Writing Year: Week 1, January 1-7

It’s time to recap the first week of the 365k365day challenge! I don’t plan to do this every single week, but I will probably update periodically just so I can have some record of my progress (other than the word tracker).

The Word Count

The first few days I did very well. I wrote just above the goal of 1,000 words. Then, day six came around, and I was so focused on work stuff that I didn’t have any time to write. day seven, I was intending to catch up, but unfortunately I was short of the daily goal, let alone the catch-up goal. Luckily, I even get to count THIS post toward the word count, even if it’s not very eloquent. I still have plenty of time today to write, but the past two days my motivation dropped a lot. I hope I can get it back.

The Projects

So far I’ve mostly been working on the Sleeping Beauty novel I started a few years ago. I haven’t touched it in quite a while, but I have been thinking about it for a few months, so I used my new writing goal as a reason to get back to it … not that I should need one, but you know, you do what you have to. One day when I was at a somewhat boring part of the story, I wrote an outline for the rest of the novel; the next day, most of my word count came from a journaling session that I titled “I don’t feel like writing” or something along those lines. Journaling counts, but I usually like to with a pen and paper, and then I’d have to count the words manually.

For now I plan to continue with Sleeping Beauty. There are a few short stories that I have first drafts of so far, that I’m planning to work on and either publish on this blog or submit somewhere. I’m also thinking I will write a little more of my Helen of Troy novel, but I might still want to do a bit of research first–which is the original reason I set that novel aside after writing the first two chapters. If you want to see what I have so far, you could click on the “Helen” tab above.

I have many other story ideas noted, some of which I am very eager to start, and I have a few blog posts planned as well. Hopefully, as I get back in the habit of writing, I will be writing even more than my daily goal on a regular basis. I might even feel like a real writer again.

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When You Can’t Write

Lately one of my many story ideas has been fighting for prominence in my thoughts. I don’t remember exactly when I first had this idea. Sometime in the past six months or so. I liked it a lot then, but for whatever reason I don’t often start new stories unless I can see the entire basic outline of the plot–for novels, anyway. Short stories I don’t mind just diving into. But I like to be able to see a full novel before I begin, fully expecting many of the details to change, of course. So I haven’t written any of this story yet, even though I did a basic outline. Now, it’s like the thing’s knocking on my door. (Brain-door?) “Hi. Remember me? I get that you have a lot going on, but you said we’d hang out. Just give me a little time, please?”

And what can I do? My “responsible” side (that I’m currently hating) keeps telling me that I have to take care of my obligatory work first, so that I can pay bills and afford to eat and stuff like that. I have a tendency to listen to that side because I’ve always been pretty responsible. But now my creative side is getting angry at being neglected. She will not stand for it any more. I have a feeling she’s just going to keep bothering me until I give in.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t want to. There are two reasons. One: I cling to that silly notion that I need to be in a better financial place before I can really give my attention to writing. Maybe this means I’m not a “true artist.” Maybe it means I live in a ridiculous economy and like everyone else I have to pay for things. I even have to buy my own health and dental insurance. Two: Even though I want to write, right now, more than anything, and I can honestly say very few things would make me feel as good as writing this story that’s jumping up and down, waving its arms at me, when I think about actually sitting down to write it there’s a certain resistance. I’m not sure where that comes from, exactly. I’ve been trying to pinpoint what that feeling is. Maybe it’s the knowledge that I still sometimes rely too much on cliches. Maybe it’s being kind of out of practice in fiction writing, and wondering if I still have any talent and imagination or if the real world sucked it all away.

Or it could be the certainty I have, when I look back at the last seven years or so, that I’ve already wasted so much time I could have spent pursuing things I wanted to learn, do, feel, experience. Some of you reading this (people who know how old I am) will I’m sure say that this is ridiculous, but I feel very old these days. It seemed ok to be adrift and uncertain when I was 24. I was young, just starting to live on my own (sort of). Few people actually have anything figured out at 24. Not anymore. As I get older, more and more people my age are actually finding full-time, stable jobs or starting businesses or families. This tells me that it’s my fault I’m still in such an unpleasant, uncertain life situation. They say you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, but I bet “they” do it too…

So anyway, this story is about love. A fair bit of it takes place in dreams, and it will sort of explore and/or blur the line between dreams and waking. I’ve actually had a lot of story ideas that involve that aspect. I also like the idea because I can include a lot of fantastical elements even though the story is not in the fantasy genre. I’m hoping that I can push through all my doubts and obstacles and start writing it. I hate asking this but please, click “like” or comment if you think this story sounds interesting.

Books that Inspire

I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. I find myself wishing that I had read it as a child–not because it’s written for children (I don’t know if it was) or because I would have enjoyed it more then than I am right now. I wish I had read it when I was younger because it is so well-written and such a wonderful tale that I know it would have been one of those books that I read over and over, one of those that inspired me as a writer.

As I read I’m comparing the book to the movie that came out a few years ago, and I am surprised at the amount of differences in just the first third of the book. This is definitely a case of the book and movie being almost entirely separate stories (I mean, in the movie, Yvaine never says “fuck”). So, although I have some idea of how the story goes, there are enough differences that I get to have that feeling of wanting to know what will happen next.

I would say the story has many typical elements of fairy tales and the fantasy genre (that is, before urban fantasy became popular). The details, though, are unique enough that I don’t feel like I’ve read the same story a thousand times. Since every basic story has been told already, as they say, it’s all in the way the story is told, and this one is told brilliantly. The way that details are revealed allows for just the right amount of suspense, in my opinion. I have a somewhat low suspense threshold and when it’s crossed, I get bored, so I’m happy with just enough to keep it interesting. And the language, oh my. It’s not news that Neil Gaiman is an excellent writer, but there is something about this book in particular… the quality of the writing fits so well with the setting of the Faerie world. In my opinion it’s quite ethereal, a little surreal, but not insubstantial or unbelievable in any way. Maybe I would still believe in Faerie if I had read this book when I was younger.

Last night I was reading this instead of going to sleep and I was reminded in a way that rarely happens these days that I am supposed to be writing. Of all the other interests I have cultivated, nothing makes me feel as satisfied as writing, and there is no other medium through which I can express myself so well. If I didn’t have bills and student loans and all that to worry about, I would just write full time starting NOW.

No to NaNoWriMo

As I mentioned, I’m taking NaNoWriMo and semi-participating, altering the rules to fit my own schedule and needs and ability. The point that 50,000 words is usually NOT a full novel is exactly why I don’t think it matters that my own goal for the month doesn’t match that–because you won’t have a finished product no matter what you do. I have yet to go through the heavy editing, multi-draft process on anything I’ve ever written. Maybe that’s why I haven’t managed to get anywhere with any of my writing yet, who knows. But I know, like anyone knows who has tried to write beyond school papers, that the “writing part,” as difficult as it may be at times, is the easy part of writing.

 

Although I don’t think that NaNoWriMo’s claim is that anyone can write a book–at least, not one that’s worth publishing. I think it’s more of a catalyst and, now, a way for writers to make connections. Anyone who reads this and has experience with it, please tell me if the NaNoWriMo community has been beneficial to you. Maybe next year I’ll try to participate for real.

Druid Life

In January, everyone should try and choreograph a ballet. In March we should all write an opera, and in June everyone should paint a fresco. Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? And yet the idea that everyone could write a novel in November gets a good deal more acceptance. Why do we assume that, while these other forms would require skills, knowledge and practice beyond most people’s experience, anyone can write a book? It drives me round the bend.

Getting people to explore their creativity is something I’ve always considered important, but I think that should begin with a respect for whatever form you are working in. To start by assuming the form is easy, requires no study, research or insight, is to set yourself up to fail. I don’t think that benefits anyone. So, here are a few counterarguments.

Fifty thousand words is not really a book; that’s rather short. Seventy…

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NaNoNoWriMo

It’s not a typo. It stands for National Not Novel Writing Month, which is what I’m calling the unofficial, making-up-my-own-rules way that I’m doing it.

Writing bloggers started talking about plans for NaNoWriMo, in some cases, over a month ago. I do not have a network of writer friends, although I have numerous writer friends–so I’m not sure what that disconnect is about–and very few people ever comment on my blogs, so I didn’t have anyone asking me if I was planning to participate. My answer, as it has been throughout my entire life, would have been no. NaNoWriMo is not for everyone, and it’s never really appealed to me. I thought that I’d use the month last year to feed off the collective writing energy of the world and set a goal of writing any amount every day. I wrote one day the entire month and felt terrible about myself. The experience was not encouraging to me.

The girls in my office suggested doing NaNoWriMo together, and, since I’ve felt like I needed to do something to get around the years of writer’s block that I’ve been trying to push through, it seemed like a good idea. I know that I’m not signing up on the official site or anything, and I don’t think they are either. The thought is just that we all want to get back to writing, and it’s just one opportunity to do so.

A few days later, it was brought up that 50,000 words might be too ambitious for our schedules, as we all work full time and one of us (not me) has kids. I threw out the number 30,000 instead, still substantial, but a little more manageable, and easy to count–1,000 words a day. We also decided that we don’t have to have the same word goals. We’re being very loose about the rules here. I don’t know how we’re going to exchange stuff–if we’re going to actually exchange writing, or if we are just going to report on how much writing we did. I’m sure we’ll figure that stuff out.

I don’t know what I want to write yet. I’ve been lazy and unproductive for so long now that I have numerous novel and short story ideas that I’ve overthought to the point of believing most of them aren’t worth writing. Someone else is writing something better right now. Nothing I write could possibly be important.

Even if those things are true, it doesn’t really matter. If I don’t produce anything I would ever want to show to other human eyes, but I can feel that great feeling I used to have when I wrote, that will be enough of a reason to write.

I was thinking that I might start writing my fairy tale book. This will be a collection of fairy/folk tales NOT based on old stories (at least not in an obvious way). I’m sure they will have elements of traditional tales, but they will not be the same stories, or reimaginings of them, as I would usually do. The world has changed so much that sometimes the old stories can’t address concepts that we deal with now. We need folk tales of our own age, and I have a few in mind already. The question is always whether I have enough ideas to really turn it into something… or maybe that isn’t the question. Maybe the ideas I have are enough to get me going, and more will come as I go on.

Maybe I should join a writing group. I’ve never had one. I’ve always done it all on my own. And that’s gotten me nowhere, so… maybe.

Word of the day: Maybe.

Brief Update

Hello gentle readers. I have some almost-news that is not ready to be shared yet, and one or two thoughts for posts that I don’t feel like writing right now. Instead, just a short post…

 

Not too long ago I was looking through some of the comments left on older posts (yes, I read all your comments! I usually even try to respond to them!). The response to the two chapters of the Helen of Troy novel I was working on, although small, was quite positive. A few people expressed that they would like to read more. If anyone is wondering if I’m going to continue with that story, the answer is yes… eventually. It’s been put on hold for now. I will let you know when I start working on it again, but it will be quite a while before that happens.

 

A week or so ago, I did finally write a little in the novel that is my current project, a very altered version of Sleeping Beauty. The intention was to write every day, starting then, but of course I didn’t. I only wrote about a page, but I have got a better idea of how the story should move from here.

And last, I’m trying to put more effort toward getting my life to be closer to what I want. If that makes sense…

Forgive the disjointed post, I am a bit tired at the end of every Monday.

There Will Never Be Enough Time for This

I have a great idea for a book. I have lots of ideas for books, and I have no books. This is a problem I have.

 

I’m going to unofficially participate in National Novel Writing Month. I’ve never done it, and I don’t really want to this year either, but if I pretend I’m doing it, and use that time to work on the novel I started over a year ago and really want to finish, I might actually get something done. It has to be unofficial because I’ve already started this book, and I’m pretty sure it will be more than 50,000 words. I almost wrote pages there. That is incorrect. It will be well under 50,000 pages.

 

And since I’m not officially NaNoWriMo-ing, I won’t care if I don’t meet the deadline.