Sunday, November 25, 2012

In Praise of NaNoWriMo, Part II

Since NaNoWriMo is coming to a close soon, I thought I'd post some of the links of awesome writerly advice I've found the past month.

The practical:
Gail Carriger on (literal) writing pain

NaNoWriMo plot tips

The inspirational:
5 Writing tips from Laini Taylor

Writing Tips: Writers on writing

10 Writing tips from Joss Whedon

On word choice from David Sedaris

More as I find them!

In Praise of NaNoWriMo

For writers with swift keystroke and a touch of insanity, November = National Novel Writing Month.  NaNoWriMo is a contest against yourself.  You see, a NaNoWriMo participant is considered to have "won" if s/he has written a 50,000 word novel in the course of 30 days.  (Though this wordcount is low for any published novel, in a month that includes Thanksgiving, it is a mad dash through the English language).

There are conflicting opinions on the value on NaNoWriMo, but I'm squarely in the camp that sees it as a force for good.  In my view, it is a contest against yourself and your personal (in my case, negative) inner editor.  You know the one.  It's the voice that has you rewriting your first scene so many times that eventually you become too exhausted with the story that you shelve it to finish it "later."  For me, NaNoWriMo is a campaign against perfectionism.  Published author or not, 50,000 words in 30 days will not be pretty.  It will not be polished.  It will be bare bones, a skeleton of a story.  Because it's a first draft.  Paraphrasing Anne LaMott, a "shitty first draft."  It's meant to be revised.  And as I enjoy editing (again, those perfectionistic tendencies), for me, the challenge is sketching out the bones.  NaNoWriMo provides the impetus, goal, and a community of other crazy writers online and locally who are trying to do this thing together.   

So, I love the idea of NaNoWriMo.  After years of being in school and attempting of "unofficially" do NaNoWriMo, this year I officially signed up.  And today, November 25th, I have less than 10,000 words written.  Soooo...I'm not going to win NaNoWrimo.

But that's okay.  Because I've started writing down the bones of my WIP, framing the skeleton.  I've been disciplined about my writing.  I've had fun.  And I've written.  I'm building the structure of a story, a different world.

Really, what more could you ask for?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In search of a Good Book...

I am looking for something to read.  Something special.  Because I'm afraid that at the moment, my attention span has dwindled to the level of a fruit fly.  

I am not certain if this happens for other people.  Things were going swimmingly--in fact, I was in the midst of a serious book binge--when out of nowhere, nothing appealed to me anymore.  Not the many books I own and love, not the books I had just bought, none of the books I had checked out of the library (with that due date as an incentive to read them).

And it's not that I lacked good books, good escapes, or good writing/authors.

A sample of books I currently pick up, and put down after five minutes:

  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh
  • Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh
  • The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
  • Night's Master by Tanith Lee
  • Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
A nice variety, I should think, of my favorite authors.  And yet....NOTHING.  

To say this is frustrating is an understatement.  Even favorite re-reads hold no appeal at the moment.  

I don't really know why.  Part of it might be where I am in my WIP: I've just begun writing about a new story, and I generally don't like to read too much in my genre during the beginning stages.  But I still read something.  

So I am at a loss.

I wonder if others have this problem, or if this is a unique situation for me?   

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I have no idea how one is supposed to introduce a blog.  I fear this is my first.

I know, I am late to the blogging party.  This might best be explained by the many years I spent in graduate school immersing myself in the intellectual thought of the twelfth century.  (Google "twelfth century Renaissance" sometime!)  But now I find myself in the twenty-first century, starting a blog and unsure how to do so.

An introduction seems in order.


-am a writer
-play the pedal harp
-taught college history
-studied medieval religious history in graduate school
-am a Unitarian Universalist
-enjoy lists

As for the purpose of this blog, it is largely to expand upon my "writing life."  However, I find that my writing life often intersects with these other aspects of my life, identity, experience, and personality.  (Hence including a list in this introduction).  So the purpose of this blog might become more nuanced as it ages.

I'll play it by ear...