Sunday, October 27, 2013

a lick and a promise

Well, I'm still at it. Still thinking, still plotting, still chatting with the voices in my head...with NaNoWriMo officially scheduled to start in just 5 days. I have to admit that I'm not encouraged. It isn't easy for me to write a thousand or more words a day. I'm not in the habit of dashing off crappy first drafts and then waiting a while before I go back to the beginning to do it up right.

To me, that's like rinsing off the dishes before company comes, and then waiting until after they've eaten to clean the dishes up properly. Euwww! Or dusting the around the knick-knacks and lamps (My mother called it "a lick and a promise.") so I have to go back and do it correctly some time later on.

I like to do it right the first time. I prefer to labor over every word, every sentence, every scene, until I get it right before I go on. So I don't expect to make it to fifty-thousand words next month.

Instead, I'm doing this as a learning exercise...something I can apply not just to my writing, but to my housekeeping, and to life in general. Over and over again writers are told to "Just get it down." So, I'm going to try, because:

So, it's okay to:


I have to remind myself that:


But most of all:

Over the next couple of weeks, I may share a few snippets from this project. I'd love to hear from you if you, too, are a delusional optimist...especially if you understand the value of "a lick and a promise."

Monday, October 21, 2013

know your audience

In addition to knowing your genre (writers are told) you must know your audience.

Don't expect to sell a romance to a reader who thrives on horror. Don't count on selling an historical novel to a five year-old. Most men avoid chic lit. So...when you sit down to write you need to ask yourself:
The easy answer is children, or young adults, or gardeners, or athletes...people who you believe will enjoy your story...and buy your book.
But there's more to it than that.
Perhaps the woman who picks up your book likes to read during her chemo session every week.
Maybe the kid who picks up your book is bullied at school, or perhaps he's gay. So he's thinking about suicide. 
Perhaps the man who pulls your book off the shelf reads in bed at night because he can't sleep. His wife just died.

This is your audience.
Can you write something that helps? Something that lends hope to the patient who has all but given up hope? Something that gives him strength when your reader feels defeated? Something that comforts the grieving, or lonely, or abandoned?
Do you understand the power you have?
Do you know who your audience is?
We're just 10 days away from the official launch of NaNoWriMo. Let the insanity begin!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

a work in progress

Help! I'm being held captive! There must be a plot afoot! First it was the plumber who had to make two trips out to fix a leaky pipe.

Then I had to call PennDot--to cart a rotting deer carcass off the end of our driveway (I would not want that job...). Then I needed our landscaper because, for some unknown reason, all of our new shrubs died. But worst of all has been the tree service ("We'd really like this dead oak taken out before it falls onto the house," I explained...two months ago.).


It has been one delay after another. The plumber had to wait for parts. The ground was so dry, the landscaper wanted to wait for rain. Now it's so wet (we got 8 inches of rain in two days last week), the tree service wants to wait until the ground dries out before bringing their equipment out onto the lawn. After I called PennDot, five days passed with temperatures in the eighties before they came for the deer. Not a pretty sight. Not a pleasant odor.

You know what it's like. You wait all day waiting for that special delivery...

...or for the repairman to come, and then at 4:00 he calls to apologize. Something came up. How about tomorrow? After a couple of weeks of this, you're ready to give up. Why bother?

Home ownership is definitely a work in progress. Keeping a house up and running takes constant effort. There are repairs to make. Things wear out. Accidents happen. There are inevitable delays and postponements. You get frustrated. You lose patience with it. Sometimes you wish you'd never gotten into it in the first place.

Likewise...writing. Sometimes the plot springs a leak, or you need to tear out a scene, or you have to patch up a rough spot. You ask for help but no one shows up. (Cue in fingers drumming on the table.)
Maybe you've run out of ideas. Perhaps the dialogue just won't come to you. So you roll up your shirt sleeves and buckle down.
Then, just when you think you've fixed everything, you get some brilliant idea, a moment of inspiration, and it's time to start, revising...all over again.
Uh-oh. Roof just sprung a leak. I kid you not! Here we go again...
I'm now in the process of outlining chapter 6 for NaNoWriMo. And I'm officially registered, along with over 75,000 other delusional dreamers!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

the count down is on

Right on the dot--on October 1st--my inbox opened with the first notification of the year:

NaNoWriMo starts in just one month. 

Last year a couple of my friends voluntarily subjected themselves to this peculiar form of torture. I promised myself I would NEVER waste my time...isolate my friends...and desert my family to engage in this hopeless endeavor. Novels take years to write. I have family issues to tend to. No one I know is going to take on the laundry and the dishes and the cooking while I go off and play by myself. No! It's hard enough to make time for blogging once a week. I will NEVER sign up for NaNoWriMo. It ain't happening...

...or is it??

Remember back when I first told you about my muse?

You know--the oppositional-defiant one. The one who refuses to cooperate when I need her...and then feels free to show up uninvited whenever and wherever she darn well pleases. When I have other things on my mind. When there simply isn't time to deal with her shenanigans. That's the one.

So...a couple of days ago I was looking forward to four hours of peace and quiet, driving home after four hectic days with the kids...and guess who showed up!

"Riding shotgun," she insisted...and there she sat, right next to me all the way home. "I've been thinking," she mused (as only a muse can). "Maybe this is the year for NaNoWriMo. I have a couple of ideas for you."

My response?

Then for four hours straight, she hammered away at me. I swear it wore me down. But, I must admit, as annoying as she can be, she did come up with some pretty good ideas.

So...long story short...I agreed to think about it. I have a month. From what I can gather, it's acceptable to work out your plot and characters, and to do your research as long as you don't begin writing the actual narrative until November 1st.

Of course, I could just pull out one of the novels that is languishing on my laptop, throw together a quick revision, and call it done (and I'm pretty sure some people will do just that...), but that kind of thing both defeats the purpose of the exercise and mocks the honor system it's based upon, doesn't it?

What do you think? Would you ever try this? Is it a hopeless waste of time and effort? Do people cheat on it?


Now, if I can just resist the temptation to take a walk in the woods, or to start raking the leaves, I can get to work!