Thursday Thoughts: Just Get It Written

Fumbling Toward The End: The Reveal*

(*an actual “scene title” in my Scrivener App.)

Start as close to the end as possible.

–Kurt Vonnegut

So, I’m kind of in this little writing challenge that happens each November.  As a way to grow The Novel’s word counts and keep it interesting for me, I decided to dedicate my kamikaze-do-or-die writing days to the second half of The Novel.  My purpose for my kamikaze writing days (other than the fact that I needed to be realistic with my schedule since I work in retail for my FT AND PT paythebills jobs in the heart of the holiday season)?  So that I can race along to the finish, and then go back to the first half of The Novel and fatten up those scenes.  I’ve said this before, but success breeds success, and the more “wins” I can achieve, the more motivating it is for me to continue.

In these mad sprints to glory, I’ve realized a few things.  First, I have completely drowned out my Internal Editor and sent her packing to live with my closet trolls.  (Take that Internal Editor! Chew on some socks, and last year’s belts!)  Second, that in focusing on the end, I have a clearer grasp of my beginning.

Method Behind the Madness

When I tell some people that I aim to write 5,000, 7,000, even 10,000 words in a day, I sometimes get asked: “Is your story even coherent with that volume of writing?”  The answer: Yes; in a way.  It is to me.  Since I plotted, outlined and pretty much pre-planned The Novel scene by scene.  Is it anywhere close to being published?  Of course not!  I write better quality e-mails than this Story-As-Is.  I definitely wouldn’t send this drivel to any crit partners or beta readers.

Do I care?  No.

Because that’s the point of this beautiful, awesome thing called “NaNoWriMo” and my kamikaze-do-or-die writing days: I don’t have to get it anywhere close to perfect.  I just need to get it written.  THEN, the real work of revising, editing, polishing The Novel to the point where EVERYONE can actually read and understand it will come to play.  THAT is when I will beg and plead other writers to beta read, critique, and otherwise rip my work to shreds (but nicely, and with purple ink, rather than red please).

I don’t dwell on the fact that The-Novel-So-Far has  shifting points of views, perspectives, and a LOT of telling and not showing in the efforts to just get the story down and written.  Believe me, I’ll still go back and get to those points.  (I mean, there’s at least 20,000 words waiting to be born back there that I can add to my word counts 😉 ).  The value of them to me is just the idea that they exist.  Those words are already there, and all I need to do is tweak them.  This thought allows me to Just. Keep. Writing.  And really, as a beginning writer, that’s what I need.  Good habits.  Momentum. Progress in the right direction.  Writing a story straight through till The End seems like the right direction to me.

Little Darlings

I know that Faulkner said that writers ought to kill their little darlings, but I choose to categorize that little bit of advice to the “Revision” process rather than the “Just Get It Written” process.  I love reveling in the random phrases and words that my fingers type up so quickly, my mind wasn’t even conscious of it.  Besides, the Little Darlings need to get written first before we can kill them and give birth to True Genius (*cue angelic choir music*).  At least, that’s how I look at it.

In these sprints, I’m able to get to the heart of the matter.  Capture more essential, urgent things.  Hear more random tidbits and snippets that I don’t even realize I’m writing.

She laughed again. I need to stop being so hilarious to this woman. She’s starting to piss me off.

–A random line that I didn’t even know I’d written until after my break.  I don’t even use “piss” in daily speech.  Silly muses.

And, in the heat of the moment, I discover more intensity from my characters, my worlds, my words, that I wouldn’t have had I been plodding along.

Of course, there’s a time, place, and purpose for everything.  Do I do these mad dashes all the time? No.  I think I would crash and burn after not too long.  I believe in balance.  But, in the spirit of the challenge, in the spirit of motivation, and in the spirit of my compulsive need to reach all of my goals, I think these mad dashes bring me the most peace.  It affirms to me that when push comes to shove, I have the discipline needed to make writing my lifelong career.

I know that I can be good, even great, in a variety of roles.  But, stories…they are my passion, and I would love to see the day when my passion and paythebills worlds align.

Just keep writing, fellow dreamers.

Simplify. Focus. Young Adult Genre

Readers Read Stories

Confession: I don’t understand when I hear people say, “I don’t read that genre.”

I’ve been ridiculously addicted to reading basically my whole entire life.  (Hello, this blog used to be “Reading Makes Me Happy”, and my dusty Blogspot blog still claims the domain name: “readingmakesmehappy .blogspot. com”.)  I was THAT girl. You know, the girl whose parents checked on to see that she was sleeping, and, after they left, she would promptly break out the flashlight and read throughout the night, Never Ending Story style.  Seriously.  Addicted.  Still am.

So, I’ve basically confided some time ago, that I have read and loved stories in every genre.  EVERY genre.  Why?  Because I thoroughly enjoy stories.  Anyone’s stories.  Heck, I will hire anyone who has great stories during an interview.  Why?  Because the person who can entertain me during an interview can entertain future strangers when selling products.  Just sayin’.

Plainly speaking, readers (at least THIS reader) read stories, not genres.  And, a good story is a good story, no matter the genre (end of story).  I do understand that people have a need to label and categorize things into neat, marketable units.  Hence, genres.  But, just because books are organized in a certain way for selling and navigational purposes, doesn’t mean that consumers need to “read” that way.

Genre, What is it Good For?

I appreciate branding for what it is, but the one drawback to it is a misperception of what that brand could be. Same can be said with genres.

Take the Young Adult genre nowadays: whether paranormal, sci fi, or contemporary, 90% of it revolves around high school: classes, relationship dramas, etc.  Because of that, I never thought to seriously write a YA story, because I quite frankly didn’t want to stay in high school when I was there, and so why relive that as an adult?  My high school wasn’t hard, but I always felt like it was an annoying four years holding me back from my real life (I much preferred college.  If I could stay there forever…)

I was more of an observer of high school rather than a true participator.  Sure, I played the game, and was president or officer of at least three different clubs (depending on the year), active in electives, etc, but that’s all it was to me.  A game.  That I played very well.  However, I knew it was just a phase and not Real Life, and so I never really invested much in it.  (Sorry, but I got A’s without even trying.)

I don’t want to say that I was “serious” but I definitely wasn’t the typical 16 year-old I currently see on TV, chasing boys and defying my parents.  In my household, my siblings and I often seamlessly wove theology, art history, and the latest Star Trek episode into an argument about who should get the last bit of sausage and eggs.  That’s just how we rolled. THAT to me was Real Life.  The way I viewed my high school experience then is pretty much how I view my paythebills job now: a great diversion, but just a stepping stone to get me to the next phase of my Life.

Another misperception that I had about YA Lit stemmed from the fact that the characters tend to be right around 16.  From there, I assumed the stories must be flighty and without substance.  (Take a look at what the CW has been playing for the last 5 years, and tell me that I was off base to come to that conclusion.)  But, then I thought to myself, “Dude, I wasn’t flighty and irresponsible at 16.”  That thought led to a series of facepalm moments where I realized that I didn’t have to write about teenagers as portrayed by the CW.   I can write for the young adults that never quite fit in with the other young adults (which, evidently, is EVERY young adult’s story, no matter who you are).

I want to write for the one who unapologetically loves hammy sci-fi, kung fu, action movies;  who is addicted to comic books and anime; who secretly reads torrid romance novels, and cries at sad movies; who wears a three-piece business suit for a class presentation one day, and a ballerina tutu with combat boots and Sailor Moon hair the next.

Basically, I want to write for my 16-year-old self.

And, thinking about my 16 year-old self brought me to the real principle of YA Lit.  It’s not the high school or the agonizing over boys.  Not quite about fitting in or pleasing the parents.  It’s about identity.  The rest of it (high school settings and boy drama)  are just (replaceable) back drops and props in the protagonist’s journey of self-discovery.

Young Adult? Really?

The value of YA Lit, then, that I admire and am attracted to, and one that I always tried to write in my non-YA stories that never fit, is the idea of self-discovery with a sense of wonder.

I have felt that sense of wonder at 16.  I still feel it at 30.  I want to continue believing in and embracing that sense of wonder.

And, that is why, in the (hopefully near) future, I will be proud to bear the title, “Young Adult Author.”

Yes.  Young Adult.  Really.