NaNoWriMo 2012 Third Week

At 25,000 words, I’m halfway to the goal for National Novel Writing Month. We’re three-fourths of the way into the month.

It will be okay if I don’t reach 50,000 words by November 30, though. What’s most important to me is that I persevere through the end.

Not as if that’s easy.

I mentioned in my previous post that participating in NaNoWriMo is an experience of remembering. For me, it’s not only about remembering lessons for writing. It’s also about remembering who I am and what I’ve gone through.

I don’t like that part.

Stories are emotionally draining and take a considerable amount of real-life time to develop. The larger the story, and the more committed the writer, the more exhausting the story tends to be.

A big problem with exhaustion is that it allows the subconscious to rip open holes in the fragile barriers used to keep it out of the light.

My NaNoWriMo project is full of light; there’s humor more gentle than what I’m used to writing, charitable characters who understand how to learn from their struggles, and happy endings. Compared to the main characters in DeCo or RITN (or HC or SftP), the main characters of the story I’m calling Roseman are carefree. They aren’t dealing with daily abuse, physical issues that can’t be understood by the people around them, or the constant threat of losing their loved ones to murderers.

They are simply young adults, each with one traumatic experience in their past, learning how to face their personal demons while going through what would be normal lives if not for the creative way they decide to work together to heal themselves.

Yet I’m remembering that I writing exposes where I need to heal myself. My demons are rousing. I guess there is no way to push through the conflicted middle of a novel without awakening them.

Hopefully, I can learn through writing how to tame them, as well.

~ ~ ~

“I want to hide the truth. I want to shelter you.”

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Week One: A Fun Cruise

One week has passed.

My NaNoWriMo story is unusually easy to write, though I wish I’d done more research before November 1st. I’m roughly at 8,000 of the 50,000 words and expect to have to rewrite a few existing scenes once I understand certain topics better.

I started this story without knowing the genre. It’s the first novel I’ve started that isn’t speculative fiction. I’m thinking it might be Romance, though I’m not familiar enough with that genre to judge. My project is as much about an idea as a relationship, which also isn’t the male-female kind. The writing style is more straight-foward than sensual. As far as I’m aware, those aren’t common traits of Romance.

But what other genre could it be?

I’m just the writer. Someone can help me figure out the genre later.

By the way, this might be the most cheerful story I’ve ever written. Even considering that an adolescent dies within the opening (oy), it has low morbidity; no sexual assault, physical torture, or prevalent emotional abuse; and the main characters will actually be happy in the end.

It’s a nice change.

Regarding Twilight

In a comment on my previous post, Jennifer Neri asked how Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight surprised me. Here’s my answer.

Cover of Stephenie Meyer's TwilightWell before I read the novel, several people gave me bitter rundowns of the saga. For example, during one night of filming for a short student film, while waiting for the director and cinematographer to work through intensive changes to a scene, a few members of the crew gave me a long synopsis of each of the four novels. None of the crew members were fans.

I’d expected a miserable trudge through Twilight.

Read quickly and learn what you can, I told myself. And try not to let other people’s biases color my reading.

Still, I couldn’t help but expect immature writing and a clingy, weak heroine.

Was the writing immature? Yes, it was. Inconsistent, too. It looks as if it took Meyer a few chapters to figure out how to write stronger (bearable) dialogue and to show conflicted thoughts without an overuse of em-dashes.

Was Bella Swan (oh, what a name) as clingy and weak as reviewers describe her? Yes, yes, she was.

However, I saw aspects of her personality from the beginning that no one had mentioned.

Bella’s Forgotten Trauma

Bella Swan from graphic novel
Bella Swan, from the graphic novel

Meyer didn’t explain why, but Bella shows signs of emotional trauma before she meets the vampire hero.

She’s a loaner, distancing herself from people with the intention of causing herself emotional distress. She moves away from her ditzy but supposedly loving mother to live with her busy father in a place she knows she loathes. Although she had no friends from Arizona, she shows little desire to develop the friendships offered to her in Washington. Frequently, she categorizes the people around her as either those who will ignore her or those she can use.

While most readers wouldn’t recognize the effects of trauma when they see them, those traits in my mind contributed to Bella’s motivations.

Bella would be more inclined to attach to someone likely to hurt her if painful relationships were already normal for her.

Of course, if Bella never in the saga thinks back to the causes of her initial low self-esteem and tendency toward anti-social behaviors, she becomes in retrospect nothing more than a shallow Juliet character–as gullible and weak as Shakespeare’s original but without the excuse for ignorance.

For now, I’ll give Meyer the benefit of doubt.

Oh, Edward

Edward, the vampire hero, also surprised me, but certainly not in a good way.

Robert Patterson as Edward Cullen
Robert Patterson as Edward Cullen

I’d expected a backstory for him that would draw readers to his side, yet he barely had a history.

His human life was sadly typical, he became a vampire for no unique reason of his own, then he refused to develop relationships with anyone outside of his family for about a hundred years.

In the novel’s present, he fixates on Bella because she’s tasty (as if we’ve never seen that in a vampire story) and swings between moods faster than a crazed monkey could fling himself between walls of a cage.

Why are his moods so mercurial? Because he’s had no experience with desiring someone? In a hundred years of hanging around human teenagers, he never developed a crush or hunger for another girl? That’s hard to believe.

Lacking backstory, he comes across as shallow. Edward exists in Twilight simply to be Bella’s love interest. That makes him a filler character rather than a believable love interest, doesn’t it?

Poor guy. His vampire father is more memorable. I think the reason so many fans fell for Edward was because of Robert Patterson, not because of the Edward in the novels.

Sparkle, Sparkle

At least the sparkling which annoyed so many readers/viewers was tolerable. That surprised me. A clip I’d seen from the Twilight movie made Edwards skin look like it was mysteriously implanted with sizable crystals that could blind the eyes when reflecting sunlight.

Descriptions in the novel made for a less unnerving effect.

This wasn’t the biggest surprise regarding the sparkling. What surprised me most was how I liked that the Twilight vampires sparkled.

Maybe in self-defense while I read, I pretended that Meyer might have done research on vampires and demon myths (although she admitted she hadn’t).

Under the delusion that Meyer wanted to avoid clichés, her explanation that vampires don’t go out in sunlight unless they want to draw attention from prey seems to twist the “vampires burn in sunlight” and “attract with hypnosis” tropes. Such an explanation makes the vampires more realistic, to me, than those who burn to ash.

Rural Washington Has Personality

One other good surprise, and and one in which Meyer could probably be honestly credited for, was the accuracy and depth of the initial setting description. This was much appreciated by this gal who was raised in the States’ Pacific Northwest.

Your turn: Have you read Twilight? What did you think?

Hey, It’s 2012!

I’m sorry my last post was months ago. At first, I didn’t feel like posting, then I was waiting for something…good enough…for blogging. Whatever “good enough” means.

Maybe a status update is good enough. If so–

I’m currently working on RITN, my young adult science fiction novel.

Almost all of the rough draft was in longhand, but my sister graciously typed up 200 pages and gave me the draft as a Christmas present. I immediately started reading through the typed/electronic version, changing aspects that my sister didn’t know to change, and noting what I need to add, move, and otherwise rework.

For the first couple of weeks, all of the fears and annoyances from two years ago, when I last seriously worked on this novel, plagued me again. Then, the characters re-settled in my head. I realized I’d missed them. I also realized that my chances of completing RITN within this century are better than those for completing DeCo, my tortuous, militaristic science fiction novel.

What has also happened since last October is that a friend kicked me into submitting short stories that have sat around doing nothing useful for a couple of seasons. I’ve already received three personalized rejections from semi-pro and pro markets for 2012.

Between these accomplishments, a new job, and…um, well, my first pregnancy, this year has started well for me.

How about for you?

This for That

Every decision in life requires a trade-off. As the cliché goes, for every door of opportunity that opens, another closes. That’s especially true when there isn’t enough time to turn around.

Door MazeAs usual, I’m racing through tight corridors.

I’ve been exchanging writing for sleep during my bus commutes for the past month. This has helped me get through the workday as my body struggles to heal (from a sprain, overworked muscles, migraines, etcetera) but leaves me feeling a bit unsatisfied by the time I arrive home.

Choosing to work on DeCo (my adult sci-fi novel) at night after fight practices, I use up time for house cleaning, socializing, and blogging.

More complicated trade-offs are made with changes to the novel. For every new direction in a scene, I must rewrite other scenes. Of course, a few of those scenes are “darlings”, favorite passages that I want to retain even when they no longer fit with the overall story.

Obviously, I’m not great with world building, character design, and plotting; otherwise, I wouldn’t realize half-way through drafting that the supposed good guy acts badly too often, the characters’ living arrangements aren’t believable, and I’m missing essential transitions between major scenes early in the story.

I can’t trade off DeCo for a simpler project, unfortunately. By doing so, I would lose something indescribably important. I’m learning about myself from this project in addition to learning about how to write fiction. I’m certain that a simpler project would not give me enough opportunities to grow.

I’ll stay in the maze until a better offer comes along.

Buzzzz…

That’s the sound of me flying through my land of shadows to yell out the cockpit a “Hello!” and “What? ‘What’s up?’ Well…”

My sister and her family (out-of-staters) might come to visit for Independence Day. In preparation, my husband and I must try harder to clean up every day until their potential day of arrival.

You see, they are allergic to furry pets. We have two.

My sister is also clutter intolerant. Unfortunately, my husband and I have more hobbies, fascinations, and professional commitments than we have any right to have and are therefore in the running for King and Queen of Non-Lethal Clutter.

In addition, we’re trying to think of what food normal Americans might appreciate. Not everyone likes Udon soup as much as I do.

While we’re preparing for family, we’re also preparing for a Korean martial arts tournament that we’ll co-host, our martial arts school’s autumn programs, and my out-of-state taekwondo test.

In remaining, uh, free time, I’m writing.

Ohh, okay. I’d landed the plane. Here’s the update on my fiction.

I’m expecting feedback tomorrow from a test reader on a short story draft that I’m itching to send to a market.

I need to choose where to send another short story. The previous market–sheesh, what was I thinking? My story wouldn’t have ever fit there. At least the slush reader dug my story out of the pile relatively quickly.

DeCo continues to give me a headache; I think that’s why it exists. The part of me that cares about test readers’ feelings currently wants to cut a side-character than a darker part of me has viciously woven into the main plot. I think removing the character’s thread will allow for a stronger–and less demoralizing–story. However, I feel that removing him is wrong.

It’s a heart versus head issue. Are these issues ever resolved?

Publishing News: Steel, Apple, and Leviathan

In my previous post, I put up a few links that I wanted to be able to find again and that might interest others. This is another link-heavy post–but so much better!

Cover of Carrie Vaughn's SteelThat’s because I remembered you might not yet have heard of Carrie Vaughn’s Steel, officially released in hardcover this week.

The first chapter of this young adult novel about a modern-day fencer who is magicked to an 18th-century pirate ship is available on Carrie’s newly re-designed Website. Take a look!

By the way, who else thinks this is one of the best covers of the season? Artist Larry Rostant used common elements of fantasy covers–a glowing sword and a partially-obscured face of a beautiful young woman–but also covered the girl in appropriate clothing of deep colors that accentuate the gorgeous sword and showed her holding the sword accurately. It makes the fencing geek within me want to dance…

Also released this month was the paperback version of Carrie’s first standalone novel, Discord’s Apple. Her first young adult novel, Voices of Dragons, will be released in paperback any time now.

Let’s move on to the short story world!

Eric James Stone‘s religious/science fiction “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” has been nominated for the Nebula Award. You may read the entire novelette online for free until March 31.

I first read this story in the September 2010 Analog Science Fiction and Fact (thank you, Eric!) and was not surprised at its nomination. The primary conflict between differing spiritual views and science was resolved, as much as was possible, in a beautifully dramatic moment.