Monday, November 12, 2007

Got It!

I started NaNoWriMo this year with no direction. I wrote for a day about a clockwork sci-fi universe, but almost entirely lost steam and interest after the first day. I figured I'd skip out on NaNoWriMo this year. Ei-Nyung was doing it, though, and I remembered how fun it was. Even though we ended up working separately, it gave us a neat shared experience, and something to talk about. It's also spectacularly rewarding when you do it, so even if it's kinda tough, it's tough in a way that's worthwhile.

This year, I was stuck, though. It's halfway through the month (almost), and I only had the 1,300 or so words I wrote on the first day. Tonight, while walking Mobius, I had an idea. For some reason, I wanted to write about someone who had gotten shot. While in a coma, something catastrophic happens. The person wakes up, completely atrophied and disoriented, and walks out into the midst of a localized apocalypse. If that sounds like 28 Days Later, that's not far off. But no zombies. It'd have to be something practical in the real world.

Then, there was another question - sure, this sort of thing is a reasonable basis for a story, but it's sort of boring. I remembered an article I read a couple months ago about "face-blindness," where people with a particular condition can't recognize people's faces. Which led to a sort of interesting potential point - what if the guy needs to find the person who's shot him - he knows that the shooter's the center of the apocalyptic event, but even though he can recall a number of the person's features, he can't recognize the person at all?

So, there's that. I thought that was a pretty interesting way to start a story for NaNoWriMo. Even without knowing what the apocalyptic event was, that's the sort of thing that just works itself out. I wrote the scene where the main character gets shot, and the beginning of his recovery, before he knows what's going on. That was about it for the night - 4 pages or so of stuff. Then, it got interesting.

Spoilers follow - or rather, *intended* spoilers follow, since I haven't actually written any of this yet. If you want to read the end result without spoilers, you can stop reading. Thing is, I'm not actually likely to be able to execute this as well as I'd like, so it's probably no big loss to read what's happening, though it does mean that reading the final story will probably be kinda "meh."


Here we go.

Thinking through the particulars of the initial scene - the shooting - I'd written a bit about the features of the shooter's face. There's some interaction between the two - just some verbal exchanges, but mostly, it's just two people standing in a room, then one gets shot. The shooter's the crux of the apocalypse, and the main character has to find them, how they relate to the event, and then potentially get revenge for being shot.

Thing is, the way the first scene's written, with very minor revisions, it'd be easy to recast it as a person trying to talk themselves out of committing suicide, while still seeming like it's a conversation between two separate people. So, the shooter IS the shootee, and he is the center of the apocalyptic event. But the main character doesn't know that, having been in a coma, and having lost their ability to recognize themselves on sight.

So, the process of finding this person begins, but no one knows who he's talking about, and he's unable to put the pieces together himself. In the end, it turns out he was the catalyst for the apocalypse, and tried to commit suicide - out of guilt? Who knows? - before the event occurred. He failed, survived, and now ends up trying to find and stop the person who shot him and instigated this apocalyptic event.

Very old-school film noir. Balancing how much is communicated to the reader, and how much the main character actually knows and is able to connect is gonna be tricky. Could be interesting, though.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


I didn't think I was going to do NaNoWriMo this year. Honestly, I'm *still* not sure whether I'm going to stick with it or not. That said, I started writing at midnight, and I'm 875 words in. Thus far, the genre, if anything, is "clockwork sci-fi." It's weird. I can kind of see it in my head, but it's all a bit fuzzy so far. Not really sure who the character is, or what they're doing.


As good a start as any, I suppose.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Potential novel idea for 2007

I'm still contemplating whether to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, since I'll have my first and last extended vacation without employment of any kind since the age of 14. I'll have to decide soon, since we are already halfway through October.

Meanwhile, even as I have yet to come to a firm decision, I have been mulling over various ideas for a story this year. I have been fiddling with the idea of telling the story of the highs and lows of a internet boom era start-up, from the perspective of a fresh college grad. :D

Today, I am considering going in a completely different direction. What if I were to weave stories from the secrets submitted to PostSecret? Each major character has one or more secrets they hold. Some of these secrets involve the other characters. Each secret provides an internal motivation and a path for the character to walk within the story.

It could be an interesting exercise. I don't know if I'd want to start with a complete outline of how the secrets & lives would intertwine, or if I'd start with the characters and set the loose on the page to interact with each other and create the story as I go. I certainly enjoy the latter process better, but I know that I need to practice the craft of plotting, so it's something I need to think about.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The writing fever

The writing fever is back. I think I'm really trying to find my own voice as a writer. When I read my writings of the last three years, what I see are distinctly derivative plotlines and voice.

And for now, I'm fine with it. I'm finding the right niche, and when I hit it, I think it'll be clear. It seems the easiest at this learning stage to find a mold I like and try to fill it. When the mold feels really right, I can smash it to bits and start all over again.

The first two years of NaNoWriMo, I worked on light-hearted, historically inaccurate Regency Era romance novels (not Regencies, which are a more specific subgenre). The third year, I worked on a Young Adult novel about falling in love for the first time, experiencing loss, lacking control and agency, and struggling with difficult family relationships.

I've been tossing around ideas for this year already. One of the themes I want to explore is the ability to draw a clear line between your current decisions and the past events of your personal history that inform those decisions.

Love is such a strongly motivating theme for me -- and I don't mean just the light-hearted headiness/excitement of early love, but the maturation of love, the complexities that make it a struggle, but something worth fighting for, nonetheless. There is something so basic, so integral to the human experience about reaching out and finding someone with whom you can create this new thing that is your family and your lover and your best friend, new and separate and different from the close-knit friendships and beloved familial ties that had come before, that the very idea that you can tell a complete story of someone without this serving as the backbone is bizarre to me.

[Note to self: learn to write better sentences.]

I don't really have a plot together yet, and I don't know who my characters will be. I feel like I'm drawing a lot from my readings of Jennifer Crusie's works right now, having just finished "Anything But You". Her writing is indeed light-hearted, but the real, subtle strength lies in her ability to draw on real-life hurdles and insecurities, and showing the growth of her characters, rather than relying on external circumstances or inane misunderstandings to drive the plot. It took me reading three of her books to pick up on that, because this common thread is subtle and well-crafted.

I find myself listening to conversations, picking up lines from tv shows or books or songs, trying out different stories in my head. I'm starting to understand what writers mean when they say they are always filled with stories.

The key is to harness that process and work on it actively, to pick out where the strengths are and where the weaknesse are, to pay attention when and why stories are being told well and what has gone wrong when they are told badly.

That's essentially the same process that Seppo actively applies when he's playing or thinking about games. It's a valuable lesson I've learned from him. It's so easy when I'm just reading for pleasure to become a lazy reader and letting the words just take over, instead of an active participant in the narrative and understanding when the author is doing a good job of leading me down a path and when the author is clumsily dragging me over painful mounds of pointy stones.

One of my weaknesses is the inability to be succinct and direct. I need to be able to let the actions drive the story and show the internal motivations of the characters, rather than tediously describing how they feel, thus, how the reader should feel about a scene. It'll take practice and constant active analysis. But I enjoy that, so it should come relatively easily. :)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Post mortem

So I wrote a book last month. And I think this one could really be called a book. It had a story and characters. It started at the start and ended at the end, unlike the other book-like things I worked on the last two years.

And I might have to take next year off from writing, because this year was so rough.

The best thing I got from the experience is that I feel like I now understand to some degree one of the things that has always sounded very selfish to me: that many writers say they write to write, not to sell books.

I'm a very practical person. I love this creative outlet, but a part of me has hoped in the last few years that I could make a palatable story for the public to consume, thereby getting me some cashola in the process.

I'm a very proud person. I've always played down my writing, but a part of me has hoped in the last few years that I could make a story that my peers would believe was a good piece of work, that I was a good writer to some degree.

This year changed everything. At least about the way I view what I'm doing.

I had a glimpse of it when I was trying to describe to a friend who disagreed, but I really love the process of writing. It started with the first NaNoWriMo, but this year, it really cemented for me.

I've joked to everyone that this is "an entirely fictional" -- insert eyebrow waggle here -- "story of a" -- *cough cough* -- "Korean American girl, dealing with family, immigration, and falling in love for the first time". The clear implication is that it's about me.

But it's not. That really is just a joke. It's about a girl I might have known, a girl I could relate to, a girl, who, if I met her now as a peer, would become a nigh-instant friend because we'd recognize the similarities in each other. But she's not me. Her experience are not the same. Her family is not the same. Her relationships are not the same. They are, however, very familiar. Some of the vignettes come from things similar to what I went through. Some of them come from stories from friends, relatives.

Write what you know. That's what people always say. But in 2004 and 2005, I tried so hard not to write what I know, but to write what I like to read. So I wrote romance novels set in the Regency Era.

Those stories -- rather, collections of interconnected scenes because there is no discernible story arc -- were light, poppy, and easy to read. There was no dimensionality to them. They were sitcom-y. They weren't terrible. Not good, but not bottom of the barrel either. But not good.

High praise, eh? :) But I'm not bogged down by insecurity in general. That's not insecurity talking. That's an honest self-assessment. I read a lot. I know when something is decent. It's ok, not good.

This year, I found something new. See, during writing, everything is amplified. How long does it take you to read a sentence? A paragraph? Not very long. A split-second to a couple of seconds. Imagine reading a sentence that really hit the right emotional chord. A paragraph or scene that left you with a pang.

Now imagine writing that. Imagine that it is taking you about 30 seconds to write that read-in-a-split-second sentence. That it is taking you about 5 minutes to write that read-in-10-seconds paragraph. Imagine pulling together a scene, pulling up all the related memories and stories from your friends and books that have moved you and trying -- trying, not necessarily succeeding -- to crystallize that moment on paper. Imagine polishing the memory, the shared stories by the ones you love, digging to find the moment and the pain or joy of the experience, reliving it, cherishing things you hadn't thought about in years in such clarity, and trying to put it down in coherent words.

It's like pulling out your favorite collection of photos and childhood comfort foods and music you sang while sticking your head out of your friend's car on a summer day in high school and the notes you passed your best friend, and really savoring the memories. Not just in passing. But really re-examining what made them special and what someone else might understand from it.

At least from the writing perspective.

Whether it translates to the reading perspective or not depends on the technician. I'm new to the game. So the end result for me as a reader isn't that great. But I hope to get better at it. And I think I can.

But this year, I learned something totally new about the experience, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I feel a little weirded out when friends have said they want to read it. Not because I don't want to let them. Not because I fear their judgment. But because it then becomes something else, not just something I did for me, but something I did for consumption. Which I wanted the last two years.

I am just not sure about it this year.

I think eventually, I'd like people to read it to give me honest, genuine feedback. Because I know people who read quality writing, and you can only get better by getting constructive criticism, by having people tell you what you are too myopic to see.

But that'll be after the editing process. There are extra bits of story that don't fit, people whose roles changed abruptly, narratives that detract from the overall perspectives of the book. The end needs to wrap up in a way that doesn't leave me hanging. There are extra scenes that need to be written to round out the emotional texture of the story.

After that, I would like to get feedback. So I can make it better. So I can grow.

For anyone that enjoys reading or writing at all, for anyone who wants to tackle a crazy project, for anyone who wants to contemplate relationships, memories, new ideas, I highly recommend NaNoWriMo.

Why NaNoWriMo instead of writing on your own? Because most people can't find the time to do it when they do it as an unscheduled task. Because, to paraphrase Christ Baty to started it all, writing a book is a "someday" task: something most people think of doing "someday", when they are less busy, when they are taking a break from work, when they retire, someday.

You can do it next year. In a month. Even if it's not THE book you want to try, even if it's just "Hello Novel" (which I highly recommend for the sheer flying joy of it), or maybe especially if it is, it's one more book than you'd have written otherwise.

This year's book, it might not be all great, but I wrote the crap out of some of the scenes. The good parts, I'm damn proud of. The weak parts, I'm not too ashamed of. ;)

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Finished my book yesterday. It really didn't end like I thought it would, and unfortunately, it did confirm that most of the "good" is going to come from the editing process, if that ever happens. The major *themes* of the story that I'd tried to create were totally either lost, or hamfisted. The ideas, I think, came out okay, but it's just that they didn't cohere in any real way. Oh, well - next year, I know if I want to do this again, I need to plan more.

I'm not sure that I'm going to do it next year, though - maybe a break next year, spend the month while Ei-Nyung's writing trying to plan or something, then try again the following year. Maybe I'm just burnt out from this year, and next November, I'll be itching for a challenge again. Who knows? But for now, I'm done, and I'm happy.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I just barely dragged my tired old body through the 30K mark. It was damn hard. The last few days haven't gone very well.

Tonight's work felt really... stilted. Like I was trying too hard. Like it was too self-consciously trying to be funny or quirky. Worst of all, it came off sounding pretty phony.

There are still 13 more days to pick it back up. I know I can do it. I'm just stuck in a bit of a funk.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Changed my mind

I thought I had decided on my format for the rest of the book.

But after rereading what I've written so far for the boy's part and getting copious amounts of constructive criticism & advice from Seppo (all solicited and welcomed), I think that I am going to have to change the structure of the book.

I just can't do a reasonable first person of the boy. No matter how I try to talk in a believeable gender-neutral way, which I think I can do for my third person narrator voice, it is really hard for me to capture the feel of what it was like to be young, to fall in love, to grapple with issues of growing up and struggling family life, in the voice of a boy.

I find it especially difficult to reasonably portray a boy that is crushing AND lusting after a girl at the age of fifteen/sixteen. It always sounds like me as a girl, instead.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

On the Road to Recovery

Passed the 30K mark today. It went quickly - I started writing the other "side" of the story, which is weird, because in theory, it's the part that requires a certain amount of research, but I think it's ok if I wing it for now. The details in that regard aren't really important except that they set the stage for what the main character's doing.

I think it's weird, because right now, I did a huge marathon on the "Game" side of the equation, and now I'm doing a big chunk on the "Politics" side of the equation. Ideally, the two will have merged more smoothly, and you'll get a better sense of what kind of person this guy is more gradually, instead of HERE'S A! NOW HERE'S B! But I can't write like that in the first pass anyway, so it'll have to be a little clunkier, because I want to get coherent thoughts out, not interweave a complex narrative. That's the sort of thing that I think happens more in the editing process - this pass is to get the ideas out there.

So, it's sort of strange, because last year, even though there were parts that were crap, it sort of read in the order I imagined it ought to. This year, it's definitely *not* reading as I imagined it might. The "real" way it should be is much more A/B/A/B, instead of ALL A/ALL B.

We'll see how it turns out.


Four days after Seppo, I've hit the halfway mark! W00t!

The main girl character's story took me to about 21K words, and the second third of the story (another 20 or so thousand) will be the main boy character's story. The first third of that will overlap pretty solidly with the third third of the girl's story, then take them further along.

I'm not as confident about the boy's part, but I am feeling pretty good about how the story is heading out. I am almost positive that I can't get to the end of the story by 50K words... it'll probably really come to an end around 70K, I think.

I figure things will come to the central conflict will come to a head at around 50K to 60K, then cleaning up the aftermath and wrapping things up will take another 10K or more.

I'm not sure if I'll get to finish this month. I'll definitely hit 50K. I'll try to finish this up durin the Christmas holidays while sitting on the plane to visit the family, I think. :)

Sunday, November 12, 2006


The NaNoWriMo project's been going ok - I'm still on pace to finiah early, but yesterday I only wrote about 700 words, and I wrote absolutely nothing today. Friday, I realized that the combination of doing NaNoWriMo and having a job where these days all I do is write is causing me to essentially burn out.

Basically, I'd get up, go to work, write for between eight and nine hours, then come home, eat, and write for another two, in a completely different style, in a completely different universe. I thought maybe the distinction would be enough to keep them from piling up on each other, but Friday morning, I went in to work and wanted to do just about anything other than write anything. I had no ideas. I couldn't get into the right mindset.

I spent about five hours doing something that normally takes me between two and three, then spent the rest of the day plus an extra two hours trying to deal with assorted other crap.

I think the story's ok - it's not really good by any stretch, but there's potential there. The book so far's a lot of anecdotes, and rantings - if the pace were really radically tightened up, I feel like the story, as a whole, has some potential. I certainly haven't read anything like it before (that's not to say it's some work of genius - holy crap, it's not - it's just different).

Anyway. Hopefully I'll get back on the horse tomorrow, but today, I'm just relishing a day where the only thing I've written all day is this.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Passed the 25K mark last night! More than halfway done! w00t w00t!

Week Two is teh suck

Week Two always sucks for me and why should this year be any different? Bleh. So slow. Dialogue feels forced, scenes seem too long.

But I did discover that the boy likes to sketch! Nice. He just showed up in a scene with a notebook full of little drawings. I'm hoping that this will tie in nicely with the rest of the story. Note to self: I'm thinking this will affect which colleges he will want to apply to. We'll see.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Still chugging along. At about 21.5K words right now, which isn't too bad, but election returns are coming in, and everything I've written so far tonight has been garbage. I know the internal editor's off, but seriously, I'm just not into it right now - too nervous about the whole election thing. So, that's it for tonight, but aside from a horrific night tonight, it's going alright so far.

Monday, November 06, 2006


The one other thing is that today was the very first day of working on NaNoWriMo, this year and the two previous years, where I didn't really even pay attention to the word count. And three thousand words flowed out of my fingers in two hours. I hardly noticed the minutes go by.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Tonight, as I wrote, I wept. Over my keys, I typed and the tears rolled down my face.

My writing isn't necessarily good. I don't claim that at all. It's not like I wrote something so grand that I moved myself to tears over it. I don't even have enough distance to know if the words I wrote actually convey the depth of meaning I hope that they do. It's more that I have a picture of a story in my head that makes me feel, even if it doesn't do that for anyone else.

I hope the end product is good. But there is nothing I'd give to trade the cathartic experience of tonight. I talked to Seppo about it. It was confusing, emotional. I think that it's being able to write about a fictional character who is not me but with whom I emphatize that is so helpful to me. To recount your own past hurts and happinesses feels a bit too self-indulgent, but being able to give my all to writing the made-up stories of this girl's life is something I can unleash myself on without any conflicting feeling of self-pity or self-aggrandization.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's going well!

I think. Wordcount at the end of Day Four is 9,356 words with just over seven total hours.

Plot-wise, I think it's moving along how I thought it would. The focus seems to be shifted away from the first love aspect of things to the familial relationships, but I hope to shift it back and really try to get the feel of falling desperately and crazily in love for the first time.

Character-wise, my main character is a little less shy and moody than I thought she would be, but I'm glad for me.

I'm a bit worried that there is too much of a shift in mood from scene to scene, but generally, I'm happy with how things are going. I feel like this reads more like a coherent, flowing story than anything else I've ever written before. I'm both exhilarated and painfully worried for it.

Progress & Serendipity

I started out this project having some idea of what I was going to write. I thought that'd be enough to sustain me until I got into the swing of things. The first day, I realized that though I had what I thought was the basic overall structure, I had *no idea* what any of the actual writing would be about. No characters, no plot, no nothing. So, I started writing what I knew - games, and hoped that something would coalesce in teh time it would take me to get the characters established, or figure out what the setting was, or *anything*.

Today, it began to come together. It's not really anything, in particular, but a direction simply appeared, and it made sense what I should be writing about. I'm actually not certain I've got the chops to pull off a story this complex, but I think it's worth going down in ambitious flames if need be. Besides, there's really nothing else to do - I don't have a story otherwise.

It is kind of interesting, though - the main character, Eric Wilcox, is definitely a lot like me, but clearly not. I think he's basically me, if I hadn't met Ei-Nyung, and was a little less restrained than I am.

Anyway - so far so good. Pace is as good or better than it was last year, and the weird little twists and turns that come from writing almost randomly are as fun this year as they were last year. Maybe even better. Good times.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Is in only day three?

It seems astounding to me that it's only day three.

When I was plotting this project, I worked from the perspective that this novel was going to be a Young Adult novel. But the closer I got to the start date, the more and more I was thinking this could fall into the giant bucket that is known as "Literary Fiction". It's because I was seeing it more and more as a retrospective of an older person reflecting upon one of her life's crucial crossroads.

When I sat down to start writing, however, the story flowed naturally as a Young Adult story. The voice is that of a person who is living being a teen everyday, not someone that has learned from it. There is a feeling of immediacy, of having blinders on, that I think works well for the character.

I'm feeling pretty good about the story. It's definitely not about me but I do use little events from my life to color in her life where it makes sense.

Ask me in a week how it's going. :D

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kick off!

I have just reached my daily goal for the first day. I'm a little ambivalent about the tone of the beginning of the story, but I trust that I'll be able to fix it up as I go along.

Here, I am listing all my wordcount widgets just so I have a place to keep track of all of them.
Come on, we can do it! I'm gonna take a bath now and go to sleep.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Participant icons

Per NaNoWriMo's policy, you aren't supposed to hotlink their images, but repost them instead. So I am hosting a copy of each on my server. Feel free to use them.

ETA: This blog is totally overrun with icons right now. LOL. I'm going to remove all the ones on the right except for people that I already know are going to do it this year. I'll add you back if you tell me who you are. :)

Report Card

Here is the updated 2006 "report card". It just helps you keep track of your progress. :)

Todo List

  1. Make sure work is completely on schedule with no surprises.
  2. Decide if I'll be writing locally in Word again, or if I'll swtich to Writely.
  3. Sketch out a story arc with corresponding wordcount markers, e.g. introduce main character's mom's side story by 5,000 words.
  4. Flesh out central conflict -- I'm still confused over this.
  5. Figure out reward system for this year.

What else would you suggest?

It's time!

It's time to sign up again!

If you already have an account from last year, you don't have to register again; use this link instead. They've reset all the counters and cleaned up the message boards.

Don't forget to edit your profile to check off which years you've done NaNoWriMo and which years you've won! It doesn't track it over time automatically, so you have to tell it yourself.

I'm trying to figure out the difference between Literary Fiction and Young Adult as it pertains to my proposed novel. The line is blurry.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Who are they?

My characters won't leave me alone. They intrude upon my thoughts when I am trying to drive to work, take a bath, eat, take the dog for a walk, read, whatever you can think of.

I feel like I know who they are. But I don't know why they are that way. Or what happens to them. I've been taking furious notes, trying out various scenarios in my head on my commute to and from work, trying to tie names to faces to personalities.

It's both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. I can't figure out their central stories, what makes them evolve, what drives them to reach for answers.

November is coming soon.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thinking Out Loud

Last year, I knew what I was going to write. I wrote up a story based on a loose outline we'd worked out for an RPG we (a couple of people and I) had been talking about for a few years. As a result, the basic structure was there, even if the details were not, and I had somewhat of a safety net to fall back on. I ended up getting about 3/4 of the way through the story before stopping at the word count. Finishing it would have taken a pretty long time, and I was having some trouble actually adhering to the plot, because I really wanted more to explore the side characters, and weird little stories that spawned from having the main character wander around the world.

Which leaves me in an odd position this year, because I don't think I want to finish the story I started last year, and I don't have any other plan. I definitely write the "best" for me when it's off the cuff, so not having pre-defined situations was definitely the way to go, and it kept things interesting for me to write, as well as to later read. Still, even given something that general, one of the things that made last year's project interesting was that I had a basic outline of a character, and a basic outline of a world, and could fill it all in during the month. With nothing, it's hard to get started.

I don't think I can sustain a story in the first person, so it'll probably be a third person story. It'll probably be in the modern day, because without having a world that I've thought about in advance for a good long while, it's not likely I'll come up with something sci-fi or fantasy or historic that's "real" enough to be compelling. I could see writing something maybe 10 years in the future, and doing some sort of futurist noodling to try and predict what technology will be like, and have that simply as the backdrop to a more "normal" story.

It'd be sort of interesting to say, write a story about a relationship, but have it based on a generation that's grown up with instant gratification, constant communication, and access to information as an expectation, rather than a novelty. But I'm not sure I could even really fathom how that would change one's thought process, or how it would affect an interpersonal relationship, if at all.

One of the things I'd be interested in doing is actually having a main character who's like Lola, from Run Lola Run, where she can have brief glimpses into the lives of other people. One of the things I enjoyed the most was actually doing little backstories for incidental characters - sort of like seeing what Generic Stormtrooper A's life was like, just before Obi-Wan cuts him down with his lightsaber. But the problem is that the way I write is relatively boring - I don't have an ear for really interesting prose, like Kerowack, or say, other good writers. As a result, I think my personal strength comes from being able to imagine a world that is consistent, that behaves according to a set of rules, and having characters behave within reasonable, or logical boundaries.

Maybe that's the thing, though, that I need to step outside that to really write something interesting - that by saying that that's my box, I've made it my cage.

So, let's see - random ideas:
* A telekinetic, who all his life has been able to read minds, who suddenly loses his ability to do so. Not having grown up reading people's faces, or needing to understand the finer details of body language, is completely lost as to how to interpret even basic communication from person to person.
* A world ten years into the future. Technology is largely the same, but say, WiFi is accessible anywhere, and PDAs exceed the current abilities of PC's. People can interface with their machines with a small adhesive patch that they can stick to the back of their neck, and they can see the interface via a contact lens that is powered by electrolyzing the tears that lubricate your eyes. People are so used to having information at their instant disposal that they simply don't remember dates, facts, figures, etc. The manner of thinking is all about the ability to *find* information when needed, and nigh-instantaneous access to a large network of people, each sub-network dedicated to a specific aspect of one's personality. A person's total body of knowledge is comprised of both the little that they have bothered to internalize, and the body of like information that is contained in their personal network of peers. Perhaps the actual story is about a relationship forming, and how those people's networks intertwine, and their body of knowledge develops as they begin to understand each other?
* A fantasy story about epic quests, conflict, world-saving and all that, told from the perspective of someone who has little to no actual impact on those events, but lives in a place where world-changing things are happening every day. The fantasy equivalent of living in a war zone, or a place like New York City, in the midst of World War 3. But instead of nukes and modern war, maybe it's dragons and magic? No, maybe it should be about World War 3, just told from a civiilan's perspective who happens to be caught in the midst of events?
* A meteor is about to hit Oakland, and wipe it off the face of the universe. The story is about the last half-second of the lives of 10 people, how their lives connect, and how in the moment before their deaths, they remember the events that shaped their existance.
* A story about working in the game industry, nominally doing something you really, genuinely love, and the few moments where you feel like you're really getting a chance to do something awesome, mired in the many, many more moments where it just basically sort of sucks like any other job, and in some ways, worse. The main character gets a chance to make the game of their dreams, and watches it all fall apart.
* A story about a manic, tortured painter, who is nearly driven mad by the desire to get the visions in his head onto canvas, who finds one day that whenever he paints, the painting becomes reality. He cannot contain the visions in his head, but also cannot bring himself to paint the things he sees, lest these terrible visions become real.
* A story about a person who is manipulating the public opinion through subtle alterations in language, "common knowledge," perception of sterotypes, exploitation of people's inherent xenophobia, and the media echo chamber in order to make the world a better, not worse place.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Love & Loss

They aren't unique concepts by any stretch of the imagination. But this year, this is what I want to write about. I am taking the advice of Holly & Seppo, both of whom recommended that I write about being an immigrant, something I can draw from my own life. Write what you know, right?

I wanted to write the story of an older person looking back on their lives, but realized that I can't write with sincerity and honesty what it is like to be older and look back. I can only write what I know or can empathize with first-hand. So I plan to write a Young Adult novel about coping with [first] love and loss, basically a coming-of-age story about stumbling around to find your identity in the midst of friendships, family problems, cultural uprooting, and external expectations.

It sounds very formulaic.

And yet, I'm so excited and so terrified about the story I want to write. This year, unlike in the past, I plan to pour out my soul into the project, and pull up all the painful and beautiful memories of love. I feel like I'm embarking on a journey that will help me grow. As I said, I'm terrified but hopeful.

It all sounds so cheesy when I write it down. And this is what I fear the most, that the characters and story as I envision them will not be done justice because of my lack of skill.

This past week, I've been taking notes for the story, and pulling up all the old memories of relationships gone by and loved ones who have gone out of my life in one way or another, and for the first time in a long while, I let the memories of love & loss wash over me and grieved.

It certainly is not an autobiographical story in any sense, but in order for me to be able to tell sincere story, there are things I have to pull from my own experiences. It promises to be a painful but fulfilling journey.

Let's just hope I don't freeze up with my own expecations. *scared*

Monday, July 24, 2006

Moving soon Moved!

ETA: Moved!

This blog will be moving to soon. Make note! There is nothing there yet, however. You'll also need to update your feed when the move is finalized.

This is in preparation for ramping up to this year's NaNoWriMo. Seppo and I have been discussing short writing exercises we can do to prep, and are hoping to rope some more people in this year.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I suppose all we have left is to format the stories and have them printed up. Last year, I struggled really hard with getting the chapter breaks right. It kinda sucked. But it was so exciting to finally hold the book in my hand. :D

So, anyone need proofing?

eta: Ironically, this post originally had errors.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


NaNoWriMo Progress: 50,151*.

Yay! Across the finish line! Now we are just waiting for you, kerowack! You are so close. And for all of us, the main thing is that we all wrote and wrote and learned something wonderful from the experience. I think we've all written more than we had ever written for one project before and gained some insight into what works for us and what doesn't. Some of us made headway into projects that had been kicking around in our heads for a while. All of us produced something more than we had previously thought possible. What more could you ask for?

Some stats:
  • Total Hours: 32.05
  • Avg Words Written Per Day: 1,857
  • Ave Hours Writing Per Day: 1.19
  • Avg Words Per Hour: 1,564

*The official NaNoWriMo wordcount verifier is a little more generous than Word and says I have 50,205 words. :)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Plot: Snarled. Mood: Optimistic

NaNoWriMo Progress: 38,115.

My plot has not magically made itself known to me. I'm really confused as to what the right thing to do is right now, but as I noted on the TGF forum, my typing speed has gone way, way up. It's really like my Inner Editor, who had been duct-taped, gagged, and locked up unconcious in the closet, has died, so I no longer even hear her grunting and trying to move around in there. I suppose that is good in some ways, as I feel a lot more freedom now, but I worry that what I'll read later on review will be horrendous. Ah, that worry must mean that the Inner Editor is not in fact dead, but just taking a nap. Good.

I think Seppo's crossing the finish line might have lit a fire under my butt. Literally. Ouch. Someone get a fire extinguisher. Only you can prevent a forest fire.

See what I mean? The Inner Editor is so doped up.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Reflections from the halfway marker

Today is the 15th. We are halfway through NaNoWriMo. I can hardly believe it.

Seppo and I have both felt like things have gone awry from earlier, more frenatic and insanely productive times. Around this time in the project, as I hear, plots gang aft agley (while some just start pulling together in perfect ways) but I'm sort of at a loss as to why things have happened the way they have. We talked a lot in the car on the way home, and hit upon these pertinent points:
  • We both feel the story better when we are exploring characters in unforeseen and unpredictable situations.
  • When we write about situations that we can't relate to, it's no surprise that those parts of our books lag and do not flow like the other parts.
  • When we have preconceived notions about the plot or characters, things seem to happen more awkwardly.
Given this set of points, it's clear that we should write about situations we can relate to, that we don't expect the characters to find themselves in. That's sort of difficult, but having this new challenge in front of me gives me some motivation to push on. I want my character to tell me what they want to do once again.

How is it going for the rest of you? What are you learning from the process about yourself, how you write, and what you are good at? Any tips for the rest of us?


NaNoWriMo Progress: 10,274!

Ehem. While it's nothing compared to some of the other folks doing this thing, I finally broke the 10k mark... only to realize I forgot to set a 10k prize for myself. :(

The one thing that helped this last day or so was the fact that I realized I could use my BlackBerry to write while on the bus. I hate writing by hand, and my laptop is too monstrous to be of any good, but I realized that I could simply write myself an email and copy/paste it into my story later. w00t.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Running in the dark

NaNoWriMo Progress: 24,624.

Adding to my inconsistent set of metaphors, I am now running in the dark with my plot. I'm going very quickly, but I have no idea how this works into the plot. The characters are taking on more and more unique characteristics and revealing their backstories, but I am not sure how the main plot may or may not use them. I have two main male characters, and I still can't tell which one is going to end up with the main female character. Who knows; at this stage, the two males might even decide to be gay and leave the female character with a broken heart.

I really, genuinely have no idea. But currently, the words are flying onto the paper and I'm hoping that at the very worst, I can pick up some threads for short stories from them, even if they don't work in the bigger novel.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Resetting rewards

  • 5K: Wear my NaNoWriMo shirt in public. Done.
  • 10K: Go see Walk the Line? Get two shirts. Done.
  • 17K: Buy a book I like. Have too many books I haven't read. Replace with what? Done.
  • 25K: Nice dinner out. This could be as early as Sat night.
  • 35K: Buy a DVD? Which one?
  • 40K: TV series? New jeans.
  • 50K: Nice coat or sneakers? Nice cut and color for hair.
I'm not sure what I want to do for the milestone I just hit. Clearly, I should stay within the price bracket for a book.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Another difficult climb

NaNoWriMo Progress: 20,791.

Yay! I crossed the 20K line. Unfortunately, I notice that I didn't plan a reward for myself for this milestone. Boo. The next one is at 25K. The content was... rather weak today. I think I threw my pacing off because I spent a lot of time working on two scenes that should only have been about a couple of hundred words per scene because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next or how to get to the other scene I have planned. Oh well. Progress is progress, both in wordcount and plot, and I did get some in both.

This is supposed to be the hardest week, and I think I'm feeling it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Catching back up

NaNoWriMo Progress: 18,091.

I lost yesterday (zero wordcount), but I wrote a fair amount today, for about two hours and ten minutes. I'm still not back to my old pace, but an doing quite respectably. The story is a bit sluggish right now, but I think I am setting up a situation that will develop nicely over the next few chapters.

But seriously, the first couple of hundred words today were so painful to get through.