Getting back into the swing of things…

I haven’t blogged in a while because I’ve been very busy finishing off the last bit of my story The Healer’s Touch, a Kim Possible Fan Fic. It’s been an interesting month with the fic. I made, or rather followed through, with an idea that I started when I started writing this monster fic. I knew that it wouldn’t be popular, and I knew that I was going to lose some of my readers because of it, but still – I decided to follow through.

Mostly because of something those same readers taught me and that was to be consistent and not to let what the public wanted influence what I wrote. It is difficult, especially now as the reviews are coming through (praising me for my writing but berating me for my ending) but, I find myself still thinking that I’m not going to change it and ultimately, I’m happy with where I took it.

It’s an interesting trade off.

The thing is that ultimately, I’m still writing because I enjoy it. Not because I’m out there to please people and give them the story that they wanted. But, it’s also difficult trade off because I’m also writing for the acknowledgement of my writing and the praise of it. I am a review hog, plain and simple…

But – enough wallowing in what might become self pity.

NaNoWriMo is around the corner and here in my spot of the world, we already had what I suspect was a very successful kick off party. It’s always fun to get a bunch of writers together, as they can be very funny.

So, I’m looking forward to this month. For all its challenges.

Because writing is a challenge. It is such a personal thing, that critique can hit you hard and praise can make you euphorically happy.

I just hope that I can sort out where I am because 12:01am tonight. 😉

The Last Chapter.

I find myself procrastinating tonight. I have a lot of writing to do, a deadline to meet before the end of October. And strangely enough, I find myself struggling to write the words as they should come. I am stuck in the proverbial traffic before I reach home.

I’m about to finish off a story I’ve been working on for 19 months. It has over 800 readers (if only my blog was that popular) and I’ve written over 110k words in it. Finishing it is hard. Sad. And difficult because I’m about to do something that I’ve been planning and dreading ever since I started it. I need to push my characters to a point where they are ready for the sequel, and they might not like what I’m going to do.

It’s hard. And I’m dreading it.

But I probably have to start.

The Last Bit of Longest Road.

I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately and I’ve come to realize that the journey home is ALWAYS longer than the journey to which ever destination you are travelling. The last couple of miles seems to stretch in front of you, pulling seconds into minutes and making you feel as if Einstein had spoken up too soon when he spoke about relativity (and he should really just have spend some time in traffic to think it over). Also, as it is, the moment you think you’re home free, you find yourself stuck in traffic. Bumper to bumper.

Writing is a lot like this, things go smoothly for the first bit of your journey and then, as you turn to home to finish off those last couple of chapters, things slow down. You find yourself swerving to avoid plot holes, (note to my international readers – South Africa is NOTORIOUS for its TERRIBLE road conditions. Pot holes aren’t fixed. They are ignored. And used to hide elephants in) or stuck with a bunch of personal traffic that piles up around you. You’re at a stage where you can’t remember your whole journey in detail, only knowing that you set out from somewhere and you wanted to see a couple of things along the road which sometimes you never got round to. You think that you know the way to the end of your book, but then due to word works and plot twists, you realize that you need to re-plan your trip and find an alternative route.

And the irony is that getting to the end of your destination is such a VITAL part of the trip. You have to make sure that you saw everything you wanted to see, did everything you wanted to do and that your passengers, the readers, enjoyed the journey (and didn’t get too carsick…). It’s important that they come back for another trip.

I’m in that final stage with one of my stories, where I have 5000, maybe 10,000 words left in a 110,000 word journey that I’ve worked on for almost two years. I always find myself slowing down towards the end, chewing over chapters, struggling to pull my strings together. It essence it shouldn’t be hard because I keep my plots fairly simple. But – my endings are always hard.
I think part of it comes with the regret of ending this particular journey. You as an author want to hold on just that little bit longer, (in my case, preserve my character’s sanity for just a little bit longer before I throw another horrible twist at them), enjoy the last bit of scenery. But, the truth might be that your readers can’t wait to reach the end.

It’s about finding balance and making that last bit of the trip memorable.

I do a few things to make my journey a little bit easier.

  1. I take notes in the beginning. Despite the fact that I’m notoriously bad at planning, I’ve learned the value of paper above memory. I always think that I’ll remember where I want to take my stories but somehow, the best details always slip by me. So. Stick it notes. They work.
  2. If I’m planning a disaster (to be corrected in a sequel) I do try to warn my readers. Or, not warn them per say, but put in little check points to which they can fall back on and say: oh heck – should’ve seen this coming. It eases the impact of a world shattering end (which I am very fond of as a writer).
  3. I try and read through the whole story at least once before finishing it off. This way, I remember small things that I might have wanted to wrap up but didn’t. They go on their own set of stick it notes and will be addressed in the next book.

The end of a story is so important. It is the bit in the book that can really make or break your plot. So, pay attention to it. Take that alternative route if you need to, but don’t make the journey too long. Discipline yourself and – if you are in that last stretch and a series of unfinished business pops up, rather try to deal with it in the next book (if the nature of the problems allow it naturally) because your readers aren’t stupid and are just as anxious to see the end as you are.

And sad. J

But there will always be more. 😉

Thank you.

On the Fringe of the Imagination,

Fringe Poster

An amazing show as born.

I’ve been watching Fringe lately, trying to finish up season 2 before November so that I won’t have that as a distraction when the time for NaNoWriMo comes and I’ve once again realized that it’s most probably one of the best shows Out There at the moment. I was a big X-Files fan in my time (still am actually, lol) and I feared that Fringe would be a weak attempt at copying the paranormal story line which rocketed X-Files to fame. Also, because I have a fairly short attention span when it comes to watching television, I never got round to watching the episodes when they were broadcasted.

It was only when I finally managed to procure the first two seasons (for my Other Half, not for me) that I finally crossed over and saw the other side.

Fringe is amazing. There’s no other way to put it. They’ve put a new twist on old theories and they’ve taken the X-Files ‘How the Hell?!’ factor and explained it without getting too technical. I liked the fact that Aliens have not been mentioned once and the actors are brilliant. The characters are not over done, the actors suited in their roles, the emotions between the characters believable and scenery and music beautiful. It’s very rare that I find myself liking all the main characters of a series and it’s with touch of surprise that I confess I have not found fault with anybody that have graced the Fringe Cast (save for that guy who got… Toast…).

What I also like is that the story line is well thought out. Sometimes you find that certain series will show inconsistencies when it comes to their baseline theory and groundwork but with Fringe, it’s as if the whole story had already been planned and they stuck to the plot all the way through. The symbols that they show you become significant later. Nothing is random. It’s all part of the pattern of the show which is fitting, because the main focus of the series is The Pattern between universes.

If anybody reading this have never seen an episode, I can highly recommend it. This show keeps surprising me and I can say honestly that I can’t WAITE for the third season.

Understand your Rhythm.

Some of us are werewolves, some of us are vampires, some of us are pixies and some of us are zombies…

What I mean by this is that we’re not the cast for the next teen book sensation, no – we all are active at different times and it effects how we write.

Some of us can only writing during full moon, others only at night. Some like to get up early in the morning for it and others can write through the whole day because they never sleep. It’s what makes us unique and efficient.

I think it’s very important to understand when you like to write the most. Some of us are so conditioned to write during a specific time that sitting down to be creative at any other time will automatically result in procrastination. Some of us are a little bit luckier, able to write on the run where ever and whenever there’s time to yank out a notebook. It’s pretty much an each to his/her own concept and it’s interesting to note that nobody writes at quite the same pace, in exactly the same fashion.

I used to love writing in the evenings. I needed the quiet of the dark to wrap itself around me in order for my creativity to flow. Sleep has never been one of my strong points and I preferred sitting at my desk (then still writing everything out by hand) much more than I preferred lying in bed, staring at the ceiling. I could jot down a word or two during class or when I had a spare moment, but really – my time was best used between 10pm and 4am at night.
In recent years, I’m surprised to note that my window period has shifted. Although I still love writing at night, (especially in the summer when it’s cooler than the scorching hot days) I have to be honest and say that I am more efficient in the mornings. The problem, or rather changing factor (because there’s nothing wrong with writing in the mornings) came when I had to start working very hard physically at my various jobs. I used to come home exhausted and then, writing felt too much like work. I found it easier to concentrate after I’ve slept as much as I could and look at my characters and worlds from a fresh perspective. What’s more, I realized that I’m a little bit more efficient when I’m working against the clock, when I know that I only have an hour or two to spare (sometimes only half an hour) and I have to make the most of it.

How does this apply to you?

With NaNoWriMo around the corner, thousands (millions perhaps this year?) of people will be sitting down to do some crunch writing, to type out as many words as they can for November. As one of them, I know the worth in finding time to write – trying to squeeze it into a very busy day where it has to compete with work and my private life. It’s therefor logical that I use the time that I have to its optimum. And, I know when I’m dealing with a ‘lost cause’ time, where I might as well get up and do something constructive as oppose to stare at the computer for ages, typing out three words.

I’m not someone who’s very satisfied with a session that produces one sentence.

So, find your rhythm and understand it. It will help you not only through November, but in your future writing career as well.