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.