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...