The Mondays – NaNoWriMo bugs

crestNo, do not worry! No need to send out some search dogs through the rubble of my busy life to find me. I am still alive and writing. If you had time to check my blog “The Cave”, link above, you would have seen that. The drabble war is in full swing, some haikus fell out of my head, and work as been full with writing.

Also I started a writing course, here: Fiction writing course and I am doing some pedagogy studies for my work. So loads of writing, now I have time to catch up.

Oh wait, is it November 2nd? Dang, sorry NaNoWriMo is happening again. Last time I just made it halfway, writing was too hard and it was to busy to get about 3000 words a day in before work started. Now I have a bit more time in the evening this week, so lets see if I can make a head start so <ahum> coast through the final week. Solid plan! But we will see.

How many of you have no time to respond here because you have the NaNoWriMo bug? I will try this month to have sporadic and most likely frantic, peer-pressured, “need to write more words”-panic like paragraphs thrown at this blog, more for my moral support than your entertainment. I apologise beforehand.

With that I dive into my coffee, go to the lab, read an article for my pedagogy studies, have a meeting, pick up the kids, make dinner, put them to bed, make/drink/make/drink coffee and try to get 4000-6000 words down this evening.

Wish me luck!

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The Mondays – Iteration

Do it, do it again, keep doing it until the deadline (or you are sick of this final draft):
Do it, do it again, keep doing it until the deadline (or you are sick of this final draft):

An attempt thwarted by bad spelling perhaps. In any case I was one day late and even though the editor said they carefully considered it another short story got rejected for publication. Its is ok, as an academic where in peer-review publications seldom there are comments, or in grant application where 1 out 10 applications (or less) gets funded, rejection is a continuous process. It is a constant in the formula.

On Saturday scenes my “following” is not big, but the opinions I do value. Fellow writers with more experience and mostly native English speakers may read and comment. This particular short was not shot down, so it gives hope to polish it up and send it out again.

The iterative cycles of draft to the final version (whatever that may mean) are important. I surely understand the power of the long, slow push and hope I have the stamina to get through my own manuscript several times to call it done and done. One good practice I keep forgetting to implement is to read my stories out loud, record them and listen back to them. I guess because it is not natural to do so.

Us writers* are also readers. Of course we are. We start young and read many years before we really start writing. When we are very young we listen to stories, and via the media we still watch and listen a lot. I say it is not natural to listen to a story only (at least for me, there a many book-on-tape addict out there I am sure), because when we read we get so lost in the words and the story. We add our own imagination to it. We read between the lines. The words get their own identity. From that place I write. Word come as a flow, and even though I look up once in a while to see where I am going, my eyes are on the few meters ahead of me. I never forget the total picture, but the scene and the moment-of-the-words is the now. So I should break that mold and listen to the words I think. At least as a researcher I should explore the method.

I am curious about others and their methods**, so I will wait for comments while I sip my Monday morning coffee and stare over the fields of my imagination…

*) Hear me oh others, with my puffed up breast and my tail feathers blazing. I am a writer! (It felt a little pompous to include me in the “Us writers” thing. Maybe I misspelled Us, yeah lets leave it at that…)

**) And I will ask as well, a guest post blog is coming up. Very exciting stuff!

The Mondays – its monday

7010758-cup-of-coffee-splash-cityIt is really Monday. Deadlines are crushing my brain so I need to get some words down here, just of release the brain of the pressure of not writing here. Funny is it not? We write because we like it, yet for a lot of people, writing a story or a book is not yet bound to publisher’s dead-lines. We are not all hounded like George R. R. Martin for not being faster.

So in our professional world we all have things to do. Where do you find time to write you stories? I am writing 2 EU grant applications now, and a short story “needs” to be finished today so I can submit it to a magazine, which has a deadline. For me I find it hard to push me to write if there are not these time crunches heading my way. Though I am not as productive as I feel I should be I, having a weekly scene for G+ #saturdayscenes helps my story get along nicely. I tried last year #NaNoMoWrite, but that seemed to much pressure. I will try again this year, we will see. So am am off to my 5th cup of coffee of the morning, outline a lecture, finish a EU grant application by tomorrow and I will submit a short story by the end of the day. Even from the bus if I have to.

Because we write and it is so much fun! It is just a typical Monday morning today (yes the power went out as well for a while ;o) I wish you all happy writing this week!

(Credit goes to Jenna Sun for the image!)

The Mondays – about flash-backs

filepicker_Zrrws6IxR0GItZA4dei2_Every_Flashback_Has_A_Silver_LiningEditing. I thought last week I wanted to write about editing today. However, I just submitted a scene to #saturdayscenes on Google+ where I start with a conversation and then right after that a flash-back. I like saturdayscenes in that respect because it forces you to get something written which is half decent, while you get feed-back from other writers, luckily many more experienced than I am.

One critique I got was that, especially inexperienced writers, use flash-backs a lot. It felt personal at that point, simply because I am an inexperienced writer. I then read  some articles about flash-backs and writing tips. I will not copy the ideas and advice here, but you can check them out here and here. I think the articles offered me some good insight in what I do wrong and how to address these issues. One comment to my scenes was: “short flashbacks are a part of your writing style…” In the critique that I got the majority of the commenters thought that the short flashback worked for the scene. I did not get the feeling people loved the scenes (to be fair, not much happened).

My intent for that chapter is to give the reader a window in the relationship she was in just one day before she has to meet her former lover again. The meeting will be very formal and very public. I want to have the reader carry her baggage with her. Now that I read more about flashbacks I am happy I did not finish the chapter yet. It would have been a sinus-wave of past and present, while the present would have no flow. I already have a chapter like that, but there a father is re-reading the journal of his long, lost daughter. To make it even worse, some chapters are in the past, some now and some later. ‘Now’ is the defined by the event that binds all vignettes.

I think I need to sharpen the writing tools and learn how to bring in short bits of information to the reader via conversations, comments by others or short memories of the character to bring out the tension for the meeting.

Or

Split the chapter in two: past and present in two different sections. I cannot put it somewhere else (I think) for the book will be a set of vignettes. Now how I will present the vignettes is topic of research I will leave for another day.

So what are you thoughts on flash-backs in books? Do or don’t? And how to do it best?

The Mondays – part 1

“I decided to give my gun a name, so it would not look so strange when I talk to it. I call him Incentive.” Daydreaming in the bus. Not that I was daydreaming about really buying a gun or naming my imaginary gun, it came up in an imaginary interview I was conducting with two people I actually do not know.

Winters in Finland can be quite cold at times, so I take the bus. It is a good time to read book(s), since the winter-bus-time is about 5 months and I have 2 hours a day to kill. The rest of the year I try to cycle as much as I can. It is about an hour cycle each way, not great for reading book(s). Now my bike is broken and under repair, so I am reluctant to start a book. Either way on the bike while bikeling or on the bus while busling I daydream. Many silly ideas fly by, some good sentence and ideas for stories.

I also decided that in order to get some content to this blog that at least I should do something once a week. So since Monday mornings are already filled with a tired stare at the screen while tanking up on coffee, I decided I should dedicate this time to write my blog. So now I am writing in this blog about writing a blog. Not really Keats, but oh well…

O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
So withing daydreaming I can find sentences I would like to remember for use in poems or stories, yet larger ideas for (bigger) stories are usually born while writing from those ideas. Short stories, as I used to write them, followed an opening sentence I felt important to pen down. Now I am writing chapters for a book I hope will someday be a book, I noticed I am inspired differently and look ahead more. More like driving a care then riding a bike. Which is a wrong comparison, since writing short stories is like speeding down a hill without breaks, while writing a chapter is more like cycling uphill with a kid’s tricycle (at least for me).
I am curious about how do you scoop ideas from your head, from initial ideas to sentence to sentence?