Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Novel Whining and Some Updates

There was almost no blog today. I was very much in the 'if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything' frame of mind. I don't want the blog to slip into whiny world. But a call from Craig pulled me out of my gloomy thoughts. I don't even recall what we talked about specifically. All I know was that I laughed so hard and for so long that the serotonin kicked in. Suddenly, I was a lot less grumpy. And this is a good thing, because of the subject of the blog. But first, some news.

My tomato plant is no more. I had a great yield of nearly 20 heirloom tomatoes. And what's more important is that I know what I'm doing with the indoor vegetables. I saw some nice window boxes at the 99cents store that I plan to grab for next spring. I'm going to do tomatoes again and possible green beans. I'll definitely try to grow and herb garden with the ones I use most often. I'm looking forward to that.

November Blues

It's November once again. And while most of us are contemplating the national day of thanks, a slice of our population is thinking about National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. It is a time of year that I have learned to loathe. It's not that I have an issue with an effort to jump start the creative process and take on something that has been intimidating. I even get how having others in the soup with you can be very supporting. That's all fine with me. It's not how I would and did address writing an entire novel, but what ever gets you going. I wouldn't even bother to complain, but the gripes come to me first in my inbox and in almost every writing forum I frequent. This year, the expression of guilt and self-loathing from not meeting a daily word count began far earlier than usual. That means, I get to hear them for longer. I wounldn't mind listening and even consoling if these weren't the same writers who never manage to finish a short story! Well, if I have to listen to those, I will be heard as well. I'm cross-posting this puppy in every place where the gnashing of teeth is the loudest.

Writing fiction is a skill that must be practiced frequently to be proficient. The two year writing program I endured for my Masters Degree was all about making students write. Aside from the pages that had to be turned in to the adviser consulting on the Master's thesis novel, there were workshops during the week that required material. I have never written more in my life. We had to write no matter what the muse may be doing or not doing or how much other work was due that week. I came out of that program with a writing habit. To take on something like writing a novel in a month requires more than even a habit of writing. It takes planning.

Just like it would be very unwise to try to run a marathon with no prep, the same is true for such a writing marathon. When friends prep for marathons, they don't simply work on their speed and endurance. They work on strategies to give them the best at chance at finishing with the best time. They look at the course. They plan to make allowances for the weather. Some run shorter courses in the months before the main event.

Writing a novel is a marathon. It's a long, hard slog. When I sit down to write one, it is after weeks -- if not months -- of developing the characters and working through the plot. The world my characters live in is completely constructed before I write my first sentence. It takes a lot of work before I reach that point in a story where the characters come alive and start acting and speaking on their own. At minimum, I think writers taking on the NaNoWriMo have to have a detailed outline, character studies including arcs and a clear grasp of point of  view before day one. That is not a guarantee of succeeding. The best marathon runners get leg cramps on the big day. But proper prep will give a writer the best shot at succeeding. Take writing a novel seriously as a professional should.

I am off the soap box for this year though I may continue to mutter about it for weeks to come.

A quirk with my latest manga assignment has given me some relatively free time! I will thus carve out some time to make head way with the current novel, A Soldier's Destiny. I don't plan on any running around.  I have an appointment on Tuesday and one at the end of the week. The rest of the time will be spent on the sofa with my feet up either writing or reading. Maybe I'll edit those cooking videos.  My body has made it clear that it is past time for me to slow down. The holiday baking season is coming, and I want to be well rested and ready.

Stay tuned. 

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