Posts tagged writing
Posts tagged writing
A friend of mine recently posted a question on her blog asking two very interesting questions: Why do you write? Who do you write for?
Those are two questions I’ve never really stopped to think about before, though part of my answer is quite similiar to hers. The main reason I write is because other people don’t write about what I’m interested in. There are many books out there that interest me, of course, but there are very few characters that I can relate to all the time. Most novels feature strong characters, characters that speak up for themselves or who say what they feel even if it makes them unpopular. I understand this, and most of my favorite books have such characters as their protagonists.
But I really want to see in books are characters who are afraid to speak. Characters who don’t have any friends. I’m tired of reading about “social outcasts” who have a best friend they share everything with. I can’t relate to that. I made small talk with people in my classes sometimes, but after middle school I rarely hung out with anyone. I was only invited to one party, and I spent the whole time in the corner by myself because I was too afraid to talk to the people I knew there. I ate by myself most of ninth grade, and two other years I ate with people I barely knew because it was better than being by myself. Even now, when I hang out in the NaNoLanta chatroom, I’m usually one of the ones who lurks and just enjoys reading what other people are talking about because I’m afraid to put myself out there. I was invited to a fellow Wrimo’s party last weekend and didn’t go because I had a mini panic attack outside their apartment and couldn’t bring myself to go inside.
I want to read about a character like that. I’ve read stories about people who say the wrong things in social situations. I want to read about someone who is so afraid of saying the wrong thing that she doesn’t say anything. I haven’t found a book like that. That’s why I write them. Most people try not to write characters who are too much like they are. I aim for that because that is what I would want to read. So, in a way, I agree with Chomsky when she says that she writes for herself.
But I also want to write for others, which is where Chomsky and I differ. She doesn’t care about being published. I want to. Of course, I don’t want to get published so badly that I sacrifice what I find interesting to match what other people want. I, too, find myself unable to change my writing to make other people happy. I will listen to suggestions, of course, and I will change things when I agree that the other person was right, but I can’t really change my style to make others happy.
I’ve found that I can’t write short stories unless they have some sort of deeper meaning. I find them boring otherwise. I wrote a short story for my first college writing class that was an allegory for teen pregnancy and double standards. My teacher told me she would rather I write about a girl who got pregnant, that I shouldn’t use fiction for something like that, that an essay would have been better. I didn’t listen. My next story I wrote more like what she was looking for, but I refused to take a story that was close to me and turn it into something that I would find boring to read about.
And I have to believe that I’m not the only one who would rather have read my story than a story about a girl who got pregnant and had her boyfriend ditch her. I have to believe that I’m not the only one who has that much trouble talking to people. I have to believe that others out there feel how I feel, at least to some degree.
And that is part of why I want to get published. If I would benefit from reading more stories about people like me, then maybe my stories could help other people if they read them, too. Maybe it would help them feel not so alone.
The other reason I want to get published is because it would be really awesome if I could make enough money from my writing that I wouldn’t have to work. I know that’s highly unlikely, but it can still be a dream. As I’ve made abundantly clear in this post, I’m horrible at talking to people. That makes finding a job I would even half enjoy next to impossible. Writing would allow me to work from home and not have to deal with people face-to-face on a regular basis.
Hell, at this point I’d settle just for getting a book published, even if it didn’t earn me enough money to quit my job. At least it would be something I could be proud of. Everyone else I went to high school with has a cool job or his/her own apartment (or both). I don’t have either, and I would be okay with that if I could point to a book on a shelf in a bookstore and say, “Hey, I wrote that.”
At the end of NaNo each year, a new set of forums show up on the site called “December and Beyond.” One of those forums is The Year of Doing Big, Fun, Scary Things Together. Here, Wrimos can make a list of things they hope to accomplish in the following year. Here’s mind:
-Find a job that doesn’t make me want to murder all those around me.
- Finish the novel I wrote for 50k weekend
-Edit both novels that I finished this NaNo
-Win Script Frenzy
-Win both sessions of Camp NaNo
-Keep a blog going for an entire year, writing at least once a week (if not more)
-Build up a portfolio so I can actually apply for writing jobs
-Read 52 books in 52 weeks
That last one isn’t on my list on the site, but I’m adding it anyway. I saw the link to the challenge on the site, and I thought it sounded like a great idea. I haven’t been reading as much as I used to, and that needs to change. I have a huge stack of unread books on my bookshelf, and I’m probably going to get more for Christmas. I need to start reading again.
In addition to making my “to read” pile smaller, reading more will help improve my writing. The fiction books will help me figure out how best to write the stories I have planned in my head (and how to fix the stories I already have on paper), and the nonfiction books will help me think of new topics to write about to build my portfolio.
My original plan was to read 26 nonfiction books and 26 fiction books. Since my to read list currently consists of 22 fiction books and only 8 nonfiction books, I’m thinking that might not actually happen. Still, I’m going to see how close to that I can get. I used to be up to date on things that were happening in the world. I used to be informed. I want to get to that point again.
The week starts on Sunday. That means that each week (either Saturday or Sunday) I will post a review of the book I have just finished. This should help keep me accountable and provide me a chance to practice writing some book reviews.
The last TGIO party for NaNo was tonight. I got a couple of posters, some stickers, On Writing by Stephen King, and a book cover to be designed by one of the MLs. It was a great night. I’m just sad that it means that this is all over.
I had a great month. I met or exceeded all of my goals for myself:
It’s exciting. People know me. I’m still one of the more quiet ones, but I’m starting to get out there a bit more. I have people cheering for me to do well. I have people who are happy to see my enter the chat. I was included in a race among several Overachievers. It has been my most exciting month in a long time. I’m sad to see it end.
In other news, I was Facebook stalking people today and learned that one of the guys I went to high school with (he was co-editor of the paper with me and was a year behind me) is now teaching Spanish at our high school. That’s so weird. That more than anything else has made me feel like a complete failure. He’s managed to become a teacher already. And what have I accomplished? I’m a school photographer and a columnist for a magazine that can’t pay for articles.
I’m actually really excited about the columnist thing. I’m going to be writing a column called “Unpopular Culture” for the magazine Wildflower. I will have two columns a month and will write an article for the paper issue that comes out four times a year. I’m excited. I’ve already started coming up with a list of topics to write about.
My goal for the upcoming year is to build up a portfolio so I can try to get a paying gig as a writer. I also want to edit at least one of my novels so that I can try to sell it. I can handle rejection letters. I just want to start trying to get something out there. If I can become a published writer, I can handle all the other crap in my life.
…or, National Novel Writing Month begins in two weeks. That’s crazy. What’s even crazier is the fact that I have decided to aim for 75k instead of the usual 50k. I’ve been reading the Overachiever’s Thread over on the NaNo forums, and I’ve realized that aiming for 75k isn’t really all that odd. At least one person on there is aiming for 1 million words! That’s 100k every 3 days. She will be my new hero if she succeeds - hell, she’s my hero just for trying it!
I’ve written 8k a day before. During last year’s NaNo, I reached 5k several days in a row. I won NaNo a week early last year and Camp NaNo (July) two weeks early, and I won Camp NaNo (August) by writing almost solely on weekends. I should be able to manage 75k (or 2500 words a day) just fine.
What I’m not so sure about is the fact that I have pledged 10k the first day of NaNo. The first day is a Tuesday. I have to work that day. I’m a school photographer, so my hours vary from day to day, but I still will likely have to get up somewhere between 4:30 and 5:30. Hopefully it’ll be a short day and I’ll be home by 2, but there are some days (like today) that I don’t get home until around 5.
Either way, I will almost undoubtedly have between 3 and 5 hours to write that first day. I can manage 1k in 20 minutes, which puts me around 3k/hr, which means I can write 9k-15k, depending on how much time I actually spend writing versus how much time I spend in front of my computer wondering what to write.
I’m trying to make a list of scenes to write about this year. I have about 40 so far, so if I can stretch each scene into at least 1k, I should be okay (assuming I can think of 75 scenes). Some might have to be stretched to 2k. I think I can do it.