Monday, November 25, 2013

Excerpt From My NaNo Novel

Here's an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel. I'm feeling pretty sure of myself right now, so I'm taking a chance and sharing it. This is from one of my character's old diary:

"June 5, 1988

 I feel like a vase that someone has shattered with a baseball-- I've never been so wrong about something in my life.

Surprised? Yes. Oh, she was surprised when I handed her my novel manuscript, alright.

"I'll read it, Sparky," she said, a perplexed look on her face. "But I thought you were taking my advice and going slow up your 'Alpine Path?'"

"I wanted to show you I was capable," I said. I was such an idiot! "You have to tell me exactly what you think."

Well, she did. She told me exactly what she thought. I came in today, jubilant and expectant of the good news I was sure to hear: that the draft of my novel was so exceptional, even Mrs. Carlsen didn't know how to make it better, that someday it would be a bestseller for sure. After all, isn't that what every writer wants to hear?

When I sat down, I knew immediately that things were not about to go the way I'd expected. Mrs. Carlsen had the strangest look on her face-- like she was trying to hide something from me. I was suddenly filled with the sickening feeling that it was my story. She was trying to figure out how to tell me how bad it was. She waited for everyone to leave the room-- even Destiny Harsh, who always takes forever packing up her bookbag.

Mrs. C. and I sat in silence for a moment. I could feel the dread piling up inside me like a stack of paperwork.

"Well?" I said, when Destiny had finally exited the "laboratory." My voice sounded incredibly small in the big, vacant room. Mrs. Carlsen cleared her throat.

"I'll be frank, Livvy." Oh, things were headed for a bad end. Mrs. Carlsen only called me what everyone else did when she was dead serious about something. "It's-- it's trash, Sparky. Your characters are mere puppets. They don't come alive like they should in real literature. It's too emotional-- so emotional, I was almost embarrassed to read it. I've told you, girl, if you're going to write emotion, keep a diary."

I just sat there. Shocked was a weak word to describe what I felt. More like electrocuted.

"But-- I don't understand-- I thought--"

"We all think, Livvy," she interrupted. I detected malice in her voice. Had it really been that bad? "It's the flaw in our human nature; if Adam and Eve hadn't thought so hard, we'd all still be naked and unashamed. And all in all, your story... it's very... nice."

Oh, that stung. That stung far worse than any degrading word could have. Nice. The word nice is a writer's enemy-- it means something wasn't all that bad, but none too good, either. And if what you're writing isn't good, then what's the point of writing it at all?

I burst into tears-- yes, burst. I exploded. I grabbed the manuscript off her desk and threw it into the waste basket and ran out the door. I'm not going back to her class, not ever. They can't make me-- not even Aunt Molly can make me. I will never write again."


NaNoWriMo Tips

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who's participating in NaNoWriMo who felt on top of the world there for a little bit--
"Oh, I've got 23,000 words, I'll do fine! It's only the second week. I'm going to finish in time, no doubt about it!"
-- And while I was feeling pretty good about how much I'd written, I got rather lazy.Then I realized that I have exactly FIVE DAYS to write the remaining 27,000 words! EEEEEEP!

I'm the queen of procrastination-- really, just ask my parents. I have two Language Arts writing assignments that were supposed to have been turned in two months ago, and I haven't even started researching for them.

Every ten weeks I'm supposed to turn in practice times for my flute, and I do all the practicing the night before it has to be submitted for grading (that's 700 minutes, people! Talk about my family not being able to sleep. I'm down there in the basement with my chin stuck to my flute playing Christmas carols over and over again, just so I can write down that I practiced for 700 minutes during the whole grading period!).

I'm putting off my history homework by doing NaNoWriMo.

Right now I'm procrastinating on writing for NaNoWriMo by writing this blog post.

You get the point.

So here's what I've done in the past 48 hours that have helped me bring my word count up from 23,000 to 32,000:

1. Chew gum. I know that sounds weird, but it works. Studies have shown that chewing gum can help you stay focused on longer tasks that require continuous monitoring. It makes you think. Google that, if you don't believe me.
In fact, I'd be chewing gum right now if my jaws weren't so sore from all that chomping!

2. Don't stop writing. I don't care what you write, just don't stop! Write a rhyming monologue between your protagonist and your bad guy. Write a fourteen-page description of your captain's ship cabin. Write song lyrics for music that will someday play in the background of this scene if your NaNo gets made into a movie.
You're a writer. Discipline yourself. Don't let your pen come off the paper.

3. Forget what I just said and do stop writing! Yes, I know I just said the opposite of that, but your brain may need an occasional break. If you've been sitting in that computer desk chair so long that there is an imprint of your butt in the seat (ha! Made you look, didn't I?), or if your dog looks at you like you're a stranger when you come upstairs to get a drink, you need to get away from that story for a little while. Get up and stretch, or exercise; walk the dog that doesn't seem to know you because he hasn't seen you in so long, or listen to some music.
Set goals and take breaks when you reach them. When we're writing, we tend to forget that we need to take care of little things like that. Breaks are a good time to tend to them.

4. Write from a different POV, or about a minor character who has faded into the background of your story. You never know, you may find these things useful when you write the second draft of your novel after NaNoWriMo.

5. Use the Thesaurus. Yes, that old-fashioned-looking thing on the shelf there. Look up all the adjectives, verbs, and nouns in your last sentence. Then rewrite the sentence as many ways as you can using those synonyms.

6. Keep a diary for your character. Writing about the little things in your character's everyday life can help you get to know him better. It's also a great way to expand your word count. :^)

7. Again, DON'T STOP WRITING!!! This is the most important thing that can be learned during NaNoWriMo. It's the whole point of this venture. We're writers; we're strong and we can write through anything. We can't stop.

Seven is my lucky number, so I think I'll stop this blog post here. Back to the drawing board! I mean, Google Drive.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Creative Writing-- November 7th, 2013

My first creative writing post! Here goes nothing:

I watched the blizzard from my kitchen table, revelin' in the way the snowflakes fell down like pieces int' place. If only life was like that, I thought.

It chilled me, though, t' watch the cold wind blow 'round like that. A sip of my steamin' coffee warmed me up right quick. My coffee was "white," as Pap used to say. He liked his like that, too-- with s' much cream and milk in it, it's almost as pale as fog on a Halloween night. Maybe that was why he and I got along so well, 'cos we both liked the same things. We both loved old books, and int'restin' arguments, and cold win'er days, and letters. Ah, letters. 'S been s' long since I got one, I almost forget the feelin' of openin' one. It's magical, ya know. Yer hands shake with anticipation as you rip away the seal, and that stench of the glue and stiff stationary fills yer nose--

A fate would have it, o' course, it was just as I was thinkin' about this that The Letter arrived.

I originally did this on The Write Practice, but I really liked it, so I'm posting it here.

Monday, November 4, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 7

Day 7:
Five Things You Couldn't Possibly Live Without

This one's easy! It's just like making a list (which I love).

1. L. M. Montgomery books. Have I mentioned how much I love this lady? She's amazing. Her books and short stories inspire me so much. If she had become a seamstress or a factory worker instead of a writer, I don't know what I would do.

2. Boots. We all love our boots around here. Snow boots, rain boots/muck boots, cowboy boots, etc. They're good for work, bad weather, and fashion statements. Couldn't get around without 'em.

3. Hoodies. I have an unhealthy amount of love for these things. They're warm, and not cumbersome, and you can take them off if you get too hot. You can plug in your ear buds and pull up the hood and creep people out by standing in the shadows. And you can wear them for weeks without washing, as one of my friends says (not that I would, you know, do something gross like that :) )

4. Letters. Letters are magical. Why is the art of letter-writing dying? It's so sad. I have several pen
pals, and I write to my best friends even though they only live like three hills over. While you can't save text messages and emails, I'll have these letters to keep long after we've gone our separate ways.

5. Band. In the band room, I'm actually good at something. It's my special thing. I have a place. I have an excuse to play my flute, and no one can tell me they're sick of hearing "Carol of the Bells" because I'm playing in the band room, where I'm supposed to play. Also, I get to see all my best friends in one place and we catch up on things.

Bye! I'm going to go practice "Carol of the Bells" extra loud now. (he he he ....)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 6

Day 6
A Moment You Wish You Could Relive

I honestly wish I could relive every day of my life up until the fourth grade. All of those times were beautiful. Those were the days of running wild with my friends when the teachers turned their backs, the Nature Club (don't ask), and building fairy houses with my cousin Isabelle. Those were the days when the biggest thing I had to worry about was math homework. Life was simple then. Oh, why do we have to grow up?

Every day, I pick a memory from a long time ago and replay it in my mind over and over all day, being sure to get every detail perfect. I then shelf it, and the next day pick another. In this way, I don't forget any of those precious memories.

I remember it was a cold morning, but those of us at the Aurora School were used to it. Two weeks ago, we had begged the teachers to start letting us go outside again.

"It's warm enough!" we said. We hated jackets. They hampered one's movements so. It was nearly impossible to play freeze tag in them, or squeeze down the curly slide. (I always marvel at the fact that one of us didn't get stuck in one of the playground tunnels. We were as big around as marshmallows in our heavy winter coats!) But we offered to wear them, just to get breath of fresh air. We were all sick of watching movies in Mrs. Martin's classroom. The teachers had relented to us going outside at last, and winter coats were donned as we filed out of the gymnasium. Of course, the coats were ditched five minutes later and lay in a pile by the school wall, much to the teachers' distress.

Tetherball was very popular. We would form two lines behind the two children playing. When one lost, the next person behind him would step up and challenge the winner. Usually this person would beat the former winner, and the person behind her would step up. We'd each get a turn before we had to go back inside.

Only there was this one boy, this big, tall, redheaded boy, who remained undefeated. No one in the line behind him ever got a chance. I remember I was standing nearby, watching him beat one of my friends. She was petite and shy, and she didn't stand a chance against the boy. He made fun of her, giving the ball a huge thwack! and sending it swirling around the pole. I saw him do it again, and again. He's having way too much fun with that, I remember thinking. One more wrap around the pole, and he would win again.

Just as he began his last blow, I stepped in front of the girl and took the ball for her. Jumping up, I punched it back around to the bully's side of the pole. It unwrapped once, twice, three times. I hit it again, and again, and the rope swung around the pole five times. He just stood there, shocked.

"You won, Rebecca! You beat Brandon!" I don't remember who exactly said it, but it felt good.

"Yeah, I guess I did," I was breathless. I was not used to standing up to people. For once, the shy, bookish girl had won a battle.

I remember Brandon's angry face.

"Hey, you can't do that, cheater! I dare you to do it again tomorrow. Bet you can't beat me then."

"You're on," I hissed.

And you know what? I won. And that was the end of his reign of tetherball terror.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 3 and 4 and 5

Yes, I've been a bad girl. I missed a day! But I'm doing it now, and that's what counts, right? So here it is:

Day 3:
A Favorite Book

My favorite book? I am a writer, people-- you are just asking for it here! There's about a hundred titles I could list off the top of my head!

But I am going to spare you from that, and just say Emily Climbs by L. M. Montgomery.

Emily Climbs is the story of Emily Starr, an orphan, who is born with the natural inclination to write. But Emily's romantic writer's spirit often clashes with the strict traditions of her mother's family, the stiff, sensible Murray's. Emily is so much like me in some ways, it scared me a little when I read it. Emily's story is much like that of Anne's, only Emily is more serious about writing and her imagination is a little creepier. In fact, in some places, L. M. Montgomery has you wondering if it was Emily's fantasizing or Something Else that inspired the spooky coincidences.

You can read more about it by clicking that link above, because I'm going to be lazy and hurry to get day 4 and 5 done!

Day 4:
A Favorite Television Program
"Has anyone ever watched Good Luck Charlie?"

"Ooh, me! Me! I have!" (jumps up, waving arms frantically) "It's the best Disney show ever!"

Good Luck Charlie is awesome! It's like watching a reenactment of things that happen in my house daily. Seriously, sometimes I wonder if the writers of the Good Luck Charlie script have a camera on my house that they watch when they need inspiration for a new episode. There's a character whose personality matches each of the kids in my family:

Me= Teddy
Joshua= PJ
Levi= Gabe
Hannah= Charlie
Nathan= Toby

Good luck, Hannah! (ha!)
Day 5:
A Favorite Quote
"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"
--L. M. Montgomery
Most truthful quote ever! When you mess up bad, and you wish that you'd been fatally wounded by an angry horse instead of having to suffer through that mortifying event, it's wonderful to know that there's always tomorrow to start fresh. Tomorrow is clean and pure and unwrinkled; there's the possibility that it could be the best day of your life. But you don't know that until you get through this moment right now, so that thought keeps you going. If I can just make it through this, if I can just make it to tomorrow, everything will be okay.
You do have to be careful with that, though-- appreciate today, and enjoy the little things. If you always live for what's going to happen tomorrow, you'll waste your whole life.
The only thing about this quote is the word "nice." "Nice" is a horrible descriptive word! It means something isn't horrible, but it isn't good, either. If you really want to insult a true writer, tell them their writing is "nice!" If it's not excellent, or at least good, then what's the point of your doing it anyway?! But I think the word is excusable here, as it helps get the point across to people who don't understand the folly of the word "nice."