Saturday, September 18, 2010

Writer's Quirks

I'm one of those writers who needs music playing while I write. Well, I guess I don't really need the music, but I write so much better when there is something other than normal 'life-sounds' filling the air. The music has to be devoid of lyrics, too - if there's a chorus that's not a problem, but no actual words - I usually get thrown out of the writing when I hear actual words in music, so the instrumental or classical-type stuff works for me, such as soundtracks.

At the moment my 'Writing Music' playlist consists of the following:

The soundtrack of the movie, Moon, by Clint Mansell; this music is really subtle and layered and works well for just about any scene that I'm writing.

Hans Zimmer's soundtrack to Inception; one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a while - powerful and subtle at the same time, and every time the playlist reaches 'Mombasa' I seem to pick up speed, too. :-)

Atticus Ross' soundtrack to The Book of Eli - intense and startling, really cool for a scene that needs layering and intense character-interaction;

28 Days Later's soundtrack - lots of different kinds of sounds going on here though I have to admit that I do skip the songs with vocals / lyrics in them.

Thomas Newman's soundtrack to Revolutionary Road - when I've got a really intense, emotional scene to write this is what I put on - beautiful stuff!

Corner Stone Cues - absolutely love these guys! The tracks are short but powerful, and many times I've had a scene jump into my head, like a snapshot of an epic event, because of this music.

The soundtrack of JJ Abrams' Star Trek - really dig this because it doesn't rely too heavily on the Star Trek theme that everyone knows, so jarring and sudden mental transfers from Epic Fantasy to Star Trek here. :-)

The Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks - fun, fast, furious and epic, love these!

Gladiator's soundtrack - haven't heard much of it yet (and I saw the movie long ago) but what i have heard I've loved.

Braveheart's soundtrack - same here.

Kemper Norton's First Season - incredible stuff! I was really listening to it for the first time about 40 minutes ago and had to stop writing just to experience the music; have a listen for yourself - I haven't heard anything quite like this before.

There we go, that's what I use to aurally enhance myself while writing. :-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Half-way and Beyond

So, it's been a while since I updated the blog, I know. :-( Two things were in my way - reaching that 'half-way' milestone and not having an internet connection for the past week.

You see, I reached 60K last week already. :-) And yes, I was extremely happy with myself! I've been working on this novel since February this year and it sometimes felt as if I would never reach the point where I was half-way done with it. I'm sure you know how it goes - sometimes you look at the screen and think, "What the FUCK am I DOING?!" and other times you look at the screen and think, "Hell yeah, man, HELL YEAH!" As a newbie writer, I've had a helluva lot of both thoughts... ;-)

And now that I've reached the half-way mark, there's a couple of things I know and a couple of things I'm still learning:

a) I know that I can write, constantly, working on the same project, and achieve at least 63297 words. That, my friends, is a massive thing. I written plenty before -give or take 115000 words, in fact- but I've never written as much on one project. The realization that I can is, to put it lightly, enormous. It means that just maybe I can finish this book, that I can bring this 'child' into the world.

b) I know that starting a novel is easy - hell, too damn easy. But slogging away, getting the words to flow from the imagination through the brain down the nerves and out of the fingertips, is insanely difficult. INSANELY.

c) But I also know that I've never done anything more rewarding. Even though my novel might turn out to be crap, even though there's a bigger possibility of it not being published than being published, I'm proud of what I've managed to do so far. 'Cause you know what? When the words are a struggle and a pain, it hurts. Like hell. But when the words flow, no waterfall on any terrestrial planet has ever flowed with more beauty and power. When the words work, they WORK. :-)Homo Sapiens has this obsession with creating, and I understand it now.

d) Getting out the first 10000 words is easier than getting out the remaining 57000 words... Hear me out: As far as I can tell, the first 10000 words is where you lay the groundwork, spread the seeds, and lay the rules. If you've done that as well as you can (and I don't say 'correctly' because I don't believe that there is a 'correct' way to write) then the imagery and conflicts and characters will keep you going until you hit the half-way mark. Once you've hit this next level, things become infinitely more hectic, because now you have to really open up that throttle - every path you've been exploring now needs to be moving towards the destination, and poor you if you don't know where you're going. You have to know. If you've come this far and you don't... *shakes head* You've got major problems. Even though I've got about 57K to go, I've got to start moving towards that end-game, pushing and prodding my characters to make sure that they get there in one piece - that I get there in one piece. The kind of focus, now, is different. The exhaustion at the end of each session is deeper. The exhilaration? Bordering on orgasmic. At least for me, that is, though I'm sure that most writers will agree. :-)

So, here's to the first 60K+. :-) The first of what'll hopefully be millions of words. :-)

Cheers!

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Contest You Should Really Have a Look At

C.A. Marshall is a freelance Editor and Literary Agent Intern, and her blog (thanks to this lady for for getting Marshall on my radar) is a must-read for writers starting out, looking for advice on editing, etc.

She's running a competition at the moment where you can win a free edit by her - "I'm giving away a FREE substantial edit! (That's plot, pacing, character development, etc, up to 100k words) to one lucky reader!" Considering what the prices are to get a MS edited, especially in South Africa where an edit can literally bankrupt you, this is a golden opportunity! I've entered the contest and I'm really hoping for a win! :-)

For more details, head on over to Marshall's blog.

Almost-Halfway Blues

So, er...

I'm almost at the half-way mark (projected, that is) of my novel, and things are weird. I'm not sure why, exactly; you see, I've got everything basically planned out - Character X will be going slightly mad and seeing things that may or may not be there, Character Y will accidentally kill someone, Character Z is finding out that the darker side of the spectrum can be liberating, etc. etc. So why is it that in two weeks+ I've only managed to write about 2000 words?

To put it bluntly, this is driving me slightly fucking nuts. I sit down to write, knowing what I want to write, but what ends up coming out is the biggest load of crap even my strange mind can come up with. :-(

I've been sitting and wondering why this is - it's not like I'm losing faith in my story, in fact, I'm pretty damn chuffed with it, and proud of myself for what I've accomplished. I even know how this book ends, and what emotional journeys my characters need to go on to reach that destination. I've decided that some part of me is still terrified of finishing this novel - or maybe that's just the excuse I've come up with, I'm not really sure. In any case, I seem to be hesitant for some reason - maybe everything is catching up with me now - It's taken me seven months to write as much as I have already, and I want to finish this novel before 1 Jan 2011; now, that goal seems a bit lofty. And I guess a part of me is scared that maybe I don't have enough story to hit the projected 120K - the pace of the story has definitely picked up and there's more happening in every chapter.

Anyway, as the saying goes, 'We'll see.'

Hopefully, whatever it is that's buggering me up will leave and my next update will be to say that I've hit 60K. Hold thumbs, huh? :-)