Yes I’m Crazy: CampNaNoWriMo

So, I may have lost my mind. I blame the baby. After all of my bitching and complaining that I don’t have enough time to do things, I went and signed up for CampNaNoWriMo. I’m going from writing zero words per day to getting down at least 1,667 words a day. Crazy, see?

I’m currently on day 4 and so far, so good. But it’s always good at this point, right? Everything is new and shiny and filled with possibility. I suspect sometime next week I’ll hit a brick wall and realize everything I wrote before makes no sense and will need to be redone. I’m hoping that’s not the case, but since I’m pretty much pantsing this thing, it’s highly probable.

Thankfully, I’ve had this novel idea bouncing around in my head since last year. The tentative title is A Discordant Mirror and I at least have some key scenes laid out in my head. Now, it’s just a matter of stringing them together. Because it’s totally that easy, right?

Advertisements

One Sentence Story – Dear Kyle

After coming across a conversation on Twitter between Alex Shvartsman, Ken Liu, and several other writers, I thought I’d give this one sentence story thing a try. Check out #1ss on Twitter to keep tabs on the fun. And be sure to check out all the other entries listed on Alex’s blog. Here’s my entry. It’s about 317 words:

Dear Kyle

I’m writing you a letter on an old note card because I know you’ll find it amongst all the papers on your desk where you sit and crunch numbers hour after hour (so studious you are, so dedicated) and you’ve left me no choice after you never called me that night after the mathematics conference where you said my eyes were like infinity and my smile, a million prime numbers lined up in a row (I waited for days and days for your call, staring at my cell phone, willing it to ring, but your name never came across the display), but you never called and I’m left scribbling this on a piece of yellowed filing card, the kind you use for quick calculations or jotting down fleeting ideas or like the kind you place in that tiny box you keep in the third drawer on the left under the ledgers and shoebox filled with pencils—the box where you stashed the ring fingers of your dead ex-wife and the three dead girlfriends you had at the same time as her (because one just wasn’t enough, it never is) and four note cards with their names and the dates you killed them, along with a scrap of parchment that says, “Bernice, 32″—because you’ve left me with no other options and knowing you have my name in a box with women’s severed fingers has piqued my interest—I hope you’ll forgive me breaking in while you sleep—so I beg of you, call me, text me, write me, or come to my place (you know where I live, don’t you?) and let me tell you how your eyes are like two plus two equals four and how your smile is like pi calculated out to a thousand places and let me show you the container I keep under my bed—I think we have something in common.

This was fun! I had no idea where it was going when I started it, but something began to take shape about halfway through. Did some fiddling around with the beginning and it’s done, just in time.

Links and Things for May 18, 2012

I’ve slacked off on the blog this week, my apologies. But I did find some interesting things in the meantime that I wanted to share. Hope you enjoy!

Blog Posts of Note

Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is by John Scalzi – An interesting post over at Whatever that pokes privilege with a pointy stick.

#The50 Things Every Creative Should Know by Jamie Wieck – Found this thanks to @freshnsteezy. Though it relates mostly to visual art, I found myself nodding at each point because creativity is creativity, regardless of your chosen medium.

When Publishing Goes Wrong…Starring Undead Press by Mandy DeGeit – Wow. Just wow. It’s hard to believe people can be this crazypants, but apparently they can. A reminder to us all: be careful about the markets you submit to.

Free Fiction

“The Tome of Tourmaline” by Ken Liu

“Ravages of Time” by Alex Shvartsman

Other Interesting Stuff

Interview with Chuck Wendig at The Contextual Life – I love his writing style on Terrible Minds and have added Blackbirds to my to-read list.

Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy Podcast: Episode 60: Brian Greene – Lovingly referred to as the “string theory guy” in our house, Greene delves into all sorts of mind blowing topics, like the notion that our universe and everything in it may be a hologram of sorts.

Did you find anything cool this week? Share it in the comments!

Interchangeable Goals

Sometimes, you just have to be good with getting anything done at all.

At least, that’s my perspective on things these days. Normally, I’d beat myself up over not hitting a certain word count per day. Or failing to work on novel revisions. Okay, so I still beat myself up over these things. But I beat myself up less. Which is important, relatively speaking.

I digress.

Getting mad at myself for failing to complete certain tasks repeatedly isn’t productive and tends to throw me into a cycle of failure. That is, if I failed yesterday, I’ll fail today, so why even try?

But this negative self-talk is harmful and counterproductive. I still engage in it often, but trying to put my focus onto what I do accomplish is much more helpful. For instance, I didn’t write any new fiction today.  But I did write this blog post and finish a critique for a writing friend that I’ve owed him since forever (sorry!). That feels good to check off the to-do list. Once I finish this post, I may even conquer revisions on something small, like a short story or a scene in my novel.

My point here is if a strict plan of action isn’t working for you and causing too much stress or self doubt, dial it back. This doesn’t mean you should change your goals; rather, it means you should refocus them. Become flexible. So long as you’re accomplishing something you want to accomplish, be happy. I’m hoping that checking things off my to-do list on a daily basis will inspire me and build the confidence I need to tackle larger projects.

I know this all sounds like armchair psychology. Honestly, it probably is. But I’m trying to work through complex mental blocks in how I view tasks, failure, and success. Bear with me as I struggle. And please, feel free to share your suggestions in the comments.

Links and Things for May 11, 2012

I’m afraid this is going to be a short one today. I’ve been busy this week and haven’t had as much time as I usually do to devote to reading blogs and engaging in media in general. But I did happen across a few cool things I wanted to share.

Blog Posts of Note

Too Smart for Kids: A Promise to the Readers of Fairyland by Catherynne Valente – Because books should be challenging and reading for kids is an act of discovery. Yes, yes, yes.

Vocabulary  by Christie Yant – Discusses the joy of learning new vocabulary while reading. I’m lazy and often try to glean the meaning of a word I don’t know from context alone. Since a Kindle has been added to my life, I can look up words as I go. My desire to learn new words and my laziness are satisfied.

Using Index Cards to Plan Short Fiction Submissions by Michael Haynes – It’s exactly what it sounds like but I think I need to do something similar if I want to get all these languishing stories off my hard drive and back out into the world.

Free Fiction

“An Old Acquaintance” by K.G. Jewell

What I’m Reading

I finally finished Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane. It’s really a quick read, I was just reading slow, if that makes sense. Super fun and I recommend the whole series so far. I may read the next book in this series, City of Ghosts or maybe something else like Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. Not sure what I’ll dive into next. Anybody have suggestions?

What have you found this week? Leave it in the comments!

On “Knit” and the Writing Process

I thought I’d try out something new here. I recently had a short story published at The Drabblecast, and I was thinking it might be fun to go into a bit of detail about my approach to the story and how it met its final form.

This is the first story I consider to be a part of my most current batch. Even though it was written in 2010, my approach was considerably different on this tale than on those previous.

What was the difference, you might be asking?

Simple: I didn’t fret about quality.

Well, at least in the drafting phase. This was the first time I can recall throwing caution to the wind and writing a story just because I wanted to. Because certain words sounded nice together. Because I wanted to tell something creepy and beautiful at the same time.

And the first draft was horrendous, as most first drafts are. It made next to no sense and was filled with tangents that took the story off course. So I focused the plot and trimmed it down. I cut out phrases I thought were cool. I killed my darlings.

Once satisfied, “Knit” was sent to 9 different markets, one after the other. I piled up the rejections. I received additional feedback from beta readers along the way and made a few subtle tweaks for clarity and consistency. Finally, I sent the story off to The Drabblecast.

But the acceptance didn’t come right away. I received a rewrite request first that required me to cut the story again by about 300 words. Much of the rewrite revolved around removing a distracting subplot involving the mother character. Basically, I had to focus the story more on the father to make it fulfilling emotionally.

They were right. I made the revisions, showed a few beta readers and off it went. Yay for acceptance!

I’m proud of “Knit” and the process required to get to the end product. I wrote freely for the first time. I channeled personal anguish into the tale–something that I’ve since done with regularity. And the story that I was left with is filled with darkness, yet there is beauty there. If sadness can be beautiful.

I hope you all enjoyed the end result.

Links and Things for May 4, 2012

Wow, this week went by fast. Which means that it’s time for my obligatory post about things I found interesting for the week. I just include links to things that came across my Twitter feed or that I encountered throughout the week. It’s not scientific, but hopefully you enjoy some of the stuff I found.

Blog Posts of Note

“Magic in the Library” by Sam Webb – Libraries are filled with wonder. I thought this post captured the magic that’s found between the card catalogues and bookshelves well.

“Advice on Advice” by Michael Haynes – This was a guest post on my blog, but I thought I’d link to it here because it’s good to remind ourselves once in a while that not all advice is equal.

“Around and Around the Writer’s Carousel: Comparisons Are Evil” by Me – Yeah, it’s narcissistic to link to my own blog post, but it was my offering to Michael’s blog. It was a fun experiment and it’s likely I’ll be offering (and posting) more guest posts in the near future.

“Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake” by Stephen King – It’s been said before but it needs to be said again and again by more people of wealth and status. Plus, King’s tone is biting and appropriate for the anger sweeping across the country.

Free Fiction

I read a lot of fantastic fiction this week in the Daily Science Fiction email subscription. Of course, I can’t link to those yet. Next week! Other stories I found interesting and fun for the week are included below:

“Heads You Win” by Lydia S. Gray

“Dolly at the End of the World” by Amanda C. Davis

Film Recommendation

Midnight in Paris – I loved this film. I was worried at first it may devolve into pretension, but considering it’s a Woody Allen film, it quickly dismisses (and despises) those with pretentious attitudes and uplifts our everyman artist protagonist, Gil. It wasn’t afraid to be romantic, to delve into nostalgia. Oftentimes, writers are told to dismiss the romantic side of “being a writer” because this doesn’t ultimately help shape your craft. But if heading down memory lane helps you realize something essential about the present and your work, what’s the harm? Plus, the depictions of famous 1920’s authors and artists are alone worth a view .

What I’m Reading

Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane – Still. Yes, I’m the slowest reader ever. But I’m still enjoying this book a lot. Every scene counts and Chess is a flawed character that you can’t help liking because she reads as authentic. Plus, this entire series so far is fun.

Did you find anything cool this week? Leave it in the comments. I’d love to hear about it 🙂