28 November 2013


The hour is early. The sun is finally flirting with the horizon and soon it will be morning. I've got a cup of coffee in a lovely mug crafted by two people I love who love me in return. I've got my good headphones on and I'm listening to some of my favorite Josh Ritter songs and it's hard not to be hopeful.

I have a good life. A really good life. There have been times that have been better than others. I've had my share of tragedies and heartache. Tough times. But the good has always outweighed the bad and in the end, I always come up feeling grateful, thankful.

Today is Thanksgiving and I can't help but think of all the reasons I am fortunate. I think of them often, I truly do, but once a year I like to list them. 

I am thankful for all the people who take the time, energy, effort, and faith to follow their creative path. Whether you're Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Josh Ritter, J.K. Rowling, or somebody trying NaNoWriMo for the first time. Whether you write, draw, sing, make ceramics, knit, or take photographs, to do the things you love to do, that you need to do, is not always easy. It doesn't matter whether or not you share your work with the world. Sometimes following a dream is the most daring, courageous thing you can do.

I am thankful for the privilege of having spent time and conversation with some of my favorite authors over the past year. I have been inspired. I have been challenged. I have laughed. I have felt hopeful.

I am thankful for being able to buy books and the time to read them, think about them, share them.

I am thankful for friends and family who are generous with their time and with their love. Friends and family who make me laugh and remember that I'm not alone on this journey.

I am thankful for a husband who loves me and who I find myself loving more and more, who makes me laugh and who has patience enough to understand and accept me, despite any faults.

I am thankful for the sweetest, kindest, funniest, cuddliest black dog in the world.

I am thankful for the Nerdist Podcast for making me laugh, challenging me to explore new interests, and for making my commute infinitely more rewarding.

I am thankful for LeakyCon and the way it brings such an interesting community of people together to share their fandoms, to laugh and to dance. 

I am thankful for warm socks and comfortable shoes, Legos, wool blankets, long walks, blue skies, green grass, rainy days, Cards Against Humanity, Pitch Perfect, hammocks, the way snow falls silently, fireplaces, fresh cut flowers, tomatoes still warm from the sun, a cozy chair with a view of the ocean, iPhones, the luxury of a new laptop, dresses and skirts with pockets, handcrafted cocktails, the sounds of laughter, a gentle breeze on a lazy afternoon, Gary Larson, naps, fountain pens, and so many, many other things.

What I like to remember.

24 November 2013


This morning I have prepared all the necessary things. I have started a fire. I have brewed some french-pressed coffee. I have turned the heat on (because if I don't my fingers literally turn blue as I type). I have opened the curtains in the library so I can watch the sun filter in through the tree's bare branches. It is a perfect, lovely morning in so many ways.

I am thankful for this time I have to write.

Last night I crossed 50,000 words on this NaNoWriMo project. That's the minimum number of words required to "win." I wish I could say it was as exciting as it was when I hit that number for the first time in 2009, but it's not. 2009 was the first time I learned I could do it. I could string together a novel's length of words telling one story. That was a moment I hope to never forget.

While the thrill of crossing that line might not be as exhilarating as it first was, I feel just as proud. This month has not been an easy one. I gave up most of my personal life to be able to do NaNoWriMo this year and, as always, it was completely worth it. (Have I mentioned my husband is pretty fantastic?)

I'm far from done with this. I've mentioned before that the process I'm experimenting with to write this story means that I'm not writing it in chronological order. I have a lot of post-November work to do. It's as if I've cut out all the pieces to make a quilt, but still need to stitch them together into a beautiful pattern. I'm still learning how to do that and I am loving the challenge.

Today is my last "free" day, a day that is all mine, until the calendar rolls over into December (and then, it's December...). Today I will write the final scene. I've had a pretty solid idea of where the story will end up from the beginning. It will be interesting to see what happens when I actually try to translate the idea into words.

My Evening with Neil Gaiman (left) & Amanda Palmer (right) mug

17 November 2013

Status Update

One week ago I left for a birthday/writing/vacation/adventure with my absolute favorite person in the world. (That would be the fantastic husband who takes excellent care of me during the month of November, along with every other month). It was heavenly. We arrived at Newport on one of the most beautiful days I have ever spent in Newport. 60's, sunshine, windless. We removed a few layers and went for a quick hike to the top of Salal Hill, which overlooks the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. We spent the rest of the afternoon on other coastal adventures, eating good food, walking along the Pacific, taking some deep breaths, and slowing down.

I couldn't have asked for a better time and place. I wrote thousands and thousands and thousands of words. I imagined (in my pre-trip ambitious mind) I would write more...but the weather, it was so very lovely and I could not resist the pull of the outdoors. But my story still progressed at a brisk pace. My characters became alive in new and interesting ways. They said and did things that made me feel proud of them and proud of myself.

In terms of NaNoWriMo, I arrived home way ahead of the game, ten full days ahead of schedule, which worked out well since I would need to spend time catching up on work and life chores. But it was totally and completely worth every minute of it.

I haven't written a word in two full days and now I simply can't put it off any longer. I've missed my characters, I've missed this project.

Devil's Punchbowl State Park

Where I wrote many, many, many words.

A Neil Gaiman reminder to myself.

Discovered on a walk.

08 November 2013

It's Been One Week

The view from here.

One week and 15,299 words later, I have made it through the first bit of NaNoWriMo. There have been good days, better days, and one truly awful one. But no matter how I feel, no matter what I think I'd rather be doing, I have been sitting down and writing.

As I've mentioned before, this project (and the process) is considerably different than any other writing I have done. That is both quite satisfying and quite terrifying. One of the things that's really different is that I'm not writing the story chronologically. That's always been my process in the past. But this time, I have such a richer understanding of the characters, their motivations, and the plot points I'm trying to reach, that I can write the story in a much different way.

While jumping around can get a little tricky, especially when you're nearly 50 pages into a project, this has been a good challenge for me as I think about my Story, the story I'm trying to tell and how I'm telling it.

And all this plotting has in no way taken the joy I got from writing as a pantser. No matter how well I think I know the overall story arc, there is plenty left to discover as I travel from point to point. The Story has to be translated from ideas into actual type-able words. That's where the real joy comes from.

One of the things I love about NaNoWriMo is that my birthday falls exactly a week into it. I get to take the day off for writing (and other fun adventures) and I get to enjoy hearing kind words from friends and from family...and this year, I got some words that were especially meaningful and quite timely...for that I am more grateful than I can say.

In only two days I will retreat to the Oregon coast and wrap myself up in November and create as much of this story as I possibly can, knowing that when I return to reality, there will be a great many other demands on my time and my attention.

I'm very much looking forward to the time away.