ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

If google says it, it must be so...my hymn of praise to the mighty google


My fingers pummel the keyboard into submission. I'm plum out of words. The muse has deserted me. NaNoWriMo is past the halfway mark and I'm behind in my word count - should be well over 25.000 words by now, loser!

I take out my frustration on my keyboard and hurl it against the wall. Silly hunk of logitec plastic just shredded itself. Now what am I going to do? Let's try pen and paper. Cramp! Not used to that, RSI already! Botheration! Now what?


Aah, I lie down and dream of...Barbara Cartland. Where's my chaise? Let me lie here and dictate my words to a lesser mortal. But, even now there's a problem...what could possibly be wrong now? I've got everything - the pink hair, the pink frilly frock, the pink chaise, the pink fingernails, the pink drink with its pink umbrella, the pink dog, the pink ribbons, but...


 
I need more research! Now! Right now! I shouldn't have smashed that bit of not-so-useless plastic after all because it can do what not even Barbara Cartland could do - google google!
 
Why am I desperate for my google fix? Because I need to know a few more facts/names/places and what better way to find out? Better run off to my local JB Hi-Fi and grab another logitec, maybe one with light touch keys this time. 


Well I drowned myself in so many pre-NaNo writer's guides, most of which frown on pantsers like me, so I tried, I really dd, to get my outline together, my story idea fleshed out from start to fini, and my character profiles...blah blah. Trouble is, my outline was out the window on the second day as my headstrong characters snatched the reins outta my hands and trotted off in another direction or three, bolting away with my story and leaving me hanging on tight and gasping for more...research...

My writer's guides said to get your research done beforehand  - it may take months I read - hello? Who's got a month, even, to research for NaNo? So I've taken to pen and paper and have been trying to keep ahead of my bossy boots characters - Need to Know This, Need to Know That, lists, lists, lists...

I'm a firm believer in not in writing about what you know, but about what you would like to know. I therefore rely on the big R - RESEARCH! To make it harder on myself (and more interesting too!) I've set my story mainly on Nantucket island, MA in the mighty US of A. The queries I've made for this story say it would work best in America, so go figure. Not too hard - it's the R capital of the world. Therefore lies a passel of problems - language, settings, accents, dress, beliefs, police procedures - how different are they from country to country! We all have our own lingo and don't we chuckle knowingly when we read a book by a writer who's obviously never been in our country tries to give the character our voice and we fall down laughing 'cause we'd never speak like that, fair dinkum'!

So, I don't want American readers (and I hope I get some!) falling down laughing/guffawing/cracking up/going hysterical at my Americanisms, so I've been tapping into Stephen Fry's America (where he has a list of British words and their
American counterparts,) reading a lot of books set in Nantucket, but most of all I've been googling!
I've run out of things to say!

How easy is it to soldier on! For example:


I NEED TO KNOW;

1. How do the cranberries get harvested on Nantucket?
  • No problem - here's a video, watch it in awe - here's the history, here's the manager blah, blah...
2. What's the name of a cafe where my MC could meet her beloved?
  • No problem, here's a video - and a review or two -and the menu - anything else?
3. Ah, what do houses look like on the island?
  • No problem - take a virtual tour of all the properties for sale/rent on Nantucket. Now go inside. Lookie there! Here's some further info...ready...there is a strict building code...only built in shingles...blah blah...


4. What do they call police in Nantucket? Sheriff, Inspector, Officer, Cops, Pigs?
  • No problem. Take a virtual tour of the new, just-opening-soon, police headquarters. Here's a list of the officers' names and ranks. Here's the address. Now go inside and take the lift - there is the Chief of Police's office - there is a blah blah...What else can I help you with?? Oh, and Sheriff Wyatt Earp (not his real moniker) just got stood down coz he liked to wave his piece/gun/weapon/firearm/Magnum/Glock/ around...
Get the drift? Just gotta say how much more thrilling research is in the google days. How could we live without such instant gratification?


Now I can finally throw away my dream of being Ernest Hemingway - the running with the bulls is on in Pamploma, Spain. Like let''s go and get plastered and watch a bit of the excitement, but you didn't think I was going to be sober enough to run ahead of a mob of maurauding beasts with big horns, did you? But I'll write a great book about it - well, it's not just about the bulls, but it makes a cute interlude...


The Sun Also Rises

Now I can google all the silly bull I like, unless they've banned all the fun and games by now...better get on google and find out...lol...

Happy NaNo-ing, and more sane writing all!

Denise :D

All images thanks to google images - gotta love it!

This blog entry is part of the NaNo"WriMo blogline.

Disclaimer: The words and phrase in this post may confuse you as they confuse the author being as they are a conglomeration of Australian, British and American English. Can you tell which is which?


42 comments:

  1. I really don't know what they did before google! I'm in the same NaNo boat as you, but increasing the word count at any pace has to be a good thing:)

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  2. Erica, I tremble to think of a google-free world. I'd better get back to Nantucket..:)

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  3. Nantucket probably has a different lingo from the rest of the US, too (or at least, that's what they tell me!). :)

    I'm researching, too, so I feel your pain. Of course, my research is to my own benefit because my novel is set in the city I live in, which is still pretty new to me. And I'm also behind, so... good luck, fellow Nano-er! I'm off to see if I can get 1000 more words before bed. :D

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  4. Like the first picture! Really hope that's not your computer though....

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  5. I use Google for everything. I would be lost without it!

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  6. I've been posting about research too.
    Great minds think alike!

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  7. Google is a very good resource but recently google has been driving me crazy. Everyday it's something else and I've been getting more and more frustrated. I've been trying out bing as an alternative.

    Jai

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  8. Love that google - I'm so dependent on it these days! You've clearly been giving it a workout. :-)

    I usually have an idea of where my story is going to end up, but other than that I'm a pantser for sure. There are plenty of us out there.

    Good luck with NaNo - and your progress bar tells me you're doing just fine with your word count. As a non NaNoer I'm very impressed!

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  9. Hi,

    But you know what, I really miss trawling through dusty books, and even now I do resort to the pleasure of Research by way of flipping through pages. That said I often have to acquire said research book via eBay or Amazon! See, I never trust Wiki, because facts are often sooooo wrong. ;)

    But, but, Google is great for image collections!
    best
    F

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  10. I'm jealous - I hate nothing more than having to research!

    Keep going, you're doing great!

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  11. For you I'll stretch NaNo to two months that should be enuff for you right? I should prolly get that book because I just found out that even tho' i lived in the US of A for a long time and sound american some brit words still creep in.

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  12. Su: I've seen that Nantucket is a rather snooty place. Good luck with your NaNo. I hate being behind..:)

    Rachel: No, a little bit of creative non-fiction there!

    Vicki: Same here!

    Al: Glad to hear from you Al. Love that google!

    Jai: It wouldn't have suited my post but I also use bing and others, but none are as good as google I don't think..:)

    Adina: Thanks for your encouragement..:)

    Francine: It goes without saying that you'd like the crackle and mildew! I can't wait for you to get your hands on Kate Morton's latest book. I'm posting soon!

    Studies have shown that Wikipedia is surprisingly accurate, but we all tend to mistrust it. Google images rock!

    Tara: I love the research part of writing but sometimes it slows me down..:)

    Joanna: When they interview a Brit on Aussie TV who's been living her 40+ years they still sound like a Brit! Strong accent that, innit?

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  13. Thank you, Google!! Before google we had to spend dreaded hours sifting through card catalogues. So much can be found at the tip of your fingers! Looks like you've already found some great information on Nantucket!

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  14. Carolina: Yes, this world is so much better! Thanks for stopping by..:)

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  15. I haven't been by much in recent weeks and I wanted to apologise.

    I LOVE research. Totally love it and waste hours checking out sites and surfing off into the distance. Mind you I loved research in libraries too and I kind of miss that.

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  16. LOL L'Aussie. I've never been to Nantucket but I would love to go. It's 2,000 miles away from Colorado. It's so true about accents, lingo and the rest. Every once in awhile I read someone's blog and they stick a word in there that means nothing to me. I try to stay well founded in the English language to avoid that.
    I think 'cop' is the best choice in America. It's very common. The dirty, drug types would probably say 'pig'.
    I put up your blog award to me today so I hope some folks come on by and visit you. Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  17. I think people had to write what they knew when they didn't have google. Or they had to write Fantasy. But now, we can write what we want. I love Google!

    CD

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  18. I feel your pain! Plus, your pain makes me laugh, which is a great thing to have at any time of the day. So sorry that you've been struggling through this month of writing, but hey, join the club! I think every writer goes a bit insane from time to time!

    (Poor Computer!!)

    ♥ Mary Mary

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  19. Thank God for Google, eh? It's aided me in so many ways... and Wikipedia, too. I love them! I thnk I'm in a committed realtionship with Google.

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  20. Google free living, huh?? I tried to explan it to my kids and they looked at me like I was telling them the stories my grandmother used to tell us, you know " I had to walk 30 miles in the snow to school with no coat." My 12 year old went nuts one night when our internet service was out, "But mom, how will I do my research paper, and how will I look up my vocab words, not to mention my history assignment." Ugh, and I actually found myself on with bellsouth for hours trying to fix it. That's when I told her that we did not have google when I was growing up. Her reply, "Yea right mom, I'm so sure. So I guess you ya'll didn't have homework either.

    Melissa

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  21. Hi L'Aussie, thanks for dropping by - it always great to meet new people. Loved this post :D

    Does the Australian accent and vocabulary / slang vary across the continent? It seems so huge and yet relatively sparsely populated. The accents in the UK vary so hugely you'd think we were at least ten different countries all rolled into one!

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  22. Jenny: Lovely to hear from you again. Yay, I love research. One of my favourite stages of story writing..:)

    Nancy: The US, like Oz, has huge distances and varies from state to state, even with accents. Hope you get to Nantucket one day. I hope to, too. I've read so much about the area. I need to research Boston yet. Some rellies just returned from a visit and said it was awesome..:)

    Clarissa: I don't even want to remember research before google!

    Mary Mary: Of course I used a lot of hyperbole in my post. No computer violence occurred except in my head!!

    Talli: Wiki gets a bad rap, but I think it's okay..:)

    SugarScribe: Hello there. Ha Ha. The kids could never get a world without the net!

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  23. Dominic: Yes, the accents in Oz are quite different, The further north you get, the more slangy, drawled speech with a lot of ehs?? Northern Queenland and the Northern Territory are the slangiest. South Australians speak a little more Brit.

    Yes, I've heard so many different British accents. Gotta love the cockney though!

    Lovely to meet you..:)

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  24. lol, I can so relate to this. I've avoided research during NaNo and have made notes to come back and reserach later. eg I need to know when certain styles of cloth were invented (of all things). And NaNo is driving me crazy. I thought I had the outline set, but pfft, no such thing. My characters had other ideas.

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  25. Lynda, you sound like you're having the same type of experience. Welcome to the club. It's overall fun though..:)

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  26. I was just exclaiming how I loved Internet research just the other day! It makes writerly research SO much easier. And since research is not one of my fave things, I'm all for the ease of a Google searching!

    Nice to meet you; I followed your link from the Lovely Lynda's blogsite!

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  27. Carol, lovely to meet you. I'm a great fan of google. I currently have an article up in a dual screen while I write! Thanks for visiting. I'll pop over to meet you soon!

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  28. Hi! I'm a new follower. I love your humor on the subject of NaNo. I hit that wall sometimes when I realize I can't really write further unless I've done more research... I'm not doing NaNo this time, but I am undergoing a major facelift on my novel.

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  29. Alexia: Lovely to meet you. I'm well on my way now..:)

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  30. I used Google, Google Earth, and Google customer ratings extensively when researching Breakthrough. I've never been to Boston and much of the setting takes place there so I had to perform my due dilligence in researching everything I could.

    Best wishes to you as you research the area. its a daunting task, but lots of fun too.

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  31. Stephen, thank you. I'm looking forward to it..:)

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  32. Thank heavens for google, what did we ever do without it?

    Another benefit--seeing all those pics and links relating to your book makes me all the more interested in reading it!

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  33. Amie, you're right. The visuals make an idea more appealing..:)

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  34. OH MY GOSH this was fun to read!!!! The most research I'm doing right now is buying magazines so I can picture the home of my mc's. I did a tiny bit before hand and, as soon as possible, will be interviewing my husband's co-worker who used to be a cop. I need some technical advice...

    Mostly, I plan to do the big research after nano when I have time to begin editing and tweaking.

    Happy Writing!

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  35. Hi Words Crafter: Yeah, we need a rent-a-cop. Gotta get it right. I guess there'll be a lot of tweaking after nano but let's get the words down first eh?

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  36. Barbara Cartland reminds me of that founder of American cosmetics, Mary Kay. She used to dress in pink & reward her sales ladies w/ pink cars!

    You have a challenge to write about Nantucket but you'll do just fine. Maybe this calls for a visit! You can find a lot of information via Google & then you can also hit the travel books in your local bookstore for little bits of inspiration & facts. the best bet is the public library, because the more details you add, the more convincing your book will be & your readers will assume you're a native New Englander!

    Can you do your novel in outline form & fill in the details later?

    Tried this link? http://www.searchnantucket.com/

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  37. Lisa, no I didn't have that link. You are sweet to pass it on. I would love to visit Nantucket. Research is a great excuse. I'd like to see that part of America - Boston, up to Vermont etc. Why not?

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  38. Denise, I'm a google research nut, too. Not only for writing (and that I do intensely, but for EVERYTHING.

    Loved this post! that rebel, Olivia

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  39. Wow good luck with your Nantucket story. I'm a big Cape fan, obviously.

    Don't forget you tube, lots of videos.
    And def. visit it. So pretty.

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  40. LR: Thanks. I'd love to visit..:)

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  41. Cheers from Nantucket! Speaking of cranberries: the Cranberry Festival this year is October 8.

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