Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November Writing

 Every morning now begins before dawn - and I can no longer walk barefoot without regretting it - even after noon on sunny days. I have tea steeping beside me nearly every moment of every day, indulging in November's primary joy while the world dies around me. 

My husband and I are attempting National Novel Writer's month (Nanowrimo) to make November interesting. It's a challenge - but one that invigorating  and fun after a few months primarily focused out of doors. I wonder sometimes why I invited my husband to write with me - I try to tell myself that he has it easier, as he's writing a bundle of short stories and not a proper novel..but it's embarrassing to read his drafts and know they are better than mine!  The truth is, that he has a natural gift for writing, and a style that is pure delightfulness. I'm talking him into submitting one in particular for one of the Tuscany Prizes that Christie claimed last year! So writers, beware..
I do actually love working with him on this. I have no focus or discipline of my own, I have to borrow from others to get even the smallest project done, and to nestle into the couch with him, notebooks and good pens, and a bottle of wine for an evening of talk and writing is a delight! We've got plans to take our projects out as well - leave Yarrow with friends for a few hours and settle in to a cafe for a less distracted (hopefully) and more romantic 'writing date'. Enviable, isn't it?

The Novel itself is a problem. I'm delving back into books and notes I haven't look at in months? Years? I even found some notes I'd made on a a fascinating and long lost book of death magic and superstitions..full of curious little rituals that make me nervous on the long night-time walk to the outhouse. The 'novel' as it stands right now is essentially an attempt to recapture the symbolic essence of the vampire-myth from repeated (read that: not just Twilight) bastardizations; explore the concepts of death and redemption; and the possible variations in the effect of immortality on individuals..without falling too far into the "vampires OMG!" swamp. It's a mess right now, as I have too many good characters, lots of imagery, and too little plot. I am not a novelist..any advice, my thoughtful writing friends?


  1. ZOMG


    as for your vampire novel, linked stories are the the way to go if you've got lots of good characters and not much plot inspiration. Just get those characters talking! Maybe something overarching will develop, and maybe it won't. If "death and redemption"/ vampires OMG! is the strongest connecting thread you end up with, that's still pretty ok; that stuff is interesting.

    what do you consider the "legitimate" vampire myth?

    Feel proud! The Neglected H. probably thinks the same thing about you. You're a talented pair and that's just how it is.

  2. This post got me out of bed this morning! (Cell phones are good for something, I guess! c; )

    I'm so excited! I've long longed for a new vampire novel written by someone with an intimate knowledge of sacrament and symbol. It's ripe for a powerful tale. I can see the beginnings of it it Twilight and entertained the thought of a fanfic/re-write, just for fun. I'd better read the novels first before I do that, huh?

    I'm familiar with the vampires that feed on life energy and sexual drive (like succubi, come to think of it). But I'm a fan of the bloody kind. The thing I don't understand about Edward and co. is how they feed on blood without fangs. Jenna, can you speak to this?

    Other than that, in what way are the Twilight vampires bastardizations? I have a residual impression from Buffy the Vampire Slayer that vampires don't have souls. Which, for me, is problematic when you try to have a vampire with a conscience.

    Send us an e-mail, if you're not feeling too shy or insecure about it. I want to hear all about it! (And maybe a vigorous discussion will lend some inspiration.)

    Your method is messier than Seth's, but in storytelling the end result is the only thing that matters. It astounds how much of masochistic experience birthing a story is. It's so hard but so joyful, with so many frustrations and even despairs, but that end result is so worth it!

    Gosh, I have a hard time with plot as well. That's the great thing about NaNoWriMo. It forces you to just write. I'm an OCD perfectionist when it comes to things I love, so my temptation is to stop at the slightest little inconsistency in writing and work it out to an infinite degree--only to have to readjust everything when something else changes. NaNo forces you to ignore your "inner editor," as they call it. Just keep writing. Write as if your life depended on it, and you will find a plot, even a weak one. Then you'll be able to lift it out, feed it on a diet of careful consideration, and strengthen it. The key is to finish.

    And a library book on plotting can't hurt. c;

    1. The thing I don't understand about Edward and co. is how they feed on blood without fangs. Jenna, can you speak to this?

      Razor-sharp teeth. I think Bella actually uses those words. Which... sometimes I think the big fuss everybody makes over the presumed awfulness of Meyer's prose is that Bella ACTUALLY sounds like a young teenage girl. Most teen novel voices are subtly (or not so subtly) sophisticated up.

      Masha, if you think your draft is bad--well, if I weren't so ashamed of it, I'd send you MY first draft of my 2009 NaNo. Whole sections are a positive bath of twelve-year-old schoolgirl sentiment... I had to totally cut or change those parts in revisions... and it's clear that when forced to write fast, I borrow much too heavily from tropes, which are later next to impossible to write out. I've never even let Lou read that draft, and he wouldn't want to. ;)

    2. So do you think they actually are fangs and that Bella is mis-describing them? Or are they really pointy? You'd think that'd be noticeable and make them less attractive? Or do their teeth look like normal just cut really well? And do they suck blood, drink it, lap it up, or eat whole beasts? (Or should Christie just read the trilogy already?)

    3. Oops, there are four books, aren't there? XD

    4. Twilight vampires are (if I remember correctly) agnostic on the question of whether they have souls. I think Ed has a positive belief that humans have souls but can't speak for himself, and it's an issue of some concern for him. I don't remember if Bella is concerned about souls or not. Jenna? M.?

      Twi-pire's consciences are a little. . . stiff? They don't seem to take to empathy very quickly or easily, though it's supposed to be possible for them and we see some movement in that direction eventually. It's a slog, though. That's one of the things I think is interesting about Twilight -- this background idea of vampires who are trying to patch together a working simulation of compassion / participation in human life in spite of some serious natural disadvantages.

      But I'm actually not sure where Meyer comes down on the lapping vs. sucking issue. Not reading closely enough, I guess.

    5. Four books! You should totally read them, Christie; I'm curious as to what you'll think. :D

      The teeth are not fangs in the sense of extending beyond the length of regular teeth. I can't recall whether they're pointed; I'd have to look that up, but they're sharp enough to puncture skin easily. I believe the vampires suck blood, as opposed to lapping it. That's the image I got, anyway.

      Carlisle believes in souls and the possibility of redemption for vampires. Bella firmly and passionately agrees with Carlisle. Edward believes in God, if I remember correctly, or at least in the existence of souls and an afterlife, but he believes that becoming a vampire means losing the soul, which is why he refuses to change Bella. The rest of the Cullens are basically atheistic (or perhaps agnostic, as Laura said), I think; at least, that's what Carlisle implies when Bella questions him on the subject.

      What Laura says about empathy is true except regarding Carlisle, who seems to be an anomaly, but I should probably be marking huge portions of this with the word SPOILER, and definitely will have to if I go any further.

      Now I want to read Twilight again!!!

  3. Ooh thanks guys! and Jenna will probably be reading snatches and ideas soonish..after this weekend gives me time to find all the bits of paper I have scattered, count words, and translate my handwriting into something that resembles English, and maybe write a bit more..Where does my time go??? Oh yeah..I lost it all snotting about J.K. Rowling's religiousness or lack thereof and Edward Cullen's existence.. Not Helpful, Masha! Ugh..but if I can find my napkin of Vampires vs. Cullens thoughts, I'll actually say something concrete about my vampire concept..until I find that napkin, I'm lost in a cloud..

    You guys have totally upped my motivation though!!!!

    1. I await your Napkin of Vampire Wisdom with great anticipation. :)