Saturday, October 30, 2010

Third Writer's Meeting Thingie

This week I brought in the very last chapter of Essence of Female, titled "Eye of the Storm."  We didn't have time to go over it, but we read it aloud and everyone took home a copy, so we'll get to it next week.  The reason I brought in my last chapter, instead of chapter two, is that I happen to be super lame:  I have a promising beginning and a resolved ending, but I'm completely lacking a middle.  Oh, sure, I have 32,000 words of middleness - but they're mostly just little glorified diary entries... Katelyn Rose and her little adventures; tiny battles, but no war.  After the meeting, Tabbitha helped me see the big picture.  We decided that I really do need to interrogate Katelyn Rose, discover her, and also take a backpacking trip through Thoughtland for a time.  I need to figure out the ins and outs of the place, the nooks and crannies that only the locals know about.  I need to decide what laws rule that land (e.g. natural, political, societal) and meet both the people in power, and the struggling lower class.  I need to wear a virtue-gown for awhile, see how it behaves, try it out for size.  Only once I've done all these things will I truly be able to craft a rich middle for my story.  It is severely lacking in quirky, multi-dimensional characters, and a timeframe and setting; most of all, though, it's lacking a plot.  I want Katelyn Rose to struggle just as much as I have.  I want her to reach out through the pages that bind her, so that she can carry her readers with her for company on the treacherous path I have carved for her.  And in the end, when she brings herself and the world (because the world WILL read her story) to the final resting place, the safe place, I want readers to sleep soundly, knowing everything will be truly be okay.

but... I don't want the ending to be completely happy.  I like strange, tragic, piquant endings. I don't like endings that fade into nothing but a mere happy memory.  I want Katelyn Rose to lose everything, and suffer, and still stand up again, but not as straight as before.  Even if her crippled body takes flight in the end, and soars higher than ever before, she must still be crippled.  I want her ending to leave something to be desired, so that her readers pity her and take her out of those prison-bar pages.  I want them to take their turn carrying her on their paths, instead of the other way around.  More than anything, I don't want her story to be forgotten.  She deserves better than that.  My sweet Katelyn Rose.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Second Writer's Club Meeting

This previous Friday I introduced Jujubee to my writing club friends.  I've read her story aloud a few times before:  once when I had just barely finished, sitting at my brother's table while he and his youngest daughter listened; another time in Santa Barbara, to my (awesome!!! *ahem*) cousins and extended family; and once more, at a Philosophy, Arts and Science Alliance (P.A.S.A.) club meeting... my audience was seven men, one of whom was my professor.  That last time was kind of funny, because all my stories start out with "once upon a time"... not exactly the most captivating word choice when it comes to men.  But seeing as, within six pages, catastrophe manages to occur on many levels, I think I won them over.  Friday, however, I was submitting little Jujubee to the test:  two highly intelligent, brightly unique, frighteningly attentive grammar-nazis.

I am happy to report that Jujubee's story, "Her Daughter's Flower", was successful.  (And yes, I know that comma after the story title was supposed to go inside the quotation marks, but I hate that rule, so, bleh.)  Anyway, my story was even more successful than I had dared to hope - my friends picked up on the subtle humor, the clever word choice, and the four major themes, being:  the crushing, sapping power of hard determinism; the relativity of time; the freeing fact that action allows no thought; and the rather unfortunate inability of any being to fully understand another.

Actually, after telling my friends the back-story behind Jujubee's former caretaker (the little girl), and the intense relationship the girl had had with her parents, my friends prompted me to write down those characters' stories as well.  So, in my lovely expanse of free time *cough* I do indeed plan to write a prequel to "Her Daughter's Flower".  It's all in my head already (it has been for months) so all I need to do is just SIT, FOCUS, and WRITE!!!

um, after I get my homework done...

  : (

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Interview with my amazing writer cousin!

Hey Stephanie!  :-)  I have some interview questions for you, if you'd like to answer them in the comment box below.  Feel free to discuss whatever you want, even if it doesn't pertain to my queries; I would love to have your advice!  (For those of you who didn't know, my cousin Stephanie is a crazy-awesome writer, and she's here to answer some questions about her craft.)  Before you start, could you introduce yourself and tell us about your writing and your history as an author?

So here's my first question:  can you tell us a little bit about NaNoWriMo?  I know you use and abuse the month of November for your noveling purposes, and I pretty much want to show off how cool you are... you never stick to the 50,000 word minimum anymore, do you?  Also, could you go into a bit of detail about the prep work you do for NaNoWriMo?

This brings me to my next question:  before you even start a story, you lock your characters in a dungeon and grill them for details about their lives and personalities.  Can you explain how you go about that?  I myself feel so estranged from my characters.  What kinds of questions do you ask them?  What situations do you throw them into?  I once went to eHarmony for interview questions to use on my characters; what's your method?

Next, I was wondering if you could illuminate a little about where your ideas come from, and how you keep track of them.  Do ideas just come to you randomly, or do you just force yourself to write and see what happens?  Or maybe you start with a character first.  Where do your characters come from?  My own characters all tend to be very similar to me in one way or another.  Are yours like that?

Also, how do you do your writing?  Do you treat it like a 9 to 5 job?  Or do you write only when creativity strikes?  I basically just cram it in whenever I have time, if I remember.  Do you have any tips for how to make time for writing?

Lastly, if you have anything else you would like to add - random advice for beginner's, tricks you've learned along the way that you wish you knew earlier - then please feel free.

Thank you so much, Stephanie!  Say hi to the puppies for me!


... revision

I just finished reading my friends' comments on my first chapter.  First, I must say that I absolutely adore being the dumb one for once - they actually found typos in my work.  NO ONE has EVER found typos in my stories before!  I am in love!  Furthermore, they actually taught me some grammar rules, like the may/might difference.  More than anything, though, I'm thrilled that my writer-group friends helped me find some direction in my novel.  Syntax I can handle (for the most part), but I fail at figuring out themes and appropriate endings and bridges between chapters and what to do next.

One major problem I'm having with chapter one is consistency.  For example, the old woman is telling her grandchildren a story that she's never told anyone else before, and it's spilling out of her all over the place.  The problem is, she uses big words that her grandbabies shouldn't be able to understand.  So, either the old lady needs to speak more simply or explain better, or the kids need to seem confused.  Part of fixing this error concerns the tone that I want my novel to have overall:  do I want my characters to speak eloquently all the time?  Is that just the way it is, and kids just magically understand?  Or should my characters speak like you and me, i.e. badly?  I might go with the eloquent speech all around, because I hate having speech problems and I want my characters to never be forced to go through that.  Now, though, I need to help the little children.  I don't want to pause every other line to explain things to the little ones.  Hmm.  Perhaps my kids will just be naturally good at understanding language; they live in Thoughtland after all.  Meh, but no, kids need to be ignorant, it's part of being a kid...

We'll see.  As Hannah pointed out, it's my first draft, I can "play around with it."  I'll just "go with my gut."  I actually really like that advice, because that's what I would do anyway, so I feel justified.  ;p

(Whoa, emoticons look really freaky in this font.)

(Is that what they're called?  Emoticons?  Whatever.)

(OK I'm done now.)

First Writer's Club

I recently went to my very first writer's club meeting.  It was rather amazing to hear, trapped on paper, all the distinct voices of people I've only ever spoken with.  We all took turns having our own selections read aloud, and then each group member commented.  There was some poetry, and it dazzled me.  I got some great feedback about chapter one of my novel; the poor thing is a hybrid right now.  It's a cross between that first scrambled draft that I wrote down just after a crazy dream a year and a half ago; the hastily scribbled second draft; and the stronger ideas that I have laid out in my plot outline.  Now all I have to do is take that sodden mixture, lay it out all at once to dry, and reassemble it properly.  In less than a week.  ugh...

I must say, the most difficult part about writing is actually finding the time to do it.  I keep saying that if I spent all my time writing, instead of going to school to learn how to write (in other words, going to school to learn how to do something I already know how to do), I would be published by now.  And famous.  Granted, fame is not my goal.  I just want to be read.  I'm hoping that my words will make people better.

However, I do need to continue going to school.  I guess.  There, I learn how to think better, just in general, which is vital to my craft.  Also, it gives me plenty of time to build up passion and ideas for my story, so that when the time comes to actually write it all down, hopefully I won't be able to stop myself.  I'm just afraid that some terrible accident will happen before I can get it all out of my head and onto paper.  Some terrible accident, like a coma or a broken pinky or procrastination or death or life.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

plot outlines

bleh.  I just finished writing plot outlines for chapters one and two of my book.  Definitely necessary, but totally exhausting as well.  I'm looking forward to actually having a chapter two; I've always kinda skipped that part.  I went straight from chapter one to the middle, and from there to the end.  Now I just need to fill in the gaps.  And boy, are there gaps!  I'm also totally psyched about my new and improved chapter one.  It was in desperate need of revamping, seeing as I haven't actually revised it.  Ever.  I just randomly wrote it a couple years back, and went from there.

Also, I'm considering adding some new characters.  I want to introduce them for flavor, so that we can see many different aspects of the "essence of female."  There will be a girl named Blaise; she was A FIRE INSIDE (clever band/semantic joke) her mother's belly, and she's only been building up strength over the years.  Now she scorches like a wildfire.  Then there will be Basil - uh-oh, research time:  I'm going to need to hunt down some pizza, because I totally have no clue what basil tastes like.  Although, seeing as I have very little sense of taste, the pizza most likely will not provide any insight.  Whatever...  I like pizza.

OK, anyway, the point is:  I want to incorporate a bunch more symbolism into my work.  Seeing as my story is set in Thoughtland, where the intangible becomes tangible, I think it appropriate to bring the inner demons out to play, so to speak.

I'm not entirely sure that last sentence will make sense to anyone but me...

~Jaclyn Marie

Friday, October 8, 2010

wishes :)

I'm pleasantly surprised by the background of my brand new blog.  I love those puffball-flower-weed things; I've been making wishes on them since I was a little girl.  I know for a fact that I'm the main cause for all the OH!  I FORGOT!  THEY'RE CALLED DANDELIONS! dandelions sprinkled across Delta.  One little wish is enough to propagate an entire new generation of puffballs...

I'm trying to figure out ways for that last sentence to be symbolic, but I am finding myself at a loss.  Hm.  I do that a lot with my writing:  I imbue my poor limp stories with so much meaning and symbolism that they can hardly breath on their own, and no one else speaks my particular symbolic language anyway, so basically the story will ever only mean anything at all to me.  Oh well.  I write mostly for myself in any case, not for my readers.  It's quite therapeutic.

Actually, I probably should keep my readers in mind more.  For example, here I am, rambling on about puffballs and drowning stories, and my poor nonexistent readers are out of their minds with boredom and confusion.  Here, I'll post something sweet for you:

“Dance, so as not to be dead.”
            “Oh gorgeous, shining stars!  Your glory and brilliance light up my darkest hours!  Thank you, for making my life so beautiful!” the woman spun with arms upraised, dancing to her own heartbeat as she praised the night sky that was all around her.  Tears glistened as she blew kiss after kiss up into the heavens.
            Giddy laughter rose from Earth itself as smiling children whirled and twirled with their mother.  The cool, dewy grass sparkled in the moonlight and turned feet icy as it was danced upon, and the frogs chirped so that there was a tempo.
            The woman slowed her dance and went to stand by her smiling amari as they watched their children fly across the ground.  They glowed with delight as they pranced and skipped, and the woman knew that, if they so wanted, they could dance right up into the sky itself.
            “Make a wish!” the girl cried, as a shooting star blazed a path across a part of the enchanting night sky.
            “Don’t let that falling rock die in vain!” the boy added.
            “Wish for love!  Wish for peace!” the children trilled, and caste their happy wishes out into the multiverse.
            “Oh my gorgeous, shining stars!  Your glory and brilliance light up my darkest hours!  Thank you, for making my life so beautiful!” the woman gathered her lover and children unto her, touching their hearts as she praised the family that was all around her.  Tears glistened as she kissed and kissed her little pieces of heaven.



Jaclyn Marie's mouth hangs agape as she processes how ridiculously easy it was to make a blog.  OK.  So this is the magic internet stuff she's been hearing about for years...  Definitely doable.  Do-able.  Whatever.

I have no idea where to start!  um... okay.  I named this blog after my novel, which is nowhere near finished, but which also boasts a hefty 31,399 words (relic of a past NaNoWriMo).  I'm greatly looking forward to actually writing again pretty soon here - this summer I only wrote one good story, and nothing since then.  But I've been talking to some coworkers of mine - Hannah (I love you Hannah!!!) and Tabitha and Paula - who have a writing club thing.  So, I'll pretty much be forced to produce at least a chapter every week.  Naturally, I plan on cheating a little at first; I'm ridiculously busy, so I'm just going to do a quick but THOROUGH (which automatically equals "not quick in the slightest") revision of the first and last chapters of my novel, which I will then proceed to present to these lovely strong women... with bated breath.  I actually don't have a solid confidence in my writing abilities whatsoever.  Oh well.

Wow... it's super easy to go on and on talking about myself on a blog... especially since I'm fairly certain no one (with the exception of Junebug... maybe... because she has to grade it as a midterm project) will be reading this.  Hmmm... so I can say whatever I want...


okay.  I'm done.  For now (mwa-ha-ha...)