Posts tagged writing

Emulating the Greats—plans for 2011

There’s a quote from Anne’s House of Dreams that has amused me since I read it.

The trouble with Mr. Howard is that he’s a leetle TOO clever. He thinks that he’s bound to live up to his cleverness, and that it’s smarter to thrash out some new way of getting to heaven than to go by the old track the common, ignorant folks is travelling.

This can be applied to the publishing world, too, I think.  There are some people out there (I know, because I’ve run into a few of them) who think that the book they’re writing is so clever, so ingenius, so new, that agents and publishers will fall at their feet with offers and contracts the moment it’s revealed.  There may be tips and tricks to learn how to write better and how to self-promote, etc, but they don’t need these things, because they’re already inalienably brilliant, and their brilliancy shines from the very first sentence of their very first query letter, etc.

I am not, nor ever have been of that school of thought.  Well, no, I lie… maybe I was when I first started writing at the age of twelve, but a friend glancing over my work and reading the first paragraph or two aloud to my intense mortification proved me otherwise.  For me, the mantra has always been learn as much as you can—read the best books, and now that it’s available, the best author blogs that you can.  Find out what they did, how they think, and what the publishing world has taught them, etc.

And okay, part of this is because I’m a fangirl. What? I am.  So when I find an author I’m intolerably excited about (like Maggie Stiefvater, for example) I go looking up their blogs and things.  In Maggie’s case, I stumbled on The Merry Sisters of Fate, a blog where she and Brenna Yavanoff and Tessa Gratton each write a short story a month, offering them up as free reads.  Maggie told me herself how much this has helped them all in their writing, and just recently posted on how going through the “complete process” of writing a story as often as possible has taught her so much.

I have to admit, free reads are something I’ve been interested in for a long time.  My dear Wren & Marnie were an experiment between free read and blog fiction, which sadly combusted in my face, and I’ve offered a short retelling of Rapunzel, with the intention of making it more of a habit, but always failing to do so.  I think, though, that this has been because there has never been a deadline, or a concrete goal in mind.  So now, I have one.  Well, maybe I should say we.

Starting in January, Isabelle Santiago and I are going to be posting weekly fiction at Tales From the Hollow Tree.  That means two stories by each of us each and every month.  This is going to be a big challenge for us, but something we’re really set on doing.  It will mean stretching out of our comfort zones in a lot of ways, but we’re going to have fun and play with short fiction as much as we can, and we’re very likely to be including alternate POVs or teasers from our WIPs (of course!)

I’m really, really excited about this, and so is Isabelle.  I just hope the Merry Sisters of Fate don’t hold it against us.  After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?  Right?

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Hello, Lover

typewriter

No, I’m not talking about the typewriter (though I wish it were mine!), I’m talking about that feeling that you get when you start a brand new project, when the spark of a new novel presents itself to you, all shiny and tempting.  I was lightning-struck with an idea this morning, and though I really shouldn’t be starting something new right now, I also don’t think that writers can afford to put ideas like this on the shelf when they come to you as clearly as this came to me.  (Am I even being coherent here?  I can’t tell at this point.)

Actually, this project isn’t entirely brand new to me, because it’s a reorganized version (read: butchered, beaten, and brought back to life version) of an older project of mine that simply wasn’t usable.  Really very little has been salvaged but a basic idea and a few scenes and character traits, plus a twist or two.  Everything else has been wiped clean and made new.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Especially beautiful because this has the potential of being an ensemble-cast series, something I’ve been wanting  to find a way to do for some time now.

I won’t say more than that just now… I don’t really know much more, and I don’t want to jinx myself by talking about the project too much, but know that it is distracting me and I’m really enjoying the distraction.  That should suffice.

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Soundtrack to a life story.

soundtrack

If you’ve ever talked to me about writing, then you know that I’m a big advocate of the story soundtrack.  It’s one of the first things I do when I’m trying to get my head into a story, developing the characters and the world.  Some songs are so tied to stories and characters in my head that I can’t listen to them without being momentarily transported into a certain scene, or feeling that a character has.

You get a little dependent on these soundtracks, so, when you transfer to a new computer and suddenly your playlists don’t work anymore… well, things get a little messy.  And guess where I am.

So at the moment I’m trying to reconstruct the soundtrack to my main project at the moment, a sort of Young Adult fairytale fantasy.  A soundtrack that had nearly a hundred songs on it.

But on the positive side of things, this is giving me the chance to not only re-evaluate the music I’ve selected for this novel (a lot of Badly Drawn Boy, Nickel Creek, Feist, stuff that brings open countrysides and beautiful expanses to mind), meaning I get to throw out the duds that didn’t really fit the story, the ones I’ve left on out of laziness, but it also means I get to add some fresh new things into the mix, new stuff, like Vienna Teng, who I’ve recently fallen completely in love with.

This song, in particular, just crystallizes everything my main character is.

Vienna Teng, “The Tower” (or listen to it at last.fm)

I need not to need
I’ve always been the tower
But now I feel like I’m the flower trying to bloom in snow

*******

I love that last line above especially, because I think that’s just where my character is.  She’s very used to having to be strong and seperate, but when major events and uncovered secrets change everything for her, she not only has to learn how to depend on others, but she really steps into her own for the first time, definitely “trying to bloom,” because there’s that yearning there, too.  Just a perfect song.

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Technical difficulties and an unveiling

The wireless adapter on my PC threw a hissy fit yesterday morning, and after a long battle with trying to get the software to re-install/recognize the device which involved more computer tech-y stuff than I’ve done in all my months since graduating college… well, it still doesn’t work.  I think it must be the adapter itself.  It has a lifetime warranty, if what I read on the website is right, so hopefully that’ll be easy to deal with.  But if I’m offline the next few days, that’s why.  That was just the beginning of a very long day yesterday.

Meanwhile!  I haven’t made much noise about it yet, but I’ve started updating Wren & Marnie’s Guide to World Domination.  This is an ongoing epistolary free read I’ll be working on, about Wren Sterling and Marnie Jacoby, two friends trying to hold themselves—and their friendship—together, now that they’re in their first year of separate colleges.  I’ll be updating on Mondays and Wednesdays as best as I can.

We’re just in the starting phase right now, but I’m looking forward to this.  These are two great, quirky characters that I’m excited to be working with.

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