So, where did the name of my blog come from? I shall tell you, and it’s a short tale.
I needed a ‘professional’ site, unassociated with my other two blogs, where I could blog about all things writing-related. My non-writer friends didn’t want to see that for the most part, and the kinds of things I write about on the other two sites aren’t “professional.” I use language I don’t use here, etc.
I wanted my name as a domain, but some lawyer already owned garyhenderson, so with some trepidation, I looked for and did not find ‘garydhenderson.’ So I bought it. Looked for hosting, and set up WordPress. Within days I was ready to go, having picked what I had been told was the best kind of template to use for writing: black text on a white background, with a simple design and no extraneous pictures or colors or fonts.
But I didn’t want to just call the blog ‘Gary D. Henderson’s blog’ either. I wanted something with pizzaz. Panache. A certain . . . je ne sais quoi.
I love me some puns. And I also love homophones. Words that sound alike but have different meanings and etymologies. Words like pear, pare, and pair. Or pedal, peddle, and petal (if you’re from the south, they’re practically identical).
Or write, rite, wright, and right.
I tried desperately to work all four in, but in the end, none of those sounded like anything I wanted to read, much less write.
And what is a writer if not a wright, of a sort. So: write wright. Or WriteWright.
Since that domain is taken and so is the Twitter account (I tried to get the guy parked on it to let me have it, but he did not answer), I couldn’t fully embrace it other than using it as my blog title, which I’ve done, as you can see.
I also own several other domains relating to the series of novels I’m working on, but they are parked and not pointed at anything right/write/wright/rite now.
All in good time. :)
This post is in response to The Writer’s Post Blog Hop 2014 #4 prompt, Explain the Name of Your Blog. The host is Suzy Que. Other entries are linked from her blog post.
I’m what they call a “discovery writer.” Or, more colloquially, a “pantser.” As in, I write by the seat of my pants. No outline. No clear end in sight, sometimes. Just a cool idea that popped into my head and a vague notion of “thattaway” when it comes to where the story is going. That’s how a lot of my stories start.
That’s also — uncoincidentally — why so many of my stories either don’t end or don’t end satisfactorily. Because I get to some point in the writing when I realize that either I have no earthly clue where the ending is or that I missed the exit some while back, and I’m going to need to turn around, backtrack, and take a different route.
While driving, that’s easy enough. You get off at exit 250 and go back to exit 248. You lost a couple of miles, a few tablespoons of gasoline, and maybe a few minutes. The air turns a little blue from the curses. Possibly, your GPS announces “Recalculating” in that mechanical ‘I’m judging you even though I have no inflection in my robot voice’ tone that adds, “idiot” or “loser” to the end of every statement. Recalculating, loser.
In writing, though, you lose words. Maybe good words. But they’re just not the right words for this story at this time. A writer and podcaster I follow religiously (Mur Lafferty) has said that she has lost thousands of words — as in twenty or thirty thousand words — because of one of these “wrong exit” mistakes.
They can be costly. But I think maybe the work is the better for it.
Mike Stackpole in his wonderful “21 Days to a Novel” workshop has said that if you reach a point in your writing when you’re blocked and you don’t know what comes next, go back about 300 words (a page or so) and look. There’s probably a decision your character made that’s out of character. Because it needed to happen for the plot. Easy enough to rewrite 300 words. And since the new words will begin with the character actually in character, they’ll be better words, and you can continue writing. And I have had this happen, and it’s usually true.
But what if you realize 50,000 or 60,000 words in that your entire design of the setting or the way magic works or something else fundamental to the work as a whole . . . is just wrong? Is anything salvageable? Is there any reason to continue writing, or should you just jettison everything and either move on to another project or start over from scratch?
I’ve done both of those, as well. And as much as losing 300 or 10,000 words might hurt, realizing that most of a novel is just spew . . . is rather frustrating.1
This is where I’ve been at recently. I’ve explained this before, but briefly: I had an idea for what I thought was a short story, then became a novella, then a novel, and finally a series of urban fantasy novels. I called book one Perdition’s Flames. I wrote roughly 40,000 words of it. In the midst of that, NaNoWriMo came around and since I by then had an idea for book two, I wrote 50,000 words of Death Scene. I had vague notions that book three would be called Eye of the Beholder, but . . . something was off. The story wouldn’t coalesce. The arc wasn’t right. The biggest climax and revelation was in book one, not book three.
Then, it occurred to me that the reason I couldn’t come up with anything for book three was that book one had the end of the arc. So Perdition’s Flames had to be book three. That moved Death Scene to book one, and Eye of the Beholder to book two. That fixed a lot. I mean a lot. I now had a very cool scene for the introduction into my series and a satisfying arc that crossed all three books, with new ideas for books four and five based on the end of book three. Even better, I knew what book two was about, now, because it could revolve around something I set up in book one, and introduce a character that will be important in book three! I was very excited.
For NaNoWriMo 2012, I wrote a 50,000-word+ book called Magic for Normals, a ‘for-dummies’ style book that was basically just a place for me to write down all my ideas about how magic works in my world, and do it in a fun format where I could just expound at length and be as pedantic as I wanted.
And then, on the heels of this, I set out to restart the series, this time beginning with Death Scene. A book I had already written more than 50,000 words of. But now, as the first book, all the characters had to be introduced and their relationships established. Again. And the world had to be introduced. Again. And certain plot points for books two and three had to be set up in advance. And secondary conflicts had to be added. Each character needed a motivation. A background. An arc. My villain character actually had to have a reason he was doing what he was doing, other than just being evil.
And every time I’d write a few thousand words, I’d think of something else I needed to add. “Oh, it’s not Bob that’s the villain. It’s really Fred! And this is why: . . .” Or, “Wait. Nick isn’t Jacob’s younger brother, he’s the older brother, because it makes [plot point 1] and [plot point 2] actually make sense. And gives
Bob Fred a motivation!”
So, I’m blocked for several reasons:
- Idea paralysis – Since I’ve moved the books around, so many new ideas are occurring to me that I can barely write a couple of hundred words before a new idea sparks. It’s a good thing, I think, but it means never being sure whether what I’m writing is on exit 248 or 250.
- Already written syndrome – A huge part of my brain is saying, “You already wrote this. You told this story. Stop trying to retell it. Move on.” Silly brain. (This is also why I have a hard time with outlining and writing synopses.)
- Wrong Way, Turn Back – Another part of my brain insists that all those ideas I’m getting are wrong because I get new ideas that invalidate the old ones . . . Does anyone other than me get the impression that I’m my own worst enemy? :) Either that or I need a week in a very large room with whiteboards on all four walls and no Internet.2
So, that’s where I’m at right now, if anyone’s wondering. I’m working on other writing in order to keep the writing gears lubricated. I have a “short” story (Haha! It’s at 12,000 words and shows no sign of ending soon.) to submit for my writing group by midnight tonight. I’m a blogging fool, lately. And every time my mind isn’t otherwise occupied, I’m planning plot for books one, two, three, or four. Yes, four. <shakes head in disgust> In the shower, driving, eating lunch at work, just as I’m about to drop off into sleep. I have five days of boring training classes at work next week. I have a feeling my notes are going to look . . . a bit schizophrenic. :)
Today’s post is inspired by GBE2 (Group Blogging Experience)’s Week 113 prompt: Photo Prompt (see associated photo at top of post)
- An example of litotes.
- No, not padded walls. I see what you did, there. Very funny. Ha ha. No, really.
Wednesday’s prompt on WriteTribe is to write a proper haiku. Many thanks to Ruchira Shukla for the succinct lesson. In brief, an English-language haiku should have 17 syllables in three lines with the pattern 5 / 7 / 5, it should mention or make reference to a season (kigo), and should have a juxtaposition. A juxtaposition is where one of the lines is grammatically separate from the other two. This last one is harder than it sounds.
Further, we were asked to make ‘rain’ the kigo, as it is currently the rainy season in India, where WriteTribe is based. Not to mention here in Atlanta, where it has rained almost every day for several weeks, it seems.
But rain means so many things to me. Rain has different personalities. There’s the light rain that falls straight down, leaving dry patches under everything. There’s the driving sheets of rain that stop traffic. There’s horizontal rain that hits windows with the force of pebbles and make you check your roof for leaks. There’s spitting rain that’s not really worth getting out an umbrella for, but it will leave you just as wet. So I did not constrain myself to just one haiku. So there.
Here are my six ‘rain’ haiku. Note that I chose to actually avoid the word ‘rain’ and instead obliquely refer to it, as it was one of the techniques mentioned by the page at WriteTribe. I’m also sure I didn’t accomplish a juxtaposition in at least three of them. Maybe.
|Low, grey, dreary skies.
Children laugh with abandon.
Puddles for splashing.
Pine needles, diamond laden.
Above, a rainbow.
|Sunny and stormy:
The devil’s beating his wife.
No mowing today!
|Some big, some little:
Muddy footprints on the floor.
Mud’s not just for kids.
Weather loved only by ducks.
And I, with my book.
I should also note that ‘diamond’ in my particular dialect (i.e., Southern English) is two syllables, not three. So there are not eight syllables in the second haiku down in the first column. :)
I wrote this story for The Write Tribe contest incorporating the following seven words in random order (they’ll be in bold): postcard, coin, tidy, wild, help, calendar, responsibility.
It is a bit of a departure for me because it is not genre fiction: it is “mainstream” fiction. Maybe I should have made him a cyborg. . . Anyway, it’s the story that came to mind. It is 493 words, well short of the stated 700 word limit. Which is also a departure for me. :)
Greg stood at the end of the short driveway, gazing at the mobile home in the early morning light. A wan, yellow glow in one window told him that someone was awake. Probably getting ready for work.
He checked the postcard again. Maybe he had the wrong address? No. This was definitely it. The address was drawn on the card in meticulous, cursive letters, as though the writer were an expert in calligraphy.
The place, by contrast, was a mess. Grass grew two feet tall in places. A wild profusion of weeds choked what few flowers and shrubs there were. The mailbox canted at a jaunty angle, its post half-consumed by termites and borer bees. He eyed the decrepit-looking Volkswagon van parked in front of him. It was probably twice as old as he was.
He pulled a coin out of his pocket. A quarter. He gripped it between his thumb and index finger so tightly, he imagined he could feel George Washington’s sharp nose digging into the pad of his thumb. It didn’t help still the quaver in his hand.
One little toss of a coin. Then it wouldn’t be on him. Heads or tails. Stay or go. Fate would decide. Very tidy, he thought. Leave the decision to random chance. Shirk yet another responsibility.
A trickle of sweat beaded at the nape of his neck and crawled down his back, agonizingly slow. He shifted his weight to his other foot. What was there to gain, here? He should just go. He had no business coming here. What had he even been thinking? Yes. He would go. He turned to walk away, and then stopped.
You are going . . . up to that door to knock like an adult.
He clenched his jaw. Put the quarter back in his pocket. Took several deep breaths.
He’d had today circled on his calendar for months. His true twenty-first birthday, which he’d found out from the sweat-stained postcard clutched in his hand. They — whoever answered the door — were his birth family. He’d been looking for them for months. He wouldn’t let a few weeds and some tall grass destroy his chance to learn his origins.
He squared his shoulders and purposefully strode up to the door, and, before he could talk himself out of it, knocked.
There was a long silence. Then, the knob turned and the door crept open. He found himself looking down into the kindly eyes of a grey-haired woman in a wheelchair. She wheeled herself forward, half in and half out of the threshold. In the growing sunlight, her eyes were bright green.
Like his own.
“Gregory?” she asked, her voice cracking. “Is that . . . Is it really you?”
All his anxiety fled, leaving him weak in its wake. He sank to his knees in front of the wheelchair and grabbed the woman’s hands in his own, crumpling the postcard.
“Yes,” he said, smiling. “It’s me. I’ve come home.”
It involved four dice rolls, and since I don’t carry around my gaming dice all the time (anymore), I used the “dice roller” app on my phone.
What? Of course I have a dice roller app on my phone. Now where was I?
Then I rolled a 6 and a 9. My story must feature A Locked Door and also A Tremendous Reward. Well. Those two go together quite well, do they not? So my challenge is to make it not quite so obvious. In other words, the locked door isn’t a way to get to the reward, at least not directly. That’s too . . . cliché.
So, let’s see what I can come up with. Watch this space. Well, not this space. But this blog. For a new post. Later this week. Containing a 1000-word(ish) story. Hopefully more polished than this blog entry. With sentences. With actual subjects. And verbs.
“For it turns out that the most significant connections between language, culture, and thought are to be found where they are least expected, in those places where healthy common sense would suggest that all cultures and all languages should be exactly the same.”
Professor Deutscher’s statement jumped out of the monotonous drone even as he continued to yammer on. Niyati, the girl whose presence occupied my every waking moment — and most of my sleeping ones — sat one row down and to my right, where I could only see her profile, today. I had meticulously learned how to properly pronounce a few phrases in Tamil, and thanks to the professor, today was the day that I would finally–
“Mr. Metzger, if you would kindly stop staring at Miss Vishwakarma for a moment, perhaps you could favor the class with the answer to my question?”
I slumped down in my seat as all eyes in the class turned to me, but I only saw one pair. They were flashing in anger.
- Grab the 7th book from your bookshelf.
- Open it up to page 7.
- Pinpoint the 7th sentence on the page.
- Begin a poem / a piece of prose that begins with that sentence
- Limit it in length to 7 lines / 7 sentences.
The first sentence, in italics, is taken from Through the Language Glass: When the World Looks Different in Other Languages” by Guy Deutscher.