Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Life Post-NaNo


(My view while writing about interplanetary space ships.)

NaNoWriMo is ending today at midnight and I am done my novel. You’d think that I’d want to spend as much time away as possible from the computer now. You know, stop thinking about my story entirely and see if I’ve missed much of real life in that month I spent in sci-fi/NaNo land! I probably should go to that doctor’s appointment now and maybe put a pound or two on my bones. But rehabilitation is not easy and I find myself still clinging to the glory of NaNoWriMo. I come back from the battlefield, bloodied and exhausted, but victorious and hungry for more... or something like that!

So here I thought I’d go more in depth about my writing experience and give some advice if you think of participating next year. Which, if you have any inclination whatsoever towards writing, you totally should. I didn’t know at first if I was going to do it. I had some initial concerns. But now I’m hooked and wished I didn’t have to wait for another year to do this again (my boyfriend is on the other hand grateful it’s over).

First of all, there is no valid excuse why you shouldn’t do it. 50,000 seems like a lot of words, but it’s realistic. It’s feasible. At the end, you’re not going to have a huge novel. You’ll have something you can easily read back in a few hours (depends how fast you read though I guess. I read fast.) Just trying here to put that number into some vague perspective.

Check your perfectionist tendencies at the beginning of the month and tell your inner editor to zip it. Don’t listen to that nagging voice at the back of your head saying that you suck and that you should quit. Yell back at it: “YOU SUCK! Frack off!!”

This is not the time to spend an hour just picking out a name for a character or a place. Use the first friggen name that comes into your mind. You can change it later, you know, when you don’t have a word count to beat in a timely matter. Borrow names if it gives you a feel for a character or a place. I borrowed names of places from the novel Red Mars and one of my main characters is currently named after a WWE champion. Keep that epic villain name that makes everybody cringe because it contains the word “fetish” in it. Remember, this is a marathon of words. It’s quantity versus quality. It cannot be stressed enough. The right synonym is overrated during this month as well. So what there is the same word three times in the same paragraph? Don’t give yourself a facepalm over it. Save that for NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month). What matters, is your words and the story. That you know what you mean when writing something is all that matters so you can fix it and polish it later.

Take it easy when ideas are not coming. Writing at times will feel like you’re not doing anything. You’re going to procrastinate a lot while your brain works out the details of your story. Having an outline helps. But if you’re anything like me, you won’t follow that story outline too much and know what’s going on as you go. If an idea seems crazy to you but just won’t leave your head, write it anyway. Don’t fight it. Sometimes your subconscious knows best. Or keep telling yourself that. Remind yourself of NaNoEdMo. I had a few wtf moments during this month, wondering what a psychoanalyst would think if he or she ever read my draft. Whatever, masquerade the weirdness for some brilliance and move on! So what if I’ve shaped a self-destruct mechanism as a vagina? That’s cool! If I’d been a guy, it probably would’ve been a phallic symbol ‘a la Austin Power! I’ll worry if it’s tasteful later down road. I got a couple good sized paragraphs out of it though. In the end, that’s what counts, right?

Just do it! And add me as a writing buddy!

See you again next year NaNoWriMo!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Who's a NaNoWriMo Winner? This girl!!

So I have finally reached today my word count and managed to keep my writing in check and not spill over endlessly over the 50,000 mark like I was afraid I might do. As usual, finishing my novel was a pain. I don’t do well with story endings. Its always been a problem for me. I could build up forever though. In fact I’ve been building up forever now on my other writing project. And I don’t feel like I’ve been quite to the depths I wanted for my finale, but what is done is done and NaNoEdMo can wait!

If I have learned anything during this month is that I have absolutely no valid excuse whatsoever not to finish my other writing project, although now it can wait! I need a break from any intense creative process. I can’t go trough that again, not so soon!

I have neglected myself, my relationship and friendships, all for the sake of this project. I have drank more coffee then I normally would or should. I experienced wrists and neck pains for the first time at a computer. To try and motivate myself to write or come up with ideas sometimes was a pain and a huge part of the creative process consisted in looking at anything but the computer screen in an empty stare. Or check if I had any messages on twitter or Facebook a hundred times over. Holy procrastination!

But it is done!

Next month… Cataclysm!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NaNo Break

I'm down to my last 5k on my word count for NaNoWriMo and I thought I’d procrastinate a little. I’m listening to the music that will put me in the right mood for an epic finish. I’ve got my literary blind spot in mind though. You see, my villain’s name is Fetisha. It happens to be the name of a song from one of my favourite bands back in high school, Orgy. I always thought that it would make the perfect villain name (I still do). However, whenever my friends and loved ones read that name off paper or screen, they give me that weirded out facial expression. Ya know? I’m biased of course.

Sometimes I suspect that if I bothered reading the lyrics to the song, my opinion would change (I get this reaction from a fan of Orgy as well). I only get half the lyrics when I listen to a song, any song. But what I do get is enough to give me some vivid mental imagery. That and maybe the whole Candyass album (yes, you read that right) painted in my head my supremely villainous villain, seductive and crazy in the head, rampant and borderline out of control.

Anywhoo… Blue Monday is playing now. Back to writing for me!



Saturday, October 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo

So... there is this thing called NaNoWriMo, for the National Novel Writing Month. Needless to say, it picked my curiosity. But it also made me weary. I am paranoid when it comes to my writing. I’m a... very protective of my material. At first the name also annoyed me, for some silly reason. Now it’s sort of growing on me. At first I chose to ignore it (I saw it first on Facebook), but then I started seeing it mentioned elsewhere on blogs I follow and had to learn more. I even read the Terms & Conditions of Use. I never read the Terms & Conditions of Use. So here I was, sniffing around NaNoWriMo’s site like a weary dog.

To be honest, if it weren’t for the warm reception of the event on the blogosphere, I wouldn’t have signed up for it (Yay! Ear-to-mouth, err... blogging!).

I know that there are a lot of writers out there. There are a few writers in my family in fact: aunts and uncles, maybe even cousins. It’s a hobby for me (as it is for them), let’s be honest. I don’t make a living off of writing (yet). But does that mean I’m not a writer? This was one of the issues I had about joining NaNoWriMo: if I fail, does that mean I’m not a writer? I have the same dilemma thinking, if I’m not published, does it mean I’m not a writer?

I sure have the insecurities of a writer.

And then I couldn’t see what the point of the whole exercise was. Writing 50 000 words in a month is a lot of work. I know this. To “win” I’d have to write 2 000 words a day to finish on time and I know that I can write 1 000 words an hour... on a good day, when I’m not too distracted. It’s going to be hard. I got wondering what’s the point of doing all this hard work for? There doesn’t seem to be a prize for this thing.

The “About” section of their web page isn’t all that insightful

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

Ok... I get that. But what’s the prize!? I think later, somewhere, I read that they give you a certificate or something. But then I got thinking, browsing on their web page some more, that having access to an active writing community, an online community that is sharing a common and simultaneous experience, may benefit me some. I am shy when it comes to my work, but surely other writers feel the same way? Maybe some have similar experiences with writing? And then, maybe not? As a writer, I believe in sharing experiences. That’s what a writer does in their stories: share the experiences of their characters. I guess I’m afraid to be told out flat that I’m not a real writer (because I’m not published... yet!). But really though, who would do that?

I find interesting that some of the works produced during NaNoWriMo (sounds kind of like Japanese doesn’t it?) have been published. I like what I read somewhere on their web site (I can’t find where right now) November is for writing, editing is for December (oh, it was in the email confirmation spiel).

I came up with my own why and was left with what. Pouting, I began to think about what I would write. I already have a manuscript, on hold for research (which exceeds 50 000 words already). Isn’t this writing a new novel from scratch an excuse to procrastinate on the huge amount of reading I have to do for research? But again, there is much to learn from this experience and it’s only once a year and only for a month. But I couldn’t think of anything to write about. Maybe a fantasy novel which could become the lore of the video game that I refer to in my current writing project. Then I got thinking of old novel ideas... and I thought of an old villain of mine (that I’d thought back in 12th grade) which I’d abandoned and recycled in my current novel. And I got thinking, well, what if I told her story, the original story about her?

So I began thinking of my NaNoWriMo novel, starting with the bad ass villain. Also, yesterday I was thinking of bio-engineered spaceships, so I’m totally incorporating that into the story (which is sci-fi by the way). The original story had to do with twin girls, separated in their early teens, and living apart very different lives. One, Andrea, becomes a prominent scientist on Mars, a biologist (unknowingly promoting the stereotype of girl biologists). And the other, Fetisha, on the other hand... has a different life entirely. Captured by crazy folks with bio-engineered spaceships (pirates) she becomes in womanhood the head of a cult; a very bad group of people in the solar system who pray on others ships… and minds. Maybe I could have the ideology of the cult modeled against Scientology.

Oh, and predictably, the twins will meet again when they are women grown.

The irony is that I was thinking of this novel back in high school, with the idea that Andrea becomes a futuristic “saint for god” in the story (I was a “hard-core” catholic back in the day and wished to hmm… become a saint myself. Every "good" catholic does! Don't you know?) and Fetisha becomes the devil’s emissary. But I don’t believe in god anymore and I wouldn’t dream of writing a novel with god and the devil as antagonists! But still... Andrea is a scientist. So, now I’m thinking of making this a battle for rationality. Atheism VS occult beliefs. There!

Fixed!

I was thinking of bio-engineered spaceships when I was remembering how vibrations make bones stronger (as per Nasa research I’d heard about on TV) and got wondering what would happen to a space creature exposed to the dangers of space. Would it's skin and structure become more resilient? And the idea that we might have bio-engineered ships in the future, I think, is not that far fetched. So I’m looking forward to explore that possibility in writing.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

YouTube videos that make me happy:

I've been a little busy with work, gaming and reading lately. Also, I was writing a huge piece on my deconversion story. I have decided not to publish it for the moment. Maybe sometime in the future, when I feel more ready. In the meantime, here are some "happy" you tube videos seen how, according to this website, this blog is "probably written by a female somewhere between 66-100 years old. The writing style is personal and upset most of the time. "

Yeah, whatever!















We used to listen to this song on the radio every Friday morning. Of course, not the version sung by this guy. (In case you didn't know, I'm francophone, hence the few french songs on my list).

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Did the Universe need a creator? - Hawking answers.

I have pre-ordered Stephen Hawking's new book The Grand Design, due to come out on the 7th of September. It's pretty cool that on the day of it's release, it will be downloaded on my computer and cellphone. I guess I could go to the bookstore and get myself a copy, but I'm such a geek! I might also get it before the store even opens here. It's a good thing that I work a later shift: that way I'll be able to see if it downloads after midnight and start reading it right away!

I love Kindle!

Read more on this book on Pharyngula and Richarddawkins.net. And here is a very, very interesting transcript from The God Debate.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sci-Fi novel: a daily progress report.

Woot! I’m a writer again! I wrote 2 000 words yesterday and an entire chapter and already wrote 1 000 this morning of another new chapter. It’s shit, as usual, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that my first draft is more like a set of notes following a, more or less, chronological order. Everything needs to be re-written anyway, to reflect the recent changes I’ve made. There might be a bit of an intimate scene between Amber and Keith (which would tie nicely with what I’m currently writing) and I will cancel the scene between Janet and Adrianne, which was stupid and badly timed to begin with anyway (you have no idea what I'm talking about, but that's OK. One day, I'll share). Also, I will refrain myself from making scientific explanations or go too far into how things work. What matters most is the story and feelings I’m trying to convey. And I am no scientist (much to my regret). I will leave the current and future generations, who may or may not take a liking in my story, explain the science. The same way they did with technology seen in Star Trek such as cell phones and Ipads. However, I will try to avoid common science mistakes such as including sounds in space! No, I will replace the science-stuff with colorful and lengthy descriptions, sensations and feelings. Everything in the story is HUGE! The J-Rex station is humongous! And the Aries is quite a big ship for only 5 people. And although, she is quite huge, she is also tiny compared to other ships of the mercantile fleet. I want everything to be gloriously out of proportion.

Read, read, read, write, write, and write... my new motto!

I have determined, this morning, that I’ve had a writer’s block since April. And I’m pretty glad to be back on track, let me tell ya.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Writing update

I've been working on a science-fiction novel for a little over a year now. Working on my first draft to be precise, which I started writing in July 18th of last year. I'm halfway trough the story line I would say and just begun writing again yesterday (for the past months I have been unable to write, so I did research instead). Ever since I've untied a certain knot in the story (a simple gender change in one of my characters unfold a thread of new ideas, filling out the blank spaces in my novel brilliantly), I've been feeling the pressure to get on with the story before it looses it's appeal to me. Especially since I've been feeling inspired again (and happy). I wanna ride that wave while it lasts. So I wrote a little over 500 words last night and am thinking that maybe I should make that 1000 words daily. I need to get that first draft out of the way and right now I think I've got all I need to finish that second half, which is going to be so much better then the first half. The first half will have to be re-written, but that will wait till the completion of the first draft. Right now though I have clear mental notes of what I want out of that first manuscript. But I must continue with the story as if nothing is amiss in it's first chapters, with the changes I've recently made to the crew of my little space ship, "recasting" of certain roles, etc. And I have a better feel of the places visited in the novel and writing their descriptions have become easier. I can't waste myself re-writing the first half now or by the time I'm done, I'll go trough another dry period during which I'll still find things to do and undo, never really going anywhere.

As to what the story is about... hmm... You'll have to wait for a teaser once it's done. ;)

I will, however, say this. My novel is causing me to write about Jupiter and this YouTube "video" is quite pleasant to listen to while writing about the King of planets.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Writing Progress - the first draft

The knowledge I've accumulated for my novel research has finally reached critical mass and I spent the whole weekend writing down ideas for the 45,000 words manuscript I'm working on.

I can now say I finally have a plot to work against. Unfortunately, although it’s very exciting and I'd like to think original, I can’t tell you what it is about (writer’s paranoia, what can I say). All that I will say though is that I'm working on a science-fiction novel. That's it! That's all you're getting from me (sorry). During the weekend I wrote my ideas down in notepad, one followed by another in rapid succession, fitting pieces of a puzzle in my mind in the places that were left void for months! I still have a few pieces missing, but now I’m definitely getting the picture. The progress I made in this single weekend is huge! If I wasn’t entirely sure about my story a few days ago, I’m sure now that it’s worth pursuing. I wonder what to do though from this point on: whether to re-write what I wrote so far (print it and type it again) or just continue writing from where I left it, ignoring the inconsistencies with the first half of the manuscript, having added new elements to the story?

I'm pretty excited about this! And paranoid... I'm thinking of ways to back up my files on multiple devices, just in case. I've been thinking of buying an external drive (even though I already have an 8 g flash drive and I can back up my files on Matt's computer as well). I think this might also be an attempt at procrastinating. But it's true I'm having a hard time finding a spot in the apartment where I would be comfortable enough to start writing. The couch is comfortable, but it's right in "entertainment" central, so I get plenty of distraction (and my concentration is not at its best at the moment). The bed is too comfortable and it's hard to write with my eyes shut and my brain on sleep mode. So at this juncture, I'm still entertaining the idea of buying myself a desk even though I just have the laptop. I don't know... I'll have to stop being an idiot and figure something out if I want to begin what I'm hoping it to be a productive writing marathon of 1000 - 2000 words a day.

I wonder if my attempt at justifying procrastination is any indication of the awesomeness of my novel idea. Dr. Burns would say I fear success!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New music video from a Symphony of Science

I was just thinking in the past few days that it'd be nice to see a new video out there. Well, what do you know:



Oh and I got a delivery this morning from Amazon!! My Carl Sagan books are in!!! Yay!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Symphony of Science - 'Our Place in the Cosmos' (ft. Sagan, Dawkins, Kaku, Jastrow)

I thought it was time for another one.
Click here to see all of Symphony of Science videos.

Carl Sagan - A Pale Blue Dot

I ordered A Pale Blue Dot today by Carl Sagan on Amazon (along with two other books in order to get free shipping. Harumph!) I'm pretty excited about it. I remember reading Cosmos when I was younger. Here is a tease in the meantime:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Writing update... or lack thereof.

With the nice weather outside I'm starting to feel the traditional spring urge to de-clutter, which is highly unusual for me as I'm known as a pack-rat. Also unusual is the, well, nice weather! Oh, and it's still supposed to be winter. Yet there is barelly any snow left on the ground. Yeah, this is unrelated to the subject of my post.

Sometimes I feel like researching is a bit like playing Little Big Planet where you unlock stickers and materials to create your own levels. The more levels you make in the game, the more stuff you can choose from. I've been in research mode for a while now. It eats at my self esteem a bit though waiting for a break in my story. It's starting to show on this blog.

Although, my lack of posting comes also from my writer's paranoia. I fear that one of these days I will write something brilliant and then finding it on someone else's blog with their name plastered all over it (I never said paranoia is rational).

I'll be looking at my first draft for the story I'm working on and try to devise a game plan for the next few weeks.

In the meantime, here is a fun opinion piece to read about writers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Musings of a Sci-Fi junkie.

Distance used to matter. Since the internet though, not so much. Now we're just a tweet away from being connected to the rest of the world. It's amazing! Virtual networking. And this is just the beginning. What great wonder awaits us just around the corner? I imagine... we'll be almost telepathic. Maybe we'll do away with computer screens and keyboards. Maybe we will connect to the rest of the world via our minds directly. Sounds all Matrixy, but in the movie it was just a lie, something evil. It was like dreaming. And it sounds like the Borg from Star Trek. But if we were at peace and people could walk around and function in a world where they were are all virtually connected, yet still retaining their individuality, immagine! How will that change us? Will it be a bad thing, or will it be extraordinary? Human virtual telepaths. Hmmm... don't I remember something similar on DS9? Or was it RogerLeloup's comic Yoko Tsuno?

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Glorious Dawn - A Symphony of Science

The techno quality of this music video might not be for everyone to enjoy (freaks my bf a little) but if you're a fan of Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking or even just science in general, you might enjoy this as much as I do.



Watch more music videos from a Symphony of Science here!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Supercooled Water

After a colleague sent me a link on the subject, my boyfriend and I spent an evening watching YouTube videos about supercooled water. The principle is that you can cool water bellow its freezing point without it actually turning into ice. But once disturbed, it causes a chain reaction and freezes instantly, as you can see in the following video:



It's so cool, I had to try! I didn't know about this property of water. It's amazing to see that you can still learn from something that we use -and take for granted- every day. And it's a simple experiment too: all you need is a bottle of water, a freezer and a timer. Timing is extremely crucial because if you leave it too long, ice will form. And if you don't leave it in the freezer long enough, it won't work.

Attempt #7:
This is my third success. It wasn't as good as the other two times because the chain reaction was a little fuzzy. When I shook the bottle, you can see some slush being thrown around and the freezing didn't spread quite evenly. For this experiment I keep reusing the same bottle over and over again. I just make sure that there is no ice present in the bottle when I put it in the freezer as the water will form ice around those "seeds". I'm using a 1 L bottle of unopened filtered water. So far, I've had the most success keeping it in the freezer for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Can't tell ya how cold it is in there though. Obviously, different freezers and other variants will produce different data. I'm hoping to make a video where you can see the same chain reaction as you can see in the YouTube video above.



After the cooling time, I admit I might've taken the bottle out of the freezer a little too slow! It does take a bit of... persuation for the reaction to start. I suspect the colder the water is, the faster it freezes.

Once I'll have this down to a (ahem) science, I'll make a video using the glass of water with ice cubes. What happens in that instance is that the supercooled water freezes instantly as it touches the ice. The point of contact is where the chain reaction begins. This is the reason why the water needs to be free of particules. Even bubbles of water can help ice form crystals.

Attempt #8:
I think I'm starting to understand what I need to do instead of shaking and beating the bottle! Something about the top part of the bottle..

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Crime scene photos

Exhibit "A":
A bag of cat treats.



The back of the bag: as you can see, the bag was ripped apart and only a few crumbles were left behind. Further forensic analysis might be needed to uncover the culprit.



The main suspects:

Froufrou... (whom, in my opinion, looks guilty as hell)


...and Stella. (A little upset that I woke her up.)



The suspects have decided to remain silent until an attorney of their choice can speak in their defense. Very suspicious indeed.

Update: Yup! It was Froufrou alright! Sorry Froufrou, no more treats until I do the groceries, because someone ate them all already.