Tuesday, November 9, 2010

portrait of the author as a middle aged woman

Thanks to the wonders of Facebook quizzes, I now know that the Harry Potter character I most resemble is Tonks, my Disney Princess alter ego is Belle, I am a night fairy, and I should live in Denver. I have to admit, all these are OK. (Except I'd rather live on the ocean.) The only one that really disturbed me was the "what famous author's psychosis do you have?" I got Edgar Allen Poe. Not a good sign.

But the 'test' that concerns me the most as I enter this writing a novel in the month of November venture is the one sent by a fellow writer. You plug in samples of your writing, and it analyzes them and tells you which famous writer you are most like. I put in several samples and got several responses, but one came up repeatedly. "Your writing style is that of James Joyce."

Now, on one hand, who would argue with being compared to what literary experts call one of our greatest writers? In fact, according to Wikipedia, "In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Ulysses first on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century." At 265,000 words, I wonder about its sales record, though. The only problem here is, in my entire college career as a literature major, there was only one author whose work I truly despised. I left my Intro to Brit Lit copy of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in a cab. I swear it was an accident. Yep--James Joyce.

I had no idea what the man was saying, and he took a long time to say it. Yikes--is that what my work looks like to unsuspecting readers? I prefer to believe that his name came up because I do tend to write in a stream of consciousness, random fashion. I hope, though, that in the end, it makes sense to people. Looking through the first five chapters of this novel in a month (no I do not work that fast; I had already finished three), I can see that the main character is extremely random. That, I like to think, is her charm. But if she goes the way of James Joyce, I am going to be in trouble with readers.

How, how did a Jane Austen, Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis loving writer get James Joyce?? I do not know. But in writing as in life, it is always best to stick with the style that says 'you.' You can work with it, evolve it, mix it around a bit, but in the end, your best success lies in being the unique person God made you. So, I guess I'll stick with Joyce, for better or worse. I promise though, no 265,000 word novels. Really, who could get that done in a month?

Friday, November 5, 2010

time flies--on a jet plane

So, I'm thinking this is not a coincidence. At our Happiness Project meeting this week, I announced that my goal for November was to "find time." Find as in, clearly, it is getting lost somewhere, and if I can just figure out where the bad fairies in our house are hiding it, I am sure I will be able to accomplish all those noble goals I want for my life. Along with getting the dishes washed within the same week that they are used.

No, I'm not making any great resolutions for using that time wisely at this point. Right now, I just want to figure out where it is. You can't use something wisely if you have no idea where it is. Or, in my case, if your time has jetted off somewhere and is sitting on a beach drinking virgin strawberry daiquiris instead of working hard for you. (Wow, I definitely had to look that word up on spell check; you can tell I don't drink.)

In the same day that I made that goal, I received a link to a website for a book called 168 Hours that had a download for a time management spreadsheet. I could and would track every hour in the day and how it is used. It starts at 5 am. That is amusing, to say the least. But you are supposed to track how much sleep you get, too. It's already making me want to use that time better. First "coincidence."

As part of my goal, I determined to look up the concept of writing a novel in a month, something I've heard about and knew there would be information out there somewhere on. My current work is stuck at chapter three and getting nowhere fast. As it turns out, November is National Write a Novel in a Month month. Who knew? There is not only a website but a word counter, support groups, write ins, and general kicks in the butt to get a person going. Starting November 1st. The month I made this goal. Second "coincidence."

I'm thinking these things are adding up. Time, I'm going to find you. I'm going to round you up and take you prisoner to serve me. I'm going to kick your butt for a change. Or else, I'm going to join you on that beach. It could go either way. I'll keep you posted.