DéJàWriMo – Day 5 Check In

So we’re five days into our sixty-two day journey of DéJàWriMo. How have you been doing?

I’ve been doing… not great, to be honest. For the first two days, I wrote nothing. On the 3rd day (Friday), I wrote a couple hundred words longhand on a break at work. Yesterday (the 4th), I concentrated on some knitting projects I’ve been working on instead.

That brings us to today. I’m pretty darned happy with today. I typed up the stuff I’d written longhand and added roughly 2000 more words.

Here’s a word count progress meter, courtesy of Writertopia. Tell me in the comments how your novel is coming along.

Moments Like These Make It Worth It

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trading writing prompts with a friend (who shall remain nameless until such a time as she lets me know she’d like to be revealed). Every other week, we exchange a prompt as a challenge and write a short story. We then trade the stories for critique. I have to say that I really think the whole thing has been working out quite well overall.

There have been a couple of weeks, though, where I’ve kind of just stared at the page until a day or two before the deadline and then banged something out quickly, with little thought to craft or plot. I’m not too lofty to admit it. But there have also been two prompts that stand out in my mind like a torch readied to spark the bonfire.

That’s what they were, too. The first prompt lead to what I call my “Amazonian wild west murder mystery”. I haven’t even opened the critique on this yet, because it would hurt my heart if my writing partner hated it. One day soon, when I’m ready to revisit Deadtown (as the story is called), I’ll open the critique and take a look at it. Until then, I’m a little bit too in love with the idea to take constructive criticism. Yet. Every writer needs to take it eventually, but I see no harm in realizing when you’re not ready for it yet.

The second prompt I received this week, and while the story isn’t written yet, I have the beginning, middle, and end all laid out in my mind. I’m a little bit in love with this idea, too. You see, Sunday evening I had only the vaguest idea of what story this prompt had, well, prompted in my mind.

Then I went to sleep and dreamed the whole thing. I love it when my subconscious reaches out and gives me a helping hand. I watched from a little floaty corner of the room as a teenage girl, a thin coward of a man, and a voluptuous priestess drank cold bottles of ale in a dirty stone tavern and discussed their history together. I then observed what happened next, and had my ending.

And in the morning, I woke up and scribbled the whole thing down as fast as my fingers could fly.

It was all there for the taking: compelling characters, the taste and smells and sounds of the setting, and the action-packed climax, followed by an ending that could break a heart. *happy sigh*

It’s days like these that make the whole thing worthwhile.

New Ideas

I’ve come to realize that short posts are better than no posts at all, yes?

I was at dinner yesterday with my husband, J – more often referred to by me as ‘the Artist’ – and we always have the best, most ridiculous conversations. We’ve come up with ideas for TV shows, terrible (but funny) band names, stories & novels, web comic shorts, and many other things.*

So we were at dinner, and began talking about what it would be like if Greek & Roman mythology overlapped our own modern times & technology. How would our current news outlets report the kidnap of a woman by a bull? Or an assault on a city by a large wooden horse?

We decided, of course, that the only way this mythology would get reported on in the current day would be by the supermarket tabloids. I think the best headline we came up with was: “Hot Chick Turns Into Giant Spider”. Which, of course, made me nearly snort cherry coke out of my nose.

The idea kind of took hold and made me think about writing as a fun and joyful thing for the first time in awhile. So I spent last evening paging through an old copy of Edith Hamilton and making notes.

So be on the lookout for a brand new (and ongoing) project from me, which should be linked here soon. I can’t wait to see how some old school mythology would be received in modern times!

*One of these days I’ll get around to buying a digital voice recorder so we can record these ridiculous & hilarious brain-storming sessions. We forget more ideas than we come up with, most of the time.

A CLOCKWORK PIXIE – the 2 sentence synopsis

A young girl discovers that she is the Key to travel between Earth and the realms of Faery. Upon her kidnapping by dark Fae, her brother will accept any ally to get her back – including a pixie slave with clockwork wings and a band of man-eating goblins.

Please feel free to leave your comments.

Edit: I should note that A Clockwork Pixie is a YA steampunk fantasy novel in draft 0 currently weighing in at roughly 51,000 words.

Wouldn't You Like to Write a Novel Too?

“I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. But I just haven’t found the time.”

How many times have writers of all ages, ability, and publishing status heard these words or something like them*? This is probably the most irritating statement you could ever make in a writer’s presence. (At least, I can’t think of a worse one. Even a bad review is better than that.)

I am a (mostly) unpublished writer. And even I have heard this.You might as well just punch me right in the gut. It would have the same effect.

You see, writing a novel is a job. It’s a skill. It’s something that writers work very, very hard for. It’s not something one can complete in a day, or a week, or even a month**. In order to write well, one must do even more than that – a writer must complete one or two or seven or more novels before they come close to being publishing ready.

Most people believe writing is easy. And in every day life, it mostly is. Anyone can scratch out a note, make a list, or dash off an email. That lulls most ordinary people into the perception that writing a novel would be easy. It’s just a long letter, right?

Then again, I can run, but that doesn’t convince me that I could be a professional athlete. I can do a bit of 3D animation, but I wouldn’t just decide one day that I was going to go work for Pixar, either. I can tell you the symptoms of the common cold but that doesn’t automatically give me the knowledge and dedication that it takes to become a doctor. Why in the world do people remain convinced that absolutely anyone could write a novel and get it published with a wave of their hand – “if [they] only had the time”, of course?

“I could make up a great story like that, man!” Said with a snap of the fingers.And maybe you could. Far be it from me to try to crush anyone’s dreams. In fact, the first couple of times I heard this presumptuous statement, I tried to be encouraging and excited for the speaker. I pointed them toward NaNoWriMo and bestowed heartening words that I thought might help them toward their professed big dream.

After dealing with two or three of these people, though, I realized something. These people have no intentions of ever sitting down to write. They have absolutely no concept of the amount of work it takes to actually do the thing that they’re talking about. Nowadays, I just give those people a pained smile and change the subject.

It’s the equivalent of someone who knows the basics of folding a paper airplane deciding they are going to build a Boeing jet in their back yard. Yeah, they might be able to do it one day. But right now, they have no idea of the hard work, the dedication, the blood-sweat-and-tears, the money, the long hours, the putting-off-of-doing-the-dishes, the self-doubt, the despair, the thrill, the joy, the heartache, and the team of devoted professionals it takes to construct a whole new world one tiny wheel-sprocket-nut-bolt verb-adjective-noun-metaphor at a time and then to release the whole beautiful thing into the wild.

I’m not saying don’t do it. In fact, if that’s your dream, then you shouldn’t let me or anyone stop you. But please, for the sake of my sanity, don’t dismiss it as a simple, easy thing to do. It’s not.

*Rant inspired by the wise, hilarious, and read-worthy Patrick Rothfuss.

**Yes, I do know about NaNoWriMo. I love it. I have participated every year since 2004. This DOES NOT mean that your NaNovel is ready to go out on submission to agents or editors on December 1st.

Wouldn’t You Like to Write a Novel Too?

“I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. But I just haven’t found the time.”

How many times have writers of all ages, ability, and publishing status heard these words or something like them*? This is probably the most irritating statement you could ever make in a writer’s presence. (At least, I can’t think of a worse one. Even a bad review is better than that.)

I am a (mostly) unpublished writer. And even I have heard this.You might as well just punch me right in the gut. It would have the same effect.

You see, writing a novel is a job. It’s a skill. It’s something that writers work very, very hard for. It’s not something one can complete in a day, or a week, or even a month**. In order to write well, one must do even more than that – a writer must complete one or two or seven or more novels before they come close to being publishing ready.

Most people believe writing is easy. And in every day life, it mostly is. Anyone can scratch out a note, make a list, or dash off an email. That lulls most ordinary people into the perception that writing a novel would be easy. It’s just a long letter, right?

Then again, I can run, but that doesn’t convince me that I could be a professional athlete. I can do a bit of 3D animation, but I wouldn’t just decide one day that I was going to go work for Pixar, either. I can tell you the symptoms of the common cold but that doesn’t automatically give me the knowledge and dedication that it takes to become a doctor. Why in the world do people remain convinced that absolutely anyone could write a novel and get it published with a wave of their hand – “if [they] only had the time”, of course?

“I could make up a great story like that, man!” Said with a snap of the fingers.And maybe you could. Far be it from me to try to crush anyone’s dreams. In fact, the first couple of times I heard this presumptuous statement, I tried to be encouraging and excited for the speaker. I pointed them toward NaNoWriMo and bestowed heartening words that I thought might help them toward their professed big dream.

After dealing with two or three of these people, though, I realized something. These people have no intentions of ever sitting down to write. They have absolutely no concept of the amount of work it takes to actually do the thing that they’re talking about. Nowadays, I just give those people a pained smile and change the subject.

It’s the equivalent of someone who knows the basics of folding a paper airplane deciding they are going to build a Boeing jet in their back yard. Yeah, they might be able to do it one day. But right now, they have no idea of the hard work, the dedication, the blood-sweat-and-tears, the money, the long hours, the putting-off-of-doing-the-dishes, the self-doubt, the despair, the thrill, the joy, the heartache, and the team of devoted professionals it takes to construct a whole new world one tiny wheel-sprocket-nut-bolt verb-adjective-noun-metaphor at a time and then to release the whole beautiful thing into the wild.

I’m not saying don’t do it. In fact, if that’s your dream, then you shouldn’t let me or anyone stop you. But please, for the sake of my sanity, don’t dismiss it as a simple, easy thing to do. It’s not.

*Rant inspired by the wise, hilarious, and read-worthy Patrick Rothfuss.

**Yes, I do know about NaNoWriMo. I love it. I have participated every year since 2004. This DOES NOT mean that your NaNovel is ready to go out on submission to agents or editors on December 1st.

NaNoWriMo: Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

So pretty soon it will be October 1st, which is the day that the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) forums reset for the 2010 challenge. That means it’s time now to start thinking about this year’s NaNovel. Once the forums reset, we’ll all have 1 month to brace ourselves for the writing whirlwind.

What is NaNoWriMo?

To recap, for those who’ve never heard of it: National Novel Writing Month, widely known as NaNoWriMo, is a yearly writer’s contest in which you are given 30 days in which to pen a 50,000 word novel. NaNoWriMo begins at midnight your local time on November 1st and ends at the same time on November 30th.

There are no prizes, other than a certificate and bragging rights. There is nothing to stop you from copying other text and reporting  yourself as a winner. Except for the sheer ridiculousness of cheating in a contest for which you win absolutely nothing.

The point of the contest is to get into the habit of writing every day, as well as to use time constraints to shut down the voice of that evil inner critic every writer seems to have. I’ve participated every year since 2004.

So Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

Everything I write tends to have a different method. My current work in progress (WiP) has been pretty thoroughly plotted. You should see all the post-its on my wall. This was a very different method for me as I’d usually not done much more than a vague outline before. I’ve also been a complete pantser in the past.

I recently discovered something called ‘phase drafting’, however, and I’m kind of interested in giving it a try. (Find out more about phase drafting here.) On the other hand, I don’t have much more than a couple of scene fragments to build from. That’s if I choose to use one of the two more developed ideas I’ve got on hold.

Yet it’s also a nice idea to be able to weave in whatever comes to mind. I find it exciting to think about writing in all the purple bunnies and ice-skating penguins that show up in the middle of the story. A completely whimsical, nonsensical story sounds enormously appealing after all the work that’s gone into plotting my current novel.

I haven’t decided on anything yet, though, and I still have a little while to make up my mind. So please join in. Are you planning to plot your NaNovel this year or write by the seat of your pants? Please leave a comment and let me know!

Note: I’m not asking for details of your plot and it’s probably best to keep that to yourself. Just tell me if you’re going to be a plotter or pantser this year! Thanks!

The Power of Kamikaze

Sometimes, I think I’m married to the smartest man alive. Don’t tell him that, of course. I’d never hear the end of it if he knew I thought that, even sometimes.

It’s true, nevertheless. I’ve taken up an attempt at knitting the last day or so. I’ve known how to do very basic crochet since I was a youngster, but the two hands needed for knitting have always looked sort of formidable to me. However, I took the plunge, bought some needles and yarn and looked up a pattern and some videos on the internet.

The attempt … has not gone very well.

I was ready to give up. Until my husband said something that I realized applies not only to knitting, but to just about anything. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here):

If you know ahead of time that you’re going to suck, then you might as well go ahead and suck. That frees you up to do just about anything you can think of with it. You don’t have to worry about trying to be great anymore. That’s the power of kamikaze. Why do you think it always worked?

Putting aside the statistical impossibility of kamikaze “always” working, he does, in fact, have a point. It’s rather freeing to think that, whatever you do, it’s bound to be terrible. Because then you don’t have to worry about being perfect.

What was it about kamikaze fighters that made them so formidable? I think it was the fact that they were willing to do anything – even die – to accomplish their goal. Are you willing to do that for your writing?

Not die, of course – because to die with stories untold would be a terrible waste. But are you prepared to get up early or stay up late to get those words on paper? Are you okay with skipping a shower or leaving those dishes to languish in the dishwasher for another day? Can you give up one hour of TV to dedicate it to accomplishing your goal?

Translated into your writing, kamikaze also means that you shouldn’t worry about always doing the correct thing every time. It means not every word has to be perfect on the page. Not every idea has to be ultra original or have layers of meaning. Being terrible actually sounds rather like a good idea to me.

It means you don’t have to worry about always showing instead of telling. It means you can feel free to use things that don’t make sense. Purple bunnies? Check. A kick-ass female lead who doesn’t fall in love with the male lead? Got it. How about the oldest trope in the book? (Farm-boy-turned-king who saves the world, anyone?) Go ahead and use it.

Have fun with it. Write crap. Being perfect is over-rated anyway.

I’ll leave you with a quote (the source of which I am no longer clear on, as it’s been with me for quite some time):

To be perfect, simply: say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.

I’ll tell you truly – I’d rather be crappy than nothing. How about you?

2008 NaNovel Blurb

Interested in hearing a little bit about what I wrote for NaNoWriMo this year? Well check out my book blurb below!

Wil Rainolds is a painter, a father, a husband. His marriage is crumbling, his son is in rebellion, his daughter is about to run off with a military boy, and even his paintings haven’t been cooperating lately. He could also very well be humankind’s last and only weapon against the monstrous invaders known as the creatures. What is it about Wil’s talent that makes the creatures hate and fear him? Can he save the world and still manage to keep his struggling family together?

Officially Tossing in the Towel

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve officially given up on NaNoWriMo. You’ll notice that there haven’t been any updates here since day 6. That would be because I gave up on day 8, after two days of no writing. I haven’t given up on the story. On the contrary, it’s become one of my favorites, and I hope to be able to devote all the time and energy that it deserves one day.

Alas, today is not the day. Nor is this month the month in which that novel will see it’s glory. Maybe next year. I just have way too much on my plate right now, unfortunately. With that said, I hope to be able to give this newborn site a little bit more of my love from now on.

If it’s not said plainly on the About Page, Waiting for Fairies is a website devoted to my many varied projects, as well as to record tips and tricks that I pick up on the way. These ‘projects’ consist of many things: various writing and short stories, my efforts to become more proficient in web design, and any other crafts that may come to mind. This is my place to display my work… My portfolio, if you will.

On that note, I’d like to mention that I’m currently working on a great new {original} design for WFF! The basic layout has been completed. I need to pretty the whole thing up, as well as add a few bells and whistles. I’d say that, day job allowing, we’ll have a new face here at Fairies in a couple of weeks. I hope you’ll stop by again to give it a look.