Let me introduce you to my sun lamp. It’s not even remotely as bright or as hot as the sun. In fact, I think my iMac gets hotter in about a quarter of the time, but the lamp is pretty bright. Bright enough that I have it angled slightly away so it isn’t right in my eyes or I see spots for a long time. Bright enough to make me forget (until I turn it off) that I’ve entered the land of murk and there I will reside for long enough to make me think once or twice about leaving.
Not seriously, of course. Well, maybe to parts south for a long weekend. But I promise to come back.
I’m pretty surprised no one has compiled one of those “You know it when…” deals for the Puget Sound/Cascade mountain foothills. Like, “You Know it’s November in the Cascade foothills when the sun gets dramatically sucked out of the sky and is replaced by a layer of clouds so thick you begin to doubt there ever was a sun to begin with.” Oh, wait. That might be part of my sci-fi for NaNo breaking through. See, the brain melt starts.
The problem is, I like the sun. I don’t like sunburn, or heat waves in the consistent 100s (so glad not to have been part of the East Coast Bakedown this past summer). But I like seeing it through the window. I like knowing it’s out there. And it always makes me feel guilty when it leaves and I haven’t appreciated it enough. I doubt I’ll do better next year.
So I feel like hibernating but I can’t. Because today is Day One of NaNoWriMo and I’m finding my novel writing groove. 900 words into scene one and I changed my mind already on a bit character I wanted to be a little more smug, a little more thoughtless toward the “lesser people”. Eh, the little darlings run away from me as quickly as I can set their little feet on the paper. Which reminds me, time to crank the lamp up another notch, pretend it’s really only September out there, and wrap the leash around my wrist as my characters drag me down the block.
I’ve always wanted to be really good at playing the piano. Good. Like, throw out a few bars of Beethoven-good. The keyboard above has been in my possession more than eleven years now. My husband bought it for me a couple of days after we married; he still loves to indulge me in my creative endeavors.
My keyboard sits downstairs on a table, played somewhat by my husband and tinkered with by my kids. The three year old loves hitting the demo button and dancing to all the snippets of music thrown about. But I don’t play. I want to be good. Immediately. Unrealistically.
This problem with realism hasn’t filtered through to my writing. Instead, I’m a little too ruthless when it comes to getting it right. I’m homicidal when something’s not working to my liking and the trunk novels are piling up. They aren’t “there” yet. But I’m not putting my laptop on a desk somewhere and leaving it sit for eleven years. I’m not expecting to write like yet. I’m not even going to write like some of the talented and rising soon-to-be authors I’ve encountered over the last couple of years. I’m going to write like me. And keep going until I can stand up with the rest of them.
NaNoWriMo is days away from starting and my outline is done, character’s are a little less blob like. I’m excited to be working on a more sci-fi oriented idea.
I’ve got my cool NaNo tote to protect my laptop when I slosh through late autumn in Western Washington. I’ve got Scrivener 2.0 downloaded and already being the efficient organizing and writing program it is. (Only used for free by me until Literature and Latte give me a buy button to clicky) I’ve got at least 2 boxes of K-cups in various flavors so I can avoid a distracting run to the local espresso stand. Well, some of them anyway.
Ending my post with another piano mention: tonight is Word Jazz in the Snoqualmie Valley and I’m eager to cheer on my fellow peeps in our terrific writer’s group. They’ve got a million times more guts than I do for getting behind a mic and reading 2,000 words. Out loud. In public. *Thud*
I had no idea I’d be distracted by summer. And yet, that’s exactly what happened. I squeaked out one post right around when summer began and then… nothing.
That’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I have. Several different things, in fact. A short story, I’m still not-so-patiently waiting to hear the results of, is one thing I spent the month of July working on. Another short story, the shortest I’ve written, is being included in a journal my awesome local writing group is producing.
But I’ve been taking the time to think. To plot. To read more in areas I’m not usually interested in. To research.
And I went on vacation. A much needed one.
Here it is, somehow Octoberish. I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo again, making this my third year. I love the goal, the camaraderie, the planning. And that I will have something to say.
>I hate nail polish.
I love the way nail polish smells, fresh from the bottle. I love watching the lively color glide from the brush to a bisque nail, empty and ready for some pizazz. Some oomph. Everything looks wonderful for the first 6 hours. Maybe, if I’ve got a great top coat, my nails might last a day or so.
It’s all over when the first chip happens. Then they look like exhibit A.
That’s 24 hours later. All that hard work of getting the polish on perfectly for such a temporary pleasure. Now they look terrible and I can either leave them plain or do it all over again.
As I sat here looking at my ruined manicure, I realized I’d probably have longer lasting results if I went to an expert. They do something that makes the polish stick better or stays chip resistant longer. But, if I did that, I wouldn’t have the satisfaction I get when I do decide to paint my nails. That first second when everything is new and shiny and it’s because I did it myself. Even if a couple of hours later I have a flaw in the works and the frustration of not being good enough sets in.
My approach to writing is just like that. When I read published books, sometimes I wonder if I’m going to get there, if I’m just throwing away the words on paper, deleting them when I find the inevitable flaws. Whole sections started chipping and needed to be wiped clean. When I look at books written by those who’ve broken through, I wonder if I should leave it up to them and simply enjoy their perseverance. It’s far easier to read an enjoyable novel than it is to write one. But then I wouldn’t have that moment. And I write for that moment above anything else.
Writing is high maintenance. Lots of chipping. Lots of effort swept away in a moment to make room for a better polish. One of these days, I’ll be able to make the words last longer. And all shiny. Red optional.
Kelly’s Great Big Distraction List!
June is nearly over and I needed to get a post on the map. I can’t leave a gaping hole in the sidebar – even if mother nature has decided not to bring any summer to Seattle until nearly July. I’d obsess about my missing month of June for the rest of the year and we can’t be having that.
In terms of actual writing, I edited up to and some of Chapter 3 in Wishful Thinking. Passed it to my beta/husband/amazing guy and he gave me some great feedback. I’m waiting until the next chapter to see if he still thinks the same way about one of the characters. In the meantime, I’ve been writing new ideas in the “idea file” for future use. How fun it would be if I could mix the ideas up.
I’ve also dabbled with writing by the seat of my pants – no outline, no plan. Just a story I’ve started and will keep going until I see where it wants to go. If nothing else, it’s consistent writing and flexing the spontaneous muscle I let stiffen up most of the time.
But enough of the stuff I’ve done that counts as productivity – the fun stuff was, well, fun. And needed. Started the month off with a good dose of camping fun. This year, I’ve learned that late spring/early summer is just too volatile for tent camping out here. So off I went to a heated cabin with a futon bed and table/chair set. Oh, and electricity. That’s a must.
Dance recitals, end of school year activities, planting/gardening, Alan Wake for the XBox 360, way too many blogs to follow, IronMan2, Green Day:Rock Band…. it’s been a fun month. A nice break.
Now, bring on the summer. I’ll be writing out in the sun.
I’ve been hard at work trying to get Chapter One into a decent enough shape to be finally beta read. I let the earlier incarnation out to a few folks and I admit, I cringe at the words on the paper. The gist of the story was there, I suppose, but it was in a very rough shape. The latest draft reads much better; not quite diamond, more like cubic zirconia. It’s getting there. I can say that now after a couple of frustrating days.
It’s been two weeks since I got down into no holds barred editing. I’m somewhat surprised at how long one scene took me to get right but I suppose it’s because it was further than the others at getting my character’s point across. I have to keep in mind, when I’m trying to rush through, that the process takes as long as it takes. Good practice for when I’m looking at a nth revision I’ve been asked to do.
What I’m loving is getting all the details in the right place, something I wasn’t so great at the first pass through. I know it’s because I didn’t have all the details to begin with (you’d think these characters would clue me in or what not) but it’s still fun making things click – even for the author!
So, yeay, Chapter One is done and I’ll be foisting it on my unsuspecting victims betas soon. Unfortunately for the husband, he’s really good at being a beta and has no idea about 8,300 words are heading his way. He also doesn’t spare my feelings at all and has no qualms about telling me when something doesn’t work without needing to use the sandwich method. I think that makes me lucky 🙂
I’ve also been paying attention to the music I listen to (either in my head or through my speakers) when I edit a chapter. Chapter One has been brought to you by the oh, so appropriate song Redundant by Green Day.
While trying to accumulate as much gold as possible in a video game I’m playing, I started wondering about some of the characters I’d passed along the journey. Some tragic things had happened to my main playable character and one event in particular had me thinking. See, while my main character’s storyline is mostly set in the lore of the game, there is very little mentioned about what happens to the lesser known characters I’ve encountered. I’m not all that interested in the main events because (while somewhat flimsy), I get to find out plenty.
What I’m more interested in is what happened to the obscure characters, the ones who seemed to have more of a story than what was told, if any of their story was told at all. I want to know about what affects the main story has on them, what happens to them. Of course, it occurred to me that I could find out. I could craft the obscure character and let him tell me what happened. So far, he’s quite interesting. I want to know more, I need to see what makes him work, what makes him run. Along the way, I’ll lob some more defeating events his way and see how he deals. If he can manage to get to adolescence after being taking away from his mother who was off saving the world, I think he’s got something going.
The same goes for Wishful Thinking. My need to delve into the obscure led me to wonder about lesser known mythological beings. I hear over and over how Greek mythology stories are overdone. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Maybe it’s because the major players got too much air time. I don’t care all that much about the Olympians, in my novel they are peripheral. I care about the overshadowed immortals, the ones whose stories weren’t deemed all that important to focus on.
So many people work magic behind the scenes, overshadowed but content to be doing what they love. They have important stories to share, they are interesting people…we just need to be willing to listen to what they have to say. In our world, or someone else’s. I’m going to hop on and go along on this boy’s ride; I think he has something special to say.