Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nanowrimo 2011 - the end

This is my first Nanowrimo fail. I reached 36211 words when I needed to hit 50,000.

Interestingly enough, the personal issues that I had during November that stopped me from writing the novel to conclusion are exactly the same personal issues that made the novel really interesting and good. Despite its incompleteness, it's one of my favourites so far.

It's quite autobiographical, but only for the events of 2011, and specifically November. I think it's also reached into my psyche and dug up some long hidden aspects of myself that I didn't even know were there.

Despite the fact that the month has been really hard, and in some ways awful, I would say that overall, it's been a really good month, maybe even life changing.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Poetry slams + poetry

I can't believe I haven't blogged this yet. I know the blog is called "Noveljutsu", but it's a writing blog, so I will post about poetry in here.

Thanks to Ali Jacs (Alina Siegfried - Wellington poetry slam regional champion, and New Zealand national finalist going to Melbourne to represent New Zealand next year), I went to my first poetry presentation on August 24th, 2011. Since then, my brain has been hooked on poetry. Weird, since I'd managed to spend decades thinking it was mostly boring. I was clearly wrong!

Because of her suggestion and then the encouragement of friends, I presented original poetry (recently written - I didn't have any laying around) to a group of strangers on two separate occasions.

Poetry slam, Wellington Heat #1, where I presented this:

The first time I saw her
I checked my mouth for spittle
I raised my eyebrows and
shook my head a little
A look I reserve only
for the very prettiest girls
I think she's out of my league
I wouldn't know what to do with her
Even if I had her
She is smouldering, hot and stylish
Her curves are machined - perfect
She’s electric, bright, beautiful
I know it's just evolution talking
Biological urges - nothing more
But then, I reason to myself,
Surely billions of years of evolution can't be wrong?
Maybe the urge is there for a reason?
So... despite my doubts
I ask around from a few people who know her
The message is - she's yours if you have the cash
"She's not really like that surely?" I ask
"They're all like that mate.", says a callous friend
It's not right, but instead of running away
I pinch my pennies to eventually impress her
Sure enough, when it's all in hand,
I slap my card down on the counter
The amount I quote gets her attention
I walk out with her a few minutes later
I know it can't last, but for now
I hug her close and whisper
"I love you... Macbook pro."

In the regional final, I presented this:

The poem is told from the position of a soldier on the losing side of a battle in the early days of cannon warefare. It's called:

The Soldier

He stands tall with his brothers
Soldiers, uniform and ramrod straight
All in neat rows to his sides
His enemies gather, causal, dismissive
Taking aim, taking aim
The assault comes, a cannon ball
Sweeping and scattering his brothers into the air
Battered, tumbled, humbled, wounded
Any left standing are targeted again
If they all fall, it's to thunderous applause
By their enemies, who take joy in the carnage
It's just a bit of fun to them
His wounded pride, his wounded brothers

Now, a little lighter. This second poem is about a bowling pin, sitting at the end of the bowling alley, awaiting his fate. It's called:

The Soldier

He stands tall with his brothers
Soldiers, uniform and ramrod straight
All in neat rows to his sides
His enemies gather, causal, dismissive
Taking aim, taking aim
The assault comes, a cannon ball
Sweeping and scattering his brothers into the air
Battered, tumbled, humbled, wounded
Any left standing are targeted again
If they all fall, it's to thunderous applause
By their enemies, who take joy in the carnage
It's just a bit of fun to them
His wounded pride, his wounded brothers

On the suggestion of one of the Wellington top presenters, I have since re-written this point into a single poem with two stanzas and the introductions are also merged into the poem. The overall poem is still called "The Soldier".

And I am now writing more poems pretty much all the time - a phrase here or there sends me down cool or interesting ways to say things, hopefully eventually making their way into a poem. I have a lot of partially done ones that I want to finish, but it's harder than writing prose and sometimes, you have to sleep on them for a week or more.

Not sure if this is a life-long passion, but it's currently the most interesting thing I'm doing. I will continue for as long as possible!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nanowrimo 2011 - ongoing

I feel that this year is a bit harder than most, and with my interest in other things, I am quickly falling behind. I am also writing in here rather than doing my novel.

I will quickly summarize my concept and describe some of the difficulties.

Jory Paul is a post-event military man. The event was some unknown force blocking the sun completely. Instead of the sun, at about the orbit of Mars, there is a gigantic sphere. People who understand the astronomy of such things believe that there is probably a Dyson sphere built in our solar system, probably with a living surface on the inside.

Of course, this doesn't take into account the life that is on earth and the freezing, barren, lifeless landscape left over on earth is not enough to support much of a population. Jory is one of the few remaining survivors, trained to hunt for resources and survive on the bitter surface.

While on a mission, a dying man whispers a secret in his ear and it changes his life. He finds himself on the most dangerous mission of his life, trekking for weeks over the frozen ocean surface trying to get to Australia and a chance to save the world from it's apparent fate.

Well, I could have been writing my novel instead of that, but I'll take it! I'll make it the blurb on the dust jacket!

Difficulties - I've started writing poetry and it's on my mind regularly. SO, I'd rather read and write poetry than write my novel. Despite turning my main character into a poet, writing poetry is slow, slogging work that won't get out the 1667 words per day (more now - I'm over 5,000 words behind - need a few 3k-4k days and I'll be good), so obviously just a stop-gap.

Anyway, back to attempting to get a few more words out. 7746 words on Nov 8th at 11:17PM. :(

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nanowrimo and poetry

This month is National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) and this is my 6th. I am a few thousand words behind. As it turns out, despite doing this every year, I am distracted and missing focus. My main distraction isn't Angry Birds - the Halloween edition, or great food or cleaning the floor. This year, my distraction is poetry.

I've been involved in a few Slam Poetry events, and even volunteered to read my poetry in front of a bunch of strangers with no reward to speak of except a bit of applause at the end. So, I continue to write poems in the middle of a novel writing month. The urge is strong, and I have even made my main character a poet, in order to have the excuse to write some as part of my novel.

I have also been reading lots of poetry and am currently caught up in the genius that is Billy Collins. One of the ones I've really enjoyed is:

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius. 


I liked this one enough write a parody, which I thought of not from listening to a dog bark, but from hearing my windscreen wipers squeak:


The windscreen wipers on my car are squeaking
I’m sure there’s some mechanical problem
It sounds like a falsetto speaking
and continues after a change of blades
On a long drive in the rain
I slowly descend into crazy
squeak, squeak, squeak

In an attempt to stay at least relatively sane
I turn on the music, U2 at full volume
But the squeak cuts through
It’s not even one type of squeak, but two
One on the way up
And another on the way down

I eventually imagine
The squeak as part of U2’s action
And even picture Bono singing
Walking around the car on stage
Leaning over the bonnet, singing to a wiper blade

Then the music ends and the squeak continues
But the stage remains
The wiper solo goes on
And I picture the audience in rapt silence
Eventually raising their arms
Flicking lighters and swaying to the squeaking solo

That, they’ll say, was amazing
A tribute to U2’s genius
A lasting legacy and it all started here.
Inside my car, on a drive in the rain

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SoCNoC 2011 - a different route

This June started out busy. Over the first few days, I wasn't sure if I should even attempt SoCNoC (The Southern Cross Novel Challenge - write a 50,000 word novel in the month of June).

By the time the 23rd rolled around and the month was mostly gone, I decided that I couldn't possibly write a novel. I was writing lots of other things though, and just for fun, I went onto the CARM forums, where I've been spending a lot of time lately debating God, Religion, evolution, creationism and various minutia in and around the absurdity that is modern religion and went through all of my posts (they provide a link for this, which made it very easy) and cut and pasted everything I wrote (didn't count quoting other people) into a document and tallied up my word count. The number was big...really big, something like 35,000 words. When I took my Theist versus Atheist posts and Casual Atheism posts from facebook, my count was over 40,000 words of discussion, argument, logic and mis-speak.

Just to be sure, I checked on the Kiwiwriters forums, to make sure that making SoCNoC non-fiction and mostly random wasn't "against the rules", and sure enough, the other executive were ok with me doing what I was doing.

Over lunch today at work, I collected from June 23rd to today and re-tallied the total. I hit 52,466 words in June. That's well past the required 50k words.

It is the most incoherent "novel" I've ever written, but if I wanted to, it could turn into a book about atheism and religion.

Two things occur to me:
1. I'm writing a novel's worth of posts every month (most likely), since I didn't, in any way, plan to hit 50,000 words and
2. I really need a life!