Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The End, For Now

Word Count for November: 50,023

Cumulative Novel Word Count: 66,023

It's over.

NaNoWriMo is over.

And, for right now, so is my novel. I drew it to some kind of conclusion. And that conclusion has left me shell-shocked. As of this afternoon, I had no idea how my novel was going to end and it was plaguing me. There was no law that required me to actually finish the novel itself today, but I didn't know if I could write 5,000 more words of something else; I had filled in many of the other holes.

So I started using Write or Die to make the wordcount, which usually demolishes my novel, and as I was doing that, I got an idea. It was a horrible, terrible, macabre idea, but I didn't know what else to do, so I followed it. If it doesn't work, you can just write it over. Plus, the "ending" I had already written felt sudden and incomplete.

As I was almost finished writing it, my roommate came in and asked, "What's wrong?" Because my face was drawn and solemn and I wanted to cry.

I don't even know if I can talk about it at the moment. I was so dazed and in my head after that that I could hardly walk straight. The ending's not violent or gross, but it's... surprising and sad and so unlike the rest of the novel with its sarcastic tone. I can't get over it.

I really don't like the ending. I want to change it. I know you should always go where the novel takes you, and I did, but I don't like it. It's not what I want for the story. I'm too close to the novel right now to decide if it fits it or not; Lyddie goes through a lot of changes in the book, so maybe it does work. But I don't like it.

I need to think...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dear Self

Dear Self,

Here's the deal. You have two days to write over 10,500 words. Now, don't get daunted. Because here's the other deal: you just made a list of all of the things left to write about and it's over 10,000 words, no problem. But those words won't write themselves, so get on it. No excuses. Yes, you do have three back-to-back classes (including your least favorite) before 10 pm rehearsal, but your first class doesn't start until 1:30 pm. So set that alarm clock and write before class, ya lazy sack o' potatoes. Who cares about your sore throat? It doesn't affect your fingers, does it? No. It doesn't. You are SO CLOSE. Don't give up now! You actually still love this story, so act like it. And you are actually an actor, so I expect you to do it well.



(P.S... My school has decided that it is August and not almost December. The air conditioner is on so high that we can hear it. *shiver*)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Word Count: 34,648 / 50,000

The lamp’s globe almost slips from my grip for the fourth time this afternoon. Aunt Kelly draws in her breath sharply as I catch it with the ends of my fingers.

“Lyddie, please, focus.”

“I am,” I say, frustrated. That’s the worst part – I’m trying so hard to get this right and am getting nowhere.

“Well, just… try a little harder, okay?” I can hear my aunt’s aggravation, which doesn’t help my state of mind, or the headache throbbing at my temples. “You need to remove the globes carefully and clean every bit of soot off of them. We can’t have any traces of black.”

I am in no mood to do this chore. This isn’t a job, it’s housework. Besides, jobs pay. What do I get for this? Nothing! In fact, less than what I started with. I hate this stupid job with its stupid requirements; Aunt Kelly first had me scour the lamps’ bases to make sure they were perfectly clean, resulting in the beginnings of my headache. Now I can’t even clean a freaking globe right, I can’t even go to college so I might as well just drop out of high school-

I place the globe a little too hard on the table. “I need a break.”

“We’ve only been working for forty – five minutes.”

“Well, I still need a break, okay?

“Don’t give me attitude, Lyddie.”

“I just need five minutes to take some aspirin, okay? Being thrown into this when I had a million other things to do is kind of stressing me out.”

Aunt Kelly retrieves the globe I abandoned, concentrating a little too hard on wiping it clean. “You really need to focus on this, Lyddie. It’s the most important thing right now. You’re having to catch up on years’ worth of training, and it’s going to take all of your concentration.”

“I know that,” I reply, irritated. “But I do have homework and piano and life and stuff.”

“Lyddie, right now, none of that other stuff matters. At least not until you’ve finished your training.”

“And then I start the job, so all of that will be gone for good.”

“That’s not necessarily true. I’m still talking to Dr. Philips about when a good time for me to step down. You may have a few years.”

“So then I can go to school.”

“Don’t start.”

“But I could do both! Things are different now. Insane multi-tasking is part of the high school curriculum these days.”

“I haven’t been lantern keeper for that long.”

“Yes, but even twenty years ago, you could get by without a college degree. Now… you can’t do anything without one.”


“You can’t! Not for what I want to do. It can’t happen.”

Aunt Kelly looks pained. “Lyddie, I can’t believe – I don’t know how to explain it more clearly. You don’t need to go to college now that you’re lantern keeper because… you have no use for it. You’ll never – you can’t… be a publisher. It would be too much. I know you, Lyddie, and I know that you can do anything you put your mind to, but you can’t do this.” She sees the look on my face and hurries to clarify. “It’s not that you can’t. No one can. It’s not advisable. I know what you want, Lyddie, but you’re going to have to switch gears now. Your future has been decided for you.”

“That’s not fair! You don’t understand what a disaster this is for me-”

Aunt Kelly’s mouth falls open. “I don’t understand?!” Her voice has lost all its sympathy. “Do you think this is what I planned for myself? My entire life I watched your mother be prepped for service and I was so grateful it wasn’t me. Then, just after I had gotten a good, steady job, I heard that Leah was gone. Do you think I wanted to leave my job to take over something I never wanted in the first place? No. But your father needed me and you girls needed me. You are in the exact same position as I was, Lyddie, except you have the benefit of being warned before you could start an outside life. You should be grateful.”

I’m feeling a lot of things right now, but I can’t safely say that grateful is not one of them.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"How Did I Get Here?"

Tonight I had that writing workshop that I signed up for, dropped out of, and then signed up for again. It was most definitely a learning process.

First of all, we were all given all of the pieces to read over beforehand. Not all of us got all of the pieces- I only got seven out of the ten. But I noticed a certain trend in the pieces I did recieve: they were all either short stories or prose poetry and they were all thoughtful and deep and dramatic. Lord knows what everyone thought when they opened up my dialogue-driven, snarky YA piece.

I'm not saying this in a self-deprecating way. I was confident in what I had submitted. But it was so radically different from anyone else's that it stuck out glaringly, and I still don't know if that was a good or bad thing; no one seemed to know how to react. Throughout the workshop, I was listening to other pieces being read and thinking, "How did I get here?"

The workshop itself was pretty awesome. We were put in this conference room in the castle (which used to be the owner's smoking room back in the late 1800s) and the thick wooden doors blocked out every sound. We could whisper and hear each other. It was a very cool and relaxing environment.

The host of the workshop is an academic librarian here at my school and is also a published writer (of short stories, I believe.) I've seen her around, but we've never really met, and I expected her to be either really mean or too shy to even really speak. But instead she was this quietly lively, fun person who gave everyone great feedback.

I had expected to see some people I knew, but there was only one person I had met there; most of the participants were graduate students, which was a little intimidating. But they all turned out to be very nice, too.

I was the last to go- I think she went in the order in which she had recieved our pieces, and due to the rehearsal debacle, I submitted mine six days late. Again, it was very weird because, after all of the flowy, deep prose poetry, my excerpt was like having a bucket of cold water dumped over you. It was more marked than one night in Play & Screenwriting when we present our monologues; the girl before me had jut finished weeping as a dying soldier and then I jumped in with a piece of fast-paced, ridiculous excuses.

Overall, though, the piece was well-recieved. People were pretty complimentary of it and they also gave me some fantastic suggestions- some of which I've already taken. I'm really glad I participated; it was awesome to be sitting in a room of people who are just as dedicated to this as I am. I hope I can do something like that again :)

(Also, I'm now officially a creative writing minor at school!)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WIP Wednesday

I don't like to put my WIP posts with my "this is what's going on" posts, so here's this week's WIP excerpt. What you need to know is that Lyddie, to take on her job, had to basically have a routine psych exam. Though it's just a formality, one of the tests sent Lyddie into a nervous breakdown and she's terrified of the diagnostic letter that will arrive, sure it will contain notes on her failure. Read on:

“Lyddie!” I hear Julie call from downstairs. “Come get your mail!”

I go down to the foyer to find Julie holding a stack of mail, one smaller than the other. She hands me the former and I leaf through it. Ten thousand college postcards from places I would never go, even before I got the job. My half – term report is in there, so I tear it open. Straight As. Congrats, Lyddie. You’re smart and it doesn’t matter anymore. I place the report on the side table for Dad.

The last letter in the pile has a logo in the upper left hand corner that I don’t recognize immediately, but after another second, I realise that it’s from Dr. Philips’ office. The diagnostic letter.

It takes every ounce of self discipline not to take the envelope and its offending contents and feed it into the flames of the very lanterns that got me into this mess in the first place. But even if I did destroy it, Dr. Philips talks to Aunt Kelly on a semi – regular basis, so he’s sure to ask her about it. There’s no getting out of this.

I’m just about to stuff the letter in my pocket and go back up to my room when the door opens and who else but Aunt Kelly walks in.

“Hey girls.”

“Hi, Aunt Kelly,” Julie mutters, immersed in the pages of some magazine.

Aunt Kelly’s gaze lands on me. “Lyddie? Are you okay?”

“Mm-hm. Totally okay.” I try to inch the hand with the letter behind my back, but of course she notices. “What’s that?”

“Uh… report card.” Technically I’m not lying. It is a report card of sorts and I’m pretty sure it’s the kind I’ve never gotten in my entire life- just one big F written in red across the page. Or, no, probably a C, for Crazy.

“Can I see it?”

It takes me a second to move, but I have to give it to her, so finally, I do. I watch my fate literally pass out of my hands. She’s going to be so mad…

She doesn’t open it right away, though. “How about we get a snack before we discuss this? I’m famished and I’m sure there’s some important and interesting stuff to talk about in here.”

“Yeah. Important and interesting.”

I follow her into the kitchen where she removes some grapes from the refrigerator and sits down with the death letter. Popping a grape into her mouth, she tears it open and unfolds it. Before she looks at it, she catches sight of me still standing. “Sit down, Lyddie, so we can talk about this.”

“I’m okay.”


“There’s something about being right by the door that’s really working for me.”

She nudges a chair out with her foot. “Don’t be silly. Sit down.”

Trepidaciously, I do, and watch Aunt Kelly’s face carefully as she scans the contents of the letter. Her expression doesn’t give me a single clue, bad or good. Finally, she sets it down.

“Well.” That’s all she says.

I cringe, looking anywhere but at her. “I know. I’m sorry. I tried.”

“Obviously not hard enough.”

“I’m sorry, really.” I chance another glance at her. She doesn’t look mad, more… disappointed. So she’s going to take the scary calm route. This is going to suck. “I just… I freaked out and I don’t want to ruin anything for Julie and I’m really really sorry.”

“’Freaking out’ is not an excuse for rudeness.”

I look at her now, confused. “What?”

“Dr. Philips reports that through almost the entire session, you were hostile and uncooperative.”

“That’s… all?”

“All? Lyddie, he is very important to our cause. We can’t lose his support.”

“But that’s all he wrote? That I was rude? Nothing about… anything else going on? The results of the test?”

“Well, he can’t report on each test individually – it’s against the privacy code. He did write a general summary of your results, and they seem to be fairly good. But Lyddie, that’s no excuse for your behavior. You’re not a child anymore.”
I’m too busy breathing several thousand sighs of relief to be properly chastised. He didn’t write anything about my breakdown. Thank God. But why? Surely someone who demonstrated such signs of instability can’t be good for the job.

“Lyddie? Are you listening to me?”

“Yeah. Sorry. I won’t do it again, Aunt Kelly. I was just stressed. I’m fine now.”

My curiosity gets the better of me. “What else did he write? Anything good?”

She consults the letter. “That you’re obviously very intelligent. Despite the uncooperativeness, you scored very high on the majority of the tests. But that doesn’t excuse -”

“I know, I know. I have to be nice from now on. I will, I promise.” Now that I don’t feel like I’m going to throw up anymore, I steal a grape. “Can I go now?”

“Sure, go ahead.”

I escape back up to my room, where I practically melt into a puddle of relief. I never thought I’d say it, but thank God for Dr. Philips. I don’t know why he let me off the hook, but I’m grateful he did. Now I just have to pretend that that episode never happened and get on with my life… such as it is now that I’ve been cleared.

Pushing Through

*tries to slip in unnoticed*

Oh, hey... is this where my blog is located? I guess I kinda... haven't posted for awhile, huh?

BUT, guys, I have an EXCUSE. And it is a good one.

I've been writing. And yes, it's November and this is a writing blog, so of course, if I'm posting, I've been writing. But I mean I have been composing like a mad woman. Thank goodness for computers, because I have done so much writing today that I wouldn't be able to move my hand if I'd had to do it long hand.

See, my schedule blew up recently. What with classes, rehearsals, and you know, LIVING, I fell way, way behind on my wordcount. And what's more, when I did have time to write, I'd basically sit there and stare at the screen and maybe get a hundred words out of it.

I know there are sometimes slow periods, especially in NaNo, but this was bad. Because to be honest, I could keep pushing it off until tomorrow, thinking I'd have more time, but every tomorrow brings another 1667 words to be written and it also brings with it my crazy schedule. I mean, seriously... this time next week, I'll be opening a show. So even though I'd sequestered myself for a good four hours yesterday, I got nothing out of it, and I was determined that today would not be another one of those days. I took advantage of my second class being cancelled and went to the school cafe and wrote.

Slowly, very slowly, I began to chip away at the wall I'd been smacking my head against for the past few days. I found my plot again, cleaned up some Write or Die scenes, and in general got my act together. Then I changed my location and did three thirty-minute, thousand-word Write or Die sessions. And finally, after about seven hours, my word count stands thus:

Word Count: 28,421 / 50,000

I am seriously proud of myself. Not only did I write 6,982 words today, I also found a brand new, awesome plot point and had a few new things go wrong for my character. Yesterday, I was desparing that I could write another 35,000 words of this novel, but now I think I might be able to swing 21,579 more.

So my lesson for today, everyone- DETERMINATION. I was about to give up on NaNo this year because I was feeling really overloaded. But in the end, I really want to do it, so I pushed through and it was hard but so, so worth it.

In other news, I had the reading of my first twenty pages of my Peter Pan script in my playwrighting class. It went well. I wasn't too happy with how it was actually read... if only the class were full of actors. But, as my friend in the class said (who I cast as Peter), you can get it from the writing, too. I got some great feedback, both complimentary and constructive, and I'll be returning to that once this entry is finished.

I watched my teacher as he read along with it and I thought he didn't like it. But while he had some questions, in the end, he gave me a compliment so awesome that I am afraid to repeat it to anyone. I'm not going to write it here because a) I don't want to jinx it and b) it's very specific to my school, so you guys might not understand WHY it was such a compliment. But it really was, and it gave me hope, especially since he wasn't so into the idea in the first place.

So now I'm off to work on that! Push through, NaNoers, push through. It'll be well worth the effort.

Last Google search: Write or Die

Last Thesaurus.com search: hurry

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Falling Behind

Word Count: 20,835 / 50,000

I am so, so far behind on my word count. Have cloistered self in library to rectify this. However, play that's due for credit is also begging for attention. And I have two more rehearsals today.


It's Week 3, everyone.

Last Google search: TV listings for [my school.] I haven't watched TV in forever. Not that today was the day to do it.

Last Thesaurus.com search: trepidaciously (to see if it was actually a word and not something I just made up. It's a word.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dodging a Bullet by Taking Another

I wrote yesterday about how my plot needed a complete revamp after the introduction of a semi-serious romantic relationship for my main character. While I was plowing through those changes (which I'm still doing right now... so many little details have to be tweaked), I was seeing statuses/reading blogs/hearing that people were suffering from the Week Two Blues. These are common, and I'm sure I suffered from them myself last year, but right now, I'm feeling pretty good. I really like the changes that this relationship has made to the novel. It's made some decisions more serious, given Lyddie a distraction, which is both good and bad for her, and made me look at some scenes I haven't looked at in awhile and that needed a redo anyway.

So I sort of feel like I've dodged the Week Two bullet. Of course, rewriting all of this stuff, as well as adding in a ton, is proving to be hard and meticulous, but I think it's my own little Week Two challenge. What I'm most afraid of is the 30k panic- I KNOW I suffered from that last year. You hit 30k and then suddenly, it all goes to pot.

And you guys get to come along for the ride :p

Now I've got to go read through my Peter Pan play- I'm having 20 pages of it read in Play & Screenwriting on Tuesday night. I'm either going to be very happy or have my bubble burst by 10 pm that day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WIP Wednesday (and a complete reworking)

Word Count: 15,013 / 50,000

Yesterday I decided that my character's semi-love interest (more like a crush that is allowed to have a moment), who screwed up in said moment, was going to turn into a good guy and come back and apologise. I did this for a few reasons: one, I kind of liked him too (I never fail to fall in love with my MC's love interests) and I wanted to redeem himself, and two, if I didn't give him at least one more scene, his presence in the novel would be sort of unnecessary. As much as I liked the scene I had written between my MC (Lyddie) and him, there was no reason for it.

So I'm happily typing away at this new scene and I'm really liking it. It's working out, both characters end up in a good, believeable place at the end... but then my bubble was burst. Because the whole reason Lyddie was even at the dance with him was to get her out of her house so something bad could happen there... towards the end of the book. After that, it was all action-packed drama and then the conclusion of the novel. My heart broke- there was no way I could get this new scene in there, not with the pace of the scene after the dance.

But the more I looked at the new scene (and the next scene I wrote between Lyddie and her guy... because I couldn't stop) the more I saw its value. A huge theme in the book is whether relationships are valueable enough to preserve over a family duty that must be performed, and Lyddie didn't have enough exposure to anything beyonf family relationships and friendships. Both of these are very valid, but the reason certain things happen in Lyddie's life is because of her mother's choices about other relationships. Lyddie couldn't begin to understand, for better or worse, why someone would make that kind of sacrifice because she had no life experiences to have that understanding. I need this in my novel, and while I'm 80% sure that I'm going to include this newly formed relationship, there are three catches to this:

a) It's going to include a complete reworking of scenes, which I'm perfectly willing to do, but I also have to get my word count up each day as well as reorganization.

b) Lyddie is seventeen and a crush that forms into an only semi-serious relationship (there will be no purple prose in my book, for many reasons). While I would never claim that someone couldn't find true love at seventeen, it might not be true love here. It's just a strong "like."

And c) Lyddie, at this point, has more experience with a boy than I do. I've actually gone beyond my own understanding of a romantic relationship already, and it' going to be hard for me to take it further as far as even emotions go, simply because... I don't know. This is embarrassing for a twenty year old to admit. Let't get off the subject and look at today's WIP.

So what you need to know is that Lyddie's mother has been out of her life since she was six. Lyddie has deduced from the behavior of her father and aunt that her mother ran off for her own personal desires. Whether this is true or not is revealed at the end of the novel, but Lyddie is pretty bitter about what she believes to be true.

“Before we go onto our next test, Lyddie, I wanted to ask you a few questions.”

“About what?”

For the first time, Dr. Philips seems unsure. “About… your mother.”

I blink. Aunt Kelly must have given him a heads up. Otherwise, how could he have known that this was a sore point with me? I can tell from his expression that he expects me to be ruffled by this and I won’t give him the satisfaction. I sit up straighter and clear my throat. “Okay. What about her?”

Dr. Philips consults a manila folder lying flat on his desk. I want to know what’s written in it, but I can’t see from where I’m sitting. “Well, I know that your mother left you, your father, and your sister when you were six.” He looks up for confirmation.

“Yes…” I mutter grudgingly, hoping he’s not going to check in for my reaction after each fact.

“And then a few months later, your aunt Kelly moved in to help take care of you.” He says it like a statement, but doesn’t move on until I give another perfunctory confirmation. “How did you react to suddenly having another mother figure in your life?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t remember how you felt about another woman stepping into your mother’s place?”

I let out a sigh. “I didn’t see her as stepping into my mother’s place. I was six; for awhile, I didn’t really understand that my mom had even left me. My dad never actually told me what happened, so, for awhile, I just assumed she was on a really long trip.”

Dr. Philips picks up a pen, poised to record my life story. “So how did you find out?”

I raise an eyebrow. “I asked.”

“Asked who?”

I shrug. “Everyone. Dad. Aunt Kelly. Julie. My teachers. People at the grocery store. Everyone I thought might have seen her.

“And what were you told by your dad and aunt?”

“Well,” I begin. “Every time I asked my dad, he looked like he was about to cry. Sometimes he did, though he always made excuses about dust and allergies. The only thing he would be able to get out was that it wasn’t my fault and I should never blame myself. I wanted to know more, but I didn’t like making him sad, so eventually, I stopped asking him altogether. So I asked my aunt, and she told me that my mom wasn’t able to do her job anymore. I didn’t know what that meant.” I pause, then admit, “I still don’t know what that means.”

Dr. Philips is scribbling in the folder and suddenly I get an idea. “Do you know?” I ask, so suddenly that his pen jerks across the page.


“Well, you’re one of the only outside people that knows about my family and the lanterns – do you know why she left?”

The doctor hesitates for a moment. “Lyddie, I have nothing to tell you about your mother that you don’t already know. As I’ve said, the rules are put in place for a reason. From the outside, the job seems easy, even trivial. But once you’re doing it yourself, you’ll find out that it’s not. Neither is raising a family or even having a serious relationship. Put those together and you have a recipe for disaster.”
“I don’t get it. Why couldn’t I just tell my hypothetical family about the lanterns and get help from them? It would make the job a thousand times easier.”

“So it seems. But something you may not know is that, with each outside person that is told, the security of the lamps diminishes. They took a great risk telling me enough that would allow me to evaluate candidates accurately. So your mother telling your father about them was -”

“Really, really bad.”

“Precisely. And even if she hadn’t, the strain that the lights put on any relationship your mother had would have been difficult. A romantic connection often thrives on experiences, and those are limited when half of the couple is required to work twenty four hours a day. Similarly, any job suffers when there are distractions, and, as you can imagine, a romance or a family is the ultimate distraction.”

“So instead of choosing one over the other, she just bailed. Responsible,” I remark wryly.

Dr. Philips clicks his pen and sighs. “It seems that way, doesn’t it?”

“And that’s it?” I probe. I don’t want to accept that what I’ve been told for the past eleven years is the truth. I guess I wanted to learn that my mom went off to have an adventure. That she was a spy and was called off on a secret mission. Even that she was harboring a secret so grave that she had to run away from everything she knew and start a new life. Anything that rescinds the fact that she abandoned her husband and two young daughters because they were a hassle.

“Lyddie?” Dr. Philips’ voice breaks into my thoughts. “What are you thinking?”

“I’m thinking that this sucks,” I answer. “My mom abandoned me for no better reason than she was stressed out. How is that supposed to make me feel? She didn’t just hurt me; she broke my dad’s heart. He never seems truly happy. And you should see the look on my aunt’s face whenever the subject comes up. She hates her own sister. Did my mom even consider how her running off was going to affect the rest of her family? The family she wanted so badly that she broke all the rules? She just decided to go start a life of ease and left the rest of us to suffer.”

“Well, while I think your mother made some poor decisions, I don’t think you should be so quick to judge. Her situation might not be as pleasant as you imagine.”

I practically tip my chair over as I lean toward him. “Do you know where she is?” I demand.

Dr. Philips looks taken aback by my question, but says calmly, “No, I don’t.”

“Could you find out?”

“Why would you want me to do that? Do you want to contact her?”

“I -” I don’t have an answer. I don’t know what I’d do if I had an address or a phone number for my runaway mother; I don’t want to speak to her. But having a concrete locality, proof that she’s somewhere besides where she’s supposed to be, gives me some sense of stability, as strange as that sounds. It’s a fact, and I can deal with facts. I know what to do with them.

“No,” I say in answer to Dr. Philips’ question. “But I’d still like to know.”

“Well, I’m afraid I can’t help you with that. In fact, I don’t know if anyone can – as far as I know, her whereabouts are unknown.”

Suddenly, I’m tired of talking about this. Every attempt to get anyone to discuss my mother has just led to a wall, and I’m sick of trying to force my way through. What difference will it make anyway? “Never mind,” I sigh, slumping back in the chair. “Are there more tests?”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Physical Reactions and Things Working Out

Today was the first day since I was fourteen years old that I shared a poem I had written with my class. The last time I did it, I was in an extremely challenging advanced communication arts class. Well, it was challenging for me, anyway. I had worked my butt off on the entrance test two years in a row and only got accepted the second time around... and everyone else was smarter than me. (Or so it seemed. Talking to my then-classmates now, I've heard that everyone felt the pressure.) Because the class was so hard and my attitude toward poetry so bad, though I was nervous about sharing it, I somehow knew I would be inferior, so I wasn't too concerned about it. It was just another unit.

Fast forward to this year, me ignoring the fact that a class entitled Writing in Poetry & Fiction might include some poetry as well as fiction. I ignored it up until a couple of weeks ago when I bit the bullet and started to compose a poem for class. It was sort of based on a dream I had, and I hated it when I was finished. I got butterflies just thinking about my classmates reading it. I had established myself- along with pretty much everyone else in the class- as a fairly good fiction writer who turns in pieces filled with snarky characters. What would they think of this dramatic, semi-period, fever-delirious piece?

I almost skipped class, I was so nervous. I had to go second and by that point, I was shaking and my palms were practically dripping sweat. I wanted to cry. "Why are you hiding?" my professor asked, since generally I don't shut up in that class and had said very few words in today's class. I asked him if we might just get it over with. I forgot that part of the poetry presentation was that it had to be read out loud. Cue me cringing. Thank goodness it was short(ish).

The class ended up liking it, for the most part. There was some confusion (that I hadn't purposely built in) that is easily solved if I ever am brave enough to open up that document again. So I guess it went over well.

Though I knew I was going to be nervous about this presentation, I can't believe my physical reaction. I am kind of a nervous person in general, but it takes a lot for me to get so worked up that my palms sweat. The last time that happened, I was getting my flu shot all by myself (I have a deathly fear of needles and have never gone without my mommy there :p)

Anyway, it's over and it wasn't a terrible experience. And some good news arrived in my inbox while I was panic attacking it up. I had had to drop out of the writing workshop I signed up for because I was told I had rehearsal on that day. Then I found out I didn't. I instantly e-mailed the organizer of the workshop... and for three days, he didn't e-mail me back. I figured it was hopeless, but re-emailed him this morning... and it turns out he was saving a place for me all along! He said he needed my piece and there was the problem- I didn't know what I was going to send in. I didn't have anything short/long enough. Finally, after an hour of cutting, pasting, and rewording, I was able to send him an edited scene of Q, excerpts of which I've shared on this blog before.

Phew... what a day. And it's only 3:15. Can't wait to see what tonight's writing class brings!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Word count: 13,161 / 50,000

A responsible person would have realised that her schedule was way too full to try to do NaNoWriMo this year.

A responsible person would realise eight days in that even though one show was over, that doesn't mean more time, as serious rehearsals for the next one kick in, uh, NOW.

A responsible person would take a look at her linguistics grade and realise that she should DROP. OUT. NOW.

But I can't. I have to do it and I want to do it. I love writing and I actually think it's what's keeping me sane right now, besides rehearsals. School is overwhelming me in ways I don't know that I've ever experienced. I was that good student that passed classes with pretty much no effort, but this year I've hit some walls that I didn't anticipate- like just how bad I'd be at Acting in Film & TV and just how much I want to please my Play & Screenwriting teacher. Not to mention the fact that tomorrow, my first poem for Poetry & Fiction will be analysed and I'm practically giving myself a heart attack worrying over it. The show-offy, teacher's pet seven year old in me is stomping her feet and whining.


Excuse me while I complain. I'm going to chill now and realise that just because today sucked doensn't necessarily mean I do. I'm only a day behind on my word count and I have many, many free hours that I can fill with writing now that I'm completely off-book for my next show.

Last Google search: Anglo-Norman French (sadly not for my novel, but for a linguistics essay that, if it earns a bad grade, I will cry.)
Last Thesaurus.com search: predecessor (I can never remember the antonym)

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Since I don't have much time to write at all today, let alone a blog entry (I'm dashing this off before a day that includes seven hours of rehearsal and a performance), I'll give you what I have a of a playlist for this year's NaNo.

All That's Known- Spring Awakening
21 Guns- American Idiot
Trainers in Love- ALL CAPS
There's a World- Next to Normal
Hey 1- Next to Normal
California Dorks (Parody of California Gurls)- Skyway Flyer
Don't Do Sadness/Blue Wind- Spring Awakening
Totally F*****- Spring Awakening
Clark Gable- Postal Service
Everything Else- Next to Normal
Who's Crazy/My Psychopharmacologist and I- Next to Normal
Maybe (Next to Normal)- Next to Normal

It's surprisig to me that all of these songs have lyrics; I generally find any non-instrumental music very distracting when I'm writing. But all of this music fits at least one part of my novel so well that I had to use it.

(Oh, and if you haven't heard any of these songs, you should check them out, but especially ALL CAPS! They're my favorite band :) )

Now off to rehearsal!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cover Art!

I'm pretty hopeless with computer stuff; the last time I felt tech savvy at all was when I was trying to help my grandfather figure out instant messaging. Even when my mom needed help setting up her Facebook this summer, most of our conversations went like this:

MOM: And what is that over there?
ME: ...I don't know. I've never seen that before. What does that do?

Which is why I am extremely proud of the "cover art" I did for my NaNo novel. I know it's simple and a little rough, but I actually wanted it simple and as for the rough part... I think it looks pretty good!

(I did have my last name on it, too, but "painted" it out for internet purposes.)

I also had a meeting this afternoon about the playwrighting job. It's all working out really well. I got a little worried when the head of the project said that many of the programs don't get started in earnest until the spring semester and some of the programs aren't jump-started yet. Thankfully, the level I'm working at (third and fourth graders) has been involved for twenty years and they get most of their work done in the fall. Phew! I can't wait to get started!

Now I have to go submit myself to Write or Die... otherwise I'll never make my wordcount for the day. Second-to-last performance of Alice tonight :(

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rachel 101

Word Count: 6,667 / 50,000

The thing I love about NaNoWriMo (well, one of the things) is that it teaches me so much about myself. And not even about my work habits or top procrastination tools (though it covers those, too.) This novel, especially, is really showing me what I'm like as a person. The main character, Lyddie, is not at all based on myself- or at least, I never set out to make her so. But she and I share so many of the same fears- big and small, personal, relationship-centered, school issues- that I don't even realise I have or still have until I write a sentence or paragraph that makes me go, "Oh..." Normally, I would detail my findings, but honestly, most of them have surprised me so much that I'm not sure I'll ever reveal them to people who might actually read this book. And since I post excerpts here, you count!

Another thing that writing my novels has been teaching me, sort of a branch off of the last topic, is what about a situation scares me. I've rediscoverd a few fears while writing this book, but I also effectively creeped myself out today (writing one of the climactic scenes) enough to realise that complete calm from someone threatening is way scarier to me than anyone yelling anything. And the nice thing about actually feeling scared when I wrote the scene is that I just took what I was feeling sitting here in the library, typing, magnified it by ten, and wrote it in.

And now, after falling behind last night, I'm all caught up on my word count AND I'm pretty happy with what I wrote, which is rare when I cram in writing like this. So, smiles all around (except for my main character... she's not smiling right now.)

Last Google search: Naked Chocolate (the cafe where the write-in today is being held. Sadyl, I cannot go.)
Last Thesaurus.com search: glare

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Hooray, a WIP Wednesday where I'm not scrambling (or, er... skipping...) Here's a brand-new, just written yesterday exceprt from The Other Side of Light (NaNo2010):

I’m almost out the door when I notice an unattended table at the end of a row. There are a few brochures stacked on a corner and a few loose sheets of paper, but nothing else. Curious, I pick up one of the leaflets and unfold it. Inside are listed individual study opportunities. “Save the cost!” reads the first page inside. “Study with the College of Autarchical Studies and learn what you want on your own time, resulting in a degree you can take pride in- because you created it!”

I raise my eyebrows when I read this sentence. This sounds like those types of for – profit colleges that you hear about on t.v. and I’m kind of surprised that the school even let them into the building, let alone set up a table. I guess it’s an option, but not for me. I’ve just put the brochure back on top of the pile when I hear someone come up behind me.

“Interested in our school?” the man says. He’s so tall that I have to tilt my head back to see his face clearly. He makes it easier by coming around the table and sitting behind it so that we’re eye to eye.

“Um… just looking,” I respond, not wanting to be rude.

“Well, we’re taking applications now and the benefits of our school are great, especially if you don’t have the funds or time to go to a full – time university.”

“Oh,” I say, wondering how I can sneak away without too much more conversation. “Sounds… convenient.”

The man is still trying to hand me the paper, smiling widely behind his brown moustache. “Oh, it is. Take a look at our website when you get home, you’ll see what I mean.”

“Okay,” I nod, scanning the people around me for someone I know so I can pretend to need to talk to them. Sadly, I see no one.

“And maybe,” the man says, still grinning widely and holding out the pamphlet, “Someone from the college could pay a visit to you and your family? Explain to them a little about our mission and what you can glean from the program. Does that sound good?”

Now I’m getting weirded out. “Uh… I don’t know, we’re all pretty busy.”

“I’m sure we can work something out. Does your mom work?”

“My mom isn’t… around,” I answer and immediately regret responding at all. “I really don’t know if a meeting can be arranged.”

The papers are still being waved in my face. “Well, at least take the brochure. I’m sure you’ll see the benefits if you take the time to look into the program.”
Finally, I give in and take the booklet. “Sure. I will,” I say and scurry away as quickly as possible. The bell rings and I shove the brochure into my bag and take the steps two at a time.

At lunch, I set my tray on the table and plop down next to my best friend, Michelle. If you look at us quickly, we seem like an odd match. While we’re both thin, she’s about four foot nine and the tininess suits her, whereas I walk around next to her feeling like a giraffe. Where I’m awkward, she’s graceful. While I sit there in jeans and a t – shirt, she’s dressed in adorable little skirts and cute blouses.

“So where have you been?” Michelle inquires, putting aside the bread from her chicken sandwich. “I haven’t seen you all day.”

“Yeah, sorry. This morning I had to talk to Mrs. Taylor about going to McKinley in a couple of weeks to take the SAT-2s again. I want to get my writing score by at least a hundred. And then physics got out early for the college fair. Speaking of -” I open my iced tea. “Did you see that one table, the College of Autarchial Studies or whatever?”

“No,” Michelle says. “What is it? Sounds weird.”

“It was, and not just because of the ridiculous name. First of all, I can’t believe Principal Foeller would let them in – they didn’t look or sound very reputable. And then the guy running the table was just a creeper. He wasn’t there when I got to it, and then he came up behind me and started asking me all of these weird questions. I didn’t want to be rude and be like, ‘There is no freaking way I am going to your school, so bug off,’ but he wouldn’t let me go.”

“Awkward,” Michelle remarks, drinking her water with a straw.

“So you didn’t see him?”

“I didn’t even go.”

“Michelle!” I exclaim.

Though you might not be able to tell, Michelle’s crazy smart. She and I have been best friends since second grade and when we were kids, she was just as outwardly nerdy as I was- the books, the glasses, the constant raising of the hand. These days, she hides her intellect behind contacts and slightly too-short skirts, but in reality, she’s reading on her Blackberry, not texting, and she could whoop your butt at calculus while carrying on a conversation about the latest issue of People magazine. But as intelligent as she is, I sometimes suspect that she has no common sense.

“You need to get on this stuff,” I chide. “The process has to happen eventually; why not get a jump start? College is just around the corner.”

Michelle examines her perfect manicure. “Lyddie, calm down. It’s March of our junior year. I’ve got plenty of time. We all don’t need to be you, okay?”

A little stung, I take a sip of my tea and don’t say anything. Sometimes I forget that people aren’t as manically committed to things like perfect SAT scores and early decision as I am. Admittedly, I can get jealous of these people – they somehow find the time to relax and go to concerts or whatever. I wish I could be more like these people, like my best friend – she knows she’s smart and that’s all she needs; she doesn’t feel compelled to constantly prove it to others and to herself like I do. All of those tests she gets As on barely get a passing glance, while I pore over my A minus wondering how I can talk it into an A plus. What is it like to be calm about these things? I guess I’ve never considered that maybe Michelle isn’t hiding her smarts; maybe she’s just gained those I haven’t. I do have the contacts, though. Maybe that’s a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Missed Opportunities

Word Count: 3,475/50,000

Well, I'm still in I-love-my-novel mode. It will fade, I know, but right now, it's still (mostly) puppies and rainbows, and, even better, tomorrow I have some class time to write, since not only am I watching for nearly two hours in one class, but I'm sort of supervising a headshot photoshoot tomorrow. This will basically require me to make sure so-and-so is there and that's all, so... writing time! Though I'm a tiny bit ahead of where I need to be today, I wanted to write more than I did, so hopefully tomorrow, I can rectify that.

My two writing classes have showed me that, though I can often turn out good material, I also miss a lot of oppotunities. Thankfully, since it has been caught this entire semester, I've begun to spot it myself. I wrote a scene earlier today and pronounced it done (for now), but as I was writing the moments directly after it, I realised that the encounter had to be much, much creepier than it was. I made it so when I got back to my computer, and it's so much better for the story this way.

The nice thing about all this new writing is that I won't have to scramble for WIP Wednesday stuff for awhile!

Last Google search: how to become a publisher
Last Thesaurus.com seach: autarcical

Monday, November 1, 2010

And... GO!

Word Count: 1,913/50,000

NaNoWriMo 2010 has begun as of this morning, and I started typing at 12:00 am! I'm very happy to be ahead on my word count, since I will no doubt be falling far, far behind later this month. Besides having my usual schedule of classes, club rehearsals, and previously scheduled rehearsals, the director of my next show panicked this morning and schedule rehearsals for almost every single day/night... including nights that I absolutely cannot make due to classes. Still trying to work that out, but I'm digressing. What I'm trying to say is, I am going to be victorious despite everything!

Who else is doing NaNo?

And now I'm going to copy Kristina Horner's long-standing idea of a blog outro that will give you a fun look into my writing process:

Last Google search: history of security alarms

Last Thesaurus.com search:
predecessor antonym