Process

time concept, selective focus point, special toned photo f/xI think I’ve said in a previous post that my story is writing itself and I’m just along for the ride. If not, consider it said. In a way, it’s freaking me out because it’s like I have no control over it.

Sunday morning, I woke from sleep with a scene playing in my head. Remember this when you wake up, I mentally said to myself and rolled over. Then I rolled over again. Then I sat up in bed. Laid down and rolled over again. Sat up again. “Well, fuck you,” I said aloud, “You’re not gonna let me sleep until I get up and write this, are you?”

So I got up, pulled out a pad of paper I keep near the bed, starting scribbling on it, knew none of it would make sense because (a) I was half-asleep and (b) my hands were numb from my carpal tunnel; so I begrudgingly hit the Power button on my computer. An hour or so later, I’d added 2,500+ words to my book.

The same thing happened this morning. I woke at 6am and had to get up to write a scene that was in my head, knowing if I put it off until later, I’d forget it for sure. 1,500 words later, I started getting ready for work.

The other day, I decided that since this book seems to be “working,” I should make a note of my process, which I did; nice, bulleted list of my “ritual” or routine for this book.

  • I’m using Scrivener. It’s a writing platform (available for Win, Lin, and OS) that helps you organize your writing projects, and it’s given me a whole new level of “control” or oversight of my writing, far more than Word (sorry, MS, ily but…). Scrivener is good because……..
  • I write all over the place. No real order to what I’m writing. It started off a bit weird, then my main character sorta took over the story, so I’ve been mostly writing his story, then going back and filling in other parts. Scrivener is great for this because if something’s out of order, I don’t have to scroll around in one long Word document, I can navigate my way to the scene I’m looking for and drop and drag it to the spot where it will fit better. Looovvvvinnnnnng Scrivener! I have no clue how I ever wrote without it.
  • I have my muse. Googled a description of my main protagonist in an attempt to “get mymuseto know” him; he hasn’t shut up since and he doesn’t seem to want to let me sleep either. Scrivener sits on 3/4 of my screen, the other 1/4 of my screen is taken up by a browser window, open to an image on my Google drive, and my muse stares me in the face the entire time I’m writing. Sometimes I’ll sit back, maybe stuck for words, look at him, silently ask him what he’d say or do (yes, I talk to my imaginary friend) or just yell at him (internally, cuz aloud would probably be crazy) “WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENINNNNNGG??”
  • I put on my noise-canceling headphones and blast SiriusXM Octane the entire time I’m writing. This is a new thing for me. I used to like it quiet when I wrote; now I wonder if that was backwards. Octane is the channel of choice because it’s new hard rock (think Linkin Park, Adelita’s Way, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, etc.), so while I do know a lot of the tunes, they’re always introducing newer songs to the mix, so I am not distracted by lyrics and singalongs (which I found didn’t really work for me when I switched over to the RockBar station; spent more time singing along than I did writing). So Octane works because it’s loud and hard and I don’t know most of the lyrics. And c’mon, it’s the apocalypse…the soundtrack ain’t gonna be Joni Mitchell…
  • Placeholders. I use placeholders. Notes: RESEARCH 19TH CENTURY BATHTUBS, baftubBITCH! or HOW THE HELL DID RUBI GET INSIDE THE BARRIERS??? or PUT SOME SHIT IN HERE ABOUT FINN FINDING THE
    GROUP. Placeholders of things I know are going to happen or things I need to research. Things I need to write but don’t want to interrupt the current momentum to work out. Screw details, make shit up as I go along, worry about “fixing” or “correcting” it later.
  • Take breaks – browse FB, YouTube, Google; I don’t “force” myself to write; I write when it flows, take a break when I want.
  • When I’m done writing for the night, I hit the Compile button and make a PDF draft of my entire manuscript and upload it to my Google drive.
  • I check my word count and update it on the NaNo site.
  • The next morning (if it’s at night) or later (if I’ve written during the day), I browse through the PDF, mostly focusing on the new bits I’ve written, or seeing how some of the newer parts flow with other stuff.
  • Start all over again the next day.

I’m sort of hoping that by recording what my “ritual” is during this book, it might help me when it comes time to write the next one…or a sequel…or a prequel…

I haven’t written like this in a long long time. The words, they’re just pouring out of me, the chapters, the scenes, this has been coming for a long time, I think. I only hope it’s decent LOL!

Want an excerpt? Why not.

dragonflyIn a world where there was so much suffering and pain, where sometimes you didn’t know where your next meal was coming from, the ability to lose yourself in the innocence of catching sight of a dragonfly flittering by—or watching a mechanical dog chase a mechanical cat—was a luxury very few took the time to enjoy, and it was free to anyone who sought it out. For people like Ethan and Ben, who had a thirst for knowledge or an urge to explore, such things were just a natural side effect, and for people like Rubi who were lucky enough to find people like Ethan and Ben, a side effect from which they benefited as well because it taught them to stop, look, and listen to the world around them. She was amazed at the number of seemingly small details of the world she might have missed had she not stopped to take them in; and for that, she was in debt to both Ben and Ethan.

Ethan’s my muse. Guess he wants his story told. I just hope he continues to think I’m the one to tell it and doesn’t give up on me…;)

DMC 4- Words to Live By

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Let’s see. The prompt was this:

Speaking of sayings and the sort – this DMC is all about words. Of course, we aren’t looking for just any words, rather we want to know what words do you live by? What is your code, your mantra, your living quote, the words that are strung together so perfectly that they drive you through life?

Some of us may have a couple of these fantastic phrases or may have just one that is the pure definition of life. Whatever it may be, what are those words and why do they speak to you? Who said them first? When did they become so important?


Let me start by saying that I love quotes. I mean, I lllloooooovvvveeee quotes. I think it comes from my passion for words. Nothing makes me smile much more than when I am able to string a bunch of words together to create something, whether it be profound, silly, witty, sarcastic, or outright mundane! I’m not completely sure when it was that I first became aware that I had this ability…maybe it’s just that in recent years, a lot of words I see are – how to put this nicely – JUST. PLAIN. STUPID. In an age when “wut r u doin?” passes for adult communication, I almost shudder to think what (wut?) the state of our written language will be in a few more decades. Therefore, it’s up to those of us who can throw a dozen words together and produce a comprehensive sentence to make a stand and keep eloquence alive!

tentaclechair
© Abigail Larson

Sorry, I sort of went off on a bit of a rant, didn’t I? Where was I…? Oh yeah! I LOVE quotes!

I collect quotes the way some people collect coins or stamps. Most are other people’s words, some are thoughts that pop into my head that I jot down as possible story ideas – or just plain weird-ass thoughts, haha!

Here’s an example of a weird-ass one (by me, muahaha, so if I ever get famous, be sure to put a © on this bitch if you post it somewhere!):

You know you have stayed too long when the
chair in which you usually sit embraces you.

There are so many different ways that sentence can be perceived – creepy, weird, profound? It could alternately conjures up an image of one of those asinine people who comes to visit you that you wish would just leave already – or slimy tentacles emerging from the back of the chair to wrap around you and keep you from ever leaving again (MUAHAHAHAHA!).


So quotes can be a powerful thing! Here are a few of my favorites and my thoughts on them.

be-yourself-everyone-else-is-taken-oscar-wilde-rd-5272409Ohhhh, Oscar Wilde! This is my favorite of his quotes, and it’s the one I most often use on my social media profiles because it’s short, it’s simple, and it’s concise.

It took me a lot of years to accept myself for the quirky geeky weirdo that I am and to embrace my strangeness, even longer for me to be comfortable enough allowing my weirdness to be experienced by other people. I make no apologies for it anymore (I used to!), and who better to take a lesson from than the very epitome of individuality and oddness that was Oscar Wilde!

Wilde gave us The Picture of Dorian Gray (doesn’t get much weirder than that!) and publicly defended his beliefs regarding the depiction of morality in creative works as well as the morality of his own personal life in an age when it was downright dangerous to do so. It doesn’t get much more real than that! It’s just too bad that the things he was fighting for back then are still so controversial today. The more things change, the more they stay the same, right? <–another great quote LOL! (Told you I lervvvvveeeee quotes!)


be-the-change

This one has long been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi…but it’s never actually been proven to have been said by him. It doesn’t really matter who said it, and truthfully, I don’t mind its being misattributed to him. It’s a quote that could change the world, and he was a great philosopher. I don’t want to see it go away simply because nobody knows who said it…so I’ll keep attributing it to him:)

You want people to be kind? Be kinder to people. Don’t have something nice to say to someone or want to say something nasty? Shut your mouth, turn the other cheek, walk away, and find someone else among the 7 billion human beings on this planet, someone to whom you DO have something nice to say. We are all living on the same rock. We all have the same color blood in our veins. You want to see the world change? Then change it, starting with how you treat others.


human-beings

There’s a Sanskrit greeting–Namaste. I’ve seen it interpreted a few different ways, all with pretty much the same meaning. Basically, it means the divine spirit in me honors the divine spirit in you. I’ve always found this to be a very cool thought.

This quote sort of follows along nicely with Namaste. I think sometimes that people get so caught up in determining which “Divine Spirit” they should be following, worshiping, listening to, ignoring, hating, loving, believing, disbelieving, etc., that they lose sight of the fact that the journey we’re on – our life here on this planet – the very point of that journey is the journey. The destination – whether it be Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Hades, Valhalla, the Summerland, Ahura Mazda, Nirvana, nothingness, reincarnation – doesn’t really matter. For us, right now, right here, this is what matters, this human experience we’re having because in the end, it is only temporary so we should make the most of it while we’re having it. Then it’s on to the next great adventure…or not.


Oh, so yeah, I guess I felt like waxing philosophical in this post…I’m in writer mode these days, so the words just sort of have a mind of their own, and my only job is to stick them together in the correct order;)

Until my next post…

namaste-bitches

What Dreams May Come

dreamcatcher2I’ve been having nightmares lately. Not your usual run-of-the-mill nightmares (by those I mean dreams of things from my past that I consider to be nightmares), but real and true nightmares of horrific and disturbing people and situations.

The strange thing is that while I wake up from my “run-of-the-mill” Mommy- or bully-based nightmares, these new nightmares don’t really scare me all that much. In fact, while I’m in the dream, I have some awareness that it’s “not real” – which I suppose is lucid dreaming. I do have some sort of control over my actions as well as the path of the dream itself, and I wake up thinking Well, that was pretty cool! rather than being frightened.

foggyI had one several weeks ago that I decided to add to my creative writing list, to see if I could develop a story from it. Maybe that’s why it’s becoming more of a lucid dreaming situation than just dreams…maybe the act of deciding to use these dreams as a creative outlet, I’ve somehow managed to take control of them? Who knows.

I’m loving my new-found ambition, glad that I have been teasing out the creative side of my mind lately. It’s been slumbering for far too long. I’m having fun exploring the darker side of my mind as well. I’ve missed this!

Aced It!

underwood3Well, I couldn’t sleep tonight, so I decided to focus some energy on the final lesson of the writers’ workshop I’ve been taking online through my local community college. Finished the final lesson and submitted my 500-word creative writing piece; I’m just waiting for the instructor’s critique. I took the final exam and aced it!

I know it is just a simple online non-credit course (though I did earn a few CEU’s:) But it has sparked the flame for me to finally work towards a degree. I started my FAFSA application earlier today, and I know there has to be some scholarships or grants out there for which I’m eligible.

I decided to select three schools (one in MA, one in NH, and one in RI) and see how the numbers work out. I’m partial to the NH one because the courses look like exactly what I want (although it is the most expensive of the three), but I decided to check out the one in MA (also an online program) because I should be eligible for the lower resident tuition, and the one in RI just to see how the numbers measure up.

spiralboundThe RI school is my last preference because it would be a campus course, and while I have nothing against a campus-based course, I like the flexibility of the online programs; there’s a lot to be said for being able to work on the coursework without having to be present somewhere at a designated time/place, especially when you have a full-time day job and have to also fit dinner and sleep in there somewhere, among other things:)

I’m excited, really and truly, and very proud of myself. My next goals for this weekend (since it looks like we’ll be either rained- or snowed-in yet again) are to post my Thoughtdivers story for the first challenge and complete my FAFSA app.

New Beginnings!

smileyWell, ambition seems to have taken hold of me lately:) I decided to create a new collaborative writing blog. It’s over here!

The project was inspired by a book I read recently where two authors gave each other a 48-hour writing challenge and they each wrote a story based on the challenge topic. The result was a collection of short stories.

I’m changing things up a bit and using a weekly deadline, but it should be interesting to see the various stories the participating authors create! First challenge is already posted – with a March 1 deadline as we get started.

gradI’ve also been in touch with a local university, and once we have our taxes for 2012 completed, I’m going to see what kind of financial aid I can get and finally start accomplishing my dream of a degree in English with a focus on creative writing. I haven’t decided on whether to pursue the 3-year bachelor of arts degree or the combination program to get both my bachelor’s and my master’s degree in 5 years. That would depend on the cost, I think. Either way, I can’t wait to get started!

Diving

Well, I’m totally diving in this time. I’ve enrolled in an online creative writing course through my local community college. That’s the biggest part of the reason I have reawakened this site – well, that and the fact that I’ve been paying for this domain for ages and it was just sitting here acting as nothing much more than an external hard drive where I could upload some pictures to share with friends lol!

underwood3My class started today, and I’ve completed the first lesson, which was a couple of freewriting exercises and posting an introduction on the class discussion boards. Now that I’ve completed the first day, I’m feeling good. I’m hoping that taking the course will motivate me to write more.

See, here’s the thing…in my high school yearbook, I said I aspired to be a writer. I’ve written for most of my life – stories, poems, fan fiction, lyrics, personal rants, web site content, even started a few “novels” that just sit around waiting for me to finish them. I have an insatiable love for the written word; I love putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – and piecing sentences together, watching the words flow across the page, diving into my imagination and pulling out some treasure or another. And I realize…I don’t WANT to be a writer…I AM a writer! Being a writer doesn’t require that one be published or earn money at it or be renowned, or even KNOWN for that matter; being a writer only requires that one WRITE!

The only way to fail at writing is to stop writing! That was one of the questions on the pre-course test, and how true it is!

And so, I’m going to keep on diving, and keep on writing!

Because I’M A WRITER!

Diver Down

“…that whole corps of thought-divers, that have been diving and
coming up again with bloodshot eyes since the world began.”

That’s how Herman Melville described writers. When I read that, it instantly struck a “truth” chord somewhere inside me, and I understood it perfectly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There’s a book inside me, probably more than one, waiting to get out, and every so often, I dive into my imagination and come back to the surface with a few more bits and pieces salvaged from the wreckage that passes itself off as my brain, that weird scrapyard between my ears that contains probably every meaningless bit of information that’s ever passed through it. I’ve spent my whole life trying to make sense of it, take inventory of all that’s there.

Unfortunately, more stuff comes into the scrapyard every day than is coming out. Every day, more and more pieces of cool junk are being tossed in there, as well as a lot of garbage. Granted, most of the flak gets tossed in some forlorn recess in the back of the yard. Eventually, maybe it’s forgotten, relegated to some dusty corner never to be seen again. But every so often, some lowly junkyard rat goes back there and drags a piece out and I sit straight up in bed wondering why I suddenly remember that Mary MacGregor sang “Torn Between Two Lovers” and why the Rat needed to wake me at 3AM for this bit of useless information.

Then too I think the Rats have a conspiracy going. It seems sometimes they take some of the good scraps and tuck them away in that forsaken corner, where they lay silent and forgotten, waiting for me to take that long overdue inventory. But I’m onto the conspiracy, and I’m one step ahead of the friggin’ Rats! I am smarter than the Rats!

I WRITE THINGS DOWN!

Sounds like a plan, right? Sure. Something pops into my head, and I think, “Wow, that’d make a great story” or “Hmmm, what a cool character” and I write it down, knowing that if I don’t, those fuckin’ Rats are gonna bury it in that back corner, where you’d probably find Jimmy Hoffa, Elvis and Jim Morrison having a nice cappuccino with Jesus Christ.

rat

So I’m a step ahead of the Rats…kinda. Although while writing shit down is a step in the right direction, WHERE I write it down is as bad as the Rat’s corner. Napkins, matchbook covers, page 357 of some book I was reading when the thought popped into my head, page corners torn from a doctor’s office magazine, toilet paper (don’t ask).
So I’m thinking the Rats have expanded their conspiracy territory. They’re no longer limited to the confines of the thought-diver’s realm. When I was 23, I wrote a story called Paradox Manor. POOF! Vanished! Since then, two or three days tops have passed without me wracking my brain as to its location.

Back then, I had less confidence in myself than I do now (which really isn’t saying a whole hell of a lot), but now I know – that fucking story was SELLABLE. When I wrote it, I did it in one fucking sitting and the words just poured out, flowing out of that junkyard like a dream…perfect. I hope Hoffa, Elvis, the Lizard King, and the Messiah are enjoying it over a cup of latte.

So I keep on diving, hoping that someday I’ll come across the remains of that story completely intact, either in the real world lying in a notebook or a heap of papers, or that somehow I’ll find the wreckage sitting there like a sunken pirate ship full of treasure chests spilling over with all the words that came pouring out the first time I wrote it. More than likely, though, the stinkin’ Rats will pull a Geraldo on me and, like the opening of Capone’s Vault, I’ll come out with nothing but a few dusty old bottles. In the meantime, I’ve managed to salvage a few good things here and there along the way, so it’s not a total loss;)