Wildflowersinohio's Blog

From The Write Side of My Brain

Stuck April 29, 2013

Filed under: writing — Birgit Nazarian @ 1:34 pm

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Forgive me. I have been stuck. It’s hard for me to concentrate on more than one big goal at a time. My last 4 months have been practically consumed by marathon and ultra marathon training. That’s a lot of running. Every spare hour it seems some days. Runs that last half a day. It’s insanity and my writing suffered.

I think about writing a lot. I just don’t do it and as soon as these goals of finishing my next marathon and ultra marathon are done – mid-May, I will be ready to write.

What should I write? I think that’s part of the problem. I have too many ideas. Some writers get a great idea for a book. I get more than one at a time and don’t know which to write. Both seem like great ideas. Neither pulls me harder than the other. What do I do?

Brainstorm, but that takes time. Time I will have soon because I will make the time again. Soon.

 

 

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Focusing and Organizing to Write February 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Birgit Nazarian @ 11:40 am
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Look at the light through the trees!! 😀 I know success is there, I just have to push through obstacles like that big shiny golden orb. 😀

I haven’t written a blog for Wildflowers in a while because my mind is so cluttered lately and I feel a little unfocused and overwhelmed. The new year started. Does that give you kind of a panic attack? Another year…and what have I done with my writing? It does me! A huge one. Then I have been pouring a lot of my energy into dieting, planning and training for a marathon and an ultra-marathon this Spring. Sometimes a singular focus on one thing makes me neglect other things also important. But I have a day to work on more organizing and some writing! 

Last time I organized, about a week or two ago, I managed to find all my old manuscripts and file them in a place on my laptop and put the latest documents on an external hard drive and up on Google Docs. Pretty good start. My next phase is to decide if I want to start a new novel or work on an existing manuscript. In the meantime I think it makes sense to write some more short stories to get my writing primed. Like training for a race, I need warm ups and practice to write more fluidly and gracefully. 

It doesn’t hurt to do this every few months. I think I will try to make a habit of it. But especially the saving files to the cloud or on an external hard drive. Focusing is harder. Giving myself permission this day to write anything I hope will get me focused and brainstorming is always a fun activity. 

 

Back to Mexico January 21, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Birgit Nazarian @ 1:44 pm

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Currently I am working on a story set in Mexico City. It’s partly based on my own experience there living in an apartment alone for 6 weeks while I worked on a research project. I was 22 at the time. Ironically the subject of the project was emerging feminism in politics in Mexico at the time. Ha! Well, the ironic part was how crazy that time was for me and mostly because I was a single woman, alone in a very large, dangerous city. Feminism seemed a little elusive.

But back to writing. I’ve stopped half way through and I have this problem with a fictionalized version of things. I need to get into the dream mode and look past the gritty reality. Okay, so either way it’s a good story, but letting it be an account of non-fiction would expose too much of me and that is very hard, very hard to do. In fact, I keep wrestling with this. Perhaps if I were a man…maybe then I’d just seem cool.

Anyway, I am stuck. Like I went down an alley way that kept on narrowing and getting dimmer until I found myself facing a brick wall. I am backing out and turning around, re-examining my story. I have stories I think should be told. But why, I ask, do they have to be so personal? Writing is a process either way. You find a way to make it work. You have to always find a way.

 

Writing Break December 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Birgit Nazarian @ 11:45 am
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Though I’ve been positing on my other blog “Morning Warmup”, I haven’t posted in here for a couple of weeks. Christmas vacation for my kids and preparations for Christmas made writing kind of difficult. 

Before the break I was working on a short novel based on adventures in Mexico City when I was a 21-year-old aspiring anthropologist. I’ve been working on a lot of shorter pieces and reading other writers’ works they pass on to me for commentary and suggestions. Now that 2013 is almost here, I am thinking of creating a plan and setting some goals. I am never short of ideas. Just lacking sometimes in organizing my time to be more productive and create more finished stories. 

Hope you are gathering inspirations and dreaming big for 2013 too! 

 

Fascinating People December 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Birgit Nazarian @ 3:53 pm
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How many people do you know that you would put in the category of “most fascinating” people you know? If you are a writer you probably know more than a few. Fascinating people are interesting people with life experiences and occupations or talents that make them stand out. But everyone is fascinating in some way. Remember when Oprah Winfrey said “Everyone has a story to tell?”

Let’s say you’re writing a story and you want to develop a character but that character is kind of standard fare for their role – physically, lifestyle, skill set, etc. Think of the people you know who aren’t fascinating in an obvious way. Ask yourself why aren’t they fascinating? Try to find out something about them that is fascinating. Maybe you need to interview them, dig a little into their lives, pry a bit (lurk their Facebook page for clues!) and uncover that thing about them that is surprising, unexpected, unique.

The newly fascinating person could be someone you don’t know very well but have written off as boring or “normal”. It could be someone you’ve know for years but wrote off as boring or “normal because you don’t really know everything there is to know about them. When you find that thing about them, you might be surprised that they are more fascinating than you first believed.

Believe this new paradigm with everyone you meet and try to find out what it is about them that’s fascinating. Then go back to your character in your story, the shoe salesman, the friendly neighbor, the taxi driver and come up with something fascinating about their life. Something that could give dimension and color to their character. Then look at yourself and list what you think makes you fascinating or what you think you could do to be more fascinating. 

 

The Autobiographical Novel December 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Birgit Nazarian @ 2:25 pm
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Tunnels kind of scare me. There are a few on the bike path that I frequent. I used to approach them cautiously looking for someone or something lurking in the dark along the walls and then run through — fast. I walk through them now. I guess I feel more comfortable than before.

“You have the best stories, you should write a novel.” Yeah, I have heard that more than a few times after I have divulged (usually with the help of wine or a momentary lapse of judgement) some harrowing or crazy experience I’ve had, mostly from the past when I was traveling around a lot and single. One thing I’ve learned is young women out alone in foreign countries tend to come home with interesting stories. More than you know…unless you’ve been there. 

I stopped writing six years ago while I was working on a novel that was about 45% autobiographical. Only recently did I feel like writing fiction again. The story that caused my hiatus I think is a very good story set in Spain when I was a student living in a dorm, the only American and it deals with bullying and sexual harassment.

I made the story better (in fact changed the outcome and attempted to bring myself satisfaction and a sense of justice) by fictionalizing parts. I entered the first three chapters into a national writing contest and it got the attention of one of the judges, an editor from a NY publishing company.

She sent a very nice note along with my entry and asked me to make sure the manuscript was in tip top shape and to send her the whole thing and she sounded enthusiastic. What did I do? Freaked out. I did not send it. I booked a flight to Spain three months later to face what was haunting me.

While researching the story I dug out a journal, photos, letters I had written from the time and saw that time from the point of view of my 21-year-old self. I even found a cassette tape of interviews that I made at the time featuring my own voice, the voices of friends and strangers alike. There wasn’t a way to fictionalize that in my own head and I wasn’t dealing with it very well or sleeping much. 

No way could I go forward with sharing that novel because I couldn’t handle exposing myself to it. I know the risk of using autobiographical material – being too close. But… I’ve been through a lot since then and lately I am thinking that maybe I can walk through that tunnel to the other side without spooking.

There’s a novella — or maybe a novel that I think I will take a stab at, even if it’s only an exercise kept for myself. It’s another good story, not the same one. I think people will it find exciting but it’s somewhat less painful. Let’s see if I have the guts to write it and put it out there. Fictionalized or not. 

Have you used autobiographical material and what are your thoughts on it? How does it help or hurt your story? Do you think it’s worth the risk to expose very personal experiences? 

 

Celebration Time – Nanowrimo Mission Accomplished! December 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Birgit Nazarian @ 4:29 pm

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It was a cliffhanger! Around Thanksgiving I didn’t write for three days and when I finally made time to get back to my novel for National Novel Writing Month I wasn’t sure if I could pull off the 50,000 words or not. Then the day before I finished the novel I hated it. I mean HATED IT! I’d just written this big take down scene in a warehouse on a waterfront and hours later I flipped on the television and started surfing and there was a very similar scene in a show called “Flashpoint” — which I’d never scene but still it just made me cringe. 

When I got back to my novel though the ending happened quite naturally and I felt good about it. Amazingly it all wrapped up in 50,128 words! How’s that for efficiency? Yeah, I thought so too.

The aftermath: Hmm, it’s not a great story. It’s good, maybe it  has potential but only with A LOT of work. It’s clear I don’t master the genre of suspense that well and showed me how little I really know about the kinds of characters I wanted to work. Nanowrimo is not for writing a great novel, it’s more about learning the process of writing and finding your weaknesses. If you write a certain setting or topic you should know it thoroughly beforehand before you try to wing it. 

My mission was to just “git ‘er done” and I did it. Blew it out in 30 days. It was also to write consistently and that’s what I did. Now I feel more confident about doing a real novel laying the groundwork first and doing the research needed. I would say three months is a reasonable goal for the next one. 🙂