NaNoWriMo: Challenge Completed

Current Total:  52,019

I have completed the fifty thousand word challenge.  That’s it, I’m done.  Not with my novel – far from it – but with the challenge that NaNoWriMo puts before us all.  My final total reflects a spurt of writing that I did over two days while sick in bed with the flu, and – wow – I had no idea I had written so much in forty-five minutes spurts between naps, short dog walks, food, tea, and shower breaks.  Really, I was outlining scenes more than writing them because I had ideas I did not want to lose, and no energy with which to complete them.  Discovering my word count this afternoon was quite a pleasant surprise.

So now that the sprint is finished, the real work begins.

NaNoWriMo gives me inspiration to write, but I cannot imagine anyone with any clout will reach fifty thousand words and say, “It’s a masterpiece!  It’s ready to be published now!”  In fact, with very few exceptions, it’s the first of many dozens of drafts, always assuming the NaNo Winner in question realizes the work it takes to produce a well-written and interesting novel.  I’m still learning, myself.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that self-publishing takes the monopoly of storytelling away from publishers who seem to only be interested in certain kinds of stories with certain kinds of heroes, and certain types of love interests between very specific genders.  It’s terrible that we’ve allowed a relatively small number of groups to determine the future of our cultural contributions, and what stories will be remembered versus what stories will be lost, all based on what will sell to the masses.

I love the idea of self-publishing, but I dislike the reality of it.  I, like many others, have spent money on self-published novels, only to set them aside several chapters in unable to wade any further into the bogs of spelling errors, grammar errors, and inept sentence structure.  No doubt there is a good story behind all of these dangling distractions, but readers need to be told the story through the well-written and properly edited medium that is published writing.  They should not have to try to decipher it from within massive amounts of run-on sentences, sentence fragments, repetitive wording, spelling and grammar errors, needless scenes, redundant characters, and awkward dialogue.  The point of a novel – the job of every storyteller – is to tell the reader the story without forcing them to search through all of your errors or needless side-stories to find the overarching theme.

I wish I could be less negative about self-publishing, because I really want it to work as a medium for stories that go against our current ‘socially acceptable’ norms.  The problem is that so many authors are using it as an easy way out.  Anyone can now call themselves a ‘published author’ because of the relative ease and low-cost of this era’s publishing opportunities, but that doesn’t mean their story should have been published in its current form – if at all.

Now, to be fair, we are also seeing a lot of poorly written stories being published by modern publishing houses, as well.  So how do we deal with this lack of quality?  My answer to this question is that we do it with our words.  That book you purchased that you couldn’t put down because it was so cleverly and masterfully written?  Tell everyone what you loved about it, and why.  In fact, ask yourself why it was so compelling, and what drew you in and kept you interested.  Did it make you tear up in places, or smile in others?  Did it reach into your chest, and squeeze your heart until you thought it would burst?  How and why?  Tell others about these things.

Alternatively, if that book you picked up is so horrible you’re not sure your sanity can take reading further, return it, and tell everyone you can reach your exact reasons for disliking the story.  I don’t mean flaming the author, by any means.  I am referring to constructive responses such as “Once you get past the sentence fragments and repetitive wording, which are quite distracting and difficult to read through, you’ll find that this story is demeaning to women because, if the main character is any judge, the writer is telling us that a woman simply cannot accomplish anything in life – even just surviving from one day to the next – without having to depend on a man for their existence as well as for their happiness’ (the Twilight Series).

There are two authors I can think of off the top of my head who are regularly published by major publishing houses who write poorly.  Perhaps their stories are interesting.  I don’t know because I cannot get through the errors of sentence structure and grammar, or the constant repetition of words and phrases that an online thesaurus could have easily prevented.  These authors make a lot of money without seeming to try to hard, proving that adage that tells us ‘It’s all about who you know.’

Why should self-publishing be any different or better?  Because we, as consumers and as writers, should be demanding better quality for our money and for our art.  We should be outraged when poorly written stories are lauded, and infuriated when we purchase a book that still has pointless sentence structure and grammar errors.  Every rule is meant to be broken if there is an artistic reason for it, yes, but watching people who clearly don’t understand the rule, let alone why they’ve broken it, get applause for shoddy work should not be tolerated by the writing community as a whole.  We should be striving toward a body of work with higher quality, not settling for lower quality just to get it published, and we should be demanding that others in our field do the same.  There is no excuse for giving up before a draft is perfect because you’ve decided that ‘It’s as good as it’s going to get.’  (After all, that’s for an editor to decide.)

So, now that NaNoWriMo is over (for those of us who have reached the word count goal), it’s time to continue on, striving for quality and clarity.  And, above all, knowing that this is only the very beginning of a hell-of-a-lot of work that is the novel-writing process.

Thank you for reading, and have a lovely day.

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The Writing Books On Which This Budding Author Depends

The Writing Books On Which This Budding Author Depends

It must be said that I have a pretty extensive library of books, and I’ve begun to add literary magazines to the shelves now, as well. A good part of this library includes books on writing, on editing, on reading like a writer, and those full of writing exercises that keep me from falling prey to the boredom-born monster who goes by the name of Writer’s Block.

Continue Reading

Last night, I sent in my final edit for a short story I submitted to a local literary magazine.

The final decision about whether or not it will be published has not yet been made, but the fiction editor said that he and his team really liked my piece and that it was definitely being considered for their upcoming issue.  I made all of the edits they asked me to make (more or less), and I should find out within the next couple of months whether it makes the final cut.

I’m really very excited, and not just because this is the first piece I’ve ever submitted for publication.  It’s pretty good feedback that a story I really just wrote as a character building exercise for my current dystopian novel is being considered by a literary magazine for publication.

Let’s see how this goes, shall we?

I’ve Lost My Drive

So anyone I’ve talked to about my studies or my future will tell you that I’m very passionate.  I know for a fact that I’m determined, a hard worker, and someone who just doesn’t give up.  Lately, however, I just haven’t been able to care about anything on my to-do list.  

I’ve been questioning my path since this year began… I don’t know what to do.  I feel as though I’m in a kind of limbo… and what’s worse is that I honestly don’t care.  

Silence: A Break-Up

It’s funny how angry I was before all of this began. I had started dating someone who really annoyed me pretty much the minute he began to be himself around me (which he began to do after we had sex). I’ve never experienced that before, but, being who I am, I sat back to figure out why I was often annoyed to be around him rather than breaking it off right away.

After noticing several traits in him that are pet peeves of mine, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I had been afraid he was my mirror, and that the things that annoyed me about him might be my own traits reflected back to me. Don’t get me wrong, one or two of them were, still are, and are on my list of changes I’ve been working on in my life. However, the traits he accused me of having… it’s funny how seriously I took him before. I believed him about the things he said about me even while knowing that he was incapable of seeing past his own ego long enough to see anyone else clearly, including me. No, he had this idea of what he wanted, and he thought he could force me to be this fantasy, only to become surly and irritable when I would break stride with his imagination.

‘He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.’
– Elbert Hubbard

He sent me a nasty message via Facebook. It’s funny because before I read it I thought I had a lot to say to him about the way he treated me or the lies he told me or the things about him that bothered me so much. Then I read what he had to say, and realized that he already knows about those traits. He doesn’t see them in himself unfortunately, but he’s well aware of their existence. I know myself well enough to know projection when I see it.

I thought I would be angry or hurt by his harsh words, and was afraid to read them at first. The moment I read them, however, everything dissolved. I pity him, in a way. I thought I could help him for a time, and after several failed attempts to do so I realized that it’s not my responsibility; someone else’s happiness is not my responsibility. That might sound cold, but it’s true. I’ve spent my entire life trying to make other people happy, forgetting entirely about my own happiness in the process. I’ve done this so habitually ever since I can remember that people simply expect if of me. They call me ‘selfish’ for changing and wanting to focus on bettering myself and my own life, but it’s not anymore selfish than their expectations that I focus only on them and making them happy. I moved away from home so that I could finally do something for myself, to better my life and my future, and I do not need to let anyone shove his or her way into my life to interrupt that pursuit.

I’ve been happier since he stopped contacting me, and his sporadic communications during the past month have only made me tense. In fact, I’ve found that when the relationships end, the ones that dissolved in the last year and a half, I suddenly feel huge weights lifting off of my shoulders and my heart. I’ve been able to breath easier once those people are gone, which is sad really because I feel that relationships should be about sharing, and should make one’s heart lighter… not heavier. Clearly, I keep allowing myself to be drawn into the wrong kind of relationships. It’s time for a change, I think, and I’m well on my way.

After all, art is, and has always been, my mistress and my master – art in the form of writing and acting, and it makes me happy – it keeps me sane, in a way. Anyone who tries to get in the way of that should receive a good, hard whipping.

Thanks for reading my retrospection, and have a lovely day!

Poor Boy

__sultry_red___by_happyfruitcake

Poor boy
No one on his arm
He’s got tongue for talent
Head off and your feet on
You want it
Hungry now and begging for my skin

You said You said
I feel good all over
You said You said
There’s never been another
Like me Like me
There’s nobody like me
Baby it’s a shame
That you can’t say the same Continue reading

Here We Go Again

I’ll be honest, I’m a bit tired of the workshop environment that I’ve been in for the past two years.  I’m burnt out.  I want to act in a production, to sink my teeth into an entire character not just the one scene it’s been decided I’ll portray them in for a four month class.  It does not help that the professor is retiring, I’m sure, and thus has taken a few specific people under her wing to push up for the rest of us to fracking emulate… and it definitely doesn’t help that I’m one of those people.  I just want to train, and use that training to work.  As it stands, I feel I’ve trained in everything except HOW to get work, and that seems a bit counterproductive to me.  So what we’re working on this semester is how to do the job once you’ve gotten it, which is what we’ve been working up to for four semesters now.  I’m not sure if this sounds defeatist of me, but I’m done.  She teaches nothing new, and I need a new teacher; I’m ready for a new teacher.  

Don’t get me wrong, for the basics, for an intro for those who REALLY want to study this as an art-form, she’s amazing and perfect and tough and everything she needs to be.  However, if you want to improve, to move on from there, it seems she can only give you so much.  I’ve stopped feeling challenged, despite my own challenges this semester.  It has stopped feeling like something to take on, to grasp hold of, and to overcome.  It hasn’t even progressed into that stage that every art-form hits at one point or another where it just feels like work.  That happens, yes… but here… it feels like she gave up on us when she decided to retire, or she gave up on pushing us.  Not sure which, but does it really matter at this point?  

It also doesn’t help, I suppose, that she has been being super inappropriate with me, lately. Not sure why, exactly… she’s been inappropriate with a couple of the guys in my class for ages, but apparently they like it (or so they told me on several occasions).  I, however, do not like it, and I don’t really know what to do about it.  I badly want to just drop the class, take the ‘W’ it’ll earn me, and never take another of her classes again, if I’m honest.  I just… I don’t want to do this with her, anymore.  I may mention it to a counselor next week or the following week, when things calm down in my schedule a bit.  

I’m not sure what else to do.  I don’t just want to drop it because I feel scared of something happening or not happening again, but I’m kind of over even the idea of it all.  Perhaps it’s time I left the nest, as it were, and moved on to other things.  Maybe I’m just a restless chick with the strength to fly away from the nest, but remaining trapped to it by some invisible cord to which I cannot put my teeth.  I want to escape now that I see the workshop for what it really is, and the people in it for who they really are.  Disenchanted, that’s what I’ve become.  I don’t want to surround myself with fake people, egotistical people, lazy people, and, I suppose, every stereotype that can, has, will be assigned to most people who call themselves actors.  

I don’t want to be a stereotype, and I don’t want any of those things (lack of honesty, my ego, laziness, or anything else) to get in the way of becoming the best actor I can become.  I can’t stand seeing it in others, those people who treat me as though I’m on a lower rung than they are just because of the preferential treatment they receive in class, and I won’t have it in myself.  

It just makes me question whether or not I even want to do this anymore.  How does that work?