Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rewriting: A Pleasant Surprise


Rewriting.

I thought it would be a nightmare. Something akin to ripping my skin off. How would I possibly tear apart something I had created, something that had made my heart swell with joy once I reached the final word?

No way. I can’t destroy my precious story. Rewrite? Never.

I’m doing it now.

Driving home from work one day, a brilliant stroke of inspiration smacked me in the brain. It was undeniable, insistent. Though I hated the idea of majorly changing anything, the urge persisted. And since computers make it so easy to create a new file, I pushed my fear aside and surrendered. (Save As is my friend.)

It started as a simplification of the beginning where I finally had to admit that there was too much going on. Then, I had another thought. Wouldn’t my villain be much more interesting if…? And then another idea that made a scene work much more emotionally than it had originally.

Slowly, I’ve realized that rewriting isn’t tearing my story apart. It’s metamorphosis or evolution. It’s growth, a honed blade. The changes make my story stronger, sharper. I’m falling in love with characters all over again, and more deeply. Do I remove things? Yes. Do I add? Yes.

Am I loving it? Surprisingly so.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rambling of a Casual Gamer: Glitches Make Me Twitch

My Bosmer, Fayruz. Wood Elf, FTW!

I am 115 hours or so into Skyrim. The awesome part about that is, I’ve barely touched the main quest, and I’m not bored. My character has a dresser full of dragon bones and scales, just waiting for the moment I hit level 100 on my smithing. (I’m at 92. Soon, precious dragon armor, soon.) I am Arch Mage and Harbinger.

And I’ve only been eaten by a dragon once.

While I love all the fantastic dragon-slaying, bandit-smiting, ore-mining goodness of Skyrim, I have just one problem.

Glitches.

Most of them aren’t a big deal. The lag when I’ve played for a while is annoying, but by then it’s usually time to quit anyway. The inability to start a mission because I already have a mission at the same destination was a bit eye-twitch inducing, but I got around it, and it was fine. After I picked up a staff that was quest-oriented and it wouldn’t let me hand it over until I placed it on a weapon display…okay.

But the one that sits like a white elephant on my task list and makes my skin crawl with unfulfilled completion frustration?

Find a copy of THE WOLF QUEEN v.6.

TWITCH!

I picked the book up during the progress of another quest. Because, you know, I have to collect all of the books. I had no idea it would be part of a quest—until I tried to put it on a bookshelf. Before this, I hadn’t experienced this particular Quest Item F.U. glitch. And because I’m playing on a game console (PS3), there is no freaking way to drop it. Can’t go through the motions of the hunt and pretend, either. So the book sits there like an ugly wart in my inventory, mocking me with its immovable presence.

I’ve had load failures that were less irritating.
Don’t get me wrong. I love this game. Obviously, or I wouldn’t have devoted so much time to it. And I know glitches in something so elaborate are inevitable. But I hope that Bethesda will in the future will do one thing: make everything damn droppable, please. Twitch.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Of Notebooks and Past Lives




Once upon a time, I worked in the land of dirt and flowers and litter pickup. And while this world of physical labor was good, satisfying work—I loved planting flowers and didn’t mind so much the litter—it was difficult to write down those OMG moments of inspiration. For example:

In the early morning of a spring-break abandoned campus, roaming the grounds in a drizzle, the hood of my yellow raincoat muffling the infrequent sound of traffic on the nearby street. Boom. A sudden impression, brought on by memories of late-night battles with padded PVC swords (showing my nerd here), of an old battlefield. Walking along the sidewalk underneath the great oaks, my litter-stick in hand, I saw the entire first scene unfold before me. I had a first line. I NEEDED to write it down.

I learned early on that I have aha! moments at any given, random time, so I started carrying a notebook with me. Spiral notebooks were best, could be rolled or folded to fit in the space between the first aid kit and the dash of the golf cart. Or in the pocket of my cargo pants. The problem with spirals is the cover eventually comes off on me. Then my pages would get dirty or worse, wet. So I upgraded to a three-ring binder. Didn’t fit as well in the cart, but a bit more durable…until I had to duct tape it.

Though I’m no longer outside, I still find a need to jot something down when the computer isn’t in front of me. Like when I’m trying to go to sleep. I love the note app on my phone for this, and I still carry a notebook. And I still duct tape my three-ring binders.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Brain Confetti: 60K


I had this brilliant moment of profoundness that I was going to lay on the world this morning. But that was 5am, I was still half-asleep, and all that awesomeness evaporated from my brain while I brushed my teeth.

So, today, I’m talking word count. Not what range a book should be in per audience/genre/attention span. There are lots o’ great places to find that information, particularly some agenty type people who will dish out all the publishing intel you could ever want to know.

No, I’m talking personal word count. Yesterday, I made 60k on my WIP. Sixty-thousand words woven together in a language tapestry, bonded together by syntax and context to verbally paint the story playing out movie-style in my head.

I cheered, did a little chair dance on my kitchen stool, and threw invisible confetti. Because 60k is a mile-marker, and now I’m closer to my destination than I was before.

It’s taken me longer than I thought it would to get here. Life likes to throw wrenches in the inspiration cogs, and it takes a while to get the damn things out sometimes. Sometimes inspiration will throw one in there just for shits and giggles.

What’s that? You’re clipping ahead at 1500 words a day? Well look at this shiny, sparkly nugget of OMG! You must write this down! Oh, hey! Look at this magnificent idea to revise that old project you’ve been burying under that new WIP. You should do this! Right now!

Yeah, my brain is its very own torture device.

I don’t ignore those sparklies. I write them down, get it out of my system, because it’s still writing. But then I smack myself and get back on track. I set myself little goals. A thousand words or more if I’m feeling perky. A hundred if my head is full of squirrelly thoughts that I can’t quite catch. Some days, some really bad, horrible, why-did-I-open-my-laptop days, I aim for a sentence. And eventually, sooner or later, I get to 60k.

Celebrate your victories, even if it’s only one hundred words. Throw invisible confetti. Enjoy it. Because one hundred words is one hundred closer to your destination.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Poetry: Therapy


The pen wicks the
venom from my
soul
through veins and skin
to the tiny ridges of
my fingertips

down the gleaming
black shaft
poison drips into
the ink chamber
to bleed
into paper,
forever sealed.