"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Monday, December 15, 2008


Each day, I receive a word in my email box, thanks to A. Word. A. Day. and Anu Garg. Today, it was "Golconda", and of course, I was curious as to how (and why) the beautiful and ancient fort in Hyderabad had wound up there. As it turns out, the name for the fortress has also become a common noun meaning "a source of great wealth," after the "city once known for its diamond mines in the nearby hills."

This made me want to revisit old pictures of a sunrise adventure with my friend Rilla, two years ago, exactly. Rilla, this is for you. Glad you're having fun in Australia, but I wish you were here instead. You are one of the only persons in the world who could get me out of bed before 5 am :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nanowrimo and Plotting

As if the month of November wasn't busy enough with the blog tour, I'd also decided to try to meet the Nanowrimo challenge, and write a 50 000 words novel in thirty days. This may sound like a totally crazy endeavor, and it is, in many ways. 50 000 words divided by 30 days, means that I had to write 1663 words, each and every day. 

I didn't make it, needless to say. But I did manage to write 28570 words in the first 18 or 19 days. Before I hit a wall. I had not plotted my story at all. Have I mentioned that plotting is not my strong suit? I tend to start with characters, situations and settings. I may have a vague idea of where the story is supposed to be going... but not always.  The beauty of Nanowrimo is that it forces you to write, to add words, to push them out of you at whatever cost. Most of all, it means that with such a strong focus on getting a number of words written, you simply cannot spend time rereading yourself. Ah, now, we are onto something.

Who out there is like me, endlessly rereading their words, changing a coma, here, tweaking a sentence, there, and quickly getting stuck? Who, like me, finds it almost impossible to turn our inner editor into a salt statue or send them to a dark corner with the order to stay put and absolutely mute until they're actually needed?

Nanowrimo taught me a few things about my writing process. Funny, because these lessons I also need to apply in my every day life. Maybe everyone ought to try Nanowrimo at least once in their life ? 

So, the lessons learned? I need to let go (yeah, yeah), to trust the process, the characters, and the story more, to let them unravel themselves at their own pace and leisure, and it doesn't matter if they fumble a bit, if they wander in a direction that seems to go nowhere, because actually, what looks like a dead-end could reveal a small tunnel, or an hidden path that will take us... to a totally unexpected elsewhere full of promises.

So why didn't I continue, you ask? In order to extricate my characters from the dead-end into which they found themselves, mid-way, I would have needed to spend a lot of time doing research. My main character got tangled into a world that I know practically nothing about (and I don't write fantasy) and it seemed pointless to continue without a few clues at least as to what was possible, and what was just ludicrous. I should also mention that by the middle of the month, I was starting to feel so exhausted from the lack of sleep and the amount of hours spent in front of the computer, each day, that I feared I would not be able to continue with the blog tour. And that was not an option, obviously. So, something had to go.

BUT  Martha Alderson, of Blockbuster Plots' fame, is giving out tips on plotting in her blog, during the month of December. And I'm happy to report that I've gone back to my story and my characters, and am now in the process of organizing a rescue operation to see if I can keep this project going. Wish me luck...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

And now what?

Hard to follow up, after such an intense and happening blog tour. I'm feeling a little disoriented. Enjoying the more leisurely pace of the last few days, for sure. I've slept between 9 and 11 hours each and every night since Sunday. My desk is no longer cluttered with drawings, schedules, and notes about the tour. And I know that I need to get back into a regular schedule, writing, submitting stories again, etc. But I've decided to give myself a week to "land."

In the meantime, I went to my first Indian wedding. Yesterday was declared a very auspicious day for marriages, and ten thousand couples tied the knot, here in Hyderabad. Yes, you read that right. TEN THOUSAND weddings were celebrated in this town, yesterday only. I missed the beginning of the ceremony (which started at 9 am) because my taxi driver (our car was at the workshop) wanted to drop me at another couple's wedding and couldn't find the right venue, but I finally made it, and what I saw was every bit as fascinating and colorful as I imagined it would be.

I don't know why, but I was particularly touched by a ritual where the close family sat around the newlyweds while the priests ran a thread that had been previously blessed all around the group, each member of the family holding on to it.

That thread was then divided and the bride tied it to the groom's wrist (with a piece of turmeric), who then tied the other thread to her wrist. 

I also found it amusing to notice that two of the priests retrieved their mobile phones stuck in the the belt of their dhotis a few times to check for SMSs.

As usual, I was moved and grateful to find everyone so happy and eager to not only welcome me, but also to fill me in with bits of informations about their immensely rich and diverse culture. In spite of that, I left feeling that I could well spend the rest of my life here, and still have everything to discover.

Which is just fine...