Tuesday, May 6, 2008

How to write a novel in 100 days or less

A friend of mine found this link How to write a novel in 100 days or less and I think the idea is very interesting . . . and tempting. I'm debating whether to try this out.

Of course it helps if you have a novel you're considering writing. So far I've given up on all the novels I've attempted. Even the ones that are still just ideas. You see I'm always thinking "that's not going to be novel length when you're done". Or "that idea has been done too many times before". Or the worst one of all "no one will care about this story besides you". That one's a whopper.

So I think I'll just shift into "Idea Generator" and see if there's something brewing on the back burners I forgot about. Or I'll just have to go out into the world and see if anything new sparks something in my mush of a brain.

Or, on the other hand I just might not do it.

That's me for ya. I get a lot of ideas but have trouble putting them into practice. Ideas I can come up with. Finished stories? Not so much. And with this tempting plan placed before me I also wonder if I should.

Why tackle a novel when I haven't mastered the short story yet? I know the two are not exactly the same when it comes to structure and such, but if I find it difficult to create a well rounded short story why torture myself with writing a novel? But then again I might be one of those writers who struggle with the short story but are really good at writing novels. If I don't write one how will I know? I guess there's only one way to find out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is the short fiction market in trouble?

Is the short fiction market in trouble? That's the question posed in the article. SF Signal asked that of authors and printed their take on the matter. Some of them I agree with and some oe them just seem to be out there. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On the verge of greatness

No I'm not saying I just signed a six figure deal for my first book. Although that would be great. I'm talking about that feeling you get that you need to sit down and write right now. You know that if you do it's not only going to be good whatever you write is going to be great.

But before you do you decide to get yourself something to drink. You wouldn't want to interrupt the brilliant flow of words by a parched mouth. But by the time you pull a glass out, pull the milk out, fill the glass and put the milk away you get the feeling that something is missing and your writing just won't be right until you figure that out. But what could be missing? You stare at the glass of milk and then it dawns on you. What goes the best with cold milk? Oreos. After rummaging around in either the cookie jar or the pantry you finally find the Oreos and head off towards your writing space.

But once you get there you realize you don't want cookie crumbs falling into the keyboard so that when you want to type girl all you can type is gi l. So you pack everything back up and go sit at the kitchen table. You sip your milk, dunk your Oreos and you think.

You think about what you're going to do with your characters or the plot or the setting. But you also start to think about how you're going to do that pile of laundry in the corner while trying to cut your electric bill down. You don't want to think about the laundry, you want to think about the story you're about to write. But you have to think about the laundry because you don't think going into work tomorrow half naked is going to compile with the dress code. Once you tell yourself that you'll get up and start a load of laundry before you write to avoid any disciplinary actions at work you start thinking about the bathroom sink that is still slow to drain even though you've used a whole bottle of Plumper on it. Or the fact that you haven't done your taxes yet and you wonder if you're going to get anything back and what you'll spend it on.

Next thing you know you either out of milk or Oreos and you've got a whole list of things you need to do. Do you do everything now or do you sit down to write? When you think about it you realize the moment has past. Everything you would have written if you had put your put in the chair when you first got that feeling would have been good. Anything you write now is going to be terrible. Your hearts not in it because your mind is working on other things. You were on the verge of greatness but now it's past.

I don't know how to get past this other than not fixing a glass of milk before I write. But if it's not the milk and Oreos it'll be something else. Like laundry or taxes. Something small that you think you can do before you sit down to write and yet still have that feeling that's telling you to write right now. And sometimes that feeling comes when you can't do anything about it. Like at work. Or driving.

I know a writer should be able to write in any circumstance or condition and not just when the urge to write comes on. And I'm trying to do that. But it's hard. Especially when you feel the universe aligns into perfect writing conditions and don't want to be unprepared when your throat gets dry. It's a good intention to grab a glass of milk. It just doesn't always have the best results in the end. So if you ever find yourself on the verge of greatness just sit down and write. You'll be so caught up in the flow of writing you probably won't even notice your throat is dry unless you try answer the phone. But you wouldn't do that now, would you?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I can't read as a kid any more

I finished reading Everlost yesterday and while I liked it I had some misgivings about it as well. I don't think those misgivings are anything inherent in the book itself. I think they're more from inside me.

Everlost is a children's book. But I hate to call it that. Whenever I think of "children's books" I think of Dr. Seuss and little snot nosed kids running around a playground. Everlost if for those older kids that no longer play on the playground, but aren't old enough to get a license to drive. The protagonists are 14 or 15 years old and since they usually say your protagonists should be 1-2 years older than your target audience you can figure out who this book is for. Needless to say I'm not in their target audience. And I'm starting to feel it too.

When I was about that age I remember reading a book called From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basile E. Frankweiler. I loved it. I connected with that book so much that I wanted to run away and live in a museum. The book resonated with me, but at the time all I knew was that if I was stranded on a desert island and could only have one book with me I wanted this one. Everlost should have been the same thing.

I really enjoyed it and loved all the little references and jokes thrown in. Kind of like finding Easter Eggs in movies. But as much as I wanted to connect with the book like I had the Mixed-Up Files book I just couldn't. I was too old. I've seen to much of life to be wholly and completely engrossed in the book. I've seen too much of the world for the destruction of the Twin Towers to have a different impact on me than it would someone younger reading this book.

I felt like I was standing outside the entrance to a fun park and I wasn't allowed in. Why? Because I was too tall. I could only stand there and look at all the rides whirling in the air and see that the gate to each ride was shorter than I was. Instead of that "you must be this tall to ride this read" sign there were "you must be this short to ride this ride". Anyone can be young at heart and enjoy a fun park but how do you become shorter? Has the world made me a cynical person that I can't even recall what it felt like to be young and a little bit naive to the workings of the world? Have I completely lost that carefreeness that you only see in the children who haven't reached that age of responsibility when childhood ends and the read of your life begins?

Everlost is a book that had I read it in my "tween" years it would have had a profound effect on me. Reading it today it doesn't have the same effect. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy reading it. It just means that I feel I missed out on getting that little something extra from having read it. There are a lot of times when I'm glad I'm not a kid any more. But this was one time I wished I could have been and read this book with the wide-eyed wonder and excited of someone who's world is just starting to open up for them.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What I don't do in my writing - autobiographical writing

In an attempt to figure out what's not working in my fiction I've decided to look at the things that are working . . . at least the things that I think are working in my fiction. If I can eliminate things I don't have to worry about maybe I can narrow things down to the things I should be worrying about.

The first thing is autobiographical writing. You know, that old "write what you know" advice all new writers get. I can't stand when a new writer who grew up on a small dairy farm, drops out of high school and moves to New York to make it as an actor writes a book about a someone who grew up on a small dairy farm, drops out of high school and travels to New York to make it as an actor. They're not writing this as a memoir or truth and real life stuff, they're writing it as fiction. Something made up and pretend. The characters are never engaging to me unless the story is told brilliantly and most new writer's can't do that yet in their writing, myself included. Besides I think it's very egotistical to think that your personal life would make a great story. It might be fascinating to you but to the rest of us we've got our own fascinating life. Besides, if you write your life as a fiction book first then you've got nothing left to write for your autobiography. And if you want to write another fiction book where are you going to turn for inspiration if you've exhausted all aspects of your life with your first book?

Now I wouldn't say my life has been a roller coaster ride but it's had it's moments. From the stories my mother told me of when, where and how I was born to the corneal transplant I had a few years ago I'm sure there's good stuff for a story. But I'm not going to use it that way. Not exactly anyway. The stories of living on an Air Force base in the middle of a war might prove interesting material if I decide to write a story about war or soldiers or what not. And my corneal transplant experience might make a good thriller but I'm not going to chronicle my whole life into one story.

If I want a character in one of my stories to be overwhelmed with the grief of soldiers dying in war I could write a scene with a mother washing dishes in the sink only to look out the window to see rows upon rows of pine boxes being unloaded from a transport plane. Heck I wouldn't even need to set it in a real world setting. Maybe she lives on a space ship and is picking up something at the supply depot (next to the loading bays) and sees dead soldiers caskets being loaded into ships to be given a space burial. Yes, it's a part of my life but I don't have to write it as such.

Too many new writers take that "write what you know" advice seriously and literally. I don't. Yes, you need to experience things in life so you know what it's like for your characters to experience things in your story but they don't have to be the same thing. I could take that mother on the spaceship and instead of seeing dead soldiers she could be looking at rows of children being taught and trained by the military from a young age to be soldiers. Maybe she feels the grief and loss of their childhood. Maybe she feels the grief and loss as her own son turns to look at her and there's no recognition in his eyes of who she is. That would certainly cause of mother to grieve. But that's not how it all happened and that's okay. New writer's need to learn that.

For me I'm much more fascinated by imaging different things that could be instead of reimagining my own life. Yes, I'll draw on my life for inspiration from time to time but I'm not going to write my first fiction novel thinly disguised as my life. When I write about my life it'll be my autobiography. And I think you should too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Getting things real enough

I went and saw the movie "The Other Boleyn Girl" a couple of days ago. I liked the movie but there was something about it that bugged me. It wasn't until I got home and had my mind on something else that I figured it out. It wasn't English enough.

I don't mean the actors had horrible English accents. They were serviceable. They certainly didn't stumble over the accents and it didn't interfere with the dialogue. But there was something about the whole film that made it feel like it wasn't really set in England at all. Just somewhere/some when that looked like England. There was an authenticity that was missing for me. It was real, but not real enough.

This made me think of a story I started to write a long time ago that I've since put aside because of some of the criticism I got for it. It's a retelling of the Pygmalion myth set in ancient Greece. I want the story to have the feel that it's actually happening there and then.

I wrote it while taking a community education class that a local agent was teaching. She liked the story but the class thought it was too formal. They suggested I tone down the dialogue and make it more modern. I certainly didn't want a Zena: Warrior Princess feel to the story. Yes, I want the reader to understand and relate but I don't to write a story that's set in another time and place but actually feels like it could be happening here and now.

About a year or two later I was taking a Creative Writing class at a community college and with a lot of work commitments I wasn't able to write something new for a deadline. I decided to pull this story out again and see what the class thought of it. They didn't particularly like it either. They said it sounded too British or formal. When I explained to them that I wanted to create the feel of ancient Greece so you would believe it actually happened then and there the class railed on me.

They said no one really knows exactly what everyday life was like during ancient Greek times. They said I shouldn't try to make it feel that way, but instead make it something that modern readers could relate to. And the whole "formal 'British' type" thing really bothered them. I tried to argue that how many movies have you seen that show "ancient Greece culture" but all the actors speak in a formal British accent? After getting raked over the coals they all seemed to think that the story would be better served and more palatable to readers if it had a Zena: Warrior Princess approach to it.

Enough with the warrior princess already. Needless to say this is not the kind of story I want to write. I put the story away and only briefly took it out again one month to see if I could work on it again. But every time I take it out or even think about it I wonder about the state of historical fiction has come to.

Are we a society that says "we'll read something set in an ancient world but we want the characters to talk and act like I do today?" Are we giving up on that little bit of ambiance that will give a story a real sense of time and place even if we don't know how things really were back then? For me there was something missing from the movie that made me think this was really taking place during the reign of Henry VIII. The costumes were gorgeous, the settings fantastic but there was little bit of atmosphere to the culture of the day that was lacking for me.

Now, I'm not saying I'm right about my story. Maybe I am, but maybe they have a point too. Trying too hard to be something you're not only makes it easier to see the faults. But now I'm left with writing the story my way regardless of what anyone else thinks even if it fails or changing how I approach the story to begin with. I haven't pick up the story since then and I'm not sure I can until I can figure out how I'm going to proceed. Even though I had that quibble about the movie I still enjoyed it. For my story I don't necessarily have to get things completely real, but I'd like to get them real enough.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is blogging getting in the way?

I found an interesting rant from Robin Hobb about blogging. There's also John Scalzi's response to it. I have to say I agree with both of them. And I particularly liked Scalzi's comparison of blogging to "empty calories". I can't say I do to much blogging here about my writing (maybe because I'm not writing much), but I do tend to blog a bit more on my video gaming blog. Oh well.

I've read blogs by people that don't know how to capitalize words or use punctuation at all. Those people, I'm sure, just fire out whatever is on the top of their head when they sit down to write. For me I like to put some thought into it. I come up with ideas I might want to blog about and even think of how I'm going to structure whatever I'm posting. Blogging correctly (with proper punctuation and all) if just as important to me as if I was writing a story. I may not be perfect at it but hopefully it makes sense. You can be the judge of that.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Are writer's paranoid?

Are writer's paranoid? Or I guess I should say are all "beginning" writer's paranoid? I'm a moderator on a writing website and I constantly hear beginning or new writers say they don't want to post their stuff on the website for several reasons: 1) they don't want it to be considered "published" already if they end up submitting it somewhere, and 2) they don't want someone else to steal their ideas. Even on a nonwriting forum someone had this to say:

Not only that but I am rather fond of my ideas and stories and don't look forward to having them ripped off or stolen by some passer through. It is not the main users of the site that I fear/don't trust. It is the public nature of any person being able to access my hard work and swiping it for their own purposes.

I can see the point of not wanting yourself "published" until you actually send it somewhere where it can be published in the official/traditional sense of the word. But we have one member on the site that regularly participates in our writing challenges, posts his stories and then turns around and sells them to someone where they will be published somewhere else. What he posts for the challenges is just a rough draft so he works on the stories until he gets it as close to perfect as he can before sending it out. There are some publishers that are sticklers for that "has anyone seen this yet" type of publishing and some who don't care. I say read their guidelines and know your markets if you have any doubts.

As for the second fear does it matter? If you post something online there is a posting stamp that gets attached to whatever you put up on the net (whether you can see it or not). People will know exactly when and where you put something out there. As far as someone stealing your ideas and claiming it as their own they'll have to prove that they came up with the idea before that date of your posting. Believe me that's a much harder thing to do.

As for someone taking your idea and being the first to get it out there in the traditional publishing world well, why aren't you doing that yourself? If you've got an idea that you think is so great and special why aren't you taking the time to get that idea out there? Write. Submit. Publish. Too many beginning writers have the egos that think they've written the next great American novel and the paranoia to think that everyone is out to steal it. I hate to tell you this but I'm pretty sure all the stories ideas and combinations of what could happen in a story have already been done before. You're not going to really write anything new. You'll just have a different spin on things. And when you think about it only you can put your unique spin on things. If someone else took the same basic idea their going to have a completely different story on their hands than what you might have done.

If you want to write and get feedback from some kind of writing group but don't have the means in your neck of the woods the internet is a good place. Just look around for websites for writers that offer private writing groups so that when you post something for people to look at the only ones who see it are those in the group. It would be no different than if you passed out a piece of paper to group that met in the library once a month.

Most of all know your markets. Know what publishers will accept and what they won't. If you have a story that has been "published" on the internet in some forum or another and a publisher won't take that type of writing, write something else for them that hasn't been published. Above all don't' be paranoid. Fear gives in to procrastination and writer's block. Don't put the cart in front of the horse to use a stale old cliche. If you spend your time worrying about if the horse is going to throw a shoe or if the cart is going to break a wheel instead of getting out and starting the journey you're never going to get there. Be brave. And keep writing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Expressing yourself?

You know, I'm sick and tired of people saying "all writer's have the need to express themselves". Or that "writing is the means to discover who you are".

Hog wash!

I don't write to "discover who I am" or to "express myself". I write to discover the story bumbling around in my head. It has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that I'm the only one who can get this particular story out. My ego is not involved in my writing at all. And for these "people" it seems that's all there is to writing.

If I write a story about death and angels (which I am currently working on) that must mean I'm thinking about my mortality and what awaits me beyond the grave. Like I said: Hog wash! I'm writing this story because of the snow. Yep snow. It's a challenge up on WordTrip where you're asked to describe snow. I should know. I posted the challenge. As I thought about how I wanted to describe the snow, the story started to take shape but only because I needed some context for my description. I wasn't thinking about dying or angels or Little House on the Prairie style living. This is just the story that came out when I started to think about snow. And for me the snow is still the main focus of the story despite what those people might think.

For those "people" who think writing is done solely to express yourself or discover who you are, they are no different than elitists. They're like painters who think that anything they splash onto the canvas is art because they say it is and who are you to argue with them. They're writer's who think that only "literary fiction" is where the good writing is happening and that "genre fiction" is full of hacks and people who sold their souls to the devil. It doesn't matter what spices a chef puts on filet mignon or how they cook it . . . it's still going to be filet mignon. It doesn't matter where it's cook or buy whom. It's about how it tastes in the end. And it's ALL a matter of taste.

I'm not autobiographical in my writing and I have difficulty with anyone who is. Even Stephen King when he wrote himself into his Dark Tower series. When I sit down to write I leave my ego at the door. When I write it's for the story, whatever that may be, and just getting that out onto paper. Is my writing filet mignon caliber? Absolutely not! (See I can leave my ego out of that too.) Right now I hope I'm working with ground beef. Do I want to get up to filet mignon? Absolutely yes! But until then I'm happy cooking with what I've got.

And now if you'll excuse me, all this talk of food has made me hungry.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Letters to the Editor

Since when did all (okay not quite all) of the letters to the editors in writing magazines become commercials? It seems no one is writing in to comment on the articles themselves but to get a little free press. Their writing in to sell or get promotion on something they've wrote ("This article helped me get through writers block while writing my new novel Insert Title Here (Penguin 2009)..." or "After reading the article on freelancing in multiple markets I suddenly realized the potential for my "man about town column" I write for the local paper could have...." I hope the mags are charging advertising rates.

I just thought I'd point that out.

Quoting movies I haven't seen

Don't you hate going to the movies and having someone in the audience quoting the dialogue along with the actors? Or even worse yet is someone saying the lines before the actors do right in the middle of a dramatic moment of the movie? Well what if you're "quoting" dialogue for a movie you haven't seen?

I did that. Yesterday my mother and I went to see 27 Dresses. I knew my dad would never go see the movie and that my mom wanted to. Me? Well it's not exactly my cup of tea but I had the day off so why not. There were several times during the movie when I was quoting the dialogue along with the actors. And one important scene where I was saying the dialogue a line or two before the actors. And I haven't seen the movie before. So what does that mean?

Does that mean 1) I'm such a good writer that those would be the words I would have written, or 2) I've seen this all before and I'm tired of the cliches in the story/dialogue/action. My money is on number 2.

Think about it. There's a weddings (or multiple ones in this case). A male reporter comes to investigate a female wedding participant. They eventually fall in love. They get married. Sound familiar? Runaway Bride ring a bell? And that "trying on all the dresses scene" has been done before. Pretty Woman. Sleeping with the Enemy. And probably every other Julia Roberts romantic comedy movies she's ever done. And she's not the only actress to do that either. What is it about having a women change into all kinds of outfits that must be in a romantic comedy? Or the "girl finally kissing the one she's got a crush on only to find out there's no sparks and she's actually in love with the guy who's annoying her" cliche?

Maybe all these cliches (and more of them) are the reason I don't like watching romantic comedies. They're too formulaic. Without even watching the movie I know what's going to happen next. The only romantic comedy that I like is While you Were Sleeping and even then I still saw some of the well worn cliches used in the genre in that film. Could I write anything better? I don't know.

I've thought about writing a movie script. I've even got a couple of ideas floating around in my head for some. And you can count on the fact that they're not romantic comedies. Writing scripts has really appealed to me for some time. When I get an idea for a story I usually get it as images that flash in my mind. I see the story in pictures instead of words. So why don't I try to write a script?

Maybe because I have the same old excuses I have for not writing a novel. It's too overwhelming. I don't know how to structure it. I don't know how to pace it. What if I get halfway and I realize it's all crap and I've wasted my time? And there's a myriad of other excuses I could list but that would be too depressing. So I won't do that. But sitting through 2 hours of a movie I've never seen before but knew everything that was going to happen is just as depressing. Not to mention a waste of time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Same blog . . . new title

Okay I think I've finally come up with a more original title for this blog than "Life of a Writer Girl". In order to be a "writer gril" I would have to be writing, which unfortunately, I'm not. So the new title (until I possibly come up with an even better one) is "Writing Excuses". Why?

Because I've found recently that I spend more time coming up with excuses of why I'm NOT writing than I do actual writing. And coming up with excuses for not writing and then writing those down doesn't actually count as real writing, in my opinion. I must admit that I didn't come up with this flash of brilliance all on my own. I was reading Brandon Sanderson's blog and he mentioned that him and some writer friends are starting a podcast called Writing Excuses. And I thought "What a brilliant name".

So there you have it. Until further notice (or until another strok of creative genius by me or sparked by someone else) the new title will be Writing Exceses. If Brandon has any problems with that I'll change it back. I just thought I should have a title more suited to whatever writing habits I have.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Finishing the Wheel of Time

Haven't been here in awhile, but I've been sick. Then I got hurt. Which made getting better even harder. I've realized that I haven't been reading much lately. You would think that would be something you could do when you didn't have much energy for anything else. Well, holding up a book and turning the pages does take energy. Sometimes it took more than I had. But I haven't been reading a lot lately for another reason that I think I finally figured out.

I finished Lord of Chaos in the Wheel of Time series and moved on to Crown of Swords but about half way through I just kind of stalled out. I'm only about 3 chapters past that point since then so I'm not making much progress. It's not that I don't like the story or the writing. I think it's something else. Ever since the announcement that Brandon Sanderson is going to finish writing The Wheel of Time series I haven't read much.

I'll probably get lynched for saying this, but as excited as I was to hear that the Wheel of Time series was going to be finished by an author that I know personally (and love his work) I'm afraid he's not going to do the series justice. Their styles are vastly different. Brandon Sanderson gives you just enough details for you to get a sense of the scene and has you fill in all the rest on your own. Robert Jordan hits you over the head with every detail imaginable. Jordan's world exists in it's entirety whether you read it or not. Sanderson's worlds exist only after you've read them because you supply a lot of the details.

When I read Sanderson's work, and he's focused on one character, I'm not thinking about what another character is doing somewhere else. They don't really exist until they "enter stage right" if you know what I mean. Once they "exit stage left" I don't think about them. With the crew in his Mistborn series, once Breeze or Clubs or any one of them left I wasn't left thinking about "what are they doing right now". The only exception to that is Marsh. Now with him I want to know what he's been up to (especially in book 2).

When I read Jordan I'm constantly thinking about what all the characters are up to at any given time. If the point of view character is Elayne then I might be thinking about Perrin. Or it could be Rand and I'm thinking about Egwene. Just because they are not the point of view character, of whose story I'm reading right now, doesn't mean (or feel) like their story isn't continuing on in the background. They feel alive. I compare reading Jordan's books to making a phone call to old friends. You can't be with them all of the time so you call them every now and then. It takes a little bit to get you caught up in their lives again but then they tell you everything they've been doing for awhile. Eventually you've got to hang up (and call someone else) but you don't think their life just stops when you put the phone down. You know it goes on and you want to know what happens.

Can Sanderson provide that kind of feeling when he finishes the last book in The Wheel of Time series? I don't know. He might surprise me and I certainly hope he does. If he doesn't I won't think of it as a failure. After all, he is a brilliant writer with his own unique style. But the more of Jordan I read the more I realize the story isn't going to finish the way I want it to (and I'm not talking plot points here). It's going to be different. It's going to feel different. But will it be the same story? We'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Even facing death there's still something to write

I've been sick. Sick enough that I almost passed out just from taking a shower. Luckily I was able to lay down before all those spinning dots in front of my eyes took over. I called in sick from work the last couple of days and I probably should have called in some more but there's only so much laying around doing nothing that I can take.

I played a video game for a little bit but that wouldn't ever last long because all those moving images just made me dizzy. I tried to read, but I couldn't concentrate on what all those black thingies were on the page. Besides that little paperback book started to get real heavy after awhile.

There were times when I broke out into a sweat just sitting there doing nothing. And times when I was freezing. And that got me thinking. I don't have a will.

I'm single without any kids so I have no one I need to look after when I'm dead. So why should I care about all my stuff, I'll be dead? I'm sure I have some things that I'd want to go to specific members of my family but other than that? Doesn't really matter to me. But even when faced with the possibility of death (I'm exercising some creative license here) I'm still dogged by that nagging sensation that I should be writing.

I should be writing a will. I should be finishing all those half-finished stories I have piling up on my desk. If my family found those when they're going through my stuff what would they do with them? Toss them out like worthless pieces of paper? Those are my children. They live and breathe to me just as much as those flesh and blood kind do for other people. Mine just haven't finished their gestation period yet.

I don't think an author can ever make sure they've finished writing all their stories before they die. If they do they must have had only one story to tell. Me? I've got lots. And since I'm not dying I guess I should be working on finishing the gestations on some of those stories. I'd hate to see them carelessly thrown out when I die. As for everything else I own, my family can go whatever they want with it. I'll be dead so what do I care?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"Doubt is just a form of procrastination"

I was cleaning out some old magazine when I came across the December 2006 Writer's Digest magazine. I flipped through it just to make sure there wasn't anything in there I wanted to save for reference, advice or motivation when I realized there were some articles I hadn't read the first time.

One of those articles was "The Novelist's Survival Kit" by Jordan Rosenfeld. I haven't written a novel yet, even though I've started quite a few. The whole thought of writing and sustaining something that long daunts me. I guess that's my inner critic whispering those things in my head. That's why when I read his section on 'Killing Your Critic" and the worlds "Doubt is just a form of procrastination" I had to stop and really think about that.

One part of me says I don't care what I write. I know I'll write crap. But I also know I'll rewrite that crap and hopefully make it better. So I never thought I'd doubt my writing. But now I'm not so sure. What if I'm not any good? What if I write crap and after I rewrite it, it's still crap?

I've always wanted a "thing" all my own when I was growing up. I always got my sister's hand me down clothes. Every year my mother would make us matching Easter dresses so I always got to wear the same dress twice. I took dance lessons whereas my sister did not. But she got to be on the drill team when I didn't make it. People said I had a good voice but not as good as my older brother's. Even regular stuff in classes was hard when the teachers you get had both of your older siblings and loved them. Writing was something that neither one of them did.

This was going to be my "thing". This was something that I could say I was better at then them. But the more I sat and thought about why I hadn't written a novel and pursued my "thing" as well as they pursued theirs, made me realize I have a lot of doubts about writing.

It's not about whether I know how to write, 'cause I do, but more about can I do it well? I have finished stories that I've edited and rewritten to the point I think they're worse than the first draft. Maybe I can write but not edit. I know I'm probably putting the cart before the horse but I can't stop thinking about it.

Why haven't I written anything? Because I procrastinate. Why do I procrastinate? Because I doubt myself. I should just throw myself in it and let those doubts be damned, but that's a hard thing to do. But this is my year to change as a writer so I'm going to have to do something about it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

15 minutes a day

I could write 15 minutes a day, right? I could bring in a disk and pop it into my computer at lunch and write for the first 15 minutes. The only probably with that is not matter if I put a "do not disturb" sign on my cube during lunch if someone comes by and sees me "working" on the computer they assume it's okay to interrupt me.

I guess I could stick around after work and write for 15 minutes before going home. That might work. Except for the fact that by the time it gets time to quit I can't wait to get out of that place.

So that leave 15 minutes when I get home from work. The problem is my eyes are so tired by the time I get home that I don't want to sit in front of a computer screen again for 5 minutes, let alone 15 minutes. Not to mention the fact that I recently timed how long it takes for my computer to completely boot up and start my virus ans spyware programs. It takes 7 minutes to do all of that. Plus the 15 minutes to write and another 7 minutes or more to completely log off and shut down and we're looking at a half an hour just to get 15 minutes of writing in day.

I will write more this year. I don't know if that will be 15 minutes a day or not. I just have to figure out how I'm going to fit it into my day.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I'm not a morning person

They say if you want to start a productive writing routine you need to listen to your body rhythms to find when you're most productive. They then go on to tell you that you will be most productive in the morning after you've woken up. Your sub-conscious mind hasn't fully shut down yet so you should be overflowing with ideas. Yeah right.

I'm not a morning person. I might get up at 6:30 in the morning but I'm not fully functioning until 10:00 am. If I have difficulty in remembering how to get dressed in the morning how am I suppose to be creative and eager to write? I'm just lucky I have autopilot on my car for the drive in to work.

If I tried to write something in the morning it would be like "roses are read, violets are blue, I'm done." or "it was a dark and stormy night, now can I go back to bed?" The problem is the time when my brain is most active is about the time I need to go so sleep.

I'm a night person. I come alive once the sun sets. I live the vampire existence . . . at least I try to, but getting up in the morning to go to work curtails that most nights. And by the time I get home from work my eyes are so tired from staring at a computer screen that the last thing I want to do is sit down and write. I do other things to unwind. Unfortunately those other things tend to last right up until it's time to go to bed and start the process all over again.

Maybe I need to find a job like what Brandon Sanderson had before he got published. He worked as a night desk clerk for a hotel. I think he wrote 5 or 6 novels while on the job because things were slow. I don't know how much desk clerks make but it might be something to consider.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008 New Year Resolutions

Okay, here are some of my New Year's Resolutions:

1. Post to Life of a Gamer Girl blog at least 3 times a week.
2. Post to Life of a Writer Girl blog at least 3 times a week.
3. Finish and submit 3 short stories (for publication or contests)

Everything comes in 3s apparently. I would like to do more of the writing (#3) but I need to set my goals as realistic.

I've been getting ideas for a short story that I've abandoned a long time ago. I thought the story was stuck and there was nothing that could revive it. But for some reason the though popped into my head that if I applied this idea to my Exile story it might help to fix the overall error of the story. The story still might be broken but at least it's not completely dead . . . yet.