29 November 2010

The #1 Reason I'm Not A More Prolific Writer

As you've probably deduced by now, I 'need' writing music in order to write. Unfortunately that's also the greatest existing deterrent to actually getting any writing accomplished. It's a bit of a 'chicken and egg' problem really.
You see, I recently rediscovered some rather potent writing music in my iTunes library and was listening to it while finishing up my novel.
It was wonderful... my mind was falling into the famed 'zone,' mental pictures were abounding, the story was practically building itself before my very eyes.
However, I have this habit of singing along with nearly every song I know the lyrics to. Since I listen to music almost 24/7, I know the lyrics to quite a few songs.
I can type while singing. That's no problem. I can read something and type it out while singing something not at all related to the document I'm copying.
However, I cannot compose a completely new (and half-sensible) plotline while I'm singing about something else. Most often I end up typing the lyrics I'm singing. While this does add to the word count -- and a high word count is the goal in NaNoWriMo -- it unfortunately does nothing for the story. Really, what is David Meece doing in the Red Cave while Patrick is destroying the jewel key?
Intruding on an otherwise perfectly feasible storyline, that's what.

25 November 2010

One Among Millions -- A Short Story

I am nameless.
I am literally a mere number in this realm.
In a world where every new thing, no matter how problematic, displaces the old with startling speed, I have been predictably forgotten.
I am buried deep within her 'My Documents' folder... 'Serena's Documents > My Pictures > January 2008 > Dance > DSCN4671.'
There. That's me.
614 KB.
Taken at 11.53 AM on 17/1/2008 in a dance studio in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Focal length 15.1 mm. 1/448s. f/4.5. ISO 720.
When my binary bits are decoded and assembled properly, five children are depicted in the resulting image -- Naomi, Jane, Anise, Vera, and Tricia. They're wearing little blue suede dresses with pink polka dotted sashes around their middles. In their hands they hold blue umbrellas with pastel coloured polka dots.
This is their last rehearsal before the performance three days from now.
I show you a lovely scene -- the girls are gracefully pointing their right feet to where the audience will be in three days' time. They hold the little umbrellas in their left hands, their arms extended completely opposite to their pointed feet.
What I do not show you is that seconds after the shutter was snapped, sealing my existence, Tricia's umbrella slipped out of her hand, landing on Jane's foot. You do not see the large gaping hole in Naomi's tights because it so happens that the side of her leg exposed by the hole is facing the opposite direction. The slight bulge of Anise's dress from her insulin pump is hidden from your sight. I have concealed from you Vera's nervous habit of biting her nails and the fact that a bobby pin flew out of her hair forty-five seconds later and scratched the mirror slightly.
Odd how one moment was immortalised and the other details hidden or forgotten completely. What were the odds that the shutter would click at that exact time -- that the camera's operating system would create me and my depiction of that exact moment, not the one in which Tricia's umbrella was hurtling toward the floor?
An artists' eye perhaps, but I think a lot of it had to do with chance. And I'd also like to think that chance is what has regaled me to this forgotten folder -- that the beauty contained within me won't be hidden forever.

(This is just a little something I whipped up late one night (more accurately, very early one morning) back in January and expanded slightly to put here. Comments are welcome -- compliments, constructive criticism, overall impressions... whatever. ~ Kate)

22 November 2010

The Death-Point Of Plot

I know this is a rather late announcement, but I thought I'd mention to you, dear readers, that despite my lack of good writing music, despite having to write exclusively on a time-shared computer (supplemented only by Lila), and despite having to do the better part of my writing between the hours of 9 AM and 3 PM (the hours when I most want to curl up and sleep), I finally reached 50 000 words on the novel!
I officially crossed the threshold on the evening of 20 November. I haven't reached the end of the plot yet (which was my goal, so that's nice), but I haven't got as much left in the plot as I thought.
Last night I was forced to introduce a rather impromptu flood (which wasn't supposed to happen until the sequel), simply for the sake of staving off the final climax. I was hoping to at least come close to 75 000 words this year, but unfortunately my brain has completely checked out and it appears that I'll finish off the novel in a similar fashion to an Olympic speedskater -- race around the ice at speeds that reach 60 kilometres an hour, then at the end stop almost on the proverbial dime and then practically collapse with exhaustion.
This has been my ending for the previous three novels, and I was so determined that it would not be the case this time. This time I was going to keep writing after 50 000 and actually have a nicely-sized novel at the month's close, since I've discovered that revising my previous novels usually means they go from 51 000 words to 45 000. Not the direction one wants to go when they're writing a novel they want others to take seriously.
I've found that my main problem is detailing. I hate writing details, not because the details don't interest me (the setting I often have in my head is usually slightly eccentric and thus rather fascinating), but because I get so bored just typing out anything resembling detail, I tend to skip right past all of it. I've tried so hard to make my writing fast and interesting that instead of simply keeping the details to a minimum I've completely obliterated them.
Which is why I'm so frustrated now.
I can think of at least five scenes off of the top of my head that could easily have a little more detail infused in them, but when I go back to try to add some so I can get more words, my brain completely freezes and I get bored before I even type one word.
However, this flood I've arbitrarily injected into it is aggravating me to no end. The flood simply does not belong in this story. There is no way I can twist it or bend it to make it fit nicely. However, I've completely run out of more feasible stalling techniques, so flood it has to be I suppose...

18 November 2010

A Test

Do you know the easiest way to tell if your 'friends' and relatives think you're stupid or not?
If not, I shall now enlighten you. It's very easy, only three steps.

Step one: Get in a motor accident in which you very easily could have been rather violently killed BUT be perfectly okay except for some breathing problems thanks to the air bag. (For best results, make sure the vehicle you were driving is crushed beyond recognition. Also be sure to take pictures, although a very graphic verbal description will do in a pinch.)

Step two: Get a new vehicle, get back on the road and improve your driving skills over the next few months or so.

Step three: Nearly six months later, go on an hour-long (one way) drive in broad daylight after a snowfall (note that the snow must not still be falling. This is very important. If the snow is still falling it will affect the results of the test).

On the morning of the aforementioned two-hour drive after a snowfall, people will come out of the proverbial woodwork, people who haven't spoken to you in several years, telephoning and asking if you're still going on that trip and if so is anyone coming with you.
The amount of panic they display when you tell them that yes, you are still going on this trip, and yes, you're the driver will tell you exactly how stupid they think you are.

Interpreting the results:
If they say, 'Oh okay. Well, drive safe. Anyway, the real reason I called is...' and continue on to give another perfectly legitimate reason to be calling you, then they most likely do not think you are stupid at all and are merely displaying a normal healthy amount of concern for your safety. These individuals obviously trust you enough not to panic but love you enough to care about your well-being. (Either that or they are very good actors, especially when downplaying the actual real reason they telephoned.)

If they say, 'WHAT?!? Are you insane?' they most likely think you are completely daft for even considering the notion, but do tread carefully when met with this response, as they may think you're crazy for different reasons. This response is particularly tricky to figure out despite its simplicity on the surface.
They may be genuinely concerned for you. Perhaps they have already driven some of the roads that day and know that they're worse than they appear. If this is the case you can safely feel that they actually love you and think you're a wonderful, mostly intelligent person and want you to not run into any hardship because they can't bear the thought of you being involved in another horrible accident.
However, they may also think you are too stupid to realise that you need to use caution and they figure that it's safer for everyone (including themselves, if they happen to be going anywhere) if you stay off the road.

If they say, 'Oh' or 'Oh really?' in a rather high-pitched surprised sounding voice, followed by a rather long awkward pause, you are dealing with someone who thinks you're a complete and total certified idiot and you should terminate the phone call as soon as possible. (Saying, 'yes, see you at my funeral' and then hanging up may be the most effective manner of doing this, but please note that this particular method has not yet been tested and therefore if you attempt this please know that you are doing so at your own risk.)

What you do with the results of this test is not certain. Studies have shown that generally the results of these sorts of experiments get published, but you may not want to publish lists of 'friends' and relatives who think you're stupid in any public place. Doing so may result in being disowned or sued. I suppose you could write the lists down and stash them in the drawer of your bedside table for reference when you move out in five years though.

Please note: Results may vary depending on your particular friends and relatives and how well you know them. Sarcasm or 'gentle teasing' on their part may be a factor in their response. This test is not scientifically proven to be 100% accurate. I assume no responsibility for any strained or destroyed relationships that may result from the use of this test.
If you are a subject of a test similar to this that a friend or relative is conducting, please know that while they may be quite aggravated if you freak out every time they have to go somewhere, they do appreciate concern when shown in a gentle, loving way. Do not rub their failure in their face -- they already know that they screwed up. If they didn't they would still be driving around the piece of gnarled scrap metal that went through their first accident because they wouldn't know that their car was totaled and it was their fault. (If you do happen to know anyone like this, do society a favour and notify the proper authorities; as anyone who has been in a serious accident and doesn't know it likely should not still be driving, especially if the lights, steering wheel, doors, windshield, and/or motor of their vehicle have been severely damaged in the accident.) However, the accident victim may still want to talk about their experience as long as you are not judgmental about their role in it. Be considerate and give them a second chance. You're not perfect either.

11 November 2010

Rediscovering Music And The Downside Of Shuffle

In my quest for writing music that I already own (and thus don't have to pay for), I have been going through my iTunes library song by song to see what I've been overlooking recently.
It's amazing what gems one can forget they own -- the other day I heard a song on the radio that I've always liked and thought to myself, 'I should look that up on iTunes.'
Then I remembered that not only had I looked up that song on iTunes, I had bought it. Four months ago.
It's also unbelievable what sort of trash is unearthed that one used to listen to obsessively. It's painful to listen to some of it at three years' distance.
However, the main problem with this sudden mining for gold is this: I'm discovering rather a lot of gold. And now I want to do choreography to it when I'm supposed to be writing. That or I'm too busy reading every individual line (at least the song title) and trying to decide what old neglected favourite I'd like to listen to next.
I'm rather picky about this. I can't just click 'Shuffle' and let the computer decide what I want to listen to. At first I held this opinion simply because I'm one of those purists who (generally) likes listening to an album in order, or at least certain songs in a specific order (I have dozens of playlists that I made up for this purpose that lasted about a month before they got old and I abandoned them). I also find it jarring to listen to a different artist every four minutes.
However, I also hold this opinion because once I did put my music on shuffle. I was rather enjoying not having to go back to iTunes and pick new music every ten minutes as I typically do.
After a while, it started playing a soft, slow, mild song. That was perfectly fine, but at the end of those sorts of songs, your mind's rather in the mood of a soft, slow, mild song. That and you've turned the speakers louder so you can hear it.
This was the next song.
Perfectly good song; it's been a favourite of mine for years. I just wasn't expecting that sort of intro directly after something so calm and soothing.
I wouldn't say I 'swore off' shuffling my music after that, but it was a definite contributing factor to my personal dislike of the practice. I suppose, though, if I get quite pressed for time on the novel I could shuffle my music to save time (although I doubt it'll be needed). I just hope the computer will consider my tender heart if/when I give it free rein.
But knowing this computer, it probably won't.

08 November 2010


Apparently writer's block carries over into all areas of life.
I have written over 20 000 words in the novel so far, but currently I'm completely stuck... and unfortunately that appears to include this blog.
I've come up with several ideas that might make a good post, but they've all fizzled out as soon as I've tried to write them, unless you'd like to include the slightly stream-of-consciousness ones that have a drugged-up dreamlike quality to them...
So... any topic suggestions any of you might have are completely welcome. This blog is feeling rather neglected...