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Well, it's December.

And...I did not get 50,000 words. Not even close.

Aw, well. I honestly didn't expect to. I don't feel that disheartened. Got a semi-solid start on the novel, which ain't shabby, and a clear idea of where and how it bogged down. Points me to the areas that need work, more thought, and so on.

I both love and hate the whole Nano thing, ultimately. I think it's a great thing in a lot of ways -- a way to write WITHOUT being so alone-feeling, necessarily; a lot of potential people to talk to, commiserate with, and so on.

Downside. Well, there are several. First is just how much of a failure you really CAN feel if you don't get your word count. I don't feel that way, really, but if I LET myself I sure could. *shrug* And thinking back -- I'm not sure that ultimately I see the value in 50,000 words that aren't very good.

Still, I think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. I learned a few things -- an overall deadline of 50,000 in a month is too intimidating for me, in lots of ways, but somehow 1500 words a DAY isn't nearly as scary. If you divvy it into bite-size chunks, it loses some of its power. Not ALL of it, but some. And that's good to know. After all, 1500 a day does, eventually, turn into 50,000+ if you just keep plugging.

I also learned that just plugging won't cut it if you lose faith in what you're writing. It's one thing to say, I'll fix it in the rewrite; it's another to say, I really don't like this. I still feel -- as I did when I started this time -- that there is a tingle that needs to happen when you're writing, a sense of excitement, a need to tell this particular story. I imagine that a lot of far more productive, dependable writers would scoff at that, and they might definitely have a point -- but ultimately we each have to find the route that works best for us, individually. After all, I'm not suggesting anyone ELSE do things the way I do them, right?

So. Overall, not too terrible. Not GREAT, but not godawful. Not depressing. Not particularly exciting, either, but an experience that has been on the whole useful in some distinct ways. Could be worse, you know? I could be seeing myself as a total miserable failure, a wannabe-writer who fell down on the job, and so on.

But nah. I think I'm getting too old to feel TOO badly about it.

We're so screwed.

I really feel like Guy. The no-last-name redshirt character who dies in the first act to show it's really dangerous.

So anyway. SCREWED.

I don't really feel totally bummed about it, though. It's true, I haven't managed to write more than a couple of sentences on BP since, hmmm, like forever.

To the good, however: I'm exhausted, which -- okay, that doesn't sound good, but tired because I've been doing a new job, getting used to new hours, new people, that sorta thing. Also good news yesterday: I got the other new job I went for, which is the same department but different work area and MUUUUUUUCH better hours (8:30-5! WHEEE!) and gets me out of the ER.

In any case I guess I feel okay about it for those reasons, but also because -- well, I've got a solid start on this novel, which counts for a lot, and other reasons, too, I guess. Realistically, it's been a rough last seven days, but I'm still thinking about the project, still making plans, and all of that is a part of writing, too, you know?

Which doesn't translate to "Em is giving up." I'm honestly not. But I am cutting myself some slack, because when you go to the well and it's so dry it just gives out a puff of dust when you try, there isn't a lot you can do about it. What, cry? Ashes and sackcloth, rend my garments? Hey, I don't have that many garments I can just tear 'em up, man.

I indulged myself yesterday by starting the next chapter of B&S, which has been kicking and screaming to come out since the end of Oct. Went fine, no problems. But I was essentially too tired to really enjoy THAT, either, so this isn't really the old Em-style battle between "I'm only a real writer if I do original" and "it don't mean a thang if it ain't got that swang," aka isn't clawing its way out of my brain. One thing I am learning this time 'round: fanfic does tend to scream its way out, but original tends to need some coaxing. I've been too zonked to coax; I'm all, Look, you do what you want to do. I'm gonna sit here and eat Triscuits.

Not sure what the upshot of it all is. I have no intention of quitting; I'm planning the next exposition-heavy scene of BP right now. But I'm trying really, really hard not to HATE MYSELF for potentially not making my wordage and "losing" Nano. There are a few things that do stick with me here. First, I got more than I started out with. THat's good. I am relatively happy with what I have so far. Also good.

And I guess part of what's keeping me relatively easy in my mind is the idea that I do think I could probably push this stuff out. Do more, all that. But it has ALWAYS bugged me, the idea of word count over quality. Yes, I do believe that good ideas are only that -- until you write them, all they are is an idea, and it's hard to sell ideas. Well, unless you're a Scientologist. But I digress. For myself -- not speaking for the tens of thousands of other folks doing Nano this year -- I can't see how I'm that far ahead if I wind up with 50,000+ words of utter crap. It may sound good, but 50,000 crapalicious words are nothing more, to me, than a typing exercise. I tend to write crap when I'm tired.

And there are a few other thoughts. I still believe I don't know my characters at all well enough to feel comfortable writing them. Something tells me that I've learned a good lesson already from this Nano -- that (duh) there's a huge difference between the set stage of writing fanfic and the utter blank slate that is original fiction. I don't think I've been ready to write Luke and Jacob and this story. I've tried -- and what I have isn't godawful. But I don't care enough about Luke, and if I don't, I just can't imagine the reader will. This is too important for me to ignore: If no one cares about Luke, then his struggle is meaningless -- and meaningless writing is, again, just typing for the sake of typing.

I'm actually looking forward to December. When no one is watching, and I can sneak back to Luke and say, So, now that the pressure is off -- who the hell are you, anyway, dude? And maybe once the spotlight is off him, he'll relax, crack the top on a beer, and really talk to me. I actually think Luke has a great deal to say -- but he's been pressganged, and he doesn't much like it.

Now by the end of Nov I may be profoundly depressed. I missed my shot, I'll think. Curled up in a corner, whimpering -- I FAILED NANO. But here's the thing. Man, there is no reason in this WORLD that I can't write on Dec. 1st. Or 15th, or Jan. 21st. No reason at all.

Also, I have a screenplay program to learn. So. Nov, so far, has been a GREAT month. I have three chapters of a novel in the can. I have a new job -- two new jobs, really. I've met some extremely nice people, both here and IRL. My mega-zit -- thanks to that one piece of chocolate I allowed myself last week -- is gone. Thanksgiving is next week and I have TWO WHOLE DAYS OFF. Hey. What's to feel badly about?

And it isn't over. No, I doubt I'll make 50,000 words, but I'm only running a deficit if I let myself think that way. That's too black and white. The scales weigh more to the positive than the negative. (And hey, weighed this morning and even my crazy eating this month-so-far hasn't made me gain. YAY!)

We'll see. But I'm sure gonna try to keep my brain focused forward. BP has a LOT more than it did when I started. And this novel, I think, has promise. It's worth not giving up just because I didn't make a word count in November. What's more important? the story, or the phenomenon? Ultimately, no one gives a rip if I win Nano. But if I write a novel that actually means something? That's lots more than gold, for me.

Oy vey izmir.

::smites self on forehead:: I'm BEHIND. AY CARAMBA! (I used to say "Oy caramba" at synagogue. Nobody appeared to ever get the pun, and we're in freakin' West Texas for cryin' out loud. Punny people are doomed to disappointment all too often.)

(Hey, I didn't say it was a GOOD pun.)

So I'm so screwed. However. Still in the game. Going to do my best to crank out some wordage this morning. I'm not sure what caused me to just flatline in creative terms the past two days. Partly the new job -- I was just fried for a day after that. Partly distraction in the form of a good new SPN ep, which made me really crave SPN fiction, and resulted in a reading frenzy yesterday. Also for whatever reason, a movie-watching spree. Caught "Silverado," "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," "Hang 'Em High," "The Magnificent Seven," and "Transporter 2" all the past three days. (Yes, all Westerns but one. I know.)

I'm also attempting to read another new Western I bought at B&N, and kinda failing. For my money, aside from Elmer Kenton, Larry McMurtry, and Cormac McCarthy, there just aren't many folks doing truly good Westerns these days. (Sometimes I think about changing my name to McBrunson, just to fit in.) To me, Westerns ARE formulaic -- the latter two writers don't adhere to the formula, which works for them and truly may explain why I think they do such good work -- but too many current Westerns are plagued by the same cookie-cutter feel as many current mysteries and romances. I just...feel as if I've already read them. It's the downside of the genre book, I think -- too often it feels as if the author went by a set of bullet points (no pun intended this time, really) instead of inner motivation.

Which is a complaint that just may apply to my OWN novel-in-progress, I fear. At least in part. And I think the problem there may well lie with my lack of real -- hmm, understanding, I guess -- of my own main protagonist. I don't know Luke well enough, I don't think. I think if I DID, I would be less stuck. I now know him better, mind you -- he is no longer a complete stranger -- but this experience is pointing out to me the dangers of beginning on a story before one really knows the people.

I wonder at times if this would happen with "Tall Men Riding." I know Robert Guthrie quite well -- he is in many ways archetypal, of course, which is both good and bad, but he is also based to some great extent on the life of my great-grandfather. Event-wise, not at all, but personality-wise, what I've learned about him and his life experiences. What I've, hmm, gathered about him based on the stories I've heard.

Or. Well, that isn't precisely true -- he's a blend of Zachariah Brunson (1833-1911) and George Walter Brunson, his son (1877-1958). Kinda. With a little Arthur Casey (uncle) thrown in.

I dunno. It is because of my family, my upbringing, that I love Westerns so much, but it's also the sense of common goals, values, etc. I have extraordinarily long generations in my family -- Zach was born 1833, his son GW b. 1877, his son Jesse Ralph (my dad) b. 1923, and me, b. 1963. All of us had older fathers -- I think that has had an impact. I truly value what my granddad, ggrandfather, and so on, valued -- land, family, nationalism. Zachariah Brunson, I think, must have had such a fascinating life -- orphaned at 10 days old (father James killed in fall off a horse, mother's suicide the same day), raised by maternal grandparents in South Carolina, lost the rest of his family at 17 to yellow fever in Houston, was a stagecoach driver and mail carrier between Houston and Waco, fought in the Civil War. His daughter, my great-aunt Lucinda, was a nurse in WWI, didn't marry until age 50, never had children. Sometimes I think of myself as sorta Lucinda-ish.

And GW's wife, Emma Jane, my grandmother, wrote stories. My dad says she was never without a notebook. My father, my mom tells me, wanted to be a novelist, and has manuscripts hidden away in the attic.

Hmmm. Anyway. None of that puts words on the screen for poor old Luke and Jacob, I realize. Still. Sometimes I wonder why I got my start, cut my teeth as it were, on SFF, but have always adored Westerns on some truly basic level, cell-deep, and why these days there is almost nothing that makes me happier than a well-turned Western. My heart beats faster thinking about range wars and a homesteader's quarter, I feel a tingle of excitement thinking about the building of the railroads. It isn't that these are MY experiences; I'm a city girl, speak more than one language, don't even own a pair of cowboy boots any longer. I'm so allergic to animal dander that it's actually a significant health risk for me. *laughs*

And yet. The attraction is bone-deep. And twenty years ago all I wanted was to get away from these places, but now I just -- seemingly cannot get enough of any of it.

Want to read a really GOOD Western? Get Shane. You can watch the movie, and it's close, but it's the book I mean. Jack Schaefer. It has everything in it. The best Western novel ever.

Then you can read Blood Meridian and see a truly great modern Western, but for my money, "Shane" is really the epitome. The stranger in town, the lawlessness of rancher against farmer, the erosion of the West. The lure of land and money. Yeah. There it is.


Well, I, ah. Am now significantly behind. Hrrrm. Not giving up, but when I went to the well last night it was still very, very dry. So. Two plans for the weekend (which begins after my shift ends today at 3:00). 1) clean my truly unholy house, and 2) write SOMETHING.

I have to admit, yesterday was totally effed up by the fact that I had to go pretty much learn a whole new job at the facility where they transferred me. The work itself is not entirely new; I know the basics. But the place and people were brand-new, the way they do things is new -- even one of my old supervisors last night said she'd be totally screwed if she had to go do what I'm doing. So -- new job, pretty much, yeah. So last night when I got home around 8:30, I was DEAD.

One thing I find about writing: too true that when I'm really tired, esp. mentally tired like last night (had to work the final 3 hours alone, be productive and still not entirely sure I was doing things correctly, and no one to ask), writing fiction is kind of a miserable proposition. This job switcheroo came totally out of the blue on Wednesday -- and I'm not at all against it, interesting and so on, but wow, it fried my brain yesterday. Ugh.

So. Will attempt to make up for lost time this weekend, although wow, I'm so behind now it's kind of disheartening. Still. Everything's possible.

I also sorta distracted myself last night by sticking in my DVD of the Magnificent Seven. That's the 1960 movie version, not the more recent series (which I have on DVD as well, although haven't yet watched it). Beyond my abject fangirlishness about Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen (could they BE any hotter? Such a slashy pairing there. Heee), it's completely got me in Western mode, which bodes well for "Native Strangers," and also "Tall Men Riding," but not so much for "Bone Prophet." I just...adore Westerns. Always have, always will, and it's -- tempting to think about it, plot, feel itchy to write one of those other projects.

If there was ever any doubt -- nope. I'm a magpie. Shiny!


::scratches head:: I got up all early and stuff to write, and nothing at all would come out. Nada. I'm dreamy about my show last night, sleepy a bit but not too much, overall rested, and -- huh. I tried, but it was like the well had gone dry.

But I get off early(ish) tonight, so I'm planning to do some writing then. I really don't get why I had nothing to say this morning. I guess I could have pushed it harder, but it was just -- empty-feeling. Enh. We'll see. Story's there, just not speaking to me this morning, I guess.

Kinda sad.

Only 656 today. Too damn tired. Ah well, maybe more tonight. Who knows?

BP day nineCollapse )


I feel this instinctive flicker of dread, because I know at this point in the story a gigantic steaming info-dump is about to take place. Hmmm. ::facepalm::

Well, there's a bright side. Info-dumps are great excuses for lots of wordage. It may be iffy writing, in the sense of INCOMING, but hey -- pump up the wordage, I guess.

Honestly, I'm very low on word count today, but it isn't the story's fault. I'm just really, really tired this morning. Ugh. Exhausted, I think I can safely say. Dunno why, exactly, but man, my ass is really dragging.

And tomorrow I start working in one of our other facilities. Like, brand-new office, people I've never met, no real idea what I'll be doing. It's temporary -- they had a bunch of people either on medical leave or give their notice -- just for a couple of months -- but man, if I'm this tired tomorrow I'm going to have a hell of a time of it. Eugh.

Another half-hour. I can squeeze a little more out, surely. I shall, however, avoid any further excretory comparisons. You can thank me later. *laughing*

Now that...is more like it.

Better day today. 2732 for the daily count. YES.

BP day eightCollapse )

Bright shiny day

At least by all appearances. Sunny, cold, and I'm a little bleary-eyed, but I'm on it, man.

Kept on rereading Bird by Bird last night. Man, some of that book is so funny I laughed my ass off. To me, the real value of a book on writing is not really the nuts and bolts. I mean, for my money Lawrence Block's Writing the Novel is one of the absolute best nuts-and-bolts books, and although it's a little self-conscious, Stephen King's On Writing is nearly as good. But for whatever reason I really dig people talking about the experience of writing, the sorta meta-consciousness that goes along with doing it. Reading Bird by Bird makes me feel like -- hmmm, yes, I am crazy in many ways, but I'm not the only crazy writer person out there. I'm mildly compulsive -- I have to do things left-side first, for example. Shoes left foot first, pants left leg first. I have lucky perfumes. I still can't step on a crack in the sidewalk. I have a swimming-pool phobia. (Seriously. Bad.)

Huh, writing compulsions. Obsessions? Hmmm. I dunno. Only really that I can't write anywhere but at my own computer. Or not much, at least. The only other way I can write is in a notebook -- to try to write anything at a foreign computer is very creepy for me. I feel naked. I guess I can DO it, really, but I get all kinds of creepified, for some reason, and don't really relax until I've emailed what I did to my home computer and erased all traces of it from whichever machine it started on.

I don't have lucky writing things. Like rituals, I don't guess. No knickknacks or anything.

Anyway. I am kinda crazy, though, I guess, and it's really refreshing to think that it's maybe a shared craziness. I like being able to laugh about this shit. Because really, looking back at my Weekend O' Looniness, I just gotta say, Holy crap, I am a freaking nutcase. Harmless nutcase, I hope, but oh, definitely a nutty woman who's nuts.

Some friend of Anne Lamott's said, "Well, it isn't like I don't have a choice. I can type, or I can kill myself." Paraphrased. But honestly, there's pleasure in this, too. A lot of the time it's really, really hard to see it, a lot of the time since Nano started I've been wondering who stole my joy, and I've been sitting in a corner rocking and crying and wishing they'd bring it back to me. But it's all kinda hilarious, too. You know? All this over a bunch of words. Just get something down, Em. It ain't like it's gonna set the atmosphere on fire if you screw things up. Carve another giant hole in the ozone layer.

Just...words. Go on, now.

best-laid plans....

Continuing in my semi-delusional state, I thought: Hey! I'll write more tonight after work!


I'm dead. Ugh, my brain is overcooked oatmeal. The only stories arising from my consciousness tonight will have lots to do with the letter "Z."

In other news, I voted. To little avail, it appears, but anyway. Actually I early-voted; there was a setup at the hospital where I work, and that was cool.

A colleague of mine the other day told me her daughter is writing fanfic. ::grin:: D'awwwww! I recced Bird by Bird as a Christmas present this year.

And...none of this has diddly to do with Nano, and I'm the aforementioned breakfast cereal, so off to bed. Tomorrow: I fucking break 10,000 words, goddamnit. *ahem* Night!