Dear Internal Editor: Shut Up, Shut Up, Shut Up, Shut Up

The inside of my brain is stuffed full of ideas. Thoughts, reactions, commentary, occasional witticisms. It’s piled high with boxes of topics I’d like to explore. Stacks of life I need to sort through. Hangups to shred. Anxiety to burn. … Continue reading

My Dog is Constipated and I Understand…. Because I Have Writer’s Block

The older of my two dogs was very sick on Saturday. He spent the day lying on the concrete, whimpering, throwing up, and trying so hard to poop. We spent the day forcing fluids into him (via a red Solo cup, so at least he felt cool). And today he seemed to be back to normal again.

As part of my job, I do a lot of writing for other people. In fact, at the moment, I’m working with four or five clients. They depend on me to keep their content moving. Search engines like fresh content, and so frequently updated blogs/sites will tend to rank higher. I’m in no position to mess up anyone’s search engine optimization (and if I did, I’d be fired as a freelancer). So not doing my work and giving the excuse that I have writer’s block isn’t really acceptable.

Still, I sometimes sort of feel like it should be.

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The Camp NaNo Loser

I’d looked forward to Camp NaNoWriMo. Since 2009, I have loved writing my way through November, learning about myself as a writer and creating this text that, for better or worse, comes from me and is born of my own imagination. When I heard they’d be holding summer sessions in July and August this year, I signed up for the August camp and got ready to write.

It’s worth noting that I’ve reached the 50,000 mark (the word count required to “win” NaNoWriMo) in November 2009 and November 2010. In both cases, my novel was far from finished, but I had a tremendous start. Really, you’d be hard-pressed to find a novel of substance that’s only 50,000 words. I finished the first draft of my 2009 work in June 2010, and I continue to work on my 2010 work-in-progress now. So August seemed like a great time to get back into it and cross the final finish line.

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First Person Limited: Narrating My Life

Well, readers, I’m back — at least for now. It’s been a bumpy couple of weeks, but I’m looking forward to getting back on track and focusing my efforts on various writing projects, including dear Frankasaurus, here. It follows, then, that in this post, writing is what I want to… write about.

You know how you hear parents say things like, “I always knew she would grow up to love singing because we couldn’t get her to stop doing it when she was little,” or “We knew he’d grow up to be an athlete because he excelled at so many sports before he even got to middle school” and such? It’s easy to look at little kids and see the things they’re doing and say that they’ll have successful futures doing X work. All because they demonstrate that one characteristic or hobby that tips people off early on.

What isn’t apparent to the naked eye is what’s going on in the mind. I suppose there’s significant evidence that suggests that those thoughts manifest themselves somehow, that there’s some kind of creative outlet. People couldn’t see into my brain, so even though I was always writing, no one could see where it all was coming from or how it got started.

I narrate everything in my head.

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My Novel: A 100,000 Word Jig-Saw Puzzle

I’m just about halfway through editing the manuscript of the first draft of my novel. I’ve written more extensively about my editing process before, but the long and short of it (for new readers or those who missed it before) is that I printed off the first draft and went through it for months with a pen and wrote myself notes, made corrections, crossed things out, drew arrows, and things of that nature. That was also my first true reading of the novel.

Now I’m taking that manuscript and reading it a second time, only now I’m doing it while writing the second draft. I went back to square one. I’m not editing in the document, I’m straight up re-typing everything. I’m glad I’m doing this because it’s helping me catch errors and I’m seeing where plot lines need to be developed. It’s tiresome at times, but I don’t let myself copy and paste anything from the original document. I don’t even open it up. Sometimes I’ll go through material that I didn’t mark in the manuscript, but as I’m retyping, I’ll think to myself that it still needs work and I’ll end up making changes. This is why I continue to love my editing process (which is good, since I’m the one using it). I’m always “getting it” just a little bit more. And by “it”, I mean that je ne sais quoi that comes with writing, which is so multi-faceted. Continue reading

Mission: Editing – Accomplished.

Maybe it’s part of my process that I take a lengthy hiatus from what I’m doing. I took a pretty long break as I was writing my novel, but after a few months I went back to it. I started off really strong with doing my first round of edits on my first draft…. and then I stopped. It wasn’t as bad as the writing break – I’d still do some editing here and there, but a few weeks ago I finally gave myself a proverbial kick in the pants to get working on it.

It’s fitting, then, that I finished writing my novel at 3 a.m., and last night/this morning, I finished doing the first round of edits at 3 a.m., as well.

Now I’m once again faced with the “What next?” question. I already planned to do another round of edits on this one as I go from the paper copy back to the computer, but then what? Hopefully I’ll be able to get myself to work at a pace that will allow me to be finished in time to participate in NaNoWriMo ’10 this year (or at least in a good place to work on both). But what then? Continue reading

Publication Anxiety

Tonight, when faced with the option to stay in or go to a Steelers bar with a group of friends to watch the pre-season game, I opted to stay home. I wasn’t feeling the bar scene, and I’m not a Steelers (or Giants) fan. Ultimately, after sitting in my room for an hour, I decided to take myself on a date to Barnes & Noble.

If you’ve ever read Truman Capote’s iconic novella, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (or if you’ve seen the toned down, Mancini-infused film adaptation), you know that when Holly Golightly has a case of “the mean reds” (translation: unlike having the blues, it’s when you’re feeling down but you don’t really know why), she heads to Tiffany’s to window shop. She doesn’t believe anything bad could ever happen to you there. I had a case of the mean reds tonight, and Barnes & Noble is my Tiffany’s.

When I got there, I browsed around the new fiction and nonfiction. I looked at the best sellers and the summer suggestions. I picked up and put back down a number of classics. My normal BN method is to roam up and down the fiction aisles for an extended period of time before moving on to other areas of the store. That didn’t work out for me tonight. After checking out the tables of books (does anyone else feel compelled to touch them sometimes? I could never use a Nook or a Kindle because I just love the feel of a book too much), I found myself looking at the magazine racks. In particular, I was looking for literary journals. There were too many people, and the magnet in the reference section was especially strong tonight. A few minutes later, after a brief stop to see if there were any new books on the Kennedys that might interest me, I found myself standing in front of shelves of books about writing, how to generate ideas, how to write effectively, how to find work writing, etc. Towards the bottom, I saw the magnet. It was the Writer’s Market 2011 book. If it had hands, they would have been all sassy and akimbo. It would have been raising its eyebrows at me. “You’ll never do it,” it would say. “Remember?” Continue reading

Someone’s Writing Again (Hint: It’s Me)

I told you last week that I’d be back with new posts about writing. Lucky for you, I make good on my promises. I have this post to write now, and another one already working its way to the front of my brain. Look for it in a day or so.

A while back, I got all excited because I finished my novel. To be more exact, I finished the first draft of it. I had and continue to have the best of intentions regarding the editing process, but despite my initial enthusiasm and the purple editing pens that I love, I have a hard time getting myself to actually actively edit. I’ll go on editing sprints that span a few days, and then nothing for weeks. I just haven’t been able to find my stride with it. I had it printed and bound because I can’t edit directly on a computer screen. I need to flip back and forth between physical pages and put sticky notes all through it. I like being able to see what I’m changing. It’s helping me develop an eye for my own work, which is something I’ve always struggled with. It’s helping me gain more confidence in myself as a writer. It’s helping me understand Craft (with a capital C).

It’s making me hate my novel.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about this. He told me that he and other writers he’s talked to experience this. As they revise, they hate it less. I’m hoping this happens for me, because I’m starting to fear that I’m going to abandon my beloved novel. As soon as I write that, I know I won’t do it because I don’t typically quit that easily. I will whine and complain and bitch and moan about it to anyone who will listen. I’ll shed tears. And then I’ll stand up with Beyonce and keep on survivin’. Continue reading