dreaminghope: (Working Zoey)
As usual, I got spoiled rotten at Christmas. Russ' parents gave me, amongst other things, the new Charles de Lint book. I'm just waiting for the right day to devote to it.

My stocking was stuffed to bursting with a book, yarn, and so many other fun things. My parents gave Russ and I a new coffee table (which isn't in yet, but we've got a very nice photo of it in the meantime), plus organic cotton sheets and other goodies. My sister and brother-in-law and parents went in together to get us gift certificates to a Eating with BC's Best Dinner, which I believe we're going to use when the pastry chef is in, because, hey, pastries! Yum!



Grandma gave us the usual cheque (now added to the paragliding fund), some touristy things from her recent cruise to Alaska, some Tim Horton's gift cards (donuts!), and Christmas journals: one each for me, Russ, my sister, and her husband. In each journal, there was a note: )

My grandmother is 85 years old, and she's very grandmotherly: baking and fussing and giving cheesy knick-knacks as gifts. She's not a "cool" grandmother; she doesn't email or use a computer at all. I'm not sure she would understand the concept of LiveJournal. Mind you, I wouldn't have thought she would ever say "life partner" instead of "husband" in regards to my Grandpa, so maybe I am underestimating her. Anyway, I'm going to try to journal more often. I know the best resolutions are more specific, but I haven't figured out exactly what "more often" means to me. Still, I think my Grandma will be pleased that I'm going to take her advice.
dreaminghope: (3-Day Novel)
I went to see Lee Maracle read this past Tuesday at the Central Library. I love her novels, especially Ravensong.

She has this fabulous laugh – deep, full, jolly. Her daughter and niece – both at the reading – have the same laugh. They filled the room with joy while Lee told slightly bawdy stories before the official reading started.

While the librarian was trying to introduce her, doing the traditional listing of awards, qualifications, and books, the family got the giggles, seemingly at the pomposity of the whole thing. The librarian finally gave up and gave over to Lee.

She read from "Will's Garden" and "Daughters are Forever", then she took questions. Someone asked her about her writing process:

Writing is a sacred thing to me. It's like a Sweat to me. ... I sit down at my computer on a Friday, and I say to my ass: "Hold on; we're going to be here awhile." I'll write, and my family asks: "Are you going to sleep?" And then on Tuesday or so, the first draft'll be done. It has to be 156 pages long; when it's 156 pages, I know it's done.

I do an average of 16 drafts before I finish a book. On a Friday night, my daughters would see me bringing out the popcorn and the pop, and they’d know: "Mom's got another draft to read to us." I'd read until Monday, with them dozing sometimes, and after, they'd be asking how it was different from the last draft they listened to...


Lee Maracle entered the 3-Day Novel Contest once. She thought she couldn't do any preparation, so she told her family to keep her distracted. Her daughters sang to her; kept her from planning. She came in second. She found out later from the people running the contest that the winner had a forty page outline.

Forty page outline! I thought that'd be cheating. That's practically a novel. I could've written a second draft in three days if I'd had a forty page outline.

It's comforting that even a published author only came in second. Comforting, too, that a published author writes a first draft in three to five days on a regular basis.

The 3-Day Novel Contest starts tomorrow at midnight. I've got an idea, but it feels fragile, like it'll dry up like a husk if I put it on paper too soon. I am trying very hard not to even look at the idea too closely; it's a seed, still in the dark, and if it comes to light too soon, it may not make it – I'll get bored with the story before I've even started to write it. Or, worse yet, I'll get bored halfway through, when it's nearly impossible to start over.

If you can't see the 3-Day entry just before this one, then you are not on my NaNoWriMo/3-Day Novel filter. Let me know if you would like to be, in case I use it to blow off steam and post silly and strange novel excerpts during this marathon.

Soon, the journey begins... I've got lots of chocolate, coffee, and garlic bread laid in.
dreaminghope: (Working Zoey)
By most any definition, the Gathering for Life on Earth is long over. We've been home for nearly three weeks, the Facebook friending frenzy has slowed, next year's theme's has been posted to the website, and I've completed my final duties as Board secretary. I'm working on the last of my Gathering laundry today, so along with the usual t-shirts and underwear, I've got swimming towels, sarongs, and cloaks drying on the deck.

Words have been failing me in regards to the Gathering. Other people's words clutter my attempts (they say "the best Gathering I've had", "my favourite Gathering so far", and "a wonderful weekend", and I say... nothing), and the pressure of the unexpressed words is keeping my other writing attempts stopped up. Given that the 3-Day Novel Contest is in two weeks, I must write again despite wordlessness and finger stutters.

I've started slow, commenting on a few LJ posts at long last*. Next, this post. Then, soon – maybe, hopefully – a novel outline in time for the long weekend.

Today's been a day of laundry and words.

I'm awash – lost – in other people's words and in piles of wet clothing. Various distractions (William and Russ' birthday) and bad weather have interfered with my ability to do laundry, so I'm doing about a month's worth this weekend. Between, I've finally read Atwood's brilliant Oryx and Crake in preparation for reading her new book, The Year of the Flood, when it comes out in a month or so. And there's been the The Videographer – the 3-Day winner from 2008. Weird book, but worth a read. Not particularly cheery, though, so Russ won't want it soon. He read The Handmaid's Tale and Cat's Eye back-to-back and is a little over the literary misery. I've told him to read a Bruno and Boots novel before tackling "Oryx", as it is dystopian.

I don't mind dystopian, but I wish it weren't so depressing all the time.



The slowest race is happening on my porch right now, between the drying laundry and the sinking sun. And then it's folding clothes and planning my preparation for the Writers and Readers Festival. I'm thinking this year I might actually try to read some of the authors' works before hearing them speak.

*I've been reading my FL daily, but have had no words for commenting.
dreaminghope: (Faerie Wings)
In a dream, the ground drops slowly away and you float into the sky, or you launch yourself into the air powerfully, and you glide and soar through the air, and maybe your clothes flap around you or maybe you're naked, and maybe you fly like Superman or flap angel's wings or swim like a fish through the clear air and misty clouds, and it isn't like a trampoline or like the brief flight off the height of a swing's arc because there's no pull down, down to the earth, down to reality, down to the sore feet and the heaviness, and there's flight without fall, and freedom without consequence, and how do we know how to fly anyway?
dreaminghope: (Working Zoey)
There are stories to tell.

There was an afternoon at Quest spent cleaning up rodent droppings and re-shelving hundreds of dented cans and dusty pasta packages with a recovering drug addict. She had just moved to Vancouver to enter her father's treatment center, and she was looking forward to having spaghetti for dinner.

There's the new website at work, and the long list of complaints and struggles and other associated annoyances. And there's my assistant, The Kid, who sure gets sick a lot and should maybe start investing in large bottles of Pepto.

There's the deck... well, the deck isn't so much a story as a saga. The project sounds reasonable: remove the poorly made railings, yank up the rotting plywood, replace any rotten boards in the structure, then put down new plywood, treat with a deck finishing product, and put up new railings. Simple. But our deck is almost 300 square feet... a small Yaletown apartment.

If you've been through East Van lately and noticed some any weird(er) behaviour, it's probably my neighbours, high on the fumes from the deck surfacing. Russ put on three undercoats and one topcoat, which made for some pretty intense fumes. And since houses are pretty close together here and our deck is seven feet up, a lot of people were getting whiffs of our deck. Luckily, our neighbours on all sides are kind and tolerant. Mostly, they are just teasing us because the project's now four weeks old and not yet complete.

There was the 3-Day Novel Contest. I only wrote just over 17,000 words, and the resulting story – Dream in Toner – features a magical photocopier, a bunch of pigeons, and Bananagrams.

And there's my new love: a Rigid Heddle Loom. I bought a assembled-but-never-used 24-inch Ashford from a neighbour a couple of months ago. Since then, I've made a couple of scarves, a set of place mats, and a whole lot of dishcloths.



There are plenty of stories, but I just haven't had the right words. But if I wait for the words to come to me, I'll never write. So here I am again, trying to tell a story with what words I have.
dreaminghope: (3-Day Novel)
When I was a very little girl, I wanted to be a vet. That I was scared of every animal that walks, flies, jumps, or crawls - everything but snakes (slithers) and fish (swims) - didn't seem to me to be an impediment. I was aware that most pet owners have either cats or dogs, which were the scariest creatures in my small world. I knew, from friends' tragic incidents involving goldfish, that vet assistance is rarely sought for fish. But I also knew that being a vet was a Good Thing, so that's what I wanted to be. My Mom is incredibly generous of spirit: she never laughed at six year old me who declared that she wanted to be a vet. At least, she didn't laugh at me to my face.

When I was a slightly older little girl, I wanted to be a nurse or a doctor. That I felt sick at the sight of blood and had to cover my eyes even during fictional medical procedures on TV didn't seem to be insurmountable problems. I knew that doctors and nurses made people feel better, and that’s what I wanted to do.

When I was graduating from high school and trying to decide what to do in university, I decided that I wanted to be a journalist. I didn't take into account that I dislike talking to strangers, that I get claustrophobic in crowds, and that I don't deal with stress well. Journalists were noble, and smart, and they gave people power through information, so I wanted to be one of them.

Through it all, what I really wanted to be was a novelist (and a drag queen, but that's a story for another day). In many ways, I'm well suited to it: I'm imaginative and a natural people-watcher and eavesdropper, and I like spending a lot of time alone, writing. I wonder that I never mentioned it in the "what I want to be when I grow up" field in the memory books I would fill out with my Mom at the end of every school year.

Maybe I didn't mention it because I took it for granted: I couldn't not tell stories; I couldn't not write. It didn't matter if anyone else was reading or not, I would still write.

Or maybe I didn't mention it because, even as a kid, I've always been a practical person, and I knew that I would need a day job too. Vet by day and novelist by night! Or, you know, office manager by day and novelist on long weekends.

I mailed in my early registration for the 2008 3-Day Novel Contest this week.
dreaminghope: (Working Zoey)
Whose LJ is it Anyway?

When I was in grade two, I read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I curled up on the orange and brown couch in the living room and balanced the big hardcover book from the library in my lap. I read while my Mom was making dinner.

They had just started to cross this queer bridge when a sharp growl made them all look up, and to their horror they saw running toward them two great beasts with bodies like bears and heads like tigers.

"They are the Kalidahs!" said the Cowardly Lion, beginning to tremble.

"Quick!" cried the Scarecrow. "Let us cross over."

So Dorothy went first, holding Toto in her arms, the Tin Woodman followed, and the Scarecrow came next. The Lion, although he was certainly afraid, turned to face the Kalidahs, and then he gave so loud and terrible a roar that Dorothy screamed and the Scarecrow fell over backward, while even the fierce beasts stopped short and looked at him in surprise.

But, seeing they were bigger than the Lion, and remembering that there were two of them and only one of him, the Kalidahs again rushed forward, and the Lion crossed over the tree and turned to see what they would do next. Without stopping an instant the fierce beasts also began to cross the tree. And the Lion said to Dorothy:

"We are lost, for they will surely tear us to pieces with their sharp claws. But stand close behind me, and I will fight them as long as I am alive."


I was so scared for the Lion that I immediately did what I did when something on TV scared me: I closed my eyes and covered my ears with my hands.

I sat there for a moment before I realized that my plan wasn't going to work. I couldn't hide until the scary part was done; the story wouldn't go on without me.

*****

My childhood attempts at diaries were small black notebooks with two stickers stuck to the cover to look like eyes. I started every entry with "Dear Diary", and almost a third of my entries start with "sorry for not writing sooner". Lacking an audience, I imagined one.

I went flipping through my childhood diaries expecting, I think, to see the kind of brutal honesty that kids are known for. When we are young, we're supposed to be too naïve to hide our true feelings; the resulting writing should be a kind of real that adults can't easily achieve.

I did find a peculiar kind of honest: Over the Christmas holidays I misplaced my old cloth purse. It had over $12 in it. I found it in the most oviouse (sic) place and my pride couldn't take it so I hide it in the basement. Of course I couldn't let the money go to waste so now, quite a while later, I am 'smuggling' it with me. (March 8 – 12 years old).

There was also a lot of self-consciousness and self-censorship: Boy, do I have a snoopy good sister! (April 26 – 9 years old).

Though my imaginary audience wasn't motivation enough to write frequently – as evidenced by gaps of months or years between entries – I wrote for the possibility that other people would read my words one day. I wrote who I wanted to be as much as I wrote who I was.

*****

Write. Edit. Proofread. Edit again. Write some more. Edit. Proofread. Post.

Wait.

Wait.

Refresh.

Wait. Refresh. Wait.

A comment!

The story isn't complete until someone reads it.
dreaminghope: (Working Zoey)
Vancouver has an annual literary festival, The International Writers & Readers Festival. Last year, [livejournal.com profile] rythos42 and I went to a couple of events together, and we continued the tradition this year. Most events are what you expect from a literary event: darkened theaters, authors reading, and thoughtful discussions about character's motivations.

Last night's event was a little different. Our first clue that this wasn't quite the same as the other events we'd gone to was that there was a bar. After some confusion about how to buy a glass of wine (the process involved tracking down and buying tickets, then using the tickets to acquire alcoholic refreshment), we settled into seats. We were just discussing our expectations for the evening when the dance music came on. And then the go-go dancers came out.

There were three male go-go dancers. They wore American Apparel briefs, t-shirts, headbands, and white knee socks with stripes at the top. One was in green, one in red, and one in yellow. Green was really into it. He was dancing his little heart out, even pulling up his shirt to show his belly button and playing to the crowd. The other two seemed a little self-conscious, maybe because their underwear didn't fit as well as Green's did. If you are going to be showing your underwear, it's a good idea to make sure it fits your ass tightly. Baggy-bum is not sexy.

After the go-go dancers came some readings, featuring selections from a biography of Houdini written entirely in poetry, "the dirtiest story in my short story collection" (about a woman working on a sex website), a poet with very poet hair who brought wine to the reading stand and repeatedly, adorably, lied that he was calm, and the 3-Day Novel winner of 2006, The Convictions Of Leonard McKinley.

I had chosen this event in order to see the 3-Day writer, Brendan McLeod. [livejournal.com profile] rythos42 and I had both read his book ahead of time – and unintentionally almost scared Russ out of reading it with our veiled references to the story's almost-very-disturbing conclusion. It is a funny book... and it is even funnier when he reads it. I would like to propose that all authors who have to do readings should get training by slam poets first – Brendan and the other performance poet who read from her first novel were both wonderful to listen to.

More go-go dancing during the intermission – this time without the t-shirts. Green was still enthusiastic. We'd all been given a free copy of subTerrain magazine and I used was relieved to find it full of short stories and poems. The last time I was given a magazine for free, it was a surprise to me when it turned out to be full of furry porn. Not really my thing, but very educational.

After the intermission, an audience participation game called "Tops or Bottoms" for book prizes, followed by more readings: an author who apologized for being smashed before reading a very serious passage about a mother with dementia, a novel section about giant killer ants and a milk chicken bomb (I don't know), a piece about a bridesmaid having a fling with the wedding bartender in her parents' house, and a story about a couple who sleep in a cage to prevent the man's jealous pet chimp from attacking the girlfriend. The last author, Catherine Kidd, also performed one of her poems, which was a very interesting combination of science and politics and artistry, set to music. I wouldn't want to read it – I don't think it would very interesting on paper – but it was a great performance.

After the event was over, [livejournal.com profile] rythos42 and I hung out near Brendan McLeod until he extracted himself from another conversation. I told him that I'd also done the contest and all three of us, along with a friend of his who had also done the 3-Day twice, commiserated on the problems of writing fast (making characters walk off cliffs, sudden earthquakes, and multiple kidnappings).

He hated his novel after writing it and didn't think it would win (which doesn't give me any hope that my novel that I hate has any chance of winning, but it is interesting given that I love his novel).

He said that the published novel is pretty close to what he wrote during the contest; he added about ten pages, took out the parts where random characters he didn't need anymore ended up walking off of cliffs, and fixed the ending so that it actually was what he'd intended it to be when writing the original manuscript. Which took us to talking about the ending (which I won't spoil; read the book!) and I think he was pleased that we'd already read the book (rather than just having bought it at the table at the other side of the room) so we could share in the joke when he told us that a middle school decided to give copies away as prizes, only to find that they really should have read the whole book first and not just the first couple of pages and that parents weren't terribly pleased with this particular literary prize. Brendan sent them some more youth-friendly and parent-pleasing poetry recordings as replacements, even though he had told them that their plan was a bad one, and one of them surely should have been able to read all 111 pages.

He signed my book, adding "P.S., Do cocaine!"
dreaminghope: (Quiet Gargoyle)
We're having a perfect autumn day. I walked to Main Street and went to an organic and fair trade café where the man behind the counter taste-tested the almond syrup before making my drink. He made my latté backwards – pulled the shots before steaming the milk – but it still tasted lovely. And he poured the milk so that the foam made a swirled heart on top. I drank the heart before putting my travel mug's lid on.

I sit outside of the café at a little ironwork table. I want to write – there's a certain mysticism to The Café as a place to write (or program) – but I end up just reading in the sun.

When I resume my walk, I pull my paisley hat down firmly against the fall breeze. When I get to the corner, I don't start walking at the light but wait until the bus comes to a complete stop. Buses in Vancouver often run red lights, and there'd be something just too silly about someone as bohemian-looking as I – paisley hat, tie-died dress, hemp shoes, naturally worn (out) jean jacket – being killed by public transportation.

There's no one out behind the Ivanhoe yet. I guess anyone drinking at noon on a Friday doesn't want to be out in the golden sun, even for a smoke. It isn't a place for business lunches.

A block down, at the next corner, there's a slick faux-brick condo building, six floors high. The top floor has a larger balcony with a wide cement wall for a railing. Someone has placed a gargoyle on the corner of the rail, overlooking the corner of Main and Prior. He is very easy to spot, but only if you look up; most people don't.

I sit on a short cement wall across the street, where the gargoyle can see me, and that's where I write.

I think about what the gargoyle can see. He can see the daily parade of buses and cars up and down Main Street. He can see the old Italian immigrants heading into the European Deli Warehouse – the import business and warehouse that almost burned down in the rash of arsons in the summer of 2006 – and leaving with their fancy cheeses and French sodas. He can see the sign that says "Welcome to Historic Chinatown" and the graffiti that offers the cryptic comment "I have never been out of love with the mall".

And the gargoyle can see the people who shoot up and who sleep under the underpass across the street. It must be frustrating to be a gargoyle – see it all, and never be able to do anything. It isn't demons we need protecting from anymore, but that's all he knows how to do.

I think about going into the deli warehouse, but entering a dark maze of rooms doesn't appeal, and we have a lot of cheese at home already.

I go home and read science fiction in the sun on my back porch while drinking a glass of red wine, and feel so decadent that it's like there could never be any despair in this beautiful city.
dreaminghope: (Confused Zoey)
I stand in the bank, wondering why the ATM won't take my bus ticket.

That didn't really happen. But it was the kind of day where it could have.

I consider waiting for the bus even though it'll take longer to get me home just because the up escalator at the SkyTrain is broken and I hate walking up still escalators.

That part is true. Does it matter?

I decide to take the SkyTrain despite the dizzying climb up the escalator. The woman climbing in front of me has a red tote bag covered in quotes. The one near the seam facing me says "Do one thing every day that scares you". I'm scared of so many things. I'm used to pretending that I'm not scared; I do it all the time. I pretend I'm not scared that the escalator will start unexpectedly under my feet.

I have my MP3 player on. It's still a new experience wearing one; I've never even worn a Walkman before. There's an instrumental playing as I get on the train and take hold of the center pole directly in front of the door. I sway with the train's motion, the music playing directly into my brain, and stare out the window at the world passing in a sunny blur. I get off at the next station. It's a dreamy movie scene, from an artsy film in which nothing happens.

The woman and her tote bag was actually at the gym and not on the escalator. My MP3 player's batteries died earlier today, but I have worn it on the SkyTrain a couple of times before.

That's the kind of day it's been.
dreaminghope: (Cute but Deranged)
There's a story about me from my university years that has been told over and over in the years since I graduated: the story of a million muffins.

When I was in university, I was a typical student with a typical schedule: too much reading, too much writing, too much studying, too much coffee, too much stress. I did have a somewhat unique coping method when it all became too much: I baked muffins; a lot of muffins.

Depending on who is telling the story, I baked six dozen, ten dozen, or fifteen dozen muffins at a time. I may have made six, twelve, or twenty different kinds: cornmeal, cranberry and chocolate, mushroom soup, lemonade, and more. My freezer is always stuffed full, but only some tellings include the detail that each muffin was individually wrapped and labeled before freezing. Some remember that I looked a little manic as I baked; some remember how I pushed muffins on everyone who walked through my door. Some watched me bake. Some saw the overflowing freezer. Some ate the muffins. Some just heard the stories later and retold them.

The story of a million muffins has been an amusing anecdote, a way to summarize my personality, and a teaching tool. As the latter, it was used as an example of one way someone coped with stress; it may also be serving as a cautionary tale of what happens if you don't create more normal coping mechanisms for yourself.

I don't remember how many muffins I made at any one go, or how many different kinds. I don't know how often I went into muffin-making binges. All the story-versions are mixed together in my head, creating a new memory. The story isn't just mine anymore.
dreaminghope: (Working Zoey)
My coffee table is covered in fun mail and art. Between a fun bunch of Swap-Bot stuff coming through all at once and the first (beautiful) arrival from the Valentine swap at [livejournal.com profile] coyote_giftswap, a lot of wonderful artists and some postal elves have been very good to me this week.

But I am writing this post to brag about one piece of mail in particular: my free contributor’s copy of The Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year by Jennifer Louden (The Comfort Queen).

My little essay on walking, which is somewhat similar to this post of mine, made it into the book!

I haven't read the rest of the book yet, so I can't recommend it, but all of you should read page 147 next time you are in the "Self-Help" section of the bookstore.
dreaminghope: (Waterbaby)
I like steamed broccoli.

When I was a kid, my family traveled a fair amount by car and motor home. We crossed Canada a couple of times; the first time was when I was seven. I couldn’t read in the car (motion sickness), so I would spend hours just day dreaming.

I didn't ask: "Are we there yet?"

Instead: "We're there already?"

At dinner, I would pretend that someone had poisoned my broccoli, but that there was an antidote in it too, so if I ate in exactly the right order – all the florets first, then alternating bites off each end of the stalks so the center of the stalk was the last bite – I would be OK. As I ate, I would imagine my enemies watching and arguing about whether or not I would get it right and whether I knew about the antidote or was just really lucky.

I used to write novels in my head. They were populated by Mary Sues, but I suppose I can be forgiven for that. If anyone is entitled to writing Mary Sues, it is a twelve year old girl. That some of my characters still lean towards wish-fulfillment is… a weakness.

Most of my stories are fleeting, fading away as soon as the day dreaming moment passes. Others stick around to become a part of this LJ (most under the whimsy tag) or to become part of one of my novels.

I tell myself stories to pause the endless list making, the planning and preparing, and the worrying. The stories aren't an escape from reality; they are an escape from another layer of non-reality. The grocery shopping won't go any faster if I rehearse it a hundred times on the way to the store, and my evening tasks won't go any more smoothly if I worry about them the whole way home, so I might as well think about punk princesses and gangster squirrels.

The results from the 3-Day Novel Contest are in, and I didn't place. I'm not surprised, especially given that the winner is a published poet and has written screenplays, and the runner-up placed with his seventh 3-Day Novel. There were 389 completed 3-day novels this year; there was some stiff competition in there.

I wrote three novels in 2006. They are rough and messy and strange, but I'd never written anything so long as any one of them before this year, so I feel accomplished just having their messiness out where other people can see it; out of my head, away from my dinner and neighbourhood bird stories.

I will write at least one novel in 2007, as the three-day novel contest is an irresistible rush. Local folks: Don't plan anything for the Labour Day weekend if you want me to be there, for I will be writing and eating chocolate.

I like to think that one day I will sit down with my rough drafts and make one (or more) of them into a real published book, but that part of the creative process is more like the list-making and planning section of my brain – the part I want to escape when I am story-telling, and the part of my brain that is much over-used in every other part of my life. For now, the story of how I polish the book and see it in print is just like the other stories: in my head.

That's OK, because I like my stories.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
I'm pimping [livejournal.com profile] coyotewoman because she makes gorgeous dolls and now there are some available on her Etsy Shop. I own one of her beautiful dolls, Lucia ), so I know how beautiful her work is in person.

The picture doesn't fully capture her character. I think Lucia's going to be the subject of my next book - her story is already forming in my head.
dreaminghope: (NaNoWriMo 2006 - Winner)
"She's unconscious again!" I called out. OK, I probably screeched a little.

Russ chuckled. He didn't have to look up from WoW or ask me what I was talking about: I would yell this out every couple of days, so he knew what was going on. He laughed every time, as was expected of him.

I've been off LJ for the better part of a month now, doing the NaNoWriMo (oh, and working insane hours, and playing too much on Swap-Bot, and trying to prepare for the holiday season… the usual, but more so). Let me know if I missed anything un-miss-able.

I don't really like this novel I've just finished writing. It is done – I have the 50,000 words* and the official winner's certificate – but it is not a likable story. Nor is it a very "Melissa-like" story. If you’ve been reading me for any length of time, you’ll probably recognize how un-me-like the story is, as it features, in no particular order: cannibalism (where no one dies), four deaths (three of them violent; no one is eaten), lots of drug use (mostly involuntary), torture, and a main character with a nasty habit of falling or being rendered unconscious at the end of most major scenes.

Between exclamations of "she’s unconscious!", I would whinge** about how much I disliked my plot and my characters and everything to do with the whole novel, and Russ would ask me why I don't just stop then (already; yeesh). I didn't really have a good answer to that. I guess it is testament to just how stubborn I am that the story got done.

The lesson in this: don't stand between me and my goals.

*I have 50,046 words, including "the end". There’s nothing like doing the bare minimum...

**I picked up "whinge" from The Brit at work, and it is now my word-to-overuse of choice.
dreaminghope: (Confused Zoey)
When I am out in public, especially if I am alone, I become very conscious of my own behaviour and how I could be viewed – even if I know that no one cares. I also become hyper-aware of other people's actions and how they conform to or differ from the norm.

I went to a couple of the International Writers Festival panels this weekend.

Yesterday was "From the Dark Side", where I joined [livejournal.com profile] rythos42 to watch a panel of authors discuss writing about serial killers, psychopaths, and insane asylums. When the authors walked on to the stage, we all applauded. The authors read descriptions of a man murdering and burying a minister and a man being burned alive. I laughed at every opportunity offered; there were many. Those around me seemed to do the same.
When I'm trying to get into the mood to write those [graphic torture scenes], I read writers who've already gone there. Those books become my touchstones. When I'm trying to get myself back out of that, I listen to Enya. Enya is good for coming back out of the dark.*

Today was "Writing Life", which I attended alone. The writers, all contributors to the Writing Life anthology, spoke about writing when you have kids, doubting the value of writing, and the problems of marketing your writing. We didn't applaud when the writers walked on to the stage.

I don't know why we applauded for the authors at the first event I went to and not for the second. There were even some of the same authors on the two panels. Who makes the decision to clap or not to clap? I'm not the one who decides. If I was, we would have clapped for both panels; I like consistency.

The most interesting thing for me was when the writers started talking about feeling insecure about writing, as though it were not a worthwhile activity. One author spoke about watching a man digging a trough and thinking about how silly writing seems in comparison to the physical labour. Another spoke about being asked by her relatives: "So, you’re a writer; what's that get you?"

The audience responded most to that section of the discussion. When the time came for audience questions, most of them were actually comments from people talking about how books had changed lives or touched people they knew. They wanted to reassure these successful authors that what they are doing is important; responding to a writer's need for groupies.

There were two authors who received more applause then anyone else: a French novelist who struggled to read his book in English translation and to answer questions in a language that wasn't his own, and an author who spoke about her problems with public speaking and promoting her work. The audience reacted as a whole with compassion towards the person who was obviously trying very hard and the person who’s problem they could most easily relate to.
Cellophane
Mister Cellophane
Should have been my name
Mister Cellophane
'Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there

When the man who played Amos Hart in a production of Chicago came out for his curtain call, he got more applause then anyone else, even the biggest stars, in no small part because of his moving performance of "Mister Cellophane", which got a lot of applause as well.

I didn't really like the audience question portion of either panel. Both seemed to be dominated by people who wanted to sound smart. Most of them didn't even have questions: they had comments or rants ending with a lame "so, uh, do you agree?". The writers, luckily, managed to make their answers interesting, even if they didn't have much to do with what was asked.

I didn't like the moderator much of the first panel. Her questions got so long and complicated that the authors ended up just sort of staring at her. But the "Writing Life" moderator was much better. The writers were very interesting and fun both times, though.

Who decides how long to clap? It just seems to end on its own, except when it doesn't. I saw a modern dance performance in the Paris Opera House once, years ago. After every dance, the curtain would close, and the audience clapped and clapped and clapped until it developed its own rhythm and everyone seemed to be clapping in unison. It was eerie.

It's been a busy weekend so far, but I hope to actually get writing again tomorrow.

*Eden Robinson, author of Blood Sports.
dreaminghope: (Working Zoey)
I've been off LJ for most of the last couple of weeks; I'm writing again. I've been inspired, and though I only have 14 pages, I think they are a good 14 pages.

I have what other wanna-be writers dream of: a laptop computer, a Purdy's chocolate gift card, an espresso machine, and a supportive partner who is also a great reader. I don't, however, have a groupie.

I'm a word slut. Punctuation, correctly applied, makes me hot. Books are sexy, so those who create them must be too. Writers must have groupies.

Despite my otherwise perfect qualifications, I would make a lousy writer groupie, because I'm an aspiring writer myself. The perfect groupie finds the whole creative process to be completely mysterious, so that increases the sex-appeal. Other creative people just don't have enough blind admiration.

Unfortunately, I don't think I get to have a groupie until I am published. It must come with the fame and fortune that inevitably follows publication, right?
dreaminghope: (Giggle)
I have found the perfect writers' fuel. High in antioxidants, some protein, calcium, magnesium, probably some other good stuff too...

Dark chocolate with blueberries and almonds by Purdy's Chocolates. Pair with a glass of red wine for maximum benefit.

I foresee many bars being consumed during the upcoming NaNoWriMo*.

*Despite having just finished writing a novel last weekend, I am already looking forward to the next. At this rate, I will have many manuscripts, but none will ever get edited.

Done!

Sep. 5th, 2006 07:40 pm
dreaminghope: (Working Zoey)
Woah, man...

Stats:
Hours: 23
Words: 23,079
Pages: 111

"The Family Spirits": A story of three generations of women of unusual perception, and their beloved ghosts and spirits.

After my last post, I did a couple of last minute fixes and made a minor addition or two, then called it done and printed it. There's a lot more I could have done, but I was exhausted from writing all weekend and from getting up at 5:45 AM for a half-day of paying work.

My brain feels like it just ran a marathon. My body feels like it spent the whole weekend hunched over a computer keyboard... funny that. Even my eyeballs are tired.

But the novel's done, and I'll be handing it in tomorrow after work.

Oops!

Sep. 4th, 2006 03:33 pm
dreaminghope: (Flying Demon Girl)
Stats:
Hours: 22.5
Words: 22,634
Pages: 110

Music: A Prairie Home Companion - "Original Motion Picture Sountrack" (twice, or was it three times?); Bif Naked - "Purge".

Fuel: Double-long-shot iced mocha and a lot of chocolate-covered-almonds.

I wrote the words "the end" with every intention of going back and adding some more scenes and details, but I find it very hard to motivate myself to do that.

The story's done, for better or for worse, and I want to walk away.

On the other hand, I want it to be as good as it can be, and I've got until midnight (or until I fall asleep) to improve it. On the other hand, "improving" it could cause more problems and just end up with a lot of word clutter. On the other hand, I really wanted to make it to 25,000 words - something about that number, which is exactly half of a NaNoWriMo novel, seems significant. On the other hand, I'm a perfectionist, and if I start re-reading, I might start trying for extensive editing, and that's just asking for trouble.

How many hands is that?

I'm going to take a break and then see what I think.

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