Well, 219th to be exact. Missed that milestone a few weeks back. It's been an emotional roller coaster the last 6 years since I started blogging. My first blog was about my first screenplay idea, procrastination as a writer and moral support.
Since then, I've been in and out of relationships, lost a fiancee to heart disease, and now in a very comfortable long term relationship. I've finally submitted a piece of writing and actually got it published. Finished that screenplay I had alluded to in that first blog but still need to cut 20 pages. I have started several others; one of which has potential and the others not so much. I've written much poetry, several short stories and started several novel length fiction pieces, a couple non-fiction pieces and now a mystery series which could potentially be a 20 title series. That'll keep me busy for a while.
I've played an extra in the movie Warm Springs, and the show Blue Collar TV.
There hasn't been much else in the way of excitement in my life in the last six years, or in my entire life, for that matter. I live vicariously through the characters in my books and characters in others books and movies. I'm rather an introvert and would rather spend hours emersed in a book than be surrounded by a crowd.
Here are some other things you may not know about me:
As I said in a previous post, I'm a firm believer in the advantages of community for writers but writing is still a solitary endeavor. Only you know what's percolating in that brain of yours. And even though many people colaborate on books, I'm sure that there's still quite a bit of writing done individually.
I have formed many writing groups of various forms over the years. Many have failed for various reasons but I still reach out to fellow writers to offer support and encouragement in the hopes of receiving the same. I'm a better writer because of my writing friends.
That being said, when I arrived at our last writer's group meeting, I knew what the next scene was that I wanted to write. I set up my laptop, got my coffee and snack, and began writing. It was going well and I was able to get to the heart of the scene; a sex scene.
I looked up at one point and realized I was surrounded by people. My heart was racing and I felt my face getting flushed. Oops.
Usually, I'm easily distracted by movement, especially when people enter the Starbucks or walk past the table where I'm writing or even the cars driving through the drive-thru. It's not such a big deal because I can easily delve right back into the writing. So when an extremely good-looking young man walked in to get his coffee, I just had to look up. Not a good idea at that moment. It was then that I realized what I was doing and the affect it was having on my libido.
Luckily, my group was near breaking up for the evening. I was able to finish up the scene in semi-solitude at the table as I kept peeking from the corner of my eye at other patrons, the beautiful people, as my heart still raced.
And I packed up my stuff at closing and went home, pleased with the days writing. Day is done. I got home and I still felt the urge (pardon the pun) to write. So I pulled out the laptop and delved into the next unknown scene and surprisingly, that scene lead to another, lo and behold, sex scene that I hadn't planned. This one between two most unlikely characters. Now, eventually, I have to write the scene where they "have to talk" about what happened. That should be fun. Especially since they won't end up together.
But the fun part was that I woke my boyfriend up in the middle of the night and I attacked him. He told me that I should write more sex scenes.
Now, if you know me at all, you know that I am very traditional -- or old fashioned, if you will. I do not like the fact that there are gratuitous sex scenes in movies and books. "Yes, but sex sells," I can hear you say, so they're there. I get it. I don't have to like it. I prefer the sex to be subtle. My favorite movie of all time has a sex scene all done in shadows; granted that movie was made in the early 80's but I've always been a fan of leaving things like that "up to one's imagination."
So maybe I'm a prude and I'm sure that my sex scene is far from super titillating. But my boyfriend wasn't complaining.
And next time, unfortunately I believe that there'll be another sex scene if I want my work to be published, I'll have to plan to write them in solitude.
There are still five days left to cross the finish line. Anything can happen in five days. I’ve written 10k words in three days before and I’m sure our schedules are nearly as busy. The trick is to recommit to the process. After all, only you can finish this masterpiece you started.
Masterpiece? You say. Not even close. Well, isn’t it a masterpiece in progress. You’ll never know if you don’t finish, and edit, edit, edit (in December). Every writer, including Stephen King, Patricia Cromwell, Dean Kootz, Stephanie Meyers, J.K. Rowlings, have doubted their first drafts but that didn’t stop them.
Besides, you’ll never know if you don’t finish. We started this November with high hopes and big dreams. Where did they go? The same place they’ve always gone. Because you’ve done the same things. NaNoWriMo is a chance to do something different. NaNoWriMo is the opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to do and now, look at you. Are you posed to cross the finish line this week? Are you dedicated to your story to continue with it through December? Until it’s finished. And then edit it until you can stand it anymore? And then continue?
Writers write. And then edit. And write some more, and edit, edit, edit. NaNo is about crossing the finish line. It’s about the camaraderie. It’s about the challenge. But if you’ve taken up the challenge, then somewhere inside of you is a desire to see your name on a book jacket somewhere on the bookshelf in a major bookstore chain. (okay, Barnes & Noble. It’s all in the details.)
So it doesn’t really matter in the bigger scheme of things if you cross the finish line by midnight Friday but wouldn’t it be wonderful if you did? Challenged yourself to do whatever it takes to see WINNER! next to your name there on the NaNoWriMo website? Then you can say you’re on your way to being the writer you’ve always dreamed of.
May the Muse be with you…
After 8 years of tackling this 50k/30days writing challenge, I’ve heard the advice many times to kill your darlings. I’ve heard it and ignored it, saying that that is just not the kind of story I’m writing.
Which is ironic since every story I’ve ever written since I was 14 had some form of death in it. To me, death is just a part of life. I’ve killed characters at the end. I’ve killed main characters. I’ve killed minor characters. I’ve even had one main character dead at the beginning of the story and talk to us from the great beyond throughout the entire story.
But somehow, the idea of just throwing a death scene into a story seemed odd to me. It had to make sense. I recently lost my step-father to a heart attack and during the week that followed, nothing made sense to me. It still doesn’t. Sometimes, we just can’t explain it.
Life doesn’t necessarily make sense but fiction must make sense. But a death can come as a surprise in fiction. There should always be surprises in your story, just to keep the reader from putting your book down and never picking it up again. The bigger the surprise the better but it must be believable, even if your writing sci-fi or fantasy. Challenge yourself to write about bigger and bigger surprises.
For me, throwing a gun into a scene or murdering one of my characters was a challenge I never took on before. I usually knew that a character would die by the end of the story. But to just kill a character was so foreign.
But this year, I’ve decided to tackle a mystery. I had three characters dead at the beginning of the story and my main character would need to figure out who killed two of those three, sometime in the next twenty titles/books. (Did I mention this was a mystery series?)
But the very first murder mentioned in my book needs to be solved in this book (otherwise it wouldn’t be a mystery, right?) I had a police detective, someone other than my main character, looking into that murder (and the attempted murder of my main character). Suddenly he (and my readers) had more information than my main character and I had to do something about that. Next thing I know, he’s being thrown off a third story balcony and lying dead on the pavement below while another character is dead in her bathtub.
That was unexpected. My main character is about to learn that the man that she hoped would find the person trying to kill her is dead and she now has to step up and find the murderer herself and in the process step-up in her own life.
That’s been the goal since the beginning. She’s been a widow now for five years and has been in mourning just as long, while everyone else has shielded her from life. Book One will be an awakening for her. Having the detective die while investigating her life will awaken her to her own complacency and to the fact that she hasn’t been there for her friends and family, especially her child. Having your life threatened has a way of doing that to someone. In reality though, most people in that situation would eventually fall back into that complacency. In fiction, your characters may fall back into what is known as the “long, dark night of the soul” but they cannot stay there. It’s a moment where all hope is lost, usually just before the climb toward the climax of the story. If they stay in that forlorn moment, there is no climax, thus no exciting/surprising ending, and no audience.
And that’s not why we write. Having another two bodies at the morgue was not in the outline of my story nor did I set out to kill my detective but there was no other way to have my main character step up. She could allow life to happen to her throughout Book One or I needed a catalyst to force her to really live. The former would put my readers to sleep. The latter, I hope, will keep my readers turning the page. After all, I have twenty plus titles/books to write. And, I guess, a few more darlings to kill.
What happens to your story if you throw a gun into the mix? Or kill off a minor, or major character? Remember, death is a part of life. If there is blood running through the veins of your characters, whether it’s red or purple, there’s usually a way to kill them off. Then write about the repercussions. A friend of mine says that God know how each and every person will react to someone’s death and after all, are you not playing God with your characters? Explore what happens. They may take you off into a completely different direction and help you to cross the finish line.
May the Muse be with you…
I hit the wall. No, not a real wall. Done that. No t-shirt needed. The proverbial wall that always appears in week two of NaNo. No matter how many years I’ve done this and no matter how much I prepare for it, the wall is always there. This year it came in the form of sheer exhaustion. Twenty-four hours of babbling confusion. The fact that I haven’t been sleeping well; nightmares, working late, waking early, and not taking care of myself; not eating right, forgetting my diabetes meds, sugar out of whack, I became a walking zombie and no matter the amount of caffeine I just couldn’t focus long enough to avert narcolepsy or sleep long enough to rest.
NaNo is not worth risking ones’ life no matter how much I try to convince myself that I must reach my daily word count. Luckily I’ve been ahead as far as that goes so taking a day off was not only necessary but essential. Especially since I managed to paint myself into a corner, figuratively.
I wrote such a disturbing scene in my last chapter that I just couldn’t continue. Writer’s Block. I keep telling myself I can delete it, in December, but just having that scene there staring at me, just made me literally sick to my stomach.
I could delete it but erasing a chapter full of words would delete, like, two days worth of word count. Turning the font to white might help but I want to keep the scene as part of the story but just allude to the details rather than go in depth about the atrocities and crimes my villain is committing.
I like alluding. And illusions. Hey, I can use that. BRB.
Okay, I’m back. Thanks to the participants at the Sunday morning write-in, I’ve managed to break through my writer’s block. They suggested several ideas, none of which I used (sorry) but it did get me to think of an alternative for a chapter (not necessarily the next chapter, though). And that brings me to a few pointers. One being community. NaNo is a community of over three hundred thousand writers going at this one word at a time, just like me. And just like you. If you think about that, that’s a very large football stadium (Superdome, if you will) full of people typing away, everyday, to cross the finish line. (sorry, just finished watching Monday Night Football. Go Steelers!) If you were sitting with all those other 300,000 participants, typing away, would you just stop typing, pack up you toys and go home? Probably not. You might stop and look around every once in awhile. You may get up and go to the bathroom, grab a bite to eat or another cup of coffee but you’d come back and add more words. You’d keep at it. Not just because you were there and didn’t have anything better to do. Not because you made the commitment to everyone there and to yourself to do this. Not even because it was all fun and games. You did this because there’s a book inside of you that’s been itching to get out. NaNo is the ticket that got you in the seat.
Community keeps you in the seat. I did my first NaNo completely alone. I’m an extreme introvert. Dealing with people completely drains my energy. (Not necessarily a good thing when you make your living from retail.) I thought I could do it myself. I failed miserable. I hit the wall in week two and never went back to that story (though I plan to someday). The next year I volunteered for co-ML and joined a weekly write-in lead by a very audacious lady whom I loved. As life goes, that little group fell apart over the years but new NaNo participants joined, fell away, formed into other groups, new groups, new participants, and now we have a new, growing group of dedicated writers who meet year round.
That brings me to point two; community online is fantastic. But community, in-person, will get you writing when you’re stuck, make suggestions to spur your creativity, throw up challenges, dares, what if…scenarios, share jokes and quotes, support you when life gets in the way, listen when you feel overwhelmed, commiserate when your characters won’t cooperate, and force you into a word war when you really don’t feel like it – and cause you to write 1,000 words and head off into a direction you never would have thought of otherwise. (thank you)
There are so many benefits to attending a write-in or forming one of your own. Before quitting, think about joining. Literally.