Hiatus

You may have noticed that I haven‘t been writing new blog posts lately. I suffer from severe post traumatic stress, depression and anxiety. On top of that I have to deal with personal problems; so all in all I just can‘t write right now. I hope that it’s going to get better eventually, and I want to continue writing my book and this blog. I just don‘t know when I will be better.

See you then.

What my favourite Authors have in common

I love J.K. Rowling, whose books I know by heart because I have read them several times in English, German, Plattdeutsch, and now the first one, in Latin. I also keep listening to the audio books by Stephen Fry, who is a genious!
She shows me something fundamental about the world: Magic. Her magic system is deeply rooted in the ancient powers of Love and death, one eternal and never ending, the other finite, and finished at the end. Every book ends with a death. In the first book, it is of someone who has sold the back of his head and his heart to the devil – Quirrel has Voldemort stuck in his head, and death in his heart. Touching Harry burns his skin, and Voldemort leaving makes his heart stop.

I love Stephen Hawking, whose books I have not yet finished. I am reading the German audio book Die Kürzeste Geschichte der Zeit (A short story of time) and his Universum in der Nussschale (Universe in a nutshell).
He explains the whole universe in simple terms, and I finally know what time is. If light is a wave and a particle at the same time, then a tsunami is a wave and water at the same time. The latter is in an ocean, the former in our universe, and in lots of multiverses, I imagine. It’s like having a bucket full of water: you can make the bottom vertical without spilling a drop if you just turn fast enough on the spot. (It takes some practice, but you can try it!)
Maybe I got him wrong, but I think that time is the stuff between quarks, between particles and waves, the void through which matter and energy, water and light, moves.

I love Terry Pratchett, who makes me laugh about his worlds, because they are beautiful and concise mirrors of ours. I have read all the Discworld books I could get my grabby hands on. Just for Thief of Time I didn‘t make time yet. I love me a world that combines grand and ancient genesis myths, and turns it into a disc on the back of four elephants, standing on a turtle, swimming through the vastness of space.
It’s funny as hell, and grand as the world and the myths. He makes fun only of humans and their mistakes, but elevates our great ideas and gives them shapes. Great A‘Tuin, the world turtle, has eyes as old as lakes, and a shell covered in ice and meteor craters. The sun is tiny, and all the Egyptian goddesses and sun myths try to be real at the same time. Death has a voice as ancient as the earth, as grave as a tomb, SPEAKS IN ALL CAPS.

I love Einstein, who I haven‘t read at all yet. I‘ve learned about him in school, of course, and I heard from him in Hawking’s audio book. I plan to read his works on relativity in their original language, which I guess is German, which is a relief, really. Because I happen to be german, too.
He had wonderful explanations for most everything that is going on in this marvelous world of ours. I look forward to his theories, and to learning about planets and genesis and movements, and I want to learn ancient Greek, because this language, like Latin, is connected to our whole western philosophy and sciences.

I want to broaden my horizons, and I want to read and hear from people who are unlike me. I want to re-read my books from India, about Yoga, re-visit Masanobu Fukuoka, Japanese literature and manga, Chinese philosophies and poetry, eastern philosophy and worlds.

I love words, they open up worlds.
I love worlds, they contain libraries.

Pick it up again. Continue counting.

In the last few posts, I took you on the long and meandering journey that has led me to NaNoWriMo this year.

I had a first draft, rougher than sandpaper over volcanoes, but 50.000 words long.
I had a broken premise, and fifteen expert opinions on how to fix it.
I had two excellent classes in September and October.

The classes were Lani Diane Rich’s Making Magic and Discovery classes, and quite apart from the fact that she is a brilliant teacher, I took a bag of money and eight whole weeks worth of time to my book. The money meant that I was now morally obliged to invest the time I needed.

The weeks were spent learning a lot, playing a lot, and having loads of fun and epiphanies. I like them mixed! I will talk about my writing related fun and epiphanies on this blog, but for now, suffice it to say it was worth every penny of it.

Now I had what I needed to pick up my manuscript again in time for…

NaNoWriMo 2011: Spinning Purple into Gold

10) You need magic!
What has Science ever done for you, I ask you? Magic is your friend! You dumped the dumb purple idea, which is a relief to everyone, but now that you finally succumbed to magic, you can explain anything and everything from why the moles are bigger than grizzlies to how they ever managed to build that fricken city into solid rock three hundred years ago. Also you can include glowspitting lindworms in your backstory! Everybody wins!

11) Plot.
This whole endeavour showed me that I am a plotter not a pantser.
I have spent my youth and adulthood reading, I have absorbed all twenty eight seasons and eleven movies of Star Trek, and I know a good plot when I see one. I have spent enough time listening to other writers to know how to tweak plots that I don‘t like, and I‘ve practised it with my favourite writer friend (who also happens to be my twin sister).
So I took some time to plot.

12) Plan to Rewrite.
Since the premise was so weak and I threw it out completely, since Lani and Alastair told me about opening chapters and the many ways in which mine was broken, and since I remodelled two of six main characters, I planned to completely throw out my first draft and start from scratch.

13) Edit your way through NaNoWriMo 2011
Of course, I didn‘t actually delete a single word of my old draft. I‘m a writer, not an arsonist! I kept it all safe, and once my new and improved opening scene was over, I realised that I could reuse most of my old scenes. Sure, I have to scrap every reference to purple, and there are many, but the rest is solid and I can reuse almost all of it. I just have to edit it, and then fill in all the missing scenes that need to fatten my new plot so it can grow… Okay, I promise to stop this metaphor here.

Though really, editing takes twice as much time as writing new scenes, and I only copy/paste one or two pages at a time, so I don‘t even know if I‘ll meet my 50.000 during November.

I do know that my book is going to be about twice as thick, and that I want to finish my second draft this year.

The Aftermath of NaNoWriMo 2010

Okay, where were we? Ah yes…

6) Pick the book up again after a few months.
Realise it’s good. Focus on your strengths, the awesome characters, the snappy dialogue, the solid world building, the strong voice. Realise it’s good.

7) Focus on your main weakness.
Plot. Nils, I regret to inform you that your book has the dreaded Phenomenally Weak Premise. So yes, your main weakness is plot.
Do your homework. Read books, read blogs, listen to podcasts. Book a class or two. Get help. It’s out there. No one has to suffer from Phenomenally Weak Premise alone in these modern times. Science will helb you!

8) Focus on the shiny.
This is very overwhelming. Convalescence takes a lot out of a person, so relax and do something nice. Re-read your favourite books, or better yet, let someone famous read them to you via audiobook. Stephen Fry does an excellent job with the Harry Potter series, and I know those books nearly by heart now.

9) Just fix that broken premise.
It doesn‘t fit your book anyways. Yes, it means you have to murder a lot of darlings, i.e. you have to erase some of your favourite scenes because they hinge on this stupid purple idea. Do it anyway, your book needs you to be strong now.

NaNoWriMo 2010: Painting a Purple World

So last year, I wrote 50.000 words about two people who can see purple in a world where no one else can.

That was difficult, but I managed it thusly:

1) Make purple invisibility your main plot point.
I made my villains exploit the fact that no one can see purple and anything of that colour turns invisible.
They have no idea of my main characters‘ super powers!

2) Create main characters who can see purple.
This is how Aaron and Win were born, though Win was Jack or Max back then and preferred male pronouns. She changed the most. Win used to be an extremely butch genderqueer riotgrrrl, and is now a very femme, polkadotted riotgirl. Her amount of awesome has only increased.
Aaron changed, too, but at least his name and pronouns stayed the same. He’s transgender and probably bi, because I wanted a bit more variety than the usual white straight cis male protagonists. He’s also black now, but started out white in my head. He’s the main viewpoint character, because he’s introvert.

3) Create a world where no one can see purple.
There’s a city underground, and I can explain exactly what they breathe and eat there, how they plant fern and plancton for oxygen, and algae for food and clothing, and bioluminescent light, and how they fish, and train giant moles, and more about their waste recycling system than you care to know.

Also for some reason I start to mumble because I have no idea why purple would be invisible underground, much less why it would make objects see-through invisible instead of just murky grey. Science is my eneby.

4) Write 50.000 words.
I finished NaNoWriMo 2010. I loved it and it was fun, but also frustrating because I need to have everything orderly and sensical, and the purple started to annoy the heck out of me. But well, I finished and had a few blissful days of euphoria over my finished masterpiece.

5) Give up.
Realise it’s not a masterpiece and nowhere near finished. Give it up as a bad job.
Yep. The purple idea is just too dumb. Nothing can fix that in a book that’s geared towards science-conscious teens and young adults.