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.

Revising your novel in 10 easy steps

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.

 

 

NaNoWriMo:Winner 2013

http://cfiles.nanowrimo.org/nano-2013/files/2013/11/2013-Winner-Square-Button.png

It’s official, I’m a NaNoWriMo: Winner 2013. I finished on the 20th with a word count of 50,424. Since then I’ve pushed the count up to 53,433, which combined with 2011’s total brings this novel’s first draft to 116,725. There’s a lot of extraneous conversations and side story that needs to be cut; I’m guessing I can edit it down to 75-80K.

While I’m relieved to finally have the first draft done, I didn’t really enjoy utilizing the same story for NaNoWriMo. I often had to look-up names, and try to recall details that weren’t fresh in my mind and it slowed my writing down considerably. Yes, I know I still finished a week before the deadline and I can shut-up now.

We have an outstanding regional group, The WriNoShores, and they made a huge difference to many of our writer’s endeavors. We had a variety of well-attended write-ins from semi-serious all-day Saturday library affairs to small mid-morning cafe groups. We’ve become quite a spirited, and supportive group. The convivial nature of which was uplifting and inspiring. Happily, plans are afoot to continue meeting up after November.

We still have one big Saturday write-in left. A potluck lunch is planned at which those who’ve finished will play cheerleader to those still trying to reach their goal. It should be a blast (it was except for those of us finished distracting those still workign out the last few thousand words-sorry Sarah!).

We’ll wrap up the month Dec 8th with a TGIO Party and Reading, and present out own WriNoShore:Winner 2013 and participant certificates.

Overall, another fantastic month of writing, whining and chocolate eating (it was genius having this start the day after Halloween).

 

 

Summertime, NaNoWriMo and Me

Hi Gang, let’s catch-up.

I love this song and this version especially. It’s one of the few I can recall the words to well enough to sing, though it’s best experienced if you or I–and preferably both–have had a few cocktails.

Summertime

But now summertime is over and I can no longer pretend I’m on vacation. There’s a chill in the air and I’ve just returned from Vermont where the trees have begun putting on the blaze of glory show.

I haven’t been slacking off completely since my last blog post. I’ve been working steadily on The Illusion of Marriage but recently hit a bit of hiccup. I realized I’d been rewriting and reading the same chapters over and over and not making much progress. The diagnosis–lack of an outline.

There comes a time when you have take a serious look at your process if you aren’t completing projects. While I’ve always been keen on the idea of outlining, the practice of it has eluded me. Presently, I’ve come round to believing that outlining is crucial to finishing. That’s where I am creatively.

Steven Pressfield has a new book coming out Authentic Swing which is about the writing of his first novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance. He utilizes a way of outlining called Foolscap which he talks about in a new video series. It’s helping me conceptualize my own work, and frankly I just like listening to Steven talk.

NaNoWriMo

Yes! It is nearing that time of year again and the WriNoShores, our local group of NaNoWriMo participants,  are gearing up for another epic month of write-ins, cookies and creative expletives. Sara, our intrepid ML, and I have a shiny new design featuring our mascot George, which I will reveal in a later post. George had an interesting summer observing teenagers in their natural habitat (sprawled on my couch in front of the television) and traveled to Smuggler’s Notch in VT on a writer’s retreat where he watched Sara and I sprawl on the couch in front of the television. Apparently, George needs a higher quality of experience than he currently being exposed to.

I must apologize to Sara though, I’ve thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into the plans and taken on a new position, which unfortunately begins November 4th. Not that it’s unfortunate for me-I’m thrilled-but it does mean I won’t be available to attend the daytime write-ins during the workweek. I’ll really miss Mondays at Plum Island Coffee Roasters in Newburyport, and the Thursday crew at the Haverhill Public Library.

No worries, I will still be my usual competitive self, aiming to be the first to fill out our super useful word counters with sparkly new stars (I have a reputation to uphold).

As for my new job–I never expected to be a nanny again, but in an opportune moment of serendipity, a close family friend’s shiny new boy came early necessitating personal care. I offered my services and they accepted. I love that I can be there for them and I’m honored by their trust in me. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about him in the future.

College Tours

YIKES! Also on our end-of-summer agenda, college tours. If any of you have been down this road, you know that the tours are all pretty much the same or at least they feel that way after about three of them.

Basically, you show up, they corral you for a presentation on the school’s philosophy, facilities and policies, have a Q&A, then divvy you up to charming (hopefully) student representatives who lead you around the campus pointing out the highlights while regaling you with tales of traditions and student antics. Some are more successful at this than others, which is often clue enough as to whether the school is a good fit for your child. How we were treated by the student body while we were on the tours was a determining factors for at least four of the schools, two positive, and two negative. One of the schools surprised us though not in a flattering way, but rather they turned us off with their self-centeredness.

Not everyone bothers visiting the schools which surprises me. Of course it isn’t always financially possible, especially if the school isn’t within driving distance. We didn’t have that problem since my eldest daughter aims to stay in New England. The younger daughter won’t have the luxury of visiting the schools she interested in since she aspires to go as far away as possible–le sigh.

We’re getting closer to a decision. She’s narrowed it down to a handful of schools. We’ll be making one more foray to Vermont before the early admission deadlines start in November. Then begins the acceptance waiting game. Then the shell game of financial packages. Then the torrent of tears from her mother who is not ready for her first little chickie to leave the nest. Maybe accepting this new boy into my care is compensating for the loss I am anticipating.

I’m determined to keep the focus on my work despite all the changes, events, and holidays coming. Most important is putting taking care of myself first on the list so I can survive all that is scheduled-not to mention those eventual unscheduled surprises. Which reminds me I need to hit the liqueur store to stock up on wine, the cheese shop and Staples.

Now that the lazy days of summertime are over how do you prepare for the hectic days ahead?

 

 

 

100 Things I Love (and social media isn’t one of them)

I trolled the web for years skirting around the fringes of engagement. My first encounter, more than 16 years ago, was on a gardenweb portal. I inadvertently offended someone—unlike now when I do it on purpose, and I was genuinely horrified they’d mistook my inference for something mean spirited and lambasted me personally to the nth degree. I refrained from commenting on any site for years afterward.

I believe that encounter was one of many moments that niggled at my self-esteem and pushed me to go to college, the last straw being the inability to write a retort to an editorial in the local paper. If you’re really bored, happen to be snowed-in and have already perused the entire wikipedia, you could read about my trials and tribulations in my culminating study, which I’ve posted under Books (it’s a pdf).

My, my, how times have changed.

Now, I have to stop myself from writing too much on other blogger’s comment sections. Yes, it’s nice to have your post recognized by your readers but leaving comments longer than the original post—that’s just rude.

I’ve learned to restrain myself, but I am often inspired by what other bloggers are discussing and wish to keep the conversation going.  Lucky, for me I have my own blog.

Today, I pay homage to Brenda and Chris.

Certain ladies have a knack for touching on things that either, I too have been ruminating on. Like Chris Dean’s post How to Fail at World Media Domination, which I am exemplifying, or identify with—like Brenda Moguez post about Drama—that old attention hog, and how she refocused her mind by setting it to task on a list, 100 Things I Love.

Naturally, I had to put everything else on hold and write out my own list.

100 Things I Love

  1. The smell of spring rain on warm pavement.
  2. The sound of wind whipping through the trees.
  3. Birds fluttering outside the dining room window.
  4. Patterns in nature.
  5. Peonies, herbaceous and tree.
  6. Gazing into a baby’s eyes.
  7. My husband’s hands
  8. Also the crinkles around his eyes when he smiles.
  9. Daughter Lillian’s hearty laugh.
  10. Daughter Eva’s creativity.
  11. Pam’s colossal chocolate chip cookies.
  12. Brunch, in all its iterations.
  13. When all my friends sleepover and we eat and drink all weekend.
  14. Martha’s Vineyard with BF and family.
  15. Unexpected friendships.
  16. My orange bedside lamps.
  17. Finding the correct word that exactly expresses what I’m trying to convey.
  18. Books, that’s a given, I can’t narrow it down any further.
  19. The learning process, which allows stretching my mind, imagination and boundaries.
  20. Craftsmanship. I used to be a jeweler/lapidary and respect the talent it takes to master handiwork.
  21. The aesthetics of my habitat—not materialism but how form and function influences us.
  22. A properly set table—china, silverware, linen. Get it out and use it.
  23. Evening, when there are clouds stretching across the sky and they appear dark with linger light-blue sky behind them.
  24. Typography as art.
  25. People who aren’t afraid to act the fool to entertain their children. I will sing in the supermarket.
  26. Selflessness, just because you can.
  27. Vases filled with flowers the girls cut from our own garden.
  28. Libraries.
  29. Fabric.
  30. Paper, especially handmade.
  31. Sharp scissors, knives, Exacto blades, chisels.
  32. The right tool for the right job (don’t drink O.J. from my mug)
  33. The incredulous remarks from my daughter’s friends (You can make whipped cream?)
  34. Growing food. The incredulous remarks from my contractor’s son (You grow carrots? Purple ones—mind-blown twice!)
  35. Long, hot, steamy showers.
  36. Maine, coastal or lakeside.
  37. Pearls. Big South Sea mothers I’ll never be able to afford. Check any Sotheby’s catalog.
  38. Seedlings. Really, that tiny little seed will produce a family’s worth of tomatoes.
  39. Witnessing kindness.
  40. Baked ham with scalloped potatoes.
  41. My in-laws. Never take for granted the genuine gift it is to marry into a loving, smart, funny family.
  42. Cocktails. The whole process of making them, sipping them, pairing them with the right appetizer, the correct glass.
  43. Those who persevere. Despite, odds, discouragement, and setbacks, I admire the courage it takes to own ones convictions.
  44. Red flannel sheets.
  45. Modern medicine. It gets a bad rap, sometimes deservedly, but as I’ve benefited from its progress, I owe it one.
  46. My neighbors. I’ve lucked out, not only by having a supportive, loving family, but with best neighbors you could hope for. I want to grow old with them.
  47. Salt.
  48. Chocolate. Malted. Frappes.
  49. New England. We have it all— beaches, mountains, theater, universities, museums, grand cities, country towns, fall foliage, maple syrup season, fine dining, clam shacks, easy access to NYC, and Montreal, etc, etc, etc.
  50. Antique stores. Rummaging through junk to find a treasure (kind of like editing!)
  51. Thanksgiving. The ritual of passing into winter with a feast of what you’ve harvested, surrounded by family and friends, acknowledging the bounty in our lives.
  52. I do not posses any musical ability so I adore being around musicians, especially at home, everyone joining in to create a joyful noise.
  53. When I’ve been helpful in anyway. Almost nothing, makes me happier.
  54. Observing children discover something new. I once brought a hosta plant I’d dug from garden into my preschool class. I plunked it down on the table—worms, beetles, dirt and all for the kids to explore. Best day ever.
  55. People who enjoy their jobs no matter what they are doing.
  56. Belonging to a CSA.
  57. Sidewalks, granite curbs, trees, that collectively evoke a feeling of belonging and home.
  58. Graph paper.
  59. Hand lettering. I wish I had a picture of the door to my former lapidary shop that had my company name hand lettered on it.
  60. Access to nearly every and any type of music.
  61. The ability to laugh at ones self.
  62. Baby shoes—they’re so tiny and cute!
  63. Blueberry picking, then eating them by the fist-full for weeks. Strawberries and raspberries too.
  64. Pulling out those blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries from the freezer in January.
  65. Cuddling on the couch with my daughters, watching a foreign movie that is unexpectedly good.
  66. Red wine, juicy, ripe, fruity, not to dry.
  67. Led Zeppelin
  68. Immersion in someone else’s creative work. I could be viewing their paintings, or listening to a concert, or even witnessing their work being created, like a glass blower.
  69. A photo of Eva on Crane’s Beach, Ipswich where she is stomping through the surf, swishing her hair side to side.
  70. A photo of Eva reaching in to touch Lillian’s cheek while still in the bassinet at the hospital. Their first connection.
  71. A photo of Lillian in the tub (In a fire, those three photos I’d grab off the wall.)
  72. Meteorology. Fair warning saves lives.
  73. TED Talks
  74. Beads.
  75. Calligraphy
  76. A man wearing cologne. I will break my neck someday snapping my head around to follow a sweet smelling man.
  77. Risotto
  78. Old-fashioned musky roses.
  79. Planning. Goes with the graph paper. I obsessively design and redesign everything from the master bath to the herb beds.
  80. Jeez, are you still reading this?
  81. Fog. Okay, it’s dangerous to drive in but I have fond memories of a foggy night with my husband early in our relationship.
  82. Sitting on my front porch during a storm.
  83. Gas fireplace. All the ambiance without the smoke.
  84. Roasted asparagus.
  85. Heirloom tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and basil drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
  86. Blood orange gelto
  87. Watching children try to catch frog, fireflies or grasshoppers.
  88. Stained glass.
  89. Fine wood furniture.
  90. Museums of all type.
  91. Sharing in another’s culture.
  92. Architecture.
  93. The idea that I could still learn to do anything I put my mind to.
  94. Meeting and getting to know other writers.
  95. Board games. Let’s play! Scrabble, Dominion, Blokus…
  96. Screened porches with bead board and garden views.
  97. Swimming in a heated pool.
  98. My girl’s art works.
  99. Dark chocolate butter creams.
  100. Bamboo

It’s interesting how setting your mind to a task frees your imagination. I noticed when I’d finished this list that I already had the plot forming for the next chapter I was working on. I think the list served as a primer. Often it is recommended to writers that they prime the pump so to speak by free writing for ten minutes to alert your mind as to what you want it to do. It turned out to be a very useful exercise.

Social Media Failure

As for social media, I like to tweet occasionally but won’t follow people who don’t engage with others. People who are just tweeting about their books are nothing more than ads, a complete waste of my time. I’m not saying don’t ever mention your work, but timed pitches spamming my feed every two hours get an automatic block.

I’m on Facebook, but have always considered it a family place though I’ve added some on my writer friends. It’s not been a very satisfy way to engage. Maybe mixing of business with family and friends, the public you and private you are too at odds to work effectively.

I do like Pinterest, mainly because there is little personally engagement and I don’t use it for anything other than a fun way to curate what I find interesting.

Tumblr started out as a place for me post the odd poem, short fiction or essay. But I found I enjoyed reblogging there too so it has become a mix of original work and curated interests.

Other than that I can’t be bothered. I’m a novelist not a blogger, or copywriter, or marketer. Everything that is not novel related is just a distraction from my real work. I guess I better get back to it.

 

 

 

A Versatile Blogger

Versitile_Blogger

 

I’m honored!

Is that what you call me?  A Versatile Blogger! Well, that’s one way to phrase what I do around here. I’ve deliberately not defined the content, freeing myself to write about whatever strikes my fancy, or incurs my wrath.

 

Expressing My Gratitude

I’d like to thank Chris @ Life Your Way for this “major award” and her support of My Dubious Views blog, not to mention her humor, and generous spirit.

 

The Rules for the Versatile Blogger

1) Thank the blogger who nominated you and include a link to their site.

2) Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your blog post.

3) Nominate 7 fellow bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly and include a link to their site.

4) Let them know you have nominated them

5) Share 7 random facts about you

 

My Nominations for Versatile Bloggers

Norine @ Don’t Put Lizards in Your Ears You can’t go wrong with that advice.

Yes, that’s only five — I’m a rebel and a rule breaker.

Seven Random Facts About Me:

  1. I’m originally from Dorchester.
  2. I’ll have been married for twenty years this October. Crickey!
  3. I’ve been a dot etcher,
  4. And a lapidary.
  5. I’m a breast cancer survivor.
  6. Brunch is my favorite meal and social activity.
  7. I fantasy garden.