Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Greetings from Grand Cayman and Challenge Update

So, my dear readers, all two of you ;-), I am finally on that coveted vacation on Grand Cayman Island.
But, since I have some swimming and drinking to do, I'll keep this short.
Yes, I have completed my challenge (Yay!). I have mailed a new copy of my book to a competition on Friday, Jan. 27, with about 42,000 words in it.
What happened...
Well, I was so busy those last few days with writing, fixing the book, table of contents, some work, my car's battery dying...that I didn't have time to blog nor do Yoga (Sigh.)
But I got it all done. My car got a new battery, and I finished my manuscript with borrowing two stories from my first version a year ago. Everything else was brand new or somewhat new.
So, keep your fingers crossed! If I win this, I will be published and all set.
Greetings from Stingrays and Blue Iguanas.
I have to go now, but I'll write with more details in a few days...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Challenge: Days 15-18

Yes, I'm human, and I dropped the ball.
On Thursday, Day 15, I went to Baked and Wired in Georgetown and had a bad latte, or a too strong of a latte for my sensitive stomach (that's why I always drink single shot ones) and got heartburn for the next two days.
And heartburn makes me depressed and drains all creativity out of me.
So, on Day 15, I fixed up my recent story, The Storm, based on my writing group's critique, but on Day 16, I didn't feel like living let alone writing.
On Day 17, I was hosting a birthday party. Alas, no time.
And today is Day 18.
Today, I will write, damn it!
So, in my view, since this is my challenge, I haven't completely failed it if, and only if ("If is good,") I still manage to have 40,000 by Friday.
Today is Sunday!
My new writing class starts on Tuesday night, so I have to prepare for that as well. And I'm exhausted from the party. And I have to get ready for Cayman Islands. But I will write, damn it.
So, I need 1000 per day, starting tomorrow. Today. Tomorrow. Today.
Or maybe I can cheat, and include a story from my previous version?
"Be first, be smartest, or cheat," said Jeremy Irons in a movie recently. I like that saying. Preferably I'd like to do/be all three ;-) just this once.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Challenge: Day Fourteen

I can't believe it's been 14 days already! That's crazy!
Today I had some work in Chinatown, and I brought my laptop so I can go writing right afterwords.
And I did retouch and change the ending of my newest story (A bucket of melted pig's fat).
That, my friends, took me at least an hour. Or more. I didn't have a stopwatch but it seemed like two.
First, I had to read it from the beginning, then change it along (I come up with new ideas while I'm reading my stories), then write another ending.
I'm still down to a little less than 35,000 words.
I actually thought I would be over that number by now but I guess my decision to leave math behind when I started college was a good one.
Actually, it wasn't my math. The document showed way over 3,000 words, but a piece of an old story was hiding below.
Oh, well.
So, now it's too late to start a whole new story, since I have no idea what to write about.
And I need about three days for each story.
So, I need another two stories, or one really long one.
Should I go back to Gorilla? Or start something new?
I don't have time for experiments though.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Challenge: Day Thirteenth or the Luckiest Day on Earth

If you think that having someone clean your house isn't inspirational, think again.
Today, while my housekeeper was scrubbing my bathroom, I almost finished my new, wonderful story, with a very sad name--Bucket of melted pig's fat.
Now, you know I'm a vegetarian and an animal activist. But this is a true story, told to me by my mother, and it's about my great grandparents. Apparently, pig's fat was liquid gold in World War II. So, as much as I'm against animal cruelty, this story is true and needed to be told.
It's fictionalized, of course.
The other reason I named it this way, is because an agent told me it's a great, specific detail, and good stories have those.
Plus, admit it, you want to read the story, or you are completely repulsed by the title.
That's what I'm going for, one of the other. Not really ;-)
I'm also very tired today, and even more surprised how I have managed to write over 1,000 words (I started this story yesterday) in such state. My writing group met last night, and we had wine over discussions, then we took it down to the bar. It was oh, so fun, but then, at midnight, I couldn't turn my brain off, and I think I spent the whole night thinking about their stories and mine. About characters. About what they could do.
Hmmm, maybe this challenge wasn't such a good idea. I might need therapy after I finish it.
Also, I would not have been able to write this post if it were not for caffeine. Who ever invented or found, or produced caffeine first, should be given a Nobel prize for...peace.
p.s. You can tell it kicked in, right? Anyway, I'm down to 35,000 words! 5000 more to go, and 10 more days. Easy, breezy. ;-)
p.p.s. Stay away from pig's fat. It will slowly kill you. And I had my first tater tots last night. Four. Those will kill you too.
p.p.p.s. What am I talking about?! Therapy? I'm going to Cayman Islands right after the challenge. All the therapy I'll need is shopping with a frozen cocktail in my hand.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Challenge: Day Twelve or The Day I realized I might be screwed

I gave it all I got, i.e. I included every single story I wrote that has a value, in my collection, and I'm down to 31, 789 words! Only! Pathetic!
I wrote another 1800 today, or a beginning of a new story (it's actually a complete rewrite of an old story, The prisoner, that a year ago was written in this manner--this happened, then that happened, then this. Now I know better.)
So, I have ten days to write 8,200 minus what I have written today, (so 6,400 or less, if I keep writing) providing that it turns out to be good enough.
I'm just a tiny bit nervous.
I don't know what else to write about. I'm fresh out of ideas.
I could get back to Gorilla and the feeling of wanting to slam my laptop on my head with it, or I have to come up with another two, completely new stories.
Damn, when I started this I actually thought it would be easier.
And it's not like I don't have anything else to do in those ten days.
I have some work, I have a party, I have a new class, I have a workshop and a trip to prepare for.
On top of all that, my computer is acting up and won't print.
Fun, huh?!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Challenge: Day Twelve or Half Done

I cannot believe that I have been writing 12 days in a row. I mean, some days less, some days more but it was always on my head, and I made a point to leave at least a couple of hours a day for writing.
Today I wrote and rewrote 600 words. A little flash-fiction. I might expand, we'll see.
So, I have 11 days left to finish the 40,000 words, put it in a book manuscript form, and mail it.
Also today, I went through my last year's version looking for hidden treasure, and except for a few excellent story ideas, I have already milked everything I could have out of that journalistic attempt to write fiction.
And to think that a year ago I thought that version was great?!
Who said that ignorance is bliss!
Knowledge just makes you hungrier and restless.
I'm getting of the philosophy wagon now (I didn't even have anything to drink, I swear. Maybe I should.)
Tomorrow, I'll count all the words in my new version, see how many I'm missing. Then try to write more. And more. And more.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Countdown: Day Eleven

I had so many things to do today, so I got to writing only in the evening.
I tuned up my newest story, and that was it.
But at least I'm still in the game, plus I feel rested from writing.
The good news is that I got into a George Washington's Community, i.e. free writing class for the whole spring semester, and I got in based on the story that I wrote about six-months ago, Angel.
The bad news is, I'm planning on traveling this spring, extensively.
So, I really, really want to take this class (it's suppose to be awesome) but I also really, really want to travel.
So what do you do when you really, really want two things that are mutually exclusive?
I can either try to defer (I'm not sure if that's possible) or miss several classes.
Hmmm, not ideal. I hate missing classes.
But I haven't been to Serbia in a year.
So, a lot to think about.
But the challenge is still on!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Countdown: Day Ten or It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

A Yerba Mate, Latte, Arranciata and a Hot Chocolate later, and I'm done with my semi-new story, A night more expensive than the century. 
I should probably check my cholesterol when I finish this challenge.
I'm so happy my friends, so happy.
Two days ago, I was working on Gorilla, and wanted to throw up every time I thought about writing. And I blame my husband. He's the one who's been pushing me to write that Gorilla story.
It's a fascinating story but it's a novel, not a story. I think I said this before.
And it's not like I'm not on a deadline here. It's not like I'm casually strolling whenever I feel like it, to a coffee shop and writing something that will take months, if not a year. No pressure.
No, this challenge is actually mostly what I have been doing for the last ten days. This and Yoga, to keep my sanity.
So, as much as Gorilla has potential, it has to wait until I finish this collection. I always wanted to write a novel anyway. But one difficult challenge at the time.
So, another 2,300 words today. Over my quota. And I enjoyed it.
And it's Friday the 13th. So appropriate.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Countdown: Day Nine

Better day than yesterday. The sun was shining, I felt happier and was more organized. I did Yoga at noon, then went to run errands and write.
I wrote some, didn't count since I realized that the story I'm working on right now (The story of Gorilla) is not really a short story, but more a novella. It would be very hard to turn these multiple connected stories into a short story, at least it would for me. 
So, I don't know what to do tomorrow. Should I continue working on it with no clear end in sight, or leave it for now and work on something else? Maybe rewrite a story from my first version? Or start something else, new?
Either way, it will be a setback. 
So, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.
I could certainly finish Gorilla in time for the competition, but I don't know what the quality will be.
I somehow feel I don't have a full grasp of it. Probably, again, because it's a novel material, not a story.
Oh, well, I'm a bit stuck. 
How do I get unstuck?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Countdown: Day Eight

I didn't have such a great writing day today.
I felt tired this morning, and especially tired of writing. And I had some errands to run so by the time I got to Dolcezza and had my latte in my hand, I was depraved of all creativity.
Instead, since I had to write (I don't give up easily) I researched a bit for a story I'm currently writing (the story of Gorilla) then I wrote another pathetic 200-300 words. I was embarrassed to even calculate (I think it was about 222) but, hey, it's better than nothing, right, at least I tried.
Still puzzles me why it just flows on certain days and it's like pulling teeth on others.
I guess we are not meant to write well every day.
That's why it's a challenge.
I didn't even go to Yoga today.
Well, I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully. I'm planning on doing Yoga first, then writing, to boost creativity, if it proves to be boostable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Countdown: Day Seven

I got tired of going between my Yoga studio and my favorite neighborhood cafe for the last few days, so I decided to take off this morning to Georgetown, to Baked and Wired.
Ups for B&W: I cannot get online, ever, so I'm forced to write, resulting in 1,133 words today.
Downs for B&W: They have the best cupcakes in the city, and it's nearly impossible to resist.
So, I had half of Karen's Birthday, (it's my compromise) which is currently my favorite (chocolate cake, butter-cream frosting) and a latte, of course.
The latte did give me a little buzz later on.
So, this challenge will result in a speedy-finished second version and more pounds.
Anyway, last night I realized that if I write about 1000 words a day, for the next 15 days, I will have all I need, plus two days to fix everything up and mail it to the competition.
So, now, tired or not, I have to write every day.
And today I opted for a new story, instead of rewriting the old ones.
I don't know, I read some, and these are good stories, but written in a very non-fiction way, so, as my mother would say," I can't catch their head nor their tail."
Some other day.
In a meanwhile, new story. It's going to be a long one, I can tell.
And this one is actually a bit autobiographical.

Helping to save a mother and three beautiful gray-and-white long-haired kittens

Monday, January 9, 2012

Countdown: Day Six

Words in the new collection: 25,693;
Words put in so far, today: About 500
Words in a new story finished today (happiness, happiness, joy, joy): 3,668
Lattes: 1
Chocolate and assorted sugars that help me write: 0
Retouched stories accepted for publishing (Bastard's Wife for Orion Headless): 1
Words to go: 40,000-25,693= a little less than 15,000, or about 5 stories.
Days left in this challenge: 17
Extraordinary circumstances: First snow of the year in DC! I just made my wish...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Challenge: Day Five

Great day, my friends, great day!
I kept writing my new story, preliminary titled Revenge. Another...I'm not sure but at least 800 to 1,200 words put in today, most of them, I think, good. Yes, I know, it's hard to believe that not everything I write is brilliant ;-) but it's true.
Actually, when I read something that I wrote couple of years ago, sometimes I think: "Holy Crap", and not in a good way.
Also, I got an e-mail from a magazine accepting, actually loving, my old story, Bastard's Wife.
They called it "wonderful and powerful."
It's been a while since I read it and worked on it. So I read it today, and it's good. Some parts are great, some parts a little creative non-fictiony, but all in all, it's an interesting story, massive, vast, but interesting.
So, I have two short stories accepted, and one poem published so far. Not bad. Not bad at all. Right?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Challenge: Day Four

So far, only 520 words today. Lame. I'm a lame writer today.
I came to a cafe after my Yoga class, and again, my laptop was acting up. I really have to buy a new one, and a Mac, since I'm pissed at PCs. But I'm afraid that getting used to a new laptop will distract me from my writing challenge.
So, I'm procrastinating. And making sure I back up everything cause this little ass here could die on me any moment. (Please don't. I apologize.)
Anyway, I keep writing this new story, titled Revenge, and it's developing into something long, so, I have no idea when I will finish it. I think it will take me days. And I have no idea where it's heading, really. I titled it Revenge from a line from the beginning, but then, it took a life of its own and went some place else. So I either turn it around and make it about revenge (hmmm, interesting idea) or just let it be and go wherever it needs to go and then re-title it. I know, the latter sounds easier. When did I ever choose anything easy? It's a rhetorical question.
But I'm still on track. It's not even five. I might actually put in all 1000 words today. After I rest from...I'm not sure what.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Challenge: Day Three

Quirky day.
It started with me not being able to turn my laptop on.
Panic. Fury. Desire to kill a meat-eater.
Luckily my husband was at home (sick).
So, this was the scenario.
My laptop won't turn on, I'm freaking out, snapping at the cats, him, walls, flowers, air.
He googles on his small notebook I hate (it's so slow!): "laptop won't turn on."
Very peculiar directions pop out:
"Take the battery out, turn laptop upside down, hold the "on" button upside down, for at least 30 seconds, then turn it around and turn it on, then put battery back in."
Let's just say, mildly, I was skeptical.
I'm swearing, and thinking about who's to blame--the last guy who allegedly fixed my computer, or me, who didn't back up my work from yesterday. I call myself an "idiot" multiple times.
Still desperate.
He does all the weird steps and it works! Happiness and joy!
I backup my work and swear never, ever to leave anything not backed-up.
Then I pack up and go to Baked and Wired in Georgetown, and tired as I was (I slept about seven hours. I need nine.) I pick up on a beginning of a story from months ago, and to my huge surprise, it takes off, and takes on a shape!
It's promising. It actually made me emotional. I know, I'm such a wuss.
Now, it's still very raw and not even half-way in but I put in about 1,600 words! That's more than my quota for the day. Yay!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Challenge: Day Two

Today I decided to do Yoga before writing, just to see how that physical exercise affects my intellectual work.
I'm not sure if there's any difference.
Anyway, I have just retouched another story, Tombstones, I wrote months ago and forgot about. It's short, but sweet, in a serious way. So, with it, the count is 21, 112.
I have two more stories I started and never finished. (Pathetic, I know). I just didn't know how to finish them at the time. It happens to me a lot. I get an idea for a story, or a writing exercise gives me one, but then don't know how to finish it. So I just leave it, hoping that a little writing fairy will come at night and finish it for me.
Hasn't happened yet. But still hopeful ;-)
And I forgot my notes on two other orphan stories at home. And I have an extremely annoying neighbor in this cafe, who will not stop talking loudly, right next to me.
So, I don't know how many more words I will be able to contribute by the end of today, but I will try.
I'll start with moving to another seat.
Don't say "write from home." Booooring.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day One

I half-strolled, half-rode to Dolcezza, with my ailing laptop, still good enough for writing, exactly at noon. Kind of symbolic.
I have rewritten my new story, New York, New York. I know it's not really the most imaginative title, but it works for now.
So, it took me three hours to significantly rewrite 4,000 words.
Not bad.
So, I'm down to...wait for it...wait for it...(How I met you mother, I know, it's just so funny and I swear, I have never used it before)....-19,600 words!
That's about half of what I need.
Of course, I will need to do a little more edits for this story, but nothing significant, I hope.
I'm waiting for the feedback on it first.
So, I will get some late lunch now, I try to do some more work this afternoon/evening.
Damn, it's cold outside! Good for writing I guess.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Countdown to finishing my second version of my first book of prose starts tomorrow!
I will keep a blog-journal of what I do every day towards the goal of finishing it by Jan. 27, since on Jan. 28 I will be on Grand Cayman Island drinking a Strawberry Daiquiri. Oh, yes!
I want to submit my manuscript to a book competition at the end of this month.
I have about half of 40,000 words ready to go, and another 10,000 in the works. So I need to drain 10,000 out of my head or my first version.
The problem with that is that I have become a better writer in a year. So, whatever there was in the first version, needs to be reworked.
And I have...what...23 days. (Faint sound)
You should keep me in shape with your comments.
I like deadlines, they help me strengthen out. Like boot camp.
So, let the games begin....tomorrow, that is. Now I will watch new Parenthood.
Challenge Number One of 2012!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Burning PCs, I mean, Word...

This new year has started well and not so well for me. The "well" part is that one of my poems is going to be published in the Burning Word magazine by the end of this week. It's a poem I wrote a long time ago, and it was published in Serbia and Serbian in 2002. but when I started building my brilliant-idea hybrid book, I translated some of my poems. You see, last year, I envisioned my book somewhat as the New Yorker--short stories, essays, poems and plays, but I guess that was a little too creative for the depleting publishing market of 2011.
This year I decided to be boring and only write short stories.
Maybe a novel later on.
While looking for an outlet for my stories, I stumbled upon the Burning Word that accepts flash fiction (I only have one flash fiction story) and poems. So I said, "why not" and I sent a few.
I got an e-mail on Jan. 1, 2012 (cool, right?!) saying they loved it and want to publish it.
This was while I was buying and listening to my favorite Bijelo Dugme songs, on iTunes. It was a good moment.
The not so good part is that I hate my PC. And all PCs. I was actually so frustrated with my Toshiba Satellite yesterday that I went to an Apple store to look at Macs.
I got some Vista Security 2012 virus on it, on Christmas day, and whatever I did, I couldn't get rid of it. It would actually completely hijack my laptop, and my laptop is my right hand. I am kind of lost without it, and very, very obnoxious to be around if there's something wrong with it ( just ask my husband.)
So, then I spent half a day working on it, finally uploaded Norton antivirus, which then screwed up my Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox so now I probably don't have a virus on my laptop, but I can't use Internet either.
Even this stupid little Notebook of Dell's I'm writing on right now, I really, sincerely want to smash against the wall. And I'm not a violent person. Usually.
So, I'm waiting for my next big payday and I'm getting myself a Mac Air. And with it, my sanity back.