Queer soccer in Montreal

August got away from me. Lulz.

(To what extent is it appropriate to blog the same way that I text? Maybe something to write about later; short answer, my blog, my rules!)

14212084_664695600353706_7502318046475601004_n(I’m the dork at the top right.)

In lieu of writing, I have been very actively engaged in Soccer LGBT+ Montréal. I couldn’t tell you the last time I played soccer before this, probably some P.E. class where I was the last one picked and the other kids made fun of me for sucking so hard. This has been a wholly different experience, full of encouragement and support. I am gradually getting better, and getting to know the members of my team better, and they are a great bunch of people. I’m having a blast.

A lot of what I’ve been doing this summer has been an effort to fully enjoy the last summer of my 20’s. Joining a sports team, jogging so that I can better participate in matches, these things make me feel wonderful and are getting me into better shape. True, they take time away from writing, but I simply need to redouble my efforts on that front. Also, gathering new experiences provides fodder for the imagination.

It’s early yet, but I’m gearing up for a big push in November: National Novel Writing Month 2016. I don’t want to say too much about that yet, however. Stay tuned!

Dusting

Goodness, I’ve got some dusting to do, don’t I?

Hello everyone! I am still alive and well, though I have had some adventures since I last wrote here. Not much has changed, and I find myself again reminded that writing is what I love to do.

… that is, when I’m not being so lazy. Hehe.

I’m engaging myself to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year, with a new project. I believe part of what drags me down is my mulish insistence on working on Destiny. Maybe it will happen one day, but I think I benefit more from fresher ideas.

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I bought a small journal and started scribbling some ideas in it. The working title is “The Oracle’s Daughter” and it’s about, surprise, the daughter of an oracle. I have some other vague notions about it that I plan to realize by the end of the month so that I can launch into a flurry of narrative.

Of course, I will be posting semi-regularly here to keep everyone up-to-date in my NaNo madness. I’ll also be sprucing up the pages here. I’m due a new bio, and this blog might need a makeover.

NaNoWriMo derailed

Who would have thought beginning a new job at the same time as NaNoWriMo would be difficult?

I wrote nothing November 3rd and 4th; my training at work, while not difficult, was so full of facts that I had no mental energy by the time I came home. No writing. I hatched a clever plan to carry my laptop around and take the train home. Sure, it would take a little longer to get home in the evening, but I’d have a solid hour to hammer at the keys. It worked, I managed an average of 1,700 words each night on the train, and this while still fiddling with my cell phone.

Then, tragedy struck. On November 14, I turned 28.

… and the tragedy is that I fell ill during my birthday supper. This started five straight days of fever, and painful swelling in my mouth. On day 5, I got myself to a clinic where the doctor told me I had an abscess and prescribed me antibiotics.

Needless to say, those fever days saw me write not a single word, and though I am currently much recovered, I am rethinking my strategy from here on. It’s too late for me to make a mad dash to the finish with NaNoWriMo, but a daily writing habit would be a good thing to keep going. My laptop is heavy, and I do get a sense of pride from handwritten words on the page. My biggest complaint last time was that I can’t write as fast as I’d like (i.e. for NaNo purposes), but isn’t slow and steady better than nothing at all?

Plus, this gives me an excuse to go to Essence du Papier downtown and splurge on a gorgeous, new journal.

Another good idea would be to return to a regular updating schedule. This blog is almost a year old now, and though I have had very long periods of consistent updating, I can hardly say I’m at 100%. The last pieces have fallen into place with my changing life, there are no longer any excuses for letting things slide. Time to buckle down.

Planning

It’s the last week before NaNoWriMo 2014 begins. I am a good 20+ chapters into my outline for Project: Destiny and feeling good. I have color-changing LEDs on my desk that I believe I will use to admonish myself; red when I haven’t written, yellow once I’ve started, green once I’ve met my word goal for the day. (I will probably not keep up with this.)

desk leds

I’m excited. I’m raring to go. I’m posting encouraging notes on the corkboard beside my desk. I have magnetic poetry next to that in case I need some unrelated word play to get the creative juices flowing. I have lots of good music ready to go.

Tick-tock.

Moving, getting ready to write

Despite the best intentions, I’ve only managed to outline a few chapters of Destiny. Most of my time has been (avoiding) packing up for a move later this week, and all the nostalgia that entails. I’ve lived here nearly five years, it was my first real home with my husband, and I’m leaving that behind. This will be a good change, but leaving things behind isn’t often easy.

life in bags

My move on the 10th still gives me plenty of time to hammer out my outline. Once I get settled in, I plan to dedicate 90% of my free time to getting it done (I still have to leave myself a small percentage for socializing, quiet time, baths, etc.) so that come November 1st, I’m ready to start at a run. I can see myself taking my laptop with me everywhere in the house, outlining in the dining room, the basement, on the front porch on less cold days.

It will be good not to be chained to my desk, to have a change of scenery. I’m mostly ready. My desk is a mess, I’ve got to organize things and probably chuck most of it out.

National Novel Writing Month 2014 is coming

lukas nano 2014 tshirt

Due to aforementioned personal drama, my writing has taken a sort of nosedive. What better way to effect a renaissance in my writing? Last year, NaNoWriMo gave me the impetus I needed to write the majority of the rough draft for Climbing Yggdrasil, and I was able to complete it in the following month.

I’ve gotten in touch with my local municipal liaison to offer my help. I want to be more involved this year and actually attend events and chat with other participants. I get excited talking about writing with non-writers, how much more fun would it be to enthusiastically exchange ideas in person with others like me?

This time, Project: Destiny will be up to bat. I’ve set up Scrivener as comfortably as I can on my laptop and begun a new outline, complete with justifications for each chapter in the document notes. I want to minimize chaff from the get-go. I’m going to see about keeping the laptop in my backpack and using train time to make progress. I think I’ll also enjoy the freedom of being to write anywhere at home instead of being chained to my desk. Plus, write-ins.

October is my official planning month, though I’ve gotten a slight head start. I aim to have my outline complete by mid-month and tweaked by the end, so I’ll be ready to dive headfirst into NaNo. I don’t work Fridays in November, and the 1st is on a Saturday this year, so I plan to get a huge headstart during the first weekend. Hopefully I won’t be too hungover from Halloween festivities.

Who’s coming with me on the NaNo ship?

Edit – I really did write 2015. I think I’m probably just so over 2014 already.

Those Liebster Awards again

I have once again been nominated for a Liebster Award, this time by Janna Kaixer. I thank you for the nomination, but I have particular feelings about the Liebster Awards and I should write something about that on my About Me page.

However, I am grateful for the thought and I will answer your questions here, Janna.

1. Why do you write?

I’ve made up stories for as long as I can remember, and I feel an immense gratification in getting them down on paper and having other people read them. Apart from creative writing, I also journal to sort out all the crazy in my head so I can regain my grip on reality.

2. What do you hope to achieve with your writing? (E.g. raise awareness of something, tell a story, teach a lesson…)

I’m in it for the stories. I couldn’t agree more with Neil Gaiman’s, “We owe it to each other to tell stories.”

3. If you could go back in time and give yourself some writing advice what would it be?

“Don’t stop writing for anything. Yes, your university courseload is heavy, yes you work a part-time job, but you owe it to yourself to write and write often. Daily. At any chance you can get. Also, don’t wait until you’re 26 to give NaNoWriMo a shot.”

4. Do you listen to music as you write? If so, what sort of music?

I tend to listen to my current obsession, though I noticed a trend toward more electronic-themed music as I worked on Climbing Yggdrasil where I lean more toward ethereal vocals for fantasy writing. There was a time when I would listen to Of Monsters and Men’s “My Head is an Animal” every time I sat down to work on Project: Destiny.

5. Where do you get your ideas from?

Questions, mostly. The main idea for Climbing Yggdrasil came when I was watching Firefly and wondered, “How does the Cortex work? How do they transmit data quickly across all that space?” I read about Ursula K. LeGuin’s ansible and how it got adopted into sci-fi lore by many authors, but I wanted something more sinister and came up with synchronizers.

6. What is your writing process? Are you a pantser, a plotter or a mixture?

I used to be a pantser, but I would inevitably get stuck and lose hope, then start over. I decided to plot last year before NaNoWriMo; I wrote chapter outlines for what I now consider to be Part Two of Climbing Yggdrasil, then I went back and plotted Parts One and Three. I like having an outline to guide me, but I’m not afraid to deviate and plot anew.

7. Where do you write best? (E.g. at your desk, in bed, in a cafe…)

I don’t really have a specific place, they all have certain advantages. Home is nice because it’s comfortable and I don’t need headphones to listen to music. A café is nice because it doesn’t have all the distractions I have at home. I can say that I do my worst writing in bed, as I can’t get comfortable and have to keep shifting as I write.

8. Is there anyone that keeps you writing despite struggles? If so, who?

During NaNoWriMo last year, my husband was very good about telling me to go write when he could see I hadn’t done any writing that day. In the past few months, I’ve been good at pushing myself, though I need to get back on track, my writing has slowed dramatically in the past few weeks.

9. If you could meet any Author who would it be?

I’d love to meet Neil Gaiman, and I’m absolutely certain I would be starstruck and bashful and unable to discuss anything worthwhile.

10. What is your favourite book of all time?

Sabriel by Garth Nix. I reread it once a year on average. It was this book that taught me that magic must make sense and have rules, even if the reader does not know all of them. I also love Death as it appears in that world.

Cover art and self publishing

I have uploaded my first draft of Climbing Yggdrasil to CreateSpace, designed a cover, and ordered proof copies for scribbling in. They’ve estimated I should have them by June 2, in time for me to start a second read-through looking for problems to correct. The book is not as frighteningly bad as I expected it to be, I actually came up with some good stuff somehow! I was most concerned about the end, because I kind of rushed through the last few chapters. The chapters themselves don’t feel rushed, but it’s clear there ought to be more chapters between the ones I have to flesh certain things out so that the reader doesn’t think, “Wait, when did that happen?”

climbing yggdrasil

This generic cover won’t do for final publication; I’ve done some looking into professional cover designers and really liked what I saw over at Creative Digital Studios, but it comes down to being able to justify paying for it. There are other avenues to pursue, and I believe I’m still early enough in the editing process that I shouldn’t be rushing to have a nicer cover done just yet.

I think in the beginning of this whole adventure, back in November when I realized I would actually make it to 50,000 words and finish a book for once, I wanted to try getting it published through traditional channels. Then one of the winner goodies from NaNoWriMo was a code good for two paperback copies of my book through CreateSpace, so I started checking them out and learned how easy it is to self-publish that way. After a message to customer support, I learned that this code is not valid for proof copies; I would have to submit my book for publication in order to redeem two free copies of the final product. I don’t think I’ll be ready by the time the code expires.

The more I played with CreateSpace, the more attractive the idea of self-publishing my first novel became. This wouldn’t mean I couldn’t try a later book through a publisher; it might even help to have a self-published book floating out there (assuming it gets positive reviews; I’ll have to make sure it’s good enough to do that). I could be entirely wrong, publishers might look at a self-published author as some kind of terrible amateur who has no business trying to gain traction in the world of traditional publishing.

I just want to get my work out there for people to read, though. I’d like to have a final draft polished and ready to go up on CreateSpace by November. I should probably figure out what I’m going to do about a cover in the coming months, then.

Anyone have experience with publishing, self or otherwise? What has that been like for you?

 

Two books, one year

I was able to get about half of a chapter done last week. I set myself up in a Second Cup downtown, ordered a small chai latte, and plunked down in a chair near a fireplace display. This was another of those writing sessions where I discovered things as I went along, reasons why things work, explanations, etc. I also wrote a major contradiction, but staying true to NaNo rules, I ignored it and told myself it will get fixed in editing. Also, I didn’t want to cross out a whole paragraph of text. On a computer, it’s nice to pretend it never existed, it stays pretty. Here, every mistake shows up as a bar of black ink, or a furious scrawl.

I really enjoyed the latest NaNo mail I got. The beginning of it reads:

I recently met a woman named Ruth who approached me with her head hung low. “I’m sorry, but I failed NaNoWriMo,” she plaintively said. “I only wrote 10,000 words.”

I hate to hear such words. They disturb me like few others.

“You didn’t only do anything,” I replied. “You bravely signed up to make creativity a priority for a month in a busy life. You dreamed up a fantastic novel idea. You wrote thousands of words. You established creative momentum in your life. That’s huge!”

– Grant Faulkner, executive director

I wasn’t beating myself up over not having reached my goal of 50,000 words in one month, but it’s always nice to have reassurance. NaNoWriMo is such a supportive group and I don’t know that I would be working so hard to finish another book right now if I hadn’t participated last year and then again last month. Before NaNo, I was under the illusion that writer’s block was real, that the best time to write was when inspiration struck, that somehow I would find myself flooded with ideas and thousands of words would come pouring out in an afternoon.

Also, their attitude of plunging ahead and never looking back helped me realize that the elements of a rough draft do not have to be perfect. They have to lead from one scene to the next until the end of the story is found. Then the heavy machinery can be brought in to polish and clean and reshape until a scattered mess of points resembles a journey, until the characters are consistent and defined, until a pile of words resembles a book.

By the time this post goes live, I should be applying these lessons over another chai latte, continuing the journey of my characters. As I write this, I’m just shy of 20,000 words. If I continue at this pace, I’ll hit 100,000 by the end of August. I’ll have two rough drafts, or perhaps one rough draft and one second draft, all in the space of one year. It’s hard to believe I could go from having so many unfinished drafts to two complete rough drafts in such short time. All because I decided to try something different and challenge myself. (Okay, because my husband got tired of my whining and told me to do something. Thanks, dear. I really appreciate it.)

Hacking through the wilderness

I deviated from my outline, making another chapter on the list obsolete. I tried to write it anyway, because I liked the neatness of my POV rotation: A B A C A D… etc. However, I found myself writing a chapter that didn’t have a direction, that I didn’t like writing, and that didn’t need to be there.

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So I decided to move on. “I make the rules,” is going to have to become a mantra of mine, because I seem to keep forgetting that as I write. Forcing out a chapter that will end up being crap isn’t worth losing momentum; better to set it aside and keep going. In the unlikely event that this chapter is worth salvaging in some future draft, it will be easier to do that once the bulk of the story is out.

I was essentially tying my own hands, thinking, “But… the plan! I have to work within the plan.” I’ve said from the beginning, the outline is meant to be ignored if a better idea comes along. I can work my way back to it, but I shouldn’t go hacking through the wilderness when there might be a more natural path that starts a little further out of the way. I would just get exhausted and make a mess for the sake of a straight line.