Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

what’s lingering from #SIWC2012 November 7, 2012

As I pound away on my NaNoWriMo piece, I keep hearing a voice in my head.  Not surprisingly, it’s Diana Gabaldon’s <g> but it’s not the advice I thought I was taking from my blue pencil or all the workshops I attended at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference.

At my blue pencil, Diana and I discussed historical language, dialogue, and whatnot, and while that was important,  what I keep hearing in my head is her laughing voice summarizing,  “You need to have something happen …   And it needs to be something fairly interesting.”

I mean, that’s not news.  That’s so obvious that it’s painful.  She was specifically saying that if the section of my historical novel that she read was going to end up as the beginning, then something intense had to happen.  However, the line is turning into a mantra when ever I sit down to write.  I suspect that is what makes Diana’s books so  engaging.  On EVERY page, something happens.  It’s good advice.  Don’t explain.  Make things happen.

As I write, I can clearly hear Diana’s voice, chuckling with me, just as my time with her was running out, and I think that basic though this comment might be, it might be the most important thing I took away from SIWC this year.

Something has to happen.

I intend to ponder it a lot.  We are authors.  We make things happen.  All these NaNoWriMo words are created from nothing.  We’re making things happen.  When I’m typing away I need to keep making things happen.

In my life, I need to make things happen.

NaNoWriMo count day 7: 1651  (Total 10,664)

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So, whatcha writin’ in that NaNoWriMo thing, anyway? November 6, 2012

Thought you might like to see what’s coming along.  Ben is now at University of Calgary with his friends Paul and Ryan.  (Craigie Hall is the music building). Grace is living in the Shuswap with her Auntie Bright.  If you’re new to the story, you should know that Grace and Ben are connected telepathically.  Ben is the earthly realm form of the demi-god Orpheus.  He’s narrating.

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I was walking down a corridor in Craigie Hall when a stab of pain crashed into my head.  I staggered into the wall, and grabbed for support.

A girl rushed over to me, “Are you okay?”

I shook my head, gasping, and she guided me to a bench.  I dropped my head between my knees.  “I’ll be okay.  It’s fine.”  The pain wasn’t mine, it was reverberating from Grace.  She didn’t know yet how to completely control her side of our connection.  Her calls to me were generally hesitant and gentle.  I had to be fully open to catch her tentative yearnings in my direction.  This time, her anguish exploded with her full power.  Without any guards up against it, she had blown me over with the image that was filling her head: a girl with brightly coloured hair, twisted into dreadlocks in the hallway of her school.

“Grace!”  I shouted back into her mind.

“Everything is okay, Ben,” she thought in reply.

“Who was that?” or what was that?  It was something from the Other Realm, that was clear enough, but what was it doing in Grace’s new school?  Had they followed her and sent something evil to attack her there?  It was supposed to be safe there!

“I don’t know.  What are you worried about, Ben?”

“Nothing,” I spit out. I needed help.  Grace needed help.  Right now.  I’ll talk to you later.”

I pushed into the men’s washroom.  Thankfully it was empty.  I spun into the Other Realm igniting the room with light as I vanished.  In the flashing glow, I didn’t notice that someone had pushed through the door.

“Mars!” I shouted into the Other Realm.  “Where are you!” 

Alexandros sauntered out from the foggy gloom.  “He’s busy.”

“What do you mean busy?  He’s needed.  Something is wrong in the Shuswap.  Grace is in trouble.”

Xandros nodded, pursing his lips.  “Ah yes.  We figured that would happen.”

“What do you mean?” I snarled at him, nostrils flaring.  “You knew?”

“Calm down.  This is exactly why you make such a terrible guardian.  You lose all sense when there’s danger.   You have to be cool and cautious when there’s trouble.  You can’t go all wild and hysterical.”  He shook his head at me.

“Well, I’m not a guardian anymore, am I?  Mars is.  And he’s missing!”

Xandros punched me, hard in the bicep. 

I raised my fist to return a shot, but his guard was up, and he caught it easily in his fist.  “You’re such an idiot,” he said, holding my fist tightly in his.  “Where do you think Mars is?”

“What?”  I loosened the tension in my arm, and he let my fist go.  “Is he at Grace’s school?”

Xandros rolled his eyes.  “He’s doing his job, O.  Now it’s time for you to leave Grace in our hands.  You go back to Earth and do your job.  Go back to your nest of musicians and make pretty melodies.

I narrowed my eyes at him.

“He’s guarding her?”

He nodded.  “She’s in good hands.”

“Better than mine, you mean?”

He smirked.  “You said it, I didn’t.  Go on.  It’s under control.”

I studied his face.  He was an irritating, obnoxious ass, but he was reliable in a fight.  Between Mars and Alexandros, Grace was in better hands than she’d been when I was her guardian.  It just wasn’t easy to trust the girl I loved out of my sight, though.  Not when either of them would happily take her from me for themselves.

I nodded.  “All right then.  Thank you.”

I spun back into the washroom, narrowly missing landing with my foot in an unflushed toilet.  As I  stepped off the rim a voice greeted me.

“Are you going to tell me what the hell that’s about?”

I snapped my head to the speaker and sighed, “Hi, Paul.”

He raised an eyebrow.  “Hello.  Don’t change the subject.”

“Is there a subject?”

“Well, apparently my best friend can vanish in flashes of light and reappear in toilets like some kind of janitorial Superman.  I’d say that’s a pretty interesting subject.”

I swallowed.  “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain…” I intoned in a hypnotic voice, “You didn’t see anything…”

“Bullshit,” he said conversationally.

“Paul.”

“We’ve been friends for what?  Four years?  We’ve been there for each other.  You help me out.  I help you out.  Never once did you ever mention that you had magical powers.”

“You believe in magical powers?  I could have sworn you were more sensible than that.  Do you believe in fairies, too?”

“Nope.  But I saw you come into this room.  When I opened the door, I saw that weird light.  You were glowing and then it…swallowed you.  You were no longer in the room.  I looked.  I even lifted up the lid on the damned toilet tank, Ben!  You were not here.  Then there’s another flash, and there you are, pulling your foot out of a toilet bowl like you were visiting the Ministry of Magic or something .  I know what I saw, bro.”  He crossed his arms across his chest and watched me.   His face showed confusion, irritation, and just a little bit of fear.  “You weren’t at the Ministry of Magic, were you?”

I sighed.  “I can’t explain, Paul.”

“Is it something to do with Grace?”

Wasn’t everything to do with Grace?  I took a deep breath.  “You have to trust me, Paul.  I can’t tell you anything about this.  It’s not safe for you to know anything.”

“So Ryan was right?  We are in danger around you?”

I shrugged my shoulders.  “I don’t know what the hell is going on here.  It makes no sense.  No one should be after me.  They’re still after Grace, that’s for certain.  You should be safe with me, but you might not be if you know everything.  Like who I am.”

He studied me, reading my eyes to see if I was lying to him.  “Who you are or what you are?”

I raised my hands is silent appeal.

Finally, he nodded, and unfolded his arms.  “We’re late for [ subject ] class.  Come on.”  He pushed open the door.

“Thanks.”

He nodded.  “We’ve been friends for four years, after all.  That’s got to be worth something.”

I smiled.  “It is.  I’ve never lied to you Paul.  I’m not starting now.”

“Good.”

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NaNoWriMo total for day 6: 589  words (November total: 9013)

 

NaNoWriMo begins… October 31, 2012

Filed under: Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:00 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

November is National Novel Writing Month.  Participants in NaNoWriMo are challenged to write 50,000 words  of a novel throughout the month and keep track of their output on a central site.  1667 words per day.

The NaNo team sends you a calendar and encouraging emails.  If you have friends doing it, you can watch each others’ stats, in order to nag or cheer each other.  You can find other writers in your area by writing in a central location.  They suggest libraries or independent book stores.  I have decided our local McDonalds offers the best hours and space, but I haven’t managed to ask them if they’d like to officially participate! (This would involve putting up a WRITER AT WORK sign and leaving us alone).

If you work full time and have several activities that fill your free time, getting 1667 words per day offers some serious challenges.  But you want to WIN, so you make the effort!

Winning at NaNoWriMo means you reached that magic number.  You succeeded in pounding out 50,000 words.  You get to feel the thrill of accomplishment that comes from a sustained, anguished effort to force your muse to be at the top of her game every day, inspiring you to a hitherto unimagined production of words…

I will be hosting NaNoWriMo in my class room throughout November.  During lunch hours students will be welcome to come and write along with me.  Of course, 30 mins of time is not likely to equal 1667 words, but it should be quite possible to regularly reach 1000 words .  33 words a minute seems far more plausible that 56 words a minute for some reason.  Maybe because while I can type at 60 words a minute, doing it for 30 minutes suggests a need for support staff and a lot of caffeine.  But it’s possible.

What might NOT be possible while doing NaNoWriMo is creating brilliant blog posts every day.

I may post samples of what I’m writing, or forward the odd bit of brilliance that comes my way.

I may go through my files of quotes I’ve found in my reading, and share them.

I might find time to go through my SIWC2012 notes, tidy the phrases into sentences and get one posted now and then.

Or I might not.

Be patient with me, dear reader.  I am diving off the deep end, and I may not come up for air until hubby’s big birthday on the 30th.

 

 
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