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.

Questions:


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 clichéd 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! 

58 comments:

  1. Whoa, this GUTGAA thing sounds pretty exciting, though I'm not sure I quite get how it works. Do you definitely get a query critique out of it or something? And are you back at school?

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    1. Well, it's not exactly a guarantee, but there are different "events" throughout the month where you have opportunities to get feedback on your pitch and have your pitch looked at by agents, etc. The schedule explains it better than I can: http://deanabarnhart.blogspot.com/2012/08/gutgaa-schedule.html

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    2. Oh, I see, it almost seems like an ABNA-esque structure. And it sounds like fun! Good luck!

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    3. A little I guess. Not quite as crazy, though. XD

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  2. Ooh, that's for mentioning GUTGAA. Might come in handy one day. =) Good luck!

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  3. Nice to meet you, Brigid! Good luck with GUTGAA!

    UNRAVELING sounds awesome! I would definitely read that. But then again, anything inspired by The Catcher in the Rye sounds perfect to me. :)

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    1. Hi Jeanmarie! Nice to meet you as well. :)

      Thanks! Haha yes, I love The Catcher in the Rye (obviously).

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  4. Hello from GUTTAA!

    Looks like you may need to change the name of your blog next month ;-)

    And I am super jealous of that nook you were talking about. It sound perfect!

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    1. Haha yes I know, I've been trying to come up with an idea for a name change. XD Yes! It's pretty cool. :)

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    2. "My life as a not-so-teenaged novelist" ? lol

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    3. Haha, maybe. XD I have no idea... lol.

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  5. Hey from GUTGAA, Brigid! I must say, it sounds like you've got a pretty good grasp of your story idea, which is always the hardest part in a query. Just from this one post it's clear that you have the talent and your idea is one I'd pick up from the shelf.

    I love coffee, Catcher in the Rye, and have super-creepy-love for my followers too - writers are an awesome bunch, aren't they?

    Good Luck my dear!

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  6. Hey from GUTGAA,
    Great tips, I definitely enjoyed reading about the inspiration for your novel, hard to get better inspiration than Catcher.

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  7. Hi, nice to meet you! Looking forward to getting to know you through GUTGAA. I have a thing for zombies. Not sure why. I'll have to take a look at your short story!

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    1. Nice to meet you too! Haha, I don't often read/write about zombies but I've always wanted to try writing a zombie story ... and I'm glad I did!

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  8. Hi Brigid! UNRAVELING sounds very interesting. Good luck with GUTGAA! And now I feel like listening to some Chemical Brothers...

    I also have to go read your zombie story.

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  9. That's so groovy that you're a Hampshire student! I'm an alumna of nearby UMass Amherst, and I went to the Hampshire campus at least once for one of the meetings of Student Alliance for Israel (a student group I'm still proud to be a charter member of). It's such a beautiful campus, and had all these little perks we didn't have at UMass, like a big free tub of popcorn on the table in the meeting room. We never had free snacks in any of our student lounges!

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    1. Oh, cool! Yes, it is very beautiful here, and yes Hampshire has a lot of nice little quirks like that. Haha. ;)

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  10. Hello, Brigid! It's nice to meet you. :) I LOVE your inspiration for your novel. I hope I get to read it some day!

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  11. This blog hap has been so fun, it's great to 'meet' so many bloggers from different walks in life. Those writing tips are indispensable and the ones i always tell new writers as well. Great blog you have here :)

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  12. Hi Brigid! Yup! I agree with your advice.
    Your story concept sounds very cool. I fell in love with Holden Caufield myself when i read it in my early 20s. I blame that and On the Road for making me a drifter at heart. ;)
    Great to meet you! Good luck with GUTGAA!

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  13. Love tip # 3! :)
    Good to meet you, good luck with GUTGAA and I look forward to hearing more from you.

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  14. Dear Bridgid,

    Happy early birthday! Woot. *ahem* I enjoyed your answers to the GUTGAA questions and especially your ideas for UNRAVELING. Sounds intriguing. Even though you've written those books and trunked them, I think the exercise in writing is helpful to learn structure, plot, pacing, among other things.

    Happy writing!

    Warm regards,

    Don #138

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    1. That's definitely true! Even with stories I've given up on, at least they taught me a lot about style, pacing, character development, etc. I don't think anything I've written has ever been a waste of my time. :) Thanks!

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  15. Oh man, love that last bit of advice. If we didn't love this thing called writing, we'd suck at it and we most certainly couldn't get through all the ups and downs.

    So nice to meet you Bridgid!

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  16. Unraveling sounds awesome, definitely something I would pick up. And your writing advice is perfect. It's nice to meet you!

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  17. I really enjoyed reading about how you came up with UNRAVEL. What an interesting concept!
    And the quote from Little Miss Sunshine was pretty awesome and quite true=)
    Good luck with school!

    Go Team #GUTGAA=)

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  18. Nice to meet you, Brigid! Your MS sounds fantastic...especially since I'm a fan of The Catcher in the Rye. Excellent source of inspiration. Hope it finds an agent who loves it soon!

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  19. Hi Brigid! *waves* I love Catcher and the Rye, and pick it up every few years for a reread just to remind myself how great it is. Excited to hear it was your inspiration! It sounds like a great story - excited to hear more about it during GUTGAA.

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  20. Nice to meet you! Your story idea sounds interesting. I love character stories so much... I find I can forget plot lines but a good character stays with me for a long time. Good luck with GUTGAA!

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  21. Hi. It is nice to meet you. I am making my meet and greet rounds (and of course neglecting just about everything else I should be doing). I have been anxiously awaiting this blogfest for almost a year. I like your story idea. I was also inspired by Catcher in the Rye, when I was in high school. I love your writing tips, especially the line from Little Miss Sunshine.

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  22. That's so cool that you started writing at a young age. I wrote novels all through college too (I just graduated). Good luck with your story. It sounds awesome. Nice to meet you.

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  23. Love the questions that you're exploring in your novel, and the discussion of the journey it took to develop the story. Major props for writing through college -- I could only handle short stories at that time!

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  24. Can I just say I love you already!!! I love how you came up with your idea (which sounds amazing)! I love how you had to go into detail to describe it! And I love that you're almost 20 and have already written 8 books! I would hardly call you lazy:) It's great to meet you and I thrilled that you joined in GUTGAA!

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  25. Hi, Brigid,
    Nice to meet you! Not only does Unraveling sound like a great book but I love the title. I'm impressed that you are already so dedicated to writing at such a young age. (It took me a lot longer to take myself seriously.) Good luck with it! Look forward to seeing you around during the GUTGAA events...

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  26. Read a lot is good advice. I'd add "in the genre you write as well as outside of it". ;-)

    I'm from GUTGAA too, and I'm mostly writing MG and YA. In Germany, I'm already agented.

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  27. Hi, Brigid, from another GUTGAA participant.

    Interesting tips. Made me remember a French friend of the family who, when faced with similar language remarked "That's not French." She was right. It's good old Anglo-Saxon.

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  28. Nice to meet you! Love the "you can't please everyone" advice. Very timely for me right now... LOL

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  29. Hi! Nice to meet you :D
    Interesting story. I don´t know if you´ve read Winter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson, but your story reminded me of it. There aren´t enough books written about friendship and not based on romance. It´s a big part of a teenager´s life, so I´d like to read what you say about it. Best of luck, and stop by my blog to say hi :)

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  30. Love that you shared you tube videos of your fave music. I picked E. S. Posthumus, and it is awesome!! Thanks. Your position as first born in a large family has got to give you lots of ideas for great characters. Loved your answers. Cheers. :D

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  31. Nice to meet you! Nice music links. :-)

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  32. Hey Brigid!

    Just dropping by to say nice to meet you! Your advice about writing for yourself really rings true... and it can be very tough once you start thinking about queries, and the first 250 and such. But you make a great point we should all remember :)

    Cheers and have fun during #GUTGAA!

    John
    http://www.johnkrissilas.com/

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  33. Hi Brigid! Great tips - all of them. It's hard to remember #3 from time to time - especially when you get to this stage. Good luck!

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  34. Oooh yay! New music. I already checked out E.S. Posthumus and loved them. ^_^

    It's hard work to write while studying. I know. Been there. Good luck!

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  35. Hi, Brigid--

    Good to meet" you.

    I like d your comments about music. I usually write without it, but if I'm in a noisy place like a coffee shop I usually write to post-rock bands like This will destroy you. Some of my favorites are Sigur Rós, Do Mkae Say Think, and Explosions in the Sky.

    But what I really loved was your use of Wordle. I did the same thing a couple of years ago to analyze early chapters of my novels, but it bnever occurred to me to run the whole thing through Wordle (just before editing the second draft, for example). Genius.

    Enjoy the rest of GUTGAA.

    Michael

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  36. Hi, nice to meet you! New follower. :)

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  37. I loved, loved, loved this post!! haha. Great information and your story sounds really neat. As a once-teenage runaway with too many failed friendships behind me, I can definitely relate. I never quite understand why friendships fall apart. People continually surprise me. When I make a friend, I really do my best to keep them, but it doesn't seem to be a priority for a lot of people.

    Thanks for the music tips. I'll have to check those out. Loved your quote too, and it's one I try to live my life by. :)

    Since I was inspired by all the great blogs I've found through GUTGAA, I've finally decide to hop on the bandwagon and start my own. Its: www.onemagicbeanbuyer.blogspot.com

    I'd love it if you could stop by. Since I just started I'm kind of in desperate need of followers. :) Good luck with GUTGAA!

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  38. Epic orchestral music rocks! (Obscure and particularly un-funny music pun? Check.) Good luck with GUTGAA and hope you get to visit Beyond the Hourglass Bridge (there's a dad joke there, too).
    Kat :)
    http://beyondthehourglassbridge.blogspot.com.au/

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  39. So creative. Love it. up-down-mix.blogspot.co.uk

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  40. Hi, nice to meet you! How do I follow? o__o I'm kinda new. Also, I'd love to meet another person who loves to write! Your picture looks very pretty n__n

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  41. Hey there, I have a new blog and if anyone wants to it would be awesome if you check it out! :) http://tangledupinteenageblue.blogspot.ca/

    I post everyday about media, books, movies, phones, and my non existent love life ;P

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  42. http://claudetteinspain.blogspot.com.es/

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