Is it Sunday Night Already?

No Telling


I‘m well into a string of six-day work weeks and no end in sight until mid December. How did I over-extend myself this way? It sneaks up on me. One week I’m working at a steady, relaxed pace, then one Sunday night I flip the organizer book over to the next page and it looks like Armageddon.

I bring this on myself. Please tell me I’m not alone.

There are a gazillion commitments this week – everything from throwing a NaNoWriMo plotting workshop to advising the November online issue of the Vortex. In the next two days I’ll rake in around 80 freshman essays that need grading, I’ve got a novel rewrite due, judges for a freshman comp essay contest to wrangle, and the 2nd Edition of the Easy Street Carnival of Writing and Art to judge and post.

Halloween is coming and I have no candy.

So is NaNoWriMo and I have no plot.

Clearly I’m suffering from Sunday Night Panic. Just so you know, the antidote is writing this blog post. Short of knocking myself in the head this seems to be working fairly well. Mainly because I just put blogging on my to-do list so I could check it off with a flourish.

Ta-da, y’all.

I’m Just Here to Help

No Telling

I‘m not entirely sure what to do with these tidbits from the Log Cabin Democrat’s Police Beat, but I’m unable to keep them to myself.

“Residential burglary at [deleted] Highway 89 South (about a mile northeast of Mayflower). Victim reported on Thursday that someone had broken into a residence and stolen a water hose and water hose reel, a Marlboro bag, a box with 500 magazines in it, some camping supplies and some iodine.”

Sounds like someone’s on the lam. Because it creeps me clean out to think otherwise, I’m going to assume that box held back issues of Field and Stream. Regardless, that’s one heavy box to tote around and I’m surprised the thief didn’t take a little Bengay with that iodine.

And this typographical house-guest mystery:

“Theft of property at [deleted]block of South Boulevard. Victim reported that at some point between 11 p.m. Sunday and 9:30 a.m. Monday, as the victim slept, someone stole an ACER computer. The victim told police that a guest known to her only as “E” had stayed at the apartment on that night, and was gone before she woke the next morning. The letter “U” was reported to be missing from the computer’s keyboard.”

The point is, anyone looking for NaNoWriMo material need look no further than this fascinating link. God bless the Log Cabin Democrat and all who scribble there.

I just shake my head.

Call Me Crazy

No Telling

But I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month again this year. 50,000 words in thirty days, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t you dare scoff, because last year I managed to write over 50k words and have the best writing experience of my life. Seriously, by Day 25 I heard the angels singing my name.

For those of you willing to jump in the deep end with a laptop strapped to your ankle, this figures out to roughly 1,666 words a day. I tell you, it’s doable. You can’t ache and whine over every line, you can’t edit as you go. You need a devil-may-care daily slam with no going back. It’s delicious and freeing and there are, of course, the angels near the end.

Just so you know, my slam-it-out daily prayer produced what may be some of the best writing I’ve ever put together. By the end of Week One I was able to write my quota in a little over an hour, typos a’plenty. You can’t care about those either, and that in itself is gift enough for a gal like me.

Join me in November. If 50,000 words sounds like a mountain too high, then make your goal 25,000. If that’s too much, then just keep visiting here and cheerlead. I plan to sling out bits and pieces of my daily slam here and there – some of which I plan to write on a manual typewriter.

You heard me.

It’ll be like Houdini in the glass tank, without the water. My wrists tied snugly with typewriter ribbon, I’m going to run out the clock and reach 50,000 words. Novel in a month.

Who’s in?

Headgames for Editing

No Telling

What have I gotten myself into. That’s not a question, it’s what I continually say aloud to myself between sips of coffee and staring hopelessly at the computer screen.
I wrote over 50,000 words of my Chesaleen story and did it in 28 days. NaNoWriMo was an incredible writing experience for me that alternately ate up my brains and opened possibility. Wouldn’t trade those 28 days for anything. At the end of the ride, though, there’s this pile of words that needs serious revision. Serious. Re-vision.
Step One: Since I wrote the entire thing in unconnected, nonlinear pieces, the first order of business was order. Cutting and pasting the whole mess was interesting and I’m still not quite sure that’s how it should be. Doesn’t matter. The beginning is at the beginning and the end is somewhere near the last of it. In between are some Very Big Holes. Good enough for now. I also made some big cuts of scenes too dreadful to read and left notes to myself in the empty spaces.
I’ve honestly never revised anything longer than twenty or thirty double-spaced pages in my life. And those were papers written years ago for my MA in English. Scholarly business. My creative output tends toward the brief – poetry, flash fiction, short creative nonfiction, blog posts, that kind of thing. I know how to edit a moment, what I’m drowning in right now is editing/chopping/revising/developing a whole series of interconnected moments. It’s a “can’t see the forest for the trees” kind of thing, only more so.
The best advice I’ve found so far was on the National Novel Writing Month website itself. One piece of advice is to sit down and write a 5-7 page synopsis of the novel before doing anything else. The objective here is to nail down the plot tightly so there’s no wallowing in sentences (trees) without first finding the damn forest on the map. Good advice. No one can ache and writhe over a few words or a line quite like a poet, and that’s just wasted energy on a project like this. Plenty of time for that later, after the culling of superfluous scenes and plot confusions.
Step Two: What is the book about? That’s a loaded question and I had to answer it in the synopsis. I thought this would focus things a bit, but instead it amplified the size of Very Big Holes I’ve left willy-nilly all over the story. This is good and bad, I suspect, because I keep opening the synopsis and staring at it, zombie-like, drinking more coffee and hoping for lightning or brilliance or sixty muses dancing on the head of a pin to release what needs releasing onto the pages. That’s not going to happen, though. I’m making peace with that right now and it’s going to take some time.
Step Three: Find some music. I know this sounds like a great way to put off the whole rewrite just a little longer – and it is a delightful procrastination – but without all those dancing muses and electricity and such, I need a little something to put my head where it belongs. In other words, I want to make sure my forest is still filled with loblolly pines instead of wandering off and becoming redwoods. This is not a redwood story. It matters. So here is my playlist thus far. I have to say it helps me slide quickly into the deer woods. If it doesn’t show up like to should, just click on “pop-out player.”

That’s where I am right now. A map and some music and more early-morning hours. With Christmas Break, I’ve got a little free time. All I need now is absolution.

My God. It’s December.

No Telling

November is the cruelest month. Finally, the grades are turned in, National Novel Writing Month is over, the fabulous National Writing Project conference in San Antonio is history, and while I still feel a tad shell-shocked, I am back.
I’m entirely too old for this kind of pace. Really. Since November 1st I’ve been rising at 4:00 just to get my 1,700 or so words written for the NaNoWriMo madness – a joltingly delicious writing experience for me. Those early morning hours became extra grading time in December so I could wrap up those final essays pouring in just before exams, and then the exams themselves. At the end of this rainbow is a 50,000 word novel, five classes taught, graded, and put to bed, all punctuated by an impromptu ice storm.
Nothing quite like Arkansas weather. Shirtsleeves one day, two inches of ice the next. Although I’m a little confused by this morning’s warning:
Issued by The National Weather Service Little Rock, AR 3:51 am CST, Wed., Dec. 17, 2008

… FREEZING FOG ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM CST THIS MORNING…
A FREEZING FOG ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM CST THIS MORNING.
THE FOG WILL CREATE A THIN LAYER OF ICE ON AREA ROADWAYS… PARTICULARLY ON BRIDGES AND OVERPASSES. AREA ROADS AFFECTED BY WINTRY PRECIPITATION ON MONDAY NIGHT AND TUESDAY MORNING WILL REMAIN FROZEN INTO MID MORNING.
A FREEZING FOG ADVISORY MEANS FOG WILL DEVELOP WITH SUB FREEZING TEMPERATURES EXPECTED. VISIBILITIES WILL BE SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCED. IF DRIVING… SLOW DOWN… USE YOUR HEADLIGHTS… AND LEAVE PLENTY OF DISTANCE AHEAD OF YOU. ALSO… BE ALERT FOR FROST ON BRIDGE DECKS CAUSING SLIPPERY ROADS.
Have you ever heard of such a thing? I swear they make these things up just for us.
Despite the weather – or because of it – I’ll have an opportunity to catch up on all things unfinished. Books to mail, decorations to flung about, shopping for presents if there’s anything left, rewrites for the book – I might even go a little crazy and dust something. I don’t know. I’d hate to kick up all that dust in the middle of a freezing fog advisory. There’s no telling what kind of mayhem could result.
Christmas Break. Ahhhhhh.