Race

Including today there are only 10 days left of NaNoWriMo for 2014. This is a short post to tell you I may not be at this blog again until those days are past.

I’m behind,but I’m going for it. See you all on the other side.

All Created Lives

The character is a fundamental building block of story for the writer. While one can render them down into smaller parts, those parts do not have the effect on the story that the completed character creates.

I don’t know if the above is true. But it sure sounds good, and resonates with my experience of writing fast in years past. I feel as though I’m going back to a ‘golden age’, a superior summer wherein I wrote with joy and ease, even though I didn’t honestly get any more done than I do on average these days.

When I started writing that story I did not brainstorm a so-called plot. Instead, I planned for eventualities. Things felt like they could happen because I had prepared places, concepts, and importantly characters that filled the world up with possibilities. I filled up the world before I started writing, and the nature of most of the characters did not change a whole lot throughout the story. Those that did change got adjusted, not rebuilt.

I have never tried that technique to such an extent since. It is time.

Here I want to digress, and explain that if I can enjoy writing I am far more likely to press through it. I’ve also decided to most likely abandon recording word counts for NaNoWriMo. It’s been a good contest, but it isn’t working for my productivity this year.

I am desisting in my writing, but I think I feel constricted by the keeping of records in three different places (One on my computer, one on the NaNoWriMo site, and one on the spreadsheet for the RoTaNoWriMo group). I’ll probably just cut the NaNoWriMo site from that list.

Anyway, that’s the digression.

I didn’t build enough up front for this story, perhaps, so I am brainstorming new characters. Then its back to the word mines for me.

Have a good day, everyone!

Dragons, Wizards, and Resonance

When I was a kid, and already heavily involved with fantasy, my parents got me or my twin brother, really both of us, a copy of this wonderful illustrated book called the Discovery of Dragons. The book was framed as the chronicle of three different adventurers, one Viking, one medieval Chinese woman, and one Early 20th century European explorer, as they encountered various wonderfully painted dragons.

I loved this book. I still love it, for its three stories that built with every page, and for its portrayal of different kinds of creatures than one might expect or call dragons, but which nonetheless, fit the theme.

This is the kind of book that helped me grow into who I am today, a writer who wants to read new things.

For that reason, I’ve not been a huge fan of using dragons in my own work. In fact, I still love designing my own creatures almost as much as I did when I was running Dungeons and Dragons as a young teen.

But I’ve been thinking over some conversations I had at Fourth Street Fantasy last summer with people who held more regard for traditional fantasy creatures, including specifically dragons. Recently I have been thinking that perhaps there is room for throwbacks in fiction, as well as forward motion.

I guess this has to do with the current fantasy novel I am working on. I’m debating whether or not there should be magic in it beyond what I already put in for the core of the story, which is all in the form of tools and devices tied to twelve deities. However, I had other ideas for other magic that fit in the setting. If I am to use it I should introduce it now-ish in the story.

Maybe this isn’t so much about dragons, and more about wizards, really spellcasters of all stripes. I feel a similar way about them as I do about dragons. My task is to make something as cool, but make it different.

I think with the ideas I have built up for this story I could easily slot in some kind of other magics and find them enjoyable to have on the periphery of the story, possibly to help explain some of the stuff I had not previously elaborated on. Today I’m going to give this a try, and I’m sorry to be vague, but to explain it here would double the length of the post.

Have a good day everyone! I think I will.

To Do More

Short post today.

I have work to do, and I guess I feel as though my time is scarce in spite of all the time I have.

Today I started out feeling pretty down. I’m almost in an off-book stage of feelings. And I’m in the middle of a novel.

I could use a good push to move forward. All the pre-thinking on this book has led me to feel locked in. I’d try knocking down walls from the plan that seem to be blocking me, but I often feel like that only makes this more difficult most of the time.

I know the right amount of the right kind of planning can be helpful for me. But how much and what kind?

As always, I have far more questions than answers.

Road to Madness

Talking to some people, even some friends, whether it be in person or via text message, is a recipe for madness.

I can’t even say, but I had ridiculous irrational nightmares over a couple of things that were going on yesterday. These nightmares I can scarcely remember, but they also involved Hearthstone. Of course, with the Hearthstone I woke up and found the nightmare became real. Gosh, losing streaks in that game can hurt.

Anyhow, it’s Monday, and I’m still playing catch up on my words for the month. I still have a decent goal each day. And I had a freelance project removed from my workload yesterday, so stress is falling quite a bit overall.

I’m ready for today to be better than yesterday. Of course, I’ll need to work at it for that to happen.

Poetry

I love some poetry. I enjoy writing poetry from time to time as well, though I don’t practice that as much as I did in high school and early college.

Part of me thinks that its easier to remember to play in metered poetry because the rules are more strict in some ways while more loose in other ways. Especially important is the lack of expectation for clear story and understandable exposition. In a sense, poetry assumes a higher level of reader, at least traditionally. In addition, the cadence and shape of the words is as important as the meaning of those words.

Poetry is like music, is like raw unfiltered sound, only these days recorded on a page in the form of words.

I like to write poetry that relates to my stories. I chickened out of making my last novel’s protagonist a true poet. Perhaps when I edit that book I will put in more poetry. I think that would be nice, maybe in the form of chapter-starting epigraphs.

For all its glorious freedom, and relatively simple rules, prose only takes me so far when it comes to freeing my mind of its simplistic urge to cover itself. Such freedom, when supplied by poetry’s formal restrictions, has provided me with images and scenes I had not previously imagined.

Perhaps I need more rules in my prose to make the process more fun and add more style to go with the growing substance of my work. A silly example would be to write a paragraph or two without the letter ‘e’. That exercise has limited uses, but its a good instance of what I mean. To include more assonance, or alliteration, or possibly rhyme in the prose could be the kind of fun I need to engage the auditory portion of my mind that does not appreciate workmanlike prose so much.

If only as an exercise, I could mix in other poetic elements. More thematic portions. Perhaps that will prove entertaining and help to hold my interest. Characterization could be helped by the correct subtle modifications to the words themselves. I could define voices more thoroughly. I could… I could… I will give this a try.

I listen to music while I write. I’ve done it this way since near the beginning, but why? I don’t know for certain. Perhaps the sound distraction is why I do.

I’ve got a lot to do these days. But there has to be room to play too.

Love, Joy, and Wordplay

About seven years ago I was working on a cacophany of projects. I was a senior in highschool, which I hated for the most part.

And I was falling in love, though not with a person. I may not have been a skilled writer back then, but I loved language. I did not see writing as a chore. I loved it, and I woke up at 4am to do it, as I had been doing for a few years.

Today it is 9am and I have yet to put words on a page. I fear I’ve fallen out of love with language, or maybe I just got discouraged at some point. After years of school, rejection, and criticism have I gotten afraid to play? Perhaps. And if I really am afraid of playing, then what can I do to relearn the kind of joy I took in process six, seven, and more years ago?

I bring this up because my productivity is down. I am steadily losing sight of my NaNoWriMo and personal goals for the month. Pushing oneself only gets one so far. Joy must be both one’s fuel and product if one is to make art without fear.

Art without fear. Everything beautiful, nothing painful, to paraphrase Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse-Five.

I don’t feel like I’m afraid all the time, but I think I’m hiding from the truth: I am afraid of writing.

I’ve gotten used to some kinds of rejection, and perhaps I have internalized those rejections into fear of being rejected at every turn. So much fear may be in me that it drowns out my joy. When I read something good I get a bit of that joy back, but then the joy is fleeting.

I’ve been reading Vonnegut this morning. I can tell there was joy in him as he wrote. At least, I think I can tell. I would scarcely claim to have knowledge of another human’s mind, for I don’t know my own so well. In fact, I distrust people who claim to have a sure grasp of human nature.

In any case, I need my joy back. Maybe if I read day after day, book after book, as I did for years as a kid, I will be able to reclaim my joy in words.

Or perhaps I’ll be disappointed, and spend day after day looking for a cure when I really know there is no cure for the terror that comes with the end of ignorance. There is only the courage to cope with knowledge.