Archive for novel writing

I’m focused, I’m ready…

Posted in NaNoWriMo with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2015 by Mj Rains

nanowrimo-word-cloudPlanning through the past few weeks for Na No Wri Mo, National Novel Writing Month, this November. Feels great to finally have the time to focus. For me it’s now or never with stories I have. One in particular has been begging to be written, so I’m focused, I’m ready…

nanowrimo_desktop_calendar_by_pixiesailor-d31if90So if any of you fellow readers and writers have signed up and are all-in for the challenge this year let me know.

Join me as a buddy, pen name MichelleG-83, if you’d like.

Writer’s Depression – And Why I Can’t Finish a Novel

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2011 by Mj Rains

I believe that I’m in some sort of systemic, overly-analytic, cataclysmic, slightly narcissistic writer’s depression…I don’t know why I cannot finish a novel-length story. It’s not like I haven’t done it before. I have two poorly written, in deep need of revision, 50,000 word or so novels sitting in my computer and in print, but for the past year or so I just can’t get a novel going…or keep it going. The ideas are there, the characters, well, they pop up and seem intriguing enough, but my well goes dry about half way through. True for revision work on those two first drafts too.

For a while I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I’m getting an idea now. My inner writer’s guide, Angelina (the opposite of my inner writing critic, Demonella) is telling me that I’m in a writer’s funk of sorts, a simple unambitious rut in which I have to hit reverse, then hit the gas and go forward again and bounce myself of it. Like what you’d do with a stuck car. And this can only be done one way – by writing, by practicing writing, writing down everything – story related or not – and doing it every day. It can only be cured this way, doing the deed, no matter it we feel like doing it or not.

So, let me be clear (as I’m writing this and watching a lame local Santa Parade on TV) that Angelina and Demonella are well known to all us writers, even if they are nameless, and they are very much present every time we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Every single time.  Like now, as I write this blog, Demonella is telling me “No one is interesting in why you can’t finish a novel, this little article’s a waste of a nice Saturday morning, and people are just going to think you’re nuts and hit “like” because they feel sorry for you. Or not “like” you at all.” At the same time, Angelina (she’s so beautiful) is telling me that there are a bunch of you out there in this blog-world we love, friends who visit often, and new ones who will stop in, who will find this interesting, who understand completely, and who will be glad to read about someone else going through the same thing…and besides doesn’t it feel really cool to unleash your writing mind dilemma, aka. writer’s depression on your blog? Oh, and you’re not crazy, people won’t think that, they’ll find me and Demonella humorous and clever and they will laugh and think you’re a brilliant witty writer. (Angelina’s the best huh?)

That said (thanks for staying with me if you’re still reading this!) : Why can’t I finish a novel?  Or, why, if I have one or two finished, can’t I re-write one for publication?

I don’t believe it’s doubt, or lack of ambition. I want to write, feel like I need to write. I’ve analyzed why I quit half-way through, why my enthusiasm at the start, the writing frenzy, 2,000 words or more a day, me telling myself “You got a best seller here, baby!”…why it all just fizzles out…sometimes in the course of a few days, sometimes so abruptly as waking up in the morning. Writer’s depression in action.

Part of it I’m finding may be the writing process itself. I tend to write a detailed synopsis, outline, tie-in details, over define theme (as all my numerous writing books and magazines which I love to read and read and read tell me to do, which may also be a writer’s depression side-effect, doing more reading about how to write than actually writing), to the point that I know my story so well that it no longer surprises me, it no longer intrigues me, and the writing shows it. So, I leave it. Shelf it. Again.

I think that novel writing may be too long a process for me. The novel of any suitable length is a daunting experience to write. It is a test of a writer’s dedication to his story and I tremendously admire the ones that do it, and do it well. Some do it and suck, but, at least they do it. But that brings me to another problem of sorts, to November Novel Writing Month, which I support, but yet I wonder. It’s premise is to just get you to write, to make it a habit, to set a goal of so many words a day, to write anything, doesn’t matter, as long as you write and end up with 50,000 words of…Of crap?….But, I don’t want to write crap, which is why I dropped my NaMoWriMo excursion this year after a week.  It wasn’t working. Writer’s depression in action again?

So, what is this writer to do?

My juvenile need for quicker satisfaction (perhaps it’s not writer’s depression but writer’s ADD!) has led me to believe that I may not be cut out now, at this moment, to be a writer of novels. It has led me to the relevant and prodigious literary achievements of the beloved short story form. I love and have written over 40 short stories, short short ones, medium shorts, and 10,000 word longer short stories. Here’s a story form I think I can get into more, write one in less than a week, pat myself on the back, have tea with Angelina and give Demonella a swift kick in the ass, and get to my goal without that half-way ship abandonment.  There’s a sense of relief I feel, knowing I almost see the end of the story, that I’ll be there soon with literary grace and with time to spare. If this is writer’s ADD, oh well, it just may be what I have.

Okay, Demonella is telling screaming at me : You need a novel to get published, stupid! Short stories won’t do it.  I guess I can’t argue much with that. I’ve read plenty of times you need a novel under your belt before you can publish a book of short stories, but for now, for me, to conquer this writer’s depression and my writer’s ADD, it seems the right answer. Who know, maybe work in this writer’s process will lead me back to the novel enthusiasm again.

Fellow writers out there: What do you do to beat your own writer’s depression? Anyone sympathize with my dilemma? How do you handle your own Demonella and his or her trash talk?

Thanks for reading.

Click images above for artists’ links.

the earth

Posted in Poetry at large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2011 by Mj Rains

God loafs around heaven,
without a shape
but He would like to smoke His cigar
or bite His fingernails
and so forth.

God owns heaven
but He craves the earth,
the earth with its little sleepy caves,
its bird resting at the kitchen window,
even its murders lined up like broken chairs,
even its writers digging into their souls
with jackhammers,
even its hucksters selling their animals
for gold,
even its babies sniffing for their music,
the farm house, white as a bone,
sitting in the lap of its corn,
even the statue holding up its widowed life,
even the ocean with its cupful of students,
but most of all He envies the bodies,
He who has no body.

The eyes, opening and shutting like keyholes
and never forgetting, recording by thousands,
the skull with its brains like eels-
the tablet of the world –
the bones and their joints
that build and break for any trick,
the genitals,
the ballast of the eternal,
and the heart, of course,
that swallows the tides
and spits them out cleansed.

He does not envy the soul so much.
He is all soul
but He would like to house it in a body
and come down
and give it a bath
now and then.            – Anne Sexton

i like love these words for some reason, they haunt me today…as i sit here thinking about this…and that….this season of the year when for some of us god is ever present and alarming….i love the idea of god loafing around heaven, thinking about having a smoke or obtaining some useless human habit.  the one thing i always wonder about is if god really has any “human” traits at all ? 

anyway, i’ve been diligently working on my novel and it has occupied most of my waking moments, my digging into my soul with a jackhammer,  which is why i’ve been on vacation here…hopefully that will change, at least the vacation from here part. today i’d just thought i’d share some thought-provoking poetry…inspiration always…

any thoughts?

Snow on Tuesday

Posted in "Wit"icisms", In Pennsylvania with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2011 by Mj Rains


Snow Walk by Dream Traveler


So yet again, we are inundated with snow…and this is only the first wave on Tuesday….with more snow and ice tonight into Wednesday….It seems like every week there is a new weather event…but it is winter….and even though I’m not looking forward to that ice, I still am liking the season….Well, it is February now….winter is running out perhaps…

Snow by eXXeQt

And so after blogging…and writing work on my new novel…and chipping away at what is covering my lovely car, I may be doing this….

Fanus II by Cren



Lavishly Nabokov

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2010 by Mj Rains

“In 1962, following the international success of Lolita that made him financially independent, Vladimir Nabokov gave up his professorial post at Cornell and settled in Montreux, Switzerland, where he resided at the Palace hotel with his wife Vera and wrote his later novels, until his death in 1977. In the last two years of his life, which were marred by various accidents, illnesses and increasing physical debility, Nabokov worked on a novel called The Original of Laura, writing it, as was his habit, by hand in pencil on small index cards. It was unfinished – very far from finished in fact – when he died, and he had expressly directed Vera to burn the manuscript in that eventuality. Having rescued Lolita from the incinerator many years before, when Nabokov had a sudden failure of nerve about publishing it, his widow understandably hesitated to carry out his wishes with respect to his last work. The Original of Laura has lain in a bank vault for thirty years, the object of intense curiosity and speculation among aficionados, while Vera and the Nabokovs’ son Dmitri agonized over whether or not to allow it to be published.”  – David Lodge, Literary Review.

This new unfinished book evidently is hitting publication, and undoubtedly will be fascinating.  I love some of Nabokov’s work…and I say “some” for a reason.  Since I’m committed to trying to read a book a week (give or take), I’ve been scouring numerous recommendation lists of famous writer, average people, fellow bloggers, etc.  Francine Prose’s book Reading Like A Writer, which I finishes last week, has a book list of  must-reads in the back–which includes the subject I’m blabbing about:  Nabokov’s  most famous book, Lolita.  Just about every other list I’ve come upon has this book, which must prove its brilliance I assume.

I tried, people, I tried.  I tried to read the damn thing.  His prose is brilliant, to say the least, and I was grasped by the eloquence.  But not matter how I tried to overlook it, no matter how well I surged in and noted the timing and the word choices in the finest of literary sentences, I could not get past the fact that the main character Humbert Humbert is a sexually depraved pedophile who molests an innocent 4 foot 8 inch twelve-year-old and should probably have his dick cut off…and his hands.   Perhaps I lack the literary nature to read this book;  my wit-full intelligence keeps trying not be sick every time I try to read it.  (Perhaps having young teen girls in my house makes me…what?  I don’t really know when it comes to this book.) Or perhaps it’s not me at all, perhaps this book was written at a time when no one else dared enter the mind of someone so narcissistic and depraved, and it fascinated readers…and now the literary elite just leave it on their reading book lists.

As for Vlad’s last book, The Original of Laura, I may have more hope.

Source: Literary Review, Shored Against His Ruins  by David Lodge

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