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2012: Moving Forward

On my to-do list for today, one of the items I have written down is, “Write a blog entry.” Therefore, I must now write a blog entry.

Well, another year is upon us, whether we’re ready or not. Honestly, though, I’m surprisingly happy about it. By the end of 2011, I was feeling…dry, dull, stagnant. But there’s something about having to put up a new calendar that suddenly reinvigorates me. I’m not big on actual resolutions, but I always feel as though I want to do something with myself — change for the better — when a new year starts. This year is no different, except, this year, I’ve actually managed to put the feeling into words:

Moving forward.

I know, that concept is a little vague, right? But it gives me a starting point. Too often, I spoil myself into staying within the confines of what makes me comfortable. I try, I put effort in, I push myself to do things, but the majority of those things are still within the my comfort zone. Things that make me feel nervous or unsure are postponed, if not completely discarded, even though many of those things might actually prove to be beneficial. If I want to move forward, I can’t afford to spoil myself like that anymore. That’s essentially what I mean by “moving forward”…pushing myself forward in spite of my insecurities.

It probably won’t be easy, and it probably won’t go smoothly. But the year is young, and I still have enough optimism to think it possible. I have a few things I want to accomplish this year, or at least try to accomplish, which I will likely get into at a later date. Most deal with writing. I also plan on updating my blog more often this year (though, at this point, I don’t blame you if you find yourself thinking, “I’ll believe it when I see it”).

So then…moving forward…

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Another NaNo Comes and Goes…

Ah…I’m still really bad at keeping this updated…

Well, I finished NaNoWriMo successfully, more or less. I reached the 50K mark on November 13. I finished the novel I began the month with and began a second, hoping to write another 50,000 words by the end of the month. Aaaaaand…then I came down with a horrible cold and became useless to the world. Ugh. But I did manage to squeeze out another 18,000 words or so before I lost my motivation.

So, my final word count ended up at 68,079. Even though I didn’t reach 100,000 like I had secretly hoped, it’s still a personal best for me. 🙂

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To 50K…and Beyond?

I’m having a little debate with myself right now. I know that NaNoWriMo is tough enough already — writing 50,000 words in one month is no easy task. But there’s some small part of me that wonders if, maybe, just maybe, I should aim for a bit of a higher word count this year. Like, twice as high.

Last year, I had a tough time finishing my 50,000 novel. It was not caused by lack of time, however. If anything, it was partially caused by having too much time. When I was in college, November meant balancing NaNo with multiple papers and exams, along with regular homework. I also had a few on-campus jobs. Now that I’ve graduated and, well, only do a little bit of freelance work (as I presently don’t have full-time work) my schedule is not quite so packed. And, as I learned last year around November, an excess of free time usually means that I get distracted far more easily than I do when I’m racing around trying to get everything finished. Of course, there were other things that made NaNoWriMo a little harder to focus on last year than usual, but having too much time during the day probably didn’t help.

That’s why a part of me wants to make it a bit harder for myself. If I feel more challenged, and if I have a much tougher goal, I might feel more pressure to push through. And pressure, in this instance, is a good motivator. 😛

Of course, I’d probably have to write two novels if I did things this way. I can’t do a 100,000 word book, especially not with the plot I’ll be working with next month. But, since my project this year is actually supposed to be book one of a short series (assuming I like it well enough to press forward with the rest), I could always aim for finishing the first two books this November. Or, I could even take on one of my “back burner” projects that I almost considered doing for NaNo, but just narrowly decided against. Either way, coming up with enough story material to complete 100K wouldn’t be an issue.

Granted, there’s a good chance that I won’t actually do this. It’s a bit intimidating, and a little crazy to expect myself to be able to write that much in one month. Still…is it odd that I find it tempting? Haha.

Well, I’ll decide for sure before November starts. I need to know what my goal is before I begin, so I know how to pace myself.

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Imagination Overload

It happens every year. I get myself all worked up, planning and preparing for my NaNoWriMo project, and just when I should be concentrating on it the most, something triggers my imagination and sends it flying off in a completely different direction with a completely different story. Sigh.

Even so, I don’t plan on changing my NaNoWriMo project. I’ve named characters, I’ve outlined, and I’ve planned like mad. I am NOT changing my mind. Plus, it’s not like I’ve entirely lost interest in the novel I was planning on writing this coming November. It’s just that I’ve gained renewed interest in other novel ideas that, prior to now, wouldn’t cooperate with me whenever I’d sit down to think them over.

I don’t know what it is or why my mind chooses to work this way. As best as I can figure it, it’s just that my imagination, once triggered, likes to run wild. I start the creative juices flowing on one project, but after being stopped up for so long, those creative juices refuse to flow in an orderly, manageable stream and instead, rush out so rapidly that they threaten to drown me.

The nice thing about NaNoWriMo is that it introduces structure into what might otherwise be chaos. It forces me to tell myself, “Yes, I know that shiny new idea over there looks wonderful, but you’re not working on it, you’re working on this. Now focus, or else you won’t meet your daily word count.”

And really, I guess I shouldn’t complain. I can always scribble down a few notes on these other ideas now and come back to them later. In theory.

Anyone else ever have this issue, though? Or am I the only one whose mind goes into “imagination overload” whenever I tell myself to focus on one project?

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NaNoWriMo!

Wow…it’s been forever since I last updated this. Bah. Shame on me.

Well, with NaNoWriMo coming up in a few short weeks, I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things. I think I’ve finally managed to decide on a project, but now I have to outline and plan like crazy in the remaining weeks. This idea is a little different from what I’m used to, so planning is vital.

What makes it so different? Well, for starters, it’s a lot more light-hearted than what I usually write. It’ll also be the most girly thing I’ve ever written…which is saying a lot, because I’ve really written some girly nonsense before. 😛 But the biggest difference is that I’m planning out a short series, rather than a single book. (Of course, I’ll only be working on the first book for NaNoWriMo.)

But more on all that a little later. For now, I’m off to go work on my outline a bit more. Must…continue…planning…

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I’m Back…?

Wow. I just realized that I haven’t updated this since April. I honestly hadn’t realized it’d been that long. I took one week off, which turned into two weeks, which turned into three…well, you get the idea. Poor neglected blog.

At any rate, I do plan on picking this back up again. I’ll probably stop the “Miffed Mondays” thing, because that was getting dull and I was already running out of ideas, but I might keep the “Friday Finds” and try to be more consistent about posting writing related stuff all throughout the week. (This is, after all, supposed to be a writing blog.)

But, all of that is later and not right now. Maybe next week I’ll squeeze in a real post, and if not, then hopefully the week after that. This is just filler material until then. 😉

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Friday Find: Rain Town

I’m a sucker for a good animated short.

“Rain Town,” a 10-minute anime created by Hiroyasu Ishida (who, if I’m not mistaken, is still an animation student) takes place in a town in which the rain never stops. The story shows what happens when one little girl ventures out into the rain and makes a friend…of the robotic kind.

There are no words spoken, but it’s still relatively easy to follow. Although, admittedly, I did have to watch it a second time before I understood everything that actually took place. Eh…sometimes I’m a little slow like that. But I didn’t mind — that gave me an excuse to watch it again. 😉

Overall, though, it’s somehow very endearing. Oh, and by the way, the art? Fantastic.

So give it a shot. It’s certainly worth the ten minutes.

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Miffed Monday: Surprise! Your favorite character is now dead.

It usually happens during a battle scene.  The tension is high, the fighting has been fierce, but things have finally turned around for the good guys.  You’re just about to breathe a sigh of relief…and then, without warning, a significant-yet-somehow-disposable character gets killed.

And, if your luck is anything like mine, it’s usually your favorite character that bites the dust.

In some cases, I can understand why it happens.  Without naming any specific titles, in one example that comes to mind, the character who dies is about just about to win his fight against one villain when another villain suddenly appears…and stabs him.  He doesn’t die instantly, which means that he has plenty of time to reflect on his life via a heart-wrenching montage and, in so doing, make peace with his allies, who he just finally recognizes as friends / the first people who ever fully accepted him.  He dies with a smile.  His friends, of course, are not smiling, but they win the fight, and his death becomes another motivating factor in battles to come.

When a character’s “surprise” death has meaning, I can accept it.  I still hate it.  It still makes me mad.  But I can accept it.

In other cases, however, I can only conclude that the storyteller behind a given tale gets some sick, twisted joy in killing off characters he gets bored with.  In another example, the group of heroes is desperately attempting to outrun a significant enemy.  The chase is intense, but finally, it appears as though they’ve reached safety.  One of the heroes is pretty much in the midst of breathing a sigh of relief when…oh look…an enemy weapon just killed him.  No warning.  No chance for him to say goodbye.  No real purpose, even, except to say to the audience, “You thought they were safe?  Ha!  We sure fooled you, ROFL.”

Now, I understand that the second scenario is more realistic.  In the real world, we are not guaranteed a 5 minute goodbye scene when we die.  But that’s the real world, and if I wanted the real world, then doggone it, I’d look outside my window or turn on the news.  More often than not, I’m immersing myself in a fictional world because I want to escape reality for a little bit.  (Especially if, as in the case of my example, the fictional world is clearly fictional and has little basis in reality, anyway.)  Yes, there can be tragedy — even though, on the whole, I don’t prefer tragic stories — but at least let me see a tragedy with meaning, okay?  Let me see that the characters left behind have a chance to mourn, or that there was some purpose in the disposed-of-character being, well, disposed of.  At least try to soften the blow.

Or, better yet, stop killing off my favorite characters unless you absolutely have to.  *angry glare*

Anyway.  Admittedly, I’m not sure if I’ve ever run across this in a novel.  Either I’ve never read a book that has a similar scenario in it, or I blocked that part out of my memory after I finished.  Or, it just doesn’t exist in written form, and is an unfortunate phenomena restricted to movies, anime, manga, etc.  If, however, anyone reading this knows of a book example, let me know.  I’m a little curious.  Also, bonus points to anyone who can figure out where my examples came from based on what I already wrote…

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Friday Find: Literal Music Videos

Okay, so technically, this isn’t really a new find.  Literal music videos — peculiar music videos, usually from the 1980s, in which the lyrics have been changed in order to better match the content of the video — have been around for a few years now, and I’ve really only seen a few.  They aren’t even new for me…I think I first watched these about a year ago, give or take a few months.  But I don’t care.  They’re good for a quick laugh, and well worth sharing, just in case anyone reading this has never had the good fortune to watch them before.

I’ll only mention my two favorites.  The first is a literal music video of “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” originally sung by Bonnie Tyler.  It is also, by far, my absolute favorite.

The second is a literal music video of “Take On Me,” originally by A-Ha.  This is my second favorite.  I’ll also take a moment to confess that, when I was a kid, I thought the original music video had to be the most awesome thing ever.  I still think it’s fun…but, I must admit, the literal version is too fitting and too funny not to like. 😛

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Borrowing from Reality

Have you ever written a fictional character that mimics a person you know in real life, either intentionally or unintentionally?  The resemblance might be a certain mannerism, a general attitude, the way he or she interacts with other characters, or anything else along those lines.  And if you have, how effectively were you able to flesh that character out?

My best characters tend to be those that remind me of absolutely no one.  I’ve had a few characters that reminded me of real people, but thinking back on it now, I always had the most trouble getting those character right.  If they were in a short story, one that I finished writing in one sitting, they might not give me too much trouble.  But for novel-length projects, characters with traits I’ve “borrowed” from reality never turn out right.

I think the reason for this is that, the moment I draw a connection between a fictional character that I’m writing and an individual I actually know from real life, I have trouble separating the two again.  Unless the character reminds me of someone I’ve known all my life, it’s likely that my understanding of the real life individual will change during the course of me writing, thus changing my understanding of the character that reminds me of the real life person.  Sometimes those changes don’t mesh well within a storyline, though, and I end up forcing the character to do things that the character, as originally designed, wouldn’t actually do.  Otherwise, I feel like I’m being unrealistic or unfair towards that character’s real life counterpart.

From now on, I’ll try avoiding characters that remind me too much of people I actually know.  Characters should be their own characters.  It’s okay for a character to share a few traits with a real individual, but if the writer is unable to keep the character and the individual separate, it’s probably best to avoid that practice.  At least, I think that’d be best for me and my writing.

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