November is nearly here, and our Road Trip to NaNoWriMo is winding down. On the way, we’ve heard from so many great writers about how their cities can inspire your novel. Today, we stop in Los Angeles, where volunteer Municipal Liaison Xander asks you, “who are you?”:
Writing in Los Angeles isn’t as glamorous as it sounds (unless you’re writing on Rodeo Drive. That’s about as glamorous as it gets). It’s hard, dirty, gritty work. So then why are you here?
The answer to that comes back to hard, dirty, gritty work, too. People come to Los Angeles seeking many things. Some come seeking careers in showbiz, some come looking for sunshine and palm trees. Some people are born here, privileged and underprivileged alike.
Think about motivation as you plan your NaNo novel. Watch people’s faces as they pass by and imagine where they are coming from and where they are hoping to go to. Think about the uncertainty that surrounds the darker and lighter sides alike, in a city like Los Angeles.
New Post has been published on http://canelsonauthor.com/official/2013/nanowrimo-awesome/
Why NaNoWriMo is Awesome
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November 1st marks a very auspicious day for writers around the world; it is the start of a href=”http://nanowrimo.org/”National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)/a, a glorious month-long holiday that encourages everyone with a story inside of them to put it down on paper. The plan is to come out with 50,000 words by the end of the month, which is quite an endeavor, but with the encouragement of others on the internet, or even in your home city, it’s a worthy goal that leaves you with a great feeling of accomplishment.
It’s been the most encouraging thing to happen to my writing in a long time. In college I didn’t have time to write as much as I wanted, and now that I’m done with school and have more time, it’s still maddeningly hard to keep writing. Writing takes time and energy and quiet, which are extremely hard to come by in my world, where chores and work are never done. And on top of that, I’m prone to procrastinating things I’m feeling perfectionistic about. It’s sad to say, but I need as many excuses as I can get to force myself to focus on my writing. If it isn’t bringing in money or have a deadline, a poor project is often shoved to the back burner, but in the case of my writing, I think about it almost constantly. It’s always in the back of my mind, begging for more time, whispering to me, and to be honest, always stomping it out gives me a lot of angst and guilt.
NaNoWriMo gives me a goal and a reason to play. I wish I didn’t need a reason. I wish I could somehow find the discipline every day to work on my writing despite the hard pressure points of life, and sometimes a crippling perfectionism. But I know from experience, there is nothing more wonderful for a writer who has a story to tell but is crippled by their schedule or themselves, than to be given permission to play. You can say that it’s possible, I just need to apply myself. Yes, I could. But it’s just hard. Bone breakingly, heart-wrenchingly hard. Hard to set goals and keep them, hard to fit in one more thing when my head feels like splitting in two, particularly something as time and mind-consuming as writing. I struggle with this every day. Anything that helps me set goals for myself is enough to make me want to weep with joy sometimes.
So it’s frustrating when people say that NaNoWriMo is just a competition of lazy monkeys in a room full of keyboards.
I’ve read a few articles that are frustrated at National Novel Writing Month’s bad statutes of quantity over quality, and that rushed work doesn’t breed creativity or allow the writer to enjoy/form habits in the organic free-form wonder of writing. This isn’t completely untrue, but I think they underestimate the power of creativity when given guidelines. I agree that if any of my NaNo first drafts were published as-is, they would be horrible and not worth anyone’s time. But the first draft isn’t really meant for the public eye, but without that step in the process, you’re not writing. (Some people can write and edit in their heads and type out a rough draft that reads like a best seller. I know a few authors who work like this, and I am awestruck and a little jealous of their awesome, but that’s beside the point.) I know for myself, when working on a NaNo novel, I try to dig deep within myself to find something related to the story to write about, instead of filling the space with dead words I’m just going to cut anyway. And besides, why should anyone’s writing be required to be acceptable to public standards unless they want it to be? The joy of so many things is in the doing, and you shouldn’t feel bad if you are happy and content with the level of your writing as it is.
And if you want to take your writing into the realm of the public? At this first step in the process, quantity is a fine start since it gives you something to chip away at. As a wise man once told me, it’s easier to start building on something than to start with an empty space. But if you want to publish something you wrote for NaNoWriMo, you MUST edit that thing within an inch of its 50,000 word life. Trust me, first drafts are you throwing hunks of clay onto the potting wheel, and editing is the sculpting process.
But just writing a novel, completing it, brings confidence that can carry you into the editing phase, or your next writing project.
And for an insecure perfectionist, I’ll take all I can get.
So happy NaNoWriMo, guys! Dare to epically suck and love every second of it! Kick your inner editor in the face and ignore its shrill cries! This is your mud puddle, dig deep and get your hands dirty. And don’t feel bad if you can’t make the word count. Be proud of what you accomplish. This is art, this is madness, this is writing. I’ll see you at the finish line.
New Post has been published on http://canelsonauthor.com/official/2013/my-favorite-twilight-zone-episodes-seasons-1-3/
My Favorite Twilight Zone Episodes: Seasons 1-3Imagine if you will, a rented out room in a cozy bungalow in Franklin, TN. The young, rather pretty young woman sitting on the bed, channel surfing and eating ice cream out of the carton is Miss Christina Nelson, aged in her mid-twenties. Right now she’s lamenting her single status and just wanting to unwind after a long day at a job in the city. But soon, she will run across a channel running a marathon of an old 1960s black and white TV show. Miss Nelson doesn’t know it yet, but she’s about to stumble right into…The Twilight Zone.~~~~~~I could probably talk forever and ever about the awesomeness of the TV series The Twilight Zone. Of course I knew about it, as much as pop culture could teach without further digging, but I never really got around to watching it until that TV marathon, which I think is still going on to this day, but I can’t remember what channel. The first episode I remember watching that night was “Mirror Image,” and I was absolutely hooked. This spurred me on to hunt the series down at my local library, which I rented on VHS to watch at home (I like collecting aging/0ld technology). I covered quite a lot of ground that way, but it wasn’t until I got married that I discovered the wonders of Netflix and Hulu. Thanks to both of them, I’ve been able to watch the series in its entirety, or at least start. As of writing this, I’ve watched all the way up to the end of Season 3.I figured Halloween would be a good time to post this, because I mean, come on, The Twilight Zone is notoriously creepy. It invented a lot of modern storytelling tropes still in use today, and is revered as a classic to be studied and admired by young writers. But as I’ve come to watch and love this series, I’ve realized that it’s so much more than just a show made to give you the creeps. It’s deeply interesting. It talks about humanity, it lets us see ourselves in the stories, and they are so well crafted that we can be touched or terrified, sometimes varying wildly from episode to episode. And I’m always impressed with the acting, and delighted by the occasional cameos, mostly of people who became famous after working on the show! It’s a masterful series that I will encourage everyone to watch.“But Christina,” you say, “That sounds swell, but where do I even start?” Well, dear reader, you don’t have to watch everything in order (unless you love it and are a completion like me). For posterity, I’ve made a list of my favorite episodes from Seasons 1-3 (there will be a follow-up one for 4-5, and probably a TOP FAVES EVER list). Because there are just so many good episodes, I have 3 categories: Top Faves, of course; Honorable Mention, and; Creepiest, which creep me out so much, sometimes they’re uncomfortable to get through, but they’re just so good! And definitely more to come, this is a lot of work @.@
And don’t worry, while I may talk about the plot, I’m not giving away twists or endings. So now, submitted for your approval in no particular order:
I Sing the Body Electric (Season 3, Ep. 35)
A father takes his children to a unique factory to create a robot to help out and care for them after their mother’s death. The other two children are excited about this, but one daughter, Anne, has some reservations.
“Are you unhappy?”
“Oh, of course not!”
“Well, love you don’t need. Love I can give you. But guidance, how do you buy guidance for your children?”
This episode really surprised me when I first watched it. I was expecting one thing, but what I got was completely different and overwhelmingly wonderful. I don’t want to say too much, for me this episode’s tone hinges on the balance of the viewer’s uncertainty. The lovely Josephine Hutchinson as the motherly robot, who played Basil Rathbone’s wife in “Son of Frankenstein.” The little girl who plays Anne, Veronica Cartwright, starred as Cathy in the Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Birds.” She is also the sister of Angela Cartwright, who played Brigitta in “The Sound of Music.”
Night of the Meek (Season 2, Ep. 11)
A sad store Santa longs to help the poor people in his neighborhood, and gets the best Christmas gift ever.
“I just wish…that one Christmas, only one, that I could see some of the hopeless ones and the dreamless ones–just on one Christmas I’d like to see the meek inherit the earth.”
This one always makes me tear up. The main character’s Henry Corwin’s raw compassion for people, especially the children around him, sometimes makes it painful to watch. But I’m always right there with him, and it fills me with a sense of injustice that inspires me to action. This visceral reaction makes the eventual payoff of the excitement and joy even more sweet. It will fill you with the right kind of Christmas spirit. Corwin is played by Art Carney, and Mr. Dundee the irate store manager is played by John Fiedler, the original voice of Piglet from “Winnie the Pooh” (which makes him freakishly bizarre to listen to).
The Obsolete Man (Season 2, Ep. 29)
In a totalitarian society where obsolescence is cause for termination, a God-fearing librarian is sentenced to death, but he refuses to be crushed by the system without a fight.
“You are obsolete, Mr. Wordsworth…you have no function…you’re an anachronism, like a ghost from another time.”
“I am nothing more than a reminder to you that you cannot destroy truth by burning pages!”
I’m always so moved by the librarian character’s boldness in the face of certain death, and it makes me long to be so brave and not cower when I should be asserting my free speech. This episode is such a powerful example of the triumph of knowledge and truth, and how it can never be truly stifled. I know that’s a comforting thought for me. The other thing I love about The Twilight Zone is getting to learn about awesome actors from before my time. Burgess Meredith shines as the librarian Romney Wordsworth, and as well as being in three separate and very different TZ episodes, he boasted a vast range of films and TV roles, won a few Emmys and was nominated for two Oscars.
The Eye of the Beholder (Season 2, Ep. 6)
A woman is undergoing surgery to fix her deformed face. It doesn’t turn out the way she expects.“I never really wanted to be beautiful, you know. I mean, I never wanted to look like a painting, I never even wanted to be loved, really. I just wanted people not to scream when they looked at me. When, nurse, when, when, when will they take the bandages off?”
Even though I know the ending, the building suspense in this episode is palpable every time I watch it. The way it’s shot, the way that the characters are shown and not shown, the superb dialogue and acting that convey so much emotion; you don’t even see everyone’s faces til the end. I still stare at that woman’s bandaged head and hear her sad, hopeful voice, and even after multiple rewatches it still fills me with mad anticipation. And it even speaks against totalitarian societies that hold high uniformity. No wonder it’s considered a masterpiece. This episode has an amazing twist ending that has made it one of the most renowned examples of The Twilight Zone’s brilliance.
The Trouble with Templeton (Season 2, Ep. 9)
An old theatre actor longs for his youthful days of success, his good friends and his loving first wife who died too soon. But when he unexpectedly finds himself in the past, it isn’t quite the way he remembered it.“I haven’t had many contented moments in my life. Though I do recall some, long ago. Laura. The freshest, most radient creature God ever created…You know there are some moments in life that have an indescribable lovliness to them. Those moments with Laura are all I have left now.”I’m finding this episode so hard to explain without spoiling it, so I’ll just do the best I can. But once you realize what’s happened, along with the main character, you’re overwhelmed with how much he is cared for and loved. It’s stirring and rather emotional, really. I also love the 1920s music and dancing. It really sets it apart as a different time, and the energy is infectious! When Pippa Scott, who played Laura, first appeared on screen, I was struck by how lovely and vivacious she was. I’m happy to discover that at the time of this article’s posting, she’s still alive and acting!
The Passerby (Season 3, Ep. 4)
The Civil War is finally over, and a lonely Southern Belle waits longingly for her husband, as a road of wounded soldiers wander by her porch on the road home.
“Still they come. Morning and night, night and morning they walk down that road. The young ones and the old ones. How worn they look, how tired. Are there hundreds of them or thousands of them? And wouldn’t you think, wouldn’t you think with so many that my Judd, my Judd might be amongst them?”
And every time I see the last man on the road, my eyes fill with tears and I get all goosepimply. I wish I could tell you who it was, and it probably has something to do with how deeply I feel about this person, but I can’t bear to spoil it for you. You’ll have to watch it yourself.
A Piano in the House (Season 3, Ep. 22)
A cruel and bitter theatre critic buys his young wife a player piano for her birthday. When he discovers that the music it plays affects people’s emotions and makes them express their true feelings, he decides to have a bit of fun.
“I don’t know what possessed me.”
“Well I do! I seem to have bought you a more interesting birthday present than I’d thought. I wonder what other people are hiding?”
I have a soft spot for stories where the characters are honest about their feelings, even blunt. It’s interesting seeing the characters start spilling their guts unfiltered, but my favorite is probably when he plays Claire de Lune for a warm and bubbly woman named Marge. She really expresses how beautiful that song is, and how beautiful her soul is…before the cruel critic stops the piano and starts to laugh at her. But don’t worry, he gets his comeuppance.
A World of His Own (Season 1, Ep. 36)
When an author tries to explain to his wife that he isn’t really seeing another woman…the plot thickens.
“Are you all right, Victoria?”
… “As a matter of fact, I think I may be suffering from hallucinations…I was just standing outside this window only a moment ago, right here.”
“Yes, I was. And you’ll never guess what I saw through that window, Gregory, or at least…what I thought I saw.”
“I couldn’t possibly guess.”
“I thought I saw a woman in your arms.”
Of course one of my favorites would be about an author. I love stories about authors interacting with their characters. And since this is the last episode of Season 1, it has a cheeky little ending that breaks the fourth wall.
The Howling Man (Season 2, Ep. 5)
A man tells a terrifying story about a time he had to seek shelter at a strange monastery in Europe. There he met a desperate man; a meeting which changed the course of his life.
“I know it’s an incredible story, I of all people know this. And you won’t believe me, no, not at first, but I’m going to tell you the whole thing. Then you will believe because you must!”
The beginning grabs your attention right away, with a crash of thunder and a man speaking directly to the camera in desperate, determined tones. It’s also very old horror and almost folklore or fairytale-like, which I will eat up three ways to Sunday if it’s done well, like this.
The Changing of the Guard (Season 3, Ep. 37)
At the lowest point in his life, an old professor receives encouragement from some of his past students.
“We have to go back now, professor. But we wanted to let you know we were grateful, that we were forever grateful. That each of us has in turn has carried something that you gave him. We wanted to thank you, professor.”
It’s a very simple story, but so emotional, it even makes my husband tear up. Just hearing that he made a difference means so much to him, and that is definitely something that resonates with all of us. And after I watch it, I always want to go thank and hug my amazing teachers.
The crazy thing is, there are so many great episodes that I feel like I’m leaving off so many! And the unexpected cameos are really fun (Buster Keaton, Carol Burnett, Leonard Nimoy, to name a few others). So go watch The Twilight Zone and make your own informed opinion. You may just get sucked in.
Happy Halloween, everyone!
"Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull."Rod Serling (via wordpainting)
New Post has been published on http://canelsonauthor.com/official/2013/house-agents-and-nanowrimo/
House, Agents and NaNoWriMo
I give you a quick glimpse of the front of my new place, and share recent writing news…what little of it there is right now
New Post has been published on http://canelsonauthor.com/official/2013/changes-and-challenges/
Changes and Challenges
I’m so sorry that my busy schedule has consumed my life and only allows me time for quick tweets and occasional a href=”vine://user/940663640237936640″Vines (links to the app)/a.
Those on social networks will alrwady know exactly why. We bought a house! It’s beautiful and it even has a studio building in the back that we plan to use for storage and I’ll use it for a writing, artsy retreat once I get it inhabitable, but my life has now been consumed with all the logistical details, leaving me very little mental energy for things oft thrown to the back burner. I at least try to look at the edits on Prologue Book every day, but I feel like I can’t give it the times it deserves. I feel more like a mature adult than I ever have before.
Owning a house is like having a child, but emyou/em grow inside of emit. /emYou have lots of plans for it and spend all your money on it, but no matter what your plans are it will always throw you a curve ball. Yet it’s worth it. At least that’s what parents tell me.
Needless to day, I’m not giving up on writing at all, in fact I find myself even more motivated to do it. I’m looking forward to being settled again. Might take a while, but I intend to enjoy the ride