Month: November 2012

A Twist in the Tale

The beautiful thing about genre, is the reader has an idea of what to expect going in. Buy a romance and two people are going to fall in love. The requisite for a thriller is action, intrigue and pace, pace, pace. If you’re reader of Epic Fantasy like me, you’d expect your hero to complete the quest, not wander off citing personal issues. The problem is, life is often not so clear cut.

I set out on a personal mission to write every day this month with the gang at NaNoWriMo and to send a postcard to you, my blog family, every day during November.  You may have noticed that November didn’t finish on the 15th this year (the day of my last post) – but sadly my NaNo adventure did.

A dear, close family member has alzheimer’s disease. This year has been particularly difficult in many ways as the disease has progressed. It’s heartbreaking to see someone you love fade away before your eyes and not be able to do anything about it.

For me writing has been a lifeline during this time. When I’m writing epic fantasy, I’m in control of the world. I know the good guys will overcome in the end. No matter what I throw at my main characters they will eventually pull through.

However this week, this determined heroine abandoned her quest because something else was more important. We almost lost our loved one. Thankfully after a harrowing time she is improving slowly, – but while she is still in hospital, I haven’t got the heart for NaNo.

Journeys rarely go as planned. But even if the blogs are a little less frequent, and the story of my heart takes a little longer to tell, I hope you’ll stick with me. The tale isn’t over yet…

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Veering Off Course: Postcards from NaNo – Day 15

Dear Blog Family,

I’ve fallen asleep a few times on a train and woken up to find that I’ve not only missed my stop spectacularly, but I actually have no idea where on earth I am. It’s even worse when you’re in a foreign country, don’t have any cash on you, and the only people you know to call live on the other side of the world.

Well NaNo isn’t quite that bad. (It is virtual after all – and I am sitting in my lovely home with a cup of tea). But when I looked out the window of the Steam Clunk Express this morning I realised I had written myself into a hole of epic proportions. Ironically apt. But I had no idea how to get out of it, or who to call for help for that matter.

You see there are gaps in my plot. I have a fairly good handle on the start of the book and a great vision for the end, but that pesky middle is a bit of a mystery. I hoped if I kept writing it might work itself out. But it hasn’t. And this is where if I’m not careful this week the NaNo train is going to derail.

So new plan. *pulls emergency brake* Tomorrow no writing until I’ve sorted out my plot holes. And I don’t think it’s going to be a quick fix. The only ray of hope: no matter how dire things have seemed in the past, I’ve always managed to find my way home.

Today’s word count: 585 wandering words. Total word count: 14,609.

Yours still staring at the map,

Raewyn (suspecting it’s upside down).

Who Am I? Postcards from NaNo – Day 14

To my dear blog friends,

For the first time since November ticked over I felt like I didn’t try very hard at NaNo today. (And when you’re not being strict on the word count – trying is pretty important).

But I do at least have a writing-related excuse. Next month a new blog is being born: There and Draft Again – A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers. And I’m going to be part of it! The thing is my writerly bio and photo is due tomorrow. *thunder crashes in the distance*

Now apart from a phobia of cameras (yes the size of my photo on this blog is not lost on me… trust me it is more to do with not figuring out how to shrink it) – it’s really hard to write a writing bio. Harder even than writing 1,667 words per day. Especially when you haven’t published much.

I did think about embellishing a little: Hugo Award Winner and New York Times Best Selling Author of the Heartstone Chronicles, Raewyn Hewitt has been writing with Stephen King-like brilliance since she was old enough to hold a pen. Too much right? And people can check on Google.

Or taking a minimalistic approach: Raewyn Hewitt writes epic fantasy. But don’t I sound mysterious?… No?

After a lot of hitting delete I did come up with something that might be appropriate – if not exactly riveting. But before I send it in (tomorrow) I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think should go into a writing bio. Do you even read them?

And lest we forget I was supposed to be at NaNo – I did stick my head in. Briefly. Today’s word count: 372. Total word count: 14,024.

Yours perplexedly,

Raewyn (whoever that really is)

Overcoming the Mehs: Postcards from NaNo – Day 13

Dearest Blog Family,

What a day. Almost half way through this NaNo junket and I succumbed to a severe case of the mehs; the delightful feeling you get when you can’t summon up any enthusiasm for the task at hand.

Everything else suddenly looked more attractive than writing. The pile of unread books by my bed seemed unusually promising. The telly offered a plethora of fascinating documentaries. I even had an overwhelming urge to clean the fridge… Don’t get me wrong I didn’t act on it, but it was still disturbing.

Because if I’m not loving writing right now – does that mean it’s become work?

No. No. No. No!

Desperate times called for desperate measures. I had to kindle the fire in my belly, take the characters by the horns and find some serious love for my story. Quantity does not have to equal mush.

So I dragged Josiah out of bed and made him address the council members in the early hours of the morning (his not mine). And I messed with his head. The bad guys, (playing a long game) appeared nice, and some of the good guys looked bad. Now he doesn’t know who to trust – especially those closest to him.

It was fun! And the mehs were blown right off the page.

Today’s word count: 1493. Take that mehs. Total word count: 13,652.

Yours triumphantly,

Raewyn (the meh kicker).

Nuggets of Gold: Postcards from NaNo – Day 12

Dear friends of my blog,

Greetings from the 12th day of NaNo. Sadly no Partridge in a Pear tree though. It’s not been a festive sort of day.

In truth the writing has felt a bit flat. In the battle between quality and quantity – quality is getting a bit of a bashing. And if I’m honest, it’s hard to turn a blind eye. I keep reminding my inner-editor that December is coming and the hatchet can come out then.

What keeps me steamrolling through, is the smattering of gold nuggets I’m finding in this roughest of drafts. These are the flashes of a character’s heart I’ve been struggling to see. Or reactions that were totally unexpected. And in one magnificent case, one of the characters has offered a whole new perspective on how to tell my epic tale.

Will it fly? I’m not sure. But doing NaNo there’s no danger I’m going to overthink it…

Today’s word count: 1,366. Gold nuggets? For sure! Total wordcount 12,159.

Yours with sprinkles of gold-dust,

Raewyn

Comparing Apples and Oranges: Postcards from NaNo – Day 11

Hello faithful blog-friends,

After a wee bout of NaNo word-count envy yesterday, I had to give myself a good talking to about realistic expectations.

‘Self’, I said. ‘Comparisons are rarely constructive. Stop looking at other people’s word counts. These people are apples. You are an orange (or perhaps a kiwifruit). You need to love your word count just as it is.’

Seemed reasonable, so a gentle run at the WIP tonight. I’ve picked up Josiah’s POV again, although it’s been strange writing in first person. I’ve been seeing cracks in the plot due to major pantsing issues, but instead of editing or rewriting, I’ve just left lots of notes to go back and change or add in details later. It’s strangely liberating, and the story seems to be progressing well.

Today’s word count: 786. Total word count: 10,793.

Yours realistically,

Raewyn (I prefer raspberries…)

Postscript: After puddling around on the internet I’ve found writers tend to use a wide range of spellings to cover the term pantster (or pantser) – which is generally accepted to mean writing by the seat of ones pants, making up the story as you go along, or writing without a plan. The same seems to be true of the verb: pantsting / pantsing…

Fatigue: Postcards from NaNo – Day 10

Dear Blog Friends,

The only reason you can read this postcard is because it’s virtual and I had to type it. If I were writing it in my own fair hand it would probably be sloping all over the place and the spelling would be shocking.

No, NaNo hasn’t driven me to drink; but I am so insanely tired the type looks like it’s slanting. In fact I’m so tired I’m probably not safe to drive, let alone publish something on the internet. But there’s something about making a commitment to my writing that’s made me push through my own barriers and get words on paper when life is hectic. When I’d rather be asleep.

I’ll admit I’ve probably taken it a bit far this weekend. Pysched myself out by looking at other people’s NaNo word counts and having a crazy idea I could catch up and actually win NaNo. But even in this state I know this isn’t true. For me, losing NaNo will actually be a win if I can make a consistent commitment to write every day.

Today’s wordcount: 1442. Commitment yes. Commonsense? Not so sure in hindsight. Total wordcount: 10,007. *virtual fireworks* That was the real reason I kept writing even though I think I fell asleep half an hour ago.

Yours incoherently,

Raewyn (who cracked the 10K!!!)

PS. For anyone new to the blog, I’m not normally this fuzzy (at least I hope not). To see what it’s normally like sans-NaNo – please feel free to wander through the pre-November archive. It will be normal again – I promise (if there’s no long term damage), but right now we’re only a third of the way through…