NaNoWriMo Preparedness

It’s NaNoWriMo preparedness time!

November kind of sneaks up on you, so fair warning, as of today Oct 4th, NaNoWriMo is a mere 4 weeks away.

For you local writers seeking a state of preparedness that might stave off panic come November 1st, we have pre-NaNo write-ins three weekends in October.  Use them to plot, develop ideas, or characters, bounce questions off the group, get website or book recommendations, pretty much anything having to do with novel writing-you ask we’ll do our best to answer.

For my web-based writer friends I recommend these resources to help you prepare. Check out the WriNoShore website, Wednesday Woo posts for even more writing links.

Obvious, but chock full of helpful information to get you started is NaNoWriMo’s own website,

http://nanowrimo.org/forums/writing-101

Chuck Wendig’s books and blog are a favorite, be forewarned he is loose with the crude language, and I love him for it.

http://terribleminds.com/

http://www.livewritethrive.com/

An interesting search engine I’ve just started exploring,

http://hiveword.com/wkb/search?q=plotting

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/write-first-chapter-get-started/novel-in-30-days-2011

 

Are you new to NaNoWriMo?

The WriNoShores are a regional writing group that germinated and grew from our NaNoWriMo experience. While we have a distinct identity from NaNoWriMo for the month of November  we are devoted to participating in NaNoWriMo as the North Shore region of Massachusetts.  We’ve discovered over the years that each region has their own way of doing things, though the basics are the same.

The ML (Municipal Liaison) arranges for places to hold write-ins during the month of November, ours has NaNo Prep Write-Ins several weekends in October to help one another with plot ideas and familiarize newbies with the process. We have a variety of write-ins held in libraries, coffee shop, tea shops, and private homes and attended by anywhere between 2 to 20+ writers.

I can’t stress enough how productive our write-ins are. We are very dedicated to helping you reach you word counts which we do by holding word sprints. Word sprints are 20 minute focused writing sessions, often back-to-back with fifteen minute breaks between sets. It is amazing how the energy of all those writers pounding out the words helps you concentrate. It is rare that someone doesn’t find this event works for them, truly, most are pleasantly surprised.

As anyone in our group will attest, we are convivial, but serious minded, kind, accepting, and helpful. We strive to be productive, yet balance that with copious amounts of tea, coffee, and chocolate, administered as necessary.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask, here or on our NaNoWriMo regional forum.

 

 

Online: Be Yourself not Anonymous

I don’t know about you, but when I see a comment by “Anonymous” I automatically discount its worth. If you don’t value your time and words enough to put your name to them then why bother? Online: Be yourself not anonymous is what I’ve always believed, until I began thinking in earnest about marketing.

Accountability

I believe to achieve online equanimity, one’s words need the check of accountability provided by owning up to your actual identity. While this is true in theory, does it hold up when viewed under the lens of marketing scrutiny. Whether you’re selling a product or yourself – for what is our online community but one big concession stand – does anonymity hurt or help sales?

Authentic, But At What Cost?

What began as a reflection on the troubling vileness of comments left by incognito voices, has morphed into a marketing inquiry. If you’ve read any of my political posts you’ll have noticed I don’t shy away from expressing my opinion. I aim to be authentic, but at what cost?

Possibly, my true self may offend readers, does that mean I am sacrificing a potential sale? As I seek to publish, should I be more mindful of how my personal views influence the buying power of the public. Should I rescript my views whenever I blog, tweet or post to be more palatable?

Consider this—isn’t it equally important to be yourself when you are your own brand and sole proprietor of your business? Should you be an edited, fictitious, more marketable you? How much of yourself can you reveal before you risk repelling clients, customers, or readers with your personal views or politics? What about when those views have nothing to do with your product or business?

Boycott, Protest, and Media Blitzes

We’ve seen what can happen to a company that supports political candidates or issues that don’t comply with the social mores of its customer base. Calls for a boycott, protest, or media blitz are broadcast, and make headlines, but what results from these? Is it, any publicity is good publicity? Or are these actions detrimental enough to the bottom line to influence a business’s polices?

Should companies acquiesce to the demands of its patron’s or stand strong in its convictions? Does it depend on what stance, or policy the company is imposing? Are they speaking for themselves or the company? Do their politics affect their employees directly or restrict their employees autonomy? 

How deep do you dig into a company’s missions statement before you buy their product or services?

What Do My Values Say About Me As a Customer?

I admire how some companies have handled these uproars. Much to their credit, JCPenney stood firm in its support of choosing Ellen Degeneres, an openly gay woman, as its spokesperson despite some hater’s protests. And Target’s protection of a transgender persons’s right to choose their own identity and bathroom usage was admirable. I promptly made purchases at both establishments in solidarity.

However, I have often shied away from buying anything at Target because of its refusal to implement policy protecting women from a pharmacist personal views and judgement. Here is where I think the line is as to whether a company or individual can impose its values and morals on another.

A pharmacist, because of their intimate knowledge of your medical decision (by way of a prescription) is obligated to maintain your privacy. When they refuse to fill a prescription that goes against their own morals, they are crossing the line into patient/doctor confidentiality. An intrusion that is becoming more and more common as politicians seek to legislate controls over how and what women do to their bodies.

Then there is the other side of the spectrum. When Chick-Fil-A funded anti-gay groups I boycotted them. When Hobby Lobby purporting to hold it’s anti-abortion, anti-contraception ideals as sacred religious rights to the point of taking it to the Supreme Court, but were in fact, heavily invested in those products through their company financial holdings, and made a lot money doing it, I vowed never to shop there. Theirs was an astounding hypocrisy, yet not shocking given how white corporate America behaves these days.

Clearly, my values say a lot about me as a customer and, influence my purchasing decisions. I can’t expect others to not be influenced by what they value when deciding whether or not to do business with me or anyone else. 

A company that tries to rule over your personal life and demands conformity to their standard is one I’d try not to do business with. I think it is wrong for a company’s values to supersede employees or a customer’s rights. It’s that line of infringement that is the litmus test.

Does expressing my political views impinge on another’s rights? No. They might not agree, or like what I say, but I have no power over their ability to make value judgement of their own. They aren’t restricted by my views. Despite my fight to stop the sale of assault weapons, I would not bar a Republican, anti-abortionist, NRA card holder from buying my books because they have different values from I. 

How Much Virtue is Too Much Virtue?

Do you as a consumer consider a company or individuals politics, values, or religion before making a purchase? Do you have a list of companies you won’t do business with because of their carbon foot print or quality of life standards for workers? Do you make a purchase anyway if your wants or needs of a product countermand your convictions against the companies policies?

Does a company like Chick-fil-A, whose religious agenda is clearly and proudly part of their companies purpose statement— “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us.” —risk losing customers that don’t support their views? Or do people just not care when it comes to filling their bellies?

I will never eat at Chick-fil-A. Not because of their religious affiliation, I support them holding to their faith and values, and find many of their charitable initiative admirable, the exception is when they infringing on the rights of others. And since their company donations support anti-same-sex marriage endeavors, they have crossed the line.

How much virtue is too much virtue is in the eye of the beholder. Decide what you value, read widely about the companies you frequent and shop accordingly. How deep your research goes, and whether or not you strictly adhere to these self-imposed guidelines is on your conscious, not mine. 

 Being A Writer Means You are a Business

What does this mean for me, a blogger, sole proprietor, a writer who one day hopes to sell a few novels? Or you, the account exec who secretly writes a popular romance series of novels, or the middle school teacher who is a skilled erotica poet and earns half her salary in affiliated links?

It means you are a business and responsible for the bottom line. How closely you aline your business with your personal morals is another decision you have to make as an entrepreneur.

A secret identity to sell your wares in some instances is commonsense. A secret identity to be ugly, repressive, and argumentative is not. Hiding your identity to promote an agenda that is counter to your public face is subterfuge.

Be Yourself Not Anonymous

I started this post because I wondered, does transparency makes for better discussions? My want of openness is not a call for any person’s voice to be muted but rather a plea for clarity, civility and consciousness.

Being yourself online is hard, but if it can cure what infects the comment sections all over the internet, wouldn’t it be worth it? While (evidently) it may not keep me you from embarrassing myself yourself, I believe it does more to keep one honest and reflective than hiding behind the mask of anonymity.

Anonymity’s danger is it give one a false sense of entitlement to say whatever one wants. Aside from the few instances when this is a necessity to protect yourself from harm, it seems to me that we’d be better off without the ability to hide from ourselves or others.

Like the rules we set for our children when teaching them personal responsibility online “Never say online what you wouldn’t say to someones face or their mother.” That’s what I taught my children, and I’m determined to adhere to this maxim myself. Even as a business entity, I feel a responsibility to be open about who I am and what I believe.

I am Always Me

I can’t say I’ve never commented online under another name, but I have never done so to be dishonest. I am always me, and I believe it keeps me from saying much of what needn’t be said, out loud, to anyone. Though I do not shy away from expressing my opinion, I’m learning to temper it with an understanding of how it reflects on me.

That’s why I promise to always be me online. When I find my message or responses becoming vitriolic I know I need to step back and let my anger abate. If the message is still something I need to express, if the anger is justified and makes sense after I’ve cooled, then I’m prepared to stand behind my words, but I intend to be responsible for what I say and I hope you’ll hold me accountable for it too.

Freedom of speech is not freedom from accountability. You should have to own up to what you say, write or preach. whether you are an individual or a corporation.

P.S. I update and rework this post off and on as I reevaluate and need to clarify what I’m thinking. Many news items since I began have felt like prescient warning of the impact imposing ones values on others have. 

Given the results of Donald Sterling’s deservedly quick and complete ousting from NBA (just the beginning of a spate of business leaders being held accountable for their racist, and/or sexist remarks and behavior),  an the Hobby Lobby court case, the insistence that everyone conform to personal values not their own is a tough sell even when you share some of those values. 

The one guideline I keep coming back to is, how and when you stand up for what you believe in should be determined not just by your personal moral compass but whether or not it restricts others from following their own. 

 

 

 

 

 

Haverhill High Class of 2014

That title appears innocuous enough but it is my eighteen-year-old daughter’s graduating class and today is her last official day of high school. For me it is fraught with emotions.

I’ve thought of little else the last few weeks as she’s prepared her last essay, attended her last HHS production, and spent many hours on Facebook getting to know those who will become her new classmates at college.

It is hard not to reflect on the good and bad things that have happened to her, events that are significant in that they helped shaped how she responds to the world.

She recently shared two such event at poetry reading explaining how she had been bullied in fifth grade and turned to poetry to cope and express her feelings. Then, how the kindness of an entire class gave her the strength and confidence to read that poetry in public.

She’s experienced the worst and the best in people, and transformed those interactions into stepping stones to become the out-spoken, eloquent and poised woman she is today.

It is with great pride and confidence that I send her out into the world. Please be kind to her.

I know she will be to you.

Boston Strong: Couple Run Marathon Again

It’s an honor and privilege to know these wonderful people. Please support the Milligans as they race to benefit the people and hospital who helped them through a very difficult time.

Watch to learn about them and their story as they explain why they are running again.

Tohonortheirkids,coupledecidestorunBostonMarathonagain-CBSNews.

Please Donate To Our Haverhill Strong Family

Elizabeth Milligan

Peter Milligan

NaNoWriMo: Post November in April

The Post November NaNoWriMo Post of Depression…in April.

New year, old neurosis. You want to know how pathetic I am? I started this post Jan 15th, as a NaNoWriMo wrap-up and today is April 1st. How fitting since I’m feeling pretty foolish.

Outside of my writing group exercises, the most writing I’ve done is a few sprints on our FB page.  I could, in desperation, count the few sentences I’ve jotted here and there in the comment sections of friend’s blogs. But really, even those have been less than substantial.

Thankfully, as spring begins to assert itself, my main story is finally finding it’s way back into my head. This is the first time I’ve faced a completed first draft and I’m feeling like a deer caught in headlights. Revising is not for wimps. I’ve quaked in the face of goals, rereading and reediting the same  few chapters over and over. Must move forward.

I even spent an entire day trying to talk myself into quitting writing altogether, though that may have been the flu talking.

How to go about proceeding with the revision process has been weighing heavily on my mind. I’ve been searching for a method or plan of attack that makes sense to me. Shawn Coyne’s article What It Takes: The Math published on Steven Pressfield Online appeared in my inbox a few months ago helping to allay some of my editing fears and gave me a bit of structure to hang my work on. Though this is more an article about plotting from the beginning of the process (something I don’t do…maybe next time) it is helping me visualize where my story needs work and whether or not the ground work I’d already laid is on solid enough ground to continue.

I feel confident that I’ve kept the word count garbage to a minimum (a typical NaNoWriMo bi-product) but there are holes that need plugging and connections that need rewiring. Characters that need fleshing out and a few that shall be meeting the axe.

On March 6th I posted a link on our WriNoShore website about structuring your scenes. It’s an interesting method to keep in mind while revising. At this point I’ll try anything to get my mind back in the game.

I mainly need to have a plan, a method to my madness so that I can consistently meet my work goals each day. Knowing what I need to accomplish help me focus and pushes me forward.

Some links to the revising process.

How I self-Edit My Novel in 15 Steps

25 Steps to Edit the Unmerciful Suck Out of  Your Story

 

To those of you embarking on the April NaNoWriMo Camp, watch out for poison ivy, and have fun.