Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 80

I've been distracted by something else, away from my writing. I know, yet another excuse, but it's so difficult to resist when I have so many different creative interests. :) Anyway, as a customer of Celemony, I've been keeping an eye for their future flagship program called "Melodyn Direct Note Access (DNA)." I've been looking forward to the software since they announced their ongoing development about 2 years ago. As a composer/songwriter who can't play instruments worth a damn, DNA would be a godsend. And for other musicians, it's going to change the industry the way MIDI did 25 years ago.

What is DNA? Until now, software programs can only manipulate "blobs" of analog sounds and fine-tune the tones and amplitudes as a whole. Studios have been using such technology to fine tune performances and correct out-of-tune singers. DNA, however, allows them to actually access the INDIVIDUAL notes within the polyphonic performance (whether it's a chord or a guitar strum, etc.) Of course, it only works with single instruments (sorry, you can't reverse-engineer a recorded symphony or rock song into a complete score).

So what? You ask. We already can do that with MIDI. But remember, MIDI is nothing but data that describe the note, the velocity, amplitude, etc. But it's still just digital data. The sound itself still requires a synthesizer or, at least, sampled sounds. DNA works with real-instrument and real performances. What it means is, DNA can turn Jimmi Hendrix's solo guitar performance into a MIDI like data that can be changed, altered and rearranged.

Now, that's huge. Can you imagine what we can do with the huge library of musical "loops" available? Now, we can get one guitar loop (say, a C chord), and turn that into any chord imaginable. Or we can have a pianist come in the studio and record for five minutes and then send him home (since they're so expensive to hire!) and manipulate that performance into anything. Or, like I said, we could turn a Jimmi Hendrix or Yo Yo Ma recording into a workable sound loop. That's like having Hendrix or Ma play for me while I compose my music. That's amazing.

Right now, Melodyne DNA is in beta phase, and I'm privileged enough to be testing it. So far, I'm really impressed. The technology is so new and the software is still in beta that there are still lots of kinks to fix and sort out. Still, from what I've seen so far, this is going to be amazing and I believe it's one of the most important innovations for the music industry since MIDI. In fact, Melodyne is able to turn the musical performances into a MIDI sequence -- that's also amazing.

Right now, I'm working on a song using DNA. I'll post my progress and the final version soon. Stay tune.

100 words, 28200 words total
285 days and 157300 words to go

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 79

I have become a backup freak. I'm seriously paranoid about losing my data, especially my works in progress that I back up all the time, with multiple back ups and different ways to do them. Better safe than sorry. I've had computers or hard drives quitting on me so many times and I once had to reconstruct the entire data drive (with a file salvage software) because, well, I didn't have a good back up.

Now I back up my stuff with all of the following:

- USB drives (mostly just documents include THE NOVEL)
- DVD
- Apple iDisk
- Dropbox
- multiple external drives
- Apple Time Machine

The external hard drives and USB drives are for peace of mind in case I don't have Internet connection. Still, file management is an issue -- I always end up with multiple versions of everything, and I need to make sure I don't overwrite the most current versions. But with storage devices so cheap now (you can get a 250GB drive for under $100 and a 4GB US drive for about $10), it's good to have everything -- sort of a history or work trail. It's kind of cool.

But mostly I depend on Dropbox to keep my most used files up to date. Dropbox also allows me to share work with others and it keeps versions -- so I get versioning for free. In fact, Dropbox is free and they give you 2GB just to start; that's enough for most day-to-day use. [If anyone wants to sign up for Dropbox, let me know, so we can both get free space upgrades].

Apple Time Machine is great as well -- it's one of the easiest to use, most elegant way to back up my entire system. I mean, everything, and it goes back months or even years. I can, literally, search for a file I deleted six months ago and retrieve it. While I haven't done it myself, I know people who has effortlessly restore (or reinstall) their Macs using Time Machine. I have never had such luxury when using Windows -- something always went wrong. So that's very impressive.

The only problem is, I've got to remember what I have/had at a give time. If I lost a file or an entire folder, I'd have to know "when" to look for it so I'd get the right stuff, and not an older version. So that could be a challenge for someone as absent-minded as I.


1000 words, 28100 words total
286 days and 157400 words to go

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 77

Lately I've been active in trading stocks and options, and I've learned a lot. I think one of the best lessons I've learned is this:

"It's not about how much money you can make. It's about how well you trade."

I take that advice to heart, and the result is amazing. Once I learned to get that "money making" mindset out of the way (which is not easy to do, considering trading is about money), I find myself becoming freer with a clearer focus on what I need to know and do to do the job well. The objective is not "how much money I can make" anymore, but to be able to apply what I've learned, to not make the same mistakes twice, and to be able to objectively assess my progress.

And the side effect of learning to trade well is, of course, making money in the process. So far, I've managed to make relatively small but steady profits. More important, my skills have improved and I am more apt in doing my technical analysis, identifying opportunities, finding my entry and exit points, and not letting my emotions affect my judgement (on a good day -- on a bad day, emotions still get in the way).

So, what does it have to do with my writing? Quite a lot, actually. I realize, I love writing -- I love what I do and do what I love. And the trick of success, I realize, is not to "make a lot of money and become famous" but to learn to "write well." There are no guarantees in life. You can't always predict the future. Sometimes it goes up, and sometimes it comes down. But what I can control is the way I write, and what I write. When I focus on writing well instead of being distracted by stuff such as "what sells now?" or "how could I make people buy my books?" my writing improves. And that's the most important thing.

When I learn to trade well, I increase the likelihood of making better profits. When I learn to write well, I increase the likelihood of being published.

And if I could learn to live life to the fullest, I increase the likelihood of being happy and fulfilled.


500 words, 27100 words total
288 days and 158400 words to go

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 73

Obviously, I'm still working on my novel, amorously referred to as the WIP. So let's talk about work in progress, and not just the literary kind.

My body is a work in progress. I'm staying healthy, eating healthy, exercising healthy. Since August 2008 I've been keeping a workout regimen (and like everything else, I slack off at times). I've gotten better in shape since then, but it's still a work in progress. The problem is that I see myself every day, and it's hard to gauge the progress -- it's not like there's a word count. My weight continues to fluctuate between 162 and 170, for example, and my body fat is usually at 12%, and I'd like to cut down to about 8% (but damn those delicious carbs!) So, digital pictures come to the rescue. There's nothing like seeing yourself in photographs that makes you go, "Ugh!" It's amaze how your brain fools you in real life.

The same can be said about writing. Our brains fool us. We live and breathe our "work of art" for so long that often we can't really see it for what it really is. That's why it's good to step back, put the work away for a while, and come back and look at it with an objective, emotionally detached eye. Also, you won't believe the kind of mistakes, errors, and problems you can find while "listening" to your work being read out loud. I love text-to-speech technologies for that reason.

My life is also a work in progress. I know, it's actually a journey, and I try to enjoy it as much as I can, and make as many memories as I can. I look back on my life and I remember so many special moments. Still, it's a work of progress in that I continue to want to improve myself and change for the better, be more compassionate about others, be a bit less self-centered, be more genuine and less concerned about how other people judge me. It's often a balancing act. A work in progress. Maybe in 30 years I'd finally get it right. Or is there a thing called "right"?

My life is filled with special moments, and also defining moments of change. I can recount all those moments: the day I left home to come to America, the day I got my first job, the day I fell in love, the first time I bought a house, the first time I drove a car, the first time I made love, the first time I went to a friend's funeral, the first time I broke a promise. My warts and scars go along with my honors and glory, and I wouldn't give up any of that. And now I'm on the verge of embarking on some new changes, and I'm excited about them. It's a work in progress that I know I'll be very proud of, and I know will change me forever. I can't wait to see how that goes.

Life's full of wonders. And I'm glad I'm still a work in progress.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 72

I got a kick out of these "Get Ripped in Four Weeks" ads. Really? Ripped like Gerard Butler in 300? Even Gerard Butler couldn't do it in 4 weeks. And why do I need any products for it? It's really quite simple: you take in more protein, cut the carb, and work out. All those supplements may help a bit, but it's really down to the basic. To me, these ads offer either steroids or snake oil and unless you live in the gym (Butler spent 6 hours a day to get this Spartan abs), don't believe the hype, especially ones that promise results without a whole lot of work.

Capitalism is all fine and great, but capitalism based on pure lies is simply corrupt. Do we, as a society, value honesty anymore? And are we really so gullible and desperate to believe anything?

---

Being a writer is kind of an interesting thing, as far as attention is concerned. I see an internal conflict there: on one hand, writers want to be heard, read, and admired. They want their bylines. To say writers don't want attention is like saying astronauts don't want to go to space. At the same time, I know many writers who despise being in the spotlight. They'd rather die than to have a book signing or be interviewed. Some of them would rather hide behind a pseudonym, or ghostwrite someone else's books. They clearly say they don't want any fame (just the money would be fine).

It's a very interesting conflict.

Being an actor, too, I have a strange perspective, kind of stuck between two extremes. As a writer, of course I want to be appreciated, but I also don't want the limelight. The thought of being on Oprah (if it ever happened) frightens me. On the other hand, as an actor, I like the attention. I like the applause. I like to see my face 15 feet wide on a movie screen. At the same time, I value my privacy. I don't ever want anyone to mix my professional life with my private one.

As soon as I went on stage, I wanted to do nothing else with my life but act. I always liked the attention that playing sports had brought, but acting fulfilled that need even better.
-- Ed Harris

Being both an actor and writer allows me to move back and forth. I enjoy the occasional work in front of the camera but also appreciate the downtime, the lack of "fame." I enjoy being a writer, which by default is a lonely, private profession, but also like the occasion limelight at book signings, conferences, etc. Am I being inconsistent? I think everyone kind of fluctuates between wanting attention and not wanting it -- most people don't want it, especially from strangers. But I'm not sure if there's anyone who truly deplore attention, or else we'd be finding them in a shed out in the woods somewhere making bombs (I actually know a friend of a friend who does that). To me, it's all a matter of balance.

I'm grateful to have the opportunities, and I'm grateful to be able to find my balance.

300 words, 26600 words total
293 days and 158900 words to go

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 71

Wow, I've just posted my 300th reviews.

It seems only yesterday when I started my journey as a "professional" writer and the gig with Actors Ink was my first (and only) regular paying gig. I still remember writing my first review (of Butterfly Effects starring Ashton Kutcher), and my thought was exactly this: "It isn't all that difficult. I wonder how long this job will last, though." Well, a few years later, I'm still writing, and I've earned enough to call myself a real writer.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't mean to say that if you don't get paid, you're not a writer, or the fact that I'm writing weekly reviews makes me a serious writer. However, I think getting your first job and getting your first check is always going to be some kind of a milestone. There's no real magic in the number 1 or 300, but it's a milestone. It means: I'm doing it.

I'm rather proud of that.

---

Speaking of pride, a couple of writers really pissed me off. I know it's just a matter of opinion, but what some of these writers say about the profession of writing bugs the hell out of me. Their assertion is that it doesn't matter who writes a book, and whose name is on it (it could be Adolf Hitler for all they care) as long as it's a good read. To me, it shows a fundamental disrespect of writers and the profession of writing, and reduces everything to mere "productization" of literature. So, really, are they really saying it doesn't matter if the Harry Potter books were actually written by JK Rowling, or Stephen King hasn't written any books for the last 25 years -- nameless writers wrote them for him? Do we just want the endorsement of a name, a brand? Are we so commercialized now that being a writer means only one thing: the paycheck and a BRAND?

It's one thing for people like Tom Clancy who has a factory of writers to write books for him. Yes, he puts his huge name on the cover, but he also credits the actual writer with a byline on the same cover. He doesn't claim to have written those books.

Pamela Anderson and Naomi Campbell made no attempt to hide the fact that they didn't write their novels, and they credited the work to their ghostwriters.

I am surprised to hear some writers say it's perfectly okay to let some celebrity claim credits for the creative work (that he or she did not do) as long as an "agreement" has been reached. Fine, it's a business -- everyone wins. But don't pretend to call it "honest."

There's really such a thing called "honesty."

Would you be okay if the Beatles album you bought wasn't really performed by the Beatles?

Or the Rembrandt painting you paid through the nose at the auction wasn't really painted by him?

Or the Spielberg-directed movie that wasn't really directed by him?

It's okay as long as they put their names on the product, right? As long as you don't know or care who actually made it regardless of whose names are on it...

Is this what being a writer mean to you? Kind of like plumber and carpenter and they guy who cleans your gutters. Nameless professionals as long as you like the work they've done.

Gotcha.

Excuse me for wanting to put my name on the cover of my books and take credit (or blame) for MY work.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 70

As mammals, we have survival instincts and defense mechanism in place to keep us safe and alive. The "flight or fight" response. Whatever you want to call it. I know I have it. As the old saying goes, "burned once, think twice."

However, sometimes I believe that this survival instinct or defense mechanism is what's limited us. It's a form of negative reinforcement. If you do something wrong or bad, you're going to be punished, so you're not going to do it again. This feedback loop may keep us alive, but are we really living?

A few years ago, a colleague of mine introduced me to a series of self-help tapes called Limitless People. It was an interesting seminar, but I didn't really think much of it. A lot of it was the same self-help crap, really: "you can do anything/just do it/don't let anyone tell you what you can't do/perseverance..."

Of course reality is not that simple. We are "limited" people. From the day we were born, we're bombarded with messages of what we can or cannot do: from our parents, teachers, peers, colleagues, authorities, bosses, politicians, religious leaders, etc. Every day we hear this: "You can't do this because it's wrong." The only time we can exercise our little deviant acts is when we're alone, in the privacy of our homes, when we feel we have some kind of control. We can be anyone we want in our fantasies, and do whatever we want in the comfort of our homes. That's why Internet dating service is a-booming and video games are such great tension releaser. In our fantasy, we can be ancient warriors or space heros, killing evil people (or, in some cases, we ARE the evil people killing everyone we don't like).

In real life, though, we are limited by what we "can or cannot" do.

There are times, though, I have to convince myself that "I CAN." Somehow, it seems like it really is mind over matters sometimes, however impossible it may seem. I mean, if Obama could become President in a country where racial tension is still evident in many parts, everything seems possible. It's decided by how much we really want it, and what we would do to get what we want.

Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.
- Randy Pausch ( 1960-2008 )

Case study: just a few short months ago I made a big mistake of trading some Apple Inc. options. You'd think, Apple is doing great, so what's the matter? The problem, I got into the market without much research, and the timing was wrong. I ended up losing quite a bit of money, enough to burn my hands. That has stopped me. I didn't even want to look at the stock. I have a mental block because the burn on my hands was so painful. What I did was I let that negative experience hinder me. I got so emotionally attached to it that I couldn't see through the fog. I couldn't step back and look at it without being emotional involved.

I know many people feel that way about the stock market or investments. When times are good, people feast and forget about that "what goes up must come down, eventually." So when things turn south, people panic and they get burned. My parents got so burned by the stock market in the 1970s that they have NOT invested their money in the stock market for almost over 30 years. Think about the opportunities lost, there -- and there's no way I can convince them otherwise (lead by example doesn't work -- they have a permanent emotional scar there).

Back to Apple, Inc. The fact is, Apple has since recovered by their "dip" and gone up almost 50% since May. FIFTY PERCENT. If I had let go of my emotions and done my objective analysis and homework, I would have reinvested and not only made back all the money I lost, but probably made another $25,000 in just a few months. But no, I didn't do it. I was afraid to even look at the stock for fear of making the same mistakes again.

Fear.

Fear may keep us alive, but it's not letting us live.

From now on, I'd like to tell Fear to get the fuck out of here. Get lost. Go to Hell. Leave me alone. I have no use for Fear.

And if I get burned, get rejected, I'll have to convince myself to take a step back, detach my emotions, and assess the situation objectively and try again. You don't get to become a great chef without having been cut, sliced, jabbed, or burned in the kitchen. You don't get to become a financial tycoon without losing your shoes a few times first. You don't get to become the President without burning a few bridges.

We won't know the sweet nectar of success if we hadn't failed before.

There is nothing to fear but fear itself
- FDR, 1932

It was true then. It's true now. It will be true forever.

500 words, 26300 words total
295 days and 159200 words to go

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day 67

It used to be "easier" to invent stuff in the past. All you needed was to figure out what people needed or what would make their lives easier. Flushing toilets? A health syrup with some cocaine in it? Light bulbs? You automated something and you became filthy rich with your patents and licensing and what not.

Nowadays, it seems like people have everything they need. They just want something better. CDs have the best sound you can possibly get, but people want MP3s for portability, so the race now is to make lossless audio compression for portable media devices. A regular crapper is not good enough -- we now need ones that would clean your tush after you're done. Alarm clocks? We want one that will play your favorite songs in a new arrangements depending on your mood and what you have planned for the day...

I guess progress has always been that way. I'm sure when Mr. Crapper invented the crapper, people were kind of content with doing their business in a hole and burying it with straws. Before toilet paper, corn cobs worked just fine.

The truth is, we don't need what we don't know. The job of an inventor isn't only giving us what we want, but what we don't even know we want. They have to come up with new "needs."

In a way, that's what creativity is. What's the point of reinventing the wheels when people have seen it a million times before? Then you're just mass producing, like with toilet paper. But a great writer, I think, would create and invent something new out of the ordinary, even before everyone else realizes they want it.

To Kill a Mockingbird tackled racism from the point of view of a white southern girl. Lolita spoke of the unspeakable. The Da Vinci Code made us question the validity of religions. Jurassic Park posed the intriguing question of "what if we could re-create the past"? The Time Traveler's Wife made us realize love is, indeed, timeless.

Some writers tells me they never have a theme in mind when they write -- they just want to tell a good story with interesting characters. And that's certain fun and entertaining. Still, I would contend that great literature makes us think of the unthinkable, or provoke new thoughts and ideas, or believe in the unbelievable. I think that's the beauty of literature -- it can reflect on what we already know (about the human nature), or take us to out-of-this-world places with outrageous concepts that broaden our minds.

Is it egotistical to believe one can change the world with his or her words? Is it self-importance? I don't know, but I tend to think that my job as a writer is to entertain, enthrall, and enlighten. The first two, I believe, are inherent in a "good story" but the third element is what makes fiction really great, and I aspire to do just that. If that makes me an egotist, so be it.


---

Right now I'm writing a few scenes and my instinct is to get to the point and move the plot along quickly -- I guess I'm getting a bit impatient, trying to finish the book. :) That's what a page-turner is, right?

Then I got to think: slow down. It's not a race. Not every scene has to hit the mark plot-wise and reveal everything at the same time.

I was watching the TV shows Heroes and Flashforward and I realized how they revealed the plot slowly. Some scenes don't even make sense at first until later when the audience finally realizes what is going on, but it makes for a richer experience, and the intrigue/mystery/suspense (of not revealing everything at once) makes me want to keep watching and see where it's going.

So, how do you resist the urge to plow through the plot? How do you slow down but not too much to "drag"? Do you just write it, and then figure out how to slow things down/spread it out/expand it later in rewrites?


200 words, 25800 words total
298 days and 159700 words to go

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day 66

OK, I've officially fallen off the wagon. Since Monday I've only written a bit over 500 words on the WIP. That's not good, not good at all. So, right now, I'm about 3000 words behind my goal.

I'm not too upset about missing the word counts. I'm more upset about my lack of motivation to meet the challenge I set up merely two months ago, and I'd been doing great so far. And I could see how the problem started, too, like everything else: It was a small thing, first. Travel. Not feeling well. So I gave myself the permission to not write. Then it started to snowball into a pattern, and I gave myself every excuse I could find to not write anything. That was exactly the same way I ended up not going to the gym for over two years.

I'm going to pledge, again, today that I will continue with the challenge.

---

It's a fact that there are many judgmental people in the world. Perhaps I'm one of them. The thing is, we all judge others based on our own values. And the fact is unless we're walking in those people's shoes, we really don't know what is going on.

More often than not, these judgments make me very uncomfortable. "I hate this guy because... X Y and Z." I'm not a perfect person, and I make mistakes myself. So, my question is, if I did X and Y but not Z, or Z and Y but not X, am I also a bad person? Does that mean I and this person will never be friends because he or she has such a strong opinion on X Y and Z?

But then, why is it important for me to be liked by this person? Why shouldn't it be okay for her to hate me, or people like me? Is it my mission to have everyone like me? And what if they don't? Is it so bad?

The bottom line, to me, is that I've got to like ME. Everything else is rather irrelevant in that context. There will always be judgment, and people who judge us. There will always be people who don't like us for whatever reasons -- good or bad reasons, whether it's the colors of our skin, or our social statuses, or the way we lead our lives, what we do, what we believe in, what we want out of life. The question is: So what?

Focus on everything that is important to us. Focus on liking ourselves. Focus on people who like us for who we are. And hopefully, there is more than one, including ourselves.

500 words, 25600 words total
299 days and 159900 words to go

Monday, October 12, 2009

Day 62

I've been bad.

The "two months" mark slipped by and I didn't even notice. Not to mention I didn't write one word this whole weekend. I've been seriously bad. Oh dear. This is not good. That means I have to write 2000 words just to cover all that slack, and that's on top of the 500 for today.

I'm not happy about that.

I blame the bed (granted, I haven't really felt all that great this weekend, but that's still only an excuse).

500 words, 25100 words total
303 days and 160400 words to go

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day 58

Elizabeth Gilbert also talked of something that, I think, most authors have thought of at one time or another: Is the best of our career behind us?

Fear is human nature, and I think with every fear of failure there comes the fear of success. We all, especially we the creative type, have to deal with the possibility of failure all the time. Like Ms. Gilbert said: "No one would ask my engineer father what he would do if he failed being an engineer." But if you mention you're a writer or artist or musician, you're almost always assumed to fail. At least 99.9% of the time.

So, we're all used to the fear of failure. What if I suck? What if no one will want my novel? What if I'm just fooling myself that I can write?

There comes a time, though, in every professional's journey that they would cross a point where the possibility of failure is disproved and their worth as a creative person is validated: an acceptance, a published novel, a gallery show, a musical album...

Now what?

The thought of "I suck; I'm a fraud" never really goes away no matter how many times I've been published, or how many people have told me they liked my novel. The fear of failure has been replaced by a fear of success. What if this is it? What if what I've accomplished is the best I could do? What if the best of my career is already behind me?

It helps that my "success" is relative minute and irrelevant. A niche novel with a small publisher. Ptttpt, who cares? Ms. Gilbert's own concerns seem more realistic-- she's had a huge success with her last book; it was an overnight success (although there's really no such thing as an "overnight success," you know?) Her fear was that she would now be forever compared to the success of this book, and she might never top that.

My own fear is similar but different: I fear that the tiny accomplishment I had with The Pacific Between would be all I could achieve. It's like a heavy mash of fears, of both failure and success. That is the weight I carry as I write The Terrapin's Trail. It's probably better to have never been published, because at least I wouldn't have to pretend I'm a writer.

Irrational? Hell yes. Incapacitating? Not necessarily.

If anything, I think the fear pushes me to do even better, to prove that my fear is wrong. This is not the end of me. My best hasn't come yet. Not even close.

I like how Ms. Gilbert put it (and I paraphrase): It's not in our control whether our best is already behind us. It's not in our control whether our muses or geniuses or whatever you wanna call it will show up. What we can control is to show up and do our part of the job. And have fun doing it.

That's my intention as well.

1000 words, 24600 words total
307 days and 160900 words to go

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 57

Author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) spoke at TED on writing and "genius." (video here)

I really like what she had to say about creativity and "genius" (or muse, as some of us would like to refer to). In a way, I think a lot of writers do subscribe to that notion, that there's something mysterious and divine outside of ourselves that drives us toward these crazy creative endeavors and ideas. Most of the time, we are simple, "normal" folks who want and desire things everyone does, and who live their lives one day at a time. But during these mad "creative" bursts, I for one can attest that it's as if I was possessed. Ideas and thoughts would keep rushing in, and I often would slap myself on the leg and say, "Wow, that's brilliant! Why didn't I think of it before?" And then I would feel guilty because I don't feel like I can take credit for it. Logically I "know" all of that comes from me, my mind, my soul... but on a strange level, I feel like someone else has done that.

I've always said that my characters came to me -- they're not my "creation." But instead, they are like real people, or something, who just appear in my subconsciousness and call me and say, "I have stories to tell you." It's hard to explain but that's how I've always felt about my characters and their stories. I don't feel like I'm some kind of god myself, creating these characters and stories out of my own genius. More often than not, I feel like I'm borrowing these characters and their stories for my own good.

Like these couple of days, my characters are yelling at me because I've been balking at writing what they're telling me -- partially because what they've been telling is so intense, emotional, and intimidating. I doubt myself: Do I have the skills to tell their stories. But right now, they are still screaming at me: JUST TELL IT. Also, there would be times when I felt that the plot should go a certain way or my characters should act a certain way, and they would yell at me and say, "No, no, no. That's not what I would do. Just write it the way it should be, okay?" It's both frustrating and wonderful.

For example, yesterday I was thinking my character would not be able to resist the temptation he's facing and he would succumb to his urges. But then he screamed at me, "No, no, no. Of course I would be tempted, but that's not who I am! I have enough self-control to understand it's not what I want. I didn't come this far just to throw it all away." And he's right! And once I agreed with him, the rest of the plot just flowed like chocolate milk. It's delicious.


500 words, 23600 words total
308 days and 161900 words to go

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 56

Ooh, I really love it when my characters put me in a tricky situation.

See my main character is horned up, and here it is, a perfectly good prospect in front of him -- so what is he going to do? Does he give in to his primal urges, or does he honor his promise to someone who he may not see again?

Why are my characters torturing me?

I'lll need either another cup of coffee or a cold shower.


700 words, 23100 words total
309 days and 162400 words to go

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Day 54

I think most writing falls in the "good" category -- at least the stuff I'm willing to pay for. They're like a good meal. Satisfying, delicious even, but not quite "fine dining." But I can eat that all the time, or at least often enough and not get sick of them, since they're really good. Good writing is like that: they are page-turners, and I love them, but I don't necessarily want to read them, like, the next day.

Then there's writing that is GREAT, which is like gourmet "fine dining" food. They're so rich and textured and complex and delightful and scrumptious and simply divine that the minute you put the forkful in your mouth, you're in culinary heaven. They're so creative, insightful, delicate, yet layered and amazing. But you know what? I can't eat that every day -- to do so would be to make the extraordinary ordinary. They are treats. They're for special occasions. Great writing is like that for me -- sometimes I can't even finish the book, because I read it so slowly; I savor every word. I marvel at the sentences and I dream about them. But I don't rush through them like a hearty pasta dish. I take my time. Whenever I feel being inspired, I take them out and read them again.


600 words, 22400 words total
311 days and 163100 words to go

Friday, October 2, 2009

Day 52

Yet another "crash and burn" yesterday. I wonder what is happening with me -- this can't be normal, can it? I mean every single week. It's like a recurring theme. It's like my biological clock strikes at 3 P.M. on Thursday, and chimes, "Stop whatever you're doing. It's time to crash."

It's outrageous. I mean, I had a whole scene planned yesterday that I was so excited to write, and I only managed, like, 50 words before I started to feel really bad, like I was coming down with the flu or something. It was awful.

And why does it have to be Thursday? Why can't it be Sunday instead? Or even Monday -- since Monday is supposed to be crappy and awful. Why does it have to be Wednesday or Thursday, when I HAVE THINGS TO DO!

The good thing is, at least it's not Friday. It's Friday now and I feel just fine, ready to take on the world. The problem is, the weekend is looming, too, so my motivation level is down as well... it's like between the "crash" on Thursday and the weekend, I'm only motivated to work 4 days a week. I know, it's an excuse, but still it sucks. Why can't I crash on Sunday, on which I tend to take it easy anyway? That way, I can have at least FIVE fully productive days a week.

***

Don't you just love it on those days when the words just flow like beer? (Or beer that flows like water, for that matter) Not that those words are any better or worse than others, but they don't feel LABORED, not like I had to squeeze them out of my ass.

Words flow for me when I know the characters so well that they just act out the whole scene(s) in front of me. All I have to do is record what they do and let it play out. It's awesome. Feels like there's not much I have to do but to describe what I see in my mind's eye. I love it when that happens.

After a crappy day yesterday and a good session today, I feel like having sushi.

Raw fish... mmmmmm!


800 words, 21800 words total
313 days and 163700 words to go