Category Archives: Discourse

Planning Nano: a synopsis and working title

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I was really starting to despair. I would sit down to write a synopsis for my novel, and instead I would write a passage better suited as a thesis aim. This has continued for months. An example:

To explore the disintegration of Society and its adaptation (technological and behavioural) to a dominant environment.

It wasn’t a deliberate ploy, but reflects how caught up I have been with world building and how little I have known about the plot percolating at the back of my mind. I knew my main character was running from her past and dealing with an alien environment mostly beyond her comprehension as a girl who is from the constricted environs of the compounds. I’ve been talking to a lot of people at a lot of the Nano events Elle has been organising. The questions asked, as well as random comments overheard from different conversations and contexts has really helped me change the way I think about my story and my creative processes. It isn’t any profound realisation, nor has it had a big effect on my story, but some more pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place.

An example of this is an overheard conversation between Kris and some other wrimos at the Kick-off at Federal Park today. I have no idea of the context. I wasn’t listening to their conversation but rather I was copying notes into my nano notebook. She mentioned the word ‘jail’ and it fired a maelstorm of ideas, scenes and concepts about the origins and motivations of my main character. After overhearing one word at a key point in my thought processes, I was finally able to draft a synopsis that is about the plot of my novel, not the concept! and, FINALLY to discover just what Jade is running from! So here is my new synopsis:

La Pensée Sauvage is a dystopian set not too far in our own future, maybe five hundred years or so, after an unknown catastrophe stops Earth’s societies in their tracks. Some societies clung to their technology and became stagnate, others embraced the environmental changes and grew.

Jade is running from incarceration, caught between the technological fundementalist compounds of her past and learning to survive amongst the rampant landscapes that now cover the Earth and the wild people populating them. Her future is uncertain, her present more so, and her past is full of unanswered questions.

La Pensée Sauvage is a working title at the moment. It’s the title of a key work by anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. It is a play on words (thought/pansy,  savage/wild) and it really works in this context.

I’m taking part in organised activities for most of Nano and it will be interesting to see if continued exposure to other writers changes the direction of my plot. I’m deliberately vague this year. My 2010 attempt became bogged down in suburbia because I couldn’t think of a way to set Kellz free. I’m hoping being open to my percolaring mind’s influence will keep me from writing a glass prison again.

National Novel Writing Month starts on Tuesday at 12:01am! You can follow my progress here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/participants/zjanoir

Sleep

As Bon Iver serenades,
The windows of the soul slam shut.
My head sinks into the pillow.

The Importance of Unwritten Postcards

http://www.themillions.com/2011/05/the-importance-of-unwritten-postcards.html

I love this essay. I love everything about it. I love how it is written. I love what it says. I love the experiences the author went through and how obviously they have created who he is, as a person and as an author. It is a good read if you have the time to sit down and read an essay on social media, travelling, change, isolation and how all of these shape and create ones sense of self.

I am an ink-stained notebook whore


I’ve been reading Chuck Wendig’s blog again, entitled How To Tell If You’re A Writer, and you know what? As well as being a funny fuck with a way with words, he just gets things. Things I never even noticed until I read his posts. I really recommend following Terrible Minds – only, of course, if you do not mind profanity and adult themes (hehe dragon sex) and, well, don’t take yourself too seriously. I don’t take myself seriously at all. And profanity and adult themes? Let’s just say my mumma tells me to mind my language when I talk to her. And yes, she has threatened to wash my mouth out with soap. A lot.

Anyhoo. Basically, Chuck Wendig is a legend.

I realised something. I may not have written much for ten years, but even when I wasn’t pen to paper, I was composing in my head. Sometimes I turned things into poetry, sometimes into art, but others? Well I wrote words upon my mind, dwelled on them, then let them float off into the aether. Words have always been incredibly important to me. I love playing with them. I love savouring them. I love saying them. I love writing them. I love weaving them. I just love words. I collect them too. I am sure some of you have noticed but I collect interesting words and phrases that mean something to me. It may be because of the way they sound (I love onomatopoeia and assonance), it may be word meaning, or it may just be that something about that word resounds in my being. Sometimes they are not actually modern english (“cwellan” is a good example – Old English for “to kill” and where the modern word “quell” originated from). Sometimes they are slang. Sometimes they are antiquated english. Sometimes they are culled from poetry or literature. They seem to worm their way into my writing, into my conversations. I can’t stop them. It is like the words have a life and a mind of their own. A soul. And those words (are they possessed?) sometimes fall upon a page and write themselves. Sometimes they talk to me. Sometimes I talk to them. Sometimes we have conversations (hopefully when no one can hear us). Sometimes everything meshes and I have something I am willing to share. All the other times, I have scratches on pages that I hide in books scattered around my room.

I still don’t call myself a writer. I get flustered when others do. But, I am one who writes. So that is who I am. I am an ink-stained notebook whore. I scribble stories on paper, I scratch them into my skin. I write.

NB: “an ink-stained notebook whore” is in reference to Chuck Wendig’s article, linked above. Also, in my circle? We call it a stationery slut.

Fun Read: Why Writers Drink

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/05/03/why-writers-drink/

^This made me laugh so hard I started to get a headache. I now have to find out about his books.

“Profanity is a circus of language where the clowns are all insane and the elephant just stepped on a trapeze artist and something somewhere is on fire.”

– Chuck Wendig

^Best quote ever.

Read it, I dare you!

NaNoWriMo: FTW

So I may not hit 50,000 words on Tuesday, but I consider my Nanowrimo a great success. Especially as I spent a week sick and most of another week on holiday while my BFF visited me 😀 And no, I have absolutely NO idea how many words I’ve written! I am not typing it up, but hand writing, and I was spending too long counting.

The best news? I am already getting ideas for my next story! 😀 But I have to finish this one first LOL After November and Nanowrimo passes, I will be lifting my ban on reading urban fantasy and paranormal romance, because it is driving me crazy! It was so I wouldn’t be influenced too greatly while I was getting a feel for the plot. It is mostly in place now, so I don’t feel bad about it. I am very much looking forward to picking up my books again!

 

UPDATE: I decided to count my pages last night. I have been ignoring my word count because I don’t find it too important for my needs. I shocked myself when I realised it is somewhere between 10-13,000 words!!! o_O I say between that because I am not quite sure what the actual word count average is, but it is between 150-200 words per page. I am shocked! I had no idea it was up past 10,000 words! 😀 I updated my official count to 11k, but it is purely an estimate. I guess I should start typing that bitch up! And in typing it up, add more words LOL

NaNoWriMo: Why I consider less than 50,000 words a success

My NaNoWriMo is going both good and bad. It is sort of see-sawing in both directions. It really depends what goals you refer to. The official goal is writing 50,000 words in one month. My personal goal was a change in writing attitude and behaviours. One is a bust and the other a success. As a Nano it is officially going bad, because I haven’t been able to write each day, and the only time I can write is during my lunch break. Basically this means my word count is rubbish. I am writing by hand, so I don’t know exactly how many words I am up to, but I am guessing it is up around 7000 to 8000? I took a week off as my best friend was visiting, and then this week I have been quite ill. I was already behind, but these last two weeks have seen my left in the dust. I have a friend who finished hers in 7 days (FTW) and I have two other friends who have nearly finished. Most of the people I talk to are near the goal number of words, or at least only a few thousand words behind it. But to tell you the truth, I really don’t care that I am so far behind them. I know the reasons I am behind, and I am okay with them. I never told myself that I must write 50,000 words in one month, but that I needed to give myself a chance to change my behaviour. I am really proud of how I have changed my thinking towards writing, how I have changed my editing practices, how my story is unravelling, and I am excited about what will happen to my character next.

Despite the lack of word count progress I am happy with what I am writing. I didn’t write a synopsis, or make any real plans. I was free wheeling it, and it seems to be going well for me. Every other time I have tried to write something longer than a short story, I would get caught up in editing. I’d write a page and have to go back and make it perfect. Revising one page ten times does not equal writing ten pages! o.O Nano is forcing me out of that habit of constant revision, and it means I am getting words down on paper, even if it is taking me longer than I expected. It really is difficult when you don’t have a dedicated work space. I’ve been going to cafes, writing on trains, at railway stations, etc. I’ve even stood on a door stoop and written against a wall while waiting for the rain to stop!!! No joke! I’ve banned reading urban fantasy/ paranormal romance, which is killing me (I can’t help it, I love reading about supernatural creatures in our world!) and that basically means that I am no longer reading fiction. I have a big bag of books I am meant to be reading so I can return them to their owner, but they are all in the PNR genre, and I don’t want to start the dystopian stories I have because I will go on a dystopian bender again. I thought that extra time I gained from not reading would give me more time to write, but due to lack of workspace that wasn’t to be. I bought a Sony Reader last week and have filled it up with free books on mythology and folklore from Project Gutenberg, and have been reading through those instead. The problem with my lack of planning (I decided to do Nano at the last minute) is that I haven’t boned up on the mythology and folklore I want to tap into. It resides in my skull somewhere, but I want to read over things again. That takes time.

I am handwriting, so I do need to type my Nano up, but my computer desk at home is covered in millions of books. My desk chair actually does have about 50 books stacked on it. No joke! I got curious and counted them. I tried moving them to my bed once, but then I tried to sleep in a bed covered in books, as I was too tired to move them back to my desk. It was not a success. My desk is only for my computer, so I can’t write in my notebook there, and writing in bed just hurts me. My housemate has his fiancé visiting from the Philippines, and they have taken over occupation of the house for the last three months – meaning I can’t write in the dining room. They are going on holiday next week, so I am planning on taking over the house again. My other housemate spends all her time at her boyfriend’s house, so I should have free reign! *mine. mine, all mine!* *cackles* Hopefully next week I can dedicate a decent amount of time when I am hope to write this bitch down! I did find the official write-ins very helpful! I went to one on a Wednesday at the coffee club near Town Hall. I doubled my word count that day. I also went to the tail end of a day-long write-in at Circular Quay, which was helpful. I made a character breakthrough, which was great. I wanted to go to more, but last Wednesday was the Galaxy end of year party, which I couldn’t miss, and l was sick on Sunday and Wednesday this week. Maybe this coming Sunday I will be well enough to go! I think the best thing about NaNoWriMo is the sense of community! I have met so many new people this month. And discovered that more friends than I thought were aspiring writers. I wish them all luck with their endeavours! 😀

To sum up:

I never went into NaNoWriMo thinking I would write the “Great Australian Novel”, and I was never very focused on that goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. I do not feel disappointed that I won’t make that goal. I suppose it is still possible if I could commit to writing abut 4000 words per day, but I am not going to kill myself trying to reach that goal. As far as I am concerned, I have already been successful with my NaNoWriMo goals. I have sat down and started a novel. I have gained the self control not to edit the shit out of what I AM writing! And I have started a story that I want to finish and that continues to percolate in my brain. When November 30 rolls around, I will have a big fat NC next to my name, but I really don’t care. As far as I am concerned it is a RW! (Results Withheld, as opposed to Not Completed). If you are doing NaNoWriMo this year, I wish you all the best! But even more so, I wish you all the best finishing your novel, not just writing 50,000 words!