Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 15 of writing and the dreaded 3rd week

Ah, write, write, do not stop, keep going...

My advice to anyone who is starting to write...don't start when you are also starting to work at a new job...too hard.  Give the new job at least a month.  You need time to settle.  I needed time to settle...

OK, but I think I am back on track.  Word count is still at 8,000.  Not good for the beginning of the third week.  BUT I have had time to be with my characters at one of the most critical times in my own life and I think they are helping

I am still afraid to put anything about the details of the story online.  However, I can say this:

It is the story of Kyrie, a girl who has almost every nook and cranny of the cobblestone street that runs through the middle of her town, paved into her mind.
It is also a story of hope, courage, pride, love and of scary things that we can’t see.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 9 of writing and the book before the book

Instead of editing, I am taking some NaNoWriMo advice and charging'll keep my word count up ;-)   According to "No Plot, No Problem" the second week is often a time when people get tired of their characters.  They start to "cheat" and want to start from scrap.  I fortunately do not feel that way but it is nice to be prepared...

To give me something to focus on, I decided to compile notes, pictures and sketches that will "remind" me of the book that I am writing...Since I can not write about what the book is about yet, here is a page out of my notebook:
My characters will have their own profile pages too.  
I can carry this notebook around and write memos if anything "comes to me" while I'm out and about.  I love pasting things to my journal so the process is something I like to do. 
Kind of like a scrapbook!

word count: 7,523

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Days 7 and 8 of writing and the beginning of week 2

Days 5 and 6 were spent away from the keyboard but the time I spent in my mind was rather fruitful.  Although it was another tiring day at "the office" I managed to come home , make dinner, blog a bit and write.  

The "word for today" on day 7 was (according to the widget on my blog) grit.  Besides (noun) coarse dirt or sand, or (verb) clench, it also means fortitude and determination and can mean fearlessness too.  

It was a fortune cookie moment for me when I saw the word grit.
So, I grit my teeth and rearranged my thoughts and continued writing.  I did not get caught up with the original count goal but my adrenaline has  been pumping harder as the story outline is finally being sketched.  

Chapter 6 of No Plot, No Problem (week 2) says a lot but if I get into the details here it might ruin it for some people who haven't read the book.  So, I'll just say that according to Baty, it is OK that you don't have a plot by week 2...  

Now, this makes me raise my eyebrows so high they hit the sky.  I think the point is to get all that writing that was bottled up in you, out there, regardless of quality.  I must admit it was like turning on the water at a rusty spigot and having all of the old brown water spew out.  It is icky, but since I have left that Edit Monster at the gate it doesn't really bother me!  After a while the water should start to clear up...I hope.

However, for me, going on any further without a plot seems outrageous.   I am going to add a little bit if my own "wisdom" here and take a day to write my mind map for the story.  My word count is at a little over 6,000 (not good for the end of day 8 but I still feel comfortable.)

I'll try to add a bit of my mind map and my latest word count by the end of today, day 9 of writing the "strangest book ever".

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 5 & 6 of writing, or not writing...

Like I posted on my regular blog, my new job requires a healthy mind and soul, both of which I am not so confident about any more...  The first day at the new office was actually a vampire disguised as an office... sucking the energy out of me slowly as the day went by.  


So that's my excuse for not writing anything yesterday or today.  I was tempted to read the chapter for the "second week in writing" of "No Plot, No Problem", but since it is technically not the second week, I have postponed it.

However, I did read this very interesting blog by literary agent Nathan Bransford about characters. It was like the universe answered my question about the woman who popped up on my radar during Day 4.   To quote myself, I ask "But this new character...what does she want?"  

It turns out that was precisely the question I was supposed to ask.  If she doesn't answer me, she will go into my "embryo" file.  I have a suspicion that she will answer me.  Like she is ready to burst out "Alien" style.  I feel it in the area where my lungs are.  (Have you ever had that feeling before?)  

So what happens to the original main character?  The little girl who wanted to live in the town with cobblestone streets and a house wrapped in vines?  Let's wait and see...

"Who are you?" said the Caterpillar.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 4 of writing

Ah, I have reached the "required" number of words for the 4th day.  My count is currently at 5,052.  I should be happy but I feel a little dizzy. Another character has popped up.  Out of the blue.  I don't know what she is doing on the pages I write now.  She has nothing to do with the story I've been telling for the past 3 days, as far as I can tell.  The town I wrote about the other day is working out nicely.  It is a nice town.  But this new character...what does she want?

I see the road ahead of me, but I have no idea where it is going to lead....
I haven't been this scared in a long time.  Eeek.

Day 3 of writing

Although I can't go into the details I will try to post on my progress as the adventure unfolds.

My main character (MC) did not like the little village I put her in.  It was too dusty and "old".
I don't even know why I wrote "village", it just popped out but since we are not supposed to edit, I kept going.  She raised her eyebrows, shook her head sideways, took my hand and gave me a tour of her "town".  My MC now lives in a town.
A small town, but a town nonetheless.

She finds something on the outskirts of the town looked just like a building I had found about a month ago on my excursion in Kitano, Kobe...this is what it looks like:
This is what I saw when I peeked through a wooden gate...
and this is what my MC  had seen as well.  I had no idea she was already traveling with me.

Yesterday was a doozy so I didn't get to write, which is a bad BAD thing to should NOT break the flow.  However, what is done is done.  So today the journey must tread forward for about 2,500 words.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Time Finder Day 7 (Saturday) and the end of my time finder week

morning: slept in, watched TV
afternoon: ate lunch, read book and slept
evening: write, wrote, wrote
night: dinner, TV, wrote some more and blogged.

It is currently past 1 am so sorry for any typos...
but the last day of time finder week has revealed to me that the best time for me to write is in the evening and night.  
I work better by lamp...  Research is better done in the daytime, outside and in the sun...but the actual writing and piecing together of notes is done swifter after dark.
Also, the adrenaline rush I get from commuting home seems to put me into a better working mode.  Weird.

Word count for March 14th  is at 3,340.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Time Finder Day 6 (Friday) and leaving my edit monster behind for the first day of writing

9:00-10:00 Woke up, got ready for work, went to work.
11:20-3:20 Worked (1 hour lunch break: read "Territory")
4:00-6:00 Checked e-mails, net surfing, phone calls read books.
6:00-7:00 Cooked curry and read.
7:00-10:00 Did some writing and research.
10:00-11:00 Ate dinner, watched the news on TV.
11:00-12:00 Personal hygiene stuff and got some zzzzzzzs.

This day was Friday the 13th, and it it didn't disappoint.  Work turned out to be horrible.  I was totally tired out by my week and my brain decided to take an early day off.  I thought I would crash when I got home, but since the whole day brought me down, I just became reeeaaaallllly ..... slow.

However, I did start writing some background on my story (I will call this my map) all "came to me" as I was taking the train home.  My thoughts about my "failure" gave me the first line!  Whether I will use it in the final draft is something I will worry about several months from now.  
right now, for the first draft, we are supposed to leave our mind's "editing monster" at the gate. 

By leaving your edit monster behind while you are on your novel journey means:
that you can concentrate on pumping out the words.  

You are not supposed to erase anything you write no matter how bad you might think it is. 

(Baty suggests changing the fonts to italic or changing the colors to white so that you don't have to see what you wanted to erase.  That way you can still have everything included in your word count.)

So, with my 1,747 word map in hand, my edit monster left at the gate, I enter the world of "the strangest book ever" (the file name for my novel until I find my real title).  


Hey, what was that sound?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Time Finder Day 5 (Thursday)

7:00-8:00 Woke up, got ready for work, left for work.
9:00-4:30 Work, work, work.  Hardly got to sit down.  Got so thirsty talking the whole day I felt                            like punching someone. Ngh.
5:00-6:30 Checked e-mail, did some house work.  Chased pigeon off veranda AGAIN.
6:30-7:00 Phone calls.
7:00-7:30 More e-mails...blogging...surfing....
7:30- 9:30 Finally started reading  "Territory" by Emma Bull.
9:30-10:30 Cooked dinner and ate.  Way too late for dinner time again...
10:30-11:10 Personal hygiene stuff
11:10- Currently typing this while watching late night news and am about to fall asleep at the                       computer...good night...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

my "Magna Carta"

I will not list my whole Magna Carta but here are a few things that will be on my to-do list:

1) quirky characters  (Chris Baty has the same thing on his list)
2) miracles
3) an unassuming hero
4) cultural diversity or issues pertaining to it
5) sounds

Now, I know he also advises us to write "everything that bores or puts you down" when reading. (the evil sibling Magna Carta.)
It seems that this idea comes from his experience that the worst of out literature nightmares have a way of creeping into our writing.  This "never do list" would be useful for a reality check.  

However, I have a belief in words that advises me not to write the worst... so I am now tearing up the list that I wrote....there

If I leave a list like that around, it will effect me more than my "to do list".  

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Time Finder Day 4 (Wednesday)

5:00-6:00 Woke up...tried to wake up and get ready for work. Left for work.
7:00-11:00 Worked.  (Had a ball by the way.)
11:00-12:00 Checked e-mail, blogged...almost fell asleep at the keyboard.
12:00-2:00 Phone calls and lunch.
2:00-5:00 DVD time!  (Bones)
5:00-7:30 Research, fell asleep, wiped away the drool and sleepy eyes, checked e-mails.
7:30-8:00 Watched news, checked e-mail again...more phone calls.
8:00-9:00 Read more manuals...argh.
9:00-10:00 Made and ate dinner.
10:00-11:00 Watched TV
11:00-11:30 Personal hygiene stuff , late night news on TV and then catch some zzzzzzzs...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Time Finder Day 3 (Tuesday)

7:00-8:15 Woke up and got ready for work.
8:15-5:30 Went to work - worked - went grocery shopping - came home.
5:40-6:30 Checked e-mails, web surfing.
6:30-7:30 Read books, manuals and other stuff...
7:30-8:30 Cooked and ate dinner.
8:30-9:30 Personal hygiene stuff, TV then sleep...gotta wake up early tomorrow.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Step 3 ... finish reading section 1 of the guide book

In chapter 3 we are given a list of things to have on hand when writing.  Different foods and beverages as well as writing tools.  Also have handy things such as reference books.  I think I will choose "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr. 

His advice about music made me want to give someone a high-five.  I am a soundtrack person, totally.  Sometimes silence is a very potent sound but a good choice of music is like a vitamin.
Author Amy Tan has also commented about having a nice classical CD or movie soundtrack playing in the background when she writes.  My past experience in the music business gives me a wide variety to choose from.  So I am all set to go in this department.

Chapter 4, among other things is about the need to write out your "Magna Cartas".
One should be a list of what you think a novel should contain, and the other list is it's "evil twin" - what makes a novel worth flinging across the room.

Once I have made these two lists, I will be more or less ready to start my crusade.  However, I am still in the middle of my Time Finding Week. Tomorrow is also the start of the biggest week I've had in at least 6 months... I think I will try to get through this Time Finding Week first.... please bear with me.Dancing Bear Pictures, Images and Photos

Time Finder Day 2 (Monday)

8:30-9:00 Morning tea and TV.
9:00-10:00 Checked e-mail etc...
10:00-11:30 Chased pigeons off veranda, read manuals for work (argh).
11:30-12:30 Talked way to long on the phone with mother.
12:30-2:00 Lunch, business phone calls, web surfing/blogging.
2:00-5:30 Read manuals and books.
5:30-6:30 Web surfed while preparing dinner....
6:30-9:30 Ate dinner, personal hygiene stuff then all of a sudden....fell asleep like a baby

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Time Finder Day 1 (Sunday)

9:00-10:00  Woke up, made coffee, read a book.
10:00-11:00  Watched TV and got ready to go shopping.
11:00-3:00  Shopping and lunch in Osaka.
3:00-4:00  Fell asleep on sofa.
4:00-5:30  Net surfing, blogging.
5:30-8:00 Cooking etc. and ate dinner.
8:00-9:00 Watched TV.
9:00-10:00 checked e-mail, blogging.
10:00-10:45 Personal hygiene stuff.
10:45- Finishing this list and now will read till I fall asleep...good night!

step 2 ... start reading the guide book

"...not giving myself a deadline"  turned out to be the key to writing a book.
The introduction of "No Plot, No Problem" discusses what the author, Chris Baty, found to be necessary in order to get your book one month.
It turns out I wasn't the only one who thought that I should wait another 30 years to finish "my novel".  Waiting to be at an age full of wisdom and enlightenment is kind of silly...

He also reminds the reader that some of the best stuff gets done when you are really busy..."hectic pace forces you to type with a fleet-fingered desperation".  When I look back at my own "writing" I realize how true that is.  My best essays and reports were always done in a day or just a few hours before presentation.  The adrenaline rush would force me to focus on all the data that had taken weeks, sometimes months to gather.  When I take time to mull over words and expressions, I tend to get wrapped up in unnecessary details and end up with nothing worth turning in.

Then came a moment of zen.  I had just finished reading a book by Ray Bradbury, and here in this guide book Baty quotes him!  This has got to mean something right? 
"Your intuition knows what it wants to write, so get it out of the way."  I know what I want to write!  I know... I know... I do?

According to chatpers 1 and 2 here are a few things I need to do before I start my "Sparta writing month".

1) Make a deadline.  Preferably start at the beginning of a month so that you end with a clean adds drama and a feeling of accomplishment.  Which means I am already starting on the wrong foot because today is the 8th...oops.  

2) Aim for 50,000 words.  Apparently, a lot of great novels are pretty short.  The Great Gatsby and Brave New World are about the same length!  So, I don't have to aim for Wealth of Nations or Anna Karenina.  That's cool. 

3)Recruit family members and friends for husband is...watching TV right now.  I'll tell him later.  As for other family members and other words, you : consider told.
Baty also recommends bragging.  It is supposed to make me too embarrassed not to finish my book. 
... ... ...

My novel is going to be great!  I am going to be a novelist very soon.

Bragging : check stomach is starting hurt...

I have 7 more chapters to go AND I have some "homework".  Baty also advises that for one week at the end of the day you should write down everything you did.  This is for you to look at your week from a different perspective...sort of weed out the stuff that you don't necessarily need to do, like gawking at the TV for two hours a day or web surfing for 3 hours a day...It doesn't mean you quit this forever, it is just for the month you dedicate to reach this goal.

So, while I finish reading the book, I will also start this homework.  That will be my next blog entry, hopefully before I go to bed tonight.  (The author says to do this with a notebook and use highlighter pens and stuff, but I choose to embarrass myself from head to toe and do this online instead.)

Friday, March 6, 2009

step 1 ... buy the guide book

OK, here goes nothing.  

I have been a story teller all my life.  
From the first day of kindergarten I would come home to tell my mom "what happened at school today".  I would come up with some of the most outrageous stuff...I'm surprised my mom didn't slap me silly.  Well, she kind of did, but not for telling stories.  

I have written at least 4 chapters of 4 different books.  Never getting to the end.  The characters always seem to get fed up with me or I get bored...with my own stories!  I keep writing random stuff down in my countless number of notebooks, they are all so pretty...I even have some stuff saved somewhere on this computer.

It might be that I "know" they will not get published.  Not giving myself a deadline could be the problem too.  Either that or I am just not cut out for it....or maybe a new notebook.....?

Today, I went to my friendly neighborhood bookstore and the owner "made me" buy this:
It was published in 2004, so most people probably already know about it and the author Chris Baty, the founder of National Novel Writing Month.  I have been living under a rock for several years, so please do not scream at me.


Wow.... I just spent 10 minutes staring at the front page of the NaNo website.  They have been around for 10 years.  They have winners and stuff.  Well, I am not out to win an award...just yet.
My goal is to finish the darn thing(s).

Let's see, there are two sections, 9 chapters in all plus an Introduction.

Well, guess I should start...reading the book!  After I cook dinner and stuff.  
You know how things are.