Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where Does the Time Go?

I have to write at night when the house is quiet. Everyone else snug in their bed but me, awake and somewhat alert, sitting in front of the computer. It's usually around 9pm when I finally get myself into that right brain frame of mind and even if I'm not quite there yet, I start to write. Some days, I tell myself I have to get to bed at a reasonable time so I can be bright-eyed the following morning but more often than not, I don't.

I start to write, get so wrapped up in what I'm doing, that everything around me fades away and I am left fully submerged in the world that I am creating. Where does the time go?

Last night I really had no intention of writing even though I have multiple deadlines looming. But I sat down and started working on a completely different project. One that's been in the back of my mind for the last year but I just hadn't started. The idea was simply to get a rough outline down so that when I went back to it, I wouldn't have forgotten what I wanted to write. But as I created scene after scene, before I knew it I had almost 2500 words written and it was 1am.

I knew I had to go to bed but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I wanted to keep going. Fortunately the rational side of me won out, so I puttered off to bed but I laid in bed thinking about what I had been working on. Working and re-working in my head to the point that I almost got up again but thankfully sleep did finally come.

This is fairly normal when I'm in the groove but there are days when it takes all of my energy to even get a paragraph written. That's been me the last couple of weeks so last night I see as a kind of release and hopefully now I can keep going. Get something actually finished. Meet my self-imposed deadlines. Because before I know it, the month will have flown by.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Real" Swiss Chocolate at Your Fingertips

In the Globe and Mail yesterday I came across an article announcing a new website for Chocoholics. Emulated after the style of Facebook, chocolate lovers can sign up for this community and receive coupons, earn points and actually have REAL Swiss Chocolate delivered to your door.

I admit, I was curious. Who wouldn't be? It's chocolate.

The thought of that rich, creamy substance melting over my tongue, coating my mouth in a heavenly film and then...well just the idea of chocolate. All you want, at anytime. Mmmmm.

So the website is all in Swiss (is that actually the language they speak there? Not sure.) Regardless, it's in yet another language that I don't understand, but thanks to technology just click translate and voila, it's readable. Well, semi-readable. Those things never translate properly but it tries.

And what did I find? Well, it didn't seem to be all it was cracked up to be. A website for a small company near Zurich that sells chocolate. Okay. Perfect. We're on the right track. On this page there is a link to join up to My Swiss Chocolate Club. It really reminded me of signing up to be a preferred customer at your favourite clothing store. I didn't actually sign up, though was tempted, for research purposes only. Something about the fact that the website is in another language and poorly translated. Why sign up for something that even when translated, you may miss something of importance?  And they are trying to market to chocolate lovers around the world.

Anyway, it might be more clear if I actually looked at it. But I won't. So I am just telling you about it and you can check it out for yourself if you want.

Admittedly, it is an interesting concept. Something to entice addicts, yet again.

But not THIS chocoholic.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Whole Lotta Stuff...

Another rainy, indoor kinda day. I'm up early cause it's Sunday and I am always up early on Sunday whether I like it or not. One of these days maybe my husband will go and get his drivers license so I can actually sleep in. But, after three years that is seeming less and less likely. Like me winning the lottery or something. You can't win if you don't buy tickets, you can't get a drivers license unless you actually study for the learners test and actually get off butt and go to the registry. I honestly don't know how people can go through life without taking advantage of the privilage of driving a car. It was all I could think about when I was turning 16. To be 43 (on Monday) and not be able to drive is completely beyond my comprehension. But it's different in Europe. The things we find necessary are just not, over there. But, okay, whatever. I'm over it. In all honesty I don't really mind getting up to do that. It's only once a week plus when I stay up after dropping him off I feel like I get something accomplished during the day.

Onto other news. I have officially written over 30, 000 words of my novel. Over 100 pages. So approximately a third of the way there. Funny how we (or maybe just I) feel like I have to write 300 pages before I will deem it a complete novel, when in fact, it only needs to be as long as it needs to be. So if it's only 280 pages, who I am to say it's not done? And if it's 400 pages, it's not overdone. It's just as long as it needs to be. But a first draft is never the final draft and by the time I'm finished there could be more, or there could be less. No matter which way it goes, I am on the right track and that's all that matters. I have surpassed the pre-lost flash drive state so that's an accomplishment. Though I can't stop thinking I would be THAT much further had I not lost the flash drive. Had I actually been diligent and backed up in more than one place, this would totally not be an issue. But...I can't go back. What's done is done. And I think it's better this time around. Maybe if I hadn't lost it, I wouldn't be any further ahead. Maybe I would have stalled and had no idea where to go next. My characters hanging in a fictional limbo, waiting for my next direction, but never getting what they seek. Still plan on having this thing done by sometime in November. The rest, I will just play by ear.

Father-in-law arrived from Holland yesterday. Nice to see family, even if I understand little of what he says. But I am learning more so it doesn't feel as hard as it used to.

And what shall we do with our rainy day? Not a clue. That's the joy of rainy days. You can really do whatever you want. Stay in and nobody will think you're being lazy, go out and people will think you're brave. But for now, I am waiting for the little one to wake up and enjoying the quiet time all at once. Gonna try and get some writing done today since I haven't done much in the last couple. Time to catch up if I'm gonna be done by my self-provided deadline.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Too Many Chefs...

Know that saying, too many chefs spoil the broth? Or too many cooks or whatever the saying is. Well it's true on so many levels. There are definitely advantages to having a good support system while you're working on a project. But when you've invested so much time and energy in something and then the support you get back is only trying to make it their way...You get the picture.

I love my novel class. The others in the group are very strong writers and on most occasions offer incredibly valid feedback. What's working, what's not. But on occasion you get one or two that do not look at the big picture. Nitpicking over grammatical errors, things that don't seem logical to them because they wouldn't do it and apparently don't swing in circles with people that would. But what's good for one person, is not always good for another.

Take for example, in my novel, the opening chapter in fact, my main character comes home at 5am, she has not gone to bed (to sleep at least) and when she returns home finds her brother in her house. She confronts her brother and cracks open a bottle of wine. 5am, wine. Okay, not the norm per se, but what's to say that that particular character does not drink in the morning? There are other circumstances that lead her to be this way. Emotional and stressful issues. To me, not a far stretch. To most of the other group, reasonable too. But to one particular participant, this act bothered them, because they wouldn't do it so apparently no one did it.

In some of my younger days, I would go out to night clubs, would come home at obscene hours of the morning and often would continue to drink. Okay so I was young and thought I was having fun, and I most certainly wouldn't do that now. Hell, I don't think I even remember what the inside of a night club looks like. But now, yes, I would come home and go to sleep. But that does not mean someone else wouldn't.

How is that kind of feedback even constructive?

In other areas it's apparent that my main character is struggling with a situation she doesn't know how to deal with. In a flashback we see her as a pretty strong and somewhat aggressive person. But later, she is more withdrawn. That is what multi-layered refers to. So the question arises on how could she be one way and then another way later? D'uh. Wake up people. Even in everyday life, if you're a strong, out-going person, there are often circumstances that will cause you to withdraw. Maybe only temporarily until you find your footing but it would still happen. You won't know it until it happens and it will be out of character, but not unbelievable because you're living it. I know I touched on this before. And maybe I am completely off base but I don't feel that I am.

But then there is the structural feedback I have been getting. I have been struggling with the format, the points of view between chapters and who is an important character and who isn't. The feedback I got, made me realize that of course, my antagonist has to be an important part of the story but there is so much backstory that needs to come out about the antagonist but I couldn't find the right vehicle to do so. I tried something that I thought worked, I rethought it, changed it and then finally stumbled on something that did seem to be working. The back story is great story but as it turns out, the delivery vehicle may still not be working the way I thought. The feedback has been helpful but frustrating at the same time. Just when you think you have it figured out, you don't.

Regardless, I have made a commitment to not think about it for the time being. To just keep writing because otherwise I will stall. Then when the first draft is complete, I can start fresh.

Without all the extra spice and taste-testing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

And It Just Keeps Getting Better...

Wish I knew where my head was at lately. Don't know if it's old age already beginning to creep in and show its ugly head (grey hairs are beginning to grow rampant) or the older I get the dumber I get. You may recall my fiasco back in July that led to my losing my flash drive and everything I had written in the past 10 years. Whatever fairy walked off with that little contraption has also confiscated my cell phone.

The day went something like this: Wake up too early for any normal human being, rush off to a meeting, come home completely overtired, go grocery shopping, come home and discover cell phone missing. Had it in the store I know that much. all the way back to the store, ask if anyone has turned it in and of course they haven't but am told to try back tomorrow. Retrace my steps throughout the store, ultimately finding nothing. Drive home. Phone and have the account suspended and arrange for potentially getting a new one.

Want to sleep.

Don't sleep.

Have a wonderful wine and cheese party to go to and even though I know I really should take a nap or something, I don't. Go out for a few hours. Have a few glasses of wine and some lovely cheeses. That should be a reasonably good way to the end the evening, but it gets better.

Come home, check email (since now that I don't have my cell phone actually have to go through all the junk mail) and decide I am pretty tired so should go to bed.

As I am heading off to bed, I happen to realize that my ankle is kind of sore. I have no recollection of actually hurting it. (Honestly I did not have very much to drink.) Didn't twist it. Didn't trip. Didn't kick anyone. But I'm tired t I crawl into bed and all is good.

Wake up this morning. My ankle is KILLING me. I want to cry everytime I move it even slightly. Try to get up, practically fall because I can't put any pressure on it. But I do manage to get dressed and drive hubby to work. By the time I get home, it hurts but at least I can walk on it not too bad. Feels almost like a tendon seized or something. I know I need to go to the doctor but the prospect of taking toddler into someplace where I know she will just run and run and I totally cannot chase her is not appealing.

Finally I play in my head who would be the least annoyed by me waking them up on a Sunday morning at 8am. It actually comes down to who is more likely to answer the phone. I call my bestest friend and she groggily agrees to come down and help me out.

So I sit in Urgent Care for way too long only to find that the doctor also has no clue what caused it. Thinks it's some kind of soft tissue damage but from what neither of us have a clue. It's not broken although it is a little bruised. There is only one thing the doctor and I can agree on. It fricking hurts. The Advil I had taken earlier has already worn off and it's throbbing. So he gives me some advice and somewhat reluctantly gives me a few Tylenol 3's and I hobble back to my car.

Go back to the store to see if my phone turned up and of course nothing. Buy some Extra Strength Tylenol to go with my Advil because I prefer not to take Tylenol 3 if I don't have to and the doc recommended a combination of Ibuprofen and Tylenol before the T3's.

It is now almost 9 in the evening. My ankle isn't too bad. Thanks to an ice pack and the Tylenol 3 that has finally kicked in.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

So, So Quiet

It's so quiet in the house tonight. Okay, so it's actually morning already but hey, that's what happens when you stay up late writing. If I was, in fact, writing.
But it's so quiet. Television is off, the only sound the soft hum of the computer fan, and the consistent tapping of my fingers on the keyboard. It has an almost musical feel to it. Tap, tap, ta tap, tap, tap. One careful letter after another. And all I'm doing is writing this post.
The fireplace is glowing, yes I said fireplace. The glorious high temp today, wait for it...8 degrees celcius. 8! Are you kidding me? It's only the beginning of September. The sun should be blazing down in all it's glory, frying eggs on sidewalks, turning skin a bright rosy red. The smell of sunscreen should fill the air, everywhere. Shirtless men, oh yes, shirtless men. Except for the man that lives across the hall. I swear he's a neanderthal and only comes out of his cave to wash his matter the temperature he appears in the hallway shirtless, every bit of his massive belly spilling out over the top of his pants. Man boobs. Gawd. Don't get me started on man boobs. But this guy, oh yeah, he is...let's say...less than desirable. Long greasy hair, doesn't shave for weeks on end. And...get this...he's lived in this building longer than me and never once...and I mean NEVER, has he opened the curtains in his basement apartment. Maybe he's a vampire. But are vampires supposed to be hot. Alluring. The object of our desires? I just can't imagine what his place smells like. No air, no light, just the accumulation of years of body odor and sweat, soaked into the carpets.

Okay, let's get off this topic. It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. I seem to have strayed from my nice calm, gentle, post. The kind of post that's supposed to make you feel so relaxed, like wrapping yourself up in a nice cozy blanket.

It's late. Funny where the mind goes when there are no technological distractions.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Think I Missed Summer...

Between sudden ghastly downpours and roaring thunder, this entire summer has pretty much been non-existent. August is usually a warm month here in Calgary. The one month where we get to enjoy what resembles summer but this year, has not been the case. Long weeks of rain, below average temperature, with a few scattered hat days. I miss the heat. There was only one day this year that we actually hit a temperature of over 30 degrees and that was only a week or so ago. The rest has been rainy, cloudy, thundery. Just plain miserable.

One thing I always loved about Calgary, regardless of the tendancy for temperatures to drop to unnatural temperatures well below zero, is the wide open skies, brilliant and blue. Summer is supposed to be filled with these but now I find myself feeling claustrophobic, like the clouds are going to consume me. Where are my sunny skies? The feeling of freedom. It looks as though I have to wait until winter. For -25 and lower before the skies will open up.

Is there a place in the world where the temperature is a steady 20-25 degrees? Because I really want to go there and live for the rest of my life.

On the bright side, when the weather is miserable, I have an excuse to stay inside and write.

Oh and to the latest follower that left me...I will miss you. So long. Adios. Au Revoir.

Here's to another rainy day!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When I close my eyes I can see the finished product. My first complete novel in all it's glory. And I am motivated. For now anyway. My goal is to have it finished before the end of my novel class. Actually, I plan to have it finished by the end of November so that I can rest over Christmas and then look at it again with fresh eyes, in the New Year. Make all the changes that I think it needs and then send it off not a first reader. A good writer friend of mine in Toronto has agreed to read the draft and offer all his words of wisdom. There will probably be many readers before I finally feel it's ready to start sending out. But how many should there be?

It was recommended that a few people read the novel before I deem it done. These people should be writers and should not be family or close friends that aren't writers themselves. I have a few ideas of people I would like to have the honour of reading it and offering their feedback. Two of them are male. I think it's important to have someone of the opposite sex read the draft even though I think the book would be more appropriately marketed toward women. It's still important to get their feedback. They can probably offer something that women wouldn't. And I don't want to limit my potential readers.

So after I get feedback from said men, I do hope to pass a newly revised draft onto a few female writer friends for their input. And then...after probably several more changes until I feel it's ready, I can start sending it out to potential publishers.

I don't think I'm deluded. I realize there is still a long way to go. Probably a year, maybe more if I lose my focus by not being around my great support group. (My novel class.) But I have to face the fact that soon I will be on my own. That's what it's really all about isn't it? There won't always be classes to keep me going. I have to do it on my own. Just like everyone else. That alone is daunting. No one to bounce ideas off of that already know about the project. Reduced to bouncing ideas off a wall and more than likely not getting the feedback I desire.

But...that is still a ways down the road. No need to worry about it now.

In the meantime, I keep on writing.

Did manage to get a little further on the short story I'm working on too. And there are a couple of other projects that I need to get working on. Deadlines fast approaching and have barely started.

I should probably be working on only one thing at a time but it's not possible. If writers ever hope to see even a little return on all the hard work, gotta keep the ideas fresh and write whatever comes to mind.

Ok...time to stop stalling and go write a little more.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What's the Norm?

Recently, I came up with a great opening paragraph for a short story I have been working on. Last night, I was thinking about that paragraph and how it would relate in my novel. Both for character development and for curiosity in the reader.

But here lies my problem...I want to use both, though slightly changed and used in a different context, for the novel and the short story.

Maybe some other writers can shed some light on this for me.

On one hand, it's not plagiarism because it's my piece. But at the same time it seems lazy. And then there's the fact that as I was working on the short story, I could totally see it as a novel length piece at some point. And it would be totally retarded to use a similar opening for three different projects, two of which would be novels. There's a perfect example of unoriginality. Someone would notice.

But between short story and novel, would anyone really notice? And there's no guarantee that either would ever be published. On the flip side, what if they are both published. Is the short story far enough away from the novel that no one would notice. Or maybe they wouldn't make the connection.

I suppose I could change it more so it wasn't as recognizable.

What would you do?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hmmm...What More Do You Want?

Apparently when you don't blog consistently or you don't have anything interesting to say when you do, your followers leave, without even so much as a farewell, see ya later, it was nice while it lasted. Oh well. I know there are still other loyal followers out there that aren't actually registered, and to them I say thanks. And of course to all of you that are still following, have been for a long time, thank you, thank you, thank you. I know I have been going through some lags in posts and sometimes those posts are less than I would like them to be, but thanks for hanging in there.

I vow to be more creative from here on in. To try and post every day or at the very least, every other day. Truth be told though, I am deep into my novel these days, and as any writer can attest to, when you're submersed in the fictional world you are trying to create; laughing, crying and struggling along with your characters, sometimes it's hard to come up for air. And it's liberating to be thinking about nothing else but your current project. That shows that you are invested. Deeply engrossed in the task at hand and even more so, determined.

That's where I find myself these days. Determined.

You may recall a couple of months ago I thought all was lost. All the hard work and words I had invested, stored on a little piece of plastic, vanished. But I have seen the end and with that came the unwavering will to get there. For the last few weeks I have written and re-written much of what I managed to salvage. Some of it better than before, a lot of it not so much. But the point is, that I have written and continue to write. I have almost got myself back to where I was, carefully mulling through chapter after chapter, adding here, deleting there. I even created a list of all the scenes that I know still have to come. So I have a guide and generally know where I'm going. Just have to get there.

I have rethought structure, tried out a few different scenarios, and think I might have something that will work. But most of all, this direction that has suddenly become clearer than the sunniest, smog free day Calgary could ever hope to have, has me motivated beyond belief.

In my class last week we revisited our goals for the end of the course. Even through my little hiccup I realized I am determined to complete the first draft by the end of the class. But in order to do that, I must write. One word after another, some exquisite, some just completely lame. I am finally allowing myself to write crap. Because after all, that's usually what a first draft is. Just get it all on the page. Better to have too much than too little. In the second draft stage, it will be easier to take out the unnecessary than to add more, though I am sure I will be doing much of that too.

So, if I become distant, bear with me, because one thing always remains true; I will eventually return.

But for now...

I am writing a novel.