Has anyone ever created characters that you just can’t let go?

My first year of NaNo was my first foray into novel-length writing. I came up with to lead characters, strong-willed, emotional Luciana, and reserved, level-headed Delaney, the main characters of my novel Curse of Ancient. They started out with relatively set personalities that didn’t change much throughout the story. I finished the novel, and beat the 50,000 word count goal. I liked the story. I liked the ending. And for me? That’s saying a lot.

Two months later, when I was beginning the editing process, a virus made my way into my old laptop. Everything had to be wiped. I had been able to print out probably about 80% of my novel, but I lost my ending. To say it was discouraging is a bit of an understatement. So I put the novel aside. I started on a different novel that November, and beat the goal, but never finished the story. I loved the characters I had created, but it just didn’t feel the same.

So I started editing a few of the chapters of Curse of Ancient. Just a few pages at a time, and it reminded me how much I loved those characters.

That’s the way it’s gone for the past two years. I’ll put the novel aside, work on a different project, but I’ll always come back to Luciana and Delaney. When I got stuck on last year’s NaNo, I pretty much scrapped the entire story and went back to writing shorts about my two other characters. And by this point, they had changed. They’re still the same characters, but so much better. There’s depth to their personalities now.

Even when I’m still working on other projects, I still love these characters so much.

I’m so glad that I didn’t just forget about these characters. I don’t know that I’ll ever go back and rewrite the end to their original story, but I’m certainly not done writing with them. Rediscovering these characters and how great they are has been one of my favorite parts of writing so far. It makes me curious if anyone has ever had a similar experience with characters that they’ve written? Are there characters that you just can’t seem to let go of?

Cheers!

Chelsea

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NaNo2016 Recap

So…

Nano did not go well for me this year. I continued working on one of my projects that I’ve been working on for a while now. I really enjoy working on the story, but I did not enjoy Nano this year.

That’s a tough admission for someone who has always loved writing, and, if I can say so, has always been pretty good at writing well in the face of a tough deadline.

It wasn’t fun, though. I’ve been working on the same plot that I started a few years back, and, though I still love the story and the characters, I just couldn’t make myself write anything most days. It took me until about half way in to figure out what was wrong.

I was forcing myself to write. I was forcing myself to do something, setting, honestly, unreachable goals for myself, and becoming more and more unhappy when I couldn’t meet those goals. Writing my story became just about as enjoyable as writing a twelve-page paper for a class that I hated.

At least I had to do the paper.

I started to dread the thought of coming home at the end of a (12 hour) day and trying to bang out almost 2,000 words every day. I started to resent my story and question everything that I had done up to that point. It got to the point that I considered scrapping the entire damn thing.

 To put that into perspective, this story is currently sitting at right around 97,000 words and about 300 pages in MS word. There are pages of back story work. There is a whole religious system, weather patterns, and season/crop cycles. I was working on a calendar!

And I got so frustrated that I nearly scrapped the entire thing.

But, thank God, I finally realized what I was doing. I was so focused on that magic number, on getting 50,000 words, that I forgot the entire point of NaNo, the entire point of writing for me.

To do something that I enjoy.

I write because I enjoy it and because I do it well.

That’s… not what NaNo felt like this year.

But, once I stopped focusing on my word count and started writing, just to write and not to meet a goal, I was so much happier again. Once I wasn’t thinking about how many words I was writing in a day, I was actually enjoying the words that I was writing again, however many there were, and that’s what matters to me. I want to finish this story, but I want to enjoy doing it.

I’ve been working on my story off and on again, regularly, since NaNo ended last year, and while I haven’t done as much writing, I’ve gotten a lot of other work done on it. And I’ve had fun doing it.

So, while I’ll probably do NaNo again this year, after 8 years, it’s become as much of a habit as anything, I’m not going to push myself as hard as I did this year. The point of NaNo is to have fun and write a story, not try so hard to meet a goal that you make yourself miserable in the process.

Finally, here’s genuine congratulations to everyone who met their goal with NaNo16, whether it was getting down 50,000 words, or just making sure that you managed to write a few words every day. You did awesome, and you should be proud. Everyone who simply took on the challenge should be proud.

Keep writing and have fun.

Cheers!

Mayuuya

Book Recommendation: Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes

Okay, so if you need a laugh for today, and you’re not too easily offended, this book is gold. A two of my friends and I have an interest in mythology (Norse, Greek, and Roman, Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 10.40.54 AMrespectively) and that might have been how I first came across this book. I honestly can’t remember, but I’m glad that I did. I had it saved on amazon for months before I finally got around to getting it. I wasn’t disappointed.

Just a warning, these are NOT the kinds of myths you read to entertain children. Which, really, wasn’t the point of myths and fairy-tales to begin with so…

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology

Summary: “Get this:

Cronus liked to eat babies.

Narcissus probably should have just learned to masturbate.

Odin got construction discounts with bestiality.

Isis had bad taste in jewelry.

Ganesh was the very definition of an unplanned pregnancy.

And Abraham was totally cool about stabbing his kid in the face.

All our lives, we’ve been fed watered-down, PC versions of the classic myths. In reality, mythology is more screwed up than a schizophrenic shaman doing hits of unidentified…wait, it all makes sense now. In Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes, Cory O’Brien, creator of Myths RETOLD!, sets the stories straight. These are rude, crude, totally sacred texts told the way they were meant to be told: loudly, and with lots of four-letter words.

Skeptical? Here are a few more gems to consider:

• Zeus once stuffed an unborn fetus inside his thigh to save its life after he exploded its mother by being too good in bed.

• The entire Egyptian universe was saved because Sekhmet just got too hammered to keep murdering everyone.

• The Hindu universe is run by a married couple who only stop murdering in order to throw sweet dance parties…on the corpses of their enemies.

• The Norse goddess Freyja once consented to a four-dwarf gangbang in exchange for one shiny necklace.

And there’s more dysfunctional goodness where that came from.”

-Summary from the book’s Amazon.com page

Genre: Humor

Author: Cory O’Brien

Publisher: TarcherPerigee

Comments: Okay, as someone who’s studied mythology on more than one occasion, I thought this book was hilarious. I can remember a trip with my best friend (the one who likes Norse mythology) to a certain large chain bookstore. We were looking through the children’s section (naturally) when we ran across a book of Norse mythology. For children. A children’s book of Norse mythology.

Um, what?

Stephanie and I stared at each other, then the book, in amazement and no small amount of horror.

“But… Loki… the horse… Sleipnir…”

The book explained that particular story by saying that Loki “made friends” with the horse.

Made friends.

Yeah, that’s one way to put it.

It made us laugh though. The complete watering down of mythology. Anyone who’s read any of the original myths knows just how sexual and, sometimes, crude the original stories can be.

This book doesn’t shy away from that. It tells it in an extremely funny way, that is, yes, crude. But the source material really isn’t any better.

The thing is though, funny and entertaining as it is, the book is accurate. The stories are told with a modern, summarized twist, but they’re the real stories.

Another thing that I love about this book is that the author doesn’t just hit the major mythologies (the Greek, Roman, and Norse that I mentioned above.) He includes early Judeo-Christian stories, Sumerian mythology, Japanese mythology, Native-American stories, African mythologies. The title “World Mythology” is actually true. Actually, Roman myths aren’t listed, but they basically stole everything, word-for-word, from the Greeks anyway, so no great loss there. Change Zeus to Jupiter, Hera to Juno, and Aphrodite to Venus, and you’ve got Roman mythology.

Though I would like to see the author’s take on some stories about the Romans. Nero and Caligula, anyone?

Also, as someone who’s had to read Gilgamesh more than once, the chapter on Gilgamesh and Enkidu is hilarious. Just the title of it cracks me up.

If you’re not easily offended, and you want something quick and funny to read, I definitely reccomend this. Definitely keep it away from kids, though.

Here’s the link on Amazon.com. (Links to the Kindle version)

 

 

 

NaNo 2015

I’ve actually decided to attempt NaNo this year. I don’t know how it’s going to do, with six classes and a lot of writing due for each of those classes, plus working, but I’m going to attempt it. I haven’t decided what I’m actually going to work on. I might just start writing on projects that I’ve already Printstarted and just keep a running word count of what I add to them.

There’s definitely some rewriting that I want to do on last year’s unfinished project “Ashes.” I’ve actually considered a complete rewrite, with changes to the core subject of the book. “Witch Queen” is still lurking in my head, waiting to be finished. Another project called “Shades in the Shadows” is unfinished, but it would take a lot of refining to be able to work on it and, even though I love the concept, I’m not sure I have the time to make it work.

I even have a piece that I haven’t started on. I’ve just written the summary for it. I’m not even going to consider that one at this point.

I just couldn’t stay away from Nano. After six years of participating, I just couldn’t not, especially after falling short of the goal last year. It’s all over my FB feed, and I just couldn’t help myself.

If you want to find me on the NaNo site, here.

Cheers!

-C

CampNano July 2015

So apparently CampNano has come quite a way since the last time I participated. Now, not only can you choose your own genre, you’ve got a much more varied selection of categories, including a “revision” option.

Huh.

Along with the fact that I can change my “word count” goal, I might just wait until July starts to start working on editing Ashes. One hour of editing equals 1,000 words, so I’m pretty sure I can find the time to do at least 25 to 30 hours of editing, even with class everyday and working.

And on that subject, does drawing a big, giant X over multiple paragraphs count as editing? Because that’s what I feel like doing with parts of this work. I’m going to wind up scrapping whole pages of this piece, I’m pretty sure. I’ve already taken out whole chunks of the outline. I’m also hoping to make the chapters shorter, too. When I put the current version of the document into the formatted 6″x9″ form, the chapters have gotten way too long.

So, at this point, I am giving serious consideration to doing CampNano. If anyone is interested in adding me as a friend there, or sharing a cabin, feel free to send me a message, either here or on there. My author name is MayuuyaHakusho there, too.

In other news, I have a new little writing area. I did away with my drafting table in favor of a writing desk, since I’ll get more use out of a desk, I think. The desk came from my grandmother, the same IMG_20150610_010524695one that passed away last november during NaNo, as did the two lamps on either side of it. It isn’t usually quite this cluttered, since I’m actually a bit of a neat freak about my work spaces like this, but I was working on several things at once when I took this picture. The little folded up things that are spread around on my laptop are a series of like 100 or so prompts that I found online and put on to little half size notebook cards then folded and put into a bag to use if I need them later.
The desk is a bit small, but it suits my needs for the time being.

Cheers!

Mayuuya

I’m Still Here!

So, I am still around.

These past few months, I didn’t have a lot of time for posting, and when I did have the time, I really, really didn’t have the energy to do so. This semester was extremely stressful, and I had two of the most hateful professors that I’ve ever encountered. Honestly, this was the first semester I’ve ever had nightmares about a class. I have another month before I start summer classes, so I’m trying to catch up on a few things that I put off, and hopefully blogging will be one of those.

Unfortunately, the stress of this semester makes be question this fall’s plans. Specifically, I’m not sure about being able to do NaNo this November. I’ll be a senior this year, and I have six classes, three of which are level 400s, and a fourth is a field work/research class which, as the name implies, includes field work along with a lecture portion. All of them are major classes, too, so they’re all classes I care about. I’m also applying to Grad School and getting ready for the GRE. I’ll also still be working part-time. That’s a lot to keep up with, and nano might have to take a backseat. Keeping my GPA up and getting into UT’s Masters program will definitely be my first priority, natch.

The idea of not doing Nano hurts, I have to admit. I’ve participated for seven years this year, and after coming so close last year (41,000 words), I’d really like to come in with a win. I also have so much that I’d still like to do with Witch Queen and Ashes, plus I have other ideas that have been sitting on the back burner for years, now. I just don’t know if it’ll be possible.

I would compensate by doing the July CampNano, but that summer class I mentioned starts on July 6, and is what’s called an “Intensive” course. It’s a semester’s worth of work in four weeks. Yeah. Probably not going to be getting much writing done with a French exam every five days.

However I decide, though, I still have a while . I’m going to spend some time writing on Witch Queen, and editing the crap out of Ashes, since I’ve decided that there are parts of it that I really don’t like. Once August rolls around and I settle into classes, I’ll make a decision whether or not I feel up to participating.

Either way, I’m still cheering everyone on! Good luck to anyone participating in CampNano next month, and, since I know I’m not the only one already thinking about November, happy planning and outlining!

Cheers!

Mayuuya

An Article on Blogging as Therapy

Okay, so very rarely do I post a blog two days in a row, but I felt that this one is worth sharing. I think its important to understand that writing (creatively, blogging, etc.) can be used for a lot of different things.

I actually ran across this article sometime immediately after it was published, and actually did a review on it for a childhood education class. I lost track of it, mainly since I hadn’t started this blog yet. I ran across it last night while I was working on article reviews for a current psych class. The article originally appeared in Monitor on Psychology, which is released by the APA, and the link goes to the article on the APA’s website. (the link to the article is at the bottom of the post)

I’ve personally always loved the idea of using writing in conjunction with more “traditional” therapy. In fact, it’s one of my goals in working towards my higher level degrees. I think there’s so much that can be done with writing therapy, and there’s a growing body of research that supports that idea. As the article says, psychologists have been encouraging the use of journals and writing for years.

And so blogging just seems to be the natural extension of that.

How many of us are online at least once a day? And how easy do sites like wordpress (and various other, not so great) sites make it easy to maintain, not just one, but blogs on as many subjects as you like? For me, it just seems to make sense. Yes, i know that there are hateful people on the internet, but there are also so many kind people who want to encourage others, whether it’s about writing, crafting, mental health, education, whatever.

As far as blogging about mental health, I think the article does a good job in pointing out that one of the biggest benefits to such a blog is the sense of community it can create. It can create that feeling of ‘No, I’m NOT alone in this,’ and that alone is so critical for anyone facing something challenging, whether it’s mentally, physically, or emotionally.

And like I said, I know that there are hateful people on the internet, and the author of the article knows that, too. Comments can be hurtful, but most, if not all, sites allow you the option to screen comments before they’re posted. You can also turn off anonymous comments, which will often cut down on a lot of the hate and troll like behaviour.

And at the end of the day, if there’s one negative comment compared to ten or twenty positive, supportive ones, well, maybe that’s an acceptable trade off. One person being an arrogant jackass isn’t the end of the world, though I realize that the comment can still sting, nonetheless, and I’m not dismissing that. ‘Sticks and stones my break your bones, but words can sometimes kill you,’ after all.

But there’s always the option of turning off the comments, if you’re truly concerned they might be an issue. The research points out that just putting the words out there on the blog is still beneficial.

http://apa.org/monitor/2014/06/blogging.aspx

Oh, and the quote comes from The Lucifer Effect, by Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, the experimenter behind the Stanford Prison Experiment.I encourage you to google it (the experiment itself) if you’re not familiar with it. Just don’t use google images.

Cheers!

Mayuuya