Camp NaNoWriMo: Day 23


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Hamilton_Quote

I’m not sure if this is a direct quote or not, but it sounds like something that Hamilton might say, right? Or perhaps it was Thomas Jefferson. Regardless of who said it originally I passed it along to my store manager at Starbucks yesterday when he asked me quite casually “What’re you writing?”

To me, for some reason this is always an awkward question to answer. I have yet to truly figure out the succinct summary of my novel in general, let alone to date. I’m not so much worried about the latter, but the former, the one- to two-sentence summary? I really should figure that out.

I went to the library in Ypsilanti again. I was supposed to volunteer to make phone calls for some politician, but instead I went in search of somewhere air conditioned and somewhere I could get a little more writing done. As I write this right now a young man who smells of gummi worms and has Pokémon stickers all over his laptop, is sitting beside me and trying to strike up a conversation about what it is I might be writing… and I have my headphones on. Bitch, isn’t that the universal sign for “leave me the fuck alone”?

*sigh*

Instant Writer! Just add…

Now available in brand-new zombie formula!
Now available in brand-new zombie formula!
When he couldn’t find the words anywhere in the whole of Manhattan, Natalie imposed a new “shock therapy” on Dan to knock him out of his writing funk. What did this “shock therapy” entail? Two glasses of water to the face, an air horn, followed by another glass of water to the face. Dan didn’t have the hiccups, but I don’t think that mattered to the quirky Natalie. If someone would come and splash some water in my face, preferably Josh Charles simply to pass along this strange cure for writer’s block, I would greatly appreciate it.

Urban Dictionary defines writer’s block as “A point in writing where the writer runs head first into a brick wall in their writing process. Which may result in a writer bashing their head repeatedly into their keyboard/laptop/notebook/etc. until words or blood is freely flowing. Also might be because the characters are fed up with all the crap the author puts them through and go on strike”. I won’t say that there’s blood on my keyboard, but I will say that my fingers are shaking because I’m putting them too close to the keys. They are apprehensive about sitting there, simply because they know that if they don’t get their act together and start typing up a storm that I’m going to start cracking knuckles until they cooperate.

Okay, that’s… a lie, but you get the idea.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Sitting here typing a blog entry, one that seems to be well thought out and flows somewhat, I’m not in the midst of a block. But it’s true, I am. Because when I sit down with my story, all I hear are fucking crickets. No pen to paper, no words on the document. Nothing. Just me, staring off into space. I tried to go somewhere new yesterday, to see if I could jostle myself out of it, but all I did was end up at the Starbucks on Michigan Ave. with two cups of coffee and a vanilla latte; a caffeine-fueled sugar rush that resulted in a crash where they’re still trying to locate the black box.

Maybe, and this is just a theory, it’s my own lazy ass that’s trying to fight me on this. I’m currently sitting in bed with my laptop resting on my knees. The indoor thermometer says that it’s 64.0°, but the outdoor one says that it’s 52°. That’s just cold enough to keep my ass under these blankets until I have to go to work. Maybe, if I want to get myself out of this funk, I should push back the blankets and go somewhere. I believe the sun is out, perhaps I can go outside for a while.

SOCIAL: The World

mms_pictureKoala, a good friend of mine and someone whom I consider to be a muse, listened to me as I tried to explain my story to her. I could tell she was not necessarily confused, nor was she particularly interested, but she was definitely ready to give a little feedback. And I, feeling like a complete and total cad, listened. I listened, and at first I truly felt as if I should just hit delete and that would be the end of it. But it wasn’t.

I listened. And I heard exactly what she was trying to tell me. I needed to create a world for my characters. I had characters, and I had pretty good ones, I thought. But they really had no place to live. So, I had to create that for them.mms_picture_2

And create for them I did. I took to the school library and borrowed a white board and wrote down everything that I should put into creating this world. A physical setting, whether or not we were going to split this whole thing up into countries and then cities within those countries. How those countries/cities were going to react with one another, how were they going to be run? Were they religious? Did they believe in a god or gods? Did they believe in anything?

Once I got my head on straight, I figured it out. I figured it all out. And it was absolutely glorious. The mms_picture_3world is a good bit like our own, with a few small exceptions of course, but that made it a little easier to piece everything together. And once I started to create, I realized that I could do almost anything I wanted to. This is fiction, it’s fantasy, and it’s all in the mind.

So now, my characters have a world. It may not be a world worth living in, but nothing is entirely set in stone, right? This is fluid, it can change while I set out to write. The world may just have to change in order for the story to flow.

Next item on the agenda? The Plot®.

The Creative Reboot

“Lack” in Swedish means paint, or varnish in English. As I assembled my brand-new Lack table from IKEA, it occurred to me that maybe, in the end, this all means something.

A new coat of paint. Some fresh varnish. We’re not fixing things structurally, just making them look nicer on the outside.

But this table is granting me something I like to call creative freedom.

See, right now I am living in a rented room in the basement of a crowded house in Dearborn, Michigan. It’s not much, but right now it’s what I have. And here I have a level of privacy that I haven’t had in a very, very long time. I can go into my room, into my little cave, put on my headphones or NOT put on my headphones, and not be disturbed for days on end. I am free to be an adult, and free to live within the limits that I prescribe for myself.

Do I stay in my cave all day? Hell no. Girl’s gotta eat. She just usually brings her laptop and notebook and things with her. But she goes, backpack slung over shoulder, searching for a new place to sit down and practice her craft. Her craft just happens to be writing.

IMG_0443This brings me back to Lack. This little side table is currently holding the first eight pages of what I am calling my first real honest-to-god story. The characters are original works of art, each crafted before they can make their appearance in the story. Eight typed pages, typed on my Brother GX-6750 typewriter that was gifted to me by my muse, kept in a box that was also purchased at IKEA. Eight whole pages. I’ve started writing and thrown out stories that have been longer than this, yet there is something about this that keeps me going. I don’t know what it is.

This story is my creative reboot. This, not a reset of plays in iTunes, not the fact that I’m done with all of my academic writing for the school year. This is it. I’m restarting it all again. Wish me luck.

The Sound of the Life of the Mind

Sometimes, we get a brilliant idea. Now, at first, we look at this idea, and it’s good, but it could be better. Then, we work with this idea. We iron out a few things, trying to get the idea straight, and move the plot from Point A to Point B without many snags along the way. So we create some kind of an outline.

Jot down a few ideas.

Create a cast of characters

Write out a little dialogue.

Maybe draw up a scene or two.

But still, it’s missing something. You have no idea what, but it’s missing something. So you go back and you read through it. You edit some, you rearrange some. You tweak what needs tweaking, add what needs adding and subtract what needs subtracting. And when you read it again? It’s still missing something.

Tonight, I found out what my story has been missing. A message. What’s the idea of the story? It should convey an idea, shouldn’t it?

Hysterical pregnancy? A little bit, yes!
Hysterical pregnancy? A little bit, yes!
Great. Great ideas, kid. Except… well… except for the fact that you don’t know where to even begin. Coming up with a great first line has always been my downfall. But now? Now I’m really not so sure. I don’t even know if I should start from the beginning and work my way through, or simply jot down scene ideas and try to connect them later. There are so many ideas cramped up in my brain right now, and they’re all relatively connected to this one particular story, that they’re having a hard time getting through the door and out onto any paper in front of me.

*sigh* Oh, yeah. I… I’m definitely a writer.

SOCIAL: An Outline

I woke up one muggy June morning thinking to myself, “He’s right. You should stop writing fan fiction and focus on something real, something that you create from scratch.” Now, to wake up and suddenly want to writing something completely fresh, well, I’m not sure if I can handle that, not all at once, but what I can do is sort of outline the story. I mean, I do have ideas of my own that don’t involve people who already exist, in situations that have already been sussed out completely.

Right?

The only thing that’s holding me back is, well… where do I begin? I should start with an outline, character profiles, and a general setting, just so I know where the hell this story is going to go and how it’s going to end. I should at the very least know that.

So where to begin…

1. Plot
You sort of have to know where the story starts and ends, and a number of the details about what happens in the middle. Initially, you don’t have to have the entire thing sussed out; just the bare bones will suffice for step one. And put it down by chapters, that way it will be easier to divy it all up when you’re ready for details.

2. Characters
Got any yet? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Maybe you know who they are, but you don’t know who they are. You’ve created a character, now bring them to life. But how, you ask. How can I bring a figment of my imagination to life? Simple! Character development sheets are available in several places on the Internet; you just have to find the one that fits your character the best!

3. Setting
The story has to happen somewhere. Even if it’s in the load program, it has to happen somewhere. Neo has to get his guns from somewhere. As the author, you have to know where this is going to be. A landscape should be visualized, borrowed, or created. No one’s saying you have to rebuild Middle Earth, but knowing that you’re going to want your setting to look like Los Angeles after an earthquake will certainly help. Also, if you’re not going to create a setting from scratch, do some research. Go to your local library, and see if you can find pictures of where you want this story to take place.

4. Plot, Part 2
By now you’ve thought about your story long enough to get a better feel for the plot. Go back to your initial plot outline and fill in the holes. Rearrange if necessary. Add, subtract, multiply, divide. Do whatever math you have to do in order to get the story to have some sort of flow. Some sort of flow.

5. Write…?
If you think you’re ready to write, DO EET! No one’s going to tell you that your outline isn’t finished, or your story is lacking something. This is what I like to call “Draft Zero”. This is the bare minimum of effort you’ve put into your story. All of the word vomit in one place for the author to go back through and turn into the novel that they knew they had in them.

I guess I should start to follow my own advice and get writing. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated, since this really is a rather new endeavor for me. Wish me luck!