Uppity Women (NaNoWriMo Day #4)

Today’s word count: 507
Total word count: 1368

Dear Internet,

Note to self: A dinner of Lucky Charms, chased with a half bottle of Witches’ Brew, is probably not one of my more ingenious ideas.

I want to thank everyone for reading, sharing, and commenting on yesterday’s post. We’ve been having some really great conversations on Twitter as well, and I’m loving all the thoughtful commentary. The page is also been shared quite a bit across the social networks, which is also a bonus. Thank you to everyone for participating in this very important conversation.

While TheHusband is one of my biggest champions, he’s often one of the least likely ones to read my blog. This mostly has to do with how sporadic my updates have been over the last few years as compared to the last four days where this will be post #6. I also calculated the word count those posts are at about 5,000 words. My NaNoWriMo piece, well, not so much, but I’ll get to that in a second.

This morning while we were getting ready to head out for the day of errands, he seemed pretty excited by my story idea, which of course got me talking about what I wanted to do. We spent the better part of an hour with me verbally walking through some things about the story, what I liked, my ideas, what wasn’t working. We continued this later, over lunch, where we started drawing up an outline so that I could work from that.

His hypothesis was there were two types of writers in the world: Those who outline and need the skeleton before the flesh, and those who write and need just the flesh. (He listened to every episode of CBC Writer’s and Company from the last three years, thus the basis for his explanation.) He says my problem, or style, is that I write from the flesh AND I over edit. A paragraph could take me four hours. There is a beauty in that, for word precision is very important to me but that is obviously not going to work for NaNoWriMo.

To which I agree.

As we had left late in the morning, our errands were done by mid-afternoon, which would give me about six or so hours to write before Sunday night television kicked in. I was pretty excited about having that much time blocked off with all of my day’s chores done.

Except, I didn’t write. I read Facebook, Twitter, mailing list emails, Google reader and as well as wrote postcards. I had opened up Scrivener as soon as I sat at my desk and kept in running in the background, tabbing to it every so often to stare in petulance at it before tabbing back to whatever I was doing.

I even started answering the political robocalls.

But I wrote nothing.

Nearly every interview or piece I’ve ever read about writing, the author in question always, always, always mentions that in order to write, you must read. Read in your genre, your interests, outside your interests. Doesn’t matter, just read. A particular situation that worked in one story, could be tweaked for yours. As I noted in June , I knew I was depressed when I stopped reading or listening to music. I used to read 10 books a month, now I’m lucky if I will do that every six. I found when I started reading Game of Thrones this week, the connection to reading and writing became clear. Ideas were coming, sometimes fast and furious, as I traveled around Westeros. I got what those authors were throwing down.

(I’ve also read enough interviews of authors where they are often asked, “What are you influences/where do you get your ideas?” and they come off with a flippant reply that ideas are everywhere / from their brain / I make everything up or some other they-think-is-clever response. These authors, some very well known, are full of shit. You read, you get ideas, you make your own connections, you write. It’s cyclic. It’s simple. It’s not magic, no matter how much you want it to be.)

But today! Today after talking and walking through ideas, nothing came to pass. I was worried, I told TheHusband, for I started in one direction and now I have to change it fit this new theme. I’m even changing point of view (first to third) and that means I have to re-write everything. He argued with me, of course, for he said that you should continue in the new path and worry about the opening stuff later.

But I need to read what I have written in continuity to make sure it is making sense! He told me I was procastinating and sent me back to my desk.

I huffed in indignation like a three year old, grabbed my laptop, the notebook with story notes, and with Wednesday trailing behind me, came down to our dining room. Why I thought changing location, where TheHusband was arguing the Internet was possibly my real detrator, would help, I had no fucking idea. I thought perhaps liberal liquid lubrication would be helpful, so I uncorked a bottle of cheap wine and sat down.

And I began to write.

The take away from all of this: I need to develop a drinking habit to get things done.

There are a couple of things about this NaNoWriMo that are important to me: Finish a story, possibly in book form, write it in third person, and make it interesting. I know I can do this, I know that I want to do this, I need to stop allowing the oooh shiny from distracting me.

Or start visiting my local adult beverage store more often.

ttfn,
Lisa

  • Pete Hindle

    In “This Year You Write Your Novel”, Walter Mosely talks about the two different types of authors; those who write to find the plot, and those who have an outline of a plot. I’m afraid I’m cooking a risotto right now, so I don’t have the book to hand, but I’d totally recommend it.

  • Pete Hindle

    The risotto was an astounding success. Anyway, I’m back, let’s talk some procrastination.

    Yes, the internet is a terrible thing. I am constantly struck by an urge to look at pictures of girls dressed in Star Trek uniforms when writing, but two things stop me: firstly, the knowledge that if I don’t quit looking at pictures of girls wearing Star Trek uniforms, I’ll never get hit my target, and secondly a piece of software called Freedom, which blocks access to the internet.

    To be honest, it’s that first one that stops me from repeated googling. I mean, seriously, some of the toss that I’ve read should never have been published, and so I’m sure I can eventually write a decent book. But there is that point where you are starting something creative, and you’re not confident with it, that you struggle to find anything else to do. As I flail around trying to find plot and events by exploring the characters, I too have found myself staring at any other part of the internet. Hell, I even read some motorbike reviews today.

    But, eventually, we have to do these things. I do wonder if, perhaps, NaNoWriMo’s focus on fiction novels isn’t quite the final approach I want to take, but this is like the period where I adjust to learning to write. It’s a process, and you have to do it for a while before you see what comes out.

  • biblyotheke

    ” But there is that point where you are starting something creative, and you’re not confident with it, that you struggle to find anything else to do. ”

    Confidence is a weird thing to have. When I get rolling on writing about my life, I’m pretty g-d confident, unstoppable, and prolific. I can crank out 1000 words in nothing flat. It’s a topic that not only am I super comfortable with but it’s also something that I can easily draw narrative to and from. A NaNoWriMo story I started three or four years ago were based upon bits of my own life just mashed up. In the story, the girl punches her ex-boyfriend in the face when she see’s him unexpectedly at a movie theater with the woman he left her for and her world spins out of control out of that one action. That came from an incident in my life where at 21, I ran into a just broken up with ex who was at a dance club with the woman he left me for. Instead of punching him in the face, I punched her. In the story, she becomes isolated and withdrawn, which was the complete opposite of what happened in my life.

    I sit there like some hipster Harold Bloom when reading other people’s work. I know I can do so much better, but I can’t get myself over the hump to actually PROVE that I can do so much better. I’m also extremely terrified of creating a world where I have complete and utter control. What if my characters do not like it?

  • biblyotheke

    Interestingly (or not), I just read an interview with Mosely yesterday (while procrastinating . I liked how he was very plain spoken about his writing style (I write every day, I write until I am no longer creative.) He doesn’t hide around any magical WIZARDY or supercilious explanations

  • Pete Hindle

    I shall answer both threads in this reply, as otherwise things will get confusing.

    Don’t be afraid to mine your own life, and the people around you, for inspiration. This first version of your story is just the caterpillar, and you’ll have a lot of editing to do before you create a butterfly out of that raw material. And, again, this is things that I have flitched from Mosely.

    There is an article by Tom Bissell, available in his essay collection “Magic Hours”, where he talks about the different writers advice books. I think this might also be available in “Read Hard”, which is a fantastic book of essays from the Believer magazine, or the Ira Glass-edited collection “The New Kings of Non Fiction”. All worth dipping into to see a different take on writing – so often we find our culture venerating the fictional, when the craziest things happen in real life.

    Finally, you don’t have to show anybody your NaNoWriMo baby. It can be left in the forest for the wolves, and you can make another, better baby. I taught myself how to draw by going through a few stacks of copier paper, and disposing of the ones I didn’t like. Then, a few months later I went and threw away the ones I still didn’t like. By doing it on disposable pieces of paper, I stopped feeling precious about the things I had made.

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