NaNoWriMo 2013

Yup, I’ll be at it again – and, not only that, but I’ll be rebelling and rewriting Love Times Infinity, the novel!

celebrateIt feels like a long time since I started this blog with the intent of keeping myself motivated to edit the book. It has, in fact, been nearly two years. Everyone moves at their own pace, I guess, and this is apparently mine.

When I printed the manuscript in June, I was able to fit it on 150 pages. I’m taking some time now in October to read each of those pages, and mark changes that need to be made and places that need to be reworked (pretty much the whole thing, to be honest). I’ve got a notebook for a sidekick in which to take down all of my lengthy notes.

It’s a slow process. I’m on page 17.

Come November 1st, though, I’ll hopefully be far enough along to start the rewrite. I think ultimately, my goal is for the rewrite to be closer to 80,000 words. I know that I could write that many words in November, but I don’t know if I will. It all depends on how much of this editing I get done, and how far along I am before Thanksgiving rolls around and I travel to California to visit family for a bit. Despite my rebellion, (NaNo rules officially state that “previously written prose…is punishable by death” – I guess I could avoid that by completely rewriting every single word of my first draft, but there might be bits I like and want to keep, so I’ll do as I see fit.) this, I think, is a difficult but doable goal for myself.

Thank you ahead of time to those who offer encouraging words and support – and apologies ahead of time to anyone who is friends with me on Facebook, for all the statuses that are simply numbers about to clutter your news feed.

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This Doesn’t Count Towards My Word Count, But…

Six days left of NaNoWriMo. I am on track, though I have four heavy days of work coming up, and I probably will fall a little behind during that time. Thankfully, I have the 30th off, so at worst, that’ll be my mad dash to the finish.

It’s getting difficult to continue writing. The topic cuts a little deep for me, and, as I expected, has me debating which of my values are my own, and which are shaped by the way I was raised and the way people talk to and treat both me and other people. That was the point though, after all. A little demon-facing never hurt anyone…I hope.

In an attempt to stay true to the intent of this blog, I’d like to recommend that everyone who thinks about love and it’s many forms, and the perceived limitations we sometimes assign it, take on a creative writing project. Make it a hypothetical world, even if the people in it are based on yourself and/or people you know. Then, break some rules. Do something different in the story. Have people act in unpredictable ways, and then, here’s where it gets really crazy…

let the characters explain themselves. Try to see if you can find a way to understand those characters, and get possible readers to understand them, too. Why are they breaking rules? Do they think it’s okay? Can a relationship or relationships work with that rule being broken?

I’ve had fun exploring love that way; maybe you will, too.

I have been contemplating my creative writing goals for after NaNoWriMo this year. I would like to continue working on them, rather than completely stopping like I did last year. I would also like to edit last year’s novel, which was kind of the whole driving point of creating this very blog in the first place. I’ve been thinking of a write-a-short-story-every-other-day challenge.  I may have to start a new blog for that, and that would take away from this blog. Then again, I don’t exactly post here often, so perhaps it really is worth thinking about.

Live and love, everyone, and do it like you mean it!

NaNoWriMo 2012

I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year, even though I have hardly touched last year’s manuscript to edit it. I understand why some people would rather I edit last year’s novel than start a new one, but from my perspective, if my heart is set on writing something, and not on editing, shouldn’t I do what’s going to make me and my heart happy?

I think so. Especially since I have notes on this book idea dating back three years. THREE YEARS! I think it’s high-time I get to putting that idea down on paper (or screen).

It’s going to be Literary Fiction, once again, and I’m still working out the details, but it will center around the thoughts and various neuroses of a girl who’s father isn’t doing such a great job of being a father. I’m hoping to have the story switch between the past and present, showing the correlation between how her father treated her growing up and the decisions she makes and emotions she feels as she grows into a young woman attempting to make sense of her relationships with men.

For those who know me well, it’s obvious that this idea is very personal to me, given my own experiences. It’ll be a harder book to write, in that regard, because it will probably hit home and cut a little deep once in a while. At the moment, I’m remembering days when I wondered to myself if what I called “polyamory” was simply my own hackneyed attempt at making sense of my fragmented perception of self-worth in the eyes of men.

That worry has passed, though, and I think I’m ready. If not, it’s sure to be a hell of a learning experience.

Wish me luck!

A New York Times Review – Frank Langellas’ Memoir

The word “slut” has been invoked in the public discourse as an ugly slur. But Langella’s book celebrates sluttiness as a worthy — even noble — way of life. . . .There is so much happy sexuality in this book that reading it is like being flirted with for a whole party by the hottest person in the room.

Sounds like a memoir I’ll be reading.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/books/review/dropped-names-frank-langellas-memoir.html

The Lack of Novel Progress

I’m having a hard time logic-ing my way back to editing my novel, and a very easy time logic-ing my lack of desire to do so.

While I’ve been known to enjoy a good fiction, even fantasy, novel here and there, I am, at my core, a very fact-based, rational, truth-loving, non-fiction lover. It’s not that I don’t love works of fiction; The Alchemist and The Chronicles of Narnia are some of my favorite reads (does this sound like a homophobe saying “but I have gay friends!”?). It’s just that I don’t think I’ve ever been able to identify just how non-fiction writers are able to pull a story out of thin air, or why they should have to, when the real and existing world is so ripe with amazing and fascinating truths.

My story, in my eyes, is one long lie. Nothing in the story ever actually happened. It could have, and that’s why I wrote it: to let people imagine what could have been if history had been a little different and how they would have fared in the new hypothetical world. But, damnit, fiction is HARD. Making up facts is hard. Making up people is hard. Deciding what these make-believe people would do in given situations is hard. It’s all hard.

I’ve never been one to walk away from a challenge…but I don’t like lying. Writing the rough draft of the novel was a fun project, but now, trying to edit it and build it and make it better feels too much like trying to fool people. I know that it’s not the case. I know that readers will know that it’s fiction. But, to be honest, my goal with the book is to get people to re-examine their beliefs on love and decide for themselves what they think their hearts are capable of doing, and I keep thinking…couldn’t I do that with a non-fiction book?

And so here I sit, unmotivated to work on the novel, because all I can think about now is how to write a non-fiction book, based in truth and facts, that will get people thinking about love.

It won’t be a pretty story, which means less people will read it, and therein lies the reason why I haven’t completely abandoned the novel. People like stories. I know: I tell stories all the time. They’re true stories, though: things that I’ve experienced, usually. Real life is amazing. Telling an un-true story – it’s a whole different skill, and I’m deciding whether it’s a skill that I possess at all, and if I do, whether I can convince myself to develop it.

Diversity in Polyamory

Some thoughts on  Progressive Polyamory: Considering Issues of Diversity . (Funny how, even though it’s only been a few days since the passion of research overcame me in regards to polyamory and race, it’s faded just as quickly, and this post feels old and late. I am, however, still reading Is Marriage for White People? and find that there are entirely different things going on there than covered in the specific realm of polyamory.)

First off, Noël had a completely different approach to analyzing issues of diversity in polyamory than I did. I’m not just talking about the fact that she pulled out the books whereas I simply sat down and freewrote – I mean that we came in at completely different angles entirely. Here are my thoughts on her piece.

Noël asks a lot of questions which she does not answer. This bothers me, not because I was always told not to do that in high school (I’m a fan of breaking rules on writing here and there), but because I really, honestly do wonder if she has any answers to the suggestive questions she asks, or at least a way of attempting to answer them. Her argument is basically that, as middle class, white, educated, able-bodied Americans, authors of the few polyamorous texts that exist often use language and make assertions that can be exclusive to others that do not fit their demographic.

Well, firstly, many, many authors are guilty of that. That doesn’t make it right, but I feel the need to point that out, as it is not some isolated evil of polyamorous authors. (Perhaps I’m being defensive, but I guess my concern is that someone will inevitably point the issue out as a negative quality of polyamory when really, it’s a negative quality in society as a whole.) Secondly, and this may be due to my own white, middle-class, educated, able-bodied and American-tinted perspective, but the examples she cites seem a bit weak. She critiques the use of words like “tribe” and “jungle,” and the insinuations that polyamory is based on “non-Western” traditions, and asks, “how might a diversity of readers respond” to these things? Well, I don’t know, Noël. . . perhaps we should get a diversity of readers, sit them down with these books, and find out, eh?

Noël genuinely wants polyamory to be more inclusive; so much so, that it becomes an American norm. Homegirl did her homework, and found a piece by Lisa Duggan entitled “Holy Matrimony!” in which Duggan suggests moving from our marriage-based community plan (each household has a married couple = family = benefits) to a more “‘flexible menu of options’ that redistributes the ‘1,049 automatic federal and additional state protections’ to all persons, not just those who are heterosexually married.” Basically, let adults decide for themselves who and how many people they want to share their familial benefits with, and which benefits to share, whether those people are lovers, best friends, actual blood relatives, etc.

Apparently, in other countries, health care and other benefits are not extended to who you are married to, but who you live with. It’s all about the household: who shares a roof with you and is your “family”? If you’re willing to live with the person, you must like them enough to at least consider sharing benefits with them, right? I thought that was an interesting tidbit, and it’s stuck with me. I can’t help but think about how non-traditional families now outnumber traditional families, and according to Is Marriage For White People?, marriage is surprisingly uncommon in Sweden, where parents generally live together to raise their children, but aren’t “married.”

Interesting. A late review (my apologies), but interesting nonetheless.

Voice

Voice has been my issue today, while writing Chapter 3 of the novel. Voice, voice, voice.

What voice do you hear? I'm listening to Lady Gaga, personally...

I haven’t yet developed a writing style that I feel satisfied with for a novel. I’ve got this blogging thing down, and if I’m relating a real-life occurrence in short story form for friends to enjoy, I’m pretty happy with the voice I’ve developed, but this…is different.

I know that I shouldn’t feel the need to conform to the styles of writing I’ve seen in the novels I’ve read, but I fear that if I let completely go and just do it my way, that I’ll be the only one ever capable of reading my novel and, well, getting it. I don’t want that to be the case. I want lots of people to get it. Thus, I feel the need to use a style that most people “get”.

Confused Robot = Readers. Heart = My book.

I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to pretend that this long, made-up story that I’m telling has actually occurred. Just convince myself that this is a completely true story, that I’ve met all of the characters, that they told me this story some years after everything went down.

And yet, there’s a problem with that. When I tell/write a story, it’s one that I have actually lived and experienced myself, sometimes along with friends. I’m not in this novel. I mean, there might be aspects of my personality in some of the characters, but they certainly are not me, and I don’t make a guest appearance.

This is hard.

I never could figure these things out...

However, while struggling to find my voice today, there was but one glimmer of hope when I wrote the following:

Mikhail looked at the empty space on the grass next to Ria where Axel usually sat, a literal space that the breakup had just figuratively opened up for someone.

“Someone like me,” Mikhail thought to himself. He didn’t sit in the empty space, though. He wasn’t ready for it. 

Go for it, Mikhail! Go for it!

Oooh, Shiny!

I joined a friend on a trip to the local bookstore today. (We never did get a Barnes & Noble or Borders here, so our own little Dockside Bookshop has been surviving just fine, and, as always, doing a great job of getting us the books we want and need.) She was looking for a book for her daughter, but I was caught by a book in the display window before I even got through the door:

I asked to look at it as I walked in, and flipped through the first few pages while my friend browsed the children’s section.

Here is part of the description from Amazon:

– – – – –

During the past half century, African Americans have become the most unmarried people in our nation. More than two out of every three black women are unmarried, and they are more than twice as likely as white women never to marry. The racial gap in marriage extends beyond the poor. Affluent and college educated African Americans are also less likely to marry or stay married than their white counterparts. That harms black children and adults, and imperils the growth and stability of the black middle class. 

One reason that marriage has declined is that as black women have advanced economically and educationally, black men have fallen behind. Nearly twice as many black women as black men graduate from college each year.Thus, not only are many college-educated black women unmarried, they are more likely than any other group of women to marry less educated and lower earning men. Half of college-educated black wives are more educated than their husbands.

Yet black women rarely marry men of other races. They are less than half as likely as black men, and only a third as likely as Latinos or Asian Americans, to wed across group lines. Is Marriage for White People? traces the far-reaching consequences of the African American marriage decline. It also explains why black women marry down rather than out. Its provocative conclusion is that black women would benefit both themselves and the black race if they crossed class lines less and race lines more.

– – – – –

Yup, definitely wanted it. Unfortunately, I’m currently in a situation where I need to have less stuff, not more, and especially given the store price of $23.99 for the hardcover, I had to accept the fact that I’d be downloading the ebook rather than supporting the bookstore.

I’m over it, though, as I have just downloaded the ebook for $12.99 from Books-A-Million, and have uploaded it to my eReader. I will be reading this baby post haste and getting back to y’all soon, to be sure.

I’m (Re)Writing a Novel!

Love Times Infinity, a Novel:

A young man longs for an exclusive relationship in a society of communal love.

*     *     *

I have officially started the re-write of “Love Times Infinity;” woohoo!

And, all of the reasons why I had been putting it off for so long, are now clear. Uugghh rewriting is hard! (*whine*)

First off, it doesn’t help that my lazy behind started off my NaNoWriMo novel with, and I quote:

“[Introduce Setting]”

…and then I jumped right into the story. This means that, today, rather than being able to tell you, “Hey everyone! I rewrote page 1!” I instead get to say “Hey guys! I rewrote the first line!”

To be fair, “[Introduce Setting]” is now 997 words, and will probably be more, now that I’ve discovered the second issue with writing a novel with polyamorous tones:

There are SO MANY FREAKIN’ CHARACTERS!

In 997 words, I’ve introduced the two main characters, Mikhail and Ria (though I haven’t gotten into appearances yet), mentioned their two best childhood friends, Vernon and Olivia, mentioned Ria’s two boyfriends, Axel and Jethro, and properly introduced Mikhail’s four parents, Toby, Duane, Giselle, and Rhonda.

Oh, yeah, and I mentioned the dog, Loki. A Basenji who likes to eat underwear.

Definitely saving descriptions of the friends and boyfriends for later, as the story opened up in Mikhail’s house on a Sunday when the whole family is home. (Oh yeah, I did also mention Mikhail’s two younger brothers, though I didn’t mention names. His older brother, Roland, got a name-drop, though.) Clearly, I am going to need a character map. Or, maybe I’ll just turn this into a mass murder mystery and start killing people off so I don’t have to keep track of them all…hmm…

I am genuinely worried that I’ll have too many characters for my readers to keep track of, even if I can. To be fair, Mikhail and Ria are the major focus here, and I’ll probably spend most of the novel in Mikhail’s head, but, dangit, I don’t have the option of letting Vernon, Olivia, and Ria’s other boyfriends be flat. They’re too important.

This is going to be a long first novel.

On a positive note, I think starting in Mikhail’s household was a good move, even though it just happened without me planning it. I was in Mikhail’s head at the start of the book, and then I found out that Mikhail’s head was attached to his body – which was in his kitchen with his family on a Sunday morning, just after breakfast. Getting that “four parent thing” out of the way that early was a great way to set the scene without, you know, just saying “Well, in this lovely community, some (most) families have more than two parents.”

Done for now; I have, you know, the bank and post office to go to, and All-You-Can-Eat wings for $11.95 to eat this afternoon. Life beckons.

One Reason Why I Love Reading

…not only do I learn new things, but I unlearn things that I thought were true!

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For example, when I read Sex At Dawn last year, I was schooled on my understanding of the “typical life span” for humans before the advent of modern medicine. My mother had on occasion pointed out to me, and other sources reinforced the sentiment that, because humans used to only live to around the age of 40-45, marriage was easier, because life was shorter.

But, wait! What does “typical life span” mean to you? Because, apparently, while “[a]t the beginning of the 20th century, life expectancy at birth was around 45 years,” this was largely due to high infant mortality rates. [1] When you average dying babies, aged “0”, right in alongside people living to 75 and beyond, well, yeah, the average age of death might be 45, but that certainly isn’t a typical life span for someone who lived past infancy (which, by the way, I’m pretty sure you have to do to get married…)

So, yeah, married people probably had to put up with each other just as long back then as we do now. That, of course, doesn’t change the fact that they probably found just as varied solutions to the problem of desired infidelity as many couples secretly (or not so secretly) do today, but it’s definitely a little factoid that I felt was worth sharing with my mother on the next occasion she brought up life expectancy averages.

Today, I am reading a different book, The Future of Marriage, by David Blankenhorn.

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Would you like to know what fun fact I unlearned today?

In regards to the concept of a dowry, or “bride price,” which some of us have come to understand as the equivalent of “purchasing” a bride, making marriage a strictly economic transaction, and making the bride “property” of the groom:

“[S]cholars have shown that families frequently expected the economic value of the gifts to the bride’s family to be essentially equal to the value of the return gifts to the groom’s family and the gifts from the bride’s family to the bride, called the dowry.” [2]

Excuse me? Return gifts to the groom’s family? Dowry was a gift to the bride, not the groom? Why did I never hear about this stuff? I was definitely under the impression that the bride herself was a gift to the groom/groom’s family, and the groom/groom’s family presented jewels and goods in exchange for her.

Wtf? o.O

Now, you may have noticed that the two things I have unlearned actually are were pretty good support points against monogamous marriage as we know it today. They certainly were two points that originally influenced my hesitation to embrace the concept. I remain, however, unconvinced that monogamous marriage is for me, in spite of unlearning these things.

Why? Because there is so much more out there that I’ve learned, and which I still have yet to learn. So far, the path leads me away from desiring traditional marriage, and I’m not going to jump ship just because of these two new bits of information. Rather, I now feel more confident in my decision. I am now more well informed on this topic than I was yesterday, and I am proud to say that I still feel confident in my personal wariness toward traditional, monogamous marriage.

More research, as always, is required. Onward!

[1] Sex At Dawn, p266

[2] The Future of Marriage, p50