Monday, April 29, 2013


So, here we are. Two days remain at Camp. Less than 48 hours, and I've only got 1500 words left to go. One-tenth of my original goal. Yeah, I only set it to 15,000 words. I thought 500 a day would be all I could handle, and I've managed to make it despite a few "off" days and starting late. I'm too close to lose now, but I'm questioning myself. Could I have done better? Could I have done more? Am I not doing my story justice because I made my limit not even a full third of a normal NaNo?

I'm trying to convince myself that it's all okay, because ultimately, I've DONE it, but it's not an easy thing. We doubt ourselves, writers. Any artist, really. Our masterpiece will never be good enough. Our magnum opus will never be perfect, and that kills us. In bits and pieces, it tears us apart. Each word we hate, each scene that we run up against, every second of writers block makes us doubt, resent, lose faith, wonder if we should keep going at all. And from what I understand, that never goes away. I think it was Neil Gaiman who said as much in a NaNoWriMo pep talk several years ago. You can be published several times over, a success, and you will still doubt yourself, your stories, your characters. We're looking at a lifetime of torturing ourselves, questioning our worth and tearing ourselves apart as we struggle to make our stories come to life from nothing.

And yet, there's still nothing I want more.

Does this make me a masochist?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Doldrums

It's nearing the end of camp now. Three weeks in, one to go. At this point in the game, it's easy to want to give up. You want to go "Eh, good enough" and throw in the towel. Declare moral victory. You got writing done, right? That's better than nothing, right?

You know what's better than writing?

A finished story. And here I am, barely begun and ready to say "okay, that's enough for this NaNo." I just hit 9000 words. I'm not even the equivalent of six days into a normal NaNo wordcount. There's a bit of perspective. 9000 seems like so much until you compare it to 50,000.

Damn, I don't even feel like writing this. I've been working on it since last night. Anyone have any advice for getting through the writing doldrums?

"Doldrums" always makes me think of The Phantom Tollbooth. Maybe I'll reread that and see if it helps. It's one of my favorite books from my childhood. Talk about a book that made learning fun.

I'm just rambling at this point. Having a hard time keeping a single thought together. I think I'll cut this one short before I say anything that I regret.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Dream For The Future

I didn't go to work yesterday. Why? I just felt like taking a day off. I needed a day for me, or I was going to go crazy. So I stayed home and I didn't get out of my pyjamas all day. And since I think I wrote a grand total of 50 words over the weekend, I decided to devote a few hours to writing and trying to catch up on Camp.

It was lovely. Two, three hours of peace and quiet. No distractions, just me and my book, bonding. And then I made brownies, just because I felt like it. I even broiled some marshmallows on top of them, something I've never even tried before. And when it was all done, I couldn't help but think, "This is what I want." I want to stay home and write full time. I want to just spend hours a day dedicated to my characters, my worlds, my plots, without it cutting into time for my husband, my family and friends, errands, cooking, or doing things for fun. I don't want days like yesterday to be a rare weekday pleasure. I want it to be my life, my future. It's really what I've always wanted, but I fell into the belief that I couldn't have it, because I was supposed to get a job and go there every day until I've saved up enough money to retire somewhere in my 60s. "That's just what people do." Well, I can't do that. I think I would go insane. I don't want the 9 to 5. I don't want the rest of my life defined by a Dolly Parton song.

But there's that little voice in my head that wonders, "If you do that, what about college?" What about it? Well, I went; my parents spent a lot for me to go. Being a stay-at-home writer, would all of it have been for naught? A waste of money? What value would my computer information systems degree have? And how far away is this dream? Should I dive into it when my husband makes enough to support us himself and get things written faster, or do I keep my day job and hope and pray I can have the energy, the willingness, and the drive to finally finish a book and try to find a publisher or an agent around my 9 to 5?

On a featureless plane, a static surface, I can see this dream, far ahead of me. But I can't tell how far. It could be a year or two away, or it may be there, taunting me until the day I retire. I guess it depends on me, doesn't it? On how much I really try to get there. And right now, I'm letting the degree, the job, the doubts stop me. I'm letting them make hills and ripples that get in the way of being able to see my goal. I have to decide when this stops and when I'm going to get serious about making my dream happen.

There's really only one answer. My muse and I are in agreement. It stops now. I'm vowing, here and now, by May 16th, one month from today, I will finish the second draft of my novel and pass it on to my second reviewer.

If life's going to make ripples, then I'm bringing a steamroller. Bring it on.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Reading for Research: The Hobbit

Did you know March 25th was Tolkien Reading Day?

It's an annual event that was launched back in 2003 by the Tolkien Society. I only found out about it a few weeks ago and set my mind to picking up The Hobbit for the first time since before the first Lord of the Rings movie came out. Back then, I loved The Hobbit, but I couldn't get through Fellowship of the Ring until after the movie (the other two followed in short order). I always remembered that love, but, well, I'm not a rereader. I'd like to be a rereader, but I'm just no good at it. Given a choice between an old book I loved and a new book, I'll always pick the new one. When I was doing a 50-book reading challenge, I intended to reread the Potters AND all the Terry Pratchett books. I ended up rereading only one, Pratchett's Reaper Man. I just love the mystery of an unread book! But it being Tolkien Reading Day, The Hobbit being out on DVD, and more movies to come, I decided it was high time for a reread of the old classic.

Frankly, I am amazed that my preteen self managed to get through it without trouble, but struggled with Fellowship. For such a small book, it packs in so much information. A whole year in three hundred pages, and yet a legendary battle lasts only two or three. Deaths of dear old friends at the end get brushed over, yet you still feel them just as much as if it were drawn out. There truly has never been and will never be another J. R. R. Tolkien. And honestly, for that exact reason, I found myself not really looking for anything to learn from it. You can spend a lifetime studying Tolkien's writing style, but to what end? You'll know how he wrote, but few would dare to try and write like him. It would be better, I think, to study Middle Earth. There are few fantasy worlds as rich, vibrant, detailed, and well-loved as Tolkien's world. Study the maps, the languages, the races and cultures, the food and the song. Learn how to build a world from Tolkien, not how to write. 

Just wish I'd realized that BEFORE I finished the book. Guess I'll have to read the others. What a terrible thing. :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Camp Day "1": Getting started again

Hello, my name is Maggie, and I am terrified of rereading what I've written.

(This is where you all say, "Hi, Maggie.")

I knew when I registered for Camp that I was going to be a few extra days behind. My weekends are claimed by guests until the end of the month. This weekend was the biggest one that involved the most cleaning and "proper hosting" (Not just my mother staying over, but my mother-in-law as well for dinner!) I knew from the get-go that unless I wanted to pull late nights, writing was not going to happen this weekend. "I'll start on Monday."

But that was all lies, wasn't it? I had the time to write after the guests went to bed, and I have no trouble with late nights. I was up until 3 writing my 2000 words last NaNo when we had guests. I had plenty of time. I could have done it. So why is my wordcount still 0?

Those 6000 words terrify me. I know I have to reopen that document, reread what I had and start adding to where I left off. It shouldn't be hard. The book's not judging me. It's only a first draft. It's full of hopes to be hoped, dreams to be dreamt, and adventures to be had. It's so small, but I am so scared to open it and make myself read what I wrote a year ago that I convinced myself I wouldn't have the time. I liked what I had then. I've reread the other NaNos I won with (We'll talk about editing later...). What is it about this little barely-begun story that scares me so much more than the others? Is it because it's a reminder of my failure? Am I afraid that it's not as good or I'm not as good as I thought? I really don't know. I just know it intimidates me. Thinking about it makes my stomach churn.

No excuses tonight. No more waiting. I have to do this.

But why is it so hard?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Well, that answers that

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to camp I go, I suppose. I am a victim of peer pressure (Natalie! :P) Can't leave a friend alone in a cabin, now can I?

After a bit of back and forth with myself, I think I'm going to pick up where I left off, metaphorically speaking. Last Camp, I only got 6000 words of my novel, a sequel to my completed one. I felt like I wrote myself into a wall when I broke/sprained my MC's foot. It's a fast-paced pirate-themed action/adventure novel probably taking place over two weeks at most. How much action can there be if the main character can't walk? I felt stuck.

With a little less than a year of that hanging over my head, ultimately I've come to the conclusion: How much action can there be with a wounded MC? Let's find out. It's not going to be easy. In fact, it's probably going to be really hard. Maybe things will heal poorly and she'll be stuck with a limp for the rest of her life. I don't know yet. She's going to struggle a lot more than she would have if she could walk normally, but this happened for a reason. It's development for her. How much will she fight if she's already wounded? These are questions I'll get to answer now. I'm back facing that wall again, but this time, I'm going to get over it, around it, or through it, one way or another. Let's take it from the top.

Monday, April 1, 2013

To Camp, or Not To Camp?

I contemplated doing an April Fools post today, but decided I like you guys better than to pretend I had read 50 Shades of Grey and decided it was the pinnacle of writing and nothing I could ever write would match it so I was quitting. Plus, I don't think I could have gotten through that without hurting myself, either from laughing or from "oh god I can't believe these words are coming out of my hands." So have a real post instead.

Considering Camp NaNo started today, it's probably not the best time to start contemplating whether I want to do it or not. Honestly, I've been back and forth on it for weeks now, and still have yet to arrive at a conclusion. None of my ideas are really biting hard and begging to be written right now. One plot is slowly growing and developing, but not quite at the rate where it's ready to be started. I know myself, I know how I write. If I start now to try and hit a deadline, when the story hasn't given up a lot of its secrets, it's not going to be finished. But I also know if I don't give myself a deadline, it's not going to happen at all. So what shall I do? Take the bunny, no matter how unwilling and try to make it cooperate, or skip this camp and let it work things out at its own pace? I really don't know. April's a busy month for me with my birthday at the end of it and family and friends trying to work in visits. But then, it's no less busy than November with Thanksgiving, and that doesn't get in the way of NaNo.

What to do, what to do...