Apparently this is about writing now!

Apparently this is about writing now!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Set of Activities

After starting this blog last night, I decided to do some real work. I put on Jonathan Coulton's Artificial Heart--which is my current favorite album from my all-time favorite artist--and pulled out some henna to thaw. I've been learning the art so that I can assist my friend and teacher Natakiya of Bento Anarchy at her Anime Weekend Atlanta booth this coming weekend.

I'm still very much a henna student, so recently I've been working from existing designs rather than trying, arrogantly, to create my own. The design I was working from last night came from the master henna artist at Crimson Art Henna. Her designs have an absolutely mesmerizing quality that makes them very difficult for me to comprehend, so I always take the time to sketch them out in a notebook before finalizing them on my skin.

As an extra challenge, I decided to try doing the design on my palm. Henna works pretty well most places on the body--in general, the thicker the skin, the better the stain--but I'd never tried doing the palm of a hand before. As it turned out, it was startlingly difficult--there were a lot of ridges and shifts in the skin to work over, and about halfway through the work the hand I was drawing on started to cramp from being held flat for so long.

All in all, the design took me about an hour to complete, but I ended up quite pleased with the result!

After the henna was dried--which took about half an hour of me holding my hand very still and not using it for anything--I settled in for a little while of chatting with my girlfriend. But I was still restless, feeling like I hadn't done nearly enough on my day off of work.

Finally, around midnight, I knew exactly what I should do. I opened up the first novel I ever wrote--which makes it sound like it was a long time ago, but really it was only around a year and half or so--and pulled up spell checker.

You may have already picked up on the fact that spelling is not my strong suit. I'm good at grammar, decent at writing, phenomenal at reading, and absolute crap at spelling. It makes very little sense, but I just accepted it as the way things were years ago. If I felt the compulsion, I'm sure I could learn how to spell well, but so far I've been able to avoid it.

As I started spell checking, I happened to glance down at the page count. At the very beginning, it read 1/361. After half an hour, I had managed to reach page 100. At the time I was writing the novel, I hadn't stopped to spell check. I feared getting a look at how much work there was to do on refining the novel would break my flow as a writer--detract from my desire to add more to the story. I was probably right, too. I've abandoned more projects under the pretense of 'wow, that first chapter was horrible, I'll have to edit the hell out of it and I don't want to' than I care to disclose.

In fact, I almost stopped spell checking right then and there out of disgust with my own inability to spell 'believe.' After all, there's always more Freeman's Mind to watch, and more Portal achievements to unlock. However, at the same time, as I worked I had been catching brief glimpses of my story--one sentence out of ten or so, though often more than that. I remembered, vaguely, the adventures I sent my characters on--the twists and turns they had encountered, and the monsters they had fought. Suddenly, I couldn't stand the idea of my main characters never getting to see the light of day because I was too lazy to finish a spelling edit.

At two in the morning, I finally got the 'spell check is complete' message that I had begun to think was only a myth. It's the closest I've come yet to having a completed novel. I'm trying not to think about the three or four edits that are still to come before it's ready to send to agents, but at least now I've achieved what I was hoping for. I've given myself some momentum to start from. Now if I can just get an edit of this thing done before this year's NaNoWriMo, I'll finally feel like I might go somewhere with this writing business.

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