Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

ROW80: Searching for Harmony

One of my favorite sounds in the world is that of an orchestra tuning.

It doesn’t always begin so pleasantly — sometimes instruments screech and wail, hitting a sharp note or a clunky flat one.  But after a few minutes of searching, each section comes together, and the result is a single, suspended moment of harmony. The orchestra sings, and it never fails to send chills down my spine.

When my writing is surpasses the point of mediocrity and inches its way towards brilliance, I feel it in my bones, that perfect harmony of nouns and verbs and adjectives, that magical interplay of character and setting and theme.

Sadly, my WIP is far, far from that.

I’m at the point where each word feels like a dead note, sloppy and carelessly placed. Certain sentences are a droning monotone, others are just painful, and the whole endeavor feels forced. Unpleasant. Sticky and slow and yucky.  To make matters worse, my inner editor has emerged from her lair to point out all of my flaws and mistakes, and I’m having a time locking her away again.

So that’s where I’ve been for the past few days — battling it out with words and trying to bend them to my will.  The frustrating thing is that I actually have an outline and a summary of this chapter… but for the moment, it refuses to be written. Perhaps the pantser in me is rebelling?

In order to force myself to at sally forth (because words written, no matter how bad they may be, are words that didn’t exist before), I decided to pull a crazy and join Camp NaNoWriMo for August.  I might fail miserably, but at least it will encourage me to try and hammer out tell me no lies.  And who knows?  Maybe somewhere along the way, my muse will return from cocktail hour and decide to help me out a little.

Still, not all is doom and gloom.  I have managed to be somewhat successful on other fronts:

Exercise: Jumpstarted the workout regime by going for a 4 mile walk on Monday on my favorite trail.  It felt so good to get moving again.  I’m pledging to jump on my glider at least 3 more times this week so I can keep up the routine.

Writing: Even though the words might be less-than-stellar, I did add about 1700 words to tell me lies.  Not all is lost!

Networking: I’m making plans to attend the Central Coast Writers Conference.  I’m so excited — it’s taking place the same weekend I planned to drive back down to Santa Barbara, and as it’s being held in San Luis Obispo, it’s on my way.  What I’d really like to do is to make a mini-trip of it, and stay overnight somewhere like the Madonna Inn.  My mom will be with me, and it’ll be a couple of days after her birthday, so I can turn it into a networking-for-me/celebration-for-her sort of thing.

Grading: 1/3 of the way through with final exams, and I think I can have the rest cleared out by Thursday.  Once I do that, summer officially begins!

Fun Stuff: I have a Pottermore account!  I still have no idea what Pottermore is supposed to be, but I’ve got an account and a user name (FelicisMahogany64), which means I will get to play around with the beta.  I’m really squealing like a five year old over all of this.

And that is all for me.  The day promises to be sunny, which will be a welcome change from the whole “foggy, highs in the upper 60s” weather that we’ve been having.  Mark Twain was dead-on when he said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco — the fog can chill to the bone here when it’s blazing hot everywhere else.

For those of you who are living in those blazing hot places (these seem unreal and mythical to me), stay cool!  And don’t forget to do a little bloghopping — comments and love are the best way to celebrate hump-day.


  1. I know the feeling on clunky, slow words, but, as you say later, they are words. Sometimes all they need is a little love to transform form ugly duckings into swans. And hey, there are people like me who wouldn’t dream of Camp NaNo, or any variation thereon. So, kudos for signing up.

    I’m glad you ended up looking at the half-full glass, or I’d have to wag my finger at you. It sounds like you are progressing well; when your muse finishes that drink, look out!

    Have a great rest of the week, enjoy the sun and celebrate finishing the grading!

    • Hah, I think I might be crazy for this whole Camp NaNo business, but this is probably the only time of year that I can try out something so demanding. Novembers are almost always hectic and crazy — preparation for final exams, grading, etc. — so I’ve never even attempted NaNo. I don’t know if I’ll manage to reach 50K by the end of August, but even if I don’t, I hope to have something that I can work with.

      Have a lovely weekend!

  2. Jamila,

    I also signed up for Camp Nanowrimo, which may be a very fool thing to do, but what the heck – as you said – no words are wasted so write on. That dead part where the story just don’t want to sing ain’t no fun though

  3. Good job on the word count! Did you read Kristen Lamb’s post on Word Poop? I think I shall always think of that now when words are misbehaving. Word poop is better than a blank page. Good luck with NaNoWriMo!

  4. You are so good! Instead of burying your head in the sand when things get rough you sign up for a BIG challenge! Hope it goes really well for you.

    Also, jealous of the Pottermore! Have tried twice but twice registration was closed. There is still time though!!

    Enjoy the rest of your week and hope your muse puts down the glass and comes home to you.

    • Oh, I do hope that you get into Pottermore! A friend of mine gave me the technique that I DM’d you yesterday, and it worked like a charm, so good luck!

  5. Go you and your super positive attitude 🙂 I went through a similar feeling last week after being pleased with the edits of my first three chapters. It went downhill with chapter four. My voice wasn’t in sync with what I’d written previously *sigh* so I have to work through that or stay stuck on that chapter. Harmony is good 🙂

    Yay for exercise and best wishes on the Camp Nano front!

    Marie 🙂

    • Ah, the ups and downs of writing. I keep trying to remind myself that it’s all part of the process, and therefore nothing earth-shattering or truly horrifying… but goodness, it can be discouraging.

      Good luck with moving forward on the edits!

  6. I appreciate your pain, Jamila. Reading through for edits, I’ve had to take a look at some sentences that make me cringe…really. I’ve also had to ask myself, “What the heck was I thinking???” Then, I laugh, make my adjustments, and forget it.

    But all this editing has left me feeling dry as a bone when I sit down with my novella. Sigh.

    Good luck with your new challenge. Deniz Bevin’s post at ROW80 earlier this week had some great ideas for jump starting our creativity again, too.

    ~ Nadja

    • Laughter — I think this is key. Sometimes I think I fall into the trap of taking my work far too seriously, and so every little flaw and mistake seems to be an indication of my failure.

      Thanks for recommending Deniz’s post. I’ll definitely check it out.

  7. Sounds like you’re still doing pretty well. Maybe your MIP needs more brew time? Sometimes your subconscious just needs a little more down time to solve the problem. Do you have the whole thing outlined? I was a diehard pantser but Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering convinced me to really give outlining a try. I’ve been fairly freeform about my outline but I’m still hitting the story milestones he says are essential. It’s helped so much. Plus, I can see where new scenes need to be added or where other scenes need to be moved or pulled without writing them completely first. Saves time and energy for me.

    • Good point on the brew time, Sonia. I think I need to realize that when I’m hitting that point of frustration, it’s time to walk away for a few and let the MIP breathe.

      I’ll have to check out Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering. I’ve been watching the the Plot Whisperer’s youtube videos on plotting and organization, and they’ve really been helping me to pinpoint the essential elements of the story. I’m trying to give myself a skeleton of a plot so that I have some freedom to let the story develop, while still having a roadmap for where I’m headed.

      Thanks so much for all the suggestions!

  8. Heh. When I have a scene or chapter that refuses to be written, I just write *** scene with Dick and Jane here, where she grabs a kitchen knife and chops off his offending middle finger ***

    Thing is, sometimes when you’re going through the rough draft, you realize there are a number of those scenes that can be cut, and the action summarized in a sentence or two the scene before or after. Try it. It’s incredibly liberating!

  9. By the way, Jamila ~ I’ve been playing around with the Google Ngram link you posted for me. Thank you! I can see this will be a helpful tool in the future. Sigh….still no luck on the switch of place for business from great hall to office/study/meeting chamber/writing desk/whateverroomtheywanttocallit!!

    • Yay, glad to hear that it’s working out for you! I’ve had the NGram link bookmarked for ages and I totally forgot about it, so I’m glad that I remembered and was able to pass it along. 😀

  10. Sounds like you’re doing great in battling with the words [g] How’d you get into Pottermore? The time zone thing just isn’t working for me – by the time I check the site in the morning, it’s already filled up!

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