A Really Tough Week

>> Saturday, August 30, 2008

It has been an awful week for me. My daughter has been really fussy the last several days. She hasn't been sleeping well. It's a battle for naps and nighttime sleep. I don't know what's gotten into her lately, but it's driving me insane.

Suffice it to say that I haven't managed much writing. I wrote a little bit tonight, after she finally settled down for a little while. I'm at the point in my story where they conduct an internal examination one of the vampire cows, and since I don't know much about cows, I brought in a firsthand source: my sister, the veterinarian. She's more than happy to help, and told me that she wants to read it when I'm finished writing it.

She also told me about a story idea that she has, but she says she's not a writer and wouldn't have the time to write it anyway. She told me the idea and said I can write it if I want, but she didn't know if it's the kind of story I'm into writing.

It IS an interesting idea, but I just feel a bit uncomfortable taking her idea and writing it as my own. The writer in me almost feels like it would be plagiarism, even though it wouldn't. I totally have her permission, but...

...it isn't my idea.

What does everyone else think? Would you be as uncomfortable with this idea as I am, or would you feel that it's totally okay, if you have permission to use the idea? I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

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How Do You Manage Your Writing?

>> Monday, August 25, 2008

Well, after my daughter FINALLY settled down and went to bed (it wasn't easy getting her to fall asleep tonight, let me tell you), I managed to write some more. My word count for today is 552! Yay me! I met my yearly writing goal again for the first time in a while. It feels good to accomplish something.

All of this made me wonder about the writing habits of other writers, though. How do you get your work done? Do you have a schedule that you follow? If so, what is it? Do you set page or word goals? Do you make yourself sit down for a certain length of time, and whatever you accomplish is what you accomplish?

I'm very interested to know these and other tidbits of information about your own writing habits!

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Getting Back Into the Daily Grind

My daughter has been sleeping for an hour and fifteen minutes, and I have written 230words so far today. That's almost half of what I need for my 500 word goal, which I'm attempting to work my way up to doing again.

Crud, she just woke up. More on this later.

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The Immortality of Writing

>> Friday, August 22, 2008

A thought occurred to me as I played with my four month old daughter today. Being a writer is a lot like being a child sometimes. There are days that frustrate you and nothing seems to make sense or go your way, and there are days where the sheer exploration of life, of learning and discovering as you go, is simply exhilirating. I have recently experienced both types of days in the short story I am currently writing. On the bad days, I often feel as if some piece of a puzzle is missing, and it confuses me. I keep staring at a sentence or a paragraph, trying to figure out a way to make it work, and worrying why there's just something about it that seems so out of place that I can't go on. It's almost like an instinct--I know something about it isn't working, but I have to unravel what it is.

Sometimes solving that problem is as simple as rewording the sentence, or crossing it out to write a new one. Other times, I have to delete the offending sentence or paragraph entirely before my writing brain turns on again, so to speak, and the wheels in my mind start churning the story toward my next goal.

As a writer, I know I will have many "bad" days. I have even gone through blocks of time, sometimes months, where I felt myself in stasis, unable to move with a project no matter how I tried. Sometimes even working on another project didn't help, because I was simply in a very ugly slump for varying reasons.

But on the good days, it's like the words are curling straight out of my pen's ink onto the page, or like they're printing themselves on the computer screen. Words, imagery, dialogue...they're all a jungle gym or a slide that I can build, explore, and play on. And it only takes one good day to make up for a lifetime of bad ones. That's why I keep writing; I know that eventually a good day will come again.

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There's An Awfully Fine Line...

...between fantasy and horror, at this point in my short story. I'm writing the first battle scene, and after some struggle, I need my main character to kill one of the cows in a way that sort of shows just how much power she has and what kind of person she really is. I have several ideas, some more gruesome than the others. I'm afraid of making it too gruesome or macabre in places, lest my story be recategorized to horror instead of fantasy in the short story contest I'll enter this in. I don't want to become known as a horror writer, because that's not what I consider myself. I don't write horror, I write fantasy.

However, given how many people will enter the contest, the chances of my story winning are low, given the odds. I could then try and market the story as a dark fantasy if I so chose.

I always wonder, though: what is the difference between dark fantasy and horror per se? The line looks awfully blurry sometimes.

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Battling Vampires and Other Musings

>> Thursday, August 21, 2008

How does one battle a vampire?

No, really. How? Sure, there are lots of ways to defeat a vampire, which I could rattle off in a jiffy, but how does one battle a vampire? This is an interesting thing to explore as I work on my story, for it includes at least a couple of fight scenes between my main character and the vampires. My goal is to portray it in such a way that my character doesn't just blow them all away, so to speak, and be done with it (though believe me, she would love to). She has power, and yet, she isn't a god. But she is a force to be reckoned with, and not just because she's a necromancer. I want to have something of a struggle, after all, or what's the point?

If it were regular vampires, perhaps I wouldn't be quite so stumped, because I'm more familiar with how a human vampire would move and attack, possibly. But how does a vampire cow? There must be differences, and yet...what are they? How can I realistically portay them? How does it affect these battles?

It's a lot of food for thought, but I'm slowly writing my first fight anyway. Likely, it will come together better in the editing, as most of my battle scenes do.

On another note, check out this post on one of my favorite blogs. She makes a good point about letting a story simmer from time to time. If we don't do that as writers, we run the risk of really mucking up a good story with too much editing or extra fluff. Sometimes a story just needs to be what it is.

Enjoy the new layout. I finally found something free that I think looks really nice. After months of searching for something with ink splatters, I found this layout today by accident. Amazing how things go sometimes. Eventually, I'd like to create my own layout, but I have neither the time nor the proper tools lately, so this will more than suffice in the meantime.

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Time Management

>> Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I would really like to finish my short story soon. Yet I have been unable to manage more than a paragraph or two the last couple of nights, after my daughter goes to sleep "for the night." There are so many other things to do: cook, do dishes, shower, do yoga, etc. It's the only time of day that I have much time to accomplish anything. But I feel like I have to choose between several different activities every night, and since the family needs to eat and I desperately have to be clean or I get grumpy, writing doesn't always make the cut.

But now, as my daughter slumbers in her swing for a late afternoon nap, I have some extra time on hand to enjoy a cup of tea and think about how in the world I can find more time for everything. Or at least more time for writing, if possible. This made me wonder: how do different writers manage their time? Do many of you organize blocks of writing time into a strict schedule, or are you more casual about it? What are some techniques that you writers who are also parents use?

This subject has me thinking ahead to Nanowrimo in November, and I'm wondering how I can possibly finish and win it this year if things stay as they are now. I need a better system. I've considered keeping my notebook nearby as I play with my daughter throughout the day, and jotting things down here or there. Of course, this runs the risk of being interrupted a lot and losing some great stuff. It also gives me pause because I don't want it to become a habit. I don't want to be one of those mothers that is always focused on something else and never present in the moment with her kids.

I have a lot to think about.

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The (Short) March of Progress

>> Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Frustrated with my lack of motivation (and thus lack of writing progress), I IMed my friend Echo online tonight, and within minutes of talking about writing with her, I was writing again. Of course, this lasted for, oh, maybe 10-15 minutes before my daughter woke up and started crying for food.

So life goes.

But I got a little more writing done. A few paragraphs, at least. Yay me!

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Oh, the Irony!

>> Monday, August 18, 2008

How do you motivate yourself to write? It's the oddest thing: now that I have some time to work on my writing today, I'm having a tough time making myself do it. I tried so hard to write during my daughter's (rare) two hour nap today, and I accomplished...a paragraph. *sigh* I think perhaps I was tired, because I had to get up early for a doctor's appointment today; he wanted to meet with me and see how my medication was going, after having been on it for about six weeks or so.

I had a couple of short naps today during my daughter's other naps, so I'm not nearly as tired as I could be. My daughter is asleep for the evening (read: for a few hours, until she wakes up crying for food), yet I'm still unable to make myself write, even though I want to and I'm not nearly as tired as I was this afternoon.

So what gives? I've solved my problem with the short story, so that's not it. I almost feel like I don't want to work on it. Maybe I should work on something else this evening instead. I have been thinking about my Mer novel, and one of my old book series, lately. Perhaps my muse is trying to tell me something.

Or perhaps I just need to make a really big pot of (decaffinated) tea.

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Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah...Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive...

>> Saturday, August 16, 2008

Well, my husband was right. The solution did come to me at a random moment: while we were on a plane, getting ready to take off, to Cleveland. It was so simple, it was stupid, really. I can't believe that I hadn't thought of it sooner. Of course, it had nothing to do with vampires and everything to do with my character. I felt really silly. But, that's the way things go with writing, sometimes. At least I found a solution sooner rather than later. I am shooting for a November deadline. I plan to enter the story in the Writer's Digest short story contest. It's worth a shot, after all.

On the other hand, I uncovered a lot of neat facts about vampires that I never knew before. I look forward to possibly sneaking some of it into my story, if I can. Some of it I won't be able to, but hey...maybe sometime I'll write another kind of vampire story. It would be something I've never done before, and a way to stretch myself creatively.

As it is, I am already thinking ahead to this year's Nanowrimo, and the kind of story I'll write for it. I'm tempted to try a strictly science fiction story. I'm not sure how that would pan out, but it would be an interesting thing to try, since I've never done it before...at least not exactly. I made an attempt back in early high school, but looking at the story as it stands now, I think it would need some major rewriting--perhaps as a fantasy.

Nanowrimo would, in a way, be the perfect time to try something new. At the same time, it would also be the worst time to write something in a new genre, given the immense pressure. Well, I have a few months to think it over. I can't believe it's almost been a year already. Where did the time go?

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A Plethora of Research

>> Sunday, August 10, 2008

I have uncovered some interesting sites and information about vampires and vampire hunters in my quest for a tidbit of folklore or something that could spark an idea for getting myself out of the corner I've backed into. Unfortunately, there's nothing I can use for the current problem in my story. *sigh* But there are some interesting things I'm learning. I might sneak a fact or two into my story here and there. Who knows.

I may even put together a bubble chart if I get desperate enough for ideas. Maybe I can find a new, unique idea that would work. Here's to hoping, anyway...

Hmm. I've just thought of a new avenue to research that might help. Maybe I can get some ideas from researching more about my main character's profession. It can't hurt, right?

Meanwhile, I'm probably the only person who falls asleep at night these days thinking about vampires and necromancy and morbid things like that.

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Ding, Dong, the Story's Dead?

>> Saturday, August 9, 2008

I feel like my brain is broken. I cannot come up with a solution to my writing dilemma, though I have tried. My husband says the solution will come at a random moment, but this gives me little comfort. It could come months from now. *sigh* I don't know. Maybe there's something in the story that just isn't working somehow, and I can't see it yet.

I can't believe I'm already second-guessing my story. I usually do that during revisions.

I'm going to go read and rest my brain.

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That Darned Wall

>> Friday, August 8, 2008

It's always so frustrating when you hit the wall in your writing. You're chugging along, happily scribbling out some lines or scenes, and then all of a sudden, it all halts to a stop. For whatever reason, you can't go forward. The reasons for this vary; sometimes it's a plot problem, or you don't know how to describe something, or you realize you need to do more research before you can continue. It can happen for a myriad of reasons.

I have halted to just such a stop in my own writing. I became stuck a couple of days ago, after managing a few paragraphs. Perhaps I am over-thinking it; I realized I do not know how to realistically describe or portray my main character hunting for vampire cows. So now I am researching vampires and methods of tracking animals to see if there are any ideas that might apply. So far, no luck. My husband has suggested some things, vis a vis the fact that they are vampiric, but since they are not human, I don't know that it could realistically work. I am still looking for solutions.

Right now I am not too frustrated about it. I'm giving it some time. Perhaps it will solve itself, so to speak. In the meantime, I'll do what I can, and maybe work on another project. Sometimes a switch is just the thing I need, so that I can return to a project with fresh eyes and new ideas.

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Regaining a Sense of Self

>> Thursday, August 7, 2008

Being a mother means sacrifice. Sometimes that sacrifice comes in the form of one's writing, throughout the days and months of a new baby's advent and adjustment to the world. Luckily, my daughter is starting to sleep longer periods at night, and so I have some precious little time to devote to my writing now and again. I have written a number of pages of an interesting short story about...vampire cows. Yes, you read that correctly.

Perhaps some other time I will recount exactly how it is that I came up with THAT idea, but suffice it to say, I'm writing the story, no matter how bizarre it may seem. I am also enjoying myself immensely. I am getting back into the swing of things again, writing-wise, and I feel wonderful--normal, even. I feel like a person again, with a bit of my own corner of the world, my own life, if only for a few minutes at a time.

I cannot now describe how much of a contrast there is now with the previous months of dark, grim, ugliness. Perhaps some day in the future I will be able to write it all down in an article about Post Partum Depression. Right now, I'm recovering, I feel wonderful, and I am so in love with my daughter like I just couldn't be before. Nothing else matters.

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