Monthly Archives: November 2012

Why would anyone write 50,000 words in one month?

November is National Novel Writing Month, known by most writers as NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short. The aim of thousands of writers from all over the world is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. And you can win… nothing. Well OK, there is a nifty certificate you can print out if you get to 50K, and your progress bar turns from green to purple, and a few sponsors give price reductions on some of their products, but that’s all. No extra exposure in multi-million reader news, no guarantees publishing contract, not even a boost of readers for your novels. So why would any writer take part?

The answer is simple. Writing a novel takes a lot of time on the keyboard (yes, even starving authors like us are no longer using type-writers), and most of this time, the author spends alone. During NaNo, writing becomes fun. In the forums, non-bloody word-wars break out (writing as many words in a set amount of time as possible), twitter is overflowing with support from people I’ve never met, bloggers blog about their experiences with NaNo, and there’s an all round feeling of accomplishment in the air. It’s exhilarating and (at least for me) addictive. I took part for the 6th time this year, and I’m marvelling at how nicely my newest project is growing.

At the end of the month, I will be the proud creator of a nearly finished, still-to-be-revised novel about a young girl in Stone Age Africa who has to wake the rain goddess before the heat daemon destroys the earth. And I’m soooooo looking forward to that. Also, I will have got to know many new, interesting people. That alone is worth every second I spent on NaNo. Are you a writer? Then, try for yourself next year. Are you a reader? head over to the NaNoWriMo website and browse a few projects. It’s so much fun seeing creativity at work.

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Ahhh…the things Fate throws at you…

I’m cheating a bit this week and giving you a modified version of a post from my personal blog. It’s important to me, and will hopefully be informative for you.

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Last week I discovered yet another interesting (frightening? disturbing?) effect of the aging process: PVDs

To quote the literature my doctor sent home with me:

A posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is a rather dramatic event in the normal aging process of the eye. The vitreous is a clear gel like substance that fills most of the back cavity of the eye. The vitreous gel has normal attachments to the retina, the all-important nerve layer in the back of the eye. Normally with age, after trauma, or commonly in highly nearsighted eyes, these attachments often pull loose. As a result, these attachments can tug on the retina, or pull loose from the retina, causing transient flashes of light, usually in the outer periphery of the eye and cause a sudden increase in annoying objects floating in front of the eye. The sudden symptoms of a PVD require immediate examination.

I experienced one of these “dramatic events” last week and it was not pleasant. No trauma was involved, just aging, nearsighted eyes.

Imagine sitting at lunch with your best friend having a pleasant conversation, when suddenly a blood-red blob appears in front of your friend’s face. You glance around the room and as your eye moves, so does the blob, remaining in the same quadrant of your vision.

As the day progresses, the blob changes from red to gray-black, but it remains a barrier between you and what you’re attempting to focus on. Occasionally, you manage to look past it enough to become absorbed in your work only to glance away and be reminded that you have a desperate need to clean your glasses or swat a bug crawling on your desktop.

Unfortunately, no amount of cleaning will rid you of the offending detritus. It’s not your glasses. It’s not a bug. It’s your eye.

You visit the doctor the first thing the next morning. The good news: it’s not serious enough to warrant surgery. Hooray!! The bad news: the resulting floater is right in the center of your field of vision, and there’s nothing to be done about it. It’ll probably go away … in several months.

In the meantime, you adapt. *sigh*

I’m still in the adaptation phase. The floaters are new enough that it takes a good deal of work to look past them. Consequently, I’m stressed and headachy, but this too will pass. I still have my eyesight. I’m not facing surgery. I will learn to ignore the lacy black amoeba floating smack dab in the middle of my field of vision.

But at the moment, THIS SUCKS!

6 Writing Rules to Break

6 Writing Rules to Break
You’ve seen them, haven’t you?  I’m talking about those pronouncements that writers often make about what one must do to be a writer.  More than guidelines, these are definitely rules.  Let’s talk about some of the rules for writers that are laid down by the so-called experts.  The following “rules” are actual statements that I have read in writing books and/or magazines.

1.   A writer must write every day.

Why is that?  Even Stephen King takes a break from writing on Sundays.  Sometimes a writer just needs to think and plan instead of forcing the writing.  Just writing every day without thinking and planning at least some part of the book at a time could lead to the dreaded 100 page syndrome.  You know, where you write the first several chapters, then you stop and put the manuscript into a drawer, or leave it unfinished on your computer, or even–horrors!–delete it.  So, take some time to draw a deep breath, think and plan.

2. Cut out description and get to the action. 

Really?  Maybe you should read Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring series–or read it again.  Tolkien has lots of description, much of it almost poetic in nature.  Coming closer to our times, examine Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.  He also has plenty of descriptive writing and he is certainly successful.

3. Plunge right into the action. 

Well, maybe.  Maybe not.  I’d like to learn at least a little about the character before she gets dumped into a load of trouble, but I agree that modern readers want to be pulled into the story quickly.

4.  There should be only one plot to a book.

Oh?  What about subplots?  Subplots can add depth to the story and help the action along.

5.  Know who you are writing for.

This makes sense commercially, but not creatively.  I write the stories that pop into my mind and won’t leave me alone. Often I have no idea WHO I’m writing for–unless–it’s anyone who enjoys a good story!

6. You must want to write more than anything else.  

It is true that writing and improving your writing needs to be important to you, otherwise you may find excuses never to sit down in front of your computer.    My writing is important to me.  I need to write.  But–come on!  More than anything else?  My family comes first, especially my husband, children, and grandchildren.  The summer my mother died I didn’t write (or think or plan writing) for six months.  Taking care of her was far more important to me than feeling fulfilled.

 
So there you have it.  Six writing rules that you have my permission to break.  🙂

 
What do you think about writing rules?  Have you heard some that you think are arbitrary?

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