Monthly Archives: July 2011

The writing habit – Fess Up Friday

I can’t count the number of times I’ve read/heard/thought different permutations of the same thought lately: If you write every day, if only for 10, 15, 30 minutes a day, it adds up. Certainly more than not writing at all. Mary reminded me in a comment on my last post. I reminded my sis Aimee last night in a phone conversation and I know, know, know with every fiber of my being that it’s true, but it takes a surprising amount of courage and willpower to make writing a habit.

But writing makes me happy, so I’m working on it. To that end, I’m resurrecting Fess Up Fridays, a borrowed idea that emphasizes accountability.

On Monday, I finished a short story called The New Heart. I let it sit for a few days, then re-read and edited today. Then, just a little while ago, I sent the story to my first-read committee.

All week, I made attainable goals to tackle my freelance work. I usually met my goals each day, but more importantly, I got a lot of work done. While working on some freelance yesterday,  I couldn’t shake the weirdest thought and that suddenly became an idea for a book. I texted sis Aimee, knowing immediately that this was something for the two of us to write together, and she was taken by the idea as well. We might’ve just stumbled upon our NaNoWriMo 2011 project, with plenty of time to outline, create characters and world-build. Wild.

I am not nervous at all about collaborating with Aimee. We used to write together as kids and we’ve been reading each other’s individual work for years, so we know each other’s voices and strengths. In fact, I’m the opposite of nervous. I’m excited. I can’t wait for NaNoWriMo, though I know our idea is such a big one that we’re going to need all this time to do the groundwork and be ready to write.

One of my biggest challenges is follow-through. I get tons of ideas (usually in a bunch of different genres) and rarely see something through to completion. Some version of completion, yes. True completion, not usually. So, my goal is to write every day so I can tackle all these different ideas and genres, to see things through. Because it feels really good to finish a project and it’s important for my soul, as well as my success.

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Filed under family, Fess Up Friday, freelance work, Friends, musing, NaNoWriMo, writing updates

The writing high

I just finished the first draft of a story I’ve been working on (sporadically) for the last month. I don’t know if you remember me telling you that I have always struggled to write stories. They usually slip their leashes and become novels, or I try to shove them into this small package I don’t understand and they suffocate.

But a little while back, I read an interesting NPR article. A few days later, this story inspired by the article came to me fully formed. I knew almost everything about it from the get-go. I knew that it would have 5 scenes (or parts) and what each of those scenes were. I knew my two main characters, though getting to know them better was the part that took some time. I knew what happened to them, but I needed to know them, in order to know why.

I started by hand writing the first scene and a half in a new journal that I picked up at Scriptura with Jamey. It’s actually a field book and is kinda perfect for me. Small enough that I can take it everywhere and substantial enough that I can write a story in it. It has a blank page on the left side and the right side is a grid. It makes me feel very scientific and organized. See below:

I told a few friends I was working on a story, then languished. Maurice asked me about it last Saturday read me the riot act (in the kindest possible way) for not writing.

So I wrote. I wrote 5 pages that day. Like I said, I already knew the story. I just had to write it. And I wrote the last 3 or so pages of the first draft today. It feels like it might actually be good. But that’s part of the writing high — what you’ve just written often feels like a masterpiece. It’s better than the times when everything you write feels like garbage, but it can be misleading.

I’m like a child fighting bedtime lately when it comes to writing. I know I’m tired (a writer) and I need to sleep (write), but I kick and scream (procrastinate and stall) and fight sleep (writing) with everything I have. Why do I do this? It feels so good to write. It makes me happy. Right now, I can’t stop smiling. I feel effused with energy, even though I’m starving.

Promise me, all of you, that you will never let me forget how good it feels to write again. Wait, maybe this is a promise I should be making myself.

I will do my absolute best from now on to remember that writing makes me happy.

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Filed under Friends, musing, writing updates

Reading in Q2 – May and June

This year, I’ve started writing a quarterly report of my reading. Now that the second quarter has come to a close, it’s time for a new post. April’s installment included a ton of audio books, so I went ahead and blogged those mini-reviews. As always, I’m not including books that I’ve read for review elsewhere, namely 225, unless the review has already been published. This list represents my leisure reading and as such, it’s fairly short this go-round because I got caught up in another movie job the last few months. Quality, not quantity, is the name of the game in any case.

May

Dirtdobber Blues by Cyril Vetter – My review was published this month in 225 Magazine.

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke and read by Brendan Fraser – I was listening to this extremely long audio book when I abruptly switched gears from The Great Louisiana Tour to my latest movie job, so I kept listening to it whenever I happened to be in the car. Since I had liked Inkheart, but found it an enormously slow read, I initially thought listening to the audio would be faster. It wasn’t faster since I listened to it in small chunks, but it was vastly entertaining because it was read by the extremely talented Brendan Fraser, who played the Mo in the movie version of Inkheart. He was such a good reader for this book and completely made the experience for me. I tried to find the last book, Inkdeath, on audio but my library only has the digital download version of it and I don’t know how I’m going to listen to it in the car. Anyway, I find these books very dense and slow, but they tend to pick up so dramatically at the end that you can’t help but continue in the series.

Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, Pete Earley – Read the 225 review here.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – This is a series that is not at all slow. I’ve been intrigued by all the casting news for the movie, so I decided to re-read the series. I originally read each of the books in less than 8 hours (overnight, before having to go to work on no sleep) the first time and without that first-time-read urgency, I still found the story compelling. The first in the series, The Hunger Games, sets the tone for an incredible, life-changing read. I’m not kidding. These books are infectious. It’s hard not to think about them even when you’ve put the book down.

June

Downriver, Jeanne M. Leiby – I wrote about Jeanne and Downriver for 225.

Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – In this second “less urgent” reading of the series, I still read each of the books in 2 or 3 days. I didn’t know how she was going to match the first book, but she ups the ante with each one and they’re just as interesting upon a second read. They are absolutely brutal (though not gratuitously), beautiful books. I’ve so rarely experienced a character so vivid and real as Katniss, so absolutely herself at all times. I highly recommend Suzanne Collins’s younger reader series Gregor the Overlander, which I was already a fan of when The Hunger Games came out. Collins is an incredible, unique writer and I think her book have the breathless pace that they do because of her t.v./movie writing experience.

The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel – I’ve been reading Auel’s Earth’s Children series most of my life. There was a movie of the first book, Clan of the Cave Bear, which came out when I was 4 and I think we later watched it in school. These books are 600+ novels about prehistoric people and there has been a larger time gap between the publications of the last few books. Auel does an enormous amount of research for each book and it really shows. Never more so than this last one, where I think the research overshadowed the story. There was so much repetition in this 757-page book (for example, every time Ayla meets someone new, which she does a lot in this book, they notice her accent, plus they usually have to exchange several sentences of names and ties, including the characters we already know). I don’t remember the other books being quite this stilted and overburdened with repetition and research, but I’ve been a different person and reader each time I’ve read one (it was 2003 when I read the last one) and they’re so long that I haven’t re-read any of the books in a long time. I’m glad I read it and I may re-read the earlier books at some point, but I was largely disappointed with this last book in the series.

My movie job has ended and I’m looking forward to reading a lot more, so check in for the next quarterly reading report. 🙂

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