Does ‘word count’ count?

I’ve decided to write 250 words a day for my novel. This number might change, but right now it seems right. This means that it will take longer than I hoped to finish a rough draft. I don’t want to push myself for some reason. Maybe I don’t want to get discouraged with the pressure of 500-1000 words a day.

So here’s my metaphor of the day. I’m in a dark castle at night, and I have only a box of matches to help me find a magical sword. I have to use any and every clue and mental faculty I have to discern where the sword might be.  This is how this rough draft feels. And in the end, that’s what it will be. Very, very rough. It’s hard to get over the fact that it won’t be pristine, but I’m trying to enjoy the journey.

So any thoughts on a 250 word a day count for what might be a 100 word book?

The Writer’s Struggle: Getting Started

I’m having a hard time getting started with my coming-of-age, dark fantasy. I’m going to try to write it from a first person’s view. It might not stay first person, but I think writing it this way might help me somehow. The narrator will be telling the story over twenty years after it happened. Can anyone out there tell me how something like this affects the storytelling? What is the difference between telling the story less than a year later and telling it twenty years later?

On Writing: The Rough Draft

Rough drafts are like this. You’re digging for clay in the dirt. You’ve finally gotten to the layer where the clay resides. You grab some clay and throw it on the ground above. A pile forms. You keep grabbing some more clay and you throw it on the pile. There is a temptation to mold the clay pile as you dig for more, but you just have to keep digging and mold later.

Your rough draft is a search for the clay. You successive drafts are the molding of the clay. There’s a danger in molding what you’ve dig up too soon. The fresh clay covers up the moldings you made on the clay pile.

Writing Process

Words and ideas form in my head into perfect sentences. I spend 20 minutes thinking about an essay that will sound thoughtful and eloquent. When I go to write it, those same words leave me. Only few parts can be written exactly as they were conjured in my mind.I have to let go and be in the moment to reform the ideas that I had. It’s much like when you anticipate saying something to someone, but it doesn’t come out the way you planned. You leave frustrated.

I’m supposed to be a writer. Someone skilled in the art of language. But why do we feel as though a person who can’t write a decent sentence, can say what he or she feels more efficiently than we can?

Writer’s Process: On Subject Matter

This is how I pick the subject matter for each short-short (or flash) autobiographical story that I write.

My mind is a giant field in the summer sun. There are colorful flowers on top of it. There are also, nickels and dimes that are hidden by the grass. I always want to write about the flowers because they stick out, seem so dramatic. But if I just move around the field a bit, the unexposed nickels and dimes will shine. I am drawn to them. This is how I pick my subject matter. They are moments in life, that when first thinking about them, seem dull. But if you look at it another way or at least give it a shot, they turn out to be turning points in how your philosophical outlook was formed. This is where I have been finding inspiration, in the little moments.

My Old Stand-up Jokes #1

I didn’t feel like writing anything new with such little time, so I’ve decided to tell a joke. One that I would tell in my short-lived, amateur stand-up comedy days.

When I was 7, I noticed that after I woke up to relieve myself at night, I couldn’t recall my dream. I decided that in order to remember the dream, I would have to record it. I swallowed the magnetic tape of an audio cassette and went to bed. When I woke up, I realized that I would have to regurgitate the tape in order to retrieve it. I didn’t have the courage to stick my fingers in my mouth long enough. I never got to find out what dreams I had. But for some reason, whenever I burped and farted, the other first graders would dance the twist.

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Screenwriting as Teenage Therapy

At 15, I wrote a screenplay intended for Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The title, Word to Perfection, was the tagline for Paul Newman’s most recent film, Nobody’s Fool. It was about two aging bank robbers getting together for one last job.

I realize now that it was actually about the absence of grandparents in my life. Not that I didn’t have grandparents, but there wasn’t a relationship from either the maternal or paternal side. I needed someone else to go to with my problems, and I subconsciously thought that they could help.

Many of my high school and community college era screenplays were about needing help and hoping that someone could give me an outlet other than writing. Writing just wasn’t enough to deal with feelings of alienation at that time.

Fortunately, I discovered the likes of Bob Dylan and The Beatles. They gave me another world to step into. I got a message from that music: You’re just fine being you. Marc the writer is just the tip of the iceberg.

It would still take me years to find the courage to dive into the ocean and explore that iceberg. But inch by inch (with school, meditation and social events) I did. Now, I’m at a time where I can see what function each screenplay was trying to perform. It makes me wonder what my present day writings are trying to say.

Writer’s Jounal, Part 1: The Imaginary Critic

I finally got back into writing my novel. I skipped out on finishing a chapter, and I started a new one. I have no problem with that. It felt right. My problem was that I wrote only 500 words. I know from experience that only writing more (1000 words a day) will make me a better writer, but you get so caught up in what’s missing from your writing and how it looks.

Writing seems to be about giving yourself the opportunity to look bad to yourself.

You argue with an imaginary person standing over your shoulder, telling you what’s wrong.

This is where you lose your voice.

Can writing ever be pure?

Can we really ever write for ourselves or do those moments exist in between the negative thoughts?

At this point in life and career, I’m going with the latter.

I know I’ve been there. I just don’t know how to get back.