Saturday, October 22, 2011

NaNo Prep

As I have since 2008, I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. But after three years of being a NaNo purist (writing- or attempting in 2008- 50,000 new words in the month of November), I'm changing it up a little this year... and I'm not completely happy about that.

I'm a little OCD- I like to do things the same way, all the time. I make bets with myself: I bet you can't keep this up for the rest of your life. I betcha. And so even deviating from an annual thing is kind of screwing with me. But I both want and need to do it, I think, and it's not an unheard of thing and so is still officially accepted.

I'm going to be doing what is usually called NaNoFiMo. I will be finishing up a novel I began to work on in September of 2009 (the sci-fi YA one.) I will probably not write 50,000 more words of it (as it's already nearly 35,000), but I will be adding possibly a good 20,000, maybe more, and I also plan to edit the book in November.

There are a few reasons for this choice:

1) I really want to finish this novel. I've worked on it sporadically for over two years now, and I really want to move on with it (though not from it.)

2) There are a few people (and by a few I mean two :p) who want to read it, and by editing it, they won't be reading complete brain vomit, which is always what my NaNo novels are by December 1st.

3) While I'm not busier than I was last year, I'm more worried about the busyness, and I want to be able to concentrate on outside things more than I usually do during NaNo.

I want to get as much as the novel done as I can before November so I can edit thoroughly (including rewrites of existing scenes and most probably adding new ones) when NaNo comes along. I'm very much looking forward to this November, however unorthodox it will be.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Starting from Scratch

I have once again neglected this blog... oops.

Anyway, my WFC class is still lovely, although there is one part that's not so great: the grad students. WFC is a combined undergrad/grad class. Even last year, I would have found this daunting, but I don't feel that the grad students have that much more experience than I do in this class' speciality. One thing about the grad students, though, is that most of them are teachers themselves. This, apparently, makes them think that they have a free pass to talk ALL THE TIME. I don't mean give their opinions a lot or dominate conversations; I'd be fine with that. No, I mean that they whisper and giggle through every class.

It's no secret that I'm a bit of a nerd and a bit of a teacher's pet, but I don't really think I'm being either when I say that this is distracting and very rude to our professor. Sometimes there are so many of them conversing behind me (because, of course, that's where they all sit) that I really can't hear the professor, and I can tell she gets distracted by them sometimes, too. I'm not sure why they think it's acceptable behavior. I get that they're teachers, but in my mind, that means they would understand how distracting they're being. Would they allow that in their own classrooms? I highly doubt it. Sadly, I don't have the nerve to turn around and tell them to shut it.

Besides my irritating graduate classmates, I'm still loving WFC. We did an exercise about beginning a story in which we had to write three different beginnings going off of the same prompt. It was really interesting and I liked my results. I was hoping to get that back today, but we had to use the same prompt result for this past week's exercise. On this one, I didn't do too well. See, I have two problems. One is that, as I'm sure I've mentioned, I am horrible at writing on demand. I'm all about making myself write even when I don't want to, and I'm not a slave to a muse. I do find it difficult to write when I have to start from scratch for a specific assignment, though. My brain goes into panic mode and I can't think of anything.

This time around, there was the added difficulty of taking the beginning I'd already created and plotting out the novel that would result from that composition. The beginning I had written was not novel-length worthy. It was probably more short-story worthy or, to be honest, just exercise worthy. There wasn't enough conflict presented in the intro to merit an entire novel, and I couldn't fathom one that I could just make up. I started work on that assignment the day I got it. A week later (meaning last night at 11 pm), I still had next to nothing.

So what did I do?

Oh, just threw in a random road trip. Yeah... I felt pretty crappy handing that in to my professor. I guess it was better than giving her nothing.

I also was almost denied being able to use my WIP as my to-be-critiqued piece. I asked my professor today how long she wanted the required synopsis to be and she told me that she would prefer I wrote something original for the class. Thankfully, I think my telling her that it is still very much a WIP (as opposed to a novel I finished over the summer or something along those lines) made a difference, and she's letting me use it, thank God. At least for this novel, I know exactly what's going to happen for the rest of the book (well, in general...) so I can easily write an outline for this one.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Children's Lit Class

Wow. Hi. I've sucked at blogging lately. I have excuses- start of school, having bronchitis for a month (still got it), three trips to New York city in three weeks, my brand-new computer crashing (and taking a good 15 pages from my novel with it) etc. But I'm not going to detail them.

I want to talk about my children's writing class. I almost didn't get to take this class because it runs at the same time as my required stage make-up class. Fortunately, my advisor is letting me work around this and take the writing class. It meets once a week for three hours and I'm totally in love with it.

We cover everything from picture books to YA novels, including writing for magazines and non-fiction books. At the moment, we just finished reading and discussing The Tale of Despereaux, which I loved (and had never read before.) We're reading so many great books and I get so excited during every class. During yesterday's class, I had a bronchitis-related fever and I still thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The thing I love about it is that it inspires me not just to write, but to write what I love, and outside of it, too. Sometimes it's hard to be a YA writer in a school full of people (and a group of friends) who don't read YA, but my teacher is so passionate and supportive of children's lit that I feel I'm given permission to do my work. Also, after reading Despereaux, I think I'd like to write a middle grade novel some day.

As with my last writing class, it's a critique class part of the time. I'm not being critiqued until November, but I need to start getting my stuff together now. One scene that I wanted to present was deleted when my computer crashed, so I need to start putting the pieces back together. I'm excited to get their feedback, though. The response from my professor on my first (ever) non-fiction magazine article was much better than I expected. I was afraid to look at her comments, but aside from a few words suggestions here and there, it was received quite well. At the end, she wrote that she could see it being published, which caused me to happy dance in my brain :)

Speaking of things that cause happy dances and inspiration- if you haven't bought Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star, DO IT NOW. I've always been a fan of MJ; she hasn't written a single bad book. This one, though, is simply amazing. She writes with a bravery I can only dream of. Plus, it takes place in London (almost exactly where I went to school, down to the street) and there are ghosts. What more could you want?