Alright, how about some NanoFail instead

November 9th, 2009 | Tags: , , ,

I set my sights pretty high this year for nanowrimo. I wanted to actually write a story this year. I had to put it off in 2007 (even though I started) because of school. Last year (the year of hell) was just far too full of classes and homework and projects and boyfriend and drama (etc) that I didn’t even considering writing Nano. This year was supposed to be different though. I have all this free time now that I’m school-free. I had a handful of projects to finish (for xmas, if you must know) and since the projects I wanted done are now officially done, I figured why not, y’know?

I had an idea. It was a pretty good idea, if you must know. I was mostly excited about my idea. It just happened to be a fail idea, though. Works well in the movies-ish type of way, but no way could it coherently be told in story form. Not to mention that I haven’t actually read a good book in so long that I feared I might resort to using sparkling and beautiful ad nauseam until I hit the 50k word mark. I suppose it is a possibility.

In the end, I was putting off things like hanging out with the boyfriend, or going out at all, to pretend like I was going to do some writing. I wasn’t writing. I was catching up on Greek (on Hulu.com) and knitting. Watching Greek and knitting was way more fun than trying to figure out how to move a story along that was so obviously being forced (which, trust me, is the point of Nanowrimo, but doesn’t mean it has to be that hard).

I debated for a couple of days over whether or not I should keep trying. Just plug along and eventually I would get over the “hump” and the story would flesh out and viola! I’d have another novel on my hands. I just wasn’t feeling it. It just didn’t feel right. I’ve written plenty a nano novel without any plotting, or research, or the like. I’ve also had difficult points where I had to nearly force myself to be bothered to care, let alone to write it out. There are many chapters in my previous nano novels that are “tough” to read (imagine having to be the one to write it!). This year was simply different.

The process of Nanowrimo has changed. What it means to me has changed. It used to be this fun event that I toughed out along with so many of my other friends from across the world. It was a learning and growing experience. It was ridiculous and unnerving. We joked about adding flying ninja monkeys, or killing people off, and it was reasonable. It happened. It wasn’t about the story, it was about the process.

For me, once Nanowrimo became what it is today, people have lost sight of what it used to be like. It used to be about growing as a writer, now it’s about the race to word count. It used to be about telling a story, now it’s only about “having the word count to brag about.” Notice a trend? It’s not a personal journey anymore. It’s definitely not fun anymore. It causes me stress. A large portion of that is because I want to believe myself to be a writer at heart, but really it’s a craft I have yet to perfect (if there is such a thing). Not to mention a craft that I have pushed to the wayside. It’s not something I do all the time. It’s not something I do daily, that’s for sure. So how can I write a novel telling a story about characters I don’t even care about. I don’t even know who my characters are!

I said it before though, I haven’t really been doing much reading either. It’s not that I think I should mirror my writing style towards anyone in particular, but you have to keep your brain primed for the kind of stuff you want to write about. I haven’t read any fiction all the way through in so long I’ve forgotten the last novel I’ve read (within the same year!). I have this pile of books (yes, a large pile) that I’ve picked up over the last couple of years, and they haven’t been shelved appropriately… well, because I don’t want them stashed. I want them where I can see that they’re asking to be read. They’re needing me to look at them and be curious what story is between the covers.

So late Saturday night I grabbed The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. Not the first on my list of must-reads, but it’s on there. I picked this one mostly because it’s about one of my favorite hobbies… knitting (of course).

Maybe if I can open up the reading repertoire it will also open myself up to the better writing I’d like to do. As easy as it is for me to explain why passive-voice writing is BAD to other people, I’m falling prey to it far too much… and it’s annoying.

So this year nano takes a backseat to other things in my life. Including reading, knitting and going to the gym.

TL;DR

October 1st, 2009 | Tags: , ,

Over the last few weeks (and maybe even months) I’ve been getting rather nostalgic about my blog and well, the internet in general. Being one of those people who’ve been around since dinosaurs were running computers (in large rooms with no A/C and some crazy little man cracking a whip harping about technology) I can honestly say I remember with great fondness what the internet used to be like. Before Wikipedia. Hell, even before Google (I know, when the hell was that?!). When most of us blogged on sites like LiveJournal (when you had to beg and plead with someone for an invite code), OpenDiary (which is where I made my blogging start) and when Blogger was for the elite few.

Do you remember those days? Back when we would talk about the mundane bits we did in our lives and each day we’d spend hours upon hours reading up on each other. I’ve met my Canadian twin Joanne because when I google’d or yahoo’d “vox machina” she showed up, though really I was looking for Zannah. I started reading and BOOM that was the end of that, and her interesting life became my online obsession.

There was a shift, though, in the internet. Right at the height of the Dotcom boom something changed in the way people were blogging. It became more about sharing strange and weird things found online than it was about sharing your own life. People let their personal blogs disappear and eventually fade away into non-existence because real life came along and punched them in the face. It was the same for me too. I fell victim to the same thing.

Then everyone found their niche blogs. The one thing that they blogged about all the time, every entry. And while it’s interesting and even kind of awesome to get so much information about one (or two) subjects, it became like beating a dead horse (until dead again).

And then the death of the internet came. Okay, not really, but it seemed that way to me. Mostly because before the term “dooced” (my firing happened in January 2001) became part of the blogging world, I was fired from a job because of the things I wrote about on my blog. I didn’t mention who I worked for, or co-workers names, but I was fired for the contents of my Opendiary blog anyway. But I kept blogging like a good little would-be writer does. That is, until people in your real life, start misunderstanding bits of your online writing life. I can’t possibly be the first person to slightly (or not-so-slightly) exaggerate a story or two. And I can’t possibly be the first person to maybe just a teeny bit elaborate on the personal opinions on the decisions of other’s lives. This became the focal point of real-life friends and the online disappearance came shortly after.

Fast forward quite a few years and you find yourself in the Twitter, Plurk, Facebook status, Myspace update world of online micro-blogging. In 140 characters tell me what you’re doing because most people have gotten to the point where that’s about all they can manage to read about any given person. It doesn’t actually matter that in 140 characters you can’t ever get to the meat of something. It can’t tell the whole story. It’s like one-sided chatting with the occasional response. It’s great, for the most part, and I partake in many of the micro-blogging sites (with great fervor I might add).

Where am I going with this? Okay, so on Monday (the day that made me cry on the phone with the boyfriend like someone punched my cat in the face with the big choking sobs and body shakes and inevitable exhaustion) WendyKnitsposted a link on Plurk that led me to CrazyAuntPurl (aka Laurie). In the last 3.5 days I have read nearly everything from January 2005 until April something 2006. I still have a few more years of catch up reading to do, but holy crap! This woman not only can write, but she talks about all sorts of things going on in her life.

It’s not to trivialize anyone’s life, but it’s funny to find myself wrapped up so completely in someone else’s personal online blogging life that I’m basically like a crack addict in need of a fix. Or someone who’s had a really shitty week and needed a really good distraction. Either way, it worked.

Zannah and her sister Narilka have mentioned blogging again. I’ve logged into my admin page, clicked the “new entry” link and stared at the blank page every day for the last 3 days. I’ve talked in the past about wanting to write again. Getting back to writing some more, on either domain.

But finding Laurie and reading about her life reminded me of why I enjoyed reading people’s blogs in the first place. A glimpse into another’s life through their story telling. It doesn’t matter if it’s slightly distorted, horrifically exaggerated, or completely fabricated. It was interesting. And I loved it.

So who’s with me? No more TL;DR!

The Extra Stuff

April 12th, 2009 | Tags: , ,

In recent months I’ve become interested in all of the “extras.” I mean from authors, from movies, from anything. I watched the Q&A from “Neverwhere” after I had Netflix’d the last and final disc. I watched the commentary from “Twilight” as well (which was more amusing than I would have expected).

I just finished listening to Neil Gaiman‘s interview with his daughter Maddy.

Quite possibly the cutest thing in the whole world. And informative too.

It’s a real desire

July 22nd, 2008 | Tags: , ,

I’ve been in a weird mood the last few weeks. I’ve got this want to actually do something, with the site(s) and with writing, only I find myself bored and not bothering. I think about the sort of stories I want to write, but when I sit down at the computer, or even with a pen and a notebook, I can’t seem to be bothered. I’m not sure what it would take, but I know that it’s eating away at me.

I keep perusing my bookshelf for books. Most of them have been read. Some have been read over and over again. Then there are those few that I’m glad I have but often just glance at the cover and remember what was within the pages. I’ll always reach for something else.

In 2003, a friend I had met via the internet invited me to join him at the San Diego Comic-Con. This was a huge event for me. I wanted to go, the geek in me unable to convince myself that this was the worst possibly social faux pau ever. Back in those days, I was a blogging fool! I didn’t always have something brilliant to say, but I wrote often. I also read more. Including Wil Wheaton‘s blog. It was through his blog that I found out about Dancing Barefoot. I ordered one, only to recieve the email letting me know that there was such an influx of orders, it might be a little while before my copy would arrive. Damn.

I knew that Wil would be at Comic-Con. I also knew that my funds were limited, seeing as I had recently moved back in with my parents and didn’t have a job. I scrounged up what little I did have for funding purposes and was glad for the chance to get to go anyway. Brad, the friend who invited me, treated me to half his hotel room as well as buying my ticket into the event.

For those who’ve never had the joy of going to Comic-con, you can only imagine that it’s full of things you know you don’t need, but for whatever reason, you simply cannot live without. I picked up a few things (including the Darkness comic to match the original pages I had at home), some various other Darkness comics. Various posters and lots of free stuff from all the tables. The senses are absolutely overloaded with bright colors and all things shiny.

There was a particular day. I made it a point to have enough money to visit Wil’s table. I wanted to have my copy of the book with me, but I would simply have to buy another. So I did. Having both the illustrator and author sign somewhere on the inside. I looked at the book and refused to read it. I couldn’t justify leaving smudge marks anywhere. I kept the book inside a comic sleeve with a board. Let me stress how much I wanted to read the book. I waited. I waited until I was home again, and the first copy arrived. The envelope became the safe haven for the signed copy and there it still sits, on the bookshelf by the bed in my apartment at this very second. The unsigned is on the floor by the bed, with a booklight pressed between the pages as my bookmark.

This was the perfect book to pick up and reread. The first story left me in tears. Not because I had a similar experience, but because I could imagine what it must have been like to feel that way. Because Wil is an amazing writer who brings you into the experience with him. I didn’t cry last night, after reading one of the shorts. But I teared up. And I realized that it was this kind of book I wanted. Not necessarily a book of stories, but a book that someone would lie in bed reading. A book that someone would put off half and hour or fourty-five minutes of sleep in order to get “just a few more pages” read. The kind of story that makes you laugh out loud, or wipe a tear away. I want to write something like that.

I had the book with me when I drove a car full of boxes to the boy’s place (for him and his roommates). The boy and his roommate laughed at me when they saw what I was reading, and who was the author. I shrugged them off. I knew that contained in those pages were something meaningful to not just me, but to the child actor they were quick to make jokes about. Let them laugh, thinking Wil wrote a book on how to literally dance barefoot. It’s okay.

I know what’s really on those pages…