Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Voice void

In college, when I took the one acting class UT allowed non-drama majors to take, I had to play Blanche in a duet from A Streetcar Named Desire. I kept practicing and it kept not working for me. For some reason, though, even though it's very southern and Blanche is very southern, having never seen the show before, it didn't occur to me to give her a southern accent. Finally, shortly before we were due to perform it for the teacher, it dawned on me to try a southern accent, and everything fell into place with a satisfying click. The teacher raved about our performance and gave us an A, so I knew I'd found what I needed.

Normally, my writing projects start with a voice, and that's what drives them. I mean literally, they often start with a character talking in my head, telling me what's going on in his or her life, and I just take dictation. I don't necessarily know where the ideas come from, they just appear.

My current NaNoWriMo novel, on the other hand, started with an idea, years ago, in the back of my mind. I let it gestate some, adding characters and ideas and a few plot developments along the way, but 16,000 words in, it still just seems like a random collection of words with a few fairly solid sections sprinkled in. I still don't think it has the right voice. I do think it has the right protagonist, but I haven't quite found her voice yet, the way I hadn't with Blanche. I am more convinced all the time, though, that this book cries out for unusual formatting--e-mails, lists, poems, lyrics, etc.--maybe to the exclusion of regular prose. Maybe the right format, when I find it, will prove to be the right voice. I'm not sure, I'm just wondering if, at this point, what I really need is more words like the ones I've already written, or if I need to pull a NaNo no-no and start tweaking structure first.

In any case, what I have now is nothing like what I want to have when I am done. And yet I see just enough promise there, under the surface, that I feel an intense need to find the true voice and tell the story.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Can't...resist...baby costumes!

Little scarecrow

In his brother's old giraffe costume

R2D2, to go with his brothers' Obi-Wan and Darth Vader costumes

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Baby steps

No, I don't mean I'm taking baby steps in relation to my writing, I mean real, honest-to-goodness baby steps. My baby took 4 steps in a row earlier, and then 5 steps in a row. I didn't see it, but my husband and 6-year-old reported it. I have seen him take one step before, or more like a half-step, but this was his first sequence of steps. (Not that he'd repeat it for me.) His 9-month checkup is tomorrow (he's 9 months 11 days), and his dr had guessed he'd probably be walking by then, so he probably wanted to oblige her!

(As for my writing, I'm 7318 words into my NaNo novel, but it's a hodgepodge of occasionally incompatible scenes!)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NaNoWriMo 2007

So I'm doing NaNoWriMo again, for better or for worse, and have just under half of my needed word count for today, even though I haven't written in hours. I expect to have no problem making my quota today. (Though my computer is officially DEAD, and I'm having to claim the family computer, which I normally never touch...and which I can't easily use while holding my baby, eek. I'm writing the novel in a Google document so I can work on it from any computer with Internet access, which will probably include some library computers, etc.).

I updated last year's abandoned NaNo blog here: NaNo Madness 2007. To quote from my latest entry in that blog:
I've never been as open to writing a crappy first draft as I am right now, and it's kind of exciting. I look forward to just playing with words. E.B. White once said, "I dive into a story the way I dive into the sea, prepared to splash about and make merry," and that's how I'm diving into NaNo this year. (Of course, he also said, "Writing is hard work and bad for the health," but I'm going to go with the first quote for now!)