Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rewriting! And... GO!

Since I am now free from school (though only technically for a little over a week- then I leave for England and my university orientation there), I have been doing a lot of writing. Last night, I was reading over Q, which I haven't worked on in earnest for awhile, and tweaking a few things. This afternoon, I finished editing another NaNoer's novel (all 248 pages of it... oy) and began a second tonight. And on Christmas day (if I can), I will start looking at my own NaNo novel, The Other Side of Light. I'm really excited to get back to it.

This morning, I went online to check my grades (four A's and one B, the latter in a class I hated and thought I was going to fail, so yay!) Besides the happy fact that two of the A's are in my writing classes and my P&F teacher said he doesn't usually give out A's, I was pleased to find my revision letter from my playwrighting teacher in my inbox.

The letter itself is three pages long, single-spaced, which is lovely. Because while it is full of hard truths and suggestions for improvement, I didn't turn this script in thinking it was perfect and I want suggestions because I want to do something with this play. Additionally, the fact that he wrote so much means that he was willing to consider it for that long, so I'm thrilled.

A lot of the suggestions are going to be really hard to work- they're going to require a lot of thinking about the play from new angles and rewriting scenes I love the way they are currently. But while a part of me cries at the thought of doing this, another part is happy that I'm already at the stage where difficult questions can be asked and that the letter didn't simply read, "Learn how to spell and then we'll talk," (as I suspect some of my classmates' may have.) And what better place to start my revisions than England, the setting of the play? These rewrites are going to be very difficult, but I am determined to be triumphant!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Friends in Writing

Hello, everyone! I'm back, having survived my finals (I hope, anyway.) I turned in my last paper at 5:30 Monday evening, and since then, I've been writing, editing, and typing up some monologues to take with me on my England adventure, as well as visiting my alma maters (I have two- my regular high school and my theatre high school), decorating the house, and hanging out with my friends.

One of my friends, who I also went to visit school with, had a wonderful writing chat with me today. After visiting EAHS, neither of us were really ready to go home yet, so we went to a local cafe. He's a writer as well, and embarking on some pretty exciting territory as one very soon. We also began a joint novel a few weekends ago when he came to visit me at my college. We're both really excited about the project, as it means a lot of new things for both of us. First of all, we'll be writing together. While we've been working together since middle school, really, on films and reading each other's writing, we've never written together. This in itself will be very interesting, as we have very different styles.

The project also includes some new elements for both of us, like writing adult characters, not teenagers or adults who are percieved as teenagers (a challenge for both of us, as neither of us is one of these yet), having the entire novel take place over one or two days, and he writing in a completely female perspective (though he already writes girls very well.) It's going to be difficult, but a good kind of difficult, I think. At least we live in the age of e-mail; can you imagine the two of us sending pages back and forth through snail mail across an entire ocean? I'm just excited to have a new writing project!

In addition to discussing this project, we talked about basing characters off of real people (I don't do this purposely, though it tends to happen; he does, and asked my permission to make a character very like me. It's possible he's going to use the hardest parts of my life, for which he was present, but the way I see it, his writing about it might help me sort it out a little better), characters making decisions for themselves, writng emotional truths, killing off characters, inspirations, poetry (which I hate and declared "one big secret"), and our futures in writing.

I just love having writer friends :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Sorry for the lack of updates... and there will be no WIP Wednesday today, either, as finals are killing me. I've never had so many papers due (it's about five or six of varying length... ugh.) The only reason why this is even being written is because I'm stuck in the basement of my school library while I scan the many, many pages of my playwrighting and writing journals for my teacher. It is tedious work.

But in good news, I finished the first draft of my Peter Pan play... and now it even has a name, thanks to my friend Caleb. I'm calling it Straight on 'Til Morning. It runs at eighty-five pages, currently. I had to do an incredible amount of research for a scene that I never even planned on writing. At first, I was just doing the research for myself for background information. But then after my class suggested I write at least one scene in the asylum (a.k.a "sanatorium"), I needed to go even more in-depth. And now not only can I not stop because it's so interesting, but new stuff is popping up every day- or maybe I'm just noticing it now. But suddenly, people are blogging about this topic, plays are being produced about it, and there are new websites every day. Very interesting- and very helpful!

Now that my scans are done, I suppose I should go back to my room and actually write these three last papers *cries*

Friday, December 3, 2010

What I Did

So I've been in novel-centered mourning for about four days now, and I think I can begin to talk about the reason.

First of all, I might be seeming dramatic, but I was seriously affected by what went on in my final hour of NaNoWriMo (which was actually about 6 pm, but I had a class and then rehearsal, and so wouldn't return until almost midnight- not enough time to finish AND win.)

I was typing away like a madwoman, sometimes turning to Write or Die to kick my butt. Usually WoD is the thing that forces unexpected (and usually unwanted) twists into my books, but it wasn't the culprit this time- it was all me.

I had no idea how to end the book. No clue. I actually had a couple of ideas in mind, one that involved a sequel. And, in fact, I had already written the cliffhanger ending the night before. But as I looked back over it, I realised that it was really incomplete and kind of pathetic. I decided to see where it would go if I took it further because, as much as I like the characters and the story, I didn't have enough ammo for a sequel. So I just started writing.

And then Lyddie died.

Yeah. SHE DIED. Worse, she was KILLED. About a minute after her aunt was killed. And another minute before the next member of her family would be killed.

This was COMPLETELY unplanned. Even though I had no idea what the end was going to be, Lyddie was always alive at the end of it. At that point, I felt like I was just watching my fingers type these horrible words. I wanted to undo it all... especially the way it happened. I just wrote that method of killing, not knowing how it actually affected someone's body and mind and then, and then after I had won, I was doing some research on the method and found out that I was pretty much right. How did I know that? I don't look up killing methods in my spare time.

But anyway. The thing I'm realising is that it fits. It really fits. It's sudden and shocking and tragic, but it works. It's not overdramatic. And I think the best part is that, because I didn't know what was going to happen, I didn't write in that direction. I think that if I had planned it, I would have written some scenes with the attitude that she was going to die. I would have tried to put some extra superfluous meaning into things. But because I didn't, it's even more tragic.

So while I've almost cried a couple of times because she's gone, I also don't think I'm changing it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

WIP er... Friday

Sorry about the lateness. And this'll be the last look at The Other Side of Light for about a month, as I have shut it away tonight to get some distance.

“Jake and I have an announcement,” my sister all but squeals. “A very exciting announcement!” She looks at Aunt Kelly, Dad, and me, but none of us says anything, so she goes on. “As you know, Jake and I have been dating for awhile -” Oh, God. “- and we’ve grown really close since we first met -” Oh, please, God, no. “- and we think we’re ready to take our relationship to the next level -” Please don’t say it… “We’re getting married!” OH PLEASE GOD NO!

“What is wrong with you, Lyddie?” Julie demands, glaring at me. I look around at my family (and Jake), who are all staring at me, and realise that I said that last one out loud.

“Sorry,” I say. “I don’t know where that came from. I’m, uh…congrats.” 
 Lie. A total lie. I think this whole thing is ridiculous. I’m all for love and marriage and stuff, but my sister is twenty years old. She may not be in school, but that’s no reason to run off and get married. 

“Well,” Julie presses, “Anyone else going to say something?”

Another silence stretches for eternity until Dad chokes out, “Congratulations. We’re all really happy for you.” He looks over at Aunt Kelly and me. “Aren’t we?”

Aunt Kelly is staring at Julie with a strange look on her face. “Julie, could I see you in the kitchen for a moment?”

Julie’s smile doesn’t falter. “Come on, Aunt Kelly, let’s celebrate! This is exciting! Don’t you think it’s exciting?”

“Julia,” my aunt repeats. “Kitchen. Now.”

Sighing, Julie unwraps herself from Jake’s arms and follows Aunt Kelly to the kitchen door, throwing Jake a “my family is so silly sometimes” shake of the head before disappearing behind the door.

Dad and I are left alone with Jake, who neither of us have ever really talked to. We sit uncomfortably on the couch while Jake looks around the room with feigned interest. I have to know what Aunt Kelly and Julie are saying, so I get up and move toward the kitchen door.

“Lyddie, don’t,” my father warns, but I act like I haven’t heard him and ease the door open a tiny crack. I can only see Julie at this angle, standing with her arms folded and no longer smiling. I move a little closer to catch what’s being said.

“-know your duties and what’s expected of you. You’ve know them since you were seven years old.”

“I haven’t forgotten them,” Julie retorts. 

“And yet you accepted the proposal of someone that you know you can’t marry?”

“I am going to marry him,” Julie say acidly.

“You can’t,” Aunt Kelly answers emphatically. “All the rules prohibit it.”

“The same rules that were bent for my mom?”

“And you know what happened with that.”

Julie raises her eyebrows and moves into her battle stance, shifting all her weight onto one hip, and I know that she’s ready to argue to the death. “No, actually, I don’t know what happened. Why don’t you tell me? My mother takes off when I’m nine and no one tells me why. So go ahead.”

“You know why.”

“No, I don’t.”

“It was too much for her.”

“That’s all you and Dad ever say. ‘It was too much for her’? What does that even mean?”

“I will not allow you to throw away all of your training for a boy you just met.”

“I’m not throwing it away! I never said I wouldn’t still do the job!”

“Julie, you know full well that the rules-”

“Screw the rules! They were invented by a bunch of scared old ladies in the dinosaur age. Times have changed and the rules need to, too.”

“The times may have changed, Julie, but the lanterns haven’t. It’s just as difficult to look after them today as it was two hundred years ago, maybe more so.”

“Then why shouldn’t I try to get as much help as possible? Jake would help me, I know he would.”

“You haven’t told him anything, have you?” Aunt Kelly’s voice has an edge of nervousness tinging the anger.

Julie rolls her eyes. “No, Aunt Kelly,” she chants like a schoolgirl reciting her multiplication tables. “I didn’t tell Jake about our deep, dark family secret.”


Nothing. I swear.”

There’s a silence, and behind me, I can hear my dad telling me to come away from the door, but I wave away his order. I need to know how this ends. I shift so I can see Aunt Kelly, who is pacing in the small space between the island and the counter.

“It’s not too late to break off the engagement. It’s never too late these days-”

“Stop!” Julie cuts in. “I’m not breaking off the engagement. I love Jake and I’m going to marry him. I don’t care about the stupid lanterns.”

Aunt Kelly turns angry, wounded eyes to my sister. “You’re going to leave your family behind, just like that?”

“I’m not leaving my family behind. I told you, I’m perfectly happy to watch over the lanterns, after my honeymoon. I don’t want to let my family down. I just want to start my own.”

“Julie, you ca-”

“Stop telling me I can’t. I can and I will.”

“It’s dangerous.”

“So is becoming a crazy cat lady, which is the only other choice I have. I am not my mother, Aunt Kelly. I have more training than she ever had, as a result of what she did.”


“I can do this. I won’t choose between Jake and the job. Either I marry him and keep the job, or I’m out. It’s up to you.”

Aunt Kelly stands quietly, bracing herself between the island and the counter. Finally, she says in a low voice, eyes on the floor, “I’ll consider what you’ve said. But I want you to consider, too, what the danger is if you go ahead with this marriage.”

“I will.”

Julie’s footsteps approach the door and I throw myself back into my seat just as she reenters. I can tell by the look she gives me that she knows I heard every word, but whether the anger I see is at me or just Aunt Kelly, it’s hard to tell. Either way, it’s gone the second she makes eye contact with Jake.

“So. Did you get to know my dad and my sister while I was away?”

“Sure,” Jake says. “We were talking about the lanterns. They look pretty old.”

“Oh, they’re getting there,” Julie says, shooting a scathing glance in Aunt Kelly’s direction. 

“Julie,” Aunt Kelly warns. “How about you and Jake get some dinner? I think you have a few things to discuss.” She leans on the last word, but Julie pretends not to know what she’s talking about.

“Sounds great,” she exclaims, and I know she’s being overly happy to annoy our aunt. “Come on, Jake, let’s go.”

“Oh, uh… okay,” Jake says. He looks awkwardly at the rest of us, probably trying to figure out if he’s obliged to hug us or something, now that we’re his future family. To my relief, he doesn’t. Instead, he looks at my father and goes, “Uh, well… thank you,” before backing out of the room.

As soon as I hear the front door click shut, I let out a snort of laughter. “Did he seriously thank you?” I say to Dad. “Like, for Julie? He didn’t even technically ask your permission. Do people even do that anymore?”

I may find this situation funny, but Aunt Kelly doesn’t. Her arms are folded tightly across her chest and she looks deep in thought. “If this is to be,” she says pensively. “It’s going to take a lot of finagling. I don’t know if the rules will be allowed to be broken twice.” She ends the sentence there, but Dad and I know how it actually concludes: “After what happened last time.” We’re coming dangerously close to the subject of my mother now, something that never goes over well. Best to duck out now.

TOSOL Wordle

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reactions... Good or Bad?

I haven't been able to stop thinking about the ending of my novel. Remember how much I said I hated it? Well, I read it over again this morning and while it seems to fit the novel better... I still am in denial that this is the ending.

In acting, my thought is always that, if it gets a response, that's good. But what does it mean that, even as I thought about the ending a few seconds ago, it gave me disturbed butterflies in my stomach... and not happy ones?

I am a very confused writer at the moment...

The good thing is that I got two review offers on my novel. Tomorrow, I will shut my novel away so I can be away from it before I edit it for minor things like grammar and stuff before I send it off. I doubt I'll make a big enough overhaul in those days to rewrite another ending. I suppose I could see what they think of it...

I'll post a WIP Wednesday entry tomorrow (or, well, later today.) :)