Write a Book with Me

When I first started writing all I had was a story, one that didn’t even know it wanted to be a novel, much less that I would have to be the one to write it. Like many newbie writers, I turned to the internet for guidance in my quest to get it written. Fortunately for me, I landed on a blog called Write a Book with Me and there, in the company of writers of all levels, moderated by the witty and passionate Holly Lisle, I managed to land my novel safely on the runway of my finished first draft.

The central concept behind Write a Book with Me was that writing a smallish amount of words consistently over time produces big results. A novel is a huge project, but when broken down into smaller parts-a few hundred words here, a scene there-it can be completed in a timely fashion. Holly Lisle did her writing in five hundred word increments each day, writing five days a week, and suggested this pace to intermediate writers. Beginning writers could jump in at two hundred and fifty words a day and still expect results. But regardless of which goal they chose, participants would report their word counts daily on the blog and add a few notes about the what they wrote – perhaps what kind of mood they were in when they wrote, and any breakthroughs or milestones along the way.

We finished novels this way, lots of them. As each writer crossed the finish line the rest of us cheered. It was a great group to be involved with.

I am proud and a bit nervous to announce that I have taken the helm of this project, which was one of the seminal events in my very new writing endeavor. I certainly can’t claim to have gained enough wisdom at this point to give the kind of advice Holly Lisle did in her version of this project, but what I can do is try to round up writers so that we can keep each other company on our novel writing adventures. I’m hopeful that it may become the kind of experience for others as it was for me, where I saw writers confront obstacles and overcome them, learning from their mistakes, as they might learn from mine.

So, if you’re reading this, and you’re a writer, take a peek at Write a Book with Me and see what we’re up to over there!

(Image courtesy of Felipe Wiecheteck @ stock.xchng)

A Consultation with Dr. Words

Sometimes it helps me to get my problems with the story down on paper. And sometimes, I get help from a dude who thinks he has it all figured out for me. His name is Dr. Words, but he’s from Austria, so if you asked him his name he’d tell you it was ‘Doktor Virtz.’

“Are you listening Dr. Words? You are? Do you have your notebook ready?” Dr. Words reaches for his clipboard, and pushes his half-moon glasses up his nose. With the size of that nose it’s a long way for them to slide.

I begin. “So, I think I’m getting anxious to be done with the Tempest’s Serenade block revision. I have about 20k words to go, which sounds like a lot, until I consider that I am at 63k words so far. That means I’ve already hand-written and hunted and pasted down more than sixty thousand words from my manuscript. I’ve flown through it sometimes, and sometimes I’ve crawled. I don’t even remember how often. Even when I have a good day I can be sure that the next scene I have to face down will present another challenge. I’m getting tired of that challenge, and with everything I’m trying to fix, new solutions are eluding me.”

“Vat kind of solutions?” asks Dr. Words. He sounds a bit sassy today; maybe he needs that second cup of coffee. His mug, embossed with the name Universtät Wien, sits next to him on the worn oak, dark stained, table, along with a stack of old yellow-paged books. In German of course.

“Well.” I sigh and fold my hands over my chest. I am lying on the couch staring at the ceiling, thinking Dr. Words needs to get a cleaning lady for those cobwebs. “I feel as if Nick needs to understand more about what haunts him and why Libra is the answer to that. He needs to be more afraid, when I have painted him as fearless.

“So, zen, you should make him afraid, should you not?” Dr. Words asks.

“The thing is,” I continue,” I don’t want him to be afraid of anything. He is my rock when I am sad, and when I despair that my life will ever have meaning I turn to him and he makes me smile. He plays me music that lifts my spirits. He shows me the blue sky, and throws pillowy cumulus clouds into it to reassure me that there is indeed such a thing as true love. Everlasting love. He assures me that what I have achieved in my own marriage is something worthwhile and that the love I have shown and stayed true to means something. If he falters, I must question my own choices.

So, Dr. Words,  I need him to be strong for me.”

“I see,” says Dr. Words. “So you vant your character not to be a-fraid? But zen, vhere is your story?”

“Can I have Nick show his fear, admit to his fear to himself? Or could he never admit to fear, but merely take the action to keep himself safe?”

Dr. Words shifts in his overstuffed wing-back barcalounger, a chair that looks way too comfortable for someone who should be paying attention.  “You might have to do zat. Have you made any progress on za plotting?”

“The plotting problems are better, much better, than they were in first draft, but I still have some holes. I feel as if I need to go over the conflict tracker sheets again to strengthen it. I hated the conflict tracker sheets, but am doing them anyway because I did like what I ended up with. I’ll set a timer and see what happens. I feel it needs to be smoothed out, and that I might come up with some solutions in the process.”

I ramble on, “Maybe I need to just press ahead. But twenty thousand words seems like soooo many words though to be lost in the woods for. Maybe I won’t be lost for the whole time though. Maybe a solution will present itself.

Help me, Dr. Words.”

I think Dr. Words has fallen asleep. I prod him with my finger and he jerks awake.

“Vat?” he says.”Yes, zat is what you should do.”

“Do what?”

“Keep going and get back to me next veek and see if things haven’t improved.”

“And if they haven’t?”

“Maybe slow down a bit, and vork on something else? HTTS maybe, or Dragon’s Milk. Zat story zeems to have a lot of potential.”

“So you’re saying give up on this one?”

He puzzles over his clipboard, and scribbles a few notes. “Perhaps.”

“But I love Tempest’s with all my heart.  I don’t ever want to stop until I get it right.”

Dr. Words is nodding, and I’m not sure if it’s because sleep beckons or because I am right. In any case, he’s a great listener. I know what I have to do next.

(Image courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian @ stock.xchange)

Word Count Snafu

How could this happen?

I am over my projected word count by almost 15k words.

Granted I was counting my words by hand, and I am a putter-inner kind of writer, so I’m adding as I go. But 15k words? I don’t think so. I just can’t imagine how I could have been off by this much—good thing I don’t have a publisher breathing down my neck on this, isn’t it?

I was hoping to have this typed in by this weekend, as I’m typing in about 3k per night and more on weekends. Looks like I’ll be at this another week. So depressing.

The only silver lining seems to be that I’ll get to cut some of these sluggish scenes I’m slogging through. I know there’s good stuff to come. I remember writing with tears in my eyes.

Needless to say, this leaves not much time for blogging. I’ll have something interesting soon, I promise!

(Image courtesy of Ramsi Hashisho @ stock.xchng)

Countdown to NaNoWriMo

Once again this November I plan to join thousands of other writers in pursuit of literary abandon as we write 50,ooo words in one month. I’m pretty happy with how my planning is going this year, in fact I even have a back cover blurb, just in case…you know, my novel ever were to be published.

It goes like this:

When Rigel Mondryan was a boy, the wizard Kairos told him stories of a time when the gods walked the earth. Kairos told him about the silver cities where the gods lived, and about the dragons that flew them from place to place. He said the gods had discovered the secret to eternal youth, had cured all diseases and could repair any wounds. They could create ghosts of themselves to speak with other gods. They read books on mirrors and drew their fingers across the glass to turn the pages.

But one day the gods saw that the magic was too powerful and that those who used it for evil would destroy the world they lived in. The gods took their magic with them and made a new home behind the moon.

Kairos disappeared before Rigel became a man, never to be seen again . Wizards did that sometimes. Wizardry was considered a dangerous profession; they said too much magic made a man susceptible to the wrath of the gods.

Rigel never believed the stories Kairos told him.

He is about to find out the wizard was right.

(Image courtesy of koma Bboy @ stock.xchng. Nice work, kind sir.)

Refilling the Well

The blank space on my October blog calendar looms and I ask myself what I have been doing in terms of my writing. Because I have not been writing—much.

For me that’s unusual, but I have been doing something that I think might be important for all of us creative types. It’s called refilling the well, and the expression seems to fit. Somewhere in the groundwater that is my subconscious, there seems to be a need to recover from the constant turmoil that is the writing process. Between morning words, plot creation, character building, revising, and critiquing— all activities that seem to demand that I reach deep inside myself to find my own reactions and my own story, hidden though it may be, I always seem to find enough raw material there to keep going. I am constantly amazed to discover what is down there, but also fearful that one day I may go to the well and find it dry.

Running the well dry is not an option for me, as I’ve spent too much of my life not writing. But it does become overwhelming at times to think that, if I want to keep writing, I need to come up with new raw material every single day.

Thus, I indulge in unwinding these tensions by simply not attempting to create at all. For a week, it was enough to simply enjoy the limitless sky above my head, contemplate the unknowable depths of the water below, breathe in the salty air and let it penetrate into the pores of my skin. Sometimes it is enough to simply be alive.

(Photograph courtesy of me, and the San Juan Islands, Washington USA)