Saturday, November 30, 2013

The End of NaNoWriMo 2013

All month, we've had a local group for write ins, helping encourage all involved to cross that 50k mark for NaNoWriMo.

I learned several lessons going to these write ins.

1. I'm not good at writing in public. But I love helping people write.
2. In spite of not being good at writing around people, I still wrote remarkably well in my own time and have really developed a new approach to novel writing.
3. Writing is a powerful tool for unifying people of vastly different personalities.
4. You can't deny the thrill of being able to tell a group of people that you just won.
5. I love writing. I already knew this one, but I'm thrilled that every time I write, it just feels better and better.

I'm going to miss these write ins. But, doubtless, I'll draft many of the folks I've come to know into our various projects, like film and the like.

So, here's to a great month. Sad to see it go. But glad that several new novels will be gracing the world with their existence.

Free Writing 11/30/2013

(Free writing! With typos, of course.)

Don't touch the tree
That's where he died

But who died?
What's his name?

He went by Chuck
At times Charles

Was he nice?
Did he love?

More than you know
More than I can

What happened?
Why'd he die?

Too much life lived
But heed too late

You miss him?
Does it hurt?

I admire him
Can't live the same

Given up?
Just too much?

I cannot tell
I will not know

Least he saw.


(Poetry is not my strong suit. But I enjoy sorting let the occasional transform into a specific structure of words. In this case, a fictional character named Charles is remembered for living life, but not living with any sense of caution.)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Daily Free Writing 11/29/2013

(Note from me: Just typical free writing randomness from me. Gets the creative energy going. Only now, I've decided to start posting them. For no other reason than.... I don't know. Whatever. There will be typos. And, from now on, when I post these little free writing exercises, I'll try to explain them and my inspiration after I'm done, especially for the shorter ones.)


Listen, I know my boyfriend told me not to call. I mean, he said, very specifically, that he didn't need to talk to me right now. That it was a time for family. That he needed to see to their needs before worrying about everything or anything else.

And I totally understand. His family just suffered a loss. A big one. I'm not sure how I would handle losing someone or being in that situation. But, I totally get it. He needs to be with his family. Though, I have to admit, since we haven't been talking very much in the past few weeks, I really felt like maybe he should have said more to me than, "It's okay. I'll be fine. I just need to spend time with my family."

I mean, I AM his girlfriend.

Well, not officially anymore. But I figure it's jut one of those times where we needed to be apart. You know. Space. Space is good for couples.

But he neeeeeeeds me. I know he does. He said as much. Not with his actual words, no. But because I could just tell. Through his words. In his text messages. He told me he didn't need me to come and see him. But what he really means is that I should go and see him.

That's what he needs. He needs me right now. Needs me in his time of loss. I know he does. I know because I need him, too.

(The inspiration for this little bit of free writing was something that actually happened a number of years ago. A girl that I had once dated, then later became 'friends' with, started dating somebody completely different.

He was a pretty good guy. Stable. Smart. Very mature. This girl was the opposite of these things. She blew through money like there was no tomorrow. She was insecure and constantly rationalized everything. She said 'you know what I mean?' a lot. It got old.

Somehow, though, she landed this really great guy. Eventually, her insecurities were so bad, she broke up with him. Not because there was any drama. There wasn't. But she started perceiving that something was wrong, so she called off their relationship.

Not long after that, he suffered a terrible tragedy in his family. Naturally distraught, he was spending time with his family.

She, in her amazing glory, started IM'ing me, wondering if she should go see him, even though he repeatedly told her he didn't need her there. To this day, I wish I could have instilled in her that her even asking the question made her the worst person in the world. People had died, and she was turning the whole thing into something about her.

I was already pretty done with her at the time. But even more so after that. I don't hate is a strong enough turn.

And sorry for the shorter free writing. With free writing, I'm at the mercy of my emotional pulls.)

Finishing NaNoWriMo 2013, or "What I've Learned From Last Time"

Last year, this time, I was a touch over a week done with NaNoWriMo. I hit the 50,000 word mark with relative and quick ease, and then quickly and unceremoniously wrote the rest of the book.

I loved the experience of NaNoWriMo and winning for the first time. As for the book, I didn't love it. I didn't even really like it, though I certainly didn't hate it. I let the book just sit there. While I like some of the ideas in it, I'm not sure I wrote a book that I could muster any real passion for. I wrote it partially as a joke, mostly to make fun of Twilight and vampire fiction in general.

But, anymore, that's like kicking a dead horse. And, while many of us still mock Twilight for all of its problems, the relevance of doing so has diminished a lot. That book will probably never see the editor's eye, much less the light of day.

Heading into November, this time, I wanted to approach with a subject that I would stay passionate about. About a week before NaNo began, I completely abandoned that and decided to base the book around a woman I know in real life, who angered me. You see, this woman is into her 40's, but still acts like a high school student. She is manipulative, insecure, says bad things about people behind her back, and butts into business that is not her own.

I created a character that was loosely inspired by this woman. I should have known that it would lead to problems.

The first three days of November also coincided with the National Film Challenge. So, day one, before we got the info we needed to make our short film, I pumped out as many words as I possibly could. It was a decent enough start.

After the film challenge, I put all my focus on the book. Tentatively titled "The Tastemaker", I hit 16,000 words after a week, and felt like I was in cruise control. But then, I hit a wall. Not the dreaded Week 2 wall that so many run into during NaNoWriMo.

This was a wall of apathy, but I ran into it far earlier than I did with the vampire novel. At least with the vampire novel, I could keep writing based on injecting action scenes whenever things slowed down.

But with "Tastemaker", a light-hearted and sweet rom-com type story, I was out of my element. My stories are usually bleak, dark, and filled with bad things happening to already damaged people. "Tastemaker" was about two people trying to find love against the machinations of a nosy shrew. Simple. Not bleak. Was actually kind of sweet.

Not something I generally write.

So, at 16k words in, I had a decision to make. Continue writing a story that was rapidly degenerating into a petty reflection of my feelings towards a real life individual, or cut my losses and try to catch up with a different?

Many people told me to keep the word count from the previous story. Just add it to whatever new novel I started.

I couldn't do that. If I was going to start over, I was going to really start over.

And so, reaching into notes of various characters that I created in the past but have never had a story they could call home, I began writing my new novel. And instead of hitting the ground running and burning through word count and material quickly and viciously, I kept a far steadier pace.

Last year was about power writing. This year was about methodical, even-handed writing where I made consciously important decisions for the book before writing. Through all of that, even with being a week behind, I managed to win NaNoWriMo. What's more, the book has a lot of material still left to cover. All I can say about that is that I'm in love with the book more than I ever could be with Tastemaker or the vampire story.

And I think I'm becoming a writer who prefers method to speed. Even with my slower approach, I was pumping out 2,000 words a day, on average, with many days coming in far more. But every word felt better. Every sentence was far more lovingly crafted than either of the other two books. Yes, I will still need to do revisions on this novel, but everything was so much better and so much more thought out.

I think this will be my new writing style. Even where I found problems in the narrative, I was finding them while writing, as opposed to figuring it out after. I immediately knew, being so in touch with both story and character, what I would fix on my second, third, and fourth passes on the novel. It's helped me with my fear of future drafts.

This NaNoWriMo was far better than last year's. Not only did I still finish when I had to start over, but I also found myself passionate about this project.

Another lesson here; for the sake of the legal system and your sanity, only ever take traits from people in your life when writing. Don't try to model a fictional character after a real person with the intent of writing revenge fiction. It's unsatisfying and ultimately petty. And is a quick way to ruin your story.

To those who hate NaNoWriMo and the people who participate....

I have found that the people who hate NaNoWriMo are petty, little people who are struggling with jealousy in the worst way.

Now, I'm not talking about people who have no interest in NaNoWriMo or don't think it will fit their writing style. Those individuals generally don't insult the people who do like NaNoWriMo. They have simply come to the conclusion that it is not for them. Perfectly fine. Perfectly rational.

But for those who argue the event is a waste of time, or that it's some sort of vanity project, or that it's stupid, the consistent trait among those hateful persons is that they are jealous.

Why be jealous? Is it because you don't think you can do it?

Well, I have an idea. Next year, in November, let me know. And we'll accept you with wide open arms. To do what? To write. Why not try it?

You'll be surprised that you will have something to say in the world of writing. That you will be able to write a novel. And, when the end of the month rolls around, whether you have written 50k words or maybe even less, you'll have found that NaNoWriMo has been something you never expected it to be; an important part of your life.

Kevin Smith talked about how the world was filled with "Why?" and that you need to surround yourself with people who will say, "Why not?"

If you find yourself questioning why someone would do NaNoWriMo, it's time to take a step back and really ask yourself why you're not supporting this or the person. Is it personal bias? Do you really support the arts?

Instead of, "Why are you doing NaNoWriMo? That's stupid." it should be "Why not give it a go?"

I'll be the one asking, "Why not?" at every turn, even if you've called me stupid for my love of National Novel Writing Month.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Anger is a funny thing

I don't know what drove me to be so annoyed at everything today. I hate that. A bunch of little things, I guess. I'm not seeing my kids these holidays. Nothing for it, unfortunately. Money is tight and you have to do what you have to do.

So, I'm not really mad about that. Just sad. I miss my kids.

Had a long conversation, online, with an old friend. And something about his insecurities just annoyed me. This has been part of a long trend of getting annoyed way too easily by people. I don't want to be that person. And it's not everyone who is annoying. Just select people.

In one case, I feel bad because this poor person is really enthusiastic. Does not deserve my ire one bit. So, in that situation, I simply ignore this individual.

Another person who has been bothering me is someone that I, blissfully, don't have to spend any time with. This person is belittling friends of mine, going on about how stupid NaNoWriMo is (a few of my friends, my girlfriend, and I are all involved in NaNo), and is generally obnoxious with their opinions. (If you've noticed that I've not been using pronouns, this is on purpose. Save for my old friend, but he'll never read this crap anyway.)

I don't know. I don't want to feel this anger. Between cursing the luck of a former friend who has done a million percent less work than my friend Nick and I have done, to wishing things could just turn around, I'm unhappy. I mean, I'm happy in the general sense. I'm not depressed. I hate people who throw that word around.

But I am unhappy. Maybe unsatisfied is a better word. I wish I could get a movie project off the ground. I wish I knew how to market my books. I wish I could figure it out. But, if it were so easy, everyone would do it.

I won't stop writing. I won't stop trying. At the very least, it's my art. And I can't ever stop.