Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category
This post is like a turkey pot pie. It’s put together from all the bits and pieces of the holiday.
*First up…I’m a NaNoWriMo Winner!!!! Very proud of that. I clocked in very, very early on the 29th with 50,057 words and the cool part is that last day, in order to make my goal, I wrote just over 6,100 words which is more than I wrote for last year’s attempt at NaNoWriMo. And out of more than 300,000 people, I was one of 41,940 to finish. *fist pump* And yes, I don’t want to look at any of those words for a least a couple weeks LOL!
*On Thursday December 5th I’ll be at the Crawford Public Library in Monticello, NY. All the info is HERE.
*Saturday I had the pleasure of attending my 25th High School reunion. I had an amazing time. What was intriguing to me was how much we had changed, but at the same time all stayed the same. And I mean this in a good way. Growing up, we’ve developed into better evolutions of ourselves, but we still have so many great memories from being kids. It was kind of cool to be in a room of people who all know the same stories you do. But having said that, despite it all, I could still feel myself slipping back into old teenage insecurities at times. But I have a feeling, that’s par for the course with a reunion. Overall, a two thumbs up for me. Can’t wait until the next one.
*Because we’re moving pretty early into the new year (*fingers crossed* this process will give you grey hair) I traded the Christmas holiday for Thanksgiving this year. I’ve got TURKEY!!! OMG!!! I’ve been missing this meal’s leftovers for years. It’s my death row meal. *grin* But then their are leftovers. And last night I made my first ever homemade turkey pot pie. I may have died from yum it was so tasty. But I’ve got more up my sleeve. Turkey salad sandwiches and turkey soup too. I have a feeling I’m going to run out of turkey to recycle before I run out of meals to make. So, new resolution–even if I don’t do Thanksgiving Dinner next time around. I will still have to make my own just for the leftovers LOL!
How was your holiday? Did you survive NaNoWriMo? Are you still shocked that I’m 25 years out of high school? Yeah, me too! LOL!
I’ve passed the 30,000 word mark for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and although it’s still a ways away, I can see the light at the end of the 50,000 word long tunnel.
I know I’ve mentioned that this year, the challenge has been a lot easier for me than I expected, but that’s because I decided (after listening to LOTS of advice about NaNo) to do the things that weren’t necessarily comfortable for me, but are kind of essential for making November work. In no particular order, I’m going to highlight some of the things I don’t usually do, but decided I should do, in order to be successful.
* GIVE UP PERFECTION: I’ve always hated place markers. I don’t like to leave incomplete thoughts and information on the page. When I don’t know or remember something, I usually go back and look it up or work through it until I have the information I need to move on. This is a time suck! It’s word count repellent. Here’s an example of me using a place marker in my text…
I hadn’t seen her since I was blank years old and she…
I need to go back and look up how old I said the MC was when this happened in an earlier chapter, but I don’t remember which chapter I wrote it and I’m 24 chapters in. It would take me forever to find it, so I decided to let it go, save it for the read through after NaNoWriMo is over. NaNoWriMo is about flow. Letting your stream of thoughts come out organically. It shouldn’t be impeded by details. Of course I may have stopped drafting to write this blog post. *head thunk* You don’t want to do that either LOL!
*GIVE UP YOUR DEPENDENCY ON YOUR LOGICAL MIND: Every night after I complete my words for the day, I go to sleep thinking about the chapter or scene I have to write next. I especially like to do this at night as I’m nodding off to sleep. Ironically, I get some of my best clarity when my vision is relaxed and a little fuzzy around the edges. Basically I give my subconscious some time in the spotlight and it really works for me. The next day I may not know all the words, but I know where I’m starting and for me that is usually half the battle.
* GIVE UP A COUPLE POCKETS, THE ZIPPER and MAYBE A CUFF OF YOUR PANSTER PANTS: In case you didn’t hear me, I’ll say it again…I am not an outliner. I’m never going to be that structured of a person. I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants pantster. But you waste a lot of time when you do your creative thinking in front of the keyboard or with the pen in hand. Jot down some ideas ahead of time. Pre-planning doesn’t have to be an old school outline. It can look like a doodle as long as it helps you to organize your thoughts a little better, freeing you up to write with more ease.
* GIVE UP THE STUPID IDEA THAT PERFECTION ON THE PAGE IS GOING TO SAVE YOU TIME: It doesn’t. If you like to write slow and methodically, I say go for it. I do it all the time. But I’m no longer under the illusion that I’m saving myself later work. I think you have to pay the piper along the way, no matter how you structure the process.
* GIVE UP FEELING SO ALONE IN A VERY LONELY PROCESS: Every night when I post my NaNoWriMo Word count, I get at least a few people cheering me on. I also check to see how everyone else is doing. I’ve even made some new online friends along the way. But ultimately, I enjoy that festive, collaborative environment that November brings. It really helps me to stay motivated. I don’t run into so many moments where I can talk myself into stopping. Momentum is fueled by the community collective.
What have you had to give up for NaNoWriMo that’s been a gift in disguise?
I’ve always drafted my books with a musical playlist inspiring me. Sometimes I would play the same song over and over and over again as I wrote a scene. But all throughout NaNoWriMo I haven’t felt compelled to write with music. Nor have I even found anything that stood out and spoke to me. That is until now.
The first song on the CHASING ADAPTATION playlist.
Write on NaNoWriMoers. Find the music of your words.
Do you write to music? Is silence your thing? Does it change from project to project? Has there been a specific song that has had an impact on your writing?
Hmmmm I love you, but I’m a busy NaNoWriMo Bee, plunking away on my keyboard and I don’t want to stop. So, since I saw the fabulous movie GRAVITY last weekend, I thought I’d share this really cool vlogbrothers video with you.
Have you ever had the desire to be a cosmonaut? I’ve definitely always wanted to experience zero gravity, but after hearing some of these scary stories, I think I may have to settle for the simulation. LOL!
Off to write more words…
Do you remember that time when I said I’d NEVER participate in NaNoWriMo? Ever. Yeah, I recall telling everyone how busy I was during the month of November. I also told them how I like to write with my internal editor sitting on my shoulder with her little red pen slashing and swiping at the words I’d just written–how that was good for me. It was my style. I think I may have even mentioned how participating in National Novel Writing Month would suck the joy and wonder of writing right out of me like a Dementor with his soul sucking kiss.
But even though I said that, last year, I tried it. My friends got me all excited and I wanted to be a part of what they were doing, even if it felt like I was wearing my shoes on the wrong feet. So I jumped in. I only managed to clock in just under 6,000 words. Blah, blah, blah… I stopped to revise another manuscript. And I got busy and I wrote slowly with my internal editor on my shoulder. The only thing I didn’t let my head do to my NaNo experience last year, was suck the fun out of writing. I had a blast–even for the minimal amount of commitment I exhibited. I had a fabulous time being part of the collective frenzy and excitement. And even though I didn’t win, t was happy to have almost 6,000 words that I never would have had if I allowed myself to putz around November making sad excuses for myself.
So, even though I wasn’t a winner last year, I think I got bit by the NaNoWriMo bug because I absolutely wanted to do it again this year, but with a few adjustments.
#1 Although I decided my first priority was to beat last year’s word count, I may have also decided that I’d like to win this year. So, I’m shooting for a minimum daily writing goal. If I exceed that–great. If I miss a day I’m going to have to make that up, but I’d like to slowly inch ahead to give myself a cushion if I can. (The good news is that by Day 4 I’m now ahead of last year’s word count!!!!!)
#2 This year I’m doing a re-write of the book I started last year. Why would I do this? Because it’s the book I MUST write. I’m just like that. And I’ve taken the last year and particularly the last several weeks to research, read, be inspired and think deeply about the strange and beautiful thought threads that I’d like to weave together in this story. Last year I was woefully short weaving material. My thoughts were thin. It made the writing hard. So while I AM advocating the joy of NaNo-ing and pushing yourself, I can already tell you that my increased success this year is in part because I gave myself and my book the time I needed to get my head wrapped around it. It’s all about balance.
#3 Having done all that deep thinking, I also did something I don’t usually do in my writing–I wrote an outliney-thingy. It’s just jumbled notes with a couple time lines and maybe a few scribbles here and there. But I went into this year’s NaNo with a bit of a plan. I had my main characters fleshed out a bit and I know the weird little beginning and ending that will either be awesome or a pretty hot mess. And either way, it doesn’t matter because by design, I’m not really supposed to know what “this” is until after I 1) finish and 2) put it away for a few weeks and then pull it back out again after the holidays and read it with fresh eyes and a clear head.
Well, I better make this short and sweet–I’ve got words to put on the page for today. And If you didn’t sign up and now you’re regretting it–GO DO IT! Who cares if you win this year? Or maybe you’ll win writing even faster than the rest of us. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s fun!!! If you’re looking for me–I’m Kimmiepoppins. Let’s be buddies. And if you’re not ready to take the plunge—>start planning for next year!!!!
Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? Do you want to? What’s stopping you? Are you sneaking Skittles out of your kid’s Halloween baskets while trying to make your word count? Oh, wait–that’s me. *grin*
AM I A WRITER?
If you write words down on paper, you my friend, are a writer.
If you dream about writing words on paper, you’re a dreamer. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t getting close. If writing is your goal, you’re almost there. You just have to take that extra step. And by the way–you still get to be a dreamer. You don’t have to give that up. In fact, it’s part of the job. Day dream and scribble stuff about it on paper. Or type it. We do that too, now a days.
So far you’re with me, right? We dream and scribble. But the scribble has to have purpose. It involve words with intent. It can’t be just your grocery list.
Here is a NOT A WRITER SCENARIO:
I’m sitting home and feeling hungry, dreaming about chocolate chip cookie dough. I Decide I must have dough NOW. But I also need five other things at the store. Milk to go with the cookies. Paper towels to clean up the mess. And shampoo, olives and tomatoes. Because when does life make sense? So, I scribble down my list of five things plus chocolate chip cookie dough ingredients and presto….now I am a writer. NOT!
To be a writer you have to dream, scribble and create with purpose. It might only be meaningful to you, but that’s ok. No one says a writer’s audience has to be bigger than one. Each writer should find value in what they put on the page.
Now, don’t mistake meaningful with serious. It doesn’t have to be serious. It also doesn’t have to be particularly brilliant. It simply has to be connected to you. Really, it’s not that hard. It doesn’t even have to be conscious intent. You wouldn’t believe how much of myself I find in my writing AFTER I go back and examine it–even the word doodles. (the little bits and pieces that come from our subconscious)
Writing is many, many wonderful things. Just not the grocery list. But feel free to day dream while doing your shopping. I do it all the time.
Now you know if you’re a writer or not. And if you use my definition, there are a lot more writers out there than you expected. But don’t worry, not all of them want to be authors. I hear some of you gasping. It’s true, lots of writers strive to be published, but not everyone does. It’s ok–it’s all good. Tolerance people. There’s room for all us nuts in the nut bowl. But you’re not wrong either. There are lots of us that do want to be published. It’s like an itch we can’t scratch. An itch covered in poison ivy in the middle of our back where we can’t reach it. But we keep working on it until we no longer have the itch.
Oh, wait–I just spilled the beans.
I told you the secret to getting published some day. YOU KEEP WORKING ON IT. It’s not magic. It won’t happen without the effort. This is not a what came first? the chicken or the egg? scenario. Everyone starts as a writer. NO ONE STARTS AS AN AUTHOR. I mean it–grocery lists do not get published. Imagine walking down the grocery store aisle, slipping your fingers into a jumbo tub of cookie dough (because you don’t have patients to wait until you get those fresh ingredients home) licking your fingers. Yum! Then you drop your grocery list. And then a publisher walks by and picks it up. YOU’VE BEEN DISCOVERED!!!
Yeah, it NEVER happens that way.
So for the writer who is itching to be an author, let me recap…
Right now I’m going to stop and hold you. A great big, warm, itchy, covered-in-cookie-dough hug. Because I have to tell you the hard part. You can do those four things and never get published. There is secret sauce. It’s ingredients are some well guarded combination of luck, timing, talent, personality, cat hair and chocolate.
*hold me closer*
Here is the truth about publishing and life…
YOU DON”T CONTROL THE SECRET SAUCE.
You can do everything “right” and still get it “wrong.”
Only that’s not how you should look at it. It’s not “right” and “wrong.” IF Yoda were here, he’d say it’s WRITE or WRITE NOT. I love Yoda. So wise that little green cutie pie.
I will always choose WRITE. I remember what WRITE NOT feels like. It’s not a place I ever want to be again. But since I’ve been there, I do understand. WRITE=COURAGE. Yup–you guessed it. Totally don’t need courage to write the grocery list. You need it to write with intent and to keep going when people tell you you suck monkey balls. You also need it to take an infant, toddler and preschooler grocery shopping with you. (Thank goodness those days are over.) But you don’t need it to write the grocery list.
And in case your wondering–we all have courage. It’s a part of our make-up. It comes down to choice. Who do you decide to be today? That one is up to you. What you should know is when I look back over all the occasions I bowed to fear, I’ve always had regrets. But on all the occasions where I’ve found my courage, even when my knees were knocking, even when I chose “wrong”–I never had regrets. Trust me, there is good stuff on the other side of courage.
Advice for the writer who hopes to be published, but regardless of what’s in the sauce, wants to live their best life…
How can you help out writers, who hope to be published or are trying to sell their damn books, while still living their best life? Be supportive. We are not competing against each other. Instead think of it as a group of people who are on a quest to turn the whole world into readers!!!! *fist pump* There is power in numbers and kindness.
Today I’d like to introduce you to a writer friend who hopes to be published and who’s trying to live her best life with courage. Meet Jeannie Intrieri.
Jeannie writes YA fiction and has just started a blog. I very clearly remember how hard it is to start writing posts. Is anybody out there??? I went years without comments or any idea if anyone was really reading my blog. Hello? You guys are still with me right?
Anyway, I thought it would be really nice if you could stop by and check out Jeannie’s blog. She wrote all about today’s topic from her own perspective. Check out…SO YOU THINK YOU CAN WRITE?
You can also connect with Jeannie here:
And I think we should keep the good will going. Do you have a writer friend that has a really great overlooked blog? Today is the day to give them a shout out! Tell me about your writer buddy and post a link to their blog in the comments. If you have the time dear readers, stop by and check out all the blogs listed. Why? Because we’re a community and we dream together, we write together, we share intent. We cheer each other on to keep working and we look to each other to find our own courage. We are writers.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been late posting my blog. But here I am, keeping it real. LOL! What is making me late today? In a nutshell, there are a mess of things on my To-Wacko-Do-List.
In not particular order…
*The hubby had a small surgery last Tuesday. He’s recovering nicely, but when he’s home I have the worst time keeping track of time.
*Switching over to fall/winter gear is time consuming. Where did I put the hats? No, you can’t wear shorts to school anymore! And of course anything that no longer fits the 8 year old goes into the “For the Cousins Pile.” STUFF EVERYWHERE!!!!
*And I know I’ve been saying this forever, but we’re still moving. It’s not the house we’d originally planned on, that deal fell through, but we’ve found a wonderful new house and *crosses fingers and toes* we should be moving in some time before I die. I swear. This whole moving thing feels like an Indiana Jones movie. There are hurdles and traps around every corner. (But no snakes please) Moving is not easy, I didn’t expect it to be, but it’s harder than I thought it would be also. I can’t wait to get to the part where I can simply settle in and be excited. In the mean time, I’m in purge mode. It’s like fall clean up on steroids. I’m trying to do a little bit every day to make the process easier. I am FIGHTING my procrastinating nature and like I said, I want to get to the fun part of this adventure asap! Anyway, more to come about the move craziness as it gets closer.
*And running–I want to be running as much as possible in this weather because it’s perfect. No further explanation needed, but I will say one thing. Crunchy leaves. <3
*And dancing–it’s recital time. Extra rehearsals. Costumes. Trying to remember my dances eek! Always so much fun.
*Prepping for NaNoWriMo and my next WIP. This is a funny little book that’s coming together in my mind. *breathes a sigh of relief because it IS finally coming together* It’s just weird because it’s doing everything differently than my other books. It doesn’t give two figs about a playlist. Really? And it clearly has it’s own agenda. I may kick-off NaNo in the middle-ish of the book. Or maybe not. But I could. I still might. THIS BOOK! And this WIP has weird demands about how it should be written stylistically. I don’t even know what it means, but I know I’m excited about it and I can’t wait to get started. In fact, if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo kicking off, I’d be typing like mad right now. But I need a timeline for this crazy manuscript. *head thunk* Yup, I’ve never done that before either. I guess I’ll plan, the way this book demands I should, until Nov. 1st!!!
*Oh, and Halloween. Because if you have three kids, Halloween takes up a huge chunk of your existence–for weeks. LOL!
*And don’t forget all the time I spent checking out the new SCBWI website!!!!! You must go check it out and while you’re over there, don’t forget to sign up for the NY SCBWI Conference in February. It is so much fun and we can hang out!!!!
*And reading!!!! Oh, I am reading like a fool. I’m reading for information and inspiration for the WIP. I’m reading Veronica Roth’s ALLEGIANT. I’ve followed the series and I’m hearing all kinds of rumblings and unrest about the ending. So curious!!!! I want to find out what the heck is going on. (Before someone hits me with a spoiler) I’m also reading WONDERBOOK an illustrated guide on creating imaginative fiction. I’m fascinated by this book and it’s speaking directly to me about what I’m about to attempt to write. I love perfect timing. I love it so much I’m carrying it everywhere with me. Plus I’m reading a bunch of other great books in addition to having a heavy line-up of books in the wings begging for my attention. I love books. <3
Alright, you get the point, I’ve been busy and it’s with mostly good stuff so I’m not complaining, just explaining. But now it’s time to hear what you’ve been doing. What’s on your To-Wacko-Do-List? What are you reading? What are you cleaning? Are you prepping for NaNoWriMo? Fill me in…
As I’m sure you’ve probably heard, in the writing world, there tends to be two kinds of writers. Outliners and Pantsters. Outliners pre-plan and organize their work to get the most out of their talent. Pantsters are those fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants creatives, who build their stories while their characters are whispering in their ear. There are ups and downs to each approach. Although most people will staunchly defend their drafting approach, I also think most writers will tell you there are positives and negatives to each style.
I’ve always considered myself a pantster. I’m allergic to outlines. Seriously, even with the book written–I have trouble writing the outline. *not-so-fondly-remembers-a-27-page-outline-while-on-submission* But this week there has been a revelation. I’m not a pantster or and outliner.
I’M A WEBBER!
What is this???
It’s that gray middle ground between pants and outlines. As I’ve been researching and brainstorming my WIP, I’ve come to realize that I don’t write without a plan, but my plans don’t look or act like outlines. They aren’t rigid and they don’t have a lot of structure. They look more like story webs, lists and thought bubbles. They are thought stew. They are bits and pieces of ideas I move around until a pattern of connections emerges. 80% of this happens in my head and about 20% of this gets scrawled on paper in a very messy fashion. (Mostly to indulge my love of notebooks) but also to ground the thinking process with the motion of the hand. I draw timelines. I dash out thoughts that interest me, even when I have no place for those thoughts in my current web. But I store them anyway, because I believe they might eventually belong–when I’m smart enough to understand my own story.
I’m a webber–plotting and planning in a pattern that is all my own.
Who are you?
Often I talk about how hard it is for writers to find and follow their inner compass.
Recently, I’ve been hearing from more people than usual, who are struggling in the world of publishing.
This one is for you…
Sometimes we have to listen to ourselves before anyone else can hear us.
If you could write anything, what would you be creating right now?
I’m trawling for story threads. I’ve got my divining rod out and I’m looking for the well that holds my magic mush. I am plotting a first draft.
I have a solid little starter chunk of my WIP on the page–again. Yup. I said AGAIN. That’s how it works. I write. I get stuck. I unstick myself. I write some more. This whole writing a novel thing is a process. Somedays it feels like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. But really it’s about critical mass. I need to gather enough story threads and magic mush to weave and mold a complete book. I’ve had some material that has sparked me–enough to START a novel–but not enough to birth a full term book. This is not unusual. Not for me and not for a lot of writers.
Lots of people assume writing a book looks like this…
But really it looks more like this.
Kinda weird and wacky.
You feel like you’re doing the same damn thing over and over again, but really–you are making progress.
On a good day writing can be a challenge, so not having the enough threads and mush to make a story come alive can be VERY frustrating. And while I do believe that Stephen King’s Boys in the Basement will get around to sending up what I need… eventually…I have discovered there are things I can do to stir up pot making the threads and mush more visible. Here are some of the things I’ve been doing to light a fire under those basement boys…
*I’ve been reading really great books–books that inspire me emotionally and as an artisan. Some people say reading is counter productive for them because it masks their own voice, but I find it clears my head. It’s like waking up sleepy and having a strong cup of coffee. Reading fabulous literature illuminates me.
*I look back at my scrap pile and revisit the chunks of stories that have gone to the land of unloved toys. Why? Because these bits and pieces came from thread and mush that was once important to me. They came from things that made me think or feel and perhaps I am not done with them yet. It’s a bit like setting up a yard sale with all the stuff your kids haven’t touched in eons. Once in sight, those long lost bits make me fall in love with them all over again. There is good stuff in there–if I can turn it on it’s head and look at it in a different way–a way I was unable to see in the confines of a previous story structure.
*I spend time in bed day dreaming about my story. This is magic time for me. I’m sleepy and relaxed and my mind wanders to places I would never let it go if I was at full attention. I adore this thought limbo so much. It’s truly one of my favorite parts of the writing process. And trust me, it’s not like I’m sprawled out for hours at a time, day and night. I wish. In reality, it might be five or ten sleepy minutes between closing a good book and arriving at the Land of Nod. But those minutes bring me important stuff and I’ve learned to appreciate them.
*I also pay attention. I’ve learned to trust that content will show up for me to explore. It WILL show up. I simply have to be paying attention. I’ve gotten much better at accepting this and believing there are no coincidences. Just this week I saw a book in the airport by a non-fiction author that fascinates me. I had the urge to buy the book, but I was already reading another book that showed up. Yesterday I saw a blog post about the author of that airport book and I clicked on it and started reading. Of course they mentioned the new book. Then, within a few minutes I saw more information on the book and low and behold, it had content in it directly related to my threads and mush. I bought the book and I’m five chapters in and I have added a ton of threads and mush to my pile.
Doing all of the above gets me excited and stimulates my thought process. It forces the Boys in the Basement to be on high alert. And they are! I am tingling with excitement about how much more I can create with all the new threads and mush I’ve collected. I am sooooo close to starting over AGAIN. *head thunk* And that’s the thing to understand about collecting threads and mush–they don’t weave and mold themselves. You need enough of them to have material to work with, but mounds of raw product will never become art on it’s own. Craft is involved in the process. No one can pull a story out of my head but me. So, it won’t be long until you’re reading a blog post about the amazing, yet hair-pulling act of writing a first draft of my WIP–again. But that’s how I roll.
How do you collect the story threads and magic mush you need to make your writing work? Are you a researcher? Outliner? Do you bull-doze through multiple drafts in NaNoWriMo style or do you take a quieter, slower approach to mulling over your characters and plot lines. Does it change from book to book? Tell me your secrets, I might like to steal them.