalladThis is a teaser from Maggie Stiefvater's BALLAD, a novel involving homicidal faeries and kissing that's coming out October 1st.

He turned towards me. For a long moment, he stood facing me. I was held, anchored to the ground – not by his music, which still called and pushed against the music already in my head and said grow rise follow – but by his strangeness. By his fingers, spread over the ground, holding something into the earth, by his shoulders, squared in a way that spoke of strength and unknowability, and most of all, by the great, thorny antlers that grew from his head, spanning the sky like branches.

Then he was gone, and I missed his going in the instant that the sun fell off the edge of the hill, abandoning the world to twilight.


Buy it here. Enter the contest at Maggie's blog here.

August 19, 2009

Plot Kitties to the Rescue

It's amazing how inspiration strikes you.

Lately, I've been struggling to figure out what to write in my fiction life. I want to be published and so much of my writing has been: Is this marketable? Is this new?

And while those things are definite things to consider, that shouldn't be the end all to what we, as writers, write. I was reading a friend's journal at http://www.livejournal.com and she casually mentioned that the reasons writer's write is that we have a story to tell and need to get it out.

That struck a chord with me.

You see, lately I've been sitting at my computer, brain bleeding, as I try to figure out what I want to write that will be the next best seller. Sure, I keep chugging along on my WIPs, but I painstakingly struggle to figure out what to write next.

So today, while cleaning out my cat's litter box, because seriously isn't that where every great writer plots? There must be something magical in those tiny little odor crystals. I digress... today while cleaning out the litter, I asked myself one question:

What story do you need to tell?

And instantly, almost like lightning, the idea struck me so hard, I actually sat down on the tile in my bathroom and stared into space for a good twenty minutes. The characters grew, the story arc wrote itself, and the complete novel popped into my head.

I don't think that's ever happened like that.

So next week, I'm starting in on it. I'm scrapping a few of my WIPs, not because I am sick of them or even am excited about a new plot bunny, but because I started those stories with the wrong motives and you can tell in the writing.

On Monday, I'm hibernating from the world for two full days and just writing it out. I'm doing nothing but pounding out that story. This week is light research, because the topic is one I've investigated before, but I do still need to nail down a few things. I'm going to write down the characters tonight and tomorrow, plot out a few specifics, but when Monday comes, I'm hitting the ground running.

And for the first time in awhile, I'm really excited to be starting a new project.

What about you? What story do you have to get out? What moments in your life brings about the perfect inspiration? And do you need to borrow some of my cat liter? I'll Fed Ex it to you immediately.

Clean litter of course. Let's not be gross.

August 11, 2009

Five

When I woke up today, I was craving a hamburger.

No -- not just a hamburger, a cheeseburger with so much cheese it would drip cheddar down onto the table.

Have you ever had that happen? Wake up and just be craving a certain kind of food? (And no, to squash any possible speculation. I'm not preggers.)

So I waited until lunchtime and fired up George - my electric grill, you do the math - and worked up a delicious patty of ground beef and plopped it on George for him to do the work.

While I was waiting, I did the hamburger dance and cleaned a bit. George moves fast, but sometimes I get so impatient.

When the time for the burger to be done, I lifted the lid and looked down and it just appeared to be perfect. It was juicy and had the grill marks and smelled divine. I flipped the burger off the grill, loaded it up with extra sharp cheddar and just the tiniest portion of sour cream.

I tossed a light salad to eat with it and sat down to ENJOY this burger I had been dreaming about all morning.

I took in a deep breath, picked it up, and sunk my teeth into its deliciousness.

And then promptly spit it out.

The burger was completely raw inside. Somehow, for reasons I don't even understand, George failed me.

And I've always treated him so well!

The outside looked perfect, but the inside was completely disgusting.

Then I realized it's a lot like that with characters. So often in writing we create these characters who seem like the perfect fit for what we want. They have flaws - just the right ones for the situation. They have strengths - but we're careful not to make them perfect.

We pour our hearts and souls into these characters and some of us writers use character sheets and method writing and a thousand ways to get to know each and every one of their characteristics and on paper, they appear to be just right.

But then it comes time to write them and sometimes we just struggle. We find that they're not doing what we want them to do and sometimes it feels so forced to write a scene because in your heart, you know that your character wouldn't do this.

So then you have to go to the inside of the matter and find out their motivations. You have to figure out why they do what they do and what made them have that personality.

Sure you can have a surly bad boy who loves kittens and works in a motorcycle shop, but never swears even though the only music he listens to is Metallica. And you can laugh and grin because you know that is just perfect for the story you're having.

But your readers want to know why. They want to know what made him love kittens and why he doesn't swear. What's his motivation?

So you can build the perfect character in your writing, but until you know why they do what they do? It's just raw meat.

August 10, 2009

Four

So far today has been relatively unproductive, writing wise. It's not like I planned for that to be the case.

Actually, I planned for just the opposite.

Right now, next to me, I have a list two miles long of all the things I wanted to do. I have characters to create and pieces to edit. I have brainstorming sessions to do and chapters to finish, but...

but there was a Milliionaire Matchmaker marathon on Bravo and I love to see people even more clueless on dating than me.

and then 90210 came on and I had to know if Jason and Kelly were going to get married! The show was totally banned in my house growing up and I have to get my adolescent fill now .

and then my cat got sick and I had to clean that up. Because seriously, you can't leave a mess. Ew.

and then the new Victoria's Secret catalog came today and I'm a sucker for their Pink line, so I had to daydream and plan on what to buy.

and also, in the mail, my subscription to Writer's Digest came and I had to read it cover to cover and dream about being published one day.

and two, brace yourselves, apparently I'm pre-approved for a loan of $5000.00. I was selected out of thousands of people and I had to investigate and rejoice and see how they got my name, considering I haven't ever owned a Citibank card or even gone to one of their banks.

and then my left foot itched.

and so did my right arm.

and then I realized that my sock drawer isn't color co-ordinated and neither is my closet.

and then, while I was color co-ordinating my closet, I realized that Fall clothing season is upon us, so I had to google the latest trends and see what I needed to buy to supplement my wardrobe.

and then my big toe started itching.

and then I realized it had been awhile since I painted my toes and they were looking a little chipped, so I had to soak them and treat them right, because how can I exist without good grooming and you really need to take care of yourself.

and then 90210 caught my attention again. That Valerie is so evil.

and then I decided to fix up my blog.

and then I decided that since I spent all that time arranging my blog and coming up with a new color scheme, I had to write a post because it would be ridiculous to go to all that work without actually using it.

Right?

Right?

So clearly, I've been far too busy today to write.

Clearly.