Kicking My Own Ass

Motivation is tough in the winter, when the overwhelming urge to drink three cups of rum-spiked hot chocolate and watch umpteen episodes of 30 Rock can really put a damper on your novel writing. Here, in no particular order, are some ways to get motivated during the long, gray days of February:*

  • Wake up early to write before work. Check a few blogs and websites and maybe facebook to see what happened in the last six hours until your eyelids start working normally. Make coffee. Maybe take a shower. Realize that you’ve wasted your morning and manage a paltry 130 words while brushing your teeth and tying your shoes.
  • Get a fancy notebook as a Christmas gift. Write in it once, very productively. Carry it around like a fetish thereafter. When needed, stroke its smooth cover protectively.
  • Win Nanowrimo! Take a month off. Return to writing feeling like every day you didn’t write is hanging over your head like a second moon. Curse the gods.
  • Create a fun rewards system:
    • 100 words = 5 minutes away from computer to feel like a human being again
    • 250 words = 1 cup of coffee to stop the shakes and headaches and voices
    • 500 words = 1 dessert, to be eaten not at dessert-time
    • 1,000 words = $5 in the “buy a new computer” jar
    • 2,000 words = Blast “We are the Champions” and sing like you’re auditioning for The Voice
    • 5,000 words = Convince girlfriend that you’ve “earned it”
    • 10,000 words = Convince self that you’ve “earned it”
    • Finish manuscript = Mists of Pandaria and 1 month gametime
    • Finish manuscript before 32nd birthday = Realization that you are good enough, smart enough and doggone it, people like you
  • Look for inspiration in the world around you!
    • The Groundhog didn’t see his shadow, and you can safely ignore the spectre of failure that looms in the recesses of your mind.
    • The most literary team in the NFL won the Super Bowl! Named after a Poe poem and harboring a murderer, let the Ravens’ gothic flavor seep into your writing.
    • Terrorist attacks abroad and shootings at home indicate that people need escapism! Now is the perfect time to finish your fantasy novel and get it out there. Sure it’s set in 2006 and seems laughably dated to even the least interested reader, but that’s what they you pay editors for.
  • At the end of the day, you can always go back to your 3-years-defunct blog and mock yourself. It’s what the pros do!**

* Note: Not all attempts at motivation succeed. Don’t get discouraged, just try something else.
**Note: I don’t know any pros.

NaNoWriMo Fail – 2010 Edition

So I’ve never actually completed the annual exercise in hard work/tedium/elation/good writing habits that is National Novel Writing Month. And sometimes I feel bad about it, but not that often. It doesn’t help that I have a bad habit of taking two weeks of vacation every November (and my vacations are rarely of the “sit around on a beach and write novels” type). Anyway, though I didn’t “win” (winning = completing 50,000 words in 30 days), I did have my best NaNoWriMo ever: 16,430 words!

*sound of crickets*

Shut up, I think it’s impressive.

Chapter One, Line One

Snoopy typing

One of my favorite authors of 2009, Gail Carriger (Soulless, remember?) has posted a rumination on the opening lines in fantasy/scifi novels. Check it out, won’t you?

(Make sure you scroll on through the comments for more great first lines.)

So, bearing in mind the immortal words of Sam Seaborn (“Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright.”) here are some selected opening lines for you, gentle reader.

First, I love these two, from the American Book Review’s 100 Best Opening Lines:

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” – William Gibson, Neuromancer

“You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler.” – Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Travler

And some personal favorites:

“It was a dark and stormy night.” – Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

“The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed sub-category.” – Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

“The Hegemony Consul sat on the balcony of his ebony spaceship and played Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-Sharp Minor on an ancient but well-maintained Steinway while great, green, saurian things surged and bellowed in the swamps below.” – Dan Simmons, Hyperion

Barrabas came to us by sea, the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy.” – Isabel Allende, House of the Spirits

“Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.” – Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

And for sheer quantity of melodrama-flavored awesomesauce, it doesn’t get any better than this:

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.” -Stephen King, The Gunslinger

Finally, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to show you the (latest) opening line from my Work-In-Progress:

“Autumn was early to class, something she couldn’t remember ever happening before.”

Do you have a favorite opening line? A least favorite? Comment away!