Archive for February, 2012

Officially in Trouble

It’s down to a serious time crunch here and I’m sweatin’ bullets. As much as I adore the CYOA, it’s awful for accomplishing the huge chunks I envisioned I would be flying through each day. Why is that you ask? Well it’s the deviations in the plot that are getting me.

I love options and the excitement of seeing where you’re going to end up if you choose path A over path B. It’s the same reason why I love hedge mazes. The thrill of hitting a dead end and having to back track is perhaps more exciting then making it to the very end. It’s easy to fall into the trap of addressing all the “what ifs” in the plot and taking every detour and alternative that your imagination can throw at you.As a reader it’s a smorgesboard of entertainment but as a writer, it’s a minefield of insanity-inducing story telling.

I may have to cut out one of the 4 main story lines. Too bad it isn’t the generic one that I actually finished. The two I’ve done have the same setting and the other two are completely different so I can either roughly sketch out the stories or end up with 3 more complete pieces. I’ll see how my story goes tonight then make the final decision then. The beauty with these projects is that nothing is ever finished so I basically end up with a template that I can go back and review later on. It’s just like life- things are always evolving and changing, you just have to keep your faith in the cosmos and be willing to take on the next adventure.

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Holy Doughnuts, Batman!

It’s been too long since I’ve posted here. I thought my cantankerous moods were due to the beginnings of carbohydrate withdrawal but apparently it’s writing-related. I don’t know how wise it was to give up carbs- pasta, cakes, cookies, bread, etc- for Lent (and my waistline) but I did it and there’s no going back. I’m eating a lot of chocolate now. Blegh.

The story has really stumbled at the end of this week. I don’t know if it’s due to being busy or what exactly has been the hold up but I need to get back into it. There are so few days left in the month that it feels like if I sneeze they’ll disappear.

I still have 2 whole story lines to do and when I think about what is left to accomplish I think “Pffft. I can write 4 short stories today/this afternoon/tonight” but does that ever happen? NO! If it did, I would already be on the 2nd or possibly the 3rd CYOA BOOK!

Granted, there’s a lot on my plate at the moment and I’ve got the bottom of my candle dangerously close to the fire so I have to pace myself. Unfortunately my pacing has been a little too protective. So, true to form, I’ve procrastinated to the point where I have about 2 weeks worth of work to cram into 3 days (and an evening). I’m glad I don’t do this for a living because I’d be paying for the heart attack, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medicines for everyone who works with me. Heck, I’d probably get a prescription for Lithium thrown for safe measure. While this is great when it’s working well, when it’s not working, life gets pretty hairy. So, as I’ve said in the past, I’ve got to stop the procrastination and get to it.

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Happy Soggy Wednesday

It’s not the 1/2 way point to my week but for those of you who have reached that milestone, enjoy hump day! It’s one of those days that sends my creative self into a whirling tizzy- gloomy and rainy enough to see and hear the pitter patter of it against the window. If I could live in a glass house situated under a rain machine I’d be thrilled. Alas, that’s not the case so I have to make do with the weather I get so I can’t waste today!

It’s a sad day today because George the Jeep is broken. He’s in the shop being fixed and so I have no wheels to get to work at the moment. There’s always a taxi but I really miss the bus. I can’t write or plot out the story when I drive but worse yet is that I spend time at home reading when I should be writing. I wouldn’t be doing that if I was able to take the bus. Those 2 half-hour trips were my designated reading time. *Shaking angry fists*

The story is coming along more slowly than I hoped. Namely because by the time I can get around to it at night I end up falling asleep. ┬áThat just won’t do for getting anything accomplished. That’s really unfortunate because the story’s going so well and I’m really enjoying the puzzle it’s presenting. Granted, I’m flying through it and my handwriting it becoming harder and harder to read but the quicker I sketch out the stories, the sooner I can go back and flush them out. I don’t like the thought of having something half done even if the structure has been completed.

So after what seems like hours of procrastinating today, I’ll finally get started on the story and perhaps I’ll get a small chunk done before heading in to work.

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A Little Quickie

It’s a short one before heading out to work. Work’s been wildly busy, which is great for my anemic bank account and keeping me out of trouble but not so great for this writing project. I now have a 2-day weekend every week so that’s been essential to my sanity and all the issues I couldn’t address in life through the week (i.e. bills and errands) so I think I’ve finally struck a balance. That being said, it’s still a daily struggle to balance everything I need to do with what I want to accomplish.

At this point I’m madly scribbling things to get my story done. I love the insane pace and the crush of a looming deadline to get me going. I’m not even half way through the story but I think that if I set up a schedule and say I’ll complete x number of short stories a day I can do it. I may end up with less than I expect but when I go back to revise it I’ll be able to fix it up and get it the way I want it.

The pages are piling up quickly and there’s a huge sense of accomplishment as I flip through page after page of a story. Granted, its not like each page is full, front and back, but each one has an important role in the CYOA so if there are 5 lines on one sheet of paper and 20 lines on the next, they’re equally valuable.

I know that what I have now is only a small fraction of what I’m going to end up with. The bits and pieces that I had to skip due to the time constraint are pretty monumental. They’re essential to the story but not to the plot. It sounds odd to say that but that’s the case. I’m so fortunate that it’s worked out that way otherwise at this point I’d still be one the first option, perhaps only the 2nd of 3 or 4 stories. We’ll see what today brings…

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I’m still madly scribbling and now the story is criss-crossed with the demands of a lunatic. Do this, write that, don’t forget to finish this, etc., and all sorts of other directives that I’m ignoring for now. The day’s been surprisingly productive already and I’ve been getting antsy to get back to my stories. Of course, I’m far from done. In fact, the story is all skeleton, there’s hardly any meat to any of the stories but that’s perfectly fine with me.

I would love to finish the CYOA, as completely as I did the stories last summer but I’d be perfectly happy with just having the outlines done. I had an idea of where things were going and what’s actually happening is completely off track to what my plans were. This is great when I’m working on one story line but when I’m dealing with multiples going to random directions? This is a nightmare! I’m great at taking things at stride but I’d like to have things stick to my plan. As much as I love deviations, it would’ve been so much easier to have things go according to the plan in my little head.

I feel like I need to invest in some index cards and coloured string because there’s been some back tracking and it’s getting confusing. Oddly enough, I haven’t come across the tie-in and links that I expected. There are other ones but the links I expected aren’t happening and I don’t know how it’s going to affect the novel (is it a novel? I don’t know…) as a whole. It’s very confusing and oddly I’m loving this puzzle. Finally! I’ve found something that I have to figure out and piece together. I’ve never been one of puzzles of any sort but this, I’m really enjoying.

So, as I do a zillion loads of laundry and try to stay warm I have probably 8 to 10 more stories to write. And they’re just going to be outlines at the moment. Yikes!

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I can’t seem to sleep in to ridiculously late mid-morning/noon-ish hours anymore. I’m grateful for this. However, it’s hard waking up to gorgeous sunshine and immediately being pulled in 18 directions at once. Do I go for a car ride and explore outside of Halifax today? Spend the day catching up on my writing like I hoped to, carve out a few hours to completely overhaul my room and get it put back together, spend some time downtown and stop by the library to pick up a book on hold or take Yesterday on a super long walk downtown?

If I had super duper organizing skills, I’d be combining the walk with the car ride, writing with the trip to the library and finish up with my room. Sundays are supposed to be lazy but today is far from it. I love feeling productive but I wish I had more time to focus on my writing. This always happens and whenever I think of this, the letters spelling “priorities” seems to dance around in front of my eyes like the old movie theatre advertisements for the concession stands.

I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. I know that claim is buried in some previous post from months ago so I have to reiterate it. There’s nothing moderate about me and I like that but it’s a tough pace to keep up. So, off I go to enjoy a drive with Furry Little Bum Cheeks. Other bits will fall into place but I’m really looking forward to some quality time to work on the CYOA. I’m making such fantastic progress, it’d be criminal to lose the momentum and not complete it this month. I know I can do it; I’ll do the rough outline then go back and fill in the story more after the skeleton’s finished.

Happy Sunday to all you who still have some weekend left!

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I had a rare few days where I was actually writing but I hadn’t posted anything about it. Usually when I don’t blog it means I haven’t been writing. That’s not the case this time!

I’ve created a monster this month. The ideas won’t stop and it’s making it hard to want to do anything else but drape myself on a couch or theatrically throw myself into a booth at a bar and write write write. In my head I think I look like a crazy genius; my pen is madly dashing across the page as I struggle to keep up with the ideas and sentences rampaging in my imagination. In reality, I probably just look like an exhausted hack lit by the fires of a manic episode (crazy hair and all). There is nothing beautiful or inspiring about this “struggling artist” act, it’s all baloney to make me feel like I’m productive writer.

I’m absolutely hooked on the CYOA stories. I know I talked about it before but as with every great infatuation, it’s all that I see is worthy of my attention. Perhaps I love it for the fact that they’re short stories. Or it could be due to the fact that I get to indulge in all sorts of different directions. There’s no more wondering “what would have happened if I decided to go this route instead” because I can choose option A AND B! I think most of all, it’s given me a my confidence back that I have the potential to complete another story. For too long I’ve been stagnant and uninspired to slog through the heavy story lines. But not anymore! This is like a breath of fresh air and I’m so grateful that I allowed myself to toss out everything I had worked on this month and try something different.

Life is too short to stress about things and sometimes the best parts in life happen because you allow yourself to step outside the limitations you’ve set for yourself and try something new. I suppose this month’s story don’t really count in the sense that it’s not a true novel but do you know what? I don’t care! At this point I just want the satisfaction of finishing a writing project at the end of the month. Of course I’d love for it to be a novel and who knows. After this I only have 4 months left. That’s not a lot of time left and with my confidence recharged, I’m feeling more optimistic about the remaining novels.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited about the project-of-the-month and that in and of itself is a miracle. There have been too many months were apathy reigned and I was beginning to fear that I wouldn’t be able to drag my sorry little bum through to the end. That’s not the case anymore! I’ve discovered my saving grace this month so if future genres aren’t working out, CYOA will be my fallback plan. *rubbing hands gleefully* I can’t go wrong now!

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all you out there in cyberspace.

Cupid’s bypassed me yet again so you know what that means… no tasty distractions from my writing today! I’ve been working on my new project for the month and I think I have a semi-permanent squiggly face of doom when I’m writing. Who knew it was going to be this involved?! I suspected it was going to keep me busy and writing like a fiend but I honestly expected it to be THIS intricate.

I think the great thing about the CYOA genre is that the complication and story line off-shoots are completely up to you. Do you want a book that each story will take 5 minutes to read or one that’s going to take 20? This is my first one so I suspect the stories are going to be shorter than future books if I write more. Also, there’s nothing to say that each story has to be the same length. Some paths may end up taking you on a 5 or 6 option chase and others you could die after the 3rd fork in the road. Pure genius!

Obviously this genre has to be handwritten because so far the only way I’v been able to keep track of things is by using loose-leaf paper. I can shuffle them around and the great thing is that I’ve found filler paper that has different coloured strips. That’s already coming in super handy; it’s the perfect way to colour-code each of the 4 original branches at the beginning of the story. Plus, I get to indulge in my Sharpie pen obsession and my love of handwriting.

I’m finding it tricky to not branch off every time my character needs to make a choice but this is a “pick your battle” situation. If EVERY decision had a branch I’d never get anywhere and the manuscript would be over 1,000 pages (albeit some pages only containing a sentence or 2). There are really only so many options I can give my readers but perhaps once I finish I can go back and fatten things up. Just to add a twist to things, it’d be great to weave some of the stories together if I can. Perhaps I’m getting too ambitious and too creative at the moment but I’ve managed one doubling-up so far so it could be possible. The added bonus to that I’ll cut down on the actual writing and my readers will get to backtrack a bit. Delicious!

I’ve forgotten how exhilarating it is to finish a story but it feels even better to finish one, start another and actually be able to indulge in the “what ifs” and “I should’ve done that insteads.” I think this could become quite addicting- it’s the chance to see what would’ve happened if you made the other decision. Sadly this can’t happen in real life but when the story’s written in 2nd person, it’s the closest you can get. This is the closest I’ll ever get to being omnipotent; I’m hooked.

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They don’t call ’em growing pains for nothing. Inspiration and growth tend to come hand in hand. It’s always a scary but exciting time if you take the challenge presented to you. Whether this is moving apartments, getting married (or divorced), starting a new job or career, going back to school or giving yourself permission to try to earn a living as an artist, life has a way of pushing your boundaries and testing you.

I made the decision to change the game plan for this month and scrap the novel-a-month goal for February. Since I haven’t finished anything for the past 5 months, I knew something had to change. It no longer became a matter of writer’s block, the issue was far more sinister- writer’s apathy.

For me writer’s apathy is the most difficult with which to deal. How do you reclaim your passion and interest in the story if you’re butting heads with genres that you just have no inclination to work in? It’s important to try it out but I’m so tired of getting a few thousand words into a story before letting it go. The only way to shake this alarming trend is to get out of this structure completely. Sometimes you have to think outside the circle surrounding the box.

I’ve really enjoyed working in the novel format but there’s only so much I can do in a row. I’m hoping with a break from it, I can focus on shorter, tighter stories and I’ll be able to actually finish something. So with the change in formats naturally comes the change in goals as well. This month is all about seeing a writing project to the end regardless of the word count. So what if it’s 20,00 or 48,000 or 55,000 words. All I care about this month is that there is a finished manuscript.

Writing is a mental exercise and just like working out at the gym, it’s important to have variety. I don’t want to walk around lopsided; I’d much prefer being well-rounded and having dabbled in a wide variety of literary styles, structures and genres. Life is too short to stress over something that just isn’t gelling with your current situation. I’m taking full advantage of my executive powers. I’ve decided there are some battles you choose to fight and others you just steam roll over. So when inspiration strikes to make a change, don’t be afraid to run with it. The option has appeared for a reason.

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There’s always more than one way to look at things in life. I don’t think many would survive otherwise. Optimism, realism, pessimism, rosy-coloured lenses, opinions, options, decisions, there are too many words to indicate the spectrum of view points. It’s great sometimes but t others it’s a nightmare when it comes to writing.

How do I decide what the best PoV will be for a particular story I’m working on? What makes one decision better than the 18 others floating around in the periphery? What determines the direction I take? It’s a minefield of decisions that can easily be influenced by life. Unfortunately it’s impossible to compartmentalize┬álife so I have a decent shot at completing the stories but I’m forever an optimist. Perhaps that’s a flaw but i wouldn’t want it any other way.

I’ve come to the realization that perhaps the stories that needed to be told have happened and the rest is filler. Or perhaps the best is yet to come? I know I’m not feeling overly inspired this month; I don’t think I’ve broken 1,000 words yet. I’ve been tinkering with an extraneous writing project but it’s been curbed for a few months at this point. So after making an executive decision, I’m tossing out this February’s story and resuming the writing project from the summer. The prospect of this change is exhilarating. I can’t wait to completely switch gears and give my brain a break from attempting to write an entire novel each month. Instead, I’m going to let my creativity shine through a Choose Your Own Adventure! As much as I avoid puzzles, I’m really excited to piece together this one. I think it’s going to be fun.

Who knows, I could end up being a CYOA queen and this is my niche in the literary world. Whatever happens with it, it’ll be a welcome break from slogging through another substantial block of novel-writing.

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