Nanowrimo Day 23

November 24, 2009

And still keeping strong! Only one week to go, woohoo! Today’s count: 1,809 Total: 37,690 Should Be: 38,341

This novel is turning out to be a real emotional rollercoaster ride, both for me and for my characters. I just wrote perhaps the most disturbing scene the night before, and tonight perhaps the happiest scene. Of course, I was focusing on different characters. That’s one of the other fun things about this, doing the different sections focused on different people. Even though they’re all in third person, it helps me get inside their heads and also to develop action without having to have it “explained.”


Two Amazing Poems

November 21, 2009

With the sheer bulk of writing out there, and the utter banality of much of it, I am surprised when I come across pieces that shake me up as much as these two poems I saw today do. I won’t attempt to introduce them, but just reproduce them here:

Robinson Jeffers – “Original Sin”

The man-brained and man-handed ground-ape, physically
The most repulsive of all hot-blooded animals
Up to that time of the world: they had dug a pitfall
And caught a mammoth, but how could their sticks and stones
Reach the life in that hide? They danced around the pit, shrieking
With ape excitement, flinging sharp flints in vain, and the stench of their bodies
Stained the white air of dawn; but presently one of them
Remembered the yellow dancer, wood-eating fire
That guards the cave-mouth: he ran and fetched him, and others
Gathered sticks at the wood’s edge; they made a blaze
And pushed it into the pit, and they fed it high, around the mired sides
Of their huge prey. They watched the long hairy trunk
Waver over the stifle trumpeting pain,
And they were happy.

Meanwhile the intense color and nobility of sunrise,
Rose and gold and amber, flowed up the sky. Wet rocks were shining, a little wind
Stirred the leaves of the forest and the marsh flag-flowers; the soft valley between the low hills
Became as beautiful as the sky; while in its midst, hour after hour, the happy hunters
Roasted their living meat slowly to death.

These are the people.
This is the human dawn. As for me, I would rather

Be a worm in a wild apple than a son of man.
But we are what we are, and we might remember
Not to hate any person, for all are vicious;
And not be astonished at any evil, all are deserved;
And not fear death; it is the only way to be cleansed.

Robinson Jeffers, “Original Sin” from The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, edited by Tim Hunt. Copyright © 1938 by Robinson Jeffers, renewed 1966 and © Jeffers Literary Properties. With the permission of Stanford University Press, Source: The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers (Stanford University Press, 1988)

Denise Levertov – “Come into Animal Presence”

Come into animal presence.
No man is so guileless as
as the serpent. The lonely white
rabbit on the roof is a star
twitching its ears at the rain.
The llama intricately
folding its hind legs to be seated
not disdains but mildly
disregards human approval.
What joy when the insouciant
armadillo glances at us and doesn’t
quicken his trotting
across the track into the palm bush.
What is this joy? That no animal
falters, but knows what it must do?
That the snake has no blemish,
that the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings,
in white star silence? The llama
rests in dignity, the armadillo
has some intention to pursue in the palm forest.
Those who were sacred have remained so,
holiness does not dissolve, it is a presence
of bronze, only the sight that saw it
faltered and turned from it.
An old joy returns in holy presence.

Reproduced in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences

These poems sort of say the same thing, but very differently. And the astonishing thing, for me, is the way they describe the ugliness of humanity without being misanthropic or encouraging hatred. It seems to me that what these poems attempt to get at, with a self-conscious sense of failure tempered by a beauty of imagination, is an awareness of the non-human world that steps beyond human judgment, and into a primal state of being that humans have lost because of civilization. They lament the de-spiritualized mode of perception that is imposed by humanity’s current way of life, or perhaps a loss too deep to put into words, something that explains our sense of alienation and nihilistic impulses far better than Marxism, Existentialism, or any political, religious, or philosophical ideology ever could.

Nanowrimo Day 19

November 19, 2009

Things are getting interesting again…. Today’s word count: 2,446 Total: 30,860 Should Be: 31,673

The scene I worked on yesterday and today is a pretty important scene, for a few reasons. But just as I said I felt hate for the one character, now I’m starting to feel a heavy sadness, mainly for the main character, but for some of the others as well….

Who knew that Nanowrimo would be such an emotional roller coaster?

Nanowrimo Day 17

November 17, 2009

Another big word count tonight–2,329, although all I basically did tonight was write. (Taking breaks only to make tea or listen to music.) Total: 26,795 Should Be: 28,339

I’m on to page 50 now. The halfway marker, woo-hoo! On the other hand, I’m only halfway???

Tonight I had another new experience. I’m starting to really hate this one character. I establish him as a bad guy pretty early on, but at that point I saw him more as a plot device. He’s becoming more of a real person now…and his behavior is starting to disgust me.

I’ve come to like, perhaps even “love” in a way, certain characters. And there have been characters I thought were assholes. But none I really hated.

Wow. Just…wow.

Nanowrimo Day 16

November 17, 2009

Today’s count: 2,758 Total: 24,467 Should be: 26,672

I’m on page 46 (73 with previous material) and still going strong. But the past week has been more challenging, not only because I’m still playing catch up, but because I’m still struggling with how I feel about the progress of the story.

Overall, though, I’m still happy to be doing this and devoted. And tonight, I broke into an unexpected section–a flashback of the main character’s parents. It’s helping me to get to know them, which is good, since I didn’t have much of a grasp on them before. And it also helps the plot, though it adds more complications I have to work out, too.

It’s the excitement of the unexpected like this that really make writing worth it!

Nanowrimo Day 13

November 13, 2009

OK, so it’s not as fun anymore. Today, I racked up 2,228. Which puts my total at 18,482, but it should be at 21,671. Basically 2 days to make up. And there may be 3 days over Thanksgiving weekend I won’t have access to a computer (one connected to the Internet anyway…too bad I don’t have one of those thumb drive thingies).

I’m starting not to like what I’m writing each day as much, feeling like I’m only writing some of it because I need to write. I question the believability and intelligence behind certain things I’m having the characters do and/or say. And one thing that’s always crept into anything I write that involves werewolves, but I worry over how well it’s executed–or even if it’s necessary–is writing from the wolf’s POV. Or, sort of. Trying to get the narration to take on the shape of what a wolf’s thoughts might be like. And then I have a conversation between a wolf and a raven that will probably look downright silly.

Well, just gotta keep going, and I’ll be able to have a better sense of how well it all fits together at the end.

Nanowrimo Day 9

November 9, 2009

Well, it’s Day 9, and I lost 3 days of writing due to being away in Washington, DC. It was quite worth it, but now I have to play catch up! Don’t have a plan just yet, but if I can do at least 2,000 words for the next couple of weeks, I should be OK. Today, I got in a hefty 2,276, which brings my total to 10,846. The goal for Day 9 is 15,003, so I’ve still got a lot to do to catch up, but I am confident I can do it.

Actually, everything I wrote today focused on a character who, though important to the story, I hadn’t been able to focus on much. It was nice to look at things from her POV, take a look inside her thoughts and emotions, and get a better sense of who she is.