Monday, December 5, 2011

Ghosts of the Lonely Shore

Here's a quick refresher course on my oh-so-interesting writing life - I had a major case of writer's block with my story Seaspear last summer and so decided to do Nano to get back into writing and set Seaspear aside for a nice long nap.

So now, I'm thinking about the plan I made my plan before Nano....  I will now set my Nano novel out of my mind, even though Section Two is unfinished, and use December and maybe even part of January to work on Seaspear again.

via pinterest

The title of this post is a phrase from a poem I wrote in 8th grade, titled "Secrets of the Sea."  This is a lot how I felt about Seaspear last week when I picked up the first couple chapters and flipped through. It was as if I approached the loneliest shore - one I used to know but which now seemed foreign.  
Right now, poor old Ren and Grailyn and Lord Shiloh are painted in cracked plaster, ancient in my mind even though I still love them dearly.   

But I think that no matter how ghostly this shore seems, I will tread on it again and stir up the water once more.

my photo

One thing that motivated me was a visit to California this past weekend.  It was my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean, and since the ocean plays part in my story, that was pretty cool.  I took pictures and also some videos for the book trailer I'm planning to make.

my photo

Some things I plan to try and do with this draft of Seaspear...

- Work on character voice.  I don't want all my POVs to sound the same.

- Not do anything with the spear itself that will be anticlimactic.

- Make Ren - my female MC - more involved with the action.  She must play a bigger part...somehow.

- Work on my bad guy's goodness.  Even though Lord Shiloh is bad, he had definite reasons for what he does.  (Vague reasons being for one, his love for his daughter, and for two, his love for his country.)  I just need this to be more obvious. 

That's all I have so far, but it will all (including the book trailer) have to wait until after exams week and finals week.  I only have two big finals left but they will require a good deal of studying.

via pinterest

P.S.  As a side note, I've become somewhat of a celebrity in my On Course class because the professor found out about Torn Heart in a journal entry and she brought it up several weeks ago. 
I've made some money in that class so far.

Link of the Week: Month of the Novel Episodes These episodes are hilarious in the very best sort of way.  I laughed out loud (in real life) so hard that my sides almost burst. The episodes follow a fictional young writer through her first crazy Nano adventure and are complete with a rather indecisive jester, an ancestral sword, and even...balloon animals? 

'Til next week! Until then, I will be using this poem by Thomas Hovey as my inspiration:

Sea Gypsy
 I am fevered with the sunset,
I am fretful with the bay,
For the wander-thirst is on me
And my soul is in Cathay.
There 's a schooner in the offing,
With her topsails shot with fire
And my heart has gone aboard her
For the Islands of Desire.
I must forth again to-morrow!
With the sunset I must be
Hull down on the trail of rapture
In the wonder of the sea.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Obligatory First December Posting

With all this talk of 'winning' NaNoWriMo,' I personally do not think I made 50,000 words in November, so am I a 'loser'? I don't think so. My only goal was to have a finished novel by the end of November. I'm glad to say that I now am the proud owner of another finished novel. Yes, everyone. I finished it. So, since that was my only goal, I guess I 'won' NaNoWriMo. To be honest, I was sure that I would have finished my novel much sooner than the 28th of November. But really, I don't care. This novel has never had a set deadline for anything. And I love deadlines, mind you. I don't just love the whooshing sound they make when they fly over my head either. I like lists and deadlines and stuff like that. But this novel has never been anything I planned. I would have been happy if it took me to January to finish. It didn't though. I'm very happy with being able to say I finished it.

And a word count, you ask?

107, 352 total words. 

107, 352

107, 352


Yeah, I don't know how I did that nor how my printer is going to print that off next month. No clue whatsoever. My poor printer. I just know it's going to self-destruct to get away from that chore.

Really, it hasn't yet set in that I've finished. I'm still thinking at the end of the day, 'oh, you're got to go write, Sarah.' It's slowly coming though. I'm starting to have all those thoughts that it's going to be terrible, I'm going to hate it, and that I'm going to have to edit/fix absolutely everything in it. This usually comes after the first few days of finishing a novel. It leaves after a week or two, when I start to forget about my novel and un-attach myself emotionally from it. Later, I'll read it and love it and have a 'I'm a genius moment'. That happened a bit today when I read a bit of a chapter only to think, 'this is actually great.' Of course, that's all I'm allowing myself to read for the next month. A writer must fully forget about their novel to ever look at it again correctly.

In the mean time, I'm fully anticipating some severe post-novel blues. I can deal with that. As long as they aren't like Virginia Woolf bad. I've been hoping to reverse this by rewarding myself. Very Pavlov's dog of myself, huh? Rewarding myself by going to a concert seems to have worked though. So... I'll be doing that more often, I guess. Good job, Sarah, turing that oxygen into carbon monoxide. Here's concert tickets. We'll see to what proportions I carry this out.

The next behemoth... editing. Ew.

The Lost and Glorious Cause


So, I lost NaNoWriMo 2011: my novel lacked the 23,691 words needed to turn that wordcount bar purple. Am I disappointed? Not really, because I met my goal: I'm still not convinced that I should stop writing. And like everyone at the website and blog are saying, those of us who didn't make it (losers, to say it outright) have a bunch of words we didn't have a month ago. After several months of unimpressive consecutive writing, I am satisfied with my 26,309 words from these last 30 days. 

I hope that that didn't sound too defiantly self-justifying.

The novel did take on that told-of life of its own, with characters switching roles and places of importance being the most surprising surprise. I stayed in third person narration, too, which maybe wasn't too wise: MC's internal monologues are abundant.

I plan to continue to write every day until this novel is done. Bonne chance to all as you finish, rewrite, or edit your literary masterpieces!


A song for this second day December:
C'est la mort by The Civil Wars on Grooveshark

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


As I go through my writing life, I realize something.  Writing inspirations are like Sun flares.  They are random, rare, but powerful.

Last week, I was absolutely blank, I had NO IDEA for writing except for my Fan Fiction, but, I have been revived!

Some recent ideas:

 First off, I have changed my Pen name to Lillian Grace, as I can od all sorts of things with that name.

*Lily And Grace
*Lilly Ann Grace

If I get tired of one, I shall switch!
But, to the point of 'Dance'.
It will be a very different novel for me, thats for sure! 
Allison (MC) is suddenly thrust into a world that none could imagine, with a man who thought he could never love.  Daymon is much like Hades, and Allison his Persephone.  When the time calls, will Daymon give up his one chance for reaching humanity, or return her to where he knows is best?

This is sorta like a redo of the Greek Mythology of Persephone and Hades.

Very different then my normal.

Doesn't she look impish?  Thats cuz she is.
Personal friend of Peter Pan, master fairy tale teller, and Nanny to Cassandra.  Cassi's family might not particularly 'like'  Nanny Fae Mags, but  Cassandra adores her to Neverland and back.

Those are just the ideas that have names.
I'm being flooded, but this sort of flood is one you can't drown in!
CONGRATS to everyone who finished NaNo! I didn't do it this year, even though I wanted to.  But I give all of you'ins  a great big hug!

Oh, and I'm still on my Fan fiction.  I'm actually restarting from chapter 1.  One of my 8 siblings spilled coke on the notebook containing the story...thats one way to cut a novel short.  It really did need the rewrite, however, it was going crappy.  Thanks to siblingspillerofcoke, It's doing a bit better.  Another reason to buy a laptop, however.

Oh, (I realize this is the second 'Oh' in a row) I'd like to thank Ellyn. 
*Thank you for getting my addicted to Blakcmore's night.
*I am now listening to Way to Mandalay.
*Fearie Queen is cool
*But, when I listen to Way to Mandalay, I want to dance like a gypsy.
*I actually did dance like one, for about 3 seconds.  Then someone came into the room.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Jewel of Jeopardy

Last Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, I was sitting at my rolltop desk, eyes brimming with tears, tapping out the words, "...for the last time." Having finished Chapter 33, I sniffed loudly, put my computer to sleep, and a little shakily went to stand outside in the wind to clear my head.

I had done it.  I had killed the very character I had decided so firmly that I would not kill.  She is a central part of the story and I felt killing her would be the easy way out.  Somehow, such an act of rebellion did not make me hate my story, but it made me want to write more.

When I came inside, I gave my dad a few of the details so he would know why I was wandering around with a rather blank, empty look on my face.  After family prayers, I could think of nothing else, so I "went galumphing back" up the stairs, woke up my laptop, which was rather testy at me, fired up my radio, and started writing.

I listened to a variety of music that memorable night, including the soundtrack for Pirates, Crooked Still, Enya, and Blackmore's Night (an odd, Rennaisance-rock band whose lyrics I have been using as my post titles).

I had started with a word count of around 45 K and I kept checking my word count, thinking to myself, Only _ K more! You can do it! I think it was about three and a half hours later, ten minutes to midnight, when I did it.

I hit 50,000 words.

via pinterest

It was the most amazing feeling, even more satisfying than I had thought it would be.  Unfortunately, since it was ten to midnight, I couldn't scream and dance and jump on the bed get the point.  So I spent ten minutes telling Facebook and the Nano forums about my victory, then I turned off my computer and radio and slipped into bed.

My Nano win was definitely something to be thankful for, as well as the fact that my family had a relatively quiet Thanksgiving holiday and I was free to spend that Thursday with them and help make some of the food.

The book's not done, of course - I thought it could be, but it would require a sequel and I didn't know if I wanted to do that.  So when I started writing again (during a relaxing hour on Thanksgiving), I just typed "Book 2" on a blank page and went from there.

Naturally, my writing has slowed down a great deal since I won, but it's still going steady.  For all of you doing Nano, if you won, I congratulate you! If you didn't, just remember that without Nano you probably never wouldn't have written what you did this month!

Anyway, the moral of the story is - when I defied myself, I shocked myself into a writing storm.  Sometimes a little change of rules and thinking outside the box is just what you need to get the gears of your story grating again.

Happy End-Of-November from a very happy and relieved,


P.S.  Link of the day: Minimize distractions with Write or Die, a web app that punishes you for cat vacuuming!
P.P.S. About my laptop - it needs a name.  I'm going to put up a poll soon so you can help me choose :) No guarantee I'll obey the majority, of course, but as Sarah always says, it'll help "cement" my choice.

Monday, November 21, 2011

More Updates

I'll keep it short and sweet.

4,294 words since I last updated.
I currently have two and a half chapters left.
Short story remains in drawer.

Those fires in the night...

The current most used phrase in my Nano novel probably goes something like "Later I will add in...."
or "Later, insert..."

Since last week, my desire to have a completed book at the end of November has increased.  I don't want just 50,000 words.  I want to type "The End" and be ready for revisions.

via pinterest

I guess I want to be done.

I'm not exactly tired of my story, but I can see the potential creeping in between the lines and I want to go back and polish it up and make it pretty - make it presentable for someone other than myself to read.

As for the steampunk vibe, that is not going well at all.  All I have are steamwalkers and steamcannons, which are pretty boring.  I'm thinking that when I go back, I'm going to make it either sci-fi, fantasy, or fuel/electro/something-punk.

via pinterest

To increase motivation, I made a "radiance" list, as was suggested in one of the Pep Talks on Nano.  On that, I listed all the scenes that I had really felt pleased with.  These scenes are my "fires in the night", spontaneous blazes of emotion in the black wanderation of Nanowrimo.  (Like that word, 'wanderation'? I just made it up :D)

So far, my story has made me teary-eyed twice - once in a flashback that involves a yellow butterfly, and   again when Dust discovers the mental state of her childhood best friend.  I think those scenes are gems indeed.

via pinterest
Fires in the night have come few and far between lately.  As I said before, I'm skipping over a lot, striving for a finished book whether it's 50,000 words or not.  Last night I hit 40 K, and I felt like a zombie doing it, although part of that was due to the fact that I had played paper dolls almost all day with a six-year-old cousin (how do little kids do it?) and Enya was putting me to sleep with her magic voice.

Anyway, I made 40 K and was happy, though not ecstatic because I knew that most of that would probably have to be cut out when I start editing.

Of course, Nano-ers aren't supposed to think about that, are they? Onward to Week Four!

- Ellyn

(No, I have not been keeping my writing log like a good girl.  Whoops.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Days one, two, and three.

Well, I was supposed to be posting everyday quick little word recaps of what I've done to motivcate/guilt trip myself into finishing a novel before the week is out. And then I forgot to do that. Never fear, I'm doing it now.

988 words

Tuesday & Wednesday; (mostly because I wrote sporadically
through the two days and the night between them.)
1,842 words

Whatever, I finished the chapter. That's all that mattered. Four chapters left. Unless I spontaneously throw in a sub-plot. Won't be the first time on this novel. Also, by random accident I seem to have written an extremely stylized short story. I'm not sure how many words that is. It's about four notebook pages long, so maybe around 600. I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to do with it either.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My turn

Tuesdays are the days I picked to post here, and I feel horrible, because ad of late, I've done nothin'! So sorry!

In all honesty, I hardly knew what to post.  Writing hasn't been so 'hot' for me as of late.  All I am writing is a Star Trek Fan fiction, which I guess counts as SOMETHING.  On my fan-fic, I've been going alright.  I'm not going as a racing horse through the words, but I'm pedaling on.  And, even though it is taking me a while, I'm putting out some pretty great stuff!  Makes me sad it is only a fan fiction, not something real.  But, I guess this is my writer's rehab, huh?  I took a pretty good downer a month or so ago, and felt really down and out about writing.  But, since 'The Araglin' (as I've named it) I've felt galaxies better!

So, that is about all I've been doing writing wise.  Fan fiction. Pedaling gently through the writing.  But, going steady. 

On a last thought, writing is sorta like marriage, isn't it?  It isn't a whirlwind all the time, but you always grow closer/better during those quiet, steady moments.  Ok, I might be a total freak.

Signing off for the week, Ashley.

P.S I don't normally like Enya's music, due to her being new agey. However. when it comes to writing inspiration, She does the job! I'm listening to her right now!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Real November Word Count/Real Writer

Bizarrely, I haven't updated since the end of October. I'm sure that's the opposite of what you're supposed to do for NaNo, but we've already discussed I'm a bit of a rebel in that department. I'd like to say that I have done nothing but write since then. This is true, I have written a lot. It is not, however, the only thing I've done. 
  I like this overall word count thing people keep doing. It's great. It makes it look like you accomplished something instead of 789 words the third day of the week. That makes it look like you have not accomplished something. I do not like this feeling. I don't like math either, so you should know that all my words are probably off by ten since I cannot for the life of me remember any order of any numbers. 

Overall count: 14,743 words.

Yeah, I don't know how that can be right for less than two weeks worth of writing, but that's what it's telling me. I think it's right. For some reason, it feels like I really haven't written at all. I keep saying again and again how writing this novel feels like re-teaching myself how to do this. My last novel took two months and it was done. I don't even remember writing it. This one has been the more traditional-chain-oneself-to-the-desk-scenario. 

Then again I did have my wisdom teeth taken out a few days ago and I'm still recovering from that. I'm also on narcotics which mean my life at the moment goes a bit like this; hmmm, I think I need to go to the bathroom. I'm going to get up and go to the bathroom right now. Whoa, the floor is moving. THE FLOOR IS MOVING! I must hang on to the wall. *forget what I'm doing on the way to do it* Remember suddenly I was supposed to be on my way to the bathroom. So, why am I in the kitchen... pouring myself orange juice... in a bowl? 

I am not kidding. That is pretty close to accurate. I cannot begin to fathom why in the world someone would be addicted to painkillers. Oh, and my cheeks swelled up so I looked like Alvin the Chipmunk's girl cousin. And the ice pack I have to wear makes me look like this:

It's a miracle what I've done anything writing wise. I had thought about saying, 'oh whatever, I look like that guy above and I can't think straight, I'm going to skip writing.' For whatever reason, every nerve ending in my body rejected this idea and I found myself writing while periodically spitting blood out. I like to think this makes me a REAL writer. But I'm tempted to make a sardonic joke about real writers being on narcotics all the time and ending up in treatment or shooting themselves. I'm not going to do that. Those people are not real writers. (Still, when you start thinking those 'real writers' it gets really disrupting. I don't like to think about it.)

So, since I'm a real writer, the blood sweat and tears type, and I kept writing, I have hit the spot where it gets really fun. The denouement, a French word that means 'we are close to the end, write like a manic.'

  I have five chapters left. I am currently 738 words into these last five chapters. I've been going at a pace, at least before oral surgery, of a chapter a day. We'll see if this keeps up. Truth be told, it's not too hard to do. But some small part of me wants to save this little bit until I can really appreciate it, i.e. stop walking into walls. 

I'm also going to post quick one sentence snippets of what I've written for the day. If only to make it really hit home for me that I'm almost done. Something I really can't believe is here already. 


Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 11

My relationship with my novel is comfortably dispassionate. It consists of a good balance of a lot of likes, a few loves, and one or two hates.

I've had a lovely week writing it. My word count is yet behind, but as far as the story is coming along, I like it. My problems are either rather small or quite large. Glossing over them or veiling them behind bids for extra words is working alright.

Problems I'm Encountering:

~Transitions between scenes. Page breaks when I feel finished/bored with a scene are as artful as they've been.
~Themes & philosophies: Exactly where should I draw lines on issues like power for the people or submission to authority? It's something I'll need to sort out pronto.
~Character arcs. I'm in the dark as to what they are shaping up to be, if they're even shaping up at all. 

Problems I'm Not Encountering:

~Progression of plot-shaping events. Writing these are exciting. They lead to most of the ungraceful tranistions, but writing them gives me a jolt. I love that.
~Worldbuilding. Aside from place names and the role of surnames, things are going swimmingly.
~My MC's personality. Yes, her arc is still being thought of, but on the day-to-day scale, I like her.

This lovely photo of Cate Blanchett comes very close to how I imagine her, if she was a couple of years older (my character Nym, not Cate):

I'm getting to close to the end of the chain of events that I had planned over the spring and summer. Hopefully, I'll have 25,000 words by then, and after that  . . . the great unknown. My excitement is mounting.

Current word count: 14,295. Only 4,000-some words behind.

Happy 11.11.11! I still need to decide what amazing thing I should do . . .

Monday, November 7, 2011

Find out why the winds die... And where the stories go

I have so much swirling around in my head that I could tell you about my story and about Nano.  To keep organized, I've created a small survey for myself.  Feel free to do it yourself in a post, a comment, or modify it for your own use. :)

1. What's your first thought about Nanowrimo, now that you are one week in?
"Now this is the way to write a book!" Seriously.  I am really loving how I can just write, not dwelling on how I'm going to fix things in the future, just knowing I will fix things.

2.  What's the most radical thing you've done so far for Nano?
I switched from third person to first person about twenty pages in.  And I didn't go back and change everything else.  That's right, gasp! I was shocked at myself, but I'm so glad I made the switch early on, because third person was just not working for me.  I couldn't get as close to my characters as I needed to be for this book.  Now in first person, everything's going much better.  I confess I did think about doing first person with present tense (like the Hunger Games, cough), but past tense came more easily so I wasn't about to force myself into a style that would instantly label me as a copycat of Suzanne Collins. 

3.  How do you feel about the way your story is coming along?
Well...I'm mostly happy with it.  It's turning rather violent, though, mostly because of a rather...fierce... male protagonist.  I already have a woman being mutilated by a logging machine and a steamwalker accidentally stepping on a girl.  Oh, and there's a certain male protagonist breaking someone's nose and...maybe....killing him? Heh-heh?
I blame this uprising of violence on my First Aid class.  The pictures in my textbook have got to be R-rated.
But yeah, otherwise, so far so good...

4.  What can you tell us about your characters?
I love my characters, so much! Especially the protagonists.  Dust's perspective is so fun to write and she's so unpredictable, even to me.  She's tough and has quick reflexes, and yet she asks millions of questions and can't stand seeing any creature wounded.  Quite a contrast from almost half-animal Ethen, who attacks on instinct and forgets just how much physical strength he has.  He's angry all the time.  He's harder to write, but I can't wait for Dust to start working her innocent magic on him.  (Yes, his attitude does have to do with something in his past.  That may sound cheesy, but's Nano.)

5.  Even though the whole point of Nano is to plunge in wearing a blindfold and pound out 50,000 words paying no care to typos, plot holes, or anything, is there something you're being careful with?
Yes.  Character voice.  To me, it seems like something that you can't really go back and fix afterwards, or if you do, it sounds choppy.  So I'm trying to be careful in that when I'm writing Dust, I don't have her do anything or think anything that would be out of her character.  The hardest part of this is when I'm writing Ethen, making sure I make him act and think like a male and not a female.  I have no idea what it's like to think as a male, I really don't.  But I do my best.

6.  Do you have a song for each of your characters?
Yes! Well, most of them.  You can access my inspiration playlist / novel soundtrack here.  Most of the songs relate to my novel in some way...I think.  The Pride and Prejudice tracks are doubtful.   For those of you who like instrumental songs, I'd highly encourage you to go listen to "The Violet Hour" by The Civil Wars.  Beautiful song.
Dust: "I Hope You Dance" - Lee Ann Womack
Martin: "Hope in the Air" - Laura Marling
Ethen: "The Cave" - Mumford & Sons (Thank you, Sarah, for introducing me to this amazing band!)
King Archid: "Set Fire to the Rain" - Adele (I just have a cover on my playlist since I couldn't embed any of the real versions...)

7.'s your chocolate stash holding up?
Heh heh.'s almost gone... It's been more of a companion instead of a reward, as I told Evergreena.  I did get a bag of candy corn after Halloween stuff went on sale, though.

8.  What's your word count, as of 5:55 p.m., November 7?

17,851 - Feels good to be ahead of the game. I haven't written at all today, so the count will change pretty quick - I plan to write after studying my gruesome First Aid book for my exam on Thursday.  Lovely.


That's it for now, my fellow travelers.  Here's the link to my Nano account - check out the background info / synopsis I wrote for my novel if you wish.  I'm sorry I was so terrible at keeping track of my hours and cat vacuuming - I'll do better for next week.  Good luck writing, all - I must fly!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day Four and Ideas That Weren't Supposed to be Used

Ever since last December, I planned to adhere to the No Outline Rule. No preconceived ideas about who or where or what the story would be about would be allowed into my mind. I thought it would be a big help and stress reliever. Inevitably, a couple weeks ago I started toying with ideas for characters and a theme. That would be okay, I thought; vagueness means flexibility.

Come Tuesday, I was hesitant to start. Almost afraid. It had to happen though, so I wrote the first lines and knew they were a mistake. For the first one hundred words, nothing felt right. Nothing. I didn't have the patience to let it pass, so . . .

 . . . I ended up throwing caution to the wind and used the idea that's been in my head since last March. The novel I was supposed to outline and write over the summer but never did. The one that I thought was so cutting edge, until I learned about Estonia's relationship with communism and read the Hunger Games. It took me while, but I have accepted that new ideas really don't exist and it's good to reinvent stuff. Now that I'm willing to be flexible, not main stream, and reinventful, it's a mixed bag of historic eras and radical themes.

I'm only on page 24. Things are bound to change. I think I like it.

On a more desperate note, I hopehopehope that it turns out!

Tuesday: 1298 words
Wednesday: 2042 words
Thursday: 1191 words

Total: 4531

Woefully behind, but determined to let this happen.
My to do list:
~Stop comparing this year to last year
~Stay caught up in math class
~Do some word sprints this weekend
~Keep being flexible. Even though it's a preconceived idea.
~Improve my handwriting. (Ha - probably won't happen just yet.)

It's Friday night. And I'm off to repair that wordcount.

How are the rest of you doing?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Inspiration Frenzy

Well, folks, we only have a few meager hours to go before the insanity begins.

I'm collecting inspiration today.





What about you? How are you spending your time before Nanowrimo?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Truth About Cat Vacuuming

In the coming months, when more everyone starts logging their hours, you may see the phrase 'cat vacuuming' pop up.

Cat Vacuuming means to vacuum your cat in a sarcastic procrastinating way. Not literally. That's cruel.

You know that feeling that today you've got to make yourself write. You've got to do it and you're going to give yourself another fifteen minutes before your chain yourself to that desk and do it. Then, much too soon, your fifteen minutes are up. Instead of being a good girl and sitting down and writing, you are going to pick some stupid, menial task that you HAVE to do first. Like cleaning your room. Cat vacuuming is supposed to colorfully illustrate the extent to which you go to so you don't have to make yourself write. Like picking up individual pet hairs. Then deciding to vacuum them off your cat because you've cleaned them up everywhere else and you've got to find SOMETHING to clean instead of sitting down and writing. 

The Inkblots have also extended the meaning of Cat Vacuuming to include that nasty bit of unfocused writing that we're all guilty of. When you're writing along and you write a great paragraph. You read over your great paragraph and think 'wow, great job.' Then you hop on Facebook for no apparent reason. Ugh, you say. You turn off your browser, write a sentence, open it again twenty seconds later and watch a music video. This continues at an alarming rate till you find yourself reading a stranger's Twitter updates and think to yourself 'I should be writing.' 

This sort of poor self discipline is unproductive, bad for cats, and causing you more problems than you think it is. Half of writing is getting yourself to sit down and write AND STAY THERE. 

So even though there might be some literary merit in looking this up when you're supposed to be writing,


it's really just going to kill your stream of though and rob you of four brilliant paragraphs. Yes I know, they seem very sweet, but they just want to make you vacuum your cat. Flee. Fast. Cats and writers everywhere beg of you. 


How the Spontaneous Beauty of Writing Never Ceases to Amaze Me.

Writing to me is always changing. Every time I sit down to write, a different thing happens. And I'm never fully ready for it. However, I've found consistency in in this ever changing, inconsistency.

The last three times I've sat down to write, it's been different because I've approached it differently. First, I had lost the scene in my head I had to write. I had to create a new one when I couldn't recall the old one. Then, for the next time, I had the scene in my head and it came out in the most perfect way imaginable. When I've written today, it came out somewhere between those too. It wasn't particularly amazing and it wasn't frustrating either. It simply felt like a very creative chore.

What else never stops amazing me is how things suddenly connect while I'm writing. How a little something I added twenty seconds ago spirals and explodes to be this remarkably beautiful thing that I never had any clue I was creating. I tend to think of this as a skill. I like to think of it as talent or intuition. It feels more like magic than any of those things.

 My last novel I wrote (all 80,000 words of it mind you) in two months. I have very little memories of actually putting hard, backbreaking hours into writing it. Looking back, it simply feels like I breathed on a window pane and voila, I had a novel. The entire process was pure magic.

This novel is intricate to the point where I'm only aware of all the points I've created in the very back of my head. That part behind your cerebellum where you can't access your thoughts. I keep finding more and more things that connect. I'm not even aware of connecting them. They just seem to materialize from the tips of my fingers.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is writing is magic. Not a hocus pocus sort of magic that I'm-only-writing-this-for-halloween-magic. A sort of magic that you-can-see-every-day-and-still-be-amazed-by sort of magic. At least, I'm still amazed by it.

Two hours.
1,973 words.

Three hours.
2, 512 words.

Two hours.
1,718 words.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Writing Sisters and Loaded Arsenals

Is it . . . Friday already? These weeks go by so fast, I feel short of breath.

The other night, my sister and I got talking, and our conversation led to a plan to write a novel together.  The next day I got out the laptop and showed her the basics of Word. She is bound and determined to learn how to use that computer, and it's fun stuff to watch her. Right now, she's spending more time comparing fonts than actually writing, but I think we'll reach take off soon. The two of us will write this novel, but she'll be the principal contributor. I can't wait to see what she comes up with.

The arsenal
On a NaNo note, I have my supplies for the month in order. I plan on writing the novel by hand, as the laptop in my possession is rather heavy and gangly, and I'll want to be able to write at school without having to camp out in the computer lab. And of course, the laptop will be otherwise employed by a precocious nine-year-old girl. :) So I have a handsome black notebook, new Sharpie pens and G2s, and a little calculator all lined up. I can't wait to use them, but . . .

. . . I'm also nervous; there are so many difficult assignments going on in school, I still haven't the foggiest about what I'm going to write about for 30 days, and my parents aren't overly pleased about my upcoming foray into a novel. The odds aren't in my favor, but I still have this ambiguous determination to do this thing! Thousands of Wrimos cope with way more than I have to cope with. I understand now why Ellyn included the Emerson quote a few posts back.

My motivation and excitement have fluctuated greatly over the past week.

My goals:
~Write every day.
~Write something I am proud of.
~Be happy that I'm writing! It'll be good to grow in the sport.

Next time I sign in here, I'll have an actual writing log + wordcount to show.

Oohh . . . there goes one of those stabs of excitement. *grin*

~ Mia

PS - Three days!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Rogue Rebel Strikes Again

It's only six days till November 1st. Sadly, I thought it was actually seven, but then I found out that I'm counting till November 3rd, when Bones comes back on TV. That's all I'm counting too. I'd like to make a joke about how my priorities aren't in order right about now, but I actually perceive them to be completely in balance. Bones is very important.

Maybe the reason I'm not counting till November 1st is because I'm not having to wait to write. I actually have to write. It sounds very fun from what I've read. I've never made myself wait to write. I've never had to build excitement that way. It of course sounds very fun. I've always had to say to myself, 'Sarah, you are ready. Now WRITE.' Holding back and getting all giggly about my plot is something I've always done after I've written it. I may need to rethink that order.

Sadly, I did not write anything over the weekend. Yes, I know. Very pathetic. But the last three days, not counting today, I have written.

Fifteen minutes.
958 words

Three hours, fifteen minutes.
3,957 words

Two hours, thirty minutes.
1,642 words

Make what you will with those numbers.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

From the Rogue Rebel

I am only calling myself that because everyone else is so excited about starting and I'm excited about crushing my character's hopes and dreams as I start the decent from my climax. It feels as if I am strangely older than everyone else because I am a few months ahead of them. I can't wait till people start writing with me. Then I won't be all alone.

I must admit, since I've been on a semester break, I've done little more than crochet, watch food shoes, and listen to the radio. I have accomplished very little on break, but I'm fine with that. It was a break after all.

Two Hours.
1,380 words

Three Hours.
1,776 words

Hour and Fifteen minutes.
1,559 words.

Nothing, I ate Indian food instead.

Sunday, hopefully something.

Plot wise, I had to go through all my notes just no to remember what I was thinking before. I had a huge scene in my head that was very pivotal before I even started writing. I have forgotten all but the just of it and have not recorded any of it what so ever. But it's okay, because the whole scene is more or less worked out in my head. I think.

I seem to keep forgetting, once I'm three quarters of the way through writing, how much I've shaped my plot to intersect in different areas. This novel is basically five different plots coming together to form one big plot. Inside that, I have subplots. Each one is, metaphorically, a loop. Each loop intertwines in every other loop. My book is a chain length fence. Or a necklace chain, if that's more elegant. Either way, it's all connected and I either forget it OR I do remember but it's in the back of my subconscious. At least I have it written down somewhere.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Raring to Go

Nine days.

I can't wait.  There are butterflies in my stomach and I hyperventilate whenever I look at the countdown clock on the Nano website.

I think I'm finally prepared too.  I've got my pretty little blue folder all filled up with character charts and plot ideas and steampunk-y pictures, and I pulled the plug on outlining yesterday, saying, "NO MORE" so that my ideas will still be fresh when I finally start the book itself.  (Yes, I did draw a little bunny next to the word "Plot.")

A week ago, my dad and I went to the basement booksale at our local library and I found a priceless copy of "Athens at War" for fifty cents.  Since my Nano novel takes place during the first year of the Peloponessian War, you can understand why having a translation of a book written by an eyewitness of the war (Thucydides) would be so valuable.

I also went out today and bought an Acer laptop.  I have wanted a laptop for so long and I can't believe I am finally sitting at my desk and typing on my very own computer in the privacy of my room.  This is just what I needed for Nano - there is no way I could have made it on the family computer down in the dining room.  Not in a thousand years.  I would have gone mad.  I'm sure you know how annoying it is to have people walking back and forth, back and forth, while you are trying to diligently pound out your word quota for the day.  But now, I'll be able to write in my room, outside, under my bed, younameit.  And, you know...go on Facebook and Pinterest and stuff.

 In addition to all of this, I've got a secret stockpile of chocolate waiting in my desk drawer, a map, and several original drawings representing scenes from my story.

Now all I have to do is wait.

Wait and wonder - can I really pull this off?

- Ellyn

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Week

It's Day 2 of my mid-semester break, and I'm living it up - two days off of barrages of homework and assignments can do wonders for a person's morale.

But I must confess that even through this respite, I haven't committed myself to any writing. Ellyn, I cat-vacuumed. But here is some good news: I went to the library yesterday. Friends, it had been weeks since I indulged in a leisurely stroll through that hallowed hall. I picked up some books for research for the November novel, too. So far, my ideas have been pretty circular and dull, but reading up on illegal immigrants and mathematical curiosities has bolstered my inspiration. I'm conjuring up a rather eclectic cast of characters for the novel . . .

Also, a major news item: I finished The Hunger Games series. I liked all of the first book, the first half of the second book, and the last chapter and epilogue of the third book. They're an altogether harrowing ride; could you imagine actually living in them? Katniss Everdeen is one formidable person.

And for your Internet reading material pleasure, here's an article I came across on the merits of giving NaNoWriMo the college try. I definitely like this authors compassion for us Wrimos; we need every bit of it. *dramatically long-suffering sigh*

Enjoying October,

Monday, October 17, 2011


At the end of September, I was dithering about Nanowrimo.

I had writer's block - by choice or by prescription, I don't know - and I needed something to get me back into writing.  30 days and nights that would make my eyes red and watery, my fingers sore from typing, and send my brain into an insane state of worlds and characters seemed like the perfect event to restart my writing career.

And Nano sounded like so much fun.  I had known about it for years, and I had followed people who had done it.  It was definitely on my do-before-death list.

As I sat in our uncomfortable computer chair, mentally flip-flopping the issue, I tried to figure out why I shouldn't do Nanowrimo.

1.  I'm scared I can't win.
2.  My school may suffer.  (This may not seem like a serious reason to some, but I am very serious about my grades.)
3.  I'm scared I will write a huge mess that will be beyond repair.
4.  My whole November would be committed to writing a novel, potentially not leaving time for anything else. 
5.  I'm scared to take the leap.

As I looked over this list, a favorite quote came to mind: "Do what you are afraid to do." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I've had countless other chances to obey the above quote, and here was another chance that had tumbled into my lap.

I took the leap.


Creating my Nano account and starting to outline my story did not abolish all my apprehension completely.  But I have added a great deal of excitement and anticipation to my apprehension.

It's gonna be an adventure.

Here are my goals for Nanowrimo:

1.  Complete the month with a 50,000 word novel (no matter how legalistic Sarah says it is.  Haha.  That was a joke, Sarah.)

2.  Dive so completely into my novel that I believe my hands are flying over the controls of a steamwalker instead of my keyboard.  I want to live and breathe my story while I'm writing, not stopping to worry if I chose a strong enough verb or formulated my sentence just right.

3.  Come out with good grades and have time to ride my horse and be outside, enjoying my favorite season, which doesn't last long.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Goals, Logs, and Reasons

Hmm, call me anti-establishment, but it's not accurate. I just don't like the 50,000 word necessary-ness. Can't stand it all. All my goal is for NaNo is a finished book.

Goal: Finished Book.

My book, which is already mercilessly long (I apologize in advance, printer) should be finished in roughly ten to twelve chapter. Tonight I wrote for an hour and a half.

Writing Log: Hour and a Half.
Tremendously unfocused, however.

Words: 1,162

It's not so bad. It's quite good actually. Tomorrow, I'm going to ruin my poor character's life. The worst part; I'm not even going to feel bad.

My plot for this novel is unlike anything I have written before. Usually, I am a very structured writer who keeps very detailed outlines and sketches out how many words I'm allowed to use for a conversation. Not this book. This book I'm just writing along then all of a sudden my brain goes, 'Hey, Sarah, what about a sub-plot.' Then I just throw a sub-plot in there. It's going to be a nightmare to edit. Then again, all editing is a nightmare. Not looking forward to that.

For tomorrow; ruin Harper's life, write without doing another twelve different things, start earlier, and go longer.

As Mia asked for, I've pondered my reasons for writing, or doing Nano, over the day. I'm doing Nano because it's fun to write with friends when you know you're writing with them. Writing's very solitary, and it's nice knowing you're not the only one who doesn't care about ruining your character's life. And I write because I go insane otherwise. If I don't write, my head implodes. If I don't write, I get intolerably crabby. I have to write just like I have to breathe. It's necessary to my DNA.

On another note, this book itself as felt more pressing than my other books to write. It actually feels like some divine being wants me to write this book very badly. I get these odd subliminal pushes to keep going when I get stuck.

On my author's page is a summer of my current writing project, and reading it will have this make a lot more sense. My novel is all about celebrities, and even more so about what happens when two of them mate, then spawn. It's a book about rock star offspring, and their difficulties in the world. It's also about prodigies. Over the course of writing this book, which I've been doing since late August, I have had SO MANY stories of married musicians, children of two very talented people, teenage prodigies, or on rare occasions, all of them combined into real, living, breathing people. They are constantly falling into my lap.

That to me is reason enough to powerful even the worst of writer's block.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Why NaNo?

NaNoWriMo is celebrated/dealt with by thousands of people who want to either write a novel or write 50,000 words. According WikiPedia (Of course I trust it!), over 200,000 people took part in NaNo 2010. Even in a world of  nearly 7 billion people, 200,000 is a big number.

But here's my question: Why? Don't we 200,000+ people have better things to do than risk our jobs, GPAs, or sanity over an iffy novel?

I'm sure we do. If nothing else, there is always another good book to read and learn from! So why don't we do those better things and forget about 'literary abandon'?

In the population of Wrimos worldwide, there must be a myriad of reasons for hopping on the NaNo bandwagon. This year, I am a full-time PSEO student without an idea for a novel, plus a part-time job to keep things exciting. There aren't any reasonable reasons for me to participate; why should I risk my passing grades and quality of life for a novel that might be horrendous?

Because . . . it just might not be horrendous. Unlikely, but there's a chance. More importantly, I've got to keep writing. If there was ever a time I was tempted to throw in the writing towel, here it is. I've entered the real world and I think I don't have time.

But no. Writing really isn't something one should grow out of, especially if one loves it. And regardless of what I feel like on a given weekday, I know I love writing. And anything worth loving is worth fighting for.

So this November, I'm starting a war. Or a battle, at least. It's my last stand (probably not as dramatic as those words suggest) to keep being a writer, and so help me, I am going to come out on top. I want to write.

There is my reason. What are yours?


Friday, October 14, 2011

Inkblots Meet Famous Author!

Anyone who knows me or has read my previous blogs will know that I'm quite obsessed with Scott Westerfeld and his Leviathan trilogy.  He's also the author of Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and some other books, but the Leviathan trilogy is really all that matters.

To prove how obsessed I am, here's a bit of fan art I drew that got featured on Scott's blog in this post.  Sorry about the bad quality.

deryn in a dress

Anyway, everyone reading this blog should also read the books, especially if they enjoy stories about young girls dressing up as airmen, hoity-toity boffins, steam-powered walkers, and orphaned princes.

It just so happens that the Inkblots (or a portion of them) got to meet Scott-la in person when the last book of the Leviathan trilogy came out near the end of September.

Talk about cool!

There is another member here, but she's taking the picture with her amazing camera.

Stay tuned - soon we'll post some Nanowrimo goals for November.

- Ellyn

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Writer's Introduction to NaNoWriMo

So, why start a blog now? Inkblots has only been in the world, what? Eighteen months? A full two years? It can't be too years. We're not that old. Wow, if I count back to which novel I was writing in my head at the time it is like two years. Thoughts on this Ellyn? Is it really two years?

Anywho, this blog has sprung from the attic of my mind also. This is what the phrase attic of my mind makes me think of;

The real reason for this blog is the Almighty NaNoWriMo. Which I have never done before and I guess am doing this year. Ellyn for sure is going NaNoWriMo this year. I'm doing it a tad bit. What is NaNoWriMo you ask. It's an acronym. Above all, that is what it is. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Mostly it's where writers celebrate their craft in November by swearing off procrastination devices (like the devious blogs and deplorable Facebook we all indulge in) and vow instead to crank out 50,000 words. If not a whole novel.

To be honest, in the past I haven't been a fan of either blogging or NaNoWriMo. But know I'm doing both. Blogging was something I really loathed for awhile. I would read blogs. I loved doing that and still do. The idea of writing a blog was repulsive to me. I wrote a book filled with reasons I could never really have my own blog in which I tortured a protagonist who had a blog. Not literally, but like all writers I ruined her life for a wee bit. (It was called Complications of a Pen Name, it lives in a drawer, and they were all happy in the end. Ellyn read it. Audrie may have a copy. I cannot remember) That has dissipated over time. I still don't have a personal blog. I have a blog which I keep for an art class I teach and this blog here. Maybe one day in the future, I will have a personal blog.

You never know.

NaNoWriMo annoyed me for a long time and still does. I can put my finger right on why too. It's so legalized. You NEED 50,000 words you you are not a REAL NaNoWriMo writer. I'm sure that's not true, but it's always felt like that to me. And I can do that too. 50,000 words is accomplishable by me, but I do not want to do it if you obligate me to do it. But, when everyone started getting goosebumps about the coming month of November, I found myself with my own set too. I had never had anything to work on for the write time in November before. I was always editing. An activity I hate, so maybe that made me crabby to NaNoWriMo. We'll never truly know what editing does to the brain.

This year, I had friends doing it, a book that needed finishing, a huge schoolwork load that is bound to make it even more challenging than having a social life. So of course I wanted to do it this year. I just had to legalize it in my own way. But I didn't want to be doing NaNoWriMo all by myself and then have Inkblots meet once in November and everyone talk about it. I wanted an email chain or something. Top this with the fact I had to get down to nitty gritty with my book. I'm going to hit the climax probably before the week is even over. I can't just diddle daddy with it. I had to get down and serious.

What I usually do when this opportune times comes is write down how often I've been writing. Which days, how long, how dedicated, how distracted. A blog seemed like the perfect place to do that. Plus, everyone in Inkblots suffered writer's block over the summer in differing severity and it would have been great not to have to realize once everyone mostly got over the worst part that we were all miserable at the same time. We needed an online forum. The attic of my mind demanded a blog.

Thus here we are! Hurrah.

This blog's first and foremost use is to record hours writing. Like a log book, if you don't mind a simile. Everyday I am going to write down how long I've written, how many words, and how focused I was. Everyone is free to decide how often they want to do this. Some people may just want to write once a week and accomplish 500 words. Some people just want to write. Some might want words. I simply want a finished book.

That leads us to number two. Everyone logging hours on here should, and this is important, write down their goal for NaNoWriMo. A goal might be 50,000 words, or a finished book, or to make a conscious effort to write for a month straight. It does not matter what your goal is, it matters that you have one.

Three. Ellyn has very clearly outlined what this blog is not a place for. I'd like to make clear that this is a writing forum. Everyone on here is more than happy to gush about how much they love writing and gives loads of unnecessary advice. If you get stuck, write it on here. If you have a question, write it on here. If you are overflowing with love for what you just wrote, write it on here. (The joy, not the actual paragraph).

Fourth, I'd like to encourage everyone to add to their author's pages. I will do this once I figure out how to. Add a quick blip about yourself. Like what you're favorite book is and why. How long you've been writing. How many novels you have in a drawer. A favorite writing quote. But most importantly, add some synopsises. Everyone wants to know what you're writing hours are being spent on. It doesn't need to be huge, it doesn't need to be tiny, but it needs to be there.

Also, happy National Novel Writing Month of November everyone!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Inkblots, Their Blog, and Their Rules

Hello, fellow writers!

The Inkblots is a Christian group of teenage girl writers - Christians who write, not necessarily Christian writers - that began several years ago in the attic of one girl's mind.  The idea spread from Sarah to Ellyn and from that, Inkblots was formed.  The club met / meets in an upper room of a cafe, and discusses everything from gypsies in Paris (was it Paris that had all the gypsies, Sarah?) to plot denouements.

If you'd like to join this blog and you were not present in physical form to experience an actual Inkblots meeting, drop us a comment anyway.  We'd love to have you.  We're trying to spread our club even farther and encourage hard-core writing.


This blog won't take the place of our meetings, but it will motivate us to write and provide a way for us to encourage each other to write.  (Or give us a chance to virtually fistfight other club members in an attempt to get them to write.  We're still working on that page...)

If you'd like to post on the Inkblots blog, the following subjects are acceptable:

- Your personal writing log for the week (aka, how many hours you've written that week and what you are currently working on.  In a time log, please specify if you cat vaccumed or not.  If you don't know what cat vacuuming is, you should.)

- A writing tip or link to an article you found helpful, on the subject of writing.  We'd prefer not to have posts that consist of just a link.  Add your own thoughts, wit, and cheer.

- Exciting things like if you got to meet a favorite author, if you got a short story or novel published, reached a word count goal, or anything of the sort.  You can also include this stuff in your weekly time log if you wish.

- Elaborate on the ups and downs of writing life.  Vent to the world your passion against your current novel when things are bad.  Gush about hugging your manuscript when things are good.

- Books you've learned a lot from, read recently, or greatly appreciate.  

The following subjects are not acceptable:

- Anything that includes obscenities like language, sex references, or crude jokes.

- Chapters or excerpts from your book.  We know you're excited about your novel - we're excited about ours too.  But if you have an excerpt you'd like to have edited, we'd prefer you to send it privately to Sarah, Ellyn, or another club member.  Don't post it on the blog for everyone on Google to discover and possibly steal.  And don't risk someone trashing it in a comment.  That hurts, and it could destroy your writing career.

- Anything random that doesn't directly relate to writing / books / Inkblots.  It's great you have a new dog, but don't create a whole post on him.  Email us if you want to let us know.

Enjoy the Inkblots blog and feel free to comment with ANY suggestions!

Please also fill out your author page at the top with some information about you (here, randomness is accepted) and a brief blurb about each of your books.

- Ellyn
(co-founder of Inkblots)