Friday, September 28, 2007

How nanowrimo got me again.

Warning: you are being warned.

I should be writing an essay, I should be reading, I should be drinking hot chocolate, but I'm not. What am I doing? Fidgeting. But I have a story, a good story and I want to tell this story. Henceforth I shall forgo cocoa drinking.

Last year around this time I was on a strange old site called avid gamers, which is blue and green. Not tree-green and sky-blue mind you, but still blue and green. My attempt to start a writers group had been thwarted through lack of interest and I was at a loss for my favourite hobby of designing role playing websites and than becoming bored of them, and then I found nanowrimo. My sister had told me about it, but I don't like writing competitions. Competitions make me sad and sour when I lose, and I doubted I could win one with a novel. But soon I understood the full glory of nanowrimo. A link was posted on avid gamers, the writer was discussing what they intended to write for nano (as it is called for short). I was shocked to learn they intended to enter this competition with a novel about vampires, and another intended to write fanfiction. Hardly suitable for a Japanese writing competition (as I assumed it must be). But I was curious. I followed the link; I started reading; by the sixth rule I was doomed. I tried to sign up but it wasn't October yet. I read all the content on the site. I stalked to old forums. I had an idea by that time and it kept growing and growing. I started learning and reading and as soon as I could sign up I did.

I was, of course, rather foolish. Being well informed by this time I didn't need to ask any questions, yet I was still missing interaction and wanted to talk to someone. Making the mistake of admitting this acquired me the only harsh criticism I ever experienced on the site. Once I found my place (the fantasy forum of course) I went happily off to talk about the proper protocol of knights, the importance of fairies, and how one might examine and implement magic into a society. Well, not all those things all first, but I have discussed all three; the fantasy forum is one of the most fun on the web I have yet to find. These people are intelligent, interesting, ready to debate, AND interested in fantasy. How much better can one get?

I started writing at midnight. By the time I went to bed I was nearly to my word count for the first day, but I kept writing. Getting a head start is good in case you lose it. I kept getting them and I kept keeping them. The requirement is around 1666 words per day to reach 50,000 by the end of the month. I wrote around 2400 and reached 70,000. I was bloody proud of myself. I kept expecting to fall flat on my face, but I didn't. I just kept going, and having a novel in progress is one of the most wonderful things I have ever experienced.

So I finished, won, and gained a great deal from it despite the fact that my prize was a cup of hot cocoa. Though there were some good pieces and I discovered an interesting world through my writing (not to mention becoming peculiarly knowledgeable on Persia) I did not find myself in possession of a whole salvageable novel. There are so many things that I learned from nanowrimo that taught me what I ought never to do again, integral parts of the novel which could not be removed. After some months of attempting to rectify the situation I gave up and started writing again. I learned a great deal from that attempt as well, and do believe I will take the beginning of the story as a cautionary tale, and borrow my darling air pirates (yes, it was that fantastic) for other stories.

But on the whole I found it to be too fast. If I had had more time I could have done something better, and since I knew what I was doing after my 'fix novel--oh wait--writers block--'ll quit--all better now' experience I decided that one nano-adventure was all I needed, that I was grateful for what I had learned, considered it invaluable, but would not be doing it again. This of course goes along with the fact that, being an extrovert, I was unable to retreat inside myself after I had finished in order to rebuild all those broken things and strange opinions I had gathered from nanowrimo. I over extended myself, and it was scary. That is the one place I could have used a mentor who was able to warn me what might happen. But I'm still fairly sane..or something of the sort, so I think it is okay after all.

So I was quite set, though I still frequented the fantasy forums to partake in the clever and exciting discussions, that I would not rejoin the ranks of nanoers in 2007. Unhappily I made the mistake of going to the nanowrimo website a few days ago. There was a note there about how the site would be shutting down until October to set up for the coming year. And I was caught. Just like last year, following that link. There it was. Bang. I doubt I can escape, not without more will-power than I have. And it is very hard to escape something when you cannot make any argument that cannot be defeated with “I'm just being lazy not to”. So I guess I will be going back again; hopefully I will be able to keep whole and sane during and after.

Two things must be noted that are here missed. First is that November is the last month of the fall semester, which means essays and midterms are given at the end and beginning respectively, but there is a nice reading break in November with helps a little. Second is that during my first nanowrimo an idea monster (far more violent than plot bunnies) attacked me as I was reading over the site information, it infested my brain and proceeded to build a nest in my thoughts. I have sent some of my brain tissue to the labs in a vain hope that they might find a cure for such rampant infestations in the future. This year I had an idea that I was in love with, and nano just happened to pop up at the right time. Now that I have written once I want to try again, but this time with something that in which I can have pride. Fantasy of course, but I am greatly convinced that a good fantasy transcends all other things, as it involves the mind and the world of the imagination most directly of all forms. Some consider being so closely involved as this to be a weakness, and I think they are quite right that it is a weakness. But it is a crippling and lifelong weakness, like any such thing, and should be honoured and not denied.

And so begins the tales of nanowrimo 2007.

I've been running through Google looking for people having discussions, trying to convince my friends and family to write, and above all writing to me a little less vocal about it than last year. I talk a great deal too much, hopefully I can keep most of it here.

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DEFINITIONS
Nanowrimo: national novel writing month. link
nanoer: a nanowrimo writer, best people in the word
nano: either the book or an abreviation of the abreviation
avid gamers: a hosting site commonly used for roleplaying and with a vibrant discussion community

Nano2006: “the flying ship.” involving a girl kidnapped by an accidentally summoned demon and sold to a group of air pirates.

Nano2007: Will be about either the fall of a hero or a girl named Percy who doesn't really visit Europe in a very small boat.

The problem of individuality and the group

Now here is a peculiar problem, which I have named as such but must think has another name, a name that is scholarly and contemplated and carrying all the fabulous goods and trinkets which over time become attached to such a problem. But I do not know that name or those arguments and shall therefore give it a new name and make my own little argument.

To begin at the beginning I must discuss myself. As a particular person with a particular eccentricity about me I cannot bear to be excited by those fads and sub cultures, which so often tend to inflame the world. If it is a common thing, and a recognised thing, such as an apple or a particular philosophy than I may love it. But if it is something personal, such as a television show or a book, than I have difficulty reconciling my personal love of the thing with its greater popularity. I feel that I am being shallow in loving it, for if I were to be more informed I would certainly have better loves and I do only love such a thing because it has passed into the sphere of popularity.

At some point in time I encountered the idea that originality had dead, struck from the face of the earth and most wholly gone, a hopeless thing to recover or to save. Which is, of course, a very good and noble way to view such things. Clearly it is hopeless to entertain such vulgar notions as the ability to create anything of merit, use, or beauty in our so prominent modern age. The argument follows of course by numbers: how could something possibly be produced when there are so many writers in the world, (a student of Probability might argue that this actually increases the chances, but we don’t allow them in these discussions so that point is null.) Problem represented is the overwhelming amount of writers in this world who desire recognition. The suggestion is to discourage writers from writing; to decrease the numbers to a select few aristocracy gifted enough to speak. The right to speak may not be an invitation but excuse me if I find this just a little bit absurd. Yes, tell those struggling writers that they should not even bother, all our writing is crap anyway so what’s the bloody point?

The point is, I might argue, that if those writers want to write than they should be writing. The number of writers increases in equal parts with the numbers of educated and imaginative people. The number of writers increase nearly equal to the number of people who love books. Those who love stories, who love poetry, and who adore the drama. Those are the people writing our books and our poetry and our drama. It seems that were we to discourage a writer we would also discourage a reader.

Let us take the example of a small fishing village off in the mountains, many come there for some creative pursuit, some have lived there for their entire lives, and others take advantage of the first two groups by selling them such frivolities as toothpaste and milk.

Population =50

Writers who read = 80%
Non-writers who read = 25%

Non-writers=40 (Who read= 10)
Writers=10 (who read=8)

Readers=18

Though these numbers are a bit elevated from the actual data one cannot think them as any less correct than any other survey of tastes, there are a great many pockets of readers and writers even when a general member of the population might not read. From this we might conclude two things:

1. Our population and education are great enough to support our growing population of writers
2. Older writers encouraging younger is a guarantee that another generation of readers to read their books will be born.

And henceforth we see that in our own rich and dynamic world to have fewer writers than we do would not be a blessing but in fact a shame. These numbers show not an increase in the sub par through corruption of media, but a spontaneous one encouraged by an increasingly civilized world (never mind what I really think of ‘progress’, literacy will always be dear to me).

But there is a failure in this romantic view, a personal one. The logical part of my mind creates rational and encouraging ways in which I might meet a writer at every bus stop, in every job, and in every course I pursue at university, but the logical part of my mind does not reign. Every where I turn I meet someone who writes, many of whom tell me they want to take a writing class. Now, being thwarted in my own attempt to do so I may be thought of simply as bitter, but I am not at first a creature of logic.

I believe in the community of writers, all striving and writing and reading and glorying in a shared art. I am a great lover of comradery, saying not ‘I shall stand alone’ but ‘I shall stand with all those like me and together we shall triumph.’ This is where there must be bitterness. I was deprived of that community when I did not take the writing class, I could not feel allied to the writing group I joined, and when I meet another writer I do not feel that we are the same sort of creature. (Though that may be because they do not write fantasy and henceforth cannot share with me the—ahem—true joys of writing). In fact I do not believe I have quite often encountered a fantasy writer, and I know quite well that we are not uncommon so this makes me wonder. But I digress. My point is that meeting another writer does not give me the glory of a cultured and clever society, but instead makes me ashamed. Writing is absurdly personal, and when I see so many pursuing something I hold dear it makes me question whether I have chosen well in my choice of loves. If the world and half is writing why should I? With so many writers in this world what could I, low as I am, contribute? This of course has been answered. I know it well; there is always room for more writing and henceforth more reading. But it is a question of individuality. When I rally writers as a group, than we are no longer individuals, but when I encounter writers I – as an individual – have the same reaction as any other.

So why should I bother? If writing is such a common thing why am I wasting my time there instead of taking a true challenge? Making an obscure and worthy pursuit? My dearest love of course consoled me by saying that ‘they could not possibly be as interested as I’, but that is not an argument that I can make. Degrading another writer is not only an unhealthy way to win esteem, but it undermines those theories of group and individual I might entertain. No, I cannot say that I am better than these people, and henceforth I am forced to very writing as a fad, as a thing that is personal and popular and yet a thing which affects the very nature of a person.

I could argue that I wish to be the very best (and be in danger of imagined existentialists questioning my ability to even know what best is) or I might argue that for me it is not a fad. But all think that, there are very few who say ‘I follow this because I am shallow and it was the first thing to catch my interest’. So where am I left? I am left in disgust of myself, but unable to even admit it without insulting those I should call my comrades. If I say that my loves are low and common things, I call their loves low and common. If I say their loves are low and common, whereas mine is true, I undermine my sense of honour and shame myself.

And there we have the problem of the individual and the group. I cannot become a part of the group without denying my individual love; I cannot be a proper individual without accepting the communality of my love. Clearly the solution is denial. I shall be in denial from now on.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dead sites and things I distrust

Contemplating some other topic aside from writing, there is nothing more disturbing to find then a dead site. Some are not quite so bad as others. Sites with old updates or comics that were promised to appear are one thing, but forums always disturb me. Here we have a flourishing group of friends, people who know each other and have spent time together. Suddenly something goes wrong, the forums go silent. Someone comes back, maybe a month later, and considers that the site is dead. Sometimes you see people who discuss how their lives have gone to hell and they have to leave. It is worrying when there is one person to consider, on a blog or the sort of site maintained by a select individual, but more so in a group. What can you do if that nice girl you spoke to over the Internet has a nervous breakdown and kills herself? Absolutely nothing. It isn't your business, you don't know her, and if you did get involved it would be more likely to label you as an internet stalker than a friend. Sometimes one can cross the boundaries but not always, there is no way to protect such communities, and they can die in the blink of an eye.

Moving along, the last website I saw to be dead was a writing website (were back here, the trouble with a preoccupation is that it preoccupies a person, but really if this were a religion it would be heresy to worship method and henceforth I should really stop...I won't comment on how into it I am now, it isn't even worth it.

But yes, dead writing website. People posting are of two kinds: those who want to brainwash the naïve writers who don't know better than to protect their cash, and naïve writers trying to convince people to buy their work. Interestingly enough I put these two in the same category. Both want something from you, both rely on tricking you in some way, and both relate to naïve notions (though in a rather different way). These two creatures co-exist in a sort of harmony, feeding off each other. And I better conclude before I begin sounding like a mock nature video and making up scientific names and saying 'these rare creatures' or 'often seen in the writers kingdom'. Yes, better to stop now and save a little of a soul.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In which I declare hopelessness and disagree with myself.

A logical being might conclude – taking into account that I have not updated this blog, and as I suggested in my previous post that I was unlikely to get into the Writing 100 class – that I did not, in fact, get into my writing 100 class. Of course a logical being might just think me lazy or busy, as is very often the case. Unhappily it is the former, though I am at times lazy and busy. I made it to number four, which guarantees that, had I registered an hour earlier, I would have been in the class.

The question I pose now is, what is to happen to this blog? What should be done with it? Clearly I should continue to update it, as I am such an interesting person that the world not knowing my random interests would be…umm…I run out of words, sadly I can only pretend absurd self-importance for so long before my fingers rebel. But I do desire to continue this blog, and may do so. I am quite passionate about writing, and if I were to continue I believe it would be my main preoccupation. On the other hand I cannot think writing about writing will bring anyone forward in the world. Such things only distract one from proper and rigorous pursuits. I do like distraction. I like it especially when I am in school, and cannot allow myself to fall deeply into my own creations without my grades falling deeply into the realm of not-quite-so-good-as-I-would-like.

Therefore I may or may not return to post an update, and if I do return it will likely travel in at least three circles and contradict itself twice. Hey! Now I know what I must write about. Well, that works at least.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Waitlist update

I feel obliged to note that the writing100 are now closed to the registry system. I am unsure whether this means no one can add the course, or if no one else will be getting in as well. I have been number four on the waitlist since thursday, and unless four people change their mind by monday I will not be taking the course.

Henceforth I must conclude that, unless I suddenly become very clever and think up something else interesting to blog about, no more posts shall be made.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Oh, the horror of waitlists.

I cannot bear it so well as those for whom the word 'tedium' suffices to describe a waitlist. Even those classes for which all of logic guarantees my place I am nervous, and for those in which I am not guaranteed a seat I am more nervous still. I know many share this lack of composure and I must assure them all that it is irrational and they should stop it. I also believe a waitlist support group is in order. Oddly enough I have been the most sure of those around me. This is my second year, and I know from experience that one almost always finds a place in the class that they aim for, but then I needed reassuring. Now it falls to me to reassure worried friends that I will in fact find a seat in that history class I need so desperately.

One day until my first writing class and I am eleventh on the waitlist. Is this cause to panic? Maybe. If you happen to read this blog for some peculiar reason on this exact day and for some reason or other take a fancy to it, than it may be a reason for a very minor amount of regret, as I cannot possibly blog about my creative writing class without said class. Or rather I could, but it wouldn't be as much fun when everyone learned I had been lying and someone hired a ninja to have me assassinated. Do ninjas assassinate people? That is beside the point. I shan't blog if I don't have a class, so I order my invisible gnomish audience to be compassionate and make sad sounds.

Priority for the writing class I meant to enter is given to writing majors, priority over all is given to first years at this university; these things are fair, rational, unavoidable, and annoying. As one might guess I am not a writing major, a first year, or someone clever enough to trick my way into the faculty just to take the class. I happened to be at work (I worked far too much this summer) when non-writing majors were able to apply, and made the grand commission of signing me up over to another (who promptly forgot). Henceforth I applied two hours later and found myself 24th on a waitlist for a class of 148. This is not a bad position, compared to the one of 54th acquired some hours after that, but it is not a good one. The assumption is made that 15% will drop the class, or in this case 22.2 persons. Meaning I shall soon be finding myself as rejected to the course, being the 1.8ths person on the list.

Writing 100 works on a rather peculiar system. In order to keep all first year writing students in one lump, and give them the most information in the least time, the class is split into 4 'tutorial' sections. Each is assigned its own teacher and subject (Poetry, creative non-fiction, fiction and drama). The four sections each contain 35 seats, which means that six people will be accepted into the course but waitlisted for the tutorials, those students will be permitted to attend tutorials. I will not. This is quite unusual, as all other faculties allow for waitlisted students to attend classes and receive handouts and information. From what I can tell the writing program has one of three opinions: only six will be shuffled in after the first class and all others ought to be ignored, 35 is the most creative people one can allow in a room at once, or the writing program is so much superior that they must prevent any student not properly enrolled from acquiring their valuable information.

For those first years reading this who happen to be on a waitlist, do not despair. What is the drop ratio? If you are the sorry individual who is 54th on the waitlist remember that almost 80% most drop before you get in, but most often you ought to have hope: everything that can be done is being done for your benefit. On the other hand, make a backup plan. What will you do if this doesn't work out? My backup plan, as writing is almost completely a pleasure course (I do need 1.5 out of 6 credits from something other than the humanities, but it is easy enough to get that elsewhere) my arrangement consisted of finding a course to fill the second semester slot. For those with serious ambitions taking other necessary classes, or even a note to the faculty might be required.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Translating the sites latin

Because I hate to leave a blank slate untarnished I shall now attempt to translate the latin found on this site without textbook, dictionary, practiced skill, or sleep.

Lorem ipsum vim ut utroque mandamus intellegebat, ut eam omittam ancillae sadipscing, per et eius soluta veritus.

verb: itellegebat
past, preterite, third person singular

his intelligence?

They themselves held his intelligence, with my axilery admittence of something unimportant, as with his true solution.

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With post exists to prove that I cannot read latin, contrary to common belief.