Thursday, September 28, 2006

Meeting an Online Friend

Have any of you ever done that? Have you ever wondered how a person you've only met online would be like had you met that person?

Sometimes, I get the feeling that I know some of you so well that I can actually have a pretty good handle on what you are like in real life.

Well, the other day I got to test that theory of mine. I met a long time bloggy friend. It made so much sense, we both live in TO, we both like writing, we both seemed like reasonable sensible people, we both like the occasional drink ...

I can't lie. I had the normal fears and hesitations before the meeting took place. Will she turn out to be a total kook? Will she think I'm one? You know, all the regular stuff.

We met for 5 o'clock drinks. I love 5 o'clock drinks. And I'm glad to say I had the best time! It was so much fun. We got to know each other, even basic stuff such marital status and what not and we talked 'writing' and it was a blast.

I think that other than me staring at her amazing eyes occasionally and making her feel uncomfortable perhaps, it went well. To my defense, anyone would get lost in those eyes.

But hey, I had my first real blind "online friend" date and I think I came pretty close to what I thought she would be like.

Naturally, there were many surprises, and they were good. Besides, it would have been quite boring if there weren't any. I mean, who wants to know everything about another person within five minutes of meeting them, right? It will be fun to get to know her.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Multi-dimensional Characters

I don't know about you, but my greatest fear is to write one-dimensional characters. Sure many a successful books had one-dimensional characters, but let's just not go there, I might get too frustrated.

You see, where can a writer draw his characters from? Real life, right?
So if I'm looking at a little sample of people I know very well and love, here are a few examples (from mild to extreme):
  • An over-sensitive person to the point of a mental condition and medication, yet that person is also very smart, loving and financially calculated.
  • A person obsessed about weight, putting the fear even into that person's children, yet this intelligent person is a loving parent in all other respects.
  • An alcoholic who is self absorbed and extremely jealous, yet can also be the best friend any person could ask for without asking for anything in return.
  • An extremely selfish, self-absorbed person who lives in his own little invented la-la land. That person conned people out of their money, truly believing he deserves that money. And yet, that person is a caring father and a funny guy.
  • And the worst - an abusive person. Although I didn't know it at the time, that person turned to be cheating and abusive, while also being a friend. This person is still a friend, and if you'd seen him with his wife and child today, you wouldn't believe the possible monster hiding in him.
And these are just a few examples. I'm sure you know of many more.

So what am I saying? I'm saying people aren't one-dimensional. I'm saying that my greatest fear is to write a character that is all evil or all good or all something. Yes, one-dimensional characters can be funny (re The Simpsons :), but they're not real (and I don't know how to write funny anyways).

I think that when it comes to my main characters I'm okay, I manage multi-dimensions, but I think I'm having a bit more of a problem with the supporting characters. I believe I mentioned something about that before.

In any event, I don't understand one-dimensional even though I've been known to read several books like that. These were either bad, or had a lot to offer in other departments to offset the weak characterization. I just wonder if there's any time a one-dimensional character could be justified.

I know, this haven't been a very structured post with a well defined point to it. I just shared my thoughts. Can you tell I'm writing again? Yay!

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Writing as a profession

I know several writers who manage to make a (good) living from their writing. Among them, some are novelist and some freelance writers. I've never seen bank accounts information, but I know they're well off.

I also know that those whose primary vocation is fiction writing, dabble occasionally in writing a freelance article, or something similar. Same holds true the other way around. The freelance writers try their hand at a short or eventually publish a novel as well.

I guess, what I was wondering is what is important. And you're all probably going to say that this is a stupid question -- what's important is what makes you happy in life. Nevertheless, I was wondering what is important to each writer. Is it the ability to make a living off one's writing? Or is it the actual writing itself -- writing only what one likes? (Of course, if one can combine the two - that would be sweet).

Also, for all you fiction writers out there. Some of you are holding a day job that isn't particularly relevant to writing. Some of you are holding a day job that involves writing of some kind (technical writing, manuals, what not). Some of you are freelance writers, meaning you have a day job, but maybe you work from home, etc. Yet in heart, what you would have wanted to do was to write fiction. So, how much does it matter that you're an architect during the day and a writer at night? Is one of your goals being able to support yourself from your writing? Any writing? Would you rather have a writing related job?

I hope I'm explaining myself properly. Last thing I want for anyone to think I think any less of any writing or job of any kind.

I'll tell you what's important to me. Being able to sustain myself in a job (a job that doesn't make me hate life) and that matches my life's goal and way of life, while continuing to plow away with my fiction writing. One short story at a time. One chapter at a time. And if one day I didn't need to hold a job to do that, meaning fiction writing could sustain me, well then, so be it. I wouldn't say no :)

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Writing a novel

I'm back, and I'm getting right back into it without any small talk - writing a novel.

What's your biggest obstacle in writing a novel? When writing a novel?
Mine has almost always been word count. That is, getting to the 100,000 or so words. Finishing the darn thing. I've done it, but it always was the biggest struggle.

Why am I mentioning this? Why now? Because I've just realized that I've actually written a novel length amount of words in the past three months. Three months! But it wasn't a novel.

Never mind. I wrote five days a week, a few hours a day and managed to produce around 100,000 words. Ha! All because I had to. Because I had deadlines. Because it's been my freaking job!

So what's the trick? How can I apply that to my fiction writing? Well, that's an easy answer, isn't it? It is something we all know the answer to even if we pretend we don't. Discipline. Treating writing as work. Making oneself write.

I have a good writer friend that might disagree with me, and I used to think the same way, but now I think I've changed my mind again.

In any event, I'll tell you in three months if I managed to apply this lesson to my fiction writing. Meanwhile, I was wondering, is that really the most common obstacle among novel writers?

Now, if I feel like it, I might tell you what I was up to the past couple of weeks. Might even include a picture or two! Depending on how quiet my weekend is and how much time I have left after cleaning the house. Plus, I really miss you all and desperately want to visit you :)

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