Sunday, January 28, 2007

Writing Every Day

I really try to write every day. These days, most of that writing is not in my novel, however. I keep up with my blogs, and the forums that I'm a member of, and writing on email lists I'm a member of. Then I'm all worn out and have no energy left for working on my novel!

Doesn't seem quite fair sometimes.

But writing is writing, and I do believe it all counts.

I have almost finished Bird By Bird, the book by Anne Lamott. Excellent read and I highly recommend it to anyone trying to write. She is very upfront about what you can expect from your writing, that you will likely not get rich, and how to avoid some of the pitfalls of your own internal editor and feelings of persecution so that you can really write well. I will probably finish it today, and hopefully use some of the techniques to get my novel back on track. One thing I have read with interest in the book is about how to develop characters. This is something I'm having a very hard time with right now; my main male character is about as flat as a piece of paper. I haven't yet figured out how to make him reveal himself to me, and some of Anne's techniques might do the trick.

Now, to carve out some writing time...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Twenty-Dollar Words

When I was in college and learnng all kinds of things on my way to getting my English degree with a Certificate to teach (which I never finished and instead ended up with something totally different - but that's another story), I loved using big new words on my family. When I'd use a particularly big word, my dad would say it was a twenty dollar word.

Well, I've brought it down a notch, and I don't use all the big words I can. But I still love words. I have a book called the Grand Pajundrum, which I adore because it gives you all kinds of little-known words with their meanings. And my latest purchase, from the Barnes and Noble $2 "last chance" clearance table no less, is a book called I Always Look Up the Word Egregious. The subtitle is "a vocabulary book for people who don't need one."

Yup, that's me. I don't really NEED a vocabulary book, but I like them. I like to find new words, even if I won't use them any time soon. It's fun to just randomly open a page and find a word that you've never heard before. Today's word is:


"Supporters of the tax credit brush aside the distinction, noting that only a modest amount of it would go to the truly affluent. but that is sophistry; the only reason few rich people would be helped by the tax credit is that there aren't very many rich people."

Sophistry has an unfavorable connotation and means arguing deceitfully, attempting to turn a poor case into a good one by means of clever but specious reasoning.

Hmm. I think I can use the technique, even if I can't use the word.

Friday, January 19, 2007

RIP Moxie

This is also cross-posted in my Momilies Blog.

Moxie while we were feeding all three elephants special treats.

We received word yesterday that one of Doug Terranova's elephants died this past Tuesday. The suspected cause was Encephalomyocarditis, a disease that strikes suddenly and causes death within hours. Moxie was 23 years old, quite young.

We know that Doug, and his assistant Adam, who worked with Moxie on a daily basis, are heartbroken. We are too. It is hard to know what to say; Moxie was a member of Doug's family. By association, he was a part of ours, too.

Moxie (right) and Congo playing kissyface.

The Baraboo News Republic had a comprehensive and heartbreaking article about the loss of Moxie. We're going to miss him.

Moxie (left) and the girls coming back from a bath in the Baraboo River (picture courtesy of Adam Johns, Animal Encounters, Texas)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Peace and Quiet, I need Peace and Quiet!!

Getting my Circus acts set up in the right order and understanding their characters has been more complex than I wish it was. But without it I'm having trouble moving my story forward. I have too many conflicting characters/occupations to go on without getting this part of the novel set in cement.

I worked most of Monday on the second half of the show. Despite having sat at my computer and worked pretty much five or six hours, I only managed to finish that second half. Part of it was that I needed to actually do some more research and understand the acts better, but part of it was that I could not get enough peace and quiet to actually work. Despite the fact that I had my headphones on, I was interrupted over and over again by the kids, by hubby, by the phone, by the TV being too loud, to really get a good amount of work done.

I am getting frustrated at how slowly this is moving. I really thought I'd have this finished by now. I am nowhere close to finished. I still don't know my characters well enough to get this story moving; some key characters are developing nicely, but the main clown character is still ethereal and ghost-like. No substance, just smoke and clouds. Something somewhere is not clicking for me.

Hopefully before this weekend, I'll have the first half of the show completely written so at least I have a complete show. Then maybe I need to sit and just brainstorm about my main male character. He needs substance. I need to know who he is, what he's about, what drives him, what will make him overwhelmingly attracted to my female main character, and what will make him irresistible to her. I think I'm having much more fun writing about the relationship between Emma (FMC) and Robbie (the gay wardrobe/makeup guy), and that is distracting me.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Big White Sheet

One thing I noticed when I was reading through what I'd already writte was how big the plot holes are. Sometimes we Nano-ers make reference to "plot holes you could drive a semi through." Well, mine are so big and chopped up that I feel like a semi truck MADE them in the first place.

I almost feel like I need to cover my novel with a big white sheet and declare it dead. LOL

But I won't. Because despite the plot holes, it's a really good story. Or it will be if I ever get it fixed up. Right now, no amount of duct tape and hot glue are gonna do the trick. It's a crappy first draft.

But without the crappy first draft, you can't do a great second draft, and an even greater third draft. You can't ever have a great novel unless you bother to write that crappy first draft. I'm forever thankful to Nano for allowing me to write, for giving me permission to write, that first big crappy draft.

So today I'm going to try to match my characters up to their occupations; I wrote that first crappy draft in such fits and starts that I made one guy a trapeze artist in the first chapter, but by the last chapter he was riding bareback horses. My performers are good, but they aren't THAT good. I also need to match the kids the school teacher is working with to their appropriate parents and the parents' occupations.

Hubby says, "just leave it blank and fill it in later." It doesn't work that way. Determining these occupations and places early in the beginning is critical to getting them where they need to be at the end of the book. So I have my work cut out for me.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bird by Bird

I've just recently started reading Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. It was recommended to me by another Nano-er, and I bought it last year, but had not gotten around to reading it. I've finished the introduction and first chapter, and it's a good read. Anne is blunt, but pleasant about it, and I find that kind of refreshing.

Her attitude is that just because you don't write well, or may write well but will never be published because of the tight market, doesn't mean you shouldn't write. I've been writing for years, with nary a hope for publication for the most part. But it hasn't stopped me from writing.

And I don't think it should stop anyone else either!

"Wanna write? Then write, right now!" as Erma Bombeck would say.

And that's exactly what I'm doing, for publication or pay or not, I'm still writing. If I don't, my head will asplode!

Monday, January 08, 2007

A New Year

Well, after dutifully letting my novel sit for a month, I drug it out of the mothballs and started looking at it. What is there isn't bad. There are some major inconsistencies and plot holes you could drive a B59 through, but all-in-all the story reflects what I was attempting.

Of course, there's the problem of not having finished the story...I need to get going on that, for sure. There is very much to complete, right in the middle, and a bunch at the end, before the ending that I did write before I stopped writing in November.

That made absolutely no sense. I started the story at the beginning but had an inspiration about something about 2/3 of the way through so I skipped ahead and wrote that. Then I had an inspiration about the end, so I skipped ahead and wrote that. Then I went back and kept writing from where I'd left off at the beginning of the story. That B52 I was talking about? Well, I think I have a whole Air Force full of them blowing through my story.

So, limbering up my fingers, I'm going to get back to work. I really want to write this story. Wherever it takes me, I want to write it. I'd love to have it done before the next Circus season starts. I may not make it, but I'm going to try.