Write Month Check up

As you may know, I’ve been participating in Novel Writing Month.  Just thought I would do a follow-up.

  1. I am writing every day, but not always my mark of 1650 words.  Some days more, some less.  One day I rewrote the entire scene I had previously written because I came up with a much better way to set the stage for what I was trying to accomplish.  Technically that day was a wash.
  2. The hardest thing so far has been remembering to update my word count every day on the website.  I need to do that today- as soon as I blog.  Hoping I remember my password. (to give you a hint as to when I last updated and it’s only November 8)
  3. I am liking the way my main character is developing- she is funny and a bit of a bitch.  Sort of like me, except we know I am not funny
  4. I’ve come up with the major arcs and plot points.  I think they are solid- the most solid of anything I have ever had in a novel.  I truly believe this is due to my writing class.  My class is allowing me to think of a story in ways I never imagined.   In class we break down dialogue, plot, description.  Especially point of view.  I had been writing in 3rd person.  When I switched to 1st it brought the book to life for me.   When you think about these things as devices, it’s a whole new world- which brings me to:
  5. Being a writer and being a story teller are two different things.  I may have a flair for words- I can usually get my point across in a piece.  But telling a story- oh- that’s an art.  How do get from point A to point B- that’s the difference between a writer and an author- so
  6. I need to learn how to bridge the gaps – fill in the timeline of the major events.  But these moments can’t always be filler.  These little moments can help you shape your characters and your story.  I need to learn to use the fillers wisely.  I think I’m getting it.  I hope so anyway.
  7. An outline is great, but sometimes you have to throw it out the window.  I had a way that I wanted my story to go, but as I’m writing, I’m discovering new possibilities.  I’m going with my instinct.  I don’t always go with my instinct, so this is a bit of a trial for me, but so far so good!!!
  8. Here’s one I need help with if you can.  One of my beliefs in life. as well as in this novel is that the longer the people are friends, the less boundaries they have.  I truly believe it and I see it in my life.  When I presented the first chapter to my class, one person adamantly disagreed with me- she felt boundaries got tighter.  This is not a right or wrong- I am using the boundary disappearing in the book, but for my own clarification- long friendships- more or less boundaries?
  9. I can’t write with my family around, or awake.  They are a distraction.  I guess that the problem with being the perfect spouse and Mom- I’m always in demand
  10. I now walk around thinking of scenes that can be included in the book.  It’s a good thing I’m organized because I can’t multi task at all.  I see everything through the eyes of my characters.  just be happy I’m not writing about a serial killer
  11. I am very loose with grammar and punctuation (which I know is opposite my need for order and perfection) I think that when people get overly fixated on grammar and punctuation, they begin to loose the playfulness that writing can be.  Personally, I’d rather read a not grammatically correct interesting clever book, than a punctuation perfect but illogical or unsatisfying one.  Personally, I think I read too quickly to catch mistakes of commas and periods.  My brain assumes they are right.  Bad plot points or characterizations that are inconsistent- well those I pounce on in a heartbeat.  My brain will not overcome that.  That’s where my need for order and logic prevail.
  12. I need a desk chair.  A good one.  My body may never recover.  My daughter asked me the other day what I wanted for a holiday gift.  A desk chair.  I know my family doesn’t read my blog, but I believe I will leave this part on the bulletin board.  oh wait.  My family never looks at that either…..

So there you go!!  Hoping all your writing is going well!!

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The Write Month

Ok- I admit it.  I can never remember the name for the writing challenge this month.  I have a good memory for some things, a lousy memory for others. But the point is:

Who’s working on their novel this month?

You all know I want to finish my novel.  You should also know, that after taking a writing class, I scrapped my initial intent to write the novel in 3rd person and switched to 1st person.  This requires a lot more than changing a few words.  This requires changing everything.

The upside:  I am so much happier with the way my character is developing.  I’ve brought a relatability and an intimacy that the character was lacking, and I felt I needed.  In third person, my character seemed cold and sterile.  In first, she is almost charming.  I know!!  I’m writing a charming character!  I didn’t think it could be done, but it just might!!  I’m also doing that talk to the screen type of technique.  I sort of have the narrator talk to the reader of the book, so they’re in on the secret.  Spoiler alert:  my book contains a secret.

I’m still having issues with giving details.  I realize that details are essential to a novel- they paint the mind picture for the reader.  I just don’t know how much to dole out at a time.  I don’t know when I’m being top heavy with adjectives, so I tend to minimalize.  Yes, I know- bad idea.  I know what’s in my mind- readers don’t.  Now- there are often times I think that no one in their right mind should be in my head, but that’s a whole other story.

I’m liking my character.  She has many of my good traits- think tea and organization.  But her bad habits are WAY different than mine.  She is much funnier than I am.  It’s amazing to me that I, the least funny person in real life, can write characters that are funny.

But anyway…..

Oh- my teacher suggested that I don’t use …… or -.  Now, if you’ve read me for awhile, you know that I can’t write without these devices.  So, the hardest part of my novel writing experience may be not using ….. or -.  Seriously- I tried writing yesterday and these things just magically appear on the page.  I will need to attend ellipses anonymous.

But the good news.  I scratched out 1700 words yesterday (on my novel, excluding my blog ).  yay me.

Alas- writing month should really be in February, when I am hunkered down hibernating.  November in New York is glorious, and I plan a lot of outings.  Think of it as a squirrel storing nuts for the winter- I store memories to get me through the arctic NYC winters where I need to walk everywhere, every day.  I need memories of ballets and concerts to motivate me out the door.

So today will be a Good Luck to all of you writing 50,000 words this month.  It’s a big task, but I know each and every one of you is up to the challenge.  I look forward to reading every novel once it’s published!!!  And there are a few of you I will be requesting signed copies from.  Jay- that’s a hint…….

What to expect from me?  Probably a daily word count.  I’m sure I will tell you when I’m at a crossroads.  I will not be blogging on the weekends.  I have a great deal of trouble writing Saturday and Sunday when my family is around (they really are annoying) and I will be spending my alone time working on my 1700 or so words.

Here goes nothing!!!

 

The Writing Class

As you may know, I began a writing class a few weeks ago. This has so far been an interesting experience.  Here’s a few random thoughts.

  1. I am totally rewriting the “novel” I started- as soon as I began the class, I realized that I had issues with the way the novel was set up.
  2. When we learned about plot last week, we learned that the main character needs to want something, and that is what makes up the crux of the book.  Well- here’s the thing- I know my general plot.  I know my characters.  But I have no idea what she wants, because I keep rethinking the ending- I have two distinct endings in mind, and now I’m stymied as so how to write the book if I don’t know how it’s going to end.
  3. Apparently Stephan King (I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, but he writes books)  has no idea where his books are going when he begins writing- so I could be Stephan King like.
  4. Apparently, Truman Capote (who, you say?  Just think Audrey Hepburn) knew exactly what he was going to write.  Should I be Capotesque?
  5. I can not refer to my “novel” without putting ironic quotes around novel- need to work on either self esteem or sense of irony
  6. I feel confident about my writing until I hear what other people wrote.  I know I’m not alone in this, because every one of my classmates prefaces their reading with some sort of disclaimer as to how bad their piece is in comparison to everyone else’s.  Comparing is a bad habit.  Unless it’s me comparing to other works because mine truly are worse.
  7. I do not always like writing exercises, especially when they do not include dialogue.  For some reason, I like to have my characters talk.  Could this be because I am somewhat loquacious?  Hmmmmmm…….have to think about why my characters talk so much and there is so little internal monologue.
  8. My characters all end up funny.  I don’t know how this happens because I am not that funny in real life.
  9. My function over form attitude to just about everything could be a detriment.  I am finding that I don’t really describe a scene- I throw in little details about the setting, but I need to work on creating a visual picture.  I forget that just because I see the details in my mind, no one else does.  And those details help to create your character.  I may practice by writing posts in which I go into excruciating detail about the 5 rooms that make up my apartment.  then I will describe the contents of every drawer and cabinet.  If you are lucky, I will tell you what’s on the shelves and surfaces…..
  10. Writing is easy.  Writing something that someone wants to read is hard.  I have to determine what is more important- pleasing myself with my writing, or finding an audience.  While I realize they are not mutually exclusive, I just don’t know if I can do both.
  11. Writing creates a lot of self doubt.
  12. Deep inside, I know that writing requires one to sit at a computer (or typewriter if you’re retro and live near a flea market) and type words, and sentences and paragraphs and chapters.  This is very solitary.  I have never been a social person, but I find the more that I write, the greater my need to interact with others.  I can’t write is I’m alone with my thoughts too much.  I need to air out those thoughts.  Just think about that King guy and The Shining……(FYI- one and only SK book I ever read because it scared the pants off me….I could not read it at night……)

I have 7 more classes, and next week is the week that my 10 page piece gets ripped apart  discussed.  I’m sure I’ll be taking about this again.

 

Two Truths, No Lie

When you blog, people get to see one side of you, the side you present to them.  You may open up, share both painful and positive stories, but people make assumptions.  They intuit things about your personality- let’s just say we’re all a bit like Columbo.  And some of these things are dead on accurate- every word someone writes, every picture clearly show the definition of who you are.  But, sometimes, it’s harder to see the truth in someone’s personality- sometimes the person sends opposite messages.

For example.  I am a very shy person.  I know I’m opinionated, and never fail to make my opinion known.  I know I will argue until I have not a point left to utter.  I know I have a certain level of self-confidence.  But I am still shy.

So what does shy mean to me?  I don’t like parties.  I am not the type of person who will introduce themselves to everyone.  When at a party, I’m the one in the corner, making snide comments with the one person I know.  I’m not dancing on the tables (though I have a college friend, SF, who might argue this point, but he never comments, so I’m safe…..)  As much as I talk, and yes- I have a big and loud mouth- I am really more of an observer.  I watch the way people interact- I see the body language of a couple clearly headed for a break-up, or the hunched shoulders of a woman who clearly has way too much on her mind. I eavesdrop on conversations -sorry- you shouldn’t talk about how you don’t remember which brother you had sex with (last night) because you thought they were both cute when you are on a subway or talk about the way you are going to lie to your wife (that night) while you are walking down the street- I will judge you.

I also have trouble commenting on other peoples blogs.  Seriously.  I didn’t comment on anyone the first month I blogged.  I was terrified that people would dismiss my opinion, not care what I had to say.  This is where the bad part of shyness comes in, the fear of doing something because you are scared to interact.

I needed to overcome this.  Every time I comment on a blog it is hard for me.  I still don’t know if I have anything to add to the table.  I worry that my contribution will be paltry compared to what others say.  I know it doesn’t seem like that- but it’s true.  One truth.

Second truth.  When I was in 7th grade, my English teacher told me, and my mother, that I was not a good writer.  This crushed me, because 7th grade me wanted to be a writer.  It was my dream.  Now my Mother, not always the most sensitive person, blamed me- because I should be a good writer, because I clearly had the aptitude (damn IQ test).  She hired a tutor, and on Monday nights I sat with this tutor.  My tutor didn’t understand why she was spending Monday nights with me, because she said there was absolutely nothing wrong with my writing.  I had the basics of grammar and punctuation.  I understood how to open and close a composition.  I knew how to back up my points.  She told my Mother that there must be a personality issue between the teacher and me.

My Mother did not like the version that the tutor presented.  My Mother decided I wasn’t working hard enough.  And we once again enter the world of parental expectations……

But it wasn’t only my Mother that crushed me this time- it was also a teacher.  And even though every other teacher I ever had in school was actually pretty wonderful, this one teacher crushed my spirit.  It was then I decided that I would not be a writer.

So the truth is- I don’t think I’m a good writer.  This is not a humble brag.  I am shocked and amazed whenever someone tells me that I am a good writer, or that they like my posts.  Truly.

You have no idea how hard it is for me to push the publish button.  I second guess every word, every sentence, every paragraph, every post.  Yesterday was the first time I ever post-edited a piece (except for glaring spelling errors, and forgetting to put a title)  I try not to edit after I publish because I will always find something wrong with my words- I will always think of a better way to say something, or a point that I missed.  There is a chance that I would only have one post on this blog because I would be constantly reworking it.  I don’t think my words on the page are good.  But I keep trying.

No lie.

100 Posts! How did that Happen?

Today is Post 100!  I can’t believe that I have written 100 posts!  In honor of this momentous occasion, I am giving you a list.  These are a jumble of my thoughts about this blogging process.

  1. I thought I would be writing about the process of aging.  I realized that I’m not afraid of getting older- and I’m actually not that bothered by it.  I just don’t like the fact that it takes me 20 minutes to stand up.
  2. My writing has gotten better since my early posts- at least I hope so- please tell me I’m a better writer now
  3. I can be funny, clever, thought provoking, sad, angry and reflective- often in the same post.  I hope my writing elicits some sort of emotion.  And laughing at me is perfectly fine…I live with a teenager- I’m used to it
  4. I’m making good strides on my novel.  This is thanks to a fellow blogger.  I was telling him the problems I was having telling my story, and he said “Dumbass” (Ok- he didn’t say that- but I know he was thinking it) you’re an organized person.  Write and org chart for what each chapter of the novel should cover.  Then write the scenes.”
  5. I heard my daughter say to my husband- “We have to dial down the stupid.  Everything we do could be a blog”  So remember, when I tell you a story about them- they have dialed down the stupid……take that for what it’s worth
  6. I have met some amazing people through the blogging process.  It amazes me that I have found kindred spirits from all over the world, and from 20 blocks away.  I am a better person for crossing paths with all of you.  Ok- I was pretty low on the humanity scale before, so don’t be too proud……
  7. Most stories are still person vs person, person vs nature and person vs themselves.  But we all manage to tell our stories in different and unique ways.  Except for all the new books I’ve read that retell Jane Austen books.  It’s time to give those a rest.
  8. I love and look forward to writing every day.  No joke, no sarcasm.  This is a highlight of my day.
  9. What is not a highlight of my day is my present relationship with WordPress.  WP keeps telling me its my fault.  I think we share the blame….but I’m easy going like that.
  10. I love reading all your blogs!  Each and every one of you inspire me every day, with your courage, strength, wit, humor, creativity….I could go on.  Your spirit and attitude is contagious. All your posts make me think, and expand my mind.  This is what keeps us young.  This is what keeps us living.
  11. I know I play fast and loose with punctuation and grammar.  I don’t care.  I’m so structured in every thing else I do.  This is my space to safely push the boundaries.

I could probably go on, but need to leave something for the 200 postaversary.

Thanks for reading me!  I truly appreciate it, and all the wonderful comments and feedback!

The Write Place

I think I figured out what my problem is.

Stop right there.  Don’t ask- “which problem?  Don’t’ exclaim- “wow- she finally gets it”.  Just listen (read) for a second before you make any snide comments Jay readers….

The specific problem to which I refer is:

My inability to “edit” my “novel” properly.

I spent the last year working on a “novel”.  I love my idea, love my characters.  Love them so much, that I’ve made the conflict in the novel ridiculously light, because I don’t want to see them hurt or have pain.

Yeah.  I know.  Tough problem to face.  War, homelessness, inability to have characters feel bad.  It’s my cross to bare.

But I finally figured out why I can’t fix my “novel”.

I don’t have a “Writer’s Shack”.

When I was at the beach, I would pass a little house every day.  To the side of this house was a littler house- and the plaque outside of it simply said “Writer’s Shack”.

As you may know- my three person, two pet family lives in a luxurious 800 square foot apartment.  We barely have room to breath.  I have a tiny desk, which is where I tend to work on my “novel”, yet I blog at my dining room table.  Which venue is more successful is yet to be seen.

So I began to think about if a writer needs a dedicated space in which to work.  Would having four walls, a desk, a chair and a window that were only used for writing be answer that I was looking for?

I quickly realized that I would be unable to build a shack off the side of my apartment.  So I started to think about other options.

  1. Renting office space.  Sure- because with college looming on the horizon we have the extra money to do that.
  2. Taking a space in a building that has studios for artists and writers.  While these are slightly more affordable, I once had a friend who used one of these.  Though she found it incredibly helpful, I thought it was dark and dreary.
  3. Writing in my favorite coffee shop.  There are myriad thoughts about doing this.  During the school year my daughter does her homework at her desk in her room.  Since returning from vacation, she has been spending about 7 hours a day at one of the 97 Starbucks that are located within 3 blocks of my house, working on summer homework and PSAT prep.  She feels that working in her room highlights the fact that it is summer, and that her mind keeps wanting to do other things- like literally anything other than AP work, such as laying on her bed and staring at the ceiling.  In order for her to actually accomplish anything- she needs to be in another setting.  This is a plus for writing in a coffee shop.  The other thing about writing in a coffee shop is being surrounded by “writers”.  I was once shushed by someone in a coffee shop because she was “working” while I was just “having coffee”.  (Yes- I tend to be a bit loud and animated- but I really thought it was OK to talk and have a beverage in a coffee shop- my bad….)  When I walk by a coffee shop- all I see are laptops- and people banging away at laptop keys- Apparently, “Starbucks”=”Writer’s Shack”

So- should I set up shop at my favorite coffee hole?  Should the hours I dedicate to working on my novel be done in a setting of not so comfortable chairs and harsh lighting?  Will they let my bring in my own chair and desk light?  Will working outside my home be productive?

To be continued……………..

Blog Type: Decoded

After spending a few months writing, and reading, blogs, I have ascertained that there are 6 general types of  writing based blogs: (though I do realize that sometimes a blog can be more than one type)

  1. Opinion– I appreciate and respect all opinions, whether I agree with them or not.  My only caveat is that the opinion be logical, well thought out, and based on valid reasoning.  I do not like opinions such as “I hate opera” when the person speaking has never actually seen or heard an opera.  A person with this type of opinion is stupid, based on the fact that, you know, they’re stupid and the reason is stupid.
  2. Personal– These are my personal favorites.  These blogs share a piece of someone’s life.  I think the writers of these are brave for sharing their stories and struggles.  I also appreciate the honesty and humor of these posts.  I like when the writers personality shines through.  Thanks  Mojo for the inspiration on wording, also one of best personal blogs I have read. http://momentumofjoy.wordpress.com/
  3. Reviews– You know- someone tells you their impressions of a book, movie, whatever.  Reviews are a tricky thing for me- I prefer recommendations.  When I read a book review, I look for genre, one line plot summary, and a rating.  I don’t like spoilers.  However, after I have read a book I love to go back and look at the reviews. Same with all other things that are reviewed, except food, because I will go to a specific restaurant for a specific dish.
  4. Instructional-How to’s- recipes, DIY, tips on organizing (this is my favorite type of instructional- I could get lost in a sea of organizing blogs)- Basically anything that gives you a roadmap on how to do something.
  5. Fiction- Flash, short story, poetry- anything that tells a story in a fictional way.
  6. Fact Based- These are blogs that explain things based on research.  There is evidence to support the claims in these blogs.  And they are factual.  Or at least they are supposed to be…..

Now here is where I begin to rant….be forewarned…….

I grew up on Long Island,  in a SUBURB of New York City.  For the better part of 30 years, I have resided in Manhattan, a BOUROUGH of New York City, mailing address, New York, NY.  Of these facts I am certain.

I read a blog the other day about New York City.  The writer stated that Manhattan was a suburb of New York City.  This made me irrationally angry.  If you are going to write a factual piece about a place, get the details straight.  I commented, telling the writer that things written were factually incorrect, (and for the record I did not say- hey- check the definition of suburb and explain to me how Manhattan, with a population of about a gazillion people can be a suburb, and then what would the urban area be) and gave the correct information.  Of course, the writer neither approved my comment, nor corrected the post.

So here’s my opinion: if you are writing a fact based piece, it is your responsibility as a writer to make sure your facts are correct.  When you have an error, and this error is pointed out to you, it is your responsibility to correct it.  By not doing these things, everything you write, that is fact based, comes into question.  How can a reader trust you?  Where is the integrity?

Let the commenting commence: