A (new) 30 Day Challenge!

One that I’ll possibly actually do this time, maybe sort of hopefully.

A few days ago my good friend Intermittante posted on her blog about one of these (in)famous 30 Day Challenges that she had found. Every day you write a letter to an imaginary subject – each day has a different subject and theme. She debated whether or not it was something to do and I said if she’d do it, I’d do it to.

Today she posted her first Challenge – Letter to an inanimate object I hate, so I suppose it’s my turn. I’m not 100% sure I will have the time to do it within a reasonable timeframe today, but it WILL happen!

It’s actually a fun and creative project intended to get you writing. Image

30 days of writing, sound familiar to anyone? If I could do it in November, surely I can do it now.

Have faith.

 

 

Edit: It might be useful to myself and others who might want to try this out to put the list of topics for the 30 days on here. Better late than never, right? ;)

 

day 1. A letter to an inanimate object you hate.
day 2. A letter to a dinosaur.
day 3. A letter to a movie character
day 4. A letter to someone you want to kick in the face expressing why you want to kick them in the face
day 5. A letter to a celebrity you want to kick in the face
day 6. A HEARTFELT letter to some food
day 7. A letter to a historical event
day 8. A letter to a giant space robot
day 9. A letter to the coolest person you’ve never met
day 10. A letter to an alien race.
day 11. A letter to your last bowel movement
day 12. A letter to a mythological creature
day 13. A letter to a word you don’t like
day 14. A letter to a word you love
day 15. A letter to your crotch.
day 16. A letter to your bed
day 17. A letter to a video game character
day 18. A letter to a website that ruined your life
day 19. A letter to an animal you like
day 20. A letter to an animal you think is fucking stupid
day 21. A letter to something you’ve owned for 5 years+
day 22. A letter to something you want to fuck
day 23. A letter to the drug of your choice.
day 24. A letter to one of your body parts
day 25. A letter to Gary Busey
day 26. A letter to the future cyborg version of you
day 27. A letter to band that really needs to break up
day 28. A letter to a movie you hate
day 29. A letter to a letter you’ve written
day 30. A letter to a bowl of fruit

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End in sight

Not any time soon since I still have to, y’know, write it, but I finally have an idea for the end of the book!

The idea actually popped up a couple of weeks ago. I was reading a post on the Live to Write blog where someone was talking about endings and which type of endings are common and such things. At first I dismissed it, snorting and thinking “I don’t want the same kind of ending that the majority of other novels use, I want to be SPECIAL!”.

But time passed and I kept thinking about it and an idea was actually forming. I still don’t have it clear line by line in my head but it’s definitely a solid idea that I didn’t have before.

And dismissing a formula that is proven to be successful seems rather silly, doesn’t it?

Lately the weather here in the UK has been absolutely amazing. Considering this week or so is the only summer we’ll get over here everyone is taking full advantage and spreading themselves out in parks and on lawns. The sunshine has a great impact on my mood and not least my inspiration. Here’s to taking advantage of nature’s own muse!

Musings on Chapters

So one of those Big Questions I’m having when it comes to writing and the technical details of composing an actual book is: how long should chapters be?

In the current rough draft of my book, the chapters typically average somewhere between three and four thousand words. Some are five thousand, give or take a few dozen words. At the end of NaNoWriMo I had just over fifty thousand words and fourteen and a half chapters.

What I can’t figure out is whether that’s too long or too short. Okay, too short is probably not something to worry about in the end because I don’t know anyone that goes “huh, what a short chapter!” in any negative sense. Apart from maybe Boyfriend, but he’s odd.

I picked up a book yesterday that I’ve had on hiatus for a while because the story started boring me. Or the characters did. Or both, who knows. Anyway, so I was reading along and I decided I needed a break soon so I checked how long the chapter was (I have a slight issue with OCD when it comes to leaving books in the middle of a chapter). It was over 50 pages long.

To me, that’s insane.

And this is young adult fiction, for heaven’s sake.

I don’t really like overly long chapters. One of the reasons being, as I mentioned, about being able to put the book down and take a break without losing my flow. I don’t like chapters that go on for too long with far too many things happening at once. In some books that can add a sense of excitement and urgency but you have to be talented to be able to do that. Really talented. For a lot of books I find it just bogs down the fluency of the story and I become overwhelmed with all the words and the things and the words(!).

Ideally chapters shouldn’t exceed 20 pages of a standard-sized novel for me. I think 5000 words is around 14 pages in a novel format, though I’m not sure. So for my own preference, my novel should be decently paced (in terms of chapters at least) once it’s finished.

But that’s not helpful. Hopefully other people than me will read this book, right?

So when you’re reading a book, how do you feel about chapters? How long or how short is ideal for you and why? And if it doesn’t matter to you, why not? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I’m simply curious.

Inspirational Words

Sometimes you need the perspective of others to feel inspired. That’s why I sometimes spend time looking at quotes from various sources. If they seem to speak to me, I take a moment to reflect on the words, their meaning and their flow.

“It’s not who you are that holds you back,

it’s who you think you’re not.” – Unknown

“Every artist was first an amateur.” – R.W Emerson

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – T. Roosevelt

“Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet.”– Anonymous

 

 

What inspires you?

Some gushing

While I believe that you should practice your passion ultimately for your own happiness and peace of mind, the acceptance and support of your peers certainly is motivating.

I suspect it’s only human to crave the acceptance of others but I think it is especially true for those of us who practice something creative. It’s such a fragile process and I think we need to know that what we’re doing is more of a hit than a miss. If your passion is mathematics there’s little margin for error. Either you’re good with numbers or you’re not. With creating anything, whether it be a piece of literature, a painting, a piece of clothing, the boundries aren’t so clear. There are guidelines, but what seems correct to you might not to others.

That’s why it’s so important to have people around you who can broaden your view beyond your own vision. Having always considered myself a loner and definitely not a people person, even I am starting to realize that writing – seeming like such a solitary profession – is anything but. I’m already, far from being published, involving a number of people in my work and writing process. Not only through this blog, but privately. It’s clear to me that I need the input of those people who are different and stand outside my inner vision to be able to know what I’m doing.

Last night one of my beta readers wrote that she was reading “a gripping tale of deceit and intrigue”. It was difficult for me to realize that she was referring to my work and when it did there was an explosion of excited butterflies fluttering around inside me. Not only because of the rush of a compliment but because, despite my misgivings, someone is actually enjoying something I’ve created. And in the end, that’s the main reason – beyond the feeling of ‘I have to write to be complete – that I’m doing this.

It’s amazing to me that several of my friends and family are so invested in this. It’s a wonderful feeling.

I would say to anyone out there who does anything creative, whether it is a hobby or your career goal, to involve someone in the process. It’s very scary to show your work to others and it’s even scarier waiting for their feedback. But trust me, it’s worth it.

Fear

I have a lot of fears. Mostly I try to not let them affect me or, worse, break me, but I don’t always win. Sometimes I admit defeat for a day or two and then have enough strength to regroup and kick Fear’s ass again.

Currently I’m in a constant battle with the Big Cheese of fears: the Fear of Failure. Skirmishes happen almost on a daily basis and sometimes I imagine that our battlefield is littered with little pieces and shreds of us. Unfortunately, at the moment, those pieces mostly belong (or belonged) to me. It’s the main reason that I’m still not finished editing the first half of my book: I am afraid that the more I read the more I will come to realize that this has been, and always was, an absolute waste of time because I suck at it.

While sitting here trying to think of clever ways to procrastinate distract myself, I read through a post on Magical Words that I had missed dealing with the question of when you should throw in the towel. David B Coe writes a post that I find both very uplifting and very disheartening at the same time. The point is, he says, that while the publishing industry is hard and you WILL have to face pain and disappointment (probably more often than facing triumph), as long as you feel that pain you should keep trucking. The pain means that you still have passion for the subject of writing. It’s when you grow ambivalent that you should consider giving up and trying something that isn’t writing.

This makes absolute sense to me, and it’s comforting in a sense to know that other writers – successful and professional ones at that – still feel that way when a project gets rejected. However, it frightens me as well. Am I equipped to enter into this business? Does pure passion and desire to be an author cut it? Because, to be honest, I can’t say for sure whether I would be able to endure 25 rejections for every one acceptance. Does that mean I have to give up on the dream? Does that mean I have to give Fear an ultimate victory here?

I wish I could answer those questions. Maybe one of you will be able to. If so, please do tell me! In the meantime I suppose I should get back to work.

Getting back on the horse

I do actually know that this whole writing business requires that you actually, y’know, write. I wish I knew exactly what it is that makes it so hard to do. Butt In Chair seems like a simple enough requirement, right? Currently I’m indulging the illusion that once we move to a bigger place and I have a room for myself it will be easier to focus. Way too many distractions around.

Today I did however finally print the NaNo draft. It took an eternity. Our printer is some sort of fossil and it’s not entirely capable of containing its ink spillage nor hold much paper.

There was a distinct moment of panic where I thought I had lost three or four chapters.

Turned out I hadn’t. But wow. The sheer panic at the thought of all that work lost…

 

My first beta reader received the unfinished and unedited manuscript today. It’s an anxious thing, giving it up for someone else to judge it. However, I think I can safely say I am my own harshest critic. And at least I am taking some steps forward, among them reading the manuscript myself and making notes. Which will start right about…

now.