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Lately, what spare time I have is spent reading, and planning, and reading. Currently, I am reading two books (when I need to get away due to boredom/mood swing/emotional reaction to plot points, I switch books): Haruki Murakami’s After Dark and Jim Butcher’s Dead Beat  (Dresden Files #7). Quite an odd combo, I know.

Dead Beat is the seventh book in the Dresden Files series.  The series is about a wizard named Harry Dresden in modern-day Chicago–no relation to Potter, and the Harry is a reference to Harry Houdini. It actually is nothing like Harry Potter. Think Sherlock Holmes with magic, action, and more snark. Now, this seventh book, like all six books before it, is quirky, fun, fast-paced, mind-blowing. You have necromancers and vampires and faeries–I’m sorry, sidhe–being involved. It is so action-packed at times that reading it exhausts me–just like how Dresden limps home after a long day of exploding buildings, gunshots, magic and whatnot. And so I read the other book: After Dark.

Now, this other book. After Dark. It paints a stark contrast to Jim Butcher’s writing. Murakami opts to tell a story that is slow-paced and surreal. The events unfolding are ordinary: a young woman spending her night reading in a chain restaurant, her sister, sleeping in her home, a love hotel manager taking care of a battered prostitute. Sometimes a scene is filled with a conversation, serving not much purpose to advance the plot, but simply an unraveling of character. Yet slowly you see cracks, hairline cracks all over the eggshell of “realism”. Hints that everything is connected, that a breath drawn by one is somehow related to another’s exhale. And you know, you just know, that there is something deeper sleeping underneath all these, that the plural first-person perspective (“we”, not “I”) hints on something.

After Dark has the nuance Supernova (book one, Ksatria, Putri, dan Bintang Jatuh) tries to imitate–tries, and fails.

Anyway, I digress. I suppose what I was trying to say is that I am planning my novel for NaNoWriMo, and one of the things that happens when I plan is that I read. That will be item number one, I think. So, Things That Happen When I Am Writing (Or Planning):

  1. I read. It helps. I learn stuffs when I read, even if it is small things like how no, contrary to what most game fanfiction implies, a flesh wound in the leg will most definitely impede your movement. You’re lucky to even be able to walk. And that is just one of the things I learn. I learn even more when I analyze: why does this character do this? What is her background? I will admit one thing: A Feast For Crows bored the hell out of me, but I took delight in all Cersei chapters, because I gained an insight on her character. Yes, she’s a scheming bitch (a description that applies to like 65% or ASOIAF cast) but she has all rights to be, after all the shit patriarchy has given her in her life. (That does not make her smarter, sadly.)
  2. I go to the weirdest, darkest corners of the internet. It’s not intentional, I swear.  Alright, maybe it is. At times. Like this morning when I googled “is it true that a headshot with sniper rifle will make the target’s head explode”–now that was just asking for it. I’m not surprised that it brought me to these TVTropes pages. More often than not, though, I am just researching innocent things: ingredients to a cake, details on some diseases, tech stuffs to make my hacker character realistic. And I end up in TVTropes anyways. Damn you, TVTropes.
  3. I play mini-games. This stems from the need to play games, and the guilt RPG stems (why are you playing a fullscreen “serious” game Kirana you should be plotting for your novel now STOP PLAYING NOW DO YOU WANT YOUR NANO TO FAIL). So I switch to Candy Crush Saga and exhaust my five lives, then I switch to Minesweeper to wait for the refill. Not that I can’t spend two hours on Minesweeper. I can. Been there, done that. Don’t look at me like that. JK Rowling plays Minesweeper, and she’s really good at it (99 seconds for expert, sheesh), and she’s really good at writing (obviously), so playing Minesweeper will make me a better writer, right? Right? DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT.
  4. I start reading fanfictions. At one point, in the middle of reading whatever novel I am reading, this odd sense of insecurity will creep up my spine. Dear lord, why are Haruki Murakami, Jim Butcher, JK Rowling, and George RR Martin so perfect? How do they write these stories? Why do I even think I could try doing what they do? Fanfictions ground me. They show me that there are aspiring authors out there, who are also trying just like I do. Their writing skill is more or less on par with my writing skill, sometimes worse (I judge people who spell “definitely” as “definately” and “defiantly”). They make me feel less alone and inferior. Then I will stumble into a very good fanfiction and the insecurity will kick me in the shin again, out of spite.
  5. I re-read my old stories. By old, I didn’t mean old like seven-eight years ago. I won’t touch my Junior High School writing with a fishing pole, it is so disgusting I have already kept them somewhere the sun doesn’t shine. No, I mean a year, two-year-old stories. I will feel warm and fuzzy to find that I still like some parts of them, and a slight disdain on some other parts. I will see how I can feel disdain, which means my judgement has grown, which means I am now a bit better. Hopefully.
  6. I find myself watching cat videos. I mean, duh.
  7. I blog about things that happen when I am planning. Because: a) I am an attention-seeker; b) I find these things amusing; and c) I need to practice my writing but I am not in the mood to write short stories.

/end list