Thankful Thursday #81

This week I’m thankful for…

  • NaNoWriMo even though my friend, Ed, beat me to 50k words.  Good job, Ed.  Sorry, did my begrudging tone come through there?  Seriously, Ed, congrats.  Darn, there’s that tone again.
  • the smell of rain
  • morning snuggles with my littlest nephews
  • sweet time spent with friends doing absolutely nothing
  • travel
  • the joy of coming back home
  • my umbrella
  • my Little One who wrote a love song to the whole class
  • Jack the dog
  • my husband’s laugh

NoIdWhToWriAb

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) stands tiptoe at my door.  It’s a wild month of writing 50,000 words in 30 days and hoping at least 25,000 250 25 of them are good words.

Usually a plot idea strikes me or comes to me in a dream a couple of days before November 1st arrives.  This year?

Nada.

No ideas.

No dreams.

Nothing.

So I’m affectionately calling this year NoIdWhToWriAb.  Rolls right off the tongue, right?  It stands for No Idea What To Write About and I’m fully embracing the sheer terror of just sitting down at my computer come November 1st and starting to type, hoping that my fingers will transcribe an idea to my brain.

Questions are jostling around in my brain.  There’s the big one.  What on earth am I going to write about?  Insert your suggestions here: _______________________________________________________________________________

Perhaps I could cobble together a novel sort of Mad Libs style wherein you give me stuff and I mash it all together into sentences that kind of make sense.

Will I finally be able to kill off a character this year?  Probably not.  I like them all too much.  Even the jerks.

Will I actually write the ending to the book within those 50,000 words?  Probably not.  Let’s face it, there are times when somebody just has to die and I just can’t seem to make it happen.  Thus I have an unhealthy stack of unfinished novels and undead characters.

Will I ever develop a taste for adverbs?  No.  Meaty verbs always clobber them and I like it that way.

With 1,666 words a day vying for my time, will the laundry get done?  That’s a good one.  Does it ever?  I may be venturing into an unhealthy definition of ‘clean clothes’.

Will I beat my friend Ed?  Yes, my word count will make his word count weep.  Sure he’s already got an idea and everything, but what I lack in ideas, I make up for in blind confidence.  Sorry, Ed, but you’re going down.

And finally, what songs should I add to my writing playlist this year?  Tell me your favorites.  Maybe your song will be just the thing that inspires my magnum opus.  No pressure or anything.

To my fellow Wrimos, happy writing!  And yes, that shirt’s clean enough.  Set down the laundry basket and pick up your pen.

Thankful Thursday #46

This week I’m thankful for…

  • the awesome birthday present I received, especially surprising being that my birthday is in July
  • the pumpkin one of my little ones sewed for me in his sewing class
  • the Cake Pops that same little one brought me.  Come to think of it, I received the Cake Pops and the birthday present on the same day.  Did someone switch my birthday without telling me?
  • the fresh smell of clean sheets as I slip into bed
  • steel-cut oatmeal
  • pedicures
  • driving with the top with the seat warmer on.  Hello, Fall!
  • waking to the sound of wind chimes
  • Terry, who took care of me while I was sick all weekend.  That guy did the laundry, changed the sheets, did the dishes, rented me a movie, rubbed my back and asked hundreds of times if I needed anything.  It’s so lovely to be taken care of.
  • Designer Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.  So much of it applies to my writerly life.  Shoot, so much of it applies to my regular life, too.
  • Another year of NaNoWriMo madness!

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.

Tooth and Nail

I know the new year came and went a long time ago, but as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t finish this post.  I started this post back in December when my friend, Lynn, shared some questions with me.  The questions began bobbing around in my mind.  I’d stare at the screen as answers eluded me and the words felt all wrong in my mouth.  Then ever so slowly the answers surfaced.

The new year always brings about a restlessness to clean out my house and gut it of clutter.  Along with the removal of physical clutter comes the move toward cleaning out life in general.  What stays, what goes, what needs to be cut away, what needs to be alloted space-all of these thoughts seem to press in on me at the close of the year and the opening of another.  It’s a time to answer hard questions, a time to resolve the year.  A resolution, but not.

What was an upset or a disappointment last year?

It’s no secret that I was disappointed with the disruption my heart caused in my life last year.  To say that it upset me is not accurate, but to say that it caused an inordinate of fear in my life was a painful realization.  The balance between pursuing medical answers and being unafraid eluded me for months.

Where and when did things not flow easily?

The obvious answer is that blood did not flow easily to my heart, but the more important answer is that my classroom has not been easy.  No, my young ones have challenged everything I thought I ever knew about teaching, but from that discomfort I’ve learned new ways to teach, new ways for them to learn, and I wouldn’t trade this impossible year for anything.  As our class becomes their school home, I hold out hope that the hardest part is now just a glance in the rearview mirror.  Far enough away that it doesn’t impede our daily progress, near enough that I am aware of our starting point.

What flowed easily?

In the absence of turning the pedals, my fingers flew across my keyboard.  It’s not that I birthed revolutionary works of literary genius, but as fear of my physical heart increased, my writing pulsed with honesty and I faced the terror of the blank page with unflinching boldness.  This boldness was a delightful surprise.  And yet I can’t help but wonder if it was that way because one passion moved aside and gave way to another.  Can I have both at the same time or is it like wanting to sprawl on the hot sand during high tide?

What’s incomplete?

My novel.  My novel is so horribly incomplete.  And you know what?  That’s okay with me for now.  I like knowing I can come back to it bit by bit, tinker with the words, change the outcome, alter the characters.  But for now I’m content to just leave it in peace.

What are insights I gained last year?

I feel like if I answer this question, I’m saying I’m insightful.  Believe me, that’s not what I’m saying.  At all.  What I learned last year, or already knew, but am remembering, is that everyone has a story.  A lovely, hilarious, heartbreaking, inspiring, tender story.  So I wonder then what if I began to listen more than I talk? To laugh more than I criticize?  To accept more than I judge?  I can’t help but think that the story of my life would become wider, richer.

What am I grateful for?

Terry, always Terry.  It’s not lost on me that I am spending every day of my life with someone who loves me and desires my love in return.  I’m acutely aware of what a gift that is and I hope that I remember that as our happy days together stack up and make me fat with joy.

How will I acknowledge and celebrate the wins of the last year?

Wins.  Isn’t that an interesting word?  My cycling team used to have a mantra “Win, Susan!” She fought tooth and nail against cancer and I pedaled my heart out to help her.  Then she died, but to say that she didn’t win is an ill-fitting phrase.  She left this Earth having lived with passion, love, and tenacity.  Our team now says “Fight like Susan.”  And so I guess, I don’t feel like noting wins or losses of 2009, but instead I want to figure out what is worth fighting for and then use this new year to fight for it tooth and nail.