Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Speaking of Novel Writing…

I have a confession to make.  Well, certainly, there is much to confess, but I’ll try to keep this post about one.  Okay, two.  Tops.

1.  I have never, to my own satisfaction, finished writing any of the novels I have started writing.  I wrote something that resembled a novel when I was…say…17?  It was a mighty mess.  I don’t even remember what it was about.  I have in my mind a running list of novels that must be written, but I haven’t “really” given any of them my time, effort, or dedication.  I mean, it was like pulling hen’s teeth to finish both of my Masters’ theses.  I even remember telling a therapist about this problem.  In all of her sageness, she said, “You’ll start when you are ready.”  And I did (on that particular thesis).  So, now it is time to start on those novels. 

2.  I mentioned NaNoWriMo in my last post, and it is the source of my second confession.  I have tried to participate in this writer’s challenge about six of the last eight years.  I have dropped out of my daily goals about two weeks into it every time.  I have never reached the 50,000 word goal of the challenge, and I have never come close to finishing any of the novels I was going to write when I started the project.  Sigh.  I’d like to say this year is going to be different.  I really, really would.  But the honest truth is…it’s hard for me to write every day (dang, I think that is confession #3, if anyone is keeping score).  

I have, thus far, in my writing craft, relied on inspiration lining up with available time in order to accomplish “writing.” 

Ahem.  Seriously.  Even I can see that this is no way to go about writing anything within a reasonable amount of time.   Or even cohesively.  I did, for about a month, get up every morning at 5:45-ish, make a pot of coffee, and write for about an hour. I stopped doing this for a variety of reasons, but the number one reason was…I hate mornings and writing during the morning time created, in my opinion, crappy writing. I am a night owl. I could start writing at 10pm and not stop until 3am. If I had that kind of life, where I didn’t have to be anywhere right around 8am, I would probably do this everyday.  But I do have to be somewhere M-F by no later than 9.  And it’s just life, you know, but it cramps my style. 

So, how to manage it?  That is the question.  Let’s look at the math.  50,000 words in 30 days.  That’s just 1,666.7 words per day.  That’s not so bad.  Not when you have a good focused hour of time.  And you know what you want to write about.  And you have your favorite music already cued up on your playlist.  And you have your cell phone turned off.  And no soccer practice after work.  And no dirty dishes calling your name…See?  See how easy it is to complicate the whole process?  But that’s part of the problem.  Instead of making it hard, I need to think about making it easy. 

Surely I spend at least an hour a day looking at Facebook, and playing silly games like Sudoku on my phone.  Would a simple resolution to spend that time writing instead actually accomplish 1666.7 words a day?  Maybe…maybe not. Maybe I should  just make an announcement in my house:  “I am writing from 9-10 pm.  Do not bother me.”  Maybe I should do both.  Maybe I should give it a shot and see before I already count myself out of this year’s NaNoWriMo yet again. 

Maybe there should be a lot fewer maybes and lot more I ams.

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Issues, Man, Issues…

I had a friend when I worked at a different job about a decade ago who would always say this as we walked past his desk:  “Issues, man, issues…” He was from another country and thought that most of our daily seriousness was completely unfounded.  That most of our “issues” were made up and self-imposed, and probably–rightly so, for most of us–completely self-focused and not all that important.  His mocking false-seriousness was almost always enough to make us laugh.

“Sit,” he would say, “Have an apple (or corn, or orange, or almonds, or whatever he had at his desk that day).  It will make you feel better.  The sun is shining, it is a new day, we are still breathing, life is good.” 

I really miss him sometimes.  And I think about how petty some of my concerns can be.  How my dogs are getting my floor dirty.  How my kids are eating the fancy crackers I meant to take to work next week.  How long I spent folding the laundry only to find it tumbled about in the laundry basket the next day.  It doesn’t really matter.  I am glad to wake up to my dogs, my kids, my less than perfect pile of clean clothes, because it means I have them. 

And I have my hands, my mind, and enough wherewithal to come up with stories and ideas and classes I want to teach.

I think the take away is to let all of those “issues” fade away into the “not that important” part of my brain, where hopefully they will just disappear.  Instead of fretting about…anything…I would rather delve into my art. 

That pile of clean clothes has me thinking of the novel I plan to work on during November, aka, Nanowrimo:  National Novel Writing Month.  It’s about a homeless girl who has decided the best mode of survival is to not seem homeless.  I wonder how she would manage clean clothes.  I’m going to take that as a writing exercise today.  And I challenge you to consider some day-to-day thing we take for granted and how it impacts one of  your characters.  It can be anything from change for the bus, a cell phone that is lost, a broken shoe, a “spilled-upon” pair of pants right before an interview…anything, really.  How does this “thing” impact your character?  Do they see it as a non-issue, or a major one.  The outcome can be hilarious or tragic…

Good luck with your issues!

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