Telling stories

I haven’t made a whole ton of progress in my writing longhand project. I have taken some days off to write in my personal journal and others to finish listening to audiobooks, which I have been using as a strategy to make my workday easier.

At my workplace, no one minds headphones, presumably so long as they don’t get in the way of actual work. I haven’t heard of anyone getting reprimanded for wearing them, and it’s rare for anyone to find me at my desk listening to nothing. Until recently, I’ve always had music on. Then I remembered those years ago when I got into running in the evenings and took audiobooks along with me to break up the monotony of the streets in my neighborhood.

Many of the tasks I perform at my job require a minimum of concentration, and most of them are repetitive and completely mindless. It’s easy to listen to a story as I copy and paste. However, to be certain that I don’t get distracted, I’ve only listened to familiar favorites so far. I’m afraid to get too engrossed in a new story, but I think it’s something I’ll have to try before too long.

I’ve listened to BBC Radio’s rendition (technically a radio play and not an audiobook) of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere featuring James McAvoy and Natalie Dormer; and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, narrated by the author himself and a lovely cast of actors. These have been the first stories I’ve listened to that were cast with multiple actors. I am now listening to Perdido Street Station by China Miéville, and this one is a traditional audiobook with only one person doing all the storytelling.

I like when each character has its own actor lending their voice. It’s easy to fall into the flow of the story. When I’m on the way to or from work, I often close my eyes and envision the scene as it’s being described to me. I also enjoy when one person voices the entirety of the work. It requires more effort to differentiate one character from another, and I appreciate that. It also makes me think of a parent reading to a child at night (though I certainly wouldn’t pick Perdido Street Station as a tale to tell to children) and the child delighting at Mother or Father’s creativity in bringing the characters to life.

I have many more old favorites I could get through before I decide to embark on something new. I had listened to a couple books of Tad Williams’s Shadowmarch series in audio form before I ever read them, and I enjoyed that greatly. However, I was jogging then and not trying to do office work. I’ll have to give it a try to see how it goes. I can always save them for the commute if they’re too distracting for the workday.


Starting early (in notebooks)

I’ve been itching to go for a while, I had stuck a notebook in my bag with the plan of writing out Destiny longhand during the commute, taking advantage of those large chunks of time. April just wasn’t coming fast enough, though.

destiny notebook

Then I realized that I make the rules, and I can start before April if I like. Yesterday and the day before, I got several pages written in my little notebook. I counted the words from the first day, dismayed to find that I only write about 600 words in an hour. That’s no problem; if I can make myself use the train ride every evening to get writing done, I won’t beat myself up over the word count. It’s supposed to be a unit I use to motivate myself, not some bar I hang too high above my head.

So I’m not sure how this will play into Camp NaNoWriMo, but I’m happy as long as I’m continually making progress with my story.

I find with writing longhand, I have more time to think about the words I’m putting down.  I give myself the chance to consider other choices, to cut phrases shorter, to spend more time imagining the scene unfolding rather than just plunking down words rapidly. I’ve decided that even if I can’t make it to 50,000 words in a month, I want to write this whole thing out longhand before I put anything on the computer. Then, as I’m typing, I can make quick changes and get a sort of second draft out of it.

Another advantage is the payoff of seeing my handwriting covering a page. I enjoy typing, and tweaking fonts and whatnot, but no matter how much I customize them, the letters on a screen lack the identity my own scribble has. I love when I really get into it and write quickly, my words becoming a jumbled scrawl that only I can decipher. There is also the plus of not having to struggle with formatting in different word processors; I can indent as I like, throw in dashes, special characters, etc. I’m decent at computers, but it can break my rhythm to take a minute to figure out how best to format a particular bit of writing.

There is also the mobility of a notebook, having the entirety of the project in one place regardless of whether I have a cell signal or remaining battery. I will probably keep my outline in the cloud for when I need to consult it, but it’s nice to not have my chapter summaries nearby. I feel like I have more freedom to deviate.

One thing that remains distracting is my music choice. I really need to get off my ass and make some playlists to write to. I have a few albums that have a nice mood, but I have to gather my favorites and put them all together. I’ll work on that this weekend to be ready for the train next week.

It feels good to be writing again.

(Also, thanks to WordPress for sending weekly e-mail reminders that I haven’t been meeting my posting goal. I find them encouraging and guilt-inspiring, making me want to think of something to say and come write about it.)

Camping and deadlines

I have seriously got to get on the ball with this blog.

I have gotten back into the swing of things with reading. I’ve started Life After Life, a book detailing the adventures of Ursula Todd as each time she dies, the clock winds back and gives her a chance to do things differently. She is spurred to action by curious sensations of dread that lead her away from her previous deaths. I’ll wait until I’ve finished the book to say more, but I’m heartily enjoying it.

Not much has been happening on the writing front, which is a large part of why I have decided to devote April to Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m hoping to recreate the experience I had last November with a different story. To that end, I have been reworking my outline for Project: Destiny, bringing my characters to places they’ve never been before, exploring other parts of the world. The journeys in stories are rarely ever straight lines, right?

And the outlines authors lay out are always always strictly adhered to…

I made no such announcement here, but I had made a plan to post once a week. I didn’t do that last week. Maybe it would be easier to stick to this goal if I had a set time. Deadlines have amazing power, don’t they?