Tag Archives: time

Rush Hour

The holidays are a prime example of ‘not enough hours in the day,’ typically if you have a lot to do. Family to visit and helping with dinner usually means that you don’t get much time to yourself, if any, outside of turkey naps or food comas. If you’re the one cooking and setting up, even less time is given.

The clock becomes a race instead of a stationary figure, and you’re making sure throughout the day that everything gets done and prepared on time. Did you start the casserole early enough? Should you have pre-baked the pies last night? Crap, I can’t find the pickles and olives, oh… thank god, there they are. Now I can start wondering when to take the ham out of the oven…

In the midst of it all, the day becomes, rightfully so, about your holiday and how well it’s going to go instead of any obligations you may have held up. So, instead of worrying about having enough time to get that bodyweight exercise out of the way, you can devote all of your time to worrying about getting grandma from the nursing home on time.

At the end of the day, you might have a few hours to yourself. Holidays are synonymous with ruining streaks of anything, but what about writing? Where does ‘just a little’ become ‘too little to be acceptable’?

I’ve purposely allowed myself to revise a few old stories simply to keep up the streak. I go through and end up finding a few things I didn’t like anyway, but I have also only edited a few words before and let that be it because of whatever reason. Busy or my head wasn’t in it or something to that effect.

It becomes a struggle between semantics and meaningful effort, at that point. There can be a 200 wordcount daily to-do on your mental list, but how much do you put into it, and how much is simply getting it out of the way because it’s in the way in the first place?

I could go into a whole other post about meaningful words and fluff during Nano, but I’m not going to. Instead, I will say that it can be difficult to see the purpose and keep up with actual effort that makes a difference when you have bigger things to worry about, or limited time. Especially, in the case of this post, holiday arrangements and obligations.

Finding something that captures your interest, whether it’s new or old, can sometimes be the key. Go searching. Think about where your head is at. Write something about the holiday’s impact on a character. Do something reflective. If you can only get out the few hundred words and need to rush off, there’s still the chance to come back to it later, but don’t let yourself forget about it. Or, keep it for all of the other holidays. Come back to it when you have limited time.

Whatever you can do to make it go quickly, or if you need to focus because it’s been a long, eventful day and you finally have some time to yourself before it ends. Even swift can still make a difference, if you want it to.

On that note, I hope everyone enjoys their holiday, or has enjoyed it (I’m in NA, so I’m late for everyone on the other side of the world)! I hope it is (has been) plentiful, and that you get everything done just like you wanted to! Don’t stretch yourself too thin!

-The Novice Wordsmith

Cultural Progression

Over the weekend, I had an interesting thought about the way that my novel was going.

Set in about 11,000 BCE, I’m challenging my views of the way that things were for people who lived, at most, 30-40 years. To see how they might have structured their societies and communities, how civilized they might be, what they were or were not capable of saying, and  general intellect.

Life was much different for people thousands of years ago, which comes as no surprise, but then, it got my thinking about the evolution of our species. From hunting and gathering, marrying young, practicing religious and cultural rites, to waiting about as long for marriage as it would take, all those years ago, to get to old age, and to formal education, and relying on others to provide food for us that we don’t buy with other goods, but with specific currency.

When I look at the difference between tribal life in those early, early years, to now, I started to wonder, what happened?

I realized that a lot of it had to do with our life span. Marrying or mating early, some as old as 12 or 13, as soon as puberty and reproduction were possible became because of necessity. There was no formal education back then because there was more worry and emphasis on life and staying alive. Nomadic because it meant survival. Telling time was wholly different back then too because there was no formal system, it was reliant on how high the sun or moon was in the sky.

As we started to live older, we had other priorities. As we could live longer and didn’t need to move around as much, we were able to sit still, living in a single spot and farming and hunting as we needed. The longer we could live, the more we could accomplish, the less danger there was, the more knowledge there came to be, the more threats we could eliminate, the longer we lived, … you get the idea. It’s a big cycle.

Progression of civilization is big. Some are not where others are, either by choice or because something is holding them back, or both.

There is an emphasis on the general way of life in places that are so advanced: you’re born, you go to school for so many years, you fall in love, get married, have children, have a career you do or don’t enjoy, provide for your family, retire, have your family provide for you, and then death.

Currency, too, as I think about it, has become a huge part of certain civilizations, and that is because it has turned to become the point of trade and survival. Currency provides for you as it did before, but now it holds so much more of an importance. You provide a good for the currency and then give the currency in exchange for goods yourself. What a cycle!

It’s fun for me to admit that before, I was considering a major in anthropology, and it seems so obvious, I’m sure, because things like this just fascinate the hell out of me.

Anyway, words for thought, because I got introspective.

Maybe I should look in the other direction. What happens in the sci-fi movies? Much of the same, except our influence reaches farther… But will we transcend any of this that we need now? Robots and cybernetics are an option, but what happens there, really?

Curious. What’s your novel making you ask yourself?

-The Novice Wordsmith

Out of Sync

Korielle sighed as she leaned back, running a hand through her hair and crossing one long, lean leg over the other in a show of seduction. “I guess I’ll just have to–

Crumple, erase, backspace until it’s gone. Sigh, stare at the screen or paper, purse of the lips. Wait. Think. Try again.

She looked out of the window with a forlorn expression, despite letting the jacket fall off her shoulders and showing long expanses of bare arms. “I’ll find a way,” she said. “I alwa–

“Dammit,” sigh, stand up, walk around, wait. Stare. Think. Wonder.

Being out of sync with your character or story is not only one of the most frustrating things you can encounter, but it’s hard to find where you are on the line that separates, “I should step back and wait,” and, “I need to hunker down and figure this out.” You know something is wrong, but how do you re-align yourself with your hero again to finally see what they really want to do?

Or… Is it more than that? Are they the ones acting out of character? Is there no other way for them to feel for this scene, where they want to jump the bones of another despite your wanting the scenario to go a different direction?

I’ve experienced both, really; where a character runs into a situation head on that I never expected, and it turns into something bigger than I could have imagined, and on the same token, I’ve created bad circumstance simply because I wasn’t so with it on that day. I’ve scrutinized a piece of writing over and over until I’ve felt it was right.

I’m reminded of a small piece of advice I learned, of little mistakes. “Just run with it.” It’s not so easy some times, though, when you have to be conscious of what’s better for the story or not. Smaller things can be passed off, but the bigger things take a lot of consideration, and some days, it’s harder to tell what lines up and what would make a better story.

As I’ve said I don’t know how many times, it’s difficult to take a step back. Forcing things often can make them worse, but letting things alone and just waiting for them to settle can take time and patience that even saints don’t have. Well, maybe not so much patience, but it does take a lot to be able to accept that you need to set your hands down, maybe watch a movie or play a game, do some other work, and just let your head reset for what you’ve been working on.

Seeing that you aren’t writing a character to par can be the first sign of that, too. Doubting yourself makes it worse, and then you keep digging and trying to make something work and it’s just frayed ends and bad wires. Don’t overwork it. Doing too much can make things worse, too.

Sometimes, after being able to find the voice of the character well enough, glancing back at what you were hedging on before might provide you with new ideas and an expansion to the one you had come up with when things weren’t all lined up.

One thing I’ve found that helped me recently was doing practice-writes, putting two characters together and just feeling out the scene without really intending to get anywhere. Such as Friday’s post said, don’t edit anything, no revisions, just write. If you need the practice, if you feel like you’re not getting the voice right, having a quick, easy scenario can sometimes be best for a writing-equivalent rough sketch.

The best part about being out of sync with your slew of characters is that it’s temporary. It just takes time away and some searching, but usually it doesn’t last too long and you’re back in the game. I’ve found that the best is not to force something that isn’t able to go te way you want it to.

– The Novice Wordsmith