Tag Archives: writing

Nightmare City

30 May

For future reference, don’t read up on the Wendigo myth of North America right after looking at the Norse Eddas. Because holy shit man, that was some freaking terrifying things my brain came up with last night. Real horrowshow stuff. Gah. Creeping horrors and cannibalism and small children. It was like a Stephen King novel, except well researched. I woke up twitching.

On the other hand, my Camp NaNo plot fell into my brain almost entirely in one piece this morning as I was trying to scrub the nightmares out of my head, so it wasn’t all bad.

Yes, I’m doing Camp NaNo this year. 50,000 words in 30 days; only this time, it’s summer! My aim this year is to do a complete story, not just hit the wordcount goal. Big talk, I know. I figure it’s about time for me to write a self-contained novel this year. We’ll see how this goes.


6 Jan

I’m working on a translation today. Why I volunteered to do this, I can’t even… the hells was I thinking? I’m about two-thirds of a way through “Sexual Harassment is a Gender Equity Issue”. I should probably be done by tomorrow

My last translation job was for my senior thesis, wherein I translated a 20,000 character science fiction story. It was about genetically engineered rats. And the gender imbalance between men and women in modern China due to the one-child policy, but mostly about rats. It took me about three months of concerted effort, with fevered eleventh-hour revisions and review with help from friends and family. So when the guy from China Development Brief (CDB) gave me this article I was kind of like, 2000 words? No biggie. And it really isn’t terrible, to be honest. I know most of the words, thanks to third-year Chinese. (Somewhere, Dr. Wang feels incredibly vindicated for making us learn things like “gender equality” and “sexual harassment”.) It’s just the fact that I’ve been mostly lazing about and putting the nose back to the grindstone is a little shocking. Boo frickety hoo, right?

It’s almost enjoyable, getting back into the hang of translating. Clearly, I’m a crazy person. I’ve got some new tea and a few scones – let’s do this thing.


(I’ll link to the article when it’s finished. After I’m through with it, the article has to go through another two rounds of editing before it gets published. Yay for redundancy and editors!)


9 Dec

Well, my personal research project on Tibetan Buddhist nuns just became a sensitive topic. I’ve been informed that I should maybe pick something a little less controversial. (I’m in the goddamn Tibetan Studies program! By default, its mere existence is controversial! GAHH.)

I’m not going to talk about it.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Round Up

30 Nov

Another year, another NaNoWriMo. I have to say, it’s been a weird November. I was never more than 10k behind the recommended daily total, which is pretty rare, and there was no scramble at the last minute for thousands and thousands of words, which is unheard of. I mean, I only had 1400 words to write today. It was kind of freaking me out and I agonized over these last thousand or so words, you guys. It was like pulling teeth.

As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t too fond of this year’s manuscript but continued to plug away at something I will never look twice at. There were a couple of really good moments and a few inspired plot swerves, but mostly it could be set on fire and would probably improve the English Literature gene pool, so to speak. What was worse was that I had my big showdown with the villain somewhere around 38K and had to fill about 8K of filler, which was again, painful. Next time I’ll do another topic; I tried for a steampunkish theme last year as well and it went awry both times. I think I’ll leave the steampunk to Kaja and Phil Foglio from now on.

NaNoWriMo is a fun experience, but this year it seemed a little, I don’t know, boring? I think maybe I need to challenge myself next year, switch things up somehow. I may write be the Queen of Improv, but methinks next year is the year I switch to serious hardcore writing, with outlines and stuff. Maybe. (Probably not.)

To all of those crazy kids trying to finish up, good luck and happy noveling!


NaNo 2011 by the numbers:

Pages Written: 150
Notebooks filled: 1.5
Pens killed: 4
Total word count: 50, 281
Hours spent writing: 64
Average words per hour: 786


My profile on NaNoWriMo, here. You can see the semi-accurate chart of my progress there.

NaNo Has Eaten My Brain

28 Nov

Sorry, guys, but I’m busy churning out the last six thousand words or so to cross the finish line in NaNoWriMo on time. I don’t have anything interesting for you.

Have some singing Muppets. I hear through the Internets that they just put out a pretty good movie. You should go see that. Yes.



NaNo Update 2011

16 Nov

Welp, November’s already half gone. According to the peeps over at NaNoWriMo, I should be over 25,000 already.

I’m not, of course. As of 11/16/2011, I’m sitting pretty on 24,000 words, which is pretty damn good for me.

This month has been pretty weird. I mean, I’ve been (sort-of) keeping up with the word count, which is super unusual. I’m the biggest procrastinator in the world, I should be 10K behind or something. (Not that I’m speaking from previous experience or anything.) Then again, I had a huge push this past weekend and cranked out 7K over Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Bleh, my poor hands.

I’ve already run out of ink in two pens. Pens I specifically bought for NaNo. Egads.

My story this year is kind of aimless. I haven’t stumbled across a plot yet, but I think that’s mostly because I abandoned my focus. Per Stoltz’s suggestion, I tried to write a horror story but then I freaked myself out so much my heart was racing and I couldn’t write for two days. Which is great if I wanted to be the next Stephen King, except for the fact that he’s a prolific bastard and I had to leave my manuscript alone for two days to compose myself. And since I’m kind of on a deadline… no more horror story. I’m pretty much writing words down and hoping I trip across something that will drive my next 25K or so.

Blargh. I’ll make it across the finish line, never fear, but I don’t think I’ll be enjoying this year’s attempt as much as my previous ones. Oh well. There’s always next year.

Keep track of my progress on the National Novel Writing Month website, here.

First Standard Publishing

11 Nov

Hi. My name is Jane, and I’m a sub-par English Editor.

I’m sorry, Internet.

Way back when, I was offered an editing job by a very nice British girl who was heading back home. She said it was easy, you occasionally got to read interesting things, and the money was decent. All of these things were true, I found.

However, I also found that the turnover was quick, deadlines short, the work was sometimes headache inducing, and my grasp of grammar and the English language would be slowly worn away, like a rock is worn down by water.

I’m back to my old ways. Today I handed in about 5000 words on the rules and regulations on getting a platinum credit card here in China for the Societe Generale. Yeah. It’s not really out of the ordinary: I’ve edited books on architecture, a press release on tennis, papers, short stories, consumer complaint forms, and more.

Well, I say edited

I used to be the kind of editor who would spend half an hour on a paragraph, making sure everything flowed and was perfectly true to the meaning of the Chinese original copy. That lasted about two short assignments. When I was handed the book – a 160 page Word Document with a two week schedule – I broke about two days from the deadline with over two-thirds left to edit. They weren’t paying me nearly enough to justify this sort of work, I rationalized to myself as I used SpellCheck and the Grammar function to catch the major offenders. If they wanted great work, they’d give me more time. I was only one step in the editing process, I consoled myself. I began to only go after the serious grammatical errors. If it sounded weird, well, it wasn’t my problem if they had a shit translator. (Or used Google Translate.) I was just supposed to make sure there weren’t any major faux pas in the work.

When people look at Chinglish and think to themselves, why on earth hadn’t the company hire an editor, the answer is well, sometimes that they did. I’m really sorry, Internet, I am.

But they’re still not paying me enough to fix everything.


31 Oct

Well, it’s almost November. You all know what that means, right?

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a thirty-day exercise in insanity creativity, where one attempts of bang out a novel of 50,000 words in a month. It’s based around the premise that anyone can write a book if they really put their nose to the grindstone. (Nothing is said about the quality of said books and with good reason. That’s what editing is for.) Basically, it’s a boot camp for anyone who has ever wanted to write a book. I write better under pressure (you should see some of the term papers I’ve come up with), so NaNo is perfect for me.  While you may think this is crazy, famous books like Sara Gruen’s Water For Elephants started life as a NaNo manuscript.

This is going to be my seventh NaNo. I’ve only failed once, despite rolling computer blackouts, a keyboard without the letter “m”, the agonies of wasting time counting individual words the year I wrote by hand, and one laptop whose screen refused to stay upright. I’ve NaNo-ed in Taiwan, New York, Gainesville, Beijing, and now Chengdu. My topics are generally sci-fi and fantasy; I’ve covered robots, vampires, cyberpunk, ninjas, steampunk, witches, and one very irritable demon. Granted, all of it is complete and utter crap (I know the value of my writing and it is probably very useful as a mulch-like product) but the experience is very fun.

If you live in an area with other Wrimos, communities get together for write-ins, which are kind of like writing support groups: part commiseration, part sugar rush, all fun. Think of a bunch of people sitting around with their laptops, occasionally with weird questions being asked, like, “Does anyone know the flash point for linoleum?” or “what’s a good name for a Lovecraftian horror from beyond the stars that’s fond of ice cream?”. (Shout-out to the awesome Gainesville Wrimo’s – you guys rock.)

This year, I plan on writing this epic by hand. I know, it sounds painful, but really, dragging a notebook around China is much, much easier than my beloved laptop. Plus, it means doodling in the margins.  I don’t have a plot line, or even an idea of what genre I’m going for. I’m the Queen of Random, baby. Planning is for wusses.

I’ll keep you all updated as to how things are going. Given my previous years experience, I will probably be about 20,000 words behind the suggested wordcount or so and then pull off a couple 8,000 word days at the end of the month to squeak by the finish line at the last moment on the 30th. Good times.

You all should head on over to see what the good people at NaNoWriMo* are up to this month. I’d love to recruit someone else into this crazy awesome time.  You can find me there under the name TombCrank the Crafty.

Happy writing!

*The site is almost always down the first few days of November; too many people try to access the servers and it slows down to the equivalent speed of a fast-moving glacier.