Friday, December 24, 2010

life gets in the way

yeah, so i've been in TO since dec 10th, and rather disinclined to do anything but pig out on comfort foods, cuddle with my mum (yes, i realize i'm 31. shut up) and scam back rubs from my dad. also some nephew squooshing, and of course spending time with my own kids and husband have been taking up time too. so the blog is getting neglected. the writing is non-existent. even the knitting is falling by the wayside, except when i go to knit nights.

spending time with friends and family is more important that my little hobbies.

spending two hours in a walk-in clinic with my 5 year old and his split chin isn't exactly how i'd prefer to spend christmas eve day, but that's life for you.

the kid is tough as nails, and other than a little whimpering when the doc injected the anesthetic, he was totally perfect, cooperative, compliant. so a big fuck you to the doctor who basically insisted he would have to be forcibly restrained because 'all kids his age freak out.'

now to bed. tomorrow- presents and peameal bacon. pretty much perfect.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

post nano

yeah, i finished my 50K words. yay me. can you feel the enthusiasm?

i don't know, maybe it's just because i never got super jazzed about the story in the first place. i'm just not feeling that fantastic. the story isn't truly done, might never be.

i got some good ideas while i was working on it. brainstorming like crazy (mostly on that 750 words site. it's seriously awesome for that). started reading again, about a book a week, though mostly it takes 2-3 days to read, then another 2-3 to recover, get my head out of the last book's 'world'.

wanting something not too heavy, finding my bookshelf severely lacking in that regard. the few supposedly funny books i have i just can't get into.

second, third, fourth guessing many of my ideas. i think my self-confidence cycles, and right now i'm in a low part of the cycle, where nothing i think or do is good enough. my ideas are contrived, my writing is stilted, i'll never be good enough or smart enough (but doggone it, people like me anyway?)

i'm not really this down on myself. i'm overreacting to a blah day. whatevs.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

oh right, i have a blog

i discovered this nifty little site called i've been throwing the randomest of my random thoughts out there, so i've forgotten about the blog a bit.

the idea of the site is to give you a bit of an incentive to to some freewriting, random idea dumping, creative stuff, 'morning pages', whatever you like. what you write is totally private and you can even password protect it if you're on a shared computer. but after you write, you get this neat analysis of the words you use and how they reflect your mood, and the topics you tend to think about... i dunno, i find it kind of neat. and i'm using it as a place to brain-dump so that i can get on to the real writing.

so how's that real writing going? well...

on the plus side, i have 47K words, so there's no way i won't meet the NaNo requirement. that's good, right?

on the not-so-plus side, i really have realized that the amount of salvageable content is severely outweighed by the unsalvageable. it just is. nothing to be done about it, no point in whining or complaining that i suck (because i mostly don't) or worrying that i'm wasting my time (because i mostly am). the thing is, i set myself a goal, i'm going to meet it, and for better or worse, i had a lot of fun doing it. plot twists and turns that came out of nowhere, characters that sprung fully formed from my head and refused to go away until i'd given them a major role in the story- that's the kind of stuff i love about this frantic writing. just because i'm not picking the prettiest, most eloquent ways of saying it, doesn't make it totally worthless.

but true to form, i've gotten a new idea. speaking of characters dropping into your head fully formed- it's alarming the clarity with which this story has formed itself. i also know that it's going to require real research on my part, because i'll be writing about real issues, things that i can only make up and extrapolate so far without a good solid understanding first.

right now, when i'm not NaNoing, i'm fiddling with the character profiles, googling madly, jotting down random snippets of dialogue, and trying to resist starting the writing until i'm 'ready'.

three days into december, i'll have an opening scene. not a promise, just a prediction.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

declaring suckitude, right on schedule

okay, not total suckitude.

actually, on the whole i'm still feeling very positive about this whole novel business.

so why haven't i written anything on it in two days? hmmm.

see, i got to about the halfway point, and i got stuck, plot-wise. basically, i wasn't sure if my reasons for having the characters in that particular situation even made sense. and i thought of another way to get them into a similar, though more sensible situation, but that would require some re-writing of scenes. and i'm refusing to actually delete any more work, because it's nano, and nano is not for deleting.

so i can either forge ahead, and write the stuff that makes more sense, and just pretend that it fits in with what i've already written, that there aren't enormous plot holes to be filled, and that my novel isn't going to collapse under the weight of all the crap i keep tossing in there.

or, i can go back (not deleting, mind), and i can write the scenes in the way that might make them work better, so that i can write on knowing i've got the holes at least patched up a bit.

the problem is that the second option feels a little like cheating. writing more words/new scenes without deleting the old ones. 'fixing' mistakes, but leaving the mistakes there just to keep my word count up.

but trying to write it the first way, i keep getting stuck, losing track of what's actually supposed to have happened.

i'm so confused by my plot. i'm even confused by this blog post. geesh.

Monday, November 08, 2010

blogging does not add words to my nano wordcount

but it does help me get out some of the random fluff that seems to clutter my mind, so that i can get on with writing. so...

yeah, yesterday sucked. mostly, because it was sunday so everyone was home and i didn't have the nice quiet house to lull me into the writing zone. and i had started to come up on a roadblock in my plot (in that, i ran out of it) so even if i did sit down and try to write for five minutes, i'd keep questioning my writing, striking through the last bit i wrote, over and over...

the husband got home around 6:30, and while we were making dinner, i started to toss out some of my issues. he's a fantastic sport, and he usually lets me blather on until i get an idea, or until he's about to fall asleep, or until his brain feels like it'll explode (i try to get an idea before either of the latter happen). and it worked, he gave me this really awesome idea, a totally new twist on the story, an opportunity to add several more characters, a new setting, a whole new perspective on the overriding issue of the story, really. and i was so excited, and it buzzed around in my head while we ate, and while the kids wound themselves down for sleep.

so in the quiet house, i start to jot down notes on what's happening now, with all these new brilliant idea. and i find a hole. it wasn't a big hole, in fact it was really minor, sort of 'oh let me just get a needle and thread and stitch that up'. but even the tiniest bit of pressure on that hole made it spiderweb out, spreading in all directions into a chasm big enough for my whole story to fall through. clunk.

talked through the issues with the husband, who conceded that these holes were in fact insurmountable (without me rewriting the whole thing, which... are you crazy?). and so i pouted. and i stared at my computer. and i wrote a sentence. and then two more. and an hour later i had written 1500 words, met my daily word count, and had introduced a minor twist that just might carry me through to the end of the story. here's hoping anyway.

so i guess the point is not to give up. i truly believe my little brainstorming session paid off, even if none of the ideas we came up with actually made it into the story. just throwing the ideas out in the air makes them open up in new, unexpected ways.

(check in later for the post where i declare my suckitude once again. it's bound to happen. i'm on the NaNo seesaw here, and when i hit bottom, it hurts.)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

end of week one

okay, here's the deal. this is NaNoWriMo, and i'm going to write a novel in a month, because that's what you do.

last year, my first NaNo, i didn't know a damn thing about writing. I had never written anything longer than maybe 5000 words. i hadn't written anything i felt proud of since high school. so when i sat down and ideas started flowing, and i got more and more words, it boosted my confidence immensely. i knew it wasn't perfect. i suspected it wasn't even that good, but i kept going, because the ideas kept coming.

now after writing that, putting it away, going back to it, editing, redrafting, editing again, i realized that as much as i love the story plot-wise, from a structural point of view it's really seriously flawed. my main character is dull (sorry Ruby, but it's true and you know it), my writing is okay, but inconsistent, and the story doesn't really achieve what i was hoping it would.

is this stuff that upsets me? no, not at all. because i'm learning from it. i'm learning from all the reading and writing and talking about writing that i've been doing in the last six months.

here's where i think my problem lies for NaNo this year (did i mention i'm having problems? yeah, hence blogging rather than writing). i keep learning things, these 'rules' about what should and shouldn't happen when you write, about what you need to make compelling characters, about how to keep the story moving so people won't throw it against the wall in frustration. i'm learning these things that help when you actually have a story. i still don't have a story. i have 17k words of lead-up, i just don't know what it's leading up to. (I suspect it might be leading up to action, which is another wrinkle, because i don't know how to write action either.)

i'm doing this to challenge myself, to prove to myself that i still have it in me to finish a draft, and to get enough down on paper that it 'counts' as a novel in some way, shape, or form. i'm starting to suspect that whatever this is, it ain't a novel. i'm going to finish it, because i am, but i may just never look at it again at this rate.


(have to edit to add- do you see the problems i'm having ^ writing coherently? the fuck?)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

mixed success and various ramblings

so NaNo got off to a brilliant start. 11000 words in the first day. No, that's not a typo. No, i don't know how i did it, but don't get too excited. Day two added another 4000, though i was starting to get concerned because it really seemed like i was writing myself into a corner. Day 3, i was firmly sandwiched in that corner. there was a guy fixing the drywall in the apartment, so i left to find a quiet writing spot somewhere else. the public library was a bust, too cold, and the tables were too high to type comfortably, and it was too quiet. i used to think i needed total silence to write effectively, but it turns out i just need the right kind of noise.

That kind of noise can, apparently, be found at starbucks. by the time i got there, i had realized the problem with the writing i had done so far. aside from the plot not doing what i wanted, my writing itself was flagging because i was writing in the 3rd person. i keep trying to convince myself that i can do it, but i've never had much success. the short story i wrote for the anthology coming out later this year was in 3rd, and it was a nightmare for me to get right. i think there's a bit of a stigma against 1st person, that it's less sophisticated, less literary, or some crap. frankly, if i'm going for sophisticated and literary, the POV i choose is going to be the least of my problems.

What this meant was re-starting from the beginning, telling the same story, many of the same exact scenes in fact, only in 1st. i got 4000 words in the three hours at starbucks (before my knitting buddies arrived), added another 3000 after i got home that night, and added another 5000 yesterday, so i feel i am firmly back on track. the story is working better, though there are enormous holes, several areas where i just glossed over details i couldn't be bothered to research at the time, and 12000 words in i'm only just starting to get a handle on my MCs voice, but this is NaNo. If i come out at the end of this month with a decent story, i can work with the details come december. or january. or, you know, may. whenever i can stand to look at it again.

so if i'm doing so well, if i'm such a keener, why am i blogging and not writing? two words: no school.
two more words: kim possible. *twitch*

Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNo Anxiety

NaNo officially starts for me in just over four hours, so naturally i'm freaking out.

the last week and a half has been spent planning, worldbuilding, techbuilding, character building, and so on. no actual outlining, because outlines apparently make my writing suck. but i know who is going to be in the story, i know where it starts, and i have some idea of where i want it to go, and how to get there.

other than that, i'm relying on my mad pantsing skillz to pull me through. we'll see how that goes.

it has veered so far away from the original prompt that inspired it, it's kind of hilarious. besides one character name, and the general idea of computer hackers and the social network, it's entirely unrecognizable. but it's incredible what you can come up with from a few simple sentences.

the tech stuff has been the trickiest, because even though i don't have to fully explain how it works in the story (at least not up front) i need to know in order to be consistent. and it would be helpful if i could come up with names for all these things i'm inventing. i need a name for the implants, and for the terms they use for communicating through the implants, and what they call people with implants vs people without, and the ones with apparently malfunctioning implants (oops, spoiler alert). right now i've just got a bunch of placeholder terms, and i'm just hoping something better will come to me at some point in the next 30 days.

is anyone reading this? doing NaNo? add me as a writing buddy (i'm divy over there).

i'm gonna go hyperventilate for a few hours.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010

it's almost time! NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a novel in the month of November. last year's nano is what got me started writing for real. it was a fantastic, mind-opening experience.

the novel i completed last year has been going through various betas, revisions, edits, stompings-on, etc. for about 6 months. i'm starting to accept the fact that it might be a trunk novel, or at the best, something i will revisit and re-plot/re-write in a few years when i'm better at this stuff. but the experience was invaluable, so naturally i'm doing it again.

now to me, nano is definitely about challenging oneself, in some way or another. just finishing 50K is a big enough challenge, but this year i've managed to take it even further. sigh.

my writing buddy and i agreed to do a plot-swap; we came up with very basic ideas for each other, a main character with a goal and a general sense of what their major obstacle will be. i was totally into the idea because I tend to get emotionally attached too characters too easily, so that i'm afraid to properly torture them ;) he also fully admitted to me that he wanted to force me to write outside of my comfort zone.

i admit i wasn't inspired by his ideas at first (he gave me a choice, which was part of the problem. i'm terrible at decision-making.) but i persevered and finally something clicked. i've been brainstorming most of last night and today, and i've come up with something i'm really really thrilled with. i can already see a bunch of different ways it can go, sub-plots i can expand upon, major crises for my MC that i can just keep piling up until she begs for mercy.

and apparently it's going to be some sort of cyberpunk/speculative fiction deal. umm, okay? i have never written anything remotely fantasy/sci-fi before. (save about 9K words of weird fantasy drivel that was probably more romance than anything, just with magic and shit.)

but the idea hit, and it won't let go. it's got mind-controlling brain implants and government conspiracies, neuro-hackers, etc. the main character is a teenager, so i'm probably also going to work in some standard edgy YA themes (drugs, disobedience of parents, runaways, etc.)

(i'm going to add here that i'm incapable of synopsising anything to save my life. i go off on tangents and ramble and completely lose the thread of what i was talking about... i know, shocking, isn't it. but once i get a hold on the meat of this thing, i'll post my synopsis here, or link to my nano profile, or something)

on the one hand, i'm totally freaked out because i haven't read much in this genre (or at all) and they (they who? i dunno) always say you should read in the genre you're writing. but then, this is nano, i'm not looking to send it out to publishers on dec. 1st or anything. it's an exercise more than anything.

now because i haven't read anything, not even the major names (i'm totally kicking myself for not picking up my dad's copy of Neuromancer that sat on his bookshelf for my entire life) there's also the possibility that i'll write something totally derivative and unoriginal, without even trying to.

i've been googling 'brain implants' and such (whoo, there's a lot more out there than i thought) and it seems a lot of my ideas aren't unique at all. they also might not be really all that unrealistic. but the underlying premise of the story relies on the fact that the majority of this society has willingly implanted themselves (or their children) with these devices. i'm not sure how i'm going to wangle that.

i am going to need to constantly remind myself that i can write anything i want, and if it's crap, then that's okay, because nano is really really good for writing crap.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

september who?

yeah, so i missed a month. bite me. september sucked big fat donkey balls.

plus i had nothing worth blogging about. and frankly, i was reluctant to push the baby picture post down. still feeling bereft of smooshing. but i will be home for christmas, so babysmooshes for the holidays!

knitting is great these days. finished several projects, including Buttercup in hempathy (omg, i love hempathy so much) and my 2 year (!) sweater project in malabrigo sock yarn. yeah, if you care about this stuff, you're already on Rav, so i'm not going to even bother linking. i'm lazy like that.

writing is going... weird. i've decided to write from an outline. i actually wrote an outline. i know what most of the scenes in this story are going to be, and i know how the character arcs will work. i even whipped up a freaking timeline in a spreadsheet. so now i have to write it.

and i like the story. i like the characters. my protagonist is fun to write (he's a very sweary teenage boy, and he's kind of a jerk, and a total player. it's awesome.) and this has the potential to be really good, in my opinion (though i'll grant i'm a little biased).

but right now, all it is is potential. there's no story yet. the words that go on the page to tell the story aren't coming. i'm writing scene after scene, plugging along, but they're all disjointed and wrong, and they're too short, and not enough happens. i mean, stuff happens plot wise, but all i have is the stuff that furthers the plot. the inbetweeny stuff, the deeper characterization, the setting, any description at all, is just gone, and i don't know where the part of my brain that writes that stuff went. (also missing? the part of my brain that writes concise, non-convoluted sentences. sorry about that).

so writing it has just become this frustrating exercise of blah. and blogging about it, while not productive for the story, makes me feel like i'm doing something. (something besides procrastinating? well, no.)

feel free to give me kicks in the ass, i can probably use them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


this is the best thing going right now-- my new nephew

with the blanket i knit for him (see, i still blog about knitting),

smiling. sigh.

yeah, i'm totally in love. i'm much too far away to snuggle him properly, so i have to gush over pictures instead.

don't mind me, i'm just going to sit over here in the corner until my ovaries stop twitching...

fic happens

sometimes i hate writing. no, that's not really true, i always love actually writing, putting words on (virtual) paper and making them sound, you know, good, and stuff. (get off my back. i'm saving all my prose-writing energy for the real stuff...)

but the part of writing where i know i need to make something specific happen, and i can't do it because the words, or the characters, won't cooperate, that just sucks.

it's like with knitting- knitting back and forth without worrying about what you're making is easy- though usually you end up with not much more than a strip of plain knitting- wheee, scarves. if you want something that actually looks like something (sweater, socks, whatever) you need to make changes, shift, manipulate the stitches differently, add and decrease. and usually you have a pattern that tells you how and when to do this so you end up with something that looks like something you wanted it to look like in the first place. (hello, train of thought? where did you go?)

but writing isn't like knitting. because there isn't a pattern for a good story. there are guidelines, sure, and if you outline obsessively you can sort of shape the final product before you write it. (but i can't outline, and besides, that's another post). so for me, writing is like knitting a giant piece of shapeless nothing and just crossing your fingers that you can turn it into something decent when you're done.

phew. this post is brought to you by poorly crafted, tenuous metaphors.

(it's a good thing i'm pushing this post down later today with something far far more awesome.)

Monday, August 23, 2010


hey blog, i'm going to rant at you for a bit, okay? because frankly, no one else wants to hear it (the husband has been listening to this rant patiently for a few days, but i just can't subject him to it anymore. also, he's at work.)

i'm writing a piece of short fiction. i actually have a sort of a deadline too. for the first time, i'm writing something because i was asked to, not because i just feel like it, and it's a fantastic feeling to know that anyone besides me is actually interested in my work! i was given a very broad category, a working title as a prompt, and i immediately came up with a perfect idea.

perfect, if you ignore the part where i spent ten minutes alternately typing and sobbing. stupid fucking emotions. writing something that depressing has long-term consequences on my mood, and i just can't afford to be a weepy, grumpy ball of grr right now.

so, i brainstorm, come up with two or three other fairly decent ideas before i settle on the idea. the one that i know will work, that has a beginning, middle, end, conflict, interesting characters, potential to be both touching and humourous (a balance i try to strike most of the time. also, is it just me or are there too many 'u's in humourous?)

so there's no problem, right? oh, until there's a problem. i can't write it. i feel like i'm stuttering, like i keep starting and getting a few sentences out but then the rest of it just stops. ideas shut off, gone. my ability to write readable prose seems to have disappeared as well. my dialogue is stilted. i hate my characters. i don't think the conflict is all that interesting anymore, and i don't know if i can fix it. (i'll grant that my husband read what i have so far and he thinks it's good. i don't think he's lying to spare my feelings, but i also don't think he's a very unbiased source.)

i don't have time to start from scratch with a new idea. besides that, i like this idea, i really do, and i really think it will make a good story if i can just get it the fuck out of my brain!

if you need me, i'll be bashing my head against the keyboard.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

this blog post is brought to you by a crippling fear of heights

and if you don't already have one, you probably will once you see the pictures.

(yeah, pictures!)

whenever there are small repairs to be done on an outside wall of one of the apartments, the workers build a little bamboo scaffolding outside the window. they're like makeshift balconies, and the mere idea of stepping out on one gives me the shakes. a friend of ours had work done on their apartment, and apparently the workers warned them not to let the kids out to play on the scaffold after they'd left. they live on the 36th floor. umm, yeah, i'm not thinking that's going to be a problem...

the other day, the same friend called us (they live across the complex) to point out another apartment that was being worked on. they were at the very beginning stages of building the scaffolding, so there were just a few metal beams sticking out of the wall. and a guy straddling the beam, harnessed by a strap around his waist (the harness may have been more secure than it looked, to be fair. i wasn't that close).

pretty crazy, right?

this was also on the 36th floor. here's a pic of the full building, just for perspective. i've circled the guy above in red. if you can't see him, look up, waaaay up...

yeah. i really don't have anything else to say about that. on the plus side, neither of my kids want to do that job when they grow up. one less thing to worry about, i guess.

Monday, August 09, 2010

home again

i mean, i guess i'm home...

right now, i feel like home is a million miles away. i have some fantastic friends out here (one is currently taking my boys swimming, giving me some precious alone time. gotta love that) and once school starts and i get into a routine, i'm sure that things will be okay here. i'm sure of it.

but now, all i can think is how much i miss my mom and my sister making me laugh myself silly and giving me big squishy hugs. i miss talking my dad's ear off about writing, and listening to him talk my ear off about food. i miss playing guitar and singing with my big, grown-up nephew. i miss the tiny baby nephew that is going to be born any day now (i didn't realize you could miss someone you've never even met) and i miss my brother and (as-good-as) sister-in-law, who are doing awesome getting ready for this new little life.

i miss home. there's nothing wrong with hong kong, but dammit, it isn't home.

Monday, August 02, 2010

justified self-doubt, or am i just procrastinating again?

okay then.

i wrote 20K words in 10 days, that was kind of cool. and i do like the ideas that i formed in that time, i even think it might make a decent story... someday. right now, i've managed to talk (think) myself out of working on that particular plot. i lost focus, lost the grasp on what i wanted from my characters and my story, and i started to question whether the idea i had could really be carried on for another 50-60K words. basically, i bailed. just like i told myself i wouldn't. i figured once i had 20K words it would be a lot harder to abandon the idea. apparently not.

but, but, but...

i realized i have 3 months until NaNoWriMo, and I will do that again this year, no question. So i figured, 3 months is more than enough time to bang out a first draft on one of the myriad ideas i've come up with since april. i picked the idea i've had the longest, the one that i felt had the most potential, the one i've already written the beginning to twice (both times i fizzled out after about 5K words). i tried a new approach. i changed POV and tense, i changed my mc name (i hated her original name anyway) and i made it 10K words in... then i started thinking about it again.

several major plot points started unraveling. if character A does this, why doesn't character B just do that? what's the character's motivation for this? why is she behaving this way instead of that? and all my questions were totally valid and entirely unanswerable. seriously, i don't know how i have had this idea bouncing around in my head for so long and not noticed all the problems with it until now.

i had a clear idea of where i wanted this to go, i even had something i would call an outline, and i hate outlines. maybe that was part of the problem. writing into an outline has sapped my will to write.

so i went back to the drawing board, so to speak. i went back to the original ideas that spawned this whole story, and it boils down to the two main characters and the setting. everything that came after that (the characters' families, their romantic pasts, their jobs) is probably going to go out the window.

now i can't decide whether i'm just excusing this pattern of behaviour (which is- write write write, oh wait, that sucks, nevermind...) or if i actually might have a better plot to stick these characters into. i suspect this is just another way for me to justify to myself the fact that i am abandoning yet another wip.

so, in keeping with my pattern, after the 'nevermind' i need to spend at least three days beating myself up for abandoning this before i can get back to writing properly. gah.

this blog post has been brought to you by the little voice in my head that says 'you suck'. i should probably see about getting that removed...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

good news, bad news

good news: i have reached my 20K goal, much sooner than planned even. I have the beginnings of a story, really almost a skeleton of a story, with a beginning, middle, and something that could be leading towards an end.

bad news: i have no fucking clue what to do next. i'm trying to expand upon the scenes i have, and i'm stuck. i'm trying to add new scenes, and i'm stuck. i'm trying to write stuff that i know won't be a part of the story, just to get into the character's voice. nope, still stuck.

the whole point of this exercise was to not have my writing end up amounting to nothing more than practice. don't get me wrong, practice is good, but it would be even better to get to the point where i can write a whole fucking story instead of just random bits and pieces.


my next goal. keep writing this damn story. finish writing it, even, before i move on to something else.

wish me luck...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


alright. i'm done fucking around.

i need to start writing something. something new. something with more than 5000 words. something with a story that is at the very least interesting to me. (i'll worry about whether it's interesting to anyone else after i'm finished the first draft).

i'm setting a goal. it's a small goal, imo, but i don't want to fail and discourage myself. by the end of July, i will write 20,000 words on something, anything really. but it must be one thing, one story with at least a vaguely cohesive plot. i don't know what that plot will be yet. i'd better get on that.

i'm going to ask a small favour from anyone who actually reads this blog (and again, i know there are maybe three of you). if you happen to see me screwing around on facebook, or if you actually see me or communicate with me in any way at all, pester me about my writing. the more persistent, the better. i'm going to enlist my husband and my dad and anyone else who is going to see me regularly in these next few weeks. if my laptop is on my lap, i should be writing. i might have to disable my wifi, but dammit, it's the only way anything is going to get done.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

tales from an 8 hour flight

keeping in mind, 8 hours is cake compared to the 15 hour hauls from HK to TO and back, but this 8 hour flight was in the middle of the day, meaning the kids were awake the whole time. i still have a twitch in my eye.

the first major bummer was realizing that there was nowhere for me to plug in my laptop (i've been spoiled by the higher-end airlines, this one was barebones.) it would have been mildly irritating if i'd been planning on watching a movie or playing games on my computer, but i was actually hoping to write. i actually had the desire and the inspiration to do some real work, and i spent the whole time frantically checking how much battery i had left.

i'm currently re-writing scenes from my ms based on the critiques of several betas (when three separate sources with very different backgrounds--both in their lives and in their writing experience-- point out the same flaws in your work, you should probably listen). i'm now trying to work on the scenes again, but it feels like 1 am and my mojo ran away... feh.

so not being able to write, i defaulted to the next obvious thing- knitting. this led to one of the nicest things about the trip. a woman sitting across the aisle from us started to chat with me about my knitting. she noticed that i knit continental (yarn in the left hand), while most knitters from TO, in her experience, knit english style (yarn in the right hand) (for the record, she's english but she knits continental, so the labels clearly don't count for much)(believe it or not, this was quite an interesting discussion. i know some of you won't believe it. you know who you are. you can shush). in any case, i got to chat about yarn and stuff with a total stranger, and she turned out to be quite lovely. she even engaged my five year old in conversation for the last half-hour or so of the flight, which was a relief to my husband and i, to say the least.

oh, and speaking of the five year old, apparently the novelty of air-travel hasn't worn off for him. he squeals like he's on a roller coaster every time we hit a bit of turbulence, he whoops excitedly when we start to land. add this to the incessant chatter, the fighting with his brother about whose magazine was whose (yeah, the crappy duty free catalogues are apparently very interesting to these children) and the occasional whines tantamount to 'are we there yet?'
this incited some dirty looks from people around us, and while i can't really blame them (hell, i was shooting dirty looks at him too) i couldn't help but think 'you people have to deal with this for 8 hours. this is my life'. i couldn't feel too sympathetic.

this has been an especially rambly and pointless post. i'm blaming the jet lag, yet again. someday i'll spend more than three weeks in the same timezone, and then i'll be unstoppable...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

first Canada day not living in Canada

thirty years, and this is the first Canada day that i haven't actually been living in Canada. I'm in the UK at the moment, not in HK, and i'll at least be hanging out with my Canadian family here, but it still feels weird.

being Canadian is a huge part of my identity. more than even the knitting...

it wasn't something i ever realized was so important until i found myself actually living so far from home. it wasn't until i started making Canadian friends in Hong Kong that i realized that i missed Canadians, not just Canada. i think it's a case of not truly appreciating something until it's gone.

i'm too tired and distracted (by british children's television, wugh) to properly express what i love so much about Canada. it might be easier to say what i don't love...

umm... well, it can get a little cold.

Happy Canada Day!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

creative blue balls

i'm super jetlaggy (again) and half asleep, and about an hour ago i was snoozing, listening to music (i don't even remember what, but it must have been something very deep and evocative or some shit). and i get ideas... actually, i get the feeling i've got a really really good one, but i'm too sleepy to grab hold of it, and then the song changes, and then my idea is ripped away and i'm left feeling all cranky and unsatisfied. and now that i'm almost, sort of awake, i keep getting these moments where i think i might be remembering, but if i try to grab the idea it disappears. i have this anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach that might be the jet lag, or it might be the kids' fault, but i think it's this missing idea, nagging, gnawing, tapping me on the shoulder and then when i turn around it isn't there.

so close... sigh.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


for the past 5 years, at least, all my social interactions (that haven't revolved around my kids) have revolved around knitting. i'm used to talking to people about knitting and having them 'get' me. well last night at a social event for writers, i had a shocking realization: non-knitters really do find knitting kind of insane.

last week, when my writing buddy started mocking the knitting, I thought it might just be him- that he was just closed-minded, or more likely that he got a kick out of teasing me (hi Jay!) but i think it's not just him. people think knitting is weird. who knew?

last night a man compared me to his 100 year old grandmother sitting in her rocking chair, waiting for death. naturally, i took offence. this was followed by the classic "why can't you just buy socks" line. to which i pulled out my socks to show him how so-much-cooler they were than storebought socks. (he wasn't impressed. also shocking.)

then he joked that i should write a novel about knitting, and i shouted "done and fucking done!" (we were probably both a little drunk and argumentative... i also told him not to fuck with the lady with the pointy sticks...)

all in all, it was a very fun night.

so for the first time in a long time i was the weirdest person in the room because of my knitting (this doesn't imply i haven't been the weirdest in the room for other reasons...not by a long shot). i'm not sure how i feel about this. i've never laboured under the illusion that i'm normal- hell, who wants to be normal?- but i didn't think sticks and string would be what made me so strange.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

i lied

i just deleted a whole blog post- something i said i wouldn't do.

why? because i don't want anyone calling me up or emailing me asking me if i've gone off the deep end. i haven't, for the record.

i am a good writer. i'm actually a very good writer, and if that makes me sound conceited, then so be it.

i have to strike a balance between writing what i want to write, and writing what i need to write. i need to get stuff out of my head, so i write. i want to make an impact on people, so i write. i'm ridiculously anxious about sharing my writing, but when i get positive feedback, it makes me so damn happy. and when i get negative feedback it just pushes me to do better. (and sometimes makes me cry a bit- but mostly it's the 'do better' part).

right now, most of what i write is depressing. i don't know why. maybe it's just the headspace i'm in. but my best stuff, some of my favourite stuff, is the depressing stuff. the happy stuff just doesn't do it for me. my own full manuscript, the one i've been obsessing over since november, is at its best (in my opinion) in the depressing parts. my husband disagrees, of course, but then he doesn't do depressing. i suppose that's a good thing. a balancing thing.

said husband is watching star trek: enterprise at this very moment, a fact that makes him very happy, and me sort of depressed. what does that tell you?

Monday, June 14, 2010

it just occurred to me

i'm leaving town again in ten days. i feel like i just barely got back (wait, i did just barely get back). i'm still jet lagged. if you fly halfway back to where you were when you're still jet lagged, does that negate the jet lag at all?

as a bonus, the next trip includes my husband and kids, which is great because i love them and all, but equally crappy because we'll have two jet lagged parents and a couple of jet lagged kids. joy.

i got a message from a knitting friend who knows i'm a writer about a flash fiction workshop in town this evening. very last minute, but i think i'm going to go. it sounds like fun.

the problem with this last minute stuff is, usually it's in central or thereabouts (basically downtown Hong Kong on the main island) which is easily an hour from where i live. so i really have to have a few hours warning if i want to do this sort of thing. today i think i had just enough warning (the fact that my husband is so awesome that he's willing to come home early to watch the boys helps immensely. i owe this dude hardcore. i'm making a list).

last time i tried to go to a writing event in central, i ended up at a closed bar, completely missing a sign on the door saying that they had moved to the bar next door, and so i spent two hours total on a bus for nothing except a bruised ego and a major case of 'i'm a fucking moron'. any bets on whether i'll make it to this one in one piece, on time, and without embarrassing myself?

don't worry, i wouldn't bet on me either.

ETA: one piece? check. on time? check. without embarrassing myself? eh, jury's still out...

Friday, June 11, 2010

recipe for a perfect friday night

start in the afternoon, with a good 4 hours of knitting, with five fantastic friends. try not to fall asleep on the oh-so-comfy couches. stay hydrated, and mainline something caffeinated.

fizzy pink stuff, calamari, bruschetta (hold the olives, though) and laughing a lot, sitting in a ridiculously comfy booth.

tram ride up to the peak. okay, in all fairness, i could have skipped this out- the buildings and trees were at a 45 degree angle to the car. it felt wrong. distracted by stories of fingernails falling off (thanks again, Anna!) but still, i don't need to travel sideways up a mountain ever again.

dinner on the peak, including much too much wine, fancy cocktails (mine had coconut- yum), delicious food, and boozy hot chocolate for dessert (it actually didn't occur to me at first that hot chocolate with baileys and frangelico was alcoholic, which speaks volumes about my state of mind at that point...)

minibus down the mountain (yeah, i could've skipped that too. fucking psycho minibus drivers. at least i remembered to put on my seatbelt...eventually)

longest taxi ride home ever. how i managed to stay awake i'll never know.

get home, and get a second wind. perfect timing...

blog. because i'm awake already, why not ramble for the masses (or, the three people who actually read this...)

sleep should come next. right?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

startling priority shift

for my trip to TO, i packed everything into a small suitcase, then packed that small suitcase into a medium suitcase. the reasoning being, i would be able to bring stuff back with me (namely yarn) without having to worry about having things not fit.

well, first of all, i still barely managed to fit everything in- i actually had to leave a few books behind, but they weren't ones i was going to read soon anyway. second, while unpacking today, it occurred to me that the smaller suitcase was filled almost exclusively with, not yarn, but books. really? since when did i become so damned interested in reading? maybe around the time i started writing like a maniac? hmm.

in fairness, about three of them were knitting books, and there were some knitting magazines in there too. and two knit-lit books. but still, what the hell has happened to me that i didn't manage to fill my entire spare suitcase with yarn?

i guess that's what July will be for.

you know you're jet-lagged when...

-your five-year-old is wearing a pretzel on his face like a pair of glasses, and you're nearly on the floor in hysterics.

-it takes you twenty minutes to write the above sentence.

i may just edit this post and add more as they occur.

fucking hell.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

back home

hong kong has decided to welcome me back with pouring rain and thunderstorms. nothing like riding in a plane while lightning flashes around you to get the adrenaline pumping.

the next few days are going to be an experiment in how truly jet-lagged i can be and still parent effectively. any bets? it's 8am (meaning it feels like 8pm) and i feel completely fucking upside down right now. i'm not terribly hopeful.

wish me luck!

Monday, June 07, 2010

WIPs in time out

i've decided i've way overthunk my two WIPs. over-outlined, over-worked, but i'm still not actually writing the damn stories, i'm kind of tiptoeing around them, and i'm pissing myself off.

i'm putting them in time out for a while. i want to get them back to the point where they were just really awesome ideas so that i can write them without stressing about the specifics, the details. details are for editing, but i have to write the damn thing first.

i'm thinking about writing a few more shorts. i'm getting some good ideas... not a lot.

i want to get my query/synopsis figured out for my current MS. once i'm done that, i'll feel a lot better about my writing situation i think...i hope...

Saturday, June 05, 2010


two days ago, i dug up a paragraph that i wrote about two years ago and started to fiddle with it. it was something i came up with using an online story spinner (like a prompt generator, basically). it wasn't like it was good or anything, but it was the start of a story that was potentially interesting.

yesterday i finished the story. 5000 words, which is sort of an average for general short fiction, i think (actually, i think there's a pretty significant range in short fic, like from 500 to 20K words).

i'm almost positive that the story is actually good, too. of course i'm biased towards my own work, who isn't? but i've re-read it and edited it a bit, and i'm mostly happy with it.

i'm going to get a few people to read it who aren't me and who have no reason to like it and no reason to lie if it sucks. then we'll see.

this is the first short story i've written since high school. i really hope i've improved since then...

Thursday, June 03, 2010

writing for myself

i've never been good a journaling. i kept diaries as a kid, but i always got bored of them. when i started writing again, i figured out why.

i'm a great big attention whore.

i like to write for an audience. i like to write as if someone might read it someday. if you know me, you know i like to talk. i can talk for hours, for days, and never run out of stuff to say. now i can write like that too. it's not always interesting, and in fact, it's probably usually not at all interesting, but i like to put it out there, whatever it is.

i don't have any illusions that i have a ton of people reading this blog. and most of my readers used to be my knitter friends, and since i'm not talking about knitting much, i doubt they're interested anymore. i don't really care, because it's out there. it's public for anyone who wants to read it, for anyone who knows me, or anyone who doesn't.

i don't put personal crap up here. i mean, i have my kids names, my husband's name, my name's probably down there somewhere. people know where i live, more or less (hey, come stalk me in Hong Kong!) but i don't put the really deep shit on here, the stuff that matters. the stuff that hurts.

but apparently i still need to write the stuff that hurts, even if i don't share it. i was tempted to share it, but then i read it over and i started bawling, so no, not going to post that.

things are mostly good. things are often great.

things aren't always great. and that's okay. that's life.

i'd rather write for you guys (all two of you). writing for myself doesn't work as well, because if i can't share it, i still feel like it's all in me. it's on paper (well, computer screen, but same diff.) but it's still only mine.

maybe someday i'll blog about the hard stuff. and then nobody will want to read it. huh.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

need to gush about knitters a bit

Whenever i'm in TO, when i was visiting from Kingston, and now that i'm visiting from Hong Kong, I go to knitting groups. I don't feel sane if i can't go out and knit with people. I can knit at home, alone, in front of the tv, or while talking to my parents, my husband, my kids, but it's just not the same as talking to other knitters. i have two regular groups in Hong Kong that meet weekly, one that meets monthly. all three groups are made up of different people. i think i'm the only one who regularly attends all three. they're all different people, all fantastic.

in Kingston, i had two regular groups. there were more i couldn't get to every week, the one at the LYS for example. when I was visiting last week, just for two days, i went to two knit nights. it was just obvious that i had to do that. that's what you do. (also, i was staying with a friend who is a knitter, so that made it easy). there is overlap in these groups. people show up where they can, when they can. i got to see several old knitting friends, and it felt like almost no time had passed.

in TO, there is one group i go to whenever i'm here. there are others in town, and at least one other that i try to go to semi-regularly, but the one i go to on tuesday nights is a must. now, you have to understand that i have never lived in TO as an adult, certainly never lived here as a knitter. I was born and raised here, but moved away when i was 19. i've only ever been here in my adulthood as a 'visitor'. i've never felt like a visitor though. this will always be home. and the weekly group, the one i only ever got to attend when i was visiting, over holidays mostly, in the summer, is one more thing that makes me feel like this is home. i show up two weeks ago, nobody was expecting me, nobody knew i'd be home. every single person i knew was happy to see me. They were friendly and cheerful, asked about Hong Kong, about my kids. and we got down to knitting, and again, it was like i had never left.

this is one of those things that is awesome about knitting, about knitters. we see each other on a regular schedule, like clockwork. often, you only see these people at knit night. it's a once-a-week relationship (sometimes twice). for me, it was maybe five or six times a year, just for the last two years, really. and yet, i talk to people, we talk about our lives, about our families, births, deaths, work, school, no topic is off the table. it's almost effortless. when you've got knitting in your hands, all your differences are irrelevant. i talk to people a decade younger than me or more, i talk to people old enough to be my mother, or my grandmother. doesn't make a difference. we always find a common thread (if you'll pardon the pun).

and it's not just the regular people that you connect with. just tonight i talked to three people i had never met before, one of whom is a fellow expat. you don't expect to meet someone and immediately have a great connection with them- i mean, i'm sure it happens sometimes, but not on a regular basis, not on a weekly basis. but apparently with knitting, you can.

knitting groups keep me sane. they kept me sane when i moved to Hong Kong- i've made fantastic friends there already, i never would have found them without knitting. they've kept me sane here, while i'm visiting my parents but still desperately missing my husband and kids. i don't know what i'd do without them.

to sum up- knitters are awesome. they're a special type of person, and i don't know what makes them so great, but if we could figure it out and bottle it, we'd make a fucking fortune.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


i didn't write today. i'm trying not to give myself a hard time about it, i really am. but i sort of miss it. i feel like i forgot to do something important, like brushing my teeth or putting on deodorant (managed to remember both of those today, ftr).

i've sat down a few times, opened up my writing program, and stared. i have three things on the go now.

the fantasy thing- for a while it was going at a steady clip, but i started to think about it too much, and realized that some things i tried to set up in the beginning didn't happen, and that some characters were completely inconsistent. basically, it's a little crappy, very draft-y. which it should be. it took me all of two days to write. still, i'm being hard on myself for it. so i'm letting it rest for a bit.

my super-complicated four main character story is still in time out. i go back and re-read bits- i have a few scenes i really love- and go over my character sketches. i like this story a lot, i just can't get my head around how to write the damn thing.

my third, which is the one i've had on the go the longest, is probably the best one to be working on. but i can't make myself do it. i think i overthunk it from the very beginning. i had a rough outline- clear beginning and a lot of middle, fuzzy end, but i knew what i wanted to happen, i just didn't know how exactly. and i had all these ideas for scenes that occurred throughout the story, so whenever i thought of one, i'd just write the scene (usually pretty rough, and too short, but i just wanted to get the basic idea out). now i have all these files and sub-files and sub-sub-files full of random scenes and character development, and i'm fucking overwhelmed. i think i need to start fresh, start with a new file, without any previous content. i'm thinking i might even need to start the story in a different place, just because the starting point i'm using is getting me nowhere.

blah. my brain has given up on me for tonight.

i'm a self-centred, self-indulgent type

i just went back and re-read all of my old blog posts. I was curious to see what my style of writing on here was back then. i started blogging in '05, mostly about knitting, but also mostly random rambly ridiculousness. so not much has changed.

i didn't swear as much before (although check out the post titled 'death to smooshy' from july '07...phew. i feel the need to apologize to the yarn in question- dream in color 'smooshy' is a lovely sock yarn with which i had a severe misunderstanding. that yarn ended up being swapped on ravelry. i hope it is happy in its new home).

but going back and reading my writing, i was surprised to find i'm actually kind of funny, sometimes. at least, i think i am. i'm not terribly impartial on this fact though.

Haven't had much writing success today. the train got really annoyingly noisy right after i posted (figures) and i couldn't concentrate. however, at the same time the seat beside me became occupied by a woman who was knitting socks (!) so i decided to knit on the way home instead. i'm telling you, we knitters are everywhere. we're going to take over the world. mark my words.

but yeah, the writing is sucking. i'm trying not to give myself a hard time about it, because that just makes me feel guilty, and right now i'm only writing for myself. if it ever becomes something that makes me money (ha!) then maybe i'll be tougher.

apropos of nothing, my dad is reading my novel. he's on chapter 9. i'm pretty sure chapter 9 is where the smutty stuff starts.

i'm going to be avoiding my dad for the next few days...

i'm 99% positive that my dad will never see this blog. he could find it if he were really motivated, i think. but it don't think he would be.

if you're reading this dad, hey there! let's not mention the smut, okay?

Friday, May 28, 2010

one more thing

as of the previous post, i have officially blogged more in the past week than i had in the previous two years. so yeah, go me?

blogging on a train

mostly just so that i can say i did it. kind of love free wi-fi on the train- though these tray tables aren't the best surface for my laptop.

it turns out the train is a good place for writing. quiet, very few distractions (except maybe the aforementioned wi-fi).

also an unexpectedly good place to write- at my friend's house, despite the four little girls under five, two of which decided i was the coolest thing ever and didn't want to leave my side (and seriously, if you know these kids, it's next to impossible to say no to them. holy cuteness.) and i still managed to write another 6k ish words (on the damn fantasy that i'm still not writing, tyvm.)

in case you're wondering, two 30 ish women, when put together after about 11pm, can still turn any situation into a pre-teen sleepover. we didn't put anybody's hands in warm water, but we did almost pee ourselves laughing. good times.

now i'm going to turn of the wi-fi and write. or read. but definitely not just surf the net for three hours. nooo.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I don't write fantasy

really, i don't.

i can't explain why i spent the last four hours world building and writing a history for a made up race, because i don't write fantasy.

i don't need any more projects in my brain right now, dammit.

Monday, May 24, 2010

it's an early 90s extravaganza!

so, in addition to my awesome cassette, i dug up a couple of books that i read when i was about the same age (13-16 ish). They're both urban fantasy (i guess that was what i was into back then)

Elsewhere and NeverNever by Will Shetterly

a two book series about a world in between our world and the faerie world. i liked it then (i haven't read them in a while, so i'm going to have to reread before i give full endorsement)

Dangerous Angels- The Weetzie Bat Books by Francesca Lia Block

this is an anthology of five books published between '89 and '95. i actually read all five books separately, and i bought the anthology for convenience more than anything. it sort of defies description, but i think i might re-read that next.

both of these were books i just devoured as a teen, and then re-read like crazy. the first two were out of print, and i lost my copy, and then found one online in my late teens/early 20s and i went a little nuts with excitement. they're back in print now, apparently.

this post has been brought to you by teenage divy.

nostalgia hurrah!

i went through one of my mom's 'big boxes of crap' (tm) yesterday. it contained mostly a bunch of old school binders- seriously, i'm not going to need my grade 12 math notes, you can throw that shit out.

but in among the papers, and a good stack of old teen magazines (yikes) was a cassette tape of a toronto indie band that i started listening to when i was about 13. they're called Blue Dog Pict, and i'm going to bet no one who ever reads this will have ever heard of them (unless Em is reading this, hi Em!). they released two subsequent albums on cd, and they're on my ipod and they still get regular play, but their first album was only released on cassette, so i haven't heard it in probably ten years (the album was released in '91). maybe my tastes just don't change all that much, or maybe it's just the nostalgia talking, but it was still farking awesome. actually, it isn't even the original cassette- it's a dub that i made when my original was starting to sound a little wobbly from over-playing.

my next mission- get that cassette into a digital format so i can keep it forever. i'm such a dork, and i don't care.

i'm going to have to start taking my laptop to bed with me

because when i wake up at 5:30, and suddenly i have a great idea, and i think 'hey, that's pretty good, i should try to remember that when i actually wake up', i should realize that it's 5 fucking 30 and i'm not actually thinking clearly, and there's no fucking way i'm going to remember at 8:30 what i wanted to write at 5:30 when i've been asleep for 3 hours.


p.s. in case you haven't noticed yet, i'm going to swear on this blog. probably a lot. that's what happens when i don't self-edit, apparently.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

in over my head?

so i'm having a self-doubty day. this happens, no big deal. but i figure, hey, it's something to blog about.

this usually happens after i've a) read a really good book or b) spent a really long time pounding out words only to find that they're all crap. but today, neither of those things happened.

i was looking around on writing forums and various internet resources, trying to get my mind around POV issues. i think i might not actually know how to write in 3rd as well as i thought. one of my current WIP could conceivably be told in 3rd limited, there's one clear main character. but i keep wanting to pop into other people's heads, just for a second, because hey, look, they've got something interesting in there... sigh. so it's taking serious restraint to fix that, and keep it just in one POV.

my other WIP is something that i know is way, way beyond my current writing ability. i have four main characters, all of whom are equally important to the story. most of the scenes will only involve two characters at a time (since two of the characters are fighting through most of the story) but there are some scenes with all four, and it's damn near impossible to decide whose POV i should use. i could use 3rd limited, rotating between the four, but in these big scenes, it's just going to seem clumsy, or i'm going to have to leave people out. so it looks like i either head hop (meh, i don't really like reading head-hopping, why would i write it) or go full out 3rd omniscient, which scares the bejeezus out of me for some reason.

it's times like these that make me want to take some sort of writing course. i need help with the nuts and bolts. i just don't think i do that well under pressure, with any kind of class structure, or any kind of real responsibility to the writing. i'm doing this for fun, dammit.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


okay blog- i'm going to forgive you for interrupting my sleep this time, but let's not make a habit of it.

yeah, sometimes as soon as my head hits the pillow, the thoughts turn on, and i'm powerless to stop them, and damned if i'm ever getting to sleep. tonight the thoughts wanted to be on the blog, so here i am, mere hours since i posted last (i think that might be a record. don't get used to it)

So i'm thinking about books. specifically, the endings of books. i've been reading a lot more recently than i think i ever have (comes with the whole writing obsession, apparently). the most recent book i read (just today) is called BREAK and it's by Hannah Moskowitz, and it's really super great, and it's her first book and she wrote it while she was still in high school, which makes me totally jealous, and makes me want to hate her, except i can't because her book is too damn good. go read it. seriously.

anyway, as i often do once i've finished a book, i went online to look at reviews, critiques, etc. just to see if people in general thought the same things i did. i do this with books i like, because i love to read praise of the same books, sort of confirming that i have taste that falls somewhere in the realm of 'normal' (though is that necessarily a good thing?). i do it with books i hate too, because i'd like to see someone else whining about it for the same reasons i did.

the only really critical thing i've read about BREAK is that some people feel the ending was unsatisfying. now i'm not going to spoil the ending, don't worry, but if you're one of those people who doesn't want to know anything about a book, i mean any teeny insignificant detail (hi Chris- oh who am i kidding, he doesn't read this) then you might want to skip the next sentence or two.

i didn't have any issue with the ending. the only real complaint i had was that i would have happily read more, if there was more to read, but i didn't feel that the story lacked a satisfying ending. it was perhaps less dramatic than the overall tone of the book. the absolute worst thing i could say is that it was abrupt, and i'm still not sure that's even negative. and the ending didn't make me want to go shoot myself in the head, which is always a plus in my mind. (more on books that make me want to shoot myself in the head later).

so what makes an ending 'good'. does it have to be happy? or does it have to be in the same tone as the rest of the book? (if the whole book is sort of dark and depressing, does that mean it can't have a happy ending? what about the opposite?)

one type of ending i've seen a lot of is the whole 'flash forward' technique. generally i hate these. it feels like a bit of a cop out- like you get to the end of the real story, but the author wants to wrap everything up in a neat bow, so they flash forward to a point in the near future where all the drama of the last 300 or so pages has been resolved, and everybody lives happily ever after.

i say i hate this, but you know what- that's exactly how i ended my own farking novel. big dramatic scene with slightly ambiguous ending, flash forward a month, final scene that's probably a little schmaltzy and a happy-for-now ending (as opposed to happily ever after, but it's close).

maybe i just hate those scenes when they come at the end of books that i'm already not feeling the love for... that's a possibility.

last thought on books, not on endings necessarily- the stealthy-depressing book. i've been bitching to everyone i've talked to recently about a book i read, and i'm not even going to bother naming it because, frankly, i'm over it, but i had a good four days or so where this book infiltrated my brain and made me feel all weepy every time i thought about it. and it was chick lit too. granted, the author is known for dealing with 'serious' issues- but her other books weren't quite as sneaky about the specifics. this book draws you in by telling you that Something Bad has happened, but not giving you any important details, and ...

shit, you know what, i'm just going to spoil the whole damn book, okay? i'm not going to go back up and edit either, because i said i wouldn't, and breaking my word on the first day back blogging seems like a bad precedent to set.

okay, so the book is Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes. i have to say that i really did like the other books of hers that i've read. they definitely had serious overtones, and i'm pretty sure they both made me cry at some point, that's not the issue. this book spends 150 or so pages telling you about the main character, Anna, and the fact that she's obviously had some sort of terrible accident, the details of which we are not privy to (again, Keyes does this, and usually it's okay. it's interesting to see how she sprinkles the details in slowly, usually it's a great effect). interspersed among the scenes about Anna's injuries and recovery, we get some backstory about her life before whatever happened to her. we hear about her job and her friends in new york, and how she met her boyfriend, Aiden. a little more backstory later, we find out she actually married Aiden. so when Anna's desperate to return to new york, to get back to her job and her friends and Aiden, we start to wonder- why isn't her husband with her during her recovery. my immediate thought was that he had somehow caused her accident, hell, maybe he even deliberately hurt her, who knows. but Anna keeps emailing him, calling his cell, and we get to read these sweet emails that she always signs 'your girl, Anna' and she even catches a glimpse of Aiden on the street, and now i'm just saying "What the fuck Aiden, call your fucking wife already". and then we get to the big reveal (and you've probably figured it out by now, but it wasn't quite so obvious in the book, at least not to me). Turns out, Anna was injured in a terrible car accident, and Aiden was in the car with her, and he was killed. Wheee! we even get to read the scene where they are in the accident, seeing it from Anna's point of view, describing Aiden being badly injured, but still sort of putting on a brave face for her (until he dies!).

this is the point where i start sobbing, and i don't stop for another four-fucking-hundred pages! we go through Anna's bereavement process, and it's all very well done and very real, but i was just so damn sad about Aiden (and yes, i am a giant suck. mock me if you will. he seemed like a really great guy. *sniff*)

now, after finishing the book, and after still being annoyingly upset by it three days later (like, to the point where i'd start tearing up if i caught a reference to the boston red sox- Aiden was a fan- god i'm pathetic) i started to realize that i was having a particularly bad response because the book hit on two of my big panic triggers: spousal death (but i mean, honestly, that's a pretty tough subject regardless, right?) and car accidents (been in two, neither fatal to anyone, in fact no one ever got seriously injured, but it fucked my head up about it, so...yeah.) so i cut myself a little slack for being upset, and then told myself to get the fuck over it already. and i read some fluffy chick lit, and a book that i wanted to throw against the wall for entirely different reasons, and i felt better.

so i guess my issue is that sometimes books can try to use the whole twist aspect to get a reaction out of readers, and sometimes it's kind of cool, but mostly it feels like a cheap trick, and for me, it lead to a lot of unnecessary moping. because i am a suck, but still...

hey, if anyone is reading this, and they know of any other books that haul out and punch you in the gut halfway through like that, let me know so i can avoid them. thanks muchly!

What the what?

hey, it's a blog post! no, really.

okay, let's get the basics out of the way.

-still in Hong Kong (though atm i'm in TO at my folks house, sans kids, for another 2 weeks or so. it's wild)
-still knitting, though not with quite the same speed or obsessiveness, mainly because-
-i got me a new hobby. apparently i write now? yeah, go figure.

and since blogs tend to involve, well, writing, i thought i'd resurrect this baby again. any bets on how long i'll last this time?

so it all started back in november. i was homesick and kind of lonely, and the kids were settling into their routines, and the husband was working lots, and i though 'hey, there's this thing people do in november called NaNoWriMo, where you try to write a 50K word novel in a month. that might be fun.'

now, i have been trying to write for as long as i can remember. seriously, i have stories i wrote from when i was about 7 or 8, and they mostly involved unicorns or some crap, but i wrote them myself, out of my own head and everything. the problem i had was that i never actually thought i was any good. in junior high and high school, when we wrote short stories in english class, i was always left with this feeling of 'now what?'. and i didn't seem to be able to pluck an idea out of nowhere anymore, i needed someone to feed me an opening line, or a juicy plot point before i could take off.

when i was about 16 i wrote a really long, meandering story on my home computer. this was probably the point that i realized that more than anything else, hand-writing held me back. my hand-writing is illegible at the best of times, fucking ridiculous at the worst of times. i think it's that my brain works too fast and my hand + pen can't keep up. but i can type pretty quick (even quicker if i eschew the shift key, which explains the lack of capitals, because i just don't give a shit right now). so this story was incredibly long, longer than anything i had ever written before (or since, until NaNo) at least 20K words. at some point i printed it out. that computer is long long dead, but my mom swears she still has the printout around here somewhere. famous last words...

(i feel the need to point out at this time that i'm not going to go back and edit any of this shit. if it doesn't make any sense, sorry. this is mostly just for my own purposes anyway.)

so NaNoWriMo sounded like fun. I had a plot in my head that i thought up one night on the streetcar coming back from a knit night (see, i worked knitting in there somewhere) and i happened to have a notebook with me, so i jotted it down. the thing with my memory is, once i've written something down, there is a part of it that is permanently etched in my brain, or at least the gist of it is. so this idea had been bouncing around in my brain for over a year, and i sat down on november 1st and started writing, and suddenly i'd written something like 5k words and i had no idea i could do that. it was awesome, and a little scary.

i 'won' NaNoWriMo (in that i wrote more than 50K words in 30 days- 72K in about 25, to be exact). i read over my 'finished' novel once or twice, shared it with a few trusted friends, but basically i stuck it in a (figurative) drawer and left it there until april. i spent a few manic days editing the crap out of it, a few more days editing the crap that i'd just edited, and about two weeks later i had a suddenly-much-better second draft.

the novel is still no where near done. i have one fantabulous friend (hi Anna) and my husband telling me that it's really good. i totally trust them, i do. it's just that i also know that neither of them want me to cry all over them if they tell me it sucks (i totally wouldn't cry. just for the record). so i think i've found me a few beta readers (though i can always use more, but only if you're willing to be mean to me), and i'm keeping the project in the back of my mind at all times, fully intent on 'doing something' with it, once it's ready, and i'm ready (i need to write a query and a synopsis, and that makes me want to die a little bit, but that's another issue entirely).

besides that, ever since i finished the second draft, i've needed to write. like, constantly. i have a little folder of ideas, and every so often i'll go and pick one up and just start writing whatever comes to mind. and sometimes i actually get something good, and then i try to expand. right now i've got two ideas that i'd almost consider 'works in progress'. i have a pretty good idea of how i want the story to go, who the characters are, scenes, themes, blah blah blah. i just have to sit down and write now.

and this is where i come to the problem. for NaNo, you're more or less forbidden from editing as you go (i'll admit that i did edit a bit as i went, because i'm incapable of leaving completely fucked up sentences, or not at least attempting to end chapters somewhat properly. but i didn't edit much, and i didn't delete anything without replacing it with something better). it's about quantity, not quality. you make it better when you edit it (hopefully). but now that it's not NaNo, now that i'm not technically challenging myself, i'm letting myself fall into the write, reread, criticize, rework, edit, rewrite, just shoot me now routine. it's not terribly productive, and i know that if i'd spent even half of the energy i've spent criticizing myself on actually writing, i'd be a lot better off right now.

So i'm blogging right now as an exercise in not editing (like i said, if this is rambly and unintelligible, that's because it's for me, and not you. i mean, you're welcome to read it, feel free, that's why i'm blogging it, just don't expect me to make any special effort).

i'm hoping to force myself to blog on a regular basis, basically whenever i'm stuck on my 'real' writing and i just need to get some crap words out so i can get to the good stuff. that means i'm probably not going to be blogging much about knitting (but i might) or hong kong (because how many times can i say 'jeez it's fucking hot here'). if you're one of my friends following this to find out what's up with me, first of all, Hi there! second, thanks for reading this far. i'm so terribly sorry. third, this is probably as good as it's going to get.

this is where i click the publish post button without reading back. wish me luck...