Day Two: She Makes Word Salad and Eats It With Her Fingers

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I have passed from brilliant plotting to mostly incoherent stream-of-consciousness, and landed here where it now appears I’m writing a semi-articulate prose poem. Welcome to my NaNoWriMo novel, Day Two.

This always happens. My brain is hardwired for poems and I force it unwillingly to tell a whole story. It’s becoming obvious this is a right-brain left-brain thing for me and all I need to do is imagine a clear filament connecting the two on which all the letters dance across and line up in an obedient Times New Roman kind of lockstep.

See what I mean?

I anticipated this moment (and the twenty or so other ones yet to come) by making myself Think About What Happens Next. Tonight I have these strange camera shots that sound like whale song. I like them, though.


Okay. Back to the page.  

Be sure to tell me how your battle goes…

Free NaNoWriMo Calendar Wallpapers

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NaNoWriMo Calendar 2012 No Telling D

In anticipation of National Novel Writing Month, and because I adore you all, free NaNoWriMo Calendar wallpapers all round. these come in handy to help log the word count. Whipped these up myself, so feel free to click on the picture and download away. My gift to you.

If you’re in the mood for something with more vintage oomph, cruise on over to Fresh Ribbon where I’ve left a little something extra. There are more colors, by the way, and you’re just a click or two from choosing.

Enjoy!

NaNoWriMo Calendar 2012 Easy Street Prompts A

National Novel Writing Month – Just Write It

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NaNoWriMo

Hear that tick-tick-ticking? I do too. It means that in a little over a month the starting gun goes off and we’re galloping willy-nilly toward some ridiculous 50,000 word writing goal. Preposterous. Crazy.

And I’m still going to do it. This won’t be my first rodeo. In fact, it will be my third and I know in my tired bones the insanity inherent in taking on such a project. I don’t care. There’s no feeling like slamming out those words every single day, and no feeling like finally limping inarticulate and finger-bone aching to the 50K finish.

A novel. Done. There it is.

You stumble out of your house into the world and tell perfect strangers in the WalMart checkout line. You tell your friends, even the ones who don’t write, and even though you realize most of them don’t give a tinker’s damn, you whisper hoarsely…fifty-thousand words. The friends who love you will give you carb-filled goodies and say bless your heart. And you nibble and smile and say yes, yes bless me.

But it’s not about the carbs or the blank stares at the WalMart checkout. This is about the kind of winning that tattoos itself on your DNA. No matter what else happens – if you are, God forbod, run flat by a Cotton Belt freight train – you finished a novel. It might be a first-draft messy bed, but it’s unmistakeably there.

Join me. I know there are a thousand reasons not to, but do it anyway. November will come and go and on December 1st you will either have a completed novel or you won’t. We all have stories that need telling, and yours could finally be told. Imagine looking at a stack of printed paper that is all you, all story, and imagine that finally and for once you did it.

Now go sign up at the National Novel Writing Month website and look for me. We’ll talk about planning and not planning another time – I have SCADS of handy advice that can make this the best month of your life. Seriously.

You can do this. We can do this.

  

Breathing the Fresh Air of a Four-Day Furlow

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The last essay (for now) is graded. National Novel Writing Month is a sweet flicker in the rear-view mirror. Final exams begin on Tuesday. Somebody pour me a drink.

My brains are scrambled and my eyesight is shot. I’ve eaten unhealthy food from bags out of machines for too long and haven’t had a minute to attend to this poor blog. I’ve got four days to regroup and come out swinging, all my faculties in place and such.

I’m having a little sushi tomorrow and a long walk. I might even scare some of the dust off of this desk and become human again. That’s the plan, anyway.

Oh, I have so many stories to tell you guys. You just don’t know.

NaNoDONEMo

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I‘m never so inarticulate as I am in the final days of NaNoWriMo. All my words are used up. Near the end, characters and scenes take up all the room in my brain, jettisoning important functions like remembering to take out the trash or the words to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

I wrote the final scene last night. Not the last scene, but the one I’d been saving as a word count present for the end. Writing out of order makes me happy and provides an interesting jigsaw-puzzle-rewrite.

My God. Rewrite. I’ll think about that tomorrow.

At any rate, I finished the scene, checked the word count, copied and pasted that bad-boy into the NaNo verifier, and TA-DA: 52,596. It’s a funny thing, finishing this 50k challenge. When it’s over you want to go tell everyone you know that you’ve climbed the mountain, seen the future, won the lottery, invented Velcro. It’s an incredible feeling.

But you’ve used up all your words and can’t say anything coherent. The characters in your head begin giving each other awkward, blank looks. It’s that wobbly moment at the end of a carnival ride when you have to remember how to unfasten the belt and rediscover your land-legs. You begin thinking in second-person and have no idea why.

As a favor to everyone, I’m going to find a cup of coffee and take the day to reorient.

Procrastination, Exhaustion, and Inarticulate ADD Rambling

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Friday the 13th seems like as good a day as any to begin my Christmas Wish List. After November is in the rear-view mirror, I’m going to deserve something delightful even if I have to buy it for myself. The Poem Cup is a good example. Piled next to it I’d like a ridiculous stack of Moleskine XL ruled cahiers – the color doesn’t matter, although I understand they make these in a festive holiday red now. Add a few dozen Parker gel ballpoint refills and I’ll be golden.

Can you tell I’m procrastinating?

Time to work on that novel. I’ll be thrilled when it’s finished, but right now I’m just as tired as everyone else. No matter. It’s imperative I stuff the NaNo word count before Monday. That’s when someone appears on Oprah hawking her new book and I’m already feeling a rant coming on. Can’t help it. She brings out the very worst in me.

You know, if I had that Poem Cup right now I might write faster and perhaps my hateful attitude toward someone would improve. I’d be a better person, you see, if I indulged a bit now instead of dangling this carrot another couple of weeks or so. With that cup on my desk I might actually get to heaven.

Well, enough of that. The only gift I receive tonight is in writing the scene where the mini-van mamas abscond with a tractor trailer full of feminine products and baby wipes. I’ve saved this gem for a moment just like tonight – it should perk me up considerably, with or without a fancy teacup.

No more procrastinating. Time to gas up these mini-vans and hit the road.

Dear NaNoWriMos

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This is the note I posted in our local NaNoWriMo forum. I think we all need it today.

Right now and the next week is an iffy time for us. Some of us who ran headlong into a carefully constructed plot may find ourselves frozen solid. Some of us may be suffering from the sinister machinations of The Inner Editor. Some of us, in fact, may simply be worn out.

I’m here to tell you everything is salvageable. Everything is fine. You WILL make it.

For those frozen solid with What Comes Next, jump outside of the box. Make a list of scenes, chapter titles, anything. Then turn each one into a separate, empty document. There’s no law that says we have to write this novel in order – I NEVER do. Simply dive into the scenes or chapters you feel good about. Don’t worry about maintaining a perfect thread, because that’s what rewrite is all about. As you write and other scenes come to you, make a blank document for those, too. It’s relieving to open up the files and see choices – start anywhere and you’ll still end up at the end. Last year this method saved me and made the book actually better. Try it.

That Inner Editor? Not your friend. In fact, that rascal’s not anyone’s friend. Some of you may have a whole dastardly jury box full of Inner Editors happily chipping away at your enthusiasm, your bravado, your talent. Don’t give ’em an inch. Collectively and individually, those Inner Demons must be removed. If you can, come with us to tomorrow night’s write-in – we’ll physically take those badboys down. If not, I suggest you write a hateful note to your Inner Editor/Ugly Jury and hold nothing back. Make an effigy and do violence to it. Something. Whatever it takes to put that negativity where it belongs – far away from you and your gorgeous novel.

Are you simply worn out? Y’all, I’m a frazzle right now – don’t think you’re alone. The thing to remember is that this month, this novel, these words are all the best gift you’ll ever give to yourself. No one else can give you this, it won’t show up in your stocking next month and there’s no cash equivalent. Does it feel selfish? Hell, yes. Are we all trained to be unselfish and put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own? Absolutely. What you need to know is that you’re worth every single minute you give to the novel. You deserve this and it might be the best present you ever receive. I know we’re tired and frustrated, but the end is so beautiful that every last minute, every single word is worth it. I promise.

Go eat something healthy, grab a big cup of coffee, and let’s do this thing.


Image via Shannon McDonald

Now I Lay Me Down

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This is where I should be right now. It’s calling to me, promising to erase a wicked week of bad scheduling and Thing That Went Wrong. I must deny the bed, though, at least a little longer. I’m a few hundred words behind on NaNoWriMo and those unwritten words won’t let me relax.

The story, you see, is riding piggy-back with me through every waking moment of my life now. This is how it happens, and this is, in fact, a good thing. It’s whole reason I love the ridiculous goal of 50.000 words in 30 days – complete immersion.

I forgot that the living part of life likes to kick me in the ass every now and then, though. I just shake my head.

Fine, then. I’m going to finish out this scene, catch up on the word count, and go do it all over again tomorrow. I plan to spent the better part of the day with a whole gaggle of National Writing Project teachers sipping coffee, scribbling, and moseying through the little shops and flea markets at Pickles Gap. I believe they have a petting zoo there as well.

Southern psychiatry: Pet some goats, buy some junk, scribble a story, and eat homemade fudge. By late tomorrow afternoon, I should be cured.

And They’re Off!

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I love that quote. Mainly because anyone who writes knows that sooner or later, the writing rips that club out of your perfectly manicured fingers and pummels you over the head with it. It’s called Rewrite. It’s a small price for 50,000 words. And there’s just something about NaNoWriMo that makes you feel a little bit smug, despite the fact that December demands its due.

I’ll think about that next month. Right now, slamming out the first draft like barn ‘afire makes me plenty happy. So does Daylight Savings Time, because it’s put me in a good sprint. Sure, I may fall apart in an hour or so (we all will) but I don’t plan to worry about that, either.

We had a rousing Kick-Off Party and Write-In this afternoon, complete with goodie-bags and stickers and foods only good Southern women know how to bring to a gathering. I pity those of you who live elsewhere, because I’m not sure anyone knows how to whip out a casserole dish full of heaven quite like these gals below the Mason-Dixon.

The collective creative energy in that room today could’ve lit up all of Little Rock for for at least an hour. There was mojo, I tell you, mojo.

Speaking of mojo, I’ve added a little something over there on the right of the blog. The folks who put together National Novel Writing Month (a nonprofit) also run the Young Writers Program. It’s a fine operation that provides free writing kits, lesson plans, and online assistance to classrooms all over. The program is free to teachers, which makes me happy, but the funding has to come from somewhere. Over there on the right —–> you can sponsor me and help raise funds to keep the Young Writers Program going to the schools, gratis. Any donation will do and is greatly appreciated. Just click on the picture of me with my very first typewriter, or click HERE.

Happy scribbling, y’all!

It Seldom Gets Any Better Than This

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My glowing post on the fine gathering of Conway NaNoWriMo scribblers has been preempted for breaking news straight from the Log Cabin Democrat. This is certainly the mother of all hijacks, and it happened in my own backyard. Practically.

Two shipping containers full of Kotex and baby wipes and whatnot, whisked away by feminine hygiene pirates in the dark of night. Local police feel certain they were stolen for the shipping containers alone, as it’s unlikely they’ll fence the goods. As one official noted, “It isn’t like a trailer load of flatscreen TVs.”

Do tell.

I‘d prefer to imagine a whole band of young mothers, desperate in these tough times, clipping padlocks and absconding with the goods. Gals sitting around the dinette table in some double-wide, drinking box-wine and splitting up the loot – that sort of thing.

Five days before the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, this is a gift indeed.