Thursday, December 23, 2010

Deep thoughts and short stories

I've decided to post one micro-short per week here. Should be interesting to try to come up with those boyfriend and I have decided that I should write a story about socks in that other universe. You know, the one where the partners of your widowed and orphaned socks disappear to. What happens when one finds its way back?

Thursday, December 2, 2010


The best thing about having done and won NaNoWriMo is that it has really made me think I can do anything. I mean, yes, it was a silly goal: write a book in a month. But it took serious dedication to sit my ass down every night and come up with those 1667 words. Sometimes I stopped halfway through, sometimes I went above and beyond, but on November 30, I had my 50,000+ words.

The whole process of writing--having a plan, the elation, the setbacks, ignoring my inner editor in pursuit of that incredible 50,000-word goal, and NOT having it suck--has really made me rethink my attitude in some other aspects of my life. It's like, "Okay, I've written a novel--a thesis shouldn't be a problem at all."

It's also given me some insight into my writing: namely, planning is actually kind of important if I ever want to finish anything. But that's true of all life.

This month I will be devoting my energies to plotting out a how-to-create-an-apocalypse novel, while painting another mushroom.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hell YES

I made it. 50,000+ words before midnight.

And the thing is, it's not just that I won with the word count, although to be completely honest I would have been PISSED if I'd run completely out of story before the end (it was hovering at 48,000 for a little while). It's that I had a complicated, interesting, story that needed a lot of time and space to develop, and I gave it that time and that space and I think, once I go back and red-line the more terrible bits, that by and large it might actually be pretty good.

In other words, I started a story. AND I F*CKING FINISHED IT.


Monday, November 22, 2010

You don't know the half of it

Most people think that the hardest part about writing a novel is staying focused, finding the right words, conveying the right emotion at the right time.

That's actually the easiest part.

The hardest part of writing is going back through what you've written--taking your pride and joy--and figuring out what sucks, what works, and hitting the "delete" key.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good ideas

Ideas don't come easily to me, which might be surprising if you thought that all artistic types are virtually brimming with some vision or other, ideas spewing all over the place.

And the ones that come don't usually stay for the party. If it's an interesting thought, I'll usually ponder that for a little while, and then discard it in the face of more immediate problems at work, like figuring out why some invoice for a sh*t-ton of money didn't get paid.

The good ideas--the best ones--the ones I actually do something with--come back again. After six months or so, but they do come back. It's hard to say exactly what will be a good idea: an offhand comment on an email, watching my cats play, a lyric to a song I haven't heard in ages. Inspiration comes from the weirdest places.

I suppose, if I were any better at capturing ideas, I'd be a lot more prolific. As it is, well, I don't work at a lab because I like breaking the rules.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Neverending chapter

An excerpt from tonight's chapter:

“It's a good thing my dad disowned me,” Carla remarked. “I don't know what he'd do if he found out that I not only dating a white guy, but also a Catholic.”

“Get all your sinning over and done with,” Wes said, laughing. “Anyway, I was supposed to be a priest, and instead I end up promoting science over religion when it comes to healing, so I guess being a priest wasn't what I was meant to do, anyway.”

“Do you still believe?” Carla asked.

“I do,” Wes said, as solemnly as he would confirm a wedding vow. “I never stopped believing in the Lord. Only in men.”

Up until now, my NaNoWriMo has been following the outline pretty closely. I've added a few things here and there, but overall everything's worked out and everything's following the script.

And then Whistler decided not to deny what he'd done, and Wes decided not to wait, and a metaphysical discussion which was supposed to eat up at least a few thousand words never happened. I've lost an entire chapter and it all seems to be going to hell in a royal handbasket.

But it's okay, because I know how it ends.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


From "Made" (which, hopefully with my sister's help will become a graphic novella at some point):

Ulysses's jaw flapped open and shut uselessly—it was true enough, what Ryan said, but Ulysses couldn't wrap his head around the flippant way he'd said it, especially since Ryan had impressed upon him the greatest need for utmost secrecy. His father glanced at Ryan—the tailored suit, the silk tie, the slick shoes—and back at Ulysses. Ulysses looked away, trying to avoid his father's goggle-eyed stare, but when his father touched his hand again he flinched away, and said, quietly, “He made me.”

At that moment Ulysses could see the realization of his complete loss come over his father's face. The man seemed to deflate, and he left the bar without another word.

Ryan turned to him, then. He touched Ulysses' face, his fingers tracing the delicate cheekbones and the neat nose, his features that weren't his. “I did make you,” Ryan said. “And you're beautiful.”

Ulysses wanted to say, “That wasn't what I meant,” but he couldn't bring himself to break the rapture on Ryan's face. “Come on,” Ryan said, his voice so gentle, so soft. “Let's go home.” It was all Ulysses could do to nod, and follow.

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's more of a panic, really

When my other blog, Outside Looking In, got nominated as one of Go Overseas! top ten blogs about life in the Netherlands, I called my mom to give her the great news. She was happy for me, albeit a little confused: she doesn't quite see the point of letting the entire world read about my life. And she also couldn't conceive of what in my life would be worth posting about.

If I stop and think about it (which I don't, except for now), it really is remarkable that I've managed to keep a blog about living in the Netherlands for over a year. I mean, I'm not a member of the criminal underworld, I work in a lab, and my biggest kick of the week is going home to see my boyfriend and kitties. How I manage to keep finding things to write about, twice a week, is true "there but for the Grace of God go I" writing.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finer Moments

An excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel, one of the better moments:

“Carla, dearest,” he said, when he answered the door. He stood a good six feet tall, barrel-chested from years on the job, lifting and hammering and doing whatever the job demanded. Carla still remembered clambering over his shoulders as a child, how large they seemed. Now, age had softened his physique a bit, but he was still imposing, still strong, and still her godfather, smiling at her as he had always done. “Come in, come in.”

She smiled and obeyed. “I can't stay for too long, Albert,” she said.

“I know, I know. Job interview in Maine—what the hell's in Maine, anyway?” he asked.

“Even the lobsters need hospitals?” she asked, shrugging out of her coat. He hung it up in the closet. They both laughed. “How are Nina and the girls?” she asked. Nina was Albert's wife—they had two daughters between them, both of them grown, married, with children—normal.

“They're doing just fine,” he said, waving her into a couch. “They all want to know, what the hell did you do to that guy?”

“He was going to kill a man,” she said quietly.

“I'm not sayin' you weren't right,” he said.

“You're not saying I was.”

“There's only one Judge whose opinion matters worth a damn,” Albert said. “And I don't think He gives a shit what the jury says.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brute Force

I've always been more of a believer in quantity over quality. I'd rather have one nice thick fuzzy sweater than three thin things that can barely keep me warm. The same is true for writing--I at least have to like what it is I'm writing.

That being said, doing NaNoWriMo is opening me up to the merits of brute force writing. Screw pretty, screw prose, screw grammar, screw spelling--just write. Eventually you'll get an idea at some point (usually the 10 minute mark). And eventually you'll reach your requisite 1667 words for that day.

Having this requisite number changes the way I write: it's liberating, in the sense that I'm not as worried about structuring the story and can just focus on telling it--although that's probably due to my extensive outline and pre-NaNoWriMo work. I am not worried about tangents, not worried about developing themes (I am going to have a headache and a half when I go back and develop all of the themes which have popped up so far), not worried about character development. I am just writing 1,667 words per day, every day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Greetings all

I'm a bit stressed out from NaNoWriMo, Dutch lessons, work, and I just promised to pet-sit over the holidays. So what do I do? Of course, I start up another blog.

Genius, no?

The point of this is not to tell people how to write (although I am a damn good editor and absolutely merciless with a red pen--just sayin'). I figure that, if you really want that sort of advice, you'd probably be better off taking it from someone who's actually published a thing or two. No, this is really just to rant and/or bitch and/or moan about writing. What I find difficult, what works for me, and every now and then, posting what I've done.

In other words, this is what's going on in my head every time I open up my Netbook. It's confusing. It's ugly. It's how I write.