Tips from Other People, Part 5.

We’re getting ready for Camp NaNoWriMo this July! This month, we’re talking to Wrimos who are using the Camp format to work on non-novel projects. Today, participant Sofie Riis Endahl shares some of her tips for diving into editing work when your manuscript seems like such a mess that you’re not even sure where to…

via 4 Steps to Start Editing a Mess — National Novel Writing Month

Massive shout-out to young writers with wayyyy more experience than me! This post on the NaNoWriMo blog was written by a sixteen-year-old girl who has written 9 (yes, you read that right) YA novels.

Now, there wasn’t really anything new in this blog post… it’s all good, basic advice on what to do with that floppy mass that you WERE calling a novel a couple of months ago while you wrote it. The reason I’m sharing it is more because of how the tips are presented. Sophie writes very calmly and logically about how to look at your work before you plunge into the editing process. It’s a sort of literary equivalent to being told to take ten deep breaths when you can feel panic starting to set in.

Which is good, because I tend to panic a lot when I look at my first drafts.

A Mere Doughnut.

So. I follow this Tumblr blog called Yesterday’s Print. According to their bio, they are “A collection of photographs, newspaper clippings and assorted excerpts highlighting the parallels of past and present.” Some of them are charming, some of them are weird, and some of them are… Well, some of them are like this:

donut

 

I mean, it’s true, right? We all have those random triggers. If you’re stuck somewhere in your writing, why not give your character a trigger like this, and see what happens?

I’d love to hear about it if you do.

That Sonnet I Mentioned.

So in my last post I was telling you lovely folks about a sonnet my character wrote. Well, almost a sonnet. Three quatrains, anyway. The couplet still hasn’t come to me, but I reckon I’ll share it with you anyway. Mainly because I’m in a huge rush today and don’t have time for a longer post.

When came this orphan feeling to my soul
That permeates me to the very bone?
I, who have every reason to be whole,
Shatter with the desire to be unknown.
Yet not desire, not that, for then I’d be
No orphan, but a hermit. Far removed
From any who might peer to close and see
My weakness. I’d wait no more to be approved.
No. I wait here, lonely and bereft,
Hoping for just a single heart to reach
Out, and with a touch to seal the cleft
Whose draining power I cannot frame in speech.

Anyway, there you have it. He’s kind of a lonely boy.

My Character Wrote a Sonnet.

I swear you guys, I’m going to start calling this “The Year of the Bolognese.”

Ever since I wrote about my culinary adventure/life lesson, the truth and functionality of it has been becoming more and more stunningly clear. Take the past few days, for example. I’ve had a story idea bumping around in my head for a couple of weeks, with the first scene and the rudiments of the main characters already in place, but the theme just wasn’t wanting to show up. I decided to let it stew for a while, and try not to obsess over getting anything figured out.

It worked again, people.

On Tuesday night, completely randomly, I found myself with the phrase “this orphan feeling” chasing itself around one of the tracks of my brain. I have no idea where it came from. Once I started paying attention to it, I realized that it was attempting to be iambic pentameter, so I started forming it into a sonnet.* (Side note: This is not as impressive as it sounds. When you know the formula, sonnets practically write themselves. All you need is a good rhyming dictionary.) About halfway through the second quatrain, I stopped and said to myself, “What the heck? Where did this even come from? It’s not about me…”

After staring blankly out the window for a minute or two, I realized that one of my new MCs was hovering in the background, waiting for me to notice him. “Oh, hi there. This sonnet is you, isn’t it?”

Yep.

“Wanna tell me a bit more about yourself?”

Just keep writing it.

“Okay… There, I’ve gotten the quatrains all finished. Now what do I do about the couplet?”

Um… I don’t really want to tell you that yet.

“Alrighty then, you little turkey. Don’t tell me.”**

I decided to let the couplet wait until I have more of the story figured out. Still puzzled by how this had come to me, I started thinking back over the things I already knew about the story, and I eventually realized that the struggle this sonnet had given him was the perfect flipside of the one my other MC was working through. How wonderful.

Anyway, I don’t really know what usefulness anybody out there might find in all of this… except to once again be reminded that letting things stew is important, as well as giving yourself permission to work on unrelated projects. They just might link up somewhere.

And maybe write a sonnet or two.

 


 

*I might end up sharing the sonnet next week, although I haven’t yet made up my mind. Watch this space, I guess.

**No, I don’t actually have conversations like this with my characters.

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A Brief Introduction to Elisabeth Bridges.

I now interrupt your regularly scheduled Tuesday-and-Thursday blog schedule with these messages:

The lovely Lynn over at Written Reflections has started a “Words on Wednesday” linkup for writers which I’m hoping to be able to participate in whenever I can. It’s basically just a way for writers to share what they’re up to, along with spewing words out on a suggested topic. But I’ll leave the details up to her, as it’s explained nicely on her blog, and I want you to check it out anyway.

All that to say that you may be seeing the occasional Wednesday post from me from now on, starting with this one:

A Brief Introduction to Elisabeth Bridges.

Ugh. Introductions have never been my strong point. In fact, this whole post/possibly self-indulgent journal entry will most likely find its natural habitat on the “Growing Up Shy” social media hashtag. I’ve never been one of those people who could talk comfortably about themselves. I end up forgetting my entire life history, apart from little things that I cannot imagine anyone wanting to hear about.

That confession out of the way, I will do my best to explain how I got here. At five years old, I decided to write a Curious George book, complete with illustrations. I stapled together some sheets of paper, drew what might, with a bit of imagination, be construed as a monkey-like figure, and wrote: “onc there was a monky called curius Georg.” After that effort, my mind went blank, and I set the project aside for “some other time.” So much for that.

In a way, that experience could well sum up my writing life ever since. I’ve never once lost the desire to write, but the motivation and moxie have ebbed and flowed unpredictably. I went through times when “to be an author” was my main goal in life, and other times when it seemed more like a pipe dream. The times of discouragement reached their height during (predictably) my adolescence, at which point, due no doubt partly to the usual litany of teen anxt and self-loathing, as well as what I now know was a major trough of depression, I gave up on any serious writing beyond academic requirements. Yet even when I was most convinced of my inability to write, my lowest points were always accompanied by a frenzied bout of word-spewing. There was, and still is, no better way for me to express myself than through the medium of pen and paper.

This state continued until October 30, 2013, when I decided to give NaNoWriMo a try. At the time, I thought it wouldn’t amount to anything more than a casual fling, a sort of literary one-night stand.

Well, I was wrong. On Thanksgiving that year, I emerged triumphant, with 50,000 words that were all my own. Terrible, sloppy things they may have been, but I had breathed them into being, and I realized that no matter how I might “feel” from one day to the next, this was something I had to do. Ever since then, while my output still ebbs and flows almost as erratically as it did when I was five, my resolution has only strengthened. I am a writer, and I will drown myself in ink, bury myself in paper, until I arise newly born on the wings of my own words.

 

Opinion Shows Character.

People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Interestingly, I feel like it’s much easier to see this as a truth when we look at other people. When we encounter a doom-preaching nay-sayer, it’s easy to sum them up as a fusty old pessimist, but we often fail to see our own opinions as a result of our character.

Anyway, just something to think about.

Tips from Other People, Part 4.

“I am a writer!” This is one of the most important and freeing statements any of us ever makes. It’s almost a rite of passage. The moment you can look your banker/hairdresser/pastor/aunt in the eye and tell them (without mumbling) that you are writer, hear you type—well, then, congratulations, you’ve crossed an important threshold in claiming…

via Are You a Writer or a Storyteller? — Helping Writers Become Authors

Funny, I never really thought about the difference between being a natural Writer vs. a natural Storyteller… Seems like it should have been an obvious, since I’m constantly bemoaning the fact that I’m not so great at developing plots, but once I have something, getting it down on paper is the easy part. I guess that makes me a Writer, doesn’t it?

This blog post, by the lovely K.M. Weiland, shares good tips for strengthening your weak area, whether it is telling the story or writing it down.

Take Heart.

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

– John 16:33

There’s a lot of ugliness going on in the world right now. Manchester, London, Orlando… the list just keeps growing.

This verse has been circling around and around in my head and in my heart for days now. It’s more important than ever to remember that no matter how nasty things get, we’re still in the hands of God. His power is greater than that of bombs, guns, or knives, and greater than the power of the evil that wields them.

5 Things I have Noticed about Myself while working in the Hospitality Industry.

So. I’m coming to the end of a 2-ish month stint of co-hosting a dear friend’s Airbnb property while she is off on her world travels, and it’s been quite a fun learning curve, all in all. Especially after this weekend, which over here in the States was a big holiday. I had three sets of guests in as many days, so basically I’ve been speed-cleaning since Saturday. That means several things: One, I haven’t been thinking much about anything EXCEPT cleaning, and, Two, Oh gosh, how can it possibly be time to blog about writing already?

And then I reminded myself that life can’t be all about writing all the time. So today I’m going to tell you a few things I’ve noticed about myself over the course of this adventure:

  1. I am a people-watcher (confirmed). Okay, so I already knew this. But one of my favorite things about this whole process has been seeing all the different types of people that come through, and subsequently wondering things about them.
  2. I LOVE avoiding actual contact with actual people. Again, not really a surprise, and not as contradictory to the first point as you might think. The nice thing about online platforms is that you can interact with all sorts of people without having to go through the agony of meeting face-to-face. And yes, I realize some of you thrive on personal contact, but I am a shy, derpy introvert who forgets how to speak English when forced to make eye contact with humans. Yes, I am one of those people who will smile and say hello to your dog while ignoring you.
  3. I really like putting on duvet covers. I know. Most of you are probably shocked, and wondering just what alien planet I landed from. But maybe that’s because you’ve never learned how to put on a duvet cover like a boss. You’re welcome.
  4. I am the last person you want to fold your fitted sheet. Even after watching multiple videos, including this one. This method might be dummy-proof, but apparently I’m not.
  5. I have a sassy side that desperately wants to flaunt itself. Whenever people ask me “how far are you from such-and-such an address?” I always want to say, “How far are you from Google?” So far I have managed not to, but it takes much mental/spiritual exertion and sitting on my shoulder-devil’s head.

Okay, there you go. I have no idea why I’m blogging about this, but like I said… I can’t really think beyond double-checking the supply of toilet paper and watching fitted sheet tutorials right now.

I don’t know… You can always use this as a bit of characterization, if you like. I’d be proud to make it into your sassy-b&b-host-who-also-happens-to-solve-murder-mysteries paperback series.

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