Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Wham Bam

And I passed the 50K mark for NaNo today. Nowhere near done with the story itself. I have at least another 50K to go before that's complete, but now I get to let the idea stew over the holiday weekend while I'm traveling and away from computer access. (I could take the laptop, but I don't think it's worth the hassle, and I won't have that much downtime anyway.)

Saturday, November 22, 2003

No end to my talents...

Yep, so I was cutting up potatoes the other night (to make some garlic mashed ones) and the furnace guy was here, because our heat wasn't turning on and this weekend the weather dropped into the 20's (fahrenheit)... Anyway. So the guy walks around the corner and starts talking to me. Distracted, I look up but forget to STOP CHOPPING.

Nearly took off the tips of my middle and ring finger on my left hand. Thank god for my strong fingernails. Stopped the knife from going any farther, but I still have nice slashes on the sides of my fingers. Haven't had any of those since I used to work with the jeweler's saws in high school art classes. (Mrs. Posey, 4th period English, just shook her head when I'd show up with bandaids on half my fingers.)

Still not as bloody as the time I sliced into my middle finger (again on the left hand) with a professional bread knife when I was working at the grill. Damn rolls. Went through seven bandaids and had to wear a finger condom for a week at work. Most annoying. Not as annoying as amputating my entire finger would have been, of course...

Considering my record, it's amazing that I'm as comfortable with a knife in my hand as I am.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Just a few subjects

There aren't many issues that I am unable to see both sides of... Most of them revolve around prejudice of some kind.

In the last five years, two of my close female friends have "come out", two more have always been "out", off-hand I don't know how many of my male friends are gay... more than a handful definitely, and if I tried to fit all my other-than-totally-straight friends into my apartment, there would be no room to move. So on the subject of "allowing" gay marriage, I'm sure you can guess which side of the bigotry line I stand on.

Last night I was hanging out with a few friends--girls' night--and one of them says, "So what do you think of that decision allowing gay marriage?" And the tone of her voice led me to believe that she somehow thought that it was a bad idea. Whooomp. I jumped on that subject like a cat on a mouse, baby.

Me: It's about freaking time. Why should there be any regulation of two adults wanting to spend their lives together? Is there such an overabundance of love in the world, that some of it has to be declared illegal?

Small-minded girl: Well, don't you think...

Me: Yes, I do think, that's why I think that this should be a non-issue. Of course same-sex partners should have the opportunity to make their union legal just like opposite-sex couples. Preferably, I'd like to see it kept to humans, of course.

SMG: (humor flying right over her head) I think this is going to be a major issue in the next presidential election. The republicans think it's wrong and the democrats are split 50-50 on it.

Me: Bullshit. Not all republicans are evil.

SMG: Um... (again, missing the humor)

Me: (taking a different tack) What part of the world will start to crumble if gays are given equal rights? How will this hurt anyone else? I fail to see why the "marriage protection" fools think that recognizing gay marriage will bring the sky crashing down. What is the big deal?

At this point, one of my other friends stepped in with "Actually, I think that the state of the economy is going to be a bigger issue." And from there we settled into less volatile subjects.

Now, I didn't like this girl before because she's... she's... actually, I wasn't sure why I didn't like her before this, but now I think I have a solid step up on understanding what it is about her that makes me wish she would go play in traffic. I'm just still in shock that someone I considered reasonably intelligent could hold such a backwards viewpoint.

Anyway... I should be doing homework about now instead of ranting on here. Aaaagh! So pissed, though.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

I think I'm addicted to online quizzes and polls...


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, November 13, 2003

dinner table conversation

So last night Jay and I were sitting down to a lovely dinner of leftover spaghetti with turkey meatballs - we eat so well, it's sick - and the subject turned to education. Not unusual since I'm in a Masters of Education program and Jay's taking an education class this term... And I realized why I was getting so fed up with my classes. I don't think I want to teach in the schools here because the schools here are not set up for learning OR teaching. They're total crap.

Average class size around here is 30 kids, usually closer to 40. A lot of teachers have a full course load - in other words, no prep periods, no consultation periods, no breaks at all. So, 7 classes, 35 kids per class... each teacher is trying to get to know and figure out how best to reach 245 kids. TWO HUNDRED FORTY FIVE. WTF? How does anyone think that's going to happen? I can't fathom it in my reality.

Add to that the contradiction between the push for more authentic teaching and the totally incompatible goals laid out by No Child Left Behind (another paving stone in the path to Hell)... well, gee, let's just make it totally fricking impossible to do the kind of job I'd like to do. I don't think I'm cut out to make that many compromises.

However, all is not lost. With my handy dandy teaching certification, I will be able to pick up the lush jobs at tutoring centers and do all that other real, hands-on, actually getting to know the kids sort of teaching.

Which should give me plenty of time to work on my writing and getting published goals, which are a heck of a lot more enjoyable.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Drat. Phooey. Darn. Poo.

Sheila (Starlines) and Holly (Real Writers Bounce) are packing it up. While I suppose this means that I will have fewer excuses to procrastinate in the mornings, uh, afternoons, and uh, evenings... I will miss the near-daily does of both of them.

I am happy that both of them are doing so fabulously with their writing... and I look forward to reading their next books. In fact, I have a B&N Gift Card burning a hole in my pocket, so maybe I will go pick up Sheila's most recent - Blade Dancer written under her S.L. Viehl pen name - which I haven't bought already because I've been BROKE.

I hope both of them continue to pop in from time to time on Forward Motion.

Friday, November 07, 2003

On critiquing

Yes, another writing entry.

Critiques are an invaluable resource for a writer. Often we're so close to our own story that we don't even see the words that are actually on the page anymore because we're so caught up in the images we see in our heads. (you say nutcase, I say writer...)

But, we need to remember that not all critiques are created equal and not all critiquers (hereafter referred to as critters) are going to have comments that are useful for you or constructive for your story. This is what we have to remember as writers. That we ARE the writers and that we're writing a story that only we can write. We are not bound to change something in a story we love because another person thinks it might be better their way. (Unless that person is your editor and they want to pay you for the book, in which case, negotiation is the way to go.)

All of us have preferences. Some people like everything spelled out for them -- they like to see all the workings behind stage, see all the world-building elements flash through because it makes the story richer and more involved for them. They don't want teases and flirts with the world, they want to KNOW. Other people could care less about things like the monetary system or the art history of your made up people/country because all they want is the story -- what happens, who it happens to, why it's happening in the first place, and most of all, how the hell the characters are going to survive the next twist. For these readers you can drop tidbits along the way, fleshing out the world as you go and that's A-okay.

Either way, someone's going to have an issue with your style.

So what can we get from these crits if half the comments are going to lead us down the winding path to misery? How do you know which comments to listen to and which to dismiss. And I mean dismiss as not helpful to the story you are trying to tell, not dismiss as meaningless. If you made all the changes a critter suggested, THAT reader would be ecstatically happy with your revisions, but you might not be. And guess who has to finish the damn book? Here's a hint-- not the critter.

What this means is that you have to have a strong sense of what you want from your story. You need to know what your central themes are. You need to know what your character motivations are. You need to know everything you can about your story. AND you have to have the confidence to stay true to that vision.

Some of the comments you get, you won't like. For instance, maybe you love a certain scene and can't bring yourself to cut it, but after reading five crits about how it throws off the pace and flow... well, you could keep it, but maybe you'll realize that the critters are right and it does need to go. ("But I love it." "But it doesn't work." "But I love it." "But you know it has to go."... so goes the mental conversation)

Some comments will be pompous and frankly so far off of your vision that you will just have to sit back and stare, jaw on the desktop, because the critter seems to have been reading a different story than the one you thought you posted...

And maybe I'm weird (Hah! MAYBE?) but the whole long disclaimer about how the critter doesn't really know anything, they're so uneducated, but they'll do their best to make you a better writer and possibly that much more fit for publication... PISS ME OFF. Now I don't have a problem with "hey, this is my opinion, take it or leave it" but I don't need the self-effacing BS seasoned with the implication that you actually do know what you're talking about but would never be so rude as to say that outright.

As a counter to this trend, I think I will add "this is the word of the Lord, as channeled through my glorious self" before every crit I do... At least it would keep ME entertained. The hell with y'all.

edit: It occurs to me that it might not be obvious that I meant the last paragraph entirely tongue in cheek... just wanted to clarify.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

And another strange writing experience...

So before I started up on the NaNo book on Saturday, I was digging through my stuff (one of the boxes that is yet unsorted and contains all manner of odd tidbits) and found the original map for the Three R's Triology (Revival, Retribution, Restoration). I spread it out on the table and was trying to repair some of the torn bits in the middle when Jay saw it.

He went nuts. "This is so cool. Do you realize what a great teaching tool this would be for meteorology?!?! You have to make me a copy. What's your scale? Where's the 45 degree?"

Me: "What? I just drew this to get story ideas." Another idea hits me. "So, um, well, what do you think the weather would be, say..." I point to the WIP's locale. "HERE?"

Anyway, it evolved into a very interesting discussion about weather and how it would effect my world. Had to add another continent and raise the mountains higher in order to get snow to fall where I want it to, but that's the joy of making up your own world.

When we had some of the boys over for dinner on Sunday, Jay brought out my map again and quized them on what the weather would be. To my surprise they were really excited about it, too. Dang. If I had known, I would have brought it out long before now.

I am a happy girl.
Passed the 20% mark

I'm a fifth of the way to 50K for NaNo. Most of what I'm writing will need serious revision, of course, but at least it will exist to be revised instead of swimming around in my fishbowl brainpan.

I think I'm going to take one day a week to work on Revival though... I'd like to finish the rewrite before the end of the year. Though I now know more about the ending of Revival just by sketching out the start of Retribution. Nifty how that works.

But really, when I go back and read what I've written so far on Retribution I'm like... okay, where did that come from. Because I'll start the scene not knowing how things are going to work out and by the end of the chapter all these characters and dialogue and scenarios have just sprung forth from my fingers. But WHERE is it coming from? I'm not consciously thinking of this stuff while I'm writing. I'll go back and reread and find things that just make me go "what?" I mean interesting stuff that I have no active memory of typing out.

What's most surprising is that it doesn't all suck. So whoever is channeling into my little typing fingers... Thank you.