The Beginning of the Ending

Just a few weeks ago, in the shower, I could finally see a rough ending to my novel.  (That’s kind of what happens when you don’t make an outline ahead of time, your ending just may sneak up on you).  In the spirit of letting go of the outcome, I had just continued to write without ‘worrying’ about the ending.  I figured I’d get to the end when I got there, and then one morning, all of a sudden I saw its possibility.

The thing is, ever since then, it’s been more difficult to write each day.  Maybe I’m losing my nerve.  What helped keep me going before was knowing the end was some undisclosed location, and therefore it was an unimportant future place that I didn’t need to worry about in the present.  Now, I’m worrying about it, because it’s almost here.  My New Year’s post is really starting to feel like self fulfilling prophesy.  I had no idea at the time when I made the statement, “Make a plan for the future, and focus on the little bit every day you are doing to get there,” that it would mean eventually I’d be on the verge of ‘getting there,’ and now I’m worried about screwing it up.

On one hand, I don’t want to screw up the ending.  On the other hand, this is just a first draft.  There will be time to fix what needs fixing later.  But with the Olympics currently on television, with respect to my novel’s ending, I don’t want to have to try to ‘land’ it again later, I want to land my own triple axel on the first attempt right now!

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The Problem with the Future…

I do believe in looking towards the future, (I love to have a plan), with just a small amount of reflection on the past to ensure personal growth, (actually, I obsess on the past a lot, but I never plan to).  Ha!

“The problem with the future is it keeps turning into the present.” – Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes, December 31, 1989

One thing I see a number of people doing on a day like today is making New Year’s resolutions. I’ve read some good advice about this practice, including adding an action plan and some patience to the formula of making that list of good intentions. I particularly liked the part about patience. Time will take care of itself, it’s constant, so don’t worry about how long it will take. This is good advice when starting anything that cannot be completed in an afternoon. Many New Year’s resolutions involve big changes that will take quite a bit of time.

I used to underestimate the time it would take to do something. I used to make plans to ‘catch up’ on various things every time I had a two week ‘staycation’ off from work, but I never got the things done that I had thought I could. In fact, when I changed jobs and started working from home, it took me six months to complete what I used to think I should have been able to accomplish in just two weeks. What a reality check.

When I went back to school, I didn’t think about how long it would take until I was getting close to the end. Then I started to obsess about when it would be over, wanting to escape the present, and trying to imagine myself on the other side of all the stress. Many people tried to tell me I would eventually get to the end, that everyone worries that they’ll never get there, so I might as well stop worrying about it.  But I was so caught up with anxiety at the time, (the dreaded thesis), that I really could not imagine the end would ever arrive.  Interestingly, as soon as I finally graduated, my husband and I booked a trip to Hawaii that would occur about six months later.  With the exception of a blog entry about “Now What,” I transferred my obsessive thinking about the future to our trip instead, and I didn’t really feel the emotional crash of being finished school, with nothing else planned, until after we got back from Hawaii in February.

There is no point in doing a postmortem of everything I wish I could do over again after we got back from that trip, suffice it to say I started to face in the right direction with my thinking in August, first with publishing my young adult novel here, and then with starting to write every day.  In the last four months I have accomplished so much! What a wonderful gift to be taking that momentum into the New Year.

Big dreams are great things to have. No matter how big, working on them a little bit every day can see them realized.  Myself, I didn’t realize that once a dream is accomplished, once that future becomes the present, it may throw a person for a loop emotionally. What has worked for me, (even though it took over a year to figure it out), is to just get started working on a new dream, along with an action plan of how to accomplish it, and to not worry about how long it will take.  Make a plan for the future, and focus on the little bit every day you are doing to get there.

 

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I Came, I Wrote, I Conquered

Okay, I might just need to take a good long look at why I feel the need to prove anything with my writing, (which I wrote about here in These Things Come in Threes).  I came, I wrote, I conquered.  Why do I feel the need to go beyond that?

On one hand, yes, I must be seeking a certain amount of external validation from e-publishing my writing, because I desire to publish more and more things I have written.  My first novel was the beginning, then next came my thesis, and now I’m talking about e-publishing my works in the genre of short story writing.  What is really fueling this desire?  Does anyone want to read an undergraduate student thesis?  Oh my, probably not!  Although it was an interesting argument I made, I made it academically.  Academic writing is, well, not always a good read.  It’s not like blog writing, that’s for sure.

I think it is fine if our desire is to share what we have written, perhaps, to benefit or entertain someone else.  We want to get it out there for others to consume and enjoy.  But if we are entirely relying on feedback from others to tell us something about ourselves, then that’s where we may be setting ourselves up for heartache.  Not everyone is going to like what we have written.  Should we just be writing for ourselves, and if just one person out there likes what we have written, then that is just a bonus?

For me, e-publishing wasn’t about feedback and book sales, and yet just knowing I have e-published feels better than not having done it.  I don’t think I’m going to figure out all my motivations at the moment, but I’ll be giving it some deep thought, because, well, along with writing, I like to do that.

 

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These Things Come in Threes

These Things Come in Threes is the title of a collection of my short stories that I am putting together. As soon as I published my first novel in August, I have felt the urge to publish all my writing.  There is just something about seeing the manuscripts in .epub format that make them feel like an accomplishment.

It’s strange when I think about my writing in that way.  I wrote it, therefore I accomplished it, yet without publication, it somehow doesn’t feel provable.  For example, my undergraduate thesis was an accomplishment.  I received a grade, and completing it allowed me to graduate with my honours degree.  However, when I decided I wanted to see it ‘in print,’ albeit electronic print, it then felt like proof of that accomplishment.  I know having chapters is pretty much a requirement for a graduate thesis, but I didn’t have to do chapters for my undergraduate thesis.  So, I spent over a week re-reading my thesis and creating chapter titles for the different sections, and truthfully, it seems to make a lot more sense with chapters and has really benefited from the effort.

As soon as I finished and published my thesis with Lulu.com, I was thinking ahead to next spring, after I finish the novel on which I am currently working.  I plan to re-read my entire first novel to catch any grammar errors, (that numerous previous edits may still have missed), and re-publish it as a second edition.  I want to feel proud of my body of work out there, and even though I’ve detected the odd error in some very popular mainstream ebook versions like The Hunger Games, I want to feel confident I’ve done my best to catch any errors remaining in The Hematite Horses.

It occurred to me that I could publish some of my short stories in an anthology.  One of my short stories actually won third prize in the 2009 Okanagan Short Story contest, and again, it feels like proof of my accomplishment if it is in electronic print, not just a file on the hard drive of my computer.  But alas, I only have three short stories so far that I am very proud of, amounting to less than 14,000 words.  I think I’d like to have three more sets of three stories for a total of 12 before I decided to publish them, approximately 40,000 words.

Thesis on Lulu.com

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Blade Runner 2049 was 163 Minutes Long and I Loved Every Minute

My husband and I went to see Blade Runner 2049 last night, and I had no idea how long it was before we sat down.  But its running time didn’t bother me at all.  It was a visually stunning movie that furthered a storyline I’d been very captivated by when I was young.  I could have kept watching for a least another hour.  Interestingly, I did know the running time of The Revenant was 156 minutes before we watched it.  In the case of The Revenant, we were going to the movie with friends and trying to gauge what time we would be exiting the theatre for dinner plans.  That can be the way things are in our busy lives.  We may want to see the movie no matter what, however, how long it runs can be a consideration when we are trying to squeeze in the time to see it, factoring in details like how much will we owe the babysitter, how tired will we be, and will there a risk we will end up falling asleep before the end, (regardless of how stimulating the movie is).

This got me thinking about knowing how long a novel is ahead of time as well.  Honestly, sometimes it is just about fitting in the time to read.  It used to be that you judged how long the book was when you picked up the heavy new hard cover copy at the book store.  I remember hefting a hard cover version of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour in 1990 (965 pages) and wondering how I was going to fit in time to read it because I happened to be working two summer jobs and had a new boyfriend.  Mostly this is because I don’t want to read it for maybe just about 15 minutes a day, for however many days it takes.  I want to read it, and read it, and read it some more, until it’s done.  Sort of like how we binge watch television these days.  As soon as you select a series, via your provider that will stream unlimited entertainment your way, it tells you how many seasons, and with a quick tallying of how many episodes per season, you can estimate how many days of your life you are about to waste.

With ebooks, as soon as you touch the book on your tablet, it tells you how many pages.  I just bought Dan Brown’s Origin, and it comes in at 1313 pages.  I don’t think I can be the only one who looks at page counts, how many episodes, or movie running times.  It’s just the reality of being busy these days.  The sad part is when we let a long running time, a high page count, or “7 seasons,” (sorry all things Star Trek that I missed watching the first time around), deter us from exploring something we may end up really enjoying, because it just sounds like we don’t have the time.

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I’m on Amazon and Letting Go of the Outcome

Just about two months ago, I published my young adult novel, The Hematite Horses, and wrote about it here:

The Hematite Horses, I Published it!

Then, about three weeks ago, a good friend told me to “Let go of the outcome.”  This is probably some of the best advice I have ever received.  It frees me up to just be happy about where I am now, instead of looking forward to a place where I have yet to arrive.

Last November my niece participated in NaNoWriMo.  It was with her encouragement that I started writing on a new novel.  I couldn’t imagine committing to 50,000 in one month however, so what I committed to instead was 15 minutes a day.  Every. Single. Day.  Being consistent is actually quite difficult.  It sounds easy in theory, but in practice, it involves daily discipline.  And in a structured world full of ‘have to’s,’ like ‘have to go to work, have to cook dinner, have to do laundry,’ have to write for fun for 15 minutes is easy to just drop from the list at the end of a long day.  There were plenty of days I wanted to say, ‘hmpf, maybe I won’t bother. It’s only 15 minutes.’  But having made the commitment, I did it anyway, faithfully, everyday.

The biggest realization I have now, in applying this kind of daily discipline, or with anything, really, is to let go of the outcome.  All that matters is today.  If you are working on a project, big or small, doing it everyday will get you where you need to go.  Yes, having a deadline is important for some tasks, but when I find myself struggling, it can really help to let go of the outcome, and just let it be.  If I do something every day, I’ll get there eventually.

On that note, Amazon approved my novel in its ebook form, so in addition to Lulu.com, my book can be found on Nook, iBooks, Amazon Kindle, and Kobo.  Letting go of the outcome has helped me there too.  Being wrapped up and worried about some eventual unknown ‘outcome’ is what stopped me from publishing it for a long time.  Now instead, self publishing has become about allowing the story to exist in an electronic form that can be accessed, regardless of the outcome.

 

 

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Movie Soundtrack: Tell Me How to Feel

If you go onto YouTube and type in ‘epic soundtrack music,’ your choices include items such as “4 Hours of the Best Epic Inspirational Music for Studying/Working.”  As I kid, I studied music, so I always thought maybe that’s why I have always been extra conscious of movie soundtracks.  Get the soundtrack wrong, and I won’t like the movie.  Get the soundtrack right, and I will rhapsodize about the movie for life.  For example, (time to rhapsodize), George Lucas wanted Star Wars to have a traditional orchestral soundtrack to ground the viewers in something familiar, while watching something so amazingly new and unfamiliar on screen.  For lack of a better word, it was epic!  And then a few years later, I’ll never forget the futuristic synthesized score for Blade Runner by Vangelis.  I thought I had just time travelled, because nowhere in my time had I heard sounds like that before.  Albeit, I was only about eleven or twelve years old when I saw it, so my scope up until that point was limited, but still!  I’m getting chills up and down my arms just thinking about it.

Apparently, I’m not the only person who is ‘attune to tunes’ that underscore our movie experiences.  In fact, getting swept up in epic movie music, (or any music for that matter, at any time, depending on your taste, but maybe not elevator music), is pretty much universal.  I just read an article about the upcoming adaptation of another Stephen King novel, Gerald’s Game.

https://www.avclub.com/apologies-to-it-but-geralds-game-shows-how-to-really-a-1818816026

Katie Rife’s article states, “Flanagan deliberately avoids using musical cues during horror sequences, adding to the sickening sense of uncertainty.”  I love that!  The sound of silence.  And in the absence of what movie goers have come to expect, namely the soundtrack telling us how to feel at any moment, the viewers will no doubt be feeling very uncertain and anxious (which is akin to scared), just like the character on screen.  I cannot wait to see this movie!

Of course, many writers and critics comment on movie soundtracks, and of course, the Oscars have categories related to the music such as Best Original Score, and Best Original Song.  However, sometimes the soundtrack in a film plays such an integral role in telling its own narrative alongside those of the characters on screen, that it’s presence in the movie could be more aptly recognized in the Best Supporting Actor category.

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