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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Different Forms of Writing



Nighthawk
Set Notes:
                As this is a monologue and takes place in a vague space that changes with Jeanie’s mental space, there are no props or set pieces. The lighting should be sparse, mostly dark with a spot on Jeanie as she walks, except where noted otherwise. If desired, however, a screen could be placed upstage center behind Jeanie as she talks, and I have noted ideas for images that might play on the screen to add visual dynamic. It is noted as optional because it is merely added effect and is easily removed.

Jeanie Brosnan
(Jeanie, a 44 year old single woman with an aversion to people and a habit of sarcasm, is standing upstage, looking at her hands. There is a spotlight on her. She addresses the audience as if talking to a new friend.)
I’ve got this throbbing in my fingertips and I’m not sure what it means.
It started in only one finger, I think it was my pinky
on my left hand
but now I don’t know how to make it stop.
It started in my sketching hand, which was bad enough
because it made holding a pencil difficult
and I don’t have time to wait for it to subside because images are fleeting,
you know? Birds fly away.
But then it spread to my bird-watching hand and that’s more annoying
because the throbbing is distracting and
when you’re holding binoculars for hours on end it can get painful.
And if you drop the binoculars at that crucial moment
when you’ve got the beautiful plumage in crisp
Technicolor focus
it’s a moment that slips and breaks away and is lost forever.
I don’t know what this means for my birding life
if I can even call myself that yet.
I feel like I am on the cusp,
the tween of the birding world:
more serious than a bird-watcher but not quite accepted into that society, you know?
The society of birders, of avid avian fanatics;
the community invested in the winged and the feathery,
who gather in the dense woods and
line up at the edge of the sounding sea .

I’m not exactly there yet.
Not that it matters much to me,
Lately I haven’t been one for societies.
I’ll let you in on this secret, since you’ve been so kindly
listening to me whine
(that’s the nature of the hypochondriac, and I’ve been one all my life):
People as a whole tend to have this horrible habit
of just letting you down.
(She turns on her heels and paces stage left, then stops and puts her finger in the air with the air of a storyteller)
Elnora Brown first taught me this valuable lesson in the 7th grade
and I would thank her for it
if she hadn’t punched my nose in,
“doing me a favor because it was too Jewish before,”
outside the girls’ locker room,
which I remember because my blood got on the lockers
and I had to clean it up.
When just the day before
she had smiled at me in the hallway,
said “Hello, Jeanie,”
under the watchful gaze of the hallway monitor;
but that’s how people are. Just when
you think you’ve reached solid ground
they shove your little dingy off into
the crashing waves again.
(She sighs and casts her gaze out above the audience, as if recollecting from a far-off memory. The stage lighting assumes a bluer cast, as if night, with silvery undertones like the glow of the moon.)
That night after my mom had patched it up she wanted to sit by me
as I slept
and make sure that I could breathe properly,
make sure that the white bandage and purple swelling
didn’t constrict my breathing.
But I told her that I wanted to be alone.
That night I first looked out of my window
at the deceptively calm night
and guess what I saw?
A nighthawk!
For a fleeting second, I saw it flit past,
dive to the ground, out of view, in chase of some bug.
Such a little bird, but such incredible speed.

Then I heard the characteristic boom,
(The boom of a nighthawk’s wings is heard- it is less like a concussive boom and more melodic in nature, almost a whistling of wind past something heavy. Optional: on the screen behind Jeanie, a nighthawk plunges from a great height only to pull itself out of the dive at the last second.)

the sound of its wings pulling it out of that dive
and I had no idea what it was, so I looked it up
in an anthology we had lying around, luckily for me.
There’s still a spot of blood in that book,
but in my excitement I don’t think I even knew I was bleeding.
I like to think of that night as the beginning of my bird-watching,
though it took me many more years to return to that calling
because as a young child I hadn’t lost that adorable innocence.
(Her gaze is fixed back on the audience, harsh, and her voice is bitter, edged with poison. The nighthawk footage fades away but the lights remain darker and blue.)
But oh, that innocence had to chip away sometime.
Todd Woolsey saw to that. Todd Woolsey, with the beautiful blue eyes,
and the winsome smile, and the toned arms,
and the deep tan, and the meaty hands
that wrapped around my wrists,
and the slightly crooked Cupid’s bow
that turned up in a sneer when he called me ‘bitch’.
I was twenty- three then. I hadn’t been called a bitch since
the petty days of high school. I thought all that
was behind me but the word still stung,
smarted in my embarrassed cheeks.
 I don’t think I cried that night
after he allowed me to leave his car
after stealing a kiss I didn’t want to give.
I think I was busy breaking down all of the stupid columns
that supported my faith in people. I was deconstructing
the logic I used to continue deluding myself into trusting
these people that only tried to hurt me.
I don’t remember any tears on my face when
I looked out my window again,
at the cloudy moon, obscured by the leafy branches of an oak tree,
and stared right into the lunar gaze of a Great Gray Owl.
(Optional: On the screen displayed behind Jeanie a pair of great yellow eyes open slowly and stare out at the audience, or perhaps a Great Gray Owl’s head swivels around to stare)
They’re not common in Colorado, you know.
Sightings do happen, but I think I was meant to see him that night.
He gave a hoo, the most beautiful, haunting sound you ever heard;
it’s true, I remember it.
(She pauses and looks straight out at the audience with a small smile on her face. A Great Gray Owl’s call is heard, maybe once, twice, and then fades away- with it, the image of the eyes. Jeanie smiles broader.)

And then he flew away, and his wings were massive.
I was astonished. Astounded. I went out the next day and
bought a pair of cheap binoculars and a book on birds.
It was just a hobby then,
a weekend thing when I didn’t feel like reading.
(The convivial, friendly atmosphere returns. The blue lights fade back into the simple spotlight on Jeanie. She is enthusiastic, eyes aglow)
But now, after so many years of stories and getting so angry,
the strangers who stare at me on the street
because of the binoculars swinging from my hips
and my frizzy hair
I know what I really want! I’m going to be the best
birder you’ve ever heard of.
If you can’t impress them, beat them.
This weekend I’m going to get a camera,
just a little digital thing, but I can’t always get the birds
on paper quickly enough.
I’m going to learn all of the birdcalls. Just listen;
(She composes herself, closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and clasps her hands together. She then brings them to her mouth and lets out a low, throaty whistle, modulated by opening and closing her hand on top of the other. It is obviously amateurish but she is enthralled. As her birdcall is ending the call of several other common barn owls is played over the sound system, further away, distant.)

Did you catch that?
It was the common barn owl! I bet you’d have recognized it if you lived in the country.
I’m going to learn how to do even more,
and then when I flip through my sketchbook and
see all the beautiful birds I’ve seen,
I’ll also be able to remember how they sounded. 
(She begins to lose herself in a daydream, strolling slowly through imaginary forests, her right arm tucked at her side as if carrying an imaginary sketchbook. Dappled golden spotlights fade on, the briefest suggestion of a forest, and she is smiling. Optional: on the screen behind Jeanie, the trunks of many trees as if seen from regular height while walking through a forest.)
I’ll get out into the wilderness
all by myself, just me and my sketchbook, and my binoculars,
and of course, all of the avian wonders that await me.
I’ll sit by a tree in a folding chair-
or maybe just on the ground! Who cares?

And I’ll stare up and up with my magnified vision,
catch the sound of flapping wings and low whistles.
And I’ll fill up my sketchbook with those birds,
flying and perching and swooping and calling;
it’ll be bliss.
 (She stops her gentle stroll, dropping her arm to her side. Her expression is once again somber. The dappled lights begin to fade away, as does the image on the screen if present, leaving only her spotlight, as she talks.)
And the best thing is,
I don’t need people to do it.
I’ll be on my own, independent,
happy in my own right.
I’ll never again have to deal with people and
their lies and
their petty grievances and
grudges. Always begrudging me for one thing,
if not another.
Always smiling when what they want to do is strangle you.
I’m done with that.
There’s something freeing in being happy without them.
It seems daunting now,
that dark forest and the seclusion.
But I know when I get there I’ll feel different.
I know the magic will come back
and the birds will take me under their wings.
I can escape into the trees and the birdcalls,
watch the misty mornings turn to golden afternoons,
and even the night will be no obstacle
because I’ll have friends in the wise gaze of the owls
and the plunging nighthawks. We’ll dance.
(As the daydream fully leaves her, she is returned, frustrated, to the ‘real world space’.  She tries, forcefully and with a touch of the earlier bitterness, to convince herself that her dream is attainable.)
I’ll never have to return to people again.
No one will miss me. And I won’t miss anyone either.
My parents, shriveling away in that
cage of a retirement community;
they won’t even notice I’m gone.
What did they say when I told them
I wanted to go to Colorado Springs
and stake out a spot on the central flyway?

“You’re an adult now,” they said,
“Do something useful with your life.”
What, like sitting around
whining about the temperature?
The highlight of their week is when
they venture outside and take an assisted
dip in the pool.
My friends? What friends?
I don’t have friends. I don’t need them, either.
I like to think that the woman at the bookstore,
Ellen, I think her name was,
will miss me a little bit. I think she knew me
as the crazy bird lady. Better birds than cats.
But that’s no friend.

Significant other?
Don’t make me laugh. That ship sailed long ago.
But I’m not bitter.

I have the birds,
and my graphite,
and the feel of binoculars banging on my thigh,
and my sun-dappled forest.
That’s all I want. That’s all I need,
complete separation from that noisy,
abrasive, grueling company
of people.
(There is a pause. She is spent, her rambling leaving her at a loss. After a beat, she looks back down at her hands, wonderingly.)
That’s why I’m so worried about this
damn throbbing.
It’s like a heartbeat,
ba-dum, ba-dum
tying me here to society. I can’t get away from it.
What is causing it? I looked it up on the internet
but I only got hits for arthritis.
I’m not that old, yet.
What if it doesn’t go away?
There’s no room in the forest
for my birds and my binoculars
and this throbbing.
(The light in her eyes, whatever was left, dies. She drops her head and holds her hands, palms up, a foot or so from her face. Then she stares helplessly at the audience.)
I’ll have to go to a doctor.
He’ll have to fix this. Or I’m finished.
He has to save me.
And then set me free,
let me grow wings and fly to
the one thing I want:
to be alone in the forest
with the booming nighthawks.
(A nighthawk call, buzzy and harsh, fills the air as the lights go down. It echoes, and then is joined by the sweeter calls of other birds; sparrows, thrushes, accompanied by the rustling of leaves. Jeanie’s last expression is one of loss.)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Endings Before Beginnings

This blog post is, wait for it...

NOT about my novel. Gasp. No, instead, it is dedicated to a flash fiction challenge posed by Chuck Wendig of the fantastic blog Terribleminds. He swears a lot so he's right up my alley and I highly recommend his internet diary. 
The challenge was to write the ending to a novel that doesn't exist in around 1000 words. I was excited about this because I've had an ending line stuck in my head for awhile, but NaNo made me focus on other things and I never had the time to figure out it could be built around. But now that I'm free of NaNo's clutches, this was a fun way to get in my writing exercise. Enjoy and let me know what you think! 

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What A Strange Cat

                There was a quietness in the snow drifting down from the sky outside, visible only in the glow of the streetlamps, so Hazel decided to play the Christmas music softly. Her mother looked up questioningly when she entered the living room, dominated by the tree standing bare and verdant by the back windows. She was sitting on an ottoman with her elbows on her knees, draped over the skirt of her dress, and the rims of her eyes were slightly reddened.
                “Well, we still have a Christmas tree to decorate,” Hazel said, dropping a box of ornaments by the couch. Her brother, his deep brown eyes tired and sad, looked out of the window.
                “It’s snowing out.”
                “I know.”
                “Maybe he found a place to sleep,” her mother piped up.
                “He probably did. He’s a smart cat.”
                Hazel allowed their words to wash over her, to comfort her like they were meant to. She knew that even though odds were she would never see Raphael again, at least in the meantime she had her family. At least now they were talking to each other, even if it was awkward. Still, the absence of a furry ball rushing around the house and rubbing against her legs was an almost physical pain. Hazel could imagine Raphael skirting around the tree, sniffing at the strange intrusion before stretching his ginger claws up to the first branch and tearing at it, and she felt tears well up in her eyes.
                “There’s more boxes in the kitchen,” she sniffed, nonchalantly wiping at her eyes as if dabbing at stray makeup. Allan got up instantly and her mother glanced at Hazel, at a loss for what to say.
                “I’m sorry about Raphael.”
                “It’s okay, mom. Thank you for helping me look for him, anyway.”
                “Of course.”
                The beginning strains of “O Holy Night” could be heard wafting from the speakers on the floor, and Hazel sighed.
                “You know, Hazel,” her mother began, and she was looking at her maroon velvet heels as she spoke. “It’s not like I’m clueless to my behavior over the last couple of years.”
                Hazel stared at her mother, seeming small and meek now on her little ottoman, adrift on an island in the sea. It was a side of Grace she hadn’t seen before, so used was she to the flinty glares and barked orders, the professional suits, the hard set mouth. Her dress made her look softer.
                “I know I haven’t been the best mother. I should have been there for you during the divorce instead of judging you. I know it’s been hard on you. I’m just sorry I didn’t see that until a little while ago.” Her mother’s voice was dangerously close to cracking, but she stood up and grasped Hazel’s hand in hers. The snow fell gently outside and coated the hard ground.
                “It’s okay, mom, you've already apologized.” Hazel said hesitantly, not sure how to react to this woman, the mother she’d hardly known as an adult, as an equal, breaking down in her arms.
                “No, it isn’t,” and tears began to slip from Grace’s eyes and course down her lined cheeks. “I should have been impartial, nonjudgmental, but I turned on my only daughter and I can’t ever forgive myself for that.”
                “But I can,” said Hazel, and she put her other hand on top of her mother’s. “You messed up, but that’s what parents do. Don’t worry about it, mom. I’m okay.”
                “Are you sure?”
                “I am. I love you, mom.”
                “I love you too, Hazel. Merry Christmas.” The hug was unexpected and warm. Hazel could feel her mother’s bony shoulder blades through her dress, could feel the weight on her shoulders.
                “Let’s do this,” Allan said, reentering the living room with another box in his hands and grinning broadly. “For Raphael.”
                “For Raphael,” echoed Hazel, and a wan smile made its way to her face. She took the top off of the box and shifted around its glittery contents. After a moment she pulled out from the bottom a fragile glass ornament, dangling from a gold ribbon looped around her fingers. The glass cat sparkled in the bright lights and twirled slowly.
                “This has to go on first,” she said, holding the ornament high and getting to her feet.
                “Wait, wait. I believe there’s a tradition we’ve been neglecting for couple years now.” Allan placed his box on the ground and disappeared into the kitchen, returning with a bottle of Bailey’s and three shot glasses clinking between his fingers. He passed them out and his mother began to laugh.
                “We started doing this when you two were young and you were always so mad we gave you chocolate milk instead.”
                “Well now I can participate like a real adult,” he said mischievously, filling up each glass with the thick cream. “I was ticked off we were all too busy fighting when I turned twenty-one to have a family Christmas because I was looking forward to it.” Though he meant it playfully, his comment sobered up the room. Hazel glanced around at her family.
                “I’m sorry. About everything.”
                “I’m just glad we’re all together now, like a real family,” said Grace with a smile.
                “To family,” said Hazel, lifting her glass and watching the cream swish around.
                “To family.” Glasses were tipped and everyone let out a tiny sigh as they were plinked back onto the coffee table. Hazel, with a warm buzz building in her stomach, slipped the glass cat onto one of the highest branches of the majestic tree. The cat was frozen mid pounce, and as it twisted back and forth for a little while it looked to Hazel like it was readying itself to jump from branch to branch with the fluidity of a lithe hunter.
                Then it steadied itself, a glittering drop of ice-like glass in the middle of the dense branches. Hazel stared out of the window, not quite ready to delve back into the box of ornaments and memories, tracking the progress of individual flakes of snow as they fell in and out of the light. Her family bustled around behind her and the Christmas music drifted underneath it all, made the room feel pleasantly busy, especially when compared to the stark and lonely Christmases of the past. The Irish cream warmed her chest and she smiled out at the powdery night, glowing even in the darkness because of the reflective snow.
                There was a rustling in the bushes below the window, and to her surprise a gray squirrel shot out and bolted across her backyard, disappearing up a barren and snow-covered tree. She laughed as it zig-zagged around the branches, its bushy tail waving about wildly to help it balance. And then a furry little face was staring at hers and meowing in the chilly air.
                “Oh my God!” Hazel scrambled for the latches of the window and hoisted it so quickly it dislodged from its old, worn tracks. A ginger paw stepped delicately onto the windowsill, followed by twitching ears and whiskers with flakes of snow clinging desperately before they melted in the heat of the room.
                “Raphael?”
                He jumped lightly to the floor, landing with a thump, and looked up at Hazel with his amber eyes before parading right over to the tree and giving the bottom branches an experimental bat. Everyone stared at him, dumbfounded.
                “Where was he? All this time?”
                “We’ll never know,” replied Hazel, laughing and putting a hand to her mouth. The cat, the little furry source of so much stress and worry over the last week, the cat who had inadvertently brought together a family for the holidays for the first time in years,  began a trip around the room, rubbing against legs; whether from affection or in order to dry himself off, Hazel couldn’t tell. Then everyone was laughing and bending down to pet him, to listen to his purrs and grateful meows.
                “What a strange cat,” said Allan eventually, with a gentle smile.
                And he was.
                

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sad Dollars

In philosophy class, as we struggled to stay awake and keep our drooping heads from wilting to our desks like winter flowers, my... eccentric teacher (let's call him Russ*) paced around the room explaining monism. I can't tell you what monism is, because all I wrote in my notes was "monism: livin' in a material world, and I AM A MATERIAL GIRL do do dododo do do".

The face of monism.

But despite my apparent delirium during that lesson I can still remember a question posed rhetorically in tones that belied a further point in mind (which, I confess, I probably tuned out): "If I were to offer you a pill that would basically turn you into a robot, sapping you of all emotions good and bad, would you take it?"
Now, I'm not going to debate the merit of this question because the obvious answer is no. But I am willing to bet that each one of us has different reasons for denying that opportunity.

I'm sure most of you are thinking of some pansy reasons like love or family or 'positive emotions are worth the negative emotions' or some other bullshit.  That's bullshit. I already said that.

Well, it's not bullshit. Those are valid reasons and I agree with them. But as I briefly ran the question through my mind before falling back asleep on the comfortable metal top of my desk, I realized that there was a secondary motivation lurking beneath the obvious. I found myself wondering what having no emotions would do to my writing, and felt appalled when I realized it would basically erase my ability to write creative prose.

Writers deal in emotional currency, dollars of ecstasy and sorrow and the tiny coins of loss, jealousy, subplots. Without emotions I would have to way to play with the emotions of my readers. In my opinion, being an empathetic person is the best path towards writing successfully; to understand the emotional pain and joy of others is to be able to recreate it and use it for the advancement of your theme, to be able to create characters that feel and bleed and evoke emotions in their readers as well.

There is a place in writing for technical skill, for an immense vocabulary and grammatical constructs and knowing when to use "as if" instead of "like" ("as if" if the next clause contains a verb). But there is also a place in writing for using the death of your character's mother to tug at the heartstrings of your reader for the purpose of advancing an agenda or an end (I firmly believe a novel without a theme is just fanfiction full of OC characters- and that's the worst kind of fanfiction).

So, friends, I would never give up my emotions. Partly because I love you (yes you), but partly because giving up my emotions would force me to give up on writing, and, if there's anything I've learned from this crazy month, it's that I can't give up on that.

Introspectively yours,

Abby

*Russ is his name.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

That's right, ya'll.
It's the 27th day of November, a full three days ahead of schedule, and I've finished NaNoWriMo. I've written 50,052 words in 27 days, give or take a couple days where I wrote nothing at all and then made up for it with 3K sprints (and, today, a 5K sprint).

It's been a crazy whirlwind of a month- some days. I'd love to get introspective, but I'm saving that for later (I have a post written out already, don't you worry). Right now I just want to brag and maybe do a little dance. Or, I would, if I wasn't so tired.


Here's my month, boiled down to some fancy stats provided by the NaNoWriMo website. I've been looking at that motherfucking bar graph all month, wishing it was a line graph because the little stunted bars that failed to reach the goal line pissed me off so much.

I guess the bars that rise majestically above it, though, make up for that.

As you can see I wrote the bare minimum for awhile as I got back in the swing of writing. The first day I struggled insanely, barely met the goal, allowed fleeting thoughts of giving up to swirl around. But then around day 10 I hit my groove, and suddenly writing 1,667 words a day seemed ridiculously easy. Indeed, the only problems that arose were the days when I was absolutely too busy to write a word- happened more often than I remember- and then I was in a hole for the next day.

The last week, fittingly, was the most hectic, because of the two days I mentioned before that I skipped. I wrote about 2K a day on average to catch up, and over the past few days I've been a maniac; 3K, 3K, 5K, finish. And what a finish.

The 50,000th word was "I'm", which is super lame, but before I added some more words to beef up a confusing sentence it was "like" which was terrible. That means nothing, though, because I edit as I go and I am very likely to go back and add a scene or two if I think I missed something, even before I'm finished writing the plot.

So where do I go from here? Well, I'm going to take a well-deserved break for a couple of days to finish my college essays, and then I'm getting right back on that Word document, which has been open perennially. I don't think I'll close it. I still have probably another 50K to go before the book is finished; to be honest, I haven't got a definitive middle picked out yet, so I could spool it out for hundreds of pages if I wish. I just might, if only to make the editing process even more hellish.

And then there's editing, and then there's a finished product, hopefully, eventually. There's still a long road to travel and then retrace my steps and cut down the weeds that grow along the way, but I've got nice-ass hiking boots and a stick and everything so I'm all set and rearing to go, and also ready to retire this hiking metaphor because seriously, who hikes? Ew, nature.

I'll see you all in a day probably because now I'm addicted to writing.

SUCCESSFULLY YOURS,

ABBY
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

I Am the Hipster

~43,000 words into NaNo with four more days to go, I've officially morphed into the hipster. It has happened; I am the hipster, they are the hipsters, I am the girl sitting on a couch writing a novel to Belle & Sebastian Radio on Pandora with a bit of French influence and a stuffed owl sitting next to me.

The only bit of non-hipsterness I have clung to is my thorough rejection of most tea. To be fair, I tried very, very hard to like it, simply for the hipster factor (well, more the artsy writer factor), but I have trained my taste buds to despise any flavor besides sweet, so nearby is a steaming cup of hot chocolate provided to me by one of my NaNoSwap partners and Oreo pie from Thanksgiving.

I'm trying to be very chill about the next week, because I am caught up on my word count for now and the endgoal seems almost laughably within reach.

But that would be too easy! Indeed, the world chuckled at the suggestion of an easy finish and instead decided to throw back in the stress of college. For, by next Friday, I need to turn in all of my college applications (I might not turn in Tufts or George Washington until later because I'm not dead set on those colleges and I'll be damned if I let them get in the way of my novel).

Oh, God. Zooey Deschanel has made a wild appearance on this radio, and worse, I recognized her voice before I even saw that it was her. Ready for the kicker? I'M NOT SKIPPING IT. It's calming and cutesy and twee and whatever, okay? I'm writing a novel, don't judge me.

Zooey would never judge me because she is a carefree manic pixie girl with no emotions except love and sparkles.

Jeez, the song just used the word "ephemeral". I don't even care. And now we're into Italian folk music. I highly recommend this station.

Anyway, I'm refusing to get this stress get to me. The only acquiescence (+110 word nerd points for guessing that was a real word) I have allowed myself to make is giving up League for the week, which is really hard because all my friends and I are talking about now is a ranked team. This is the proverbial fork in the road where I choose between pursuing a career in writing or being a professional League player. (Notice how neither requires a college education? WHY AM I GOING TO COLLEGE.)

Aaaand, the buzzer attached to the metal collar around my neck is going off. If I don't get back to writing soon it will fatally electrocute me. That, I swear, is the only other way I've shown weakness. Other than that I am a productivity machine.

Bzzzzzt'dly yours,

Abby

Friday, November 23, 2012

here it comes

Here comes the dispensal of grammar and words that are actually words, dispensal is a word thank you Blogger spell check. I am officially 3,000ish words behind schedule because of a series of really busy days even though right now I can't remember what I did over any of them and I also can't remember where my legs are because long ago they were either replaced by or fused with this blanket. God I wish these words could count towards my NaNo words.

Anyway I wanted to finish earlier, by November 28th, because I bring HOLY CRAP COMMERCIAL OW. Pandora commercials are the worst; you shouldn't be allowed to interrupt the soothing tones of Simon and Garfunkel with your enthusiastic ad for Dance Central. I want to throttle that voice actress. Because I leave for Northeast festival the 28th and I'm not sure I'll have time to write, let alone catch up if I'm behind. But if I'm to finish in five days I'd need to almost write 5,000 words a day, which is totally made up and a blind guess because my brain is a giant hole of suck right now, but it's probably in that ballpark. You can imagine how my prose is going.

You know what, no, even Hall & Oates are not allowed to have a commercial on Pandora. Can I get an injunction going? What the hell is an injunction? I'd google it if I had the motor skills to work a mouse right now.

My brain is mush; why? Well, suspiciously structured sentence, I decided for some ungodly reason that going out not only at midnight on Black Friday but then staying up until 5 AM (oh yes, sleep is for the weak) and going out to a different mall for five hours. So I was up for about 26 hours straight, came home to take a nap, went through a dream black hole vortex that ate my brain function and made me wake up in three hours to a pounding head and phlegm all up in my throat tube, you're welcome for the image. All I wanted to do was go back to sleep, but I was forced to get up by the presiding anxiety that I didn't have a body and that three days had passed. Also, I was 5,000 words behind.

So now I'm sitting here with an aching head and owlish eyes and a father looking at me rather concernedly. In case you were wondering, I did shop fairly well at Black Friday and it was a lot of fun going with my friends, but holy balls, what was I thinking.

This seems to be a common trend.

What am I doing-ly yours,

Abby

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rocky VI: Balboa Writes a Novel

It seems like November is flying by.

It's almost alarming, the rate at which December is swiftly approaching. I have so much writing on my plate it's difficult to think about anything else; the date in my mind has hovered around the 7th or the 10th for awhile now, refusing to note the march, or rather quick-step, of time.

Let me list for you the writing I need to finish by December:


  • 19,397 more words of my novel
  • An essay on rationalism (this is due on Tuesday)
  • Two essays for Boston University
  • Two essays for George Washington University
  • Various installments of the research paper due for my capstone (which is also this novel- why I have to write a research paper on writing a novel is beyond me)
  • Two short essays for Tufts University
  • An essay for University of Southern California
I'm beginning to feel like Rocky, an underdog up against all of the work life is throwing my way. That's how Rocky was, right? He was a writer? I haven't seen the movies but I know the gist.

This list is more for me than for you; I'm sure none of you care about my workload. But if I don't get more organized soon, I'm bound to drop the ball somewhere, and I'm absolutely determined to keep all of my balls.
Don't pretend you weren't thinking it.

One unexpected boon, however, is that after writing massive amount of words every day (I've skipped at least two days that I remember, of course, but they were usually followed by 3K+ marathons the day after- like today) the piddling 250 word essays seem almost comically short.

Doesn't mean I want to do them. Right now, my novel eclipses everything in my eyes, which is dangerous because it is a total fantasy that this will turn out to anything good or remotely publishable. I would never expect my first-ever novel to be anything good. But since writing is what I want to do with my life this seems like the most important first step, way ahead of college.

Of course, since writing is what I want to do with my life, it follows logically that I should get used to writing all kinds of things, including college essays. The conundrum.

I'd like to post an excerpt for you all, but since my character still has not gotten her lazy ass out of her house and on the road, nothing jumps out as especially important.

Exposition-heavily yours,

Abby

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Halfway There and Post Offices

WELL, WRIMOS!

It's that time of the month again- no, I don't mean that time of the month where I curl up into a sobbing ball on the floor and curse all of the men in the world- it's November 15th.

This is the day where, in the paranoid, dark landscape of my mind, hopeful Wrimos are judged on their novel's progress, for it is exactly halfway through the month. And, following obvious logic, I should be halfway through the 50,000 wordcount goal.

And guess what? I TOTALLY AM.

Shutterstock really captures my life perfectly. 


I am not halfway through my novel; it's actually only getting started. But I have officially reached 25,000 words- 25,072 to be exact.

 My 25,000th word was "Thank" and, fittingly, that's what I want to do right now: thank all of you. I want to thank my friends for understanding (most of the time) when I tell them that I would love to hang out, or interact with them during a free period, or talk, but I really must write. I'd like to thank my teachers for sort of begrudgingly accepting, if not understanding, that I would love to participate in class but I really must write.

And though I'm still not sure that there are any of you, but for the invisible masses reading my blog, I'd like to thank you for reading even though, while I would love to update more consistently or with funnier posts, I really must write.

And though I really must be writing (lies, I'm going to play several victory games of League because that is how professional authors work, trust me, I've asked around), I'm going to share with you a fun story about my day yesterday. It is a story that involves social anxiety (as does almost any story involving me), sassy Postal workers, and car tricks. Have I hooked you successfully? I am such a good writer.

If there's anything you should know about me, it's that I am an incredible procrastinator and possess an almost sloth-like level of laziness. It was a combination of these two things that led to me swinging a screeching car around the corner of my best friend's street with an untaped and unaddressed package hurtling around the floor. I had five minutes to get to the bank, pick up money, and then book it to the post office to mail a package already a couple weeks late to my NaNo Swap partner. In typical fashion, even though I bought the items days ago and I had about four hours to simply throw them in a box and mail it, I waited until it was do-or-die to do or die.

And die I might have, from the way I was speeding down the road. I was going first to pick up my friend because, as I texted her desperately, I was scared and I needed moral support to mail a package. After she jumped in the car and I sped like a demon through the ATM, actually achieving squealing tires status, we arrived at the post office, conveniently situated only about half a mile from my house, with one minute to spare. The manager was ominously closing the blinds on the doors as we dashed inside, me somehow clutching my car keys, my wallet, and the package to my chest, looking every inch the pesky teenagers we were.

There were a few other people in line and two tellers waiting upon them. I watched uncomfortably as one of them gathered their things and left, leaving only a kindly looking man with blue eyes to deal with the last three people.

I was, of course, the last person in line, and it was past five, but I approached the man with what I hoped was a beguiling look and placed the box on the counter.

"I'd like to ship this to California?"

I saw the older gentleman's blue eyes turn icy as he looked down at the open box.

"Did you want to tape it first?"

An accurate representation.


I was unprepared for the amount of sassiness that smacked me across the face like a white glove. Clearly, the gauntlet had been thrown down, but I was still hoping to cling to the innocent young lady guise.

"Oh yes-"

"There's scotch tape on the counter, but I can't guarantee it'll work." Now, before you ask why I didn't just tape it at home- and yes, we had packaging tape- let it be known that I had never mailed a package before. Letters, yes, but for some reason I figured they might need to inspect the contents to make sure it wasn't, you know, a set of razors or depleted uranium or anything. This is what I mean by being socially anxious, and that was exactly why I'd brought Kylie along. You know, moral support.

I bound up the box as best as I could, imbuing the scotch tape with belief and faith and hoping it would make it stronger, and then brought it back to the man, who was doing his best facial impression of someone tapping their foot in irritation.

"Where's the address?"

I'd thought they needed a special address form to fill out.

"I-I thought you needed to write it on there."

"Just stick a piece of paper on it. Write fast." The manager was standing by the closed doors, looking on. "You know, it's five after five, and I'd like to get out of here. And you walk in at five with a package and nothing is ready. I would really like to go home, but you are completely unprepared."

Here is where my espoused fiestiness (not a word? should be a word) set in. I completely understood that I was late and it was costing him a few precious minutes of his life, but I was not okay with his needling comments about my preparation. After all, I was only trying to make things easier for them; if they had indeed needed to go through the contents I was trying to save them the trouble of ripping off the tape and reapplying it. How was I supposed to know that mailing dangerous objects was an acceptable and ignored practice? This man clearly expected too much of me.

"Would you rather I come back tomorrow?" I asked, I imagine, politely but forcefully.

"Well I would rather-"

"Should I come back later?"

We had an epic staredown.

Exactly this.


"What kind of shipping do you want to buy?"


Fuck your rules, and your paperwork, and your SASSINESS.


Successfully yours,

Abby

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Too Tired to Write a Real Post

I bring you this excerpt for two reasons: I like the direction it's taking my novel, and I'm not sure if it makes sense.
That's where you come in! Please let me know if the flashback is too abrupt or terrible. I usually hate flashbacks but in a novel where her upbringing is so important to the way she acts, I have to keep going back and explaining my main character's childhood. Gah.
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“Thank you, Laurel,” Elsie said seriously, holding her little green bowl of mac and cheese in her hands, staring into my eyes with all the sincerity she could muster. She believed strongly, almost dogmatically, in politeness; except, of course, when she and Fernando got into fights.
I had seen this systematic politeness before, in the children of stay-at-home, upper class mothers. It was an affliction of the higher classes, little girls in sweet dresses with innocent eyes kowtowing to powers greater than themselves in social status and money without any real knowledge of what they were doing or why. It was a habit best preserved in children, when it was still a positive and desirable trait; it was when the guileless children blossomed into women trapped in a community cultivated by their parents that the unending politeness mutated into something more dangerous.
Elsie with her great brown eyes, like a cow’s before the slaughterhouse, would grow up into a young woman with a sweet disposition and a quiet voice. As she puttered around the kitchen, eating her mac and cheese with a fork and twirling every couple steps, I saw it laid out before me like a cosmic dare, an oracle of Southern women and their future. I saw politeness morph into passivity, humility into meekness, a desire to please dominated by a quest to quench every other personal dream that did not fit with her predestined future and the demands of her friends and family.
I felt a crushing sorrow as I watched her, so free in her youth, not yet fully expected to conform to her parents’ expectations. For now, they could blame any unorthodox behavior on her age; brush off her tantrums as a phase, explain away her tendency to talk to inanimate objects by mentioning her overactive imagination. But it would only last for just a couple more years; her introduction into the society, walking down a marble staircase in the Leaf and Burrow Country Club in a glimmering dress and a charismatic smile would be the end of it. From then on, the expectations would pile up and begin to smother her. I saw this as clear as the daylight streaming through the bay windows in the kitchen, flowing across the floor and over the expensive trappings of her home; I could feel it in my Southern woman’s bones. I knew her future because it had been my past.

A breezy Virginia day, one of those days that reminded you of Virginia’s proximity to the North; a borderline state that had the searing Southern sun but the occasional gust of crisp, clean Northern wind. The breeze moved through my dress with the ease of a lover, airing out the heavy fabric that clung to my skin as I clomped in my heels towards the car with my mom in tow.
“Laurel, dear, please don’t get your dress dirty. Remember to lift it off of the floor; it looks sloppy if you let it drag.”
“Yes, mom,” I replied rather breathlessly. Staring at the empty, cloudless sky granted me a sense of weightlessness, as if the white lace straps of the dress would soon morph into feathery wings and carry me off into the boundless heavens.
“Watch where you’re going!” my mother admonished me as I stumbled on a crack in the driveway , the spiky heel of my gold strap shoes forcing my ankle sideways. Pain spread out from my joint in a fiery pulse, shooting up my leg and back down again, but I straightened myself with some difficulty and took a couple limping steps to the door of the car. Folding my bare legs into the car and leaning back on the leather seats was bliss, feeling the weight taken off of the pain in my ankle, and I sighed in relief. Mother got in the passenger seat, looking towards the door in anticipation of my dad.
“Do you feel ready?”
“Yes, mom,” I replied. In truth, I felt nothing but a vague annoyance at being dragged away from my plans to spend the day lazing in front of the TV. Underneath my apathy was a strange nervousness, too, but it manifested not in my conscious but in the automatic tapping of my fingers on my thighs. I refused to acknowledge its existence.
“Where is your father?”
“I don’t know.”
There was a silence. My mother and I never talked much, had no time for heart-to-hearts when we were constantly interrupted and sought after by my brothers or my father, any of the men in the house. Because of this, we were at odds with each other when we were alone; there was pressure to say something, to bond, but neither of us knew how. My mother, being the socialite and expert on small talk, eventually struck up conversation.
“I remember when I was introduced at the club,” she said offhandedly, staring out the dashboard at the towering dogwood tree casting a slight shadow onto the house, attenuated by the sun nearing its noontime peak. The dogwood was rustling gaily in the wind, shaking off the heat with glossy green leaves, and the remnants of its beautiful and tragically short-lived blossoms littered the vibrant grass.  She seemed lost in the world of the dogwood for a couple moments. I attempted to join her there, losing myself in the chattering branches, but I found myself distracted by the buzzing of a lonesome fly against the far window. I watched its doomed path instead.
“It was one of the most stressful days of my life,” my mother resumed, and I started, so drawn in was I by the peripatetic fly and its journey around the interior of our car. I felt a kinship to the nomad. I joined in her tiny laugh. “There was so much to do and so little time to get prepared. I felt such pressure to be perfect for this; it was nearly suffocating. Or maybe that was just the dress.”
My attention was diverted by this. I never felt like my mother understood the way the subtle hand of society put pressure on your shoulders and dragged you downward to your knees like a disobedient dog learning to sit, but maybe there was more to the perfect matron than I had suspected all my life. 

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There's more, but I don't want to overwhelm you. So ta-ta for now!

Finally caught up and tiredly yours,

Abby

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Shocking Revelation

Afternoon, faithful blog readers (Lauren!!),

It's 1:36 PM and, despite having been in this institution of learning since 7:40 AM I am only 100 words away from 15,000 words, the daily goal. After this blog post, I'm going to go back to writing and try to get ahead, since my new goal is to finish before the 28th, when I leave for Northeast Theatre Festival.

I find myself wanting to speed through this post. Not because then I will be freed up to listen to music, or read, or mess around with my friends in my Anatomy and Physiology class, or any other procrastination that usually defines my life.

I want to speed through this post so I can go back to my novel and write.

Oh, god. You can use gifs on Blogger. It's going to be like Tumblr. You just can't enable me in this way.

However obvious it might be- she's a writer, obviously she'd like to write!- it's a big thing. The biggest problem I've had with my writing over the years is loving it. Deep inside, I've always had the desire to tell stories, to see my words in print and enjoyed by others. I don't only want to entertain people with my words, I want to move and change them, challenge the way they think. That's not going to be this book; there's a chance that won't be any of my books; but it is my dream.

It's not the motivation I had a problem with, it was the actual writing process. Ever since my first attempt at writing a novel two NaNos ago, which I gave up on about 12,000 words in and then tried to come back to to no avail, I have gotten out of the habit of writing. There were periods when I tried to write short stories or poems every day, but I would eventually run out of inspiration and give up.

This cat knows too much.

After resolving, finally, to finish this novel or die trying, I figured it would be an uphill battle, involving multiple breakdowns, a struggle to meet each day's wordcount- you know, the material for hilarious blog posts about my eventual insanity. Unfortunately for this blog, I once again love writing. And friends, it is a beautiful thing.

As for the progress of the novel, it is 26 pages so far and I have about two chapters written. I haven't gotten to the main conflict or anything but exposition so far, which might seem like a failure but it gives me hope that this plot will be unlike the others and actually fill 50,000+ words. In my view, it seems like it will be 75,000+; after NaNo I will be participating in Row80 to finish the novel, and then the editing process begins.

It'll be a journey. To tide you over, and because I've been working on going back and adding imagery, etc., to the scenes, here's another excerpt.
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“It is, isn’t it? But I feel much better now. You know, this party isn’t half bad. I usually dread these things- everyone feels so contrived. Tonight is different. There’s a certain sheen that people don’t usually possess, a brightness in the way that they walk and spout the socially acceptable lies- I don’t know if you’ve noticed?”
As silence spun out on a reel and filled the room, nervousness bloomed in my stomach, and I was worried I’d taken it too far. I had suspected Tanya was more astute than she let on; it was something in the way she wouldn’t let her husband strong-arm her around the party circuit, in the way that she would sometimes slip me a look during a particularly vapid conversation, like a secretive agreement that we both saw beyond the influx of meaningless words. But as Tanya said nothing, only stared at me with unnaturally bright brown eyes, I started to believe that it was only ever a trick of the light that made me envision those companionable glances and comprehension. After a couple seconds, during which my mind whirred, trying to come up with an acceptable path out of this conversation, she narrowed her eyes in an appraising manner. I felt like I was being analyzed.
“What?”
She reached into her purse and grabbed one of the bottles she had salvaged from the floor only a minute or two ago. It was filled with little white pills that clattered around, reminding me of the call of a rattlesnake. The grin disappeared from my face.
“It’s Ritalin, don’t look so startled. I wouldn’t do anything illegal- well, really illegal,” Tanya said, smiling broadly and, with a bit of a struggle, undoing the plastic cap. “It’s fantastic, really changes the way you see things. You won’t be bored at another party ever again, I promise. What you just described? About this party and how it shines? That’s what it feels like all the time.” She chuckled and it sounded dissonant to my ears.
“No thanks, Tanya.”
The beatific smile wavered, but regained its brilliance. “You don’t want to save one just in case? You don’t have to take it now, but you might thank me later!” She shook the bottle in what was supposed to be an enticing way. The sound echoed around the tiled bathroom like gunfire. One of the pills dislodged itself and flew onto the counter, but neither of us made a move to retrieve it. I sighed and tried to take any tone of reproach out of my words.
“I’m alright, thank you for the offer, though. I’m glad it works for you.”
Tanya shrugged and recapped the bottle, stowing it back into her carry-all bag.
“I’m glad you don’t need it, honey. I suppose I’d be a better person if I didn’t.” She smirked, reaching around me for the door. “But you people don’t want to see the monster I am usually. Ta-ta, dear, I’m going to enjoy the rest of this party. See you out there.” In a moment she was gone, leaving only the lingering smell of her perfume behind her. 
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Beautifully focused and forever yours,

Abby

Monday, November 5, 2012

Like Pilar, Chugging Along

Day five, and I have officially reached my wordcount goal for today, even though I spent 13 hours of my valuable time at school and at least an hour embroiled in political debates on Facebook.

The best way to move democracy forward.

My favorite part about that picture is that several keys are missing or loose on that keyboard, presumably because of how angrily the child of Mike Dirnt and Justin Pierre was typing to his adversary.

I see it.

Anyway, I come bearing witty captions and an excerpt of my writing. Finally. I know this is the moment you've all been waiting for, but I didn't want to be a word-slut and just start posting my literature all over the place wantonly. But this is our fifth date, at least, and I think you all deserve it. Here we go!
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My brothers and I, a crowd of five pressed up against the faux-wood door to the kitchen, heard only one valuable word of the disgraceful conversation: suicide. Just the word buzzed like an alarm in our ears, even without knowing the meaning.

“Lee,” I whispered urgently when I observed my oldest brother, five years wiser than my vulnerable six years, moving away from the door as if it were blazing hot. “What’s ‘suicide’?”

He turned to me with wide brown eyes, a reflection of my own and descended from our father, his small mouth hanging open in macabre excitement.

“It means,” he started, and then paused, either for dramatic effect or to try to come up with the words that would convey the most shock value, “it means that Mrs. Rushmore took a gun and shot herself.” Tears welled up in my eyes even as my heart began to hammer.

“What d’you mean? Don’t she know guns are dang’rous?” This was something taught to us as soon as we could understand the concept, because our masculine father kept a hunting chest full of aging and rusting guns in the basement, with a combination lock on it. The ancient chest was passed through the family, down from his grandfather, who used to go hunting with the other Virginia rednecks in the woods for innocent animals. Even though my father had only touched the guns once in his lifetime, the time that the Smyth’s dog caught rabies from a skunk and he thought it was going to come near our house and threaten his children, I think it comforted him to know that, as the man of the house, he would be able to defend his children and wife if anything happened.

“Of course she knew guns are dangerous, she’s an adult. It means that she did it on purpose, stupid,” Lee said intently, waiting for my reaction.

“Why would she do that, Lee? You’re a liar,” I said, relieved that it was merely another exaggeration, an attempt by my brothers to scare the littlest child.

“You can think so,” he said, shrugging, “but you ask dad: suicide means she chose to die.” This was also a popular bluff, telling me to ask my parents in order to prolong my fear just a little longer, but something in how easily he gave up the gambit made me nervous.

“Okay, I will,” I said defiantly, though my fingers were clenched at my sides; growing up as the youngest in a household of five boys made me foolhardy, if nothing else. Neil, the second youngest child and only a year older than me, was similarly na├»ve and stood with me.

“I’m goin’ too. You’re pullin’ our leg, Lee,” he said angrily, and it was comforting to feel him at my side. “Let’s go, Laurel.” He grabbed my hand and steered me through the living room in search of dad, who was destined to find out about Mrs. Rushmore’s fate from work colleagues instead of the troupe of Southern housewives. That was one of the rules of society.
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WHEW.

To explain the title of this blog post, I would like to refer you all to the book Hemingway's Boat, by Paul Hendrickson. It is an incredibly insightful biography of one of the most complex American authors to ever grace the literary scene, and I love it. I'm also reading Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, and that's even BETTER.

I have no mental power to make the rest of this post witty because I need to scurry off to bed. Big day tomorrow! All of the days are big days! I am slowly going crazy!

With too much work, eternally yours,

Abby




Saturday, November 3, 2012

Falling, Then Crawling Back

Welcome to day three of NaNo. I have officially made it farther into the challenge than I did last year.

A mediocre achievement. 
Despite early challenges including, but not limited to: a mental breakdown, some crying, an entire day of non-productivity, and some hysteria, I have pulled out of my initial disappointment and Gotten Shit Done.

The first day, it took me four hours, including one that I spent convincing myself not to quit early, to reach the daily goal of 1,667 words. I shut my computer with a sigh after updating my word count to a measly 1,712. The second day, I didn't write at all. I had no inspiration and no time to sit and force words out of my reluctant fingers.
Which brings me to today, 3,000some-odd words in the hole when I woke up this morning. But I am happy to report that in just another 863 words, which I plan on finishing tonight because marathon writing can only last so long, I will be caught up and sitting pretty on a novel that is evolving from a mess to slightly presentable.

It still takes me an embarrassingly long time to write and focus, but I have found one unexpected boon: after going through several 'inspiring' writing playlists, I have found the single most productive playlist I've ever made. It's the Kanye West Radio on Pandora, with a Lil' Jon influence.

Sophisticated writing. 

I hope you guys are at least the tiniest bit entertained by my ill-prepared journey through this treacherous writing land, filled to the brim with the dragons of overwrought metaphors like this one. So far, the hardest thing is avoiding League. I have not been successful thus far.

Contentedly yours,

Abby

Thursday, November 1, 2012

"Kind of Dope"

Greetings on the first day of NaNo, Blogosphere!

What the computer looked like when "Blogosphere" was last used

I am typing my report live from school, the place where dreams go to die and students go to catch up on the sleep they lost procrastinating homework. More specifically, I am typing merrily through Statistics class, where a discussion on bias is going in one ear, rattling around just long enough for me to look productive, and then taking its leave of my mind. The great thing is, I can blame this distraction on NaNo and deem it productive!

The subject of this blog post stems from my previous class, English (more specifically British Lit, most specifically Free Period). When I walked into class looking like a close approximation of someone about to lose their mind,
Heeeeeeeeeeere's NaNo!
wailed "It's beginning!" and slumped into my chair in preemptive defeat, my english teacher tentatively asked me what was eating at me. Naturally, this was a chance to complain about the stress monstrosity that is NaNoWriMo.
The natural questions ensued: "Can you start before?" "Does it have to be a novel?" "How many words exactly?"

And after a thorough if hysteria-tinged explanation, she calmly regarded by twitching features and said, "You know, that's kind of dope."

My English Teacher. Actually. (Also, my crown)


It is kind of dope, even if I haven't written a word yet.

NaNoWriMo is a chance to go productively crazy. November is full of the excitement of an over-full workload, of juggling writing with life and feeling like a warrior against the regular, non-NaNoing world. Beyond that, there is a wonderful community in place of people going through the exact same thing all around the world, with their own struggles and conditions but the same goal of 50,000 words.

And friends, it's pretty dope.

Excitedly yours,

Abby

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Here I Go Again

It's that time of the year again, ladies and gents. And may I say, there has been an unusually plentiful bounty of pageviews- yes, I can see pageviews- lately, though I haven't updated in a month. Does that mean I'm blogging wrong?

As I was saying, as the clock ticks inexorably towards midnight I am in danger of losing not my glass slippers and beautiful ballgown, but my sanity. Also, my glass slippers and beautiful ballgown. It's funny how you misplace things when your entire wardrobe is comprised of the outfits of Disney Princesses.

Oh wait, that's Kylie.

Yes, in only two hours and three minutes of pulling out my hair and losing my voice (unrelated), National Novel Writing Month kicks off. I am not ready, but that is luckily a common and encouraged part of NaNo; even if everything I write is disgusting garbage that I ditch when December rolls around, I'll just be proud if I make it to 50,000 words for the first time.

I am honestly going to make a concerted effort to update this blog as NaNo progresses; I promise the only reason for this delay was because I haven't started or even thought about this novel since I last posted. Every thought pertaining to it was drowned in a deluge of college stress.

In other news, I have applied to college.


Insanely yours,

Abby

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Disillusionment- A Nicer Word for Being Lazy

This whiny post, much like the amount of people actually interested in this blog, comes to you in two parts:

Disillusionment

and

Resolve.

Disillusionment:

This is always the time I become disinterested in writing: at the actual writing stage. After all of the fun, and brainstorming, and oh-my-gosh-this-is-the-best-novel-ever-ing, I sit down, Word open, pumped, listening to my thought-provoking Simon and Garfunkel playlist... and divert my attention to League of Legends. Or the TV. Or banging my head against the wall.

"I hate my sidebuuuuurns!"

For some reason this always happens to me. I always get the greatest sparks of inspiration, but once that new-project sheen wears off I can't bear to look at Word without feeling immense stress and fear. Either that, or I just can't be bothered to allot writing time into my busy (read: League of Legends) life.
Maybe it's a sign that I shouldn't go into writing, but I'm not into signs much. Instead, I plan to force myself to write this ************* (child-friendly!) novel or perish by my own pencil trying. That's where this whole senior project comes in. That's where this blog comes in.

That's where NaNoWriMo comes in.

Resolve:

NaNoWriMo is the tongue-friendly acronym for National Novel Writing Month, which is the best way to raise your blood pressure since deep fried foods. The goal is to write 50,000 words for an original novel in a month, which happens to be November, which happens to be the deadline for most of my college applications.

People always misinterpret what I mean by "headbanging".


Moving on!

To add to the number of stress factors associated with this novel, I've decided to participate in NaNo. And, keeping with the spirit of NaNo, I've decided not to write a word of my novel until November 1st.

Insanity? Maybe. Laziness? Definitely.

There are three reasons for this*: 1) I don't want to start the novel right now, when I'm likely to write poorly and get frustrated, 2) I work much better under pressure, and 3) this gives me time to finish my college applications as much as possible in October so that I don't have to worry about them later.

However, don't fret, my sweet little duckling(s)!This doesn't mean that you're going to have to wait till November to read any of my writing.

Remember the thirty question survey? I'll be writing those throughout October, since I probably won't use any of them directly in my novel, and it will help me find my characters.

October starts tomorrow, so I better get a move on...

Tiredly yours,

Abby

* Like the number of crime dramas I have patience for, zero of these excuses are true. I'm just lazy.





Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Page and Taxidermy

This blog post, like outfits that are too complicated for me, comes in three parts*:

Part one: I fear I am becoming too invested in this blog already. Yes, I spend an embarrassing amount of time checking how many pageviews I've garnered. Yes, I plan on comparing the success of this blog with the blog from Julie/Julia. Yes, I will start shamelessly promoting this on my Facebook. Don't make me start shamelessly promoting this on my Facebook. I have a reputation for being cool on there. People will talk.

This is exactly what my two clones and I look like when we're on Facebook.

Which leads me to part two: because I am already so obsessed with this blog, I've started messing around with the layout already in an attempt to make it fancier. Hence, the addition of the Thirty Questions Character Survey page, which also resulted from a renewed interest in the NaNoWriMo forums. God, I love writing.

Anyway, this page, because apparently on Blogger the only pages you can make are static and can't contain more than one text block without heavy HTML-ing (something I haven't been able to do since 7th grade), will hold a link to the character prompts I will be posting sporadically over the next month as I prepare for NaNoWriMo and the beginning of this gosh darn novel. They'll still show up here, on the home page, but in case you ever feel the need to go and read a specific prompt- more likely, if I need to go read a specific prompt- that page is the place to go.

The character prompts will probably be short, in character, first person responses to the questions in the survey. They'll be creative and, hopefully, fun to read. If they aren't fun to read, you should let me know and I'll start looking for a different dream career. Maybe a taxidermist.

                                                      "My, what big teeth you have!... I am so unhappy with my life."

Part three: This is starting to look like cracked.com but less witty and reeking of desperation. Which is an accomplishment, if you ask me. I'm the reigning champion of desperation reeking. They don't make deodorant strong enough for this. 

Malodorously yours (this is doing wonders for my self-confidence),

Abby

*In case you didn't get it, I meant that I wear a lot of dresses because I'm incapable of picking matching clothes. Not onesies. I only wear onesies maybe twice month.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ms. Mid-Thirties Female Narrator

I come to you live from theatre rehearsal where, having run out of things to put in Virtual Stage Manager and exhausted my capacity for listening to discussion of Iphigenia 2.0 (self-sacrifice! valor! Amanda Bynes' latest celebrity crush!), I have decided to run some characterization exercises*.

The dead eyes and boisterous smile just scream "The secret ingredient is arsenic!"

After intense research, or at least an intense reading of one very interesting article called What Happened to Rosie? that can claim the honor of inspiring this plot, I've boiled down the characteristics of the typical 1950's housewife to these:
  • Pressured to be cheerful, helpful, and eternally submissive wives to their more powerful husbands.
  • At the same time, must be motherly and caring towards her children, yet matronly in her control of the household; at least until the Ultimate Authority, her husband, comes home.
  • Feels isolated in her home and assumes that no other housewives she knows, friend or foe, feel the same way; instead, imagines that she is alone in questioning if there is something more to life than what she has.
  • Occasionally is able to convince herself that the most important duty is being a mother and a runner of a household when things are going well, but there is always a pervasive doubt.
  • Feels an almost automatic disgust for 'free' women who get to do whatever they want, but this is ingrained by society and strengthened by jealousy; secretly she knows that is something she desires.
  • When not working around the house, she immerses herself in TV and radio in order to distract herself from the inane nature of the tasks she is completing.
 The problem, now, is bringing this into a modern context. Luckily for me and the rest of my uterus-possessing and female-identifying cohorts, many of the societal pressures that existed in the 1950's have been phased out or identified as taboo. But in some cases the pressures merely morphed into something else; but I won't get into a feminist rant here. I want to keep at least some readers.

Any readers, really.

So I won't continue my analysis here, at least not yet. I do have to figure out what balance of wittiness and actual studiousness the blogosphere (still a word? am I aging myself? seventeen is the new thirty) will tolerate before a riot. I'm thinking pictures. I should probably add more pictures of crazy-eyed housewives on the brink of creating a live-action reenactment of The Shining.

Eye-catching! 

I'm going to go play League of Legends and contemplate why writing blog posts like this one take precedence over the three essays I should be working on. And I'm going to try not to think about why League of Legends usurps them all.

Nerdily yours,

Abby

*I'm still not sure what type of entries this blog will have in store for you readers. Reader. I think there's about one of you. You can expect excerpts of my writing, anecdotes about my day, and writing mishaps I run into. I think the most fraught month will be November, as I will try, once again, to complete National Novel Writing Month; I will probably use this space as a place to tear apart the art of writing and lament my sanity**.

** I have decided upon asterisks. I like the look. It just screams 'whimsy'.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Introducing the Next American Classic

Now that you've met the cynical, desperately witty and extremely good looking author (oh yes, all true, would I lie to you), it's time to pitch the plot. I'm not one for 98 mile an hour confidence, despite my good looks, so I'm just going to lob it at you. Got your catcher's mitt? Ready for this baseball metaphor to end?

The. Modern. Housewife.

Whew. Mind-blowing, I know.

Luckily for all of my devoted readers, and the future of this blog, and my senior year transcript, the plot goes beyond the banal* title. I'm actually quite excited about this one, which means if I don't end up making it I'll be pretty embarrassed about this post.

In theory, The Modern Housewife will be told from the perspective of a mid-thirties female narrator. Usually I hate first person, but since I'm inexperienced in characterization of third person narrators and it's easier to develop a voice in the first person, I'm probably going to give it a whirl. 

In theory, it will explore the similarities between the overwhelmingly sexist messages pervasive in the fifties that forced women who had just broken into the workforce during WWII to become housewives and the bias against working moms and successful women that exists now; not quite so overtly in the overall media, but definitely in the Republican party and moderate crowd. 

In theory, because a treatise on that subject would be extremely dull and no one would ever want to read it, the novel will explore that theme by following Ms. Mid-Thirties Female Narrator as she struggles to get out of a terrible relationship, quit her job as a nanny/baby-sitter or whatever the politically correct term is, and realize her dreams of... something. Her dreams are a work in progress to me. Maybe work for a magazine. Maybe become a stripper. There's an ocean of exciting possibilities to fish in. And I've always wanted to write a stripper. 

Now that the annoying exposition is over, we can get down to the real fun. The late-night angst posts. The real-time liveblogging at school. The long existential crises I expect to arise as the deadline draws closer and my sanity dwindles.

It's going to be a fun ride. Get in the car.

Threateningly yours and with a shoutout to Zoe,

Abby


*But good as far as my titles go. I still shudder to think of "The Murder of John- or was it Jake?" Thank god that rots away harmlessly in my Stories folder**. 

** Do you prefer parentheses or asterisks? I always feel like too many parentheticals remove you from the reading experience but asterisks might be just as distracting and harder to follow. I just have too many tangentials to explore and not enough room. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No Turning Back Now

I've always had horrible timing. Many a time my frustrated piano teacher would force hours of practice with a metronome upon me to correct my out-of-step and wildly accelerating Easy Piano Classics. There's a joke among my friends about "Abby Time"; they all know that a text saying "I'm leaving now!" means they still have a good ten minutes before my foot steps out the door.

But all these domestic timing incidents merely served to distract me as I blundered into the worst timing mistake of my life: committing to finish a novel during my senior year of high school.

Historically, novels are meant to be written in the twilight of a well-lived life, or in the chaotic alcohol-infused twenties when schedules are flexible and nights are long (a la Fitzgerald; you'll be hearing a lot about him), or on the sly as a relief from a steady but boring job. I think there is a reason novels are rarely written in the stressful, confusing, and often panic-attack inducing days of high school.

I've begun a streak of taking reason out back and beating it with an oversized pencil. I can't think of any logical reason, for example, that I couldn't have put off writing a novel until college, or after college, or any other time in my life.

I really can't think of a logical reason I decided to commit so fully to this idea that a grade now rests upon its successful completion.

Despite much whining and wringing of hands, though, what's done is done. Despite never completing anything over ten pages, for my senior project in high school, I am going to write a novel of at least 50,000 words, design a cover for it, and try not to scrap the whole thing during the editing process (as I am wont to do). And I'm going to get an A on it.

And, in a masochistic twist that I think befits Fitzgerald in a fashion that pleases me, I'm going to add to my writing load by blogging about it- in full sentences and proper spelling and everything (gone are the Tumblr days)!

Hopefully yours,

Abby