Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Corner Of One's Own

Virginia Woolf once wrote, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." It comesfrom her essay "A Room of One's Own," which I read during the Columbia summer writing program, I think. 

I don't have a writing room of my own yet, but I have been dreaming of it for years. In fact, I have planned that room the way most girls plan their weddings in advance. It's going to look something like this:

Okay, maybe not exactly like that. You know, probably smaller. With a desk. Maybe a couch. Lots of shelving. A nice carpet...

Anyway, unlike Virginia, I have very little money--but I do have my own room.

This is said corner. 
I used to write sitting at my desk, laptop upon it, but the desk chair was uncomfortable and my parents could hear me typing at strange hours of the night on the other side of the wall. It was while I was writing The Keegan Inheritance that I started sitting in the recliner, though I don't have room now to use the reclining part. But that's fine. I almost never handwrite my stuff anymore, though I keep a notebook on one of the bookshelves in case I need to work something out away from the computer.

I have piles of books surrounding my corner. Here's a closer look:
These are three distinct piles that I have going on right now, all within easy reach of my chair.

Then there are other writing-related things. Such as this, the first draft of Last Request, which resides on my bottom shelf at the moment. The certificate I printed out for NaNoWriMo is nearby, too. 
1st draft of Last Request

And last, but not least, are my upper shelves, full of books--mostly of the mass market, romance-novel variety.

As you can see, it's more like controlled chaos in here. I'm remarkably good at cleaning at work and I tended to be the neater one in college dorms, but in my own room? Not so much. The books are in piles because I've long run out of shelf space. I use some of them (the ones with Henry VIII on them) as reference and then there are the fun books. My room isn't very big--but it's big for an apartment dweller's second bedroom--and I find it quite cozy in my corner.

If you could create a space for yourself--bedroom, dream bathroom, writing space, art space, whatever--what kind of fantasy room do you have in mind?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Last week, I had my typical middle-of-a-book "crap, what I'm writing is utter crap and I'm a failure and I can't write real characters and why am I doing this again?" moment. It lasted about two days. I considered:

  • cutting down the time frame (but wouldn't that diminish the dramatics in the 1530s? and wouldn't that make Iggy's wandering seem kind of...odd...without seeing the insulated world he grew up in?) 
  • cutting down the number of POVs (currently five, all in third-person, however, so it's not confusing to read, I hope, but it gets a little confusing to write)
  • Adding a POV (Robert's, which I decided against today)
  • scraping it and starting over again
  • crying
  • changing Iggy's appearance (because that would've made a difference how...?)
  • going back and editing it RIGHT THIS SECOND (that would be Buzzy, my inner editor, speaking)
  • Blurting out my troubles in a 5 am blog post

What did I do instead? 

  • Read some Downton fanfiction and googled photos of the actor who plays the Irish chauffeur on that show
  • Went to sleep
  • Went to work and thought out my story dilemmas while fixing the clearance rack 
  • Showered
  • Re-read what I had down and realized that while it might be repetitive in spots and there definitely is going to be one heck of a revision on this baby--it's not terrible, in places it's quite good, I've improved a lot as a writer over the last few years and this one is a little better (though very different) from Last Request. So I kept going with it. 
  • Read posts on Reasoning With Vampires and realized that while my work may need work, at least I'm not writing Twilight
  • chalked my mood up to watching too much earthquake-and-tsunami-and-radiation coverage and PMS 
  • Watched the Irish Film and Television Awards on YouTube instead (Irish people! With Irish accents! Some of them actually speaking Irish! And several Harry Potter/ Tudors actors!)

Hilarity via Twitter

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

"We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English."
- Winston Churchill

"This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever."
- Sigmund Freud (speaking about the Irish)

"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy."
-William Butler Yeats

"I'm Irish. I think about death all the time."
- Jack Nicholson

                                                Reasons Why the Irish Have, um, "Issues" with the English
I have often said, and written, it is Famine which must consume [the Irish]; our swords and other endeavours work not that speedy effect which is expected for their overthrow.
- English Viceroy Arthur Chichester writing to Elizabeth I's chief advisor, Nov. 1601

[existing policies] will not kill more than one million Irish in 1848 and that will scarcely be enough to do much good.
- Queen Victoria's economist, Nassau Senior

"Ireland unfree shall never be at peace"--Padraig Pearse

Irish Writers
 "I am a drinker with a writing problem."- Brendan Behan

"Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher."
- Flannery O'Connor

"I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality."--James Joyce on Ulysses

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's National Book Week, apparently.

I ask you though, when is it not National Book Week in my world?

One day, I'll post pictures of my writing corner--including the rather precarious pile of books located on a convenient shelf--but for now, 'tis about my research.

If you're at all interested (and don't mind being spoiled--it's going to a while before this one's finished), you can head over to my wiki and check out the random collection of pictures, links, sources and bios pertaining to the great project known as Iggy (really, I need a title).

My research has not merely been online, of course. It's a bit multimedia, which I love. There are YouTube videos about Henry VIII's diet, his court, his politics, etc. There's a documentary on the Battle of Flodden Field on there. And, of course, clips from The Tudors: more inspiration than research, but still...

Then there are the three cheap books I bought on Amazon.

First came Henry VIII, a biography of the king.

As you can see, I found a lot I could use in there: things on clothing of the era, when certain plagues came and went, any mention of Yorkshire, etc. It may look insane (and I acknowledge that it is), but it was a super resource on general life and attitudes and the court surrounding the king--of which Iggy is a very, very minor part. Henry VIII is not, I reiterate, a character in my story. But he is the King and so, his decisions affect his people, which are my characters.

And then I received the other two books. Something looked awfully familiar.

Is that the only picture of him they could get the rights to?

Of course, in the end, most of this research will not be used in the book. I have read that sentiment come from many a blog from many an author. The smaller details of life are in there rather subtly, I think. You know how books often mention objects or big sweeping movements or even things like baking and cooking in lively passages? And it's only after that you realized you learned something?

That's because the author bothered to do her homework. I'm going to try not to get too confused with mine.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New(ish) Music Tuesday

I, as an avid David Cook fan, began following his bandmates. Their band, MWK, was a staple of my iPod. I started listening to them again recently--and came across something I remember vaguely reading about a while ago on Twitter.

That is a link to a sampler of MWK's acoustic album, The Sanctuary Live Sessions, which are basically acoustic renderings of some of their songs--plus a few I hadn't heard before--and they're beautiful. And yes, you can hear Neal sing backup, Jess.

"One True Thing" is my favorite.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japanese earthquake 2011

As I'm sure you all know by now, Japan suffered an 8.9 magnitude earthquake yesterday, which triggered a devastating tsunami. Aftershocks happened; Nagano, on the other side of the country, experienced a 6.8 earthquake and tsunami warnings are ongoing for the entire country.

It didn't affect my family; the disaster struck north of Tokyo and my relatives all live in Tokyo and points south, especially around Nagasaki.

The only people I know in that part of Japan are my college roommate's parents. They were able to get a message out that they are ok.

Here's a link for news, tweets, etc. : Google's Crisis Response

And if you could pass this one around--forward it, email it, share it-- it's a list of organizations you can donate to for disaster relief. You can also text and donate $10 to the Red Cross.

Give to Japan

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Page 100!!!

I reached, just a few minutes ago, 100 pages of Iggy! YAY!!

We are in Chapter 7. It is 1512. Iggy has learned who his parents are and he is very confused, ashamed, and mostly angry. Cue the angst. Iggy'll be a teenager in the next chapter.

I have 27, 386 words. Which is nothing compared to what I wrote for this story for NaNo, but at least this time, the words make sense.

I'll be moving the pace along a bit from Chapter 8, which is when Iggy's uncle/ guardian begins to step into the spotlight. Robert Collins is a really delightful quasi-villain.

I have some plot points and characters worked out for ScriptFrenzy, too.

Monday, March 7, 2011


All signed up for ScriptFrenzy (writing buddy included). It begins April 1st. Can I write a 100-page script in one month?

Stayed tuned for that. This should be more fun than NaNoWriMo because a) I've tried writing scripts, but I've never finished one and b) based on my natural verboseness, not being able to tell everything going on in a scene will be sure to drive me crazy

So, in honor of...absolutely nothing...I bring you some snippets.

First, from Last Request:

That night, after we’ve worked, cleaned down, mopped the floors in the walk-in freezer and fridge, after Brixton has given the night’s leftovers of bread, fried chicken, and a container of collard greens to Marley, he and I go pick up Aimee in Brookline. I stay in the car while Brix visits his mother and takes our sleepy Aimee in his arms and straps her into the car. I slide down in the front seat so that Mrs. Davis won’t see me in the dark.
            “You look ridiculous,” Brix says to me as he straps Aimee in. Her head rolls to the right and she lets out a snore. “Mom’s not even looking.”
         “How do you know that? She could be peeking through a window. What were you going to do if she wanted to come out and help you with Aimee’s bag?”
            “Put you in the trunk,” he answers, shutting the backseat door. He’s coming around to the driver’s side. I snort.
            “The trunk. How Whitey Bulger of you.” 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A free book with a very long title

Well, now that I've survived the massive bomb that was this year's Oscar broadcast...Seriously, King's Speech over Social Network? Why am I even surprised, Academy? You always do this! Just because Harvey Weinstein is an exceptional Oscar campaigner does not mean that you have to vote for his movie! Which, for the record, I enjoyed very much, but...

Never mind.

I am happy to report that I have found a book on GoogleBooks that is a) old and therefore, free and b) contains some answers pour moi, regarding nuns and priories and such like...

It's called A History of the Church and Priory of Swine in Holderness. It was published in 1824.

Basically, it's about this one priory in Yorkshire (the same region that my story is set in, actually), which was a priory of nuns--Cistercian nuns--although, apparently, based on some ancient charters, it looks as if this place housed both monks and nuns at some distant point.

It is extremely dry reading; but it's free, so I'll mine it for information. Like, the priory of Swine owned 802 acres of land. When the commissioners made their visitations before eventually dissolving all the monasteries, they found that one of the nuns was pregnant by a priest.

Amazon reports that my cheap research book on the Reformation should arrive by the end of the week.

And Iggy is getting ready to question Sister Agnes, if she knows anything about Sister Benedicta possibly being his mother. He is now 12.