Tag Archives: The Writer’s Corner

Who says I'm wasting my time?

It’s been three days since NaNoWriMo started, and even I am surprised at the lack of posts I have about it here. I’m not really sure why I’m not posting about it, really. Maybe it’s because I’m just plain busy (which I am), maybe I have no plot to talk about (partly true), or maybe I’ve just decided that I’ve blogged enough about it and I don’t need to really blog about it again (I’ve blogged about it here, anyway). It’s no secret to anyone who’s been following my blog (and the four, five who read this regularly) — I love NaNoWriMo. I cannot stress that enough.

So it kind of breaks my heart when I read some articles like this (and I kind of hate that I’m linking it, but I guess I have to) that slams something that has made my November for the past six years happier and crazier, and has allowed me to meet some of the most inspiring people I’ve known. Truth be told, the article kind of depressed me a bit, and wonder about how people can be so harsh about something that makes people of all ages write? What’s so wrong about attempting to write  a novel in a month?

And then I started to read the comments. Then I felt better because I realized that I’m not alone in feeling indignant. Misery (well, if you can call that misery) does love company! :P

Before I even heard of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been writing a lot. I wrote short stories, I had plots for novels and even some nonfiction books. I dreamed of being a writer, and I dreamed of seeing books with my name on the cover in the bookstores, but I got sidetracked by real life. In college, I attempted to write but I hardly finished anything because I always felt they weren’t good. I wasn’t brave enough to keep writing and I never had a looming deadline to give me discipline to write everyday. It was typical “One Day Novelist” syndrome: “One Day, I’ll write a novel.” When is that day? Whenever.

I think the most important lesson that NaNoWriMo has taught me is there’s never a perfect first draft. I’ve read blog posts of some of my favorite writers and other popular authors nowadays and they all say the same thing: the first draft is always ugly. I take comfort in that and despite all the screams of my inner editor, I write. I write for myself, I write for the people in my region who look up to me as their Municipal Liaison. NaNoWriMo has taught me the beauty of allowing myself to make mistakes and just keep going, because I know I can always go back to it later if I want to, after I have finished it from start to finish. The important thing for me right now, as a writer, is to get them written.  What was that I always tell our Filipino participants? Oh yeah, this one: don’t get it right, get it written.

And isn’t that what all writers should really start with? Even just wannabe writers who decided to jump and join the fun? Hello, fun?

And just a little rebuttal to the author of the article: I believe NaNoWriMo is not just a celebration for writers, but also for readers. Granted, not even 10% of the NaNoWriMo novels written in November gets to see the light of publishing day, but hey, I doubt these people who join NaNoWriMo are not readers, too. There may be a small percentage of non-readers there, but I’m pretty sure majority of those who join and enjoy the challenge and actually finish and return are readers, too. Perhaps they may not be the readers that you think (you know, those who read novels that are written by the authors that you also approve of), but they still read. And isn’t that really the point of it? Would you rather that people do not read if they’re not reading the “right” novels? In the same vein, would you rather people not write if they’re not writing the next great (insert your nationality here) novel?

I know I’m probably writing a bunch of crap this month about mythical creatures and Orlando vacation packages, just like I’ve done for the past six years, but at least I’m writing and I’m enjoying it. I’m not letting a pretentious article from someone who’s probably never even tried joining NaNoWriMo to discourage me from doing something that I love.

Joseph’s Lullaby

I am truly amazed at how Christmas is this year. 2009 is not my favorite year, and I think a lot of you know that. And it seems like 2009 is still not done with all its surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant. This is one of those years when you wonder if Christmas would still be a happy one, you know?

But if there was anything I learned from the flood, it’s that no matter what happens, there’s only one thing that I am sure of: it’s God. Whatever flood, storm, calamity, temptation, crime and bad things that come, there’s still Someone who is bigger and stronger who is there, and it cannot stop Christmas from coming. It is CHRISTmas after all. :)

This Christmas, I present to you a little story. I’m not really sure if it’s accurate with what’s in the Bible, so please treat this thing as a work of fiction, an interpretation of one of my favorite Christmas songs by MercyMe, Joseph’s Lullaby. This tells the story of the first Christmas night, after Mary has received visits form the shepherds and the wise men (not the usual gifts for new moms, right?). This is also hardly edited, so please excuse grammatical errors. I hope that somehow, this story would help us remember that Christmas is not about gifts or what we want, or even how we would have spent Christmas if so and so didn’t happen. Christmas is, ultimately, about the One born on this day. :)

Blessed Christmas to you and your family! :)

Continue reading Joseph’s Lullaby

NaNoWriMo 2009: Week 1

With all the hoopla of the flood and all that, I almost skipped National Novel Writing Month this year. I know I have been talking about it before everything happened and I was really excited about it even if I have zero plot…but after the flood, I didn’t feel like writing.

But of course I had to pull myself together. If I were just a normal, official participant, I could have skipped this year and do it next year instead. But I’m not. I’m a Municipal Liaison for the Philippines for NaNoWriMo and not participating this year also meant that there would be no one to handle the region for 2009.

And I feel like I owe the Pinoywrimos a good year despite what happened.

So…two weeks after the flood, we met, planned and now it’s November. How fast time flies.

One good thing about the flood is I actually found a plot. I’d have to thank my best friend Toni for his experience during Ondoy that felt like a perfect scene in a novel. Of course I’m putting a flood in the novel. It seems…fitting.

This year’s title is Keep the Faith, under Chick-lit (what’s new? :p). I suck at writing summaries, but here’s the basic blurb of my novel for this year:

What would you do if the life you knew is washed away?

Faith Alvarez is set for life: she has a job that doesn’t feel like a job, awesome friends and a boyfriend that she’s wants to spend the rest of her life with. Her family can use a bit more improvement, but she’s not the one to complain about that with how her life is going. There’s nothing else she could have asked for…until God pulls a Job on her.

When Faith’s boyfriend breaks up with her on their second anniversary, she thinks nothing else could get worse, until other things are thrown her way. She gets paired up with one of the most immature people at work and loses her work partner to a newbie who intends to show her up. She hides from her friends who wouldn’t understand what she’s going through, and her mom starts calling her again insisting she quits her job and get a higher-paying one.

Faith knows she’s strong enough and she has God to hold on to in times of crisis, but how much more can she take? And what if God decides that it’s not yet enough? Will her she be able to keep her faith and believe it will pull her through?

I’m recycling characters from my (still unfinished) 2006 NaNoWriMo novel. This is set about two years after the 2006 novel (still deciding if there will be a story in between that, like maybe Meah trying to pay off some student loans, but let’s see), with Faith as the central character. The storyline is actually based on Job’s story. I know it’s kind of overused already — much like Hosea and Gomer — but honestly, I don’t care. I don’t think this will see publishing light (not yet, anyway), but I want to write this story down. To exorcise some demons, or something like that. :P

To be honest, I feel like I’m too slow in writing this year as compared to last year. I remember hitting 5000 on my first day, but this year, I barely reached halfway. I’m way beyond my word count quota, but the slowness of my pace is something new. Then again I have more work this year…so it’s a different story.

I do have a different feeling with this story, though. I managed to outline a bit more this year and I actually have a pseudo-outline up to Chapter 8! That is so new. I kind of have a feeling that I will be able to actually finish this novel by end of November and not leave it hanging like three other works in progress I have now. That gives me some hope. :P

I’ll be posting some excerpts and character guides or whatever novel related information here sometime soon. But right now…I really have to work. I’ll squeeze in some writing time later. ;)

Thank God it's Over!

Yes, thank God this week is over and thank God this Friday is over. Oh and Thank God because we had such an awesome TGIO party! Thanks so much, Maita and the rest of Talecraft!

Now I can finally focus on the other freelance things I’ve left behind with this entire NaNoWriMo stuff came in, and finally focus on some serious Christmas shopping and work. And…well, rest because my cough and slight asthma just won’t go away. T_T

But let me pause from all those (again), and write about…well, writing. Being in events like these and around so many writers (award winning or just starting, like us) never fails to inspire me. I always thought of myself as a “lesser” writer because I did not have any formal education. I know it’s not always with the degree and I know a lot of people attest to that, but sometimes I can’t help but feel like my writing always lacks something. It’s either my words are too awkward, or I don’t have enough vocab,  or my story just plain sucks. I dream of becoming a published fiction writer, but I feel too chicken to submit anything as I don’t think it’s good enough.

But being with people who have so much passion for writing makes me hold on to that dream and just keep writing. And I guess that’s what really counts, because no one can ever get published just like that. And it takes a lot of guts to face a blank sheet of paper, and how many times have I managed to overcome that?

Also, I can’t imagine life without writing. Life without Dallas jobs, yes, but writing? The horror!

So…I guess no matter what happens, no matter what other people say, I still believe I am a writer. Fluffy writer, yes, but still a writer. :) Haha chick lit FTW!

It was awesome being with everyone tonight! Makes it worth all the traffic and stress. :) But again, thank God it’s over!

Goodbye November

And so it’s the last day of November. NaNoWriMo 2008 ends today.

It’s been a bittersweet feeling since last year. Novermber always has this magic feel because of the novel writing thing. And every time November ends, there’s the “What now?” feeling afterwards. I feel that way today, but I’m also quite tired of writing which is why I haven’t written anything in addition to the story just yet, plus because I will be busy in the next weekends, but all in all, I’ll miss this rush for November.

So what did I learn this year?

  • I have a story to tell. :)
  • It’s hard to manage a group of Wrimos single-handedly. It’s fun, but it’s hard and tiring and expensive. But the Wrimos made everything worth it. :)
  • I need to expand my vocabulary. After some time I keep on using the same words and it was frustrating.
  • I still need to work on my descriptions. Like, say how can I describe a smile without using the word smile. You know?
  • I need to really work on the back stories of the characters — not in full detail, but at least in better detail than the vague ideas that I have. Oh, and make sure the characters have hobbies. :P

And of course I’m doing this next year. Some things I am thinking of trying and/or will be doing:

  • I will make sure there’s a beginning, middle and end before I start writing. At least it would give me an idea of where my story would go.
  • As I mentioned earlier — proper character back stories! Which means I should do more observing whenever there’s an idle moment.
  • Chapter outlines. I was never an outlining person, but I realized that it was really hard to go through some parts that are boring for me or at least very hard to write, so…chapter outlines should help. :P
  • Read, read, read. Seriously, I need to read more books of what I want to write.
  • Speaking of, I’m thinking of trying another genre next year. Like…I don’t know, Mystery and Suspense, or another shot at Mainstream Fiction…or *gasp* Fantasy! Let’s see.
  • I will definitely write again even if it’s off season. I’m thinking of doing a 365 days of fiction (hence there’s me wanting a Moleskine daily planner for next year).
  • I’m still thinking of Script Frenzy. Let’s see.
  • I want to do some guerilla writing next year. I’ve been thinking of getting an iPod Touch (haha good luck with my expenses) because I’m not into PDAs. Of course, a notebook and a pen will do. But I still want an iPod Touch. :P

Oh, I will definitely continue writing my novel. I seriously want to finish this. But first I must do an outline for this. :D

In the meantime, I’m meeting with fellow Wrimos tomorrow, and then there’s the TGIO party on December 12, organized by Talecraft. :) And I better start on my freelance projects due on December.

So, did you join NaNoWriMo? How was your experience?

The One Where My Character Juggles and then Cries

So I was flying high with writing the past few days until I reached Chapter 7. This is where my character told me she wants to juggle (so I let her) and then in the middle of the chapter, she bursts out crying.


The scene was a “poor baby” moment, the day after Ruth finds out that her crush is not who she thought he was. She woke up with a hangover, and then her friends and her sister catch her juggling (yes, she juggles to relieve stress) and so everyone went on “comfort Ruth” mode. It was supposed to be the scene where she gets convinced by her friends to start dating, and she expresses some of her initial fears. At some point during the chapter, her best friend asks her how she is, and then she cries. SHE CRIES!

That was surprising. She’s not supposed to cry until somewhere later in the novel!

I finished the chapter yesterday but then I got stuck. I couldn’t move. The tone of the novel started going emo, and I suspect the premature tears caused it. And there’s still supposed to be some wacky stuff happening in the next few chapters and suddenly her crush became the main guy. If I continue with what I wrote, I would have to make him reappear, so where would my two other guys go?

ARGH. I so wanted to delete that chapter yesterday. I wanted to edit it…so I added some words to see how it would go but it just turned out even worse. *headdesk* And it’s like the biggest Nano sin if you edit during the month, but I so want to edit! But no no no no no.

The solution?

I write an alternate chapter.

Okay, that may be cheating…but it’s not re-writing. I’m just writing the chapter in a different way, without any reference to the first version of the Chapter 7 I initially wrote. A less emo chapter.

Okay, I’ll definitely put the juggling in there. That’s just too fun not to write.

So welcome to the suckage that is Week 2 in NaNoWriMo. I’m tempted to take a break, but I don’t want to. Unless nothing hits me today, then I will probably take a break. Hopefully, I don’t have to because I really don’t want to abandon this novel and not finish it. I want to break to 30K tonight, and then maybe I’d rest. :P

I love my story too much to abandon it. And I love that my characters are actually moving on their own. Sometimes they do too many things (like cry for instance), but that just means they’re living. I won’t be surprised if my character decides to buy some promotional bags for herself (but I won’t let her…unless absolutely necessary).

Somehow all these talks make me think of Jasper Fforde books. How characters get formed and how stories go and all that. Interesting.

Anyway, I’m off to lunch and get some more plotting done. :D Hopefully some of these ideas make it into my screen. :) Happy writing!

NaNoWriMo Weekend # 2: Writing, but not the Novel

So here’s the second weekend and I finally broke into 20,000 words. I want to reach 25k before I sleep tonight, but as luck would have it, I have some other writing assignments that I need to finish. I have 12 reflections due for Didache 2010 next week, and to be honest, I wanted to write them all this weekend but it was impossible. I was too distracted. :( I’d rather write my novel, you know? But I must finish this.

So now I’m alternating between writing those reflections and my novel. You know when both is equally important?

I think it might be my last year for Didache. I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it. Or prayed about it. >_>

Anyway, writing the novel has been really fun. Week 2’s coming, but it’s supposed to be the hard week, but so far I’m not seeing any hard writing days yet. I want to start fleshing out the subplot with Ruth’s sister, but it’s not rearing its head, so I will go continue where my characters want me to go. Ruth’s gone speed dating and met Matt, reconnected with Ian and now she’s about to find out something about Glenn. And finally, Ruth is going on dates! I will finally make her go on a date with the guy who will ask her to buy term life insurance! I feel like I rambled for the first six chapters, but it feels just right to build up to her forced dating spree. Whee. This is the fastest progress I’ve had so far. :D I might just reach 60k. :D

I better get back to writing my reflections. :D And before I go, here’s an excerpt from Chapter 5:

Continue reading NaNoWriMo Weekend # 2: Writing, but not the Novel

What I love most about NaNoWriMo

I’m already at 9,028 words and I personally think this is my fastest progress ever. I’m trying to remember my 2006 stats (which I lost during the Ginger crash of 2007) but if I hit 10k today, that’s a pretty good thing, right? I’m actually averaging 3k per day. And what’s cool is that I’m still on chapter 2. Okay, I don’t know if that’s cool, but I guess that kind of means that my story is at least promising to be…er, long. I think.

Anyway. I don’t have any excerpts to share today, and I know writing this means I am procrastinating, but hear me out for a minute. I’ve mentioned this a lot of times, but I will say it again. There’s something magical about November. Ever since I joined the craziness that is writing a 50,000 word novel in a month, November has always been a month of bright ideas. The time where I meet people both in real life and in my imagination, all tell their own story. November is the time I dream and talk of novels all day, where I meet all sorts of characters who do all sorts of stuff: some like riding bikes, some have interesting back stories, some advocate healthy cooking, some eat ice cream all day long. This month is where anything can happen — in my novel, at least. :D And I know this is bad writing practice, but November is the only time I really get to write, and the time I really get to feel like a writer. Like I can make all excuses to not do some things because “I have some writing to do.” A bit pretentious, yes, but true, isn’t it? We all use that excuse. ;)

The thing I love most about NaNoWriMo is how my writerly senses become all active. I love how it revives my dream of being a writer, how it encourages me to just write and worry about the result later. I love how it helps me reach for my dream, even if it’s just one month in a year. And I would never ever trade the experience for anything else.

To be honest, I’m still scared for any of my babies to go out into the world…but maybe this year would change that. :) After all, everyone has a story to tell, right? And maybe this year, my story will be one of those that will be told. So I will write. :)

To all NaNoWriMo 2008 participants: keep on writing! You guys are one of my biggest inspirations this year, and it’s an honor to be a part of such a wonderful writing community. :)

Sunday Randomness

The last time I sat here at Robinson’s Galleria’s Starbucks with my laptop (ole Ginger, not Aslan) was back November 2006, where I sat at the corner, busy writing my NaNoWriMo novel. That was such a long time ago…I can’t believe it’s been more than a year. :) That was way before I did some admin job search…which was more than a year ago too. Now I’m back, because I’m sick of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and nothing beats Starbucks’ iced mocha (but I’m saying that only because I think it tastes like their Dark Mocha…or does it?). However, there’s always so many people here, it’s hard to find a nice seat where I can be privy to my own thoughts. Bah. :P I miss Seattle’s Best.

Before I continue, let me just say that the previous paragraph sounded so elitistang burgis, as my thesismate would say. :P

On another note, I bought two books yesterday. I was originally planning to buy only one, so I dropped by Bestsellers to see if Jasper Fforde’s latest Thursday Next novel (First Among the Sequels) is already available in paperback. I didn’t find it there, but I really wanted to get a book to read (this is beside the fact that I have two unread books at the condo — Pride and Prejudice and Wicked, but I don’t feel like reading them), so I ended up getting something fluffy: The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. After staying at Coffee Bean, I went around the mall for a while and decided to visit National Bookstore. Lo and behold, there was the paperback version of the first book I was hunting. Of course I bought it. :D I’m more than halfway done, and I kind of had a hard time adjusting to Fforde’s world again, but after a few pages, I’m back on track. I love this series, and if you haven’t read it, well, go to your nearest bookstore and grab a copy of The Eyre Affair or The Big Over Easy! If you like reading books, you’d love this series — I mean that literally! :)

All these book talk suddenly reminded me: Book Fair is just around the corner! Ack, does this mean more books to be added to my To-Be-Read pile? Looks like it.^^;

And now from books, we go to writing. I’ve had a lot of alone time this weekend and I’m sad to say I did not do one bit of writing. :( I hardly even touched my journal. Sure, I carry it around, but I haven’t really gotten down to write anything on it. Ack, I suck. Aside from blogging and emails, my creative writing has taken a break. And I miss it. I so want to write something, maybe even a bit connected to what’s happening right now, or even write some bits of the novel I’m planning to write this year…but it’s either I’m too lazy to do so, or whenever I try to write, I just come out dry. :| This is one of the times I wish I had a friend like Thursday Next to get me a plot device from the BookWorld to play with my stories. Or…maybe I just need to exert more effort. :P

I’m getting out of Starbucks in a while to hear mass and probably go back to the condo to check if our bathroom is dry and mop it up if it’s not (don’t ask), and then head back here to get dinner and invade another coffee shop. Oh and probably buy that cute white shoes at Celine. Tomorrow’s the start of another work week, and I’m ready to conquer it (I think).

This random post is brought to you by Lifehouse, an iced mocha drink, the letter A and the number 427. Don’t ask. :P

Script Frenzy 2008: Novels in Hollywood?

I was supposed to post something that my boss told me at work today, but something else caught my eye. :D I know I’m kind of been neglecting this website, which should’ve been launched, oh, I don’t know, 3 months ago but because of busy-ness, I couldn’t get around to sitting down and forming the site. Argh.

But let’s not get to that.

I got this from the Breaking News at the NaNoWriMo website:

I wanted to give everyone advance warning that the second-annual Script Frenzy will be commencing on April 1. We’ve moved it forward by two months, and made some changes to open it up to more writers. Now the escapade includes TV scripts, short film scripts, and adaptations of novels. As long as you cumulatively write 100 pages of script in April, you’re a winner.

If you’ve been thinking that one of your NaNoWriMo manuscripts would make an awesome movie or play, April is the ideal month to find out. I wrote my first screenplay for Script Frenzy last year, and learning to tell a big story using only dialogue ended up paying big dividends in my novel-writing as well. I’d say Script Frenzy made my novel dialogue and pacing 349% less sucky overall, bringing both of them all the way up to a third-grade level. A third-grade level! In just one month!

Sweet progress.

I was also pleasantly surprised by how easy the dreaded formatting turned out to be, and how many great pieces of free scriptwriting software there are out there to automate the whole process. Here’s to a heavily scripted April!


See the emphasized words? Adaptation of novels. That really made my day. I wanted to join Script Frenzy last year but backed out because of my schedule, plus I couldn’t write an all original screenplay without any basis like others who can put characters who are fascinated with collecting CAT5e. Even if I did use to write scripts back in high school, it was all based on another piece. I still like writing original prose than screenplays. My VD-PROD script was a perfect example, based on Shooting Star. Heh.

But I think I might just join this one. It’s my first time, and I’ll probably fail…but it’s a fun thing to try. :) I might be able to work on Red Meets Blue here, since I can see it more “on screen” than on paper. Or maybe that’s only because I make my characters burst into song all the time. Heh.

Is anyone planning to join Script Frenzy too? If you are, let me know! We can be writing buddies. :D