The blog of D Kai Wilson-Viola

Author, advocate, designer, mental health advocate and parent. 

the writer and the story can be separate – NanoWrimo day 18

the writer and the story can be separate – NanoWrimo day 18

Mask A-Peel

Image by Cayusa via Flickr

I has a migraine, so, instead of being all wise, and clever and down to earth about the fact that I’m now at 55k (WOOOOO!), I thought I’d talk about something thats bothering me for about a dozen reasons right now.

I’m writing three books – two are brand spanking new, as in I’ve only been talking about them or thinking about them, or even contemplating them for about two months, and one, Elliot’s, is a recurring rewrite.  I might talk about them later too.  Anyway, the two that are brand new are…troublesome in ways I never thought I’d get down in words till I thought about it this morning.

They’re bothering me because in some ways they’re very close to the ‘bone’ for me – either because of the mental health aspect in Change, or because of the concept that the story is reflecting what’s going on in my life (Values).  While both are true, at the same time, neither are true.

Values specifically is about a young married couple who, for whatever reason, don’t have kids – the ‘she’ in the story is unsettled and vaguely concerned by it, while he’s not bothered at all.  And the more she pushes, the more he resists. It’s true, the story *started* out life because of a conversation my fiancee and I had and evolved from there, but it’s not the be all and end all of the story.   I’ve started with our situation and played a very skewed ‘what if’ game along the lines of the entire story.

Change is a sci fi time travel story.  The lead narrator so far is a schizophrenic, who has  a very comfortable and intimate relationship with her ‘other self’ in parts of the novel, and is very distant and aloof in other parts – it’s all told from the perspective specifically of the woman that travelled back in time, so at points there really *are* two of them.  It’s boundary challenging and touches on a couple of key stones of mental health that I think tend to be overlooked – that some of us are comfortable in our own skins, even if those skins are bags for something entirely flawed and odd based on conventional norms.

The thing is though, I’m neither schisophrenic or in a relationship as extreme as the one I’m writing about in Values – I’m not a time traveller, and I don’t go around shooting perverts in the unmentionable places that my characters may.  I’m not a cop, and I don’t live in a city quite as warped as Darkness.  What I am is highly imaginative, and intelligent.  I can project the concepts into the ether and build something out of them.  I can let my brain run loose and have a look at where that takes me.  I know freedom and self interest intimately and can be very different in my expression of either of them.

Some people say that when an actor takes on a certain role, it’s hard for them – that it can pull them down and destroy them.  I think sometimes it’s the same for writers – not as often as actors, but sometimes we play a role, we assume a persona, and we write.  It pours out of us, flood and trickle, and we bleed it – the persona – dry.  And then, if we’re lucky, we can remove most of it – because in writing from another perspective, we may have learned a couple of things, so we may never be entirely free.  Other times it might cling for a bit, but we’re always – ALWAYS free to go back to ourselves, and should always be free to do so – and should never be held accountable for the ideology of our characters.

It’s not an argument about free speech though – we aren’t entitled to hurt others deliberately under the guise of ‘character’ and to be honest, if it’s odious enough, warped enough, or revolting enough to make you hesitate (which, I believe sometimes goes beyond ‘transgression’ and on into ‘bad taste’) then you should seriously consider whether you want to share it.  In an ideal world there would only be that reason, but unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal world.

I guess what I’m saying is it’s ok to be a writer – it’s ok to take on these guises and explore your character – what’s not, possibly, ok is to believe that you are responsible in the real world for what those characters do, unless you actually do it.

Your Wildest dreams – Nanowrimo day 17

Your Wildest dreams – Nanowrimo day 17

Peacock Feathers

Image by Maia C via Flickr

(this is a slightly different type of post – I’ve not started in on my NanoWrimo work yet)

One of the biggies about the NanoWrimo is in most cases, it encourages people that aren’t writers to take time out and write.  For writers it’s a bit of a different proposition – sometimes it’s a kick up the butt to finish a story, sometimes it’s about taking time out from a carreer that may not entirely ‘fulfil’ your writing needs.  Kinda like eating fruit and nuts all week, and then splurging on chocolate once a week – or never drinking unless it’s a special occassion.

There’s a problem with the Nano though.  I’m still not *at* this point in my life, and I know of writers that are, that are still doing the NanoWrimo, but I’m not sure how I’m going to handle it when I’m actually published.  Others ARE doing it, but I’m not sure that when I get to the point that my books are out there, that I can actually let go of promoting and showing off for long enough to actually write another novel in a month.  It’s a dumb worry, just like being ‘worried about’ fame, and about one of the other myriad of my neuroses, and until I get there, I’ll never know, but I’m thinking about how I’ve adapted my working schedule right now, to fit the NanoWrimo in – and I thought I’d share a couple of them.

How to take a month off

You are, basically, taking a month off to write, after all, so there’s a couple of simple ways to clear your boards, at least in part.

1) Tivo (or Sky+box or similar) anything you are interested in watching over that month.  You can catch up when you’re feeling uninspired, or can’t concentrate as well as you’d like to.  These recordings can also be used as a reward 😉   If you’re not lucky enough to have access to a Tivo, or similar, plan carefully what you’d like to watch, and make sure that you’re able to write while watching or move something else to make that time.  You should treat your TV plans as you would your writing at any other time of the year.

2) If you work from home, see if you can increase your income for a couple of months before, or conduct your business more frugally – the goal here is not only to be able to ‘afford’ to take time out financially, but to clear some time to allow you to write.  It’s important however, to note that you should make sure that your *work* comes first.
If you work outside of your home, you can’t really cut back your time, but you can spend time writing, if you choose, during your lunch hour.

I’ve also cut back on any social events outside of the house, replacing them with my NanoWrimo coffee meets – which has freed up a lot of time.

How have you cleaned up your calendar to make space for the Nano?

NanoWrimo day 15&16 – looking at the selfish aspect

NanoWrimo day 15&16 – looking at the selfish aspect

NaNoWriMo: the niche

Image by mpclemens via Flickr

One of the biggies that I keep hearing from the people I ML from, especially in private, about how to cope with the whole ‘selfish’ aspect of the Nanowrimo.
It got me thinking about how writers are perceived, and how we perceive ourselves, and how that, in turn impacts on how we present ourselves.

The Nanowrimo is about  being brazen about your writing – to say ‘to hell with it, TV repeats, I’ve only got NOW to write’.  People, who aren’t in the habit of writing daily, learn to apply thier butt to the seat.  Those who work and can’t write, but dream of it , get access to a chance to spend the time writing.

And then there’s people like me.  I write for no reason other than I can.  I’d love to make money from it, and have tried in various ways, but it’s something, I think, that I’ve held back from because of a fear of success.  And people might laugh, because it’s a silly fear in some ways, and though I will quite happily lay my soul bare in public, and I am a very public person, but public in my own, controlled way.

There’s a slightly selfish aspect of the NanoWrimo though – that comes up in conversation several times a week in IM and other places.  Selfish isn’t the right word though – and there’s a myriad of the them that come up, selfish, indulgent, spoiling myself, needing family support, taking family time.  It’s not actually the accurate terminology though.  We are doing it for ourselves, but there’s nothing to say that it’s inherently ‘selfish’.  It’s self oriented, but that doesn’t make it selfish.

The thing about writing is that it’s *usually* a lone process.  Lots of other people *are* of course writing when you are, but the NanoWrimo harnesses everything and puts us all in the same place and going through the same process.  Still not selfish.  It’s not selfish because that thought is what keeps us from actually accepting that we can write, and still be a good parent, and keep up with freinds and everything else we do.  We’re not super-people, but writing *can* come higher on our priority lists, without being a bad thing.  And I think that the NanoWrimo kinda highlights that.

Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about how to balance losing a 12th of your working year without feeling selfish – and what to do if your wildest dreams come true.

Wordcount update – 41k approx!

Elliot came out to play – Nano day 14

Elliot came out to play – Nano day 14

Glass wall

Image by maistora via Flickr

On Sunday, while I was in the coffee-shop at one of our ‘during the day’ meets, Elliot, a character from one of my big novel serials, Darkness, decided that enough was enough – if I was having a crisis of confidence about the rest of my writing, that he’d fill in the gaps.   That was on the 8th, and in the last almost week (with a day off for my birthday on Thursday) and I’ve written 20k.  Being fair, Glass Block, the book that started it all, was originally written in 2003 (which means, technically, I’m cheating).  I’m quite happily writing away now.

There’s a big announcement coming in the next few weeks too – so watch this space 😉

Wanna see my birthday cake?

Wanna see my birthday cake?

For once, the cake is not a lie...

For once, the cake is not a lie...

I’m marrying one of *the* most amazing people on the PLANET.  Seriously.  My beloved not only got me something I really wanted for my birthday, but he made sure I was going out to Uni, then came home and made me an amazing cake, then took me out for tea.  I discovered the cake when we came home.

For those that don’t understand the caption – it’s a companion cube cake, from a game called Portal.  Which is one of my favorite games, ever.  I’ve got a cuddly, plushie Companion Cube, and think this cake is about the most adorable thing, ever.