Ready for 30 Days of Literary Abandon

Happy Halloween Day Before NaNoWriMo!  It’s mere hours until the festivities begin and I’m all ready for 30 days of literary abandon.  Well, except for the fact that I have no idea what I’m going to write about.  Minor detail.

But I’ve taken care of the important stuff like:

  • report cards-they’re all finished printed and ready to roll for parent teacher conferences.
  • the all important writing playlist including some gems from Adele, INXS, U2, Polar Boy, Matthew Perryman Jones, Ingrid Michaleson, Bruce Springsteen and, of course, Stevie Wonder.
  • laundry, done and all tucked away
  • a freezer stocked with quick dinner options
  • the car charger for my laptop is on its way to my doorstep as I type.  We’ll be spending lots of time in the car and while Terry fills his brain with ESPN radio, I’m going to be dominating my daily word count.

NaNoWriMo: Here I Go!

NaNoWriMo is a few sacred days away.  November 1st is fast becoming one of my favorite days of the year, excitement bubbling up in my stomach with such fervor that I inevitably wake from sleep in the wee hours of the morning and can’t resist typing the first few hundred words before falling back to sleep.

Not that 50,000 words in a month isn’t daunting.  It is.  It really is.  It’s lump of nerves in my throat kind of daunting.

For the past 2 Novembers I’ve set out to write 50k words while I play at being a novelist.  Both times I’ve succeeded, or in NaNo speak, I’ve won.  I loved both of my stories, but what I love more is who I am when I’m writing 1,667 words a day.  I love being in the practice of writing.  I love how quickly I’m able to drop back into my story each day because my writing muscles are strong and limber.

Creating characters makes me happy.  Seeing where these characters take me is thrilling and often times surprising.  The first year I’ll never forget when one of my characters opened a drawer and removed a baby onesie.  And a gun.  Trust me, I was as shocked as you are.  I mean, come on, I’m the biggest anti-gun person I know.  Having never touched a gun in my life, I had no idea how to write about guns.  To the delight of my lone gun-enthusiast friend, I made him take me shooting.  For better or for worse, I can now say I’ve fired a gun.  Exactly once.

Both years have led me to research a variety of things including:

    • the history of LEGO
    • rare children’s diseases
    • handguns and penetration abilities of different bullets
    • Biblical references to angels
    • POW camps
    • the history of high heels
    • hospital procedures and policies
    • famous libraries

The first year, I dreamed a strange snapshot of a scene and my novel sprang to life from there.  Last year, discovering an unknown safe deposit box that belonged to my deceased father was the thing that birthed my idea.  It was a story just begging to be written.

So, today on October 28th, I’m waiting for my idea to peek out.  Maybe in a dream.  Or a snippet of conversation.  Or a newspaper article.  Who knows where it might appear.  I wait with anticipation, with a pattering heart eager to know where NaNoWriMo will take me this year.

A teensy part of me hopes that on November 1st, my idea will not have shown her face yet.  There’s something exciting about sitting down at the computer and beginning to type, implicitly trusting that my writerly brain will follow my furious fingers as they tap out words becoming sentences becoming a story.

NaNoWriMo, here I go!

NaNoWriMo: Help Wanted

It is October 31st, known to most as Halloween, but known to insane writers everywhere as the night before NaNoWriMo.  That’s right, National Novel Writing Month is standing tiptoe at my door and I am, at best, unprepared.

Last year I did all sorts of things to prepare for a crazy month of writing.  This year I have done nothing.  Last year my plot came to me in a dream.  My dream life has been overactive as usual, but nothing worth putting on paper.  In short, I am skint.

Last year I was a NaNoWriMo winner, meaning I cranked out 1,667 words a day for 30 days for a total of just over 50,000 words.  I’m not saying they were interesting words or that my novel was any good, but I crossed the finish line and that’s what counts.

In cycling there is a term for people who do not cross the finish line.  It is DNF, as in Did Not Finish.  It is the most shameful of acronyms.  I know this because I DNF’d  once.  After a nasty sports drink incident, I found myself puking in front of scads of teeny tiny soccer kids, but even that was not as embarrassing as the DNF that appeared by my name.

So as I sit here on NaNoWriMo Eve, I am determined to win again, to outrun the dreaded DNF.  And I need your help.  Yes, you, the one averting your eyes and trying to click away from here.  Here’s how you can help: For the next month I need you to leave stuff in this post’s comments section.  Stuff like:

  • names
  • places
  • snippets of conversations you overhear
  • links to articles you find interesting or entertaining
  • favorite quotes
  • stuff your pet does
  • stuff your parents say or do
  • stories from your childhood
  • weird stuff your friends do
  • words you love
  • words you loathe
  • songs I should add to my writing playlist
  • anything and everything else that comes to mind

I am confident that with your help I’ll be able to pound out 50k words by November 30th and instead of a horrid DNF appearing by my name, it will instead say WINNER.  There’s a certificate and everything.

I. Must. Have.  It.

15 Hours and Counting…

A day or two before I lead a workshop on writing I come to a point where I’m convinced I don’t know anything about teaching writing.  In fact, I work myself into such a frenzy that I’m convinced I don’t know anything about writing or teaching on their own and that I should quit everything and work the checkstand at Safeway.  The crazytalk runs rampant.

NaNoWriMo is a mere 15 hours away and I’m all a jitter, worrying about plot lines, character names, and the word count.  Oh, the word count.  I have to find 1,667 words a day.  And they have to, like, go together and stuff.

I’m not even sure I know 1, 667 words.  My days are pretty much filled with lots of teachery talk and then random grunts I have leftover for Terry because the classroom has vacuumed up any reasonable semblance of thought I had for the day.

1,667 words a day for thirty days straight.  Egads.  So I’m spending today battling the crazytalk, by eliminating anything that might offer itself up as an excuse not to write every single day.

1. I finished report cards so they wouldn’t be lurking about in November.

2. I’m doing massive amounts of laundry so I have at least enough clothes to wear for the next two weeks.  Terry’s wardrobe is not nearly as expansive as mine, so he might be sporting some pretty odd combinations.

3.  I’m hitting Costco and FoodMaxx in one swoop today.  I loathe grocery shopping, but I can just see myself staring at the computer screen, typing nothing, rummaging in the fridge, finding nothing, justifying going out to eat, and then going to bed with a full stomach and empty pages.

4. I made a playlist that I’m hoping will inspire greatness.  If not greatness, then at least length.  If nothing else, it will send a clear message when I’m in public that I’m listening to music and I don’t want strangers talking to me.  Or touching me, as has happened in the past.

5. I’ve notified everyone in my life that I will be no fun in November.  If you didn’t get that call, consider this your warning.  I’m not letting myself go out and play until I’ve met my daily word count.  And chances are when I do come out and play, I’ll still be wandering the halls of my story.  So, forgive me for November and I promise to be fun in December.

6.  I’ve picked up a Safeway application just in case.


I am a lousy fiction writer.  Each time I’ve tried my hand at it my writing is full of plotless drivel, inane conversation and way too many adjectives.  It’s just plain awful.  You think I’m just being humble.  Number one, humility is not my strong suit.  Number two, it really is that bad.

These last couple of months have been different from what I expected and have left me a bit aimless.  Usually at this time of year, I’m deciding which charity I’m going to ride for.  I start to think about my weekly mileage goals and mull over routes.  As it turns out, having a goal or several smaller goals is something I miss.

So, hmmm, what to do with all this time?  What to do indeed.

I’m going to write a novel.

You’re horrified and, if you’ve read any of my fictional stuff, rightly so.  Well hang on a sec because it gets worse.  I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo and write a novel in a month.  I’ll wait while you recover from that statement.  Starting November 1st, I’ll start typing with the goal of having 50,000 words or more by November 30th.

A dear friend of mine told me she’d rather gouge her eyes out than write a novel in a month.  I like my eyes, but come the middle of November I might be looking for sharp objects.

The thing is, other than an eyeball or two, I have nothing to lose.  It’s impossible for my fictional prose to worsen.  1667 words a day can only improve my writing or at the very least help me learn about myself as a writer.

Did I mention that writers who reach 50,000 words get to say they won?  I like the sound of being a winner.  Yup, I like it a lot.