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Archive for September, 2011

The Unavoidable is Here

I got side tracked and returned to this post to start it. The title was picked out and waiting for me to explain but I was confused for a minute. Why would I ever be dreading the start of my new novel? I stopped and thought about my inspiration for today’s post and realized it was to do with editing the Western.

I’m warming up to the idea of editing. I know it’s going to be a ton of work since I ignored all the red squigglies Word was throwing at me and not to mention the wrong word that is spelled correctly. I just hope there aren’t any sentences such as “He buttoned up his shit and got ready for the day.” If there are any whoppers, I’ll be sure to post them!

I managed to start the rough outline for the horror over the past few days. I think it’ll be pretty good but I still can’t decide if it’ll be a stalker/killer/psychopath sort of story or more supernatural with ghosts and demons, etc. I suppose I could have both- we’ll have to see how it works out. I’m really hoping that I have enough of an outline right now to finish it by Halloween. I’m not quite sure how much preparation I’m going to need in order to complete each book. I suppose that’s one of the disadvantages to picking a different genre each month- the preparation I needed in the past might not be what I need now. Then again, how are you going to learn about yourself if you don’t try something different?

I may be grumbling about the editing but as I’m writing this I’m starting to feel excited about it and looking forward to experiencing a different aspect of the writing process. Of course I’ve edited short stories and smaller works but this will be challenging in different ways. Is it cohesive? Are there gaps resulting in unexplainable events? Do people/items show up again (i.e. is it reasonable that they make an appearance so early on in the book?)? How about my tone, style, point of view (my Achilles heel) and structure (like chapter breaks)- are they okay or is my story a disaster because something is not right?

Oh, and not only am I editing the story, I also really should go back and edit each blog post 😦 Considering I got my business cards done to help promote this, I probably should make sure each entry is as spotless as possible. *Squiggly face of doom* Ah, shortcuts and “time savers” rarely live up to their names and promises. From now on I have to get better at reading through my posts before hitting the “publish” button.

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The whopping 109-page Western is sitting beside my computer and it’s taunting me. Why did I ever think single-spaced was a good idea? Honestly. Am I going to change the format starting October? Nope. I’m one of those creatures that has OCD when it comes to format and presentation- things have to look identical except in very specific situations. My inner Oscar Wilde will approve of my aesthetic choices but my eyeballs may revolt.

I have to admit, I have no idea how to approach this revision stage. Do I read it through once then go back and read and revise? Or do I start right off the bat? I think I’ll actually really enjoy editing but I know that I’m going to hate reading something I wrote. In fact, I’ve been meaning to offer an apology so here goes:

I am truly sorry for any grammatical and/or spelling error(s) as well as awkward sentences or repeated words that my posts may contain. I’m generally writing these on the fly so I don’t usually have time to re-read them before publishing them. There’s rarely a day that goes by in which I don’t need to edit a post that’s already been published. I have a weird aversion to reading what I’ve written; I don’t know why or when this happened but if I’m going to be editing a year’s worth of novels, I kind of have to get over this hang up sooner rather than later. Now I can understand actors and singers who can’t stand to watch or hear their own performances.

*Phew* I’m glad I finally got that out of my system. It’s going to be interesting to see how this editing process goes. I’m really looking forward to it, especially since I have lots of friends and family coming to bat for me me and offering to read it and help with suggestions. Are they the bestest or what? It’s going to be a really interesting month with 1 novel to edit, 1 to write, volunteering, a girls’ weekend far, far away, a visit with my Mom, dancing, lots of walkies, possibly resuming my Irish lessons, Halloween festivities and of course work!

I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be busy but now that I’m getting a taste of it, I’m hooked!

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Hmmm

Normally I have an idea of what my post will contain but today I know there’s something that is wanting to be expressed and written but I’m not quite sure what. I very rarely write the post before the title but today’s one of those rare exceptions.

I’m really excited about the potential October holds for me. I’m not sure where any of this will lead but I can’t wait to get back into the writing and creating. It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve been enmeshed in a story and felt the thrill of the creative process carrying me off on it’s whirlwind adventure.

Have I started the outline for the horror story? Nope. Should I? Probably. Am I procrastinating? You betcha. It’s what I do best if you haven’t figured that out already. I really don’t know what’s going to be involved but since I’ve always had a penchant for haunted houses, secret passages and hidden rooms you know any houses involved are going to have a plethora of secrets. If you’re like me and love houses that are much more than they seem and you’re ever in the San Francisco area, you’ll have to go visit the Winchester Mystery House (a major source of inspiration). Add in some southern ambience… I can’t wait for the shivers of scariness to start! I was serious when I said earlier that I’m looking forward to the nightmares!

Speaking of nightmares, I’ve always wondered two things about horror writers:

1. How can they keep thinking up the scary things they do?

2. Do they get nightmares or start getting freaked out because of all the wild things they imagine?

I have a feeling I could be a horror writer and you can be guaranteed that it would have all sorts of wild settings and crazy characters. It’s amazing how you can not enjoy reading or watching something (i.e. westerns for me) but writing is something completely different. I’m a baby when it comes to slasher flicks but I’m excited to write a story along those lines. I’m the person who tries to look around corners as the camera follows an unsuspecting character and when the inevitable happens, I jump, scream, and scare the bejeesus out of anyone watching the movie with me. Why would I want to write something like that? I don’t quite know but it’ll be fun, that’s for sure.

It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself with a project like this. I really look forward to discovering hidden talents and undiscovered passions. The writer I suspected I am may be completely opposite to the writer I actually am.

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It’s coming to the point this month where I have to start thinking about next month’s project. This is the scariest yet most exciting part of the writing process. It’s more than a little daunting to realize what’s waiting for me as of October 1st but with all the promise of adventures, creative deviations and boundary pushing, how could I not be excited?

I’ve really missed posting each day but since this is for my writing and there hasn’t been any creative accomplishments in so long, there hasn’t been much to say. I’m finding right now that I’m really missing the push to finish. I even miss the crazed seconds that tick by and the 70/30 split between confidence I’ll finish and the doubt that it’ll all come together in the end, respectively.

I went to the annual Word on the Street Fair downtown today and realized just how much I love networking within this world. It felt like a home away from home, all the bibliophiles who get how great books and literature are. There’s an amazing association in Nova Scotia (the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia) which has an annual writing competition. Call me crazy but I’m going to enter. I think the western will be perfect for it so I’m recruiting all I can to read and give me feedback as I revise and work on editing it. Oh and did I mention the CBC short Story contest? And of course the novel of the month is horror. So exciting!

Yesterday got accepted to a therapy program today so our plate is quickly filling up. it’s a little scary, I’m not quite sure how much more I can pile on my plate. Life is like a buffet, I’m sure I can come back for seconds when it comes to adventure, I don’t have to attempt everything at once. But, it’s not as much fun.

I thought I’d post a little tidbit since I was out anyways. I’m looking forward to getting back into my writing schedule and back on track.

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Counting Down the Days

I can’t wait until next weekend. I’m just itching to start the horror story and get back into writing crazy amounts and living in my head. Perhaps I shouldn’t be admitting this, but my mind feels so empty right now and I miss the feeling of characters taking shape and developing at breakneck speed. I love to be able to experience the creative process- it’s familiar yet different but it’s comforting. I feel at home when I’m wrapped up in the current story; I have no idea what will happen next or who might turn up in the next chapter.

I’ve finally discovered that I much prefer writing to reading. After taking the month off and getting back to the library, I’ve come to realize that I’m really missing the writing process. Reading is fun but I’ve really started picking up on technical bits nad pieces that irk me. Dialogue can sound stilted or awkward and the novel is too simple. Books for adults should not have the reading comprehension level of grade 4. That being said though, I’m suer mine wouldn’t be rated much higher. I highly doubt I’d break into high school. It can be really hard to write fairly sophisticated works.

I think next week I can start outlining the story and see what might develop. I have some ideas but we’ll see how things come together. I do know that it’ll be set in New Orleans and the surrounding bayou. Now if only I could get the movie “The Skeleton Key” out of my head. I can’t wai

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I’ve officially called it quits on September’s effort. I’ve made no head way in so long that I can’t keep up the pretense of working on this month’s selection. Can I just say that writing that sentence is as liberating as quitting your job on the spot then leaving? It’s so liberating! What have I learned from this month’s non-success?

1. Not everything can succeed. I’m one of those people who is always living in the future and thinking of multiple projects or directions to head in. School was a smorgasboard of options and real-life has paths that I never dreamed of considering when I was growing up. unfortunately, there will be times when something you set out to do will not be met with the success you so optimistically envisioned. That’s okay. On to the next great opportunity!

2. Balance is the key that keeps you locked out of a padded room. I had a touch of the crazies when I started but that doesn’t mean I want to permanently take up residence. As much as I love, love, love writing, I’ve rediscovered that I can’t live my life if it just revolves around it. Getting out and socializing is critical to my mental health, physical well being and potentially my love life (you never know…). If my writing becomes a true second job then the joy I’ve derived from it for the first two months will slowly be eaten away.

3. My muse is surprisingly fragile. Perhaps the shock of that realization is because the source of my creativity isn’t physical. It’s been active for so long and has been allowed to spread out into new areas that I started taking it’s prodigious output for granted. There will always be a point at which it can no longer function and needs to recuperate. It’s so important to watch for those signs.

4. Some genres are more structured than others. As I mentioned earlier in the month, I figured out that the problems I’ve been having with the hard boiled crime is that the genre is too structured and limited. My style is just too different from the voice required to authentically capture the essence of this story.

5. It’s okay to say that you have no interest in a particular genre. Would I like to be able to say I wrote a HBC novel? Most definitely. But it won’t kill me that I can’t. There’s some fundamental thing about it that just doesn’t jive with me. I thought I’d take this month to do my research but I can’t even bring myself to pick up the HBC novel I rented from the library. That should be sending huge warning flags to my creative centre that this will probably never be an area that I will have any success in. It’s a little sad until I think “that means there’s more time for the genres that I DO love to work with!”

6. Live in the present and enjoy each day for what it offers. It’s so easy to get bogged down with your day, week, month, year, etc. that the future looks so appealing or the next project will eliminate the struggles you’re going through now. It may work like that but at the same time the struggles that are unfolding may be the most important times for you to learn bout yourself and grow. Yes I’m itching to move on and get to the horror but I promised myself that I’ll start each story on the first of the month so I have 11 days left to go. In those 11 days I’ll be resting and gearing up for another marathon of writing and creating.

7. Look on the bright side- if something doesn’t work out, the next opportunity waiting might be perfect fit. Sometimes our strengths and weaknesses come as complete shocks to us. I thought I wouldn’t finish the Western but I did- and I REALLY enjoy it! I also thought that the HBC would be a breeze and I’d absolutely love it. How wrong I was! You can guess how you’ll manage with a task but never assume you can predict the outcome because you may surprise yourself along the way. After these 3 months, I can no longer guess what the year will look like come July 1st. Maybe I’ll discover I have a real talent for horror or perhaps serious fiction is my forte. I already know that writing romantic scenes are difficult (how many different ways can you describe things that have been written about ad nauseum?).

September has been an extremely important month for me. I’m so grateful for all my WordPress friends and cheerleaders (you know who you are!) and my family and in-person friends and the support and encouragement they’ve given me so far. I can’t wait to start on the horror story in October. Let’s see if I can give myself nightmares!

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What a Friday

Have you ever had one of those days where someone completely mistakes your innocent action as a personal attack? Then helpful advice is seen in a “you’re picking on me” light. Ah well.

I feel that things are on the upswing since last night. The rain we needed to clear the air arrived and now I get to enjoy a cool, breezy Fall day. As I said to Mom last night, I’m starting to feel like a salty old sea captain- I predicted we were going to get rain even though it wasn’t on my MacBook weather calendar. I was right… yay me!

I’ve been having a lot of trouble this month with the Hard Boiled Crime (HBC) selection and I think I’m beginning to understand why. The other genres are generic and so broad that I could maintain my style and just throw in vampires, cowboys, robots or handsome, sexy men as required. But not with this one.

Perhaps the inexperience will help keep my story fresh and original but the HBC genre needs research. The tone and style is so different than how I generally write. On one hand, it’s fantastic to see my style but at the same time it’s very difficult to deviate from what I’m used to doing. This genre is so unforgiving in that there is a very specific cadence to the prose and word choice for the dialogue and descriptions. Both of these things just don’t suit my style.

Could I fake it? Of course. Anyone can fake anything they want but my attempt would never be taken seriously. It would be like Charles Schulz attempting to break into the impressionist arena. Possible but highly unlikely.

Now that I think I’ve figured out the main issues I’m ready to tackle this again and see what can happen in the next 14 days. I’ve had some recommendations that I take it easy this month and let myself recuperate a bit. While I agree, I also don’t want to get out of practice. My writing still is one of my favourite ways to fill my day outside of work so for now I’ll focus on my research of the genre and start doing a bit more research on others coming up that I think might pose a bit of a problem. The last thing I want to do is burn out and not finish so I think it’s time to stay realistic about things and as I said before, let things be what they will be. It’s just like everything else- you can’t force something into being if it’s just not the right time. There’s nothing wrong about letting this one go.

This project has really caused my thought processes to shift regarding books and writing. Have you noticed a shift as you began to write more? I’m much pickier with dialogue now and I’m shocked at how easy some of the “easy reads” really are. Sometimes I swear that I’m not a fast reader, I just gravitate towards the books that are the Subway of the publishing world- quick, satisfying and pseudo-nourishing. But like a well-made sandwich they’re finished much too quickly and it’s on to the next one.

Part of this experiment is to find out what genres I’m comfortable working in. I have my suspicions but I very well might surprise myself and that’s a very good thing (and VERY exciting). That’s the beauty of this year, each month is a fresh start and what’s the worse that could happen? In my view, it’s a win-win situation: I either end up with a manuscript or I have discovered a genre that I will most likely not return to in a very long time, if ever. Of course I’d love to be able to say I’ve written a novel in 12 different genres but that isn’t necessary. I’m just happy to have reconnected with my writing. Words are the food that feed my soul.

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“I’m like a little flower after a heavy rain… I’m droopin’.”

There’s a lot that is unsettling me this month and none of it’s good (that’s kind of a blond statement, eh?). It’s been a tough two weeks to get back on track and like I said to my Dad last night, if I could figure out what’s the problem I’d fix it ASAP. Maybe it’s just the seasonal changes. I know that since moving down east my head’s been overly sensitive to the barometric pressure changes. Today for instance, I felt like my eyeballs were going to pop right out of my head. So maybe it’s a combination of weather, writing and other things.

I think I have to accept the realization that I don’t care about this month’s story. Is that bad of me? I feel like a neglectful parent. Maybe I should give this story up for adoption. Has anyone else had experience with the hard-boiled crime genre? What about it, exactly, makes it so hard?

I always look at a story and think “that’ll be easy-peasy” or “what can be so hard about that style? I have the outline already sketched out in my head” but in reality it’s really difficult. I wish I could figure out what is making this one so hard. I don’t think it’s the dialogue, although that’s been a challenge; I think it’s the fact that I don’t know how to approach this style and where to take things. I write a couple hundred words but always stop when there’s a junction for my character. I only have 15 or so pages and what has Frank done? Not much other than drink and walk around. I have no clue what else to do with him.

I’m beyond feeling frustrated now. Perhaps I need a break from the crazy writing for a bit. I’ll keep working on this so when next September comes around maybe I can finish the story. I think I have a decent plot outline but even then I’m not sure if that’s what should be happening. unfortunately I can’t think of anything else. I’m really crossing my fingers that this is the only delinquent but somehow I doubt it. There will be more challenges to come but I hope I can overcome them.

Am I throwing the towel in too soon? Giving up too easily? It’s a precarious balance between pushing yourself to do your best while maintaining your sanity and protecting yourself from burnout.

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I can’t seem to write more than a couple hundred words a day this month. The story just isn’t grabbing my attention. I really wish I was far enough along to start worrying about my internal editor kicking up a fuss but at this point, she’s still on her coffee break.

I think I’m going to have to battle this in bouts through out each day. Maybe it’s time to try a structured writing schedule- hour-long blocks a few times a day. I seem to be most productive when I have a bit accomplished in the morning. I’m dangerously close to throwing in the towel with this one but I refuse to go on strike.

Although, maybe if I give up it’ll take the pressure off and I can finally get something accomplished. Perhaps I need to allow myself to “fail” this month and get over the fear of not accomplishing something. “Failure” is such an ugly word. I don’t think I could ever truly fail if I learn something from this experience. I can’t be good at everything (as much as my uncle might claim, I’m certainly not a late-blooming Mozart of the literary world) when it comes to writing.

I started off with the dream of having completed 12 novels in a year but maybe that wasn’t realistic. I’ll do my best but if I end up with 11 or 9 or 4 by next July, that’s what is meant to be. Besides, I’ll have next year’s corresponding months to edit, re-write and possibly finish whatever needs to be taken care of.

I can’t be disappointed in myself if nothing else comes of this project. I finished my autobiography, a piece that was 4 years in the making. Sometimes a story is like a diamond- there’s a lot of detritus in order for that one perfect item to be formed and discovered. I’ll be sad and a lot disappointed if that’s the case but at least I’ve purged one massive project that’s been on my mind all those years.

I think I’ve made my peace with this month’s attempt and from now on I’ll still try my best but I forgive myself for not succeeding. I have to remember that most months will be spent outside my comfort zone and deep within areas in which I have little to no experience. This is one of those moments when two passions- the WWII era and literature- can’t be combined and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s a good thing to have interests that are mutually exclusive.

It’s really tough allowing myself to not succeed. We are our own harshest critics- would I think anything less of someone else who was attempting this? Not at all. Why is it so hard to give ourselves the same compassion and understanding and support sometimes as we would others? Maybe this was my lesson for the month.

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Quick Scribbles

I have succumbed to the Procrastination Station once again so no writing has been done thus far. I have to admit, I’m just not feeling this month’s selection. Anyone who knows me would be as shocked as I am at that admission- I love for everything vintage and from the 1930’s/1940’s era. But the Hard Boiled Crime? I’m struggling with it.

I had a brief conversation with my sister today and I admitted this to her. We both came to the conclusion that perhaps the genres that I don’t like (i.e. Westerns) will be easier to write because I don’t get caught up with residual influence from what I’ve been exposed to or being bogged down with actually caring about how it turns out. I’m a notoriously picky reader so I’m hoping that this year will have far more successes than failures.

I also have the sneaking suspicion that I don’t really care about this month’s choice. Why would I think that? It’s a pretty scary realization; I hope it’s not an indication that my peak performance has been achieved already. I do have to start making an effort to get this story moving, though. The point of no return is quickly approaching and soon I’ll be too far behind to catch up. I still have a chance now but it’s quickly dwindling.

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