Weird Stuff I’ve Learned at School – #1

1.  There are carnivorous snails in the world (although I didn’t know they were also hermaphroditic until I found this article just now).  There are some species of carnivorous snails that annoy the crap out of archaeologists because they nibble on bone and leave weird marks all over it, sometimes obliterating important features or prior postmortem trauma.  http://www.nbcnews.com/id/43260441/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/return-giant-carnivorous-snails/#.UXKgk8riv00

2.  The incendiary pigs of Rome (which ought to be a death metal album title), a.k.a. war pigs (which Black Sabbath has dibs on already) – the Romans, in battle against the Persian army, couldn’t figure out a good way to go up against war elephants until they discovered that pig squeals freaked the elephants out.  So the logical Roman approach was to cover pigs with flammable liquids, set them  on fire, and release them onto the battlefield.  Elephants freak, chaos ensues, Romans win battles.  Personally, I feel bad for the piggies, but if I had to face down a pissed off elephant with a bunch of angry dudes on its back, I might find myself in a morally grey area, too.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_pig

3.  In order to become a coroner in Kentucky, you have to swear or affirm that you have never fought in a duel.  Sometimes, I love this state.

—————

As an aside, I’m restructuring the blog – I will still write about the process of writing and update about my own writing sometimes, but I’m going to branch out with my subject matter, because (a) I’m going to start repeating myself if I haven’t already, (b) I plan on having a pretty interesting life from now on, so I’ll have good things to update about, and (c) I’ll update more often that way.  Well, and (d) my publisher thinks it’s a good idea.  Haha!

Advertisements

Confessions of a Busy Writer

There is a sneaking worry that every writer who can’t afford to be a full-time Writer gets when other life pursuits take the front seat for an extended period of time….  Am I still a writer if I’m not writing?  Every once in a while, since I started back to school, this thought creeps into my head – even now that I have a publishing contract – and not updating my blog for months at a time is one result of that.

But my answer to this doubt is, Yes, I am still a writer, because I am still building up ideas and plots, and I will still put them together and down on paper.  Also, there is a part of my brain that is now hard-wired to store away odd bits of information from every source (classes included) for the construction of storylines and weird characters.  I’ve mentioned here before that I have plans for a follow-up to The Life and Death (But Mostly the Death) of Erica Flynn.  The ideas all clicked into place for the new novel while I was in my Introduction to Eastern Religions class.  Since, like Erica Flynn, my new main character will also experience death as a major turning point rather than an end, I’m sure the realities of death that I’ve learned about in my two courses on Skeletal Forensics (and at the lab looking over actual skeletons and burial records) are going to affect the way I portray death in the new novel.

The thing is, I think it’s expected of writers (and we writers do it to ourselves) to define themselves not only primarily, but almost exclusively as Writers (or authors, if we’re lucky!)  Or maybe it’s just me – because I know that my own satisfaction with myself as a person has consistently hinged on whether or not I was working on a book.  When I wasn’t writing, I felt bad about my life and myself, and when I was writing, I felt pretty positive and self-assured.  Writing is what I enjoy most and what I feel I’m best at, where I’m most in my element (possible exception:  tromping around the woods).  But in branching out and putting my life focus on other things (study, a career, opportunities related to study and career) I’m tremendously excited about the possibilities not only for my other pursuits, but also for the possibilities this opens up for my writing!  It has to be on the back burner for the moment, coming in third on my priorities after school and survival (yes, school comes before survival on my list,) but it’s going to be so much the better for all the new experiences I’ll have to draw from.

Enough spilling my guts.  Next blog:  Weird Stuff I’ve Learned at School.  Stay tuned!

Did You Miss Me?

Long time no blog.  Well, I’m going to try to start keeping up with this thing again, on a Tuesday/Thursday-and-sometimes-the-weekend schedule for updates.  Why haven’t I been around the blogosphere for so long?  1. Laziness and 2. School.  Going back to school after ten years off takes some adjustment, but academics are my soul’s primal hunting ground, and I’m hungry for some challenging coursework in my relatively near future.

At the moment, my writing life is limited to journaling and random little snippets that pop into my head during my lunch break on campus, but I’m aware of my writer brain happily processing social interactions, potential characters, new facts and discoveries from classes, and the multi-faceted experience within myself of being a non-traditional student that no one realizes is, in fact, 28, and not 18.  Old parts of myself, both good and bad, that faded out when I was last a student, are revitalized in flashes here and there, sometimes surprising because I’d forgotten about them, and sometimes because I thought they’d been more a part of me than they have been in the past ten years.  Among other things, I’m re-realizing how much I can’t abide slow walkers (unless they’re old or on crutches; then it’s okay).

In spite of the obvious choice to major in English, since that’s my strongest area and what I hope I can dedicate my life to someday, I’m going a different route.  In an effort to expand my horizons, nurture a wide range of interests, hopefully inspire myself, and someday earn a living, I’m majoring in anthropology, with a triple minor in Russian studies, English literature, and history.

I’m not sure how the blog will be structured at this point; I’ll have to see what comes to mind as I go along this semester.  Lots of change and transition and self-discovery right now, which I hope will lead to a lot of interesting ideas and thoughts on perspective, personal journeys, and so on, that will be good fuel for writing about writing here.

Happy New Year

So, with the new year comes a new plan of action for my blog.  First off, more consistent posts (ha, yes, I know you’ve heard it before, but I really mean it this time – really!).  For serious, I’m talking Monday, Wednesday, and Friday every week.  Also, I’ll have specific types of posts for each day, as in:

Mondays, I’m going to post about the writing process itself, including the editorial process.  Wednesdays, I’ll dedicate to topics on publishing and marketing.  Fridays, I’ll post writing exercises and brainstorming tools.

Today, I’m cheating by posting this.  However, I’m delving deeply into the big bad world of marketing my book now, and this Wednesday, I’ll have a few words to say about query letters and/or writing synopses for the purpose of snaring an agent.  Friday’s post will be about different methods of conveying the emotions of a character, since I had an interesting conversation about that last night.

Back From a Bloodstained Victory!

I literally just finished National Novel Writing Month – as in, half an hour ago at most.  50,000 words or more in 30 days or less.  And I have lots and lots of thoughts on the process, and many observations on writing and writer’s block and inspiration and self-discipline, having lived through this month of madness.  But right now, I’m too sick of looking at words on a screen to want to write a post about any of it.

However, I will say this:  that I got a lot out of the month, even if it did drive me slightly crazy, and even if my rough draft is the roughest draft I have ever written in my life.  Also, I will say that I hope to get back to my Monday-Wednesday-Friday postings here, with the regularity to which the readers of this blog had become accustomed before NaNoWriMo struck with deadly force.

Looking Ahead

I’m curious to see how awful the editing process will be after I get the rough draft of my NaNoWriMo novel finished.  Writing an entire draft in a single month sounded crazy to me at first, but (at least with a pre-plotted concept) it’s going surprisingly well for me.  If the second draft rewrites are Hell on Earth, maybe this won’t become a regular practise for me, but if I find that the rewriting is no worse than usual, this is going to become my novel-writing method from now on!

Granted, all I do other than write and work right now is sleep and eat (not at the same time, thankfully (yet)) but one month out of the year is well worth it if I come out of that month with a novel to show for it.

I’m not sure what the point of all of this is, since normally my posts center around some kind of observation on the process itself, a method that has worked for me, or a brainstorming method.  Troubleshooting, as it were, for the writing and editing processes.  I’ll try to keep that up, but most of my mental energy right now is going straight to the pages of my book, so the blog may suffer in November.

So, I’m sorry for the brain-dead post, but that’s all I’ve got right now.  I’m zapped!

First Post

Since this is my first post on this shiny new blog, I’ll start with a brief introduction.

I’ve been making up stories since before I can remember, and writing them down since before I could spell.  I remember making a grand effort at editing for the first time around the age of five – and it was a monumental task to detach myself from the story enough to break it up into individual sentences, where it had originally been one long run-on strung together with conjunction after conjunction.  Editing your own writing has to be the hardest part of the process, but I’ve come a long way since then.

Now, I write fiction and work as a freelance editor.  I’ve written flash fiction, short stories, and a novel (which I’m in the process of editing).  I dislike strict genre guidelines both when writing and when reading – it’s a lot more interesting to see a new twist than to read an old re-hash.

My plans for this blog are to post a few times a week, maybe more, maybe less, depending on how busy I am or whether I have anything worth sharing at any given time, and my subject matter will be about the writing process.  Methods, approaches, exercises, brainstorming techniques, things I’ve noticed in books I like, that kind of thing.  And probably some philosophizing about writing from time to time, too.

So if that’s your kind of thing, check back here and read on!