NaNoWriMo 2009 is a go!

Weeks of anticipation, preparation, and nerves have finally lead to the start of NaNoWriMo 2009.

It started at midnight, and so did I, or close enough (what I actually did was start the procastination early, by waiting an hour to start while I worked on a spreadsheet to track my writing… erm oops). Anyway, today I went to Café Latino in Leeds, met up with another writer doing NaNoWriMo, and we got to work properly on writing our novels.

I’d like to say I’m target, but I’m about four thousand words short as it stands, and annoyingly I’m currently averaging a very poor, and very slow four hundred and fifty three words an hour, I’m not really sure why, the ideas there. Hopefully when a few more characters turn up, and we get some good interaction (not just phone calls), the words will start to flow.

My ideal is to do ten thousand words a day at weekends, with an extra five thousand on a Friday night. Now I know this isn’t entirely sustainable, which is where week nights come in, they’re my bonus rounds where I can pick a few extra on the word counts, but I can also take some time to create and organise notes, drawings, and do plans to help me at the weekends. The weekend and Fridays plan brings me to my target of one hundred thousand words, across two stories – and thats where I need to focus my efforts.

I don’t really need to feel too bad about not hitting target today, this Sunday is an extra, above and beyond the plan, so any words today, just help take a bit of pressure off later on. However, aside from a few chores, and writing this entry I’ll be writing right up until bedtime. Sadly this year there won’t be any bus writing, my little netbook is still out of order (bang out of order as it were), and I’m confined to using my seventeen inch monster laptop which is just about portable, if I’m writing in a café, or some such, not really something I can sit on a bus with.

I am feeling really confident about this year though, I’ve got a good plan, and some great ideas. There’s a lot of pressure, but I write better with pressure, its how I made it last year,  when I did 80% of my novel in just ten days, right at the end.

I’m going to try and fit in time to keep writing here, this is what my blog is for, writing, and discussing writing, and this is the month I’m going to be doing lots of it, so i’ll have plenty to discuss.

To all everyone doing NaNoWriMo out there, I wish you all the best of luck.

Where’s the Inspiration?

A man walks onto the scene, he strolls with forced assuredness, yet you can read in his body language he’s not as confident as he’d like to be, he eyes the megaphone in his hand cautiously, before coming to a step. He lifts the megaphone up, taps the small end, then raises it to his mouth, before clearing his throat, “Ahem!”, then he queries, “Is this thing on?”, his words boom out of the megaphone’s big end. He laughs nervously in response to the annoyed stairs he receives.

The man stands there a few moments before finally seeming to get the confidence to raise the microphone to his mouth again, as he megaphone reaches position this time his cheeks take on a bit of velour, and his eyes seem ablaze, he takes a deep meaningful breath, and speaks into the megaphone,

“Right, listen up,” now all eyes are on him, only they’re attentive rather than annoyed, “I demand to know where my inspiration is! I think it’s wholly unfair that you’ve abandoned me right now. I need you, I can’t write without you. Without you these pages are blank, and what words come are empty.
“Inspiration I’ve never needed you so bad, I’ve got all these things to do, and you’ve abandoned me, given up the fight, and now I stand alone against the tide of battle.
“I beg you return to me your charm, your talent. Words are meaningless without you!”

The audience looks rapt, his words have moved them, they feel his desperation, and they ponder borrowing the megaphone.

The man looks down upon his audience, upon their swept up faces, he watches the emotions play across their faces. Then a thought dawns in his mind, a realisation, maybe even epiphany.

What the man realised was this – inspiration is hard to achieve, but it can hit at the strangest moments, and all you can do is find the nearest waiting apparatus and take advantage.

Everyone has different things that inspires them to write, and inspires what to write. For myself these are most often two different events, for others they might be most often the same.

There is also another possibility one without the other, which can either be liberating or frustrating, for example:

  • I may have a brilliant idea what to write, but no inspiration (will) to write it – so it all plays out in my head because try as I might I can’t convert it into words. Obviously a form of writers block.
  • Something may give me inspiration (the will) to write, but without any inspiration. Here my mind, and the paper is ab empty canvas, and I can just let my thoughts flow freely. Probably doesn’t make for great reading, but it’s fun and liberating for me.

Everybody is different when it comes to inspiration, I know all too well what holds true for me, is complete gibberish to another. In broad strokes, I have probably captured the general forms of inspiration.

In terms of what inspires me to write (gives me the will), it falls down to three categories: the outdoors (nature, weather, scenery, architecture, etc…), other people’s creativity (a book, a film, a piece of music, also biographical information about a creative person, or someone who’s faced adversity in their life), and challenges (nothing gets my creative juices better than a bit of competition).

Sadly these things aren’t guaranteed to get me writing, but most often once I start writing it’s because I was inspired to by one of the above.

In terms of my inspiration what to write, it’s usually something close to hand, something I’ve imagined happening, my emotional state (yes, I can be a bit emo in my poetry), or a need to impress others so I can belong, and validate myself.

I’ve written about many things, from religion to coke cans, from fantasyic tales to mundane moments of life, and from historical events to nature.

Sometimes my indpirations puts me on the path to something specific, sometimes it’s just the starting point, or catalyst for a cascade of ideas.

I will say this, whatever the idea, I do love it when it happens, it’s a veritable joy to let poetry over take me, a joy and love that only falls short of sex.

As I’m getting older, inspiration is getting harder – dry spells last longer, but when the floodgates open, I feel sure the joy is deeper, as I come to appreciate it more.

Still I would live in those moments more if I were able to, giving myself over to the wild abandon of inspiration.

So I feel abandoned when inspiration doesn’t come, and call to it from my megaphone, hoping to attract it back. For me my megaphone is going to beautiful places, reading and listening to music, and entering challenges – hoping beyond hope, inspiration heads my call and answers.

That’s what inspiration is to me.

Evolution of a Writer

Charmander - beause everyone should be a Pokémon - or something like that

Charmander - beause everyone should be a Pokémon - or something like that

So Charmander gets in a fight, it’s against a more powerful Pokémon, though his trainer is sure his Pokémon can handle it.

The battle rages, and indeed in a last ditch effort, Charmander gets the win. The crowds go wild, it’s the little pocket monster that could.

Wait, but what’s happening now? Why Charmander is glowing, what’s going on? Suddenly the glowing shape of a small odd looking lizard is replaced with a larger odd looking glowing lizard, and as the glow fades, Charizard is stood there looking thoroughly chuffed with himself. He’s evolved, become a better Pokémon, bigger, stronger, and smarter. Everyone is shocked into a stunned silence. His trainer starts clapping, and soon the auditorium goes nuts.

What’s this got to with anything? Well after a fashion I think writers evolution is similar. Certainly my own is, I get stronger very gradually, but every so often I tackle something big – and win. The gradual improvement, the many small lessons learnt, and the sudden influx of effort and challenges pushes me to a new level.

I’ll admit, it may be a confidence thing – I’m not a biased judge of my own ability, in the absence of Mr Horobin and Mr Barrand (my English teachers in high school), I can only presume to rate myself.

Every piece I write I get a little better, every review and edit nets me a few more lessons to avoid problems in the future, but every major trial tests everything I’ve learned, and gives me so many new lessons.

In terms of talent and experience, I evolve into a whole new monster, with new lessons to learn and embrace. I find the end of a piece of work, or project, the most exciting time, and I need to focus on that when the challenge seems too daunting, or I lose the inspiration (will), I have reasons to carry on.

It’s true of most things in my life, I’m a far better analyst now than I was four years ago, there are periods of gradual improvement, and those moments where I’ve jumped to a whole new level.

Now I’ve turned myself into a fictional firey Japanese lizard, I think the job is done for this post.

P.S. I don’t know Pokémon that well, if I’ve got the evolution wrong, aplogies to the diehard Pokemon fans out there.

My Poetry Writing Process

The fabled writing process, everyone has one, or one they prefer at least.

My own process keeps me sane, keeps me trying, and ultimately makes my work better. That’s what I’m going to explore in this entry.

I’ve found, that in the past spending a few moments considering what my process is has made for better poetry. It prevents me trying to force myself to fit molds that aren’t mine, which so far when I’ve tried has led me down paths of frustration. Having the desire to write a poem, and then destroying the will to write is a terrible thing.

Preface: Before I start exploring, it isn’t fair to say I have one writing process, I have several – the aim of this post is explore my writing process for poetry, I will do another blog entry in regards to writing literature.

So what is my poetry writing process?

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