Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Status Update

I hoped to write 10k words yesterday.  I dreamed they would be funny, exciting, endearing, wonderfully descriptive words and they would push me so far forward in the plot that the end would practically write itself.  Shockingly, this did not happen.

However, I did manage to get out just under 4700 words which may be the second highest single-day word count i've had since beginning this madness in November.  (I can't be sure without the little graph from NaNoWriMo which I can no longer utilize as that part of the site is in hibernation until next November.)

I find it very doubtful that even half of those 4700 words were funny, exciting, endearing or any of the other characteristics I hoped for.  But they may have been at least vaguely interesting.  Our main character now has a pet chameleon (not the small animals people often keep as pets, no- in my crazy fantasy world they're sort-of like flightless dragons) because apparently it's not enough for him to learn magic, he has to do it while attempting to raise a baby chameleon which will soon be too big to fit in the house.  Interesting, yes?

And, becuase of this new unexpected story line with the chameloen I am no closer to pushing the plot towards the end.  In fact, it's probably going to be a lot longer now.  I try not to push away any ideas when they come, even when they require me to write much more than I wanted.  I wouldn't have gotten to this point if I did.

I wonder if these are the lessons i'm supposed to learn.  To meander through the plot until something pops up and takes me in another direction.  To just let new ideas incorporate themselves into the story line without picking and choosing which to keep and which to toss.  To progress slowly in fits and bursts.  I know it's not how you're supposed to write on a deadline.  But maybe without one?

To let the story grow without judgement, without rushing it forward, without trying to change it into something ti doesn't seem to want to be.   Not brilliant, not concise, not perfectly constructed.  Just growing, like a mountain- layer by layer, spreading outwards as well as upwards.  It will, of course, be a mountain (and a nightmare) to edit.  But isn't that what editing's for?  You get this longwinded, crazy, spotty story and then have to pick and cut and poke at it until it forms something you want.  Like forming the giant slab of rock that you will later carve your masterpiece scultpture out of.

One way or another i'm writing, and that's gotta be good.  And hey!  Here's a shocker- I actually manged to come up with something not related to this novel and *gasp!* post it!  (See below.)  What a miracle that is, huh?

I don't know where all this is going to end.  I'm pretty sure it won't be tomorrow night, even if I do reach 80k.  And perhaps that will be disappointing.  To do NaNoFiMo and miss the Fi.  But maybe it will leave the door open for more.  I don't know yet.  But I'm going to keep writing until I find out.

Scene from some monster movie

Dual-disclaimer: 1) For those prone to nightmares from gory images, skip this one. (You know who you are.) 2) I find it hard to believe that I’m the first person to think up this particular scenario so if you’ve already seen in it some random horror movie, I apologize. No copyright infringement or any other theft is intended.

Mr. Fuzzles

Near dark interior of a typical bedroom, the only light we see comes from the clock on the nightstand next to a bed with a frilly comforter and bed skirt, casting a glow over the radius around the bed. From the corner of the room emerges what might be a snake, but is found to be a tentacle as it wriggles its way into the light. From the direction of the camera an old, gray cat enters the shot and crouches, clawing at the ground the way cats do right before they pounce. It leaps into the air landing on the tentacle and traps it in its mouth. A second later it is pulled violently into the darkness accompanied by a loud, panicked meow.

A hand emerges from the bed, reaching downward. It clearly belongs to an old woman with wrinkled skin, nails long and polished.

“Wha’s- what’s going on Mr. Fuzzles?” comes a groggy voice from the old woman. “Where are you?”

The cat’s head emerges from the dark corner, seemingly responding to its owner’s call. As it moves into the light we see it is actually impaled on the same tentacle which had snatched it away earlier, strands of muscle and gore hanging down where its neck should be. The tentacle pushes the head forward and the outreached hand pets it as a familiar pet owner would, gently stroking the head and ears.

“Oh, there you are,” she coos, “what happened to my little fuzzle-wuzzles? Did something scare you?”

She does not seem to see that her cat is no longer attached to the head she is petting. Perhaps she is not looking, perhaps she does not have her glasses on. For whatever reason, she does not respond with any alarm but goes on contentedly petting the head of her former cat.

We hear the sound of something moving across the carpet as the thing that the tentacle belongs to slowly enters the light. In the darkness we can see only part of it and it is unclear whether it is plant, alien or monster. It seems to have many black tentacles moving around it, pushing it forward on the carpet. As it nears the bed we can make out a pair of dark red eyes and a large, gaping hole with sharp teeth and thick saliva stretching across the widening gap of its mouth. Dangling from the mouth is the tale of the cat. It gapes towards the woman’s outstretched hand.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Miracle on Lawndale Ave?

Having received two observations about the lack of updates here from two of the blog's three followers, I decided it was about time to do one.  So here you go.

And just like that, the words escape me yet again.  So much to say, so little of it relevant or useful.  I could tell you about my holiday, all the baking and over-eating and family stress and cool presents.  I could tell you how much I enjoyed the quiet time after all the chaos ended.  I could tell you about how I'm feeling regarding the upcoming end of the calendar year.  I could make up something.  But none of that is where my mind is right now.

My mind is focusing on my complete and utter failure to produce a daily word count over the past couple of weeks.  It's focused on the lack of momentum in my story.  And, as always, it's allowing my inner critic to berate me with a loud, booming voice.  And I don't need to tell you how easy it would be to slip into a self-deprecating rant about how much I suck right now.  But that, too, is irrelevant.

At the start of this, before erasing and starting over, I started to say how (barring a miracle) I’d failed to hit 80k.  But then I remembered: I have four nights.  Can I actually produce 15k in four nights?  If I were a mathematician I’d say the statistical likelihood, given my averages this month, is incredibly low.  But then again, if I were a mathematician I’d know how to derive.  I don’t know how to perform that basic action nor the statistical likelihood of my success.

No, I’m a fantasy fan.  I know how to have grand, seemingly unobtainable dreams.  How to achieve those dreams?  Not so much.  But how to have them?  Definitely.  My grand, seemingly unobtainable dream is to hit 80k by midnight on December 31st.  I figure even if I fail, pushing myself for the next four days will be ten times more progress than I’ve had in the last two weeks, so it’s gotta be a good thing.  And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, I’ll give myself a miracle.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

So, last week was a very bad week for me, writing wise.  Out of the 7 days I only wrote for three of them and I wrote very little on those few days.  The usual unreasonable self-loathing and guilt ensued, pushing me to get back on track.

After two consecutive days of a more reasonable word count (around 1200 monday and 2000 yesterday) i'm starting to feel better.

Not that the writing has gotten any easier.  For most of this exercise, since November 2nd, the writing has been slow, difficult, uncomfortable and a variety of other unpleasant feelings.  While the plot's always been there the actual storytelling hasn't come any easier over time.

I had that one glorious day where I miraculously pounded out 5600 words (that historic day being November 22nd) and have not repeated it since.  I still have dreams of reliving that victory with a sudden massive word flow ending in an even higher single day word count, but that hasn't happened yet.

However, with the routine of writing everyday back on there is at least the chance of that happening again.

I knew this before, I certainly got it into my head last month, but I am relearning it now: nothing can replace writing everyday.  It's a lesson I've been taught many times before: in school by professors and in my personal life by my mentor.  And yet, here I am once again learning it.  I suppose it's just one of those things you just have to keep learning until it finally becomes ingrained or, gods forbid, habitual.

But hey, better to learn the same lesson twenty times over than never at all, right?

Still writing...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why Christmas Decorations are a Good Thing

An unwanted pubic opinion:

Don't get me wrong, I hate the whole Christmas scam as much as the next person does.  I whole heartedly disagree with Christmas carols taking over my favorite radio stations for the later half of November and the entirety of the next month.  I hate the fact that stores start selling Christmas junk the week of Halloween and I certainly don't feel the need to rush out to the store to stand in line for ten hours at 3am the day after Thanksgiving (seriously- what's wrong with you people?)

No, I don't buy into any of that.  But there is one Christmas tradition that I'm ok with: lights.  Not that they should be displayed in stores in October or light up a house so brightly you have to shield your eyes to drive by it (circa National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, an excellent movie).  And not that neighbors having contests over which idiot spent the most money to have the most ridiculously elaborate light display is a good thing.  But lights in and of themselves are great.

Why?  Because it's so fucking dark outside that if you don't have some lights in the landscape the suicide rate (which is already pretty high this time of year) would probably jump even higher.  I never signed on for this whole daylight savings thing and I personally wouldn't mind not losing an hour of sleep in the summer only to have it artificially given back in the fall.  And why is it, by the way, that if i'm getting an extra hour of sleep I lose an hour of my day?

Before the whole 'fall back' thing the sun started going down earlier and earlier, but at least I had a chance of seeing it set when I walked out of work at 5pm.  Now it seems the only time I get any sun is on the weekends.  My ten minute drive into work in the morning does not provide me with nearly enough sunlight and when I step out after 5pm now the sun is long gone.  Not because it's going down that much earlier but because 5pm is the old 4pm and the sun doesn't give a rat's ass about daylight savings time.

So, I guess, really the solution is to get rid of daylight savings time.  (The farmers can keep their own time system, if they want, just leave the rest of us alone.)  But, in lieu of that, Christmas lights.

In the trees, on the fence, in the windows, wherever.  Put up as many snowflakes on the light posts as you want.  Display as many Christmas trees as you have.  Throw in all the menorahs and Kwanzaa stars as you can get your hands on cause there's too much damned Christmas stuff in the display anyway.  Just make sure it's all well lit.

In the same simple-minded way that dragons like sparkly things I am a fan of lights.  They're pretty and they make the painfully black night a little more bearable.  So put 'em up as early as you want, and leave them up well into the new year.  Cause it's a long, dark winter and we need all the light we can get.