The Writing Year: A New Day

Planning your novel ahead of time increases its likelihood of being dead on arrival.” from the NY Book Editors Planning to Outline Your Novel? Don’t.

I’ve always kind of adopted this mentality. Whenever I sit down and try to plot and plan out a novel, it never ends well for me. Sure, I have a series of points all lined up and ready to go, but when I set out to actually outline a story? I always feel like I’m trying to hit checkpoints, like if I don’t pass certain points along the way the story that I’m setting out to write is just going to fall flat. But I also feel like if I don’t have those particular checkpoints the story won’t go anywhere, and it’ll get there in a big damn hurry.

When you head into a piece of writing without the planning, the job of the writer is to create.” And this is where I am right now. I’m sitting here, not worrying about a word count or even a page count. I have an idea that I would love to get down on paper, an opening scene for the newly revamped Tequila Mockingbird. I’m sitting at a table, headphones on and playing some playlist that I’ve been setting up over the past few weeks — playlists for me are always a work in progress, okay? — and I think I’ve gotten… a paragraph of this new scene on paper.

This is where adopting a new mentality is going to be difficult for me. I’ve always had it in my head that I have to write a specific number of words, or a specific number of pages. But writing without a set goal in mind? I’m not sure if I can accomplish this the way that I would like.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t try.

The Writing Year: Day 72

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-11-42-46-pmThis was tweeted by yours truly nearly six months ago. This was at a point where I’d been working 20+ hours a week, taking 18 credits, and spending 10 hours at an internship which I loved more than life itself. This was a time in my life where busy wasn’t a strong enough word. I wasn’t busy, I was swamped. The moments I wasn’t doing homework, or working, or trying to sleep, were spent either writing or “playing” with Koala.

I have since graduated, and the internship is long over. And while I have gotten a few extra hours at work, my time has been considerably freer than it had been six months ago. So… why have I not focused on my writing? Well, I suppose it could be a number of things that have me not writing as much as I would like. I mean, I can think of a few reasons why I haven’t gotten it together, haven’t gotten the ball rolling at the speed which I think it should be rolling, but none of them are related to the writing itself.

What I really need to do is just… sit somewhere, not thinking about the world for a while, and just write. Forget the computer (or at the very least turn off the wireless), and just sit there with my notebook and pen and what have you.

The only problem with this is that I enjoy doing research as I go along. If I have an idea for a setting, I like to find the perfect setting and then describe it using what I’ve already seen. So, I would need some kind of Internet connection for this. But the truth of the matter is, if I went to a public library I could always take notes and then use one of their computers to conduct said research. Remember when libraries used to have books that you could use for shit like this? Well, some of them still do, but they’re few and far between.

Oooo. You know, come to think of it, I may plan a little excursion to the dirty* side of town. I really like that space, and who knows. Maybe it’ll be conducive to the process once again. Plus, Somerset has some really nice stores, and I haven’t been to any mall in a minute. Hmm. Perhaps I have an agenda for tomorrow after all!

*I say dirty, but really it’s the part of town where my former roommate lives and works, and frankly I don’t really want to risk running into her again, ever.

The Perfect Notebook

Write. Now.Okay, so I stopped at Target for a notebook. I know, I should’ve known better. I am that person who will stand in front of piles and piles of notebooks, staring at each and every one, picking up a select few and thumbing through them, weighing each one against the other until, forty-five minutes later, I’m finally buying a single book that’s going to be used to keep a written copy of the soundtrack to my latest novel.

This was me in Target today. I told myself that I needed a small notebook and I figured Target would have a rather nice selection. And while they did have a nice selection of notebooks — including a Moleskine-type notebook with BB-8 on the cover — I was just having a difficult time finding the right one.

And from behind me, a woman who was probably in her early 20s, holding a pack of different pens in each hand, lets out a little sigh and says, “It’s impossible, isn’t it. Finding the right notebook.”

MY MOTHERFUCKING SOULMATE RIGHT THERE IN THE DEARBORN HEIGHTS TARGET.

Someone, a random stranger in the office supplies aisle of this forgotten Target, not only understands the struggle, but is willing to talk it over with someone who she hasn’t even met. Ours eyes met and we both just smiled at one another. “I know,” I finally said to her with a casual shake of my head. “Ugh, I know. I understand the-”

“Struggle,” we said in unison.

She was gone before I had a chance to say anything else, having left one of the packages of pens behind. Another difficult choice, I’m sure.

Finding the Perfect Spot

Where’s your perfect place to write?

Writers throughout history have been asked that same question over and over and over and over, and I’ve even addressed it several times right here on this blog, and I’m about to tell you that I have found the answer. Yes, blogosphere. I have found an answer to a question that I honestly believed didn’t have one until earlier today.

IT DOESN’T EXIST.

Now, hang on. Hang on, I know that sounds awfully pessimistic of me, and believe me I don’t like the answer any better than you do, but here’s how I came to this conclusion:

I packed my writing bag and decided that, like yesterday, I would go to Starbucks and get myself a strawberry açaí refresher with mango and no strawberries, and I would go to the Henry Ford Centennial Library for a little writing. But then I got hungry, so I ended up at Westborn Market and I got myself a little pasta. And after that, I just drove around. I was like, “I want to go somewhere and be able to eat my pasta and write but you can’t eat in the library and I’m really hungry” and that’s when the decision to go home was made. But I wasn’t there for long. After eating my pasta and watching half of The Runaways I told myself that I was either going to take a nap or go somewhere and write.

I never went for my refresher but I did end up at Starbucks to get a s’mores Frappuccino. And after that I made my way to the Caroline Kennedy Library in Dearborn Heights. Here’s where my afternoon went off the rails.

The school across the street let out and all of the children made their way to the library. Children who are hanging out at the library for reasons unbeknownst to me. I push my way through the crowd and find a table with an outlet and I set everything out, ready to write. YES! This is how I felt yesterday! And I got a LOT of writing done yes-

*cell phone chime*

I, I mean, I got a lot of writing done-

*cell phone chime*

Fucking seriously? Sigh. Okay. Like I was saying, this is how I got a lot of writing done yesterday so I figured that today would be just as productive.

Except I think I wrote three pages total. And they’re terrible pages.

Normally I love this library. I find it comforting and soothing to both me and my muses and I love coming here to write, but with all of the kids and the teenagers and the shuffling of papers and the PEOPLE (I think it’s the people part of this that is pissing me off the most today) I can’t do it. I just can’t get anything of any substance on paper.

When my parents were in town for graduation I mentioned to my father that what I really need is to get a hotel at random times in random places and use that time to write. And I think, starting this summer, I am going to be doing just that. Maybe I can start at the Westin at the airport and work my way around from there.

Tequila Mockingbird: the Song That Doesn’t End

Yes, it goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on… my friends.

See, I had a plan. I had a glorious plan to attend the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo. I had a wonderful plan, and it was going to be brilliant and beautiful. I was going to not only tear through Tequila Mockingbird but I was going to finish the first draft. I was going to straight-up get this whole kit-and-caboodle finished and done with and get to either editing or creating more of a really good thing, but ALAS. School, the last month of the last semester decided that it wanted to intervene on my life and my goals and came in fast, hot, and hard, and completely took me out. I think I got roughly 20 pages done, though I’m sure that if I sat down and worked at it I could get it done in a few days a few weeks, but…

…as of 1:39 PM on April 28, 2016, I am officially done with my student obligations. Graduation from the Univ. of Michigan – Dearborn is May 1st at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor (aka The Mothership), and I will be attending. I’m going to do a little dance, a little jig, have a drink or two, and be all done with school; officially a graduate of the Journalism and Screen Studies program.

I’m proud of this accomplishment, but I’m not ready to sit back on my laurels. Oh hell no. No, see, I want more. I don’t just want to be in the journalism field somewhere – preferably on the radio, to be honest with you – but I also want to be a writer. I want to be able to say “so I published a book” and be 100% right about it. I want a paper copy of a story that I’ve pieced together with my over-active imagine and everything else that may be sitting around in my addled girl brain right now.

I’m ready, Tequila Mockingbird. I’m ready to sit back and make you a real, honest to god thing. And I’m ready for the whole damn world to see your brilliance.

Tequila Mockingbird: Rising from the ashes!

A little while back, I got an idea for a story. Brace yourselves, right? I never get any ideas, so this was kind of interesting. At first, I thought hey! I should just sit down and write. Don’t think about it; don’t try putting anything but prose down on paper. Seriously. No outlining, no character creation, don’t even look for pictures for your main characters. But then, I got one sentence into the story. One. And I needed to do some research. So research I did. I looked up the boarding school that my protagonist would be attending, along with the school her sister would be attending, and when her brother would be home, et cetera. I even found flight numbers so I wouldn’t just be making it up (because I am nothing if not thorough)!

Because we have to know how our protagonist gets from Point A to Point B, right?
Because we have to know how our protagonist gets from Point A to Point B, right?

Yoobi notebook, found at Target, Allen Park, Michigan
Yoobi notebook, found at Target, Allen Park, Michigan
And then I thought: write this long hand, or type it up. Why, write it long hand, of course! You can bring a notebook with you anywhere, but a laptop doesn’t travel as well. So I went and got myself a little notebook and found some of my favorite cheap-ass pens, and I started to write. Of course, I pulled a Lisa Simpson and fucking procrastinated myself into writer’s block, but I never gave up. Sure, I put it aside for a little while, but I never stopped thinking about it. Every day I’d come up with something new and a little interesting to inject into the story, and I would make a note here or there. The notes turned into a Scrivener file, named with the title of the story: Tequila Mockingbird. Uh oh. This is no longer a simple project. This is no longer going to be a simple “sit down and write and screw the details” type of a story, but this is turning into a full-on project.

Today's Swag: Five-Star Flex (3 subject), Pentel RSVP pens (blue ink, fine point), and some Post-It flags
Today’s Swag: Five-Star Flex (3 subject), Pentel RSVP pens (blue ink, fine point), and some Post-It flags, Staples, Dearborn, Michigan
So I did what any self-respecting writer would do: I stepped up my game. I made my way to Staples and picked up something to hold this monster in. After all, all of the digital files will be in Scrivener, but I am going to write this all out. I even went to Kinko’s and printed out character sheets so I could suss out at least three characters, though I’m not sure if any other characters are going to need any real sussing. I printed them, even punched holes in them, ready to be added to the Flex® whenever they’re ready. I mean, I did start to write it all out, the least I could do is see that through. So I got myself a Flex® notebook and some pens and even a pad just in case, and I took to the Henry Ford Centennial Library here in Dearborn, found myself a table, stretched myself out, and started to write.

So… we’ll see how this works. We’ll see if this is the one that takes, or if it’ll be just another false start. Either way, I’m not going to stop. I’m never going to stop.