30 October 2013

With Two Days To Go

Last weekend I went away to the Oregon coast...one of the best places in the entire world. I ate amazing food, drank wine, slept, read, walked and wandered. I visited my favorite lighthouse, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.* I wrote. I didn't get as much accomplished as I planned to, but I got done what was needed and balanced the time with conversation, laughter, and a roaring fire. I ignored all social media, turned my phone on "Do Not Disturb"...and it was heavenly.

At once I feel incredibly prepared for this year's NaNoWriMo and incredibly inadequate. This year's project is ambitious, to say the least, and I am constantly questioning whether or not I possess the talent to execute this vision. But the voice in my head keeps telling me that this is truly one of those stories that only I can tell...and therefore I must.

Today I hopped on the NaNoWriMo website to take care of updating my profile and to officially commit to participating in 2013 and they asked for a title and a cover...something I've never done (in advance) before. I had taken a picture while I was at the coast and after I'd texted it to a friend, he replied (knowing a thing or two about this project) "Book jacket art." So I spent 20 minutes this morning on my iPhone with a few apps and made up a cover. I didn't know if I'd be able to come up with a working title on the fly...but then...I did. And I like it. It's definitely a good place to start.

Two more days until the real writing begins...

My working cover art and title for NaNoWriMo 2013

*This lighthouse is an integral part of my 2013 story...something I began researching over 10 years ago.

18 October 2013

Whispers of a Plot

When writing is good, when the story starts to stitch together, there is nothing better.  Last Sunday, I got to have one of those writing sessions that make it all worth it.

I've been trying to take a completely different approach to this year's NaNoWriMo. I want to be prepared. There is much discussion in the writing community about pantsers vs plotters. To date, I have been pretty much a pantser. And I love it. I really do love the thrill of writing to see what happens next, that moment when the story reveals itself in interesting and fascinating new ways.

NaNoWriMo taught me how to sit in the chair. And that was an absolutely priceless lesson.


Over the past year I've been studying ideas of Story and Plot and I've read a book (Story Engineering by Larry Brooks) that is very much against the idea of pantsing. And I can definitely see his point.

You can do it anyway you like, but if you completely pants it, in the end, you end up with a lot more work and A LOT more editing...which is where I'm at with my last two NaNoWriMo projects. Every writer has to find their own process, their own unique way of working. There is no right way...there are easier ways, and more challenging ways. Ultimately, what I think I'll end up with, for myself, is a balance between the two. I will plot a skeleton and then pants the hell out of it.

For this year, I'd already come up with the general idea, the "story question" I want to answer. I started sketching out some of the main characters and exploring some of the main ideas a few months ago. And I've continued my reading about writing.

Recently there have been a lot of blog posts from agents, writers, and other assorted members of the literary community about NaNoWriMo and I've been enjoying their ideas and their insights. Through one of them, I stumbled upon one that referenced a book called The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson. When I checked it out (and purchased it) I also came across a companion book called The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

I purchased that one as well and last Sunday I did the first prompt and came up with nearly 1700 words that gave me so many brilliant little insights into what November's story is actually going to be about. That one exercise, that single prompt to have my protagonist make a decision started so many thoughts and ideas that I spent the whole day thinking and plotting.

This year's project will be, by far, my most ambition and challenging project to day...and I don't think I've ever been more ready.

13 October 2013


It's working. I've participated in four activities on my list over the last couple days and this morning I woke up rested (because I've been getting more than 6 hours of sleep) and ready to face a morning of writing and creativity.

I've added added one other activity and I think this one will be really important in the coming month. Fire watching. Nothing will get me to sit down in a chair for two hours to write more than starting a fire in my portable fireplace...

11 October 2013

8 Necessary Activities

The truth is, I just scrapped a really boring post I've spent the last 30 minutes working on. I was bored writing it, so I can't even imagine what it would have been like to read. It was about Wordstock this year and Wordstock last. And lovely time with lovely authors. And lovely weather and, in general, a whole lot of loveliness.

The truth is, right now I don't really feel like I have a lot to say. I feel as though my battery is completely drained. The screen is blank because the computer won't turn on.

Normally after an experience like Wordstock I'm completely energized and restless to get home and get to work. Maybe it was the sunshine that kept me from that feeling, those last 36 hours of warmth in the wind, sunshine settling into my pores, the overwhelming desire to simply breathe it all in. (And I did!)

The way I'm talking makes it sound like there's been no writing progress and when I reflect honestly, that simply isn't true. In my mind I've been simultaneously trying to figure out how to get back into the manuscript that is getting close to being finished and also plotting my 2013 NaNoWriMo project. And I really do think I'm making some progress on both fronts. I'm learning more and more background about these characters that are helping to inform the whys and the whats.

21 more days until November 1st...

No matter what I do, I just can't seem to escape the ever present sound of time passing.

I think it's time to make a list (in no particular order) of all the things I can do to recharge before it's too late.

1) Sleep (more than 6 hours a night)
2) Spend time laughing with the people I love
3) Listen, really listen, to music
4) Take my favorite pen to a quality sheet of paper
5) Crunch some fall leaves with my feet
6) Listen to the sound of the ocean's waves crashing against the sand
7) Reread a favorite book
8) Go see live music

I am now making it my personal mission to accomplish all 8 things over the course of the next 21 days.

I can't say for sure that it will help, but it definitely can't hurt.