Friday, March 30, 2012

A to Z

On the right you'll see that I've joined the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. I'm going to use it as a way to increase my number of flash fiction stories. My goal will be to write a 500-1000 word flash fiction story as a way to expand ideas and write regularly.

I already have my A story finished.  It took me about an hour. These will all be first drafts and I can already imagine some of the crap that will be spewed out. Nonetheless, just from writing that first one I can see ideas expanding and my awareness of what is good writing is growing. If I survive, this will be a very rewarding process. I'll have a treasure trove of new ideas for future stories, and I can always come back and expand them in the future.

Someone somewhere said they felt like they were getting ready for a marathon. Now I've never ran a marathon, but my head is both excited and questioning whether I have it in me. If you are participating, best of luck.

Game on.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Childhood Moments and Writing

Last night I read Stephen King's On Writing. Well, half of it, and a bit of the second half.  It a good and quick read and the first half of the book is all about his life growing up. It goes into the people in his life that shaped his thinking and supported his writing at a very early age. I don't feel like I had the same support as a child.  His mother pushed and encouraged him to nurture his desire to write. I didn't have that. But it did get me thinking about my childhood and the moments that stick out in my mind.

I wrote, but never thought it was something I would be doing. I remember the first picture book I made at a very early age, I must have been 7 or 8. I remember the pictures I drew, very vividly. They were stick figures, but the man had a pick ax and he was digging his way to a disastrous end. On the other end, unbeknownst to him was a terrible monster. The reader knew, the reader knew what was going to happen. The interesting thing was seeing the man's reaction when he found out.

One other time in early eighth or ninth grade I remember writing an essay about the greatest football game ever. I had spent the weeks prior at the town library reading about the history of the NFL. I truly enjoyed reading about it. My essay was about how the 1932 NFL Playoff Game between the Chicago bears and the Portsmouth Spartans was the greatest football game ever played. It's arguable to me know whether or not it was the greatest game. Regardless there are two reasons why this paper sticks out in my head. I vaguely remember the first line in the paper.  My aunt had given me a typewriter and I was eager to use it. I was proud that I was turning in a typed piece to my teacher. The first paragraph ended by talking about how the greatest games are those that "unearth unexpected heroes and forever legends of the game." I went on to describe what criteria I had for deciding what the greatest game was. It was a well written essay and I was really proud of it.

I showed it to my uncle (husband of a different aunt) and he read it. He was one of the few people in my home life who spoke and read English. He gave me a look and then looked back at the paper and asked "did you write this?"

I said "yes". But I could see he was skeptical. He said it was good. Even though I don't think he wholly believed I wrote it myself.  It was a good feeling. I knew it was good and someone agreed.

I turned it in to my English teacher and didn't hear about it for a week or so. I hated English. I hated the teacher. A week or so later, she made copies of my paper for the entire class and used it as the stellar example of what a good essay is. She read from it out loud and pointed out how I had a great command of the language and paragraph structure. It was great. I felt really good. I wish I had used that as a springboard to cultivate my skill more. I didn't and I regret it now.

I have so much to make up for at a time in my life when I have very little time to work with. I will persevere.

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Eat My Shorts" -- Bart Simpson

I've decided to publish my first short story here on my blog. I can't help but think it's quite terrible. It's my first story and I know that over time my writing will improve. I keep going back to it and finding little errors or thinking I can rewrite certain passages and maybe add some more things here or there. I'm finalizing it now so I can let it go. The only thing I'll fix are grammatical errors and nothing more. It's on the sidebar under "Shorts." I have a couple more stories that may end up there too. They are flash fiction really.

I'll be focusing on my novels over the next few weeks. I've been structuring a second one but haven't started writing a thing yet. I have to say though that writing short stories really helped me when I was just starting my novel. Only because it focused my attention and helped me see the glaring flaws in my control of  basic point of view and dialogue. As you can see from the story it didn't fix anything,  but at least it made me more aware of them. Oy. I used reddit to help with reviewing it, they were great, I'm so glad to be part of that community, it's been an endless source of inspiration and resources.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Scenes Have It

As this process moves along I see that things are much more fluid than I expected.  I was focused too much on getting a word count of 80000.  I thought that was the proper length for a novel.  I have since lowered my expectation for the first draft.  It seems better to me to think more in terms of scenes.  I can then focus on world building and character development through the scene.

I lowered my final word count expectation to 70000, I may lower it even more later.  I can see just based on the last scene I wrote that there is a lot of room for expansion of the setting and the characters.  The scene itself was only about 800 words, definitely not long enough.  Yet, the major events that needed to happen did transpire.  I can see now that when I come back to rewrite the scene it will expand.

These characters are just revealing themselves to me.  It seems only fair to leave out the details at the moment and come back and nail it down once I know more about them.

Having lowered the word count, I am now about to hit 50 percent.  This is exciting.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Time Time Time

Time is so elusive.  The only thing that can fix its fleetingness is habit and ritual.  I had a break from my day job and it messed up my routine.  I did have pretty ambitious undertakings though.  With limited time I had planned to be done with the first draft by mid May.  February to May, I don't even know how to quantify this, is this fast? I really don't know.  I think it's pretty fast.

The vacation was fun, family is fun, perhaps being away from writing was what I needed. I just sat and spat out quite a bit in the last hour and twenty minutes.  Time, there is so much of it but it's never enough.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Inching Along

I have to be better about updating the blog.  I'll try to make it a Friday thing, to record my progress.

There is just so much information out there about writing, so many things to keep track of.  It reminds me of learning to play golf.  I would swing the club at first and the damn ball wouldn't move.  Now I write but the story is not what I want it to be.  I assume that it's normal for a writer to be unhappy with their writing.  Even the greatest golf players never are satisfied with their swings.

Yet that's the point to which I want to get.  I want to be able to create a scene the way a golfer swings a club.  It appears effortless, but in reality it comes from many many years of training one's muscles to correctly guide the club.  There are very distinct elements to a scene in a story that can be quantified.  The chapter is like a hole and the novel is like a round of golf.

The immense focus necessary to accomplish a good novel, or a good round of golf is unbelievably hard.  I am not stupid enough to think it will come naturally.  However, there is one thing of which I'm sure and that is that whenever asked I can't wait to go out to the golf course.

The problem is a game of golf takes 4 hours--to say nothing of the prep time to get to and from the course.    So it is with writing, time is fleeting and sometimes non-existent.

I'm about to hit 30,000 words written.  The story has taken shape and the theme is one of fate and inevitability.  Things happen the only way they can happen.

The round of golf ends and then you can start another one some other day.  The 1st write ends but then you have to go back and fix all the problems.  And there's the difference.  In a golf game, I am quick to forget those swings that didn't work because every swing is different, every hole is different, every round is different.  You can always wait for the next great swing and take joy from it.

In writing a novel, the scenes are never forgotten and usually affect the other scenes.  They have to be good all the way through.  The advantage I have though is that I can go back and change the scenes in the rewriting process.  Perhaps that's what makes this better.

I have added a spreadsheet to help me keep track of my writing.  I planned for about 6000 words a week. I am hoping my upcoming spring break will open some time but I doubt it will.