What I'm Not Writing and What You Should Be Reading

I haven’t been here in a while. You know, doing that NaNoWriMo thing. So where am I? I am hopelessly behind.
I have accepted the fact that I will not win (unless I suddenly get really productive in the next five days and write about six thousand words a day), but I am willing myself not to give up. I do not want to be a quitter.

Can you tell, I am in my I hate NaNoWriMo phase, the one where I repeatedly ask myself, what the hell was I thinking?

But, I still love my story and my characters. Well I still really like them at least. I have moments where I think they may be morons but mostly I like them.

Writing is hard. Have I said that before? I mean, I can write and write and write, doesn’t mean what I write is any good. However, writing something that is good, that is well written, that is literary, now that is hard.

More than one someone has told me that when I am feeling stuck to go back to those writers that I love, read their work and see how they did it, how they crafted sentences, paragraphs, chapters. How they moved from one scene to the next.

I used to worry that reading other stuff while I was writing, particularly well known stuff. I feared it would lead me to copy that style of writing to try to write like that author. It really doesn’t happen like that, I might try to emulate an author’s style, but it will still have my voice.

So I went to the author I most would like to be at this very moment, I mean if I could perform some kind of magic and suddenly be that good. I pulled out my copy of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Just holding the book in my hands I was reminded how much I loved it the first time. I refused to go see the movie because I would watch the movie trailers and felt like I could see what director Peter Jackson was doing to tell the story and I didn’t like it.
If you are a reader, I’m sure you know what I mean, you read something that you love, you love the story, the language. Then someone makes a movie based on the book and they change it, they change its very essence. I couldn’t stand the thought of someone changing The Lovely Bones.

So I brought it out again, my intention was to look at it objectively this time, see how Alice Sebold handled scenes and transitions, and dialogue.

I opened the book and within about two paragraphs, I was transported into her story I was awash in her beautiful language and description. I couldn’t tell you how she handled transitions or anything else I was so lost in the story all over again.

Now I have to stop myself from reading because I won’t get six, much less six-thousand words written today if I keep reading.

Read the rest of the post here.

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Comment by Elle Pedersen on November 28, 2010 at 8:25am
I agree Julie - writing a novel is hard - I suffer from writers block often and balancing introspection with action is something I'm not good at. If I can't find the answers I need, I interact with people more .. people who can reflect back to me who I am and where my light shines brightest =))
Comment by Nonqaba waka Msimang on November 25, 2010 at 11:49pm
"But, i still love my story and my characters." What you said here is so true Julie. There is no story if we don't believe in our characters. I believe in mine so much, i find myself thinking that Zaba (character in Sweetness The Novel) would do it this way, or she wouldn't like this. I hit my hand and say, 'Nonqaba stop. She doesn't exist. She's just a character.' Oops!

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