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The Night My Brain Didn’t Write Sober

National Novel Writing Month is, in my opinion, a month for discovery. You discover your limits, your time management proficiency (or lack thereof), your endurance, and your ability to perform under pressure.

Well, I don’t mean to brag, but I found out I have a superpower.

I can type in my sleep.

I’m sure most everyone out there has experienced staying up until the wee hours of the morning trying to finish a paper for school and conked out to find they left a letter smosh on the page the next morning. As it turns out, I can go on typing long after I’ve fallen asleep. And it sorta makes sense! The ideas are a little out in left field, and really disconnected, but the thing that shocked me the most was my grammar and syntax mainly stayed in tact.

I remember just being absolutely exhausted when I sat down to write that night. I had a long day at work and was under a lot of stress, and the last thing I wanted to do was sit and write, but I did it anyway. I remember fading in and out for the first couple of minutes, but there comes a point where I don’t remember anything and just went to bed. I sat down to write the next night and I went back to figure out where I left off, and this is what I found:

After what seemed like ages to Phillian, they entered the village. The houses were crammed close together in an effort to fit more people in the area, but the streets were left larger to allow for a prolific market day. As it so happened, it was market day.

The wide streets were packed with the village inhabitants. While the town didn’t cover a particularly large area, a fair amount of people swarmed the larger streets. Lined in the gutters were stands with colorful canopies filled with goods of all sorts. Brightly patterned fabrics were sold in one stall and watermelons in another. As the blacksmith lead Phillian past the stall full of the green striped fruit, Phillian’s eyes stuck to it a moment longer and he salivated a little bit. The writer mused a little bit as she wrote this. It looks like Phillian’s favorite watermelon is fruit. Vendors traded their goods with neighbors both in hard cash and in services. A watermelon for a bunch of bananas there. A house cleaning service for clean laundry. Several gold and silver pieces for a haunch of deer.

Phillian sturggled with spelling the word sturggled and struggled with keeping up with the blacksmith. The closer to the village green they got, the thicker the crowds were and the more children that ran underfoot. This caused Phillian to flinch both at the noise they made, but also at the seemingly intentional ability they had to tread on his toes as he walked. One watching from far away might say that the childeren’s aim for Phillian’s toes might be merited, as on occasion he allowed his bag to knock one or two particularly rambunctious ones in the head as he walked.

It took a little while to pass through the whole town to get to the green, but while Phillian fully expected them to take a stop there, he was surprised when the burly blacksmith walked right past it, through an alleyway towards the other side of the town. Phillian jogged awkwardly in an an attempt to keep up.

“Where are we going?” He asked the back of the bigger man.

“We are going to the farms.”

“What? Why aren’t we stopping at the green?”

“I have no idea. The writer seems to be sleep writing.”

“What on earth does that mean?”

“It means the story really isn’t going to unfold, but everyone for some reason is going to get a new master.”

“What?” Phillian was very confused. Writer? What was this writer? This was all madness to him…a man of science and all that good stuff.

“We have some fixins to do.”

“Blacksmith, have you been drinking?”

“It’s possible. Now I’m going to beat you up and leave your helpless body in a ditch.”

Phillian crossed his eyes. “You probably shouldn’t do that, because if you do, this will need some major rewriting.”

The blacksmith smiled a kind of cross eyed smile. One eye wandered ina  completely different direction and Phillian wondered if he was hallucinating. It was quite possible. Some of the plants he keeps in his glass house have spores that are lovely to take on walks. They can cause hallucinations and if distilled in the wrong hands can double as an aphrodisiac. Or not, cause that’s kind agross.

You know you silly person? You need some sleep. Phillian said.

The blacksmith thought long and hard about this fact. Yes, as it appears, so I would. Would you like to have a sleepover?

No. NO I wouldn’t. I’m a hermit, remember? There’s a no likey people problem over here and it starts wth the letter P, which also happens to be the letter of the day. I would hate to be the dentist for a dinosoar excavation that came to life. Do you know how much that would suck?

Phillian paused a moment to consider the lilies of the field and how they grow.

Okay. It’s probably to time to throw in the towel. This is not productive at all.

I laughed so hard I cried. It was a little startling to get a view into what my brain does when I’m asleep (and let me tell you, I’m pretty weirded out by it). All I can say is I’m so glad all of this gets filtered out in the day, otherwise, I might be regarded as a drunk or a lunatic, neither of which are actually accurate.

I’m totally keeping all this for my word count.

Happy NaNoing, guys!

ACE

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Posted by on November 16, 2014 in A Day In The Life

 

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Graduate Doldrums

Three weeks and a day since I graduated with my degree in Creative Writing. Three weeks and a day. I wish I could say I have something to show for it, like a publication acceptance letter or something, but nothing much else has happened since the big day. I’ve read a few books, mastered the snooze button slap and spent a lot of time wondering what I’m going to do with THE REST OF MY LIFE.

I can think of nothing worse than coming to the end of the path I have walked for several years and seeing the eternal void of the rest of my life yawn before me. Except for maybe anchovies. And spiders. But seriously. My life has been planned out up until this very moment. Graduation was the Godot I was waiting for. And now I’ve achieved it. So what’s next?!

Ideally, I’d like to get published. The only problem is getting published is a long hard process that involves a lot of trial and failure. Writing short stories and articles are not my strong point, so that provides a small problem. Disconnect is at least a year out from being completed. As it stands right now, I have no material and no motivation.

If there is anything I learned in college, this last semester in particular, it was that nothing comes without work. Any successes I had came after I put forth effort. I didn’t succeed until my fingers hit the keyboard. It didn’t matter what I produced as long as it was something that could be fixed. Anytime I vomited a draft I could later revise, it reduced stress and I got great feedback. So what else can I learn from this? Not only does work produce results, but the point of writing is to write.

I realize I’ve talked about the point of writing being writing before, but here is an example where it really comes into play. Most of my classes required a lot of writing, and because of due dates and my schedule, I was always drafting one thing or another. I have never drafted so heavily in my school career, and I discovered that the initial drafts were the hard part. I forced myself to turn off my internal editor and I just wrote. Revising was easier and more enjoyable–It was this process that brought me the biggest success.

That being said, let’s set some goals.

Goal 1: Do at least 30 minutes of freewriting every day.

In theory, this should be the time for my internal editor to take a hike. I can work on projects that don’t have near as much pressure as writing Disconnect does. Write a short story or an article that interests me. Just write. I’ll create a “geode” folder for all my freewrites so I can work on them later. Maybe I’ll get get material good enough to be polished and sent out.

Goal 2: Finish Disconnect full revision 2.0 by the end of October 2013.

This goal will be a little harder. I finished the first full draft of Disconnect during National Novel Writing Month, so I can do at least 50,000 words in a month. If I can pull off 1,666 words a day in Disconnect, then this goal should be in the bag within a month or two.

Goal 3: Work on one or both of these goals every day.

If anything, I need to get back in the habit of just writing. If I can at least achieve two out of these three goals, I’ll have this self-motivation business in the bag.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2013 in A Day In The Life

 

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NaNoWriMo: Pre-Season Prep

Calling all NaNo’s! It’s the middle of October, and it’s time to start gearing up for NaNoWriMo next month! To celebrate, Literature and Latte is putting out a special trial version of their amazing Scrivener software!

For all those who have not tried Scrivener, I just gotta say, it is the best writing program I have ever used. It’s perfect for all kinds of writing–screenwriting, large reports, noveling 😀 :D, you name it! It has tons of organizational goodies like note cards, cork boards, keyword database searches, multi-level folder and binder organization and color coding.

I absolutely love my Scrivener. I don’t know where I would be without it. It helps me keep my photos, my notes, and my research organized in one place. No more notebooks stuffed in cereal boxes and files filled with random paper scraps for me.

One of the features I particularly like about Scrivener is the full screen writing mode. It allows you to open up a distraction-free window where you can sit and type continuously. I love it when I’m trying to compose in the mornings because that’s when I tend to get the most distracted. You can choose how light or dark you want the background to be, set target word counts, create keywords and your cursor doesn’t leave the center of the page as you type. 

This program is awesome for writers of all abilities. The NaNoWriMo 2012 Scrivener trial lasts for all of November up until December 7th to give you time to complete the revisions you would like to. If you love the program enough to buy it following NaNoWriMo, all participants can receive a 20% off discount. But if you win this year, you get 50% off! How is that for incentive?

It’s time to get writing!

ACE

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2012 in Writing Events

 

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The Writer’s Journal

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted! Things got hectic those last couple days of the week! But good news! It’s spring break, and I hope to get at least three posts out this week. Maybe.

So anyway, my last post I talked about the Ideal Reader and how they are the best people to work with. Well today’s post is going to be about the writer’s best friend: the journal.

Now when I say journal, I’m not talking about your “Today the dog got sick on the rug” journal, I’m talking about a journal in which contains full blown drafting sessions, drawings, questions, character sketches, lists, notes–pretty much everything that makes up the foundation of every novel.

When my writing professor first introduced the concept of writer’s journals, I honestly didn’t agree with the idea. Internally, I fought against it because I believed that the manifested itself in a whole, unbroken shape, and that if I wrote anything outside the text as it came to me, it would compromise the integrity of the story.

How wrong I was.

At first it was really hard for me to journalize my writing. My entries started out as writing down names I liked, situations that would make great scenes, and I started taping things I would find in people’s pockets at the dry cleaners I worked at like ticket stubs and business cards in my notebook, hoping to finding something to write about. I thought the exercise was pointless, and I didn’t feel like it was doing anything for me at all.

It didn’t change until my first creative writing workshop of my college career. At the time, I had started a story idea about a weather mage that I was quite proud of, but come to find out my group felt like the characters were flat and had no motivation and substance. The suggestion was given by one of my classmates to sit down and have an interview with my characters in my journal. Feeling quite attached to the piece I had written I decided to try it with absolutely amazing results.

The interview ended up being only one page front and back, but what I discovered about my character changed the course of not only the story, but also the way in which I journaled. All of the entries that followed had substance and made my writing so much better than it ever had been! I couldn’t believe it! I was able to make my writing more succinct, to the point, and have my characters fleshed out better by the time I was ready to write the story. I was able to improve the quality of my writing by almost 100%! I was able to take long verbose descriptions and dialouge like this:

“Swiftly, I catch up and cut in front of him a second time. He turns to walk around me in a different direction, but I grab his sleeve, preventing him from getting any further away from me. ‘Alright, listen kid. There is something about you, something strange about you that I cannot explain. This moment our lives have crossed has really left me wondering about you, and I intend to find out why you are so different from everyone else. You may as well answer me straight.’

This caused the boy to stop, mainly due to my grip on his sleeve. ‘I can’t tell you anything.’ He shakes my hand off his arm and continues walking, very cold, very closed. I am determined not to give in to the temptation to just walk away.

I catch pace with him, this time standing exactly in his way. ‘What’s your name? Who are you? Where are you going?’ I demand again. He stops short, his face working as he tries to control his emotions. I notice the sky has suddenly become darker and rainclouds are beginning to collect. This was strange, seeing as the day had started out almost ethereal.

‘Looks like it’s going to rain. Do us both a favor and answer my questions before that storm hits.’  His eyes widen in panic, and we both look up to the forming black mass. Immediately, his head drops to his chest, and I can see him heaving deep measured breaths. His long fingers clench into fists, and for a moment, it is as though the air shifts because a slight shimmer appears all around him, like heat rising off of sun-baked asphalt. The air seems to get heavier. The sensation passes quickly and the aura around the boy dissipates, leaving me to believe it a figment of my imagination.

Slowly, he lifts his head, his eyes clenched tightly shut. ‘Listen girlie,’ he says through clenched teeth ‘I am in danger. You don’t want to get to know me. I can’t let you know me. Everyone  close to me gets hurt. I don’t know what you think you are on to, but trying to ‘figure me out’ and discover what makes me so ‘special’ could cost you your life. I can promise you my ‘special-ness’ isn’t worth that steep of price. It’s certainly one I am not willing to pay.’”

and transform it into much stronger dialouge and descriptions like this:

“‘Abigail Jayne! My favorite girl!’ Vinny Morano’s large belly fills my vision, held back only by one straining button of a bombastically colored suit. I blink, dizzy from the busyness of the jacket. Trapped.

Slowly, I back up, fearing for the safety of my eyeball and my pocket book.

‘Oh. Hello Vinny. Funny meeting you here. Look, can’t chat—left something important at home—’

‘Awh, come on now Abigail Jayne. You don’t come visit us poor lonely Moranos for months and expect me to just let you go without a nice chat?’

He places a large arm around my shoulders, smashing me to his side. He steers me toward the end of the street where his perpetual yard sale sprawls across his lawn.

‘No really Vinny. I can’t. And it’s A.J. I don’t know how many times I’ve told you that.’

‘Paw,’ he snorts beneath his greasy black mustache. ‘As I always say, always call something by its true name and it will forever be your friend.’”

Huge transformation right? I never would have dreamed journaling before composing would effect my quality so much, and I wonder how I could ever have gone on writing without one. It’s kinda funny because at my first turn in date in class for my journal, I found myself having an anxiety attack because I was so attached and dependent on it, and I literally limped away from class that day. My writing journal is now a part of me that goes everywhere I do (just ask my friends; they’ll tell you).

Now keep in mind you can do your journaling any way you would like. I personally write in the margins, I use sticky notes, I print and paste pictures in my journal, I have stickynotes with commentary or corrections on my writing if there is no room to make any on the page, and I draw maps. I also have an additional commonplace book that I keep the small things like one-liner ideas and names I like to help my journals keep focused on the story at hand. Another hint with journaling before I end this post is that you need to go out and find a journal that you know you’d enjoy writing in. My first journal was quite creatively decorated, if I do say so myself, to help keep myself interested in writing in it. As you’ve probably noticed, I’m stressing again and again doing the little things to help keep your writing interesting to you. It can be work, but if writing is something that you have a passion for and would like to do it for the rest of your life, you cannot allow it to feel so.

Alright guys! Enough of this talk. Time to do some journaling of your own! 🙂

ACE

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in On Writing

 

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