NaBloPoMo Blop-ing to the end…

30 11 2012

Well.

images-8So here we are at the end of Nanowrimo (at which I failed miserably) and NaBloPoMo, where I missed three days out of the month, pretty good average, I’d say, since it’s been a crazy as usual month, filled with the usual sturm und drang, a phrase I’ve used ever since I absorbed it from my Norse-God-like boyfriend back in the 70’s. (Note: sponsor Wikipedia – we need it!)

So, what have I learned?

Well, I learned that setting a small goal, like writing a blog every day, is do-able for me and a lot less scary than the “take on a novel thing.” Whereas I can sit down and dash off fairly coherent thoughts here, forcing myself to write doesn’t work so well.

So maybe I should try to fool myself into thinking I am blogging my novel.

I learned that some search terms bring readers. Had an unusually high response to my reblog about porn., for example. One feels the occasional temptation to title everything “50 Shades of Grey” just to catch the traffic. (Click link to see Ellen DeGeneres trying to read it, with sound effects)

I learned I can write blogs and add photos on my iPod touch, which made me fall even more in love with this marvelous piece of electronics. Of plague-inc-feature-1course, it’s hard to do a blog entry when you are in the midst of a good game of Plague Inc. (dang that fungus level is hard) and ALMOST everyone is dead but the cure is at 95%.

I’ve learned that I will obsessively play Plague Inc. instead of writing.

I’ve learned that a lot of interesting people are out there blogging, and some of them visited my blog and said nice things and I am grateful for every like. It feels good if I can reach someone.

I’ve learned I should also be putting some more time into my MS blog, but primarily into my MS book.

And I realized that I need to take on this writing thing like a job and make it work for me.

Pretty good stuff for a month of slight introspection. Thanks for coming along with me.

So, where to now? Well, yesterday I was working with the developer of a monitoring system for a disease, reviewing the computer system they’d created. In the program, there was a list of countries people where people might have been born. To my shock, I hadn’t heard of a lot of these places. So, for the next month, I’ll investigate one place a day.

Hope you enjoy…

 

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“We don’t need more writers! We need more readers!”

30 05 2012

Somewhere back in Nanowrimo land, I read a commentary about the piles of dreck being produced through the month. The quote above comes from that commentary, but I can’t find the reference this morning, peering as I am through the slits of eyes produced by profound weeping as I realize another dream is lost, down the drain. That writing dream. You know. THAT one.

I’ve produced a lot of that dreck. I know. People have ever so sanctimoniously, kindly, gently, and viciously told me so. (Just GET all those -ly words in one sentence! That takes skill, that does!)

I’ve been “working on writing”, interspersed with sessions of intense parenting, higher education, day jobs that consume my soul, and fighting the urge to nap, for the past 20 years or so. Should I succeed now, I’d likely kill whoever called me an overnight success. Wait, that’s a good idea for a plot…

And therein lies the rub. Like many people, especially the insufferable woman who sat beside me the other day, plots are a dime a dozen. At least in the idea stage. The stories, the ones that grip your heart and make you sink into an alternate reality – well, those are harder. For me, anyway. I imagine insufferable woman could just whip them off in a second, or so she tells me.

There are hundreds of books produced every year. Many of them are simply awful. (see: 50 Shades of Grey) Some of the really bad ones get made into movies, even, and their authors lie about and eat bon bons forevermore. This leads many of us to think that we, too, could wield that magic.

But like the lion in the Wizard of Oz would say, “Whadda they got that I haven’t got? Courage!” I somehow can’t get myself to offer my dreck to the wider world. I feel I should do better. So I paralyze and refuse to write and don’t. And, quite frankly, my skills get rustier and rustier.

So, a few tips for those who want to do this crazy thing (and by the way, my assembly of writing books is going up for sale on Kijiji in a moment).

1. Write. Yah, you knew this.

2. Learn to touch type. My mother never let me take this class as she thought I’d end up as a secretary or something. She didn’t see the time of keyboards. I still type fast, but my error rate is huge, and my hands get weary using only four fingers total. It wastes time, and frustrates my flow of thoughts.

3. Read. Write reviews of the books you read. This will make you look for the things you read that worked, the things you didn’t like, and, more importantly, will stick those things in your mind for when you write your own stuff.

4. Avoid writing courses. I’ve taken dozens of these. They either tell me what I already know, or decimate my confidence. Free ones are okay. I’ve paid thousands and am genuinely no further ahead. Read instead.

5. If you must take courses, pay attention, participate, suck the pith out of them. Squeeze them dry. Pester the teacher for additional help, especially if they’re good. Find kindred spirits in the class and form a reading/writing group for afterwards. This will be the most useful thing of all.

6. Get a group together to share your writing with. Make sure you are on the same level. This is tougher than you think, and it is terribly irritating to have someone ask you the meaning of words or tell you they haven’t read anything much since the Twilight series when you write historical fiction. Plus it is really really hard to critique really bad writing without being mean-sounding.

7. Read some more. TV or movie renditions of writing do NOT count. It’s not the same. Read widely, outside “your” genre. Well, except romance. Don’t read that if you don’t like it. It will just lead you to think you can write it, and good romance isn’t easy, either. It’s easy to shower scorn on things you don’t understand. I know. Bad romance (writing) isn’t something you want your kids to remember you for.

8. Buy books. Go to readings. Talk to authors. For me, going to the Bloody Words Conference – I plan to kiss their feet. I’ve tried to do what they do, and I can’t. I bow before them, trying to let my envy go and to embrace them with all my heart for the pleasure their books have brought me.

9. If you can, give up. It’s tough out there. It’s lonely. And it can be soul-destroying. After trying for so many years, I feel like a Hollywood starlet, who went west to become a movie star, tried and tried and got some bit parts, a little taste of possible glories, but never a big break. Now she’s old, tired, and wherever she goes, she can hear the whispering, “Of course, she never really WAS anyone…

10. If you can’t give it up, make sure you have other things to fall back on in times of duress. Friends help, but no one can patch the gaping hole in a heart when you’ve very nearly almost made art and have just missed. You need something else that deals with internal trauma. Work out, make something out of clay or cloth or wood or anything tactile that does not involve words. Physicality is key when you’ve been working so hard with the verbal mind. Go punch someone. Maybe the insufferable woman. That would be fun.

Try not to look pathetic.








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