It's been an interesting week, a lot has happened and there has been a lot of reflective thinking. School, despite all the finals and big projects coming up, is slowing down. I no longer have class on Thursdays, however, those days have been picked up by work. December is the busy season at the quality place I work, The Brownstone, an awesome restaurant if I do say so myself.
I had the opportunity to pick up a side project at college last week. I was offered the chance to work on the school's newsletter and thought, why not? It seemed like a chance for a great learning experience and something that could look good on me as a student wanting to transfer to a bigger school. Funny thing though, the deadline to turn in two articles was at the end of the week I hopped on the project. It was going to be a pain in the ass to get something written, but fortunately I got information on some events that happened in the school during the past couple weeks and attended a meeting where people from China visited the campus to learn about certain assigned educational systems from Washington. The meeting was two hours long, consisting of a ton of questions, a stagnant room, stuffy executives, audio recorders, cameras, and a translator. Needless to say, it made for a good front page article. I also made the deadline.
I was asked if I was interested in participating in future articles with the newsletter and told the people in charge that I would consider it. The week in working in the newsletter consisted of interacting with people who were stressed, confused, and at times seemingly uninterested. But I think that was due to the little amount of time remaining. If I were to join in earlier, I would be apart of the meetings going into the future and would know what to expect. I didn't give the newsletter much thought, I honestly didn't think I was going to come back, but I got to thinking about it on Saturday and the thought led me to to think about something else.
In my lifetime, especially recently, I have always been apprehensive to take on more. Why? I tell myself it's because I wouldn't be able to get to my writing. But truth is, I always manage to get to my writing one way or another. Because writing is everything to me, and something that is that important to me, I will find a way to work on it one way or another. So, then why is it I'm apprehensive about doing more? Seems the best answer I could come up with is I'm afraid of testing myself. Thinking that having a lot of down time is good, which it is, but I'm finding I like to have things to do. I like going about the week knowing I've got things going on to keep me busy. Being busy keeps me involved, keeps me interested, keeps me learning, keeps me hungry.
I used to be the same way when it came to thinking about my future. When I used to smoke weed, everyday too, I would sit around, watch movies, play video games, and think about the thing I had no control over: the past. Why? Because I was afraid of the future and taking control of the thing that I did have control over: my life. So I quit smoking, sold my 360, picked up a book, and started writing my first story in three years. I got back into college, and worked out a plan for where I want to be within the near future.
Point of all this is, I'm a young man still learning about myself and dealing with petty fears that have plagued me since middle school. But that is going to change. Down time is good, but being involved makes me happy. Writing will always get done, taking advantage of the opportunities presented in my life is important. I've recognized myself as an opportunistic individual, it's time to start behaving like one.
Speaking of writing, I've learned some things from working on my novel. First, it's incredibly different than working on a short story. Short stories focus on one problem and one solution, the novel is exact opposite. As I continue to work on my horror novel House in the Hills, (Zack! If you're reading this, you should be receiving the first part soon!) I'm becoming aware of all the different problems and solutions presenting itself when revising. Reading further into the story has made me remember parts coming up and how I want to tweak them. It's simple to say the story is going to be much longer than the original draft. But if my memory serves me right, I thought the same thing on that beautiful golden evening I finished the difficult first draft.
Another thing I have learned is patience. Writing a novel takes time, and so does revising, and in a lot of ways, it takes more patience. Expand where you want, make the story as good as it can be, worry about removing scenes once you've finished growing the story. Plus, this novel is like my baby, it's made me very apprehensive to cutting out certain parts. But it's also because I don't know what else is going to happen with the rest of the story until I go through it. I know I plan to change the concept and tweak the story to match a theme, which has a lot to do with God, the Devil, Heaven and Hell, and inner personal demons.
Make the writing as tight as it can be. This is something I've learned from writing short stories, but it really helps when writing a novel. Otherwise writing a page of action can come out as three pages, especially with how I write.
Back story is essential! I can't stress this enough, well, at least for me anyway. When writing a novel, I like to make all my characters as round as possible and a novel allows me the play space to do just that. The characters become my friends, I know them better than anyone, I know how they are going to react to situations, I know what they are going to say, I know what their inner motives are. Why the hell would I not what to know about what happened to them in the past? It just makes for more interesting story telling, I always loved it when Stephen King did it.
Working on my novel has been a fun adventure. And I'm only at the beginning! When I reach the end, and I can then go through the story and read it cleanly, I'm sure a smile will crawl across my face. I'll pat myself on the back, and light up a cigar for my relentless effort to make the story a fantastic read.