I am a writer. I am a master of words. I create: places, characters, events. Whole worlds flow from my fingertips. Under my direction, random thoughts and flashes of inspiration become a path, a path that my characters walk down, a path that twists and turns and captivates until it creates a story. And that story can be anything- a romance, a mystery, a paranormal/sci-fi adventure of total epicness. My story is whatever I want it to be. My story is mine to share with whomever I want, be that no one or the entire world. My story can make people laugh, make people cry, make people throw things up against the wall. My story can change lives. Because I am a writer, and changing lives is what writing is all about.
(This is part of a cool blog series entitled: 15 Habits of Great Writers. I totally missed the series when it was running, but I can see this being helpful. Here’s a link in case anyone is interested: http://goinswriter.com/declare/ . Day 1 is declaring that you’re a writer, so that’s what I did!)
I decided I was going to do a bunch of writing based on various story prompts, and here’s the first. Nothing great, just free-writing for about 20 minutes to come up with this piece based on the picture below. Honestly, though, I’m pretty pleased with it, even though I lost it and luckily found it saved in a secret file on my computer (talk about a mini-heart attack). So here’s my little short: The Pretty Pink Zombie-Killing Dress. Enjoy!
This was going to ruin my dress. I’d spent months picking it out, trying to find just the right shade of pink to match that pair of shoes I’d found at the vintage clothing shop on Broadway. And now that I was actually wearing the pretty pink creation, somebody up top had decided to play a cosmic joke and flip the switch on the zombie apocalypse. You might wonder why I was more concerned about ruining my clothes than having my skull bashed in and my brains scrapped out, but we’d all been training for this day for years. Welcome to Apollyon High, better known as Apocalypse High. On top of your basic math, science, and English, our required classes included wilderness survival, obstacle course running, and weapons training. Just the sort of thing everyone wants to do on a daily basis. Right now, I was rushing to the gym with a flood of other grim-faced girls, all of us throwing off stilettos and hiking up trailing skirts as we went. The bang of slamming lockers surrounded me as I reached my own blue box and twirled my lock. Yanking open the unlocked door, I pulled out my trusty battle axe. Literally. My best weapon was a long-handled axe, just as good for splitting skulls as it was for splitting logs. “I can’t believe we’re going to miss prom!” Cassie was whining again, her elaborate up-do falling as she yanked her electric blue quiver over her head. No surprise there. Tabitha smacked her on the back of the head and hefted her spear over one broad shoulder. “Aw, shut up,” she ordered unsympathetically. “We’re finally gonna see some real action!” Tabitha saw me watching her. “Bet I kill more walkers than you, Carson.” She pointed her spear in my direction, almost taking out two freshman as they ran into the locker room. One opened her mouth, but the words died before they reached her lips as Tabitha glared her down. She scurried after her friend and was lost in the crowd. “Whatever, Tabby,” I mocked, knowing she hated that name. Sure enough, her cocky smile turned sour, and she bared her teeth. “Bring it, shorty.” I spun my axe, reveling in the familiar weight in my hand. Slipping my feet into my combat boots, I weaved my way over to Tabitha and looked up at the girl hulking over me. “You ready?” I asked her. We may talk trash, but the truth was that Tabitha and I were partners. Had been for years. We always had each other’s backs, and there wasn’t a better pair of fighters at Apocalypse High. “Born ready. Let’s go.” She took off, pushing smaller, slower girls out of her way. I ran to keep up with her with my short legs and swirling skirt. Back into the gym we went and then out into the parking lot, where the fluorescent, overhead lights shone down on the first wave of walkers. They stumbled through the obstacle course, falling into spike-lined pits or tripping bursts of gunfire and flame. But there were too many, and it would be seconds before they reached the school itself. “Perfect ending to a boring night,” Tabitha said conversationally, completely at ease with the impending battle. “Oh, I don’t know. I could’ve gone for one more slow dance with Damien Waters.” Tabitha nudged me with her elbow, almost knocking me over with her enhanced strength. I stayed on my feet, barely, and tapped her in the ribs with the butt of my axe. She rubbed the spot absently and nailed me with a crazed look. “Forget Damien, Carson. It’s go-time.” And then she was off, roaring a wordless battle cry as she took on the front line of the walkers, decapitating four of them with a single swipe of her razor-sharp spear. Shaking my head, I smiled. Only Tabby would be this excited to fight undead monsters, and her passion was infectious. I erased all thoughts of my pretty pink dress and Damien Waters from my mind, and threw myself into the fray.
So I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything, so sorry if anyone was actually waiting for my exciting post that I promised. But I just had a thought that I felt defined me in a rather interesting way. As anyone who knows me would tell you, I am a major bookworm- always have been, always will be. Right now, though, I’m avoiding my current read. Yes, you read that correctly. I am afraid of finishing my book. Before you run to get the thermometer, let me explain. This book is the final in a quartet that acts as a companion series to another set of books that rank really high on my list of All-Time Favorite Book Series. (The original series is the Weather Warden series, the set of four is the Outcast Season series, both by the fabulous Rachel Caine, in case anyone is interested). When I finished the last WW book, I mourned. Like seriously. I moped, I listened to the playlists numerous times, I painted my nails black (which my sister thought was terribly strange). I was so sad that the characters and world I loved had come to an end. So when I found the companion series, I was ecstatic. And now I’ve reached the end of this series, too. These novels, like I said before, are some of my absolute favorite books. The main characters are both really relatable to me, and the more I work on my own story, the more I realize how they’ve influenced my own characters. (Granted, that can be said for any of my favorite books, but Cassiel in particular is a lot like my Callie. Except for the whole Djinn cast down to Earth bit, but whatever).
And now I sit here, about to end the journey once again. To leave all the craziness behind me, never to experience the magic for the first time again. (Unless I get amnesia. Or Alzheimer’s). I don’t know how I do this. How do readers deal with this?! How do we handle the end of stories? How do we turn the final page of the final book, realizing that our lives will continue while the characters and worlds we fell in love with are finished? They will always live on in our hearts and memories, but is that enough? I may never have answers to these questions.
I guess what I’m really saying is that books are powerful things. They have the ability to take you to magical places, introduce you to a menagerie of people, let you escape from the often harsh realities of our own world. But they also have a dark side, a side that can force you to face your deepest fears, make you rethink your own dear truths, and rip your soul into tiny, bleeding fragments. When you open a book, you really open up yourself, to both the good and the bad. Never forget that.
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Today is December 1st, which means that KazNoWriMo is officially over. Did I meet my 30,000 word goal? You bet! *Throws confetti* *Does cartwheels* *Blows airhorn* I topped out at 30,049 words, which comes out to be 34 complete pages and a few lines. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s 34 full, single-spaced pages in size 11 font without any paragraph or dialogue breaks and with one space after each period. In a month. From just scribbling things down whenever I had an idea to writing 1,000 words a day. Not to brag or anything, but I am so proud of myself!
Now, don’t get too excited. The story is nowhere near complete and what I do have is incredibly unedited. It’s terrible writing. There are plot holes, the characters aren’t well developed, and the dialogue isn’t clever or catchy at all. But this is zero draft. It’s not even a first draft, which implies that there’s been some editing and there’s a complete story. No, this is just a semi-collected spewing of words and ideas that need some serious work. It’s not even in order—the beginning scene is next to a scene from near the end, and there’s a big scene in the middle that’s strewn throughout and all over. Definitely not fit for human consumption. But I’m still proud of it ‘cause it’s ALL MINE!
This next month is for finishing the story. I don’t know if I’ll get a 1,000 words in each day; sometimes it may be more, some days it may be less. But I owe it to myself and my characters to complete their story, and I wouldn’t want to do anything else. After that, it’s all rewriting, which will be more difficult than writing the story in the first place, but one step at a time. As my picture says, there is still much to be done, but I’m not losing sight!
I’ve learned a lot in the past month, about myself, about writing, about myself while writing. I’ve discovered that I work best writing by hand. I can crank out 1,000 words in less than an hour scrawling in my steno pad, but it takes me almost twice as long to get that much done on the computer. I blame the Internet and my ADD. I’ve also realized that I can really write anywhere. At work, at home, standing waiting in Wal-Mart on Black Friday with a ton of noisy, crazy, pushy people all around—I can do it. This was a real surprise to me. I’ve always been able to read in any situation, but I need a little less distraction when I’m working. Apparently this isn’t the case with writing. And I do my best work late at night. That’s also weird for me, since I’m a morning person, but I really hit my stride between 10:00 and midnight. Whatever, I’m not really complaining. In regards to writing in general, my advice is to remember that you need to get up and move around. Sitting for hours in the same position, hunched over your laptop can give you a real crick in the neck. And bruises? You wouldn’t think you could get bruises from not doing anything, but there you go. Two, purple sore spots on the backs of my calves, that I finally realized was from having my legs propped up for so long on the coffee table. Talk about pathetic.
General advice for your aspiring writers and for busy grad students: yogurt. Yep, yogurt. That stuffs better than Raman Noodles. Maybe a little bit more expensive, but hey! No preparation! Seriously though, yogurt has become the new staple in my diet. It’s easy to grab when it’s one o’clock in the morning and you realize you’re starving, or when you’ve been typing all morning and you realize that you forgot to eat breakfast. Plus, it’s at least somewhat healthy for you. I’ve actually lost weight sitting on my butt all day! Concerning other foods, this month has not been kind. I even managed to mess up macaroni and cheese. It still tasted fine, but I was kind of like, “Really? Mac and cheese? I suck at cooking.”
I have a whole bunch of other random odds and ends that I’ve learned this month, but this post is long enough as it is. Check back for Round 2 tomorrow and read about my hate for dark furniture, my obsession with Pinterest, and the Muppets movie.
Gotta love Percy Jackson and all the burdge-bug fanart!
It’s Day 1 of KazNoWriMo! 1000 words to go! Well, actually like 900- I had some free time at work. It’s been really cool to see all my favorite authors giving advice and encouragement to all of us new authors starting out today. And on top of that, quite a few of them celebrated Book Birthdays of their own! Out today is Rachel Caine’s Last Breath, Ally Condie’s Crossed, and Chloe Neill’s Drink Deep. All three are on my TBR and “To Buy” lists.
Anywho, I need to stop writing this and get to work on my real project! Wish me luck!
For many authors and aspiring writers, November is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal? Write 50,000 words in one month. This is equivalent to approximately a 175 page novel in 30 days.
This may seem like a pretty daunting task (and it is), but many people worldwide participate each year. I considered taking part last year but just couldn’t devote that much time, as I was too busy writing about that many pages for my various courses so that I could graduate on time!
This year, however, one of my wonderful author friends is running KazNoWriMo-Kaz Novel Writing Month. It’s the same idea, but the goal is 30,000 words instead of 50k. That’s 1000 words, or roughly 4 manuscript pages, a day. After my newfound realization, I’m an totally making the most of this opportunity this year. 30k? That’s totally reasonable, even with the numerous projects and papers I have to work on before the end of the semester.
The shindig starts tomorrow morning, although I won’t get to write until tomorrow night after work and class. If anyone else is interested, here are links for both NaNoWriMo and KazNoWriMo.
So if I’m absentee from Facebook this month or I don’t answer my phone or emails, just be aware that I’m writing, my fingers frantically typing away late into the night, the clacking of keys accompanied by my extensive iTunes library. I haven’t decided what story I’m working on, but I’m leaning towards one I’ve barely started. Ideas for this one keep bugging me, and I keep finding inspiration for it everywhere, so it’ll probably be the one for my KazNo goal. (FYI, it’s about a girl who can see how people died, a guy who refuses to stay dead, and mysterious paranormal disappearances that the two must work together to solve).
So less than 12 hours to Day 1. Wish me luck!
So today was a day for a revelation. I guess it’s been coming for a while but this afternoon, it finally decided to smack me right between the eyes and scream, “Hey! Pay attention to ME!!!”
I was playing around on the Internet, as I am wont to do, looking at some Percy Jackson fan-art. I came upon this picture: http://burdge-bug.deviantart.com/art/Light-Outside-246308246, and the song that helped inspire it. It took me a second, and then my jaw about hit the floor, and only partially due to the awesomeness of the picture. What really got me was the “Eureka!” moment that went along with it.
I’ve always been a reader. I read more than anyone I know (not that I know that many people) and I am never happier than when I’m sitting with a book, lost in another world full of characters and ideas that feel more real to me than most tangible things. I’ve dabbled a bit in writing: poems, songs, short stories. I even won a writing contest not too long ago (Pausing a moment for some shameless self-promotion here: http://www.inkpop.com/node/549505/read). I love the feeling I get when I’m working on a story, how images and words that have been stomping around in my head are put out into the world, gaining a life of their own.
And so finally to the realization part. My dad’s always told me that he thinks I’m a writer, and I’ve finally come to the conclusion that he’s right. Looking at that picture and thinking of everything a book can do-how it can create enough emotion to make people write fanfics or draw pictures or make music and generally just bask in its awesomeness-all the little puzzle pieces fell into place. I want to be a writer. I want to inspire the kind of emotion in others that books have always inspired in me, to take people to different worlds and introduce them to all the crazy people living inside my noggin (in a decidedly non-schizophrenic way). And, frankly, I’m afraid my head’s going to burst from all the ideas and scenes in there shouting to be let out if I do anything else.
Now I realize anyone reading this probably knows me and has heard me (or my mother…Hi Mom!) talk all about how I’m going to go into forensic pathology and do the autopsies or get a PhD and teach or something like that. And none of that’s a lie. Not really. I still want to do one of those things (to be determined at a later date), but I want to write, too. And it’s certainly not an impossibility; look at Kathy Reichs, who’s a forensic anthropologist and the author of the book series that inspired the television show “Bones.” And goodness knows that getting published takes a lot of time and effort, and I’m going to need some way to support myself while I work on my writing. So while I plan on getting a third degree and putting in all the years of hard work that either degree would require, I can’t help but stop and recall something: The first thing I remember ever wanting to be when I grew up was an author. And all those people always say to go with your gut, well, who am I to tell them they’re wrong?
And today this is what my gut is telling me: to be an author, to write the words that have been kept inside for so long, and join the world of literature.
A productive afternoon all in all, if I do say so myself.
Today I’m trying something called free-writing, which means I’m just typing whatever pops into my head, stream-of-consciousness style. Here goes:
So it’s the first day of September. That means fall should be right around the corner, correct? Well someone needs to tell Ma Nature that so she can turn off the furnace. I’m a warm-weather gal, but these temperatures are really starting to make me hate summer.
The confusion in my life hasn’t really cleared up at all, but I guess that’s the way it goes. I really have no right to complain; I’ve pretty much lived a charmed life up until this point, and this might not even turn out badly, so I should probably just shut up. But I don’t like being confused and I really don’t like being blown off and strung along, so somebody better get on that. If that somebody has to be me, I guess I’ll do what has to be done, but I’d rather that somebody would just get their act together and grow up. No one wants a wishy-washy boyfriend.
I’m really ready for it to be Halloween. No, I don’t dress up and trick-or-treat, and I don’t really ever go to any parties, I just like the holiday in general. I like the weather, I love the scary movie marathons, and I love all the candy on sale. Plus it gives me an excuse to wear my witch’s hat around my apartment. Not that I don’t do that just for fun anyway, but at least I have a reason. And after Halloween, we can just skip straight to Christmas. No one really wants Thanksgiving; people complain about eating too much and having to visit family that they don’t really want to see. Granted, the same thing happens at Christmas, but at least then you get presents, um, I mean, snow?
I really should go study for my Mammalogy quiz tonight. Grad school is pretty boring so far. This quiz is on the dog skull. I’ll ace it. The most interesting thing so far is that my one professor is 83 years old, and we’re all waiting for him just to keel over during lecture one day. It’d be a bit shocking, mind you, but hopefully we’d all get A’s out of the course.
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