Monday, November 30, 2009

Author Exhaustion

I just finished writing a novel in 30 days - and I had a one week break where I didn't write at all. Talk about a marathon! The bulk of the novel was written in the last 5 days! And, last night when I went to bed, my creative energy felt bone dry. But, I prayed for an infilling. I prayed that my brain would be like the jars that the woman rounded up for the oil that Elijah miraculously multiplied for her. I prayed and this morning, I felt like the story was writing itself!

I know the whole thing will now need some major editing. There are quite a few loose threads hanging, but overall, I'm pleased! The Dad Wars is a complete work.

Thank you, Beth and Christine!!!! And, NANOWRIMO, someday, I'm going to be able to give you buckets of money!!!!!

Monday is Blog Day

You know it's been awhile since you blogged when you're not sure what your password is anymore. Many of us from the Last Draft have been busy churning out our novels filled with suspense, intrigue, and adventure. I finished my word count close to midnight on the eve of Thanksgiving as the heady aroma of pumpkin pie baking in the oven wafted over my laptop. That was fortunate, because I've been pretty busy since then trying to catch up on everything I haven't done for three and a half weeks. But the story isn't quite finished, even yet. It will be over 51K by the time this first draft is entirely done.

Looking back, was it worth it? Yes. I doubt that I would have written a novel of this length in a month without the support of the those of you who did it too. In fact, being a picture book writer for the most part, I'm not sure I would have finished a novel of this length at all since I haven't up to this point. In that respect, it was very good for me to have done this with a group.

I would go so far as to say that I even recommend participating in the Nanowrimo to people who don't like to write, because writing isn't really about picking up a pen or typing on a keyboard. It's about sharing a story that is in you, that no one else has ever heard before. Everyone has a story on the inside of them somewhere. And I shudder to think of the many great stories that might never have been written if the writer hadn't been pressed into the writing, in some cases by financial need, nagging relatives, or encouraging friends.

So whatever the catalyst that propelled me to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November, I'm glad that I did it.

And I hope that next year, you'll do it too. And finally, to give credit where credit is due:

• Congratulations to Christine, who finished before everyone in our group. Speed Racer Award.
• Congratulations to Laura, who is almost finished at this moment, and wrote under difficult personal issues. The Perseverance Award.
• Congratulations to Dwight, who had no interest in writing, but did it just for his wife. The True Love Award
• Congratulations to Kathryn, Susan, Nathan, and Carissa, who will be finished by Monday night and decided to do something they never did before. Awesome Young Writers Awards to you all!
• Congratulations to the rest of you, for putting up with all of us for a month.

See you next November!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

As others celebrate by eating large quantities of turkey, I will celebrate today by trying to get caught up in my NANOWRIMO novel. I have 19,000 words to write in five days. And, I will do it!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Off Track, On Track

As any of you who can log on the Nano site can tell, I have gotten a tiny bit off track in my pursuit of 50K for Nanowrimo. Do not be alarmed. We had to drive up to Wisconsin this weekend to get part of a cow and my mom (multi-tasking trip). Since my mom doesn't have internet service, I had to upload my count the next day. It wasn't that it didn't happen. I just didn't have the opportunity to do anything about it.

But the last 36 hours have been a different story. Helping kids with the end of their homework so they could enjoy their Thanksgiving vacation and catching up on grading, in addition to serving at church and having meetings afterward, I have had to sacrifice writing for a twenty-four hour period. I can't tell you how hard it was to hear Dwight's keyboard tapping a way and find out that he'd logged a substantial 5,000 by the end of a day in which I had had no opportunity to write at all. Somehow, it didn't seem right.

But today I've caught up myself, except for studying Physics, and I plan to get back into the swing of things for writing. I left my protagonist in a terrible spot, but I find it easier to get back into the story when I leave her in trouble.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Deep into the Writing

Having been out of the game for about six days, I am working madly to catch up with my word count. Therefore I am deeply immersed in the world of THE DAD WARS. Hopefully, I will emerge next week sometime.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I See the Light

What an amazing adventure this has been for me. I am referring of course to my first attempt to write a novel. It has changed me in so many wonderful ways. I am now more then ever committed to writing on a daily basis.

My writing journey is nearing its end. There have been many unexpected twists and turns along the way, and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

Soon I will be able to sleep again and spend some quality time with my incredible husband, who has been GREAT about all the hours I have devoted to this.

I have less then 10,000 words left before I can cross over that finish line. I'm almost there! I can now see clearly the light at the end of the path. What a beautiful sight!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just touching base

I'm writing a novel this month. What else do you need to know?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Closing a Chapter with a Cliffhanger

I've been enjoying my escape into the wonderful world of reading children's fantasy novels. Now that I am writing my own I understand completely why it is recommended to read what you write.

I have uncovered a fountain of knowledge to aid me in this 50,000 words in a month quest. (I'm over 25,000 by the way)

One thing in particular I've observed is the end of a chapter or scene generally leaves you hanging. I am especially drawn when it not only leaves you hanging, but it lifts you up and takes you somewhere new. The POV changes to reveal a different characters thoughts in a different cliffhanger.

My story is filled with them and I am enjoying this ride and learning a lot. I find my mind continually racing with what calamity my protagonist can dig himself into next. It can be quite a rush!

I was reading the blogspot of Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted.

She wrote: "About ending a chapter with a crisis, I've been asked by editors sometimes to end with the crisis plus my main character's reaction.

"Yes! That's what I've been doing. I don't think I would have ever come up with it unless I had been reading all those suspense and fantasy novels over the last few months.

So as I sit down at my computer and lull myself back inside my fantasy world where I left my main characters lost and alone in utter darkness trying to find a hidden door. I finally get to resolve my present cliffhanger. Which isn't as much fun as creating them, but I suppose it must be done.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Music and writing

I have been listening to some new music - new to me, that is. I think it opens up a new part of my brain. I certainly hope so. Hopefully, a little vacation time also helps. Because I'm going to need every bit of that new brain to get back on track with my NANOWRIMO novel! Or maybe I should take inspiration from the places I've visited here in St. Augustine, the oldest town in the United States:

Piracy certainly would be a departure...

Maybe I better get back to that music. Josh Groban has just appeared on my music radar. He has a lovely tenor voice and sings a convincing love song, "You Raise Me Up." A little romance with some inspiration would certainly be a welcome diversion in the story I'm working on. Ah, romance. Always an interesting path to take.

There, I have just gotten myself back into the place I need to be to write.

Monday, November 9, 2009

When The Going Gets Tough

The tough keep typing.

Right about now, it's getting harder to write. I think this is what they were talking about when I read No Plot, No Problem. There comes a time in your writing process where you have to let go and quit trying to make your story perfect, because if you don't, you won't finish the 50,000 words in a month.

Meanwhile, your inner editor is screaming at you from Cabo San Lucas, and she's really upset because she keeps on losing her cell phone signal. But that mental telepathy hitch hikes a ride on the jet stream and gets to you anyway. "GO BACK AND FIX THAT HIDEOUS PARAGRAPH ON PAGE THREE! AND THAT'S JUST THE BEGINNING!"

That's what inner editors are for, of course. They like to fix all the inconsistencies and continuity errors. They know you have great stuff in you, and they just want the best to come out. Your inner editor needs to know the secret to first drafts:

For everything there is a season.

Now, to be honest, I did allow my inner editor to do a tiny bit. It was hard for me to go on when there were some little tweaks that I knew would help out the story because of the foreshadowing they created. Since they only added to my word count, I went back and added them. But still, they slowed me down, and in my nicely consistent progression, they are a jog in the chart.

My plan for the rest of the month is to keep my notebook at hand and make notes about changes and additions for a later time. This should assuage my inner editor and keep me chalking up my daily 2000, enabling me to enjoy a pressure-free Thanksgiving Day before resuming any necessary writing. And then, in December, I plan to give my inner editor a one way ticket back from the land of fun and sun to the biting winds of Chicago. Because when it comes to writing first drafts, there's something that I know as well:

And this too shall pass.

P.S. Yes, Christine, in response to your comment, it would be a distinct advantage to be able to type over 100 words per minute, but I believe the biggest issues for a writer is not in how fast they can type, but rather in how fast they can compose the story. (Which is probably why Dwight blew us away in the write-in.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The World of Words

I can hardly believe it's Thursday already. A post is due and my writers mind is on a thirteen year old boy named Alex who is trying to defend the world against the evil Mulum.

It's day five of NaNoWriMo, so I'm not exactly ready to pour myself into a post so here are someone else's words.

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice... and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart. -Gilbert Highet

Ah the power of the written word, it envelopes us, plunging us away from the busy chaos of our lives and reminds us there are beautiful places, unsolved mysteries, and happy endings all around us.

I have a very large list of books I want to read. Anyone else? I prioritize them now by what I currently want to write about.

Today I found a blog where the sidebar had a picture of a book along with, "must read" next to it. I googled the book. Upon finding many others with similar positive opinions, and intriguing content, I jotted down the title and author onto my reading list.

Now I am looming where great men and women have gone before, the incredible world of novel writing. I am enraptured by it. Why had I never done this before? Is this how most author's feel? I am obsessed with good books and what published authors have to say. I have crossed over. I will never be the same.

God gave us words for a reason, they have power. Power to build up, or tear down. To make you laugh, or make you cry. To lead you into a pit of utter darkness, or shine on you a light.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Okay to Be a Tortoise

Disclaimer: I'm too busy to proofread anything below, so read at your own risk. Apologies for weird grammar and typos up front.

So how did all of you Nano-writers out there do on your first day? The prize from our group goes to the ultra-competitive Christine, who has put in a cool 5,000+ already. I was astounded by my husband's 3,400+ word count also. He was pretty tired after our Fall Fest church function yesterday, but he got excited about what he was writing and burned up the keyboard! Meanwhile, I helped kids with Physics, ran to the library, helped two young Nano writers, and only logged just over 2,000 words. But considering that Sundays are extremely busy days for us, I felt this was quite good for me. I have discovered that I am not the hare (although I am a speedy typist), but I am the tortoise.

I meditated for a brief moment on what good can come of being a tortoise.

1. Tortoises have protective shells.

Once December rolls around, that will be helpful. You have to be able to take constructive criticism as a writer. Note: you are not required to use all of it. You just have to be able to receive it without being crushed by the fact that someone other than you knows what you wrote wasn't perfect. Evaluate their advice as objectively as possible and don't let it hurt your feelings.

2. Tortoises keep on moving.

If you've seen any of the Bourne movies, you notice right away that the main character keeps moving, no matter what. This always works for him because, well, there's a writer out there making it work. But it is good advice for writers too, especially during Nanowrimo. Keep on writing. Eventually you will arrive somewhere, and if all goes well, it will be where you want to end up or even somewhere better.

3. Tortoises lay eggs.

You wrote a first draft. If it wasn't the golden egg like the one from the duck next door, don't be surprised and don't give up. Some very normal eggs out there can be turned into something golden with a lot of work. But the important thing is, you did it!

That's about all the philosophy I have time for today. (In fact, I think that used up my quota for the next month.) I have to go make some chocolate chip cookies for tonight's write-in at Christines.

Happy writing, and let it glorify your Creator that you are being creative too!!!!! (You're a chip off the old block, you know.)