Thursday, March 25, 2010

Books, books, I ordered some Books and recieved them!

I came home from work after a long drive and lo and behold, on the table stood a package waiting for me. I felt giddy inside, I did not expect the package to arrive so soon, being I placed the order just a week ago. I hastily opened the package and saw my new books, I contained myself making the new book dance. (My wife suffered a lot of my dancing already.)

I bought "Practical English Usage" and "Self-Editing for fiction writers" from Amzaon. Enthusiastic I searched for my digital camera and made a picture.

The book "Practical English Usage" I came upon by searching for a grammar book on Amazon. It's a book aimed at non native English writers, I fit the bill here, on that and the good reviews it received, I bought it . I browsed through it and the content shows promise, I am exited to delve a bit more into the subject.

"Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" was recommended on the forums of the website "Absolute Write". On basis of good advice given on this forum, I bought it. I read part of the first chapter "Show and Tell" and I have to say, it's clear on the subject, explaining with examples.

I am exited to read both books, when I finish reading them, I will explain in depth about the contents and what I got out of it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Work in progress (Week 11)

Last week was a slow one, this week was slower. Much and much slower. Over the span of 7 days I wrote 1119 words. Book 2 stands now at 20381 words. Obviously I did not progress much this week.

It is not, that I have not been writing. I wrote a lot just not on my second book. My story wants to flow out, but my discipline lacks the energy to guide the words out.

Having a full time job and a family with kids makes it difficult to write, add some external problems and it becomes hard to get into the flow of writing. I have collected my thoughts and freed myself from some of my worries. I will try my best for next week.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My repeating word is 'Towards'

Oh my bane, the word I have repeated on and on in my first books draft. Contemplating an online dictionary I got the following description:

–preposition Also, to·wards.
1. in the direction of: to walk toward the river.
2. with a view to obtaining or having; for: They're saving money toward a new house.
3. in the area or vicinity of; near: Our cabin is toward the top of the hill.
4. turned to; facing: Her back was toward me.
5. shortly before; close to: toward midnight.
6. as a help or contribution to: to give money toward a person's expenses.
7. with respect to; as regards: his attitude toward women.

8.about to come soon; imminent.
9.going on; in progress; afoot: There is work toward.
10.propitious; favorable.
a.promising or apt, as a student.
b.compliant; docile.

A word one can use for many a thing. A word I used too much. So much as that it started irritating me. So much that my wife, who is proofreading my first book, teases me with the word.
I am at a point I think about three or more times, before I put the word on paper.

What is the point I am making? The point is, when writing, you should not overuse one word. The name of the characters being frequently used is acceptable, but not any other word. My use of "Towards" was so frequent, that soon it would be irritating to a reader. Irritate a reader and said reader will put your book down and may never buy another book of yours again.

In my opinion this is a lesson to be learned as soon as possible. Writing my first manuscript I knew beforehand, about the wrongs of repeating words, yet I still made the mistake. For many writing you notice the fault less than a another person reading it. It is essential for a writer to check for such words.

Like I already mentioned (and could not mention enough) repeating words can be killing for your book. The story can be the story of the century, the prose near perfect but for that one repeating word and the reader will throw your book in a corner and curse you for branding that one word in their mind for ever. As a writer, you would not want that. In any case, I sure wouldn't want a reader to see my name and the only thought in the readers mind would be "Towards."

There are tools out online, one can get to help analyze your text for repeating words. Searching on google I found one called Textanz. There are many of these kind of tools which can help us find these words. Check your work regulary for repeating words.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Advice to someone who wants to write.

Today through Face book, I received a message from one of my added friends. She send me greetings and told me a bit about herself. She had a desire to write but so far she had put it off. I recognized a bit of myself in that. I also had put myself off from writing, it took me a long time before I started.

I told her a bit about my progress so far in writing my work in progress. If you read my previous post, you know it is going slower than I planned. Still I try to write everyday. Today I managed a mere 200 words, still better than zero, it does make me feel less bad. Even if I go slow eventually it will get finished.

Knowing how it feels wanting to write but not doing it, I could not help myself but give her some advice. My advice I was:
  • If you really desire to write, to just start doing it. To start today, even if it's just the title and one sentence.
  • To figure out which story she wishes to write.
  • To not expect the first draft to be any good.
  • To start writing a second book when finished with the first.
  • By writing more, your skill and experience increases.
  • After finishing the second book to use the experience gained to rewrite the first.
The thing is, if you want to write a book, you should start doing so. If you keep putting it off, you will never finish one. You will go in life questioning yourself "What if". Not knowing will surely leave a sad spot behind.

I hope my advice gets her to start writing. Also for anybody who wants to write, but has not yet started, if this advice resonates with your feelings, I hope it may aid you in writing and to keep writing.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Work in progress

This week had been a slow one for me. I have not been writing regularly, because of some personal issues .

Last Saturday I left my work in progress (Book 2) at 16136 word count. I intended to write 7k more this week, however I did not make my target. Today my count stands at 19262 words, 3126 words written. I am almost 4k behind my planned schedule. Will I still catch up before this week? I don't think so. For next week I will set my target again at 7k words and this time I'll try my best to complete it.

I want to get some discipline in my writing. The more and often I write, the better I will become. Also I will have to practice more and seek avenues in improving my grammar. I plan to buy these books "Chicago Manual of Style" , "English Grammar for ESL Learners" , "Practical English Usage" and "A Practical English Grammar". I'll use them to hone my skill to that of sculptor of words.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Writer' s Block

Oh the dreaded two words of that thing, that happen to almost all writers. Don't we have this happen to all of us? Don't we all who write, be it just a grocery list, had a moment where we just did not know how to put words on paper?

Wikipedia tells me that a writer's block is a condition in which a writer loses the ability to write. Wikipedia explains it all, actually the one person, that posted the info on Wikipedia did. We all who had it in some extend, know how it feels. For me it is sitting in front off the screen, looking at the empty white and not be able to allow my fingers to do their magic on the keyboard. Often my right hand deviates to the mouse and clickety-click I am on one or other site reading instead of writing. After a while I feel bad and I go back staring at my text editor, the blank space begging me to fill it with words. Demanding me to create and put on paper; the worlds, characters, dialog and occasional murderous monsters that dwell in my mind.

Despite the immense desire to write, at that exact moment I just do not know how to. At times the thoughts race through my head incoherent, which should be first and in what order, other times it is just a white noise in my head. The time ticks away and with each consecutive tick my window to write narrows down. Time is not your friend in those times. I then stress to put something on paper to progress my book, to finish it. This feeling for me only increases the block. Sometimes I near despair and feel a knot in my stomach which grows bigger and bigger, expanding till I may explode.

Well I have to say, it sound worse than it really is for me. I may have writer's block from time to time, but it does not last a long period. I am in a way lucky. I heard that for some writers it can last ages and can ruin their careers. I can imagine that being possible. The little taste I get from time to time, is intense and I do not want to imagine how it would be if it went on for days. I am not sure I could handle that. I had times I did not write for weeks even months but never cause of a block. Those times it would be because of work or issues I had to deal with, which ate all my precious time. That's also frustrating, but it's different. The idea of every day trying to write but not being able scares me. I am glad it does not happen to me for days. (knock on wood) The hours I battle with not writing is anguish enough.

Before writing this piece I had one of those mini blocks. I sat in front of my screen, ready to start on this blog post. It was eight in the evening. The kids were sleeping (still are) and my wife went to bed early. I had all the silence I desired and nobody who would bother me for my attention. Still I stared at the screen, the feelings I described, I felt them all for one whole hour. Not a single word in that hour. I went to a forum I frequent to distract myself and try post something to get myself going, I could not. Nothing came to me, just a blank mind, ideas coming to it's border and just disappearing when touched by the blankness.

How did I deal with it today? I stood up and walked upstairs to my bedroom (the attic). I went to my sleeping wife (actually she was awake but I did not know yet) I hugged and kissed her and she giggled. She asked me if I was in a writing flow. I muttered something about a writer block and went back down. Again in front of an empty screen. I just started to write, starting with the title: Writer' s Block.

How do I normally deal with it? After going to the motions, I just decide to write anything. I force my fingers to type the words, all be it the 'abc'. It takes some willpower to endure the bad feelings that comes up and to decide not to give a &^%$ if you write well, good or if it has anything to do with the story. I will just write and eventually I get back into the flow. Once back in the flow I correct the craziness I wrote and pick up where I left. Sometimes the craziness I write, at moments like this, is not all that bad and I keep it.

Every writer has their own way to deal with it and for those that don't maybe my way may could help. Put the care away and press the any key.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My First Blog

First I want to say Hello to everybody so:


My pen name is Al.X. Ross. I started writing in 2008, I do not remember the exact month. My first confession to you my reader is, I got a bad memory. After my little introduction I will tell a bit what this has to do with me and my writing.

I think, if my fragmented memory allows it, I started writing between October and December 2008. I was 30 years old at the time. The first time I thought about writing I was 16, while reading a Stephen King book "The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower. Book 1)". Before that, I had read a lot of books, but none in the English language. nor did anything I had read before sucked me in as this book had. Reading The Gunslinger, ignited deep within myself the desire to one day write an epic story.

It took me 14 years to use this desire. I held myself back with the thought it would be too difficult to write in English as it is not my native language. Also like a lot of people who want to do something creative, I was hindered by the question 'Do I have what it takes'. With age and wisdom I came to know myself better. I realized in all what we do, if you do not get to do it, you will not know if you can do it, be it well or bad. With this firmly put in my head and trying my best not to forget it (a huge challenge) I just started writing.

The words flew as fast I could type on my screen I had a story in my mind, which along the road changed and grew. I finished my first draft and while I am editing it, I am writing my second book.

I noticed in writing a story, with a span over more books, requires you to keep taps on what happened before, so your time line stays in sync. Me having a bad memory, I do remember what happened before but not exactly when. Writing just, a one book story, that would not be such a problem, but I plan to write a trilogy.

Now writing my second book, I notice sometimes I have to stop the flow of words created, to check if it keeps consistent with what happened within the first one. Like I forgot (I am very ashamed!) what was the surname of the character in the first book, who now is the main in the second (Did I say I was ashamed?). I told my wife and she rolled her eyes, or I imagined she did.

To make it more difficult for myself, the story (I did not decide it, it's a monster that flows by itself) in both books happens in the same time frame. Some characters in both stories meet, but in each book they have their own experience. For me it is a big challenge to keep it in sync, it scares me and excites me at the same time.

Besides writing, I am trying to better my grammar and writing skills, with exercises. For me there is a lot of work to do, and in this blog I want to share my progress in creating novels. New, exciting stories for people to read. Hopefully more than just me.