Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNo, Day 17

...oh my goodness, day 17 already? (please, please don't ask about my word-count...)

One thing I'm super happy about today... 'Hundred Thousand Kingdoms' by NK Jemisin is finally available via Kindle for Canadians!! ...and I just bought it!

I'm serious... like, two years ago one of my writing buddies told me I had to read this book. She had read... pieces of Project #1 (but parts of the second book) and said it reminded her of Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Ever since I got my Kindle, I have been checking like, once a month, and even after it was available on Kindle... it was not available for Canadians...

I've never read a lot of fantasy books, even though that's what I started out writing. So, as a new writer and as a non-reader of fantasy, I kind of made a list of what I didn't want to read and asked for recommendations from other writer friends.

Some of the things I didn't want were*:

- farm boy realizes he's the chosen one and goes out to save the world
- big-bad-evil dukes it out with ultimate-good-guy+friends
- elves, wizards, orcs, dragons, etc, etc, etc
- magic that kindof saves everything and is basically a bunch of shouted Latin or other dead language
- medieval setting

I'm sure there was more on my list, but those were the basic ones. So, I got introduced to a lot of authors I didn't like, and a few I really liked/like. I got introduced to the show 'Firefly' the same way, well, technically the movie 'Serenity'. Supposedly one of my main characters (also from Project #1) was... eerily similar to the character River in the movie. And after seeing it, I realized immediately why the buddy would think so (and not just 'cause my character's name also starts with an 'R').

So, even though these weren't direct influences on my writing, it was pleasantly surprising for me to know there were similar things out there in the wide, wide world... and that people actually liked them!

Honestly, I get worried, like everyday, whether what I enjoy writing is commercially viable at all. And by that, I don't mean sell-a-million-copies... I mean, other people actually find what I write interesting.

It's the concern that freezes me up and makes me look for anything to distract me from writing. Anything.

I don't write big-exciting-stories, I write quiet ones. Like, contemporary YA style, but within a fantastical world with no magic or actual bad-guys. So, Speculative YA, I suppose, but perhaps even a little quieter. If this was manga, you could call my genre 'slice of life'. Out of any writer in the world, I think my style of story-telling is closest to Banana Yoshimoto. If you've ever read any of her works, you'll notice right away that none of the action takes place on the pages. Usually it has already happened (a death, divorce, etc) and the actual story is about the characters dealing with the aftermath.

So, yes, there are nasty things happening all around my characters, but they ultimately aren't going to be solving any of the greater problems... they just want to survive the best they can. You could call them incredibly self-absorbed (since they have no interest in changing the world), or you could consider them to be incredibly self-aware... in that, they realize they can't change anything big, so they focus on the things they do have influence over.

...and I think perhaps this is why I'm currently stuck on my NaNo novel. There's a death at the centre of the story, and I haven't settled on why the death happened. Each time I think, "Oh, what if <x> happened..." I almost immediately discount it because the consequences are suddenly too far-reaching from the boundaries of the story, so it feels wrong. And I'm not interested in those consequences. The death of Jackson, like the decaying civilization in 'Simon's Oath', impacts the characters choices/growth/etc, but ultimately, it's not what the story is about.

So, instead of writing, I have been browsing the Kindle store, digging up my front lawn, giving my dog a bath, cutting the cat's nails and brushing him, re-potting indoor plants, splitting/hauling in firewood (oh! We lost power last night for a few hours and it was AWESOME!!) and things like that.

I'm hoping that taking a short break from this story will help me figure out where it needs to go.

...and no, I'm not going to read the book I just bought. I'm trying to hold it back as a post-NaNo-reward.

How about you guys? Anyone else fighting with a story right now? Or something else?

*The reason I actually started writing in the first place was 'cause a girl I used to babysit (and still hang out with on occasion) was a really big reader of fantasy and complained to me that it was all farm-boys-saving-the-world, that the world and races were always similar and that there were no good female main characters kicking-butt and saving others. So, Project #1 was intended to just be a fun gift for her to read and enjoy... and then I sort of fell in love with writing. That's also why Project #1 took place in a high-school, 'cause she had just started high-school... not 'cause I was trying to write the next Harry Potter (which I also had not read).


  1. was wondering where you got to - though this week crazy busy - and not with writing unfortunately. Guess the class must have been good as my blog this week was one of the best things I ever wrote. Totally different.

    Speaking of Harry Potter, think I’ll for J.K. Rowling for my presentation next term - Truth is stranger than Fiction. I’m sure her story qualifies...

  2. Hrm. My nano is barely moving over the past few days, mostly because I'm into the final scenes and there's a lot of juggling and plot issues from earlier rearing up to wave to me and whisper what the next draft of this needs ...

  3. I love big exciting stories. I also love quiet, character driven ones. Just so you know :-)


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