Down the Rabbit Hole

Holy moly, I didn’t realize until tonight that it’s been nearly two weeks since my last post. Gah! The main reason for my disappearing act is that I’ve been deep, deep, deep in my story world — I’m not sure how many words I’ve written because I’m not tracking it any more, but I know it’s been a lot. The ms. is 209 pages and nearly 64k words long. Most of what I’ve written in the last month is going to need overhauling, but I’m learning I’m okay with that. I’m starting to think I might be the kind of writer who needs to figure out her story by writing it. Who knew?

I’ve also been baking — the madness continues. I’ve made brownies and pancakes from scratch, (in the usually-make-it-from-mix category), and I’ve made lemon-cornmeal cookies and cornbread (in the revisiting-old-favorites category), and I’ve made orange-cranberry scones in (the baking-something-for-the-first-time category). So far, nothing’s been bad, and I’ve had friends willing and able to help me eat everything.

Of course I’ve been reading, too. Asking if I read is like asking if I breathe. I’ll try to post my thoughts on what I’ve read this weekend.

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KaBraiMo

Today began NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, where participants aim themselves at writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I can’t tell you how many of my writing friends do this every year, including this year. Because I’m a competitive soul who hates to be left out of everything, I’m always tempted by this. I’ve never done it, partly because my writing process doesn’t really lend itself to doing this kind of thing.

However…

I’m at a crossroads with the wip. I don’t know what happens next — I don’t even have an inkling. Well, I did figure out the meat of one scene, but other than that? Nada.

While I was mulling things over yesterday morning — which is when I got my one scene idea — it occurred to me that I could do my own version of NaNoWriMo. I could take the month of November and just write whatever: snippets of scenes, thoughts, ideas, whole scenes if they came… The key would be that I wouldn’t edit, I wouldn’t even read what I’d done. This is pure brainstorming: Katy Brainstorming Month, or KaBraiMo. (I hear echoes of “Ka-boom!” when I say it to myself, which I kind of like.)

One of the things that’s always stopped me from doing full-on NaNoWriMo is the fear — or maybe concern is a better word — that I’d write a whole bunch, but that fixing it all would take more time than if I’d followed my usual path. That it would be counterproductive.

The difference here is that I’m stuck. I can mull and think and write notes to myself, or I can just write whatever comes into my head, with the idea that even when you’re heading in the wrong direction, you’re not stuck, and I’m much more likely to recognize a wrong direction if I start heading toward it, than if I stand here and think, “Maybe…”

Anyway, I’ll see how it goes…

Scribbling Madness

Today was a day of scribbling madness — a quiet day at work meant I had the mental energy to write on my lunch break…and that means I got a lot of work done. 1,100 words, in fact, and I’m still writing. I’m kind of stuck at the moment, not entirely sure how to get done what I want to get done.

We’ll see what happens.

September 15, 2008: Goofing Off?

Today I didn’t write anything. I puttered around, cleaning my disaster area of a home office, and I went shopping and out to lunch with the beloved. Right now I’m kinda/sorta watching the Red Sox/Tampa Bay game.

Am I goofing off? And is it a bad thing if I am?

I don’t think I’m goofing off. I’m very close to working some stuff through the first part of the story that will impact the middle. I’m starting to write a new opening in my head — it’s not a huge change, just what Ilsabet is doing when the story opens, but that feeds into her agenda, the thing she’s trying to achieve.

But let’s say I were goofing off. Would that be a bad thing?

It depends. It depends on why I was goofing off, how long I continued to goof off, and whether or not “goofing off” actually served my writing. If today really was a goof-off day, I think it would be okay. I think having a clean, organized office, with a desk I can actually use is a good thing for my writing.

That being said, I need to write this week. I have the time and I should be ready. A little goofing off is a good thing; a lot is not.

September 10, 2008: Decisions, decisions

I did write a little bit on the bus tonight, but I mostly fretted over some stuff I’d already written. I think it’s too slow and it just doesn’t feel right, and I think it’s time to get out the machete and hack most of it out. I also think I need to bluntly write what’s happening, emotionally speaking: I need to tell, not show, right now. I don’t think I’ve really figured out Ilsabet’s emotional arc in this scene and I need to. This is a complicated and difficult scene, and I think I need to lay it out as simply as possible right now.

I think that’ll be tomorrow’s task.

Necessary Distortion

Since my last post, progress on writing the synopsis has been slow but steady. The slowness comes from having to boil what happens down to its clearest essence, while retaining the heart and spirit of the story. I have to think hard about what’s truly important and what relates most to the central storyline. And this is only a draft — I may finish and realize that I’ve been too ruthless in paring things down.

One thing I’ve realized is that a synopsis is inevitably a distorted version of the complete, full story. It has to be. In condensing a novel in all its complexity to a narrative that’s as short as it can be, a lot of stuff has to be jettisoned, and that changes the shape of what remains.   More

Ruthlessness

One of the hard parts of being a writer is that sometimes you have to be utterly ruthless with yourself and your work. Yesterday, I cut the so-called last scene out of the manuscript. I saved it as its own file — I’m not entirely sure it doesn’t belong, so no need to waste it.

But I’m pretty sure, so out it had to go. I actually dithered over it for a while — I didn’t want to lose the words. After struggling so long to make any kind of writing progress, it’s hard to make myself go (apparently) backwards. That’s where the ruthlessness kicks in. The scene almost certainly doesn’t belong, and having it hang around at the end of the manuscript meant it was harder to find where I’d left off. Instead of just going to the end, I’d have to remember — usually incorrectly — what page I’d been on when I quit.

So, even though I really didn’t want to lose all those words, I cut the scene. There’s a part of me that gets a little sad when it noticed that I went from 27,360 words to 25,299, but I mostly ignore that. Instead I look at the daily totals, the ones that show me I’m perservering, and continuing to work at it. That’s what matters.