Friday, October 23, 2009

The Long-Awaited Ending

Current Week's Word Count: 2,842
The White Lilac Total: 64,364
Favorite Book of the Month: Catching Fire By: Suzanne Collins

If reaching the end of the book is better than starting a new one than I am tasting the sweet life. Right now I am looking down the home stretch of my outline and I am throwing my hair back into the wind and sprinting like a wildcat was on my tail. I have two chapters left to write, a character to kill and an ending to wrap the loose ends. I can't believe I am actually here.

I put so much time into creating the characters, world, plots, themes and tone that this ending comes as a bit of a let down. What will I do to fill my time? What of all my hard work? In the beginning I buckled down and refused to think of the future because the thought of writing 70,000 words was overwhelming. In the middle I was too busy trying to figure out how I would connect where the story was now to the ending I had so carefully planned that I had no thoughts to spare. Suddenly I find myself thinking about the last words I want to type and I am not ready to do so.

True, now the joy of editing begins, but editing a story I have already written is nothing like experiencing it myself for the first time. To arrive at a scene and have my character do something that shocks me, to be the first to feel the emotion of the moment and to sit in front of a blank page and know anything is possible. Once it is written certain doors close and the story is no longer this fluid concept in my mind, but a tangible object other can see and (hopefully) feel as well. Although my mind may want to rush the process and move on to my much needed rest before buckling down to edit, my heart wants to savor the moment and maybe shed half a tear for the end of a great experience.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Writer Self-Esteem

Current Week's Word Count: 2,954
The White Lilac's Total: 60,888
Favorite Book of the Month: Catching Fire By: Suzanne Collins

I have been writing for several years now and one area I still feel I struggle with is my self-esteem. I mean, I know that I have grown as a writer. I enjoy laughing at myself and the stories I wrote when I was young. My spelling, grammar and mechanics have improved a hundred-fold. I know my audience and I know I am not boring. Yet when I send off a short story, a manuscript or enter a contest, there is this sinking feeling deep inside me that I am not good enough.

If writing was the kind of venue where an individual could compete against his/herself I would be fine. There is no pressure, just learn from my past mistakes and keep growing. No sweat! But it's not. Not only do I have to compete with other writers who are starting out like me, but I have to compete against well-established writers, NY Times bestsellers and all those literary geniuses who died hundreds of years ago. No matter how good I feel about what I write, I know there are thousands of great, brilliant writers out there who I would love to sit and listen to no matter what they were talking about.

There are times when I hate reading because I know that if I lived for a million years I would never think of writing the story I'm reading and I wish I could. Some books I've read the language is so poetic, even if the story is boring, I have to read every line. Other books have twists and turns I could not anticipate or characters I remember for years. How did the author do that? Did it come naturally or (hopefully!) was it something they learned? All I can do is pick up my pen, open a Word document and keep writing. One day someone may think the same thing about me and I will have to give them the archived web address for this post if they don't believe me.

What area do you struggle with the most in your writing pursuit?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pen or Keyboard?

Current Week's Word Count: 2,539
The White Lilac's Total: 58,078
Favorite Book of the Month: Catching Fire By: Suzanne Collins

I used to be one of those writers who hand writes the first draft. When I was a teen I preferred to use a pencil, but after several years even I found my stories hard to read without a bright light, so I switched to pen: black, narrow point and no clicking end. Not that I have a problem with a clicking pen. Quite the opposite. I enjoy clicking it up and down, seeing how many times I can click in a minute and syncronizing the sound to the beat of my music. No, the problem comes more in the distraction. Instead of thinking about how I will get my main character out of an impossible situation, I am thinking of how fun my pen is.

When I first started typing my stories into the computer I didn't like it. It took me forever because I had to keep looking over at my first draft every few words. I knew where most of the keys were located on the keyboard, but every once in a while I would use vernacular that required the use of letters I was not comfortable finding and I would have to pause and look down.

After typing three first drafts and multiple short stories my typing and speed improved. I would start typing the story from memory and then have to go back to the first draft to see how close I was. Sometimes I was pretty close and other times I would remember points I used later and I would have to go back and fix it.

My current work-in-progress is the first first draft I have actually created on the computer without my pen. And I love it. I used to go back through my pages and add notes I would have to figure out later. Now when I have something I need to show sooner or a surprise I need to lay a trail of crumbs for I scroll up to the right page and never have to think about it again. I still like to use my pen and I probably always will, but now I will use it for fun, not work.

When you write do you have a favorite medium?

Friday, October 2, 2009

For the Love of Books

Current Week's Word Count: 2,569
The White Lilac's Total: 55,588
Favorite Book of the Month: Catching Fire By: Suzanne Collins

This week has been busy for me. I went to the library and came out with twice as many books as I was going allow myself to borrow. It funny how that worked out. I fully intended to be good and only take as many as I thought I could read and this stand alone book caught my attention. Then I saw several new sequels I have been waiting for and, of course, I had to take those too. I love my library, but sometimes they overwhelm me with stories and information and I leave wishing I could read all day and night for years.

I finished Suzanne Collins' new book Catching Fire and now I need to know when the next book is coming out. I need to know what will happen. And which guy will Katnis chose. Can she redeem herself? Can she lead the revolt against the Capitol? I would take a sneak peek or even a title at this point. Sigh.

Instead I must console myself with the other books in my to-read-stack. It's about as fulfilling as eating a carrot when you wanted chocolate or visa versa. Who knows, there may be new books for me to fall in love with and can give me something else to look forward to. Can people die from waiting?

What was the last book you read that you absolutely loved and wished would never end?