Centering

That liberal-conservative continuum, where Democrats and Republicans represent ‘polar-opposites,’ — I am not on that continuum.  I can see it from where I stand.  But I am not defined by Democrat nor Republican points of view.  I am defined by my own point of view.  Not everyone sees the world this way.   Some can only see it from the perspective of the fish they school with.

NaNoWriMo Update #6

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I was upset when I tried to update my word count shortly after midnight, today.  NaNoWriMo.org shut that feature down.  Had I been allowed, I would entered 11,968.

This morning, NaNoWriMo sent me a consolation letter informing me that I did not win.  (?!!)  They define ‘winning’ as writing 50K words.  So, I guess they have a point.  I certainly did not win.  But, at the same time, I didn’t lose.

Nobody said I was done, either.  I will tell the world when this story is finished.  I will define whether I win or lose.

NaNoWriMo Update #5

Good afternoon everyone.  I hope everyone here in the U.S. had a good day of Giving Thanks.  Thanks to the NaNoWriMo community doing this every year.

Confession:  I did not write yesterday for my book.  Only for my journal.  So, I didn’t update my word count yesterday, marking the only day I have missed since beginning this project on November 6th.

Confession number two:  Until I update my word count later tonight, I only have 9033 words.

Confession number three:  I am undaunted.  At current rates, this should only take four more months to complete!

NaNoWriMo Update #4

Everyone can laugh at me.  There are people with 20k words, 30k words, or even 40k words by now.  And then there is me.  I passed the 8K mark today!  While the pace has been slow, some amazing things have happened.  My muse is working overtime for me.  As I have worked up this story, several times a good night’s sleep results in waking with a completely re-arranged and deepened understanding.  Several days this past week were spent describing the story in broad strokes, or doing character sketches.  (Character sketches do not show up in my word count.)  I had my main character doing all of these amazing things.  And then I would sleep on it.  The next morning, these amazing things were in the hands of other characters.  Stories are developing within the story.

All week long I found myself pushing late in the evening to make a difference that day’s word count.  Two nights ago I asked myself why I was doing this so late in the day.  After all, every day I begin writing early.  But writing in my journal, and writing this story, are two different forms of doing.  Writing in my journal is second nature to me.  I look forward to it each day.  I haven’t missed a day of journaling in about four years.  Writing creatively is a different matter.  There is a voice for this book.  Some days, writing with that voice is next to impossible.  On those days, it is just so easy to waste time in my journal, fooling myself into believing that journaling is good enough.

Two nights ago I made a renewed commitment to write early.  My new motto is: Create Early, Create Often.  I don’t write fast.  But I am making progress.  No more broad strokes, though.  The focus now is on creative writing.  (Until the next day that the wheels of my mind inevitably gum up on me.)  I begin each day with a few paragraphs in my journal.  Just enough to verify that I am capable of documenting my thoughts.  And then I begin by reading my opening.  Reacting to my own writing.  Fixing what I don’t like.  Changing wording.  Providing more context.  Then I get to the end of what I think of as ‘the book.’  Everything after that is just broad brush strokes.   And then I work on the next paragraph of the story.  Tomorrow I will edit today.

NaNoWriMo meets Shut Up & Write!

On Monday evenings I like to go to Durham for Shut Up & Write!  I began going around February or March of this year.  It’s a way to get together and hang out with other writers for the purpose of writing.  We meet at 6 pm.  There is usually fifteen minutes for people to socialize.  Then there are quick group-wide introductions where we share our names and what we are working on.  A timer is set for one hour.  And then we work.

After the first hour, there is a break.  And then we do a second hour. During the sessions, no one talks.  Everyone writes.  There is something about sitting down with other writers and committing to an hour of work, together.  Maybe peer pressure plays a part.  But I find that during those two hours each week I can often get a surprising amount accomplished.

Last week I began narrating the NaNoWriMo novel in a certain voice.  I was able to maintain that voice for several days.  But by late last week I had to switch out of that voice, and start describing the book to myself.  I am not a pure pants-ter.  As ideas for structure come to me, I build that structure out.  I write with Scrivener, so building structure into the story is easy.  For me, this is necessary.  I can’t just write, page after page, from beginning to end.  I have to sketch out key scenes that define the story first.

Last night, I spent two solid hours sketching the full story.  Trying to identify all of the characters I will need to get to the end of the book.   Then I began trying to imagine their little world.  Their concerns.  Their issues.  Their hangups.  It was a very productive session.  But there is so much more still to do.

NaNoWriMo puts a focus on word counts.  But when describing a story to myself, I try to only make brief statements identifying the core developments of the story within that scene.  I try not to be wordy when describing the book to myself.  I don’t want to inflate my sense of accomplishment.

That said, last night I set a goal of reaching 5K total words.  I couldn’t make that happen during the Shut Up & Write session.  I got close.  I left for home needing 255 more words.  Once home again, I was able finally able to slip back into voice and begin write.  I called it a day when I got to 5010 words.

A Creative Grind

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Last week I didn’t post anything. I was too close to a creative moment, and I was too distracted channeling the creative vision to break out of that and try to describe it to others. Does this make any sense?

Last Wednesday began with journaling. I wound up making a lot of notes. These notes helped me see something within my narrative. Some potential.  After writing those notes, I couldn’t stop thinking about them.  Later that day I tried to post something here on this blog. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the morning’s notes.   The blog had to take a back seat.  By Thursday, I had missed a self-imposed deadline. I decided not to beat myself up about it. I would just move forward. I still had those notes on my mind.  I got back to work and expanded on what I had written the day before.

Those notes then went into the model of the book I am building. In my last post, I mentioned using mind-mapping software to build out models for this book. I have created a number of models over the past few years. Each one getting closer to my vision. As I worked with the current model, began to feel that the moment was at hand. I have been building these models to help me think about what I have said, and what needs to be said, as I write. Without the models I’m writing into a void. I can’t just wing this narrative without some structure.  This is too complicated for a seat-of-the-pants approach.

I need to see all of the talking points and where the statements have to be made within the narrative in order to keep the suspense, while still informing the reader. I began building these models with the conviction that at some point writing the book would become fairly easy.  At some point, with enough development, I anticipated that the model would trigger the narrative with a mere gaze.  Working with the mind-map this week,  I began responding to the model in just this way.  Two days ago I began a new Scrivener project.  I needed a fresh blank slate for this draft. Yesterday I began composing.  Today the opening began to expand.