The End of NaNoWriMo 2012

Winner-180x180

Here we are, the final day of NaNoWriMo 2012. I’ve got a cup of amaretto hot chocolate and about 1,200 words to write yet. Unless the 2 year old has other ideas, it shouldn’t be a problem to finish. I don’t have big plans to celebrate. This cup of hot chocolate and maybe a nap is about the size of it. I’m simply enjoying the sense of accomplishment of being able to say I wrote at least 50,000 words this month and didn’t lose my mind. In fact, I really enjoyed it.

There’s been a lot of emotion spilled out on the page, both mine and my character’s. It’s been an interesting month of writing. Except for a few zigs to the left and zags to the right, I’ve pretty much kept up with my daily word count for a change. Perhaps that because I chose to be a NaNo Rebel this time around.

I started out thinking I would pick a different prompt every day and write a collection of short stories, essays, blog posts, poetry, etc. – one thing complete every day. There were short stories, some of them finished, but I was surprised to find a couple that I think could actually turn into novels in the future. There were some short stories that went nowhere and some that took multiple days. No poetry but lots of blog posts and several essays.

So, it didn’t quite work out the way I planned. When does NaNoWriMo ever? Heck, when does a piece of writing ever start at point A and simply arrive at point B like you planned? It’s pretty unusual for me, but that’s part of the journey. We start out and find the horizon moves as we walk towards it.

I’d like to get one more really short story in. I’ve always enjoyed the flash fiction genre. I’ve been shooting for anywhere from 50 words to 1,500. It’s a challenge and small work of word art to make a complete story arc in that amount of words. I’ll go find a prompt and see what I can do then post this when I’ve completed my NaNoWriMo word count.

Post script – It’s done. 50,228 words and the start of some kind of space opera.  Not a complete story yet but the start of something is certainly a good thing too. Right, time to make a tomato and bacon bit sandwich. Cheers!

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Give Yourself Some Writing Credit

Taken by Bohringer Friedrich

So often, we think about all that we have yet to do or that we should be doing, but I’d like to take a moment to focus on all we do get done as writers, usually with schedules that are already full of living.

 Last week a coworker sent me a link to Pen Parentis (http://www.penparentis.org) an organization set up specifically for writers who are also parents.  There are dues to pay but you receive certain benefits by being a member, like being part of a community of writers who understand your challenges as a writing parent, savings on application fees for certain contest and fellowship application fees from Pen Parentis partners, an author profile, marketing space, promotion of your literary events on the events calendar and a Pen Parentis logo that you can use on your web site or e-stationary.

 Anyway, it got me thinking that, you know, I’m doing pretty darn good at this writing thing. I am a parent of a small child, I commute an hour each way and work a full-time job. I still write, even participating in National Novel Writing Month where I wrote over 50,000 words in August during Camp NaNoWriMo and hope to do so again this month. I’ve published things on Yahoo! Voices and earned actual money from it, as well as entering various contests.

 Of course, all this writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. My job is a tremendous help. Not only am I librarian, surrounded by books in a moderately large library, but I run an adult writing group there, sanctioned and originally requested by the library. My director is tremendously supportive of my writing endeavors too. When I had two pieces featured on Yahoo! Voices, she celebrated by giving me a ticket to a local charity fashion event.

 Then there is my family, friends and past school teachers. I’ve never been laughed at or scoffed at but rather supported in my writing. I remember each of my English teachers in high school being supportive in some way.  I remember going to a reading with some students from one of my English classes in high school. I thoroughly enjoyed it and when we left I said that I really liked one particular story and wished I could write like that. My English teacher looked at me and said, “You write better than that.” I never forgot that.

 Last, and perhaps most importantly, my husband is very supportive of my writing – verbally, actively and financially. He listens to me talk about stories that I’m writing with interest and when he knows I’m working hard on a piece he will do extra chores around the house, like emptying the dishwasher when it’s not his turn. The laptop that I’m writing on right now, plus the voice activated digital recorder and the Dragon NaturallySpeaking software that I use were all bought for me by him.

 No, all the roadblocks in my way have been of my own creating which creates a little bit of guilt. I love to write and hope to one day write for a living. Now I have to prove that is what I want by writing and submitting finished pieces. I could kick myself for not moving toward my goals faster, but as the song by Jason Mraz says, “I’m letting myself off the hook for the things I’ve done/ I let my past go past/ and now I’m having more fun.”  We need to start giving ourselves credit for all we do accomplish and enjoy writing. Who’s with me?

Outsider = Writer or Writer = Outsider?

I think being an outsider is a common feeling for writers, whether being an outsider makes us turn to writing or being a writer makes us feel like an outsider because we’re too busy observing and writing to interact the way some people do.  Which came first, being an outsider or being a writer?  I don’t know.

I don’t think it’s necessarily the same thing as being an introvert.    I’ve read that an introvert is a person who feels drained by being with other people.  They need time alone to recharge.  I don’t think I fall into that category.  I enjoy alone time but I generally find my writer’s group energizing.

Now, communicating, particularly with people who don’t communicate the same way or have the same frames of reference, can be tiring.  Small groups are easier in that respect, so maybe I’m wrong and I am a bit of an introvert.

I tried to take a Briggs Myers Personality test but I think I overthought it.  No big surprise there.  In the list of careers that were good fits for me, it suggested Librarian.  A-yup.  On the list of careers that don’t fit me, it said Writer.  Well, not an option.  It’s who I am.

I’ve often thought that if I managed to get a career writing off the ground, so that I didn’t have to work at a regular nine-to-five job, I’d need to either get a part-time job or start volunteering somewhere, just to maintain some social interaction.  I think it would be entirely too easy to get caught up living inside my head full time but I’ve experienced that in the past and found it not to really feel good.  I also crave the social interaction.

It all boils down to the fact that a good writer’s group can help keep you mentally healthy as well as improving your writing.  Go find one.

I’m a NaNoWriMo Rebel!

I bet you’re wondering what it takes to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel.  Sadly, not much.  There’s no anarchy involved, no guns, no rebel yells or rallying cries, and no James Dean in sight.  It simply means that I am writing 50,000 words of something other than a novel this November.

What else is there?  Oh, there are so many options.  Let me count the ways to rebel –

  1.  Short stories (my favorite) – I started the day yesterday with the prompt “We are made of stars, you and I” which, oddly enough, turned into a short story about a murder mystery weekend in a Tuscan Villa created by a writer with an ulterior motive.  It’s not done but I’ve moved on… for now.
  2. Essays – there will definitely be one or two of these this month, possibly considerably more, particularly if I get my ire up about something.
  3. Poetry – Now this might be a little difficult to get 1,667 words in a day with but I’m sure a few will be popping in there.
  4. Blog posts – Yes, I shall be including this in my daily word count.  If I write it, I count it.
  5. Facebook posts – Similar to blog posts but probably on a smaller scale.  A fellow writer I know has been posting creative short fiction on Facebook for months now and is planning to expand on those posts to do NaNoWriMo this year.
  6. Twitter feed posts – Now this would be a real challenge.  It depends on how many times you tweet a day.  You have 140 characters, more like 125 if you want people to be able to re-tweet it so say 20 to 25 words.  If we’re optimistic and say 25 words, that means you’d need (excuse me while I check with my calculator.)  Yep, calculator confirms you will need about 67 posts a day to get your word count in.  Good luck and God speed to your thumbs.
  7. Flash Fiction – Oh, another favorite.  Really, flash fiction can be any length up to 1,000 words or so but I usually aim for 50 words.  It’s a tight format but fun.  I will definitely be doing some of these.
  8. Novella – Really, if you consider your 50,000 word story to be completely done at the end of the month then it’s more of a novella but a novella can also be as low as 10,000 words so you could write a few this month!
  9. Memoir – I adore reading memoirs so I hope somebody out there is writing a smashing new one for NaNo that will be published and I can buy for our library.  Some of my essays fall into this category but I’m not dedicated to it.
  10. Script – There’s a whole other month for that (April) so if that’s what you aim to write, either for stage or screen, you’re a NaNo Rebel!
  11. Video game – I have no idea how to write these but I imagine it would be something like writing a role playing game with all the alternatives.  Any old dungeon masters out there want to give it a try?
  12. Comics – I don’t really consider graphic novels a lesser form of novel, as some people seem to, so I don’t believe writing one for NaNo is actually rebelling but if you move into comics, you’ve become a NaNo Rebel!

Whatever form your creativity takes, National Novel Writing Month is all about stapling your jacket to the back of the chair and getting the words down on paper, or your screen.  Make the most of this creative month and make someone else take out the trash.  I’ll be flying through the writing prompts with a new one each day.  Hope I’ll see you at the finish line!