committing

P is thinking of giving up NaNo. 

I’ve never met anyone who’s completed NaNoWriMo the way I do. Right now, I feel like I’m doing the normal course of NaNo — I’m many thousands of words behind (at 13,000 words, instead of almost 27,000) and feeling the drag of week two. But you know, in my first year, it was easy to write 1,666 words. It was easy the second year and the third. And I’m starting to wonder why it is that NaNo is such a good thing for me. 

And I think its because I commit to writing a bad book. I sit down and just let it flow and it comes out bad. But you know what, I have nine bad novels written, soon to be ten. I have worked out some kinks in my writing, figured out how to plot, committed to writing the bad book

If you don’t write the bad book, than you can’t write the good one. Good ones don’t just appear out of no where as a “side project”. You have to practice. You have to practice writing and do it a lot and keep going and not give up and finish the damn thing, and commit to writing the bad book, because its going to be bad. First drafts are always bad. You have to get through it or you’ll never finish any book. 

And now I’m just sad because bad books are easy to write. Its words, and more words. Its so much easier to write a bad book, to let go of the fact that it should be perfect, that slow writing is good writing. And I think P could write a good bad first draft, and it would be fantastic and give her something real. But she’s gotten caught on the fact that she needs to write well.

And being human, she’s explained it all away into another form which makes it much harder to argue with her about it. And at this moment, its breaking me. J does this too, where he says he has to really let the characters marinate. It’s been seven years J, FINISH THE DAMN BOOK. 

Commit to writing the bad book, and you’ll get some good things. Don’t wallow. I don’t have time for this bullshit.

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Day 12 Update

P and I have been doing word sprints together, which has actually been doing a lot for my word count. Of course, now she’s tired and much further behind than I am due to not being able to write as fast as me, so we’re taking a break from it for a bit. 

I have officially decided to change the novel I’m working on. This comes as no surprise to me as I usually change which novel I’m writing in the first nine days. Its just something I do. This is my second change actually, from the world of superhumans to an other worlds, scifi piece heavily inspired by the book Salt: A World History and Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races.

I’m a little unsure if I like the pacing and the through line of the novel, but I love the characters I’ve got, and I actually feel pretty comfortable with what’s happening, so I’m letting it all go with the flow. I expect it’ll need some serious editing at the end, but it will be a different kind of editing from previous novels. This feels like a real first draft, instead of a rush of words trying to madly get to the end. 

Maybe its just that I’ve been thinking a lot more critically about plot and creating story lines and so I’ve finally figured out how to make it instinctive. 

In writing, as with everything, I am a huge proponent of practice makes perfect. It turns a laborious task and turns it into something you do automatically. Like when I say my characters want something, I don’t mean I have voices in my head telling me things, but my instincts of storytelling telling me what to do. 

Of course, you have to be careful of this, not wanting to fall into cliche and expected ways of things happening, but that’s something for the second draft. For now I’m happy plugging away at 9000 words. 

I am back to my old NaNo account unfortunately, and seeing as I do intend to keep working with the Memory trilogy that I got so far into at the beginning, I’ll probably keep it that way. However, I did remove it from Wattpad. It felt like the wrong thing to be holding on to at the moment. 

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4351 Words

As promised a link to my book for NaNoWriMo: Encoding. I may have decided to change the book I was working on this morning. The Wizard of Oz world that I’ve been working on is great, but I’m having a hard time with the characters and over describing the setting, so I’m switching to super powers. 

This is normal NaNo behavior for me. 

Anyways, I had a good morning. 4000 words in and I’m feeling good about myself. I just have to keep this up!

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On Travel and Moving

People get mean when they’re moving shit. I spent two different afternoons at a uhaul in Brighton and saw three different screaming matches between employees and customers. The customer usually started by saying something rude and wrong to the employee — but it was still disturbing to watch for me.

I didn’t really understand why people were getting so worked up about it until I had moved everything in the box from uhaul and gotten no information from them about what was to happen next. I use the phrase “dishearteningly disorganized” for the process of getting a uhaul box across the country. It managed though, and I went out to help furnish the apartment.

Oh and to bring out our two cats.

The actual flight with the cats was stressful more from the standpoint of wanting the cats to be comfortable and being unable to explain to them what was going on. Jupiter hurt her nose by trying to escape her carrier, and Donovan peed in his carried. I hated it. On the plus side, I got three seats to myself due to the fact that pets can’t be stored under the middle seat of a row on JetBlue. I managed to lie down on the three seats and sleep pretty well. I also was called “two pet girl” by the flight attendant.

Anyways, arriving in LA, I had to sleep on the floor on a yoga mat, before getting a zipcar and driving to IKEA the next morning (also my birthday), to pick up mattresses and beds for our apartment. We were so loopy tired by the end of that night, I’m shocked we managed to put my bed together, but somehow it happened.

Here’s the thing — K was saying that she hadn’t expected me to come across the country to help put together furniture and help set up the apartment, and I was surprised by this. Sure I won’t be out there fore another eight months at the very least, but it’s still going to be where I live and it’s my furniture as much as theirs. I was happy to put together chairs and buy a TV stand with them because eventually I’ll get use from them.

I think she was more concerned cause K and A are going to be using my room as their office — which I honestly don’t mind. I’m not there (nor paying for it). It’s not really my room until I get there. But it’s going to be EVENTUALLY.

Anyways, I have complicated thoughts and really want to get out there asap, while also wanting liking New England winter, and enjoying making good money in biotech. It’s difficult.

But that’s beside the point. NaNoWriMo is coming up. I’ve signed up officially with this name. It’s going to be my 9th year participating (… wow that’s a long time) but this will be my first year writing under my own name. You can check out my progress here and I will be publishing it on wattpad. I’ll post links as the month heats up.

I’ll also try and do a better job blogging my progress through the month. We’ll see how it goes.

Doing NaNo this year? What’re you writing about? Feel free to buddy up with me!

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Scary Things

So I fully intended to make this blog for the purpose of blogging more consistently than I have in the past. tumblr is great for finding inspiration and random funny things about writing (I have another one which is all for things I like, but everything associated with my professional self is more writing oriented), but its a different kind of blogging to writing out my thoughts like I do on here.

I have kept a blog before, specifically about writing, but I stopped posting in it for two reasons:

  1. Having too narrow a focus on exploring the way that people write, while not having the expertise to really do so
  2. I felt like I was spamming people.

While the first one is not going to be as much of a problem here, as I am not attempting to analyze anything, but rather, to have something to reach people through that is not just my work, the second remains a problem.

Who cares, says the little voice in the back of my head. Who the fuck cares what you have to say about anything on writing, or about your life? Maybe the people you know in person. Maybe the occasional post is interesting and worth note. But other than that — does anyone care if you write out a three page blog entry every day, or if you never post again?

And its legitimate to be concerned about it, because as people we are all desperate for our story to be heard — but the thing I am coming to realize is that — if you don’t care, you don’t read it. It’s as simple as that. And you know what, I will never know if the vast majority of people have read it or not.

So why would it matter to me if people are reading? This is a record for myself. This is something I do for me not for others. And I have to keep that in mind while writing these entries. This is for my professional development (oh no, did I say that outloud?!). It would be great if it was funny, revered and brought me readers, but if it doesn’t — then at least I tried.

I’m doing this, facing what makes me uncomfortable thing lately. I’m moving to Los Angeles in June/August (well, and taking a trip across America), and it’s not the scariest thing I’m going to do this year. I’m trying new things and doing things I wouldn’t otherwise do because, if I mess up, who’s to say anyone will remember but me? The world is a big, giant place, and you only live once. So, I’m just gonna do it.

What things scare you? What are you trying to face?

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Practice

I was just looking at some drawing stuff on tumblr, like you do at 4am at work, and I was thinking about how I could never make pictures look like I would like them to do in my head. And then I remembered what my brother said to me this summer when I made a comment about how I would never be able to draw like that. 

“Oh you just have to practice.”

My brother is an art student, he’s getting his degree in industrial design, he spent years drawing in class, drawing on his body, and whenever he had a pen in his hand, he would draw. He has practiced. I don’t want to take that away from him. 

But fuck him. 

While he was drawing on his skin? I was writing. In class, I would write my stories instead of taking notes (and in this moment of being annoyed with him, I can say I got better grades than him even without paying attention). I have put in my time, my sweat, my life into writing. I know you have to fucking practice. 

But I’m only human. I can’t do it in two disciplines. I can sweat and bleed drawing the way I’ve done with writing. Because in the end, writing has my heart and my soul. 

Sometimes it scares me that it has so much of me. What if it has too much, and swallows up everything I can give away?

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Chapter One!

I’ve finally finished the rough draft of chapter one. This may seem like a small achievement, but I started it in July, got the first 5000 words in while on vacation, and then came home and it went to a dead crawl. 

Work really does get in the way of my writing, and being somewhere with internet distracts me a lot. 

The first chapter is 9000 words, which will be great for editing, since I need to get rid of about 1000 of them (using Stephen King’s rule of getting rid of 10% of what you’ve written for editing). 

J shared his unfinished manuscript with me while I was staying with him, and a small part of me wants to send chapter one along to him to see what he thinks. But I’m not sure if what I’ll get back is what I want (validation instead of advice). Its one of those things, where I know not to give more than encouragement to J about his writing (it is actually good, if it were terrible, I would let him know) but I don’t know if he does. 

I’ve sent unfinished stuff to him before, and he always has very detailed replies about things he thinks I should do to improve the writing. I, as the recipient of this information, go “… its a first draft!” and brush it off and forget it, so that the advice never really comes in useful. 

Having had this experience with J, and B actually, I’m very much in the camp of — if someone gives you an unfinished manuscript, do not, I repeat do not, offer up constructive criticism. They want validation, and encouragement to keep going. A first draft is a messy beast, and until you see the whole thing, its impossible to offer up anything useful to the author. 

Don’t give them things to go back and fiddle with about the wording of this sentence, or the way they write run-on sentences. Don’t suggest that instead of character A, they should be writing in character B’s POV. Even if they’ve told you the plot, you don’t know what best serves the story until you’ve seen it all laid out on paper. 

In general, I don’t condone the rule “never let anyone see it until you’re done”. Some people need the encouragement and validation that they’ve done something good. But if you are giving out a manuscript, think about who you’re giving it to. A fellow writer? A friend? Think about what you need from someone else reading what you’ve written. Think about what you’ve given to them, and whether or not they are going to have the full picture — because you might not have given them enough to really give advice. 

Just remember, most people want to have as many opinions about your writing as they can. It’s human nature. So find people who are going to encourage you — because until you’re out of the first draft, no one is going to be giving you advice that should be heard. 

Have you ever been given a half finished manuscript? Do you ever need validation that you’re doing well and give your manuscripts away?

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