Good Start

I did good today. Spent an hour in the morning with some written exercises from Bell’s book. I wrote a short scene I saw in my mind based on the exercise asking to write a scene by answering the question: “What I most want to write about at this moment is…”

I liked the characters I introduced in that scene. So this afternoon I took that character and applied the LOCK system to create a simple plot. The way LOCK works:

Lead: Who is the lead character?

Objective: What is the lead character’s objective? The lead of a story is usually trying to get something or get away from something.

Confrontation: What obstacles does the lead face in obtaining their objective?

Knockout: What is the climax of the story? Does the lead succeed in their objective? Make a knockout event of the result.

And now I have a general plot and some scene ideas to flesh it out. I have characters, incidents, etc etc! The plot took me about an hour and a half this afternoon to draw up.

I’m excited. I have never tried writing a project with this approach before. I have always just started by writing a scene and tried to free form it. I never took plotting seriously. I was so arrogant as to believe that creativity means not having to follow a plot! How ridiculous is that…

Tools Used:

Productive by Apalon Apps on iPhone: A habit tracker that reminds me to write for at least an hour twice a day.

Lock system from James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure.

 

Failures and New Starts

I have been trying to write. I dabbled with different exercises and techniques to get me to stick to writing. None has worked so far.

There was the 52 week writing exercise, which lasted for one short story (not a very good one).

Before that there was daily writing prompts. That didn’t work, either.

During all this, I also attempted to write in my personal journal once a day. That worked off and on.

Yesterday morning I had another brilliant idea. I would create a Google Form called “Discovery for Writing” and in it I would make myself answer a list of questions about a writing project before I even began the project.

Building this form led me to research various things about writing such as PLOT, CHARACTERIZATION, and POINT OF VIEW. I was pleasantly surprised at the wealth of information out there that was easily accessible to me without having to sign up for a university course. (I am not sure why I was surprised… in this day and age of the free Internets).

I wrote a Pledge yesterday. That was actually part of an exercise I am doing by following James Scott Bell’s book on Plot and Structure. I stumbled across Bell’s informative book by a long series of article jumps that I won’t bore you with here (I was looking to learn more about PLOT, my greatest weakness).

As part of the new exercise, I’m going to to document each step of my learning and writing here–I’m going to try to post something about what I’ve done each day so I can hold myself accountable.

Today:

  • Joined a couple of online writing groups.
    • Critiqued someone’s work
    • Posted some of my own work
  • Finished Chapter 1 exercises from Bell’s book.

See you all tomorrow, then!

The Pledge

Today I resolve to taking writing seriously.

To keep going and never stop.

To learn everything I can and make it as a writer.

52 Week Writing Challenge

So here I go again… trying another writing challenge. I just can’t seem to find one that sticks.

The challenge came from the writer, Ray Bradbury. I have to admit that I have never actually read any of his work. His name was always vaguely familiar to me until I found his 52 week writing challenge.

Today is Sunday. I am going to start with my first story of this week with the goal of finishing it by the upcoming Saturday. Wish me luck…

The Vessel

A space ship that has literally everything. It would allow me to go virtually anywhere.

The Unrequited Love Poem

Okay. So this is not a poem. The writing prompt project asked me to write about how I feel when someone doesn’t love me back.

I can pin point this to an exact moment. Grade ten, I was 15. I was in love with Kris, my best friend. I met Kris in middle school and we became friends one day when we walked home together.

It took me one year to realise I had a crush on him. It took me another year to get up the courage to tell him.

Kris had stayed home one day because he was sick. I think he was really just cutting class. Lia Kim and I had been talking about how much I liked him.

So we went to see him. And we were in his kitchen when I told him. I couldn’t even look at him when I said it.

Kris was so calm. He didn’t miss a beat. He said it was better if we stayed friends because we had such a good thing going as friends.

It killed me. I felt like I suddenly could no longer face the world. I don’t know what I had expected him to say. Perhaps I was hopeful? I had so many fantasies of how a life with Kris would be like if we were both in love with each other–but in that one instant, all that hope was gone.

Then came the self doubts. Why didn’t he want to be with me? He had told me he thought I was amazing once. He looked me straight in the eye and said it, so why didn’t he want to be with me?

It took me a whole semester to recover. I kept to myself and stopped eating lunch with everyone. I literally could not face anybody.

At that time, I didn’t understand how attraction worked. I thought that if two friends thought of each other as amazing, then naturally they should be together, right? I was clueless about chemistry. I don’t think I even felt a sexual attraction for anyone at that point. I had girlish crushes, but anyone who’s felt sexual attraction for another person would agree that a crush and sexual attraction are not the same thing.

Kris really liked this girl, Jocelyn. Back before I spilled my guts and got shot down, I always asked him why he liked her. His answer was always, “she’s got big boobs.”

To me, Jocelyn was a superficial fob who wouldn’t really be friends with us if she wasn’t so foreign. She wasn’t funny, kind, or amazing (all traits Kris had attributed to me at one point). Why did having large breasts suddenly top all of those things?

Now that I’m a woman in my thirties, I understand completely why Jocelyn’s breasts won out over any other connection for a 15 year old boy. I wish this was something I could have learned much earlier in order to save the months of hurt and isolation I put myself through. Still, I’m glad I learnt my lesson, anyway.

Unrequited love. If unchecked, it becomes an obsession.

I, ____

I have two hometowns. I identify with 2 cultures, and I’m married into to a third. I hold two–soon to be three–citizenships.

I have two names.

This is how my next writing project begins. I plan for it to be the most truthful account of my experiences. By truthful, I mean to say it will be written without any attempt to make anything sound more interesting than it actually is; it will be written without any intention to make myself more likable.

I’ve been writing for roughly 18 years now. I made up stories about fictional characters, and I wrote about my life and experiences in various blogs.

But this is something I’ve never tried: writing something without worrying about what the eventual reader will think.

Sure, I’ve kept personal (hand-written) diaries. I have 6 notebooks of it so far, the oldest entry dating back to 1999. When I go back and read these diary entries, I realised something: even when I write in paper notebooks that I assume no one will ever read, I’ve actually been writing to impress my future self.

So the new writing project, I, ____, is my attempt at writing about myself, my past, my beliefs, without bias, or expectation.

I’m only a few pages in, and already I am afraid. Here is some of what I wrote on the first page:

I worry that by putting all of this down on paper and one day actually publishing this, I will lose everyone. My family will disown me, my husband will divorce me, and our future children would never speak to me again.

Whether this thing will ever see the light of day, I have no idea. It’s something I really should try at least once, though–writing a piece of work with complete honesty.

Perhaps that’s why some writers only write fiction; they put their horrid thoughts and feelings and pin them on some innocent fictional character, just so they can get their thoughts out there somewhere without being directly associated with having those thoughts.

And really, I tried that. I started the story of my family many times, in fictional format. Over the years, I shed my childhood fears and sorrows all over the pages as if they were happening to someone else. There are many versions of my story in the shorts and poems I’ve generated, but none of them were actually me.

What I found? Invariably the characters themselves grew their own sense of independence. They end up entirely different than I am, and forcing my own thoughts and beliefs upon them would no longer feel right. I let them veer off in the directions they wanted to go, and that’s usually when I end up with a story I like. A story about an actually fictional character with a completely different life than mine.

That reminds me of a quote from another great writer:

“This is the beauty of fiction. Giving your characters what you never had, which then comes around and is a vicarious gift to yourself.”

— David Wong Louie.

But I’ve had enough of “vicarious gifts”. Instead I think it’s time to write about the things I’ve been afraid to put down on paper. Maybe by committing past atrocities and childhood memories to paper will make them smaller and more bearable.

There’s a Chinese expression that I was taught to adopt; swallow bitterness. It’s something Chinese girls have always been encouraged to do in order to keep our families happy. Today I’m deciding to do the opposite of that. I’ll spit out all the things that poisoned me in one place, and move on.