Saturday, November 5, 2011

I'm Just a Rambling Man

The writing has been kind of slow for the last week.  There has been a 50% improvement in the chaotic conditions of my family obligations, but finding that still eye of the storm is still proving to be difficult.  As soon as I feel like I'm close to it I get caught in an updraft and find myself hurtling away at impossible speeds from what I would really like to be doing.

That said - I have mastered some plot threads that needed tying together.  My iPhone, unlike the previous clunky yet small Blackberry, is proving a bit of a helpmate.  I was able to download a pages app for it that allows me to edit the most recent chapter on the go.  I don't foresee any solid writing time on it unless I get the keyboard that I mentioned in the last post, and I am waiting for my finances to improve for that, but I can edit, add ideas, and not lose rolling trains of steamy thought.

One of my plotting solutions involves a famous historical character, Harry Houdini, who has now gained importance in the novel, and thusly I am forced (oh what terrible pain and joy!) to read the recent bio of him that I got.  Sadly it is not available on the Kindle... wait, it wasn't but maybe it is now... let me toddle off and check...

Back. Ah, wonderful.  I feel like a walking, talking, typing advert for the iPhone, but I am a convert.  So I have downloaded the Kindle app to my phone, and my copy of the Houdini book is now there, on the page I was last reading, and I'm ready to snatch minutes from my workday to learn all I need to know about the amazing magician, contortionist, and escape artist.  Amusing note on the side: on my wall, by my desk, is my Houdini Action Figure.  It was a gift from one of my relatives - the same year I gave them one.  We exchanged.

Ok, well I was away from this for about an hour because my cat pissed on the laundry again.  It's such a joy to be able to add the mental and emotional and maybe physical aberrations of an animal you swore to look after and love for all his days to your list of distractions from writing.  Mostly he's been urinating on the wife's things, seems he's pissed off at me now too.  I am also hearing about the chores and programming/design tweaks I need to make at Pan Historia... it never ends.  And just when I have the list all organized, and all the things I have to do on it, I'll head to work for nine hours, because that's how I pay the bills.
Tune in next week to find out more about how my iPhone helps me to conquer the madness of modern life, and enables me to write a novel in the middle of it.  Or not.  You choose how you distract yourself from your own writing.

Perhaps you might join a revolution?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Have Keyboard, Will Travel

I'm glad to say that after my last update I made some time in my life for writing my novel again. This is quite an achievement because the distractions and tornado keeps on building around me. The whole world seems to want to go up in flames, and perhaps it should, and I've got wandering random family members in transition in this funnel of frantic windy energy needing a couch to sleep on. Thusly I have no private space where the mind can be fertile and still enough that it suddenly freely sprouts words, one upon the last, building and building, until there is a tower of words, wobbly, but upright.

As a matter of fact I am writing this now instead of working on my book in the precious morning I have before work because I can manage this kind of personal writing with the distractions, but not the real hard work of writing a novel. I've set myself a quota of words each day: a measly 500. This can count towards that goal, as well as the collaborative posts I do at Pan Historia, but it doesn't feel as satisfying anymore, not as compelling as getting into the heads of my characters. I miss my book when I'm not at it.

I just took a break from writing this to browse computer tablets. I started to wonder, since I have lacked a private space of my own, a space with a door that shuts the world out, if I were to go fully mobile could I pick up stray pockets of time and privacy from my maelstrom days to dash out those few measly words, make those notes, build that tower...

Nope, they lack the essential tool that I crave: a keyboard. I could go retro and try the notebooks, and I have done that before, but unlike those folks that love freehand and the pen or pencil, I'm a sucker for the keyboard. I can type about 50pm if I factor in the mistakes, or maybe faster by now, and I need the speed because that's often how fast the words flow. When I write by hand I miss words, phrases, even passages, skipping over them as the next word crashes into me. I paint the same way. I can't do it slow. Which of course begs the question: why isn't my output greater? The answer is frustrating: I fritter away much of my free time (little and precious though it is) in frivolities. I resolve, every day and every minute, to do better, but when you're a speed freak, like the hare, you need a lot of breaks.

I have seventy more words to find... then I'll have fulfilled my quota for the day.

Oh my god... had another idea, took another break - could this be the solution:

Freedom Pro Bluetooth Portable Folding Keyboard

It's a bit pricy, but so far the reviews are good. I can whip this sucker out of my backpack, hook it up to my phone and be on my way. Hmmm... this could work. Have keyboard, can travel. It seems I'm on the eternal quest to be completely hooked up until my excuses have no where to run and hide anymore, and either I write, or I admit that I'm not a writer.

Haha. 556 words.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I Have Never Shot a Gun...

"Write what you know."

Boy, that's getting to be the old chestnut of writing advice. It's also hugely misleading. The kernel of truth in it is that whatever you writing should have authenticity. Don't let people catch you out in ignorance. It trips up the reader when they totally figure out that the author has no idea what they are talking about.

This advice is not about, however, only writing from personal experience. If we all did that the fictional landscape would be one helluva a boring place. The whole point of fiction is to take you someplace you don't know. At least it is for me and probably the majority of readers. Very few people pick up a book to escape into a reality so like theirs it is indistinguishable. What they want to do is be able to relate to the characters in the book, but not meet any old regular joe. They want to go to the far reaches of the galaxy, or to ride the Pacific Union Railroad with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid waiting for them around the bend to blow up the safe.

Even if you're reading something that is contemporary you want to peek into the mind and heart, or maybe the madness, of someone you don't know. You might be able to relate, but you aren't them, and they aren't exactly anyone you know either.

The real key to writing what you know is to research and make sure you get the details right, even if it is pure and utter fantasy, and then inject your personal experience into the story to render it authentic. You might not have been born in the 1900s but you can relate to something so tight fitting it makes it hard to breathe, you understand what riding a train is like, and you know the fear that the threat of violence brings.

Every character should be a little bit of an autobiography because you're reaching inside yourself to imagine something completely, but that doesn't mean you know what's like to be a serial killer, or vampire, or a space cowboy 400 light years from home. Every character is also a little bit of biography because you're grabbing stuff from people you know. Even the most ordinary friend has a bit of the extraordinary you can pilfer to bring your characters to life.

Always authenticity is key, so really the old chestnut should read: "write from the heart, and then even what you don't know will come to life for your readers".

Monday, March 21, 2011

Procrastination Bites!

You know the score. You're supposed to be writing. Instead you find your eyelids drooping and a powerful urge to sleep coming on. Or you start clicking those stupid little games in FaceBook or you open your version of Spider Solitaire. Just a few games... honest. Then you'll get back to writing. Or maybe you're the type that will start cleaning the house or doing the laundry... oh shit, hold on, I just have to put the wash in the dryer now, be right back...

Ok, now where was I? Oh yes, procrastination - the bugbear of the would-be writer. Or maybe even the nemesis of all writers? Possibly so. Wait? Do I hear the siren call of a completely different writing project all my name? You know, something like a blog, or maybe even a new collaborative writing project at your favorite online writing community? Whatever it is - something is always keeping you from finishing your novel, that is, if you are at all like me.

So what are your favorite distractions? What's your laundry list of things that suddenly need doing urgently every time you sit down to write and how the heck do you conquer those distractions and interruptions?

Games? Close the program. Delete the software. Social networking? Turn off the Twitter. Other writing projects? Perhaps time management is required. Too tired? What do you need to eliminate from your day that is a waste of your time so you'll be able to find the time, space, and energy to write?

I want to hear from YOU.