- If who we are is what we do, then like most people, I am a mixed bag of personas. Writer, bookworm, friend, are what first come to mind. Equally apt would be potty mouth, dog walker, Guinness drinker, swimmer, storyteller, political animal, baker and proud Canadian. Mostly though, I consider myself simply insanely lucky to have a small posse of near and dear ones who put up with me and my curvy, creative, curly haired, opinionated self. I started this blog several years ago with the idea to challenge myself in a myriad of ways. Years in, despite the sporadic entries, I still like to muse about the absurdity of life, what inspires surprises and angers me, books and other entertainments, my menagerie, my travels and any other notion buzzing round in my head.
Monday, July 26, 2010
I work better under pressure.
I like a looming deadline, some sense of urgency bearing down on me.
While pondering life gloomily this weekend, I more than once thought of how rapidly time passes. Before long summer will be over, and with summer fading, fall is just around the corner. And with fall comes.... drum roll please... the NANOWRIMO writing challenge.
As I was enthusiastically singing the praises of this novel writing exercise last week, recruiting my friend Brian to participate (see Bri, now it is on the internet for the whole world to see – grin) it dawned on me that I cannot give myself over to the NaNo madness unless my work on Lillian’s story is complete and I have handed it over, as finished as a solid first draft can be, to someone else for review and editing. So, I am somewhat freakishly relieved to note that the clock is ticking now. My work has taken on a more feverish pace as I have just realized the following:
According to my latest storyboard and outline, I have about 30,000 words of work to rewrite.
I have another 20,000 plus words of work that needs some significant editing. (There’s a certain symmetry in being back to the 50,000 mark again.)
If I am going to do NaNo this year (and I most certainly am doing it!!), I need to put my current book to bed by Thanksgiving. That is Canadian Thanksgiving for those non-Canucks, which falls around the second week in October. This will give me about two and a half weeks to plot and plan out my 2010 NaNo story so I can begin writing at midnight (or whenever I wake up in the morning) on November 1st.
This works out to a mere 78 days to finish.
If I factor in vacationing in September, family birthday celebrations, a weekend which I am required to work, a visiting friend from Ireland and my trip to Montreal this coming weekend, I estimate I would realistically be left with about 65 days to write.
Figuring the rewrites will take me about two thirds of this time, it boils down to finishing the writing by September 10th, writing about 750 words per day. Child’s play when you figure I had to do 1,650 a day during November last year for the NaNoWriMo project.
I really do love these characters in Lillian's story. I have been living with them for over a year now. Consumed by what they think, how they would behave, what makes sense for them. They first came to me last spring and then fully took up residence with me last fall. I will by no means be finished with Lillian, Alejandro and Nicki by Thanksgiving, but if I work real hard, they should be ready to visit with some trusted friends for a while. God, does this sound weird to anyone other than me???
I have a few story ideas crawling around in the corners of my mind for this November. I have always wanted to write a story about sisters. I like the idea of the complex competing emotional tug of sibling relationships – love, competition, obligation, entitlement. It’s good stuff. I would also like to try writing a style totally other than my normal stuff – maybe a murder mystery.
Whatever I come up with for November, these coming months will be good for me creatively. It’s no secret I am not the most disciplined writer around. I need accountability and a mechanism to set my pace. I have posted a tickertape tracker so I can plot my progress til Thanksgiving. 750 words per day. That is just over two pages a day. No problem, right? Write!
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Overall, it was not all bad. So so, is a more apt description.
On the fun side I spent a night out with my sisters at the Bon Jovi concert. I am not one bit ashamed to admit swooning was involved. That man is simply HOT! I also had dinner with my friend Brian, got caught up on life and talked writing, his and mine. I even managed to squeeze in a few movies. (Inception was cool. I like a movie that leaves you wondering.)
However, any fun I did have this week was marred by the events of Wednesday when, over the course of just one day I heard of the death of three folks who had touched my life in one way or another. I rounded out the week feeling a bit more philosophical than I usually am (which says something in and of itself) and the mood sort of stuck with me through the weekend. I suppose I didn’t exactly help to buoy my spirits by reading the Dave Eggers book I have on the go. As two of the three people I know died of cancer, reading his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which recounts his life raising his brother after he loses both parents to cancer within a single year, might not have been such a great idea.
It is not so much the death thing that has me all introspective. Having a humongous family, I have been to my fair share of funerals. I think I have a fairly healthy outlook when it comes to death. It is also not the cancer thing. Cancer is a bitch. No getting around that. It is tough, both for the patient who suffers and battles the disease and the loved ones who are left behind. It is craptastically bad. But that is not the reason for my funk either.
Thinking it over this afternoon, I see a pattern in it. One person leaves, one arrives. Three bad things happen and then three good things occur. There is a rhythm to these sorts of things; to life. It got me thinking about the cycle of life. I find comfort in knowing that there is a season for everything, for everyone. Some long, some short. Some colourful and others muted. But each unique to those who experience it.
I think my grim mood comes from the fact that I want so much out of life; not just to nibble at life but to gulp it up. To digest what I have taken in and be enriched by the experiences. While I try hard to live in the present, I do worry that I won't get to all the things I want to accomplish, that my life will have had no meaning. So while I get that there is a pattern and things flow in their proper course, I cannot help but feel like I want to guide them, to nudge them this way and rush them that way, before time runs out.
See... funky. Now enough of that! My Ontarian roots are wincing apologetic for the philosophical and pensive mood I'm in. So to compensate anyone who's read this far, I surfed around and stumbled on George Carlin’s hilarious YouTube videos on death. The man was a genius and what better way to end, than with a grin.
“The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What's that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should
die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get
kicked out when you're too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating...
...and you finish off as an orgasm.”
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
It occurred to me that I should have given props to the impetus for my return to blogdom. There is no question, that I am relieved to finally put a halt to the relentless and persistent nudging, pestering, badgering emails from a certain omnipresent support of all my literary endeavours (cough, sputter, Marc!); notes asking me "are you ever going to blog again????" But, if truth be told, I was inspired by my sister Maggie's foray into blogging. She's a delight and I cannot wait to read her more.
From one to four: you rock!
In April I took a week off to write. Met a boy. Forgot I was a writer. Rescued a triple layer death by chocolate cake from the Murphenator. Pumped said chocolate from Murph’s stomach. Celebrated Easter. Dumped a boy. Puzzled, analyzed and commiserated with baffled friends. Drank more than my fair share of red wine and Guinness. Dusted myself off and took the dogs for a long walk.
May was the second month I took a week off to write. Wrote mostly shit. Read ravenously instead. Squeezed a few sentences of arguable brilliance onto the page. Edited 95% of the past two months of work into the bin. Slept in a hammock a fair bit. Decided not to go to Italy.
Now June was fun. During the month of June I worked an entire four weeks. Joined a gym. Watched my city aflame. Thought about writing. Lazed. Procrastinated. Lollygagged. Idled. Goldbricked. Unwound. Became disenchanted with my main character. Dreamt of winning the lottery. Swam. Wrote a staggering 526 words.
And now, lookie lookie. Here we are in July. More than midway through the month no less. For now, the words are flowing again. Am employing the tried and true and none too glamorous AIC method of writing (i.e.: ass in chair) and piling pages. Lillian has new life and now that I’m working on some of the juicier parts of the story, it is fun again. I know it won’t always be fun, but for now that helps.
Besides writing - yes there is actually life outside writing - I am looking forward to a road trip scheduled for the last weekend in July.
My friend Marc is once again riding his bike from Toronto to Montreal in support of the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation. The Friends For Life Bike Rally has raised over a million dollars since the late 90s to help make the day to day life of people struggling to live with AIDS liveable. A week on his bike, camping out along the way, riding an average 100 km per day for such a worthwhile cause deserves a party. So, Mags and I, Marco and a host of other friends will head east to be there to welcome Marc when he and the others ride into Montreal after their journey. That is something to write about! And just to make sure, we’ll stay the weekend, celebrate their awesome accomplishment and reacquaint ourselves with the beauty of old Montreal.