The Calm Before The Storm

I don’t actually think I believe in the calm before the storm. The storm always breaks well before the rain, you can feel it in your mind, watch the darkness gathering in the distance, pulling you towards it like a wave rolling towards the shore. Feel the dread in your guy, heavy in the air, saturated.

York was lovely, a truly adorable city, but marred by the doom waiting to tip over our heads, the water balloon already in transit to smash into our face.

You’re never just paranoid. You know when something isn’t right. When something has gone unsaid.

I made myself horribly sick on it and have made the long-overdo pact with myself to give up drinking. Not in a black and white way. In a way that’s like… Why have I ever invested so much time and energy to make myself sick in a new friend’s dirty toilet for a day?

How would I need that when there is this?

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Also, we went to a drag show.

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But now we are back in Edinburgh, waiting out the storm. Maybe one of these days the rain will stop.

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Day Thirty-Five: Striking Out

The last few days have been a lot of staring into space for me. My writing time thus far today has consisted of a lot of picking at my fingernails in the library and questioning everything I’ve written so far. That and two crummy paragraphs that couldn’t even hold my attention.

I’m in a bad way. Lately, I can’t get my mind out of politics and plot points. They’re important topics to me, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not what is going to put words on a page.

I need to write. I need to cut my fingernails because they’re jagged stumps that I can’t stop playing with and I need to write.

So I’m heading to an internet-free zone to make myself a cup of coffee, cut my nails, flesh out a few characters and get 1,000 words done by the end of the day or else.

I said “Or else” when I got to the library today. “You’re not leaving this spot until you get a few good scenes written or else!” Now I’m leaving with questionable ramblings.

Oh, where is that creative energy that consumed me at the start of this project!? I wish I could just go back to that. When the words wouldn’t stop flowing through me. Now they won’t start!

I hate that version of me that sat there typing me into this corner. What have I done to my story?

Day Twenty-Seven: Back to the Drawing Board

Yesterday was a weird day. It left me feeling weird all the way well into this morning. Therefore I spent a lot more time than I could spare staring at an empty screen.

After a while of wasted time, I decided to run a word count and was a bit surprised to find that I was upwards of 40,000 words and not even a third of the way through my outline (or even into the actual plot of the book, but rather extendedly setting up the world). This was not good news. The average Young Adult/Juvenile novel is about a max of 80,000 words (for comparison, the first Harry Potter was about 72,000). At this rate, my book would be about 600 pages which, maybe possible, would be extremely difficult if I ever wanted to sell it.

I really didn’t want to run a word count. I didn’t want to try to shape myself to some arbitrary limits. I read plenty of books that are long (even in a younger oriented genre). But I think my book is already way too long! And it’s not about words, it’s about fluff. I feel like I’m about to have to pick lice off someone’s head and spend ages trying to figure out every superfluous word so far. I have too much happening to afford fluff. I need to get this thing as tight as I possibly can. The problem is… there’s just so much information! I know too much about it all. My world is too big.

So I went back to the outline and started trying to compress it as much as I could. I got it down from 29 chapters to 22 (but they’d be longer chapters). Sadly, I think a lot of what I’ve written already is going to have to take huge cuts so that we can get down to the meat of basic story and focus less on “look how cool I can make this place.” (Which is sad, because it was really cool!)

I also need to stop setting up future books. I need to almost pretend this isn’t a series, but a stand-alone. Start taking this project one book at a time. But it hurts! There’s a really big story here and I don’t want to put that aside to make it more marketable…

What’s better… to ravage some of my description in favor of the story or to screw limitations and just write?

With that in mind, I started Chapter Nine… I feel overwhelmed.

Day Fifteen: Paradise

Today, although I’ve written about four pages, I wrote the toughest four pages of my life. Today, I had to show someone the paradise of their own mind, and not only that! That someone was fictional so I had to show it to them and create it all in one bulky motion.

I firmly believe in cerebral paradise (it’s a big aspect of my story). Mine is lovely. It’s just like this huge bed with the softest white sheets and the most wonderful down comforter. I think at some point there should be some sort of nice hunk that brings me the most wonderful cheeseboard of all time. I used to do this cocoon project with writing classes when I was in high school. It’s almost like a meditative experiment. Lots of “Close your eyes and pretend you are in the most comfortable environment you can imagine.” It was always my favorite day in writing class. It was like taking a relaxing nap. That’s where my cloud-bed of goodness came from.

I think that my character is a lot smarter than me and it’s causing me a bit of trouble. Maybe she’s only eleven, but she has figured things out that I like to think about sometimes, but don’t have her childish resolution on. Maybe when I was a kid I knew what she knows, but right now I’m in the rocky terrain of my early twenties: I realize that I know absolutely nothing for sure anymore.

So I’m trying to give her–her name is Bean, by the way–a cocoon of sorts. It’s hard to clear your mind and close your eyes and imagine someone else’s vision of paradise. It’s even harder to expand that view until you’re created an entire world of it (Bean just can’t do anything by half!), and it’s even harder to make every piece of that world meaningful and influential on the greater arch of a story. Four pages of paradise seems more like a roadmap of my entire story.

What doesn’t help is that–when trying to make an actual map–I can’t draw. I see it. I get it laid out but then I try to put it down in a picture and for some reason I’ve created a fourth, fifth and sixth dimension (which can make for an interesting story, but a horrible map). Needless to say my map now looks like this:

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What the hell is that? I swear it translates at least nominally better into words.

I think I need to simplify my idea of reality. Or, better yet, I think I need to simplify my character’s view of reality. She’s far to ambitions in her imaginings.

What I think most of all, though, is how badly I need a cheeseboard right about now.

Day Thirteen: A Character Struggle

Have spent almost the entire day trapped in a coffee shop waiting out a storm. However, I’ve managed to make some feeble success of it and written a good 20 pages or so. I wouldn’t say it was an easy 20 pages, but I’ve tried to persevere.

The troubling thing about trying to write about remarkable events is trying to think of remarkable events. I have a great outline. Every time I read it I think to myself, “Now who came up with this? This all seems much more extraordinary and thought-out than I could have written.” My outline keeps me going, but when it comes to the extraordinary details that this world seems to demand to make it move, I am struggling.

I literally had to google “Interesting Earth facts” today. Everything has to be new and remarkable and sometimes its very hard to keep up with that and keep the story progressing. Could I make something wildly strange happen? Yes of course, why not drop a giant jellyfish down into the middle of the dinner table (it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for my story), but then where do I go from there?

Fantasy is hard in that how is it fantastical and logical at the same time?

What I’m struggling with even more is writing very interesting/non-cliche characters. It’s like I see them clearly in my head, but how do I make the principal give a new an opening speech that isn’t too Dumbledore but still strange enough to be interesting? How do I write someone saying something wise that isn’t too stuck in something cliche about wisdom? It’s so frustrating when I know someone has already done it better. I just want to steal their characters and run away with them!

Every word someone utters is a bit of a struggle today. I know what they need to say, but the space isn’t solid enough in my mind to know how they would say it.

I think I need a drink? Something a bit stronger than coffee.