Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming! (Or: Okay, vacation's over, GET BACK TO WORK!)

It's been a very nice few days.

After the 28th, I wrote a few more paragraphs of my WIP, and then gently put it aside so I could, you know, rejoin the real world for a while. In terms of writing, it's been a relaxing few days.

And now, it is time to return to the schedule.

I am terrible--terrible!--at holding onto a story if I walk away from it for more than a few days. Scenery fades, the characters voices become quieter in my head, the whole plot gets kind of fuzzy and vague. After putting so much effort into the past 30 days, the last thing I want to do is let post-Nanowrimo letdown (read: laziness) destroy my ambition to finish the dratted thing.

So, back in the saddle I go! When I left off at 50k, I had about 8 chapters and a fair portion of the conclusion written. Hopefully I can pick up where I left off and continue in a nice, chronological way towards the conclusion :P I'm not sure how many words this project is going to be ultimately, but it feels like a doozy :)

How do you keep writing after the frenzy that is Nanowrimo? How much time do you take off before approaching your writing again?


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nov. 28: 50226. THE END! (sort of!)



*points up*


I have cleared the 50k NaNoWriMo mark. Two days ahead of schedule! Hooray hooray!

Is the novel finished? Hell to the no. I have my beginning and most of my ending, but there are immense holes gaping in the middle, and I actually reached 50226 without writing my very last scene (getting there!).

So did I "win"? Yes and no.

I won in that I got a sizable chunk of a novel I've been itching to write since, uh, 2007 down on paper. I like the plot, even if my MC focus ended up shifting from my original protagonist to said protagonist's 9-year old sister. I like the pace, I like the dialogue. Actually, I like almost everything about what I have so far. I still feel motivated to continue on and try to finish it. In that respect, I won.

I did NOT win in that I did not write a complete novel in 50k words and 30 days. That is the letter of the competition, if we're being completely honest. COMPLETE a novel in 30 days/50,000 words, not complete LARGE PIECES of a novel.

That said, we had a great pep talk from one of the guest authors, who suggested that we use Nanowrimo as yet another writing tool in the author-ley arsenal. Tools work in different ways for different people. If Nanowrimo helps you get out a complete draft of a novel, or heck even the bulk of a complete draft, and you're happy with it, then Nanowrimo is working as a tool in that way for you. It certainly did for me.

And now, my novel and I are going to sleep. I have a full work day tomorrow, and several hundred thousand more words to write!

Congrats to everyone who has completed NaNoWrimo thus far, and good luck to those still trucking! Keep writing!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nov. 27: The Home Stretch

Word Count: 46432 and counting

I have been remiss with my blog this weekend. But I am happy to report that I have not been remiss with my Nanowrimo WIP.

After a delightfully turkey-and-family filled Thanksgiving, my husband, sister and I spent much of Friday putting up the outdoor Christmas lights in my parents' yard. This has become a bit of a tradition for my sister and I, and it means my parents don't have to do it down the road when it's later (and infinitely colder) in the season.

We also celebrated my sister's birthday early because she had to return to university on her actual birthday, and I had to work on said day as well. It made for a very nice day.

Since I was spending time with the fam during the day, most of the writing happened at night, on this old laptop. It is the slowest machine on the planet, but at least it works. I made very good progress on Thursday, believe it or not, and managed to stay at least a day ahead of schedule each time. Tonight I am hoping to clear tomorrow's required minimum of 46666.

I can't believe Nanowrimo is almost over for another year! I have actually started writing the concluding scenes, though I have still MANY chapters between where I currently stand and the conclusion. I realized pretty early on that this story was going to be longer than 50k, but I at least want to have "The End" written by the end!

I will do my best to blog faithfully from now til the end of the month, and not fall down on the blogging job like I did last year. Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving weekend, and I hope you keep writing!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nov. 24: Happy Thanksgiving and Other Things

Word Count: 41401 and counting

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope everyone could be with their loved ones today, and have many things to be thankful for. I for one am thankful for my sister/writing buddy, who is sitting next to me laboring over an extensive philosophy paper while I hack away at my WIP; my mother for cooking an absolutely fantastic turkey dinner for us and a SECOND turkey dinner earlier in the day to take to our neighbors who had a medical situation that did not allow them to cook their own Thanksgiving meal; and my husband for keeping me supplied with tea and other vital fluids until he went to bed a few minutes ago.

Know what else I'm thankful for? Clearing 40k.

I'm hoping to hit 42k tonight, which will put me ahead of tomorrow's (the 25th) word minimum, as tomorrow is going to be a busy day and I don't foresee a LOT of writing happening :S So I hope everyone was able to enjoy their holiday and family and fun, and were also able to get some quiet time to do writing!

Talk to you all after the turkey coma wears off :)


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nov. 22: Repeat After Me: I Will Not Be Distracted by Youtube, I Will Not Be Distracted by Youtube

Word Count: 38477 and counting

Yesterday was spent in pursuit of finishing my last paper of the quarter, so that I could spend all of today writing. Today, I finally caught back up in my word count, and am even trying to get ahead again, because there is a Certain Holiday coming up which will involve Much Family Time and very little Writing Time (not that my family isn't very supportive of the Nanowrimo madness, but I would prefer not to have to stress about making word count while eating turkey dinner).

I am having one very serious problem in this last week, however: The Internet.

Specifically, Youtube.

I realize this is the equivalent of getting sucked in to watching Reality TV and am appropriately ashamed but HOLY COW PEOPLE, this is getting serious. I just spent a good forty-five minutes clicking through clips of the last Harry Potter movie. THIS IS NOT CONDUCIVE TO WRITING!

The Internet is so annoying like that. On the one hand, it has been a treasure trove of information about Victorian dress, airships, geography, and other important stuff. On the other hand....Youtube. Facebook. Twitter. Pick your poison, they're all there.

What is your biggest Internet vice/distraction?

Good luck to everyone still writing! One more week, we can do it!!!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nov. 20: And Then There Were Ten (Days. Left.)

Word Count: 33342 and counting

Guys, we are on the home stretch.

There are 10 days left to Nanowrimo. Ten days to pound out...um...roughly 17k more words. 10 days to finish, or at least make a huge dent in, our novels.



I am officially in Week Four Panic Mode. As you not doubt noticed (or maybe did not notice, this isn't exactly the most exciting blog in the world) I did not blog for two days. This coincides with the fact that I barely wrote a single word for two days. Which means the lovely lead I had built up earlier in the month is now GONE. KAPUT. NO LONGER.

On top of that, I have a final paper due Tuesday for my last class of the quarter. I have written...one page of that paper. Which means I need to basically spend my whole day off tomorrow WRITING THAT PAPER. Which means guess what will NOT be written?


Let the freaking out begin......NOW!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nov. 17: There is Such a Thing As Too Much Free Time (Or: HOW Have I only written 1k today??)

Word Count: 31544 and counting

Okay, so it's actually 1244 words, and I'm still writing for a bit longer, but seriously! Today was my day off, I was hoping to get in at least 3 or 4k!

Does anyone else have this problem? We look forward to those free days in our hectic schedules, dreaming of sitting down just as the sun is peeking over the horizon, and pounding out several thousand brilliant words with the luxury of time on our side....and then its 9pm and you realize you've basically frittered the ENTIRE DAY AWAY?!

So frustrating.

That was my day today. After a full week of work, I was really looking forward to getting a lot done today. Pfft. This is the same thing I said the day before an exam during undergrad: "I am going to study all day!" Says I.

"Oh look at the laundry that needs to be done/floors that need to be cleaned/other random things that need to be done!" Says my good friend Procrastination.

Today's procrastination came first in the form of laundry. I figured I'd better do it, as the husband comes home tomorrow and will need to do even more laundry over the weekend. So that went into the washer, and then I puttered around cleaning the kitchen until its cycle was done so I could put it in the dryer.

Then: oh, we need milk. And cereal. And hell, toothpaste. Better go to the grocery store! And WTF is wrong with my hair, better get that overdue trim while I'm out. I'm not going to get another free day for a while and my hair needs to be neat before Thanksgiving!

One hour later, hairs cut and groceries bought, I went to get the laundry out of the dryer and lo! THE DRYER TORE HOLES IN HALF THE LOAD.

So then I spent another half hour on the phone with the dryer people, filing a claim on the clothes. In the meantime, the husband got on MSN in a tizzy because of a credit card thing. So I called the bank to sort that out for him. Then, while the phone was out, I remembered oh! I was going to make a dinner reservation for Saturday, wasn't I?


It seems the more free time I have, the less I get done on my story! Does anyone else have this problem?

Anyway, I must get up early for work tomorrow, and I want to try to make up a bit of lost ground before crashing for the night, so good luck to everyone and keep writing!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nov. 16: Flyby Post and A Question

Word Count: 29567 and still transcribing

This will be a shorty, as its almost midnight, I just got home from work, and I still have a bajillion things to do before bed.

First, I wrote more than 3k today, which will hopefully put me over 30k by the time I'm finished transcribing (YAY NOTEBOOK!)

Second, a question: does anyone know what types of birds one usually finds in a harbor city like Amsterdam? There are a few which are obvious to me: seagulls, various waterfowl like ducks and geese and swans, probably crows and/or pigeons in the squares.....any others? Any birds of prey? Please share your thoughts, for I am quite stumped, and the Internet seems to be, as well.

As always, good luck with the writing, and keep at it!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nov. 15: Halfway Mark

Word count: 26780 and counting

Well, guys, we're here. November 15. Halfway between Nov.1 and Nov. 30, the beginning and the end of this crazy 30 day adventure.

How is everyone feeling about their stories? Do you like your plots? Your characters? Do you hate them? Are you seriously considering throwing in a couple of monsters, just to make them DO something? Are you finding a need to cut out some monsters, because there's too much doing and not enough of anything else?

I'm finding that my WIP's protagonist pov is shifting rapidly from my main lady to her baby sister, among other things. I am ahead of the word count game, though by not as much as I'd like at this point. Today was one of those combo work and class days where I was out of the house from 6 in the morning til 10 at night.

The good news from that previous paragraph was that tonight was my last class of the quarter! Now I just have a final paper to turn in next week, but aside from that I am finished! I am quite excited about that.

Tomorrow, I do not work until 2, so I am hoping/expecting to cover more wordy ground then. Until then, though, I will keep writing until I must retire for much needed sleep tonight.

Congrats everyone, we have made it to the halfway point! Keep at it!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Nov. 14: Gaining Ground (Or: School's Almost Over, Halleluia!)

Word count: 26489. More than Halfway!

First of all, great news: I finished my final project for one of my graduate classes today! It's all posted on my news blog if you want to go check it out.

This was the biggie project that kind of consumed a lot of my time and writing energy this month. Now that its officially finished, I hope to be able to focus more time on Nano. There is still one more finals-ish thing to do (an 8 page paper for my other class) but papers do not stress me out nearly as much as this project did. I'm quite proud of it, and even happier to be FINISHED. HAAAA.

Today, since I didn't have work, I spent a LOT of time in front of the computer writing. My lovely mother kindly supplied me with Indian food for lunch and dinner, so I didn't even have to break to make food! It is very nice to have a support network when you're taking on Nanowrimo.

Which reminds me: Thanksgiving is coming up. For me, Thanksgiving is usually a weekend where I struggle to write because, well, its Thanksgiving. I am either baking, traveling to visit my family FOR Thanksgiving, helping set up the first few Christmas decorations or, you know, EATING! In past years, I have managed to make quota either by blocking off a few hours each day to hide in my bedroom and write in a notebook, or by carrying one with me everywhere and scribbling a few sentences here and there when I have time.

Do you find that Thanksgiving can be a hard weekend to get in your daily word quota? What strategies do you use to try to meet them?

As always, good luck to everyone and happy writing!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nov. 13: Back in the Saddle and Similar Euphemisms. Also, Tea.

Word Count: 23354 and counting

Well, it hasn't been quite as spectacular as I hoped, but I am writing words again! And not insignificant amounts of words, either!

I got home from work today, made a quick dinner, and sat down to write. Various distractions ensued, as distractions often do when you're writing on a computer with Internet access (helloooo Harry Potter YouTube wormhole!). So far I've written 1134 words today. My original goal was to make 25k tonight, but as it's almost midnight, I may revise that to make the mandatory minimum of 1667 and call it a night.

I was also somewhat distracted by homework. Tomorrow, my final project for one of my graduate classes is due. It's basically finished, but my classmate and I need to meet to polish out a few wrinkles in our video and our written story. I will post a link here once it's up on the web!

While I was trying to get the ball rolling this evening, I got to thinking about the unbelievable amount of tea I consume during Nanowrimo. Truth be told, I consume an unbelievable amount of tea, period, but during Nano that amount always seems to triple or quadruple, depending on the day. And that got me thinking: what kind of beverages do you consume most when you're writing?

I'm a big tea fan. Nothing makes me happier than a hot mug of the stuff. Black, green, white, herbal, I have yet to come across one I did not like.

I know a lot of Wrimos worship at the altar of the coffee bean, and a not-so-small number would happily hook up IV's of the stuff for the month of November. Still others prefer soda, or some lovely alcoholic beverage to get them in the writerly mood.

What's your favorite drink to have on hand when you're writing?

Keep up the writing, folks! We are almost halfway there!


Nov.12: Down Time (or: the Much Necessary Break So You Don't Murder Your Protagonists)

Word Count: 22220

Forgive me blog world, for I have sinned. I forgot to blog yesterday.

Well, I didn't exactly FORGET. I worked nine hours yesterday, and then came home and just wanted to relax with my husband before we had to get up VERY EARLY (by Saturday standards) so he could get to the airport to catch his flight (which ended up being delayed BY AN HOUR, said the peevish wife who did not get enough sleep) to Spain. So the blog, I'm afraid, dropped on the priority list under 1.spend time with husband and 2. catch up on sleep.

This is around the point where I start feeling burned out by Nanowrimo. I think its a bit more pronounced this year because I'm juggling school and work at the same time (one of my class's final project is due Monday. The other--a paper--is due next Tuesday) but generally, without fail, the halfway point is where I start to seriously consider killing off major characters--even ones I like--just so the bloody story will end sooner because O.M.G. I can't take it anymore.

This is generally the time where I walk away from the story for a day or so.

Yesterday and today were pretty much those days. I wrote a little--a couple hundred words here, a couple there--but for the most part I avoided my WIP (and the computer in general) like the plague. I'm weary of it--my protagonist is irritating me to the point where I have half a mind to switch the focus to her nine year old sister who--while quite annoying--actually has the potential for some interesting character development. But I kind of need my current protagonist for the story to progress at all, so I can't give her the ax just yet. I'm weary of my setting--most of my dialogue is happening in a different language, and while I'm writing it in English, I'm trying to translate it in my head, and that's giving me a headache. My location--Victorian-era Amsterdam--is driving me a bit batty because while I think I know Amsterdam pretty well, having lived there for some time, the Amsterdam I know was heavily renovated and built upon AFTER the Victorian era, and as such most of my geographical understanding of it is not accurate for the period I'm currently writing.

So I took a break from it for a day or two, and I am hoping that tomorrow, either before or after work, I will have more of a desire to dive back into things. I'm gladder than ever that I got a bit of a cushion built in Week 1, and that I kept up some momentum through the start of Week 2, because I need that padding now.

Have you ever felt like you needed a break from your story? How did you contend with that weariness?

As always, good luck to everyone, and keep writing!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nov. 10: Just Keep Swimming. Or Writing. Or Whatever.

Word count: 20812

Remember Dory, from Finding Nemo? That plucky little blue fish with absolutely no memory, no sense of direction, and no fear? One of the most memorable (and oft quoted) lines by her was what she said to Marlin when he started getting nervous about taking on the deep scary ocean. "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming!"

On the one hand, this is Dory being silly. If I remember correctly, she turned that phrase into a song that very quickly grated on Marlin's nerves.

On the other hand, though, the animated fish from a kids movie actually dispensed some very worthwhile advice: when life--be it school, work, a project, personal stuff--gets hard, or scary, or just plain ugly, the only thing left to do really is keeping swimming.

In the case of Nanowrimo, replace "swimming" with "writing" and you have basically got the feeling that encompasses the end of Week 2. I don't know about you Wrimos out there, but this has been a HARD week to get in word counts (as it often is, idiot self). You feel exhausted and a little peeved with your characters, a lot peeved with your plot (or lack thereof) and its like you have to fight every word--hell, every LETTER--that goes down on the paper.

But the words must be written, the show must go on, and so we keep on swimming...er, writing.

Next week I have 2 days off work, one of my final projects will be finished (hallelujah) and my husband will be out of town on a conference (that I am not too keen on, but at least it means I will have the evenings to myself). Hopefully things will pick up the pace then.

Until then, everyone, just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing....


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nov. 9: Writing and Music

Word Count: 17367 and counting

One of my favorite parts of  getting ready to start Nanowrimo each year is putting together my "Writing Playlist", my collection of songs which effectively become the soundtrack to my novel. I have a few solid favorites that make each yearly rotation (Hello once again Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings), but depending on the story, there are variations. If I have no idea where the plot is going, I tend to load the list with all of my bombastic favorites: Nightwish, Serenity, Globus, Therion, and so on. If it has a heavy riff and operatic/symphonic influences, I will put it on there. Something about the driving pace of operatic metal really gets the ideas pumping through the brain.

Other times, the story has a soundtrack even before you start writing the first chapter. Last year's Nanowrimo was written almost exclusively with the new Alice in Wonderland soundtrack, with a smattering of Lacuna Coil and Enya.

This year, though. This year.

Today, my favorite band of all time, Nightwish, came out with the single to their new album. And, um, I don't think I need any other songs. I could just listen to this on repeat and it would capture just about every aspect of my current work in progress.

You can check out the video, and the band, here and here

See if you can figure out what  my story is about ;)

So what do you listen to when you write? Do you have a set list of favorites for every project, or does it vary depending on the plot/characters/other factors? Do you ever find that one song that just screams "MY STORY"?

As always, good luck and keep writing guys!


Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I making any money off of this YouTube video. It's content was released by Nightwish on their Facebook page. I'm just posting it here (with attribution back to the band) for the purpose of this blog post.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nov. 8: The Great Back Up (Or: Why Katherine Should Not Be Allowed to Own Any Electronic Devices, Ever)

When I was twelve or thirteen, I finished my first "novel", a bit of sci-fi fluff that I took far too seriously and spent many serious hours writing in a very serious (and large) green spiral bound notebook. It was my life's greatest accomplishment up til that point, and when I finally got it all transcribed (times new roman, 14 point font, double spaced, because I liked the look of many pages) onto the family Gateway, I congratulated myself on my writerly prowess and moved on to my next project.

A month later, that Gateway crashed. Since this was before the age of in-house tech support who would move all of your data onto an extra hard drive or a new computer, just about everything was lost. Since I was thirteen and not in possession of an email account, or really any concept of "backup" that 'everything' included my magnum opus.

Worse, since I naively assumed that the transcribed version on my parents' desktop would last forever and ever until the end of time, I had torn the pages out of the notebook to use it for something else...and lost them. In one month, nearly a year of work was gone. Poof. Into the cyber void.

I am not what you would call a fastidious saver-of-documents. I once nearly lost my entire portfolio of finished and unfinished fiction pieces when my laptop had a meltdown. Had it not been for my clever brother, who had backed everything up on his own desktop when he set my laptop up for me (perhaps unconsciously planning for my laptop's inevitable death at my hands), I would have lost every word I had written in the past 6 years. After that particular event, I bought myself an 80GB external hard drive, and obsessively backed it up every night....for about a month.

My husband is a fastidious saver-of-documents. Thumb drives litter our apartment, and I'm fairly certain he would be lost without his external hard drive, which goes with him to and from work. For the new quarter, I needed an external hard drive for one of my classes--one with more space than my 80 gigs--so I bought a 250 gig one.

Which I promptly lost.

Without ever even opening the blasted box.

Yes, it is as awful as it sounds.

However, there is one way in which I can usually be counted on to save my work. It's not the most reliable, but I've turned it into an art: email.

I send my documents to multiple email addresses so that at least A DRAFT of whatever I'm working on at the time will be floating somewhere in my inbox, relatively safe from any C-drive related disasters or my own incompetence. Today, I finally did just that for my Nano-novel and its notes.

So how do you back up or otherwise protect your novels? Do you email them to yourself? Print copies? Use a drive of some sort?

Happy Day 8, everyone. Good luck and keep writing!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Nov. 7: Welcome to Week Two (And This Is Why Getting Ahead Is A Good Thing )

Word Count: 15353

Paper. Article. Paper. Article. Project with classmate. Class. More project with classmate. Home, just now, at 10.45pm.

The good news: I did get some writing done on my commute downtown!

The bad news: I've no idea how much, but it was not a lot, I'm afraid. And I spent the rest of the day doing oodles of homework and things for finals.

This is why we get ahead while we can, people. Welcome to Week Two, where Everything That Can Go Wrong, Will.

Good luck!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nov. 6: 15k by Sunday or Bust part 2

Word Count: 15060 (!!)

I think the above says it all.

15k by Sunday, and I made it with 10 minutes to spare. Yay!

And now, I am off to bed before I collapse.

Did everyone else make their goals for the weekend? Big or small, they all count! Good luck writing, everyone!


Nov. 6: 15k by Sunday or Bust part 1

Word Count: 13265

There are, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, one and a half hours left in Sunday, November 6.

I have 1735 words left to write to reach 15k by Sunday.

Can it be done? We'll soon find out.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nov. 5: Explaining Nano to Non-Writers (Or: Yes, I AM Crazy, Thanks for Asking!)

Word Count: 11076. 15k, I WILL meet you by Sunday night!

All through high school and undergrad, when people would ask me what I "did" or what I "wanted to be", I would find myself tongue-tied, tripping over words as I tried to come up with a way to say "I'm a writer" or "I want to be an author" in a way that would not elicit a patronizing smile or, worse, wide-eyed confusion.

I imagine anyone who loves an art form runs into this problem at some point in life. We live in a society that favors the Protestant ideal of hard work all the time and reaping the rewards of that hard work. Writing a story, composing music, drawing a beautiful landscape...those things aren't seen as "hard" or "work", and people simply can't get their heads around the fact that someone would want to make a career out of it.

Which is why the next question, when I inevitably manage to spit out, "I am/want to be a writer", is "okay, well what do you plan to do to pay the bills?"

Fair question, particularly in this economy. There are plenty of majors in university that segue directly into an easily identifiable career with job security: teacher, doctor, nurse, lawyer, accountant, you name it. And with job pickings as slim as they are, I can easily see why someone would want to go into a career that at least gives them a level of expertise in a particular field. The more arts-related programs--English, Creative Writing (the majors with which I graduated), Music and so on--don't carry quite the same level of oomph in the big world of money-making.

As one of my coworkers at Starbucks once put it: "you could throw a rock in the air, and when it comes down it would hit twelve English majors."

So it's even harder to explain to someone not just that I want to make what most consider a hobby (writing) into a career, but that for the entire month of November, I am devoted to writing--and completing--a novel-length work of prose.

"Do you plan to get it published?" Is usually the first question, usually followed by dismay when I tell them likely not. "But then what's the POINT?"

Again with the Protestant work-hard-reap-benefits model. The idea that the exercise itself, though it garners no actual profit financial or otherwise, is "profitable" in other ways tends to elude a lot of people. But the simple fact is that most of the things we write will never see an editor's desk. Does that mean we shouldn't write them? No. The only time we shouldn't write a story, paint a picture, or create a song is when that story/picture/song doesn't bring the maker any happiness. Then its time to move onto a different project.

I still get stuck sometimes when people ask me what I'm "doing now". There's the unconscious desire to be validated: "I'm getting my Master's degree in Journalism" I often say.

But other times, I just say the most basic truth: "I'm a writer."

How do you respond when people ask you what you "do" for a living? And how do you explain Nanowrimo to non-Nanowrimos?

As always, good luck to everyone!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nov. 4: Making Up Ground and 15k By Sunday

Word Count: 6912 words and counting, goal is to clear 7200

Good news, everyone: I don't work tomorrow AND we turn our clocks back one hour. This means several uninterrupted hours of writing!

Because of yesterday's poor output, today I really wanted to push to get ahead of the day's required 1667. I've left it behind, mercifully, and am gunning for 7200 tonight to give me an edge on tomorrow. However, for the weekend I've set a slightly (very slightly) more ambitious goal for myself: 15000 by Sunday evening.

Generally by day 6 if you have 10k you're right on target to finish on time. However, I know from experience that "on target" quickly becomes "grossly behind" in Week Two. At least for me, it always does. I think this is because Week Two almost always and without fail was the week prior to some big project or exam for school....aaaand this time is no different. My final project for one of my journalism classes is due two Mondays from now, which means I'll be spending all of next week trying to get it finished and in working order.

Hence, the desire to be 5k ahead of schedule. So that when Week 2 inevitably kicks my rear, I at least have some words between myself and utter failure.

Today was another poster day for the notebook, however! I brought it to work, wrote during my 15 minute break, my lunch hour and the train ride home. Now I'm adding to what's been transcribed, in between writing the article for that final project and another paper (3 down, 3 to go!) for a different class.

So what are everyone's goals for the weekend? 15k by Sunday? More? Less? Good luck, whatever they are, and happy writing!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nov. 3: Life Intervening in the Novel-Writing Process (or: Why Everyone Should Get a Notebook. Stat.)

Word Count: not sure, words not transcribed

This doesn't bode well, y'all. I'm 3 days in and already I've had a day where I could barely write a thing.

This is to be expected, obviously. Very few people can devote endless hours of their days to writing (in fact, I think I talked about that in an earlier post, didn't I? Yes, yes I did) and as a result time management becomes both the bane and salvation of our existences.

For me, most of the time it goes well. Today, however, it did not go so well.

I usually work mornings at my store--opening shifts from 6.45 in the AM until 3 or 4 pm. Today was a 4pm day. Only today, unlike most days when I would go home, park my butt in front of the computer and get to homework and/or writing, I instead hopped in my car with my classmate and we went to do some photography and interviewing for our final project.

While that was a great deal of enjoyment (and quite educational too, actually!) I did not end up home until almost 9.30 pm. I showered, ate, and am now sitting here, at just after 10.30pm.

I have to be at work again at 6.45 tomorrow.

Did I mention that my commute to work is about 20 minutes? 30 these days because the road is under construction?

Which means I really need to try to be in bed by, uh, now if I want to have any sort of capacity for work or even simpler things like, I don't know, thought.

But that leaves me with a conundrum. I wrote probably a few hundred words during my lunch break at work today. I couldn't write on the train ride home because I had my classmate with me, and that would have been rude. I reached 5735 words yesterday, which means I am past today's minimum 5001 to still be on target, but it means my lead has already taken a huge hit.

But here's the good part: I still wrote. It was only a couple hundred words--if that--in my $4 notebook, but they were words.Which I wrote for my WIP. Today. No computers, electricity, outlets or other technological witchcraft required. Just paper, pen, and a brain.

This is why longhand should never go far from any writer's repertoire, no matter how much we love our computers. Our computers can't always be with us and sometimes we don't have time to boot them up, sit down, plug in, and type. But we almost always have time to scribble a few words here and there. And eventually, those words here and there will add up to 50,000 or a full novel.

And that is pretty awesome.

Keep at it, everyone! Happy writing!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Nov. 2: Pacing a Story (or: Help! I'm 4k in and STILL in Chapter ONE!)

Word Count: 4093

One of the things I've always struggled most with in writing fiction is pacing my chapters appropriately. When I was younger, I was a big fan of the abrupt, cliff-hanger chapter ending--it was clean, a sharp and decisive cut that compelled you to go to the next chapter and absolved me of having to tie up any loose ends that may have been hanging because that's the POINT of cliffhangers, right?


I've tried to break that habit in my last few projects. I had moderate success with my draft that I wrote over the summer. As I delve into Nano 2011, though, I'm finding I'm encountering the opposite problem of the Cliffhanger Chapter: the Chapter That Never Bloody Well Ends.

I'm sure we've all been there: in trying to set up the characters, the setting, the very plot foundations, we just drag on and on and ON with what feels like meaningless descriptions and filler. And while the word count keeps ticking up, I can't help but feel like I'm cheating--these are meaningless words I will have to strike out later because they are just THAT BAD. You just want the story to move on already, to get to those exciting scenes and witty dialogue you have playing in your head.

In his book "No Plot? No Problem", author and Nanowrimo founder Chris Baty advises writers not to worry too much about unwieldy chapters, as they will eventually pace themselves out as we find our rhythm and our stories find their voices. This is true,  to an extent: pacing gets easier as we gather momentum and we're not trying to get the fledgling story off the ground. I know some people who don't even attempt to break their story into chapters until they've written the whole manuscript and can find the natural "breaks" in the story. Others write until they get bored, then "end" the chapter so they can start in another spot for the next chapter.

In fact, I think I just did that. Hmm.

How do you end chapters that seem to be dragging on too long?

Until tomorrow, keep at it everyone! Good luck!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nov. 1: And We're Off (Our Rockers)!!

First, a disclaimer: I can't be held responsible for any typos in today's post. For one thing, I'm violently sleep deprived (see below). For another, I have 11 pounds of cat sitting on my arm right now, which makes typing unbelievably hard.

So. November 1. D-Day. Go time. Zero Hour. Etc.

I spent the day stacking and then re-stacking Christmas cards on tables at work. This somewhat tedious task was nicely broken up by the occasional bodily injury courtesy of our supply dumbwaiter, the door of which I kept whacking my head against when I went to fetch more Christmas cards to stack.

Then I went to class, where I panicked about the state of my final project (due in TWO WEEKS) and made plans with my partner to go out and do some field reporting  the next day (today).

Then--THEN!--at almost 10.30pm, I came home, and my day got good and started. Because NaNoWriMo 2011 was starting in around an hour and a half. I was STOKED. And freaking out. I got on gchat to share motivational speeches with Gia, but we spent most of the time leading up to 12am alternately going "WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO WRITE?!" and "Oh my god I'm too old to be up this late."

Nevertheless, 12am rolled in and the words began rolling out. They weren't pretty words--I misspelled a billion of them, if the red squiggles all over my document are any indication--but they were words that started the existence of characters and the vague outlines of a plot. For now, that will do.

It's my hope to blog at least once each day for the month of November. I attempted this last year, with less than spectacular results, but hopefully I'll have more success this year. I will even include proper author-y posts, like discussions over ideal writing music! And word processing programs! And snacks!

For now, though, I need to find a new sleeping place for my cat, because I need to get back to my novel.

Happy Nano 2011 everyone! Good luck and happy writing!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Behold, Blogging "On the Go"

This is basically a test to see if this funky app for my iPad actually works!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Lack a Pithy Title! I Also Lack a Proper Post!

You guys, we need to put forth a proposal to make the day longer than a measly 24 hours.

Either that, or someone needs to invent a miracle drug that will give people the ability to stay up/stay alert/stay alive for multiple days at a time.

Preparations continue for the epic NaNoWriMo 2011 expedition. I have an idea that I like very much--now the big challenge is just keeping the creative fire stoked with plot ideas until November 1 when I can actually start WRITING. I am doing my best to keep detailed notes, but that is easier said than done between work and school.

Speaking of the aforementioned, I'm attempting to get the bulk of my work for school finished as early as possible, so to not have many projects hanging over my head like anvils by the end of the quarter (which, naturally, is the middle of November). I can't really control my work schedule, but I can at least control how much homework I finish in one sitting! I've taken to running up to the school's computer lab during my work break (my store shares building space with my university) to Photoshop pictures for this article, or download reading for that class. Today I worked from 6.45am-3pm, and my classes started at 5.45, so I spent the intervening hours working on a paper that's due next week, one of two (the other of which I finished yesterday because it was the shorter of the two). Basically, if I'm not actually in class or at work, I'm glued to a computer somewhere, doing class and work related stuff.  The upside of this is that much work is getting finished, and finished earlier than usual, which is nice. The downside of this, of course, is that it leaves very little time for anything else.

But! But! All of this stress now pales in comparison to the excitement I feel that November 1 is only 13 DAYS AWAY. Thirteen. My lucky number! Here's hoping this is a lucky NaNo season!

How are you preparing for NaNoWriMo? What projects are you trying to get finished early to free up your November?


Thursday, October 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

I was fifteen or sixteen when I wrote my first NaNoWriMo. A friend from a parenting forum my mother frequented at the time told her about it, encouraging her to try it out and my mother passed the information along to me, in a half-bewildered, half-impressed, "it sounds unbelievably stressful, but could be fun!" sort of way.

It was unbelievably stressful. It was unbelievably fun.
I sat down on November 1st with absolutely no story idea in my head. None. I was going through a creative dry patch at the time, and had hoped that the prompt of "50k/30days" would jump start my brain back to its usual 24/7 imagination loop. I stared at the blank Word Document for upwards of 20 minutes, with the increasing sense that the damn thing was mocking me. To shut it up, I wrote a word:


"Aha!" I said to myself. "Already this will be a proper, grown-up novel--it has a PROLOGUE!"

Of course, nothing came after "Prologue" for another half hour, and I began to despair. I went to eat dinner, did some homework, came back and put my laptop on my lap, but "Prologue" had not done what I wanted and reproduced words on its own in my absence. I fumed for a moment, and then put my hands to the keyboard again. If I could not make a story come to me, I would just start building scenery until something inspired me. This has always been one of my favorite writing tricks, writing lush, detailed scenes that may or may not ever find their way into a story. It forces my brain to think about aesthetics for a moment, rather than just pace and plot and dialogue. For someone whose work has always been heavily dialogue- and action-oriented, this has been a very useful exercise.

It was useful this time, too, and from a carefully detailed scene of a winter forest under falling snow, my "Prologue" turned into a proper prologue and I think I even got through Chapter One that night, too.

To make a long story short, I finished NaNoWriMo that year, and have been participating ever since. Most years, I clear the 50k mark on or before the 30th. Twice, I've cleared 50k, but the story was not finished (they are both sitting in a folder on my computer, each around 75k, STILL. NOT. FINISHED.) and only once I had to give up around 30k because I was studying abroad at the time and doing ten bajillion other things. And also, that particular story sucked. Well, the idea itself did not suck, but my writing was sucking immensely, mostly due to a lack of time and dedication to the task.

Which brings us to this year's NaNoWriMo. I have picked up the idea from that aborted year mentioned above, and I think I am going to try it again. Of course, not with the original manuscript (which I should probably ritually burn, holy hell is it a mess) but with the concept to start a completely new story. One with a proper plot this time. And proper characters.

With each new NaNo comes new challenges, some surmountable, others not so much. Last year, I reached my 50k goal (though that was one of the 2 WIP's that did not 'end' at 50k) despite working almost full time. This year, I am working a bit less, but I am also going to graduate school full time, and doing a lot of work for the university paper outside of school. Which means one of two possible outcomes:

1. I will become an even greater master of time management and successfully pull off a straight A quarter, get a promotion/raise at work, and write the next Great American Novel


2. I will explode

So, who else is doing NaNoWriMo? Do you have your ideas ironed out yet? How are you preparing? I am interested to hear who else is going to give up their November to the unbelievably stressful/unbelievably fun craft of writing under pressure!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pesky Priorities (Or: Why Graduate School is an Exercise in Futility)

First, the editing continues! Slowly, but it steadily, and with much swearing and head-slapping on my part. My cat has taken up helping me with this process by chewing furiously on the corners of chapters she finds particularly offensive.
Unfortunately, my editing may have to go on hiatus until the winter. My workload at school and work has been increasing steadily as the quarter wears on, and I'm finding it harder and harder to make time for editing and other story-related work. Add to that the fact that I am trying to percolate ideas for Nanowrimo 2011 (oh yes. You didn't think I was done trying to kill my brain, did you? Of course not.) and my brain barely has enough space left over to remind me to do other important things. Like eat dinner. And sleep.
This morning I got up to go to work for my 8am shift, only to get to work and realize I had written my schedule down incorrectly and was actually not on the clock until 11am. Normally, I would have used this time to read, buy a coffee, maybe scribble some story notes.
Instead, I am using it to bang out a paper due next week, and also try to get the last of the interviews I need for an article due this evening. I feel guilty even taking the time to post this blog entry, because holy crap I've no time for this need to woorrrrrrk!
This, I would like to point out, is the only thought I have every second of the day that is NOT spent working feverishly on schoolwork. And that doesn't make for very thorough editing.
So, it would seem I have to re-prioritize, as much as it pains me. Editing will have to go on hold for a few weeks, and then I'll start anew from the beginning (and hey, maybe find more things I missed!). In the meantime, I need to get this school work finished so that when November 1 rolls around, I have a lighter workload and can actually focus on the NEXT project! Heee!
Until then, keep at it everybody!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Putting on my Editor's Hat (Or: Why in the name of all that's good did I write this crap again?!)

I don't remember who said it, but one of my favorite quotes about writing is actually about editing:
"There are no great writers, only great re-writers."

It's funny I consider that a favorite quote, given how much I DETEST EDITING.

Actually, that's not entirely accurate. I like editing. I like editing...maybe a bit too much. I have been known to get overly zealous with papers, articles, hell even greeting card messages. And not just my own, ohhhhh no. My siblings received grammatical and structural advice on many a paper, whether they wanted it or not. I correct my friends' spelling mistakes on TWITTER, for crying out loud.

But there is no one whose work I like to tear apart  more than my own. And that can be a problem sometimes.

This is what draft 1 looked like this morning, hot off the printer in all its sparkly glory:

I've no idea why it's sideways, and blogger won't let me adjust it. Bad blogger!

 I sat down intending to edit at least a few chapters today. I only managed to edit chapter 1, because after more than an hour, the sight of all my pen marks was starting to depress me.
Terrible! Fix! Why did you write this, fool?! GAH!
At one point, I apparently got so fed up with some of my word choices that I left a comment at the very beginning of the chapter:
"Better adjectives, please"
I freely admit to having a slightly out-of-control Inner Editor, and I would bet money that I'm not the only writer out there who is perhaps a little excessively critical of her/his own work. 

Okay, maybe more than a little excessively critical.

The simple fact of the matter is that no story pops out of our heads completely formed and perfect. There are plot holes, inconsistencies with characters (prime example: my main character's eye color changed thrice--THRICE!--in the first seven pages. Someone did not take good enough character notes! Someone also mentions eye color TOO OFTEN in the first seven pages!) and a host of spelling and grammatical errors that we just ignore in the first run-through because ohmygodjustneedtogetthiswrittendooooowwwwn!

Yeah. The beauty and grace and polished prose that we all dream of when we first set out on the writing journey? Definitely not going to completely show its face until the draft's undergone an edit or two or two thousand. It's not glamorous, and sometimes its downright depressing, but if you love that story--if you love those characters and that world you created and you want other people to see them as you see them (read: awesome)--you will grit your teeth, put on the editor's hat, and you will edit the bloody thing because it deserves it. And because no matter how good we are as writers, at the end of the day it's the rewriting that makes the story great.

Now, if you will excuse me, there is a pan of stress-relief chocolate cupcakes cooling on my oven, and they need to be iced (and, let's face it, CONSUMED NOM NOM NOM) before I attempt chapter 2.

Keep at it, everyone!


(p.s. In the interest of accuracy and proper citation, I looked up the above quote for a source, and am no less flummoxed. Half of the internet is certain Ernest Hemingway said it, the other half thinks it was Nabokov and a handful insist it was Stephen King and/or their own English professor. Help me out, fellow writers: is it one of the above? Someone else entirely?)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Finished (draft 1, anyway)

After several months, countless cups of tea, and more than a few despairing wails and head-desk scenarios, I have completed the first draft of my WIP. Yes.

Draft 1 was finished literally a half hour before I had to leave for my first class.
Final word count: 72940
Let the editing begin.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

Fact: I love autumn.
I love the crisp mornings, the sky a fresh-scrubbed blue, bright but not HOT. I love watching the leaves burst into flaming colors, performing the most exquisite and happy dance of death as they spin to the ground in a brilliant mosaic of yellows, reds, oranges and golds. I love how sensory a season it is: kicking and crunching through those leaves, picking smooth, cool apples, carving pumpkins--so sturdy and waxy on the outside, yet fluid and slimy on the inside--and the smells. THE SMELLS, PEOPLE. Wood smoke, apple cider, cinnamon and cloves, hearty vegetable chowder, the sharp and sweet "autumn" smell in the air that gives just the barest, tiniest promise of "snow" "eventually" (although 'eventually' could be next week, given the Midwest's infamous penchant for schizophrenic season changes).
I love autumn. And this week has been very good to me with autumnal weather--cool breezy days, chill nights perfect for snuggling under the afghan my best friend made as a wedding present, drinking hot chocolate and reading. I've been enjoying it thoroughly.
In fact, there is only one tiny damper on this entire fall-related joy and rapture: school.
I start my quarter next Monday. (Read: THREE DAYS FROM NOW)
I have all my textbooks. I have almost all of my materials. I don't feel particularly panicked about the quarter the way I do sometimes. I just feel resigned, and a little annoyed. Because I know once the quarter starts, I will be writing all. the. time.
It just won't be the type of writing I WANT to do.
I put out two articles in the span of 2 days earlier this week for our annual "back to school" issue of the paper. It happens to coincide with the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 so my editor asked me to do a piece on a commemorative exhibit the Field Museum has created. I really enjoyed writing my articles. I think they are good. I am proud of them. I hope people enjoy reading them.
But it's really not what I want to spend my hours doing for the next ten weeks.
I am literally within spitting distance of the end of my WIP. It is sitting perkily at 65,000 words, and I can see it easily being finished in another 5-10k or so.
I want to be finished with this draft before Monday. I want it the way an Olympic contender wants that medal. I almost want it more than I want my next breath.
I have 3.5 hours before I have to leave for work this evening. And I have tomorrow off.
Think I'll make it?
 I hope I do. And then I shall go celebrate with a pumpkin latte.
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Find a Happy Place! (or "Writing Spaces or Lack Thereof")

Something pretty impressive has happened over the last few weeks, everyone.
I have not only made significant progress in my WIP, I think I am actually close to a conclusion.
This will be the first proper book-length piece of work I have finished siiiiiiince 2007? I think? Yes, 2007.
This has partly been thanks to the presence of a writing buddy, and deadlines, however ephemeral they may have been. I've pounded away at significant chunks of this story, and I hope to have it rounded it out in the next week or so.
This has also been thanks to a highly adaptable work space, hence the subject of today's post.
I think writers, as a rule, have some rituals or talismans they hold to in their writing process. Some people will only write with a certain type of pen, others can only write in the wee hours of the morning, basking in the blue glow of their computers. Still others have a favorite cafe they go to to get the creative juices flowing. We're creatures of habit after all.
I used to be a wee-hours-computer writer. I would get up insanely early (in the old days, before I had to be up for school) or I would just not sleep, taktaktak-ing away on my laptop. Then, early this year, my laptop died in a wash of spilled red wine. This left me with a bit of a dilemma. My father very kindly gave me an old IBM notebook from his office, but the machine, while lovely, is unfortunately quite slow, and very clunky. Writing on it made my neck and hands hurt. The story is much the same with the desktop my husband and I own now. It's a great machine (and it works at the speed of light. Hey, Windows 7, where have you been all my life?) BUT the keyboard is at a funny angle on our desk, and no matter what I do, I can't make it comfortable for long stretches of time.
Then there is the problem of the location of our desktop. With a laptop, you have a level of mobility--I would meet my writing buddies at cafes or at each others houses, or I would simply take my laptop to my bedroom for a change of scenery and a bit of peace and quiet. Now, sans laptop, I am chained to my living room, facing a wall, with the television and bookshelves right next to me, and basically a whole host of noise and distraction (like right now, we have Escala's "Requiem for a Tower" playing on the tv speakers and my husband is whistling in the background playing sudoku on the couch and the cat is under my feet chewing on the hem of my jeans). This doesn't exactly make for easy writing.
So I unplugged, and started writing longhand again.
Now, this, from someone who wrote longhand until she was thirteen and discovered she could type almost 150wpm and that was SO MUCH EASIER OHMYGOD, is a rather big deal. I am not the fastest longhand writer in the world, and sometimes it was unbelievably frustrating to have my thoughts several paragraphs ahead of my pen. BUT, it was SO. EASY. to take a notebook anywhere. I wrote on the train to and from work, I wrote at work, I wrote in the cafe around the corner, I wrote in my bedroom, I wrote on the roof deck in our apartment, I even attempted to write while working out on the elliptical (do not recommend). I would write as much as I wanted, and then transcribe onto my computer so I could track word count and page count. If I fell short of my word count goal for the day, I would go back to writing in my notebook until I got where I wanted to be.
So, the lesson of today boys and girls, is that rituals are great when you are a writer, but adaptability also helps, and you can, really, write even without your favorite tools/time of day/location.
And now, if you'll excuse me, it's a lovely day, and the roof deck is calling my name, and I have another few thousand words to write before the day is over.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Look! An Update of the Positive Variety!

It's been more than two weeks since my dog passed away. I am rather astonished that the time went by so fast. I went home a few days after she passed, and saw all of her things--her kennel, her food dishes, those puppy pads we were using for the last year or so because she kept having accidents in the house--in a neat stack by the mailbox at the end of our driveway. "FREE PUPPY STARTER KIT" said the sign stuck to the old kennel. When I asked my mom why, she said she couldn't bear to see Minnie's things unused in her corner of the coatroom, and that what with the economy making it hard for people to keep their pets, maybe someone could use a free crate/box of quality wet food/box of puppy training pads. Her collar is still in the coat room, though. Her "bling" collar, the one my sister and I picked out of her last summer (light pink with rhinestones. My dog was fashionable, people).
So I went home. No dog. It sucked. I miss her.
But you know what? Something good came out of the past two weeks: I have been writing again.
Part of it is just the therapy in the act of writing. It's a shame, because it's often angst-ridden and melodramatic, but some of us simply tend to write more prolifically when we're suffering emotionally. But another part was simply the fact that I got fed up with myself. REALLY fed up.
When I was living at home, if I got exasperated with a story, or got  writer's block, I would take Minnie for a walk. I would rant to the general air, trying out character conversations with the trees, and generally made a fool of myself. I'm certain several neighbors still wonder if I'm completely right in the head. Usually, about halfway through the walk, I would sit down on someone's lawn so Minnie could catch her breath (remember, old) and maybe chase a squirrel. One time, I sat there, bemoaning my stuck story, my inability to write, my general failure at life in general (sound familiar???) when Minnie trotted over to me, climbed clumsily into my lap, and quite literally headbutted me in the face. Bonked me in the chin, to be exact, so that I bit the tip of my tongue.
"Hey!" I yelped, leaning back. Minnie sat back, tail fluttering, and gave me a reproachful look.
oh shut it, she seemed to be saying. Quit talking about it and just do something about it, eh?
Thoroughly chastened, I took her home, sat back down to my computer, and picked my story up again.
So was her passing away another headbutt? Well, no, but it reminded me of that time, and I realized I am basically doing now what I was doing then. And that's quite enough of that, thankyouverymuch.
So I have restarted a project I was doing with my friend Gia earlier in the summer, wherein we gave each other word counts that had to be achieved by a certain date, and to hold each other and ourselves to those word counts, we had to send each other our drafts to be counted.
This actually works remarkably well, because it combines the two things I enjoy most about writing with a peer: feedback and DEADLINES. There is nothing like a ticking clock to make you lock the inner editor in a closet for a few hours and just let the ideas run wild. Because I have to have 5k written by tomorrow, goddammit, this is no time to debate between "the sky was blue" and "the sky was periwinkle."
So in the last two weeks, I've written something like twenty thousand words. Possibly more. My story, which was limping at about 25k and starting to go in circles, is now almost 50k words strong, the plot is moving in a direction I like, my characters are developing nicely (though one remains a bit hysterical for my liking. But that's for the rewrites). But I am writing, people. Writing on a consistent almost-daily basis. It's a good feeling.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The furry white muse

I could say something clever about my absence after my last post, but quite frankly I have no clever words.
We all have the things and people in our lives that inspire us, or provide us with great companionship as we go through life. One of my longtime companions, and indeed my first writing buddy, was a feisty little white dog, who fetched stuffed caterpillars, loved to chase falling leaves, and was my walking companion during those many evenings when I restlessly circled my neighborhood, searching for inspiration.
Minnie was 17 years old in June. She passed away today after a long, well-traveled, and happy life.

I am heartbroken.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

7/19/2011 1 hour exercise: portion of WIP

 This is my progress for my 1 hour stint on 7/19. It was just shy of a full hour, as I got derailed towards the end. Disappointing, but better than nothing.

The Wrecker was crouched below her on a piece of asphalt jutting out of the ice. It was soaked through, its ragged garment clinging to its gaunt frame, blue-white with cold, like a second skin. It was trembling violently, and Amy could faintly hear it talking to itself, its voice surprisingly steady and hard despite its convulsions.
            "--and you will shut up shut up shut UP or I will kill them, yes, kill every last one of them and paint our hands in their blood, yes, unless you SHUT UP." To make its point, the Wrecker dunked its head in the freezing water, holding it there until Amy was sure it would drown, only to jerk up again like it had been dragged, gasping and vomiting up lake water. It looked down at its hands as if seeing them for the first time, and to Amy’s astonishment, its lip curled in a decidedly human gesture of disgust. Then it looked up sharply, meeting Amy’s eyes, and the eerie smile slid back across its pallid features. Amy gaped at it for a moment, and then finally shook her head. Iris would have made some comment, some remark to the effect of you are weird and more than a little creepy. But Amy wasn’t Iris and, if she was perfectly honest with herself, the Wrecker looked enough like Iris to completely unnerve Amy every time she looked at it.
            “So,” she called down instead. “The Weaver. Are we going to find her, or are you just going to bide your time on this giant ice cube?” That was not much better, you idiot, she thought wearily. Her mouth was going to get her killed.
            The Wrecker scuttled up the ice like a squirrel, toes and fingers digging into crevices Amy could not see as it propelled itself over the lip of the ice. It straightened slowly--it looked even taller out in the open, Amy mused--and looked out over the vast expanse of lake between them and the shoreline.
            "Weaver," it murmured thoughtfully, before turning to look at Amy again. It's face contorted, and a low moan escaped it. It doubled over, clutching its head, clawing at the long stringy hair that was quickly freezing into stalks from its dunk in the water. Amy backed up a few steps and crouched down to observe. The Wrecker was whimpering now, like a whipped puppy, its bony palms pressed hard against its eyes. It rocked back and forth, keening as if it were in pain.
            Amy sat back on her heels, her mind spinning. She tried to recall anything Iris had told her about her dratted story, anything that could give her a clue to this bizarre creature in front of her. The Wrecker had no form, Iris had told her on more than one occasion, and that was her biggest problem with it--she had no idea what it looked like, how it operated, what its weaknesses were. All she knew was that it was wantonly destructive, and had something to do with the disappearance of her protagonist's sister. Maralee, her memory supplied. Maralee was the protagonist.
            "Is Maralee here?" She asked tentatively. The Wrecker abruptly stopped rocking, but did not lift its head. Amy pressed on.
            "Did Maralee come here when you did? Maybe she's the Weaver you're looking for?"
            Too late, she realized the Wrecker was hissing.
            It leaped at her, all limbs and teeth, and the force of it hitting Amy was enough to knock the air out of her. They tumbled to the ice, the Wrecker clawing furiously at Amy's face and throat, mercifully protected by her coat's high collar, and Amy shoved back as hard as she could, catching one of the Wrecker's wrists and desperately trying to yank it away. It snapped its teeth at her, missing her ear by mere centimeters, and Amy rolled back over her shoulder, flipping them so that she pinned the Wrecker against the snow with her forearm pressed against its throat. Still it tried to fight back, yanking Amy's hair as hard as it could, and clawing red ribbons into her arms. Amy pressed down on the creature's windpipe.
            "Stop it!" She shouted furiously, pinning one of its flailing hands with her free one. It twisted under her like an enraged animal, its eyes flashing blue-black-blue-black, its teeth bared at her even as its lips started to turn an even uglier shade of blue.
             "Stop it, or I'll kill you! Do you understand me? I'LL KILL YOU!"
            It swung at her again with its free hand, and very clearly, Amy heard it grate back, "do it."
            What? Amy started, the pressure on the Wrecker's throat wavered, and it wrestled one long leg between them and kicked Amy straight back. She landed on her back and sat up quickly. The Wrecker was still lying on the ice, staring up at the gray sky. Slowly, it sat up, its face blank. For a moment, they simply stared at one another.
            It told me to kill it, Amy thought, bewildered. It was talking to itself, and now it wants me to kill it? She watched the Wrecker, completely still except for the occasional, violent tremor that wracked its skinny frame. If it's human, or anything remotely close to one, it should be shaking uncontrollably with cold. It should be doing something, anything but sit there.
            But it did do something, she realized slowly, watching the Wrecker watch her. It had been doing something since Amy first woke up. It was talking to itself, fighting with itself.
            "What's your name?" She asked it for what felt like the millionth time. The Wrecker gazed at her stonily, but its eyes continued to flicker black, blue, black, blue, back to black again. Then, wordlessly, it rose and, grabbing Amy by the elbow, returned to the Tower. The ground beneath Amy's feet shifted and the ice groaned, the sound almost swallowed by a swell of chattering and clicking--the little beasts were moving again. She felt rather than saw the island begin to change course, kicking up great plumes of crystalline snow and shards of ice as it rotated in the water and began to float back towards the shore. Amy glanced at the Wrecker out of the corner of her eye. Was it just her, or did something like satisfaction flicker across its blank face?
            Amy wracked her memory as she watched the frightening creature, trying to hold onto the bits and pieces of the story her sister had let slip over the years. There was a clue to this whole mess standing in front of her, embodied in the monster with Iris's face and the changing eyes. If only I knew what that clue actually was.