Thursday, December 30, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Is this how all editors work? Being my first experience, I think I learned a great deal in a short amount of time. I need to have the confidence to say I think something isn’t working, with evidence to back up my claim. I need to stand my ground. I did so, not as confidently as I hoped, but my point was made and I have a bit more leeway with the article.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Everything requires bubble wrap and warnings to avoid complaints and lawsuits when someone invariably gets hurt or offended by something they encounter in the world. The Internet immediately brings information to us when asked, and with the lack of restrictions comes the responsibility to ensure visitors are aware of the dangers and possible PG or higher-rated material. The following material (violence, sexual content, foul language, etc.) may not be suitable for you.
I knew I might discuss controversial topics or use adult language on my blog, so I included a warning. Is this necessary? I believe it is and isn't. I wouldn’t want someone to stumble upon something only to have the disturbing images permanently burned into their memory, although, a little shock could do them some good (I am still battling with my public image). Living in a bubble causes damage as well, folks. And I certainly wouldn’t want children to see something that might possibly steal away their innocence.
Now, what about a piece of writing submitted to a writer’s group for critique? A writer brings their unfinished piece of work in need of different perspectives and opinions in hopes of improving. Well, a member of my writer’s group submitted a chapter from his novel that addressed two adolescents’ sexual awakening in detail. The controversy of his writing set the group ablaze.
Since the submissions are sent to the members ahead of time, an email was sent to the organizer expressing disapproval and discomfort of the "pornography" and possible "kiddie porn" in the piece. The organizer then started a thread on the message board entitled: Putting Warnings on Monthly Submissions Feedback. A passionate discussion followed leading to members stepping up on their soap boxes, carelessly throwing their words around and inflicting damage to one another. It got pretty ugly. The members unnerved one another more than the writing did.
As I read through all the posts, I weighed my own opinion on the piece of writing and the idea of imposing warning labels on submissions. Yes, the detailed scene did jar me a bit, but it was not the homosexual nature of it, but rather the question of the scene itself as part of the entire piece. It felt disconnected. I wasn’t sure if the scene gave insight to the characters, moved the plot forward, or if it was like a rock in your shoe, no real purpose.
I believe my thoughts and questions about the scene would help the author gain perspective on how readers respond and improve accordingly. It would give him a chance to decide what he wanted the scene to do, what the scene still needed, and ultimately, make the final decision of whether it should be kept or cut out.
Unfortunately, many members were appalled by the idea of allowing sexually explicit material into the group for critique, and asked that an author slap a label on anything with graphic violence and/or sex, giving the reader a choice to proceed or pass. If unfinished writing has a warning label, would it receive quality feedback or would preconceived notions taint it? Wouldn’t the author want the readers to respond to something in the moment? I think the immediate reaction to shocking material, positive or negative, would be helpful to the author. If for nothing but determining the audience for the piece.
I understand the group is made of many different people with diverse religious, political and emotional backgrounds, but do you think warning labels on writer’s group submissions are necessary?
Friday, December 3, 2010
Word count: 37, 198
The Winner’s Circle. The adoring fans delight in the triumphant victory as they surround the winner. Cheers and confetti rain down, while the champion embraces their loved ones, accept gifts and gracefully bows to the acclaim. The glory to win NaNoWriMo, unfortunately, was not mine this year.
Obstacles of work, holidays, a stomach virus, and exhaustion proved far more difficult than I anticipated. My typing and imagination stalled at 37,000 words and I bowed my head in defeat as the clock ticked closer and closer to 11:59 pm.
An admirable attempt I think. I pushed myself to write a novel and I’m almost finished. First chapter tie down many writers for weeks, while I am riding the wave of the rising action about to clumsily type the climax and conclusion. In one month, I have come so far as a writer and now hold an almost complete first draft in my hands, soon to be revised.
The pride I feel is comparable to the winners. What I learned about my strength and writing capabilities and what this insane challenge holds in store for its participants only makes victory possible next year.
I would like to take this moment (I prepared an acceptance speech) to thank everyone who supported me through this confounding experience, urged me to continue writing when I wanted to give up, sat with me in Borders furiously typing, and dispensed sage advice. Knowing how many people stood behind me brings tears of happiness. As my token of appreciation, my first novel will be dedicated to you. Thank you.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Current word count: 24,051
The weekends. A time to sit down, shirk all other responsibilities and write. Let’s be serious. Melting into the couch with my boyfriend Kevin is far more appealing. Although, I found time on Saturday morning while he worked to update 13 more attraction listings for my internship and scribbled a few drab words for my much-neglected blog, but still no NaNo writing.
My goal was to reach 20,000 words by Saturday so that I could get myself back on track, but I fell short of my goal. BUT, I did manage to make it up today by writing over 5,000 words! I’m a writing animal. 3,200 of those words were written in two hours at my weekly Write-In at Borders fueled by Alex’s (fellow Wrimo) yummy brownies and chocolate chip cookies that smelled like Christmas and cold-brewed marble mocha iced coffee.
As the Write-In came to an end, we discussed our concerns and dilemmas with our novels. Alex asked me and one other participant, Greg, to put excerpts of our story on our NaNoWriMo website homepage. Make my words available for readers? I felt the cold, icy hand of fear squeeze my heart, making my eyes bulge. Of course I immediately declined the suggestion. There is no reason my terrible words should be thrust upon unsuspecting readers. She assured me that writers are much harder critics of their own work than readers. I came home and checked over a few sections and concluded the only thing I would accomplish from publishing an excerpt of my novel is shame.
Once I got over the mini spasm attack, I took a look at the amount of words I’ve written so far, and I can’t believe it. 24,000 words. I’m finally connecting with my story and can’t wait to write each scene. I’m having a lot of fun writing, watching my story and characters evolve. It’s just not ready for public eyes.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Current word count: 13,061-17,341
One caveat for NaNoWriMo participants: Avoid bookstores. Seeing the shelves of new writers, wishing my name were there, is defeatist. It leaves you in a desolate place where doubt and fear swallow you whole.
Crap. All I have written is crap. Literary junk food is the only level my novel might attain, and literary is overly optimistic.
The dialogue is suffocating the narration. There is too much and it’s starting to annoy me. Lexi is a silent main character. No one, including me, knows what she’s thinking. Clearly, balance does not exist in my writing toolbox.
Revision is an inaccurate word to describe the next stage once I’ve finished writing. Complete overhaul sounds better. Reading my words brings on fits of despair. Don’t even get me started on the lack of interesting in my sentences. You would have thought I was a first grader just learning to put words together to make sentences. Quantity over quality. Wait, I think that was the goal of the challenge. Either way, my writing is awful, but at least my word count is catching up.
Current word count: 12,197
I didn’t get any NaNo writing done until 10 o’clock tonight. I worked on my internship and web design class earlier. Theresa Hegel from The Intelligencer newspaper (http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/the_intelligencer.html) interviewed me regarding my participation in NaNoWriMo. I’m excited she’s going to plug my blog in the article. Since I waited until the end of the day, I only wrote about 800 words.
Fear kept me from writing today. Fear of the words needed to get back on track. How silly. I am truly enjoying the writing experience and the creation of my novel. Fear shouldn’t be able to wiggle its way into my psyche. One attempt to block fear: I place index cards with statements and words of encouragement around my writing area to spur me on. It still finds a way to paralyze my fingers and confuse my thoughts.
My inner editor has been whispering through the cracks in the box its been locked in, too. Apparently my characters are in service to my plot, when the plot should be in service to the characters. What?!?! Basically, my characters are the main attraction in a novel, and the plot should reveal details and provide insight to them. It should lay the path the characters will grow, evolve, learn, or remain stagnant. Right now, the characters just decorate the plot.
The whispers continued, exposing more flaws. I need more internal monologue from Lexi, my main character. The setting needs development to ensure my words will create images of Willow Hill in the minds of my readers. I can hear wind shaking the stubborn yellow and orange leaves on the trees outside, but weather is almost completely absent from the novel’s existing pages, not so realistic. Currently, my novel takes place in a forgettable two-dimensional world. Crap. Unfortunately none of these problems will be fixed until the revision stage. Ahhh! Where the hell is Nov. 30th?
I’m tired and my eyes won't stay open. Tomorrow is another day.
Current word count: 8,076-9,985
Well, I spent an hour and a half completing the murder scene. The victim, Ken, is dead from multiple stab wounds. Those almost two thousand words came quickly. Now, I have to get myself ready to tackle the police investigation scene next.
As a former English teacher, my crime scene investigation and police procedural skills are limited to what I’ve read and seen on T.V. It’s really important that it sounds realistic.
Barnes and Noble has a set of books on the shelves of the writing/publishing section covering these subjects. I could always go to the police station across the street from me and do some research as well, but I think right now I need to focus on getting the story on the page. Research, although should have been done before the writing and outlining began, will need to be done during the revision stage.
I need a break.
Current word count: 5,924-8,076
Well, I have slacked off for the last 3 days. The shame has latched onto my back, pulling me down. Luckily, I met up with a few other Wrimos at Border’s for a Write-In and got myself back on track. We all accomplished 2000 words in the two hours and earned the Socializing badge. Go Team!
I find working independently with other writers motivating. It was comforting to share space and talk when moved to, and encourage each other to write. A more productive environment than what is set up at my house. None of us were tempted to putter around on Facebook or e-mail for fear of being caught. We enjoyed it so much we are meeting up again next Sunday.
Unfortunately, I am still further behind that I would like to be. I might try to write a bit more tonight before I go to bed, but no promises.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I’m really tired today. Writing is very exhausting. Luckily, many of the attractions updates I worked on today for my internship were not in the database. It afforded me more time to get other things done, write more, and see my boyfriend.
All my grand plans were thwarted when UPS delivered my greenhouse. I was going to wait to put it together, but my mom offered her assistance. It took us about an hour and there is still one pole that is not completely in its place. It was a bitch to get together, and the frustration made us edgy. Several times either one of us would have killed someone if they stepped too close.
My exhaustion rose to a new level. Because I couldn’t find the energy to write, I put my outline and character sketches on index cards. That’s where I left the day, but it a total waste it was not.
My boyfriend, Kevin, came over and imparted a few words of wisdom. He told me to write about my fatigue, even if it didn’t have anything to do with my scene. He said I could only then really understand what fatigue felt like. He also told me to write in information that I skipped in a previous chapter, perhaps a character reflecting on earlier scenes. Then I could go back during revision phase and move things around.
Throughout the challenge I can earn badges for different accomplishments. I believe if I were to write information into places it doesn’t fit, but is pertinent to the novel would count as an attempt to pad words. I think I would buy the badges if I earn several more through the month. All the badges:
the Eureka Moment
Hopefully, tomorrow will bring more energy to write.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
If I can’t be, all that I could be, would you still love me, she thought as she watched him sleep. Something was always missing, constantly nagging her. She wanted to talk about the insanity drowning her. Her quick, shallow breaths woke him.
“Are you alright?” he asked, turning to face her.
“I can’t sleep.”
“What’s on your mind?”
Biting the tip of her thumb, she shook her head afraid to tell him. Her chest got tighter, knowing something needed to be said, but couldn't find the courage. What if my words chase him away?
“Talk to me.”
Overwhelmed by all the choices she faced everyday. What am I going to do with my life? She left her last job with no intention of ever going back. Eager to move forward, she bit off more than she could handle.
Shaking her head, pushing the sheets away, she got out of the bed. He followed as she walked into the living room and sat on the couch.
“Amy, you have to talk to me. I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s going on.”
She wanted to tell him she felt powerless. Everything was hitting her so fast, and she couldn’t keep up or catch her breath. Succumbing to doubts of success made her want to disappear. She squeezed his hand unsure if he would stay with her if she didn’t amount to anything.
“I can’t do this?”
“Do what? Please talk to me.”
“Dan, I can’t breathe. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“Well, you aren’t going to get passed this if you aren’t willing to talk about it.”
Her thoughts chaotically ran around her mind, moving too fast to be spoken. She feared her meltdowns were starting to weigh on him. Any sane man would get fed up with this weakness and leave. I rely on him for so much, but how long will it last?
“I’m afraid I’m going to lose you.”
“Because my life is such a mess and I can’t get my shit together. I’m afraid my depression is going to wear you out and you’ll leave.”
She turned her back to him, afraid to see his face. She dropped his hand, stood up from the couch and moved to the window. He got up and stood behind her as she watched the flag waving in the night wind. Out of frustration, he grabbed her shoulder so he could see her face as he spoke to her.
“Number one, stop running away from me. How can I be there for you, if you won’t let me?”
“I’m so scared. I feel myself falling.”
“Grab onto me.”
“But . . . I feel so heavy in your arms.”
“I can handle it, just hold on.”
She looked at him, tears filling her eyes. I don’t know if I can hold it together anymore.
“When will this get easier?”
The tears finally fell down her face as she crumbled into him. His strong embrace made her feel safe, like nothing could wound her. She wanted to stay there forever.
“I don’t think it gets easier. You just eventually get stronger.”
Looking up through her tears, she kissed him hard. You’ve got the love I need to see me through this.