A writer writing just to get the words out is a scary thing.

Sometime early in undergrad, I learned that I could usually battle through writer’s block as long as I kept writing. Even if it was crap, the act of writing would poke those important bits in my brain until they spewed out something of quality, at which point I could go back and delete out the crappy bits. It’s why most of the rough drafts of my literary criticism papers began with something along the lines of, “So what the hell am I going to write about this time? And why do I hate this character so much, anyway?”

Last night was a “keep poking the characters until they tell you something” night. Until 2 in the morning. The results were not pretty.

“Look! I got him out onto the dance floor! I win the bet!” Brianna announced triumphantly.

“I call foul.” Suzanne replied. “He’s on the dance floor, but he isn’t dancing. If he’s not dancing on the dance floor, it’s not really a dance floor. Underneath his feet, it’s just floor.”

This immediately set off a couple of the science majors. “So does the molecular composition of the floor change when Garrett steps on it?” Cheryl asked.

“Ooh, yeah, it must shift from the active and unstable dance floor molecules to the more stable tile floor molecules as part of a chemical reaction between the floor and the soles of his shoes. ” Carrie added. “Or maybe it’s the opposite – since the floor’s usually floor to begin with, it’s not completing the same chemical reaction under his feet that it does under everyone else’s.”

“The reaction must have some kind of catalyst. Maybe it’s kicked off by the severe lack of jive waves coming off of him.” Dashira replied.

“You mean, most people emit jive as part of their movement across dance floor, and since Garrett obviously lacks jive, he’s not providing the energy necessary to complete the reaction, the floor never transforms?” Kira asked, getting into the action.

“I wonder if we could measure jive waves somehow to determine their wavelength.” Cheryl asked.

Garrett rolled eyes and looked at Suzanne. “See what you did?”

“Hey, I’m not the one with the jive deficiency.” she replied smugly.

Yeah, today’s going to be heavy caffeine I think.

Using this as a notepad now.

Please excuse the following babble. I had a free lunch hour and wanted to work on my NaNoWriMo. (Or hey, if you have constructive feedback, hit the forum. I’m all ears. But since this takes place about 7000 words into the plot, and nothing of consequence happens, it probably won’t mean much to you.)

“Hey, I don’t criticize your kink.” Julia snapped, just as the music from the DJ came to an abrupt halt. She blushed when she realized that five hundred eyes were staring at her. The DJ launched into the expected “Well, thank you all for coming” speech a moment later, saving her from further embarassment.

“So wait, I want to hear the end of this.” Lynsey said as everyone began to rise from the table.

“Well, Mark and I were going to head back to the hotel,” Kira said, “but the food here was so lousy that I was thinking a run to Carollo’s was in order first.

“Carollo’s Pizza? Are they still open?” Garrett asked. “Wow, they had the best pie in all of Lancaster County!”

“Yeah, they’re still there. In fact, they’re right down the street from me.” Suzanne added. She looked up at Taylor, a question evident in her expression.

He glanced down at her and smiled. “You know, we just bought this fantastic old house right across from the campus. If you guys aren’t in any hurry to get back to the hotel, you’re welcome to come back to our place for a bit. We’ve got a huge living room, a well-stocked liquor cabinet, and a very friendly golden retriever.”

“You know, I’d love to,” Julia said, “but Kyle and I have to get back to the kids before the sitter eats us out of house and home. ”

“Besides, with my allergy to dogs, I’d just be miserable.” Kyle added. “But it was great to see everyone.”

“Good luck finding the source of that invitation, Garrett.” Julia said as she embraced him. “It was good to see you.” They all exchanged hugs and Kyle and Julia left for the evening.

“Well, what about the rest of you?” Suzanne asked.

“I’m in.” Kira said immediately.

“Well, so am I then.” Mark added, smiling.

“I don’t mind tagging along.” Garrett said. “Lynsey, any objections?”

“No. We certainly didn’t have any other plans for the evening. Besides, it will give me more time to see this quaint little town where you grew up.”

Kira snorted. “Oh yeah, quaint. That’s just another word for run-down, you know. It’s ‘quaint’ if you’re not the one who has to live here.”

“Hey!” Taylor jumped in. “We resemble that remark!”

They laughed their way to the coat check, gathered their belongings, and stepped out onto the lawn. Suzanne and Taylor stepped toward the parking lot, then looked back at the others. “I’ve got room for two more in the car, but I’m afraid we won’t all fit.”

“That’s okay,” Garrett said, “I’d rather walk. Just give me directions and we’ll be on our way.”

“But honey, my feet are killing me.” Lynsey said gently.

“Lynsey, do you and Mark mind riding back to Suzanne’s place in her car? Garrett, I can walk with you and show you where Suzanne lives.


Prior to Saturday evening at approximately 10:06 pm, my NaNoWriMo novel was approximately 6974 words. Right on target for four days, whch meant I needed to write roughly 1667 words Saturday night to stay on pace.

But November 5th was also declared National Drunk Writing Night (NaDruwWriNi) and since I knew of some others who were participating, I thought maybe I’d try my hand at it.

I failed, spectacularly, but not for the reasons that you’d think.

See, my NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a novel that grew out of an idea I’d tested out a few years ago but never finished. And until tonight I was running straight down that very same path. I was getting to the point where hitting my word goal was more important than telling the story, which was resulting in paragraphs like this one:

The room was typical of the older style classrooms that littered Left State University. Heavy ceiling tiles were nailed in place with nails that (along with the tiles) had been painted over so many times they blended into each other. Cinderblock walls painted in institutional yellow had somehow yellowed further (despite the fact that the university hadn’t allowed smoking in classroom in decades) and had begun peeling above the electric baseboard heaters that ran the length of the far wall. Above the heaters the windows reached most of the height of the wall, but the Venetian blinds that covered them were mostly closed, so the indirect afternoon sunlight filtered in, giving the room a ghostly white glow.

And a few paragraphs like the above aren’t necessarily bad, but 6000 words of that crap gets old. Nobody had done anything – I covered about three hours in realtime behavior by my characters in 6000 words. At that rate my 50,000 word goal would cover less than 48 hours of my characters’ lives, and the plot was supposed to span 18 months. Goodbye novella, hello War and Peace.

So tonight, I started drinking, got angry at my story, opened up a new document in my word processor, and decided to write a summary of the plot as told by the characters. The result of that starts something like this:

Chapter X:
or: the chapter in which we stop fucking around and nail down a summary of the plot.

“Tell me about her.” Lynsey asked quietly. “Tell me what happened.”

The rest of the table looked first at Lynsey, then at Garrett, and back.

Gulping for air between the sobs that wracked his body, Garrett cried, “I can’t. I- You’ll hate me. They’ll all hate me.”

“I will,” Kira said quietly. “I know enough to start. I was there. And Suzanne-” she looked over at Suzanne, who was sulking in her chair.

“Oh, don’t worry, you’ll hear from me if I have something to say.”

Lynsey looked around the table at the circle of friends. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Mark stood, then tapped Kira on the shoulder. “Vanilla and the Doctor?” he asked. She smiled up at him. Looking around at the table, he said, “This is going to take a while. What’ll you have?”

Garrett waved the offer off, but Lynsey asked for a beer.

“Martini.” Julia requested.

“Scotch. Neat.” Suzanne growled.

Taylor and Kyle both rose from their seats. “Give you a hand,” Kyle said quietly.

“Yeah,” Taylor added. “Can’t leave you to carry all that by yourself.”

As the men walked away, Garrett’s sobs subsided, and he sat with his face buried in his arms on the table. Kira stood, grabbed the intricately decorated and horribly tall centerpiece off the table, and set it on the floor beside her chair.

“Now that we can all see each other,” she said, making eye contact with each of the girls in turn, “the beginning.”

Obviously, this is a totally different writing style, much more loose, faster moving, and effective. And it was further than I’d managed to get the characters in four previous days of writing. Hell, I had the majority of them in the same room, which was well beyond anything I’d accomplished so far.

So why can’t I post the rest of my NaDruWriNi post? Two reasons:

First, I’m not sure I got drunk enough to qualify. Over the course of three hours, I had three Rum & Dr. Pepper’s. (It tasted good. The Coke wasn’t refrigerated. Dont’ judge me.) That’s one shot rum to one can pepper, not very intoxicating.

Second, the snippet above is around 266 words of what I wrote tonight. I wrote 4736 words. That’s just over 15 pages in a standard font. If I post them all here, my homepage is going to be eighteen feet long. Your eyes will bug out. Your scroll wheel will disintegrate. Everyone will be annoyed.

And since the buzz has since well worn off, I’m not interested in annoying people. In fact, right now, I’m interested in going to bed.

At any rate, the point is that I finally broke the dam that was blocking the ideas from coming through, and I think I can see hope on the horizon for the novel. I’m not going to throw out what I’ve already written because I’m sure at some point it’ll come in handy, but if I can reach a point where it’s not needed in order for me to meet the 50,000 word goal, I’m quite happy with that too.


why won’t you be an asshole like i asked you to?

okay. so sometimes i’m not mentally healthy. stress buildup mostly. and usually i can let off steam by writing melodrama that would make you puke. i keep at least one or two tragedies going at any given time for such a purpose.

and i’m in one of those moods right now – too much everything for my puny self to handle, so i’ve turned back to this sort story i started a while ago. i’ve been looking forward to this one since before school started and now that it’s done it’s time to write some horrible tearjerky thing that will have even me groaning in five years’ time.

but the problem – okay, it’s about a guy who falls in love with this girl, but she’s going out with someone else, and that someone else breaks her heart so she’s really fragile but the first guy, he loves her anyway but he doesn’t know how to show it and he does something incredibly stupid. stupid stupid stupid. unthinking and stupid and tragedy ensues.

but that’s the thing, if he doesn’t do the stupid thing, there’s no plot. and see, i’ve really started to like this guy. he’s a nice guy, if a bit dumb on the relationship end of things, and he really does love her and it’s horrible how they end up and it’s not fair and, well, i don’t want him to do this horrible stupid thing. i like him.

(a quiet part of my brain just chanted, kira’s got a boyfriend, but that’s unfair ’cause that’s a different tragedy altogether.)

anyway, he’s taken on a life of his own, which is okay and all, but i still really need him to do this stupid thing, or I’ve got no climax. No plot. No denouement. (look it up.) Without this, there’s no change in the characters, and believe you me when you see what a stupid thing he does, you’ll know change is necessary. Dammit. I want to yell at him….but something tells me that yelling at the nonexistant people in my head is frowned upon by the sleeping denizens of this household.

Sleep is going to be sketchy tonight. maybe tomorrow i’ll stuff him back in the box.