Sunday, November 15, 2009

November Novel Writing Month - week two comes to a close



Okay I have passed the half way mark (25,000 words) and I'm still sane. Likely do in part to having my sister visiting a town with no internet access (yes these towns do exist in Canada, although rare), making it impossible for her to send me her part of the pulpy detective novel we are working on.

Being sane right now is good news (especially for my partner!) and a bit surprising, I thought for sure I would be losing it by now, but instead the words keep coming. Great, as long as I don't dwell on the editing process, which will soon follow the completion of the novel.

First problem I have encountered is my novel will not be done at 50,000 words, it is looking more like 60,000 plus words. It makes me wonder if I should just aim for 60,000 by month's end. I kind of want to, if only because I have this wicked momentum going. And of course it will make the possibility of me loosing it more likely. And who doesn't like the idea of a crazy writer?

This success of mine has made me want to create a list of tips on how to make it through the November Novel Writing month, a bit premature, but hey, I can always refine later.

Andrea's Five Tips for Surviving November:

1. Do socialize with living people. Sure it is easy when you are writing to retreat into your mind, where you get to hang out with the fictional characters you have created. Fictional people are fun, you can make them do what you want, and if they start pissing you off, you can kill them off. Not like the real world at all. And one wonders if you are a writer if maybe you have given up on the real world and all its people and their flaws, why else would you be content with hanging out by yourself, drinking shit loads of coffee and typing like a mad person? But let me tell you, coming from one of the most introverted people around, real people are great, their quirks, no matter how annoying help make your writing better. And you never know you may meet someone that is cool, someone that is obsessed with Margaret Atwood as much as you are. And we all know that is hard to find!

2. Be friends with coffee again. I know you quit because you heard, likely from someone who is not credible but insists they are, that coffee is bad for you. But these are lies. Coffee will stay up with you all night, with its comforting warmth, lining your throat with its goodness, and helping you crank out that first draft in record speed. Coffee is probably the only real friend you have.

3. Write when you don't feel like writing. Get in the habit of turning your computer on and staring at the printed words on the screen, or in some cases, the blinking cursor on the screen. Even if you only type out 50 words, it gets you in the habit of writing.

4. Remember that writing is re-writing. This is a first draft people, it better not be perfect or you are doing something wrong. Get the basic ideas down, reuse that word over and over until it makes you want to puke. Just fucking write. When the month ends and your first draft is finished, then you can go back and delete the bullshit and add some awesome prose, and reword and restructure until you can no longer see straight. But just don't do that now.

5. Stop reading my awesome blog and go back to writing.

Good luck fellow writers!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Movie Review - A Serious Man or Why I love the Coen Brothers

So I think it was about a month ago, I was procrastinating from writing in my normal fashion which involves watching movie previews. I watched a preview of A Serious Man, the latest "comedy" to come from the Coen brother's collective lovely brain. Of course I'm excited because it looks weird, which is usually a good thing coming from the bros, but unfortunately I have some time to kill until its limited release in my fair city.

So what's a girl to do? I could write...but instead decide to look up the top ten movies on writers with writers block. Maybe it will inspire me? And it does but not in the predictable way of I don't know actually getting around to writing, but instead the list provides a sign, as the first movie in the top ten list is Barton Fink. Described as a comedic classic from the Coen brothers. I love to laugh so I decide to watch it and in the process remember a few things I forgot about the bros comedy movies.

They are not funny in any slap stick sort of way but funny like David Lynch is funny, which he is not, it is more like a laugh in your head because it was some of the best written witty dialogue you just experienced in fuck forever probably. And you forgot how clever the bros are. You also forgot the violence; like as if anyone can forget that woodchipper scene in Fargo; no, of course not, but ironically we all collectively remember Fargo as being funny. Maybe for the strange Minnesota accents or in David Lynch terms, like when the log lady comes on the scene and you have to laugh because everything else before this moment was kind of macabre. And lastly you forget how damn good the directing is. Joel Coen is a god when it comes to the directing (not dissin' Ethan or anything, he is godly in his own way!), but Joel, the narrow angles the music the pacing, it is right out of the textbook "how to create a suspenseful moment in film." I'm in awe of Barton Fink, and I'm glad I don't have the problems that writer does. But then I'm hooked and I need to all of sudden watch every Coen brothers movie I haven't seen yet. Which I will admit, there isn't a lot I haven't seen.

Next up Miller's Crossing and then Intolerable Cruelty. Both wonderful in their own way for mostly the same reasons mentioned above. And it is at this moment I remember I'm writing about A Serious Man.

It is about a Jewish physics professor, Larry Gopnik, who goes through a string of stressful events, that singularly probably wouldn't be so bad but of course happen all within the span of a couple of weeks. Based on the experiences of the bros growing up in a Jewish suburb in Minnesota. Not literal experiences but more like the metaphorical/symbolic kind of experiences; impressions left on the mind of the child and now portrayed in film, 50 some odd years later by the adults who lived them. Similar kind of realism as Mad Men is to the sixties.

The movie also comments considerably on religious Jewish culture. Which I can't say I'm the expert on, but know a little about, as my partner is Jewish; however, he is secular, so really I don't know a hell of a lot. But I could follow the movie and it worked.

While Larry is slowly going through the process of a breakdown he visits three rabbis to solicit advice on making sense of what is happening to him. Kind of like getting some expert opinion on why god is doing this to him. I don't want to say more than this about the plot because I don't want to detract from the full bodied viewing experience you will receive from opening scene to end credits. But suffice to say, another brilliant piece we can now add to the Coen brothers cannon.

So if you are lucky enough to live in a city that is showing this movie, go now, because god knows some awful piece of Hollywood trash is soon to take its place this coming Friday. The good ones always die so young!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

November Novel Writing Month - week one comes to a close

Yes it is November Novel Writing Month, and yes I have made the insane commitment to write 50,000 words in 30 days. How are things going you ask, well I am now at just over 9,000 words, which is a bit below my daily quota of 1,666 words.

The first week has been quite gratifying, 9,000 words in 7 days is quite the accomplishment in itself. I have no doubt in my mind that I will reach the 50,000 word mark. I have a 19 chapter novel to complete and I'm just about to wrap up chapter one. I started with an outline of all 19 chapters, and already my writing mind has taken me to places I never thought it would.

But that is the best part of writing fiction. The weird and wonderful things that reveal themselves in the process, especially if you are open to letting it. I kind of think of the writer as the archeologist, as you write your story and dig through the earth you find all sorts of treasures. I'm finding out all sorts of interesting things about my characters, more than any character bio would give me.

That being said, the fact that I am writing this blog entry when I should be writing the novel tells us another fun fact about writing - procrastination. Funny how when you sit down to write the need to clean the dishes or bathroom seems like something you need to do immediately. Hey, at least I'm getting my condo clean!

Some fun things I have whipped up in order to procrastinate from writing the novel:
1. Start writing a pulpy detective story with my sister - why focus on just one novel a month when I can do two; unfortunately the second novel cannot go towards boosting my word count.

2. Photography - yes this is an ongoing project for me, but funny how this month the need to hike out to the inner harbor in the middle of the night to take night shots of the parliament buildings seems like a must do.

3. Post a blog entry - doing that right now.

4. Emailing people my blog address - it feels super important for me to make sure that everyone in my email list adds my blog to their favourites - or at least becomes a follower - I have two now, let's see if I can get one more by the end of the month - victory is mine!

5. Brainstorm ideas for my screenplay - April is script writing month - 100 pages of screenplay in one month - apparently I like crazy deadlines...

Okay time to go back to writing the novel, I still have three hours left to meet my quota!