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Archive for October, 2011

Happy Halloween, WordPressland! On the Eve of NANoWriMo, I’m taking this las breather to regroup and fortify myself for the coming whirlwind. Scary movies await, chocolate bars are doing their stretches, ready for the long jump into the kiddies’ pillowcases and trick or treating bags and I have a manuscript awaiting editing for the Atlantic Writing Competition.

Enjoy your evening, all you boys and ghouls!

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The Post of Shame

Dear WordPress Darlings,

Have no fear, this is by no means a Dear John letter. I have no intention to retiring my typing fingers and turning off the light in my room of creativity and God forbid I even CONSIDER erasing Pascal off his white board. I didn’t realize how far from my creative path I wandered until I saw the pathetic post contributions for the month. My calendar for October looks like every parent’s dream child with chickenpox- random spots here and there but nothing too serious.

“Serious” is not a word I can use to describe my efforts this month. I can justify all I want and try to explain the outcome but I’m really just finding excuses. At the end of the day if I really wanted to finish this story I’d be doing anything in my power to work on it. That just didn’t happen this month. My journal’s gone to pot as well. I think a big issue for me has been the fact that I fell out of my routine. Life’s gotten busier again all around so if I don’t get a post written up I don’t write my daily word count. And each day that goes by adds that much more on to the remaining days and makes a monumental task intimidating at best and impossible at worst.

I’m discovering that I’m really not enjoying writing dialogue but how boring would a story be if it was all narrative? What about one of the golden rules for writing- show don’t tell? Plus, I get caught up in details and they can be so overwhelming! Instead of feeling like a phoenix from this month’s crash and burn, I’m feeling more like a dodo bird. Hopefully I won’t become extinct.

Next month is a new start and with NaNoWriMo, I’m hoping I’ll get back into my routine. November’s selection is Sci Fi so we’ll see how it goes!

Thank you all, for you continued support and encouragement; it helps more than you could ever know!

Writingly yours,

San

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Holy Furry little Bum Cheeks! Where did the month go?! I had my trip to New Orleans and loved seeing my Blues Buddy again (I will never be able to think about pralines without laughing from now on) and the trip was amazing but I haven’t been able to get into the Halloween spirit. I’ve rented scary movies and while they make my little heart pitter-patter a bit faster, they don’t scare me like they used to. What is going on?

I’ve been struggling with the horror genre this month. It’s one thing to love the gory, gruesomeness that Halloween offers, it’s another thing all together to dream up these tortured souls and sadistic evil-doers. I just can’t bring myself to do it. It’s almost like a farce of the horror genre and clichéd, the imaginings that are unraveling in my head. They’re so tame.

I’m a scarily empathic person. I physically feel others’ pain and am so in tune with things it scares me sometimes. I think this 6th-sense attachment to others is frightening because I don’t want to put myself into a serial killer’s head or try to understand how a sadist thinks. As C.B. astutely pointed out, I have complete control over what materials are allowed to be read but that’s not enough for me. I don’t feel like I’m in a spot mentally and emotionally yet to work on a dark piece. This is definitely a genre that I want to return to, perhaps I’ll keep it on the back burner along with my CYOA (choose Your Own Adventure) to work on sporadically or perhaps not.

This inability to work on darker themes will be interesting to revisit when I work on the serious fiction story. That’s going to be a tough to do because it also deals with difficult topics (although not the thriller slasher kind) so perhaps in the span of a couple months I’ll be more prepared as a writer to come face to face with the grittier aspects of life that taint my rosy, optimistic point of view (and I work so hard to coat with a silver lining).

As I’ve said in the past, I’ll be happy with the outcome of this adventure regardless of how productive I am, but to be honest, that’s a lie. I want to be successful each month; I want to have a groaning shelf of manuscripts and have had a prolific year. That’s still possible but I feel like I’m making excuses now for my lack of effort. Really, how are we supposed to know what we can do if we don’t push ourselves? Maybe the world of horror isn’t so bad, I just have to cross the line. Perhaps it’s like getting a tattoo- scary the first time but in the end, those who know you don’t think of you any differently (at least to my knowledge they didn’t). They may even admire your gumption and spirit. Life also isn’t all good, there will be times when we learn about the rougher facets of ourselves. While I don’t want to know what I’m capable of, it’s important to be aware of all sides of myself.

As October comes to an end, I have to be more disciplined in the remaining months. I set a goal for myself and it’s currently on the skids but I can get things back together and accomplish most of what I set out to do. I don’t regret the decision to edit and submit the Western November 4th but I do understand now that I can’t do both at once- I have to either edit and tweak a piece I’ve finished or work on writing something new. Both aspects of the creative process are too intense to jump back and forth and they involve such different aspects that I can’t shut one off when I’m concentrating on the other.

Oh it’s tough being a creative soul *falling back onto a couch* but I wouldn’t change who I am for the world!

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October’s Wunderkind

Wunderkind? Ha. I don’t think so. It’s another month of struggles and lackadaisical ambition. The idea of October’s thrills and chills are much better to be enjoyed rather than participating in, I think. I love the gruesome, scary bits and pieces of the month but I just can’t bring myself to write the horrifying, depraved scenes that unwind in my head. In fact, I can’t even imagine anything that could be scary enough to compete with what’s out there now. Perhaps if I wrote what’s in my head 20 years ago it’d be shiver-worthy, but it seems that most of society has been exposed to sex, blood and guts to the point that it’s had to think of things that carry any shock value. I don’t want to be the writer that does it. I am no “Saw” mastermind. That clown person freaks me out.

So what’s been happening in my sorry little tale? There was a mass murder, I think I described the victims as “Christmas Baubles” in an old cypress tree and scarecrows in a fallow field. I’m not exactly stuck but I’m hesitant to really put into words what’s happening in my head. I don’t want to dwell on the nitty gritty descriptions that make a twisted scene absolutely appalling. Can I write what I’m thinking? For sure. I don’t really seem to want to though.

There’s a big part of me that’s scared about what I might discover if I let these reins go on my imagination. Am I in the realm of R.L. Stein or am I more Dean Koontz? I’m afraid to let people into my head with this story; it feels like there’d be judgments made even though they may do their best to be impartial. It’s like the romance genre. I can really go off the deep end with the scenes so how far do I dare fall? There’s nothing dictating who gets to read my work but after writing something, it’s nice to have an audience. I don’t know if I could let something sit on my shelf and gather dust.

I’m really, really excited for November because it’s finally NaNoWriMo. I’m hoping since there will be a zillion people doing the same thing I am, I’ll be able to get back into the true writing regime. No more half-attempts nad lukewarm writing sessions. I want to be back where I was in August- crazy-haired, squiggly-eyed, enthusiasm with 10 possessed fingers. Maybe I’m just not drinking enough coffee. I’m not sure.

With 10 days left in October, what can I manage to pull together? We shall see! I’m not giving up, have no fear!

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Quick Update

The writing is going better doing it the good old fashioned way- on pen and paper- but it’s still slow. I’m trying to keep up with things but life has been so incredibly busy at the moment. I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens to my characters in the near future. There’s really not much to say at this point, it’s more of a basic check in and proof that I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth.

As I delve back into the horror, wish me luck!

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Final word Count: October 11, 2011- 1,000+ (some pages); no journal

I’ve gotten somewhat back on track. I’ve come to the realization that:

1. All this thinking isn’t helping. It’s great to be aware of what you can do to improve yourself and what problems need to be addressed, but there comes a point when too much introspection is going to get in the way. I’ve lost my ability to approach this month’s novel the way I generally approach most major things in my life (and plan to in the future- I’ve given friends and family fair warning that any wedding bells will be on the front of a postcard from Vegas). Living in my head is only good when it involves a creative process and a story. Otherwise it’s just bad news.

2. I don’t know who has a stronger hold on my internal monologue- Pascal, my Inner Critic or Josephine, my Inner Psychotherapist. I wish those two would just get it on so I can have some peace and quiet. They’re a match made in heaven- Pascal is bossy and critical and Josephine dissects and analyzes. Between the two of them, life is a smorgasboard of people and events to rip apart. They’re bound to have scowly babies who quote Freud, Jung, and Pavlov. Congratulations, you two on your brooding brood. Please, don’t make me babysit.

Thus, the crossroads have been deliberated and the path has been chosen. Over the next few days I’ve decided to take a hiatus from the Procrastination Station and focus on my writing the good old fashioned way. Pen, paper, and a healthy dose of research. Who knows how inspiration will strike! Hopefully there will be lots of good news once I emerge from this sabbatical. I’ll be sure to fill you in. Same bat time, same bat page!

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I read C.B.’s thoughtful, supportive message this morning in reply to yesterday’s post and it got me to thinking about this crossroads. I think part of the struggle stems from wildly convoluted, involved plots. This happened last year in November for my first NaNoWriMo challenge. My story was fantastic in theory but perhaps having 2 main characters and 3 strong supporting ones is a little much. Maybe the stories are too ambitious for a month of writing.

I think part of what’s bothered me about the Western is that it feels too simple. But, if I try to complicate things and make it more interesting then I get all squirrely and wild. Once again, there’s no happy medium for me! It’s all or nothing, baby. ARGH *the angry dance of frustration*

This theorizing and speculation is all well and good but am I going to act on what I think I’ve figured out? Not too much I bet. The thing about all this mental wrestling is that I get to feel productive and artistic while not actually putting my new discoveries to the test. Growth is scary but the only one who can do this.

The true test of this is that I start writing and making a serious attempt at this month’s story. Maybe if I try physically writing the story for a bit, it’ll force me to slow down and think things through rather than jumping ahead of myself. I’m all about thinking of different ways to write and tricks to get the work done and i’ll try pretty much anything. The difficulty is that not everything will work all the time. I keep wishing there was a formula I could follow and make things easier but then when would I learn about my creative self and how much fun would his be? (Trust me, even though it sounds like i’m complaining or venting more than writing super fantastic, optimistic posts, I am enjoying this still.)

I’ve flirted with the idea of giving up, just to see how the decision feels and I don’t like it. I’m sticking with it- who knows what a future month will bring. That’s the beauty of this project, each month is something different so I may find the one perfect fit for my imagination. I kind of feel like the shoe in Cinderella.

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Armchair Philosophy

Final Word Count: October 9, 2011- A few paragraphs; no journal entry

I feel bad for slacking off so much this month. When I began I had such grand ambitions and wild ideas. Perhaps I made promises to myself that I shouldn’t have or pinned expectations on my little shoulders that I may not be able to fulfill to my satisfaction. Regardless, the gauntlet’s been thrown down and I’m in for the long haul.

October is showing me that I really knew very little of myself as a writer when I began. I’ve been surprised (pleasantly and otherwise) much too often and it’s unsettling. When it’s a good surprise, that’s pretty santastic but when it’s a disappointment, that stings a little. I kind of feel like I’ve thrown myself to the sharks- my writer-self is struggling to keep afloat and not get shredded while my pragmatic-self is standing safely planted on the ground yelling “swim or be eaten!” Considering that’s the title of my autobiography, it seems appropriate for my life, especially now.

Just like the swimming, I used to consider myself a strong writer. I know part of the creative process is struggling through a period of growth- each artist undergoes at least one metamorphosis. It’s a fragile time for us all; we need to re-discover who we are and re-learn our strengths and weaknesses all while continuing to hone our craft. It’s a difficult balance to maintain but critical if we’re to truly become who we’re meant to be.

I got an e-mail from a friend the other day and she passed along her mother’s congratulations regarding my endeavours since moving down East and it doesn’t seem praiseworthy. All the same, I appreciated the e-mail and it made my day super fantastic. Perhaps the aspects of yourself that seem natural and integral to your identity shouldn’t seem unusual or extraordinary to you but to others you’ve undergone a radical transformation. Its wild that I’m coming up to my one-year anniversary of my move and the biggest changes have happened in approximately the past 6 months- I started to learn Irish Gaelic, I joined the Writer’s Federation, I’ve become a surprisingly good Swing Dancer, I wrote two books and I’m officially an entrepreneur now. Plus, Yesterday and I are now therapy volunteers. Listed like that, I can see how it might be impressive but for me it’s a boiled down version of the best parts of my life.

I had an idea that the move was essential to my health and well-being but I never suspected that it would allow me to grow and become the person that I could feel struggling against the confines of the shell that was still fibrous enough to maintain the life I led in Toronto. When the first crack appeared, nothing could stop the process from occurring. Thus, here I am, open to new paths and feeling a freedom that I’ve never found before. I can finally stretch and grow, the limits of this shell are still far off in the horizon.

My writing has been suffering lately and I really regret this but at the same time I can only do my best and sometimes that means doing less writing and more of something else to keep my life balanced. I want all these aspects of my life to be strengths and that can’t happen unless they take precedence over the others sometimes.

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Fresh Air & Sunshine

Yesterday and I went to the park today and I got a lot of thinking in regards to my story. I haven’t figured everything out yet but I have figured out a few bits. Sadly, can I remember what those points were? Nope. I screwed up on the writer’s cardinal rule- never go anywhere without a pen and paper.

Unintentionally, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the mystery story, though, and I think I have the ending figured out. Too bad I don’t have the character picked out yet. In fact, beside the main character’s name and setting, I know nothing else about it. Just as well since it’s the very last one to be written this year.

I wish I could get a grip on this story right now. I love horror! I adore the macabre! This should be a zippy story to write. Instead, I’m dragging my feet and indulging in laziness. The turkey dinner’s in the oven and the dogs are fed and have been let out so it seems to me that it’s a prime evening for some work. Now where is my thunder, lightning and cold winds?

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Final Word Count: nada.

I hope you all are enjoying a beautiful weekend (or had a beautiful one). I didn’t get any writing done and it’s 1:30 pm and I’m still sitting in my jammies and watching “Murder, She Wrote” instead of writing my story. Yesterday and I are going to go out for  walkies in the big city park today- it’s high time I went out for some fresh air and exercise. With such a beautiful day, I can’t stay cooped up all day.

Whatever I have right now (cold, sore throat, etc.), it’s not making life fantastic right now. It’s getting better but it’s not healing as quickly as I had hoped. It really does suck the energy out of me, making it tough to keep up with my writing. Leave it to me to get sick after the bug’s already been passed around. Sometimes writing is the safest activity for your health (as long as there isn’t a giant bag of potato chips beside your keyboard!)- the worst thing you could end up with is sore forearms, numb bum, and papercuts. I’ll take all those at once than a sore throat.

I think I’ve been so out of practice writing my blog I’ve forgotten how to write a proper post.  I apologize for the tangents in the previous few days/week. My story is developing in my head and I’ve been watching it unfurl in my mind but I’ve been so lazy with my writing. I think I really should return all the seasons of MSW to the movie store, perhaps then I’d be able to focus better and get stuff done. Things need to get moving. I suspect that taking September off was a very bad idea.

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