Saturday, January 24, 2015

Lazy days of January

I was thinking about my childhood home. Funny, how the memories were of things. I don't remember the moments precisely, just the view.

Large, soaked maple leaves in a pile on the ground.
A dark stairwell, three stories, to our floor.
Chain link fence.
A dog yipping and running about the grass lawn.
Sunny day, wet ground.
A pale yellow track suit with an eagle on it, running through a field.
Faded, peeling mint green porch.
A front entrance rarely used on a porch we were rarely allowed to play on in the front.
Looking through a telescope at street signs.
Looking at street signs with my father that I couldn't read because I was near sighted.
Riding a bike to the house that leaned out further into the road to a boy waiting curiously, each of us 6 or so, each of us wondering who the other was. My first friend.

Memories are funny sometimes. They just come back when you're not paying attention, and sometimes, the things furthest way seem more real than the things today.  Tricks of the mind I suppose.

I have done some work on my story, and have written some of my plot ideas down on index cards. I'm working on characterization, I believe a strong character is the only thing required to make a story great. If you can get a reader into that person and to relate to that person, well, then, you've won.

This book is a bit more difficult to write than the last two, because I want it to have depth. It's not lighthearted.

I've gotten lazy, though. I had a few thoughts I wanted to write down over the week, but got sucked into a book I'm reading.

A working writer's worst enemy is a really good book....

I've almost decided I need to actually set 'reading times' so I won't read through my writing times. It's a fine line. Some writers don't read while they are writing, but I don't see how I can do that to myself. I'd be miserable. It's also contrary to the other advice, where writers should always read.

There's no winning in the life of a writer.

I blame January, the longest month ever, for my slipping habits.

It's not such a bad January right now, though, weather wise. It's making me ancy to get out and run again.

The roads and paths I run on are clear now of snow, so I'm free to, it's the trusting that I'll be able to maintain it, and, well, not remain too crazy cold.

I'm getting ancy. I need a bunch of runs in the winter to keep me feeling like myself. March is always the hardest running month, though, because that's when we sometimes get walloped with snow, and then I'm stuck between attempting to run through it anyhow, or waiting a few days.

I know I'll head out tomorrow, in the morning before I do anything else.

Oh January. It has to be someone's favorite month.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Traveling cities in spaaacceeee.....

This is what I'm working on today. Describing what my traveling space cities look like. It's so exciting to write things like this. I am going to link to my old friend's (she's not old, it's just that we knew each other a long time ago, that wasn't THAT long ago) when we both wrote stories for an online video game and loved it. She is a romantic at heart, I liked war and plagues. Our stories complemented each other nicely.... She is writing again, and I love it. She is mostly writing on her blog, which I am enjoying. Here is her blog.

The thing is, she is writing for the pleasure of writing right now, and that always is the best sort of writing. Writing is fun. If it's not fun, stop and go do something else. Far more writers work full time jobs and raise families while writing, than stop and write full time as a living. So it has to be enjoyable.

Which brings me away from my romantic friend from not-so-long-ago-really and traveling cities in spaaaceee...

Drama Girl has nothing to do with traveling space cities, but I may use
this picture as an inspiration to some of my characters. Also, people like
pictures in blogs. People like pictures more than words. This kinda makes me
sad, but alas, blogs must have pictures, not just words, so here.
But I have to tell you about my other writer friend, on the West Coast, who also wrote stories with us. She likes apocalypses. I'm going to try to find a link for her. It's kinda her thing for now, and she enjoys writing YA. She actually makes some money off her writing, which is fun to watch and chat about, and, in my case, drill her every now and again when I'm looking for information. She enjoys making book covers, throwing out her ideas, and creating spunky heroines. Spunky is a word my mother would have used, but it fits her characters. Unlike me, she will stay up for hours to finish a chapter. I write in allotted time frames I carve out prior to 9:30 p.m. because I can't physically stay awake after 10 p.m. and barely can think past 9:45 p.m. She's contemplating a new, non-apocalyptic story that I'm half excited about. I'm sure if she chooses to do it, there may be an apocalypse involved. Some loves are hard to let go of. This is her author page. You'll notice on her bio she spends a lot of time discussing how to correctly pronounce her name. It's the natural born teacher in her. Also, her name, easily spelled, is difficult to pronounce correctly for some people.... Sometimes, I think it just makes her a little sad, and lose a little hope in humanity that such an easy name can be so difficult for some to say properly.

Which is why my traveling cities in spaaaaaaaccceeee exist. Because some loves are hard to let go of, not because of any difficulty in pronouncing my friend's name properly.

I'm not writing a comedy, I just can't help drawing out... in...sppaaaaaccceeeee....

I'd like to write a funny book one day. But this isn't that book.

My mother also wrote.  She wrote for the love of the story and lost herself in her created worlds. She wrote fairy tales that haven't ever been written before that all featured young, plucky, spunky heroines. Maybe not plucky. If she had taken some of these stories and wrote them now, they would be published. YA fairy tales with spunky heroines are in now. She liked ghost stories, beach settings and haunted homes and coves. She was a night owl. And an astrologer.

Today I'm giving form and function and character and description to my traveling space cities. I see them in my mind's eye, and now need to translate them. It's exciting. It's part of the world building I love to do. It's the same excitement and fascination and joy visible in my mother when she was creating her haunted islands or mermaid coves or deserted beaches. The same as when my friends write the stories and characters that come to their minds.

I can see them, the traveling cities, inhabited with thousands of people and thousands of stories. Their lives and pasts and shared history are essential to the world I am building for them, but I will only tell the tale of my protagonist and those closest to her. Imagine that! As writers, we can create entire worlds in our minds, establish civilizations and races and breathe life into them, just so we can tell the tale of one character in the whole span of that created universe, one character with ancestors and talents and traits and friends.

I have another friend, she's on the East Coast, and she writes, as well. I've lost track of her writing, but I know she was morphing into fantasy from another, er, genre. She has been published under a pseudonym, and I am going to go find her and ask if she's still writing, and if not, assault her with shocked emoticons. I don't have a blog link for her because she became too busy for one. She worked with us, too, but not writing stories. She had to write press releases and release notes and 'calm down the world's not ending' forum posts. So, yes, she wrote fiction, too.

She's not writing about traveling cities in spaaaaacceeee, that's all me.
Can't help it.

And then there is my OTHER friend, who is remembered by my daughter for the ferrets she had as pets who has written this wonderfully full fantasy tale that I read and re-read and now, now I must assault her with emoticons, and see if it's ready to be sent out. She was part of creating the world we all wrote stories in. A lot of detail went into that world, and it's creatures were linked by the environment they became a part of.

Emoticons are the newest way to convey feelings and thoughts.

I do not think it is an accident that so many of my friends are writers, as yet unknown to the world, sitting in their apartments/homes/offices/coffeeshops/whatever writing, writing, writing... just because... One day, some of us will be known. Some of us won't. My mother was never known, but it did not make her any less a writer. This sort of writing isn't something done solely for pay.

You notice I'm not saying where we all worked? It's not because I'm not proud of it. It was one of the best jobs I ever had, and some of the best friends I know I met through that job. No, I'm not saying it because it's not about that world or that place. It's about writing, and my writer friends, and their works, and why we are all writing.

Why are we writing?

When there are people dancing around your head with fascinating tales to tell of strange and exotic times and lands or even of our own land, and these people have fascinating histories and opinions and goals and purpose, how could you not put it down?

And how, being someone who can do this, could you not find others of the like mind, because, really the only people who can truly understand the mind of a writer are other writers.

Now, I leave my writer friends to their universes and trials and characters, and tend to my traveling cities..... in spaaaaaacceeeee.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Writing is ketchup out of a bottle

WARNING: Since I'm grumpy about my limited writing tonight, and tired, this may be rambly.

The best writing is the writing that flows, the ideas falling onto the page faster than you can type them; the characters practically pushing themselves out of the way to get their voices registered and  their deeds put down on paper. I feel like I say this in almost every blog post. I probably say it on those days when my writing is not at all like that, like tonight, where I got 300 words and that was all, and I'm a little grumpy about it, because I wanted to do two full scenes, not part of one.

Characters in stories can seem real.  As a writer, you are only really a translator.  You want to ask the characters to slow down a bit here, go back there, or maybe have them go into deeper detail for you, to explain it more. The story isn't yours. You are just recording it. The characters aren't stupid, though. They don't want to waste their time telling their tale if no one is going to show up to write it.

So make sure you show up, and actually write, lest all your characters of today and tomorrow abandon hope and wander away.

Or maybe they do show up. I don't know, it could be like trees falling in a forest. The trees fall, the vibrations are there, ready for ears to pick up, but if no one is there, the sound of a  tree falling isn't recorded. I bet every tree that falls leaves a different sound. Maybe they show up and tell their tale, and the stories are in the air, waiting for the ear to hear it and record it. Maybe.

There are times when the words are not pouring onto the page, though, and the characters don't want to talk and it's a trial, I find, to write some nights.  Tonight, for instance, I managed only a part of a scene, a minor note in the entire book. That's all, though. And that's alright, for now, it is. It happens. I'm just grumpy about it.

Writers write, but sometimes, we can only write a little. We can force the mechanics and revise and edit, but in the first draft, it's important to focus on getting the story down, and that happens in spurts and fits and starts. It's ketchup out of a newly opened bottle.  Yes, I'm comparing writing to getting ketchup out. It's valid.

I want to write more on it, but I'm at a turning point. I need to decide what happens next, but I'm not quite sure. Oh, I've got the outline, but the outline is just that. No, my decision is, character-based. Do I let this third character exist with a voice, or exist only in the memory of the story? Is her tale told through bits and pieces of others' tales,  or with her own voice?

I'll have to sleep on that.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sundays are my favorite days

For the most part, they are.

Today was a taste of warmer weather - almost spring. I am missing running, but I am not convinced the sidewalks are ice/snow free yet, and I don't have good ice-running shoes.

I was having some minor issues with my story, but as with most stories, the kinks work themselves out. I did say I wanted to take on a more ambitious project, one that included some world building, and I did, and it is ambitious. It is also fun.

The days when I'm writing and my story is coming together, those are the days I know exactly why I write.

And, as I worked so much on my story, I have little else to share here!

My mind is not my own, in the midst of a story. It belongs to  my characters, and my concerns mirrors theirs, my wants and desires theirs. The words and worries and stories they are living become real, an entire world in my mind and an entire world outside my mind.

It is very easy to sometimes be caught in the wrong one.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Where I bore you with thoughts on writing

I'm in love with the story I'm writing right now. It's how it always is, though, when I pick the right one. I won't talk about my story, of course, it's too raw and new and only in its first draft, and I'm only in the first pages, but I am happy writing it. I can say it's different from all the other ones, and I find that exciting.

Here's what I love about my writing. I'm a fast writer when I have a scene in mind, and can just write and write and write. I love my characters. I think some are wonderful and some are assholes and some are just malicious, and they are always interesting. Though they are my creation, I never really know for sure who they are going to be truly, and what they are going to do, until it's written on the page.

What I don't love? When I don't have a scene in mind, or I'm at a shaky point in the story where things don't seem to be flowing right, well, then every keystroke is torture. Every word agony. Sentences? Ha. They kill me.  Doubt rolls in. Do I even know where the story is going? Is this an actual plot? Maybe I'm writing the wrong thing! I should have done the other story idea. Did the story reach a dead-end, because there is no actual path for it to follow, because it's the worst idea ever in the history of writing?

The last I toss aside. There's no way I could ever come up with the worst idea ever in the history of writing. There are waaaay worse ideas than mine.

The only cure for when I don't have a scene in mind, of course, is to write one anyway. It's easier with every story I write. Sometimes, if I do hit that dead-end, it's just that I need to go back to an earlier point and move forward, or to a later point, and write backwards. Writing linearly is not necessarily a requirement. I'm one of those writers that don't really believe in writer's block. I think that writer's block is either a lack of discipline in writing, or a need to reflect on the story before moving on with it. Sometimes, before you can write more in a story, if you come to a point you can't move past, you need to let it sit for a week or so.

I just wrote 1700 words, and they are mostly good words, keeper words. It was a good day of writing, today.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Every moment matters, and my mother is February

I couldn't let the dreary obligatory post of the New Year be my only post for the day.

I'm much more contemplative than the list of tasks makes out to be. I've come to a place where I believe that bliss is found in the mundane. Nothing will bring greater joy or contentment than truly living every moment, and finding that moment and realizing it is the most important moment. If you think of it that way, than your entire life is filled with important moments that matter.

Some of you might jump to toilet humor. Every moment? EVERY moment?

One day, when my boys were around 4, they had fully (finally)grasped the whole 'poop in the porcelain bowl' concept.  At around 5 years old, I caught Turbo dragging a stool and a book into the bathroom. I was curious. I followed him, they weren't great at shutting doors and I often had to remind them to. I said, 'what are you doing?' or something to that effect, because he had climbed up onto the toilet, propped the stool in front of him, put his feet up on the stool and opened his magazine,  some  bright child magazine. He smiled the smile of someone who was about to fall into contentment. He said 'I'm going to poop. Can you close the door?"

Yes, every moment.
Though I don't believe you need to enjoy it quite as much as he did. Then again, why not?

There are times and moments we don't want to really live in, though, of course. Death. Loss. Suffering. But those moments are just as important as all others. The day to day. The once-in-a-life-time trip. Meeting the love of your life. Eating at a great restaurant. Moving in to a new home. But the big moments are made more so by the appreciation of all of life; and loss  and suffering and struggle are easier to bear, I believe, when you have a history of remembered and lived moments rather than a history of wasted ones.

I think of my mother often, as those who've lost their mothers do. I have a history of lived and cherished moments with her. My son brought home a plastic bluebird from something, a party or found on the ground, it is just a whistle. My mother came pouring back into my mind, a gentle, steady downpour after a drought. She loved bluebirds. The bluebird of happiness was her thing. So this plastic bluebird whistle sits on my desk now, a placeholder for the blue glass bird figurines she had when I was a child, sitting mostly unnoticed on windowsills or counters but always somewhere bright, and prevalent enough that I remember them.

I dreamt of her as well. I dreamt of my mother and February and blue and snow and brightness.

Blue is my color for her. A true, deep blue. The primary color blue, bright and deep. Blue butterflies. Blue birds.  I can't say why I chose blue for her, but I did. I have a wreath that I made a few years ago. Every time I see it, I think of her, which is funny because I didn't make it with that in mind. The wreath is February, like my mother is February. The bright, stark month that comes and goes too swiftly. The wreath is covered with frosted snow, like the white strands that salted my mother's dark hair. A delicate butterfly lands precariously but surely on one of the twigs. My mother was like that, delicate and strong all at once. Easy to pass over  as nervous and child-like, but filled with desire and strength and dreams. Red birds on the wreath because spring will be here soon. That' February's promise. The winter passes and spring is almost here. My mother lived her life like that - every season passes. Nothing stays the way it is, everything changes. That is the only constant.

She's been in my thoughts a lot lately, ever since she came with the bluebird my son brought home. She is blue and bright and February and every moment I look at the little figure I see dark hair, quick eyes and delicate hands.  Every moment I see it I hear her tsks and laughs and sharp wit.

They are good memories, of moments cherished and valued, and they all took place in the everyday. After school. In a car. A Saturday morning. So I have lost her, but I still hold her because she did not waste too many of our moments. She believed her favorite saying, don't forget to smell the flowers. She always did. Brightness in the dark. Light, silver linings and hope. Our lives are built on moments.  Memories default to moments. That is why they matter.

2015 is just a number change

Even though the New Year is for all intents and purposes a celebration of a calendar turning over, it still represents a new start. It's silly really, a new start can begin any time a person chooses to head in a different direction.

Still, it's a good time as any to make a holiday of it, and to reflect on it with friends and family and drinks and for those who still stay up past midnight, watching the clock turn to midnight.

I'm not a resolutions person. More like a goals person. But I have my list for 2015 already.

More of the same as the past few years, with some tweaks. So here's the obligatory 'what resolutions/goals do you have.'

  • I want to pick up trail running this spring. I wanted to last spring, but for some reason I never did. This year, I'll be able to.

  • Writing daily. Increase it to a daily habit. I'm beginning work on a second story,  something different, something bigger. The one advantage to not being a published author is that I can play in whatever genre I want. (See? See how I turned around not being a published author into a good thing?) I don't have to use the book that sold last as a guide to what book I should write that will sell next. 
  • Finish painting the last of the house. I anticipate that once this is done, we'll end up moving. We've never lived in a house we've completely painted much longer after it's painted.
  • Aside from the writing, I'm insisting on time for other things I want to do. Photography. Finishing a quilt. Attempting to sketch. This week I'm going to go for a walk and take pictures of things I think are interesting in my neighborhood using my wide-angle lens. I haven't used it nearly enough.
My two weeks of off-work has almost come to an end.  I managed to spend a week of it resting because I had a  crazy crazy cold, and this week getting a few projects done that I wanted to complete before January. Not really looking forward to going back to work (a common problem, I assume), but I have a resolution around that as well, so we'll see.