Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I GIVE UP. And I hate lemmings, too.

AHHH. Fine. Writing every day has just become writing every other day. Deal with it.

I'd just like to let you guys know that I spent an hour and a half finishing my brother's lemming project.

In other, and better, news, I spent an hour today on the novel and got farther on the scene outline, although now I'm stuck again.

Time to do some homework.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Hi. I'm cheating today, because I'm at a loss for topics and I really need to go write my discursive essay now. This is an excerpt from a novel I started over the summer, just to get a little writing practice in. It's about vampires, because it's an easy topic with a practically built-in storyline. I did try to mix it up a little bit, but it's nothing special.

She was on the floor below, in her bedroom. The door was half open, and through it I could see her standing by the window. She was on the phone with someone.
“- well of course I think that’s strange. But really – this has nothing to do with me and I’m busy – “
There was a pause as whoever was on the other end answered.
“No, I understand,” continued Olivia. “You need to let off some steam.” Another pause. “Right now? I really can’t, Jay. No, not tomorrow either – no, listen, it’s a little complicated right now.”
I didn’t doubt that I was the “complicated”.
“You could come over here,” she offered. “Great. I’ll see you then.” She hung up, a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
I pushed the door open the rest of the way. The hinges squeaked and Olivia swung around to face me. Suddenly she looked worried.
“Hi,” she began. “Do you –“
“We need to talk,” I interrupted. “Now.”
She nodded like she wasn’t surprised and came towards the door. “We’ll go to the kitchen.”
I let her pass and followed her down to the ground floor.
The kitchen was beautiful, large and modern, all stainless steel and granite – the whole nine yards. I practically drooled. I love to cook, always have, and our little kitchen at home was always full of food. You could say it’s my coping mechanism – when I’m stressed or upset, food output easily doubles. No, I guess I should say it was my coping mechanism, since it seems I will now be feeding rather than eating. There isn’t much you can make using blood, after all. Blood sausage, I suppose. Blood pudding. Both of which I hate.
Olivia pulled a stool out from the center island and gestured. “Have a seat.” She poured herself a glass of wine, and I watched her as she moved around the kitchen. I was interested to note that it seemed to be fully stocked with food. Was it just for show? That seemed like a waste. As she was putting away the bottle Olivia asked me if I wanted anything. I looked at her blankly.
“Water? Orange juice?” She prompted.
I think I stammered out “Orange juice”; in any case that’s what she poured me a glass of. She sat down across from me. I stared down at my glass, wondering if the liquid it contained would still taste like oranges now. Since it was an easier question to ask than some of my others, I decided to start there.
“Am I even going to like this now?” I asked, staring at the thick orange liquid.
A little more viscous, a little more red…
“Hmm?” Olivia looked surprised.
“I just mean that I thought I wouldn’t want –“
“Oh, oh! Of course. I’m sorry. I keep forgetting you don’t know about any of this – you must be overwhelmed.”
I laughed, but it was without humor. “Whatever gave you that idea?” My voice was almost so sarcastic as to be painful, and I regretted it immediately as Olivia’s eyes darkened with hurt. Whatever problems I was having, Olivia was trying to help me now.
“I suppose I deserved that,” she said heavily. “To answer your question, though, we still eat and drink normal food. Not a lot, and not nearly as often as a human would, but it’s still just as enjoyable.”
So my cooking hobby was safe. But I had another question, now. “We?”
“Vampires. You and I.”
“Are there others?”
I processed that for a minute before asking, “Just vampires?”
“No. There are other kinds of – you know, I think that that’s maybe a little complicated to get into right now”
I frowned, but I wasn’t going to push it. “So what about sleep? Do we sleep?”
“Very little. An hour or two a night. I have a library, on the third floor, if you need something to do.”
I paused. I had more questions about vampires, about what they could do and what my life would be like from now on. It was becoming clear to me that I was in an entirely different world from the one I had known. But first, I needed to know for sure what had happened after the car crash.
Olivia sensed my hesitation and seemed to guess its source, because she downed the rest of her wine in one gulp before asking me to continue.
“After I left…” I trailed off.
“When you were discharged?” Olivia asked softly. I nodded.
“I-I was in the car. We were driving home.” My voice broke.
“You were brought in maybe an hour after you’d left.” Olivia’s voice was quiet, reserved. The doctor giving you bad news. “Your parents,” she paused, took a breath, and went on “were pronounced dead on arrival. You weren’t breathing; they’d revived you twice on the way over but you’d crashed again. The rushed you straight into the OR.”
When she said my parents were dead, my stomach constricted. I’d known, of course. I remembered coming to briefly in the hospital bed and screaming for them until the nurse had told me they wouldn’t come. Tears were welling up in my eyes but I held them back with sheer determination.
“They admitted you to the hospital, after that. You were on a ventilator for a few days, before you woke up. They had to keep you sedated, though, because you wouldn’t stop screaming.” Her voice broke. What a mess we were. “You got an infection. Your fever wouldn’t respond to any antibiotics. And then, maybe a week later…”
“I died.”
Olivia winced. “Almost. I turned you, to save your life. It was selfish of me but to see you suffering there – I couldn’t.”
“It’s all right,” I said. And it was. I knew there were so many things I would miss out on now, friends I would never see again, a life that couldn’t be mine anymore. But if Olivia hadn’t turned me, I would have died and I would have lost all of those things anyway.
I walked out of the kitchen without another word, leaving my empty glass on the island. I walked all the way back up to the fourth floor – I needed to be alone tonight. I had said it was all right, and it would be, but tonight I needed to mourn my family and the life that I could never reclaim.
I didn’t sleep that night.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I'm a Hypocrite Who Loves Her Books (and Her Beauty Sleep)

Ach. I wrote that whole long rant about discipline and then I didn't write for two days. But honestly, you have to balance discipline and commitment with getting enough sleep to function the next day.

So today I'm going to talk about reading, because I don't have much to say about writing. Besides, after all, every writer must also be a reader.

I think you should read what you enjoy. I mean sure, you should try new things, expand your horizons, and read the classics. But the truth is you should never read something that is just so boring that you can't get through it. It's helpful to learn from the masters, but if you can't even bear to read it you're not going to learn much anyway. And there are writers of genre fiction that tell a story so well that it doesn't matter that it's not the Great American Novel. It's a good story that makes you want to read more.

In the end, that's the most important thing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Biting Imps. And Codenames.

Today I learned that imps bite.

How did I learn this? I got three mosquito bites.

Let me explain.

I got three mosquito bites the other day on my arm. Two of them are on the outside of my forearm, close together, and one is at the base of my index finger. Earlier today I was musing aloud and said that they resembled a vampire bite, or at least the bite of a vampire with three oddly spaced fangs. My friend Blue (this is a codename; real name withheld to protect identity) suggested an imp, so that the two bites would be from teeth and the third from the tip of the tail.

And thus was my biting imp born.

 This ties in fabulously,  by the way, with my free write on "it was a dark and stormy night" which involves an imp.

So many thanks to my wonderful amiga and I find it so amazing that we are totally on the same wavelength. I encourage you all to read Good Omens, by the way; it is a fabulous book and will change your life. You will see mosquito bites and think "biting imps". And it's funny. Read it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Discipline (the Good Kind)

Hi. I didn't blog yesterday. (bad faith)

I should have, because this whole exercise, although definitely being about the novel and venting my energies, it is also about discipline.

Discipline means writing every day.

So that means that today I am writing this, although I have no clear topic in mind and nothing, really, to say.

I could continue to talk about discipline, I suppose. It's an important consideration in any long term project, really, but in novel-writing especially. You just have to sit down and write the damn thing.

For instance, I have the very bad habit of procrastinating my butt off and then starting an essay the night before it is due. For this project, I don't really have a deadline since I'm not under contract. I can take my time. But what I can't do is say "I'll start it tomorrow" and then never follow through.

On the other hand, if that due date wasn't there, I would never write the essay.

Now, of course that's not really the same thing because in general, I don't find writing analytical essays to be a fun process. I wouldn't do it on my own time, unless I had a very good reason. Like money. Or cookies. And then it wouldn't be totally voluntary, would it?

But the point is still valid- and that is that I need a deadline in order to function.

"But," you say, "aren't you forgetting something? You have a deadline! 50,000 words in a month! Doesn't that qualify?" And you're right, it does! So nanowrimo gives me the deadline, and that's great. But I still need the discipline.

The discipline to sit down every day and meet my target word count.
The discipline to push through even when I'm tired and hungry and incoherent and having a bad day and the words aren't coming and everything I've written so far sounds horrible.
The discipline to write crap and fix it later.
The discipline to see this through to the end, and not let this novel, like so many others before it, fall by the wayside.
The discipline to realize when it's finally time to move on.

In short, the discipline to write a novel.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Free Writes (or, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night)

I try to write a little most days, if not every day. When I get closer to writing the novel I will get more disciplined about it. But I try to write something, even if it's just a couple of lines of dialogue.

Other times I free write.

Free writing is a fabulous concept. I used to find it rather stupid until I figured out that the way it worked best for me was if I found something that really inspired me, rather than just picking something random.

So, for example, a photograph of Jennifer Ringer, one of my favorite dancers. That free write actually ended up talking about food, because I was hungry at the time...or the painting "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper. There was a print of this photograph hanging across from where I sat in English class last year. We had just read Mrs. Dalloway over the summer and as dizzying as I found stream of consciousness, it totally fascinated me. Those two ideas combined and produced an interesting and valuable (as a learning experience) piece of writing, which, looking back, is not half bad. Or the phrase "It was a dark and stormy night" which is now such a cliche but caught my fancy today and resulted in a little snippet of something which definitely has the potential to become a short story if not a novel. Or not.

But that's the beauty of free writing. You never know what will come out of it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ice Cream

Today I discovered a wonderful thing.

Checkered Flag ice cream.

It is wonderful. Heavenly. It is, because I'm sure you were wondering, vanilla and chocolate ice cream alternating in squares.

It's the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Why? Because I find that when I eat just chocolate ice cream, my tastebuds are overwhelmed by its chocolocity (new word!) and vanilla ice cream on its own tends to be a bit plain. So, this ice cream is basically tailor made for me.

What has this got to do with writing a novel? Absolutely nothing. But it was too exciting a topic to pass up!

Friday, September 17, 2010

An Unusual Analogy, To Say the Least

Let's pretend my novel is a sweater that you knitted.

This is a little strange, I know, but just bear with me for a bit. You knitted the sweater, so you're very proud of it. In your eyes, it is beautiful. You'll probably never wear it because it's a little lopsided and it has so many holes it could be the poster child (well, poster sweater) for naphthalene. That's mothballs, by the way.

This is what my novel is like right now. It looks like it could make sense, if you tilt your head and squint your eyes a little bit. It's almost there. But not quite.

Plus it has more plot holes than...well...I'm not really sure that I can finish this sentence. But I can tell you that my novel has a lot of plot holes at the moment.

Actually, it looks a little bit like Swiss cheese. I'd better get working.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More Inspiration...This Time On the Bus

I was riding the bus to school this morning, and I was pretty spaced out. I was tired, didn't feel like know what I mean. Anyway. So as I was sitting there, suddenly I had a thought.

Actually, it was more along the lines of seeing a scene in my head. There was a woman. She was dueling (with swords, of course) with another man. People were watching intensely. She has the perfect opportunity for a kill; she doesn't take it. She bonks the guy on the head with the hilt of her sword and dismisses her audience with something along the lines of "I refuse to kill any more promising young men for your amusement".
It's going to be a gladiator-type situation. I could go on, but I won't because I really need to focus on one idea at a time now, especially as I get so close to writing this one. But I might end up working on this idea and the sequel (of this current book) concurrently. We'll see.

It's always been interesting to me to see how authors get their ideas for books. One of the answers I've seen fairly frequently is that there is a character who "talks" to the author. Tells them about him or herself. Berates the author when the writing is not to his or her liking.
Now, I actually don't think that's crazy, now that I'm beginning to write and to spend so much time with the same characters. They do come to life. But I think, as a visual person, my ideas tend to be more of the "looking through the window" type. I can see what's happening and what's being said as if I were there, but there is no interaction between me and the characters. They're more like daydreams than anything else I can think of at the moment.

Sherwood Smith describes a similar experience in writing several of her books. So I'm not a total freak.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Inspiration From an Unlikely Source

London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes - gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if this day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.
Bleak House, Charles Dickens
We read this passage in English the other day and I love it. Love it, love it, love it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Status Update #2

Draft: 1
Word Count: 0 (I have some little bits written out longhand but I'm not going to sit here and count them)
Characters Killed: 1 (Haven't written it yet but it's pretty much a done deal)

New developments: I have a scene outline of the first part of the novel...maybe three or four or five chapters. I think I may have settled on a name for my girl.

My toe is in the water. I think I'm just about ready to jump in!

Life is Good (Mostly)

I’m feeling good about this whole thing today. Everything is starting to come together. I’m having lots of ideas for scenes, and I’m itching to start writing this thing. I might have to cheat and start before NaNo…shh don’t tell!
On the other hand: I’m having some name issues, and secondary characters that I LOVE are getting sidelined. They may make it in to the novel eventually, but right now I’m not seeing how.
Also, I think I’m going to have to kill a character. And I liked him, too. And he had a girlfriend. But he serves more of a purpose dead than alive (doesn’t that sound horrible?) and this is, after all, a dangerous world. Sorry, Halle.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Another Quote

Not unheard of. Unusual, I grant you, but remember my great grandfather married a washerwoman.
Meric (I won’t tell you when, or to whom, in case you end up reading the book)

My Love-Hate Relationship With English

I have always loved to read. Always. I used to walk down the street reading a book. Actually, sometimes I still do. But the point is that reading is, always has been, and hopefully always will be one of my greatest pleasures.

English class, not so much.

First of all, to clarify: my English class is a literature class. There was briefly some grammar way back in early middle school but ever since then it has been strictly analysis of literature.

I HATED it. To me, it completely ruined the pleasure of reading a book to sit down and poke and prod at every little detail. I didn’t understand where the teachers and the other students were coming from when  they talked about character development, or theme, or significance. Nothing.

I mean, looking back at some little things I wrote (I don’t have any of my middle school essays but I have a few paragraph-type things) I did have some sort of clue. There were some valid insights and every so often a teacher had written “good!” in the margin. However hindsight, of course, is 20/20 and at the time I was confused, displeased, and overwhelmed.

That started to change in high school.

The Name Game

I’m having SERIOUS issues coming up with a name for my FMC (that would be female main character, for those of you who didn’t know).
It has been one name, then another name, back to the first name, a third name…back and forth so often that I’m sick of it. I feel bad for this poor girl - she can’t even be sure of what her name is. How can she function as a full-fledged character?
So, the name list currently stands at, in no particular order:
with Elie being a nickname for any of them. I’d love to know what you guys think. Of course, I’m also open to other suggestions.
Which is your favorite?


…is a good place to steal names. Some of those little towns are just begging to used in the book.
-Sansom (actually a street name - those are good too)
-Cynwyd (this is SO elvish)
Wynnewood is also a direct lift. I hope I don’t have to change these too much; I really like them!
Looking at these, “wy” seems to be a common elvish construct. Elwyn, Cynwyd and Wynnewood all strike me as elvish or elvish-derived place names. I’ll have to work that into some of their proper names as well.

Possibly The First Sentence of the Novel*

The notices had been posted in every city, town, village, and reasonably large collection of dwellings in the kingdom by the king’s decree, and Wynnewood was no exception.

*Anything and everything subject to change


Ok. If I’m going to tell you the story of how this novel idea came to be, we’re going to have to travel back in time, before the Great Hard Drive Meltdown, before my computer was organized and I didn’t know what any of the documents were, before I even had a computer…in short, back to when my brother and I played with toys.
My brother had these things called “Imaginext”. They were kind of like Lego, in that you had various pieces you could put together to build castles or pirate ships or dungeons or wizard towers or whatever (we had the medieval set, if you couldn’t tell), except the characters were more lifelike, and you couldn’t take their heads off. Anyway, we would make up the most complicated story lines for these toys…it was epic. My brother being young and impressionable, I basically dictated what would happen. I gave these characters names, jobs, relationships, backstory…everything, it turns out, you need for a novel.
Fast forward a few years. It’s the summer, or maybe just the weekend. I haven’t got any work to do. I decide to do a little spring cleaning on my laptop, and come across a document titled “characterlist”. Curious, I open it up. And what do I find? Everything I had invented for that game, typed up. Suddenly, I was delighted. Reading the document, I had ideas upon ideas for these characters. I started writing them down. And then I thought “Why not write a book?”. I have been an avid reader for years, especially of fantasy, and this seemed to me to be the logical next step.
“Ok, fine.” You’re thinking. “You felt like writing a novel. So why haven’t you started?  And what on earth is that NaNoWriMo thing you mentioned in the last post?” Hold on, hold on. I’m getting there.

Status Update #1

You’re probably thinking something along the lines of “This is a blog about a novel. Where’s the novel?” Well, at the moment it doesn’t exist. That is to say, there isn’t anything titled “Chapter One” followed by any sort of coherent prose. Right now, the novel consists of:
-A printout of a character list, covered in random notes (the original file, by the way, was deleted in the Great Hard Drive Meltdown)
-Various other notes on character, plot (disclaimer: still subject to change), snippets of dialogue, backstory (SO MUCH BACKSTORY), possible sequels…
-The first draft of a world map - still needs to be expanded, refined, and colored
And that’s it! I’m planning on starting writing in earnest during this year’s NaNoWriMo, so by then I’ll have some more to report.
Tomorrow I’ll explain where the idea for the novel (and the blog) came from, and why I thought NaNo during senior fall would be a good idea :P

The First Post

And yes, that’s First Post with capital letters. Not only am I exploring something I’ve never done before by writing a novel, but blogging for the first time too! This is going to be interesting…*grin*
I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I do!