NaNoWriMo Day #22 -Trying to avoid the weeds.

22 11 2016

Weather- Why does it feel so much colder than it actually is? Upper 20s when we walked out the door this morning, and it’s barely nudging the 40s now.  Feels sub arctic. No snow yet and none to be seen in the forecast. But stranger things have happened.

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Work again took up a big chunk of my writing time today. Still, I find that sometimes the pressure of less time can  get the ball rolling.

The title of today’s blog best describes how sometimes the wheels go off the writing wagon and you end up far afield from where you intended. I used to refer to this also as the muses getting drunk and taking the steering wheel away.

The good news is sometimes it leads to interesting places that allow you to rethink some aspects of your story. Sometimes the weeds can produce some better paths and more colorful accents. However, sometimes all getting off the beaten path can do is just bog you down. It’s important to know when your being creative and when your just filling the page with words that sound great but ultimately take your story so far from where you intended you have to stop and take the wheel again.

So far, getting off the path has led to some good possibilities. Nothing that has made me want to stray too far from where I’m going. I’m a pantser by nature, but I do try to keep some plot in mind to rein in the flightiest of fancies.

Link for the day: (I know I link a lot of stuff from Chuck Wendig, but I love his verbiage, profane as it can be. Plus, he knows his shit.)

This is an older post from Chuck. Lots to think about here (Plus my fave phrase in big letters right there at the beginning):
 NANOWRIMO PEP TALK: THE PERFECT MACHINE VERSUS THE ART MONSTER

ALSO– DO NOT TRUST THE CUTE FUZZY PLOT BUNNEH! THEY WILL MULTIPLY,NIBBLE ON YOUR BRAIN STEM AND EAT ALL YOUR AVAILABLE TIME!

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NaNoWriMo day#21- A brief post

21 11 2016

Weather: Cold, but expected. High hit about 40º today, but the wind made it seem much more arctic. The sun was out, but incidental. Didn’t do too much warming up. 

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Not much to write about tonight. Had to work a full day today, so I was crunch time writing this evening.

Here’s a link of good advice when you feel like you’re hitting the wall.

Facing the Blank Page: Celebrated Writers on How to Overcome Creative Block

More thoughts tomorrow, hopefully with more wordcount. Getting to that “Paycheck To Paycheck” feeling that I’m barely skimming by.

 

 





NaNoWriMo Day #20 – Deep thoughts are creeping out again…

20 11 2016

Weather: Still cold- low 30s- but much less windy and the snow seems to have gone. Still, finally feels like November.

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Thanksgiving is on the near horizon, and Christmas is not long after. This year has been mostly a garbage fire. Not that my personal life has been awful, far from it. But it seems the world at large has been fracturing, with long simmering resentments bubbling up and taking form in surprising and chaotic ways. We’ve lost a lot of touchstone people that especially people my age (late 40s) were hit hard by- Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Alan Rickman, the list goes on and on. I know that a lot of this is to be expected- as we age, those we look up to or are inspired by, age accordingly. Some will leave us sooner than we are ready to let them go. Doesn’t make the hurt any less.

NaNo has been harder this year for me than last. Didn’t help that there was a contentious (she said, in vast understatement) election in the first week of writing, and between the weather, and potential jury duty, and imminent family gatherings, and the usual financial roller coaster, the word making was a little derailed.

But I’ve realized in the  past week that as the particular overwhelming signal to noise disruption happening on social media required me to step away a bit, I’m starting to get back in touch with life again. I hadn’t realized how much the politics and associated strong emotions had sucked me in. The slow drowning effect, I suppose. Didn’t realize I wasn’t breathing or underwater until my health, both mental and physical started taking a hit. So I extricated myself as best I could. The concerns I had before the election are still there, but the associated din of outrage and blame and finger-pointing and gloating are not washing over me like before. I’m trying to take the “Make Good Art” mantra to heart.

Do not take this as me giving up fighting for things I believe need fighting for, but understand that existing in a constant state of rage and fear does not make for clear thinking or good judgment. I’m no anarchist. I don’t believe that burning things to the ground is necessarily the way to fix what’s broken. Yes, it requires an unvarnished look at how we got here, but I also believe that things can be fixed by a complicated combination of compassion, realistic assessment and taking a long view. By finding allies with common goals. By not demonizing those who would help us, though they might not 100% agree with us. By not letting things slide because they are difficult. And most of all, by not enabling bad behavior or derailing conversations because it’s “not going to change” or “it’s been going on for a long time”.

I’ve said many times before, I am not a fan of nostalgia. I find it annoying and unrealistic and cherry-picking, because the past is the past for reason. Yes, there were good things, but there were also awful things and you don’t get to gloss over the bad because the good things make you wistful. Too easy and lazy by a long stretch. I’m more for grappling with the issues we have today, so we can entrench the advances we made and work on the new challenges so we can move forward. I mentioned to a friend today that part of our problem now is that we are just far enough away in time from things like the Depression,  WWII or even Cold War eras that the current generation has no real connection to that time. It’s stuff in history books or things our grandparents talk about. (In my case, parents). We look around and say things are horrific, and by some measure, they are. But we are still nowhere near the bottom of the barrel of the Dust Bowl, or rationing, or the Draft, or being wiped out by the flu. (1918. Look it up.) We need to deal with our current problems, but we also need to get a grip. Worse things have been lived through and worse things have been conquered. Which should be a MOTIVATION not a way to diminish our worries or challenges, mind you.

(I see too many people minimizing others pain by saying others have it worse. That’s cruel, reductive and not at all helpful. Be compassionate or be silent.)

All the same, I think our historical challenges can help us face our current challenges a little more clearly if we put them in perspective.

All of this musing leads to story compilation. Taking a long view of history and asking a lot of what if questions when turning that view toward the future is how ideas come to mind. Will those ideas fix real world problems? Who knows. Creativity is not limited to fictional or artistic outlets.  It’s something I think we’ve lost a bit over the past few years. We do a lot of re-sharing of others ideas, images and creative output, but I think we’ve diminished a little by not putting our own creative output out there as well. Happy accidents and half-baked ideas can lead to solutions. Maybe not in themselves, but by providing component pieces to foster discussion or to build upon by others with their own pieces to the puzzle. Collaboration has taken a big hit of late, whether due to fear of ridicule or fear of having one’s own ideas co-opted by someone else or losing one’s sole claim to glory, who knows?

Sorry for the woolgathering here, but these things have been weighing heavily on me lately and I’ve been too scattered to compile them into something coherent. I suppose I need to take my own advice and start suggesting ideas and putting my creative output into the stream and see what floats and what sinks. Failure isn’t fatal. It’s just an idea that didn’t work. Trying something new that builds on what didn’t work, or just making another attempt from a different launch pad is not a waste of time. That’s how most things result in a success. We talk way too much. We need to do more. Discussion is fine, but ONLY discussion results in little. Awareness is good, but awareness alone changes little. No one is asking you to fix EVERYTHING or even to solve anything on your own. Don’t let people make you think that all the challenges we face are a zero sum game, that by focusing on one problem, you are ignoring others.  You can’t spread yourself that thin. But you can contribute. You can lend a hand. Make your voice heard. Create memorable images. Help motivate others.  Just my 2 cents on all this craziness.

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NaNoWriMo Day#19: Catching up on a Stormy Day.

19 11 2016

Weather: Went from the upper 60s to low 30s overnight. Gale force winds today, with rain/snow/ice mix. The lakeshore is howling at us. Seems apropos. 

Here’s a great shot of the lake today, to give you scope. (Credit Joshua Nowicki)
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Have been writing, but haven’t been updating. Things in RL have been interfering with that. Also, mentally I’m kind of drained. Actual stress and online stress (mostly political related) have reached fever pitch, so I stepped away for a bit. Work and family and everyday stuff seemed like more workable stress sources. 

So, back on the writing horse, and getting a story epiphany this morning, which is always helpful. It relates to how the villain of the piece is portrayed. His motivations and arc finally fell into place. I knew what his actions would result in already, but getting to those results was a little murky. Captain Exposition was in control of the car again and things were starting to head into the weeds. Needed to get my authorial machete out and clear the path again. 

Here’s some apropos writing advice from the House of Wendig:
(considering I’ve had the soundtrack on a loop today. Because REASONS.)

FIVE STORYTELLING LESSONS FROM HAMILTON’S AMERICA

In case you don’t know what the article is referencing:
Hamilton’ s America (Trailer)

Things in this country seem scarily unstable at the moment. Make art. Write. Create. When everything is out of control or seems untenable… Make something. It helps.

 





NaNoWriMo Day#7, 8 & 9-Distractions abound

9 11 2016

Weather- Chilly, although the sun warmed us up to about 60º today. Not for long, as the 30s are popping up in the 10 day forecast. November is finally here. A bit of rain for Election day.  Temps definitely angling south.

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So I’m going to refrain from discussing my reaction to the election in any great detail. I’m saddened and worried, but I have no illusions how we got here. Best write up that I’ve seen was this: Don’t Panic . There is work to do. Which I will do once I sober up and uncurl from this ball. 😦

Back on topic. It’s been a week of distractions, though not all of them unpleasant. I’m smack in the middle of call ins for jury duty. (I have to check the website daily until Thursday. So far, I’ve been in the clear. Whew!) My sick kittie is doing much better now that she’s on meds for her condition. Work has been crazy, but that’s to be expected considering it’s 4th Quarter. (I work in insurance, in Employee Benefits.) The election was a big blow to the heart and stomach, which did derail my creative brain a bit. But I sat today and ground out the wordcount, albeit not my best work.

Wil Wheaton posted an excellent blog for NaNo, (Thanks to my FB friend Andrew for the link!) and I think it helps with the constant insecurity of seeking perfection on a first draft. It also has some good advice about not flagellating yourself over daily wordcount. (There’s a reason my posts have been a bit far apart. Feast or Famine, to be honest.)

Here’s the blog for those curious. Pages Upon Pages.

Back into the word mines tomorrow. I hope to get ahead again this weekend, to bolster the WC against Thanksgiving coming up. Hope everyone is doing okay out there! Here: Have some otters cuddling!
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NaNoWriMo Day #4, 5 & 6: Catching up

6 11 2016

Weather: Been a bit cooler; 40s to 50s through the day. Still feels like early fall and Not November. 

 

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Managed to escape Jury Duty on Monday, but the rest of the week will be a wait and see on a day by day basis. Didn’t post word count Friday because there wasn’t any. I had a fundraiser to attend at our studio so there was precious little time to write. 

Saturday found me up and running early to get my cat to the vet for some bloodwork (she has hyperthyroidism)  and then running other errands with the husbeast, followed by a grueling session of leaf raking. I swear the silver maples out front of our house dumped ALL THEIR LEAVES AT ONCE! We have thigh high piles of leaves in the street. (We have those awesome trucks that drive by and literally vacuum up the leaves.) 

So today I crammed a lot of writing in the afternoon, hoping to make up some lost ground. 

Didn’t do too bad.

Today’s Writing link is from Brain Pickings. (Check out their writing tag. Lots of fantastic articles there.)

Jennifer Egan on Writing, the Trap of Approval, and the Most Important Discipline for Aspiring Writers

Pull quote of note:
” You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly. You can’t write regularly and well. One should accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.”

Added bonus link- Another Chuck Wendig blog, because Chuck is wise and funny and very good at the advice game.
Control what you CAN control: GOOD WRITING (AND LIFE) ADVICE

See you again later…Hoping for better writing days ahead.





NaNoWriMo day #3-Doing the work

3 11 2016

Weather: Low 60s but cloudy,. Finally heading into the Fall Temps proper!

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Got a good second wind today, so I’m finally getting some structure under the flimsy paper skeleton I started with initially.

Today’s Motivational Quote image thingie:bbe6a2226f638fc68a91881054072ee9

That’s a good point. You can’t claim to be a writer if you don’t sit down and …you know…WRITE.

I’ve met a number of people who love to spin dissertations on the books they’re going to write, about the stories they want to tell. Not a one of them sits down and puts pen to paper or fingers to keyboards. It’s fine to have a story or even have a fantastic world created for yourself. But until you put commit that idea, however lofty or thrilling, to a tangible form, don’t call yourself a writer. Do the work. Even if you only write the beginnings. Or the middles. Write some dialogue. Describe the movie playing in your head when you think about these scenarios. It all starts with a few words and suddenly the dam breaks and you can’t seem to stop. Oh, you’ll have pauses. And dark days where the story seems to have stalled out, but if you stop thinking linearly and can let the current scene sit and move on to the next, you’ll be amazed how that missing part suddenly back fills when you sidestep the pothole.

Short post tonight. Very tired after the Cubs Win last night. See you on the flip  side.

And a reminder:

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