Wildflowersinohio's Blog

From The Write Side of My Brain

Why You Should Nanowrimo October 28, 2013

Filed under: writing — Birgit Nazarian @ 12:22 pm
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I am about to start Nanowrimo again. Years back I didn’t participate because I thought it was an amateurish thing to do. Why would anyone want to just write whatever with only a word count goal to shoot for? I mean all you get is a huge mess of words at the end, right?

Yes. You get a huge mess of words at the end of the month. 60,000 of them or so. But I am a believer now that it’s good. It’s good because within that mess you have gems and probably enough story to go back and mine the gems and polish them up.

Do you hesitate when you write a novel? Get stuck in any phase of the creation, say the planning phase or the middle of the first draft? Nanowrimo is the solution to that. You are FORCED to keep the pace. It’s very much like my running long races of endurance. Parts of it aren’t pretty but damn it you forge ahead anyway. Puking if you have to, but you take in some fuel, mentally pull yourself up by the bootstraps and keep going until you finish.

At the end you see, 1) You can do it. 2) You discovered how creative you can really be when you don’t have the luxury to wallow in your self criticism. You don’t have time for that crap. You just go, go, go. Good things came out of that. My passionate scenes for example were less inhibited than ever. Parts where I floundered because research was needed are fixable.

Go with it. Try it out. It’s fun. I promise.


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? 


Exploring Genres October 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Birgit Nazarian @ 2:35 pm
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For a few years I wrote freelance articles. Before that I wrote novel length YA fiction, mostly of the adventure and fantasy variety. Returning to fiction after being essentially a journalist covering technology is harder than I thought. I began what I thought might be a romantic suspense novel only to find myself a couple chapters into it, feeling overwhelmed. I’d written five novels in the past and I knew just how much time it was going to take. 

When you become used to writing a 500-750 word article and having it published 3 – 5 days later, the thought of how long it will take to see your novel completed (let alone published or shared!) can be crushing.

We all know that when creative expression isn’t born of passion it’s going to pretty much suck. So I put those couple chapters aside. One night I had a dream. I remembered the dream well enough the next day to see potential for a story. So I wrote it in a few days time. It turned out decent. I won’t say I am in love with it, but I like it. 

After that, I got an idea. Why not write only short stories for a while? Why not do ANYTHING I want with them? Why not let myself write ANY GENRE at all? The idea of jumping around different kinds of stories and genres really excites me. I think it’s because that’s where I am at right now. I need that. It’s like trying different jobs out before you find your true profession (if only we could have done that more during high school and college, right?)

Next up, I am going to write a ghost story. Because it’s October and I am in the mood for trying my hand at scary. My goal is to write a story a week for a while until I have a collection of them. Then I will pick the best ones to share.