Category Archives: writing

>High Maintenance

>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.

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>Hi June, Bye June…

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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.


>The alternate reality where I am not a wuss…

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In my quest to not peek at my cooling novel (sitting there so nicely on my iPad I might add), I’ve been keeping myself relatively busy.


Busy, being in the eye of the beholder, means my Tauren Druid is level 74.5 (as of 11:00pm last night), all my various iGadgets are sync’ed with the mothership (just learned I can’t library share my iTunes when the mothership is napping though…), and I stopped waiting for my husband to downgrade our cable.  Which leads to the wuss part.


I have the pleasure of being the negotiator in the house.  Call it a personality quirk, if you will.  Just about everything that needs to happen gets processed through my brain first.  No, this doesn’t bother the husband – he likes not having to be responsible for all the nuances and I geek out hard core being said responsible person.  Usually.  


Which brings me to my call with the cable company.  The only time I’ve not had cable was a brief 2 or 3 year stint with a satellite company.  I liked the sat. co. but with our move out west and a swank deal on the cable + equipment, well, there it is.  We started with a decent package and I knew right away we had “too much” cable.  The only ones who watch TV here are the ones who shouldn’t be – the kidlets.  Couple years later and for some reason we decided the problem with our package (for non-TV watchers) – not enough cable.  Yeah, I know.  


Today, I called to downgrade.  And I wussed out.  The intention was to get rid of all movie channels and drop to just above the basic so we retained several essential kidlet channels.  The problem is, the cable company would only honor the “new customer” price for one step down, not hitting the bottom down.  I guess HBO and Starz is worth $10/month, but I still feel mission unaccomplished.


I will be hearing about this when the husband gets home.  And he will file it away for future use.  This tarnish is unlikely to become a patina.


Distractions:
~  It’s all a distraction, baby!  


Accomplishments:
~  I did manage to outline a short story I’ve been kicking at around.  Itching to get back to work.  

Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos




>I have to wait how long?

>

This past weekend, I finished the first rewrite of Wishful Thinking.  Five minutes after, a funny thought occurred to me: I couldn’t wait to go back and reread it from the beginning.  And I wanted to do that right then.


I wrote this for the first time during the 2009 NaNoWriMo, the idea one I’d been kicking around for  months before.  I wrote somewhat faithfully to the first outline I drafted in October and breezed through the first draft.  I even hit my 50k words well before the November 30th deadline.  Still, I worked on, reaching The End in December at 63k.


Took the draft with me on the plane heading east for the holidays.  Read the first chapter and realized it all sucked.  Really bad.  The climax scene was anything but.  I know the common rule is to read from page one until the last without editing but I couldn’t imagine wasting several hours on something I was going to rip to shreds.


So I didn’t.  I put the manuscript away for almost all of January.  When I came back to it, I grabbed the first chapter and pulled out what I liked.  The plot had changed dramatically so chapter two was a goner.  Unfortunately, so was chapter three, most of four, all of… well the rest.  I think out of the first edition, I’ve kept about 20k words.  Even that might be a stretch.  


At the least,  I’ve learned I’m fairly detached from my work.  I’ve learned lots more stuff too and will chat about it in the coming days when I’m trying not to go back in and peek.  I’m not sure what my reaction is going to be when I reread in a couple of weeks, but I know this plot is stronger and more interesting the way I’ve rewritten it.  Lasting a couple of weeks is going to be the hard part.    




Distractions:
~  I was a laser-guided missile the last several days.  The three loads of washed and dried laundry in piles on my bed can attest to it.  As can the receipts scattered on the counter from a take-out/eat-out frenzy.  As can children who look at me and say, mommy?  Well, not really, they all still remember me, but I holed up as much as I could and cranked out the last 4k words.


Accomplishments:
~ 75,471 words, the majority fresh.  Which means for Wishful Thinking, I’ve written at least 130k words.  Letting that sink in.











Photo courtesy of Francesco Marino


>Not so fast, romance…

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The last several days, I’ve been writing until my fingertips cramp.  Partly to make up for the tiny funk from two weeks ago, and partly because I am almost finished with the 2nd pass/rewrite of Wishful Thinking.  It looks amazing to see that typed out.  Almost finished.
This means for a self-imposed three weeks off from the novel, my husband won’t look over in concern at me every time I gasp, or glare furiously at my screen because the antagonist pulled a rather %^&$# move.  I think he wants to ignore most of them but doesn’t want to get stuck if my expressions are reality related.
It also means I can take a break from the emotions of my characters.  Throwing rocks at them takes a toll on even the most wonderful days; when the words are hard to come by, every pebble becomes a boulder and I kick and scream more than my darling main characters.
In the meantime, the last five scenes are the hardest ones to write.  My protagonist is elevated, hopeful, like the couple in the picture above.  She has no idea what’s coming.  But I do, and it isn’t pretty.  It’s sad, it’s messy, and it’s the way it has to be.  And it’s almost over.  For now. 
Things that distracted me on the internet:
~  Trying to work through what the Health Care Act means for me.  Lots of text to slog through. 
~  Reserved my iPad and raring to pick it up on 4/3.  I am even going to brave the crowds of people to get it.  This is no small deal for me since any group larger than 5 people is a crowd to me. 
 Non-internet distractions:
~  Dragon Age: Awakenings conquered.  Hats off to the writing team on this franchise, the lore is well done.
 Accomplishments:
~  Did I mention around 5 scenes to go?  Granted they are the longer ones because they are ramping up to climax but I’m in the last 2 or 3 chapters.  Woot!



Image above courtesy of Dynamite Imagery/Free Digital Photos

>What do you call spring cleaning if it isn’t spring?

>

I am convinced writer’s funk is worse than writer’s block.

I can blame the sun for daring to shine for days before slipping behind the clouds again where it belongs this time of year.  I can blame having to rewrite several scenes (ok, the whole end of the book…) because the plot works better this way.  I can blame my house for being dirty.

What I ended up doing – moped for three days, scrubbed the master bathroom, rearranged middle daughter’s room (and bought her a tv).

The whole time I complained I wasn’t writing.

Before I left for a weekend break and some fun, I sat down and pumped out 1800 words of a scene that had been bugging me for a bit.  Of course I break the funk right before swearing to leave the laptop home.  Part of me feared I might not get back into it when I returned.  Irrational thinking that turned out to be – over 3500 words over the course of the day yesterday.

The funk has faded, I’m energized and ready to get this novel done.  I learned two important lessons over the last week though.  1. Writing can be a bitch.  2.  I don’t feel right anymore without doing it.  I am clearly an insane typist (Thanks @alta03).

Things that distracted me on the internet:
~  More research on setting I needed for a scene between brothers.  Decided to bookmark it but wasn’t worth adding too much description. 
~ I had fallen way behind in my blog reading and I wanted to peruse the expert websites.  There were too many good updates to list but my Distracting Writers and Agents blogs are starts. 

Non-internet distractions:
~  EA Games and Blizzard helped pass the rest of the time when I wasn’t scrubbing my house.  And indoor waterparks are pretty awesome.  Running up and down five flights of stairs, not so much.

Accomplishments:
~  Will cross the 50k barrier today.  The rest of the book is a rewrite and I am determined to be 3/4 of the way done before April 1st.

>Hot dogs that snap when you bite into them…

>

 

Now that I’ve gotten my sun fix for the day… .
In all seriousness, I bow to our weather overlords for giving us  in the greater Seattle area the second best winter I’ve experienced here.  The first time around, I hadn’t realized how atypical a winter it was.  This is the first year since then I haven’t needed to fly to LA and parts south for a break.
Just as the rain usually doesn’t let up here, I’ve tried writing every day including the weekends, including when I didn’t feel it, when the scenes had to be ripped screaming from my brain.  And each time I’ve forced myself, I wind up deleting or archiving what I’ve written.  If there is one thing I can’t stand (besides from hot dogs that snap when you bite into them…), it’s inefficiency.  Writing subpar is bad enough but writing subpar just to hit a number of words on a spreadsheet is a waste of time.  
So, I’m ready to try something revolutionary.  Something atypical.  At the end of the day, I’m going to go through what I’ve written and take words off the total for various insults to the English language.  Something like a net return on decent words.  I’ll give myself a break if the sentence could be written a little better.  No, the words I’m talking about are most adverbs that I throw in lazily (:P  I’m talking about the word ‘just’, the word ‘that’, the filler words padding my word count.

I’ll post next week how I did.  Now, excuse me while I play hooky and get my pasty self some more vitamin D from the primary source before mother nature tells me she didn’t mean to give us an early spring.

Things that distracted me on the internet:
~  The teen needs a driving school to get her one step closer to her license.  I’m trying not to fall over how expensive it is to drive when you are <18 years old. 
~  The teen also needs a college and has given me a short list to peruse.  Somehow, I’m not experiencing sticker shock there.  I am experiencing information way overload. 

Non-internet distractions:
~  Pulled my level 66 druid out of languishment and have been fast leveling her.  My server went down unexpectedly and I played around on my Alliance priest (1st character).  So strange not to fly to Thrallmar 🙂

Accomplishments:
~  Passed the halfway point on rewrites/1st round of edits.  Have made peace with tossing more than 25k words from manuscript.  If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.  Oh well.  Also made it through a difficult scene emotionally and the family is only singed.  😀