write write write write

I decided to do NaNoWriMo (did I spell that correctly?).  Basically, you write a 50,000 words novel in the month of November.   1700 words a day on average.  Its not so easy.  This would be first draft of course.  I’m on track so far, but I still need to write today and my wife is due home any minute.  Likely she will be annoyed by my ignoring her.

“Sorry, Honey, but I have to write my amazing mass produced novel.”

The couch is still a very comfortable place to sleep, albeit a bit lonely.

In other news, I’ve gotten slack on my diet and can feel myself getting pudgy again.  I had the slowest run I’ve had in weeks just this morning.  So, I went back to My Fitness Pal and started tracking the food again.  I cannot be trusted to self-monitor at this point.  In the morning I will do the weigh-in, no matter how painful it may be.

Hunger Games tore my heart out

I watched The Hunger Games today.  Very well done.  Definitely worth seeing.

I never read the books.  Never saw the previews.  Had no clue about the movie.

Here’s the bad part.

There I was in the theater watching, when suddenly I realized that huge chunks of concepts I had for my novel were unfolding right there on the screen.  It was as if they had read my drafts and pulled them right out.   Wonderful to see it but horrible to realize that I am actually not as terribly creative as I think I am.

The theme and premise are very different from my book, but there are some aspects of the world-building which are strikingly similar.  Sigh.

back again

Sunday I ran in the Celebrate Life Half Marathon in Rock Hill, NY.  As with previous times, this was a fabulous race.  Very hilly compared to others I have been in, but each year the hills seem smaller.  Except for the giant hill at the start.  Heading up that one I took my time and saved something for the end.  My time was halfway in between my best and worst, so I was pretty happy with it.  My former running partner was volunteering and it was a nice relief to see her smiling face at the halfway point.

As my reward for a good race, my back blew out on Wednesday morning.  Yea.  I’ve been in the house ever since.  Today is the first day I can actually stand up straight.  I can sit for very long and can’t stand for very long.  And quite frankly, I’m really sick of lying down.  I’ve managed to stretch out almost flat on the reclining sofa, so that I can type and lie down at the same time.

Last week I stopped at a used bookstore that I had seen many times but was never there when they were open (Fri, Sat. Sun).  So I went for a short visit during lunch.  The place looks like it was an old barn or small house.  The insides are are stuffed from floor to ceiling with old books, loosely organized by topic.  Children’s.  History.  Fiction.  Etc.  The foyer is packed full of unsorted books.  Just the smell of the place is welcoming, if you like the smell of old books.  The place was heated by a pot belly stove in the middle of the main room.  The basement was filled with paperbacks and the upstairs seemed to house mostly non-fiction with topics like Geography and Government.  I would estimate there were at least 20,000 books in that building.  If I spent all day there, I could not read every title.

I pulled a few books to take home:

Run Fast – Hal Higdon – I always wanted that one but never got around to buying it.

The Complete Book of Running – Jim Fixx – Another one to have in the running library.

Twelfth Night – W. Shakespeare – This was a small hardcover version published by Yale University Press in 1954.

DreamThorp – Alexander Smith – This was published in 1864.  I like the hard leather cover and the gold inlaid design in the front.

All that fun for only $14.  Seemed like a good deal.  There were a lot of other books I wanted, but some were too expensive.  An old torn up bible from 1800 but it was $100.  Too rich for my blood.

My writing has ground to an abrupt halt.  I’ve painted myself into a corner.  I’ve been trying to just get words down on paper (figuratively), but the plot has changed so much that the beginning doesn’t match, and motivations of the characters seems very odd now.  In fact, the entire premise seems horrendously illogical.  I was being guided by what I felt each character would do next.  But when I go back to the beginning, their early behavior doesn’t fit.  I guess that means that I didn’t know my characters well enough at the beginning.

Margaret Atwood gives this advice:

“Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.”

Good advice.  Its so very hard.  I hate to go back and cut out things I liked.  I had heard it was Faulkner who said to “kill your darlings”.  He is referring to cutting things from your writing that you find so appealing that you can’t be objective.  Maybe its a scene or some dialogue that you can’t give up because you like it so much.  I guess I just need to be cautious that I don’t keep something in that doesn’t fit.

Which brings me back to the problem.  The current place in the storyline no longer fits with the beginning.  Its hard to describe without telling the story (which I’m not ready to do yet), so let’s use a Star Wars analogy.

In Star Wars, Luke is looking to 1) rescue Princess Leah and 2) avenge his father’s death.  But what if his original goal was to marry Leah.  Once he rescued her, then he would simply be trying for the rest of the movie to get her to leave with him and run away to the Chapel O’ Galactic Bliss, which 1) doesn’t make for a good movie and 2) makes the whole Death Star assault seem like a pointless diversion from the main topic.  Fortunately George Lucas was smart enough to change the plot and delete the wedding scene.

This is basically where I am.  No, there’s no wedding.  But I have taken the characters someplace away from their original goal, and now their actions conflict entirely with what they wanted.  I know this happens in life, but I don’t want it to happen here, simply because by the time they reach the end of the book, the closing scene will not make any sense at all.

Lots of rambling.

So, I need to retrace to where I started and decide if I started wrong or if I took a wrong turn.  Nothing really gets cut, just saved elsewhere.

dreaming

Last night I dreamed about the book.  I was in the battle scene that I had just started writing.  I think its because I’ve been searching the internets looking for images that look like the characters.  I think it might make them feel more real if I could not only see them in my mind, but also see them in an image on the screen.

Surprisingly, there are very few images out there that do justice to the characters.  What I find are pieces of images that fit, as if I need to make them into a hodge-podge mosaic.  One of the images I came across that fit was an image of Alice from Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland.  She is wearing a full suit of armor and heading out to kill the Jabarwock (sp?).

You can’t see the full suit in this picture, but I found it striking in that (aside from the ornate flourishes) it is set up like armor should look on a female fighter.  Usually, they will have some crazy breast plate with … well … breasts.

In reality, such a design focuses the force of a chest strike onto the sternum, instead of deflecting it away.  Not a good idea.  Crushing your ribcage because you got hit (or fell down) in battle is embarrassing.

Even worse, the “armor” is sometimes nothing more than a leather bra.

While it makes for entertaining pictures, having one’s belly and vital organs so vulnerable never makes for a safe defense.  It’d just stupid to draw them in any scenario for serious fighting.  The poor woman shown above died 23 seconds into her first fight after being stabbed in the stomach with a fountain pen.

But notice Alice’s armor:

The chest plate is slightly curved so that a chest strike is deflected to the sides.  Normally, the wearer has padding underneath to absorb the impact, because (despite what you see Clint Eastwood do) when you get hit in the chest, its going to hurt if there’s just bare metal against you.

And notice that it covers her body.  No belly hanging out, or some open back thing to show rippling muscles.  Just armor plate, with a flexible design so that she can move.  The only thing missing was her helmet.  I think they had one and removed it so that you could see her face.  It seemed like the armor was carefully designed by someone who knew about battles and armor, and I would bet that they would have insisted on the helmet.  To be honest though, I have not watched the movie yet.  Maybe it appears later?

So anyway, I wrote part of the battle scene and had a crazy dream about it and someone was wearing this armor.  I woke up tired and frantic.  Crazy, I know.  I find myself getting stressed about writing because I have too many ideas going around and I cant decide which way to take it all.  I end up getting mental gridlock.  Bleh.