Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Writer's Strike

The writer's strike is bugging me for several reasons. First, writers are important. Without them there is no show. You can usually tell when a good writer has left a show, sure they never streaked through scenes in the past, but their absence is felt in the lack of sharp dialogue, original humor and plot lines. Second, I don't like the stance the fat cats are taking. They know they can hold out longer than writer's whose checking accounts aren't as padded as theirs, and take the stance pshaw! we dont need yew! and proceed to push reality TV down our throats, including a show called (and as Dave Barry says, I'm not making this up folks:) Farmer wants a wife. Um, yeah. Reality TV can be intriguing, put me in front of a marathon of America's Next Top Model and yes dishes be darned because I will watch it till the end! But still, I love New York, Real World, etc do not exactly boost your IQ points or give you something meaningful to reflect on in the world (And yes ANTM doesn't either but at least I learn how to walk a runway... I mean you never know right? ahem.. correct answer: right). So it comes down to: Be fair to writers or Replace them with shows like My dad is better than your dad. (Again, NOT making it up). Media Fat Cats: Are we THAT sheep-like to you that you can put anything on for us and we will watch? I for one plan to take Huda's advice, if I must watch TV, I'll be going the TV on DVD route.

If you want the writers' perspective on what's going on, this video explains it well.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NaNoWriMo- Novel Update and Tips

I wrote earlier about NaNoWriMo. The goal is to write 50,000 words by November's end. I'm happy to report I currently stand at 53,010 words (160 pages) and counting! Nano is a great way to kick start a brewing novel and I'm so glad I did it. For 8 years the story brewed in my head, but I was so intimidated by the process that instead of typing it, each time I sat at the computer I wound up pulling a Snoopy, and getting stuck at the first three sentences. NaNo helps you remember that first draft is a first draft. The important thing is to get your story out, then you can go back and fix and improve it. Most people's first drafts are not going to be Booker Prize winners. Not even Booker Prize winners turn in their first draft for printing. Nano also has a cool way of collecting energy from thousands around the world also writing during that month just like you and when your friends do it too like Tracy, Huda, Rozeena, well that just makes the experience that much more meaningful!

Winning NaNoWriMo doesn't add to your fancy car collection or even put ten bucks in your pocket but you do get the satisfaction of accomplishing what few do, and what you barely believed you could do: become a novelist. Here's my top 10 writing advice geared towards NaNoWriMo but applies to anyone trying to crank out a novel. My advice is limited to how I'm succeeding in the first draft.

1. Outline. Stephen King never outlines, he writes as he goes. I began with no outline but after some time I found myself bogged down and at that point I began outlining how I wanted the rest of the story to go. Some people outline before November to start straightaway. I outlined as I went along when I needed it.

2. Writing Groups. NaNoWriMo will help you organize a writing group. Groups get together at cool locations, drink coffee and write. Its also great to bounce ideas off a fellow writer when you're stuck. They also help keep you focused. Maybe later on, once I'm more confident about my work, we might even exchange novels for critique.

3. The daily word count is advisory. Nano says to write 1,600-2,000 words daily. I wrote in chunks. One day I wrote 400 words, the next day 4,000 words. It just depended on the day and the inspiration. Sometimes people give up on Nano because they're not keeping up with the word count, doing it this way keeps your spirits up.

4. Stifle your editor. Like, seriously, give him a wedgie and stuff him in a locker. Everyone has an inner editor, the meanest person (lets call him Bob) on the planet who sits on your shoulder wearing a checkered corduroy jacket and mismatching tie with a haughty expression, snickering HoHoHo as he puffs on his cigar informing you how much your story stinks and how you should spare your computer the agony and fling it across the rose bed. Pay him NO mind. Just like other mean people in your life, the more you listen, the more they affect you. Don't let Bob bring you down.

5. Cringe. Write. Cringe. Edit. Once Bob is stifled, you might still feel icky about a paragraph or a chapter. Keep writing through it, even as you shake your head. If its unbearable, I go back after a few days and edit it to a more tolerable version but I try waiting a bit so I can be objective and actually edit and not just delete.

6. Skip around. you don't have to write it linear. Lord Of The Rings filmed the first scene and the last scene at the same time because it worked for them. When I get stuck and don't know how to proceed I jump to a little later or earlier in the novel and start writing that part.

7. Read. Read good work during your spare time, it helped me. Read bad work too when you're down in the dumps so you can remind yourself you don't have to be Jhumpa Lahiri to see your name in print.

8. Don't Read Publishing Books. I think that was my biggest problem. They intimidate you and take away your drive at this point in the game. Its hard to publish. Making $ off of what you write might be darn well near impossible. But that should never be the reason to tell a story. It should be because it needs to be told and you want to tell it. At least at the first draft phase I'd stay clear of them. If you must, Stephen King's "On Writing" is great.

9. Save it. everywhere. I wrote a story in which I poured my heart and soul in about nine years ago. My whole family knew the guy by name and even this past weekend he came up in conversation. He's fictional but i had written him so he was as real to me as Harry Potter. Well, I saved it only on my home desktop and poof one day the desktop crashed and with it my story. Now, I save it on google docs, memory stick, and occasionally e-mail it to myself. Its better safe than sorry.

10. Don't Plagiarize. Even in the first draft phase. I've seen folks borrow lines from here and there to fill in later. I look at people like Kaavya who let others words get in the way of what may have been a good novel ANYWAY, and I can't help but think that its best not to risk it even in the earlier phases.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why you should pack your morning workout bag BEFORE going to bed

Because you just might, in the wee hours of the morning as you fumble around getting said workout bag ready the morning of, forget perchance to pack your work shoes and then find yourself wondering how on earth you will explain to your clients why you are wearing a cute black suit with a silk shirt, pearl earrings and... adidas.

Thank goodness for uncomfortable black heeled shoes worn earlier in the week which were so painful that upon entering my car I kicked them off and flung them into the back seat. So while it is a somewhat painful day for my beleaguered feet, it could be worse. I guess the saying applies here, if you can't be thankful for what you have, be thankful for what you escaped such as suit ala adidas. Or something like that I guess.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Guilty confession of the day

Me: The Publix glass cleaner was made weird and sliced my finger so I told the manager to reconsider that product beacuse its a products liability case waiting to happen and when he looked at me funny I laughed and said sorry but its a typical tort essay and he looked at me even funnier so I told him that a torts essay is an exam you take in law school and he asked me if I was a lawyer, and I said yes, and he got really freaked out... he offered me ice cream and a box of tofu... jeez.
Kashif: And you got a kick out of that didn't you?
Me: a little

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why you should be careful when wearing makeup to work

Because if you do, and wear it ever day, then one day when your alarm doesn't go off and you find yourself running forty minutes late for a meeting that begins in 20, you might just mad dash out of the house without a trace of makeup on your face. And then, your boss, who is the sweetest most helpful person on the planet but not always the most tactful might take one look at you and in horror pull you to the side in a hushed whisper asking you if you are quite all right because you certainly don't look like you normally do what with the pale complexion and all. Yeah.

Seriously, I never wore much make up until I began working. I mean, maybe some concealer here and there, but the whole eyeshadow- eyeliner- mascara- lipstick- blush deal... not so much. And in part for that very reason: I knew that if you wear that then that becomes your normal base line and any time you accidentally oversleep and therefore rush out the door before applying any you end up looking like a sad woeful creature who needs to be in bed with some chicken noodle soup.

Although, then again, perhaps being able to look pale and pitiful and in desperate need of chicken soup when not wearing make-up, could come in handy on days one needs to retire home early to catch up on their Ugly Betty on-line reruns*

**Disclaimer: I, Aisha, do not in any way shape or form condone the use of duplicitous methods such as the not wearing of make up for the purpose of appearing woeful and thus inspiring pity points and being able to go home early for the implied dreadful illness that has surely overtaken you to cause you to look as you do. The former paragraph was merely stated as pun intended only to humor and not to advocate for any actual going home early moments whatsoever. (Picture source here)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

NaNoWriMo!

I heard about NaNoWriMo last year, it seemed intriguing but with exams, papers, and bar fitness applications I filed it in the back of my mind as a someday project. Now I am busy but not busy in the I might fail law school if I do this way- so I'm in!

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and the goal is to crank out a 50,000 word novel by November 30th. The theory goes that if you force yourself to write 1,500-2,000 words daily you will be writing so fast you won't have time to let your inner editor run free shrieking in disapproval because you are too busy writing. NaNoWriMo-ians believe that this fast paced unedited writing will bring out creativity and freshness of ideas and actually help you complete the novel. In December you can revise and improve but November is all about output. TONS of people sign up and do this, in my city at 900 or so were signed up at last check. Its actually one of the motivations for nano. My city's Nanowrimo-ians had a kick off party, meet for write-ins, maintain message boards on writing. I need 50K to finish my novel's first draft so this will hopefully be my kick to finish.

If you're thinking of the novel you should have written, why not carpe diem and sign up and start writing? Its' not too late!