November 24, 2003
I'm really a real writer!
I got writer-spam in my inbox today. I must be a real writer. The spammers have classified me as such.
(Then again, they've also classified me as a home-owning, debt-ridden, insomniac, dieting, bestiality-loving, small-breasted person with a small, limp penis, so this might not mean anything at all.)
It has been exactly six
It has been exactly six weeks since I finished The Exile's Daughter. I think I'm going to start reading it this morning, and see what I think--my first readthrough since finishing the draft. A week from today I should start hearing from the other folks who've read the first draft. I'm little scared (well, excited AND scared). I feel ready to deal with this again. Ready to dive in and fix it.
I'm seriously considering taking a break from constant short story submissions, because it's been making me a little crazy. Right now I have three that have been in circulation. I still believe in all three. I'm debating sitting on them for a little bit (maybe until I have draft two of Exile whipped into shape) and then see how I feel about it. And definitely, DEFINITELY, anything new I write between now and say... January 1st will not be written with publication in mind. Sometime this week I'm going to sit down and figure out what I do want to focus on the last part of this year. Structure, maybe. Or maybe just trying to write something uncharacteristic of me.
Still thinking. For now, I'm grabbing a notebook and settling in to read my novel.
November 18, 2003
Alive? Well, mostly...
Between the power going out on Wednesday, the cable modem being out until Friday, going away for part of the weekend, I've been scarce of late.
I've been reading a lot. I started George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones on Wednesday and finished it Sunday night. All I can say is, wow. That seriously rocked. Oddly enough, the style and the storyline reminded me a lot of Sharon K. Penman's books, except that her setting is historical 13th century Wales and his setting is his own fantasy world. The political situation is very similar though, with all of the intrigue and backstabbing going on--which says a lot about his worldbuilding skills. I dove into the second book in the series with interest, but I've slowed down a little.
Of course, all of this leads up to the fact that not much (read: no) writing has happened lately. I'm not as stressed about it as I was. I finished up the outline for "The Brigand" yesterday. The rest will come. In two more weeks I'll be able to read The Exile's Daughter and see how I like it. I'm thinking I should maybe not start another major project (read: novel) until after I've got an edit of that done.
I think my writing "career" was less frustrating when all I was getting was form rejections. Of late, I've started getting the "almost" rejections. You know, the ones that go "we loved the story, but..." or "we don't quite want this, but send us something else..." At first I was all excited about that, but it's getting frustrating.
Especially the latest one, where I have "an entertaining story with a good twist", but there are "careless mistakes" in it. I have no idea what mistakes they're talking about. They made it sound like it was a grammar or typo thing, but the copy I sent them was typo-free, as far as I could see. I can't help but wonder if something went wrong with the email I sent them. :P
November 12, 2003
Stuck in the middle
It's the damned middle section again. First twist has come and gone, the final twist is waiting in the wings, and I have no idea how to get there. I suspect the problem has to do with a weak grasp on my hero and heroine. I'm not entirely sure why they're doing what they're doing--hence, no good way to predict what they'll do next.
Sometimes it seems like the days of blindly writing my way past a block like this are gone. I'm too conscious of suckage, too conscious of the massive structural problems I'm creating. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. I mean, being TOO conscious of suckage is a bad thing, but trying to be more careful with a first draft isn't a bad thing, right? I think I need to spend some time getting to know these people. I mean, they seem nice enough...
November 10, 2003
Back on the horse, sorta
I wrote a whopping 1,025 words today, a record since finishing the novel. I finally managed to get past the perhaps less-than-exciting introductory bits of "The Brigand" and dive into the story proper. Yes, I know the less-than-exciting bits will need to be cut, but it's like I had to write out all of this exposition-y stuff just so I knew where I stood and where everybody else stood, like stage blocking. I already know things that I'll need to change and fix, but right now I just want the story in some form other than the hasty 200-300 word synopsis I wrote to myself so I wouldn't forget any of the twists and turns of plot. Generally pleased with this one so far, but I don't really have any idea what sort of market would be interested in it.
Slowly but surely trying to get back into the groove I had while writing The Exile's Daughter. Which means work from 9-12, then a break, then possibly more work in the afternoon. It's slow going, as I'm once again proving highly talented at finding things to do that look like work but really aren't.
But, I got about another 700 words on "The Brigand", my swashbuckly short story, and I think I finally made it to the meat of the story. I can already tell how very flaw-ridden it is, but I just want to get the story OUT. Can polish later. This is my mantra. Write now, fix later.
November 06, 2003
NaNoWriMo is officially over for me this year. The novel wasn't working, the process of writing at breakneck speed wasn't working, in short, I wasn't working. I learned so many valuable lessons from NaNo 2001, but I think I'm done with the concept now. I've learned that I can write a novel without that outside goading, and in fact, it turns out a lot better that way.
Instead, I'm focusing on a couple of short stories, one of which may wind up as a larger work (i.e., the story formerly known as "Alabaster Stones"). I forgot for a little while how to write for fun, with no goal in mind other than to enjoy writing and tell a story. So that's what I'm doing now.
Part of my brain insists that I've failed somehow, but with one novel already written this year, it's pretty easy to shut that part of my brain up.
Apparently the way to summon my muse is to bitch and whine a lot about an idea that I want to use but can't. Or an idea that I have that I don't know how to use.
*rubs her hands together* One piratical short story, coming up!
November 05, 2003
I started with writing and wound up with cultural identity
I may have found the secret to getting past the block I wrote about yesterday. Work on something else, and quit worrying about whether what I'm working on is a novel or a short story or whatever. For both Girls With Glasses and the once-again-untitled-Appalachian project, I was so caught up in "this isn't a good opening scene for a short story/novel/whatever" that I couldn't fall into the story. I'm back to work on the Appalachian project, and I'm currently just trying to fall into the world, the voices, the characters. I'm trying to shut up the voices that scream about needing to write something publishable.
I need to write something true. That's my priority. GWG didn't feel true, for all that it was purportedly autobiographical. This Appalachian project feels true. It feels honest. Even if it sucks, and even if nobody ever reads it or enjoys it but me. I feel like I'm getting in touch with a part of who I am, a part I often neglect or make fun of. I feel like I'm lifting up that part of me and saying, "I come from this."
It's weird. It's almost as if I've unearthed an ethnic heritage of sorts. I guess in a way, I have. I've bitched a lot about not having family traditions, or not having any sort of interesting family history, but that's the thing. My family's heritage isn't interesting to anybody in the family, because it's just what we are. Looking at it from a sort of outside perspective makes it fascinating. Well, fascinating to me, at least. It makes me want to kick myself for not spending more time talking to my grandma's generation while they were still alive and coherent.
I don't know, it's like all I needed was a single morning of listening to real bluegrass music to make me realize that my roots are not like anyone else's I know. I come from a separate cultural group, one with its own history, music, traditions. I've made so many jokes about dumb hicks and white trash and ignorant people and spent so much time being ashamed of it--and there's something to the jokes, definitely, but there's more there.
I'm babbling, and I should get back to writing--which, by the way, it feels good to be doing again. It feels good to write without a specific goal in mind. The goal will show itself eventually.
I think this means "adios, NaNoWriMo". We'll see.
November 03, 2003
I'd heard of this happening,
I'd heard of this happening, but I figured I was long past the time when it could hit. Ever since the 1st, I've been mortally certain that I will never write another word of fiction worth reading ever again. As untrue as I know it is, part of me is positive The Exile's Daughter is the last fiction I'll ever write. Obviously, my NaNoWriMo novel is going nowhere. I've written about 500 words since Friday night. And they're all crap.
The dumbest thing is, I'm kicking myself and guilting myself for getting behind and considering dropping NaNo. I mean, hello, I already wrote a novel this year. This in turn makes me irrationally angry at the concept of NaNoWriMo, as if it's somehow to blame for my current lack of inspiration.
I spent most of today staring blankly at the computer, websurfing and playing Minesweeper. Then around 3 I went and took a two and a half hour nap. I ate way too much junk and sugar today and not enough real food, and all of this contributed to me feeling like shit. I know that. I know what I'm feeling is entirely irrational, from the NaNoWriMo anger to the guilt to the sudden bursts of out of control fear about anything and everything.
I've spent today trying to figure out ways to combat this, but haven't found the motivation to actually DO anything. I think I'll go to bed here soon, and start out tomorrow with a real breakfast and see what happens from there.