Posts Tagged ‘fiction’
Thursday, November 1st, 2012
NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Thirty days to write 50,000 words.
One year ago today, I met some people who would soon occupy my every waking moment. Sometimes my sleeping ones, too.
They showered with me and ran with me and I felt bad when I had to do horrible things to them.
But that’s how it goes.
Because those people? Were my characters. I spent the month of November obsessed with my heroes. I’d stay up way later than I should, trying to get my thoughts on the page. By the end of it, I had over 86k words.
That was just the beginning.
I have spent the past year revising, editing, revising some more. I’ve written more first chapters than I can count on one hand. Maybe two. I have added and cut and changed the entire ending – more than a few times. I’ve agonized over words. I’ve wondered what more I could do, how I could up the tension, how I could make my characters more real.
I learned a lot. Mostly, that I have a lot to learn.
And now, on the eve of NaNoWriMo, my manuscript is complete. Ninety-two thousand, six hundred words.
That doesn’t mean I’m ready to start again today.
I need time.
Time to read. Time to ponder. Time to leave my manuscript as is and wait and see if someone – and by someone, I mean a literary agent – thinks it’s good enough to sell.
I’m okay with that. I don’t have the pull of it I’ve had over the past year, the constant deep-seated need to tinker and craft.
It’s time to move on, to break up with my characters.
To find new ones with whom to have an affair.
I have a few ideas. Maybe even resurrecting the story I played with my first time around with NaNoWriMo.
Just not this month.
Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
When I tell people I’ve written a manuscript, they often are impressed.
But I play it off. I say, “It’s no big deal” or “Anyone can do it” or I simply shrug.
Because if I don’t admit that it’s an ENORMOUS THING, then I don’t take ownership of it. Or have to admit that something I’ve poured my love and energy into and nurtured for so long is so important to me.
This weekend I attended a three-day Writers Digest conference up in Hollywood. Near the Walk of Fame. The conference featured a pitch slam – or, as one agent called it in a Freudian-esque slip, a “pitch slap.” Pitch Slam is like speed dating: you get three minutes with an agent to pitch your book. Three minutes to tell them what your book’s about and try to convince them they can’t live without it. Or, at least, pique their curiosity enough so they’ll ask to see some pages, otherwise known as a partial.
My friend Julie and I practiced our pitches til we had them down cold. We waited in line with 250 other nervous writers, including one guy who wore a Ben Franklin costume. The doors opened, and then it was like Loehmann’s the day after Christmas. Pushing. Shoving. Elbowing our way in and jockeying for position.
Okay. Not really. But it was crowded. And scary. Like putting your baby on the table and praying the agent would recognize it as the most beautiful, most perfect – and the most marketable – creature that ever existed.
And some of the agents asked me to send them my work.
The words I’ve spent over a year crafting, honing, editing, revising, editing, writing, rewriting. Late nights, early mornings. Following me into the shower, out on my runs, laying in bed at night.
What I’ve discovered, as I put the final spit polish on my pages and scour the Internet on tips to writing a synopsis, is completing a 94,000 word manuscript IS a big deal. Also? Not everyone can do it.
I did it, though. I did it and I’m proud of it. I’m proud of myself.
No matter what happens.
Friday, February 17th, 2012
In case you wondered what I’ve been working on for the past four months, here’s a teeny excerpt. This is the last time I wrote about them in this space. Lindsey has just, for the first time, watched Ryan work out at a baseball facility, doing basebally stuff. The post is a response to the Red Writing Hood prompt for today, which was to write a piece inspired by this picture.
Ryan was, as always, hungry, so we decided to have a late lunch. He pulled into a diner with a neon sign that read “EATS” in the window.
We settled into a booth and Ryan ordered a double cheeseburger with extra bacon, a large order of onion rings and a Diet Coke.
“Will that Diet Coke cancel out the 10 thousand calories you’re about to eat?”
“Absolutely,” he smirked. “So I owe you one. I know that wasn’t a lot of fun for you.”
“It was very enlightening.”
“Yeah? How so?” He took a huge bite of his burger.
“Well, I was going to say you’re pretty good eye candy, but with all that stuff on your face, it’s kinda killed that.”
He wiped the ketchup and mustard from his cheeks and chin with his napkin and grinned. “I have a big appetite,” he said, leering at me.
“Nice. Can you not be a pig for two seconds? Anyway, I could tell how much you loved being out there. That was cool to watch, to see that side of you.”
I picked at my salad while Ryan devoured his lunch. I used to wonder where he put all of it, but not after seeing how hard he worked out. I reached over and selected an onion ring, which I drenched in ketchup and ranch before taking a bite.
We were quiet as we finished eating. I put my napkin on my plate and took a last sip of my water.
“I can’t believe you quit,” I said.
“Quit what?” He leaned back against the booth.
His eyes narrowed. “I got hurt.”
“Oh, I know. I know you got hurt. It’s just, I see how much you love it, how much a part of you it is. It must’ve been like cutting off an arm.”
“Something like that.”
“The thing is…the thing is, I get it now. How sad you were when we met, even though I didn’t realize it, because I was all wrapped up in my own stuff. So I wanted to apologize to you because I probably wasn’t there for you when you needed me.”
Ryan looked at me a moment, then threw some bills on the table. “Let’s go.”
Thursday, January 26th, 2012
I used to think in blog.
Through the course of a day, something would happen and I’d think how it’d make for a great post. I’d even half-write it in my head if I wasn’t near my computer.
But now? Now, it’s different.
I click on “add new” and, too many times, I close the file without writing anything, or after deciding the few lines I’d banged out suck. My mind has been elsewhere. Specifically, on my fiction work in progress. And I wonder if my attention there is closing me off to what’s going on around me. Or if writing fiction makes it difficult to switch gears to blogging, if it’s too much of a brain suck to be left with anything original to say over here.
I find I have less time to sit and think about posts. My life is more about taking a quick instagram, or a couple lines on Facebook. It’s kept me somewhat involved.
Then, the other day, I started feeling sad. A little mopey. Disconnected. I think it has something to do with missing my time over here. Where I can just let my thoughts about parenting or something one of my kids said or my love of cherry jujube hearts flow. Where I can examine them and shape them and know that you’ll understand. You’ll get it. And then maybe you’ll share with me something that’s happened to you.
We have a give-and-take here, don’t we, that I truly value. So much so, I’m starting to realize how much I miss it. It’s not about the validation. Well, not entirely. For me, it’s really more about the connection.
I truly appreciate all of you who leave your words here and trust me with your secrets. I also apologize that this post is so self-indulgent. It was just something I wanted to get out.
Thanks for listening.
Monday, November 28th, 2011
Can we talk about how much I loved NaNoWriMo this time around?
For those of you who don’t know, November is not only time to grow a mustache (SO excited to see my aesthetician this week!) but is also National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write 50,000 words, the length of a novel, in 30 days – without editing.
This is not something you would ever submit to an agent. It’s basically word vomit. The point is to get yourself used to writing every day.
It took me about two weeks to reach 50k this year. Last year, I didn’t know if I’d make it. I barely crested the 50,000 mark with seven days to go. This time, I’m up over 86k words and have written three different endings. Because I figured I had the time since I’d hit the word goal so soon. And I wasn’t quite ready to let the novel go.
You might have noticed I haven’t been around this place much, nor anywhere else on the blogosphere. The BlogHer Writers conference I attended last month inspired me to really dedicate myself to writing fiction. So for this past month, that’s where I focused my energy.
It was awesome, in so many ways. And, also, terrifying.
I fell in love with my characters. Even when they made really bad decisions or hurt each other or acted like idiots. Which they did. They surprised me and infuriated me and made me laugh – and they also made me cry. They inhabited my thoughts and even when I was running or taking a shower or driving somewhere, I pondered what to do with them. It was as intoxicating as getting lost in a really good book.
As fun as it was to write them, it wasn’t quite as enjoyable to come up with the plot. It is definitely the area in which I struggle.
The truth is, I am humbled by the real writers who keep the plot line and all the sub-plots going throughout 200 pages – or more. I have so much to learn, so much on which to work, that I really see how ridiculous it was for me to think I could just write a book because, you know, I like to write.
Not even. I have no freaking idea what I’m doing.
So now I need to stop tinkering and let it rest for a bit. I’ll send it to a friend or two for a quick read, so they can tell me whether the story and the characters are worth revising and rewriting. I want you all to feel about it the way I do, to love the characters and root for them and, when you’re finished, still think about them. I know this first draft doesn’t come close to accomplishing that.
That’s when the real work begins.
Thanks to all of you who’ve supported and encouraged me through this past month, and for being patient with this blog. You’ll be seeing me a lot more around here.