Monthly Archives: November 2012

Being thankful

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say “thank you?”  ~William A. Ward

I will admit that I am sometimes bad at gratitude; such as I am bad at being optimistic. These are things that I have to work hard to remind myself and my brain about. I am prone to anxiety and catastrophizing if I don’t work hard to remember the good things in life. And if I don’t remind myself that everything is going to be ok.

But I am thankful because I am lucky to have many wonderful people in my life. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving (despite some of the horrible history behind it) here are some things I am thankful for in no particular order:

  • My family
  • My brother
  • My significant other (boyfriend, whatever word you wanna use).
  • My friends
  • Books
  • Learning
  • Words & writing

What are you thankful for today? How do you show your gratitude? Happy Thanksgiving.

©K. Klein 2012

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Self doubt

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.  ~Sylvia Plath

I will admit to being a bad English major and literary nerd – I’ve never read The Bell Jar. However, this Plath quote really resonates with me now. Between being sick last week and plagued with self-doubt this week I am a mess.

My NaNoWriMo novel is at forty thousand words, which in sheer word count terms, is awesome. I think I am only about a third or a fourth of the way into the story. I feel like there is a turning point coming up that I have yet to discover; one of the great and frightening parts of pantsing. Hopefully I will discover the illustrious and mysterious turning point soon. We shall see.

I am starting to wonder, was I ever really a pure pantser? I think the answer is no. But I am not a born plotter; I am not making outline of my story before it is written. Instead, I like to have my amorphous mess and then figure out what the structure should be…I sort of reverse-engineered the first draft of novel-1. I have been scribbling down scribbling down scenes of what I want to happen before I start writing, which I find helpful. And on the bright side, definitely helps keep my word count up. Thank you Rachel Aaron. She had great advice about upping your word count her blog.

I am planning on sitting down with the half-done draft of novel-1 sequel and trying to plot out my second attempt on it. I plan to do that after I finish my NaNo novel, which is I am semi-pantsing. It’ll be interesting to see how it works out and if it works out. It is scary, but I enjoy pushing myself to try new techniques and ideas. I’ve heard about the beat sheet and story/ narrative structure. So I shall try to employ this while plotting out the high points of sequel to novel-1. Wish me luck.

P.S. On a completely unrelated note, I am super excited about Rachel Aaron’s new book, Spirit’s End. You should totally check it out!

©K. Klein 2012

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Shitty First Drafts & NaNoWriMo

“Now, practically even better news than that of short assignments is the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts” ~Anne Lamott

If you haven’t read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – I highly recommend it. It is a book that discusses craft and other writing related things. But what I took out of it the most is that it is ok to write messy, shitty, plot hole ridden first drafts. I spent a long time paralyzed by the idea that I had to write a perfect first draft. It also helped me realize that it is ok to be a kind of crazy writer and that I am not alone. Sometimes writing is such a hermit activity it is easy to think that I am the only one who feels this way.

In any case, I cannot tell you the amount of tyranny that my inner critic ruled my writing life with…that voice, which is helpful during edits and rewrites, is downright stifling when I am just trying to get the story on the page. Part of the initial resistance this NaNoWriMo has been my need to stuff the inner-critic back in its box. He had his mustache-twirling tyrannical joy fest when we edited my pre-NaNo novel. And now it is time for some quiet time in the box. Really. And I don’t feel bad about being mean to him; he is a tyrant after all. (And he was mean to me first.)

Shitty first drafts coupled with NaNoWriMo have allowed me to complete several first drafts now. This November I am rediscovering the joy and the pains of writing a first draft from scratch. Last NaNo, I ventured to write a sequel so I didn’t have to root around as much in my world-building. I am building this new world from scratch. It is terrifying and so much fun at the same time.

I am also learning new things about my craft and my style. I have read Rachel Aaron’s awesome blog post about going from 2k to 10k a day. I haven’t hit 10k in a day yet, but I have hit 5k two days in a row. Just by jotting down the basic events of what I wanted to write for that day. I really enjoyed how she explained her triangle of enthusiasm, knowledge, and time. Check out her post for more information.

In the great pantser vs. plotter debate, I always thought of myself as more of a panster. But I think that is somewhat of a lie; I always hit writer’s block when I don’t know where I am going with the story. I think that I am more of a mental planner. Like I have an idea of where the story is going in my head. A rough outline I guess. So now here I am jotting down brief pre-writing session lists. I am not quite to a full outline stage of planning. Perhaps I am a pantser with plotter tendencies? I don’t know entirely. Although even the greatest planners do get sidetracked from their outlines and plans sometimes – so I don’t think anyone is purely one or the other.

So what do you think? Are you meticulous in your first draft? Do you write shitty first drafts? Are you a plotter or a punster? Or both?

P.S. I am super happy the election is over!

P.P.S. Sorry it has been a while since I blogged, I caught a stupid cold.

©K. Klein 2012

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Just bleed

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

Ernest Hemingway

Unfortunately, as much time as I have spent thinking about new idea and anticipating writing it, the writing is being difficult. My mind is resisting and trying to run away in fear. I want to hold back. I’ve hit upon a personal nerve. Oddly enough, NaNoWriMo often brings to light things that I don’t want to face.

Ironically, even though this novel is set in a magic pseudo-futuristic America, the main character’s mother is insane. Part of the major conflict is the main character needing to pay for mental healthcare for her mother. This is something I discovered in the planning on Halloween, but it makes sense for the larger plot overall.

This hits a personal nerve. My own mother is schizophrenic. Sometimes it just hurts to think that. A tiny piece of me is terrified of becoming ill like her; more often I am just terrified of becoming her. So having a character who is intimately dealing with the relationship with her own mother strikes me deeply.

I haven’t talked with my mother in a decade and going on longer. There are many reasons beyond my own mother’s illness of why we have not had contact in that long. Ultimately, I made the decision for my health.

So here I am, at the beginning of NaNoWriMo writing a novel about a daughter who is willing to do anything to care for her mentally ill mother; setting regardless. I might as well take the kitchen knife and slice my wrist open – I think that would hurt less. I honestly don’t mean to be melodramatic. I know it probably sounds pretty over the top to those who aren’t inside of my head.

But the issues that I have surrounding my mother and the array of confusing feelings – love, hatred, anger – decided to come up. Why hello issues, it is nice to see you again too. Not.

Wish me luck. Maybe I can dig into the fear as Dorothy Allison advises. I hope to bring honesty to whatever I write. I just have to sit down and face myself to do it. Sometimes seeing yourself clearly is the hardest thing there is to do.

©K. Klein 2012

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Filed under anxiety, health, nanowrimo, writing