Friday, August 31, 2012

It's Almost GUTGAA Time!

Hello, blog world!

Ugh, I haven't updated like all summer because I'm a terrible person. I guess I was just distracted with my multiple jobs and all. Or I was just being lazy. Ah hem. Anyway.

Not much is up with my writing. I was trying to do Camp NaNo, but if I want to win I'll have to write more than 10,000 words today, so that probably won't happen. Plus, I ended up hating the thing I was working on. So, eh. Well, I recently wrote this short story about zombies, though! And that was fun.

But anyhow, now for the actual subject of this post. 

What does GUTGAA stand for, you ask? It stands for Gearing Up To Get An Agent––a month-long blogfest amongst writers where we will submit our book pitches, which will be judged by agents. And hopefully, by the end of September, some writers will be offered representation. ... *Winning smile*

If you're interested, check Deana Barnhart's blog for details. :)

So, GUTGAA starts today with a little blog-hop meet & greet thing, so that other GUTGAA participants can get to know me. So, now I shall talk a bit about myself and answer the "get to know you" questions Deana provided. 

About Me:

Hi! I'm Brigid. I'm 19 now, although I'm turning 20 a month from tomorrow. (Eek, I can't believe it.) I'm a student at Hampshire College (which is in Massachusetts and not New Hampshire), where I am concentrating in creative writing. I'm the oldest of six kids. I write, I read I draw, I dance, I sing, I watch bad movies and laugh at them ... You know, stuff like that. ;) I've been writing books since I was 12, and at this point I've written eight––although none of them are published, and most of them most likely never will be (since the earlier ones were just ... frighteningly bad, considering my age and all). 

So, yeah. I think that's a good start.


Where do you write?

Well, that depends whether I'm at college or at home. When I'm at home, I usually write up in my room. There's this little nook in one wall, next to the window, and that's where I usually sit. If I'm at school, I usually just write in my bed. 

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

Since I'm at home at the moment, I guess I'll use writing spot #1 for this. In which case, I would see the bunk bed that my sister and I share. 

Favorite time to write?

I'm not really picky about it. If I find any time to write at all, that in itself is kind of a miracle. Haha. But I guess usually, I either write first thing when I wake up, or right before I go to sleep.

Drink of choice while writing?

COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE. Oh, and I do enjoy the occasional cup of ginger tea as well.

When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

It depends on my mood, I guess. Sometimes I don't feel like listening to music while writing, and other times it helps me a lot. There's a lot of wordless music that I really enjoy listening to while writing. If you're looking for suggestions, I recommend:

E.S. Posthumus - If you're writing something fantasy/adventure, their stuff is great. Very "epic" sounding. (In fact, one of the top comments on the song I linked to is "This song makes me feel like I could write an epic story.") 

The Chemical Brothers - I especially love their songs from the movie "Hanna." Also good for adventure-writing, and I think their music has a good sci-fi vibe to it as well. 

This Will Destroy You - I recommend them if you're writing something more slow-paced, and/or just sad/dramatic. Always gets me in the mood to write something depressing. Yay! :D

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

Ummm I guess it depends on what you mean by "latest manuscript," but I'll just use my most recently finished one. (And I use the word "recently" rather loosely, considering I finished it more than a year ago, but ... yeah.) So in that case, it would be UNRAVELING––the YA contemporary novel I'm currently concentrating on, and starting to seek representation for, etc.

And well, that question has a rather complicated answer. Haha. My ideas tend to come in pieces over time, and then they all kind of merge together to form a bigger idea.

So, I initially was inspired by THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, which I read when I was 16. It wasn't quite like anything I'd ever read before, and it really interested me. I fell in love with the idea of a teenager sort of temporarily "escaping" from everything, wandering around, trying to figure out the meaning of life and whatnot. After reading it, I wanted to try something similar at some point, but I wouldn't come up with an idea for about another year.

When I was 17, I was going through a somewhat rough time. School was really stressing me out, and a lot of the time I felt like I just wanted to run away from everything. So, this idea started forming in my head about this girl who runs away from home, just trying to get away from everything for a while. At around the time the idea started forming, J.D. Salinger died. ... It seemed like some kind of weird sign, and it made me want to pursue the idea even more. I just felt like it was missing something.

There had to be some kind of motivation behind the protagonist's actions. For some reason, I had this feeling that she had wanted to run away with her best friend––but then her best friend didn't show up. I couldn't really tell what was going on ... just that the main character had a best friend who was supposed to be there, but wasn't there for some reason. It was like, the protagonist was looking for her friend but the friend was gone. And it occurred to me, finally, that in a way the protagonist was "looking" for a friend who was already dead.

And that's how I finally came up with the idea for UNRAVELING. The protagonist ended up being a girl named Mia, who once shared a twisted friendship with a girl named Emily. Their friendship came to an explosive end, Mia moved away, and hasn't spoken to Emily in two years. But when Mia hears that Emily has committed suicide, she returns to her hometown to search for reasons behind Emily's sudden and unexpected death.

So, the story became much more than just a story about a girl wandering around and trying to find a purpose in life. It also became a story about friendship. I've had a lot of failed friendships in my life––and while Emily isn't based on anyone I've ever known, I did draw from past experiences to find my inspiration. I think everyone has had a close friendship that ultimately disintegrated––whether it was because of some huge argument, or merely because you drifted apart and/or lost contact with each other. With UNRAVELING, I hoped to bring up questions about the complications of friendship: Why do we hold onto some friendships even if they make us unhappy? Do the costs of having one really close friend outweigh the benefits? What would you say if you had one last chance to talk to a friend you lost? When do the boundaries between friendship and romance lie, and how does gender play a role in how we feel about that subject? 

Sorry, that was a super long answer. But, I think that about sums it up. ;)

What's your most valuable writing tip?

It's hard to choose just one. I'll start off by giving the most clich├ęd tips, which are:

1. Read a lot.
2. Write every day.

They both sound simple, but they're more time-consuming than they might seem. However, the time is worth it! Reading helps you get a better sense of how style and grammar work, explore the use of voice, and understand your market. Writing every day is like exercising a muscle; if you keep working on it, it will get stronger.

My third writing tip is a quote from "Little Miss Sunshine," which is one of my favorite movies. (Pardon my French in advance.)

3. "Do what you love, and fuck the rest."

Don't be too worried about what others think of you. When you're writing that first draft, just write it for yourself. When you get to editing, you can be more concerned with how the reader will perceive your work. But even then, don't let other people's opinions shape everything you write. You have to write in a way that makes you happy, that makes you feel unique, that makes you feel like you. If you get too caught up in worrying about whether your book will be "marketable," it will only slow you down and probably water down your style. Remember to write for yourself and not just for other people. Remember that you can't please everyone, and that's just the way it is. And above all, remember to do what you love!