From a beginning writer…

obligatory glass photoFirst let me clarify what I mean by beginning writer. That phrase in itself is probably grammatically incorrect and illustrates the point well enough. Beginner writer?

I’ve written gobs of pages on blogs throughout the years, plenty of bead-making articles for magazines, and even a booklet of glass tool instruction that was independently published. I have also written my fair share of papers throughout 19 years of schooling–19.5 if you count that extra semester of college it took to take that one more class I needed.

This, however, is the first time I’m setting out to write a novel. A real book. No offense to article writers or bloggers. Those things haven’t felt like I qualified as a writer for some reason. Maybe because it came easy and they weren’t daunting tasks. The booklet felt a little that way. Craft, art, whatever. I’m not here to open a debate. I’m a beginning (beginner?) novelist. That works better, yes?

In my last post way back on October 9th I announced that I’d be doing NaNoWriMo this month. Well the month is almost over which means only 5 more days to hit 50,000 words. I’m at 31,000. Do you want to hear the excuses? I prefer to think of it as an explanation for why I’m not going to reach the goal.

I started out thinking it would be a Young Adult book and have tried to push it in that direction however, I don’t think I’m edgy enough, yet. It surely doesn’t fit the plot I’ve created this time around either. So I’ve decided that it’s middle grade (ages 9-12) but more of an upper middle grade (ages 10-14). I have no idea if I’m accurate in that and I’m going to leave it open for further debate.

I’ve written all 60 of my scenes, I like my voice, and still need to go in and plump it up with some scene building, character depth and more intrigue and conflict. So, I am into the second draft phase. I do not think that work will give me 20,000 more words and it goes much slower than writing the first draft. I can try but I just don’t see it. I could maybe get it up to 40,000 and I’m ok with 30-40,000. My  justification/rationalization is that middle grade is ok in that range. So that works out nicely although, I’m not going to win NaNo with this model and I don’t feel like writing that many more words just to have to cut them later, in order to say I won.

Everything I read says less is better in MG. I agree with that and I think that is why I’m finding a good fit. I look pretty chatty here because this is stream of consciousness writing and there are a lot of unnecessary words on this page which  doesn’t fly in a novel–maybe it doesn’t here either. When I write emails or copy I do it with a lot less fluff–only what is necessary–so that the reader doesn’t get bored and click away or pass over it.

I am learning so much and I love that. I’m getting better because of it. This process also makes me miss blogging though, where I can just sit down and type what’s on my mind and not worry too much about how it’s going to link to the next scene, or the ending, or what so-and-so said in chapter three.

I also am getting some good lessons in perseverance and battling self-doubt. I’ve read through my scenes so many times that I’m bored with the story. I have to remember that I know the twists and turns, where they happen and where they’ll end, and new eyes are fresh.

I will keep you posted on my progress and what I’ve already learned along the way.

It’s that time again. NaNoWriMo. You in?

While blogging has seemed to fall off of my radar (all of my profound thoughts have shifted to my Facebook feed) I am still here and still consumed with life and my art. Yes, they seem to be separate entities this day. Life, consisting of home and family, and art as something that I do between the non-negotiables. Sounds grim but, it is what it is. Multiple doses of yoga during the week help with balance, literally and figuratively.

On top of everything else, I have again ,taken on a life’s dream: writing a novel. I have wanted to do it forEVER. I have written plenty of magazine articles and how-to tutorials but have always been intimidated by the idea of writing a ‘real’ book. Some of the things I have taken on and completed in the last five years indicate to me that I can do just about anything I set my mind to. I know, I know, I’ve had people telling me that my whole life. The difference is, I finally believe it. My husband jokingly gifted me a book about releasing your inner Bad-Ass and I guess mine has decided it’s time to get it going on.

I have started to brainstorm novels multiple times. Should it be a memoir? At least I’d know my subject matter but for obvious reasons I don’t want to put that out there as I don’t feel it’s fair to talk about other people, especially if they can’t write their own book in response.

I have had multiple ideas for themes and plots I’d like to cover but never knew how. I have written notebooks full of automatic writing, both personal and exploratory but became overwhelmed thinking about how it could ever be massaged into something coherent. If I thought it was totally spectacular content I could see dumping it into and editors lap or a partner author and saying, hey, here’s some really cool stuff, can you do anything with it? But then, that wouldn’t be writing it, would it?

So, I did what I always do when something interests me. I start to research how to do it. I know that it’s a personal process, it’s art, but I like to know what works for others and always, I like to hear people’s stories. I’ve read about writing, how to write, how to make writing better, how to plan, structure, and wing it. I’ve read the advice of just sit down and write. (been there, done that, got nowhere). Along the way I’m taking bits and pieces and letting it work as it wants to work…a lot of planning but a lot of running around the page to get the pieces that I’m planning into place. It’s fun.

I suspect that me sitting here talking about my process is like telling people about the dream I had last night. No one cares. It doesn’t mean anything to them and it’s a yawn. If you’ve read this far, cool, maybe there is a little bit of something interesting here, and I thank you. I can share more of the process as I go along…good, bad, success and failure. Like, that time SEVEN years ago when I started NaNoWriMo and quit after about a week. (Holy Crap, I didn’t realize it was that long ago! I thought it was about four years ago). I am confident that planning ahead (having characters, a plot idea and some, if not all, of my scenes mapped out) is going to help my success rate. I have 15 of 60 scenes mapped and my handful of main characters breathing a few breaths.

Which reminds me…NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) sign-ups are this month and writing starts November 1st. It is a self-iimposed challenge to write 50,000 in 30 days and have a novel when you’re done. Lots of support, forums, help, prompts, local group organization, etc. Check it out and start planning.

New experience with the micromosaic faces

I was excited to get back to the micro mosaic faces and now, having made them off and on for a couple of years I’ve become more proficient and am having some additional successes with color combos.

lori greenberg glass micro mosaic

Because I am pretty comfortable with the technique and process I was able to work more freeform. That is, a strong foundation allows an artist to play (with more success). I didn’t have a plan like I usually do and started out making all of the more solid face components. Then I chose some color, and created a new one with a new scheme, which opened the door to even more options.

lori greenberg glass micromosaic

Something interesting happened along the way. Because there was no plan or template I started to let the glass chips do what they wanted. I started building areas of color and forming swirls and curves as I went. It was like I was painting with pixels, one at a time. Before I knew it, I had flames. I was not intending flames and I sure wasn’t intending a matching goatee. All I was thinking was that I wanted to match the orange in the nose and put some outline around the eyes. Working this way was really enjoyable. Like doodling but with minuscule little dots of glass. I felt like a painter; and I cannot paint, or draw.

lori greenberg glass micromosaic

The other ones, below, kind of happened that way too. I do wish that the color of the orange-ish/yellow section would have stayed the cool color that it was before it was fused in the kiln but, I still got a new color for my library and I will try again sometime with another combo to recreate the brighter yellow contrasted with the maroonish sangre color. It’s all good. (see that? I’m trying to appreciate what I’ve done rather than being so hard on myself).

lori greenberg glass micromosaic

I got really fast at making these because I eliminated some of the fine black outlining. But looking at the piece below you can see that that outlining does make a a big difference in the overall effect and feel of the piece. The fine black (as opposed to the thicker black lines above) are made with stringer about the thickness of a hair, if even that. It can get a little time consuming and tedious to say the least. I see that’s a necessary evil though. You might not realize it but the mouth murrini and eyes below are outlined in that black. If they weren’t they’d just kind of blend in. Gotta do it.

lori greenberg glass micro mosaic

Next step is designing a frame (in cardboard) to pass onto my silver-fabricating buddy, Chris Mode, for the next steps. I’m kind of itching to try the silver again but I’m not sure. We’ll see if I can do it in cardboard first!