It is an undeniable fact that breaking into the entertainment business is a tough road. When most people talk about the “Biz” they are talking about show business – think film, television, and stage performing. In reality, entertainment is so much more than that. After all, outside of acting, there is comedy, music, and writing. Yes, I said it – writing.
I don’t understand why some people get pretentious about writing being referred to as a form of entertainment. We write to tell stories – true and fictional – and we may consider it to be “an art form of the highest caliber” but actors usually feel the same was about their craft. Try telling Mr. DiCaprio that what he does is frivolous in the face of your melodramatic memoir and see what he says.
The point is, most of the country’s population glamorizes the Biz and don’tchaknow, we’d all rather be “telling stories” and “playing around in front of a camera” than ringing up burgers at McDonalds and sweeping floors at the elementary school across town. Putting aside the fact that the Biz isn’t all fun and games, it’s incredibly difficult to break into.
You need, at the barest observational level, three main things:
If you are missing any one of these three elements, it ain’t gonna happen. Bada bing, bada boom, you’re done. If you’re like me and are void two or more, then you’re up sh** creek without a paddle. You might self-publish or make it a while in community theatre, but schweetheart, at the end of the day you’re still a waitress/dental assistant/accountant.
One of the first pieces of advice you will get from a literally agent, editor, publisher, and your mom will be that if you want to be a writer, don’t quit your day job.
But I won’t have any time to write!
Poppycock. You make time for the things you love. If you view writing with all the dread and time-consumption of your day job, it may not be a great fit for you. Yes, it is hard work. Besides finding time for writing and querying, you need to connect with a lit group, do your research, and maybe even take a few English, Writing, and Literature courses at your community college. Once you’ve done all that, you’ve got to edit, proofread, edit and proofread for the people in your lit group, make dinner, and go back to work in the morning. Writing, like any craft, requires a commitment. But it does not require going broke.
So listen to all those professionals and also you mom – write hard, write passionately, and get enough sleep so you can go to work in the morning. The life of a writing isn’t glamorous, but it’s a worthwhile one.
And hey, when you get your first 6-digit royalty check… quitting the day job and retiring to the Hamptons for a peaceful life of writing and beach-walking may be just the ticket.
For me, there is never a point where the story is over. Whenever I think I am writing the next chapter, I always know what is going to happen next. In the case of my latest NaNoNovel, The Eden Experiment, every time I reached my intended stopping point, it felt like I hadn’t told enough of the story. They power shut down because of the riots on the outside. Did I give enough “footage” of the destruction? They got back to the Garden. I finally ended the story with their promise that they would live out the five year plan, as they were supposed to anyway, before venturing out into the world again.
This wasn’t the finishing point, either, but for my purposes, it had to be. The problem is, to me, all these characters have lives and futures. They do not cease to exist after the five days of the story. This protagonist – Opal Finch – has a relatively bright future. She is going to marry her partner Erik in an unconventional, barefooted ceremony, and have two little boys. She is going to finish raising her little sister Rhian, who is going to grow up and become one of the leaders of the new world in her late adulthood. Her boys will explore what is left of America and discover food and other civilizations that outlasted their own and have not fallen into a state of chaos. Even when Opal is gone, her story goes on. But it would take a lifetime to tell her story… and of course, Opal is not my only character filled with life.
However, it is important that I step away from this incredible future and focus on the present. What is happening now to Opal and where is the ending of this chapter of her life? For me, I always choose an ending when things may not be perfect, but everyone is on good terms, and there is a sliver of hope. It’s not happily every after, but perhaps it could be. The problem with this approach, however, is that I always feel pressured to write a sequel.
How do you end a story that seems to go on forever? Do your characters take on a life of their own? Let me know in the comments below!
This is the fastest I’ve every ambled my way to 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo, and that includes last year where I stumbled over about 10k words in a day as Sparky excitedly discovered the delights of a traditional greasy diner.
This is one of the hardest parts of NaNo for me… when the word count stops being the central focus and my new goal becomes “oh crap, where is my ending and how do I hog-tie it before Thanksgiving?”. This is where, like in Strange, I see that I need to hurry things along and my descriptors fall off the face of the Earth.
My goal? Not this year.
I have discovered in a moment of pure delight that I am capable of writing 1050 words in 20 minutes when properly focused and motivated. That tells me there is no reason for me to stumble my way to the end like a zombie, grabbing for a few half-baked ideas to make sure my “once upon a time” gets tied to a “happily ever after”. I am a prolific writer when properly motivated, and I think that maybe, just maybe, I can give Opal Finch a little bit of dignity.
So, here it goes, blogosphere. 50k and counting. We’re going to make sure this one ends with a bang.
I came on here to write a post on how I am illogically participating in NaNoWriMo again until I saw my last post and went, Aww, last time I was here, it was also NaNoWriMo!
And then I scrolled down more. And discovered it was NaNoWriMo a few posts before that, too. After that, I came to a moment of self-realization: my blog is the place I go when I am procrastinating on NaNoWriMo.
I am okay with this. I think I enjoy a little procrastination, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t affect my word count. Yep, that’s right folks! I am a proud Six Time NaNoWinner! This means I am very good at piling up lots of words, and not much else. But hey. I can pile up words like a boss.
So, as per tradition, I am going to tell you about this year’s novel. It’s called The Eden Experiment. It’s sci-fi, based in a post-apocalyptic world, and the main character is named Opal. Things happen at the beginning which causes chaos to ensue, which leads her to a fork in her life path where is is given the choice to end her life, or continue forward in a rebuilding project run by scientists. She isn’t too hot on either of these but decides against the whole “dying” thing. More chaos ensues, but I haven’t written that yet, so I can’t tell you about it.
Also I will give you an image of the book cover that I created two years ago, because book covers are also tradition. I will be changing this, though, so you may get another cover later on.
Other than NaNo-ing, I feel the need to defend myself and say that the second draft of Strange went out to proofreaders this summer in a terrifying (for me) leap of faith and of the three copies I sent out, already one of them has come back. Which will lead me later in the month to discuss my appreciation and frustration alike in the editing process and the difference between how I edit verses how other people edit. Basically, lets just say that I think I should have been an editor at a publishing house because I am merciless. Mais c’est la vie.
I think I’m done with the writing procrastination now. I had a delicious Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake for breakfast, and it’s got me in a cozy, fall mood. I think I may make apple crisp now. Or, you know, do something useful. Like laundry.
Forcing myself to write a story under fierce deadlines with no forgiveness is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. Some days, it’s fun. I certainly enjoy the challenge, and I thrive for the weight of half-a-ream of paper, with words I have written, to sit in my hands. However, there a moments where I hate everything to do with writing, my characters, and I completely doubt myself.
I daresay that this term of Camp NaNoWriMo was the most difficult I have ever endured.
About halfway through the story, I realized that the plot line was very similar to another story, one which I was much prouder of, with far more development. Additionally, I struggled with the fine line of original story vs. fanfiction in this one. Typically, I go above and beyond the 50,000 word suggested goal – with Sparky Jones, I annihilated it at about a 20% increase – but the last week or so of my most recent work, there was a certain level of plodding along, for the want of a better word. I woke up at approximately 6:30am on July 31st with a mission in mind. You know what that mission was?
“Screw this. I just need to finish the novel so I can win. I’ll fix it later.”
Even as I was writing some of the worst writing I have ever contrived, I was unhappy with it. There is a sickening feeling about finishing a book and knowing you are capable of better. It’s like finishing a dinner, but serving it without beverages.
After much ado, I am not-so-proud to present Beyond the Silver Screen: the tale of Hattie, a flutist from the golden years, who finds herself running through sixty years of cinematic achievement in search of her friend, who seeks to breach the portal between fiction and reality.
Meanwhile, I rest at ease knowing that no NaNoNovel sees the light of day without my permission first, and she will be well edited before being released to any of my peers.
Have you ever found yourself in the position to choose between a deadline and preserving the quality of your work? What did you pick?
For all of my enjoyment and indulgence of X-Men, I have always hated Jean Grey, aka, Phoenix. This has nothing to do with Famke Jenssen’s performance in the live-action films. In fact, given her codename is Phoenix, you think I would love her. But I don’t. Why?
She’s too powerful.
Okay, so I know she has this whole tragic back story thing, but her telekinesis and telepathy is off the charts. Stan Lee really did a good job of keeping her in check through morality and the basics of control, but I just can’t get over the fact that if Jean Grey decided to, she could have us all floating in midair. Or fill us all with so horrible a depression that all humanity kills itself. Or she could take the Earth’s molten core and toss it as Mars for kicks and giggles.
Okay, perhaps I’m being a little dramatic, but I just don’t think that kind of power is warranted in a first-stage evolution.
That said, in allowing abilities to my empaths and psychics in Strange, I have limited them considerably. Because I don’t want a Jean Grey on my hands. However, it recently occurred me that there are a lot of ways to limit an individual’s power. And when I focus too hard on limiting my characters potential, well, it’s kind of boring. And maybe that’s why so many people like the Phoenix – because she has the potential to be a major badass and it’s scary and exciting. But in order to do that, she needs to overcome her own character faults.
Therefore, in writing miss Tuesday Milano, I’ve decided to allow for a few exceptions. Her power shouldn’t cripple her all the time; she’s grown up with it and has learned, through torment mostly, a bit of control. Sure, some things literally blow her mind. But Tuesday is anything but weak.
She’s the girl that will teach everyone not to judge a book by its cover. So I had better stop worrying about the Phoenix effect and let her live up to her potential.