01 November, 2011

NaNo Time

First person: Today, I start writing my second novel.

Third person: This is the first day of NaNoWriMo and Debbi bends her head to the task of writing her second novel.

... If only she could figure out what Person she should be writing it in.

My first novel, Cassidy, was written in First Person. I am very comfortable writing in First Person because I enjoy the unique perspective one person's mind applies to the world and those around him or her. There may be three sides to every story but I think the First Person's version is by far the most compelling.

That said, not all stories thrive within the confines of a single, flawed, human head. Sometimes, the world and what is happening in it is much bigger than one simple human's take on it and deserves a broader perspective - a god-like one, if you will. The Third Person.

So this is where I (Debbi) am stuck now. Which is more important in this new novel: the human or the world? What will I lose if I choose the challenge of Third Person? Or should I take a glass-half-full approach and ask myself what new challenges will I face and have to overcome if I accept the opportunity to grapple with something new.

Very interesting breakdown on the whys and wherefores of First Person vs. Third Person. Doesn't answer my question but gives me even more to ponder while I procrastinate those first, magical words that I hope will carry me enthusiastically to the end of a great, new story.

Stop! It's NaNo Time!

10 August, 2011

Off Topic - An Anniversary

Just realized, with 3 hours left in the day, that today marks an important anniversary in my life. 15 years ago today, I saw my first Phish show.

Alpine Valley, 1996. A very large group of friends from the Chicago/Galesburg, IL area trucked it up to East Troy, WI - passing by the Mars Cheese Castle and promising to stop there on the way back - and set up camp in some campground whose name is long forgotten by this swiss cheese memory. It was my first time camping since I was a kid, or maybe it was my first time camping ever - my parents aren't exactly the roughing it type, if you dig what I am saying.


I don't remember too much from that night but I do remember long-stepping down that hill in Pavilion as the band took the stage and went into "My Friend, My Friend". I remember the whistles following "Reba" (which they abandoned for so long and to my delight and surprise, picked back up this summer at Superball IX) and I remember "Rift", the title track from the album that introduced us all to this amazing group of guys. And how awesome was it to get a "Hold Your Head Up" (HYHU) > "Whipping Post" > HYHU series with Fishman running around onstage like a damn fool in a ridiculous moo moo? And the encore of a silly little song called "Contact" ("The tires are the things on your car that make contact with the road") followed by a hot cover of "Fire".

Great show. We went back to our tents that night with ear-to-ear grins and the next day, I got online and started trying to find a ride to the Clifford Ball festival the next weekend. I almost got there. I had the ride from Detroit to Plattsburgh, NY but could not find a way to get from Chicago to Detroit in time. That was one of the few times I regretted selling my '68 Bug to move to Chicago.

The next summer, I promised myself ... the next summer I'll go all the way to the end.

And I did.

Happy Anniversary to me.

07 August, 2011

This is a Writer's Blog

I know this has been sitting here simmering for a long time - again. The soup has mostly boiled away and the bottom of the pot is now probably permanently lined with a black sludge in all my inattention to my blog.

I started this blog to talk about myself. Which is why most people start a blog. We think we're fascinating. I mean, my life must be exciting because I'm still in it, right? And what subject do I know better than that of myself?

But clearly, my life isn't really that interesting because I can't even find the time to post nothing little tidbits about myself or my daily doings. I intended to transform this into a writing-specific blog because that's where I want my attention to be these days. Enough of the day job, enough of television's mindless banter ... get to work and do what it is I love to do. Or feel, in some way, compelled to do anyway.

But then I languish. How many topics on writing can I possible write? I mean, really. I'm not an English teacher and while I may be adept at using the language, I can't expound upon all the little frillies and functions within it. God how boring! I mean, I had a non-published post on 'Foreshadowing' sitting waiting for me to press Publish Post. You know what it was about? Game of Thrones. Yea, okay, there was some exposition about Foreshadowing in it but let's be honest. I had just finished watching the entire series thanks to Xfinity's on-demand and absolutely loved it and wanted to talk about it. And so I found a "writely" thing to couch it in, and created a post. Thank god I never published it because it was stupid :)

So, in the meantime, I received an invitation to a new social website called Google+ - thank you, Krazy Karl - and have been building up quite a network of other writers around the world and getting oodles of inspiration. Literally, oodles. And realizing that just because I am a person who likes to write, that doesn't make me a writer. Only writing makes one a writer. And I still neglect that whole "writing" thing too much. Unless you count long emails detailing what I did the night before and what I plan to do once work is done that night to my friend Mel. If you count those, then I am definitely a writer. (I count those, shhh.)

So what does a writer write about in a writing blog if not the nuances of writing?

Who cares.

My friend Peter writes about things that remind him of or inform his writing as well as movies he loves and things he does with friends. And he's a writer. And I would consider that his writing blog. He markets his books in it as well as lets his readers know what he's currently working on.

So here's the rundown of the things I am currently working on (besides emails to Mel which are ongoing and probably not interesting enough to note here):
  • Cassidy. My first novel. A defining piece of me, if there ever was one, in my opinion. I am in the third draft and finding it somewhat hard to commit to sitting down and working through the noise and distractions this house offers me. That doesn't mean that I don't want to work on it, it merely means I am easily distracted
  • 9 Years. A short story I wrote about a year ago that stands ahead of most of my other shorts in story and skill and one I hope to get published in an online story site. Pretty much done but with some read-throughs and possible tweaks still before I'm comfortable sending it out.
  • Prudence. Another short story, this one unfinished but with great promise. Very much character-driven by a psychotic little girl in pigtails. Not sure where exactly it's going to go but I bet Prudence has an idea. Another one I would consider for online publishing once done and edited and read-through and tweaked.
  • The story I woke up with this morning. Yes, another distraction from Cassidy. What can I do - the entire first paragraph was in my head when I opened my eyes. Not like I could just jot the paragraph down and not pursue it any further today. Not yet sure if it's a short, a novella or a novel but rest assured, it is apocalyptic and therefore quite capable of holding my attention
So what am I doing now? A blog post. Hey! At least I'm writing something.

19 June, 2011

Past Perfect Progressive

Past perfect progressive tense describes a past, ongoing action that was completed before some other past action. This tense is formed by using had been and the present perfect of the verb (the verb form ending in -ing).
from http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/grammar/tenses.html#past%20perfect%20progressive

Does that make any sense to you? Do you remember learning about that verb tense in school? I sure don't and, as an English major in college, I've had four more years of English classes than most. Regardless, Cassidy is chock full of Had Beens and one of the chores I've set myself in this third draft editing is eliminating at least 70% of them!

I am by no means alone in this: my friend Peter is running into the same issue, as are countless other authors - no doubt. It's funny, I don't find myself talking in the past perfect progressive (hardly perfect, by the way) in daily conversation but writing seems so much more formal a conversation and therefore, apparently, in need of tenses that are not commonly taught in most English classes. My goal in this third draft will be to give Cassidy a more daily conversational tone and less of a formal, elevated (snobby writer) tone.

This draft is going slowly for now as I split my free time in helping my husband with his business accounting but as soon as I can get that to a weekly maintenance stage, I intend to tackle this imperfect, non-progressive language issue along with all the other notes I have amassed (thank you, Mel!) and hope to have a completed draft within a month. And with my hubby strongly considering a solo jaunt* to Phish's Superball IX festival in NY for the weekend of July 4th, my chances increase considerably!

*I have to keep myself excited over the possibilities of completing the third draft in those days home alone to avoid the tears that come from having to miss a guaranteed good time with friends that long weekend. Blame moronic American work standards for that piece of silliness and I will take it as motivation to remove myself from that silliness as soon as humanly possible!