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By: Martha Alderson, M.A.,
Blog: Plot Whisperer for Writers and Readers
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Every writer I know, it seems, is either preparing now to write a fast draft during NaNoWriMo, has a jump-start on November by speed-writing now to finish by the end of the year or has given up.
With novels anywhere from 50,000 (slight) to over 100,000 words, writing a fast draft gets you to the end faster. Problem at that point is knowing you're not finished -- not by a long-shot.
One of the biggest shocks for novelists just starting out is the realization they may have to write more than one draft -- several even. You get the end of draft 1 euphoric, only to understand how much work is still left to be done. You want it to be over. You want your story perfect in the next rewrite. You even work through all 30 exercises and 5.5 hours of video instruction during PlotWriMo,
revision your entire story, only to rewrite again. And perhaps again and again.
Begin now by accepting that the fast draft you write now, you may have to rewrite all those thousands of words again later. Then put your head down and get to writing. Finish by the end of the year.
Writing a fast draft demands consistent and powerful writing.
Consistent writing is a tough one to achieve for writers who insist they can only write when they’re inspired to write. Consistent writing means showing up to write whether you're inspired or dull, frightened or brave, energetic or lazy. You show up and write anyway.
A consistent writing regime is helpful, especially so writing a fast draft. A tight deadline of a month facilitates fast writing -- no time for procrastination, no time to wait for inspiration. Every spare moment must be devoted to writing or pre-plotting to succeed at completing a fast draft in a month.
Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!
If you've ever heard of, or perhaps even participated in NANO (National Novel Writing Month), you recognize that peer pressure can be a positive thing egging you on to do what you promised to do and helping you set up good writing habits -- in this case writing daily. And so it did for me (even though I didn't officially "win" NANO I did come pretty close). The daily writing was an easy habit to make and keep but sadly, a writing career isn't all about writing. There's networking, finding new markets, honing skills, and so much more.
The Internet has been a marvelous tool for accomplishing many of those goals, and with the best of intentions I set up a Facebook and Twitter account. Well, the Facebook account swiftly became inundated with personal announcements: who had a baby, went on vacation, wanted me to volunteer at a school fundraiser. So that left my Twitter account which I faithfully populated with the accounts of fellow writers, agents, publishers and such. I would be tuned into the publishing world. Hmmmm. Not so much.
I blame my phone. He isn't smart. Of sure, he can make phone calls, store numbers, even text (but I'm not a great texter so he doesn't get to show off that skill very often). But he definitely isn't smart enough to connect to the Internet and allow me to be constantly able to scroll through Twitter and tweet about my life from moment to moment. My tweeting is limited to when I am near my computer -- early in the morning or late in then evening. And oftentimes the thing that occurred to me to tweet earlier in the day has jumped clean out of my head. So tweeting, and even reading tweets, rapidly became I thing I DIDN'T do.
So I have decided to have a Tons of Tweets Month. At first, just for me but then I thought it would be much more fun if, like NANO, we were all playing the game together. It is an easy goal. One tweet a day from today until March 4. Tweets about writing, the publishing world, authors, books, whatever you think other writers would be interested in. Include the hashtag #TonsOfTweets. If you'd like me -- or anyone else reading today's post -- to enjoy your writing tweets leave your twitter tag below. You can follow me at #wordsbywebb
And let the Tons of Tweets begin!
Jodi Webb is a writer, WOW blog tour manager, and attempting to improve her tweeting skills. Stop by her blog Words by Webb or #WordsByWebb.
I had the best of intentions, I really did. I started out strong and racked up 17K words in a week. Yeah, it pretty much ended there. However, despite the fact that NaNo was a bust, I'm not considering the month a failure because a) thanks to the magic of Scrivener (yes, I devoted a whole post to this wonder program) I have the entire book outlined and b) I worked really hard the rest of the month on a different ms. I'd say the detour worked out okay in the end, as December was officially the best writing-related month of my life so far. Details are forthcoming, but suffice it to say that I'm still pinching myself.
So for those of you who finished NaNo this year, you rock! 50K in a month is a huge commitment. And for those who tried, but feel bad because you 'only' got 20K or 30K written, you rock too! That's 20,000 more words than you had in October. Goals are fun, but make sure you're having fun in the process.
How many of you did NaNo and finished this year? How many tried but didn't quite hit 50K? How many of you decided that no way in hell would you attempt such craziness?
I can't believe NaNo is going so well for me this year. I have three youngin's and a busy life. I didn't even know if I should tackle NaNo this year; 1) because my past NaNo stories have turned out to be junk 2) I didn't know if I had the time. I hate to start something and not finish it.
But then I decided to do it; 1) because a friend talked me into it 2) I had an idea to write the back story and character sketches of my book instead of the book itself 3) we all can find time to do the things that we WANT to do. I knew I could find the time if I really tried.
I encourage anyone who is thinking about NaNo to do NaNo on in the way that will best suite you and your goals. Who cares if you don't make it to the full 50K? Who cares if you are writing a book about your book? Who cares if you're just brainstorming nothing in particular? The point is setting your goals and working towards them.
Writing a book about back story and characters seems "weird" but it has been really helpful.
1) I'm gaining a better understanding of what motivates my characters and how they effect each other.
2) I'm seeing my characters in a more well-rounded way. They are becoming real to me and I think that will help my story when I start to really write about them.
3) I'm able to connect the dots with some questions I had in my mind but didn't know how to work them out.
4) My inner editor is completely shut off. None of this is meant to be cut and pasted into my novel, so I can type freely with little to no road blocks.
When I do find that my creative process is slowing down, I know it's time to stop. One of the best ways I find to let the words flow is to visualize the scenes or thoughts that I want to write about, like I'm watching a movie in my head, before I start to type. The clearer movie-like picture I have in my head, the easier it is to let the words pour out.
OK, I'm going to go now and try to plunk out another couple thousand words. That is, if I can keep the cat off my key-board. Shooooo Sammy, shoooooo!
What about you? What helps you get the words out when you're writing?
While the holidays’ spirit of compassion and giving still lingers, I thought it might be interesting to talk about a point that came up this year in the blogosphere’s discussion of NaNoWriMo: whether many of the participants are being narcissistic by churning out words that perhaps no one wants to or ever will read.
I posed the question to The Spec’s bloggers, and here’s what they said:
Linda Joy: Writing can be a way of expressing oneself, which can increase personal growth and increase confidence. Years ago I had a clinical depression, and writing was a method I used to open a window of light and climb out of the darkness. Never judge anyone else’s writing…until it gets published.
Greg: Writing a book isn’t any more narcissistic than riding a bicycle around the block. The narcissistic part is trying to get your book published–that’s more like riding a bicycle around the block, naked, while shouting, “Hey, everybody, look what I can do!” To paraphrase Robert Heinlein, the writing process is natural and healthy as long as you do it in private and wash your hands afterward.
Parker: I agree that novel-writing can be a narcissistic undertaking for some. Many people have it in mind to write a novel someday not for the joy of creating a story but for the glow of accomplishment or recognition. NaNo may serve those individuals, but it also serves writers who have a true passion for stories and language but just need the encouragement to finish a draft.
PJ: This isn’t a NaNo issue; it’s about publishing (or the global economy) overall. Everyone already has a cell phone, but people buy new ones all the time. I bet the old ones would work fine, but people still want something more. They want the iPhone, and not the old, crappy model, but the new 4G one that has an app to warm your toilet seat for you. Do you need your toilet seat warmed? It doesn’t matter. It’s just the newest and coolest thing to have. Are cell phone designers narcissistic because they design their product to offer this toilet warming app? No. (And I know this because I used to be one.) What we were trying to do with each new generation of microchips and phones was meet what the market wanted.
So why are books any different? Older novels totally serve as reading material. We could have stopped publishing new books in 1980 and no one would ever run out of reading material. But the new stuff meets new trends and offers new bells and whistles. It tries to hook in ways never before thought of. And many times it succeeds.
Chris: Reading a novel can offer an escape, but writing one can help you explore yourself. That kind of narcissism is all right, even valuable — so long as you don’t expect people to read something just because you wrote it. You have a right to write, but not a right to be read.If you want to be read, you have a responsibility to produce something that people want to read. If you don’t have the time, energy, or skill to do that, then enjoy writing for yourself and don’t get caught up in the idea that publication has to be the final result. I think writing becomes narcissistic only when we start believing that people should be fascinated by our words simply because they are ours.
What do you think? Would the time, money, and energy we spend on stories be better used to save the world? Or when can writing be altruistic?
1 Comments on Is writing narcissistic?, last added: 1/11/2011
I sure hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving day. I held up pretty well, better than I thought I would. Most of you know my mom passed away in May this year so these holiday moments are tough. Really tough. But I found if I talk to her (in my mind) then I feel a little better. You know, I say things like how much I miss her, and how I wish she were still here. I'm guessing this is normal, I don't know, but if it makes me feel a little better then that's what I gotta' do.
My daughters are in Georgia this Thanksgiving with their dad and relatives, so it was a little lonely without them too. However, I did spend time with the hubbies family and then later that night with my sister and her kids, my aunt, cousins and my dad. Everyone seemed to be holding up pretty well under the circumstances.
Today has been a lazy day for me. Yes, I did write a lot of words, but not much else. Oh and to update you on my Nano count - I ran into a road block and ended up taking a detour on a short story just to keep my writing going. I'll detour back once I find the right fork in the road.
And to all of you Black Friday shoppers --- you can have it. I've seen the insane crowds crush people trying to get into those Target doors. No thank you! I'll shop in the safety of my home from the internet or early on week day mornings.
One last note - Sola-RWA will not have a meeting in December, (we have a party instead!!!) and our speaker for January is the very talented author, Shirley Jump. If you are learning how to write, you should attend the January meeting.
Have a great Thanksgiving week.
Hugs to you all,
This past weekend I went to Baton Rouge with a good friend, Debbie Dolme. We attended the Heartla Luncheon. This is the Baton Rouge RWA Group. What a nice bunch of ladies. I got to chat with Sherrilyn Kenyon, Deborah LeBlanc, Diana Rowland, Farrah Rochon, Barbara Colley, and several other wonderful authors. I was surprised to see some ladies that I'd met in RWA Nationals. (waving to the Leger ladies)
The lunch was really good, especially the dark chocolate cake. Yum.
The only minor bump we had was getting to the hotel - the LSU game was only minutes away and traffic was horrible. Matter of fact, we were in the hotel with the Auburn coaches, staff and players.
They put a curtain around our conference room so we wouldn't disturb the players, guess it didn't work. (grin)
Anyway, let's talk about NaNo. I'm a little behind with my goals, but I plan to do a really hard push tomorrow. I'm meeting up with a writing buddy and we will do some writing sprints at Starbucks. With all the caffeine (and chocolate) in my system, my fingers should fly across the keyboard with no problems...
If you are doing Nano - how are you coming along?
Last week I was supposed to be working on my outline so that I could just jump in with the writing today. Instead, I spent the week revising another manuscript. That's probably a good thing. I won't be thinking about the other project while I'm trying to work on this new one. But here I am Day One of Nano, preparing to...wing it. Which I guess kind of makes the "preparing" part a joke.
Of course, NaNo was kind of founded on the concept of winging it, so that might work in my favor. Plus, last time I wrote an outline for a book, I never finished writing the book. I decided on page 50 that the story sucked. Ironic, isn't it?
My goal for each day is 1667 words, but the kids are home from school today. I'm not sure how much writing will get done since Crazy 8s and popcorn seem to take priority on days like this. But I'm excited to work on this new project. I'll keep you updated on my progress. Hopefully, that will keep me motivated to actually plow through to the end this time.
If you'd like a chance to win Something Old or Something New, don't delay. Contest ends Tuesday at midnight PST. Go to this post to enter.
Sometimes things don't turn out the way you expect.
This picture was taken five years ago when my daughter had just turned two. She was SO not interested in sitting on this fat guy's lap and I'm sure he'd had his fill of cranky babies, too. All the same, this is one of my favorite Christmas photos ever, precisely because it didn't turn out the way it was supposed to!
It's like that when I write sometimes. I was literally typing away last week when I realized, "Omigosh, this happened to her! I had no idea!" It was almost like I'd discovered this secret the character had been trying to hide. I know I'm a geek, but I got so excited. I figured out something new about this character that I thought I already knew so well!
Has a character ever surprised you that way? And then forced you to go back and change the story to accommodate this new discovery? It's cool. It's fun. But it's also a LOT of work!
Well today is the Second Day of Christmas. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go back and read this post then come back and join in the fun. And now, for the randomly generated winner from the First Day of Christmas, please give it up for:
Congratulations, Mim!! Email me at solvangsherrie at gmail dot com and let me know which prize you'd like receive.
For the Second Day of Christmas you have three choices again. Choice #1 is another ARC, this time of AVALON HIGH by Meg Cabot. Ever heard of her? Yeah, I thought so. I actually bought this at the library when they were having a sale of used books. Of course I snatched it up. It was the first Meg Cabot I ever read! And it was just as good as I expected it would be :)
Choice #2 is Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George. This is a great MG retelling of my favorite fairy tale, East of the Sun and West of the Moon. If you haven't heard of it, read this post.
Choice #3 is this über cool bracelet by Ubuntu. Sales of these bracelets help women and orphaned children devastated by HIV/AIDS in Africa. Perfect for men or women, these bracelets pretty much go with anything in your closet :
Graffiti that inspired me the other day
I don't know what it's been exactly. I haven't been sick, just tired. But I did ask Joe to pick up a thermometer on his way home the other day, when I couldn't find one among our things here at the house in Big Sur. Surely there's twelve of them packed nicely in our storage unit back in LA. As it turns out? No fever. Just really, really tired. Not like me at all.
So, what snapped me out of it? Scrivener. Really? Software? Yeah, really. And I guess that makes me an even bigger geek than someone who finishes NaNoWriMo six years in a row.
But, seriously, Scrivener did the trick. This isn't an ad. It's just a thank you. I hate outlines and breaking my writing into scenes, keeping track of my research. And with this tool Miss Organic has been able to organize my notes, photos, web sites, research, pdfs, different versions of my story, notes from my editor into one super productive space and I think it bodes well for the WIP I put on hold while I NaNo'd one more time. The WIP I want to have edited by this February.
So this morning I'm in the middle of revising [yet again...] Chapter Three of my WIP and am realizing that I can blend two scenes and get to the tension/emotions better. OK, I realized that in the shower this morning. But without the scenes broken down into chunks, I couldn't see what parts of my story were repetitive, bogging down the action. I also like editing in smaller chunks than chapters. Editing by scene has been a new experience for me, but one that really works for my process.
Here's the odd thing. When I write I write in Word, but Scrivener is making my editing process much smoother and will save me oodles and oodles of time. I doubt I will pen a first draft there. But, we'll see.
So, thank you NaNo, for if this wasn't offered on their site as a goodie for participants, I never would have found the Yellow Brick Road to organization that my writing has sorely needed for quite some time. And, because I won NaNo this year, I got the software for half price. Can't beat that!
Behind today's advent window? Well, I felt a little guilty that I opened two in a row, so Joe is going to open it tonight. I can't wait. Does that up my geek factor too?
What I'd make in the kitchen if I wasn't a revision fiend: Butternut Squash Soup.
I've been keeping journals as Joe and I travel from place to place. This is what it was like here, last Saturday night, at our house in Big Sur:
"Writing by candle light. It's a bit of a windy night and we've lost power off and on all day. Made writing my NaNoWriMo novel that much more challenging, as if I needed another one. Joe and I had been watching "Gladiator" when the lights finally decided to go out for the night. Joe has gone to bed.
It's amazing how much focus a person gets when the lights go out. Truly. Nearly every distraction, except the slow hum of a far off generator, silenced. Candlelight so dim I have to get the candles positioned just right to see the page. When I place my pen down it is lost to the darkness, even on this moonlit night. I write by flashlight now.
The wind chimes make their music..ding, da, dum, ding. Chimes we bought on our honeymoon on Maui. There is a huge bell hanging from the corner of the house. When it rings I know the winds are fierce. It sits quiet this night.
As we have hit the road this year, it occurs to me that the chimes have been the thing we've taken from place to place to make us feel at home. [That, a crystal bear, a pirate and a chunk of blue-green glass but those are other stories]. That little piece of Maui, those memories that started it all are what see us through, keep us company, everywhere we go. My parents backyard chimes come to mind. The one gifted to us rings in the wind. More memories keep me company.
The moon is three-quarters full and casts a bluish-white tint on the world, inside and out. A gigantic moonlit rectangle lights up our floor, streaming in through a skylight above. The skylight the size of the one we put in our first house on Vestal, in Echo Park in Los Angeles. This kind of moonlight will always remind me of the night before Candy was born. I think that's the night I ever really admired the beauty of moonlight. How it can make the mundane magical. How it can comfort. The moon and I have had an understanding ever since."
Behind my advent calendar window today: a man playing the violin, I think of my dad.
Candy and I visit a 500 year old tree in the town where she and her boyfriend are waiting out the winter so they can hit the road again come March
Laura who? Um...yeah, about that. Happens to everybody. A break in "the MO." It's like working out. Whenever I travel, I usually break my routine and sometimes it takes weeks to recover. That's sorta what happened to my posts. And what's funny is I wonder if anything that I write is every really missed. I'm sure in a world of hundreds of years of novels to catch up on and infinite Internet reading this lil' ol' blog isn't a big deal in the scheme of things. But, well, I miss it. And I miss you.
Catching up: The long and winding road from Cali to Florida
Got to make a few dreams come true over the past few weeks. Flew to New York and met with my editor. Talked story and had lunch in cafes and wrote and wrote and wrote. Best part? I think I have a great idea for an ending. Well, at least the last scene. Makes me happy. And I had a great time visitng with my sis and her family and my parents and my daughter and her boyfriend in Florida:)
Mom and Dad and Me enjoying a walk at their beautiful new home
Me and my sis
Candy's new pad
I was talking with my bro this AM about how a holiday can take every emotion we feel and blow them up to epic proportions. Case in point? Yesterday. Finding out I needed a crown. Sitting in the dentist's chair with all my shopping to do and baking to do. Admittedly most of the baking is self-inflicted this year as a random chain of events/life changes leave Joe and I alone this Thanksgiving. We are going to our neighbor's for turkey and a bonfire this year. I might get to see a friend on her way through Big Sur with her family. She's Welsh and they are admittedly Thanksgiving challenged:) Anyway, I arrive home late last night to find that the garlic didn't make it home. I live one hour and 20 minutes from a grocery store. And, I had the world's best chicken soup to make because, well, I needed it. NO GARLIC was the last straw.
It's kinda funny. What's your last straw? You got plenty left? Well back to the cooking and the 20K left on my nano novel. I do hope the soup turns out ok. It's kind of funny how every time I decide to cook like a mad woman the weather heats up. It's hot, hot, hot here....
WE MISS YOU MX!!! Hope they have good pumpkin pie in Italy:)
Hope this Thanksgiving finds you surrounded by those that you love! [and lots of straws left :) ]
This is why I LOVE Halloween. More incriminating photos here.
The morning of Halloween we got up and went to breakfast discussing the best way to apply our fangs and when said fangs would need to go be applied and, oh yeah, would be able to eat and drink with fangs. That's the start of a great day. And it was a day that ended up in the wee-wee hours of the next morning. And it's the surprises we remember. Totally shocking Halloween and a totally fun one. Best costumes this year? There was a Twister board that was SO cute. And there was a guy decked out in S & M wear that we were like...OK, that guy has a lot of confidence. Best part was all the dancing. Icing foot today with mystery pain in toe. But doing it with a BIG smile. Catching up with old friends LA Style, which means when you leave the party the party starts and when you randomly walk down the street to take a photo of a house that is so over the top you have to photograph it, the owners offer you a glass of Dom and chat. Hahahahaha. [What recession] Biggest surprise for us was that we intended to go as a couple of Hippie Vampires, but after we got all dressed up Joe looked like Ozzy and he was the life and undead hit of the party having folks snap shots of him all night.
I really meant to post more last week. I have a whole slew of spooky stories, oh well. Maybe next year.
Why am I doing a happy dance today? [even as we are still recovering from the weekend?] I sent a story out to an editor I met and heard at LA Writer's Day in 2008 and she just sent me a reply. Why, after 18 months am I happy about it? She wrote me, hand-wrote me a wonderful note with a few ideas and it just made my day. Woohooo! Here's to getting a little encouragement along the way:)
Here's to another wonderful year of NaNo. I'm totally behind. But, that's all part of the fun...Leaving for NYC and Florida in a week, what to wear, what to wear...
Read the rest of this post
You know, today started off great. I finished the book I'm about to review. I went to the grocery store and the bank. I got ready for work and I was looking alright and my hair, for once, wasn't being weird...
And then, on the way to work, a dump truck merged into me on the highway. I am ok, but my car is pretty messed up. Messed up to the point where we have a rental car. A rental car with NO CD PLAYER. So I'm stuck with no CD player during NPR pledge week. Really, facing down a week of Diane Reihm telling me about how awesome the WAMU travel mug is, that's the worst part of this whole thing.
ANYWAY! The book I finished reading and want to tell you about!
Are y'all gearing up for National Novel Writing Month? (aka NaNoWriMo, or just NaNo) Have you even heard of NaNo?
Basic premise is that the biggest barrier to writing your novel is spitting out that first draft, and given that all first drafts are shit anyway, it's just about getting it out. So, in November, tens of thousands of people try to write a 50,000 word book. In one month.
It's pretty intense and pretty fun. I have yet to "win" (I usually peter out around 20-25,000) but it is lots and lots of fun.
And, if you're reading to belly up to the challenge this year, you first must read
No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days
Baty is the founder and head of NaNo and this book is less a "how to write a really good book" type book and more of a "how to write 50,000 words in one month book."
You don't *have* to read this if you want to NaNo, but I think you should. (It's chock full of stuff I wish I had known the other years I participated.)
The first half of the book explains the premise and ways to succeed. The second half has a chapter for every week with pep talks, ideas, and common stumbling blocks for that week. It's silly and irreverent, much like the NaNo experience itself.
NaNo is a lot of fun, and I know a lot of teachers actually have their entire class participate. I highly recommend it, and if you're thinking about it, be sure to check out this book to pump you up and help you out.
Is it November yet? I'm ready to go!!!
Nonfiction Monday Round up at Picture Book of the Day.
NaNo World: I decided I needed to do something to keep me motivated this year. So I'm playing with my journal theme to highlight something in the story from the day before. My novel is called Libretto, and I'll be posting my best sentence of the previous day here.
First sentence: "Pamina, at sixteen, slept with the mask like most babies sleep with blankets."
Real World: I'm totally sick, blech. And--it's a long story--have to drive 10 hours round trip to vote tomorrow, back to the barrel on Wednesday. I'll be listening to the election results on the radio. VOTE....VOTE....VOTE!!!!!
I'll be NaNoing and posting from the road, as usual.
Here's an awesome pic from my trip to visit my amazing sister and her wonderful family a week ago. Cutest, sweetest nieces ever [my littlest niece K was running around and didn't quite get in the pic]!! They made me the most amazing welcome posters and scary Halloween drawings!
There are days in NaNo when I feel like I’m Queen of the NaNo Universe and many more days like today where I’m like 3000 words behind and if I don’t get cracking I’ll be 5000 behind tomorrow. Times like these call for buddies to keep a girl inspired. As I was procrastinating, I read this in my good friend Edna's bio and it really cheered me up.
“NaNo turbo-charges the process of digging deep into the earthiness of experience, poking through the blackened unknown, for a scattering of truthful gems.”
And so, with all that needs to get done today, with all that’s on my mind [biopsy, not one of my favorite words] I decided that NaNo is coming first. So three weeks of mail, banking, prescription filling, etc is going to wait and I am so going to catch up. Hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be close to 10,000. *crosses fingers*
Here’s today’s sentence from my NaNo novel:
The only thing more irritating than a grown up just letting themselves into Pamina’s room was having that same grown up call her Pam.
Here’s a great saying I overheard somewhere on the airwaves on my drive down to vote yesterday. I just love it:
Rosa sat so that Martin could walk. Martin walked so that Barack could run. Barack ran so that our children can fly.
Loving being back in sunny SoCal, thawing out a little and kickin' back at home. Lots to do down here. LOTS. But, it's so nice at the end of a busy day to come home. Home is different. I see it in ways I never did when I wasn't such a gypsy. I always loved my home, but there was always this thing or that thing I wanted to change, work on, fix. When I do get the chance to spend a few days here, I just appreciate it. I don't see all the projects that have to get done. I don't feel bad because it's hard to do everything I'd like while we live life on the road. I look forward to the time that lands us here a little more often and I can do the little things I used to when we spent more time here. Until then, I usually just put a few flowers in a vase when I get home and that is enough.
Almost gave up on NaNo Wednesday. But, I think I'm over the hump. [Oh, yeah, seems like I go through this every week during NaNo] Anyway, I'm past this week's hump.
Here's yesterday's writing inspiration, from the Academy Award winning documentary "In The Shadow of the Stars"
Another NaNo sentence: "You know, your mother was in love with metamorphosis, in love with transformation, to the point when there was little of herself left."
I'm behind on my word count, but happy.
Lastly, a cause near and dear to my heart:
Find a happy home for Zakarias Warburton, Love Machine in Novelty Tuxedo Jammies!
Real life can be a real pain when you are Nanoing....
Take this weekend. If, like my NaNo novel seems to be pointing out, all in life is a metaphor, I wonder what message the universe was trying to send us when in a period of 48 hours:
1. Our garage door stopped working 2. One car has a mysterious light come on that a crooked car dealership [we think anyway] says will cost 4500 + to fix [we took it to another dealership] 3. Our other car, on the same day, has a major electrical malfunction and could need a new transmission 4. When Joe did get home late from having that car towed could not charge his computer 5. We had no car to get back on the road yesterday, so we had to rent. 6. We got up to Big Sur SUPER late last night and the satellite is not working.
Hummm, how is a NaNoer to get inspired in the middle of the real life buzz kill? I take it where I can get it. And while putting car maintenance in my novel might be tempting, a natural to up the word count, I like my fantasy to stay firmly away from my reality. So where's the inspiration? Last night, due to said car drama, we drove up the coast way later than we normally do, in the moonlight. Amazing. So take a little moonlight drive with me, if you need a little inspiration too.
I thought I saw the zebras running in the moonlight on the hills just below San Simeon. The mountains look sugar coated and the surf seemed more alive. Oso was on patrol last night. Barking and barking and barking in the middle of the night. Barking at the moon. Or, werewolves? :)
For years and years Sunday meant church and big meals and taking a load off as much as possible [between loads of laundry and the endless weekend errands]. But then things changed. Somewhere along the way Joe and I stopped attending church regularly. And now I go to church on the back of Joe’s motorcycle. When in Big Sur, we usually take Sunday drives on dirt roads someplace in the Santa Lucia Mountains. It never fails to give me the same special feeling I used to get during an amazing hymn or kneeling at communion.
Today, after an awesome breakfast at Deetjen’s, we drove the Old Coast Road up above Ventana. I had never traveled so far on the Old Coast Road. I saw more of the devastation from this summer’s fires and was truly humbled. As I always am by the beauty we see on our Sunday Drives. New green growth has begun peeking out between the cracks of the charred bark of the burned and disfigured redwoods. At the top of the hills we hiked a little and looked at the watershed for this year’s upcoming storms. The still, blue Pacific sat far below. And I couldn’t help but imagine how amazing it would be to see a sea monster peek it’s head out of the water.
NaNo sentence: "Because, sweet child, we are only able to sing because of two little pieces of heaven placed in our throats and it's important for us to know how to use them well."
This grueling thing called NaNo. Kill me now. But sometimes incredible things happen that leaves me floating on air. Like last night. Met a friend at Nepenthe and words poured onto our screens faster than wine poured into our glasses. We laughed and commiserated about stubborn characters and my characters' propensity for 'heart racing' and my childish use of the word 'and.' As we laughed and typed I found out that thebirdsings sang opera and her mother is an opera star. [FYI my book is about a girl who discovers that her life is like a famous opera and she'll stop at nothing to change the ending.] This month has been full of serendipity in my story and in RL. Like, in all of Big Sur there are only two NaNo's and we discover we are living right next to each other. Cool.
NaNo sentence: "Sometimes, a common history weaves and dances around strangers."
Because I feel like taunting my friends...and helping with my own word count which is in danger of falling woefully behind this weekend unless I do something drastic...I challenge you to a word war!! Heh-heh-heh. Didn't see that coming aye? Well, anyone can play. Not in Nano? Then I challenge you to write 5001 words this weekend on your WIP. We can do it! Here's what I'll have on hand: jalepeno chips, chocolate, a trip to see Quantum of Solace [*giggles at what thebirdsings told me about Mr. Craig*], several road trips to distant locations, And...lots and lots of plot twists. Ya with me? I'll prolly be typing in the wee hours of the morn' but I know it will be worth it.
NaNo sentence: "Ghosts have names."
I wrote a novel. In a month. I'm a fool. I know that.
And, here's the thing, immersing myself in story, pure adrenaline-rushed story felt fabulous, but ask Joe, it also made me pull out my hair. This year's NaNo novel came in at 50287 caffeine-fueled, horrible wonderful, [and at times cursed] words. I learned so much about myself as a writer this year. But, I'm too bleary-eyed and dizzy from champagne to put any of that into words. In fact, it took me way to long to figure out how to word this little post.
More to come tomorrow but I had to shout out to maedwen and Edna, both first time NaNo winners!!!!, who helped me when I was ready to pack in this year. And to all the crazy NaNo's who all won no matter how many words we typed because we all dared to dream.
I love what Piers Anthony said in our Pep Talk this week...
"Consider the first card of the Tarot deck, titled The Fool. There's this young man traipsing along with a small dog at his heel, toting a bag of his worldly goods on the end of his wooden staff, carrying a flower in his other hand, gazing raptly at the sky—and about to step off a cliff, because he isn't watching his feet. A fool indeed. Does this feel familiar? It should. You're doing much the same thing. What made you ever think you could bat out a bad book like that, let alone write anything readable?
So are you going to give up this folly and focus on reality before you step off the cliff? No? Are you sure? Even though you know you are about to confirm the suspicion of your dubious relatives, several acquaintances, and fewer friends that you never are going to amount to anything more than a dank hill of beans? That you're too damned oink-headed to rise to the level of the very lowest rung of common sense?
Sigh. You're a lost soul. So there's no help for it but to join the lowly company of the other aspect of The Fool. Because the fact is, that Fool is a Dreamer, and it is Dreamers who ultimately make life worthwhile for the unimaginative rest of us. Dreamers consider the wider universe. Dreamers build cathedrals, shape fine sculptures, and yes, generate literature. Dreamers are the artists who provide our rapacious species with some faint evidence of nobility."
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Can you write a 50,000 word novel in one month? Wanna try? Sure you do.
Well, it's November. That means, once again, it's time for National Novel Writing Month!
It's super fun, and you should do it! Some helpful hints to pad your word count:
Give your character a double first name, such as Mary Anne. That way, every time you write his/her name, it counts as 2 words instead of 1.
Do not use contractions. Don't = 1 word. Do Not = 2.
When in doubt, have ninjas and/or pirates attack the scene. Especially if they don't belong. All sorts of chaos to write!
Never delete. Want to go back and change something? Change the color of the rejected text, or italicize it. Something so that you know it shouldn't be there, but so it's still in your file, helping your word count move right along.
And, as if that weren't good enough, check out this awesome contest. It makes me wish I were writing YA this year:
Serendipity Literary Agency, in collaboration with Sourcebooks and Gotham Writers' Workshop, is hosting its first Young Adult Novel Discovery Competition for a chance to win a one-on-one consultation with one of New York's leading YA literary agents!
If you've written a novel for young adults—or have an idea for one that you would like to write—we invite you to enter our contest. Simply submit only an enticing title along with the first 250 words from the opening of your original YA novel using the form below. There's no entry fee or purchase requirement.
The Grand Prize Winner will have the opportunity to submit an entire manuscript to YA literary agent Regina Brooks and receive a free, 10-week writing course, courtesy of Gotham Writers' Workshop.
The Top Five Entrants (including the Grand Prize winner) will receive a 15-minute, one-on-one pitch session with Regina Brooks, one of New York’s premier literary agents for young adult books. They will also receive commentary on their submissions by editors at HarperCollins, Penguin, Harlequin, Random House, and Sourcebooks and receive a one-year subscription toThe Writer magazine.
The Top 20 Entrants will receive autographed copies of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.
YA literary agent Regina Brooks, along with editors at Sourcebooks, will read all of the entries and determine the top 20 submissions. These submissions will then be read by Dan Ehrenhaft, head Acquisitions Editor at Soucebooks Fire; Alisha Niehaus, Editor at Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin); David Linker, Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books; Michele Burke, Editor at Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House); and Evette Porter, Editor at Harlequin. These judges will whittle the top 20 down to five, and each of the five winners will be provided commentary on their submissions.
NOVEMBER IS NaNoWriMo
In honor of National Novel Writing Month—an international event where aspiring novelists are encouraged to write an entire novel in 30 days—entries for the YA Novel Discovery Contest will be accepted from 12:01am (ET) November 1 until 11:59pm (ET), November 30, 2009.
IT IS EASY TO ENTER!
The contest is open to writers 13 years of age or older. Entrants will be judged solely on the title and the first 250 words of their YA novel—no additional material will be accepted. For an inside look at what the judges will be looking for, participants can refer to Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks. There is no minimum word count for the submission. Only online entries will be accepted. And only one submission per person.
Press Release Provided by... Sourcebooks