Writer’s Weekend Edition – Writing About Issues

Desiree Burch, Writing Excuses Guest, Episode 11.45

Desiree Burch, Writing Excuses Guest, Episode 11.45

It’s no secret that I’m an avid fan of the fabulous podcast, Writing Excuses, hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Taylor, and Dan Wells. I have learned so much by listening to these smart, funny, generous authors and their many guests. This season’s series is about “Elemental Genres,” a fascinating topic that has given me a whole new perspective on what defines the different kinds of stories we write  and why readers love them.

The November 6th episode was relevant not only as a continuation of the conversation on writing craft, but also in the context of all that is happening on the global stage. The elemental genre the panel tackled in episode 11.45 is “Issue,” and in addition to sharing their own insights, the usual team welcomed actor, writer, and comedian Desiree Burch as their guest.

In the wake of the U.S. presidential election that took place earlier this week, I have heard from many writer and artist friends and acquaintances who are struggling with a wide variety of hard questions: How do I find the energy and heart to create? How much of my personal belief system should I incorporate into my stories? Is the writer really separate from the writing? What’s my purpose as a writer? How can my writing help me become the change I want to see in the world? And so on.

I don’t have silver-bullet answers for those questions. I believe that the answers to those kinds of questions are very personal and unique to each individual. As I’ve been thinking about my NaNoWriMo novel, I’ve begun to tease out the themes that drive my primary plot and subplots. Listening to this podcast, I realized that I may be writing a hybrid (note: most stories are hybrids when it comes to elemental genres) that includes aspects of Wonder and Issue.

I encourage everyone who wants their stories to “make people think” to listen to this episode.  It’s only twenty minutes long, but there’s a lot of great information and inspiration. Here are a few “teaser highlights” that really struck home for me.

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Understand the Balance Between Feeling and Thinking

Mary points out that while other elemental genres typically want to make the reader feel something,  stories in the Issue elemental genre want the audience to think about something.

While Mary’s 30,000-foot statement is ultimately true, Desiree also points out that, “Getting [readers] to think about something goes hand in hand with them feeling things … for the most part, people don’t do one or the other. They do a kind of back and forth of both.” So, being specific and making a story really personal is also a good way to amp up your ability to make the reader feel something, which will – in turn – get them thinking.

Stay off the Soap Box

The biggest risk with stories in the elemental Issue genre is that they might become preachy or polemic. The key to avoiding this trap is to remember that Issue stories raise questions, polemic stories answer questions. As a bonus, Desiree rightly points out that raising questions is a much more interesting line of exploration for both the writer and the reader. She recommends that when you experience an emotional reaction to something, you ask yourself questions like What is that feeling? Why does that make me angry? Why does that make me feel so wounded? Why does that make me feel so giddy?

But don’t ever forte that even Issue stories need to be entertaining first. In other words, don’t get so mired in your issue that you aren’t telling a good story that keeps your reader turning pages.

Use Specificity to Reach More People

Desiree also makes an excellent point about the most effective way to tell an elemental Issue story:

“My work is intensely personal. I think that the more specific a work gets the more broadly it relates to other people.  The more you want to reach people, the deeper you have to dig and the more specific you have to be.”

Read that one again: “The more you want to reach people, the deeper you have to dig and the more specific you have to be.” Inexperienced writers who try to take on an Issue story often make the mistake of trying to tell EVERYTHING about the issue. This won’t work. As one of the men on the panel explained when he described his approach to an Issue story, “I’m not speaking for a population. I’m speaking for an individual who is part of a greater discussion. When you do that, the issue becomes personal.”

Using specificity in this way also helps you, as the writer, avoid situations where readers try to punch holes in your work. As Desiree put it, “If you make it very specific and say, ‘But, no. For this person, this is absolutely true and this is the story of this tiny world of everything,’ the more people have to go, “Well ok, respect, I will respect the rules of your world because you didn’t try to diminish mine in the creation of yours.'”

Write Better Villains by Learning to Understand Them

Everyone on the panel acknowledged that it’s hard to write characters who are on the other side of an issue about which you are passionate. But they still encourage writers to make a real effort to explore those characters. “Find the other side of the issue and discuss it in a way that’s intelligent,” one of the men on the panel explained (sorry, I can’t always tell their voices apart). “For instance, racism – you find someone whose life has been impacted by racism at the other side of it. It’s hard for me to empathize with them because I don’t like their position, but it is also much easier to understand them when you describe how their life as a racist is affected when race relations change. And until you understand that, until you can articulate that, you can’t tell a story about that changing without being preachy and polemic.”

Desiree summed is up nicely, “This is an exercise in being a better human being in some ways. I think we tend to easily demonize anyone who has fallen outside the realm of ‘normality.’ However, everybody is a person. Everybody had a series of actions and circumstances that led them to be where they are. Even that villain is his own hero and has a whole arc in which what he is doing is for some kind of greater good, even if it is just for his or her greater good. In looking at ‘let’s empathize with the racist that we don’t empathize with or that we don’t want to empathize with,’ the scary part is the more you start to, the more you realize that you are pretty much the same in so many ways and that you are potentially a racist for something else or that much of a bigot in some other kind of way where you don’t understand the person on the other side of the table that you’re pointing that finger at until you take the steps to get there and go, ‘Oh, I can be that person, too.'”

Acknowledge the Grace of What You Are Doing

And finally, Desiree offered this observation which I think applies as much to real life as it does the the writer/reader relationship, “It’s important to note that your audience is doing you a gracious thing by listening to you, just as you are doing a gracious thing by sharing your unique and very important perspective on some aspect of the universe with them. Both of you are coming with something that should be respected as it’s really tender and important and generous to do.”

Absolutely.

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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Writer’s Weekend Edition – NaNoWriMo Week 1 – Embracing the Crazy

diving-cloudsLast Wednesday, I dove into the NaNoWriMo fray a day late and 1,667 words behind. I set up my author page on the NaNoWriMo site and opened a Scrivener doc for my project. Today, I’m five days in and 6,829 words behind; but I’m okay with that.

You want to know why?

First, because I went into this knowing full well that I may not have a 50,000-word “win” in me this year. Accepting that reality from the get go took some of the pressure off.

Second, because just saying, “Yes!” to the NaNo challenge seems to have flipped some kind of creative switch in my brain. It’s like part of my mind has been asleep for a while, but is now waking up and ready to rumble. I didn’t plan on doing NaNoWriMo this year, so I didn’t do any prep in October; but now that I’ve thrown myself into the middle of things, my brain seems more than happy to churn out ideas.

Finally, because I’ve discovered a new and super helpful resource as a result of my flailing attempts to get my story organized quickly and effectively. I’ve actually been following K.M. Weiland  for a while and even own her book, Structuring Your Novel; but I hadn’t yet plugged into her excellent podcast, Helping Writers Become Authors.

If you’re trying to get your NaNo novel together late, or if you’d just like some smart, actionable, step-by-step advice on how to get your head around your story, I just listened to and LOVED these three podcasts from Weiland:

Over the weekend, I’ll also be listening to:

I was thrilled when I listened to the 2nd and 3rd episodes in this NaNoWriMo series because they provided me with some specifics and structure that I could apply to what my gut was telling me to do: Ask questions about your story.

I also loved that Weiland makes outlining sounds FUN … and that her podcast site includes full transcripts of her podcasts so that you have a written version to refer to. Brilliant!

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I’m not saying that I’m going to completely derail my NaNoWriMo writing efforts like I did back in 2012 when I blamed Larry Brooks for my #NaNoFail. Though I have long realized I am a dyed-in-the-wool plotter (vs. a panster), I’m not going to let that truth give me an easy excuse to give up. Not this time. This time, I’m going to work on my outlining and story structure WHILE I am simultaneously writing whatever my little heart desires – random scenes, character sketches, backstories, etc.

I may not come out of this with a novel draft or even with 50,000 mostly random words, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t put some words down. The experts say that with writing, you learn by doing. So – I’m going to do some writing. Right Now!

PS – If you’re also crazy enough to play along with NaNoWriMo this year, please look me up and, if you’re so inclined, add me as a buddy and drop me a line. 🙂 

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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

Photo Credit: MY2200 Flickr via Compfight cc

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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It’s November. Time to get crazy writing. 

Kermit GIF that I blatantly stole from @speechwriterguy

Kermit GIF that I blatantly stole from @speechwriterguy

As Deborah pointed out in yesterday’s post, November 1st marks the start of the annual event called National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo,” for short. Over the next thirty (twenty-nine by the time this post goes live) days, hundreds of thousands of people (close to 500,000 are expected) will each attempt to write 50,000 words.

It is not an undertaking for the faint of heart.

I have a long and complicated relationship with NaNoWriMo that includes one “win” of 50,146 words in 2009 (my virgin year), one failed attempt in 2012 (which I blamed on Larry Brooks), and lots of arguing with myself.

nanowrimo-invite

Exhibit A: Seemingly Innocent Facebook Message

This year, I wasn’t even considering participating in the 30-day writing slog until a long-time online friend and fellow writer/NaNoWriMo-er (who also happens to be a fierce mama and a gorgeous unicorn, and who will remain unnamed) sent me a seemingly innocent Facebook message that said only, “NaNoWriMo, Darling!” and was punctuated by a jack-o-lantern emoji.

What can I say? She had me at NaNoWriMo.

I haven’t had much any time for fiction practice lately, and the lack of that particular creative outlet has left me a little despondent … a little what’s-it-all-about-alfie. I needed a project. I needed a project that was just for me – all mine.

fireflycafecvrSo, I logged into the NaNoWriMo site and made it official by “creating” my 2016 novel. The working title is The Firefly Cafe. It’s the same title I used in 2012, but the story has been evolving in my head. While my inner critic, doubter, and party pooper have combined forces to bombard me with more than the usual litany of excuses (and valid reasons) to give up before I’ve even begun, I’m going to do my best to ignore them and just go for it. I’m not making any promises. I’m just going to see where this takes me.

Happily, the first stop on my 2016 NaNoWriMo journey was a happy one. Inspired by my friend’s invitation, I spent my daughter’s half-hour riding lesson scribbling story ideas and questions in a notebook. While my daughter popped over fences on her favorite school pony, I was sketching out a storyline and asking myself questions about character motivations and possible plot twists. I was remembering what it felt like to put my imagination to good use, and it felt good.

My resolve was slightly shaken later in the evening when I read Guy Bergstrom’s post about why NaNoWriMo is “noble nuttiness.” (Tilting at windmills, anyone?) But, then I was encouraged by this N(entirely)SFW post from the inimitable Chuck Wendig about, in his words, “the pure f-ing joy of getting it all wrong.”

And then I meandered over to the NaNoWriMo press page and came across this little tidbit:

Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’sWater for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. See a full list of our published authors.

How’s that for inspiration? Sure, the odds are against you, but these people proved that it’s not impossible to at least get a working draft completed in thirty days. (Granted, they may have been prepping for months – years even – but, maybe not.)

Finally, I dove into the Pep Talk archives on the NaNoWriMo site and read a lovely and kickass piece from Catherynne Valente, which included this little gem:

Write something true. Write something frightening. Write something close to the bone. You are on this planet to tell the story of what you saw here. What you heard. What you felt. What you learned. Any effort spent in that pursuit cannot be wasted. Any way that you can tell that story more truly, more vividly, more you-ly, is the right way.

So holler. Tell it loud and tell it bright and tell it slant and tell it bold. Tell it with space whales and silent films or tell it with quiet desperation or tell it with war or tell it with dragons or tell it with tall ships or tell it with divorce in the suburbs or tell it with dancing skeletons and a kraken in the wings.

Tell it fast before you get scared and silence yourself. You’ll never wish you’d held back a little more.

I’ll leave you with that.

But, if you happen to be playing along in NaNoWriMo land, look me up. You can never have too many writing buddies.

Happy writing!!

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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. In addition to my bi-weekly weekday posts, you can also check out my Saturday Edition and Sunday Shareworthy archives. Off the blog, please introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Ready, Set, Write!

Ready! Set! Write!

Ready! Set! Write!

Today is November first and the beginning of Nanowrimo –when writers worldwide try to pen a 50,000 novel before the end of the month.

I’m not participating in Nanowrimo this year. The novel I’m working on is fermenting in a box. Instead, I’m working on a book of non-fiction about learning to hunt, and this is the month when I take my newly minted hunting license into the woods. Nevertheless, I applaud everyone who signs up, sits down and writes.

I applaud anyone who sits down and writes.

I applaud anyone who sits down and writes.

Edit that: I applaud everyone who sits down and writes. Regardless of whether or not you sign up for Nanowrimo, here’s encouragement from famous authors for writers of all genres, embarked in projects of all kinds, wherever you are.

Somerset Maugham famously said, There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

I would go further and say this is true for any book. Writing is an act of discovery, and each story has its own interior logic that dictates how it’s best told. A writer pays attention to what the story needs and makes up the rules as she writes.

That said, there are some rules for writing that apply whatever you write:

"Applying ass to seat" is what you've got to do.

“Applying ass to seat” is what you’ve got to do.

According to Dorothy Parker, Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat. November’s as good a time to do this as any. A cushion is nice, but not necessary, especially if you’re using a stand-up desk.

Writing is easy: just open a vein and bleed, is most often attributed to sportswriter Red Smith. Remember: it’s a metaphor. It’s also true.

Start somewhere - and always recycle.

Start somewhere – and always recycle.

And perhaps the best advice for those of you embarking on NaNoWriMo today comes from Anne Lamott. Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.

Good words to you – and good luck.

 

At the US-Canadian border on Day 25.

At the US-Canadian border on Day 25.

Deborah Lee Luskin blogs every Wednesday at http://www.deborahleeluskin.com. Currently, she’s posting Lessons from the Long Trail, a 275-mile hike along the spine of the Green Mountains from Massachusetts to Canada. After that, writing seems restful.

 

NaNo 2015 Update

Well, I won. I wrote 50,000 words in November.

On the evening of November 1st, after my son was in bed and the kitchen was cleaned up from supper, I remembered I’d joined NaNo at the last minute and I needed to do my word count.

Even though evening is not my best time for writing, I walked into my office and sat down at my desk. In less than an hour, I’d banged out just over 1667 words on the short story I’ve been thinking about for months.

That was easy, I thought.

Then: Why was it so easy? That’s never happened before.

On November 2nd, the same thing happened. At the end of my day, I just sat down and wrote the words I needed to write to meet my goal. I loved watching my little bar of words meet the slanting line that showed I was on track with my word count.Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 5.28.12 AM

If I compared my previous NaNo wins (and attempts) to the story of the tortoise and the hare, I was always the hare. This year, I was the tortoise.

The first weekend of NaNo I didn’t meet my word count goals, but by the end of the next week, I’d caught up again. Toward the end of the month, I had more “no words written” days, but I’d already completed so many words I wasn’t willing to give up.

Luckily, I hosted a Write-In at my local library on November 28th, so I was able to really boost my word count while in the company of fellow writers.

Winning NaNo this year was a little anticlimactic. In previous years, I was behind (really behind) most of the month and the question of whether or not I could write 50,000 words in a month took up a lot of room in my mind.

  • When am I going to write?
  • Can I really catch up if I’m this far behind?
  • Why did I sign up for this?
  • Why did I tell people I was doing this?

This year, I just sat down and did it, day after day. No drama, no angst—just get it done.

For the first time ever, I was able to shut off my inner critic, my internal editor, and just write—which made the writing go much faster than my usual pace.

I haven’t looked back at what I wrote yet, but I doubt much of it is usable. But some of it will be.

And that’s the whole point, right? To have something to edit, rather than a blank page.

Which I do.

Thank you, National Novel Writing Month, and all my fellow Wrimos, who did it before me and with me.Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 10.20.54 AM

Now it’s time to rewrite!

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, life coach, and family physician. I’m ready to look back over the year and see what I’ve accomplished and what’s on tap for 2016. You?

 

NaNoWriMo or NaNoWriNope?

Print

To NaNo or Not?

NaNoWriMo time is almost here! Most of us have written about the decision to try it, and recorded our success or lack thereof in previous posts. Jamie did a post on her 2015 involvement this past weekend. Because of the New England Crime Bake (next weekend), I’ve always had trouble hitting the 50,000 word mark. Alright, who am I kidding? There are a lot of reasons I haven’t been able to get the badge. Maybe this time will be different–I have a deadline that could use the boost.

I should back up a bit, and explain NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. It is when thousands of people buckle down, and try to hit the 50,000 word mark on a novel. For many, that is a first draft. For others, it is enough momentum to keep going and finish. As you know from reading this blog, a first draft is just the first step, but it is an important one.

If you are a plotter, and I am a plotter, you should do that work well ahead of November 1. You still have time to get that done before kick off. But whether plotter or pantser (you write by the seat of your pants), don’t forget the AND THEN rule. It helps you propel the story forward. Examples: Ruth has a meeting with Kim. AND THEN they have a fight. AND THEN Kim is found dead. AND THEN Ruth is brought in for questioning. Keep asking yourself the AND THEN question for your main story line, and your subplots.

The second rule of thumb for NaNoWriMo in my opinion? Keep on writing. No time to look back or second guess when you need to average 1666 words a day. When I am trying to get words done, I will use a bracket in the middle of a paragraph, and make myself a note for the next draft. [Find out more about the town] [Add research about rats here] [what was her mother’s name?] Or if I want to skip a part, I’ll type in [write more words]. I know, elegant, isn’t it? Transitions, word choices, detail, the weaving of subplots, all those come with the next draft. Or the next one. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a first draft, even a bad one.

Every year, I use NaNoWriMo as an opportunity to challenge myself. This year, it is to finish plotting book 3, get the scene cards into Scrivener(goal of the scene, people in it, and which story line it serves), and then start book 3 of my series. First draft goal is in January, but if I can get the foundation built by Sunday, who knows? NaNoWriMo is just the kick in my pants I need to get started.

Who’s in?

Weekend Edition – To NaNoWriMo or Not, That Is the Question

Oh, my fickle writer’s heart. Make up your mind, I beseech you.

2015 nanowrimo teeIt’s that time of year again – NaNoWriMo season. Yes, for the sixteenth consecutive year, November will bring us the joys and perils, triumphs and heartbreaks of yet another National Novel Writing Month. A week from today, at midnight on the 31st, hundreds of thousands of writers from around the world will come together in virtual and real-life write-ins to surge as one pen- and keyboard-wielding army toward their common goal of each writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Insanity? You betcha. Fun? Absolutely.

Though I admire the spirit of NaNoWriMo (and love its resident plot bunnies), I am always on the fence about participating. As November approaches, I hem and haw, weigh the pros and cons, and generally waffle about . As I muddle about in this year’s annual ritual of indecision, I took a moment to look back on my seven-year relationship with this ordeal tradition of the writing world.

2009 – My First Time

I captured my first (and  – spoiler alert – ultimately only) NaNoWriMo “win” during my virgin trip into the disorienting world of trying to write a novel without a plot. I was still fairly fresh off my divorce, and was living with my daughter in a carriage house apartment that had originally been the servants’ quarters on a large, old money estate. Floundering as I was in my personal and professional life, I was looking for something to anchor my existence and NaNoWriMo seemed to fit the bill.

I have fond memories of creeping out of bed in the dark of predawn, brewing a cup of Sleepytime tea, and hunkering down over my clunky old Dell laptop in the small room that served as my office. I would pull the hood of my bathrobe over my head to create a fleecey barrier between me and the rest of the world, and I would write like mad until my daughter woke up. I crossed the finish line with a total tally of 50,146 words. (Cue the champagne and ticker tape.)

2010 – Conversations in My Head

The next year was the first in what would be a long succession of will she/won’t she debates around the subject of NaNoWriMo. In Why I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo This Year, I provided a frightening peek into my head and the weird conversations that take place there. In the end, despite part of me wanting to do NaNoWriMo just so I could tell my inner critique to take a leap, I wound up giving the writing marathon a pass after realizing that “winging it” was just not my style.

2011 – Radio Silence

Seems that my resolution to listen to my inner writer and stick to less pell-mell approaches to writing must have stuck because I barely whispered a word about NaNoWriMo in 2011. The whole scene passed me by, barely ruffling my literary feathers.

2012 – More Voices in My Head and Blaming Larry Brooks

In 2012, I once again leapt into the fray and joined hoards of enthusiastic (and slightly delusional) writers as they sallied forth into the chilly month of November with Big Ideas and lots of coffee. Halfway through the month, I found I’d hit a bit of a wall. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get away from distractions, my inner critic, or my inner editor. They were driving me crazy, and keeping me from doing what I needed to do: write.

At the end of the month, I posted about the final outcome of my battle in NaNoWriMo #Fail (I blame you, Larry Brooks). Though I had, indeed, failed to hit the 50,000 mark, I realized that there was a silver lining to my shortcomings. I realized that part of my inability to fully engage with the “no plot – no problem” approach was that I’d learned so much (in great part from the aforementioned Mr. Brooks) about story structure that I couldn’t bear to just throw stuff at the wall and see if anything stuck. In short, I was ruined for pantsing.

2013 – Another Intermission

Coming off my failed attempt in 2012, there was another brief intermission of radio silence.

2014 – A Brief Consideration and a Big No

Last year I briefly considered once again throwing my lot in with the other NaNoWriters, but in the end it was NaNoWriNope for me.  My reasons remained the same (so points for consistency), but I still felt a twinge of guilt because despite all my talk about learning about story structure and wanting to plan and prepare, I wasn’t making the time to do that work any more than I was making the time to write 50,000 words.

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Which brings us to 2015.

I have been going through the usual motions, trying to decide whether to join up with my NaNoWriMo comrades, or not. I ordered the 2015 winner’s t-shirt in a burst of late-night hopefulness, but in the morning I was full of doubts and second guesses again. I wrote down a pros and cons list (for the record, the “yes” column won by one), but still failed to make a decision.

Then, as I sat down to write this post I decided to take a minute to dig up the “50,000 words of crap” draft that I wrote in 2009. It only took me a couple minutes to locate the behemoth Word doc in my digital archives. I read the first chapter, and though I saw many (glaring) craft errors, I was actually drawn in enough to keep reading until my daughter got off the bus from school.

Hmmmm, I thought. Maybe there’s something here after all.

The characters that I developed (mostly on the fly) for that young adult urban fantasy have stuck with me over the years. I recall their names, and can almost see their faces. Though November 2009 is (and always will be) a blur, and even though this is the first time I’ve ever re-read a single line of that “manuscript” (and, I use the term lightly), I still remember certain scenes quite clearly.

So, after much internal debate, my decision for 2015 is this: I will not participate in the 2015 NaNoWriMo. Instead, I will re-read the mixed up mess of a story I patched together in 2009, and I will then take it apart and put it back together using everything I’ve learned about story structure and the craft of telling a good story. I will use this abandoned not-quite-a-novel as a guinea pig of sorts to see just what I can do to try and bring this thing back to life.

We’ll see … we’ll see …

P.S. I’m keeping the t-shirt. 

P.P.S. If you want to go out for your own NaNoWriMo win, by all means charge ahead. Doing NaNoWriMo (or, not doing it) has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not you are a real writer, a good writer, or a committed writer (though you may need to be committed on November 30th if you choose to take the NaNoWriMo assignment). 😉

P.P.P.S.

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unlost logoUnlost by Paul Jarvis and Jamie Varon

In my past, I was something of an online course junkie. I signed up for way too many audio courses, digital workbooks, and virtual workshops. Don’t get me wrong. I love learning, but at some point you have to stop consuming and start creating.

I’ve been on the wagon for quite some time now, but then this little course came across my radar. It caught my eye for three reasons: 1) it’s called “Unlost,” which is a cool name, 2) it’s being offered by Paul Jarvis, whose blog I really enjoy, and 3) it’s only $34 ($49 after October 31st). The course description begins like this:

Have you ever been so frustrated at yourself that you can’t seem to do the creative work you know you’re meant to do? Have you ever felt like all you need is more time and at least a million dollars in order to have the freedom to create the things that you stay up at night dreaming of creating?

Well, the bad news is that we’re not going to give you a million dollars or unlimited free time. Sorry.

The good news is that you don’t need either of those things to do incredible creative work.

I’ve only listened to half the audio recordings, and I haven’t even touched the workbooks yet, but I think this is a course some of you may find helpful in an encouraging kind of way. This isn’t a pitch. I’m not a partner or affiliate. I don’t get a dime if you sign up. I just thought you might like the chance to take a look. I did, and I haven’t regretted the purchase. The lessons aren’t exactly rocket science, in fact they are mostly common sense; but sometimes a little dose of common sense if exactly what we need.

A Writer’s Manifesto by Joanne Harris

joanne harrisI could have included this one with the rest of the blog posts, but I felt it deserved to be highlighted. I enjoy Harris’ work (novels like Chocolat and Peaches for Monsieur le Curé), and have also admired her more in-the-moment writings such as her humorous Ten Rookie Writer’s Mistakes post and her #storytime mini stories (told via tweets).

In this piece for the UK’s Writer’s Centre Norwich, Harris navigates with grace and brass tacks talking points through some of the most treacherous writing-related territory – the relationship between writers and readers and the perceptions of the value (as in cold, hard cash) of writing. It’s an interesting read that serves up much food for thought along with a healthy dose of pragmatic (but not dour) reality.

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And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin not a competition

Whether you’re gearing up for NaNoWriMo or not, I wish you a barrel-full of enthusiasm and inner fire to get you driving ahead on your writing projects … at your own speed and in your own way. Your finish line is a unique and personal thing. 
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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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