The First Draft

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I finished my first draft! Hooray!! Yes, it took me longer than I originally anticipated. Life has a funny way of getting in the way. Between out of town guests and month long illnesses, there were many days I was unable to sit in front of the computer and get to work.

That said, I did keep tally on the days I wrote–and while I wasn’t consistent, on the days I could write I did very well. It took roughly 18 days to complete my first draft. And right there is the proof that plotting is the better way to go.

I’m sharing this for two reasons:

#1 — I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT!!

#2 — First drafts are exactly what the Terry Pratchett quote states. They’re a map for you to get from point A to point B.

I know a lot of people are working on NaNo right now, and if you’re one of those people I would like to say,  good job! And remember, just finish.

It doesn’t matter who well written the first draft is, only that it’s done.

xxoo-A

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The courtyard and the man.

 

I dreamt of an estate in Italy, at least that’s where my gut tells me it was. I’ve never been to Italy, but somehow I’m certain of the location. In the estate was a courtyard, and I saw me in it, wearing a violet and tangerine dress. Yes, this sounds like a terrible combination of colors, but I can assure you, it was a beautiful dress. Delicate and rich, like nothing I’ve ever own.

In the dream I loved the courtyard. There were raised gardens around the edges, and everything was made of old red bricks and gray stones. That place made me happy, but I wasn’t there anymore. I knew it wasn’t really me.

When I saw it, in my travels, I knew it was once mine. Just like I knew when I saw him, he was once mine, too. And he was perfect, and beautiful, and he made me happy.

But now he wasn’t there, and the courtyard was worn. Another woman owned it, and she didn’t like me being there. She didn’t like me remembering him. She wanted me to leave, but I couldn’t. Not without proof. Not without something tangible that showed I wasn’t insane.

When I found it, a book–leather bound, and falling apart, I knew my proof was on those brittle pages. As I reached for it–he was beside me. He reached with me, helping me pull it from the pigeon gray splintered shelf. The dry leather barely held the biding in place, and the pages were askew. One hand rested on my hip, his other on my arm.

And when he kissed me, I cried–because I knew it would never happen again. He left after that and I asked another man for help to find ‘him.’ We took a boat on the Mediterranean, but he was gone, and I was alone.

I’m not even sure why I’m sharing this, but I was online and I found an image of the courtyard. As I stared at it, all I could think, was, “Who was he?”

I guess I’ll never know.

(ps-I would have posted the photo but it wouldn’t let me)

xxoo-A

Halloween Writing Prompt!

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This weeks prompt:

Write about the terror that has no name.

In 1966 Truman Capote published, IN COLD BLOOD, not the first true-crime novel–but by far one of the most influential ever written.

When I think, “Write about the terror that has no name,” my first reactions go to this book. While there is a lot of ‘scary’ in the world–nothing is more scary to me than the idea of someone I don’t know killing me.

The scenario plays out in my head, usually on nights when I’m alone. And I have escape plans–none of them that great. But I’ll try–I hope. I pray I’ll try.

What do you think the ‘terror that has no name’ is? Please tell! (So I can be even more afraid of the night.)

Happy writing! xxoo-A

Wednesday Words–Angels & Demons

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I picked this prompt because I feel like it forces your hand. You these this sentence and automatically think, ‘fallen angel who runs amuck messing up, royally.’

But what if that’s not it at all. What if it’s a backhanded comment? Like:

“Did you hear about Kara?”

“I did. What a shame…”

“Yeah, I guess you never expect an angel to set the world on fire.”

–or–

Maybe it’s a ‘thing’ a character says.

“You really screwed up this time, Mary.”

“Maybe I have, but you know what they say–no one expects and angel to set the world on fire!”


Words. Words. Words. Love ’em or hate ’em–but they affect all of us. Even the none writing people in our lives (or in this world.)

I like the latter of the two. I like the ‘catch phrase,’ for lack of a better term.

“Life’s too short, man. And you know what they say…”

Happy writing! xxoo-A

Wednesdays Words–Speak to me…

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This week is a little dialogue fun! The best way to improve your writing, is to keep writing both in and outside of your comfort zone. Here’s my take on the conversation:

Ron stared at me hard. And I don’t mean that mild crap your mother throws at you when you did something wrong–I mean he really stared. Like, strait down into my god damn soul. 

“I expected you to do you job,” he said, voice as chilly as midnight in Siberia during a blizzard. He cupped his hand around the back of my neck, dragging me five feet across the garage to a corner cursed with perpetual shadows. “I expected you to be the god damn profession I thought I hired. That’s what I expected.”

His gaze darted to the trunk of my Monte Carlo before locking on my eyes again. 

“Carla ain’t gonna like this,” he said, shoving me away–hard. “And I won’t be taking the fall for your fuck up, Danny. Not this time. Not ever.”


I tend to read all over the place, but have a love of science fiction and fantasy. I’m not necessary talking Arthur C. Clarke & Tolkien, but I love them as much as I love–say, Cassandra Clare and Ray Bradbury. (And I love Margaret Atwood. Just in general. She’s awesome.) But when I write I find interests weaving and flowing through the world around me. I pick up inspiration in the LA Times, or from something I’ve seen on Twitter/Facebook.

And I find inspiration in writing prompts that force me to think in situations I normally wouldn’t put my characters.

What do you see/feel when you read the prompt? Where does it take you? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy writing! xxoo-A

Wednesday Words–Writing Prompt

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I’m going simple this week. Science Fiction prompt:

There’s a spy trapped in your computer.

He or she needs your help to survive.

What do you do?

Maybe it’s not that simple, but it’s direct. What do you do if you learn the conscienceless of a spy has been downloaded into your computer?


My take:

My eyes were glued to the cursor. Suddenly it’s repetitive blinking felt more like old Morse Code than a reminder as to where I left off in my writing.

I read the text again–“I’ve been downloaded into your computer. Please help.”

What are you really supposed to say to something like that? Well, beside–haha! Funny joke! I wanted to believe that was the end of it. That somehow someone from Twitter or Facebook hacked my account to mess with me–but I ran the diagnostics. I checked, re-checked, took my computer to a shop and had them check–but when I booted up for the umpteenth time, with no real reason, the messages started again.

“Why wont you answer me?” they said.

“You  know I can see you through the camera, right? And may I add, pants would be a nice touch?”

“Why would I be asking you for help if I didn’t actually need it.” This was a good point, but still… You’re trapped in my computer?

The comments and questions wore at my psyche until I couldn’t ignore them any longer. That’s when I finally typed, “What do you need me to do?”

And they wrote back, “Finding my body would be a nice start.”


What would you do?

Happy writing! xxoo-A

Are you there, God? Oh, wait…

…I forgot. I haven’t done the whole ‘god’ thing in circa twenty years. So maybe I should say ‘universe’ or something less religion specific.

I sit here, as my dinner slowly burns on the range, with my fingers hovering over this neon blue keyboard attempting to articulate the myriad of thoughts devouring my brain. I am consumed with to many it’s become hard to sift through them all–searching for the right train of thought.

Frustrating building, I’m now calling to the heavens for guidance.

My writing inspiration seems to be an situation of ‘all or nothing.’ Either I have so many ideas I’m lost (like right now,) or it’s a blank desert–endless miles of dust mote dunes suffocating my brain. If only I could find a trigger… Oh, wait!! (again!) I entered a contest. I did! I entered #PitchWars, and now I have a list longer than the Mississippi to choose from.

Here is my question for you, my lovely readers. How do you choose your projects? What is your process? Normally, mine is I wait until an idea keeps me up at night–but I have a bit quandary, for I have a WIP that needs tending, another MS plotting on a promise–and then there’s the one that’s keeping me up.

Do you see what the problem is? What should I do?!

So, now you are god (this could go poorly quickly, but lets do it any way.) All of the help you provide (aka–advice) is greatly appreciated!

Now–if you’re also entered Pitch Wars, I wish you luck! And to everyone else. Happy Writing!!

xx-

-A

 

 

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I haven’t written a poem in over a year. I think it’s been a year…I haven’t checked.

It’s weird. I won’t pretend it’s not. Poetry crept up on me, like other parts of my life, but I supposed it also slipped away.

It slipped away because I begged it to. There are only so many hours in the day, week, month–decade. Choosing wisely can make or break everything (me). Before I lumped it all together.

“They” did it like. Those. Them, the people who were’t me. Those who will never be.

I can’t be like that–like them.

It’s one malfunction after the other, until I found my footing. The “my” and “me” that fit my life. Less is more. Flexibility and patience. Slow and steady–all the good ones.

The prescription for me is:

  • read
  • write
  • journal
  • again

Multitasking works with dinner prep and homework, but not with words.

Is that how it is for you?

The “Writers Challenge”

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I remember the first time I heard about National Novel Writing Month – it was many moons ago, and I was a wee lass not really looking at the bigger picture.

At the time I was married, but childless – and let me tell you, when you’re childless it is much easier to find time to write. That said – with children or without – it is ALSO very easy to find a million excuses not to write.

But back then I participated in the now hugely famous “NaNo” (as I like to call it), but any more the idea of killing myself to write a first draft in one month sounds terrible. Plus, it’s a first draft.

Really can’t speak for you but I know I need a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth draft until my book is half way presentable. Once there was a time I wouldn’t admit that out loud – but these days I don’t care. Needing to write extra drafts doesn’t make me a crappy writer – writing multiple drafts makes me a better one.

While I no longer jump on the NaNoWriMo train – I am a fan of friendly competition (mostly with myself) to get the fire burning under my butt. That has led my friend and I to start our own 3 month challenge. (Which I’m sure will become an infinite challenge, because for me writing is as important as coffee.)

Does it have a fancy name? Nope.

Are we guaranteed an agent and a publication deal upon completion? HA! Nope…

But I love it, so I wanted to share it. Currently, seeing there are only two of us we email each other our word count at the end of the day. There is a minimum, because if there wasn’t it wouldn’t be much of a challenge, now would it? It is a whopping 750 words. To me, this is a very small number – to you, maybe not so much, but it’s a doable number for sure.

On top of that, at the end of the week we email our combined word count.

I know what you’re thinking, what about all the other aspects of writing? (e.g. plotting, research, editing <- because editing is a paramount part of writing, even if you hate doing it.) Well, all of that counts, too. Instead of a word count, we send amounts of time. “Today I edited for 3 hours.”

You get the picture.

This is me inviting you to join us! Tweet me @arynyoungless your daily word count, time editing, etc. Hashtag it #writingchallenge and join in our fun. Because while writing a story often sends you to a secluded writers island – you don’t  have to be alone. Help support each other, promote each other, and motivate each other – that is a goal of mine.

Hope to hear from you!

-Aryn

Friday in Review: Ham on Rye

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I visited Bukowski’s grave after moving to Los Angeles. It’s in San Pedro, about a 40 minute drive from my apartment. Better yet, my apartment is about a ten minute drive from the house he grew up in. Well, not better for Chuck ‘ol boy – it wasn’t really a happy home.

To put it mildly, I am a Bukowski fan and have been for years. Oddly, Ham on Rye is a book I’ve only read recently (because someone stole my copy). <- true story. The reason it is so odd is Ham on Rye is by far his best book. I liked Factotum, I loved Women and Hollywood, and I was even amused by Pulp (his last book published shortly before his death 20 years ago.) Say what you want about the man – hate him for all I care – but Ham on Rye is one of the most genuine coming of age stories I have read in a very long time. Starting from when he is 3 years old and ending at the beginning of World War II, Bukowski takes on his alter ego “Hank” and tells you his story like it was. (With a little embellishment here and there just to give it that extra flair.)

Are there women? Some.

Is there booze? Of course.

Why is this different from all of his other booze induced, women laced books?  Because it shows you the “why”. Why did he become the man he was? Why did he crawl inside a bottle? Why was he so obsessed with women and words? Every single answer is right there smashed between orange groves, high school angst, the great depression, and trolley rides to and from Pershing Square.

Loud, brash Bukowski is known for getting right in your face and saying, “What the hell are you going to do about it?” That quality is still there, but that’s not what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the spider. The small tiny moments that subsequently mould us into our adult selves.

So that’s why I pick this book. I pick Charles Bukowski for his poetry, for his soul, and for his courage to say out loud all those things that are very easily hidden behind booze and broads. Maybe you’ve read him, or maybe he is new to you – this is the place to start.

Ham on Rye won’t let you down.

“So, that’s what they wanted: lies. Beautiful lies. That’s what they needed. People were fools. It was going to be easy for me.”

 

Maybe it wasn’t always easy, but it was totally worth it.

 

Please feel free to recommend books below!