Tag Archives: nanowrimo

Another NaNo In The Books

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I haven’t posted in a while, and for I am sorry. But I’ve been busy preparing for and participating in this years National Novel Writing Month, best known as NaNoWriMo, or just NaNo, tout suite.

And now that it’s over, it’s only eleven months until the next NaNoWriMo, so start working on those outlines. I know this sounds funny, but if you’re like me, you already have an idea for NaNoWriMo ’17. And if you’re like me, you’ll probably change your mind about what to write somewhere around July, and then again near the end of September, and once more November 2nd. But this is not the time to prepare, but reflect. And so looking back on yet another NaNoWriMo experience, I’ve been reminded of one unexcapable fact.

Writing Is Hard And Fun

How many times have you heard or even said that writers write because we cannot not be writers? It’s true for any artist. We must create. If we were not doing NaNoWriMo, we’d be working on a short story or finishing yet another draft for another novel. NaNoWriMo just gives us all a mutual target.

And we all know that creating is pure joy, mostly, although sometimes barely. And yet we create, because there is a pleasure in it not determinable anywhere else. But the joy comes with tears because being creative is difficult. I mean much more than writing 50,000 words in 30 days is hard, but being an artist who makes something from nothing is problematical, at best.

And this hardness brings tears because we genuinely care about our product. We are truly angered when what we love so much appears to us as something quite ugly. If we didn’t care about our art, we would write garbage and be satisfied, or give up when to gets too hard. But we cherish our writing as a mother does her newborn, and we want nothing but the best for it. So when our baby hurts, we suffer, too. But we would not have it any other way.

The Only Way To Fly

As truly difficult as it is to be a creative writer, difficult even to the point of pain, we love being a writer because of the joy it brings on so many levels. Coming up with that perfect word, that most beautiful sentence, or the best-written paragraph we ever produced – these things brush the tears from our cheeks and turn the corners of our mouths up in a well satisfied smile.

We write because we have to, and we have to because we know first-hand of the unmitigated satisfaction that arises from getting it just right. And we know that there is nothing else under the sun that can bring about that sense of this-life fullness, and we cannot have it any other way. Maybe writing is fun because it’s hard, or hard because it’s fun. Either way, I’m grateful for NaNoWriMo, but if it were not there, I’d still be writing something else.

And now if you would excuse me, I need to start working on next year’s outline.

 

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How To Become A NaNoWriMo “Winner”

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NaNoWriMo is here! That month of suffering for your art and straining for an image is now upon us. It is not for the squeamish. Nothing but the stout-hearted and solid-bottomed will do. The calluses on our finger tips are our flesh-colored badge of courage.

To see it through you need to be properly equipped. So for all of my fellow NaNoers I have compiled a simple assemblage of items for your literary knapsack, a compositional first aid kit, if you will, to help you through the next month.

  • Write-Ins – Sometimes these are all social, slices of pizza beside ourlaptops. But I remember last year, I got some real work done at my write-ins. You feel less crazy seeing others as crazy as you.
  • Forums – The NaNo website has a great page of forums. It’s a great place to find information and encouragement. When I need a break from writing, I usually hit the forums.
  • Pep Talks – When you sign up for NaNoWriMo you get emails from various writers encouraging you to keep it up. These are called Pep Talks. They’re great and they really work.
  • Coffee – I’m not joking. You cannot succeed at NaNoWriMo without writing very early and/or very late, scratch the “or.” Coffee is wonderful just because it’s coffee, but it’s almost a tonic for the NaNoer. And a bit of advice: coffee, yes – alcohol, no.
  • Muscle Rub – Again, I’m not joking. You are going to get sore muscles writing as much as you will. I’m sore just from writing this article. Nothing wrong with a good rub, and it smells good, too!
  • Comfortable Work Space – Last year I had piles of stuff on my desk, so I put my laptop on my office chair and wheeled it up to my recliner. Not advised. Maybe that’s why I needed all that muscle rub last year, but writing at desk at the right height in a solid yet comfy chair makes a big difference.
  • A Good Book – Writers are readers, and that doesn’t change just because there are now more demands no our schedule. I’m going to continuereading what I was already reading, which is The Bear by William Faulkner and Edmund Blake’s A Philosophical Enquiry Ito The Sublime And Beautiful.
  • Time Management – You have a life outside of NaNo, even though it may not seem like it. You need to learn to make and keep a schedule. Not only will this help you get your writing done, but it will let you get everything else done you need to do.
  • Rest – Enough of this staying up late and getting up early. You need to get some sleep. You may happen to sleep less than Aristotle, but your writing will show it. You need to rest your mind. Pillow that brain once in a while!
  • Support – The writing friends you make during NaNoWriMo can provide great support. I mean more than helping you find a synonym for truculent or what to do in your scene when the man walks through the door with a gun (the man, not the door). There is a great deal of encouragement to be found by your fellow writers. They don’t have to say or do anything. Just the fact that they are doing it with you helps bucketfuls.

What did I leave out? What gets you through a month of nervous November noveling? Let me know how you survive NaNoWriMo in the Comment section below. Happy NaNoing!

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What I Have Been Reminded Of This Last Time In NaNoWriMo

Well, tortured artists, it’s only eleven months until the next NaNoWriMo, so start working on those outlines. I know this sounds funny, but if you’re like me, you already have an idea for NaNoWriMo ’13. And if you’re like me, you’ll probably change you mind about what to write somewhere around July, and then again near the end of September, and once more November 2nd. But this is not the time to prepare, but reflect. And so looking back on this past NaNoWriMo experience, I’ve been reminded of several things that I already knew, but one fact stands out in clear recognition.

Writing Is Hard And Fun

How many times have you heard or even said that writers write because we cannot not be writers? It’s true for any artist. We must create. If we were not doing NaNoWriMo, we’d be working on a short story or finishing yet another draft for another novel. NaNoWriMo just gives us all a mutual target.

And we all know that creating is pure joy, mostly, although sometimes barely. And yet we create, because there is a pleasure in it not determinable anywhere else. But the joy comes with tears because being creative is difficult. I mean much more than writing 50,000 words in 30 days is hard, but being an artist who makes something from nothing is problematical, at best.

And this hardness brings tears because we genuinely care about our product. We are truly angered when what we love so much appears to us as something quite ugly. If we didn’t care about our art, we would write garbage and be satisfied, or give up when to gets too hard. But we cherish our writing as a mother does her newborn, and we want nothing but the best for it. So when our baby hurts, we suffer, too. But we would not have it any other way.

As truly difficult as it is to be a creative writer, difficult even to the point of pain, we love being a writer because of the joy it brings on so many levels. Coming up with that perfect word, that most beautiful sentence, or the best-written paragraph we ever produced – these things brush the tears from our cheeks and turn the corners of our mouths up in a well satisfied smile.

We write because we have to, and we have to because we know first hand of the unmitigated satisfaction that arises from getting it just right. And we know that there is nothing else under the sun that can bring about that sense of this-life fullness, and we cannot have it any other way. Maybe writing is fun because it’s hard, or hard because it’s fun. Either way, I’m grateful for NaNoWriMo, but if it were not there, I’d still be writing something else.

And now if you would excuse me, I need to start working on next year’s outline.

 

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A Sample Chapter

As you know by now, I am trying to write 50,000 words of a first draft for a novel in 30 day as part of NaNoWriMo. So for my post today, I thought I might try the waters a bit. This is the first chapter of my novel, and I’d love to hear  your opinion. The name of the book is SEDITION, and is about a first century Jewish freedom fighter trying to get the Romans out. Tell me what you think of my manuscript, or should I say, nanoscript.

In the end, Yeshua stood as an unusual combination of being both better and worse than considered. This notable criminal, who eluded Roman crucifixion and sacrificed himself on the cross of his own indulgence, finally had his life taken from him by the children of the very ones who cried for his freedom. He perished as Judaea lay dying without her even knowing it. And in the wane of her days, she shirked the shroud that covered her and kicked at the goads of Roman oversight. This last burst of life hastened her death.

Since her folding into the empire, Judaea squirmed under Roman governance, paying large tribute to fund palatial opulence. And while the darlings of the Eternal City tinkled with silver and dripped with oil, the remainder of the peninsula languished in poverty. Her structure became too broad for such a flimsy foundation, and that which stood on iron legs wobbled on feet of clay.

Yeshua witnessed the first and the last regarding Roman time in Palestine. And as the Jewish days grew short, it had yet to be seen that Roman days were shorter. What Yeshua would come to know is that the ultimate of empires is presided over by the One Whom the Ancient of Days would give an everlasting kingdom. And as it was with our Lord, Yeshua’s birth was angelically pronounced, although for reasons far less endearing but nearly as grand.

Abbas wept as he entered the Court of the Gentiles on his way out of the Temple. His tears blended with the rain from a rare storm that pelted the sacred town. He ran under an awning that merely channeled the rainwater to pour from a cloth spouthead at the end of its reach no more than a cubit from the wall. He reached for a small purse he wore on his belt, and from inside he removed a piece of bread and a segment of cheese. A distant howl snapped his attention to a far perceived danger. As he searched for the beckon’s origin, he held his food in his two hands, and the bread and cheese grew damp.

The moment he started to leave the Temple, he anguished over the lack of response he received for his question – or more to the point, abundant responses which seemed to contradict. What made things worse, the priest said nothing Abbas had not already known. His head hurt every time he strained to consider what Moses actually meant by uncleanness.

Abbas heard a distinct bark, and again, he looked up to see whence it came. The dark conjoined with the rain made it impossible to notice anything other than dull shapes. Only his memory of the Temple made any sense of this perception, and soon he nibbled a small bite of bread and cheese. He resumed walking home, even though he was not sure he wanted to be there when he arrived. But because of the rain, he didn’t wish to wander about without shelter. Finding a friend’s house meant talking about his troubles, and that was less preferable to standing in the rain.

As he neared the Temple Gate, he heard one more bark behind him. He turned and again saw nothing, but this time a small movement against the night broached his senses. Somewhere over to the left, he walked in search of something definite, as it was a soul’s quest for the absolute that brought him out in the rain and to the Temple that night, but that ended with much frustration. As he passed a small well, he heard the bark again, this time much closer. He looked down and saw a small hound with a matted grey coat of tight curls made tangled by the storm. Abbas bent down, but the dog backed away. He noticed the animal had a limp in his back leg. The dog lowered his head as he paced rearward. Abbas offered the dog some bread, but the dog continued his distancing. He laid the full piece of the bread and the cheese on the ground beside the well and stepped back. The hound remained at an alert distance. Abbas turned back toward the Temple Gate and walked out. He could hear from behind him the food being consumed.

Abbas had not walked far outside of the Temple when he heard the bark again. It seemed he had made some kind of friend, for the dog followed him. This time, when Abbas looked at him, the dog held his head high and wagged his tail with cherished praise. Abbas smiled and the dog approached, not with the hope for more food, but with an offer of shared camaraderie. The dog looked up at Abbas, and he down to him. Their eyes engaged, and as Abbas looked into the dog’s eyes, he grew overwhelmed at the presence of some strength. The longer he gazed down, it seemed to Abbas that he was staring into the eyes of God. The dog presented to Abbas his pain from being lost and failed discovery, and Abbas wept again as he knelt and scratched the dog between his ears.

Abbas resumed his tender journey home, a measured distance he grew in fear in accomplishing. Not that his troubles are gone, but every difficulty in life is made better with a companion, especially a dog. After a few steps he looked behind him and the dog was gone. He scanned the near horizon and looked through the rainfall to houses that lay alongside the street. Abbas whistled, but there was no more sign of his dog. When he turned back around and faced homeward, a man stood before him, almost a cubit taller than he, and built with a soldier’s stock. The rain fell all about him and yet he remained dry.

“You had better step nearer if you wish not to become any wetter,” said the man.

“Who are you?” said Abbas.

The man stood motionless and silent, waiting for Abbas’s compliance. Abbas approached and the rain ceased falling on him, just as it had for the stranger. Beyond that, Abbas suddenly seemed dry as if he had not been in the rain all along.

“Do you wish to come to my home?” said Abbas.

“What brings you out here tonight, Abbas?”

“I, I had a question for the priest.”

“And did you get an answer?”

“Too much of an answer.”

“Which is no answer at all.”

Abbas looked around for the dog, and he heard a small chuckle come from the stranger.

“What is it that you do, Abbas?”

“I am a lawyer.”

“So you are aware of the proper and right response for any situation.”

“You could say.”

“Then why did you have a question for the priest?”

Abbas looked down and remembered his hunger, and wished he still had some bread and cheese. The stranger put a hand on his shoulder, and Abbas looked back up at him. It so closely resembled the near incident when he saw the eyes of God in his newly found and now lost friend that it made him shudder.

“You are suffering, and it is only just that you suffer,” said the stranger. “You have a piece of gravel as it were in your soul. It is cutting you, irritating you from the inside. It is a truth that you are unable to deny, and yet, you are also unable to acknowledge it.”

“What is this truth?”

“You know the law, but you do not know the Law. You have studied the Talmud and all of the traditions of the elders more than you have the Torah itself. You are familiar with what Rabbi Shammai says about the uncleanness and what Rabbi Hillel says about the uncleanness, yet you have not taken the time to read what God has said though Moses.”

A great shame poured over Abbas. He tore his outer garment and beat his chest with his fist. In so doing, he drifted backward so that he stood in the rain once more, but for his anguish, he was unaware of this. Abbas lowered his head and bobbed his torso in a silent petition. The stranger stepped forward and embraced him.

“Do not despair, Abbas. This condition does not have to remain in you.”

Abbas looked up, and said, “So what does the Scripture mean when it says a man should give a writing of divorcement if he finds some uncleanness with his wife?”

“Do you want me to tell you, or do you want to study for yourself?”

Abbas smiled and nodded.

“Beside,” said the stranger, “whatever it is that Shamiel has done or not done, whether it is Moses’s uncleanness or not, you are not going to divorce your wife, are you?”

“I suppose I will not.” Abbas looked up, and continued, “Was it for this you have come to me today?”

“No. I have come with a message for you. You will have a son, and he will do great things for his God, but you will not be alive to see it.”

“My son will do great things in the service of God?”

Abbas vainly hides a small laugh with a hand to his mouth.

“So this is why I should not divorce my wife.”

“That, and so much more.”

The stranger handed a fresh piece of bread and segment of cheese to Abbas.

“You never answered me. Would you like to come home with me tonight?”

“Do I seem as a man who needs shelter? Besides, I do not think you wish me to be around tonight.”

All that matters to a man, more than what he can accomplish with his life, is naught compared to the success of his son. Abbas felt as if he had grown and is now as tall as the stranger. He had learned to be content and would continue with this frame for the rest of his life. He knew his existence would now be measured in the upbringing of his son. Abbas hurried home, walking the most direct route, minding not that it was traveling in the rain, and greeted his wife with a kiss on her forehead and a precipitous wink. The trouble of the day had been forgotten. Abbas and Shamiel conceived a son that night.

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NaNoWriMo Survival Kit

NaNoWriMo is here! That month of suffering for your art and straining for an image is now upon us. It is not for the squeamish. Nothing but the stout-hearted and solid-bottomed will do. The calluses on our finger tips are our flesh-colored badge of courage.

To see it through you need to be properly equipped. So for all of my fellow NaNoers I have compiled a simple assemblage of items for your literary knapsack, a compositional first aid kit, if you will, to help you through the next month.

  • Write-Ins – Sometimes these are all social, slices of pizza beside our laptops. But I remember last year, I got some real work done at my write-ins. You feel less crazy seeing others as crazy as you.
  • Forums – The NaNo website has a great page of forums. It’s a great place to find information and encouragement. When I need a break from writing, I usually hit the forums.
  • Pep Talks – When you sign up for NaNoWriMo you get emails from various writers encouraging you to keep it up. These are called Pep Talks. They’re great and they really work.
  • Coffee – I’m not joking. You cannot succeed at NaNoWriMo without writing very early and/or very late, scratch the “or.” Coffee is wonderful just because it’s coffee, but it’s almost a tonic for the NaNoer. And a bit of advice: coffee, yes – alcohol, no.
  • Muscle Rub – Again, I’m not joking. You are going to get sore muscles writing as much as you will. I’m sore just from writing this article. Nothing wrong with a good rub, and it smells good, too!
  • Comfortable Work Space – Last year I had piles of stuff on my desk, so I put my laptop on my office chair and wheeled it up to my recliner. Not advised. Maybe that’s why I needed all that muscle rub last year, but writing at desk at the right height in a solid yet comfy chair makes a big difference.
  • A Good Book – Writers are readers, and that doesn’t change just because there are now more demands no our schedule. I’m going to continue reading what I was already reading, which is The Bear by William Faulkner and Edmund Blake’s A Philosophical Enquiry Ito The Sublime And Beautiful.
  • Time Management – You have a life outside of NaNo, even though it may not seem like it. You need to learn to make and keep a schedule. Not only will this help you get your writing done, but it will let you get everything else done you need to do.
  • Rest – Enough of this staying up late and getting up early. You need to get some sleep. You may happen to sleep less than Aristotle, but your writing will show it. You need to rest your mind. Pillow that brain once in a while!
  • Support – The writing friends you make during NaNoWriMo can provide great support. I mean more than helping you find a synonym for truculent or what to do in your scene when the man walks through the door with a gun (the man, not the door). There is a great deal of encouragement to be found by your fellow writers. They don’t have to say or do anything. Just the fact that they are doing it with you helps bucketfuls.

What did I leave out? What gets you through a month of nervous November noveling? Let me know how you survive NaNoWriMo in the Comment section below. Happy NaNoing!

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The Blessings & Benefits Of NaNoWriMo

NaNo is nigh! Every November writers from all over the planet hide in home offices and crowd the corner coffee shop to try to write a novel in a month. That is what NaNoWriMo is all about. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is a work of the Office of Letters & Lights based in San Francisco. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I did it last year and loved it. In fact the novel I wrote last November is my third novel, PRINCE, which is scheduled to be launched this November 6th.

Daily Writing

There’re plenty of pluses with NaNo. One is that it helps create or reinforce a daily writing habit, based upon whatever your need may be. There is no way on God’s green earth that anyone can write 50K words without writing every day. Committed writers need to be in the habit of daily writing. If this is not your habit, NaNo may be what you need. If you in fact do write every day, NaNo can bolster this already good practice.

Make Like-Minded Friends

Many towns have Write-Ins, where NaNoers meet usually one night a week and write together. We all like making friends. This is more so if there is some compatibility to jump-start the camaraderie. As a writer I know I like meeting other writers. NaNoWriMo provides a wonderful social component that helps you reach your goal of 50,000 words.

Increase Your Social Media Realm

On the NaNoWriMo homepage you can make buddies with other NaNoers. There is a clear social media component to NaNo. Based upon these buddies, anyone can make Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or even subscribers to a newsletter and readers to a blog. This is especially keen if your blog centers around Creative Writing subjects, like my WFS.

Support For Your Writing

Take all of your new friends you made from the Write-Ins and add them to the buddies you have on the NaNoWriMo webpage and you have a nice circle of friends, all of whom are writers. This can be tapped as a source for review and feedback. This is made easier if you also offer to read their works, too. And this is a potential, not just for his November, but possibly for the rest of your writing career, based upon how well you want to develop any of these relationships.

Forced Organization

No one can succeed in NaNoWriMo by writing from the seat of one’s britches. We must have an organized and systematic structure to our writing life, such as it is. Everything from outlining the plot to fleshing out the characters to scheduling time to write daily to gauging progress requires some sort of orderliness. We can only become better writers from this practice even if the other eleven months of the year we are more free and easy with our composition.

A Sense Of Accomplishment

When you hit the 50,000 word mark, you feel as if you have done something great. Even those who do not reach that mark in 30 days often accomplish a lot and have plenty to feel good about. Anyone who has ever written a novel knows that 50K is not long enough, and whatever you do write n 30 days will need a formidable amount of editing. The work is not done on December 1st. Still, you have you foot in the door up to your knee, at least, and there is light at the end of tunnel. Light at the end of the tunnel? Maybe that’s why NaNoWriMo is administered by the Office of Letters & Lights!

Tell me about you NaNo plans and NaNo experiences in the Comment section below. I can’t wait to see what other people think about this event.

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