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 Finally, the help screen told me that the "latest" crash had been because of out-of-date drivers and some other computer jargon I don't understand.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!