Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Spreading the love

I forgot to link back to Misha who gave me the award.  Sorry about that!

I am spreading the love to the following people.
Laughing Wolf
Michael Offutt

Thanks for being interested.

I got an award!

I got a pretty award!  Look:

So now I have to answer the following questions:

1) Are you a rutabaga?
2) Who is your current crush?
3) Upload a heartwarming picture that makes you smile.
4) When was the last time you ate a vine-ripened tomato?
5) Name one habit that causes other people to plot your demise?
6) What is the weirdest, most-disgusting job you've ever had to do?
7) Where da muffin top at?
8) What author introduced you to your genre?
9) Describe yourself using obscure Latin words.

Please see the answers below:
1) Are you a rutabaga?

Am I a Brassica napus? Not last time I checked.  I am neither yellow, nor round.  I am not even buried in soil.  And yet, I have been wrong in these matters before.  I defer to the greater knowledge of the organising committee.

2) Who is your current crush?
Ice.  With lemon peel and strawberries.  And a dash of Klein Konstantia (Small Constantia) muscadel.

3) Upload a heartwarming picture that makes you smile.

4) When was the last time you ate a vine-ripened tomato?

All tomatoes are ripened on a vine up to a certain point.  The last tomato I had was certainly ripened to an edible stage on a vine.  The rest, the part that happens in the cooling chamber, is just chemistry.

5) Name one habit that causes other people to plot your demise?
Just one?  I finish other people's  sentences.  But that's just because I'm smarter than them and when I say it, it has more credibility.  Mwuhahaha!

6) What is the weirdest, most-disgusting job you've ever had to do?
I had to wash the plastic sheet the baby-ish ostriches slept on.  It was a crappy job.

7) Where da muffin top at?
Muffin top?  I don't know nuffin about no muffin top.  Go to Dreary Lane, there you can find a related person who might know where to find the top of the muffin.

8) What author introduced you to your genre?
J.R.R. Tolkien (duh), C.S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett, Oscar Wilde.  To name a few.

9) Describe yourself using obscure Latin words.
Urderousmay gainstay eoplepay howay inkthay atthay ancay elltay emay ymay objay.

Monday, 8 August 2011

I have an idea

A shiny new one apparently.  And it is both exciting and getting me down.

I sometimes wonder when I'm going to get on with it.  You are probably quite bored with me falling around every other week to a different new story.  Every time I am SO super excited about it.  I get my knickers in a knot just thinking about it.  It is new, it is shiny and it is so awesomely super cool.  For a little while at least.  Then it starts petering out and eventually it dies of starvation.  Lovely aint it?

I don't suppose I am the only new writer who experiences this.  And I don't even think it is a bad thing.  For one thing, how terrible would it be to have a new idea and not be excited about it?  Would you ever actually write?  So yes, the excitement of a new idea is paramount.  But what do you do when you get around to the not-so-exciting part?  The part where you have to sit down and plan, or at least think about what you are writing?  The excitement starts to die off.  What then?

I think I might have found the elixer of life for my writing at least.  Don't plan, don't even think.  Just write.  To start with, anyway.  Obviously later you will have to plot, think, measure twice, cut once.  But for now, to start with, I just write.  No thinking "is this a good name?" not even thinking if your setting or story is good.  Right now I'm like "what story?"  Yep.  No story, just writing.

You're probably thinkin why I only now realise this.  But the truth is that I've been so caught up in writing the right story (and that is very important and still very high on the list of priorities) that I forgot to practise writing.  Just writing for the heck of it.  I used to love just stringing together a bunch of words and seeing what comes out the other side.  Somewhere I lost that.

I couldn't get to writing my main work seriously becasue I couldn't remember what it is like to write creatively.  Everything I wrote was ordered and structured "just right" but all in all quite useless.

I love my shiny new idea.  I love it to bits.  It is nonsensical, silly and stupid.  It will probably never be published.  But it keeps me entertained and somewhat sane.

Do you write something silly or off topic sometimes?  Or do you focus on your main WiP and keep going at it?  How do you keep focus?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A fangirl goes "squee!"

I am a Lord of the Rings fangirl.  More so than an Assassin's Creed fangirl.  I nearly hijacked a blog's comment section.  I realised my mistake.  But to satisfy my need to blog about my favourite book (and to un-officially take part in the Novel Films Blogfest), I would like to continue the discussion.

Please go read Misha Blog "Novel Films Blogfest Part 2: What makes a good adaption?"

It should give you a better idea what I'm rambling about.

"Nice post!  But I think you left out one of the book/movie combinations that should always be mentioned.  Maybe I'm biased...  "

Maybe?  I like lying to myself it seems.

The Lord of the Rings fall into the same category as The Chronicles of Narnia when it comes to movie adaptations.  The book is written is such exquisite detail that you can't go wrong if you follow it closely.  Great descriptions of breathtaking views and of clothing and armour in the minutest detail.  The filmmakers spent quite a lot of time perusing The Lord of the Rings and other books by Tolkien concerned with Middle-earth.  It is to their credit: it took seven years to film all three movies.  And they did an excellent job.  From the level of detail in the movies you can see that they took it very seriously.  It was truly a job well done.

And yet Peter Jackson decided to move away from the book at some points. For example, in the movie Faramir takes Frodo to Osgiliath (on the way to Minas Tirith to take the One Ring to his father, the Steward of Gondor).  In the book it does not happen because Faramir states "I would not take this thing if it lay by the wayside".  Jackson had a good reason for doing this.  In the book it is made clear that Faramir is very different from his brother, who tried to take the Ring by force.  It is a very important sub-plot in the book.  However, it would be impossible to create a sub-plot of the same strenth in the movies without extending the already lengthy movies (about 12 hours in total) quite a bit more.  The problem then arose that the Ring is a powerful seductress.  How is it possible that a man would just say "nah, not for me"?  Without the backgroun in the book, the movie had to make a different plan.  And it all worked out all right: Frodo still went on his journey and completed his quest.  He just took a bit of a different road to get there.

Did it lessen the story?  I think it did, actually.  But not in such a way that I don't like the movies.  I love the book, and I read it once a year.  And I love the movies.  I love them for different reasons, though.  The book I love because it is an absolute masterpiece of writing.  I love the movies because people spent such a long time with the sole purpose of carrying accross a much loved story as faithfully as possible.  They made the movies in honour of Tolkien, not despite of him.

The things in the movie that I disliked was thoroughly made up for.  There are certain passages, sometimes whole paragraphs in the movie that are direct quotes from the book.  The same detail that is in the book is carried over to the movies.

I dream of writing a book that will have the same impact on movie makers one day.  The Lord of the Rings is a book with no equal.  No-one can improve on it.  Jackson and his team didn't try to.  I think that is what goes wrong with adaptations.  People think they can make the movie better than the book.  Maybe they can.  In this case, they didn't have a chance.  Well done to them for not trying.

Do you aspire to write a book that can be made into a movie?  Does that influence your writing style at all?

On a side note, how/where do I find out about these blog fests?  I hate getting on the back of the cart all the time.

Friday, 29 July 2011

I dare you to move

I recently re-discovered Switchfoot.  I know - not everybody's cup of mint-laced tea.  Or cyanide-laced tea, whatever.  Gotta love the almond flavour.  Anyway, getting the derailment out of the way.

Switchfoot has a song called I Dare Your To Move.  I kind of like the song.  I won't say it is my favourite song, not by a long shot.  But it is good and thought-provoking.  They probably meant it to have bearing on living for more than yourself, and not settling for second best.  And that is great.  But I started thinking that it is more than that.  If your parents were anything like mine, then you would have had a constant struggle with doing well enough.  At school, university, wherever, I was always supposed to be able to do better.  Hell, getting 85% average in my last year at school wasn't even good enough.  They didn't expect me to actually do that well, I could tell.  But even when I exceeded their expectations, they said "so why didn't you get 90%?"

As you can imagine, I am kind of screwed up because of that.  I am scientifically inclined.  I like to analyse requirements and meet them.  Exceed them if I can.  But how am I supposed to meet or exceed expectations that are so fluid?  Not that that is the point of this post.

My point is this: what are your expectations for yourself?  What do you expect from your writing?  If you expect it to be excellent, it will be excellent because you will work had at making it excellent.  If you think your writing will be mediocre, that is what it will turn out to be.  Because you will work at it untill it meets your expectations.  And that is where it will stay.

I have realised that it is my responsibilty to set my expecations where I want them.  They don't have to be realistic.  But "if you shoot for the moon, you may land on the stars."  There's a reason why something becomes a cliché, by the way.

A final word on my academic exploits.  After seeing the reaction to my high school results, I stopped giving a stinky rat's ass about my marks.  I passed all my subjects the first time around.  I studied hard but it stopped ruling my life.  Why would I try my utmost to meet other people's expectations if it shifted all the time?

Other people's expectations of you can break you or it can help you gain the highest step.  I was so blessed to hear how some friends of ours encouraged their daughter to do what she loved.  She loves to write and they encouraged her to write.  She recently won a national essay writing comeptition hosted by the US embassy in South Africa.  She is 16 years old.  She won the competition.  She got to meet Mrs Obama, she is lauded everywhere as an awesome writer.  I am so proud of her.  More than that, I am proud of her parents.

I guess what I'm trying to say is be careful who you listen to.  Some people have good intentions but bad execution.  It hurts.  But don't let that stop you from being the best you can be.  If you are one of the really lucky ones like Carla, be very grateful that the people who surround you and have influence on you are encouraging you and building you up.

After all of this, I want to say one thing more: it does not matter if the people around you help you or harm you in your writing.  Or in anything that you set your mind to doing.  Your future is in your hands.  If you don't work at it, nobody is going to do it for you.  It's up to you.  Take God's help and input.  At least you can be sure that He has only the best advice.

I dare you to move.  I dare you to go out there and live above the expectations people put on you.  Even if those expectations are great, don't be limited by that.  Set your own expectations.  Go for it.  Move.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

It's time to be honest

I'm sorry for anyone who read the half of this post that was up earlier.  I had a bit of posting problems.  I see the post ended in half a sentence too.  I'm fixing that...

This weekend I attended a women's conference organised by our church.  A lot of things fell in place for me today.  Things about my life and things about my story.  I want to share some of it with you.

I have served God for most of my life.  I credit Him with everything I have, most of all my talent to write.  I have always written.  Not always on paper and not always structured.  But there have always been stories.  It's just that I never felt fulfilled in my writing. It never had a purpose beyond who I was.  That frustrated me immensely.  I always wrote for myself, to please myself.  Now I have found my purpose.  A seed that has always been inside me germinated today.  Today I know why God gave me the talent to write.

Human trafficking is a big problem all around the world.  It is abhorrent that one person can abuse and sell another for profit.  It is modern day slavery.  It is the evil of our society.  And God wants to put a stop to it.  He has a plan and I am part of it.

My story has a new purpose.  I realised that what I thought it was for was totally wrong.  I know that I don't have my talent for nothing.  I was selfish in my writing.  You will remember how I went on about it being MY writing and I will write the way I want to blah blah blah.  Whatever.

I also realised that I was trying to write in my own strength.  I was doing it my way without help from anyone.  If someone gave me advice I would listen, but I would still do it my way mostly.  Most of all I never prayed about my writing.  It was like I thought God had nothing to do with it or that He wasn't interested.  I know now how wrong I was.  God is interested in every little thing that you do.  I just never gave Him the opportunity to give His input into what I was doing.  Silly me.

I have a new idea of what my writing is about.  I was right about the theme and subject matter.  I wasn't sure about the story, though.  I have a much better idea of where it should go.  I even have the title.  I am well on my way to writing a Masterpiece.  Anything I do that is for God's Kingdom WILL be a masterpiece.  And yes, this book is for the glory of His Kingdom.

I'm not trying to make my writing sound extra super special!  I just know that whatever I do for God will prosper.  It may be a small purpose, but it is a purpose nonetheless.

Have you found the purpose of your writing yet?  How do you keep that in mind while you write?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

I'm writing backwards

A while ago I my character was interviewed by Misha.  In that interview I learned that my character once lived on a farm in a house next to a river.  To me, that is the start of the story.  I learned that she was taken by my main antagonist from her mother when she was young, etc.  All of this was the start of my story, at least chronologically.  But Chronos was defeated with one fell swoop of the pen!  I have now written what I have thought would be the end.  But no, my entire plan was thwarted by an old lady.

We all know someone like that.  The kindest, sweetest old lady.  She never rushes, she is slightly bent over from age, she holds all the wisdom of the world in the palm of her hand.  And she is one of those "Why, no, dear.  There was nothing in the tea.  It was in the brownies." -people.  The scariest people on earth are those old ladies who seem so meek and frail but who are very, very dangerous.  Kind of like Gandalf.  Just female.

My MC has a granny.  A granny who knows everything about her.  A granny who will probably turn out to know how to do the Jedi Mind Trick better than Yoda.  This granny boldly kidnapped my MC and took her to her childhood home.  Against my wishes.  And I am thrilled!  I couldn't have asked for it any other way.  My planning is absolutely stuffed, but I am so excited to see where everything goes from here.

I don't even want to ask if this has ever happened to you.  If probably has, lots of times.  I know I am new at writing, but it is really cool. :)

So have you had the experience?  What happened  Did it make the story better than you first thought it would be?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

I rant!

I have ants in my pants.  I am getting so edgy that I can hardly sit still.  That feeling where you know that you’re not where you should be but you know you can’t move forward just yet.  I feel like I want to tear away and do something out of character, something crazy.  I want to take risks.  I want to go out there and change the world.  I want to make my mark.  I want to move.  I just don’t know where.

I write, I read, I cook, I study, I work.  I like learning new things.  I want to be challenged with new ideas.  I want new experiences.  I am tired of being content.  And yet what I am searching for is contentment.

I know that everybody fits somewhere.  I know that everything has its place but I feel like mine was moved.  I need space to grow and expand.  I want to expand.  Now.

I want to move and change and yet all I want is a quiet life.  I don’t want to climb mountains.  I want to be able to do what I love forever.  Yes, I want to be content.  But I don’t want to be complacent.  I don’t want to be satisfied with what I have just because that is what I have.  I know that there is something more out there; I just need to go out there and find it.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Being inspired

I started reading The Lord of the Rings again today.  Last time I read it only up to the second-to-last chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring.  This morning I picked up where I left off last time.  And Tolkien blows my mind.  Every.  Single.  Time.

I think any writer who has a block or who is not inspired to write should read LOTR.  It is by far the best-written, most inspired, best thought through, involved, in-depth (add more words of awe) book that exists.  Ever.  I know I might be a bit biased, but Tolkien is the most awesomest writer ever.  And I am not saying this just because I have read LOTR and maybe The Hobbit.  I have also read his Tales of a Perilous Realm and The Silmarillion and have The Book of Lost Tales is on my reading list.

This morning I *nearly* put down LOTR to go on writing my own story!  That is the power of inspiration.  I can't wait to finish work so that I can go on writing.  Or to continue reading.  Now, there is a bit of a problem...  How do I choose between reading the most awesome novel in the history of novels and writing my own?

Lucky for me my latest WiP is not a fantasy (at the moment *holds thumbs*).  I can't be too heabily influenced by the story line of LOTR.  And it is not really the story line that inspires me, I know that far too well by now.  What inspires me is the absolute unrelenting quality of the writing.  The flawless editing.  The years of love and lore that went into creating a masterpiece.

I am inspired to write.  I will write.  As soon as I can rip myself away from reading!

What about you?  What inspires you to write?  Who is your favourite author and how does his/her work influence your own?

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Writing differently

You all would remember that I blogged about being stuck in my story last time.  I had a big revelation about that today.  I wish to share with the class.

I was stuck writing for quite a few reasons which I will list like a good scientist (that even rhymes!)
  • I don't have much time for writing.  I often have to work through lunch or I have meetings over lunchtime, etc.  My lunch hour is my primary writing time, by the way.  In the evenings I am home with my husband and since I am relatively newly married, I enjoy spending the evening with him without having to actually do something.  So evenings are usually not a good time for me to write either.
  • I had a blocky thing in my mind with my story.  I don't know if it is psychological or not, but every time any story of mine manages to get underway, I lose interest.  Not in the story as such but more in the way I am writing it.  I get tired of writing in third person or I get bored with the setting of my story.
  • Miscellaneous reasons here.
 Well, to the solving of the problem.  I said right from the beginning that I am writing this story for me, not for anyone else.  So why was I writing by everybody else's rules?  Writing is first a creative exercise and then a scientific one.  Not the other way around.  And I've been approaching all my writing in a scientific way.  I blame my brain.  I always had the formula.  My story will be:
  • Set in X time period.
  • Have X number of characters.
  • Will be written in X voice.
  • Will be narrated by X.
  • And so on and so forth.
In my newest story I decided I want to write in first person because I thought is would be, quote, easier.  I decided to keep to a topic that I am well-informed on.  I decided to keep to a time period that I don't have to research.  You know, keeping things simple for this attempt at a debut.

Once would think that having a well-defined guideline on "how it should be done" would help getting the story written.  Not true.  My most productive writing sessions have been when I throw all the rules out the window and write what I feel like writing.  I mean, I am not writing to please anyone but myself.  Why then should I write in the socially acceptable manner?  Even more important, why should I write parts that I don't feel like writing? 

One day when I decide to attempt publishing (not a major goal for me at this stage), I will get down to writing the book in the acceptable way.  I realise that no publisher will publish the mish-mash I've got going at the moment.  I don't care.  I am not writing to be published.  I am writing for the fun of it.  For me.

I realise this might be a controversial topic (or not, who knows?) but what do you think?  How do you manage wanting to write in different styles at different times?

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Writing smells

Now that is a lovely ambiguous title...  But first I want to show you this:

I write like
Stephen King
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Oh yes.  I write like Stephen King.  Who would have thunk?  You probably know about this by now, but I just found out.  And now I am scared witless.

Anyway.  Writing smells.  Not like stinks, just writing about odours.  Mal- or otherwise.

Yesterday the train I take from work home was VERY full (once again).  I was nearly squashed in a closing door.  The oily odour snuck up behind me to click its slick claws into the back of my jacket.  Luckily I escaped from uncertain death and managed to land under a Chinese Food Armpit.  I was saved only by a delicate whif of rose scented beauty.  A hidden beauty, a small thing.  Salvation.

Metal upon metal.  Grinding sparks.  Burnt air.  Crisp, intriguing smells.  These are real-life things.  Trying to write without smells is like trying to paint without seeing.  Lincoln Rhyme (from Jeffrey Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series) would skewer any crime scene investigator who did not smell the crime scene.  That is, he would have if he wasn't a C4 quadriplegic.

Smells are what makes a story come alive.  If a story is well-written, you can do much more than see a character.  You can smell his fear, you can hear the grind of metal upon metal as the murderer pulls back the bolt on his gun.

Writing real is a difficult thing.  I am not pretending to do it right, or even do it at all.  I haven't written enough *smile*.  But I expect it from the authors whose books I read.  I want to be there.  I don't just want to read about it.

What pulls you into a story?  What makes it real?

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

I'm writing a bunch of nonsense

Have you ever had the experience that you know you need to write, but you don't know what to write about?  And frankly, you don't actually feel like writing?  I am having that at the moment.  After the interview with my character on Misha's blog, I have had a lot of great ideas for my story.  Exciting ideas.  But at the same time I feel somewhat overwhelmed by all of this.  I feel like the story I need to write is too big for me.

I decided to move away from young adult/fantasy.  I want to write something real, something that matters.  In part, that is what I am doing.  My story is largely about human trafficking.  It is something that is real, it is something that is a reality in most lives.  But right now I feel almost inadequate to write that story.  I have never been confronted with the reality of human trafficking myself and now I have the audacity to try to write a story about it.

My story is going well.  I have a main character and two supporting characters so far.  I have a very good idea of where I want the story to go.  The only thing is that I feel like I'm going too quickly, like I'm missing some part of the plot.  I shouldn't let this bother me, since I am only writing the first rough draft of this and would be able to add what is needed later.  I am a bit of a perfectionist.  That is my downfall.  It is a daily struggle to just let my story be and to not worry that I'm telling more than showing, going too quickly, missing out important parts, etc.

Even right now I feel like my writing is erratic and without purpose.  I guess this is what you would call a good rant.  And it is not even a good rantable topic.  I am just carrying on and on because I must write something.  Bugger.

I don't suppose there is anything else for it than to just write the part of my story that is stuck in my head.  The part that is keeping everything else from being written.  It would take like a paragraph to get in onto the page and to get going again.  My story is my block.  That just sucks big time.  Like I said, it feels like I'm going too quickly.  There is so much that still needs to happen before my story can really go on.  But I don't know what it is.

What do you think?  Should I just go on and write the bit that is keeping me bogged down?  Or should I write the thing that needs to be written even though I don't know what it is?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Meet James - 20 Questions

I wish to apologise again for my useless blogging schedule.  Internet problems...  Today will hopefully make up for it.

I have taken the plunge: I am interviewing my character.  Only, I am not doing it alone.  My dear friend Misha and I are interviewing each other's characters.  With some very interesting results.  That way we get a new view on what they are thinking.  You can see her interview with my character, Mia, on her blog My First Book.  Without further ado, please welcome James to our inner circle!

Hi James.  Welcome to I Need To Write.  I am going to start off by asking you some general questions.  Later we will get to the really meaty stuff.

How old are you?
I'm sixteen. Turning Seventeen next spring.

Where were you born?
In the family funded hospital in my home town. My father wouldn't settle for less than the best when it came to the birth of his children.

Do you like animals?
I guess I'm all right with them. My parents aren't really pet-people and I spend a lot of time at Grayston, so I never got to have any pets.

What is your favourite pastime?
*grins* Girls.

If you could take a holiday anywhere, where would you go?
I'd prefer to stay at Grayston. Rather than having to put up with my parents fawning over St. Ward the Wonderful. In fact, that's what I usually do.

Who is your best friend?  Be honest.
Ward. He came to live with us when we were five. So he's the closest I have to a brother. If I wanted a brother...

What really gets on your nerves?
The thought that I might be becoming more like my parents.

Have you ever wished anyone dead?
Yes, myself.

Have you ever been in love?
*laughs* when I was eight, I swore I'd marry Claire Hughes. But then she grew into a force of nature and I decided to spread myself around a little. *winks*.  Now I don't take the love thing that seriously.  What is love, anyway?

What would you rather have: a house or a car?
Definitely a car. I was hoping for a car for a while though. My parents came back with Callan instead. *scowls* Not very attuned to the needs of their offspring, my parents...

Describe yourself in three words.
I stand alone.

Now for the more interesting questions.  Hang on to your hat!

What is up with you and Ward?  I mean, seriously.  You tend to be an asshole.
*narrows eyes* You don't know me. Don't make judgements.

Am I supposed to be scared?
Am I supposed to answer?

It is no wonder Callan doesn't trust you.  I wouldn't.
*Sighs* Really. That's the best you've got? Callan is an inconvenience to me. I'm dragging my ass after her because the idiot got herself kidnapped. Right now I'm not exactly bothered with whether or not she trusts me.

Yeah, I guess.  But no-one forced you to go after her.  So why did you go?
None of your business. Any other questions?

Man, you are touchy.  Let’s try something else… 
*nods* OK.

Do you expect to have trouble when you get back to the "real" world?
Probably. Skipping school without permission can lead to anything from detention to expulsion.

But if you managed to save Callan, won’t you be a hero?
Who knows? Right now I can't even find her.

She is lucky to have someone like you.
It's my fault she ended up kidnapped.

Do you blame yourself?

Did you try to stop it?
No. I wasn't there at the time.

Then I guess we will have to wait and see why you blame yourself.  Thanks for the chat, James.

Please feel free to visit Misha's blog to check out her interview with my character, Mia.  Misha will be doing this more often, so if you have a character that you would like to get to know a bit better, or if you have some nice questions to ask one of her characters, go over there and introduce yourself.  Good hunting!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Writing in first person

Now that I have my new story up and running (and I love it!) I decided to write it in first person, since this is the recounting of how things happened.  Only, now I am having a spot of bother with getting rid of telling sentences and using showing ones.  The way I write my story is like the MC is telling the story to someone else after the fact.  My previous story was riddled with telling sentences and I tried to extradite them as far as possible with moderate success.  Now I do not know how to handle showing vs. telling in this first-person account.

If any of my readers know how to handle this, please tell me!  I am brand new to writing in first person.  I am pretty new to writing creatively as a whole.  So any advice in this regard would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, 17 June 2011

I know!

Firstly, I want to apologise for my patchy blogging this week.  It was a hectic one.

I know what I want to do!  A big thank you goes out to Misha for helping me figure this out and think it through.  Thanks, my friend.  You're the best there is.

So now that I know what I want to write (although I'm not telling yet), I just need to start again.  This is harder than I expected.  I have to think up almost whole new characters.  At least this time I decided to have only one Main Character.  Last time I had two (that I know of).  It should make it a bit easier to focus on only one character and her experiences.  Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.  We'll see.

One more thing I need to decide on: who is my target audience?  I can write this story for YA, but then I will feel inclined to soften some of the scenes somewhat.  In other words, instead of my MC being a rape victim, she might be a forced labourer.  These aren't really major things that will change the essence of my story too much but it certainly will have an effect on where the story goes.  It's the Butterfly Effect - I never know what the concequences of my actions are going to be.

Let us start again.  There is nothing new in this world but I have a good feeling about my story.  It seems new, fresh.  You will remember that I complained about the recycled nature of my previous WiP.  I have no such qualms with this one.  I am excited.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


I had a lovely moment just now.  I very nearly deleted EVERYTHING of importance from my WORK computer.  Indeed, I did lose my yWriter files.  My Work in Progress.  I like to think that I am somewhat computer-savvy.  But it takes one wrong button (two in my case) to screw up a whole world.  Luckily I could retrieve everything again from a different location on my computer, even though Windows said "delete forever".  Stupid Windows.

Now I am at a crossroads.  I no longer have my chapter and a half that I have already written for my WiP.  I must start from scratch.  This is liberating and terrifying at the same time.  I can fix all the mistakes that I made the first time around.  The new version should be much better.  But at the same time I am afraid that I will not be able to keep to my original (and awesome) story idea.

I have so many options now.  Will I just rewrite what I had already written?  Will I start completely differently and keep to my original story idea?  Or will I write something completely different?  I have been toying with the idea of changing my story's period and setting somewhat.  A lot.  I did not want to do it before because it would have meant rewriting what I had already written.  Surprise surprise, I need to do that anyway now.  So do I want to keep my original story idea but incorporate the changes I was considering?

So many decisions to make.  So little time.  I guess I will have to just start writing again and see where my imagination takes me.  I do like plotting just a bit.  But the plot (such as it was) stays essentially the same.  It is just the supporting external factors that would change if I decide to change my period and setting.  Although I might be very naive and in the end everything will be different.  That is just a risk that I must take.  It makes the idea of rewriting a bit more enticing, though.  Who knows what will happen?

Have this ever happened to you?  That you lost everything you've been working on?  What did you do?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Finding time to write

Life gets really really busy sometimes.  I feel like all I do right now is wake up in the mornings, go to work, come home, and sleep.  I guess in reality it is not that bad.  When I get home from work in the afternoons I am usually very tired from a long commute in the car with terrible traffic, etc etc etc.  I know, big excuse for not writing.

I find that my one-hour lunch is not nearly enough for everything I need to do.  I need to organise my life outside work during lunch, write my blog during lunch and write my WiP during lunch.  In the mean time, I'm trying to relax enough to get on with the rest of the day.  All of it in one hour.  Not fun.

so when do I find time to write?  Since I am a newling writer, it is very tempting to think my WiP is not very important, it can wait and I will find time later on.  But I've tried that before and it never works.  If I start thinking that way, I never get around to writing my WiP again.  Even if it is a good, entruiging story.  I just let it slide.  That just sucks.

Within the next few days I will probably start taking the train to work.  It will mean almost three hours of commute a day.  The train is not the best place to try and work on a laptop, so I will need to write by hand if I am going to write on the train at all.  But it is a good time to write or read.  Yes, even reading has taken a back seat.  I'm reading Jeffrey Deaver's Carte Blanche, the new James Bond novel.  It is an awesome book, one of the best.  But I can't find time to read.  That is how busy I am.

I will need a new strategy to cope with my time-consuming life.  Maybe I should just cut down on all the junk that takes up my time.  Focus on the important things like my studies and my writing.  And my home life.  Most important of all, my home life.

How do you cope with a hectic lifestyle?  How do you make time for writing in between everything else?

Friday, 10 June 2011

A change from the usual

I am not only a fiction writer, I am also a copy writer.  This means that I write pretty mundane stuff sometimes.  Ghost writing is a part of my work.  All of you would understand what it is like for me to write someone else's or even my own work just in a different way, with different words.  It is not exactly conductive to a creative experience.  I tend to get a little frustrated when I am asked to ghost write something.  I feel the same kind of frustration when I have been writing the same (creative) thing for a while.  Luckily there is a cure that works for both my job and my creative writing.

If I've been focusing on poetry for a while, I often start to feel like my poetic creativity takes a nose dive.  Big time.  I can't rhyme, and my non-rhyming poems just plain suck.  So what I do is to write something completely different.  I would write a long, plainly worded letter.  Or I would write a piece of prose that is focused on a completely different topic.  If I was writing poetry about the seasons, I will write prose about darkness and light or even an interesting newsworthy article.  I have written many philosophical essays that are probably very badly thought through and that make no sense.  But it was to write something different. That was the whole point.

This need to write something different is what drove me to start a blog.  Writing through my writing problems often lead to a solution, if only because I am not writing my WiP.  Writing something else has the power to clear your mind, give you new perspective.  I don't mean start a new novel if you are bored with your old one.  That probably won't help at all.  Write something completely different.

What about you?  Do you write the same thing all the time?  How do you clear your head and get perspective?

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Sharing some great music

I am Afrikaans speaking but I am not a big fan of Afrikaans music at all.  There is one band that is worth listening to, though.  The band is called Kaleidoskoop.  I am sharing a video of their one song "Bang Jan Dooie Man" or loosely translated "Scared man, dead man".  It is a play on the phrase "rather scared than dead".  The song is about taking your chances, doing what you would like to do.  Don't be afraid: go out and get it.

Bang Jan, Dooie Man from Pierre F Lombard on Vimeo.

Why do I share this?  What does this have to do with writing?

In my experience writing is one of the things that people rather don't do than do wrong.  I know this is basically what I said yesterday.  But it is something that was brought home to me quite powerfully the past while.  There are so many reasons not to do something.  "I am not qualified", "I am no good at it".  In the past, I would have agreed that those are good reasons.  I know that sometimes we should not do something because it is a really bad idea but there are so many things we miss out on because we are too afraid, or too caught up in the expectations people have of you.

One of the lines in the song translates to "Do you only follow the well-trodden path, marked with road signs, where others went before you?  Or do make your own path where your heart leads you?"

My heart leads me to write.  For me it is great, uncharted waters.  It is really scary to do it.  But that is no reason to not do it.  Actually, it is the main reason why I should do it.  It is a challenge.

Go ahead, challenge yourself.  What are you afraid of?

Do you sometimes feel like you can just give up because it is too hard?  What do you do to keep going?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

What to write?

My biggest problem with writing is not the writing itself.  My biggest problem is with WHAT to write.  I seems simple enough, right?  No, not at all.  In the dark recesses of my mind there are many different stories, scenes and possibilities looming, just waiting to pounce.  These ideas are extremely cruel sometimes.  They only show themselves once I am well on the way with a completely unrelated story.

So I have been having some second thoughts about my little brand new Work in Progress.  It occurred to me that many of the ideas I have are not my own at all.  They are snippets from someone else's great idea.  My characters are based on other people, my plots have been done before and my great villain is just another rat.  When I realised that my work seems reduced, reused and recycled, I wanted to lose all hope in writing.  I mean, what is the point of writing, if you are just writing crap?

Luckily the dump I was in lasted for less than a day.  At some point I knew that I could not stop writing.  I did not want to stop writing at all.  Even if what I wrote was crap, I liked it.  I liked the process, the challenge and the jubilation at being able to do what I wanted.

Have you ever felt like you could just stop writing becuase you are writing badly?  That is no reason to stop!  I always write badly.  I am a scientist, so all my writing is focused on getting the point accross with as little hassle as possible.  I am also a technical writer.  There is no room for writing flowery descriptions in technical writing.  This affects my creative writing.  I cannot change who I am.  I cannot change the kind of writer that I am.  And it is nobody's bloody business if I write the way I write.  I am not writing premarliy to publish, I write because I am a writer, for no other reason.

I am going to try getting some exercise in writing for the sake of writing.  No plots, no predefined characters.  Just write whatever comes out of my head.  That is the most fun way to write, anyway.  And tonight, when I get a chance to write for my WiP, I may be able to show, not tell.  Maybe, just maybe, I can write well.  But if I don't, so what?  Who is going to care?

Do you also feel like you are writing badly?  How do you manage the frustration?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

My first post . Welcome to me!

Welcome to me!  I am the most interesting person ever in the world.  I will prove it.

My cat's name is Q.  He is the Darth Vader of all kitties.  I have read The Lord of the Rings 5 times.  OK, I know there are people who have done way better than that.  I don't care.  I live in the most beautiful city in the world.  It has a big flat mountain on one side and the ocean on the rest of the sides.  I like playing Assassin's Creed for PC.  I have run and climbed on the walls of Jerusalem during the Third Crusade and I have climbed to the roof of the Vatican in the early 1500s.  At the same time I make war with the Orcs of the White Hand.  Meanwhile, in another parallel universe, the hero is saving the damsel in distress from rats with toothpicks.  I really, truly love fire.  Especially fire that appears out of thin air.

My mind is a dagerous, volatile place.  It spontaneously combusts at the worst possible moments.  It keeps me occupied.  It keeps me interested.  And it keeps the people around me somewhat scared and in awe.

I am writing my first serious book.  I have a mentor who suggested that my blog be more about me.  I can't think why ;)

This blog will follow my epic journey through writing my book.  I will often blog about my writing experience, but not always.  You will get glimpses into my own little world.  The world I have been creating since I was very little.  Most of all, I will strive to be pathelogically honest in this blog.  Or I won't blog about it if I can't be honest about it.

Welcome to my world.  May you linger here in peace, in awe and maybe with some mirth.