Monday, May 30, 2011

Rainy Day Blues

That sun that sparkled over the Northwest for a few sweet days is gone, leaving behind it dripping clouds and trees so green they appear saturated with color. As a true Washingtonian, I have learned to live with the rain. And more recently it has come to reflect my mood towards writing.

Writer's block. What a horrible horrible term. If only it were only a minor irritation. But no, it has infected my life and left it festering. When I am bored I enjoy narrating the scene I am in, because it keeps my writing skills limber and forces me to create on the go. Lately this is what it sounds like:

Heather sat wearily at the computer, gazing in distaste at the words she had just typed. They didn't pack the punch that she usually tried to achieve. Other distractions kept getting in the way, such as minesweeper and chatting with friends. When the writing flowed smoothly she could ignore the lure of these traps, and focus solely on the story that was like a river through her mind.

Heather rubbed a hand down her face and barely suppressed a growl of frustration. Irritated at the world in general, she highlighted the scant paragraphs she had written, and clicked delete. Maybe in an hour or so the story would return. With that in mind, she flipped off the power to the monitor and strode away from the computer, trying to pinpoint why the story wouldn't come.

She already knew that when she returned later , she would repeat this process.

Ahhh writer's block, how I loathe you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Plight of the Second Semester Senior

For all of you who are in, or have already graduated, high school, you know the term to be "senioritis". Used so much nowadays that I expect it will enter the dictionary within the decade. A terrible sickness that strikes those upperclassmen. Some get it in the beginning of the year, their grades take a nosedive, and they end up having their acceptance to that wonderful college that their parents adore, withdrawn. Then there are the cases of AP students. You take the test, and then, suddenly, the last 2 months of the school year lose all meaning.

I am declaring myself to be part of this second group. My 3 AP tests are done, and I have finally succumbed to the dreaded "senioritis." And not only is my school work suffering (clinging to my A in physics by my fingernails), but so is my writing. Motivation, how I wish you would return.

I have recently become a fan of Nathan Bransford's blog, and am trying to use his quirky words to re-motivate myself to work on my more recently started sci-fi novel, since I'm obviously not spending my time doing something constructive...like my calculus homework.

He has put forth several posts about the rise and fall of a story, and how it normally works. I don't know about you, but I'm becoming a bit of a cynic about the similarities of climaxes and mini-climaxes within a book. Note to self: if the main character has a harrowing experience, then they'd better learn something from it or else they aren't very smart and that is a character flaw that needs some fixing. Unless the character is supposed to be a simpleton, of course.

That being said, I should probably follow my own advice and do my homework. After all, last time I didn't finish an assignment my teacher was not pleased. See? Character growth!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

He said, I said, She says, I say

Ahhh the ups and downs of choosing a tense for a novel. Everyone has a favorite tense. Mine is third person omniscient, but I've also dabbled in the first person. My friend and I were in Starbucks today, sipping coffee as if it were the last liquid on earth, and we wound up talking about different tenses. She is starting her own book, and she said something that stuck with me, and that I hadn't considered before.

There are generally two types of stories (at least to my calculations). Those that are driven by character/character development, and those that are pushed forward by events. Now I see first person (sometimes) to be a bit of a cheat. If a story is driven by character, it is much easier to gain sympathy in the reader if the style is 1st person. Perhaps this is why I am not a huge fan of the first person, and prefer the third.

What my friend pointed out today however, as we drank our frilly drinks to funky music, was that a 1st person book driven by story is harder to write than a 3rd person driven by story. In that sense, it is easier to write 3rd person omniscient for story driven plot because you can jump from perspective to perspective instead of sticking to one character. We talked about this for about 20 minutes or until the coffee ran out.
Not bad for a couple of teenagers, eh?

A Friend of A Friend

One thing I, as a writer, enjoy more than anything else is finding someone else who loves to write. Well, I have found a contact that attends the college I am going to next year! Yay!! We're planning on trading excerpts of our stories and tossing back advice back and forth every week over the summer.

On that note, I have an observation about the writing world. Lately I have been trying to worm my way into the publishing world (and let me tell you, it's scary business). And the thing that keeps popping up is the necessity of connections, contacts, referrals, the little friend-of-a-friend-of-a-second-cousin-once-removed-from-my-wife's-grandmother people who get you places. For instance, if my friend hadn't known someone who had previously written a book for a senior project, I would never have found a mentor, and then my own book wouldn't be very good. And if I hadn't started going to a critique group then I wouldn't have met the person I'm now going to correspond with through the woman who runs the group.

In conclusion, get out there and make those obscure connections. I know I've greatly benefited from it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blinded By the Light

The sun was shining in the great Northwest today (I know, I was shocked too!). It was senior project presentation day, and I had to stand up in front of 20 people and talk about my book. Talk about a serious case of the jelly legs! Anyone else feel like it would be easier to split an atom than speak in public? Yes? Good.
The end of the school year is coming, and I am looking forward to a wonderful summer of work and writing. To that end, my goal is to write 1000 words per day! Sort of ambitious, but here's hoping I can do it.

One problem that I seem to continue running in to is that of lack of motivation. Here I am, with a manuscript that requires polishing, and a new story in the works, and yet I can't decide what to work on. Perhaps it's the sun messing with my mind. Seems reasonable, considering we only see it a handful of times per year.

Ah well, I suppose it's time to stuff my laziness in the box at the back of the closet and get to work. Happy Weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Starting On The Write Page

Ever since I was a little girl, asking for stories from my father, I dreamed of telling my own. I loved playing with Barbies because I could create a world that was unlike my own, and the characters did what I bid of them. Now, so many years later, my skills at telling stories have improved. In place of dolls is a keyboard. And the stories my dad and I discuss now involve the latest news bulletins instead of fairies.

I would like to think that we all start on a fresh page each day, and that each day holds a story. We just don't know the lines yet, and maybe not even the plot. Over the past year I have started to discipline my craft, although I am the first to admit that I have a lot to learn.

I hope you'll let me share with you what I've learned, and perhaps help me to learn as well. Today I am starting with a new page, and I'm hoping I can write it with flare.