Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Beginning and an End

I have, admittedly, been absent from here for several months. And I have my reasons- I spend my time on the internet elsewhere, I'm too busy to blog, I have homework..but most of all, the reason I haven't posted here is because I haven't been working on my novel at all and didn't feel right writing about- well, writing.

But now, I've graduated (in the vaguest sense of the term- I'm just done with classes, but I won't walk until June with the rest of my class). So I suddenly have a lot more free time on my hands. Granted, I plan to use most of that time to work on an application for a job I really want as well as troll the sites of companies I like for positions, but I also now have a lot of time on my hands to work on this story that I'm so passionate about.

In its most essential form, it's a story of friendship that takes place on the road. And I'm just now realizing how much research this is going to entail if I want to give it any realism! So though I'm at the end of my undergrad journey, I'm only at the beginning of this discovery as I pick and choose places for my two MCs to travel through and the struggles I'm going to pit them against. I think it's going to make for an exciting time, but it's also going to be one that's going to take a lot of work. Still, I welcome it! Bring it on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Writing Nonfiction

So last week, we had a Writer's Festival hosted by my university. It was the fourth year of the event, with one fiction author (Nami Mun), one nonfiction author (David Shields), and one poet (Maureen Mclane). There were several events which took place throughout the week, including several masters' classes, a guided discussion panel between the three authors, and readings by all three.

Although I unfortunately wasn't able to make it to any of the master classes due to class conflicts, I did make it to two of the readings- that of Nami Mun and Maureen Mclane. I thought they were really interesting, and seeing them in person, reading their own work, was really inspiring and made me wonder how I would present my fictional worlds to audiences if I had the chance to do so in the future.

But one thing I missed out on was David Shields' class and reading, which several of my classmates in the nonfiction class I'm in currently were able to attend. I'm regretting now that I wasn't able to go with them, because from what I hear, his talk was very controversial- the reason being that he says that there isn't really much of a difference between nonfiction and fiction. I wish I could have heard what he had to say in person, as what I heard by proxy through my classmates got me thinking about the topic regardless.

Now, I don't know if I believe Shields' position. It's true that I've read some wonderful pieces of nonfiction since entering the class I'm in- pieces like The Pain Scale by Eula Biss (who incidentally teaches at Northwestern as well) and Joyas Voladoras, a beautiful piece by Brian Doyle, as well as some great work by Joan Didion and David Foster Wallace (who I'd never heard of before taking this class; what rock have I been living under?) But all of these pieces are distinctly "nonfiction"-y to me. Their tone, the way they're constructed, all have a specific form and function.

I think they're wonderful and they're difficult, especially when I'm trying to emulate them (doing so is part of the assignments I have in class, and I spent the better part of the second half of my weekend trying to figure out how to imitate tone of The Pain Scale while using facts from twenty different books and trying to figure out how to retain my own personal voice in rewriting them). It's a challenge, and it's different from fiction.

Sure, maybe the goal is to reach the reader and to get them absorbed in what you're trying to say the same way you would drop them in a fictional realm, but isn't that just the power of great writing? I'm not sure I buy the notion that fiction and nonfiction are two different sides of the same coin. What do you think?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Writing Persistently

So I recently came across this video on Youtube and I thought it was great. I've always been a fan of Ray Bradbury,but I had no idea how he started off!

I think there's something to be said for the fact that he wrote an entire short story every week, and after three years of doing just that, he got better and better, until he was selling stories almost every week. It speaks to the effectiveness of persistence.

I want to do something like this, but I feel like it necessitates far more self control than it did before the days of the internet, if I'm not just going to write out the story. With a typewriter, there are no distractions save those of real life. With a computer, having internet access and a latent addiction to all things social media make it really,really hard to focus. So I think that achieving a feat like Bradbury's would be extremely impressive, and a sign of great prioritizing.

It's what is my biggest struggle, because unless I have a deadline, I often put things off. It's one of the reasons NaNoWriMo and taking a poetry class worked for me as a way of getting the creative flow running. It forces me to do something.

But this inspired me, I have to say. Even if I have ten million distractions and absolutely no obligation to finish anything, why not write a story a week? There's nothing holding me back. I mean, sure, there will be homework and lots of reading, but when isn't there? It's not really a solid excuse, is it? Later there will be work, adult obligations, and all that fun stuff. And I only have a year before all of those responsibilities start piling up on me. So I'm going to try and start. I'm going to try to at least write one story every two weeks, if not one every week. Let's see where it takes me!

How about you guys? Do you think that writing a story every/every other week is something that could work for you?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Starting from Scratch

You know that exhilarating feeling you get when you realize you've just found the last of the missing mental puzzle pieces you were looking for to complete your story?

I just got that feeling yesterday.

I've been working on this novel for over two years now, if you count planning and outlining along with the actual writing itself, and it's come so far from where I started it's not even funny. Ironically, due to this new revelation, I have to scrap pretty much everything I've written so far, but one thing is for sure- I have a better grasp on my characters thanks to writing those pages.

It's a little tough, knowing that I have to start all over again in terms of writing, since I'd come so far and I'd even started planning my second act, like I mentioned in an earlier entry. But I think it's going to be worth it in the end. What I have now in terms of planning is so much stronger, and the plot is now much more closely tied to the ballet and Shakespearean roots it's derived from.

I hope that this good feeling lasts! (Because let's be honest here- my euphoria is also related to the fact that I am halfway done with my finals for winter quarter)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sweet Venom Cover Reveal!

Hey everyone! I'm so excited to be participating in something that is very exciting...the cover reveal of Sweet Venom, a new novel by one of my favorite new authors, Tera Lynn Childs! (the wonderful author of Oh. My. Gods., Goddess Boot Camp, and Forgive My Fins):

It's coming out in Fall 2011! Add it to your Goodreads account if you haven't already! I'm already super pumped. Everything I've read by Tera has been incredible so far, and I can't wait to get to know Gretchen, Grace, and Greer! :)

ETA: Tera just alerted me to a new Facebook fan page for the book!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Writing Contests

So I just learned about the new contest called the Paris Literary Prize, which is a contest celebrating the novella. It is for unpublished authors only, and the prize is 10,000 Euros. That's a lot of money, and hey, I love novellas!

Problem. It's biannual, which according to Webster's means twice a year, but in this case actually means every two years. And the submissions were due in December of last year. Which means I have to wait till I'm 23 to enter this contest, if I don't get published before then. Balls.

I mean, maybe I won't get published before then. Maybe my life will take an entirely different trajectory. But who knows? All I can do is practice and practice and hopefully get better. My forte appears to be in happy/human interest stories (judging from the responses I get to the stuff I publish for my school's online newspaper), but maybe if I try to write something more serious, I can find an audience as well. I'll never know unless I try.

Submissions for my school's literary magazine are due on Sunday. I think I might just try and hammer out something for once in my life- I've been putting it off long enough!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I am so excited right now. I've been spending almost two months writing the first part of my novel, and even though I've been quite excited about the whole process-especially since this is the longest thing I've ever written- I was worried about what direction the whole thing was going to take, since I knew everything I was writing was a sort of Act 1. I'm not exactly a "pantser" in the strictest terms of the word- in fact, I plan everything before I write it. The "pantsing" tendencies that do arise in me are a result of the fact that I don't plan the entire story at once- just the spurts of inspiration that come to me at the moment. Consequently, I don't even know how this story is going to end! But I am pretty psyched about how it's turning out so far.

I'm all about the pastoral setting = festival, chaos and city setting = normalcy, reason. The climax of My Act 1, incidentally, takes place in a forest clearing near a small village, where all of the main characters meet outside of their "regular" settings. The conflict is clearly set up and the consequences are heavy, and there is also an underlying issue that has not been dealt with that will come into play later.

I now have the material for my Act 2, which takes place on the way back to the city center. I had nothing on this before last night, but now, everything is falling into place! And assuming that the story pans out the way I'm hoping for it to, I should have a perfect set up for Act 3, which I haven't gotten to yet, but which I will welcome when it comes!

Right now, I'm just excited that my four main characters have a chance to spend a lot of time together.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Obligations Suck

Ah, the demands of real life. I've had three betas read what I've written of my novel so far, and even though I've gotten a very positive response from all of them, I can't work on it for at least a week. The reason? I've got two papers, several news assignments, six internship applications, and schoolwork on my mind.

It's pretty frustrating, to be quite honest. I don't have class until 3:30 tomorrow, so I have a lot of time on my hands (well, time is relative...I'm meeting a friend for brunch tomorrow, so that will eat up a chunk of my time). I'm in the zone right now and I'm all powered up, but I can't do it because I have a lot of other things to do!

This. Is. Balls.

On the one hand, some of the things I have to do will challenge me artistically. On the other hand, I would much rather be working on my novel.

Well, whatever. If Veronica Roth could do it in between doing her homework, so can I!

...at least I can after I get my papers done.