#NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (Day 3, 2015)

The weather was agnostic.  There was no commitment to any particular sort of forecast, not even short term, except for the leaves.  Those things couldn’t hold water.  The trees were showing their colors.  Ditches on both sides of the road spilled over with their fallen vestiges, and the skies made their cards known with clouds, as still as ever, dark but not foreboding, standing sentry duty.  No rain, bright sky, but no sun to be found.  Macon knew winter was close, but the air was still polite and her hands could stand to be without gloves.  She drove the roads at dusk.

 
She left the radio off and focused on the taillights fifty yards ahead.  “Focus on the taillights of the car in front of you and you won’t have to worry about staying in the center of the road; you just will.”  She remembered the lessons her foster dad tried to teach her.  She’d heard horrible stories about foster families over the years, but hers was one of salvation.  Her only regret was that she hadn’t been placed with them sooner.

 
A trio of Lodgepole pine trees presented themselves from the other side of the bend in the road up ahead.  Two were upright while the third leaned in as if preparing to tell a secret to the others.  She rounded the corner and caught a sip of the Hood Canal before more pines crowded in to block her view.  Another opening and she glimpsed one of the Olympic peaks, “The Brothers,” she recalled, before the sign ahead offered “Fresh Steak Gyros.”  She slowed and pulled in, parking where the gas pumps had been many years ago.


PrintTune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

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Writing Spaces

Smoke by THORMarge scratches her head in the midst of the last remaining place of business where smoking is allowed, “The Everyone and their Mama Meeting Place Bar and Internet Lounge.” The dank odor is already permeating her heavy overcoat, a vital accessory since the owner saves money by not turning on the central air unit. In the summer Marge wears the skimpiest tank top she can find and has to purchase several rounds of water before she’s through with her writing. Gone are the days where she could enjoy the little writing shack she fixed up in her back yard. Once a hot tub outbuilding, it already had water and power when she cleared out the insides and swept away the spiders. A fresh coat of paint, a small desk and ergonomic chair, built-in shelves, a work table, and two dry erase boards later and she’d put together the best writing environment. The man at the computer kiosk next to her lets out a loud burp and jams his fist in the air as his screen emulates a winning slot machine. Her blank screen yawns at her. It’s enough to make her start smoking again.

Writer’s Day in the Life …

Writer – Bless me Father for I have sinned.  It’s been 26 days since I last wrote.

Priest – Have you read anything, my child?

Writer – Yes Father.  About eight books since then.

Priest – Hmm.  That’s not many.  That’s about how many I’d expect if you had been writing.

Writer – _____

Priest – Tell me what you’ve read.

Writer – I read two Stephen Kings, one of them a short story collection, the other a car thing—

Priest – Oh dear – not Christine, I hope.

Writer – No Father, much worse.  The newer one.  From a Buick 8.

Priest – Okay then.  We can actually count that one twice since it takes a real effort to keep reading it.

Writer – Thank you Father.  I also read another short story collection called Dangerous Women.

Priest – Have you gotten into the erotica reading?  What is this book?

Writer – No Father.  It’s a collection of almost “noir” stories with the character type in them.

Priest – Very literary then.  That sounds good.

Writer – Unfortunately it’s also full of mysogeny.

Priest – I’ve heard this word.  How is it defined?

Writer – It’s when there’s dislike or contempt, usually because of an assumed prejudice of women.  Lots of objectification—

Priest – I see.  So this book involved … a great deal of sex?

Writer – No.  But there was a heavy leaning on the assumption women exist for man’s sexual gratification.

Priest – ______

Writer – Anyway, I also read another Asimov “Foundation” novel, and three indie published books.

Priest – Let’s get back to the, how did you pronounce it? “MY – SOJ – IN- EE?”  Explain it so I understand.

Writer – It’s a big topic, Father.  What would you like to know?

Priest – Well, the last part about sex; it’s my duty to remind you it sounds scripturally sound, dear.

Writer – Wait – you mean about man’s gratification?

Priest – Yes.  Paul writes—

Writer – I know what Paul writes, Father.  But it goes both ways about suffering a spouse.

Priest – Have you had marital problems, my child?

Writer – No.  I’m just saying, there’s a more enlightened understanding about “suffering a husband.”

Priest – I see.

Writer – Besides, mysogeny is more than just viewing women as sex objects.  It involves seeing them as—

Priest – Careful dear – remember the Lord created woman as a “help mate” for Adam.

Writer – Help is not a footstool.

Priest – Footstools can help reach books on higher shelves.  Yes.  And don’t forget the Marys – at Jesus feet.

Writer – I know the stations of the cross Father.

Priest – Would you look at the time.  Tell me about these “indie” novels you read.

Writer – One was a horrible fantasy story set in Irish folklore that obviously mirrored Harry Potter.

Priest – Sounds delightful, you must share your copy with me.

Writer – The other two were great – a spy thriller and a great speculative fiction called Chimpanzee.

Priest –  Uh, the premise of Chimpanzee?

Writer – A futuristic society where you have to get your brain wiped of your education if you can’t pay your student loans.

Priest – I see.

Writer – This guy’s wife has a job but he doesn’t so he has to serve on the conservation corps and get his multiple degrees wiped while his wife supports them and they buy a new house.

Priest – Oh dear.  I’m not sure that’s appropriate.

Writer – Appropriate for what?

Priest – It’s just that, well it appears you are struggling with your writing because of these confusing ideas you’ve encountered.  I can only imagine the toll this is taking on your marriage, child.  You should consider this before choosing your next book.

Writer – ___

Priest – Child?

Writer – You know, I’ve also been reading a lot of Moses lately.  I’m thinking about changing my pen name to Terzah.

Priest – Who?

Writer – Excuse me Father, I feel a story coming on.

Priest – But your penance, dear.  I haven’t blessed you yet.

Writer – I’m a grown woman, Father.  Not a “dear.”  I need to go.  I think if I wait around to be blessed by you I could die a very old and disappointed lady.  Gotta’ go write.

Cow Tipping and Goal Setting

The cow got tipped.  Anxiety and the fear of becoming invisible (in a bad way) kept the aspiring writer from full-heartedly pursuing the end-all-be-all business plan.  Finding and fulfilling new roles (when the career that was your mission and purpose for so long has been set aside) is enough of a challenge.  I let myself off the hook and took up gardening as I eased into the daily writing routines.  You – who chase dreams outright or in your head and heart – please excuse the the lengthy absence as the cow picks itself up, dusts itself off, and begins striving once again to interrupt a mere fraction of your day to enlighten, entertain, or poke at status quo.

The Writer’s Business Plan.

Nixed except for some basic goals for the first year.  Outlining methods, to include a marketing plan and platform will be renewed when there’s something of substance to get pushy about.  Suffice to say there was a wealth of information on the basic “how to” provided online.  My favorites are listed here for those that would like to begin work on their own.

There were a plethora of books, too many to list.  Check into it for yourself if you’re on a mission.

The Writer’s Goals.

Keep in mind that a goal without a deadline is just a pipe dream.  Here are the modified goals (having tried on several for size and pitched them when they became stifling or a source of negative self talk) for this baby-writer.

1. I will write every day in my Scrivener created Writer’s Journal, using it as a taskmaster and single place to ensure this happens.  Each entry will follow no particular rules as to genre (creative writing, journaling, observations, thought, ideas) but will be purposed toward a single mission – to find a voice that best suites my writing.

2. I will read no less than 80 books in 2015, with a near even mix of non-fiction, literary fiction, sci-fi, YA, and the occasional Indie or unconventional read.

3. I will explore memberships in professional writer associations (SFWA, PNWA, etc) in addition to SCBWI membership and develop a plan for membership into those organizations which best suit me by the end of 2015.

4. Based on finding my voice, and landing on a few projects that I can stay committed to, I will develop project goals and plans for submission and publication no later than June 2015.

That’s it.  Enough said.  Now we can commence with the grazing of new books, writing resources and practices, the romance of writing, and the overall beauty of the pastures.

The Business of a Mission

A writer who wants to be published needs a business plan.  I’ve been pondering “next steps” as I work to wrap up my 18 year career in the next two weeks and transition to the next career of full-time writing.  That’s actually a sentence laced with hefty meaning and depth, because my career thus far has not been the average eight or ten hour-a-day J-O-B.  It’s been a mission.  A rewarding CAUSE – with the added benefit of a paycheck.

I’m not leaving my job because I dislike it.  I’m not leaving my job because writing is more important.  On the contrary – writing books is absolutely overshadowed by the importance and impact of my current position.  So, why am I leaving my job to write?

A more apropos question is: “Why are you leaving your job and becoming a writer?”  I’m leaving my job for the following reasons.

  1. It’s emotionally and mentally fatiguing and I’m losing stamina.  In many careers that wouldn’t make much of a difference.  Experience trumps speed in many cases because it often results in a more accurate and quality product or outcome.  So even the most energetic and speedy folks need experienced co-workers or leaders they can seek with questions, advice, or to study the differences between “shiny” and “speedy.”  Youthwork, however, requires energy that lasts.
  2. I have reached a peak.  I feel like my contributions thus far have made a difference, will continue to make a difference, and any more I have to give would perhaps feel like punching the clock rather than changing the world.
  3. I’m away from my partner – my “One,” and although the plan to work this far away for a time was a mutual decision, the time has come and we want to be HOME.
  4. God has put me in a position (with laser accuracy as usual) where I have a supportive spouse, am relatively debt free, and we can financially meet our needs while living in a community that fosters writing and the arts.  It’s like He’s offering me that trip to Disneyland and all I have to do is put on my Mickey ears.
  5. Finally, I have confidence that others will be able, not only to carry my piece of the mission forward as well or better than I , and moreover they will carry it further, at this point, than I could manage.  That gives me cause for celebration.

I’m becoming a writer because I can finally enter into this new endeavor without the pressure of wanting to “leave my mark.”  I’m a pretty competitive person when it comes to meaningful ventures.  Now, just knowing that I’ve been blessed to be able to make a difference thus far, I’m off the hook.  Don’t get me wrong.  I want to write meaningful things, but if I’m not the best at it for a very long time, I’ll be happy and content to just work on my craft daily, and strengthen my skills.

What does all this have to do with a business plan?  As I pondered my motives for writing in the coming years, I still waver between refining my craft and breaking all kinds of records for how quickly I can get published (traditionally) and start selling books.  It’s habit.  I regress to what I’ve always known – if you don’t know what to do next, just pick what needs done AND DO IT BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE.  I’m not a competitor at the expense of others.  But I’ve always relied on that edge to feel good at the end of the day/week/month about what I’ve accomplished.

Writing is going to be another thing entirely, and if I’m going to accomplish anything (refining or otherwise) I need to keep my head in the right place.  So I need a business plan, a set of goals, to stay focused on what it is I’m doing while “successfully unemployed” during the next two years.  So if you, like me, are a newly reborn writer and want to expand or clarify what it is you’re actually moving toward … if you ever ask yourself, “what the heck am I doing?” … stick around as I explore how to form a business plan when your first, most immediate goal isn’t profit.

On a Wing and a Prayer

The countdown to becoming a successfully unemployed writer continues with only 16 days 6 hours and 55 minutes remaining at the time of this post.  Yesterday I took an important step (not the MOST important step, but a good one) in the journey.  I entered a contest.  I don’t know why, but it leaves that old song “On a Wing and a Prayer,” in my head.  That’s certainly how it feels.  Even if I don’t win, I think these butterflies aren’t going to wear off until after the first year of submissions.

I’ll be returning to my home in the Pacific Northwest (I’m not sure if Idaho counts toward the PacNW but it doesn’t feel like it right now in the midst of snowshoe weather).  While home on vacation, M made me aware of the ARS POETICA contest on Bainbridge Island for writers in something like a three or four county adjoining region.  What better way to start 2015 – my writing year – than to enter a contest in my hometown area?  Then I read the criteria:

  • No more than 30 lines.
  • That includes the spaces between stanzas.
  • We mean it.

Okay, they didn’t actually say the last one.  Still, most of my poems (blank lines included) are just over the 30 mark.  Let me rephrase – some of my BEST poems are just over the 30 lines criteria.  UGH!  The entry fee covered up to 30 entries so I did the Walmart thing and made sure I got the most bang for my buck.  Not knowing if there was a theme or how the contest originated, I did a miniscule amount of research (“miniscule research” – not a recommended strategy).

Turns out there are several poems by that name but the one that seemed most famous or historically significant was by Horace in ancient times.  In summary – he wrote it about writing poetry and drama.  So I thought I’d stick to similar themes.

It was difficult but I selected the following:

  1. Take Me With You

  2. one writer morning, and

  3. Mine.

What do you think?  They’re short (it’s the rules) so you can read ’em quick.  Tell me honestly if you think I have a shot.  Honest and productive criticism is also much appreciated.

 

Take Me With You

A genius raised, a shroud of mist –
A muse amazed, a writer kissed –
From blue veined structures, lyrics flow.
Into a bloodlet cistern go
The drippings of a mind possessed –
Such humors best to have confessed
Onto the page where readers drink
Transfusions of vampiric ink.
They get their fill; they breath the words,
And bits of meaning flit like birds.
Into their daily highs and lows
A writer’s rhythmic weather goes.

Personification Loosed

The onion’s protest registered in the air throughout the house.  Its flesh sizzled as it hit the pan and, soon after, it began basking in the sheen of butter.  The metamorphosis began.  Two eggs balked at the corner of the counter before they cracked and were beaten in rapid swirls.  The Organic dill made its appearance from the cabinet above as a new aroma rose from the pan.  The onions were caramelizing.  The egg and spice joined them as the coffee maker hissed its message, “Mission complete.

The tomatoes would probably swamp up the whole thing and the writer doubted they would add much flavor, but she cut one up and threw it in anyway.  They’d go bad in a day or two.  She stirred and sifted the hotbed of shapes and textures and lifted out sections to the waiting plate.  After a sprinkle of parmesan on the concoction, she slid the rest from the pan to cover the cheese.  Her coffee and creamer poured, she carried the muddy mug to the table and downed her morning vitamins.  Rinsing the fork she’d used to beat the eggs, she tasted breakfast and deemed it serviceable.

What to write about, she wondered, as she opened a web browser and began her morning rituals.  The screen stared back at her, still groggy from the operating system update the day before.  She adjusted the brightness and checked her glasses for streaks.  All systems go.  Must have sleep in her eyes.  The fork finally rested on the empty plate, and she moved it out of her reach, purchasing better access to the keyboard.  Her neck pulled at her head and coaxed her to tilt back and stretch before leaning forward once again.  Her fingers reported to their assigned positions but remained poised and still.  What to write, what to write …

Nearly two years of blogging and she’d learned a very important lesson – find your niche and stick to it.  Her’s was “writing.”  Essays, memoir entries, poetry – the style made no difference as long as it had to do with the artistry, romance, challenges, and techniques regarding the craft of writing.  IMG_0175The blog readers had spoken.  So this morning she pondered what sparkling, mystical pool of the art she would dive into.  Candle flames danced. The floor heater whispered a smooth unending exhale.  An unfinished book taunted her from across the room, and still she focused on the blank screen, its face devoid of expression – as clueless as she about what would adorn its space.

An angry truck roared past outside.  huffing as it came to a stop at the sign, and mumbling something about gravel and ice before rounding the corner and grumbling off into the distance.  The coffee pot ticked and popped on its hotplate, reminding her it was there if she needed help.  She went for a refill as the empty breakfast plate caught her eye.  It joined it’s family in the dishwasher.  The icy floor tiles were not interested in her morning routine except to demand that she remove the stray onion skin that had interrupted its stubborn compulsion at order.

A second cup of energy sparked her neurons into more intense action.  “Action,” she said aloud, and the house responded with awkward silence.  She could write about creating action in a story, or inciting forward momentum in pumping out a daily word count.  “Fat chance at that,” the house seemed to insert, and she had to agree – faced with the still blank page.  Yesterday’s post pulled her to her blog page, and reminded her that decades of writing teachers would surely provide material for her to expound.  “But that feels like cheating,” she replied, “unless I put some kind of spin on it.”

The chair squealed as she twisted in it, staring at the patio-door window to think.  The blinds it wore were those cheap, plastic hanging strips that twisted to open, and shuffled along the track it hung on to open wider or close.  Some of the strips were warped and hung crooked, exposing a striped portrait of the neighborhood.  She let the spaces paint lines of light on her brain as she dissected the art of writing for a specimen that could hold her spellbound long enough to make her fingers twitch on the keys.

Alliteration, hyperbole, metaphors – she stretched her memory for other literary devices.  Imagery, simile, irony – she loved them all and they had always been faithful, except for “hyperbole,” she recalled, that one time in college.  Such friends could make or break a piece, she started to write about it, simultaneously questioning each as to their whereabouts earlier that morning.  She broke their resistance, they started talking; she was making great progress. Some were even pointing their fingers, and just when several had named the culprit (“Personification,” whom she’d forgotten to put into the lineup – the space heater began an annoying incessant beeping.

Death found an author writing his life.. (3517039221)

Death found an author writing his life.. Designed & done on stone by E. Hull. Printed by C. Hullmandel. London, Dec. 1827.

The fuse breaker’s lack of cooperation had incited a strike.  She moved from her seat and headed over to begin negotiations.  The phone rang.  Work was calling.  She would have to finish the article another day.  It was times like these that she was grateful for the MacBook’s battery.  The laptop would protect the morning’s work, safeguarding it until her return.  She had a lead now, she thought.  It was only a matter of time before she could round up “Personification,” and expose its habit of transforming objects,  animals, and even concepts like “death,” into humans.

By Jeff Kubina from Columbia, Maryland (Typewriter) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A Writer – After-the-Fact

I am a writer after-the-fact.  My favorite class in middle school was a literature class where our teacher (oh, how I wish I could remember that heroine’s name) encouraged some of the best poetry I’ve ever written, and taught us how to write persuasively through the most horrible song ever made up.  Seriously – it “REECed.”  Specifically – it was a labored rhythmic chant to the acronym she created – “ASPIREEREEREEC,” and if you write persuasive anythings, I’m sure you can fill in the words.  My favorite high school class was Mrs. Amy Leeson’s Literature class where we combined neuvo-geek with drama-chic with half the academic bowl team that she ran also active members of the school’s drama club (Ms. Leeson directing).  I still have the T-shirts – one with a puffy brain on it and the other with a shield that warned our opponents we were either coming home, “With our shields or on them!”  I can still sing all the lyrics to “Guys and Dolls,” and I still remember my first awareness of a transgender person in the form of 20th century artist, Wendy Walter.  Enlightenment.  That’s what the written word meant in my formative years.

But Dollar_sign_(reflective_metallic)only dreamers, those who are impractical from their youth with no good parenting or influence to set them right about financial security, responsibility, and avoidance of embarrassment, only those people would ever pursue a writing career out of high school.  Duh.  So I joined the Army Reserve, went to college for nearly eleven years before settling on a major and finishing it, and had two successful careers into my nearly middle age.  As a woman who observed typical corporate gender roles without question in my twenties, and later became a member of executive leadership in a tax-funded organization, I saw why feminism is still so relevant today.  I experienced proof, in my own journey, that the “American Dream” where your hard work and perseverance leads to success. can be true.  True, that is, if you are okay with the concept that success means upper-middle class but probably not Mercedes or Rolls Royce type of success.

I am a writer after-the-fact, because after a winding path to a place where I recognize the importance of balance, the ability to pay bills and have a roof over my head and still be home spending quality time with loved ones, still reaching out to friends from time to time and enjoying a latte, or hilarious conversation with wit flying at breakneck speeds – after coming to that conclusion, I am taking advantage of a tiny crack in reality that has opened up.  I am walking away from an 18 year career that I love, a great paycheck too, and returning to the land of “hand to mouth,” in order to write.  I find it fascinating that it took me 22 years to lift myself up by my bootstraps from poverty to the “upper-middle class” I mentioned, yet in just 42 days I will be immediately demoted to a level just slightly above that $17,000 annual salary I made in 1997.  I’m sure I’ll enjoy writing about that one day.

For now, suffice to say that my wife will be paying our bills and bringing home the bacon (in the form of the healthiest food we can afford for meals).  Instead of the “shotgun-style” three room house (in “Crackville”) I rented back then, we’ll be comfortable and happy in our lovely home with a gorgeous view of the Olympic mountains.  Granted – we’ll be paying on two mortgages: this one and the one we rent (thankfully) to a dutiful family in the South.  Granted – we’ll be biting our nails, hoping the skylights in the roof don’t spring a leak in one of the rainiest areas of the U.S., or the septic tank holds up, or the already warping wooden deck in the back doesn’t fall apart.  But we’ll have each other, and friends, and I’ll be writing anywhere from 3000 – 6000 words a day, and isn’t that what dreams are all about?

Amazing too, that it only took 22 years to ponder how it might have been if I’d ignored the corporate plantation owners’ offers to rack up credit card debt, the government subsidized bank offers to accumulate massive student loans and spend the next years of my life in servitude to those debts.  To consider the possibility of being happy with what can come from me instead of how hard I need to work to get things to come to me.  Perhaps the real lesson to be explored is how much I would even be able to write effectively if not for the trip down Al-Anon pain, debt-stress, heartaches, and coming out among the hundreds of other ingredients into the who I have become.  But again, that’s for another day.
256px-Bookstack.svg
If I had it all to do over, I’d take more classes on writing.  And literature.  I remember thinking how I could cut down on my amount of required reading in college by limiting the Lit classes I took.  Messed up thinking.  At 41 years old, I find myself doing nerdy things like picking up a college literature text for a bargain at a Salvation Army Store and drooling over its variety of content once home.  I pour over the tiny text (and cringing, I admit to keeping a magnifying glass handy whilst reading it) and recall why I fell in love with Twain, Woolf, Poe, and others.

I am a writer after-the-fact, but I do wonder what I might have been if I’d been one of the irresponsible dreamers and become a writer before it all.  Would my children be those books I blush at, and shake my head about the travesty that anyone could make a killing off such base and carnal fruits – so simple and formulaic they don’t require a spellchecker or a care for unique plot design?  Was that a low blow?  The difference is: I don’t care at 41 years of triumph.  Have I read them?  Would I be able to speak with such clarity as to their contents if I hadn’t?  But I wouldn’t pay my hard earned money for them.  I know, I know.  I digress.

Ernest_Hemingway_at_the_Finca_Vigia,_Cuba_1946_-_NARA_-_192660     Would I be a writer of clarity and intelligence, or a rambling idiot who thinks twerking is something worth writing about?  Would I seek to write something with literary value, or be forced to the debt plantations anyway, striving toward a publishing contract that would pay my growing bills?  I will never know.
Kafka
I used to detest the upper classes.  I used to writhe in hatred for the entitled oblivious, the self-interested pundits, and shake my fist at the unfairness of it all.  I looked at writers like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and all the others and thought, “Of course she/he can write something deep and meaningful – they can sit around in their ‘writing bungalow’ comforted by their inherited money and just spill words of virtue whenever the mood strikes them, no fiscal or leadership care in the world.”  I connected with the Kafka’s and those others who wrote from poverty or while struggling with the realities of 99 percent of humanity.  Yet, here I am.  In just 42 days I will be able to say – I am a writer, after-the-fact, who can write with limited care, surrounded by friends and family who don’t need me to supervise anything or make any crucial decisions.  I am a writer with stories and time.


 

Featured Image by Jeff Kubina from Columbia, Maryland (Typewriter) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
L. Frank Baum, 1899

Writing & Blogging: Lessons Learned in NaNoWriMo2014

If you are a writer, an author, a novelist, or interested at all in the literary world, you know that November marked the popular National Novel Writing Month, or as it is more affectionately (or vehemently) known – NaNoWriMo.  This was my third year participating in the event where writers from all over the world commit to a monthly word count goal of fifty thousand words.  This was the first time I won; I wrote over 50K words and am still going.  But more importantly, I learn a few things from the experience.

1. Keeping a daily writing habit is essential. 

Doesn’t matter if the material is not my best, or even crappy.  Putting my body and mind in the habit of writing something, anything, everyday knocks the idea of writer’s block off its rocker a little.  It means I don’t worry about quality so much as quantity for this exercise.  If you wrap that whole philosophy up into a little stocking stuffer – it means you tend to be looser, more limber, and can step into the ring looking like a buff, energetic writing monster.  It means quality will come easier.

2. Setting a daily minimum keeps me honest. 

Otherwise, I can subscribe to the idea of daily writing and then cheat out a sentence or two and call it a day.  Maybe you don’t have this problem.  I do.  So even if I set a low 500 word count minimum, I can do the math on how much content that gets me in a year and be happy that I’m on board.  With the day job, I think 500 – 1K is reasonable depending on your genre.  I intend on upping that to 3K – 4K when I go full bathrobe writer in 45 days.

3. First draft writing is important for building confidence.

Before my first 50K on one project, I always wrote as if doing a term paper the night before its due.  I wrote, edited, rewrote, wrote some more, polished that, etc.  By the time I got to the ending, I had lovely content leading up to it and the “grand finale” of finishing and being done at the same time was wonderful.  But facing such a large project, I had trouble.  My first two NaNo years were hell because I couldn’t let go and just type.  I made it to about 3K the first time, and only 8K the second.  I knew that I needed to prove to myself that I could tackle a project as large as a novel before resigning and becoming (for all intents and purposes) unemployed.

So this time (and as many of my blog posts display for all to see) I just threw caution to the wind and made myself ignore aspects I wanted to go back and change after a few paragraphs.  It required discipline to stay committed to that plan.  It also required that I let go of the control I relish in the creative process for the time being and just vomit the ideas and ramblings that came to me onto the page.  The experience was a watershed moment in my writing practice and I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried it to give it a go.

I intend to finish the content of the book this way (probably another 50 – 100K) and then revise for the next two months.  Then I will follow the seasoned advice of many successful and published writers and toss the whole thing in a drawer for a few months.  In June or July (right around the time of Camp NaNoWriMo) I will pull it out and begin learning how to edit and develop a third and fourth draft.  Who knows?  Maybe it will be ready for an agent shortly after that.

4. Truth – “Find a niche for your blog and stick to it.” 

In posting my blog since I moved to Idaho for work in 2013, I’ve watched how interested readers/followers are in what I post.  My original idea was to have a daily snippet of writing, just a morsel, that readers could enjoy in less than a couple of minutes with their coffee. I discovered that I don’t do that well.  (Someone who does that really well is – http://myothervoices.wordpress.com/ although the content is not daily.)   I tried serials, but learned writing them “on-the-spot” daily is embarrassing since I didn’t edit them much prior to posting and later wanted to change the storyline or bury my head from all the typos.

I hadn’t learned that lesson until NaNoWriMo2014.  I posted unedited tidbits from my daily word count climb for all to laugh at and/or find amusing.  But since I slid around in the plot arc so frequently, and since there was no character development provided for a backdrop, it was hard to follow any story or stay hooked.  This was the valuable criticism from my lovely beta-reader and wife.  I agree.

Overarching all of this was the countdown theme.  My wife and I have set a goal for my return home once bills are paid and finances in tune for losing my income.  I thought sharing the experience of the countdown would interest some because, who doesn’t dream of quitting their job and writing full-time?!  I learned that to leverage that, I needed much more focus and time than I could provide to the blog.

My point?  The most popular articles on my blog since starting it are the ones dealing with the writing practice, habit, journey, and frustrations.  I love to write about those things almost as much as I like creating fiction.  So I believe I have found my niche.  Expect blog modifications to follow.

Asrai Blessing: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (The End)

The pilgrims gathered on the bow of the ship as instructed by Larien.  Their traveling things, now much lighter, had been hoisted above their heads to the awaiting dirigible airship above.  Now, they each took turns saying their goodbyes to the Asrai.  To R’Zen and Tboi, Amras said, “Courage and wisdom your honor brings.  I embrace you for certain of times.”  Tboi blushed a pinkish color and R’Zen bowed deeply at the pair.

Larian touched Hoss’s face and cradled it there with a rippling kind of sadness in her face, “So acquainted with loss your strength.”  She turned to Ingrid and said, “A heart must never win where knowledge can sacrifice.”  Ingrid made no sign that she understood, but nodded and hugged the brother and sister.

Each of them taking one of Miriam’s hands, they placed a kiss on both and said, “Stories to tell.  Stories to tell.”  She smiled and shivered, thanking them for their blessing.

Terra felt ticklish again as Larien and Amras both gave her a parting hug.  “Take your care, world woman,” Larien still used the mysterious title, “must needs to find the cure.”  She looked to Ingrid and Miriam for help, but neither had any answers to offer and met her glance only with a shrug or raising of the eyebrows.


This is the last quick read of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.  NaNo conquered.  Next move – additions and revision number one.

 

 

 

Lizard vs Horse: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (29)

Terra was excited.  It was one thing to read about things, even to watch vids on them, but in a short time she was going to actually see, with her own eyes, the beaches of Kepler-Z.  R’Zen, reading her excitement from behind and aching to give his much atrophied legs a good exercise, jogged to her side.  Her horse, startled by the appearance of a fully grown matterhorn gentry suddenly appearing at its side, crow hopped and then calmed back to its original trot.

Participant-2014-Square-Button“N’Sa, apologetic for startling dumb animal,”  he smiled his cantankerous smirk and Terra laughed, not missing his intended irony.  “Beach not far,” he trilled, “if Ms. Terra wish to race.”  He was stripping his leggings and tying them around his neck.  Terra smiled, even giggled a little, then played a game she remembered playing with Ingrid what seemed like so very long ago.

 


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (28)

Tboi hadn’t spoken or paid much attention to Terra after their disagreement.  Now she reflected upon how nice it felt to have been stuck in the same awkward plight with him.  She smiled her recognition of this when she caught his eyes.  His face, a pleasant mix of relief and contentment, now shifted to one of hurt and disdain.  He looked away and she was bruised by his disgust.

 

Participant-2014-Square-Button


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

The Speaking Tree: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (27)

NEEDANAME was a seventh generation folk-teller.  His stories, when he told them, made young and old sit still and stay quiet.  In the early mornings, when most were stretching their muscles, scratching their itches, and hustling to and fro, there was one story he especially liked to tell.  He called it, “The Speaking Tree.”

“When the moon races slower and the Cimarron week is nearly at an end,” he would say, his raspy voice so quiet you had to stop moving in order to hear over the hustle, “there is a MOGUL that lives in a particular tree.”  He would would stand tall and stretch his arms and hands, then freeze, to imitate a tree.  “If you find this tree, you may still never know of this MOGUL, because for one hundred twenty-one days, it never makes a sound.  But if you find it, or happen to be sitting beneath its dwelling tree, you will hear a song and a word or two, and never will you ever be the same again.”

Participant-2014-Square-Button

 

 


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (26)

 

“Was there a question somewhere, Bishop?” The Maiden’s voice, less mundane than before and with a bite of disgust, sent ice water through Terra’s veins.

Participant-2014-Square-Button


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.