Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This is where I shall end my NaNo journey for 2011.

For those who haven't participated before, trying to write 50000 words in 30 days is a tall ask. It equates to 1667 words every day of the month. If you want to try and leave yourself a buffer, you're looking at roughly 2000 words. For some people, this is an easy feat - the words come easily, and there's always something for characters to do. For others, it's about as painful as trying to push out a uni assignment every day of the year, albeit nowhere near as boring.

For me, flying by the seat of my pants without any planning whatsoever made the pursuit incredibly difficult. I found my stride somewhere around day 19, but a few days where I hadn't had any opportunity to write quickly knocked the goal far out of reach.

Reflecting on the month that has passed, I've learned an incredible amount and gained some wonderful friends in the process. I now have a finger on the pulse of the Brisbane writing scene, and inroads into becoming a professional writer. Whilst I still have a long way to go to get to where I want to be, I know how to get there now. I also learned a lot about my own writing abilities over the month, especially now I've honed my writing and gotten back into the swing of things. I suppose if I had to put down to it, my two greatest challenges are developing my technique for writing dialogue, and developing a way to write in third person that I'm comfortable with. I'm comfortable writing in first-person, but I also know it isn't the most common perspective people write from.

To Mel, Tara, Sean, Steph, Bianca, Shantell, Ray, Winnie and everyone else who I met along the way (and I'm really, really sorry if I forgot anyone, but I promise I was thinking about you!), thanks for making NaNo 2011 an absolute blast! I'll definitely be back next year (with Nancy!), and I definitely won't be leaving ausnano while people are still poking around on there. I'd also like to thank Tristan for putting up with me this past month. He's had to make some sacrifices and put up with my antics on some days while I put myself through the ringer, and I am incredibly grateful for it.

As for me, I'm going to spend a couple of weeks off before getting back to it with a vengeance.

This time, I'm gonna kick some literary ass.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Let There Be Writing

As I write this, there are nine days left of NaNoWriMo. For me to successfully complete it, I will need to write 3500 words every day from now until the end of the month. No easy feat, let me assure you.

I am a hair's breadth from tossing the novel out the window. After abandoning my initial idea and running with whatever my mind constructed, I am at the point where I simply don't care what happens to the characters I have lovingly crafted. I identified it as more of a literary exercise than a publishable endeavour a couple of weeks ago, and it has gotten to the point where it feels more of a chore than something I am keenly interested in doing. For those who have actually read my writing previously, you'll know that my strongest writing is writing where my emotions have bled into the words I have typed. It is for this reason that I am tempted to abandon my novel, but nonetheless I will try and grit my teeth and grind my way out to 50k.

If I don't complete my novel, will this all have been a waste of time? Not in the least. I have several plans for stories I can write in the pipeline, and there are avenues available to me to get published. It won't be easy, especially if I plan on completely changing my studies and landing a decent job in the meantime. However, this is what I want to do for a living.

My passion for writing has been reignited. Big time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On Purpose

I know this blog has been dead for a while, but I feel now's a good time to revive it. I promise I'll do my best to keep this updated more regularly than I have been.

For those who haven't been keeping tabs on me of late, it has been a little over 12 months since I stopped seeing my psychologist. I'm now living in Brisbane, between jobs, and up until recently have had zero idea what direction my life was going to take.

For those who have followed a path similar to mine, walking away from a degree you thought was certain to give you a stable career that you enjoyed is a really big deal. When I first went to Charles Sturt University to begin my teaching degree in 2007, I thought that at the end of my four years I'd end up working as a teacher of some description, that I would continue to do until I found something related that I would then enjoy to avoid burning myself out. However, the events of 2009 left me completely burned out, with the spark of teaching thoroughly extinguished. Since then, I have been left to figure out what path I should take.

For those mature-aged students who had the drive to chug themselves back through uni to get another degree, I tip my hat to you. It takes a pretty big pair of balls to drag yourself through that.

Personally, I could not put myself back through uni in the foreseeable future. I tried doing a subject this semester, but I hit a wall after the fourth week and couldn't commit myself to it. I'm not 100% certain what's stopping me, but even working with my psychologist we couldn't break it.

Since then, I've tried to get myself back on my feet, find a stable job and get myself to the point where I can find what I'm happy doing, and then go at it like a bull in a china shop.

Enter NaNoWriMo.

For those unfamiliar with it, National Novel Writing Month is four weeks of nothing but writing badly, giggling incessantly over cups of coffee, and having a great amount of fun and frustration at trying to put 50000 words down in a coherent fashion. This year I decided to tackle it for the first time. During my teenage years I had started a number of novels covering a broad range of genres (fantasy, speculative fiction, mystery), but have always lost motivation once the story gets going. I signed up for NaNo on the premise that I would find the motivation and support to drive a novel in full. Have I been successful thus far? Not exactly. However, what I have gained from the exercise (even though I'm only 9 days into it) has been of far greater benefit to myself than anything else in my memory.

Over the years, writing has been a mainstay of my life, usually floating somewhere just beyond the edge of my periphery. Up until year 11, there were points in my life where my writing ability shone through, but it wasn't ever something I seriously considered becoming involved in. In hindsight, I have no idea why. After one auspicious creative writing task in year 11 that had my high school's English department commending me on how far my writing had come, I began to consider myself as half-decent writer. Mostly, my writing has been very narrow in scope - dark speculative fiction in first-person POV that more often than not involves less-than-sane characters and nonexistent plot lines.

Having started (and restarted) my NaNo novel, I've discovered that I find it challenging to weave plots and create scenes for extended periods of time before my imagination gets the better of me (for those who've seen me write in progress, it usually involves lots of getting up and walking around randomly like a complete wanker). However, I am more or less completely comfortable with being able to just knock back words on a page (like this very blog post!). I think...that my challenge is to find a style of writing that suits my way of thinking, and build on it to the point where I can make the most use of it. I could happily spend the rest of my days writing I think if I can manage this.

If I want to write for a career, there are a few options that I can see myself safely doing:

1. Children's Literature Teaching/Workshops/Textbook Writing

Realisticly, this would best line up with my current education. To achieve this, I would need to first become a published author and/or complete my degree (although shift my subjects to a greater emphasis on English teaching). Once I achieve that, then I can start working with kids on their writing.

Would these be immensely rewarding? Yes. Would I be happy doing it for a very long time? Absolutely. Would I be able to get into it? Maybe. For me to complete my degree, I need to overcome whatever block is preventing me from doing my studies and go whole hog at completing it (preferably whist writing alongside it). From there, I should be able to find somewhere in the field I can snuggle myself into.

2. Video Game Scriptwriting

For those that don't know, I'm a massive geek. That's all you need to know. :P

On a more serious note though, being a huge gamer this would be one field that I would be very, very interested in. I feel strongly that the gaming industry is more concerned about pushing out a compelling story in favor of pretty graphics (something that I'm sure I"ll be writing a lot more about in the future), and I know that I can write a compelling story. Considering that scriptwriting is primarily about dialogue, this is one area I have a keen interest in.

It is the getting into the industry however, that is difficult. Australia doesn't have many game developers, and the biggest ones are hotly contested. I would need to seriously work on my skills in order to get myself with a company that would take me seriously. From there, I feel I could do well if I dedicated myself completely to the craft.

3. Technical Writing

This is one that has only recently shown up on my radar, courtesy of one of the wonderful ladies that I've met NaNoing (for those who NaNo, she's one of my Municipal Liaisons). Writing documentation and the like is something I know I can develop skills in (I've done stuff related to it in other endeavours), but the biggest question hanging over it is whether I have the skills initially to get myself off the ground. I can't say my last job was exactly spectacular for giving me self-confidence in my ability to pick up skills, but I'm at least willing to give it a solid go.

This one I'll probably mull over in-depth, as I want to be sure that I'm not going to flounder like a fish in water if I do decide to go for it.

4. Full-Time Author

This would be the...stereotypical path. Could I do it? Absolutely. Contrary to what some people believe I actually have a lot to say, and I could easily fill up the next X years doing nothing but write. To get there, I would first need to write something amazing (which is easy, right? :P), find an agent/editor to tell me it's not crap, and then successfully pitch it to a publisher. There may or may not be a hell of a lot more behind it, as this is an area I only have just started to lift the lid on.

However, this path would also be challenging for me (at least initially). I'm not someone who can simply sit and write thousands of lines every day of the year - I need some time to just chill out from my thoughts sometimes. I would need to jigger my way of thinking (and writing) to make sure I could sustain what I would need to do to be successful in this area. That being said, once I start getting published there are a range of other things I could jump into, but depends on me being able to get that book published.

So, what do I do?

The honest answer - I don't know. There's a lot to mull over, and a lot of avenues to explore. However, what I do know is that for the first time in god knows how long I have some direction in where I would like to end up.

And for that, I know that I can find a sense of purpose for myself again.

Also, any comments would be greatly appreciated. I like comments <3