Getting into that new-book groove

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“That’s the mountain I’m gonna hike? Son of a–“

Now that I’ve finished the rewrite of my last novel (Are we ever truly finished? Those are the questions that nibble my toes at night…), I’m finally able to clear the way for my new work in progress. This should be a fresh, freeing sensation, right? Honestly, it’s kind of terrifying.

I’ve discovered I have an awful time “breaking away” from the last book I’ve been working on. At least I already have a great start on the new novel, but it’s like wading through a desert. I don’t have a strong grip on the voice yet, and everything is so new, it’s daunting. There’s an overwhelming “I don’t know where to begin-ness.” I have, after all, been rewriting for the past year, which involves one comfortable, well-worn story. I know all of the characters inside-out. I can tell you the route you need to take to get from Freddy’s house to Paul’s, and about how Freddy likes chocolate milk, but won’t touch it plain. I have a grasp on my new characters, but I am still learning about them.

The new story has a ton of promise, but it isn’t broken in yet, which is an apt way to describe my life now. New town, new habits, new novel in progress… nothing is nice and cozy-comfortable yet. And as I previously established, I’m the kind of person who doesn’t take well to change. I find security and sanity in the things that don’t surprise me. But I also am the kind of person who loves to go on adventures and discover new places and sites–maybe I just need something trustworthy to come home to.

Either way, I’m not there in my book yet, which is why I haven’t been writing regularly. Also, the story wasn’t coming as quickly as it had been in its fledgling days of wildfire ideas. Instead of writing for the sake of writing, I wanted to take a new approach. I decided to stop forcing the issue of writing for the sake of writing and reflect on the story outline, which is usually impossible for me. Normally, I just let the characters reveal the story to me and write when a scene comes to mind. In the back of my mind, I knew that this story had to go somewhere and I wasn’t seeing the forest for the trees; the arc wasn’t as apparent to me as I thought it would be, so I just let my brain “rest” on it and gave myself a “break.” 

And then it came, like a shot out of the dark. I can’t even recall if there was a trigger. Maybe my brain was quietly working on the lock on Pandora’s Box, and one question or thought about my characters or story revealed it all to me. Either way, it changed the entire story for the better. And what’s crazy is it revealed enough for me to construct a nearly complete outline of the book. I don’t work with outlines until I’m usually reworking plot issues or am nearing the end, so this is all unfamiliar territory at this stage. I have an outline, which I now need to develop with actual pages. And it’s kind of terrifying, because I’m not used to knowing where my story is going from point A to point Z. I don’t know where to begin because I know too much, if that makes sense. And it’s not like this is a plot-driven novel.

The subject matter of my new plot is deeper and more serious than anything I’ve tried to approach before, and it’s a little intimidating. It requires the kind of research you can’t find online or in a book. I’m going to have to actually interview someone to find out what I need to know about my character’s problems. Maybe you know this or not, but writers aren’t usually equipped with suave people skills. A lot of us mumble and avoid eye contact and would rather be thrown into a pit of tigers than into a situation where we have to voluntarily sit down and speak to strangers about real life situations– IN PERSON.

So while it’s exciting to have most of my book completely outlined before I start to knuckle down and write, it’s also vexing. Sometimes I’d prefer not to see the mountain before I start to climb it. Rocks and pebbles are far less intimidating than a tower of steep, evergreen-populated granite. On the bright side, having the whole story before I start writing saves me from churning out thousands upon thousands of words I will never use. My last book took so long to rewrite because my leap-without-looking method got me into two books’ worth of material, and it was supposed to be a stand-alone novel. I would rather not repeat that offense and see those acres of words burning, the smell of their carcasses blurring my revising eyes. This time, I want to do right by my story the first time out of the gate.

Now, where to begin. 

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Movin’ On: Giving up the chair and a hard-worn routine

Have you ever looked back at a chain of events in your life and wondered if the world was setting you up to make a big change? I can’t help but feel I was being prepped over the last several months to make a huge life switch. Remember my panicky chair rant from months ago? It’s so ironic. Two months later, my column in the local paper was canceled because it wasn’t “local-centric.” And then my husband declared he wanted to move closer to his workplace, as the 55-minute commute had finally taken its toll after eleven years. In the end, I had to give up not only my beloved writer space and chair at my favorite coffee shop, but my whole town. I’m not going to lie. It was hard to accept.

ImageAs much as I complain about living in Hellinois, my nickname for the great soul-beating state that is Illinois, I do love this town. It’s not Chicago, but it’s pretty much the next best thing as far as culture goes. Over the past few months, I had to accept the fact I’d be giving that up and moving to a smaller town, Conservativeland, if you will, and have been plotting how I will survive. It has a university within a bike ride of my new house, and a fairly vast library I will be able to get lost in. Plus, there is a coffee shop. I don’t think it has a special cushy chair, but it does have chai. And there is a nearby multiplex, as well as a single-screen theater currently under renovation in the old downtown. Access to movies, books, and a hermit hole is basically all I ask for. The food in this town is dismal in comparison to the one I live in now, so I’m going to have to cook more (Big HAH!) or something.

What’s really weird is how more and more things keep changing before the move. The school down the street from where I live has shut down for renovations, and they  tore out several huge, beautiful trees to make way for a new addition. Down the street from my coffee shop, a hotel is scheduled to go into an empty space where a building burned down a couple years back. (I was there the morning the firefighters were putting out the flames.) My local independent movie theater has turned into a co-op because rent is ridiculously high, and I fear for its survival. Even some of the regular servers at our favorite haunts have disappeared. Bearded Guy doesn’t come into my coffee shop and sit at the table in front of me every day like he used to. I still see him, but not as much anymore.

It’s as if all these changes are happening at this point in time to push me out, to make it easier for me to leave it all behind; like a chapter in the life of this town has come to an end, and when I come back after the move, it’ll be a different town than what I once knew. Leaving a town with all the creature comforts is bad enough, but leaving behind the personal things that make it your town is the worst. As someone who despises change, I hate to see these things happen, and it’s almost easier to leave now than it ever could’ve been.

It’s as if I’ve run the course of this town, and need to move on. Maybe it’s psychological, but it really feels like there are outside forces making this transition mentally easier.

Image An update on my beloved chair: my coffee shop kept it in its usual space and never did install the dreaded “Kid’s Corner” threatened earlier by new ownership. Maybe someone actually listened to my declaration this chair was the only reason I kept coming back. I’m going to miss it perhaps most of all. The cushion in the arms has worn so thin, you can feel the wooden framework when you prop up your elbows. There is a staple that pokes through the fabric on the left arm I constantly bump myself on. It’s in need of a new stuffing and reupholstering, but it’s my chair. Like Sheldon Cooper has his “spot” on the couch, this is my little corner of the universe all else revolves around.

In the past month, this chair was witness to two more milestones: my finishing the fourth draft of my novel in progress, and the place I was sitting when I found out my hero, Ray Bradbury, died. This chair has held me while I cried in public more than once. This chair could almost have its own book about the things it’s been a part of. I’m sitting in it now, teary-eyed as I write this entry. I’ll remind the owner again before I finally move that I’ll take it if they ever consider throwing it out. It’s been here longer than I have, so I really don’t know how much longer they would keep it. Maybe some kid will knick is or her arm on the staple and they’ll finally decide to toss it. The other two cushy chairs that used to sit in the back of this coffee shop have vanished for whatever reason. My chair stands alone, the last monument of a fallen empire.

The official moving date is nine days away. I should probably apologize for being such a sentimental sap, but I this is one more piece of the transition I need to set in place. I can’t help but look at every act without a feeling of finality. “This is the last time I’ll be walking my dog in this neighborhood,” or “This is going to be my last morning chai at this coffee shop,” even though that’s silly, since I’ll only be living an hour away and can visit anytime I like. But I won’t doing those things as I live in this town. I’ll have to make a special effort. And you know how most “special effort” promises turn out. I hate getting up early. There’s no way I’m going to get up at 6am so I can drive up to this coffee shop and have breakfast here at 8. It’ll never happen.

But, all these changes are pushing me to the realization that maybe it’s time for me to turn over a new leaf, anyway. My time in this town has come to an end. I need to begin new routines and learn new streets and find new hermit holes. Maybe even find a new chair. I don’t really have a choice in the matter.

And as “Closing Time” makes a well-timed appearance on the coffee shop radio, I lay to rest my last blog entry made at this coffee shop, sitting in my chair. I’m not even making this up. Sometimes, the radio just knows.

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BOOK FAIR!

BOOK FAIR

OH MY GOD IT'S THE BOOK FAIR!!!

When I was in middle school, the highlight of my year was the annual book fair. Living in a town of less than 5,000 people, we had no bookstore, and no place that sold books. Our library was fairly decent for a small town, but its selections barely seemed to turn over, and it never felt like my library. Since I lived in the country, we had to make a special trip in town for books and spend $25 on a library card just to rent from there. Our school library was even smaller, and though I liked the librarians and once in a while would find a book that interested me, it was obvious money was not being spent on that area of the school. Everything seemed to predate the 70s. Needless to say, as far as books go, the scene was a little depressing.

But the book fair was one bright wonderful time a year when all hell broke loose and the book-starved masses were let loose upon the school. Honestly, I don’t know how I would’ve lasted without it. I think I missed sleep some nights thinking about all the books coming to town, and how I couldn’t wait to caress those shiny new covers glistening like so many rainbow gems. It was the one time of the year where the world came to us in its little book caravan. Suddenly, we weren’t marooned in the desolation of Central Illinois–those books were the key to our escape.

ImageI bought all of my favorite books at the book fair, which consisted of several metal shelves rolled into our school library. They were filled with mostly young adult fiction titles, from the latest Newbery winners to the newest editions of favorite children’s classics; across the board, most had been printed within the last three years, a far cry from the selection we were used to seeing. Most of my most formative books were bought at the book fair–my childhood favorite, Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, and Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles were the gold standard everything else would have to live up to.

I can’t imagine where I’d be today without my school book fairs. Every book I ever owned as an adolescent (4th-8th grade) was either bought at the book fair, or could be linked back to a title I bought there. It’s the jumping off point to my storytelling future, where I first learned to really love books.

I drove past an elementary school today and saw a sign posted on the curb that read BOOK FAIR. Instantly, my instincts lit up with excitement and my whole nervous system leapt like a live wire. Yes, a part of me wanted to wheel around and drive into the school just to see the books, even though I now live in a town with a Barnes and Noble and a nice used bookstore. Some old habits never die. But this is one habit that actually made me better for it, so I think I’ll keep it.

Do you have any memories of the book fair coming to your school? What were some of the titles you discovered there?

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Change Sucks.

It’s funny how I pulled up this dusty blog to rant about how I hate change, because it seems WordPress has drastically changed its dashboard since the last time I logged in.

Why do people insist on updating something that works perfectly? A great example: Twitter. I knew Twitter was too good to be true, that they would eventually mess it up. It was too easy to use, too pure, too perfect. It didn’t take the powers-that-be long to figure out a way to completely complicate it and make it less attractive to users. Now, I can’t even go onto web Twitter. It’s like returning to the chopped-down trunk of a beloved tree. If you feel the same, I urge you to run to Twitter clients like Tweetdeck and MetroTwit for your desktop. You really don’t ever have to return to web Twitter again, which is how I prefer it. Still, I can’t help but feel like I’m waiting for someone to come along and ruin these Twitter clients next.

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Crichton would understand.

The actual reason my fuse was lit this morning is because my writer’s space is about to be destroyed, and I am in panic mode. I once remember seeing an interview with Michael Crichton, and he talked bout how he ate the same sandwich every day while writing a book. Routine is extremely important to writers. For me, it can make or break my writing process on a given day. I hate to be the “delicate artist” here, but I simply can’t handle distractions when I’m trying to get deep into my creative zone.

My main problem is the fact I cannot write at home, because home is a distraction-riddled minefield. I work from home, too, and so I can’t write in my office–it puts me into work mode, and not creative, world-beating mode. My writing space is at a certain local coffee shop about a five minute drive from my house. I have a certain chair that I always sit in that has never moved from its spot in the seven years I’ve been going there; it’s become the centerpiece of my routine. It’s the only plush chair that sits by itself in a corner, and I am completely content there with my chai and a freshly-baked scone.

In this chair, with this exact same drink and scone set-up, I have written hundreds of thousands of words. I wrote the majority of and finished my first novel in that chair; I started and finished several short stories in it; I have written nearly every single word of my weekly column there; I sat down and wrote the first and last words to my second novel in that chair, and also climbed out of the depths of my writer’s block depression while in sitting on this revered piece of furniture. I tend to think of this chair as my property. Yup, I’m the mayor of this coffee shop on Foursquare and its duchess on Yelp! It’s my home away from home. I don’t even have to tell the baristas what I want when I walk inside–they know my order without me having to utter a word. When I’m on vacation, I miss my coffee shop. It’s the first place I rush to after I return from a trip. It’s the one place I have that truly that centers me.

This is how I like it. I don’t have any desire to see this routine change. Any change would be what I refer to as “a disturbance in the Force.” Some may see it as throwing a stone in the water, causing a ripple effect bent on destroying creative flow.

The first bad omen was when my beloved scones disappeared and were replaced by dry, traditional new ones. This was a problem in itself, because apparently I’d become addicted to my coffee shop’s raspberry white chocolate scones, and nobody else in the area makes them the same way. I’m telling you, these things were like crack. So someone took away my crack, and I would walk in with bloodshot eyes, stomach growling, and leave hungry and shaky. It wasn’t pretty.

Then, a sign was posted about the new ownership.  At the end of the month, my coffee shop is being turned over to someone new. While it will remain the same business, the baristas have already spilled the beans to me about the owner’s proposals for changes. The first change is a new menu and an increase in prices on their usual beverages and food. One of the baristas has not been calming my worries, as he’s told me he’s worried about the coffee shop and thinks the new owner is going to ruin it. I could not agree more.

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My chair.

And then this news today. The same barista who confided in me revealed the new “kid’s corner” (which I was against from the first mention–what is this, McDonald’s?), which I only assumed was going in the back where there was more space, is going in the corner where my chair is. This news couldn’t be any worse. Essentially, the new owner of this coffee shop is going to make me homeless. I’m not quite sure what my face looked like when I turned really quiet and the air dropped out of the room and I told my barista comrade, “That chair is the only reason I keep coming back,” but the lights may have flickered, and I swear I heard the crescendo of violins and a shriek of crows in the distance.

This is the week it’s all supposed to end. This may be my beloved coffee shop’s swan song. Yes, there are other coffee shops in town, but they’re much noisier, their hard-seated chairs aren’t for sitting in for hours upon end, they don’t have the same chai, and there is no hope any place else will ever have my old, sweet scones. Since I am such a creature of habit, I may return a few times once the changes are implemented to see the damage wreaked upon my happy abode, but I have been left without hope.

The first rewrite of my novel in progress is just about complete, and I came to my coffee shop this morning to start working on it again, only to be tossed for a loop with this news. Needless to say, this distraction caused me to derail. I know how ridiculous I must sound to most people–there are much bigger problems going on in the world than my dumb chair in a coffee shop, right? My only answer to those people is, how would you feel if the one place that centers you was taken away? I truly wish I could find a place of peace and creative center at my house, but it’s largely impossible. I’m at a loss for how to handle this. I wish the ghost of Michael Crichton would appear to give me some advice.

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First Listens

I take the art of first listening extremely seriously. So seriously, my husband sometimes looks at me like I’ve got two heads and need to be institutionalized for a spell.

I have to listen to a new album on a physical CD in my car, only my car, preferably alone, and on a roadtrip. Sometimes I will buy a highly-anticipated album the day it comes out, but will reserve listening to it until I can make a getaway in my car.  This is a sacred ritual to me, and to deviate from the formula can destroy my relationship with the album. Why? Because in my world, music attaches to memory in a symbiotic relationship.

I bought Ryan Adams’s album Gold when I was in community college, and I used to play that album from my house the entire 35-minute drive to school. “Nobody Girl” is the point at which I would arrive the back way to campus and my car would be taking the winding road into the parking lot. Every time I hear that song, and the line, “If your horses could talk, I wonder if they would complain,” I know where my car would be at that point during the drive, and it will always be connected.

Achtung Baby

I first listened to U2’s landmark album Achtung Baby on a rainy day after I’d gone with a friend and her family to a trip to Decatur. It was a depressing day, and I bought the CD from Circuit City, feeling I’d finally earned the right to listen to it. (My journey into U2 fandom is another long, long story; I gradually bought their albums one by one, leaving the best for last after I’d become familiar with each one.) This was the first listen I can remember not being in a car, and now I associate it with a gloomy day, rain, and being lost in the limbo of teenhood and adulthood. Even though I have since listened to this album countless times, I will always remember putting that CD into my stereo in my bedroom and turning up the volume to the first unfamiliar guitar riffs of “Zoo Station.” When I listen to a brand-new album, I’m not just putting it on as background, I am letting it absorb me into its strange territory; I’m feeling it out like I would the personality of a stranger. This is why I prefer to listen to a new album for the first time alone, so that the music isn’t interrupted by someone else’s take on it, and I can meet it for the first time on a blank slate.

The Pacific Coast Highway

This is why driving is important to me. Since images and memories bond so easily to new music, a changing landscape gives the songs their own unique impression. As can be expected, I try to take different driving routes for different albums and attempt to stay off the same roads. Sometimes an album brings about its own impression and doesn’t retain its first-listen memories; when I first listened to U2’s No Line on the Horizon, I took a drive with it and immediately felt this was the soundtrack for a drive along Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, with the surf crashing to the left, and the magnificent rolling hills to the right. I wouldn’t be able to make this vision happen for another year, but when I finally turned on that road and put on the album, it felt like the record was thrilling from the experience–it was in its proper environment, meant to be. That was the moment No Line blossomed.

I have an iPod, but I refuse to use it in my car. The car is reserved for CDs only. There is something so impersonal about a handheld device with a list of albums and tracks; gone is the tactile artwork, the lyrics on pages, the ease of knowing exactly where a CD is in your car and not having to look down to pop it in the mouth of the stereo. The iPod is for when I’m working and need a portable soundtrack to drown out the silence or the clamor of people around me–it is not a vehicle for picking apart the beauty and intricacy of music.

When I get a new CD my husband is interested in, he immediately wants to burn it to his iPod before I’ve even had a chance to listen to it. Such was the case for the soundtrack of Pearl Jam Twenty, and I would not let him have it until it had its first car ride. It sounds lunatic to utter aloud, but an album’s first use is the instance of it being born, and burning it onto a computer is like sucking out the soul before it’s had the chance to utter a note. Bat-shit I may sound in these beliefs, but music holds a more important role in my life than it may for most people. Music is inspiration. Music is a life force. Music is the one thing that transcends everything.  The least I can do is to treat it with respect.

I am not of the vinyl generation, though I feel like I could tumble down that audiophile rabbit hole very quickly if I found the right turntable. My record collection is small, but I can see it growing with the advent of Record Store Day and a new surge in artists releasing special LPs. Maybe that will be my next step, but for now, I will stick to my traditions of the road and the newborn cries of a fresh album filling the cab while an ever-changing backdrop flashes by.

 

How do you listen to an album for the first time?

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Note to self: Live

It's Ryan, not Bryan.

“Note to self: Don’t die.” – Ryan Adams

I deserted my novel for a month; abandoned it like a half-baked casserole in the sun. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but it sure felt that way after days of beating myself in the brain trying to keep pushing forward. I left my WIP in the middle of a half-rewrite apocalypse, with pieces gutted and strung out like entrails after a hastily departed operation. Essentially, I had taken a big look at all the work that needed to be done, and the enormity of it swallowed up all the energy I had left.  Honestly, I lost track of how many days I left it, because I was afraid the more days it gathered dust, the harder it was going to be to return to it.

In the time I put my book away and hit the road, I did a lot of living. Sometimes, writers forget that some of our best material is actually gleaned from–who would’ve thought!–real life. I went to three and a half concerts in two different states and had a lot of adventures along the way, and then I took an extended vacation to California and saw a little bit of the West. It was a whirlwind of sleeplessness, hastily-scrawled journals, frequent interactions with new people, not to mention an adrenaline rush of different and fresh experiences. I got to see rare Mexican wolves with intense proximity, for instance, and fell in love with surfing. (Not that I learned the actual act of surfing. God, no. I can’t even stand up straight on dry land. I’m a born observer of more athletic individuals.) I finally finished the book I’d been reading, U2: At the End of the World, learned how to play pinball, and chowed down on some amazing fish tacos. And I saw Eddie Vedder live for the first time, in what was one of the best concerts I’d ever attended. All in all, the best month (or so) I’ve had all year.

During my concert-blitzed week, I kept a separate journal of all my experiences, something I will treasure later. I nearly finished writing about the shows before I left for California, but ultimately failed and will have to fill in the gaps later. This will be the material I will use for an idea I’ve been kicking around for my next book. It seems insane to become excited about a new project when I haven’t even finished the one I’m working on now, but it’s such an interesting idea to me, I can’t really tuck it away. For the time being, I will continue researching like a mofo, as I have been over the past few months, sucking up every detail I can about my topic that could give me layers of insight later when I may actually sit down and begin writing it.

I don't remember where in the heck this was.

When I came home, I was apprehensive about cracking open that now-cold and half-baked novel, afraid that I might’ve forgotten the important threads I meant to reconnect; afraid that same old fear I’d magically forgotten how to write at all during my month-long hiatus. But the opposite happened.

I’d been clueless on how to finish the second chapter of my book and had left it as one of the glaring holes to fill in later. It was a foundational chapter integral to the rest of the story, but I just couldn’t come up with a clever way to tie it up. But the first time I picked up my novel after my trip and sat down to begin writing, I finished that chapter. It was as if the blockage in my head had been released, and my ideas were flowing cleanly once again. I looked at the rest of those scattered entrails, and their rightful place no longer seemed so intimidating; some of them, I now knew, could be cut without sacrificing what I loved about my story, and others could be moved around to preserve my plot arc. It was all coming together anew, and just because I’d given myself the time to look away from it and see what was really important in life…

Bonnie and Clyde's last ride.

Living.

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The Journal of a Novel

I’ve been a very bad blogger the past two months, and for those two of you out there who actually read my blog, I do sincerely apologize. I don’t have great excuses for not blogging more regularly, except I had to put my life on hold for most of the month in April through the beginning of May when I was out of state, at a film festival, and saying good-bye to my grandfather. Also, I just didn’t have much I wanted to share with the public at that time.

Mine is neon yellow and green. Also, I write in it with purple ink.

But I won’t dwell on that. One of the the best things that’s come out of this blogging absence was my paper journal.

Frustrated with the snail-like progress of my novel, and constantly being paralyzed by my recurring case of writer’s block, I tried a new tool to wrench me out of my writer’s stupor. I invested in a paper notebook to record what I was going through while writing my current novel, and declared it a private journal to record my day-to-day headway. I’m happy to report I’ve begun writing nearly every day in this notebook as a result. I’ve given myself notebook rules to help me stay in a regiment (although I’ve already broken some of them). But even though I’ve strayed a little, generally, I’ve been very good with it, and that’s saying a lot for someone who has been trying to cope with a debilitating case of S.A.D. this past winter. What has developed is a record of my back-story during the writing of this novel, noting the bursts of inspiration and the day-to-day struggles I encounter along the way. My journal has also served as an outlet to express frustrations, while I literally figure out my quandaries in the pages; when they come, the victories burst forth with that much more exaltation. And the more I’ve stayed on with my journal, the more I’ve discovered about my story, and the more I’ve just plain written.

Obviously, I didn’t invent the idea of journaling while concurrently writing a novel. One of my very favorite authors, John Steinbeck, would keep a journal while writing his greatest epics, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. As a student at Columbia, we were encouraged to keep a daily writing journal, but I didn’t grasp how to really go about it in college. I didn’t see the full benefits, because I was just discovering myself as a fiction writer. Also, I was writing so much for assignments, I felt like I had no time to write journal entries outside of the mandatory assignments. What also kept me from being interested in journaling then was the pressure to write about specific topics, which is actually more like how people conduct their blogs to stay interesting or relevant. This is not what a “journal of a novel” is all about. All I care about is getting out my story.

My journal has helped jump-start the work on my novel all over again, and I would encourage anyone who is having a rough road while writing to keep one, as well. For those who may be interested, here are the rules I set up for my own (I’ve copied them exactly as stated in my journal, so please pardon the profanity, which often runs rampant and free in these pages):

Journal Manifesto!

1. Write something every day in this journal. It doesn’t have to be more than ONE SENTENCE. As long as it’s dated and it is relevant, it is still driving my thoughts forward in writing this story.

2. Lists count as “something.” (In fact, are great.)

3. From now on, all notes to self about this NIP will be entered here, so it’s easier to find and catalogue.

4. Anything is pretty much relevant, I guess. I’m not going to be a stickler. That just causes more writer’s block, after all. Basically, anything going on in my life is somehow influencing and affecting my writing process, even the music playing on my iPod (Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs), where I’m currently camped out to write (Cafe Kopi), and whether or not I actually wrote any fiction so far (not yet). Also, environmental details could be recorded, like, the fact some group of yuppy douchebags left an entire trash heap on the table across from me. (I counted 4 plates, 4 glasses, 3 cans of SODA, and several wads of napkin and empty chip bags. Fucking pigs. Didn’t their mothers teach them to clean up after themselves? No wonder the human race is so fucked.)

5. Anything interesting dug up in research should also be noted here. Because it’s cool to get excited about new discoveries, and I may one day want to know when I first heard the bootleg of the 10-23-1993 Nirvana show at the Aragon Ballroom. (Sometime last year I first found it as an mp3 placed to a photo montage on YouTube.)

That’s about it. Now go write for real!

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