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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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Week One: Starting is Hard

Whew! First week of NaNoWriMo is over!

So, how did it go? Did you manage to keep up with the word count? By the end of today, you should be reaching the 5,000 word mark. If you aren’t there yet, don’t give up! You can still catch up over the weekend! As you move onto NaNo Week 2, keep in mind the words of Stephen King:

 Keep your chin up NaNos! If you can just push past that inital fear/reluctance/trepidation or whatever it is that prevents you from putting your fingers to the keyboard or pen to the page, you can go great places! I know you can do it! Never stop trying! Write on!!

ACE

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2012 in Writing Events

 

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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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Camp NaNoWriMo: Week 2

The second week of NaNoWriMo is upon us! Now that the first week push is totally over (and motivation is waning, might I add), it’s time to bring it back home and address all the things that currently might be standing in our way.

I, for one, have started out pretty droopy. Even though I am trying to use NaNo as fuel to get me to the end of Disconnect, I am finding myself still getting stuck in the mud of discouragement, writer’s block and misty character motivation. My plot that I thought had all figured out decided to take a small twist, giving me whiplash and leaving me feeling disoriented for a few days, I did manage to hurtle the initial writer’s block I was experiencing before Camp started only to faceplant into the one only a few feet behind it, leaving me with should-I-keep-this-character musings that I would much rather not deal with.

But enough kvetching about my week one woes. It’s time to talk about the solving of them.

Discouragement is a horrible thing to encounter. If you are anything like me, outputting an enormous amount of words in one day is like trying to lift a 1,666 lb angry cat with one hand and no glove. In other words, it hurts and you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. 

The solution is simple: Do what you can do. Don’t hurt yourself trying to kick the angry cat’s butt, go kick the butt of the weight machine first, and maybe go shopping for body armor. Work up to that 1,666 words per day. Sure it gets you behind, but after sitting on the couch your whole life, you aren’t going to one day be able to stand up and say “Hey! I’m going to run a marathon today!” You need to begin training. If the word count you can pull of in your best day is only a few hundred words, then great! Try to add another hundred to that the next day, and the next day, and the day after that, even if you have to carve an extra three hours out of your day to do it. In my opinion, NaNoWriMo isn’t just about finishing off a novel, but also pushing yourself to do your best and reach a goal.

The next thing to address is the bane of every writer’s existence: Writer’s Block. Having been wrestling with my own sever case of WHY-ISN’T-THIS-WORKING, I discovered that you can’t take the inspiration train to happy land through a wall of death. It’s one of those things you need to get up, face and start knocking your forehead against until you see the light peeping through tiny cracks and make them big enough to shove through. Writer’s block is work, and you have to keep clocking in and force yourself through slogs of nasty, cheesy dialogue, bumpy prose and embarrassing cliches.

The directors at NaNo recommend throwing in something unexpected like ninjas (my personal favorite) or stampeding elephants and seeing how your characters react from there. Even though you’ll probably have to delete the scene in later drafts, at least you learn things about your characters like how they react to absurdity, or what their fighting skills are like, maybe even who would throw who under the bus in times of life and death. Who knows? You could uncover a plot gem! A new twist! A sub plot! The possibilities are endless.

Something that seems to be working the best for me in times of writing block is switching mediums and the occasional environment. For example, I since summer started I started going to sit outside on the deck with my laptop perched on the bistro table, watching the hummingbirds divebomb each other while the sun rises. For me, the change from my desk to outside in the cool morning helped a lot. When I’m super blocked, I resort to the good ol’ writing journal and handwrite it out. This allows me to get over the mentality that everything has to be perfect and that I’m allowed to make mistakes. A lot of times I’ll write out the same scene several different times in my journal to help me figure out what I want to accomplish.

But probably the most important thing you can do to help yourself with a block is continue writing. Those walls slow you down and bring all the fun to a stop. Don’t let that happen, and a lot of the time, everything will work itself out. You’ll be back on track and getting things done before you know it.

The last thing I’d like to quickly address is  busting your way through character motivation. This first week, a scene occurred to me that didn’t really seem congruent with the rest of what I had written. I really liked it, and my IR said it was one of her favorite scenes I’d done yet. My only issue I had a character take a full 360 turn for about 2 pages then reverting back to the original personality I had given them. I couldn’t figure out if this was a part of the character I didn’t know about yet, or if I was just tailoring things to go my protagonist’s way for the sake of building his character. There are really only two bits of advice I can think of to give in situations like these.

The first mirrors what I said about writer’s block. Try journalizing about it. Write different scenes with them. Try some choppy pieces of dialogue with them. Introduce them to ninjas. Do something away from your manuscript to try and figure out who they are and why they act certain ways.

The next involves interviewing your character. I’ve only done this a couple times, and not with this particular storyline, but it works, and I enjoy it a lot. Having a back and forth or even an arguement with the character as an author lets you know a ton about motivations, especially if the characters are open enough with you to come out and say it. I’ll admit, it’s a little eerie when that happens, but totally worth it.

Well fellow NaNoers and non-Nanoers alike, this post has run long enough, and I hope it helped at least someone out there struggling with their own week one woes; I know it’s certainly helped me!

Time to get back to that manuscript! Stay strong and write on!

ACE

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Writing Events

 

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And so it Begins…

Hi all out there! My name is Aisley Claire ( as you have probably noticed from the title) and I’m an aspiring author! One of the things that have been discussed in my writing classes is building a fan base in the internet. At the Life, the Universe and Everything conference earlier this month, one panel suggested starting a blog to get you and your writing out there. I’ve always kinda been a bit leery of blogs, and unsure how to work them; especially in regards to tailoring them to fit my writing needs. As such, we’ll be learning as we go here.

For starters, allow me to tell you about myself. As I stated before I’m an aspiring author. Now I say aspiring author because aspiring writer sounds an awful like I’m thinking about the possibility of writing, not actually doing it. That is absolutely not the case. I am always writing, always will be, and I feel it’s only a matter of time before I manage to get my name on a glossy cover. It all comes down to a matter of patience, hard work, perseverance and a thick skin.

My genre is Speculative Fiction, which pretty much covers a wide range of pretty much everything. When I tell people this I generally get the confused face and the “What’s that?” question. As a general definition it is “a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic events”. This sums me up beautifully; all my work falls neatly within the supernatural, fantastical and futuristic.

I have quite a few books going all at once, I have one post-apocalyptic story that I began for National Novel Writing Month back in 2008 that deals with genetic engineering (and I’m quite interested in where it is going!), a fantasy novel with the working title of Legend that is dabbling in the realms of making  place a character and also the ways you can layer conflict, my current project, Disconnect (working title), is based in the future, dealing with government censorship and hacking (an issue of great interest to the public at the moment). I also have a novel I’ve been working for about 7 years now called True Heir to Freedom’s Throne, which really was my first attempt at a long, publishable novel, and honestly, it is nowhere near being ready to see the light of day.

Regardless of all these other projects, my sights are set on completing Disconnect (which is flowing a lot better than any of the a fore mentioned) and as such most of my posts will probably be centered the writing of this thing. At least for the time being. I’m planning on adding in reviews on books that I have found helpful in my journey to get published, or books that I just find enjoyable that I think every person should dive into, plus adding in links that fellow writers may find helpful.

Keep your eyes peeled for more posts and thanks so much for your support!

ACE

(Aisley Claire Extraordinaire)

PS: Almost forgot to tell you guys that I love feedback, if you would like to contact me I’ve included my email address in this site, or just leave a comment on a post relevant to what you have to say. I love recommendations on reading material, I’m happy to discuss something I’m writing about or even something you are writing, so feel free to get in touch!

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Introduction

 

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