Month: November 2008

Writerly ramble: Nadir

I’m at 22K for my NaNoWriMo book, and my character has just gone through his absolute nadir. It’s been my worst–hardest, most hari-kiri inspiring–day of writing, too, although I got it all done for the day.

Traditionally, your character’s worst (“black”) moment is supposed to come right before the big fight scene, and the hero resolves all his inner problems right before beating the crap out of his external ones.

But no. This is more like the moment in Star Wars when Luke is in the cave in the swamp, facing down Vader. Things get worse from there, but he’s never as lost as he is in the swamp.

I had planned for something different, something with more action to it, but once I was down in the trenches, I could see it wasn’t going to work. You just can’t force the character through a 180 for the sake of plot. So instead I went the more difficult way, and bleah.

It’s days like this when I think, “Why would anyone want to read this?”

This book is terrible.

You’re irresponsible. You’re wasting your time. You should be spending more time with your family.

You’re too old. If you were meant to be a writer, you would have succeeded by now.

And on and on…

So I just tell myself, “If you finish this page, you can give up.”

“If you finish one more paragraph, you can give up.”

I curse myself. I know I’m lying. This is the kind of day where you keep finding gray hairs.

But hey. As hard as it is to write this stuff, at least I’m not my main character. His life sucks.

Top 10 Weirdest Skittles Commercials

Careful. I had to watch them all at one sitting.

(via Ann.)

Fragile Update.

My short story, “Fragile,” FKA “Things You Don’t Want,” has been rejected again, but in the nicest possible way:

Thank you for submitting “Fragile” to ABYSS & APEX. As you know, we kept it for second round consideration but ultimately decided not to accept it for publication. The competition this month was strong and while we came up with an excellent table of contents for our next issue, we had to say no to many works (like this!) that we wish we could keep.

(I really hate rejecting this. Perhaps try a horror venue?)

I hope you’ll consider us again, and I wish you the best success in placing this story elsewhere.

This makes my twelfth rejection. (There was one acceptance, but the website, Parade of Phantoms, went out of business.)

The first time I submitted the story, back in 2002, it went to Weird Tales, and the guy who rejected it didn’t get it, thought it was too strange (I can’t find the rejection letter, unfortunately).

I quit reading the magazine a while ago – too many meh Lovecraft pastiches – but I picked up an issue recently, and it was all ooky and weird again.

So…for the thirteenth rejection, I’m sending the story back to Weird Tales.

I couldn’t resist.

Advice for young writers.

Someone on the PPW list asked for advice for a young writer. Here’s what I wrote back, because I liked it, and because I’m not likely to get anything else written today:

Come to Write Brains!

Read books on writing – lots of them, but not so many that you don’t read for pleasure and you don’t read things you don’t normally read and you don’t read for research. And cereal boxes.

Submit to high school writing magazines – if there aren’t any local ones (I don’t know), then go statewide. They may sponsor HS writer camps – go.

Talk to your HS English teachers. At least one of them is a writer and knows good places to submit or existing writing groups (or would sponsor a new writing group). But don’t believe everything they say; writers are notorious bullshitters, and teachers forget they can stop censoring kids after doing it all day long.

Put together a chapbook of whatever it is that you’ve written. Everything in the chapbook must be as close to perfect as you can get it! Find a buddy to draw you a cover (or do it yourself), and bind up as many copies as you can (staples are just fine), and pass them out, wherever you can get away with it.

Keep an album or fancy notebook with all your best stuff.

Live. You have to have something to write about, because plot = people, even if you’re writing about alien slime molds.

Figure out why you’re writing – and it isn’t “to entertain,” because it would be easier if you filmed yourself getting kicked in the crotch and sent it to America’s Funniest Home Videos (well, it’s true, isn’t it?)

Carry a writer’s notebook – nothing fancy. It has to be something that looks like you might be writing a grocery list or doing homework. Listen to other people’s conversations, and write down what they say, just what they say, seriously, just write down what they say, just that, that’s it. You can do the same thing with descriptions, etc., but it doesn’t have to be a covert notebook.

Writers like to make things up. Keep this in mind during writer’s groups, english classes, college, submitting work, etc. I mean, come on. I’m making this stuff up, right now.

In the end – writers write. They don’t talk about what they’re going to write one day, when they get the time. “Not giving up” doesn’t mean “someday I’ll write,” it means, “Okay, yesterday, I failed to figure this out. Today, I’m probably going to fail to figure this out. Tomorrow, I’m still going to fail. I’ll probably fail for the rest of my life.” (You will think this.) “Eh. Here I go. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as six months ago.”

–At least, this is what I did in high school, except the Write Brains, because this wasn’t in Colorado Springs.

Also, consider doing NaNoWriMo, if fiction’s your thing. You don’t have to do it in November; July is OK, especially the first time, when you don’t want anyone to know if you can’t get it done.

Word to the Wise.

Tracking election results is almost exactly the opposite of writing.

NaNoWriMo: First Sentence

(Via Ian.)

Meme time!

What’s the first sentence of your NaNoWriMo novel? Slaughterhouse Jane starts like this:

David threw down the rifle and ran.

Music to write to.

Here’s me, writing longhand in a leather, unlined notebook (it smells so good), sitting in front of my computer and listening to random music while I’m writing. I have no idea what my wordcount is, but it’s five small pages and three small scenes so far.

The theme is folk-influenced music in a minor key. I tried to stick with banjos, but then I got to the accordians, and I lost it.

New stuff I hadn’t heard before:
Andrew Bird – “Imitosis
Low – “In Silence
Gregory Page – “The Ghost with Sad Eyes
DeVotchKa – “How it ends

Old favorites:
Milla – “In a Glade
Ray Lamontagne – “Empty” (I didn’t know who sang this, but it kept coming up on the college radio)
Bruce Springsteen – “Devils and Dust” “We’re a long long way from home/home’s a long way from us.”

Lee – here’s the song I was talking about last night. Johnny Cash – “God’s Gonna Cut You Down

Words, words, words.

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow. My screen name is dknippling – if you care to add me as a buddy, feel free. Send me an e-mail with your name or drop it in comments if I can add you, too. Log lines welcome 🙂

The current title is Slaughterhouse Jane. The book’s a YA fantasy set in 1912 South Dakota – A shy dreamer befriends a bitter teen who claims to be a fairy – then sets out to avenge her death after she’s brutally murdered.

1) Sioux Falls is on one of the few hilly areas of Eastern South Dakota. (The eastern side was squashed by a glacier umpteen years ago). It’s actually a glacial moraine – a mound.

2) The Morrell’s meat packing plant opened in 1909.

3) The Irish legends of fairies have always struck me as somewhat vampiric. The fair folk are associated with death and disease, and victims of the fair folk are often described as pale and distracted. Unseely, I tell you. Unseely.

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