No NaNoWriMo For Me

 

October is nearly over, which is both a relief and an annoyance to me (I got all the way through October without being employed? It just doesn’t seem right – or fair…). November is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, and I have plans.

I had considered participating in NaNoWriMo this year, but the way things have worked out, it’s not practical or indeed possible to do so. I need to focus on other things at the moment, not to mention the project I’m working on is likely to be much longer than 50,000 words when completed. So, with a hint of regret I have concluded that I won’t be writing a novel this November.

Still, it would be a good way to get myself to write a bit more often if I did something for NaNoWriMo, even if it means I have to make up my own, alternate rules. I have therefore set a few writing goals for November, which I will now list in bullet point form.

  • In my novel about Helen of Troy, finish the first three chapters, and post. That will, most likely, be the extent of what I put in this blog (regarding Helen). It’s a good stopping point. By that time, readers should have a sense of Helen (although the “backstory” i.e. things you could probably find out by looking up information on wikipedia – will not yet be revealed), and something interesting will have happened.
  • Draft/finish approximately 5-10 short stories, some of which will then be submitted to publications. If I there are stories I do not submit, they will become blog posts as soon as they’re done.
  • Complete a usable synopsis of The Universe Through Their Mouths, a collection of tales in which various mythical characters encounter the Hindu god Krishna.
  • Work on typing up/editing retellings of fairy tales, consider places to submit.

The first two bullets are my main goals, very good goals I think, and perfectly acceptable to finish them and not the others. The last bullets are things I really should just do already. They’re on this list for the occasion that I finish the other goals before November ends, or just need different writing projects to work on.

Thanks for your indulgence on this utterly logistical post. I realize that the complete lack of lyricism and style in the writing you see here is not likely to inspire your confidence if you have not read anything else I’ve written. If you’re new to this blog, I ask that instead of judging my writing on this post, you look at a few of my older posts. Perhaps the posts of chapters 1 and 2 of Helen? Thanks again!

The Spider

Outside the bedroom window, it comes and goes. I glance up from the bed and find it absent. I’m relieved for the moment. The first time, I thought perhaps it had fallen and might not find its way back, or it had simply decided to move on. Then it came back, and I knew that I would have to put up with a fat, 2-inch spider in my window for a while.

It will be gone for days, sometimes, but then one day I’ll settle onto my bed and the obligatory spider-check will find that the menace has returned. From the window in the hall I can see it from the other side. I can see its web, attached to the outer wall of the building. This is, clearly, a prime spot for a spiderweb, and it seems rather doubtful that it will leave of its own accord. There is no indication that the spider wants to come inside – the second it does, I’m going on the offense-as-the-best-defense. So, for now, it’s no more than the potential for a problem. So, for now, I’ll just live with it.

With night falling, the spider’s silhouette becomes less and less visible, until I can’t see it at all anymore. I don’t know if it will be there in the morning, or if it will be gone, giving me a bit of space and peace.

Write About Anything: Sayings and Aphorisms

~One good thing is a dangerous respite – welcome, but it can make you think you’re safe before it’s true. This respite helps, but if you think your problem is solved you’ll only end up in trouble again.~

 

“What goes up must come down.” This saying is based on the laws of gravity, which I won’t explain because we all know them. We know them instinctually and we know them intimately from all the times we fall. It’s hard to say whether this saying is comforting, a comment on faith in the predictability of the world, or pessimistic. You have a bit of luck, perhaps, but don’t worry, it won’t last. Then, of course, the other end of this is left unsaid. That is: What comes down will stay down unless forced back up. Doesn’t it take less effort to fall to the floor than it does to stand back up? Doesn’t it take less effort to spend your whole bank account than it did to make the money?

The only exception that I can think of, actually, is smiling. It takes fewer muscles and less energy to smile than it does to frown. Smiling widely for extended periods is tiring, but a normal, natural smile is easy. I challenge you – wear a comfortable smile for a few minutes, then frown for a few minutes. Let me know which one you prefer.

 

Here’s another one: It’s not over until the fat lady sings. Hmmm… maybe that’s why that choral ensemble didn’t accept me! Then it’d be over. (Just kidding…mostly.)

What a Nightmare!

I dreamed that a number of my friends/roommates were talking about my writing while I was sitting in the room, listening uncomfortable. They were very negatively critical of things, didn’t have anything good to say at all, and didn’t seem to be aware that I was the person responsible for this terrible writing. I thought to myself “I hope they don’t find out I wrote that.” It was a very uncomfortable dream. For a writer, it’s a nightmare. A very dull, subtle nightmare.

 

In other news, I finished reading Life of Pi. I’m not going to write a review, like I planned. There’s a lot that could be said about it, but it didn’t evoke a very strong reaction, aside from the completely adorable swarm of meerkats, and as it would be entirely for fun, I only want to review books that excite me. Logically, it might be a better idea to review something about which i can think detachedly and academically, but that doesn’t sound very interesting. The thing I most want to relate to other readers was that I never felt like I connected to the book. The writing style was not complex or overdone, making it a quick read, and there were a number of lovely passages and interesting anecdotes to be taken from the book, but on the whole I was less impressed than I expected to be. (That is not to say that someone else, who is not me, would not consider this the best book they’ve ever read. It won prizes, after all. It just isn’t for me.)

In the near future I will be reading Pale Fire by Nabokov, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Possibly at the same time – it depends if I become very absorbed in the first one I start. Following this I plan to read Paulo Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello, although that depends on how long the other two take me – I might squeeze another book in before the Coelho. I’m not sure what good it’s doing me, really, all this reading, but as they/I say, a good writer (or a dedicated writer) should read a lot throughout his/her life. I feel very literary.

 

I’ve changed the title for an older post, and I like this title much better. Have a look —->

 

(And in other other news, I’m still unemployed. See title of post…)

Helen: Chapter 2, part 2

Click here to read part 1 of chapter 2.

When the nurse finally accompanied Helen into the main hall for the celebrations, Clytemnestra was already there, but Tyndareus was not, nor were their new guests. Disappointed, Helen moved toward her sister, who was currently circling the hall in a half-hearted inspection of the room. Helen slipped her hand into Clytemnestra’s and joined her in looking over the festive additions to the room. Gauzy golden fabric had been hung over and between the usual tapestries – well out of the way of the torches, which had all been lit, as the sun was obscured behind thunderclouds – making the room seem to glow. Numerous polished platters of food covered every surface. Musicians tuned lyres and harps.

“There are more musicians than usual,” Helen noticed.

“They are going to great trouble with the entertainment for Hector, I imagine,” Clytemnestra commented sagely. “I heard that there will be dancers later tonight.”

“I don’t understand… no other land’s princes come to stay with us, and Father doesn’t usually stay so long away from us. Why do we do all of this for the Trojans?”

Clytemnestra sighed. “You were very young the last time Father voyaged to Troy. He was gone for a long time – not as long as this time, but longer than I can recall him being away in any other kingdom. I don’t know why any more than you do, but there is something about Troy that makes it special to him. And Helen, don’t ask such questions in front of the Trojans. It will seem ungracious.”

Helen did not understand why she should have to be so gracious, but she was excited to have a brother at last and would rather not insult Hector. With this in mind, she agreed to show only happiness and hospitability in the Trojans’ presence.

Lightning flashed. It must have struck an arm’s length from the castle, for the shimmering fabric decorating the walls lit the room to impossible brightness. It appeared like all lightning, powerful but fleeting. It was over before Helen had a chance to properly admire the effect. The room seemed unbearably dim in comparison, with torches as the only source of illumination, although she liked how everything seemed to glitter. While the gray clouds grew darker outside, the hall felt like a cozy, dreamy nymph-dwelling.

Clytemnestra and Helen, completing their first circuit around the hall, met their father’s brother Icarius at the main entrance. They each received a cordial greeting from him, then a warm embrace. Their affection for him was nothing like what they felt for their father, but still very strong.

“Is Father coming out soon, Uncle?” Helen asked, unable to contain her excitement.

“As soon as he can, little one,” Icarius answered, patting Helen’s cheek lightly. “He had a few matters to see to before the feast – needs to get caught up on the past year before he can get back to running the kingdom. It’s a lot of information to study, but don’t worry. He knows how much his daughters want to see him.”

Icarius excused himself, joining a group of the Spartans who had accompanied Tyndareus to Troy. He had grown up with them and missed their company in the past months. A goblet of wine in his hand, Icarius was soon exclaiming and laughing as animatedly as any of the Spartan warriors.

Another half an hour passed, and neither Tyndareus nor Hector had yet appeared. Helen wondered whether it would be more polite for Tyndareus to arrive first, making him present to welcome their royal guest, or for Hector to come out and wait for the king of his new host country. She wondered if their opinions on the matter would be the same.

She would have asked Clytemnestra, but her sister had claimed a sofa and was currently picking delicious-looking morsels from a golden plate at a leisurely pace. The plates of gold, Helen’s nurse had told her, were special and few, nearly always reserved for the royalty. Helen only saw them brought out for feasts; she was provided ceramic and silver dishes for everyday use. It distracted her momentarily, seeing that golden plate. They were so polished, bright, rare, that she loved to eat off of them. She began to wander toward the food, in search of her own golden plate. When she found it, she would, as always, briefly inspect her reflection. It was not often that she had the chance to see herself in a plate’s surface, and the novelty always amused her.

Helen had hardly begun her treasure hunt when she heard Tyndareus’ arrival announced. She did not wait to see him, but sprinted toward the door, weaving between bodies when they blocked her way. Her small, perfectly formed feet (her nurse had commented on the shapeliness of her feet many times as she did the laces on Helen’s sandals) carried her swiftly to the entrance, where she ran headlong into her father’s arms. He staggered back one step as her force hit him, chuckling deeply.

“I’m so glad to see you, dear daughter. You look lovely. What a pretty belt of ribbons.”

Her father always noticed things like that. Helen smiled broadly. “Thank you, Father.”

An especially loud crack of lightning resounded through the room, flashing several times before it was gone. Startled, Helen gripped her father’s arm until the lightning stopped. The scowl on his face made her nervous. It was the expression he always wore when a thunderstorm became particularly violent, or a lightning strike was especially close.

That one, drawn out bolt signaled the end of the storm. The rain soon abated to a few drops here and there. Once Tyndareus had said a fond hello to Clytemnestra, he made his way to the head of the long table in the room’s center. Some of the men sat with him. Tyndareus promised them his full attention once he had taken advantage of the food, and they laughed, their spirits no doubt lifted by the ceasing of the rain. In no time at all, the clouds had melted from the sky, leaving them with a view of a lovely twilight.

Twinkling pinpricks of stars were slowly dotting the sky, soon to be filled with thousands of bright lights, when Hector led the Trojans into the hall. …To be continued

Sweet Progress

The title of this post would have been so ridiculously appropriate if I had worked on “Creme Brulee: A Love Story.” I did not, although I’ve been planning on it for days.

 

HOWEVER!!! Happily, I managed to write a substantial chunk of the Helen story today – that is, a substantial chunk compared to what I usually get done, not in terms of the entire story. I wrote around two pages, which is more than I usually write in a week, these days…

As a result, I have enough to post the next section of Chapter 2, as soon as I’ve read it over. As I seem to be noting continuously, i.e. annoyingly, I’m only doing bare minimum editing, if that, at this time, so if things are far from perfect in these blog posts, that’s how I intend it to be.

I probably could have just posted the pages of the story, without this separate lead-in post, but I hope you appreciate the sense of anticipation when waiting for a promised story or part of a story. Look for another part of Chapter 2 before the end of the week!

Reasons to Get an Education

I still don’t have any new fiction available to post! I’m not sorry for it, because I am writing, and I technically have been more productive in the past week than I was for about a month before that…

So, back to the point. I have no fiction to post. It occurred to me, however, that I already have some pieces published online, and it might be worthwhile to refer you to them. They’re critical essays, one about the nature of historical fiction, the other about Shakespeare! If you don’t really want to read them, you could still just click the links and give them a quick look. It would be a favor to me. View the essays at these links:

http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/94/how-now-hecate-the-supernatural-in-shakespeares-tragedies

http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/83/the-passage-from-now-to-then-examining-historical-literature-through-marguerite-yourcenars-memoirs-of-hadrian

 

A self-evaluating note: The section on Romeo and Juliet in the Shakespeare essay is not as interesting or insightful as the rest, so you can skip over it and not miss all that much. However, if you read it, just let the juxtaposition make the observations on Macbeth and Hamlet seem even more interesting and insightful.