29 December 2011

Why I Keep Writing

That makes me laugh - "why I keep writing". I haven't written in a long time, although there is a personal blog post somewhere, and that was last week? I think it was last week. Anyway - "why I keep writing"... I've been listening to Mur Lafferty's I Should Be Writing podcast, trying to convince myself that *I* should be writing. Of course.

I would say that my theatre has been taking up all my free time, but that would be a lie. It is taking a *lot* of my free time, but not all. I mainly come home from work (desk job, mind-numbing accts payable drudgery), have dinner and watch a movie (usually a documentary) and play a video game. Where's the writing time in that? Well, I suppose I could forego the movie and - if I wanted to be really hardcore, I could write and eat dinner at the same time (I've done it before).

Although I also have a spouse that deserves my attention - and that's where the movie-watching and dinner-eating come into play. I only have so much time before my brain turns into toothpaste, and family time is certainly important to me. I have a finite amount of time that I've convinced myself Other Things need my attention - my writing? My writing can be done later. Of course.

Yet, I'm blogging. My Bonny blog needs updating, my personal blog is probably getting the most attention because it's a nice brain-dump location. Not only that, but the several novels that I have "in progress" span nearly 10 years' worth of work and I don't even know if any of it is worth anything. I may end up trunking everything.

Yet, I'm still writing. I still want to work on my stories - well, one story in particular that still continues to poke me in the ear or eye every so often. I know there are some serious issues with the story itself (I'm going to need an eagle-eyed historian, for one), but I really like this story - still. Even after all these months...years? Yes, I think it's now officially been two years. How did that happen?

So, why do I keep writing? Even as sporadic as I do - I still want to tell a story. I would also like to have someone other than my spouse reading it. I need to be adored by the world...or at least, more folks who aren't my friends before reading my story. Once they've read my story, they can clamour for my friendship, if they like.

I should be writing. You should be too. Or doing something that fulfills you, because that's what it's all about.

03 November 2011

I'm Still Runnin'

...By the skin of my teeth. I am just making NaNo at an average of 2000 words a day. It's my little cushion so that one day I can go over and then give myself an excuse to be lazy, but I'm hoping I will be better than this and not be lazy - but go on to finish this...piece of crap that I can't believe I'm writing.

Anyway, my story has now expanded a bit - yay! - with more random ideas to fill out as to why things are happening as they are. There have been some twists and turns that have appeared, which is doing wonders for my word count. Of course, I'll look at this in December (or, more likely, next NaNo) and wonder what possessed me to write this.

Oh, that's right. NaNo. I'm still running. It's only Day 3 - but I'm still running.

I found Jody Hedlund's blog entry "A Writer's Number One Enemy" and it helped. Like I've said before, I'm a practising optimist. I still have my default "negative" moments. More than necessary, in fact. I am pushing through - and I'm happy with myself, as happy as I can be with myself. I am cheering myself on more than bashing myself - honest!

In other news - hubby made this great savoury juice where I threw in hot sauce. It gave it a nice bite and if we could have had alcohol, I would have been in Bloody Mary heaven.

Also, I have been eating lotsa carrots. I think my grandparents would be proud.

Word count: 6101

02 November 2011

I Bled The Turnip...& I Got Beet Juice!

I haven't started Day 2 of NaNo, yet - and my first 2018 words last night (and the very end of last night, almost this morning) was like pulling teeth. I did it. I'm happy that I made it to 2k and I'm hoping to write another 2k today. I have no idea how I'm going to keep up with this schedule all month - especially when I go back to work next week.

Also, my story that was originally planned as a "horror/supernatural" has become a Chick Lit story. At least it feels less scary and less supernatural - but it's early. I mean, I opened with a funeral...well, post-funeral - everyone is gathered at the house (of the deceased) and it's a party in there. Right now my main character is (was?) trying to defuse an argument happening in the kitchen.

That's another thing. Whilst doing NaNo, I've decided to do a month-long fast (health reasons, trying to purge myself of crappy feelings from the food allergies/sensitivities I have) so, naturally, what shows up in my novel? Everyone's eating! I don't describe the food in detail (although I'm sure that would help my word count) but my starting scene is in the kitchen, counters piled high with food and people stuffing their faces and here I am, drinking a vegan vegetable concoction. No solid food. Crap.

The juicing hasn't been bad, honestly - but the cravings are interesting. I really wanted steak yesterday (that was my first day). Just had my morning juice and, overall, I'm full. We only had two meals yesterday - I was too full to even try for dinner. It's once we've done two weeks of the same thing - I wonder just how much I'll be wishing for a double cheeseburger.

So, not a bad start on either front - the juicing or Nano - but I totally didn't expect my story to take the radical turn it did and I certainly didn't expect myself to like the juice. It's early, though. Change happens. We'll see what this all changes into next week...once I'm surrounded by food.

Word count: 2018

19 October 2011

This is SO Not About NaNoWriMo

It's coming, y'know - if you aren't one of the 200K+ folks of the writing-mind who go crazy during the month of November to participate in NaNoWriMo, you may have friends (or relatives or coworkers or miscellaneous acquaintances who mysteriously have Too Busy Schedules and maybe don't surface for air until family holidays, distracted and clutch scraps of paper, stuffed in pockets, pencils tucked behind their ears as they mumble something about murder...

Maybe that's just me. Not quite sure. NaNo always gives me something new to write about. This year, I'm trying my hand at paranormal "quiet" horror. I don't know what the death toll will be necessarily, but I am hoping to achieve a creep-factor of at least 7 (10 being the highest).

But this isn't about NaNoWriMo.

If you want to read about NaNo, there are plenty of blogs whirling about that - scores of them. A great blog with oodles of guest writers is WriMos FTW! (today @write_me_happy is guest blogger and after reading her post, you just want to stand up and cheer her on. At least, I do. Anyone willing to do this insane month-long-self-pat-on-the-back-for-doing-50K-words-in-30-days deserves a cheer - especially when you have a goal past "just writing 50K words of crap". It's a lofty (but possible) goal.

The key is preparation. @KristenLambTX has a blog for that. She has some fantastic posts to help you get yourself organised and turn that 30 day frenzy into a respectable draft - in order to edit and polish without wanting to rip out all your hair and/or leap from the tallest building. You may get that urge somewhere around November 10th (just a warning).

I still have an outline to finish. There is an ending that I was happy about 2 days ago which was immediately killed (deader than a doornail) and now I'm feeling little moments of panic because how am I supposed to end this story I've concocted? Eeep.

I'm also in the middle of getting our fledgling theatre off the ground - we're going to announce our first season in early December, but we still have a lot of prep work to do and my mind keeps spinning. I'm glad I'm not in charge of the super-duper important stuff. I think I might have a nervous breakdown. I might have a nervous breakdown anyway.

November is a busy month (always is) and there are a lot of personal things (good things!) that I'm trying to accomplish then, too. Good gravy, only twelve days left before it starts.

Somebody hold me.

13 October 2011

Inspired (Delirium) By Sickness

I've been hopped up on meds since Monday night - still doing my straight job, still pulling a full day with mandatory overtime. I have those moments of woozy and woe and, like yesterday afternoon, I am in absolute danger of falling asleep at my desk and knocking myself unconscious as my head slams into my keyboard. Things can get rather exciting here in no time at all.

What I really want is bed - or at least a few days where the most complicated thought is "Do I get up to eat now or wait until I feel more hungry?" I don't think that's going to happen any time soon, so I will continue to take the meds, rest as much as I can.

Along with my writerly pursuits, I am one of the founding members of a brand new theatre company (more on this in future posts - it's juicy stuff) - and we're looking to file Non-Profit status, so I'm up to my eyeballs in government literature as to how to do that without losing my mind. I don't know if it's worked yet, but I remain hopeful. Thank goodness we know a so many people who've already gone through this - and are willing to help!

Lastly, I'm furiously banging away at my outline for NaNo - because I'm determined to start this year's novel with an outline. I've done this enough times without one - and they have all ended in an unhappy mess. I always thought I was a good pantser, until I was hell-bent on finishing something. That meant I needed a clear idea of where my story was going to end and if I didn't have a rough map as to where that was going to be - my story would never end.

I don't know if it's a personal philosophy (or just delusions from my being sick) but I was moved at a very young age with a dialogue from The Last Unicorn:

Molly Grue: But what if there isn't a happy ending?
Schmendrick: There are no happy endings, because nothing ends.

Nothing ends. I have always seen it that way and though I love a lot of different books and stories and movies and whatever - I never quite understood how they/anyone could just "end" things. It doesn't. People move on, things change, new stories develop - maybe with different characters, but nothing ever ends.

Maybe I got the flu. Doesn't feel like the flu, but I sure do feel crazy.

07 October 2011

My NaNo Makes Me Screeeeeeeeeeeeeam!

Although, shouldn't it make you scream? I hope in a good way. Hmm. 

For the first time (okay, second time - but that first time it was more urban fantasy and you're supposed to love the monster, anyway...), I am attempting a horror story for my NaNo. I have no idea what I'm doing. Ever. I can't even watch horror movies (example: we went to the cinema to see Ju-on and the way I watched it was through my fingers; fingernails digging into the arm of my better half - and I still managed to have nightmares for a year, oy). What the hell am I thinking? 

Desperation, I think is the word. Well, no - not entirely. Some of it was inspiration. Honest. Stop laughing, out there! 

My nano-pitch: A young woman who's getting settled into life - new house, great new promotion, stable and healthy relationship(s), etc. - inherits a mirror from her favourite, loving aunt that does a little more than show her a pretty reflection. 

I'm a tease and I hope it gives someone (besides myself) nightmares - or at the very least that creepy, crawly feeling you get when you think someone's watching you (especially when you are totally alone).

Being that I'm a total maniacal, obsessive, compulsive, perfectionist (you really want more adjectives?) outliner - having only started my outline a few nights ago is making me a little crazy. Okay, so I'm crazy regardless, but that's beside the point. Right now, I'm trying to focus and get some sort of outline put together so I don't lose my marbles on Nov 1st. Right now, I think I'm missing a few marbles, but y'know...whatever!

I'm trying out the snowflake method - so far, so good. Nowhere near done, but I haven't run screaming from the building yet. This is a win.

What's everyone else writing about for NaNo? Got a method? 

Now for a cute dog photo (sorry for waking you, Bonny):

05 October 2011

The "Other" (Writerly) Tools?

Okay, so I'm broken. Well, really my Canon-SX130-IS is the thing that's broken - and that's breaking me.

I love this camera. I didn't love it when we first got it (a free gift! do we never appreciate free gifts or just don't appreciate them as much as something we've hoarded and slaved over to get?) but since the better half took what was meant to be the "family camera" as a tool for passion and livelihood (shameless plug here), getting this extra camera was great. Also, I could stuff this in my handbag while the "family camera" needs its own rucksack (with lenses, extra battery pack and various doo-dads that I barely know the full functions of). So, got this camera and it was portable, did all these neat functions (like video! with sound!) and it was now mine!

Until some time last week when the memory card spring-loaded slot decided to stop functioning. Now I'm just getting error messages and I have no idea if it's fixable - or even worth it. In any case, I'm minus a camera that has helped me write Bonny's blog as well as help feed me ideas for stories or remind me of what stuff looks like (again, to help me write). I know it's just a crutch, it's just a crutch. I've worked for years without a camera and we still have the "family camera" that I can borrow. It's just not the same.

I feel like I'm missing my favourite pen. I mean, I can still write (I don't even use a pen/pencil - I type on my Neo, Inara-Jayne) and still function just fine, but something is still missing. It's irritating.

Anyone else out there have a unique "other" writing tool that isn't traditionally thought of as such? Y'know...like a cinder block that holds up your open reference materaisl just so, unlike anything else you've tried? Or maybe you don't write - but knit with chopsticks (the rounded ones are size 3 or 4 US, I think...) or your trusty roll of duct tape never leaves your side (ala MacGyver). I know folks who carry those crazy, multitool contraptions, but those are meant to service anything/everything. I'm all about the weird.

What nontraditional tools do you use for your life? Please share! I'd like to know how other folks have made use of things that they weren't originally intended for.

Inspiration for this blog post: my broken camera & Instructables - Make, How-to & DIY

updated 10/07/11: why didn't anyone tell me I wrote cider block instead of cinder? Oooh, boy, I'm funny...

03 October 2011

The Nanos Are Coming! The Nanos Are Coming!

nano - a combining form with the meaning “very small, minute,” used in the formation of compound words (nanoplankton); in the names of units of measure it has the specific sense “one billionth” (10 -9 ): nanomole; nanosecond.
(courtesy of Dictionary.com)

Of course, that has nothing to do with NaNoWriMo - the month-long maniacal attempt to push out a word-count of 50K in a mere 30 days. It's insanity, I tell you.

Unless you are (1) independently wealthy, (2) have no responsibilities (and I mean NONE - short of getting yourself to the toilet; adult diapers eventually need changing) and (3) have no holidays to celebrate (Eid & Thanksgiving come to mind - but I'm sure there are more hiding somewhere...) - oh, and (4) a hermit, NaNo can be tricky to schedule in between working, social/familial commitments, chores - y'know daily life.

Those of you smart-alecks who pound out several thousand words a day - shut up. This is for the rest of us.

Here is some motivation:
Wear your Pants of Shame. These are literal pants and if you want to get in on the action (but have no time to knit/crochet/sew), go to your local thrift shop and find the ugliest pants you can afford; don't be afraid! You know they are out there, lingering in a bin because no one wants them. Really. Follow the rest of the directions in the link and you're set for Nano 2011!

You can knit/crochet/sew yourself a proper pair later - and really punish yourself.

Though I do feel that the definition "very small, minute" makes a lot of sense here - being that (on average) a novel can be anywhere around 80K - 100K, which means your 50K comes up a mite short. The actual writing process is also blasted out in a very brief span of time (again, those of you who can write novels in under 30 days, shut up). It just a coincidence, naturally, but NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. There ya go.

Another place (outside of the Nano forums) for fellow crazy people, I mean writers:
Nanowrimo-For The Win

So, anyone else out there doing this? Every year I try, every year I lose - but I keep writing. That either means I'm a writer or I'm an idiot. Maybe both.

If you want to do some fun prompts to get you prepped before the big month, go wander over to CurlyViking's blog and try out the writing challenges she's posted. I'm going to try the latest (1500+ words, use an element from the periodic table, 3rd person, extra points for a non-scientific story) and see what I come up with.

Of course, I still have that other story I started on Saturday that really should get pounded out quick...can someone please throw me a writing-life-preserver? Please?

01 October 2011

My Psychological Torture of Finishing a WiP

Or, why I have three unfinished novels and a multitude of short stories languishing in obscure-writing-hell instead out there in the Big Wide World of Slush Pile Purgatory. Well, I have two unfinished novels, truth be told. My finished (3rd? 4th? 18th?!?!?!) draft of my YA urban fantasy is finished but I currently hate it and think it's a pile of weak, runny poo. Of course, I then read this and I laugh - but no amount of imaginary press and bling will make me think better of my WiP at the moment.

Oh crap, I forgot I started a sequel to the urban fantasy. I'm back to having three unfinished novels. Let's not talk about that sequel because it's pants and needs more outlining and figuring out.

Then I read this and I feel a little better about myself. Shocking, I know - because I finished one, at least. I can't wait until I can get it critiqued by fresh eyes and see if it can stand up to a reader and not flop about like some struggling fish out of water. That's how I'm feeling right at this moment. A little fish having just been ousted from the big pond by far more amazing fish. Guppy-Schwilk in a pond full of beautiful and deadly koi. Deadly, I tell you.

The way my brain currently works, I'm surprised I've finished anything! I read this and I think it's dawning on me that (1) I am one of those irritating perfectionists (2) that is too hard on myself, (3) I also need firm deadlines because (4) I'm a lazy cow.

Numbers 3 and 4 bother me the most because I remember when I was at Uni, I was writing fiction all the time without any deadlines and lazy? I hate that word. I hate being associated with that word but I am. I come home from my straight job (which involves a lot of mindless typing/data entry) and though this would be typing for pleasure - my brain somehow convinces me it's still typing, therefore, something I can "do later".

(5) I am also easily distracted - I need to be in a room, alone to write. Didn't think writing in the same room as my spouse of ten years (who adores me and wants to see me published moreso than I do, I think) drives me batty. Even if I'm not interrupted, I still feel like I need to split my attention - so no people, no pets. Alone. I haven't tried the coffeehouse trick yet because I feel too self-conscious (y'know, pretentious "writer" in public vibe) and the last time I did that I was doing NaNoWriMo (2003) and that felt more social (but I'm doing NaNo this year, so who knows?)

What are your tricks about finishing your WiP? How do you make it past your personal hurdles? Where do you write? I'm curious. I'm desperate and, damn it all, I'm writing!

UPDATED: More fun, related links
Is there a Magic Pill...?
Interview with Samantha Bennett, How to Write Consistently & Finish Your Work

There is hope! I press on, stumbling, freaking out every so often.

15 September 2011

Embrace Your Bad Days!

If you don't already know, I am a natural pessimist - but a practising optimist. I do my best not to immediately select the worst-case scenario for what could potentially happen (although I'm never giving up my obsession with disaster movies, sorry).

We all have bad days sometimes, I understand that. It's not the end of the world (hopefully) and if you focus on all the crap and lament your bad luck, things will only get worse. I get that. However, I find it silly that there are some people who are very clearly having a bad day and scream, wild-eyed, in response to everyone's well-meaning regards, "I'm just FINE!" as though that would convince even themselves.


What's wrong with embracing the fact that you woke up late, maybe your laptop really is trying to eat the data that took you three horrific hours to compile and you've broken off the heel to your shoe? It's a bad day - not the end of the world. When someone wishes you a better day, suck it up, say thank you and move on. We do mean well and we sympathise with the crud you're desperately trying to ignore.

You're not fooling anyone.

Now, an appropriate video for your viewing pleasure:

By the way, yes, I am having a good day today, thanks!

13 September 2011

I Got Nothing But Bad Habits

Going on holiday does help unscramble the brains – as long as the holiday has moments of rest and reflection in between all the headless-chicken activities. This time, we had more rest which turned out to be a good thing. It gave me more time to realise that I give all my free-time away and I've run out of excuses not to write. That last one is more or less a revelation, because I always knew I gave my free-time to everyone else. It isn't necessarily a bad thing in itself, but it does mean that I put myself last in my laundry list of Things I Need To Do.

There is definitely a need here – mostly a want, but as the year's gone by (two years?) the fact that I have no bulk of writing material at the ready for submission turns this into a desperate need. I have bits and pieces – a few one act plays, half a story or two (and a novel that makes my heart palpitate due to heady research needs and recent missed opportunities) – but I've gone a whole year (at least) without really working this passion I keep telling myself I have.

I am easily distracted and convince myself not to write. “I'm too tired,” I tell myself once I get out of my straight job. “I already get up at butt o'clock normally! I can't get up any earlier!” I say as all the popular writing blogs/people tell us to get up 30 minutes, 40 minutes, an hour before your day starts. Write then! “I'll write later, I need some 'me time',” my most notorious tagline as I spend way too much time in the soul-sucking universe that is Facebook.

Starting this week, I'm going to break my bad (writing) habits – at least one or two to start. Yesterday I couldn't convince myself out of bed, but here I am – Tuesday morning and writing! I had even managed to get up this early on Sunday and write a bit. There is always hope.

Who knows where all this bad habit breaking could lead? What are/were your bad habits and how are you/did you break them?

25 July 2011

Just Keep Writing! [link sausage]

Not exactly the entry I planned to write, but perhaps that's the point?

I'm still trying to figure out a writing schedule and battle my procrastination (I swear, anything with an internet connection is highly dangerous. Just look at TV Tropes).

I think Kathryn Apel's post on "panic writing" as well as this old post by Donna Cummings - talking about Chris Baty and his "No Plot? No Problem!" approach to writing - say it better, but here I am, having the debate with myself and trying to figure out how I write; how to get the best out of myself with the minimum amount of pain.

Currently playing with the Snowflake Method, but not totally sold on it, outright. I realised that for about 3 of my WIPs, applying this method to tighten/revise/make better, I wanted to rewrite everything from scratch and radically change my story-lines. In one respect, I take that as a good sign - I'm not thinking my novel as "my (untouchable, perfect) baby" and am open to suggestions/changes and so on. In another way, my self-esteem is peering into the toilet because I'm really considering to scrap about 10 years' worth of work. Although it's not like I'm on a deadline or these stories were getting any other exposure anyway. Maybe I need the over-haul.

I'm trying not to count words; I'm trying not to get sidetracked with research (historical-esque fiction, go me!); I'm also trying not to bin all of my writing, which is getting harder to do as I attempt to make a serious go of being a writer.

Does writing on a schedule (what schedule?) help push you through your "non-creative moments"? Do you dare say "Writer's Block"? I used to switch gears - work on ATCs or music, theatre...something artistic, just not writing.

I get the sincere feeling I've been sabotaging myself for years.

22 July 2011

Hemingway...A Hack?

If I spent more time writing than playing on the internet...

Had an interesting discussion with my husband just now about the infamous Hemingway "6 word story" (For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.) and my mind immediately filled in the answer to the question: Why? I thought it was a great way to tease the imagination.

My husband said, "Who cares? He didn't write a story. He wrote a Craigslist ad."

This is also the man who otherwise has an abundance of wild imagination. Am I giving Hemingway too much credit here?