Categories
Writing

Why?

There are days that I sit here and wonder why I write. I’ve asked myself that question more often than not over the past decade. I had hopes, dreams, and somewhere on the path called a growing career, I stopped.

What was once wild optimism and fun every time I sat down in front of my computer dried up. I was left hanging, rotten fruit clinging to the topmost branches, knowing the only thing left for me to do was drop and return to dust.

I don’t know what happened along the way. There used to be a lot of camaraderie in the writing community. It was small and beautiful until it wasn’t. One day I woke up and in its place was a farm where people concentrated on growing platforms instead of discussions about the language.

These days, I have a hard time looking at my journal, let alone writing. There are piles of journals, all brimming with words. Filled with hopes, dreams, fears, and the inane bullshit we’re all guilty of.

There is also a novel. One I have labored over, poured my heart and soul into. And now, when I am so close to having it where I want it to be, I am struggling and have considering axing everything past page 100.

My life centers around the mantra do no harm. I would rather die than hurt someone intentionally. (Writers and their drama, right?) My characters are not real people, but they are real to me. What if the way they are written hurts others unintentionally?

I don’t know what to do and feel so very lost.

My writer’s group disbanded. People moved away, life happened. Thanks to COVID, and my husband’s near-death at the end of February, we are shut in until there is a tried and true vaccine and doctors say we are allowed to leave the house. I’m optimistic that maybe I’ll be able to do something simple, like walk into a grocery store again, in Spring 2021.

There is no backtracking, no retracing of my steps to find what I’ve lost. From the looks of things, the soles my shoes are wearing thin and the bread crumbs along the trail were picked up by the birds flocking in the trees, crying their weary song.

So, dear reader, I fling these random words into the wild blue yonder and hope this pseudo prayer to the universe is heard. And while I work through whatever I am supposed to do, I’ll listen for its response.

Categories
Writing

NaNoWriMo

The leaves are starting to fall and there is a crispness in the air. Autumn is slowly arriving and bringing with it NaNoWriMo. On October 5, all of the number counts, message boards, etc., over at NaNoWriMo will reset and thousands will line up in an attempt to slog their way through what is, at its core, a 30 day writing marathon. I will be one of those writers who sets great expectations and will attempt to write at least 1,667 words per day.

What is this NaNoWriMo? National Novel Writing Month, where folks from all over the world will sit down in an attempt to write 50 thousand words in 30 days.  Now, 50k words is not a novel. A good young adult novella is about 60k words. But it is a good start of material that once edited will probably be 40k words (if you cut 20% of what your write during editing).

NaNoWrimo is a great starting point to make you glue your ass to a chair and put words on paper. Writer’s write, but you’d be surprised how many people call themselves a writer and they never touch a keyboard or notepad.

How do you do it?

Sign up. Understand that you will probably will fall off of your current hygiene regimen, drink more coffee than you thought humanly possible, type and scribble until your eyes cross and see mirages of beds beckoning you to lay down in them. I like to use NaNoWriMo as an exercise in stream of consciousness while others go in with full outlines, plot/character developments, and pages already written. For me, I like the exercise of pushing my creativity and diving deep into my subconscious with something that’s bubbling under the surface. Many would call me a fool, and there are just as many doing the same thing.

Do I have any tips for surviving NaNoWriMo? I do. Some humorous, some serious, all understanding that we’re in this together.

  1. Find the most comfortable seat in your home. Mark it as yours. If anyone dares to take your seat, threaten them with atomic wedgies and headlocks.
  2. Get a coffee/tea mug warmer. Place it where you work and make sure you use it. Taking a swig of icy coffee/tea when you’re expecting soothing warmth is a bitter pill.
  3. Make time to exercise. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day. You’ll clear your head, get your cardiovascular system moving, and stave off the NaNo 5 or 15.
  4. Invest in comfy pants. My writing outfit consists of yoga pants, a comfy t-shirt, SmartWool socks and a ratty cardigan that has seen better days.
  5. Stash chocolate around the house where only you can find it. Another reason why #3 is important
  6. Find a couple of mug cake recipes. There are going to be plenty of nights that a hot chocolate peanut butter mug cake fresh from the microwave will help your figure out how to off your main character. It’s not like you really liked him anyway. Might as well bring up #3 again.
  7. Clean your house now. Then hire someone to do a deep cleaning the week before Thanksgiving. You can thank me in the credits.
  8. Don’t edit. That’s what December is for.
  9. Don’t submit your book to a publisher as soon as you’ve finished. Stick your manuscript in a drawer and let it marinate. Ignore it. Then come back to it in a few months when you’re fresh. Now pretend it’s overgrown brush and your editorial skills are a giant weed whacker and rip it to shreds.
  10. Back up everything. Every day.

NaNoWriMo isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. Average daily word counts, copious amounts of coffee, outlining, etc., are all just tools you can use to achieve your goal. If you make it to the end and you’ve written 50k words, that’s great! If you’ve made it to the end and have written 50 words, there’s always next year.