Posts filed under Writing

A (paper) notebook and a pen

Filed in Writing

This morning, I went out without my netbook. This is rare. The only times I don’t carry my netbook with me when I go out is when I don’t plan to write outside. But this morning, I made a conscious decision to carry only a paper notebook and pen.

I’ve been writing quite a bit by hand this past month. I think it’s because of this B5 spiral bound notebook that I bought early in the month. Size-wise, it’s smaller than A4 but larger than A5. A5 has been my preferred size for many years; I find A4 to be too big and conspicuous. I also prefer spiral bound notebooks because they open flat, but the problem with A5 spiral bound is my hand hits the spiral spine too soon. So I decided to try the B5 size, and find that it suits me. So I’ve been writing by hand quite a bit this month, usually 3 pages at a time.

This morning, I wrote 4 pages after breakfast at Wendy’s in JayaOne, while waiting for my car to be washed. I felt comfortable taking out the notebook and opening it on the table to write. This morning’s writing was sparked off by something I read in a book that just arrived from Better World Books a few days ago – Writers and Their Notebooks, edited by Diana M Raab. This picture commemorates the writing session:

I usually can’t write by hand for long, due to my lupus. But I haven’t felt much pain writing by hand in the B5 notebook. Part of the reason is the notebook itself. The other is the pen – I use a Pilot G-2 0.7 which glides across the surface of the notebook and doesn’t get in the way of the writing. My handwriting’s not great, but I’ve learned not to let it bother me; what’s important is getting the words down.

February is the shortest month

Filed in Being Silly, Writing

Even when it’s a leap year. And that’s why it’s now already March. Simply because February is the shortest month.

Don’t mind my silliness.

Earlier today, I saw a note from a friend on FB about getting together a reading group for A S Byatt’s Possession. I thought I was so smart when I replied “Persuasion was what persuaded me about A S Byatt’s wonderful-ness.” A while later, it occurred to me Persuasion is not the title of the book, but Possession. I went back and deleted the note, and later tweeted dunno what possessed me to write Persuasion instead of Possession by A S Byatt. Was trying to be funny and use the word “persuaded”. *blur*

I have various writing projects, including Panda Stories, a series of 20 stories based on 20 pictures, and A – Z, short notes on Facebook. So far, I’ve only written three of the 20 panda stories, and four of the alphabet notes. Panda Stories was “launched” on 20 December 2009 and the third story posted about a month later on 19 January 2010. The first of the alphabet notes, “Age”, was posted on 19 January 2010, and “Disorganised”, the fourth, on 23 February 2010.

Pretty pathetic output. Nevertheless, I’m feeling somewhat accomplished today, having written and posted a new story on The British Council’s A City of Shared Stories Kuala Lumpur site. I’ve posted various stories on that site, and should really include them in my recent writing output.

I’ll do better than that. I’ll post links to all my stories posted to date on that site.

Taken for a ride
17 December 2009

Kindness Remembered
18 December 2009

Urban Miracle
3 January 2010

8 January 2010

He also started this way
10 January 2010

“You won’t believe what happened, man … “
1 March 2010

Hmm, no stories posted in February? Well, it was a short month – the shortest month! – and just whooshed by.

Hopefully, I’ll maintain, if not increase, my writing output from now on.

Coming Soon: Panda Stories

Filed in Pictures, Stress Busters, Writing

20 pictures. 20 stories.

These 20 pictures grace the back of my Moo MiniCards. After I chose them and sent off the order, I realised each of the picture has a story behind it. What a great store of panda stories to tell!

These are actually version 2 of a set I ordered almost a year. I never gave out version 1 but recently brought some along to a book launch. Good thing I did – or maybe I had a feeling I would need them that evening – as I did have to exchange cards with a potential client. And when I told some friends later, they asked for my cards so I gave away a few more.

Never gave them out until recently … so why did I order a version 2 pack?

All I have are the 20 in the card holder; I have no idea where the other 80 cards are. I searched my apartment but just couldn’t find them. So I decided to order a second set – I figured if I find the first set, I would just have more cards to give out.

This second set is version 2 because I updated some of the pictures to include some recent ones.

Hopefully, I’ll learn to be not shy about giving out my MiniCards.

Meanwhile, I have 20 panda stories to write.

Another successful NaNoWriMo

Filed in Writing

Here you go …

The certificate has already appeared online, on my FaceBook profile. My thoughts about this year’s participation are elsewhere online. That’s the reality these days – this blog is not my only online home. I have three other (two public and one private), all of them more immediate and easier to update. Oh dear … but I digress.

Before November started, I had plans to write a non-fiction NaNo this year. Then I found out I won’t be able to submit it for verification to “win” the purple bar. I do love the purple bar, it’s the official acknowledgement that I have indeed written a 50,000-word novel. Why can’t I submit a non-fiction NaNo, I asked online in the NaNo Rebels forum. Someone explained that the “No” in “NaNoWriMo” stands for “Novel”, and “novel” is fiction. Then someone else said the “No” can also stand for “Non-Fiction”. Haha … yes, yes … ok, ok …

But just when I got used to the idea of having a green bar (unofficial acknowledgement for a 50,000-word novel), some “old friends” nudged me and said “you haven’t written our story yet.” Meanwhile, I was having doubts that I would have enough words for a non-fiction NaNo to get the green bar. But I didn’t want to not write it – it is something I had to write before January 2010.

So I decided I’d write a fiction NaNo to keep the non-fiction NaNo company. They became known as my fic NaNo and nonfic NaNo.

In the end, they both crossed the 50K finishing line. And I submitted the fic NaNo to “win” the purple bar for the sixth time in eight years. The word count difference was just 10 words – 50,839 words for the fic NaNo and 50,829 words for the nonfic NaNo. Which surprised me as throughout the month, I was writing more for the non-fiction project (at one point, it pulled ahead by more than 2,000 words), but later, I wrote just enough to pass the 50K line. And I finished one day earlier than planned – 24th instead of 25th.

My personal daily target was 2,000 words for each. Some days, I wrote more, which allowed me to take 2 days off during the month, and also to write below 1K on a few days, too. On the days that I wrote, I would begin with the fic NaNo, write about 1,000 words and switch to the nonfic NaNo. It often felt like I was in a writing relay, and definitely in competition with myself!

Most days, I spent about four hours total on the two projects. It’s a good thing I was using my trusted AlphaSmart Neo. I had thought of doing some on “H”, my ASUS eeePC 1000H netbook, but eventually didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t – the Neo was 100% distraction free, with no Internet, no games, nothing to lure me from my words.

I often had trouble sitting down to start the day’s writing. But when I did, and as soon as I typed the first word, I was off and running. The next word would suggest itself in my head, and the next, and the next … I never said no to these words as long as each followed from the previous word and strung together to make a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph, a scene and a chapter.

So what are my two NaNo projects about? You really want to know?

Fiction NaNo 2009

A group of close schoolfriends make a promise to be together on the eve of the new millennium (about 20 years later). I had this idea from a few years ago, and they were the ones who reminded me at the end of October that I had not written their story yet. So I resurrected the story, but with a twist – one of them goes missing and the “leader” goes all out to look for her, as she feels the responsibility to make sure the promise is kept. Yes, it’s a group of female schoolfriends, and yes, the story is set in Malaysia. Quite contemporary, too, right?

Non-fiction NaNo 2009

January 2010 will mark 10 years since I became a giant panda “watcher”. I’d been meaning to write up an account of my various black and white experiences, but haven’t (“procrastinator” is my middle name). If I was going to get it written, November would be the month to write it.

At first, I was worried that I would not have 50,000 words for my non-fic NaNo. After all, it’s just an account of what happened in the last 10 years between Chet and her black and white furries. But I surprised myself. As I laid down the facts and descriptions, I found myself reacting to these facts and descriptions, attempting some rough analysis of certain black and white phenomena, and even, at one point, ranting and raving about a particular recent event.

So, what am I going to do with this year’s two NaNo projects?

The fic NaNo is my sixth complete NaNovel in eight years (I didn’t complete in 2002 and 2006). It’s also the first one I think has some hope of seeing daylight. After a short holiday, I will look at it and start the revising, rewriting, editing, etc.

As for the nonfic NaNo, I think I’ve fulfilled a promise to myself to write up my black and white experiences since January 2000. Some parts may see daylight. As for the entire nonfic NaNo – maybe.

I’m a NaNo Rebel

Filed in Writing

After seven years of participation, five of them successful, I decided to go against NaNo rules this year and be a rebel.

The rules say write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. Forum moderators further defined “novel” as “a work of fiction”.

For this year, I want to write non-fiction. Which makes me a NaNo Rebel. Altho I’m not the only one. There are so many of us, there’s even a discussion forum, called NaNo Rebels, just for us.

Actually, I’m only half a rebel …

You see, I’ve decided I want to write fiction, instead. Oh yah, that makes me a non-rebel. Wait …

I also don’t want to abandon the non-fiction plans. So …

I’m writing two – one fiction and the other non-fiction.

So I’m a half-rebel. To celebrate my status, I can use both the regular participant badge, the NaNo Rebel badge.

To be honest, I was a little nervous about the non-fiction piece. Hopefully, writing a fiction piece alongside it might help.

Why nervous?

With fiction, I can make things up and easily write 50,000 words (I’ve done this five times before).

With non-fiction, I can’t. Non-fiction is factual, and I can’t make up facts. So there’s the worry – do I have enough facts to write 50,000 words for my non-fiction piece?

Well, I was nervous. But not anymore. At this point on this first day of NaNoWriMo 2009, I have actually written more words for my non-fiction NaNo attempt than for my fiction NaNo (altho both have passed the daily word quota of 1,667 words). And I didn’t make anything up in the non-fiction NaNo.

I’ve discovered that it’s more than cold, hard facts that make up a piece of non-fiction writing. It’s also observations, reactions, maybe even a bit of self-indulgent navel-gazing.

I almost cried when I realised I have written more for the non-fiction NaNo than the fiction NaNo. But the day is not over yet, and I have more words eager to spill out!

My personal daily word target for both is actually 2,000 words. I’ve reached that for today’s non-fiction NaNo, but need another 100 words or so for the fiction NaNo.

A word about making things up for fiction

I speak from personal experience what Julia Cameron says about art (in my case, writing) not being about thinking something up, but the opposite – getting something down.

I don’t need to think up a story – well, okay, I need characters and some semblance of a plot – I just need to sit down and write. Okay, I also need the first few words, but more than once (many times!), I’ve found the next word appearing in my head and I just need to write that down, and the next word appears, and I write that down, too. Next thing I know, I’ve written a sentence, and then a paragraph …

I’m not saying I write quality stuff, but at least I have a first draft to shape into something more coherent.

Having said the above, I actually find myself doing anything but writing, but when I eventually sit myself down to write, and I type out the first word, the above is what I experience. Why can’t I sit down more often to write?

That’s a mystery to me.