Monday, November 14, 2011

I Hate You! Don't Leave Me!

Writerly Angsty Post

I hate my NaNoWriMo book. I hate my main character. I thought we had something good going, but it seems that the fantasy of it was way far from the reality. This book snores, it leaves its socks on the floor, it leaves the toilet seat up and will not take out the trash. As a crush, this book is awesome. As a boyfriend, it sucks.

You might wonder about this relationship metaphor. To me, writing is like that. You see this shiny new idea across a crowded room, it winks at you and you're hooked. You flirt, you get its number and go on that first date. It's wonderful, you hit it off and then the honeymoon begins. You sit down and start writing. Page one, page ten, the words are flying from your mind through your fingers and you think that this is the ONE! All other books and attempts at writing pale in comparison to this new genius. You become absorbed in it. You wake up thinking about your character. You dream about him.

Chapters pass. You might be into this for more than a casual fling. There are serious emotions involved. You have a song. A favorite restaurant. You're getting to know this character's ins and outs. Good points and bad ones. But the bad ones just make him/her charming.

Until the bad ones start overshadowing the good ones. And you start to wonder if this one will be like all the others. Floundering around in the middle of the damn book, you hate it when your character doesn't show up. You want to scream at him/her, you want to tell this character to get with it. But you don't. Because you don't want to force this character into doing something that would be uncharacteristic.

Because then your story will derail. Your character will leave you. Like a bad boyfriend, it will walk out and not even leave you a note. Maybe you'll get a text when you're sitting in your bathrobe listening to "your song" on repeat and working your way through a pint of Ben and Jerrys with take-out chopsticks from the restaurant you and your character loved.

My book and I are in this middle phase. I am wondering why in the hell I thought this was such a good idea. How could I have been so misled? Because the shiny new idea and the finished novel are miles apart. I cringe when I think of opening the file. My lagging word count taunts me. But when I get going, and muscle through the bad bits, it's actually enjoyable. It's tough. God, I just want to ditch the thing and consume a tube of cookie dough.

Perhaps I am being dramatic, but for some reason, this book I am writing feels like a battle. Not just a NaNoWriMo project. The chance to find out if I really need to be doing this writing thing. Should I keep going or consign myself to the nunnery of writing. A celibacy of words.

Maybe there's too much pressure. Perhaps I should stop looking at the long haul and enjoy the ride. Find out what about this character and this book idea attracted me in the first place. If we get to 50K, great! If not, that's ok, too.

If not, maybe we can just be friends.

Friday, November 4, 2011

So, Now What?

Have you ever been in love? Not with a person, per se, but a character? Or the idea of a character? In the realm of characters, I have loved deeply and often. But there is one about which I have become obsessed. This obsession has lasted a long time, since high school. We're talking Restraining Order obsessed, sitting in front of the house at 3 am playing "our song" over and over on my Walkman (pre-iPod, kids) and sobbing into the steering wheel.

OK, so this particular character doesn't have a house, nor do we have a song, but you get the gist. Who is it?

Roland, of Charlemagne and the Battle of Roncevaux fame.
I'm not sure exactly what sparked my obsession. I think it was Stephen King's Dark Tower books that first nudged me towards the real dude. King's Roland is based on Charlemagne's nephew and there is a mention of him as well in King Lear. This led me to The Song of Roland, an epic poem about him and that ill-fated battle.

History left a big hole where Roland is concerned. A hole filled by Literature, medieval and even modern. His story has fascinated wordslingers for centuries.

What is it about him that tugs at my writerly heartstrings? Perhaps it is his untimely death. Betrayal. Humble beginnings and eventual success. Though I have found none of these things historically. It is through the myths and stories told about him that one gleans his character, or the hint of the man he might have been.

I have wanted to write Roland's story for years. It is a daunting task, to fill so large a hole. But I finally decided now was the time, and NaNo, the perfect vehicle. This is the ultimate test of my chops as a writer and this cannot be undertaken with a faint heart. My inner critic needs to be tossed in a dungeon and locked away for me to even think of writing this book.

It scares the ever-loving hell out of me. Like finally getting to go on a date with the guy I've been stalking for decades. I don't imagine by the end of November I will have a perfect book, nor even a finished one. But like Roland and his famous uncle, I am determined to win the prize of 50,000 words of usable novel though I be bloodied and broken by the end of it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

To NaNo or Not to NaNo...

So I was at work, fighting sleep and pondering this whole NaNoWriMo question. Whether or not to participate this year. For anyone who doesn't know, NaNoWriMo (henceforth referred to as NaNo for the purposes of brevity) is this thing where you write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It happens every November.

I have done NaNo in the past though most I have bailed halfway through. I think one year I "won" but it was only through manipulation of Microsoft Word and the addition of so much useless typing that it wasn't exactly regulation. Another year I wrote a book, then halfway through it decided I needed to rewrite it with another character.

I actually made a list, pros and cons. It wasn't a very organized list. How
could it be at 3 am? There is the rules component. I don't do well with rules. Then there is the time element. Work, a business on the side, kids, house, husband, etc. When am I supposed to work on this? Maybe with a TARDIS and lots of caffeine I could eek out a few hours.

The perks. I'd be writing. It has been almost two years since I've sat down and tried to work on anything larger than an email. This will be my test. Can I really do this writing thing? Should I?

At the end of it, I realized "who am I kidding?" I was going to NaNo anyway. I can't resist a challenge.

Which begs the question of what to write? That was another conversation. Saved for another blog post!

Suffice to say, I'm throwing my hat into the NaNo ring. Again. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to stock up on coffee and kidnap a Time Lord.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

And You Call Yourself A Fantasy Writer??

October is a big month. Not only does it feature Chocolate Week (starting on the 10th, this according to Twitter), but it is National Book Month. I saw this post on a friend's Facebook wall from Writer's Digest. The gist of the article is a challenge to pick up a book that you've been meaning to read and read it.

So many books! However, I feel like it is time to delve into a classic in the realm of Fantasy. A book that I confess I have not read. Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien.

Wait, how is it possible that a Fantasy writer and a fan of the genre has not read that? Good question, one for which I don't have a decent answer. Late bloomer to the Fantasy genre? Had never heard of the book? Perhaps. It wasn't exactly required reading in high school.

Whatever the reason, I plan to rectify my failure to read this Fantasy classic and hopefully, retain my Fantasy Geek card.

Updates to follow!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Feng to the Shui, Baby

Once upon a time, I had no clue about how my environment impacted my life. Sure, I understood that I impacted my environment, but only in a peripheral sense. Add to that my Eternal Monuments to Entropy; my children and the whole concept of my house as a reflection of me went by the wayside.

Enter a good friend of mine who introduced me to Feng Shui. This wasn't some militant Feng Shui focused on the exact placement of my furniture mood-ring style until I felt calm and tranquil. She introduced me to a book by Karen Rauch Carter called Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life. Not only a good source of information, this book is also an entertaining read.

Skeptical? Sure. I was too, at first. But I'll try anything once. So I read the book and applied what Carter calls "cures" to several areas of my home. One area focused on Prosperity. Money. Who couldn't use more of that. Within a week of intentionally applying the cures, we got a check in the mail; it was a refund for overpayment on car insurance. Coincidence? Maybe, if you believe in such things. I like to think of it as attracting money energy to our life.

And if this sounds like a bunch of voodoo magical stuff, it might be. But have you ever been in a house where you could feel something wasn't right? When Hubby and I were house hunting, we looked at a place that felt wrong from the moment we walked through the front door. The house was clean, well-kept and decorated nicely. But there was an odd energy in the place. We went upstairs and discovered there was a bedroom painted a very very bright red. The color of the walls was migraine-inducing. It was in an area of the house that never should have had so much red. We called it the Murder Room. Thank goodness we didn't buy that house.

Again, entropy can be the enemy of any Feng Shui (or anything home related) so it helps to periodically re-feng shui things. Also, desires change, life changes and what once was deemed important might give way to something else.

It's all about intention. The intentional placement of objects to enhance your space and give your life a boost. Everything has energy. As the book explains, use this energy to your advantage. Let your stuff work for you. I can totally get around that. Anything that will make my life easier is always welcomed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Throwing Down a Gauntlet

This gauntlet-throwing blog post begins with a confession, though it's not really a huge secret. I am a clothes horse. I love shopping. I love clothes. Even from an early age, I can remember enjoying the process of picking my outfits. In high school, my wardrobe was funky. My prized score was a tuxedo jacket with tails that I routinely wore with my favorite jeans and my CATS musical t-shirt. Standard issue for every high school drama geek.

I have bought, sold and given away probably enough clothes to adorn a small village in ... well, somewhere there are small villages of snappily dressed villagers. Lots of these clothes have been bought in the mainstream large stores. Dillards, Target, The Limited, etc. Though I do shop at the Goodwill store and local stores, most of my wardrobe is still from the easy-to-obtain Big Boxes.

In the last year or so, I have become more aware of the impact that we as consumers can make on a local economy. I have talked and written in this blog about the idea of shopping small. As in small business (though I really don't like that term. I prefer independent businesses, which is what I shall call them.)

Recently, I read a blog post from a fellow Etsian which resonated with me and my desire to not only support local clothing boutiques but also following a movement of reusing and recycling. We live in a world of disposable clothes. Things purchased at Wal-mart or Target might be cute, or cheap, but ultimately, they don't last. Even the higher end stores like Dillards and Macy's stock items mass produced in China. A lot of our money is going to some large corporation.

My challenge to myself is this: I will only purchase clothing from an independent business OR from a second hand boutique or thrift store. Also allowed are yard sale finds or items sold by folks at work.

I have a feeling this will be tough. I love that new clothes smell. And I love the mall. But, I also love keeping my money in my own backyard. And I also love independent clothing stores that stock unusual items. I don't want to see myself coming and going. And you never know what you might find at the local thrift store!

The one caveat to this is underwear and socks. There are some thing you want to buy new. However, I will find a local store that sells undies.

This challenge will begin with me. While I would like to get my children to do this too, I think the better example would be to encourage them and then let them see me, and follow suit if they want. My daughter is going into middle school.. so, yeah.. good luck with that.

I am excited about the prospect and hope to discover some nifty things along the way. And I will share my progress as it applies. I am throwing down the gauntlet to myself... but only if it's second-hand.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Special Wednesday Edition

Check out my guest blog debut over at Leona Wisoker's fabulous blog, The Writing of a Wisoker on the Loose. Never done a guest blog before and I am honored to have been asked and featured on such an awesome blog. Thanks, Leona!

And on a related note, Leona Wisoker will be at the James River Writers Conference this fall.