Monday, December 28, 2009

Shiny distractions

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! I know I did...regardless of my (now quite annoying) all-liquids diet that I'm doing through my doctor. But that's another story entirely.

Because of this all-liquids diet, I avoided the dinner table on Christmas Day, which meant I was writing as a coping mechanism. Over the last four months, writing has become my coping mechanism even more than it ever has been before. I figure this is a good thing. First of all, hi, it's writing and I love it. Second of all, if I'm able to make writing my main coping mechanism, maybe once I'm off this diet, food no longer will be.

Anyway, using writing as a coping mechanism means I get a LOT written when I'm avoiding big meals, which included Thanksgiving and Christmas (but not the Dudley Christmas, because it was buffet-style, so I didn't have to stare at the food in the middle of the table for three hours). For Thanksgiving, I got a lot written for my National Novel Writing Month novel. For Christmas, I got a lot written for "Child of Roses", the companion I'm working on for "Nor the Battle". Yes...I'm still editing/revising "Nor the Battle", but I have to actually write something, because I can only edit/revise for so long in one sitting before I get irritated with myself.

In other news...I got a shiny distraction this week. I mean, Christmas itself is a pretty shiny distraction (look at all the pretty lights!), but I'm talking a writing-related shiny distraction. It's a dangerous thing that tends to happen to me far too often to be appreciated. I got another story idea. But here's the proof that I've finally grown into better writing habits over the last couple years...I'm trying to ignore it. I wrote it down in a notebook, and every so often I'll write down more ideas for it, but I'm not going to start writing it until I'm done (or close to done) with "Child of Roses". When I was younger, I never finished anything. I have probably fifty half-finished stories and "novels" sitting in my desk or under my bed at this moment, because I'm great at getting thrown off course by the shiny distractions. And then I never finish. But that's changed now, because I'm making myself finish "Child of Roses". I think that's a great improvement.

Hopefully I'll post again before (or soon after) the New Year. I can't believe it's almost 2010 already! If I don't get the chance, though...have a safe New Year's Eve and a great start to 2010!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Long time, no post...

Let me begin by apologizing for the epic fail that was me keeping this thing updated during NaNoWriMo. Let's just face facts--I got distracted by the excitement. But I'm back now and still working hard!

To update you all on what happened with NaNo...well...I finally won!!! This was my sixth year participating and I finally crossed the 50k word finish line! It was a hard 30 days, for sure, but I definitely feel a great sense of accomplishment. I always love November. I love getting to spend the month writing just because I can. It's a great feeling.

Since the end of November, I have been working hard on "Nor the Battle" and trying to get it ready to send to agents. So far it's been through one intensive revision that, well, kind of hurt my head. The worst revision of them all was changing the gender of a minor character, because I'm still fairly certain that there's a gender-specific word that never got switched. I'll be taking it through at least one more round of revisions soon and then start querying agents.

When I'm not working on "Nor the Battle", I've been working on its companion, called "Child of Roses". So far I only have a handful of pages typed and written, and a very rough outline of characters, but for the most part I'm very excited about where it's going and where it'll end up.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 1 of NaNoWriMo

Welcome to National Novel Writing Month! This, my friends, is like my Christmas. I spent the month of October waiting anxiously, trying to think of what to write (but not thinking too much, because I'm really good at running out of steam). I counted down practically by the hour on October 31, waiting desperately for midnight. Midnight hit...and then I was off!

I have a 305-song playlist, consisting of pretty much ANYTHING that will inspire me to write. Unlike when I had a playlist for "Nor the Battle," where I knew EXACTLY what I was writing and EXACTLY what emotions I needed to portray, I'm going into this novel (currently titled "The Missing") half-blind. I know the general plot, main characters, how I wanted it to start and how I want it to end. That's about it. So the playlist I put together is mostly just songs I really like or find inspirational in some way. There's pop music, rock, R&B...Broadway soundtracks. It's pretty much a grand melting pot of music I like.

Here at the end of day 1, I'm proud to say that I'm already doing better than I've done in recent years. I currently, at this moment (10:21pm) have 5151 words...this means I've achieved quota up through Tuesday. It would be great if I could hit 10k in the next day or two. That would build my confidence in my story and my characters ten-fold. For reference, the most I've ever gotten in a NaNo was my first year and that was around 15k, I believe. If I could hit 15k and beyond, I'd feel so much better.

Friday, October 16, 2009

15 Days Until NaNoWriMo...

This month is dragging by. I can't wait for November 1 to hit!

Nothing new has changed in the status of my novel. I'm trying not to think about it too much, or just think about gritty details ( are my characters going to go out in public? I enjoy making things very difficult for myself, apparently). The NaNo forums over on the main site are bustling with activity. I have 18 dares, I think, which I'm excited to use and I've managed to suck in a few more friends (and remind another that, hey, it's October, she should get her butt over to the boards).

Something I'm very much looking forward to this year is the fact that I'm in a large region again. With this, and the fact that I don't have school or school activities to worry about, I actually get to participate in regional gatherings! For my region, the kick-off party is on October 25 and I'm very excited to attend. I'm looking forward to the Write-Ins, the Ohio-Michigan (or Columbus-Ann Arbor, I don't really understand which one it is) word war, the TGIO party, and I've heard rumblings about a possible midnight write-in. All things that sound like a blast to me. :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

25 Days Until NaNoWriMo

Wow. I haven't posted in a LONG time. I apologize for my failure. :)

In the time since my last post, nothing much has happened. I've been working off-and-on on my historical fiction novel, which has now been named "Graceful Margaret" for the time being. It's a lot harder to write historical fiction than I had thought it would be. My attempts at historical fiction when I was a kid mostly consisted of using ideas and information from other things I had heard. Now that I'm older and have become something of a perfectionist sometimes when it comes to my writing, I feel a desperate need to be accurate in my storytelling.

Anyway, in case you're wondering what the title of this post is all about, I shall tell you. NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month ( If you don't know what this is...shame on you! NaNo takes place during the 30 days of November and you "win" if you write a 50,000 word novel during those 30 days. This will be my 6th year of participating and, I'm hoping, my first year of winning. That's right...I've never finished. However, this year I won't have the distraction of school going against me.

Needless to say, I'm VERY excited for November to get here. I plan to document the countdown to November and then my time writing in November here. Probably not every day, but I'll try to keep this somewhat updated.

Current status: I have a novel idea for NaNo, a title, and a list of characters that will inevitably grow a LOT come a couple weeks into November. I can't wait to get started and see how this goes this year!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Down Time

Yeah, I know. I haven't posted in a while. So here's an update.

I have my 10 readers all lined up and now they all have the manuscript too. Easter, Amanda, Janet, Caitlin, Jessica, Emily, Jenn, Tracy, Liz, and Britt--you all rock! So now instead of twiddling my thumbs until I hear the feedback...I've started writing something else. I forgot how difficult it is to start a new novel. I'm trying my hand at historical fiction, which is kind of strange since I absolutely HATED history class in school. I'm trying to write something about famous 16th century Irish Pirate Queen Grace O'Malley and her daughter Margaret. It's slow going right now and I've only written about two pages (and outlined about five chapters), but I'm trying. At least it's keeping me entertained for a while.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Initial Edits? Check.

Yesterday, I finished with the initial edits on my full first draft. This was a painstaking and painful process, let me tell you. There were many times that I wondered what I was on when I typed certain parts. Hopefully, I managed to catch most of my really stupid mistakes and clear up some parts that were weird. Now it's on to my first batch of readers for this full manuscript. I love my friends so much, because they all were very enthusiastic about being an extra pair of eyes. Hopefully, with their help, I'll be able to really tighten the whole thing down. So here's a grand shout-out to my wonderful friends and readers who I emailed with the manuscript today (more will hopefully be coming later): Amanda, Janet, Jessica, Emmy, Jenn, Liz, and Britt. Love you girls!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Editing Procrastination

I've begun editing "Nor the Battle." It amazes me how much things have changed since I last looked at the opening chapters, which was actually only about six or seven months ago. Sometimes I read a sentence and wonder how on earth I ever though it made sense.

Yesterday, while procrastinating, I got on Facebook and typed in "writer" for the Pieces of Flair keyword. I then proceeded to write down all my favorite quotes that popped up from that search. Just for giggles, I thought I'd share my list here. Enjoy!

--I write because I'd rather deal with people who don't exist!
--Conform, go crazy, or become a writer.
--My characters write the story. I just try to keep up.
--If I stare at you, it's not because you look good. It's because you just helped me figure out how to off my villain.
--Writer's Block: When friends and family decide you shouldn't be screwing around on the computer.
--I'd love to, but I'm working on my novel.
--Sometimes I have to tell my characters "I'm sorry...this hurts me more than you..."
--Whether you like it or not, you'll be in my novel. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
--Please do not annoy the writer. She may put you in a book and kill you.
--I wish I had writer's block so I could actually sleep.
--"Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia." ~E.L. Doctorow
--There is nothing more annoying to a writer than a pen without ink.
--Fiction writers think of six wore-case scenarios before breakfast, all involving death, mutilation, or global catastrophe.
--I'm a writer because real life is boring.
--Don't get it right the first time, just get it written.
--"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." ~Robert Frost
--Shhh...I'm working on my novel.
--I write, therefore I embrace insanity.
--You ever seen an author that's SANE?
--There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
--Sometimes I have to remind myself that the characters I write about don't actually exist.
--Can't sleep. Must write.
--Plot. It builds character.
--I shall write a NOVEL and when it is deemed to be PUBLISHED thou shalt see me go SQUEEEE!
--Warning: Anything you say or do may end up in my next novel.
--I prefer to think of myself as "pre-published."
--Do unto your characters the most deranged things humanly possible.
--If you could see my Google history, you'd think I was nuts...unless you're a writer. Then you'd understand.
--I write to cope with life.
--I'm a writer. What's your superpower?
--You don't scare me. I write fiction.
--If you look at a crawlspace and think "Great place to hide a body" might be a writer.
--The pen is mightier than the sword. Never piss off a writer!
--Paper? Check. Pencil? Check. Idea? Ummm...
--If one wasn't an author, one would be a really boring person filled with peculiar bits of trivia.
--"I write for the same reason I breathe, because if I didn't I would die." ~Isaac Asimov
--Leave me alone. I'm writing. *five hours later* Leave me alone! I'm writing!!! *stabs with pencil*
--Happily, we appear to have acheived coffee.
--The voices in my head won't shut up until I write. The really annoying ones end up dead.
--Writer's Block: When characters get fed up with all you put them through and go on strike.
--Freelance writer--will write for coffee.
--Because I'm the AUTHOR, that's why!
--You're going in my next novel.
--All hail the power of the pen!
--"Remember, writers are the only adults who get to spend all day in their pajamas playing with their imaginary friends." ~Unknown
--Fuck off! I'm writing! Don't fuck with a writer when they're writing!
--I'm writing a book. A clever book. A scary book. A book that will be better than Twilight. And there's nothing you can do to stop me.
--My characters hate it when I kill them.
--Writer. I.e. God of your own universe. Whee!
--Just keep authoring things or you will be eaten by flowers.
--You know you're a writer've thought all the flair quotes before you ever found them.
--Being a writer is great! Don't like someone, eh, kill them off.
--There is no greater agony than bearing an unwritten story in you.
--Of course I live in my head...I'm a writer.

Friday, August 7, 2009

After two and a half years...

I'm done! I have officially finished the first draft of "Nor the Battle." And now I don't know what to do with myself, because this has been a big part of my life (and brain) for, well, two and a half years. I know the revisions are next and my friends had better be prepared to become my readers so I have more pairs of eyes to make sure everything I said MAKES SENSE,'s done. The words are all there, and now I just need to make sure all the words can be followed.

So how do I feel? I really don't know. I'm shaking, I feel a little like a weight has been lifted. I think I like how it turned out...I think it all makes sense...I think it's a good ending for the story. But I really don't know...I don't know anything right now, that's what I've decided. There are no. words. for how this feels.

I'm so rewarding myself with ice cream tonight.


One of the things I love about be a writer...if you walk into someplace like, say, a jewelry store, explain you're working on a novel, and then ask them a really random question that they've probably never been asked before, people are usually pretty understanding. That's what I did yesterday. I went to Fred Meyer Jewelers and Kay Jewelers to get a couple very specific questions I had about sterling silver jewelry. One question wasn't that big of a deal...but the second question was kind of for a key plot point in my novel and I really needed to know. This was only after I bothered my friends on Facebook, Twitter, AND the girls that post over on the Blockhead boards. Anyway, I got my answer and all is right with the world.

Another thing I thought of recently is how many random things I've been looking up on Google over the past week or two. The Internet must think I've finally lost it. In the last two days, I've looked up information on twisted wrists, at-home pregnancy tests in the early '90s, stomach bruising, the melting temperature of sterling silver, and the temperature of an average bonfire. Now all of these things make complete sense in my head, but they probably sound a little insane here.

In other news, I'm on the second-to-last chapter of my novel. I'm at 155 typed single-spaced pages (about 100 more than I had at senior presentation). And you know what I'm realizing? Writing the last couple chapters is comletely excruciating. For the life of me, I can't keep myself focused. I've been working on this chapter for two days and barely anything has been accomplished. I think this is happening because I'm already past the climax of the story (or, at least, of the "past" portion) it's just a matter of ending it...explaining what happens after that makes the stuff in the "present" sections make more sense.

It's surreal to think than in another chapter and a half, I'll be done. I've worked on this first draft for two and a half years, but in a chapter and a half I'll be done with the first draft. That's a little wild.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Out of the teens

Yesterday, I officially broke out of the "teens" of my novel when I finished Chapter Nineteen. And today I wrote the excruciating Chapter Twenty...the chapter that I've both looked forward to and dreaded writing for several months. Allow me to explain.

In "Nor the Battle," Liz (my main character) gets put through a lot of crap. And I mean A LOT of crap. For the most part, I've enjoyed putting Liz through this, just so I can see how she'll much she'll take before she starts beating my brain. But the crap that occurs in Chapter Twenty, in particular, is the worst so far. I knew she'd make it through, because she has to, but it was still hard to write. I think she tried to beat my brain a little bit, but my brain won, and the chapter got finished.

THIS chapter in particular is the one where a certain musical kept singing a certain song in my head. "Die Vampire Die" from [title of show], to be exact. Just so you know, in the show a "vampire" is "any person or thought or feeling that stands between you and your creative self-expression." Here's the vampire that kept sticking its head up while I was writing this chapter:

"Brothers and sisters, next up is the air freshener vampire. She might look like your mama or your old fat-ass, fat aunt Fanny. She smells something unpleasant in what you're creating. She'll urge you to pssssssst it with some pine-fresh smell-em-ups. The air freshener vampire doesn't want you to write about bad language, blood, or blow jobs. She wants you to clean it up and clean it out which will leave your work toothless, gutless, and crotchless, but you'll be left with two tight paragraphs on kittens that your grandma will be so proud of."

Anyway, that's where I am now. I finished writing the painful Chapter Twenty and I now know that Liz can pretty much take anything else I might dole out to her over the last few chapters. Because, yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am now on Chapter Twenty-one out of TWENTY-FIVE! And if Liz could survive Chapter Twenty, then these last few chapters will be a breeze...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Twitter, Fairy Wings, and Tutus

I got my computer back on Monday. It was a glorious reunion! I found out on Sunday afternoon that my computer issue was in fact a hard drive issue. Cue my heart stopping. But Dude told me that it should be golden--he was pretty sure he could rescue my documents, pictures, and music from my old hard drive. So now my laptop has a brand new, shiny hard drive that is twice as big as my old one...and now it's running SO much nicer! It no longer takes it 10 minutes to turn on (I wish I was kidding) it only takes a minute or so. Good stuff.

Today was my writing date with Emmy. It was our first writing date in two weeks and we had a little bit too much fun. I was happy to have my computer back (hand-writing this novel over the weekend gave me a renewed appreciation of writing on the computer). Anyway, about halfway through our time at Urban Coffee, we both got side-tracked by Twitter. And by "side-tracked" I mean we had an entire ridiculous conversation for at least an hour just over Twitter...any of our mutual friends who follow both of us probably had nothing on their feed but our insanity. After she distracted me by talking about her iTunes playlist she has for the story she's writing, which led to me making a 60-song playlist for my own novel, THIS happened:

ErinLMillar @Serenityfilm I also love how we're talking over twitter and not with our voices, since we're sitting at the SAME TABLE! Eat your muffin!
Serenityfilm @ErinLMillar Also that girl over there is wearing a tutu, and the other one is wearing fairy wings, it's distracting...
ErinLMillar @Serenityfilm Weeeeeeiiiiiiird. Do you like how I spied through the bizarre coffee bean on the back of the bench?
Serenityfilm @ErinLMillar Yes. Very much so. I also enjoy that we're using twitter for incognito communication...
ErinLMillar @Serenityfilm EAT THE MUFFIN, DAMN IT! You paid $1.75 for it!
Serenityfilm @ErinLMillar But you just stabbed it, now its tainted...
ErinLMillar @Serenityfilm Weirdo. I'll put the strange girl's fairy wings on you in retaliation.
Serenityfilm @ErinLMillar SOO WEIRD! Whatever, I'm not judging, I'm not. Really I'm not. I swear to god.
Serenityfilm Great, Splenda now owns my muffin. Thanks @ErinLMillar
ErinLMillar @Serenityfilm You know you love your muffin flag, don't deny it.
Serenityfilm - This muffin has been claimed by the land of no calorie sweetners.
ErinLMillar @Serenityfilm YEAH it has!
ErinLMillar @Serenityfilm I dare you to go over and ask Fairy Wings and Tutu why they're wearing...fairy wings and a tutu...
Serenityfilm @ErinLMillar That would be a no. HELL no in fact, I'd rather just silently wonder.

Anyway, after this entire exchange and a few more distractions, I actually managed to get an entire (long) chapter written today. Start to finish. I'm getting to the really tense, really interesting part of my novel it's almost getting harder for me to not finish a chapter soon after I start it. Which I'm gonna say is a good thing. Another accomplishment today is that I'm now on the last page of my outline! The end is in sight, friends!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Technology and why I hate it

Life has been a little interesting around here over the last week. On the positive side...I managed to finish three chapters, which is pretty remarkable for me lately. And I finally broke 100 single-spaced pages. Took two and a half years, but that made me pretty happy.

On the down computer died yesterday. It just up and died on me, which annoyed me to no end. I don't really know that it legit DIED, but I do know that it will no longer turn on for me without giving me a fantasic Blue Screen of Death. Oh, how I loathe the BSD. This happened yesterday morning. After I spent a good half hour fighting with my laptop and trying with every fiber of my being to get it to TURN ON, I finally gave up. I called computer dude (that's how I refer to mom calls him the computer guru...his real name is Bill) who has fixed my parents' desktop computer on numerous occasions recently, found out he deals with laptops, and was told to bring it over. So I did...frantically. I was in complete frantics all morning because, oh, yeah, I haven't really backed up much on that piece of crap. FORTUNATELY, I have probably 95% of my digital pictures backed up and (most importantly) I have my novel backed up in, now, four places. Those would have been the things I would be stressing out about the most. I'm hoping against hope I can get the rest of my documents back...and my iTunes music...but the novel and the pictures would have made me devestated if I lost (especially the novel).

Anyway, Dude told me that it could be anything that's causing the BSD and he would have to diagnose it first. He said it could be merely a hardware/software issue, something could need updated, it could be a virus, ooooor I might need a new hard drive. I'm hoping it's a quick, easy, cheap fix that doesn't make me lose anything...or at least not much. I guess I should be impressed that I've had my laptop for four years and it's only NOW causing me to take it to the shop.

Ah, technology. It's really good at biting me in the butt.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Every Ending is a New Beginning

Cheesy title, I know. But just go with'll make sense, I swear.

Tonight, I'm proud to say that I finished another chapter (much faster than usual, so that's probably a good sign). I was sitting on the couch with Mom, watching something on the Food Network and after a short break I turned back to my laptop to start Chapter Fourteen. I stared at my outline, read the couple sentences I had written down regarding Chapter Fourteen's events about a million times, stared at my computer, stared at my outline again...this went on for several minutes. And after groaning, and then explaining my reason for groaning to Mom, I realized something. Something I've known for a while, but just haven't thought of that much...

I hate starting new chapters.

I love it too, but I REALLY hate starting new chapters. I love the feeling of moving forward...but I still hate starting new chapters. The reason for this is...I do this ritual every time. Fourteen times (well, fifteen, because of the prologue) during the course of writing this novel, I have spent a loooooooong time trying to start a new chapter. I figured out something tonight, though. It's because each chapter is like its own story. And I've heard several times that the hardest part of writing is getting started (isn't that the truth). So I finish a chapter...and then I turn to start a new one...and even though I know exactly what's going to happen, I never have any idea how to start the story. So I sit there for minutes upon minutes upon minutes, staring at my outline and computer screen, willing my mind to form some opening that doesn't sound completely stupid, something I haven't already used before in the story, something that can get me going.

And then I find that opening. As soon as that happens, it's all golden. For the most part, as soon as that happens, the chapter starts taking form and I know (more or less) exactly how I want to say what I've chosen to occur in the chapter. Yes, there are still rough spots...moments in the chapter when I'm not sure how to get to the next part...but nothing is as bad as when I'm first starting. So I write and write until I've told that chapter's story. I bring it to a close. I celebrate a little--do a little dance, listen to a favorite song, treat myself to a snack. And then I type those fateful words: CHAPTER [INSERT NUMBER HERE]. I feel pretty good about myself...until I pick up that outline and read those few sentences. The whole cycle starts over again and I have to scour my brain for words I haven't used...for something that's not cheesy. But I keep going.

By the end of writing this first draft, I'll have gone through this ritual twenty-six times, assuming all goes as planned. Once I finish, I'll probably miss the cycle...I'll probably miss getting frustrated by opening a new chapter. But then it'll be time to come up with the next novel idea...and the cycle will pick up again with a new story, new outline, new characters. The cycle will never end, not as long as I keep writing. And I plan to write for a long time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I just spent another afternoon at Urban Coffee, but this time I was by myself. Emmy is working/out of town this week, so I decided that I needed to get out of the house to write. I wrote for a good three hours, researched Bible verses for another hour. I've discovered over the last few weeks that I am most productive when I'm completely away from the house. Yes, I can disconnect my computer from the internet and sit outside...and that works for an hour or two before I get distracted again...or it gets too dark...or my computer battery runs low. But getting out of the house, for some reason, I can't get as distracted.

I finished another chapter today. I've gotten to the point where I'm finishing about a chapter a week. For now, this is satisfactory to me...soon, I'll be aiming to finish two chapters a week. It's like conditioning myself for a race. I have to work up to the point of writing during more hours of the day. And for the first time in my life, I can focus on writing THIS novel...this ONE novel. I don't have to be working on another novel for one of my classes...or a short story...or any other piece. I can focus on "Nor the Battle" and I intend to not start another story until I have this one finished.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


My ears hurt from the ear buds I'm wearing. My butt hurts from the hard bench I've been sitting on for four hours. My fingers hurt from typing constantly. It's too hot in here all of a sudden. My computer has completely frozen on me once today, plus only partially freezing a handfull of other times during my time sitting here--thus, I hate my computer currently. My brain is drained...I'm exhausted...and I finished my Iced Chocolate Covered Strawberry Mocha at least three hours ago.

But I finished another chapter today during Emmy's and my writing date for the week. And that makes it all worth it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Writing Dates

I love having friends near me that are as into writing as I am. One of my good friends, Emmy, and I have decided to start a new "thing" for the two of us. Every week, we're having a writing date. We just had our first one this past Friday. We basically went to Urban Coffee, a local coffee shop, got some coffee (well, I got a chai, but whatever), found a table with an outlet, and settled down to write on our laptops. It was nice, because we both had to write...we could bounce ideas off each other, hold each other accountable. We stayed there for four hours! I got about five pages written, which was VERY exciting.

When I told my mom about Emmy's and my plan, she asked me how that would work. "Isn't writing a personal thing?" she asked me. And, yes, while writing is a personal thing, it's also nice to go somewhere and write with someone. I had a sounding board RIGHT THERE for those four hours. I had someone to complain to if my story started going somewhere I didn't want it to go...Emmy had someone to complain to that she felt her story was getting repetitive. We could give each other advice, try to keep each other from getting distracted. And even better--it was a whole four hours that I had set aside JUST for writing. Because I had someone to write with, I couldn't back out of it or change my mind.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Character Rebellion?

Is it possible for characters to rebel? I was thinking about this when I was writing last (which, granted, was a while ago...getting ready for the graduation party and trying to get scrapbooks done suddenly took over my life) and I'm putting my characters for "Nor the Battle to the Strong" through a whole lot of crap. And it's just going to get worse. The torment I have planned for them, particularly Liz, is kind of ridiculous--but so necessary for the story. Anyway, I got to thinking...since characters eventually take over the story, can't they rebel too? I mean I'm pretty stubborn, so I don't think my characters could win that battle, but I have gotten way past the point when my characters are acting on their own accord. They say things I never thought they'd say...argue about things I never planned them to argue about. I know other writers understand this phenomenon that I'm talking about.

It's funny writing for Liz. Because my story takes place in two different years, fifteen years apart, when Liz is normal in one section, she's angsty in another...and then it switches. She's suddenly gotten really quiet and submissive in the "past" portions of the story...and she's gotten increasingly frustrated, scared, and angry in the "present" portions. It's crazy. I can't control her anymore. I'm going to be really interested to see how she reacts when I throw the worst of the crap at her in another handful of chapters. It's still a while away, but it's building up and in some way I'm really looking forward to writing that part of the novel.

Monday, June 1, 2009


There is nothing more motivational for me than browsing at a bookstore...or a library. There's just something about seeing all those books, written by all those authors, that makes me want even more to be part of it. When I hold a book in my hands and read the back cover synopsis, there's something that makes me think that someday, perhaps someone will be doing the same thing with one of my books. Even if I don't end up buying anything, I still love going and just sitting among all those books that are already part of that club. That's my dream, after all, to be have my book sit on a shelf in a bookstore or a library and have people find it interesting enough to read.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Packing and Graduation

As is tradition, at the end of the school year, I always have to pack up my room (or, in the case of the last two years, my apartment). Not that big of a deal...until I realized that this is the last time I have to do this at ONU. Yesterday I took all the stuff off my walls...which consisted of all the information for "Nor the Battle." All of that information has lived in that exact location for two years. It's kind of sad that it will need to find a new home now--I'm thinking about buying a plastic file for all the info I've accumulated over the past years for this story. I hope my outline feels at home in one of those, rather than on a wall...

I graduate from ONU tomorrow afternoon. Today was the rehearsal (boring) and my parents are coming up for the reception/banquet/worship that's all going on tonight. Scary thought...graduating.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Song of the day...

One of my favorite singers is Stephanie J. Block. She has a new CD coming out (it's on iTunes now, hard copy out June 2) called "This Place I Know." There's a song in particular on the album that has spoken to me deeply, and I've listened to it a million times. This song is called "Gotta Start Small" and there's a section of the song that I really relate to, which might be why I love it so much. Granted, this section is talking about writing a song, but it means the same to me as I've been working on this novel.

I wrote a song today
And I feel strong today
'Cause I belong today
To those who create
An empty page was all I had
I thought it out,
Put pen to pad,
And as I added each line of mine
I felt something great
Using my hands and feeling fulfilled
As for the song,
I'm not that skilled,
Still every builder who learns a craft
Keeps growing by the draft
It's just a draft

And after all
Gotta start small
Facing a bigger, more rigorous challenge,
That's quite a climb,
I'd rather cling to each thing I can conquer
One at a time

Taking a risk is most of the battle
A victory to claim
Taking a risk, no matter how little
Small, but commital
Is risking all the same

Saturday, May 9, 2009


In 15 days, I'll be a graduate of Ohio Northern University. Today I attended my last AXD initiation and my last Honors Day. And then I got my cap and gown...and suddenly, at that moment, it seemed 100% real. Being the epic dork that I am, as soon as I got home, I tried it on with the dress I bought a few weeks ago (fits great). And then I proceeded to put the tassel on the mortar board and see how the whole thing looked in the bathroom mirror. The only thing I could think was..."holy crap."

It's a scary thing, this graduation--not unlike writing a novel. I'm terrified of what the future holds, mostly because I don't know what it holds. I can't believe my academic career is winding down and in 15 more days, I will no longer be a student. I've been a student since pre-school...that's a whopping 18 years. Suddenly, I'm no longer going to hold that classification. I'll be facing the real world and trying to make my own mark on it. God willing the mark that I leave will have something to do with my writing. Only time will tell.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Getting back in gear

For the last two quarters, I worked so intensely on "Nor the Battle to the Strong" that I kind of wore myself out. Occupational hazard of senior capstone. I wrote, re-wrote, created a presentation, listened to critiques, re-wrote some more, wrote more...and by the time I got done with the presentation, even though I still LOVE this novel, I had to take a break. My characters and I had spent waaaaay too much time together and were starting to get on each other's nerves. I promised them I'd be back soon and put it away for a while, so I could come back with a fresh perspective and not want to kill off every single one of my characters just because they were irritating me.

So over the last week or so, I've finally started turning back to my novel. It's been on my mind for the last several weeks, but I didn't feel I was ready to start writing in it again. A few days ago, I decided it was time, took my computer into the living room, broke out my old notebook of notes, and started reading through where I had left off. I started stupid computer went Blue Screen of Death. And my computer continued to do the BSD. At one moment I thought I had fixed it (the help screen told me to update my antivirus software, because that's apparently what caused one of the crashes). But, no, of course not, and it did it to me again...and again...and again. It got more determined. Finally, the help screen told me that the "latest" crash had been because of out-of-date drivers and some other computer jargon I don't understand. So I went, updated those...and in the process of fixing my computer, I actually managed to fix my Wireless connection too. Who knew that the way to get it to stop being so finiky was to update it? Huh.

Anyway, I've been writing off-and-on for the last couple days. It's been slow going, but it's going to take me a little while to get up to the amount of story I was able to crank out when I was in capstone. Yesterday I wrote three sentences...and I was okay with that. Every little bit counts and soon enough I'll be back up to the speed I like.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Blue Screen of Death

The Blue Screen of Death attacks at the most inopportune moments. For example, I was actually working on my novel...and all of a sudden...Blue Screen of Death. So after my computer rebooted, I went on Youtube (because Youtube makes anything better) and, after watching a video from my subscriptions, I decided it would be fun to search "blue screen of death" and see what popped up. I got this gem, which is another fine example of a Blue Screen of Death attack at an inopportune moment.

Good times...good times...


I've been feeling reflective lately. Blame this on impending graduation if you want (it's what I blame it on), but the point is I'm reflective. And this crazy thing happens when I'm feeling reflective...I tend to spend more time thinking about this novel. I know, I don't understand it either. You'd think that feeling reflective would cause me to, you know, reflect. On my life. On my friends. On my memories. On every little thing that is going through my head as I'm nearing the end of my college career. I dunno, maybe I'm just weird.

The reason I think this happens, especially with this particular story, is that the entire novel is reflective, in a way. It's past versus present. It's showing how Liz (my lovely main character who has more issues than I can possibly understand, honestly) is so deeply effected by her cult experiences that she still dwells on them fifteen years down the road. So...I start feeling reflective about whatever, which leads me to think "hey, this is what happened in my life five...ten...fifteen years ago. These were the experiences I had. These were the friends that mattered. And five...ten...fifteen years from now I can look back to this moment and remember THESE experiences and THESE people and, god willing, they'll all still be in my life." Behold, my thought process.

And, yeah, my memories are about a million times cheerier than Liz's. But that reflection causes me to reflect on Liz's reflection and it's really just a vicious cycle.

My sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, had its annual Academic Banquet last night. It's the last "official" chance for the younger sisters to say goodbye to the seniors. There will still be chapter meetings and functions and social events and banquets for the next month, but at none of those is the opportunity set aside to bid farewell. I truly do hope these ladies will still be in my life five, ten, fifteen years down the road. That's one of the biggest differences between Liz and me--she can't let go of her past no matter how desperately she wants to erase it. I don't want to erase my past, and fifteen years from now I'm still not going to want to.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bullet Proof Vest

Over this weekend, my awesome immune system managed to land me with a pretty bad headcold. Sore throat, stuffy nose, fatigue...all that fun. And it's only managed to get worse as the days have progressed. Which is why, about 4:30 yesterday afternoon, it was decided that me driving back to school in the rain when I felt I could fall asleep at any moment was probably a bad idea. So I crashed on the fouton in the office of my parents' house and watched TV/napped for the rest of the day.

One TV show in particular that I've gotten pretty addicted to as of late is "Castle." I don't know if it's because it's a mystery show (which I've been getting more interested in over the last couple years) or if it's because it's about a writer. Maybe it's both. Anyway, it was on last night, so as I was feeling miserable, I watched it. One particular detail caught my attention and made me smile. There was a moment in the episode when all the cops were doing a raid at this warehouse-looking-place. I'm talking guns, vests, the whole thing. And as they're all getting suited up, Castle (the writer) pulls out this bag. What's in the bag? A bullet proof vest that says "Writer" in big, bold, white letters.

Now, while I hope I'll never have the need to wear a bullet proof vest...and while I never plan to do research for a novel by following an actual homicide detective around NYC...if the occasion ever arose, I would totally want my own bullet proof vest that says "WRITER" on it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

First Post...

There's something I've learned during my four years as a Creative Writing major...

It's a LOT harder to write a novel I'm proud of than I thought when I was a kid.

That being said, I've decided to create this blog. I guess I figure I'll have more motivation to write if my novel is even MORE on my mind than it normally is. And the self-publicity can't hurt either.

Allow me to stop being awkward for the time being and briefly (translated: less than a million paragraphs) introduce myself. I'm Erin Millar (clearly), senior Creative Writing major (Org Comm minor) at Ohio Northern University, set to graduate in May. I've been writing stories since first grade...and have been in love with it for that long as well. My first story, or the first story that I remember writing AND still have the copy of, was some original Frog and Toad story I wrote for my reading group. It was an assignment--we all wrote a short story, our teacher bound them together, and they we illustrated the books. I still have that book. My story was about six sentences long.

I've written many stories since that first one in first grade. Several were short stories...a good handfull were my version of "novels" (read: chapter books where each of the chapters was about a page and a half long...handwritten)...a majority of those "novels" never got finished.

Fast forward to two years ago. I'm bored, sitting in a class I should probably be paying attention in. Brittany, my sorority twin, is sitting behind me and, frankly, never pays attention and does her own homework or her own writing about 90% of the time we're in that class. Philosophy is dreadfully boring to me, so my solution to keep myself awake is to start writing something I find interesting. So I start scribbling some obscure opening to some story that I have no plan for into a spare notebook. This story gets me through that class (with a B, but that's so not the point). During that quarter I created my characters, the details...I think I even did the outline--which I never do for anything.

Two years later, I'm still working on that novel. I'm still hooked. It's going slow and not always steady, but that story is always in the back of my mind. And after two full quarters of working on it so intensely (for senior capstone) that I got a little sick of it, I'm turning back to it again. I'm determined to write this story. I like it too much.

It's currently titled "Nor the Battle to the Strong" (up for some debate, but not much). I'm not going to bore you with the details, and I especially don't want to spoil anything in the case that it finally gets published, but it's about two sisters, from a family of seven kids, who join a cult and how it not only effects them and their family when it actually happens, but how it continues to effect them fifteen years later.

Anyway, that's what I plan to talk about in this blog--writing this novel and hopefully my writing experiences in general as well. I hope you continue reading and if there's anything in particular you want me to talk about, mention it in the comments and I'll try to get to it. :)

See you next post!