Neil Gaiman says:

Neil Gaiman says:
pic by Allan Amato

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Diary of a mad woman...

Hey there all, I'll try and document as best as I can remember; I couldn't do it during the foray, because I had to bloody write, didn't I (say the last few words with a good, thick Brit accent :-) I took the odd pic of myself with my digi cam and a few pics of what I ate, the time, calendars and stuff.

The story itself is a Western, loosely based on a character I came up with for a potential erotica story (har har!) and later she actually got made into an RPG character for my friend Keith Savage's role-playing game that he invented (I won't name it here, because it's still in development!) Clayton and I are lucky beta-testers, and my character got to star in her own story with this game. (Well, Clay starred too, but my novel wasn't about his character.)

In fact, the words: loosely based are very accurate. I only used the idea of her origin in the story, and not the game itself. That would've been using KEITH'S story idea, and not my own. Big chunks of the novel wrote themselves, which is very nice. I love when that kind've thing happens.

I wrote 4 or 5 story "threads", that I attempted to pull together late Sunday afternoon. I pulled and pulled and most of them tied together, except for one connecting thread I just didn't have time to reattach. Of course I realized the futility of it around 11:58pm Monday night, and then it was too late :-P Well enough of my rambling.. here we go..

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Got writing around 9:00am, after a pb & wildflower honey on toast brekky, with muchos coffee. Music to start the mood: William T. Stromberg's Trinity & Beyond The Atomic Bomb Movie sndtrk. This is a great soundtrack. If you like Basil Poledoris' Conan sndtrk, you'll love this. Go hunt it down somewhere! The next pieces of music I threw in were a couple of CD's I found at Big Bud's before it closed: Dad's Favorite Western Movie Themes Vol I & II. This basically set the theme for the whole book. Between other CD's, I kept switching back to those two and it really helped.

Mood-wise I was pretty upbeat and positive. Whenever I got stuck or needed a break, I went upstairs and took my friend Myra's doggies outside to walk around in the back yard and get some fresh air. Her dogs are a lot of fun and it cheered me up to play with them and just got my brain away from the story for a few minutes.

It was distracting writing with someone in the room watching TV, but with headphones attached to my massive JVC 80's style ghetto-blaster, I re-immersed myself in thematic music, which in turn, immersed me in the feel of the book.

Drank coffee and later, rye & lemonade (thanks for the suggestion Matt!), ate a mango, stretched, called friends, got back at it. Had left-over pizza for dinner, which was good, cause it didn't take much time to make. I rolled up the carpet on Day 1 around 11:45pm, thoroughly exhausted from the crappy night's sleep I'd had the night before and plumbing creativity all day. Page count: 35 My original idea, when I'd heard that the average submitted pages for 3-Day novels were between 90-120 pgs was to try to shoot for 40pgs/ day. Gahh..

Becky, the toy poodle, curled up and slept as sound as a log against my back. The little Shitsu Brody, barked for hours. Finally had to resort to earplugs...

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007
Woke late and blurry. Made scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast with Clay and was civil! :-D Took doggies outside, drank coffee and realized my brain was starting to buzz with the story. The buzzing was actually snatches of dialogue, scenes, character bits & pieces. There was the odd FLASH of "Yeah, I can link up that thread there..." Which is good, because I was getting worried that none of my story threads would link up...

Continued to drink coffee, then later switched to my homemade Margarita mix w/ ginger ale (thanks to Myra!) Ate Pringles, cookies..mmmMmm sugar... and kept typing. I found writing the second day went much more smoothly. Called Carol & Troy a couple of times & updated my insane status on Facebook to let them know I was still alive.

Music was again a very important part of the process because I had to completely submerge myself away from the TV, Clayton, the dogs, everything. I listened to a variety, again starting with Trinity, but then moving to the V for Vendetta sndtrk., Army of Darkness Sndtrk., Workingman's Dead - Grateful Dead, Indigo Girls' Retrospective, The Hulk Sndtrk... then looping back to the Dad's Favorite Western Movie Themes Vol I & II. Occasionally themes from the "Good The Bad & The Ugly" would penetrate my chattering brain and I'd go YEAH Yeah!!!

The doggies went home around 6:00pm, and were delighted to see that their "Mommy" returned for them. I've never seen dogs levitate that was kinda cool! Had TVP tacos for dinner, which were good & didn't take that long to make. Hurray! Back at it... Knocked off around midnight with a healthier page count in the 80's, thank goodness. Felt burnt and confused, as well as a bit giddy. In fact, glancing at my work after talking with Carol, I saw (or thought I saw) completely different words on the page. I laughed hysterically and sent her this pic:

Monday, September 3rd, 2007
I woke with such an intense feeling of dread and exhaustion that I wanted to crawl back in bed and never emerge. Slid out like an otter and crept into the shower. Only water and scrubbing could save me now. My mind darted like zig-zag flashes you see out of the corners of your eyes when you're sleep-deprived. The story.. the story.. it was in my head, completely entrenched in my brain. It was continuing without me even being at the keyboard. Wait!! Wait! I groaned. The answer spun behind my eyes; the HOW of hooking up the impossible chunks of story that had tormented me the day before.

I can't even remember what I ate. I just slid down the basement stairs with my coffee, booted Clay off the computer, threw a CD in the player and got typing. I was elated, and mad with the need to get it down before it evaporated out of my head. I had to make it work.. had to..

The writing came easily Monday. It flew out of my fingertips... I'd take food/ bathroom/ stretch breaks... but the urge to return to the story would draw me back like a succubus' enticing siren song. When Mom turned up in the afternoon, it was a relief to have a break, and also difficult because I needed to get back to the story. She dropped off some beautiful chairs from my friends Lyn & Ralph, to go with my lovely antique oak table (an early birthday present! Hurray :-)

After she headed off, Clay & I finished the taco leftovers & then had angel food cake with ripe strawberries and cream. That was like heaven on your tongue.. Ooooh!! Precious, delightful strawberries!! Angel food cake! Squirty cream! CHHKKKAHHHhh!

I returned to the desk, which loomed in the darkness like my personal Sword of Damocles, or Sisyphus' cursed boulder & mountain. It was a curse and also the elated freedom of running barefoot down an empty beach with nothing but wind in your hair and the surf in your nostrils. I climbed back in and dialed up music.

Monday, I listened to: Run Lola Run, The Chieftains Film Cuts (they did music for a movie version of Treasure Island, which is my fav version of the film), Thrive (the same CD I listened to when I first invented "Ivy & Dummy"), John Debney's Cuttroat Island, disks 1 & 2, Madonna "Ray of Light", the old standbys from Days 1 & 2, Starship Troopers & Robocop sndtrks AWESOME!!! Trainspotting, Signs, Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense, and Steve Earle's "The Hard Way".

The words tumbled from my mind and fingers. I did too much editing and not enough pure writing, which killed me in the end. Looked up format online and proceeded to tweak the manuscript, adding my contact info at the top, a word count (36 800), and the title at last... TIERRA DEL MUERTO

I found that a couple of elements I wanted to use in my story, which is set in the 1870's thereabouts were... invented/ published in 1921! Drag! These included Yeats' wonderful poem "The Second Coming" (which I stuck in my book anyway in the introduction), and a couple of other things I can't remember.. The 'Net and Wiki were great for doing quick & dirty fact-checking, finding style pics on Google Images for things like hats, pistols and horses. I'm lucky, because Tuesday our connection went down totally... I'm really glad it didn't do that Monday morning.

By midnight, I'd finished 131 pgs and was in the throes of a turbulent emotional mixture of equal parts elation and disappointment. I couldn't believe I'd finished a book in 3 days, and I was a bit down because I still had one thread I'd not been able to tie-up within the novel. I'm sending it anyway, connected or not. It'd be a real shame not to! The reality is, there's nothing to stop me from continuing to work on the novel and to finish it the way I'd like to... The stipulation of the 3-Day contest is simply to keep an original that is in the same shape as the one you submitted. So that is cool.

At 12:15am, I grudgingly turned off the slightly overheated computer, took a few pics, and trudged to bed, where tired out as I was, I was still buzzing from the whole process. It took far too long to fall into sleep!


I would like to thank Keith Savage for turning me on to lots of great, inspirational music! Thanks dude, it would've been a different story if I'd been listening to just Chris de Burgh, the Pogues and Hoots & Hellmouth!

I would also like to thank my folks for being behind me 110%, my friends for yelling at me to write like KENYANS and for singing the Uncle F**ker song from South Park over the phone at me, and also to all the other 3-Dayers out there, beating their brains out writing like crazies they are. Knowing we weren't alone helped.

Ooh yeah, and thanks to the organizers. With a prize incentive, it makes forays like this even better! (Here follows the incentive!)
Grand Prize: Publication
2nd Prize: $500 cash
3rd Prize: A great literary prize pack
And lots of prizes and fun stuff for everyone who makes the shortlist.

And finally...
How can you recreate the amazing soundtrack to the TIERRA DEL MUERTO 3-day novel in the privacy of your own home?

Follow ze links:
"Trinity and Beyond - The Atomic Bomb Movie" William T. Stromberg
"Dances with Wolves" by John Barry
"Small Soldiers" by Jerry Goldsmith
"Dad's Favorite Western Movie Themes" Vol I & II
Featuring The City of Prague Philharmonic, The Philharmonia Orchestra, The Westminster Philharmonic. 2 CD set with 20 outstanding "High Quality" modern digital recordings of classic Movie Themes. Featuring...... The Magnificent Seven, True Grit, Hang 'Em High, The Outlaw Josey Wales, How the West Was Won, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Dances With Wolves, Unforgiven, Maverick, A Distant Trumpet Red Sun, A Fistful of Dollars, Silverado, Gettysburg, Stagecoach, Lonesome Dove, The Big Country, The Last of The Mohicans, The Proud Rebel, The Professionals.
Army of Darkness Sndtrk by Joseph LoDuca
Track 23 From Red Sonja, by Ennio Morricone
Track 24 From Conan the Destroyer by Basil Poledoris
Track 25 from The Sword and the Sorcerer by David Whitaker
V for Vendetta Dario Marianelli
Starship Troopers, Robocop Basil Poledoris
Steve Earle and the Dukes "The Hard Way"
Cutthroat Island Disk I & II John Debney
Madonna "Ray of Light"
Indigo Girls "Retrospective"
Deep Forest
The Grateful Dead "Workingman's Dead"
"The Hulk" Danny Elfman
Prem Joshua "Dakini Lounge Remixed"
Unbreakable & The Sixth Sense by James Newton Howard
Signs by James Newton Howard
Thrive (Very hard to find)
Run Lola Run sndtrk
The Chieftains "Film Cuts"

All written material & photographs (c) 2007 Suzanne A. Marsden


Barb said...

Way to go. What a fabulous effort!

Troy Little said...

Way to go homber! Can't wait to read it!

Suzanne Marsden said...

Thanks guys! :-D Clay is reading it now, even as I type..