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Armchair novelist

by chroot
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chroot
#1
Nov16-06, 03:14 PM
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My formal training is in computer and electrical engineering, with a good dose of astrophysics and pure math thrown in for "well-roundedness." I'm a circuit designer by trade. I generally prefer reading books about math over playing video games. I read textbooks for fun. I hardly ever do anything "creative" in the classical sense -- I have never taken much interest in painting, sculpting, or drawing, though my daily work is creative in a very different sense. All in all, I'm practically the prototype of the type-A "technical" personality.

But... I cannot get over this nagging desire to... write a novel. I don't know why. I read novels pretty avidly -- 15-20 a year, I'd say -- and they always whet my creative appetite. I try to stay away from pulp fiction, concentrating instead on fiction that is generally considered "literary," and I honestly often end a novel with the impression that gee, that was good, but I think I could have written something just like it if I tried.

Maybe it's just hubris, but part of me really yearns to give it a shot and see if I could get published. It's not like I have any free time, though. Work responsibilities plus grinding away at a Master's degree at a terribly difficult school leaves with me just enough time to brush my teeth. Perhaps I could put off brushing my teeth and work on a novel, instead...

Does anyone else have such an intense, nagging desire to do something creative?

- Warren
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marlon
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Nov16-06, 03:26 PM
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I understand what you mean chroot. I studied physics in college and i am doing a PhD in computational physics now. I think i can say i am a type A personality as well.

However, i really feel the desire to express some sort of creativity through acting (languages in general) and the making of shortmovies with some friends. Actually, i would love to do this for a profession as well. So, i live with some kind of dilemma where i really love to do physics but i wanna be acting as well.

I just think we need to find a way to combine aspects of our work that we can exploit in our "creative" activities. Indeed, time (or better lack thereof) is a big issue for me as well. The clue is to find a balance. I realize that but i really don't know how to pull that off. maybe the people with more life experience can help us out. Astro, Evo, Moonbear, Danger, Ivan, any advice ???? lol

greets marlon
nazzard
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Nov16-06, 03:38 PM
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Quote Quote by chroot
Does anyone else have such an intense, nagging desire to do something creative?
Absolutely!

Many doubts seem to arise while being in a creative process, but that seems to be a part of every kind of adventure.

arildno
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Nov16-06, 03:44 PM
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Armchair novelist

Quote Quote by chroot
Does anyone else have such an intense, nagging desire to do something creative?

- Warren
Definitely!
I have a deep admiration for artists in general.
I would dearly have liked to have some of their talents.
turbo
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Nov16-06, 03:51 PM
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When I feel the need to do something creative, I drag out one of my guitars for a little instant gratification. I like to read and write, but I'd rather read scientific papers and work on my cosmological model than play with anything fictional. The real stuff is weird enough.

When I was writing custom application software, I hardly ever felt the need to do anything "creative" - coding was enough. I once wrote an entire retail/wholesale/inside-sales point-of-sale application in a week (long days, though) for a manufacturer of wood-harvesting equipment. I designed it so that the sales and purchases flowed to his main accounting software (much of which I had written or modified) and included features that thrilled his accountant, like the ability to age his receivables and the ability to switch from last-in-first-out costing to last-in-last-out at will so the accountant could assess the tax implications of that in minutes, not months - not an easy job with an inventory of tens of thousands of parts bought over a period of many years. I wrote this (and all other custom applications) in dBaseIII+ and compiled it to run under FoxRun back in the day when a 286 was a good computer and a 386 was a server, so the code had to be REALLY lean. During that period, I was buying guitars for later resale (I had a couple of dozen at one point) but hardly ever played them. I used to dream about code at night and sometimes woke up and jotted stuff down that often proved to be useful. GEEK!!

I used to mine for gemstones locally and have bought a lot of foreign rough, too. For a time I was faceting stones quite regularly and probably will get back to doing that at some point. It's fun to create designs that optimize color, brilliance, etc, but in implementation faceting stones is a lot like running a tiny, very precise machine-shop. That's the kind of creativity that appeals to the geek in me, I guess. Initially, I faceted for the fun of it, but after supplying every close female relative or friend with earrings, a ring or a pendant with sapphires, tourmaline, tanzanite, tsavorite, aquamarine, golden beryl, etc, I started hitting some of the local high-end jewelers and making a profit on the stones. They could keep me busier than I wanted to be and faceting turned into a "job" so I was not motivated to do so much of it. So much for the creative aspect.
Astronuc
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Nov16-06, 03:53 PM
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Maybe it would help to start with short stories, which a lot of authors have done.

chroot, have you taken any creative writing class?

My daughter just started writing stories and then a novel, more or less, and I think she got the idea from role-playing. That helped her get ideas for dialog.

I don't have the patience of writing fiction. I tip my hat to those who do.
zoobyshoe
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Nov16-06, 09:27 PM
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Quote Quote by chroot
Does anyone else have such an intense, nagging desire to do something creative?
Hehehehehheh. That's where I live.

Aside from my drawings, which I keep, I've seriously embarked on about 5 novels. The last one was a novel about a novelist whose laptop was stolen by a teenage drug abuser and ended up at the swap meet (flea market) with the only complete copy of his latest novel intact on it. This gets purchased, coincidently, by a would be novelist, with more ambition than talent, who decides to submit the found novel to a publisher under his own name.

The original novelist, who was successful and popular, always published under a pseudonym to protect his privacy and private life. Discovering his lost novel published and doing well under someone else's name, he is enraged , but can't take legal action without blowing his pseudonym and exposing his private life to the fair percentage of crazy fans who are obsessed with his books.

I would like to tell you how it turns out, but the laptop on which I was writing it was stolen from a table at Starbucks when I went up to the counter for a refill. An old man reading a newspaper barked a warning to me when he saw an emaciated 14 year old skateboarder grab it, run out, and jump directly onto a city bus that had paused at a bus stop right outside the coffee shop.

Several months later, I was enraged to find it published and doing well under someone else's name. Some upstart, would be novelist named Warren...something.

Seriously, though, I was trying to work out a novel with this premise but designed such that the reader can't figure out if he's reading a straightforward novel or a stolen one into which the thief has worked the tale of his own piracy. I got the inspiration in part from Mr. Robin Parsons whom, you may recall, used to spend alot of time accusing the Canadian Government of plagarizing his ideas on law reform without reimbursing him. In other words, I plagiarized it.
Chi Meson
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Nov17-06, 09:57 AM
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I had the same nagging desires to write and I took them too far. I actually went and got an MFA in creative writing.

The cost of the MFA program could be saved with the following knowledge: keep reading and keep writing.

And join (or start) a local writing group (check your libraries).


I met my wife while in that MFA program and she does write as a profession. She has a regular column in a local newspaper and is working on a couple of books. She is at the next step right now: finding an agent.
Cyrus
#9
Nov17-06, 10:48 AM
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I think you should do it, you write well. So does Danger. You two should talk. (Seriously)
selfAdjoint
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Nov17-06, 11:01 AM
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The thinking about writing a novel never produces one. The one thing all known authors agree on is that they can't keep their hands off the pen and paper (or whatever technology). From adolescence they've been scribbling away and they have drawers full of old stuff that will never see the light of day again, all written by them.
zoobyshoe
#11
Nov17-06, 11:20 AM
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Quote Quote by selfAdjoint
The thinking about writing a novel never produces one.
Sitting down and writing a novel often doesn't produce one, either.

Anyway, in light of the case of Anthony Burgess, who did not write a novel till the age of 48, there's hope for anyone thinking about taking a crack at it.
turbo
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Nov17-06, 11:45 AM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe
Sitting down and writing a novel often doesn't produce one, either.
I once thought that I could write short fiction that was at least as good as some of the SF short stories that I read. A couple of attempts proved that I was wrong. My fiction was flat, wordy, and overly-descriptive. Hemingway, I ain't.
physics girl phd
#13
Nov17-06, 12:18 PM
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Quote Quote by selfAdjoint
The one thing all known authors agree on is that they can't keep their hands off the pen and paper (or whatever technology).
I agree here too. I'm writing a "popular non-fiction" book (I'm a big fan of the genre, for ex. Mary Roach's Stiff)... and I had to mail my primary references for this to my future husband, just so I could write and defend my thesis... and even then it took two days for me to stop writing the book and get back to the thesis ( -- now that I'm "phd" I can reveal this) . I move to join him this weekend -- and I've been ITCHING to get back. (Scratch, Scratch!) Fortunately he has his OWN books to work on, so our dysfunction should be OK. For now -- writing posts on PF has been a good outlet.
chroot
#14
Nov17-06, 04:36 PM
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Quote Quote by cyrusabdollahi
I think you should do it, you write well. So does Danger. You two should talk. (Seriously)
Did you... just........ compliment me? And... Danger.... too?

Are you feeling okay?

- Warren
berkeman
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Nov17-06, 05:09 PM
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Quote Quote by chroot
Did you... just........ compliment me? And... Danger.... too?

Are you feeling okay?

- Warren
He's just being honest.

Hey, are you a Tom Clancy fan? You know the story behind him becoming a writer, right? That's one of the reasons that I'm a Clancy fan -- he started writing in his spare time, and came up with some really neat story plots and twists and intertwined story lines. And he has a style where he holds some things back -- not playing to a dumb readership, and teasing you a bit along the way.

Anyway, have you outlined any novels yet? It's just my writing style that when I have a large writing project (work related for me), I always start with a skeleton outline, then fill it in some, and sit on it for a few days letting the creative juices flow and filling in some gems into the existing outline. Then start on the drafts after that. How do you like to write?
Office_Shredder
#16
Nov17-06, 07:35 PM
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Quote Quote by chroot
Does anyone else have such an intense, nagging desire to do something creative?
Prove -1*-1 = 1 10,000 times. That'll knock the creativity right into next week

A good place to start is with character development. If you think you can write something as good, start by asking yourself what you would write. Who would your main character be, who would your main character interact with, what's the character's history? This is something that you can just spend five minutes of boring time mulling over, and is necessary to write a good story anyway. Since you need to know your characters well to write them well, it's good to search around for characters that you find you WANT to write about. Then you'll want to know them even better
Cyrus
#17
Nov17-06, 07:40 PM
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Quote Quote by chroot
Did you... just........ compliment me? And... Danger.... too?

Are you feeling okay?

- Warren

Hey, thats the one thing about me. I give credit where credit is due.

Same for criticism.

I think you and danger write the best out of anyone else around here. If that were not the case, I wouldnt have said so. What I wont do is say someone is good or bad at something if I think there not just to be their friend. That would be dishonest.


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