Saturday, November 9, 2013

How Writing a Novel is like Finding Nemo

First drafts are messy creatures, full of spur-of-the-moment ideas and words, all jumbled together in a mostly-chaotic tangle. I try not to re-read too often as I write, but only go back just enough to pick up the thread of where I left off, to insert myself back into the flow of energy that is already zooming along; think Crush and Squirt cruisin' the East Australian Current in "Finding Nemo". 

The tricky part is reading the crappy words and leaving them alone for now. Realizing that two chapters back I neglected to fully explain something which now makes the current conversation baffling to any reader who isn't myself, and not going back to rewrite it *this very everlovin' moment*. Because if I did, that's *all* I would do the entire month, and this story would end up like every other story I ever started; sitting in half-finished form, with me so burned-out on the process that I throw my hands into the air come December and never look at the damn thing again.

For me, this year's NaNo is about the continuous flow of storytelling. Getting it all onto the page, in whatever rough-and-tumble form it has, and Leaving. It. Alone. Just going with the flow.

As Crush says when Marlin is looking for the EAC, "You're ridin' it dude! Check it out!"

Duuuude. I totally am. Righteous!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Didn't I make that word already?

I can clearly remember sitting in my high school English class, bored out of my mind from the tedium of grammar being pounded into my barely-focused brain. Happily for me, that class usually degenerated into a debate with the guy who sat next me, a British fellow, about how horrible the American system of government was compared to his native UK. Needless to say, I only absorbed the bare minimum of grammatical knowledge during that year, not counting what I'd already learned from Schoolhouse Rock.

Since then, I've only found the very basics of grammar to be of interest. Until today, when I set out - with the help of a wonderful workshop by Holly Lisle - to create my own invented language.

And I did it!! It's probably not the most beautiful language that has even been created. I'm certain what I have hammered out would make poor Mr. Tolkien weep. But it will serve my purposes for the story I'm going to write in November, and dammit I'm proud of it! I waded through the basics of nouns and verbs, figured out conjugations, pronouns, tenses, cases, articles, syntax... you name it, I've worked with it today.

Les ulaban jo'lisa, les xifenhan'il sol wolsinmin! (I feel joy, I created a language!)

Ves, les ulaban jo'shon. Zzzzz... (Also, I feel tired. Zzzzz...)

For anyone who is interested in the course, "Creating a Language Clinic" by Holly Lisle, you can find it here:

Monday, October 21, 2013

It turns out, you *do* need math when creating a story... dammit.

I'm in the exciting new weeks of story creation for my National Novel Writing Month 2013 journey. I decided to really buckle down and figure out semi-realistic numbers for population, land area, number of settlements, etc. Mostly because readers like to know these things, and will reverse-engineer them later on unless the author thought about it ahead of time. I'm *trying* to do my future fans a favor and have some clue as to what's what.

Alas, working with numbers has never been my strong suit. I mumbled and swore and was irritated about the whole process for the majority of my Sunday. My loving husband just sent me this:

In other words, my future fans are going to roll their eyes at me - hopefully with loving tolerance - and come up with their own, more accurate, numbers for my crafted world.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Why She Writes

Once upon a time, there was a writer who kept trying to come up with story ideas which were happily mainstream, safe, ordinary, and acceptable. Nothing that would rock the boat. Nothing that would expose who she was too deeply. Nothing that would show her own shadow side, and give glimpses into the darker areas of her psyche and soul.

She knew good writing wasn't like that, though. A truly enjoyable story - to read and to write - needs to be authentically written. A writer needs to put portions of herself in them. She needs to write what she thinks about, dreams about, is attracted to, is afraid of. And inevitably, those thoughts, feelings, desires and fears are exposed to the world. Which isn't nearly as scary as knowing that they'll be exposed to her friends. Her family. People who know her - or think they do. That's scary. That's big-time vulnerability right there.

It's a lot easier to hide from that, to write about safe topics, to share the already-shown parts of herself. It's so much more comfortable to snuggle in to the sweet and familiar, to keep the other ideas locked up inside.

Unfortunately, it doesn't inspire very good storytelling.

To get to the good stuff, she has to put herself out there, all the way. To delve into the subjects she finds secretly fascinating, pushing down the fear of exposure and rejection. She has to show Who She Is, in all of her tangled messiness.

When she does, it opens up a floodgate of ideas. Ideas which light her up, inspire her, excite her, keep her glued to her notebooks and keyboards.

It's both exhilarating and terrifying, this soul-sharing business.

And she realizes that's what writing is all about, and why she loves it so.