How come I don’t feel like a winner?

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What the heck do I do with myself now?

Crap, I’m going to have to start ANOTHER novel, aren’t I?

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Thoughts on being grateful

photo (12)Thanksgiving is an American tradition I’ve grown pretty fond of. Ever since I moved here God knows how many years ago, I’ve had the good fortune of sharing this holiday with wonderful people I’ve had in my life throughout the years.

This year was no exception, but unlike other years I started the day with a special, two-hour yoga class at my new (cheater cheater!) studio.

I’m going to preface all this by saying that I’d been making big strides with the book writing all of last week, but when I got close to the 47,000 word mark, I started to feel a little stuck.

The heroine, Mallory (the twit – although she gets kinda ballsy in the end, so I may have to stop calling her that), is essentially trying to move on from one (non)relationship and to truly open herself up to having feelings for someone else. She gets herself dragged, while digging her heels in slightly, deeper than she would like into a relationship with Mark – the guy you all met in Hong Kong.

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From Hong Kong, With Love

View from the W Hong Kong in Kowloon

View from the W Hong Kong in Kowloon

Our first full day in Hong Kong was a Sunday, and despite the incandescent sun shining outside, Charlie and I couldn’t force ourselves out of bed until noon. The jet lag and general fatigue from the seemingly endless trip had wiped us out five minutes after we shut the curtains and cut off the view – my brother in the sofabed in the living room and me on the bed.

I had brought all my running gear and was itching to give the treadmill a try, knowing the gym would have an even more awe-inspiring view than the one I was experiencing in our room.

In the daylight, Hong Kong Bay seemed to take on a turquoise tint. A group of fluffy white clouds drifted over the city ahead, as if they’d been put there just for me.

I realized then the gym could wait, threw open the door to my bedroom, and jumped onto my brother’s sofa bed, giving him a firm kick in the butt when I landed.

“We’re in Hong Kong, doofus,” I said loudly. “It’s noon, and we’re missing out on the Dim Sum.”

“Oh my God, fuck the Dim Sum,” he countered from under a pillow. “I drugged myself on the plane last night, and I don’t think it’s wearing off any time soon.”

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Nanowrimo: The Home Stretch

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The Home Stretch

It’s the final week of Nanowrimo, and I’ve suddenly found enough steam to catch up to the recommended daily pace for the challenge.

I’ve written just over 38,000 words (38,149, to be exact), and the big 4-0 (000) is looming just within my reach. My son just took his bath and is putting on his PJ’s, and if I can get him to simmer down for a little over an hour I may just try to get there tonight.

After having written all that, hammering out the 10,000 additional words it will take to “win” at Nanowrimo feels like a piece of cake.

I’m not sure what’s brought on this sudden burst of energy, but I found that writing scenes out of order has helped break the monotony of going from one big “reveal” to another. I hope this doesn’t bite me in the butt, but I’m leaving the ‘boring’ parts aside for now, and pushing forward with those substantial moments I’ve planned out neatly in my mind. Continue reading

If You Blink: An excerpt from my Nanowrimo novel

It’s funny how the paradox of busy works.

When I don’t go to yoga or do anything fun, I don’t have anything to tell you guys about. When I’m going to yoga four times a week (like I have been) and doing other fun things (like participating in National Novel Writing Month), I don’t have much time to write – except for the roughly 2000 words a day I have to get in to complete my Nanowrimo novel by November 30th.

So, like my friend at 1874 (who was my inspiration for participating in the Nanowrimo challenge), I’m combining my two writing activities today.

You’ll find below an excerpt of my trashy romance novel, If You Blink (Working Title). The Prologue is probably one of the better chapters, so I was a little less embarrassed about sharing that one….

Wellp, I don’t want to give it too much of a wind up, so here you …. enjoy!

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Prologue

It’s funny how some people just suddenly pop into your life out of nowhere, completely changing your perspective. Altering your existence. Even without meaning to.

You’re humming along as usual, with one day looking very much like the last, and without so much as a moment’s notice you collide with someone else (like balls on a billiard table), and your life changes direction entirely – whether you like it or not.

I suppose it’s like that with a lot of things, but for me it had to do with a person. Intercepting my path on the billiard table.

Removed from the place and time it almost feels trite for me to recount the story. It was nothing extraordinary, after all in the grand scheme of things. But meeting Andrew set in motion a chain of events that shaped who I am – trite or not.

It started on a Sunday, as I prepared to deliver a presentation to my entire department at work the following morning. A rock had settled into the pit of my stomach.

It wasn’t the public speaking, per se, that was giving me the Sunday night willies. I had been in the same job at one of the biggest banks in the world – with growing degrees of responsibility – for the past four years. And while I was well-respected among my peers and considered a high performer by my managers, I was beginning to feel stuck.

No, not stuck. More like… stagnant. And more than a little jaded.

Everything we were doing. All the people I saw. All the things we said. It felt like rehash of a hundred different conversations we’d already had in a not so distant past.

The things people cared about. What they considered “important”. I just wasn’t there. I wasn’t on the same page with them and the act of pretending to care created a lot of tension for me while in the office.

It was a struggle to NOT roll my eyes on a regular basis.

This presentation was no different. It was about being more agile in responding to customer needs. I’d filled it with recommendations for improving cross-functional collaboration, getting a better understanding of what customers were telling us and reallocating resources more quickly to give customers what they want.

Except I knew as long as our Managing Director was spineless and obsessed with keeping up appearances, we weren’t going to get any closer to being agile or getting customers what they needed.

Our problem weren’t our policies or processes – it was politics and people.

And to add insult to injury, I really didn’t care.

With a sigh I hit save and looked at the time. Only eight o’clock – still a few hours left to order Chinese, get in a romantic comedy and go to bed with the TV on – like every other Sunday since New Year’s.

I didn’t realize as I fell asleep to the sounds of New York that I was the ball on the billiard table, just about to get knocked off course.

The one about how I’m hating my novel

I mentioned a few posts back that I began writing a book.

I started toying with the idea of putting a book together after I started this blog and reconnected with my love of writing, and one day I just decided to sit down and hammering it out.

A few hundred words in, a friend of mine told me about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a project that encourages writers to create a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and November 30th.

To be honest, I don’t know much more about the project other than I’ve registered on the NaNoWriMo page, and I go there to input my word count whenever I get around to writing.

I’m usually a pretty prolific writing. In college I’d been known to bang out 20,000 word essays in just one night. And at first with the novel the worst were just flying off my fingers. But something happened in the middle of it all.

I started to HATE my story.

As background, for my first novel I settled on a piece of fiction about a woman living alone in New York City, and how she goes from living a fairly meaningless and uninspired life to reinventing her existence into something that made her infinitely happier. (PS: There is no yoga involved in this novel)

The characters and everything that happens to them are based on people I know, but not on their lives. For example, the main character Mallory is someone I based very loosely on my sister. Mallory’s life and personality don’t look that much like my sister’s life, except in that they are both single women living alone in NYC. The things that happen to Mallory, the people she meets… most of that is a mish-mash of things that have happened to people I know.

While I only have a vague idea of the story arch for Mallory’s renaissance, I know there are three messages I want to send with the story:

  • Your life is always changing, and one chance meeting, one book, one conversation, or one new person could lead it in a completely different direction – a good direction, a bad direction, you never know. Things are always changing and the Universe is so unpredictable one small molecule out of place could knock you “off course” permanently.
  • There are people who come into your life and change your way of thinking forever. I can think of a number of those people off the top of my head. I may not be closer to them anymore, but they changed me in a really meaningful – even if they don’t know it. My dear friend Sandra, who was like a second mother to me when I was in college away from home in California, is a great example of this. The loooong philosophical conversations we had in her living room shaped a portion of my mind – and her imprint lives on, even though I now see her somewhat infrequently.
  • You need to make yourself vulnerable to let people change you. Most of us go around not working for what we want for fear of not getting it. We’re always protecting ourselves from others – even those we love the most. Or maybe ESPECIALLY those we love the most. I learned early on in my therapy that becoming vulnerable to my anxiety was one of the best ways to beat it, but I didn’t apply that concept to other aspects of my life or relationships until much later on.

So the problem is that while I have a lot of practice blogging – a style of narrative writing where you mostly pour out thoughts rather than describe scenes, dialogue or details – a novel actually has to have things HAPPEN.

And the things that are happening to Mallory so far are really, really TRITE.

I don’t want to write about yoga or anxiety or being a parent in this novel because I want it to be about more than just me. I want to speak my message in the story of someone else, but so far I think Mallory is a huge twit. Not only that, I can’t for the life of me make exciting things happen to her.

It’s really terrible.

So I’m not writing as much as I would like, and if I can eek out 600 words a day it’s like a little bit of a miracle. At the same time, I’ve written nearly 7,000 words and I don’t want to scrap the whole thing – sunk costs being what they are and all.

But honestly, I’m not interested in spending 43,000 more words writing a superficial, cliched romance novel – and one with no sex or any sort of excitement at that.

I’m seriously considering taking a U-turn and leading Mallory on a round-the-world shoplifting spree to salvage the enjoyment in writing this manuscript.

Wish me luck, folks.