novel writing

The Steak Beckons

While I love a good four day work week, my unemployment situation has me all confused. My eating and workout routine is all off, my book a week challenge came to a halt, my sleep schedule is messed up, and on and on. I’m kind of glad America is back on schedule, because maybe I too can get back on schedule.

The dietician and I created a schedule for me. I have officially (it’s on the fridge so it’s official) set aside time for job hunting, writing, watching TV, and working out. I was supposed to be on this schedule last week, but couldn’t get into it.

I’m a TV whore, and love watching The Today Show. I always get caught up in the Money 9-1-1 segments, or the fashion segments, and I love Hoda and Kathie Lee. I swear I’m like an old lady stuck in a twenty something (late twenty-something)’s body.I get back from my 6 am torture spin session and Matt Lauer, Ann Currie, and Meredith suck me in. Then after two hours of having done nothing but made my breakfast, I find myself unable to get focused. I also love watching reruns of Frasier, Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Friends. There isn’t an episode I haven’t seen at least a dozen times, and yet I sit there laughing.

I’m a loser.

I don’t know if I can give up the Today Show, but I will try to turn off the TV tomorrow morning and actually utilize my schedule. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually get some writing done. I’ve been working on a few short stories, and an essay, but my novel needs major revision and my memoir needs work too/needs to written. In grad school, I had a writer friend who called short stories “fun fiction” because he’d work on the little projects in between the big projects in order to get  through the sometimes hard ass drudgery that is novel writing. Since I’m not working and have plenty of free time I’m going to try and use that mentality.

I think I need to read more short stories though. I’m always in novel mode because I’m always reading longer works of fiction. I have a few collections I’ve been meaning to check out since grad school. I bought them and they are sitting on my bookcase getting dusty. As far as teaching, I love teaching stories, but I love reading novels. What about you? Do you have a preference? I should devote a post to this.

Well, now that my brain seems to be cleared of the cob webs, it seems like forever since I’ve been in contact with you readers, I’ll get to work on some other stuff.

Other stuff includes:

a) the thawed steak on my kitchen (it’s kind of early for dinner, but that’s never stopped me before).

b) the essay I’ve been meaning to write for about a month. It only has to be about 1000 words. Honestly, get it done lazy bones.

c) I have GOT to outline my memoir. I’ve been having issues with the organization of the memoir. I don’t know if I should read more memoirs or just get writing. I can’t decide on the structure, the tone, really none of it. Also, should devote a post to this.

d) I need to reread what I have of my novel, so I can decide what I want to do with it. After letting it marinate in my file cabinet and on my flashdrive for about a year, I think it’s finally time to finish it and send it off. It would be super awesome to get that thing out into the world by the time the wedding comes along.

Sometimes, after I write these random journal/diary-like entries, I wonder what you readers think of them. So please, tell me. Do you hate them? Want me to focus more? What do you want?

I can’t promise I’ll give up these random here’s-what’s-going-on-in-my-brain posts, but if you hate them, I can limit them for sure. Or warn you at the beginning of the post.

Okay, the steak beckons.

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The Final Draft

I just submitted the final draft of my thesis to my committee. I feel pretty good about it. It still needs quite a bit of work, especially if it’s going to ever be an Oprah’s Book Club selection.

I know I should feel really awesome right now, but I guess I don’t because I still have to format it, get a million signatures, and defend it in the next couple of weeks.

Once the defense is over I think I’ll finally start feeling more like a graduate and less like a student.

Have you ever completed a huge project and not felt satasified?

I kind of feel like I’m dangling on the edge of cliff and I just need once last push to feel the rush of air on my face.

Thoughts?

A Talk Out/Write Out Session: Issues with the Novel

Yesterday’s warm up post felt really good. I ended up writing an hour more than I had planned because I was so focused. I figured I’d give it a try today. 

Since, I’m about to dive back into my thesis work I figured I’d try to write out/talk out some of the obstacles I’ve come across this past week. I don’t mean the challenges of writing at home and dealing a family in crisis. I’m talking about the literal issues with the novel.

First of all, I find myself  kind of bored with my characters. My professor and thesis chair has a philosophy that if you’re not sure what to do with a scene or character or story add a character. My concern with this is that if I add a character here and there the novel is going to go on forever. Though for todays’ section it is vital that I add the character that I’ve created.  While I don’t want this novel to be five hundred pages long, I do want readers to follow these characters for about fifty or sixty years. Also, my professor/thesis chair  constantly enforces the idea that all characters must be employed. I too feel strongly about this, though I don’t really practice it. I am mostly working on banging out the rough draft. I’ll employ all my characters during the revision.

The story centers around three characters who are related. The first character is, for lack of a better word, the protagonist. While the novel does center around this character, the other two characters that follow are important as well. The other two characters are primarily being utilized to reinforce themes and motifs that I feel are vital to the depth of the novel.

The biggest problem I’m having, and have always had as a writer is knowing when to show  moments in scene and when to show them in exposition. While I’m fully aware of the overused, “show not tell” rule when dealing with a large number of years I don’t see how exposition can be avoided.

I also think that I may have over outlined my novel. I’m considering revising my outline since it’s way too detailed and I’ve decided to move away from a good portion of it. I love having a reference document that can keep me focused, but what I’ve noticed is happening is that my writing as turned into a very detailed outline that has scenes.

So maybe my biggest problem isn’t knowing when to show scenes but developing a voice for my narrator. The novel is told in the third person, which is a bit uncomfortable for me since I love writing in the first person.  The thing is, I tried writing the novel in the first person and it didn’t feel right, so I changed it.  I think I need to really think about who is telling the story. Maybe if I understood my narrator at a deeper level I’d be able to give him/her a voice.

Just writing “him/her” is a problem. Shouldn’t I at least know the sex of my narrator? I do know the narrator isn’t in the novel, but an observer.  I haven’t (was going to write can’t but can’t isn’t in my vernacular these days) decided if the narrator lives in the town the novel takes place, or if the narrator is like an all-seeing eye, the way I teach my students the omniscient third person voice looks. The thing is, the narrator is a pinch complicated because while I know the narrator knows everyone’s thoughts and actions, I have chosen for the narrator to only disclose the thoughts of very specific characters, consistently of course.

So that’s that. I feel like I have a stronger handle on the issues that I’ve been battling. I’m about 120 pages in, and I think I have about 200 left to write, maybe even less. I had a girlfriend who also wrote a novel for her thesis, who told me that it’s the first 150 pages that are the worst, once you know where it’s going and how to end it, writing those last 100-200 pages is like rolling downhill. I believe her. She’s given me sound advice the entire time I’ve been in grad school, and is currently enrolled in a prestigious  program for a PhD in Creative Writing.

I will do some steady climbing today. Thanks for listening.

Week Three: Write Everyday or Else…

As is always the case I have over-estimated my ability to focus. These past two weeks have not been very productive, as far as the thesis writing is concerned.  While I have written more than I usually do, it hasn’t been enough.  With moving and driving back and forth between my old address and new address it’s been quite chaotic.

I came home for Christmas, although I did  almost regret the decision when I came home to major drama. Still, Christmas is about family and seeing through differences to be together, oh and Jesus’s birthday and I think Jesus should come before my thesis.

The problem is when I’m home all I want to do is help my parents with the house and helping them get things in order, especially since we’re hosting Christmas Eve and the house is still quite messy because of the renovations.

As is with most crazy times, things seem to get crazy just when you think it can’t get any worse. Well on Saturday I sprained my ankle, had to go to the doctor and I can’t seem to stop walking on it.

Since, I can’t help with too much around the house now that my ankle and foot are really bruised and swollen, I’ve decided this is the PERFECT excuse to get some writing done. I did, however vacuum the house this morning though; I also went up into the attic to get some things down to do some minor decorating for Christmas.

I’m not going to do too much physical work though because I’m a runner and not being able to run is killing me. I never realized how much I love to be running around, standing up, and doing stuff until I couldn’t. Yesterday I tried to play the piano but that was a bust because of course I sprained my right ankle which is the foot for the pedal. LAME. At least I have an excuse to write. Maybe that’s what I needed all along.

Well, I’m off to write until my fingers fall off.

Tomorrow is Monday

Probably by the time you read this it will be Monday, but whatever.

I have been thinking, as I watch the TV in front of me and put off going to bed, that I don’t want it to be Monday.

Now, I know Monday’s generally suck, but the thing is I’ve been looking forward to the weeks passing. As the weeks move more quickly that means my finishing my coursework comes closer to being complete. It also means I’m closer to moving to the same city as my boyfriend and can finally have relationship with him with us both living in the same zip code. I crave this so much. These past three years have been tough with this long distance thing. I feel like I’m missing a half. Look, I know it’s cliche but that’s exactly how if feels.

This is the first Monday in a very long time (I’ll go ahead and say the first time in at least three years) that I haven’t been looking forward to tomorrow. I’m still not in the student mood. I can’t get into this huge writing project I’ve signed up for and I’m getting stressed out. Not that being stressed out is something foreign to me but I feel overwhelmed and scared.

I’m scared I’m not going to finish my school work if I keep up with this procrastinating.

Procrastinating is a kind of new thing for me. I never used to such a procrastinator. I used to be the student to get work done early. Now, I wait until the pressure is on to get cracking. I don’t like this. I need to revert back to my old ways. I’ve been finding the most ridiculous ways to procrastinate too.

For example: This weekend my younger sister by a lot of years was attending her first prom. I felt it necessary that I be there when she got picked up by her date. I needed to be there at the nail salon as she, my mother and I all got pedicures. That is nuts!

Instead, I should have staying at my apartment, an hour away from my parents house, focused. What the hell?

I will say that for the first time in a long time I did get some writing done at my parents house, but it wasn’t nearly enough. I did complete a story to be sent out and I finished my reading for my class on Monday. I’m ready to rock and roll for Monday, but come Tuesday and the rest of the week, I’m soooo not ready.

My Monday work aside, I also found myself up at two in the morning writing my other sister a letter. I don’t know what possessed me to start this letter and I don’t know if I’m going to give it to her, but it’s a long letter and there is some solid writing in it. What I don’t understand is why I didn’t take that energy and apply to the writing project I’m working on? What is my deal?

I don’t know how many of you writers out there have ever experienced this kind of rut, but if you have I really need some advice. I know this is my second, maybe third post about this but I’m struggling here. I’m a young writer trying to figure this writing career thing out.

Help a sista out.