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Archive for September, 2011

What Am I doing?

I really don’t know what I’m doing this month. I thought this would be one of the stories that I’d be all over like a mouse on cheese. Apparently my subconscious feels differently. I went shopping today (my wardrobe really did need it- my roommate surprised me with a pair of flip-flops this morning. That’s how pathetic my closet is. My roommate feels compelled to help clothe me) then headed into town. I originally wanted to get an internet stick so I can have internet at home but I think that’s going to have to wait a while longer (as in Christmas present longer).

To be honest, the weight of the significance of today really weighed me down yesterday. I wasn’t able to write, socialize or do anything, really, outside of work. I think today I needed to take my mind off things that have been bothering me. Thankfully the weather has been cooperating. It’s finally fall here, well 60/40 Fall/Summer blend. I adore it. It’s warm enough for summery clothes if you can’t let go just yet but if you’re like me and Fall is one of your true loves, it’s warm enough to break out the light sweaters, t-shirt layers and even a little knit beret or other such hat. Well, maybe it’s a tiny bit warm for all that but I don’t care, I’ll be a one-woman welcome wagon for the incoming season! Hello Fall, my love! Where have you been?

A big part of my problem is that I don’t know how to stay motivated when this is so difficult. Should I dangle a fairly large prize at the end of the month for incentive? Smaller ones that involve others (i.e. socializing when I hit a certain word count or extra walkies each night I make my daily requirement)? Or perhaps more self care treats are required like a yoga class or a massage. I just don’t know.

I do know that the biggest problem is that I’m so far behind now. I think I’ve thrown in the towel for this one but I really don’t want to quit now. I’m not even a quarter of the way through yet! This is unacceptable. At the same time, this train of thought isn’t helping. It’s so hard to let it go and let it be what it will be. Given that I haven’t even hit the 1/2 way mark yet, it’s too early for this business. The easiest way to deal with things is one day at a time. I have to practice my perseverance. And stay away from the mall!

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The Squiggly Face of Doom

Pfft forget the word count and journal entry update. Why? Because there’s nothing to update you on! I even forgot to post yesterday! Where’s my little brain?!

It’s getting tougher and tougher to sit down and write this story. I thought my typing skills would improve over time but sadly it’s the exact opposite- I’m typing slower and more clumsily than ever before. I may look like a typist but really I only use 2 fingers on each hand with a smattering of hunting and pecking. It’s pretty shameful.

Some people walk around with a scowl, others a frown and a few lucky ones a smile. I happen to be blessed with a squiggly face of perpetual doom, confusion and overall absent-mindedness. This can work well when I’m sitting in a coffee shop at my computer- I can pull it off to be interpreted as being deep in contemplation and absorbed in my creativity It’s not so easy to explain when I’m dealing with people. I’m sure they’re itching to ask if I have indigestion.

Does anyone else have the unfortunate dichotomy of excitement when they think about their story and anticipate working on it but when it comes to sitting down to write all they want to do is be somewhere else? It’s very frustrating. Frank is not helping me at all with his story and that’s making me very frustrated. All he does is drink. Hasn’t his liver revolted by now?

As of today, my schedule is about to become quite full again. Maybe with the time limitations I have each day I’ll finally be able to get moving on this story. Like the saying goes, if you want something done give it to a busy person. It’s true. I can’t wait to be flying through my story soon! I’m so excited to find out what’s going to happen.

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Final Word Count: September 7, 2011- 1,468 (a few pages); 1 journal page

Okay, so I’m way behind my word count at this point but I’m not even in the double digits of the month yet. I’m not worried. I was at work after writing yesterday’s post and I knew how things are going to develop. It may not turn out exactly as I plan but it’s nice to have a jumping off point and some form of direction. Goodness knows, The Western didn’t turn out the way I expected but at least I had something to work towards. It’s reassuring to have a vision for the novel no matter how rough or hazy it is. This is like a pint-sized version of life- you may have plans and ideas for how things should happen but sometimes, well, good luck getting there.

I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen or who I’m going to meet next but I have a very good feeling about this route and the trouble in which Frank is going to find himself embroiled. The hardest part is not telling my friends and family about the developments. I want them to be surprised when they read it. With all the typos, lags in action and story progression, they should at least be awarded the satisfaction of not knowing what’s going to happen next (unless it’s obvious and they can guess, which I hope isn’t the case).

I’d love to do another 5,000+ word stretch this week/weekend to catch up. Then the rest of the month can be a little more relaxed than August.

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Final Word Count: September 6, 2011- about 1,000; 1 journal entry

I’m struggling with this month’s novel. I don’t know if I started off on the wrong foot or if my momentum was broken or what exactly is going on. All I know is that I’m setting my protagonist, Frank Edgar, up for some serious sleuthing. I’m putting him right in the middle of some explosive event but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is. It’s a little disconcerting and more than a bit scary to b going into this blind.

I’m not quite sure what is going to happen but I suppose it’s going to be little baby steps as I work through this. I think I’ll be fine as long as I next where to go next with him but after that it’s like staring out over a cliff and all you see is sky and water. Once you’re ready to move on the path becomes clear again somehow but you can’t go too far before reaching the cliff edge again. It’s a precarious and stressful way to work but at the same time it makes it so interesting for me. There’s no chance I can get bored if the story develops as I work. I think I much prefer this to just filling in the gaps of a plot outline.

I’m 4 pages in and I have a dead uncle, femme fatale, a mystery man, a mystery business and a Girl Friday. I think I’m on the right track in regards to setting the story up. My problem is that I’m a little preoccupied (ok, a lot right now) with figuring out what the problem is that Frank is going to have to deal with. I keep thinking about “The Maltese Falcon” and jewels when that just doesn’t feel right to me. I’m not quite sure what to do with this problem. The hardest part is going to be leaving it and to let it all come together organically. Is that possible for me? I don’t know…

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Still Stalled

Final word Count: Nothing yet; no journal entry

From now on,  I don’t think I can afford to have visitors in the beginning of the month. Actually at any time, this is just too difficult to balance, at least with visitors who are chaperoned around the city. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful that they feel I’m worth their vacation time and their hard-earned pennies to visit but it’s hard to adjust an already tight schedule. and once Yesterday becomes a therapy dog? Yikes.

I’m going to have to re-read what I’ve written so far and possibly start over. I have just a tiny bit at this point and after not writing for 4 days, I’ve lost the tone and momentum that I started off with. Perhaps that’s the trouble. I love having company but I think anyone who comes to visit must understand that I need my two hours a day to work on this. Even just one would do I think.

I never realized how important the momentum of the piece is for me. I kind of figured it out last month when I was floundering in the middle but this has really crystallized it’s importance. Yet another lesson learned.

I think the changes to the tone I have in mind will help get this off the ground. I spoke with my grandfather last night to do some research so with what he told me I should be able to get closer to what is more authentic. What I have right now is okay but it doesn’t feel as right as I had hoped. I could definitely work with it but it’d be a struggle. Maybe if I can tweak it a little I’ll be back on the path I envisioned and the month won’t be as much of a struggle.

I hope this gets back on track. I was really hoping that this would be one of the stars of the project. We shall see!

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Slow-Start September

Final Word Count: September 2-4, 2011: nothing; no journal entry

My company just left this morning to return to real life. Vacations are wonderful and they’re really necessary; they’re a respite from ordinary life. But what if your ordinary life is extraordinary enough to not need anything more?

My friend and I had a ton of fun over the weekend and I’ve discovered what I want to learn. I’m not a motorcycler, I run away from standard cars, I’d never be able to land a plane and trains just aren’t practical. That leaves the water.

That’s right. I’m going to learn how to sail. I was on a sailboat for the first time on Saturday and absolutely fell in love with it. I loved everything about it. My family may be into motorcycles but that’s just not me. I digress but I guess the point of this is that it’s wonderful and important to have something to look forward to but it’s even more important to not live in the future. I have so much to accomplish and look forward to this year that I don’t want to rush this. It’ too momentous and too important to take for granted or to brush off for the next adventure.

I learned my lesson from August about falling behind right away at the beginning of the month but it really couldn’t be helped. As much as I wished I could do my writing, I focused on my guest. Trust me, I was going to withdrawal- I was cranky, agitated and not the perfect hostess as the weekend wore on- but I tried to snap out of it. In the grand scheme of things, friends and family are so much more important than this.  I have all September to catch up, but who knows when I’ll see her again.

I’m really looking forward to getting this story established. I wish it would start raining and be grey and overcast most of the month. I could use the grimy, wet atmosphere to pull me into this genre. My character will be nowhere near Sam Spade though. No matter how hard I try, there will always be something lacking in my stories. Hopefully I can fix that next year.

This one is going to be a struggle again. I love the uncertainty of not knowing whether I’ll make my deadline and I thrive on the hard work it forces me to do. There’s nothing more gratifying than typing “The End” when the piece is truly finished. i hope that the ending is as flushed out as I can possibly make it. I don’t want to slack off and finish on a weak note. I wrote too much to slack off and take the easy way out!

I am really looking forward to seeing what my main character and his Girl Friday end up doing and what the problem is. I don’t know yet!

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Sabotage!

Final Word count: September 1, 2011- 689 (2 pages); no journal entry

I have company this weekend and Hard Boiled Crime stories are difficult to write. I had a rip roaring start last night at 10 pm when I caught the airport shuttle out to pick my friend up. I really felt like a zombie had eaten the top part of my head at that point but I at least got the ball rolling and had tested out what kind of tone I wanted to take with the story.

I’ve discovered something very important already with this story- I’m going to be working out of my comfort zone.

“Why? ‘you may ask.

“Well, let me expound” I reply.

First off I am not a man. Secondly, it is no longer 1940. Thirdly, I do not use swear words (when I do they’re shocking, even if they are the tame-o lame-o kind) and fourthly, I have no clue, yet again, what I’m doing.

Add all those together and I’ve got a male Private Eye character from the pre-WWII era who smokes, drinks, and is a self-proclaimed pervert whose main gig was following around cheating spouses and taking pictures of their escapades. Clearly I can not draw on any shred of my existence to build this story.

I really don’t think this is all too different then the western but the differences are fairly momentous. It’s hard to think like a man and do an acceptable job at it (it’s not like there are only a few out there so I can BS my way through and I have a pretty big chance at being denounced as a fraud) and the swearing. Do you know how long it took me to have my character REPEAT what his sleazy relative told me about working in that profession?! Tsk tsk tsk. I don’t think I can type it again.

I think this is a great gateway into really letting myself go and fling my imagination into the really challenging corners of my mind. I want to do each genre the justice it deserves. So what’s going to happen next month with the horror? I have a feeling it’s going to be seriously depraved. But that’s what horror’s about. And romance? Whew! Someone call the fire department (and make sure the men are handsome!)!

I’m excited about pushing myself out of the sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek, dry humour or the wildly optimistic tone I generally lapse into but I’m afraid of being judged by people for what I write. Not the quality but the content. I’m not a potty mouth and I feel really awful when I pinch a gnat to death. Hmmm, well, yeah. I do have a really dirty mind. So 2 out of 3 isn’t so bad. Anyways, I want to show people I can access that side of my mind but it’s not who I am. I’m afraid of people looking at me in a different light because I can dream up such potent offenders of society and moral values.

I feel like I’ve veered off into unchartered waters this month and am going to have to really struggle to give myself permission to really let loose. Writing is such an intimate act, you’re putting bits and pieces of yourself onto paper- it’s no longer a facet floating on a scale, it’s now black and white. That can be so terrifying to see what you’re capable of imagining. It really does take strength to leave it- the “delete” button is all too tempting sometimes.

I had an unexpected free hour at work but left my computer at home. I think it’s a good thing even though it feels like I’ve sabotaged my word count. I need to think about what’s going on in my story and how to approach this for a bit. It’s been easy so far since it’s just been establishing the setting and tone. I’m coming to the point soon where I’ll need to declare the main problem. I have no idea what that well be yet.

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That’s right! It’s time for the pulp fiction selection to commence! I’m really super excited about it; my body is actually buzzing and zinging with anticipation! I absolutely adore this ear (1940’s) and have seriously romanticized the gangster/gumshoe lifestyle. I always wanted to be Madonna in the “Dick Tracy” or any of the girls in “Oscar.” Does it mean anything then, that I can’t get through a book by Dashiell Hammett? I’m going to pretend no.

As I realized last month, I feel this wild impulse to write for myself. My friends and family can read the works since they helped me struggle through the writing process in various ways, but it doesn’t matter how good they are. I’m not writing to publish. Of course, I’d by lying if I said I hadn’t dreamt of instant stardom and book tours and selling every one of the novels. I’m trying to be realistic here though. I really am getting the most enjoyment out of this project when I stop thinking about the future and just lose myself in the present.

As I rub my hands together in glee, it’s hard to keep my excitement reigned in. It’s going to be a fun month!

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Victory Post

The Western: Final word count- 51,127; 109 pages

I did it! Somehow I pulled things together in the 11th hour and got the story done. It’s astounding to me that at the beginning of the month all I had was a genre and my main character’s name a a very rough idea of the plot. Out of a lot of nothing I managed to produce a story with a surprising number of characters and a bumpy, lopsided story arc. I think I may have even left the end open to possibilities of a sequel. I never knew how authors did it- writing sequels I mean- but I totally get it now.

I was working on the end, taking my time because after writing roughly 5,000 words a day over 3 days, 1000 some odd no longer seems too daunting. Well, I was working on the one section and ended up adding a character. I finished his declaration, sat back and asked myself out loud “Do you really just do that?” Apparently I did. And this was within the last 100 words!

When all you want is to finish the novel, the last thing you want are two massive unexpected plot twists. At that point, I had my word count and page quota but I knew I would have a mutiny on my hands if I get it to people to read and they slogged through the slow bits, fumbled through the typos, awkward descriptions and uneven pace only to get to the end and discover there’s no closure! I know I’d raise holy hell. So I finished it up as best I could without making it seem rushed. Perhaps it was a bit right at the end but at least I think I tied up all the loose ends. If I didn’t, it was an honest oversight on my part. I apologize.

Today I start the pulp fiction piece. I have my 3 main characters’ names but I have to think for a bit about the conflict/problem. Then it’s off to the races! I’m really, really excited for it. I’m taking the lessons I’ve learned from August:

1. don’t fall behind right at the start- it’s a recipe for disaster

2. don’t worry about how accurate a representative it is for the genre. Just let it happen organically. Somehow it will turn out.

I’m sure September will have it’s peccadilloes but for now I’m basking in the amazing sense of accomplishment.

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Two for Two

Final Word Count: Still working on that

I did it- I got to the 50,000 word mark and it’s sitting at 106 pages. Unfortunately though there were two ginormous plot twist that I never expected kicked me in the pants. I was seriously within the last 100 words when I wrote something, sat back after I finished the declaration my character made and said “Did I just do that?” Apparently I did.

So it’s back to the keyboard tonight to scramble together a finish for my deadline. I’ll make it, but it’s going to be very tight. Essentially, for all intents and purposes though, I’ve succeed. Yay me!

Considering the work I have left to do, I have to postpone my victory post for tomorrow. Tonight it’s right back to the story and get this finished for real.

 

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