Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Music and Meh

I haven't posted in a week. I know this. Part of the reason is because I have been Doing Things.

The other part is that I just wrote a book in eighteen days. So while I'm sorry that I haven't said anything, and I'm sorry that this post does not shine with the stellar randomness/awkwardness you all know so well, I will not apologize for needing a little recuperation time.

Since I really don't know what else to say, here's a song a friend showed me the other day.

Behold: Christina Perri's The Lonely

Isn't it incredible? I admit it -- I have a thing for haunting music. I'm also one to be instantly captivated by phrases that aren't quite explained. Dancing slowly in an empty room ... let the lonely in/to take my heart again ... These are the phrases that stick in my mind and create an obsession. And, in this case, a story.

That's right; I wrote a story yesterday. It was only eight hundred words, so I suppose it's more flash fiction. This song was too much for me -- I couldn't find anything in my current writing to identify it with, so I had to produce something else.

And I did. I produced dusty chandeliers and hidden dreamworlds, ballgowns and a character whose broken heart consumes her being. I fell completely in love with the idea. I sat down to write it.

I failed.

The sad thing is, my failure wasn't even exciting. It was 'meh'. The story was meh, the writing was meh, the characters were meh. Right then, that seemed like the worst word in the world. But today, I see things differently. I do, after all, have three other projects underway. This idea has great potential for blossoming into a novel, but I can't let it do that right now. I need to focus on the things I already have. At this point, the meh of my writing isn't important. What's important is that I wrote down the idea. I saved it. Someday, I will write it again.

Be prepared. It's going to rock the world.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Confession

Do you remember this post? If you're too lazy to click the link, (and trust me, you're in good company if you are) it's a post I wrote last month, after my first dance class. I was horrible, and I made a lot of self-deprecating comments, which resulted in a self-examination and finally a resolution to be nice to myself, however poorly I do.

Well, I just came home from dance again, and I have a confession.

I have fallen in love with dance.

I love the music. I love watching other people move to it, and I love feeling myself keep time with them. I even love that burning feeling in my legs, when my muscles start spasming out of control until I simply can't take another step. It isn't like writing. I don't love it that much yet. But it comes closer than any other activity ever has.

It may seem strange for me to feel ashamed of this ... but I kind of do. Here I was, using my suckitude as a metaphor for perseverance and self-confidence ... and I went and got better. I'm actually pretty good now, to tell you the truth. Not as good as the girls who have been doing it for years, but I seem to have at least some talent. Yet another metaphor goes down the drain.

Except ... maybe not. Maybe the lesson has just changed. After all, I never would have come this far if I had been beating on myself like I did at the first class. Sure, I actually did have natural talent. But would I ever have discovered it if I hadn't given myself a chance? Just a little something to think about.

And lest you think I'm getting full of myself, I still can't touch my toes. At all.

I'm working on that.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Momentary Aberration

You remember this post? Well, it has happened again. Except this time, instead of an assassin with a knife, it's an arsonist with a scary helmet.

Don't ask. Just don't.

I am quite certain that this dream is NOT a product of detective shows, which leaves me to wonder what exactly it is. Have I read any sci-fi/horror in the last few years?

Since I'm up anyway, I thought I might as well produce a blog post. And since I know you're all dying to know about the novel I finished on Friday, why don't I post about that?

Um. *gathers scattered 4 am brains* Ready, set, go.

I know what you're probably thinking right now. It's something like this. A Winters Tale, Sarah? You wrote a blog post just last month about every project you have planned. This was not among them. I know, I know, okay? This book was not supposed to happen. It was an accident. A momentary aberration.

That or it was just NaNoWriMo.

Either way, it was fast. I'm not entirely sure what day I began contemplating doing NaNoWriMo this year. I know it was sometime near the beginning of October. I had hit THE WALL, and I was having more difficulty getting through it than I expected. I felt like I was digging through solid rock with a tiny chisel -- a task I have, on occasion, given a character, but have never been faced with myself. I fully intended to get through that wall, but I did not want to lose my love of writing in the process. At the time, a combination of life events and writing blocks were conspiring to make me really hate writing.

This had to stop. Hence the NaNo idea. Nothing says 'I love writing' like a month-long noveling frenzy, right?

There was only one problem. I did not have a plot. Yes, I know this isn't supposed to be a problem, but without just a kernel of an idea to build a story around, there was no way I would make it through November. I played with several half-formed ideas (a traveler-goes-to-fantasy land book from the POV of a fantasy character, a world in which the French Revolution basically happens every twenty years,) but none of them seemed right. Until Wednesday, October 19th. (Thanks Lisa for catching that I wrote November at first.) I confess, I don't remember what first gave me the idea. But I know that by the end of the week, I had a plot. It went like this:

Hammer and Carol Winters have seven children. That in and of itself is enough to get them strange looks from many people they meet. What those people don't know is that the Winters family is full of superheroes.

Or ... well ... not SUPERHEROES exactly. Yes, they do have powers ranging from invisibility to perfect mimicry, but they don't really do the whole 'vigilante crimefighter' thing. Instead, they use their powers for more ordinary acts of heroism, blending in with the rest of the world.


That is, until Hammer's extraordinary skill as a firefighter catches the attention of the media. When a particularly stubborn journalism student refuses to leave without his story, it's up to the kids to drive him away. But will they succeed in protecting their family's secret, or will they blow their cover to the moon?


I loved this idea. I loved the characters it sent buzzing around my brain. I loved the humor of it and the idea of just making it up as I went along. I knew by the end of that day that there was no way I was writing anything else.

November 1st came along. I started writing. And, in the tradition of NaNovels everywhere, A Winters Tale did not do what it was supposed to. For starters, the journalism student was too nice. If my other characters started picking on him, everyone would hate them. Heck, I might hate them. Secondly, the dynamic between him and one of the other characters was far too interesting for me to let it go. Thirdly, I unintentionally set it at Christmas time.

By the end of the first week, my novel had transformed from the above drive-away-the-pest story into a full-blown romantic comedy. I was undeterred. I plowed on through the misery of stomach flu (in the book, not in me.) I wrote on as things marked 'Do Not Eat' were devoured, snowmen were crafted, and kitchens caught fire. (Again, not my own, though it would be super cool to write in a burning kitchen. Extreme Writing, yes?)

On November 18th, I knew it was time. I warned siblings and parents that the penalty for disturbing me would be disturbing, hid in a dark corner of my bedroom, and wrote the last 6k in three hours. It was hilarious. It was tender. It was gripping enough that one of my alpha readers' computer died of suspense while she read it. (True story.) And it was done. Two (or I guess it's three now) days later, I'm still in shock. I don't have a clue how it happened, but I finished a book, and it's good.

I'll try to get an excerpt up sometime in the next few days. Right now, I'm going to get up. I know better than to try and sleep any more.

UPDATE: Thanks to a ridiculous lack of sleep, I have now done something outrageous. Am still waiting to know what the repercussions will be. I'll update you if it's something worth posting about. In the meantime, feel free to mock me. I'll add something for you to start with: I am afraid of the movie Toy Story. (This is truth.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

In Which I Make Strange Noises

EEEEEEEEE!!!

AAAAAAAAAHHH!!!

AGGA AGGA AGGA!!!

In case you don't speak Totally Incoherent ... I just finished a book. Or, well, I almost finished it. There is an epilogue, but that hardly counts. And, because I am totally geeky and shameless right now, I am going to post a video of myself. Wearing no makeup, with writing hair. But overflowing with awesome and strange noises.

video


(Gah! Off to write the epilogue now!)

Update: It is 12:30 AM. The epilogue is complete. I have no strange noises left.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why I Love This Job: Reason #429

Today, I was writing a scene. In the scene, there was a crayon drawing. I was trying to describe it, then thought ... why settle for description? Instead, I whipped out my handy Paintbrush and produced this beauty:


And that brings us to Reason #429 that I love writing. Drawing stick men? It's totally legitimate.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go write a scene about ingesting copious amounts of chocolate. But first, I really ought to do some research ...

(And yes, I know writing is not technically my job. But I don't have another job [except maybe math homework], so why not count this one? Positive thinking, people!)

P.S. Hooray for the fiftieth post! This REALLY merits chocolate! You can have some too. I feel selfish eating it all.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Little Miracles

I am thinking about the little miracles today. This morning, I went about my usual routine (check email, check Twitter, check Facebook, slap self for wasting time, study scriptures, take out contacts, do stuff.) It all went splendidly ... right up until I went to take out my contacts. (Yes, I wear my contact lenses overnight. I am supposed to. They are magic.)

You see, my contacts are very expensive. Were I to lose one, it would cost a great deal to replace, and I would get to walk around half-blind for some weeks while I waited for the new one. That is why I am very, VERY careful when I handle those things. I close the drain, and then I plug the whachamacallems ... the overflow holes? ... with tissue. I will not lose these contacts.

Guess what? This morning I forgot. And what do you know, my contact popped right off my eye and fell straight down the drain.

Cue heart-stopping panic.

It took me about thirty seconds to stop hyperventilating and actually do something. Praying as hard as I could, I bent over, squinting into the drain. No sign of contact. I poked my finger into the limited space between plug and drain, hoping against hope I would find my contact trapped there. Nothing.

Now I panicked. I dropped to my knees and begged my Father in Heaven to help me, because I didn't have a clue what to do. I couldn't afford to replace my contact. I couldn't afford the guilt of having lost it. As I was on my knees, I noticed the cupboard under the sink, and the sight sparked an idea. I had q-tips in there!

I grabbed one and swabbed the drain with it, my heart in my mouth. I will not describe the gunk my q-tip produced, in case you plan on eating in the next few days. I will say that my contact did not appear with it. Undaunted, I soaked the (clean) end of the q-tip in my contact fluid, which is slightly sticky. Then I tried again.

And, miracle of miracles, my contact appeared. I absolutely cannot describe the relief that filled me when I finally worked it free from the drain. I fell to my knees and thanked God that I was saved, then scrubbed my contact for about ten minutes until I believed I could put it in my eye again.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I don't know what your religious beliefs are. You might be atheist, Christian or Zoroastrian. My goal is not to challenge your beliefs, or to change them. But today, I just want to invite you to notice the little miracles in your life. Notice and express gratitude, either through prayer or service or something else entirely. There might be a better path to happiness, but I don't know what it is.

(And on the subject of miracles, congrats to my cousin Tasha on her beautiful baby boy! I'm a greatcousin now! *happy dance* I want to kiss his beautiful scrunchy face!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Butterflies (Or First Drafts: Sarah Style)

When I first started writing, I read a lot of books about (would you believe it) writing. Among them was Seize The Story, by Victoria Hanley. I highly recommend this book -- it gave me the perfect combination of inspiring advice and kick in the pants that got me through Sarawen. But today, I'd like to quote the only sentences that I do not relate to.

"I dread starting a new book the way I'd dread living in the middle of an especially disturbing nightmare. Getting through that first draft feels very much like clawing my way through solid rock using only my fingernails."

This image caught my fancy so much that I have it heavily underlined in my copy of the book. It was my mantra as I launched each failed beginning, my solace when I began to believe that I could never make it. "So what if it's terrible?" I'd tell myself. "All first drafts are terrible, and none of them are fun. If I just make it to the end, then I can revise! That's the fun part."

I'm not sure when I realized just how ridiculous that was. It might have been Christmas Eve of 2009, when I stayed up until two in the morning wrapping presents, and then pulled out my laptop to get just a few more words in before bed. It might have been in March 2010, when I wrote my first love scene, a scene that made my mother cry. It was surely before that October day when I wrote my first 8k day and crested the climax of the book. It doesn't really matter when I realized it, because it's true.

I love first drafts.

Are they hard? Yes. Are they long? Yes. Do I sometimes stare at the stationary, blinking cursor until I'm sure my eyeballs are bleeding? Absolutely. But with all the pain, with all the heartache and the frustration, there is nothing more beautiful than watching your precious story take shape before your eyes. It's magical. It gives me butterflies.

On November first, I started my new novel, A Winters Tale. The first day was agony. The second was better. On the seventh, I fell in love. I wrote a scene so glorious, it kept me up three hours past my bedtime. I danced all the way to bed and rose in the morning with a song in my heart. That scene stayed with me all day, glowing somewhere near my abdomen. I wanted to curl around it and never let it go. I wanted to share it with the world.

Three days later, I am rattled. I am vexed. I may even be frothing at the mouth. Why, you ask? Today, I reached a scene that WILL NOT WRITE! I am currently beating it into submission, abusing my poor keyboard in my fury. But beneath it all, the glow is still there. I am a writer. And this is what I love.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Misery

Remember that time when the first week of NaNoWriMo was ending? Remember how I was over a thousand words behind, but I worked all morning and almost caught up? Yeah, I remember that.

Remember how I then went to seminary, then came home and did my math (ugh)? Without even being told? And remember how my mom said I could have a cookie when I was done?

Remember how I finished my math and ran upstairs to collect my cookie? Remember what I found when I opened the cookie jar? Crumbs. I found cookie crumbs.

That was the day my world was destroyed in fiery burning chaos. The day ... when there were no cookies.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Things That Inspire Me

THIS.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFBzZfxkWUg&feature=player_embedded#!

I am exploding with epicness. If you hear that I wrote three thousand books and then exploded, you know why.

NOW GO AWAY WHILE I EDIT AND WRITE AND DEFEAT THE ULTIMATE EVIL. GOODBYE.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Scary Dreams

It is four in the morning. I am awake. And the chances of me getting back to sleep soon? Not good.

After all, I am currently huddled under my blankets, typing with my ears peeled for suspicious noises. Because that is what happens to me when I am awakened by a horrible dream.

It is not very fun.

So, in my hour of need/terror, I remembered you guys. Because I have not posted in a while, and I have never, ever seen a movie where someone was murdered while writing a blog post.

Please do not write that movie.

In case it is one of my followers who wants to kill me, let me just say that I'm sorry I haven't been posting. I'm SORRY, okay? There's this little thing called housework. I have been doing it. And NaNoWriMo started yesterday. And I have had ideas, but all of them were rather too complex for my tastes. Fortunately, Someone-Wants-Me-Dead is not complex. I can write a post now.

I sure hope it's not my NaNo ML who's hunting me, because I DID get my 1,667 done yesterday. I did, I did.

So now it's your turn. Have you ever hidden under your covers at an ungodly hour, scared to death of something you ought to know is not a threat? Please tell. Also, please come over to my house and turn on all the lights so I can get out of bed. Also, someone please get my friend Stephanie. She's the only one who can see the assassin. Goodnight (morning?) all. I think I will still be alive at sunrise. Probably.

P.S. I hope someone saves me soon, because I really need to pee.

P.P.S. This all comes from watching detective shows. Curse you, Lisa. Curse you.

P.P.P.S. Maybe I should just watch another episode of Psych while I can't sleep ... *facepalm*

Update: I am, indeed, still alive. Turns out some of the scary noises I heard were actually my sister, who was also awake and terrified of dangerous things lurking in the house (although hers were zombies.) It must be a sign.