Monday, November 28, 2011

Birth of a Novel: Week Four Update

It's week four of NaNo, and I am winning by the skin on my teeth. My current word count is 50,080 after I managed to squeeze some words out yesterday and Thursday. Normally I am much further along in my novel by now, but this year it's just the way things are.

I had a dental appointment and a visit with the OB (which I refer by "I have to go pee in a cup") earlier in the week, and then of course Thanksgiving. Saturday was my best friend's bridal shower, and we spend the day eating and shopping. So yeah. Busy week. This week will be equally busy since the wedding is this Saturday and I am the maid of honor (I know it's technically matron, since I am married, but matron? No. No thank you.).

I also entered my third trimester this past week! I know, milestones abound. 

In short, I am making progress on my novel but it's S-L-O-W. I am waffling between wanting to spend hours typing and feeling anxious to tackle my massive to do list. At least doing house work gives me time to think about the novel.

I'm not going to lie. It's been more of a struggle emotionally than anything else. I've been plagued by various fears and doubts. Feeling uninspired. Feeling like the book is never going to be as awesome on paper as it is in my head. I have my share of doubts while drafting, but for this novel in particular it's been pretty noticeable. I am sure it's a combination of being tired, stressed, and hormonal, but it's still weird for me to struggle this much emotionally. 

But you know, every single book I've written had it's own unique obstacles to overcome. The more The more I think about the writing "process" the more I realize that at least for me, there is no process. Very much like the Matrix where there is no spoon.

My process changes so much from book to book I can only make generalizations. Sometimes I plan to the hilt and other times I just start with nary an idea of where I am going. Certain things remain constant, but the rest is very flexible. It's like cooking spaghetti sauce. You're going to have a few very basic ingredients to start with, but what spices you use will vary greatly depending on your mood. Sometimes I make a garden vegetable sauce and use lots of veggies. Sometimes I do a thick meat sauce. Other times I want a sauce with enough garlic to kill a vampire by smell alone. 

And that's okay. I will talk more about perfect versions later on in the week, but for now just know that just because this book is coming out different than the last doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. 

I think most of the people in this blog chain still have a ways to go on their novels, so I plan on continuing to blog at least once a week about my progress. 

When I feel really depressed, like I can never finish this novel, I read Maureen Johnson's tumblr account. She answered one question a day during the month of November, and it's filled with good advice and hilarious pictures.

In parting this week, I give you this music video:

Now go check out the other ladies in the blog chain, and then write!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a short post so we can all get back to our families.

Today I am thankful for lots of things.

*My family, including the new addition that's still cooking inside me. 

*My friends, that put up with a lot of craziness from me.

*My writing. I am really happy with where I am at, and all the things I've learned.

*My followers. I know it sounds really cheesy, but I am grateful for the people who follow this blog. Without you guys I would just be a voice quacking in the void. And as much as I enjoy talking, it's a lot more fun when there's other people listening.

*Lastly, I don't have to go shopping tomorrow. Yeesh, the stores are going to be a mad house. 

I will do my Birth of a Novel post tomorrow or Saturday. Sorry about the delay, these last few days have been CRAZY.

What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Written? Kitten!

After a truly terrible night's sleep, completed by waking up early with the mother of all charley horses, I am sluggish today.

Beyond sluggish. I resemble the zombies I am writing about. Putting together a coherent sentence feels like so much work. Lucky for my word count my friend Liz showed me this website:

Written? Kitten! 

It's very simple. You write into the box. After writing the amount of words you set, you get a new kitten picture. It's that easy. You will be rewarded for writing with a picture of an adorable kitten.

I will take all the help I can get today, especially if it's in the form of adorable kittens cheering me on.

What about you? What do you do to get yourself going when you're so tired you want to prop your eyelids up with toothpicks? 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Birth of a Novel: Week Three

It's week three of Birth of a Novel here, and it's sort of rocky. The good news is I've mostly moved past the "this is utter crap and I should burn it before everyone laughs at me" stage, but the bad news is I seem to have pulled a muscle in my back. I am okay to sit for about 15 minutes before it starts to feel like a ghost is stabbing me in the back. Hard. With a hot poker.

I've had muscle pain before, and writing is normally a great way for me to ignore those sorts of things, but this is a rather insistent muscle spasm, to the point it's distracting. So it's throwing off my mojo a bit. I usually get up and walk around, ice it, and plead with my body to let me write my book already.

The good news is I have a temporary replacement for my computer. For those of you who don't know, my old computer is an utter piece of crap that needs to be taken out back and shot. My parents have loaned me their laptop. They bought another one after the screen stopped working. You can of course plug a moniter into the laptop (which is exactly what I've done) but it defeats the mobility part of them having a laptop.

I do plan on buying a new computer, sometime next year, but in the meantime this laptop will be an excellent compromise. It's old, but it's still much faster than my old computer.

I plan to use the next few days to catch up on my word count (and kill lots of zombies). Wish me luck!
In the meantime, check out how the other ladies are doing on their noveling endeavors:

Angela H.
Anna M.
Brooke Busse
Charity Bradford
Elizabeth Davis
Fida Islaih
Jen McConnel
Lena Hoppe
Mia Hayson
Miranda Hardy
Nyxie Moon
Tessa C

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Non Sequiter Girl

I was killing time while waiting for my mother in law to pick me up yesterday by reading this article: 5-tiny-computer-glitches-that-caused-huge-disasters

It was still early in the morning, so there weren't that many comments. Out of habit I scrolled down to skim. There were the usual comments regarding the author of the article's lack of sexual prowess, his mother, the typos he made, etc, but then I came across this beauty:


?Once "said a inequivocal truck endorsing some (walnutt stench)bed through the congress of hidden identities" I arrived. To quench / satisfy my tumbling = aching (fall for salt( of 50 % sugar and no tea( met had the falter the faltering..and the interruption began silent into the evening & struck with @telephone line yes, i do ? desire such! Seven corpses shatter on my wake of teeth at & the sommersault of the hours raped the kitchen. The cat also woke up rather (ahhhhhhhhhhhh cats, me afraid! I despise such @caller yes, you do! / no salt please. How many hours till the rocococoo hits its grave» hello and goodbye dear friends! I missed Shirley the most perhaps beyond the ammount! To and be fed and eat! Oh Shirley! Oh World! Oh much have (the Empire called, they want their fish. Bring him wet and still unconscious of his fate. and unconscious too since the king must not wai=hello? Dou you still remain the carp? lewd, sour and scour? Blinded flods and floods and fools... I am the Trout!!!!!!!!!? #it has been delivered rough, like bolts upon the quivering.( The deed was bitten( all hail the carp.

And the trout lied faltering its mask.

To my further joy, someone commented on Trout_Mask's bit of poetry with this:


Clear water trout makes good sashimi, much better than carp. A good chef with a SHARP knife can cut, de-bone, and slice the flesh before the fish even knows it's dead. It is best eaten with bit of sprinkled pepper and Cayenne powder and dipped in vinegared soy-sauce.

I kinda of love the Internet guys, and this is one of the many, many reasons why. 

First, in case you didn't bother to read the article, this comment has NOTHING to do with the article. It's about simple mistakes made that had bigger consequences, like when a tec at a power company turned off an alarm and failed to turn it back on after fixing the problem, resulting in the upper east of the United States and parts of Canada having a blackout.

Second, I love the poetry of this comment. It's both hilarious and absurd. It's like e.e. cummings had a love child with Kurt Vonnegut (is that less creepy to think about since they are both dead? Or more?). 

At first glance, Trout_Mask's comment looks like gibberish, but read it. Seriously, go ahead. Read it out loud. It's not gibberish. It actually makes a strange, melodic sort of sense. I tried to pick out a favorite passage, but I can't. A few gems:

"How many hours till the rocococoo hits its grave» hello and goodbye dear friends!"

"the Empire called, they want their fish. Bring him wet and still unconscious of his fate."

Somehow the last two lines tie the entire nonsense together, like a coup de grace to your senses:

"I am the Trout!!!!!!!!!? #it has been delivered rough, like bolts upon the quivering.( The deed was bitten( all hail the carp.

And the trout lied faltering its mask."

All hail the carp indeed.  And then, to make things better, someone comes along and talks about how trout makes worse sashimi than carp. Seriously. I could not make this up, guys.

Perhaps I am the only one so delighted by Trout_Mask's accidental poetry. I do have a fond place in my heart for absurd humor, hence my deep love of Kurt Vonnegut. Perhaps I have broken my brain from writing so much.
You tell me: Am I crazy or does this seem like a little poem? Am I the only one so amused?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Hyper Post

I am posting today because I am super hyper! I just got back from my OB's office wherein I drank a super sugary orange flavored drink in about two minutes! This is a real test, and not conducted for my doctor's amusement! They took my blood an hour later to see how my body is processing sugar, to make sure I haven't developed gestational diabetes.

I will get the results in two weeks, but as far as I can tell, my body is processing sugar JUST FINE. Me and the baby are both bouncing off the walls.


*throws glittery sparkles everywhere*

(If I had a way, I would add those glittery, seizure-inducing blinkies you see on MySpace profiles right here. But I do not, so just image the most glittery thing you can.)

Another reason behind my great joy is I am listening to the new Florence and the Machine CD Ceremonials and it's AMAZING. Her first CD Lungs was simply wonderful. I've listened to the entire CD over and over, and it's haunting and beautiful and innovative. So when she announced her newest CD I was excited but a little bit nervous. There's times where an artist puts out a CD or book and it's wonderful, and you wait for the second one only to feel a little disappointed. 

But ladies and germs, Ceremonials is not disappointing in the least. She somehow managed to keep the same sounds that I loved in Lungs but also progressing forward with her music.

This may sound like a paltry reason to some for me to be happyhappyhappy, but you underestimate how much I love music and Florence and the Machine specificly. Music is a book to sound as far as I am concerned and it plays a huge role in my writing. The Ghosts Between Us, a book about a medium trying to stop the ghost of a serial killer I wrote a few months ago, would not be the same if it wasn't for Lungs. It's weird to think about, but sometimes finding the right ambient music can make or break a scene for me (I would go into a long explanation about how I think music is one of the primary ways my subconscious communicates ideas to me, but this post is rambling ENOUGH).

Speaking of my writing, Zombie Road Trip is still coming slowly, but I am pushing through the suck. You guys were great and wonderfully helpful on Tuesday, and I feel like there's hope for me after all. :D

About the writing...I *might* be using this post to procrastinate working on my I guess it's time to get back to work, huh? Yeah, I think so too.

*searches the Internet for pointless timewasters*

What? I thought we agreed I was procrastinating?

Okay, you're right. I am getting back to work now. 

So time to chime in! How's the day going? Have you had any happy surprises this week?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Birth of Novel: Week Two

Okay folks, here's where the brutal honesty kicks in. I want you to know I write this as hopefully a help to other writers, and not as a pity party or whining session.

Honestly, week two was so much harder than week one. I rewrote the scenes I had previously from scratch which was smooth sailing. The minute I got to the new scenes though, I hit a brick wall.

Not literally (though it sort of felt like it) but figuratively and emotionally. I had no idea what happened next, and despite my desperate brainstorming sessions, I couldn't come up with anything. After much whining and complaining to my ever-suffering writer friends I realized it was more about my state emotionally than any actual lack of inspiration or ideas. 

So here's sort of a taboo subject. Something we don't often talk about in detail as writers, but something I've seen every single writer I know afflicted with.

Your state of mind. 

Yes, you absolutely need to learn to write in spite of your state of mind, but pretending that it doesn't factor into your writing can sometimes sabotage your work before the words are even born (like in my most recent experience).

My ideas tend to be these sprawling, complex, layered things, filled with side ideas and tangents. For example, the Harry Potter series. The main plot is straightforward, but anyone who has read those books can tell you there is so much more going on in each book. Harry might deal with issues with his best friend, the love interest, Quidditch, his classes, Snape, Dumbledore, another teacher, his parents, and many other little things.

Yet the books aren't too complex to read. Little story bits add up to the greater whole of the plot. When I get an idea, I can often see the book in it's entirety, like a movie. I see the finished product, all the twists and turns and ins and outs of the book. But writing a first draft is nothing like that. 

And with every first draft I reach the place where the idea in my head and the words on the page do not match up. At all. The words on the page feel so much more shallow and weak than the idea I hold inside me. It's depressing, to be frank. I KNOW that books don't start out layered, that you build them to be that way, that no one's first draft is good, but for some reason it's a surprise when my first draft doesn't turn out as awesome as I want it to be.

Maybe you've been there. My friend Liz calls it the opposite of a Eureka moment. You get this crashing realization that the first draft you had such high hopes for in matter sucks. It sucks big time. It sucks so badly you're scared it's going to create a black hole and devour all of existence.

You might have guessed that I am a perfectionist. This doesn't help. I agonize over small things, like this blog post. "Am I going on too much? Am I over explaining? Does that comma really need to be there?" I look at my earlier blog posts, and just cringe. But people keep tell me they enjoy reading through my back log, so I keep them up and try not to think about all the stupid mistakes I made.

It's ten times worse with a novel. I am at the point now where I just have to push through the crushing feeling that this books sucks and it's a pointless waste of time, and just keep writing. 

Because that's the cure for these feelings of general crappyness. Just keep writing. It sounds simple, but at first it's hard. It feels impossible. That's why I like NaNo. Your word count becomes important, not the quality. That's where I feel like NaNo gets a bad reputation. It's not like we're out here trying to write crap on purpose.

It's just that when you give yourself a challenging deadline, you're forced to let go and dare to suck, like Maureen Johnson says. You have to keep going, despite how sure you are this is a piece of crap. 

Because there's something amazing about writing. You get to hit the do over button a trillion million billion times (that's an actual number, btw) (no, it's not). The first draft is all about laying down the ground work. Finding the characters and the story. You cannot see certain things about the story until you get that crappy first draft out. 

So this week I am all about pushing forward. Past feeling like you're not writing well enough, fast enough. Just keep writing. Forget about everything else but having fun and telling yourself a story. Entertain yourself. Write what you think would be cool. 

The rest will come later.

Okay, I am off to take my own advice. In the meantime, check out how these lovely ladies are faring:

Angela H.
Anna M.
Brooke Busse
Charity Bradford
Elizabeth Davis  
Fida Islaih
Lena Hoppe
Mia Hayson
Miranda Hardy
Nyxie Moon
Tessa C

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Mean Trick in the Morning

I am reporting in from the writing trenches to let you know my sanity is still mostly intact.

Writing right now is sort of a good news, bad news situation.

The good news is it's going really well. Stuff is moving along smoothly. If my word count was a dog, it would have won the blue ribbon (it's just under 30K).

"But those are so many words," You might be saying to yourself. "How can you have possibly written all those words?"

Because I had a crappy half draft to start with, that's how Hypothetical Question Asker. Even though I've rewritten them, I had already wrote a lot of those scenes once before. I just made them suck slightly less. I also had the last few days off, and some free time on my hands. So that helped. 

The bad news side of this is I am about to reach the part where I haven't written these scenes previously, and quite frankly, have only a vague idea at best where they are going to go. I expect my word count rate is going to drop drastically, and the hard part will kick in. 

What I've done is print off what I have so far (about fifty pages) and read through it. Not looking to edit things, mind you, but looking for places where I started threads and didn't continue them yet. Hopefully it will help me keep track of things instead of winding up with three or four dropped threads that went nowhere.

I also wanted to remind everyone to update and save their files. My external hard drive played a mean trick on me this morning. Even though it was getting power, my computer didn't read it when I turned it on. I then opened Dropbox, my online storage facility, and for some reason Dropbox had not updated itself in months. I tried to open my external hard drive on my husband's lap top, and didn't have any problems. I finally got my computer to read my hard drive, but it was a scary way to wake up in the morning. 

So yes. Everyone, go now and backup all your files.

How is everyone else's novels coming? The rest of your week? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Birth of a Novel: First Update

It's time for the first update of my insanity in doing NaNo and blogging about the progress. Just a quick housekeeping note, if you want to join the Birth of a Novel blog chain, the details are here. It's not too late! We can add your name to the list any time!

Now, some introduction.

My novel is called Zombie Road Trip, and the title is pretty self explanatory. It's about the main character Lilah taking a road trip to off beat tourist attractions during the zombie apocalypse, in order to learn how to control her power over the zombies.

I wrote about 34K of this novel a year or so ago and then ran out of steam. I've resurrected it, reworked some of the plot holes, and started writing from scratch. For me, NaNo isn't about making the word count at all costs. I do write fast, but 1666 words a day isn't really a stretch. I like to use NaNo to give me a kick in the pants and have some writing buddies suffer write along with me while I am in the midst of a first draft. I plan to keep writing into December, as long as it takes me to first the first draft.

Because I am a nerd, I stayed up until midnight last night to start my novel. I was hopped up on sugar by that point so I wasn't tired then. Today I still feel half asleep, but at least I slept well. 

It's always hard for me to start writing. I feel like I've left the oven on, like I've forgotten something really important. I get all excited at the thought of starting, but once I actually do my brain panics a little and does this:


It took me a little while to get into the flow of the scene, and to be completely honest, it's not all there yet. I have some logistical things to work out in my head (You know, like when you're thinking: Character has to be here with this item by this time, but the scene before that she doesn't have those things, so how do I get her from Point A to Point B without making things too complicated?) before I think it will all gel together.

But that's okay. The beginnings are always a little bumpy for me. I am still stoked about this book and I love the character's voice.

Don't forget to check out what the other people in the blog chain are up to. You can click on the sidebar or just check out their progress here: