Jessica Denoire.

Ramblings. Lots and lots of ramblings and the occasional attempts at insight into things.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

that question.

It's that question I dread. "So--what's your novel about?" It's a huge problem when you write litfic. "Oh, it's about a relationship where two people bear witness to each other's self destruction." "It's a novel analysing the different impacts of similar events, and how we're drawn to those who have experiences similar to our own." My mother (my actual-gave-birth-to-me-mother) worries about what people will think of her if they read my novels. Thanks, mum.

Writing is about the most vulnerable parts of who you are. Each word on that word processor (or paper, if you're more awesome than I am) is you. And I don't think that I'm ready for criticism about that yet. (Nor is my manuscript ready--the first draft is almost complete. It's a matter of completing all the missing scenes and then sitting down and rewriting them all and fixing plot arcs and oh my god I'm going to die.)

I did tell my classmates the other day vaguely what one of my novels was about, only to tell them that they couldn't read it quite yet. But it's nice having people around that encourage you to write. Who believe in you. And I don't think that I could do this without them. So, for everyone who supports a writer, this is for you. (virtual champagne toasting here.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

measuring up.

One of my issues as a writer is the fear that I'm never going to be good enough. That nothing I write is ever going to be PERFECT, and if it's not perfect, what's the point? And that fear is paralysing. It eats up my motivation and desire and tells me "YOU'RE NOT AN AUTHOR. YOU'RE A PHONEY. A PRETENDER" and makes me want to crawl under a rock and sleep. Or re-read A Moveable Feast by Hemingway. And by re-read, I mean read the parts where he talks about meeting Fitzgerald. OH, YOU SO CRAZY, FRANCES SCOTT.

Let's count the ways in which I'm going to literary hell.

But I guess insecurity is the curse of writing. In the very process of putting words onto our screens, we're letting ourselves be vulnerable. This is our creation. This is something from our minds which shows who we are. There'll always be a part of ourselves in our stories, and it's hard to dissociate the fear of rejection of our stories from the notion that they're really rejecting us.

Par exemple, le jour d'autre. I was asking X (okay, I'm going to be honest with y'all: you're going to be hearing about X a lot. He's on my mind all the time. It's pathetic.) to come with me to a charity function, and he said no. Now, he didn't say no, Jessica, I'm turning you down because you're an obsessive-psycho-stalker-freak. He said no, I have to organise job interviews and I'm really busy, but let me know for the next one?

I still obsessed over every little detail of it more than is probably healthy. But my point is this: we're all afraid of rejection because writing is so incredibly INTIMATE. Writing is something that defines who we are as people. And let me tell you, writers are pretty damn AWESOME. En fait, I'd even say that we're LEGEN--wait for it--DARY.

Don't be afraid that you don't measure up, or that you're not good enough, whether it be as a writer or as a person, because, even though it sounds completely NAFF, you do. You've put pen to paper and you've created something, and that's more than most people will ever acheive.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

characters and you.

I have an admission to make: I ship my characters. I fall in love with them and start making adoring "awwww" noises in the background while I write lovey-dovey scenes. I'm not proud of it, and I'm fairly sure it's diagnostic of my current love-life (OH HAI, NON-EXISTENT BOYFRIEND.). But I was reading through my story notebook (it's one of those super-awesome five-subject notebooks. I know you were totally wondering what I write in.) and I came across this: (SPOILER ALERT)
[of my narrator for novel 2] She's totally in love with Nick. Purely because I ship them hard. And it has nothing to do with me and X.
Now, you see, X is this guy at my uni. And I've been madly, head-over-heels, borderline-obsessive over him since the day we met. That may or may not have been almost TWO years ago. So of course, the love interest for my narrator has THIS note on his character page.

how does he feel about the narrator?

- I just went to write [character name from novel 1]. Too many amazing ships, so little time....
- I think he does have some degree of feeling for the narration, but he sees her as a little sister/best friend amalgamation. Amalgamation? Really?
And of course, this is how X feels about me. I'm starting to worry that I'm using my feelings to fuel this novel, and if I wasn't so in love with the concept, I'd probably run away screaming from it. Unfortunately, I still have hope for this ship, just like I have hope for me and X. He just has this smile and all he has to do is smile at me and I'm a puddle. ...But you guys really don't want to hear about my teenage-esque crush.

Do you think that a fiction and real life amalgamation is healthy? After all, as the expression goes, art imitates life. (I honestly always thought it was the other way around.) Do you find yourself putting the MC in your novels in your shoes? And if so, do you consider the MC lucky because you have an epic shoe collection? And if you have an epic shoe collection, and you're a size 37-38, would you like to be my best friend and bestow upon me shoe-borrowing privileges? (I BAKE AWESOME SCONES. And these awesome scones I would be much willing to share with you in exchange for shoes.)

And y'know, tell me about your significant others so I can live vicariously through you and steal your lovelives for plots. Uh, I mean, whut? I didn't say that. Of course not. You're hearing things. If you don't have anyone around, it's okay. We can enjoy single life together! It involves ice-cream and chocolate. FREDDO FROGS FOR EVERYONE!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

those eureka moments.

We all have those moments, the second where suddenly, everything about our WIP just makes sense, even though you've realised that it has THE EXACT SAME PLOT AS THE BOOK THAT JUST WON THE BAD SEX IN LITERATURE AWARD. Ahem. Not that that happened to me last night AT ALL. Nope.

But how do these moments come about? And more importantly, why do they come at the most inconvenient times? Or are you lucky and have a muse that respects the notion that nighttime is sleeptime and that he/she/it should fly away and report for duty at 0900 hours? (If so, please enlighten us all to how you trained your muse. In fact, you could probably write a book on that. And I totally just wrote 'right' instead of 'write'. I REALLY SHOULDN'T BE A WRITER.)

Most of my OMG THAT'S IT moments arise when I do a mind-map. For example, yesterday I was struggling with the structure for novel 1. So, y'know, I decided to punish it by going to novel 2 and starting its plan. Novel 1 and novel 2 don't get along. Novel 1 thinks that, because it's the first-born, it should get all the attention and love, and it's insecure because novel 2 has the most original plot and a clearer direction. Novel 2 really does enjoy torturing novel 1. (Novel 2, STOP THAT. MUMMY LOVES YOU BOTH EQUALLY, NOVEL 1!)

...I'm not a very good parent, I don't think. But regardless, Novel 1 decided to recapture my attention and I sat down and did a minp-map of possible structures. I could go linearly, reach a climax in the middle, and then retrace my steps. I could go completely chronologically and switch back and forth between POVs, but then where would the suspense be? These are the only two ideas that I've ever considered.

OR MAYBE I COULD START WITH THE CLIMAX? And there it was. The Eureka Moment. The moment where Novel 1 decided that it wanted to be written. I'd liken it to marriage, but that would be a terrible continuation of the novels-are-my-children metaphor. So instead, I'll just say that my baby's growing up so fast! *tear*

Tell me about the day where it all just clicked for you. Or make me jealous of your writerly brilliance and teach me how to have permanent eureka moments. (For which I'll reward you with the Eureka Skydeck, the tallest building in Melbs.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

the perfect pen.

So, I was hanging out in my bedroom last night (read: trying to sleep) when suddenly, blog ideas decided that they wanted to creep into my head because they're mean and cruel and want me to go crazy from insomnia and do a Fight Club on everyone. AND WE ALL KNOW HOW THAT ENDED. (Actually, I only know how the movie version ends. I haven't read the book--but I'm going to! ...when I get through my TBR pile.)

Naturally, I grab my "great ideas" pad and the closest pen (which was courtesy of UNSW. This will explain a lot.) and start scrawling down every one of the insane thoughts throttling my mind. And the pen refuses to work. Well, it works. It just refuses to work on this particular sheet of paper. (UNSW knows that I'm not one of them. And yes, my pen is just *that* clever.)

As a writer, how important is the perfect pen for you? Even in our modern age with our newfangled technology (okay, so I'm twenty and probably should try and act my age. Psht, being young is overrated.), I still use pen and paper for planning and brainstorming and writing notes to myself, which then get annotated, and within a month, I have a note with notes with notes (in a million different colours) and they really don't make much sense.

But, to the crux of my point (whoa, I have a point?), I have my pens. And they're either ink pens (I'm praying I don't spill tea on my notes. Then Jessica would be tres triste.) or brightly coloured "normal" pens that make my lit fic musings a lot happier than they probably should be.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PENS OF AWESOMENESS. And if you don't have pens, you can tell me about your word processor/quill/the contraption that you have that links up to your mind and writes your subconscious thoughts so that you can sleep and write all at the same time (OMG WHERE CAN I GET ONE OF THOSE?)

Monday, December 6, 2010


So, we've just had a month of deadlines, courtesy of the lovely Chris Baty over at NaNoWriMo* and now I've taken on the onerous task of setting myself deadlines. Woo.

...there's nothing quite like the sound of eight pm rolling around and realising that you:
a) have to finish one and a half novel outlines in less than four hours;
b) tumblr was down all day, so you really have no excuse for not having done anything**;
c) probably didn't have to watch the ending of The Hangover.... twice***;
d) should not be writing a blog post right now OMG WHY ARE YOU NOT WORKING JESSICA;
e) oooh, it's Monday morning in the US and all the blogs are being updated! **__**

People can be divided up into three categories.
1) Those who can break down tasks into little tasks and get things done before the deadline.
2) Those who work well under pressure. Less-than-four-hours-before-it's-due sort of pressure.
3) Those who work to their own timeframe and deadlines just don't matter.

I'm in the 2nd category, unless I collapse and fall into lucky category number three. (I'm not sure why it's a lucky category.) Like, during NaNo, I started panicking because my university releases the nasty YOU-FAILED-YOUR-EXAM-SO-WE'RE-GOING-TO-MAKE-YOU-SIT-MORE-EXAMS-MUAHAHAHAH notes on November 26. And there was no way that I could study AND write a novel. (I'd stop studying, fo shiz.) And let me tell you, I was CONVINCED that I'd have to sit those extra exams. I'm not so much a glass-half-empty person as a the-glass-contains-a-posionous-liquid kinda gal.

With that pressure on, I churned out 10,000 words in twenty-four hours. (I didn't have to sit the exams which quite possibly means I failed the year. I don't think that's a good thing.)

So maybe pressure and scary deadlines with the possibility of impending doom is good for my writing. Who knew?

*I'm jess.jess over at NaNo, should you want to cyberstalk me. Which would be rather flattering, albeit incredibly creepy.
**I did do edits for an entire novel, but that was mainly because I was procrastinating from my own novel. On that note, if you'd like me to be YOUR beta reader, drop me a line at jessica(dot)denoire(at)gmail(dot)com. You can also send virtual flowers and cookies to that email and I won't complain, pinky promise.
**I also watched an episode of Jeopardy and pwned Alex Trebek. There was a Books category, a Science category, and an Australian Geography category. IT WAS MEANT FOR ME.