October is winding down and that means National Novel Writing Month is peeking around the corner. November can be a great month to be a writer, but preparing for the month-long writing marathon can be a bit daunting. Personally, I never attempt to achieve the goal of writing 50,000 words during November, not with Thanksgiving celebrations and prep-work for Christmas shrinking my free time during the month. But I do enjoy being able to connect with other active writers who chase that difficult goal. NaNoWriMo is a great time to discuss writing strategies, conquering writer's block, planning vs pantsing, and a wide range of plotting, setting, and character topics.
I made quite a bit of progress on my working vacation, and now that I'm home again, I want to keep my momentum going. I cut in half the amount of chapters I have left to edit on my current WIP. Once I finish the last few chapters, I plan to do a final read-through before prepping for querying and pitching in December. I still have my doubts about this manuscript's quality, but then I do admit to having a perfectionist streak in me and needing to get over the fact I can't please everyone.
Many of us who engage in creative pursuits on top of having a day job and various social/family obligations can often find it frustrating trying to eek out enough free time to devote to our projects. When we do get free time, sometimes we struggle to utilize it. Creative blocks often come when we just don't have the energy to focus on our creative goals. But when the stars do manage to align and we have both the free time and the energy to create, we can fall into another problem. Sometimes we can become so immersed in our projects that we forget to take time for ourselves.
Recently, I have been reading two different books on the same subject. Both are memoirs in the form of short stories. One author started publishing his books (I've only been reading one at this time) after approximately two decades of experience. The other published after five years. For someone interested in the topic, both books are entertaining, but I find much more satisfaction in the storytelling of the elder writer. His writing has a beautifully reflective quality that results in a wonderful sense of humor, irony, and spirituality. I do not mean to say the younger writer's stories are not enlightening, but his storytelling does show his comparative youth. His focus gets wrapped up in the excitement of first time experiences and the relevant facts as to why these instances during his career brought him such joy. In essence, he is an adventurous nerd.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent several days with my DSLR camera, enjoying the spring weather and searching out wildflowers and migrating birds. I've captured some beautiful shots, found birds I don't often get a chance to photograph, and come across some things I had not thought to see at all. Some of my camera walks I've done as part of my job and so had been allowed to spend office hours reviewing and editing those photos. And during that time, I realized why I have a bad habit of putting off photo editing. Even if a day's set is well-composed and requires little time per photo during editing, it is still a very time-consuming process for me. And that can be quite frustrating.
Writers, when they are researching or building up character and plot details, can fall victim to too much information. Details can be key to creating a compelling and believable story, but at the same time, it's possible to have too much or too many.
Numerous people keep notebooks by their beds to record details of their dreams upon waking. There are various reasons why people take up this practice, but artists and writers who do this are often looking for inspiration for their projects. Sometimes putting nightmares into words or visual art or music can be cathartic for those who truly find them frightening. Those of us finding pleasure in horror genres may simply find nightmares too intriguing to resist sharing with the waking world.
March can be a frustrating time in western Pennsylvania. Spring weather intersperses with winter temperatures, teasing residents with the promise of warmth and sun one day only to have the next day requiring winter coats once again. Buds on the trees start to swell, and if the warmer temps stick around for too many days in a row, they may even start to grow leaves before the final snow of winter falls. Other signs of spring include the return of migratory birds, such as turkey vultures, killdeer, and red-winged blackbirds. And the spring peepers, a tiny native tree frog, have been singing for several days in the wetlands now.
Over the weekend I finally found a particular movie soundtrack selling at a reasonable price which I have been looking for over the course of several years (The Ghost and the Darkness, soundtrack by Jerry Goldman). I have mentioned before how I sometimes use music to help me find the mood for various scenes in my writing, and this soundtrack fits my inspirational needs for scenes in multiple projects. So I'm quite excited by the fact that I've finally been able to purchase it in a physical format.
I'm not a big fan of first person POV in storytelling, and many of my favorite stories feature an ensemble cast. This is because the characters I'm most drawn to are fence-sitters. They are not necessarily indecisive, but they do tend to play both sides of a conflict and keep multiple options open for themselves. I always hope they'll choose the protagonist's side in the end, but a good storyteller will keep you guessing throughout the tale.