Sunday, October 31, 2010


So I just found this and now plan to do it. Because I've decided to. NaNo makes me make spur of the moment decisions. If nothing else, it will encourage me to actually blog every day of November so I can keep some sort of record for posterity.

Because posterity is going to be real interested in the ramblings of a writer with too little sleep and 1667 words of a horrific novel to write.

Also, I am making a vow right now to vlog some of my NaNo experiences. Because I've wanted to for a year and a half now and I'm going to do it.

Also also, I'm going to be beginning NaNoWriMo dressed as a pirate. Arr.

Ten and a half hours to go.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bad influences...

I have this tendency (whether brilliant or irritating depends on my current obligations) to be very strongly influenced by works that I have recently been immersed in.

For instance, recently, I've been plowing through Princess Tutu, an anime about a duck who is changed into a girl who is changed into a princess to bring a prince's heart back to him and defeat an evil raven. (And despite the ridiculously fluffy title and the potentially-saccharine theme of the power of ballet dancing, I highly recommend it. Get through the first few episodes and it takes a swift turn for the dark and emotionally wrenching.)

Now, I'd already been sort of wanting to try my hand at some meta-fiction, but this show really brought it home for me. I want nothing more than to write a tragic old-school fairy tale wherein the characters might just actually know that they are characters and are trying to rebel against their fates. I mean, I really, really want to write something like that. I already did, then this show went and exacerbated the want.

Thing is, NaNo is in two days (cue the hyperventilation) and I've already got an idea for it. I want to write that idea. I don't think I want to change novel plans just forty-eight hours before NaNo starts.

This always seems to happen. I have an idea that I'm excited about, then I watch a movie or read a book and fall in love with the theme or setting and want to emulate it and can't at first because the original idea isn't compatible with the influential theme or setting. It's frustrating.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The down side of the pre-NaNo season...

Yes, even something as amazing as NaNo comes with a dark side.

1) Everything is about NaNo. "How is that a bad thing?" you ask. All my thought processes seem to be about NaNo, so my blog entries and general conversation topics suddenly become far less interesting as they all gravitate to NaNo and beat the concept to death. I feel like I'm just harping on the same ideas as everyone else.

2) Right now, just before NaNo is supposed to kick off, I'm being bombarded with other ideas I want to pursue. A robot love story in comic strip form, original fairytales and other such goodies keep popping up and have to be relegated to the "future ideas" bin.

3) Despite my desire to create, I'm not writing. Because NaNo is coming up so fast and I want to be able to devote all my attention to it, I'm scared to start anything for fear my enthusiasm will be killed during NaNo, or that I'll get distracted from my NaNo.

Those things said...

Omigosh, just four days until kick off!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

On Literary Snobbiness and Commercialization...

So, as I've said a few times already, my creative writing professor is a self-proclaimed literary snob.

"Write for posterity, not for profit," he says. He defames genre writing and extols the classics.

On the one hand, I see where he's coming from and agree with him.

Make your writing matter, rather than just be trying to be make a dollar. Don't fall into cliched genre conventions and look to the masters for examples of longevity.

On the other hand, I want to rage against him and his conventional posturing.

Don't try to be pretentious. Genres are fun to read and can act as great vehicles for stories and the classics are often a quite bit antiquated. They have great stories, but the writing is out of the dark ages.

My creative writing professor is also a bit of a hypocrite.

"The goal of writing is to get published," he says. He tells us to look to the markets for what to write in order to be sold and tells us we'll have to conform to be read.

On the one hand, I see where he's coming from and agree with him.

I myself have a dream of seeing my books on bookstore shelves. You should be aware of what is being written and is popular, and if you go too far left field, no one will want to read you.

On the other hand, I want to defy his every word and prove his notions wrong.

People often create for themselves as much as anything. People who break the mold are the ones who start market trends, and originality is the key to being awesome.

Writing is too complex to be put in little boxes. Much of what my prof says is directed at beginning writers, but even they don't need to be told that their ultimate goal is to be published. Too often, I run into writers, who can't tell a story worth squat, asking how to get published. Don't put the friggin' cart before the friggin' horse!

At the same time, writers need to know that it's okay to write for fun and profit. You wrote a romping novel about a cyborg space-whale herder searching for the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything and it becomes a bestseller? Awesome. Not everyone has to try to duplicate War and Peace. As long as you can tell a good story, who cares if Charles Dickens would roll in his grave knowing you included ninja marine biologists and people bought it?

Just make it worth reading.

Writing classes: a ramble...

"Can writing be taught?"

I'm not even going to try and come up with an answer to that.

I'm taking a writing class for fiction right now.

Is it fun?

Usually. There's some really cool people in my class, even if the professor can sometimes be a bit of a literary snob.

Is it useful?

Occasionally.  We've had some interesting discussions.

Is it worth the money I'm spending?

It depends.

This class satisfies some credits I need and I met some really awesome friends in it, so yeah, it was worth it for me. I mean, all that and I get to write for class? Boo yeah!

However, quite often I find myself frustrated. A lot of the stuff we're talking about is stuff I already know from experience and the awesome folks at YWS and other writing communities. Many times it's rehash of basics.

So does that mean it'd be good for a beginning writer?


I dunno. I'm sort of a subscriber to Ms. Frizzle's "take chances, make mistakes, get messy" school of learning. The best way to learn is to do, even if the first few attempts suck. The class might give you some helpful pointers, but ultimately, you'd be able to get those same points from a good writing community *cough Young Writers Society cough*.

Sure, the class can be fun sometimes, but I wouldn't necessarily tell all aspiring writers to jump up and pay for one. It depends on what you're looking for. It could be a great experiences, but it's not going to make you a good writer on its own.

Of course, all my points are based on my own class. There might very well be better classes out there. If so, where and how much?

It's on now...

Omigoodness, just six days (SIX DAYS!) to go until NaNo. *spazflail* I'm so ready for it to start, and yet, so unready.

- I have my wonderful new notebooks and I want to get to using them so badly.

- I might sorta kind maybe have an idea of how the whole thing is going to kick off (involving a first-person narrator and noir-style narration, methinks).

- All this music I've been listening to lately has me itching it create something.

- My novel idea is evolving. That's typical for me and so the shifting of my POV and story focus is par for course for me. It's just... it's changing so much from what I original envisioned. It's disorienting and I'm afraid that it will change drastically again mid-month. Not necessarily a bad thing, but what if the change sucks?

- As evidenced by that foray into whining uncertainty, I haven't quite managed to stifle my inner editor yet.

- Only six days... No time, no time...

But hey, you know what? Bring it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Procrastination, thy name is Pre-NaNo...

I should be writing an English paper and analyzing the legal uses of marijuana for Biology. What am I doing instead? Pre-NaNo stuff!

If you haven't already seen the pep talk list for this year's NaNo, looky-look!

I've been decking out my NaNo profile, with actual novel info and the like. It's hard to do when you suck at summaries and titles. City of Glass Eggs is a temp title because I like the words "glass" and "eggs".

This is so cool. You know how you do Advent Calenders for Christmas? Here's one for NaNo! I want to make one so badly, but I'm not sure what I'd put in it.

Pandora not work in your country? Try Groove Shark! In some ways, better than Pandora because you can not only have a radio station playing music related to the music you like, you can actually create playlists and play specific songs that you want when you want them (which Pandora doesn't let you do).

Need a punchy title?  Every time I get a good one I want to change my NaNo idea just to fit that title.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I shouldn't have...

I bought myself some notebooks today. Look at the pretties!

Check out the fabulous lines! (College-ruled, surprisingly hard to find in journal-type notebooks, and the lines go all the way to the edges of the paper, instead of having stupid two-inch-wide margins!)

And look at mah pens! They are quite the lovely, aren't they? (Seriously, best brand of pens evah.)

Yeah... I shouldn't have bought this writerly bling twelve days before NaNo. Now, I want to be writing beautiful words of zombie-slaying fairy love and I've got to wait. Gah. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Okay, writers who want "strong females"; if part of your female character's characterization is that she doesn't need a man to complete her, do not, repeat do not, state as much when describing said character.

For example:
Maria hadn't had a boyfriend in three years. Too much of a hassle.

That is not the way to do it, m'friends. It makes the character sound bitter.

Now, if the character is bitter, this works. But the thing is, if you are trying to make a female character who literally can stand on her own two feet as a person, you fail. By basing her personhood on the fact that she doesn't need a man, you have just made her characterization all about the man that she "doesn't need". 

It depends on the character that you are trying to portray, but too often, this is used with the intent of creating a "strong female character". Then, nine times out of ten, this character then runs into a man who then does everything for her. But we are supposed to believe that this female character is strong, because we were told she doesn't need a man.

Instead, the way to handle a female character who "doesn't need a man" is just to have her functioning without a man. No need to draw attention to it. Just have it happen.

Needing or not needing a man to "complete" a character are not necessarily good or bad things. It all depends on how they are handled.The influence of a male character on the female character doesn't necessarily mean she is "weak" or "underdeveloped" and likewise, a lack of male influence on a female character doesn't necessarily mean she is "strong" or "independent".

Basically, it all comes down to treating the characters, both male and female, as people.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An in-between place...

The pre-NaNo season is very strange. All around the interwebs, people are posting ideas for their plots. So here I am reading all these fantastic synopses and getting all excited and thinking "I have got to add these books to my reading list" and then I stop and realize that none of them have been written yet.

I don't recall if it was from a published book (a Thursday Next book?) or perhaps an original piece of fiction somewhere on a writing site, but I once read a story about a library where all the books that ever could have been written are shelved. They might not have been written, but there was the potential for them to have been written and so they exist in this library.

That's what pre-NaNo feels like to me, knowing that there are so many novels right now that are begging to be written and that they will exist at the end of November. It feels like a time out of time, like I can see the future and I know what is coming, yet it hasn't arrived yet. It's different from anticipating a movie from a trailer somehow. It's different from watching prerecorded images from a film that is in the works. These are novels that literally have not been written yet. They don't exist yet, and yet they do.

Somehow, that idea makes me emotional. Writing does occasionally, the idea that with just words, we can create entire universes that ring just as true as our own. There's a certain grandeur and mystery in that power that I take for granted sometimes. But when I stop and think about it, I'm floored. The idea that our words could be remembered for posterity, that we brought people into the world who don't really exist yet actually do, that you can pour a soul into little black marks, really brings writing home for me. It makes me love writing again, even as it frightens me that anyone would entrust me with this kind of power. It makes me afraid to attempt anything, fearing that I might screw it up, and it gives me a sense of confidence, knowing that there really isn't anything to screw up.

That concept of writing can make me cry when I think about it too hard.

Good luck, little future novels.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The pros and cons of NaNoWriMo...


1) You write a friggin' novel

 in a friggin' month.

2) Take a look at 1) again. Really soak it in.

3) The creative freedom afforded by hogtying your inner editor is a wonderful thing. Really, just cutting loose and letting things happen without worrying about future consequences or even such things as readability is an amazing experience and can lead to the most awesome insights to your own abilities.

4) Did I mention that you write a novel in a month? Novel. in. a. month.


1) NaNoWriMo takes a lot of work and on top of that, it doesn't give you a material reward beyond the novel itself. No ten grand or shiny trophy. Poopy.

2) Remember sleep? Your best friend and ally against the crazy and the cranky? Yeah, say good bye. You won't be seeing each other for a while.

3) Your novel (y'know, the one you wrote in thirty days, losing valuable sleep for, etc. etc... yeah, that one) will most likely be crap.

It's a first draft. All first drafts are shit. So that amazing novel that you pounded out in thirty days will suck That's because the odds are like a bajillion to one that you would write a publishable, or even completely readable, novel in thirty days.

See, the thing is, first drafts are supposed to suck. We have to let them suck so that we can use that suck as a vacuum to pull all the little niggling ideas that haven't really been developed yet out of our brains and into the collection bin of scribbles. My first drafts are always filled with unusable subplots and weird character moments and long scenes of nothing important happening. Very often, my timeline changes and huge chunks of my novel are deleted in editing.

But that's okay. An idol of mine once said that good novels are made in revision. First drafts just get all the nuggets of blahsome onto paper and then editing is the "bl" out and just leaving the core nuggets of "ahsome", which we then edit until it becomes "awesome". 

All in all, for me, the idea of a novel in a month outweighs even the idea that I might spend months more editing the stupid thing.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't tell me what not to do...

Wow. I used to think I was pretty spiffy when I remembered to put a few sticky notes up with thngs I wanted to remember for my writing. Then I saw this. It looks so formidable, yet comfortable and lived in. Want.

I've decided recently that there are no rules in fiction writing until you break one. That sounds tongue-in-cheek, but seriously, everything depends on the effect the author is trying to go for. This isn't to say that you can ignore grammar, because writing and fiction writing are different things entirely, but with grammar, you need to at least know how to follow the rules before you can break them. Fiction, on the other hand, really has no rules. There are just things that don't work for a particular story.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


NaNo is a special time for me. It has a special feeling, much like summer or the Christmas season have their own particular feeling. NaNo is filled with anticipation, crazy late nights, music, left-over Halloween candy, and slightly runny noses in chilly libraries.

I listen to a lot of music around NaNo. Unusual amounts of music, most in genres that I don't typically listen to. Pandora and the NaNo CD Swap contribute a lot of new music and while I don't always listen to all of it again in the future, it creates a special atmosphere for NaNo, taking me a bit out of my comfort zone and putting me in a different mindset. As I type this, I'm listening to a CD from last year's swap. A lot of really really long songs, some with vocals, but most sort of atmospheric. Would I jam to it in the car? No. Is it great music to get me to different places in my writing? Sure. And then there are always the gems that make their way into my permanent playlists. I'm probably going to end up with so many soundtracks on my playlists, as I've recently become obsessed with them, even a bit before this NaNo atmosphere began to settle in.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Free shrimp dinners...

I'm telling you, they really need to figure out how to get those to us...

Yes, it's that time of year again. The National Novel Writing Month website has been revamped and I'm in for a wild month of frantic scribbling. Hopefully this year I'll actually do a bit more blogging during the month itself in order to give myself something concrete to look back on beyond the novel itself.

So yeah, I love pre-NaNo time. Actually, I hate it, because you're stuck waiting for NaNo itself to roll around. But at the same time, it's the perfect opportunity to waste time in NaNo planning, looking for writerly things you wouldn't normally indulge yourself in, making book covers, etc. Good times.

Been doing some blog trawling lately (yay for NaNo forum threads that direct me to bloggy things of other people) and found some good ones. Will eventually make a nice list of some of the ones I'm following regularly, but for now, just some websites I've been stalking: -- Duh. Seriously, though, I love the forums. So much writerly goodness. -- Discovered it last NaNo. Basically, plug in a song, genre or artist and it will compile a bunch of songs it thinks you will like. Finetune it by clicking "thumbs up" or "down" and make that perfect playlist. Building a soundtrack channel for myself to go with the Bluejay Project, starting with Danny Elfman and Requiem for a Tower. -- So. Much. Win. 

Been looking at a lot of Froud lately too. Watched The Nightmare Before Christmas for the first time in years and years. Sort of a dark, delicate quality that I find quite inspiring for this particular piece. And have listened to a million Yoko Kanno songs over and over and over again. Win.