It Beckons

It’s been over a year since I last posted. Sometime after NaNoWriMo last year I had decided to get back into posting, but things just got away from me. And as NaNo approaches this year I’m starting to feel that urge to write come upon me again.

Several times over the summer I have had ideas spring on me and I’ve written snippets, but the only problem is, I have no plot. I just have a beginning, or at least one little glimpse of some other world. I could keep writing from these snippets, but I can’t find the words to continue. I don’t know where to go.

It’s maddening to have an idea, something that excites me, but then not know where to go from there The urge to write is growing everyday. The more I read the more I want to write. I’ve even started listing to the Writing Excuses podcast. My hope is that the spark will start to grow and ignite into a full fledged flame. But unless I give that spark some tinder, nothing is going to happen. So begins the writing. The writing with no direction. Words spilling forth with no purpose, no idea, just words. And maybe, just maybe, a plot will emerge.

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It’s Friday

Friday, Friday…

And what a week it has been. Lets just say that I’m not entirely ready for the weekend because Saturday is going to be my big day to push to get the rest of my room organized and unpacked.

It might seem a bit odd that I haven’t finished doing that since I moved several weeks ago, but I’ve been picking up every extra shift I could at work the last few months and it looks like next month is going to be about the same.

It makes finding time to write extremely difficult, especially when I have so many different things I need to do. But I do plan on setting aside some time tomorrow to rewrite a short story I wrote several years back that has stuck in my mind. And while I’m pretty sure the finished product will not resemble the original lines I wrote, the spark that I see when I read those words will be there.

This particular story was a result of word prompts I did every day one October before NaNoWriMo. It was a practice I really enjoyed and have missed doing since. In fact, aside from trying to do a free-write journalish bit everyday, I will start doing word prompts again. And if you so feel the desire, leave a comment with a word you think would be good for me to try on for size.

Do you have any favorite writing exercises?

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More from Victoria Hanley

To be quite frank, I really, really enjoyed listening and talking with Victoria Hanley. If I ever get a chance to attend another event with her, I’d do it in a heart beat. Even if it may not have seemed like I was paying attention, because I have a doodling issue, I was clinging to every word she said.

One of the other things she talked about that has really stuck with me, is a writing exercise. In the class she had us all write down our deepest secret. And then we shredded it. Then she asked us if we had told the complete truth, which to be honest, most of us hadn’t and for a variety of reasons. I know, my own reasoning being that I wanted to make it sound nicer than it was, because lets be honest, its a secret because its something I want to pretend isn’t real and if I had written out the whole truth, it would mean for that moment in time I would have to accept that reality and embrace it, even if grudgingly. And boy did I drag my feet with that first draft. But fear not! She made us write down our secret again and this time she said to write the whole truth and I did and as soon as I had placed the last period, I dashed to the shredder and disposed of that beastly thing.

But that wasn’t the end! Afterward she encouraged each of us to spend thirty days free-writing (one of my favorite writing exercises!). Whatever came to mind, our feelings, thoughts, anything, just write it all down on a piece of paper and then shred it. Write it completely and truthfully, because afterward it would be gone and no one else would need to ever see it. And though, the thought of throwing away something I had written, that might be good in a story later made me cringe, she said something to ease my mind. Because whatever we wrote down, if it was good, it would be even better when we rewrote it later.

And yesterday, I begin my first of thirty days of free-writing. Something which will probably be the only writing I will get done for at least the next two weeks as I continue to move into a new apartment and then fly off to the last frontier for my reunion. But it is an exercise I am already enjoying immensely.

What is your favorite writing exercise?

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I’m blessed to live in a state with several local authors that come to the library and do events or go to bookstores and do book talks and signings.

This week I got to listen to Victoria Hanley, a local Colorado author who writes YA fantasy. She talked about writing novels and how to get started and a few key things that you should do and towards the end of the talk there is one thing she said that really stuck with me. And though I don’t know if other writers have said this same thing, I wanted to share it with you here.

Victoria Hanley said, “The great thing about writing is that you are on an exploratory journey.” And that is something I can definitely identify with. Reading is also the same way for me, especially when I go back and read things that I wrote years ago. Stories I’ve forgotten, even if in need of dire editing, will still bring me into a different world I experienced as I wrote them and it makes me want to spend time with that old story, fixing it up and making it into something that other people will be able to read and enjoy too.

Since finding my flash drive that I thought I had lost I’ve gotten to spend a fair amount of time going over things that I’ve written since I was in high school and I can’t wait to sit down with the stories that excited me the most as I wrote them and fix them up so that I can share them with others. And I hope that within the coming months that I can do just that.

Do you feel like writing and reading is an exploratory journey?

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I hate it, loathe it. I don’t like boxing up my life and having it unavailable to me for the days and even weeks that it can take to move into a new place, even if it is just across town.

It also means I need to go through everything I own and downsize. Even if I end up in place the same size or bigger, the thought of moving all that stuff makes me cringe. And while I don’t think I’ve gained a huge amount of things in the nearly six years I’ve been in my current abode, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be moving into a much smaller space, which means stuff I probably should have gotten rid of in the last move, definitely have to go this time around.

What I dislike the most is having to go through my books. While I don’t buy as many as I used to since I started working in a library, they still have a tendency to gather on my shelves and in boxes.

I have to be honest, I’m not one for rereading books, except in the case of research material. I have only reread two books in my life, the first being Ender’s Game which I reread so I could write a paper on it for a college class on literary criticism and Across Five Aprils which I read in seventh and then again in eighth grade. It was the first repeated book report I did, but I had to reread the book because both teachers had different ways they wanted book reports done. Not to mention that at that age I was reading a good three or four books a week, so, a book I had read a year before wasn’t exactly fresh in my mind.

Another thing that I hate having to go through is stuff from my childhood. A lot of it has sentimental value, but the reality is that I don’t use it anymore and with no plans for having children (because that would generally require having at least a boyfriend and then hopefully getting married first), a lot of that stuff may never get used again. Admittedly, I’m also a bit of a pack-rat, so I have a lot of things with neither sentimental value or usefulness in my life.

All this means I’m going to have to sit down and really look at the things I’ve collected in my life with a critical eye. Much the same way I need to look at my writing when I edit. Do I really need this item/scene? Does it serve a purpose? Will I use this later? What can be removed without being missed?

These are just a few of the questions I have to ask myself. And more will come as I get deeper into my packing and sorting and as I learn more about editing.

What things do you ask yourself when you are getting ready to move or edit your writing?

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Shifting into Overdrive.

I’m not talking about the e-book distributor or cars, I’m talking about myself.

Over the next two weeks I’m going into overdrive on my edits. I’ve got two complete novels (though not my only two “complete” novels) that I really want to finish editing and I’m hoping that I can finish this round of edits by the end of May. Which means I’ll be spending a week on each one.

Whether or not I’m successful in that venture, I’ll be extremely happy if I can at least get through one of them in the next two weeks. This is because I really want to get to the point in the next couple of months where I’m ready to start querying agents.

I’m sure that I’ll go through each of the novels at least a few times before I even start drafting query letters, but it means that I need to buckle down and spend less time working on new material and more time focusing on getting the old material up to snuff.

Do you have any projects you are really excited about finishing?

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Story Ideas

I love when I wake up in the morning and mull over random thoughts that pass through my brain and realize that there is a story there. Sometimes the story is related to my dreams, though I haven’t had many of those in the past few months. But more often then not, the story is related to things I’ve been talking about, reading and even listening to lately.

So, what have I been doing the last few days? At work I was working on a weeding project where I was pulling books from a collection that was from one of our former libraries. Because it was a different library which got consumed by the current branch, it’s pretty easy to spot the books because the stamps on them have to do with the old library name. One of the books I ended up pulling was a Colorado Trivia book. The book itself is now just shy of 20 years old and being not from Colorado I was curious about what kind of trivia it had inside. Not surprisingly I only knew answers to a few of the questions I perused because they had to do with Leadville, Colorado or people from Leadville in the late 1800s.

This led me to think about some of the information I had come across in doing research for my werewolf novel which, for those of you who may not know, is set in the above place and time. This was soon followed by another thought, courtesy of The Functional Nerds.

Somehow in the last couple weeks I managed to skip over their 52nd episode in my Google Reader and I went back and listened to it earlier in the week. They talked with Steve and Andy Scearce who have each had a short story published in different anthologies. One of those being Rigor Amortis. And while I won’t be writing zombie erotica, the zombie idea got lodged in my brain.

Now I have, what I think, is a pretty humorous story rolling around in my head dealing with zombies and a historical event. Which will likely be influenced by other humorous zombie related things I’ve read and watched in the last year.

Right now I have no idea if this will just end up as a short story, or if something bigger might be there, but I do know that I’ll have a lot of fun with it. And I’m pretty sure I’ll have trouble not working on it while I work on finishing Script Frenzy this month.

Do you ever get story ideas that you are so excited about that you just want to start working on them right away?

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April Fools?

The last week has been a roller coaster for me emotionally. As I mentioned in the last post, I was going to be moving in April and moving is my least favorite thing to do in the whole world. However, it turns out that I may not be moving after all. The house I’ve been living in was sold, but word came back today that the buyers financing fell through, even though they had been told they had it before they made the offer on the house. I’m seriously hoping and praying that this is not someone’s sick April Fools joke on the buyers, which in turn would be on the current owner of the house. And then, of course, down on to me, the lowly renter.

The bad news is that I already canceled my gym membership yesterday, because I was going to move to San Antonio, Texas and they don’t have a branch there. The good news is, that it means that if I like my friend’s gym here in town, I could switch and still get a decent work out, even if it’s a different style of working out. It just means that if I want to go running, I’m going to have to bite the bullet and do it outside.

Some other good news is that it gives me more time to find more employment in the area so I can find another place to live in during the near future so that I won’t have to deal with all this stress of having to move all over again with only a months notice. And of course, in related news, I haven’t actually put in my two weeks notice at work, so that is one less thing I’ll have to scramble to try and undo.

And the best news of all, it means I can actually make a real attempt at ScriptFrenzy this month! I haven’t actually done any writing yet today, but I’ll being going to a kick-off party this afternoon in which I’m going to be pounding away at the keyboard to try and get in my first 3.33 pages in.

I, of course, am going to keep going through with my Spring Cleaning/Moving events throughout the month, so that if another offer is made on the house before I find a new place to live, I will have most things taken care of and it means I can head can trade in more books at the Tattered Cover for store credit!

So now I’m going to go take a deep breath, draw up a bath and relax for half an hour while I let the stress from the last week fade away.

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Script Frenzy

April is fast approaching and last year at this time I told myself that I would definitely make an effort to learn more about scriptwriting and try and participate in 2011 in this offshoot of NaNoWriMo. While I am still unsure if I’ll actually participate when April finally rolls around, I am taking the steps towards learning more about the practice and art of scriptwriting.

Aside from articles on the Script Frenzy site, I’ve picked up two books at my local library and I attended a scriptwriting seminar this past Tuesday. Whether I’ll get through all the material before April starts is yet to be seen. And whether I’ll have time between packing, moving and working to write and with just a week till the start, I’m on the fence about how serious of an attempt I’ll actually make at trying to write 100 pages. That aside, I am excited about what I will be working on during the month, which will basically be a rewrite of my werewolf novel from November, but in a script format of course!

But I am still hopeful that sometime with in the next few years that I will make an attempt at scriptwriting just for the experience of something different.

I think as a writer it is important and beneficial to explore different types of writing, whether it be different genres, poetry or even scriptwriting. And it is for that reason that I have been making efforts at expanding my repertoire of writing skills. Even if I don’t become very accomplished or experienced in other areas of writing, laying down the foundations now, might prove useful later in life and in my writing career.

Are any of you planning on participating in Script Frenzy?

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While I’m not against self-publishing in the least and have become more and more consciously aware of it. I read blogs, websites, books, anything that hints that it might have some good information about the subject.

But I still hesitate when I think about self-publishing my own work. And one of the majors reasons behind this is, that I don’t want people to look at my book and think it’s not polished, not that all traditionally published books are or self-published books aren’t. For a long time there has been a stigma that self-published means shoddy and it’s hard to shake that from my mind. But then I read things, from traditionally published authors venturing for the first time into self-publishing and I quake.

It worries me when I read statements like this: “I went through it to catch any typos, I hope, and made sure the story still worked.”

Does that scare anyone else?

I know their published, they know the process that goes with a normal book. But, really? I can’t say that reading a statement like that makes me want to go out and buy your novel that it sounds like you haven’t really edited much no matter how cheap it is.

The author may have done a fantastic job editing the novel, may have spent hours upon hours editing it and perfecting it, but the way that they are promoting it, leads me to believe otherwise.

When I read a book from a traditional publisher I expect it to be edited. Not just once, but many times. A polished novel, one that has few inconsistencies and follows most of the rules of grammar. When I buy an e-book, especially a self-published one, I want to be led to believe that the same care has gone into it as well, rather than having something thrown together and only given a cursory look-over.

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