NaNoWriMo 2018: So You Think You Want To Write A Novel.2

This is the second post covering our five partners in prewriting for NaNoWriMo. In the first I wrote about Character, and Premise and here are GENRE, STORY, and SETTING.

GENRE

Typically, the first question people pose when they find out you’re a writer is “What genre do you write?” Those are the categories publishers use to market your book – like romance, sci-fi, mystery, women’s lit, horror. The labels you’ll find on the shelves of your local bookstore.

Since you haven’t started writing your book yet you needn’t worry about how Barnes and Noble is going to be shelving your epic five-part series on the life and times of your eccentric neighbor Jebediah: the Gerbil Herder.

You have to delve deeper.

What I know about genre, and the need to fulfill its convention, and obligatory scenes comes from Shawn Coyne. If I could only pick one book to recommend to you, it would be his. Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

Barring you reading that in the next few weeks, here’s an overview and links to the specific articles on StoryGrid that are relative to this post. Better yet, skip everything I’ve written and listen to Shawn’s podcast The Story Grid for NaNoWriMo.

Still here? I shall soldier on, though you may regret this. There are five distinct categories  that together explain the type of writing you are undertaking that collective add up to genre. Determining these will guide your decisions as you write. If you are a confirmed pantser and find this story structure too fiddly – feel free skip all this.

The categories are, Time, Reality, Style, Structure, and Content. A detailed explanation can be found here, Genre’s Five Leaf Clover. Shawn’s work covers other creative writing like film and plays but I’m not going to reference them since our focus is on novels.

Time: This is the length of your work, ie, Short (short stories), Medium (novellas), Long (novels).

Reality: Factualism (refers to facts of history or biography, implying “This Story Did Happen”), Realism (stories that could happen but are imagined), Absurdism (stories that are not remotely real, satire, or dark-humor…see this list), Fantasy (stories of wonder and imagination that require a suspension of disbelief, the type of which is delineated by three subgenres: human, magical, sci-fi).

Style: the ways we experience a story. Drama, Comedy, Documentary, Musical, Dance, Literary (under which you’ll find poetry, Minimilism, Meta, and Post-Modern), Theatrical, Cinematic, Epistolary (qualities of letters…see this list).Cartoons (anthropomorphized silliness).

Structure: Archplot (classic story structure we all recognize, a hero’s journey, action movies,), Miniplot (often multiple protagonist, stories concern the inner lives, rather than the external of Archplots), Antiplot (breaks all the rules).

Content: This is what you think of as genre in general, but deeper and more specific. Content Genre is broken into two categories, internal and external.

Bear with me. I know this is getting long.

External: These stories are driven by a global external value and its positive and negative charge. 

  • Action—Life/Death,
  • Horror—Life/Fate Worse than Death (Damnation),
  • Crime—Justice/Injustice,
  • Western—Individual/Society, Freedom/Civilization,
  • War—Righteous/Corrupt,
  • Thriller—Life/Death…possibility of Damnation with a combination of Justice/Injustice (a merging of Action, Horror and Crime),
  • Society—the value at stake determines the subgenre, for example the Domestic story is about the Individual/Family dynamic,
  • Love—Love/Hate/Self-Hate/Hate masquerading as Love,
  • Performance—Respect/Shame 

Internal: These are stories driven by the nature of the protagonist/s inner conflict.

  • Status—Success/Failure moving from one ladder of society to another.
  • Worldview—a change in life experience from one value charge to its opposite,
  • Morality—a change/revolution of the protagonist’s inner moral compass

When I first read StoryGrid this is where I got terrified and my brain stopped working. It has taken me well over a year to fully grasp all this and I’m still a bit fuzzy on some details, especially the internal stuff.  No worries if this seems overwhelming. There is no test. You only need grasp some of this to get going, not all of it. And there is a hell of lot more info on the website than I could possibly cover. If this interests you, have fun going down that rabbit hole.

The Saga Begins

That’s a Weird Al Yankovic remake of American Pie about Star Wars.

Grab a whiskey or rye, we’re going to pick something from every category.

As an example, my novel The Illusion of Marriage, it is Long-Form (novel), Realism (it’s a family drama about marriage), Literary (character driven), Miniplot (I have multiple protagonist and plot lines), Content is External:Love, Internal:Worldview…I think.

I’m still fiddling around with internal content genre. It could be Worldview or Morality, I haven’t narrowed it down (I haven’t decided!). I still have more listening to do of the Editor’s Roundtable discussions and rereading these articles, part 1 and part 2 and part 3.

And that’s okay. We start off in one direction and sometimes end somewhere else evolving into completely different story. Point being it wasn’t until I had the whole story out that I could revise it into a better told story following these guidelines. For now, you are just trying to give yourself some parameters, not hold your story telling hostage to conform.

However, I believe if you are blindingly writing without knowing your story’s genre and its obligatory scenes and conventions then ultimately your story will be incongruent with the expectation your reader has for it. Not to mention wasting precious time and energy producing writing that will need to be edited out. What you can aim for is knowing enough about what you’re going to write to avoid that happening.

Let’s say you are a blank slate. Look at the Genre’s Five Leaf Clover, choose the easy things first.

TIME: Long (easy since we know we’re writing novels).

Reality: Reality? What to you read the most of? Science fiction? Then Fantasy.

Style: Perhaps you have a funny bone? Comedy it is.

Structure: You’ll have a single protagonist, the hero of the story that’s Archplot.

Content:? Pull up that link to the Genre’s Five Leaf Clover.

Try this exercise: Read through them and decide what kind of story would you like to tell. You’ve chosen a comedic sci-fi already, where can you go from there? Pick a category from the yellow section (external) of the content leaf.

  • Horror: Supernatural – a poltergeist slapstick?
  • Love: Testing – an amnesiac time lord keeps forgetting where he leaves his wife?
  • Thriller: Political – Wrong species of president is elected, a farce for sure (I know where you can get some material for that one).
  • Crime: Courtroom – Earth is issued an interplanetary injunction for crime abasing nature?
  • Crime: Murder Mystery – Alien rewritten as a cozy mystery? There’s already a cat.
  • Performance: Sports – a human competes for the first time in the Multi-Universe Olympics? I could play this game all day. Try it, see what you come up with.

Once you decide on genre, you can figure out what the conventions and obligatory scenes are for that genre. Unfortunately, it is way too broad a topic to delve into here, but if you have specific questions, ask in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer. Or you can search Shawn’s site Genres have Conventions and Obligatory Scenes.

P.S. Something else I want to mention, but doesn’t require much thought from you at this point – if you endeavoring to pitch your novel to a traditional publishing house –  read this article, The AutoDidact’s Dilemma.

STORY

If you are intimidated by all that genre stuff, start here. Where do ideas come from? Everywhere, and anywhere. They appear while you are reading other things, writing a grocery list, driving to the dentist. While you were doing the exercise above?

Get in to the habit of jotting down the things you observe everyday. The way someone walks, the color of a flower, a scene taking place before you. The people in line at the grocery store. Get into the habit of extrapolating informations from the little quirks, mannerism, word choices, that you see and hear. Turn them into character sketches. I insist…you must have the means of capturing your thoughts at all times.

Record a message on your phone, or have a small notebook in your purse or pocket. I have them everywhere.  I’m serious about this being a must. You will forget that crucial and inspiring plot point the second it leaves your consciousness…except for knowing that you had it. That will drive you crazy. Write it down.

There are different elements of story you can start with.

1. Primary Event

2. Story Arc, Beginning, Middle and End,

3. Intriguing Situation that Immediately Suggests Cast of Characters in Conflict.

4. Character

5. Genre: Type of Story You Want to Write (Yay…WE COVERED THIS ONE!)

It doesn’t matter what comes first, so long as it inspires you to ask, “And then what happens?”

The Illusion of Marriage first played out like a movie, just the last scene for years before I wrote the whole story. I had a backstory for the male main character, and partially plotted out a another novel about his mother before I ever wrote the central story.

I’ve written fully fleshed out characters inspired by photographs of homeless people, from random observations (a woman running with her dog that was carrying a dirt old shoe prompted a profile of a killer who happens to see them and know the shoe is a clue to where he buried the body. What is he going to do about that?) Idea are everywhere. You just have to keep asking the question, AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED?

Did you do the genre exercise? Try one of those ideas and apply it to one of the other five elements of story above. I’ll do Crime: Murder Mystery – Alien rewritten as a cozy mystery, and Primary Event. First, I look up cozy mystery and I make a list of the obligatory scenes and convention of the genre.

A reader would expect these things…it takes place in a small town/community/village where everyone has know each other for generations, at least socially. The sleuth is always an amateur, typically a woman who works a job that brings her in contact with many people and places. She’ll have a friend/relative who is a police officer. She’ll be intuitive, nosy, and smart. Those around her will be eccentric, quirky, comical, and clueless.

The antagonist will be a community member, hidden in plain sight. There is little violence, the murder happens off the page to another community member. The murderer will have a rational, long-term reasons for the act. There is little sex, or profanity.  It will be part of a series which will have a theme, ie, hobbies, cats, dogs, food, games, etc.

Then I’d refresh my memory by looking up the plot of Alien. And I’d watch the movie again.

After I read Alien’s plot I started thinking about the movie Hot Fuzz. Hot Fuzz is basically a cozy mystery but with violence and hilarity. The primary event for Alien is when they land on the moon and find the eggs. In my cozy mystery, their ship is much like the town in Hot Fuzz which is heralded as “The safest ship in the Universe.” It’s very clean and bright. The crew is sunny, mild, and inane, save the one intellectual crew member, Ripley. They respond to the distress signal on the deserted moon and find…?

It’s thread you just keep pulling and reknit back together to make something else. Rather than remake the that whole movie, maybe I pull Ripley out and put her in Hot Fuzz. Or I put PC Nicholas Angel in Alien see what he makes of those shenanigans.

SETTING

Last one, we’re almost done!

Sometimes, it is a time or place that captures our heart and inspires us. Do you love history and think you should have been born in another era? Use that. Wish you were a fly on the wall during a seminal music session of your favorite band? Start with that witness character. Have a passion for Japan in the 1920’s? Do you imagine being present at The First Women’s Rights Convention? The beginnings of the sexual revolution? These are all types of setting you can place you story and characters.

Shawn describes setting as four dimensions.

  • Period: where the story’s place is in time (present, future, historical past). The details of ones dress, the manner in which they speak, these are all determined by the period of time the characters inhabit.
  • Duration: the story’s length and time. How long is this character undergoing these changes? Does it take place in a week, months, years, decades? You don’t have to put in dates, but clues to what is happening in the world will frame it for your reader.
  • Location: Where is the story taking place? What space does it take up, the geography, the town, the street, the building, the room? Adding in geographical elements places the reader exactly where on earth this story takes place.
  • Levels of Conflict: “The reason why this is part of the setting is because it gives us a sense of what environment, social environment, the character is under — is being influenced by.”

The three levels of conflict can be utilized in any combination, one, two or all three. I think all three are in Hunger Games

Internal: It’s what is going on inside your characters. Their struggle to achieve their desire is the state they are in (Peeta’s desire for Katniss is what drives him and all his decisions).

Personal: Level of conflict is negotiating one-on-one relationships (Katniss and Peeta, Katniss and the other team members).

Extrapersonal: The struggle against institutions or environments (Katniss against the Capitol).

 

Last Dance

Time to buy me drink!

I hope you found something to write for NaNoWriMo 2018. If not, and you need further inspiration or guidance try one of these links.

Storyist, Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo.

Now Novel, Writing a Novel in a Month

NaNoWriMo, NaNo Prep

Shoot me question in the comment or our FB page if you need more help.

NaNoWriMo 2018: So You Think You Want To Write A Novel.1

I’m breaking this up into parts because…I’m me, and brevity and I are not friends, and there’s a lot of info to cover.

I’m going to briefly describe ways to approach writing a novel for NaNoWriMo. I use a lot of links rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

In my previous post I talked about resistance, and now that you are primed to fight the evil lurking within, let’s talk about how and where to start this project.

Writing for NaNoWriMo is different from other types of writing projects. It is fast-paced, and intense for a reason. You need to dedicate yourself to focused creative writing time in order to get those 50 thousand words in 30 days. No editing!

That is the reason I participate. To quiet the inner editor that doesn’t allow me to get words on the page without constant correction. It is sheer creativity pushed to it’s max. 

As I’ve learned over the years, my process requires a bit of prewriting. And likely, no matter what your process is, you do to. Or not – you be you. 

A Word About Voice and Process

Don’t expect to figured your literary voice right off the bat. It takes trial and error, and a bit of self-reflection to recognize and hone that skill, but you will get there.

Process refers to two things. One is an individual’s rituals and predilections, the other is the steps of writing. There are as many ways to approach writing as there are writers. For our purposes, I will be referring to the steps of writing, not Maya Angelou’s habit of renting hotel rooms, sprawling out on the bed, and day drinking – which I am totally down with.

To learn about the writer’s process, read your favorite authors, see if they have written books or blogged about their writing process.  Research until you have a clear idea of how you might incorporate them into your personal writing practice. Again, it takes time to suss out and likely you’ll fuss about it for years. Pick somewhere to start and go from there.

A good primer on process comes from the two books I’ve already recommended, my go-tos on the matter, Stephen King’s On Writing and Elizabeth George’s Write Away. Each author comes at writing from a completely different perspective, one a pantser, one a plotter.

Here’s an older post on process with links to a few videos.

Beginnings Are Hard

I’m guessing you want to write a novel because you have an idea, or a character, or a message, or a moral…some inspiration that has pushed you to want to tell a story. Those things are merely the sparks, not fully fleshed out ideas, not the things that will carry you through writing an entire novel.

I’ve done NaNoWriMo for 8 years now, and I can confidently say that having a plan is much more helpful than a hindrance to creativity. Sure, some naysayers will decry the lack of spontaneity, claim plotting or prewriting in any form inhibits the muse, or corrals your creativity. That’s hogwash!

Writing is the discovery of story, the journey you are on, not the map you follow. You can stay on course or veer off the route any time, and any place. Because that’s the big secret to writing…DECIDING.

Decide – Does my main character like cheese?  Will he fire his long-term employee over something trivial? Will she drive her car off a cliff? Should the children die? Which character’s point-of-view is more effective? Why should the damsel in distress wait to be saved? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

It’s all decision, and you get to make them. And unlike real life – you can take it all back and start over if you don’t like where you’re going or how it ended. Nothing is written in stone until you’re dead.

Begin The Beguine

That was my mother’s favorite song. I had no idea what a “Beguine” was until a few years ago. It’s a dance…shall we?

Our partners in prewriting are, CHARACTER, PREMISE, GENRE, STORY, and SETTING. You can start with any of them, but if you have no preference, choose premise. Go ahead, pick a partner and hit the floor.

Character

I almost always start with a character. The character will have a problem or a need. There will be complications and conflicts thrown at that character while they try to fix the problem or satisfy their need. If there is no conflict, there is no plot. No plot, no story. 

Once I have a general idea of who I’m dealing with, I write short stories as biographical background to figure out why the character behaves the way they do. What happened to them as children that causes them to react, act, and see the world as they do?  Was there an event or conditioning in their young life that change or shaped them? I need to understand my characters motivation.

Then I make a timeline of their life. When I write the story I will add the plot points, other characters, and events. It’s a big visual help to me to see where everyone is and when they are in relationship to each other. I tend to write stories that span lifetimes. Ya’ll remember that time I lost my timeline? Oh, the despair.

You can use psychological profiles, personality tests, questionnaires, or worksheets to build and develop your characters. They can be a simple as age, height, weight, or as detailed as an FBI serial killer profile.

And, I repeat, ad nauseam “There is not just one way to do this thing!” Pick something and go with it. If it isn’t enough, add another method.

Character development links:

9 Tips for Convincing Arcs

Character and Characterization in Novels

Writer Digest’s Character Development Worksheet

Ultimate Character Questionnaire

Premise and Controlling Idea

The difference between premise and controlling idea is, premise asks the question “What  happens when…?” and the controlling idea is a statement the writer makes to convey her opinion of the premise – kind of the moral of the story. All story decision should be made to support your controlling idea…if you know it. Sometimes you don’t figure that out until you get your story’s first draft out of your head.

I am willing to argue that premise, (in film it’s called a logline,) and the subsequent controlling idea, are the most important aspect to writing and revising a successful story. Without a premise to guide you, how are you making the decision of where to go and what to do? Working that out before you write can act as the grease to your creative wheels. Might not be totally necessary, but it sure makes the journey a lot smoother.

The premise: What happens when… a man with no outdoor skills wants to rescue his soul mate whose trapped on a mountain?

Controlling Idea: A man can overcome any obstacle when motivated by love.

I have a story that started with this supposition: What happens when… a preschool teacher at a religious school is publicly outed as a best-selling erotica author? From that Premise, I wrote the entire story.

When I finally get around to revising it, I’ll need a controlling idea to pull the plot, subplot, characters, and arcs together to support my message. The moral I want my readers to infer, that’s the controlling idea.

My first approximation of it is “When a disruption in education comes, not from a teacher’s moral choices, but from those passing judgment according to their values, society must fight for the rights of the individual.” It’s awful, but you can see where I’m going with this, my point-of-view is obvious. A bit closer… “A teacher’s private life should not be judged by “other’s” values.” Oh well, it stinks too, but I’m getting there.

Recapping: For the purpose of getting through your first NaNo project, a premise is good enough because you might not have the controlling idea nailed down until you’ve finished telling your story.  If you only complete one step in prewriting, make it Premise.

A few links to help you understand Premise and Controlling Idea

They Are Not The Same Thing

Understanding Premise and the One-Sentence Story Concept

Finding a Successful Story Premise: 6 Sources

Because I like to contradict myself, this link promotes developing your controlling idea to use while you write. I agree, it’s more helpful to have it than not, but don’t get stuck on that when you are just beginning to develop your writing process.

A few more thoughts…

Story by Robert McKee has been mentioned a few times in various links. If you haven’t read it, or heard of it, he’s kind of The Godfather of screenwriting. It is one of those book you constantly refer back to and reread. I don’t know many writers who don’t have a copy.

NaNoWriMo members on the boards are the most generous and helpful group of people I’ve ever come across. I have never failed to find answers to my question on the forums.

Please use NaNoWriMo threads, get to know the community better, find interesting ideas and resources that will help you. I was poking around the boards today and found this amazing list by Samma Jaye, on the thread…The Writer’s Quick List which was under the heading Helpful Resource and Sites. It’s so comprehensive I haven’t finished reading it yet.

In the next post I’ll cover the other three steps in prewriting, GENRE, STORY, and SETTING. and I’ll tackle plotting as a separate subject after that.

–Lynne

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2018: Resist!

Resist!

Do you have “writer’s block?” Do you find you’ve lost hours and hours to Pinterest or Facebook when you should have been writing? Do you wander the house doing chores like, dusting the crown moulding? Cause that couldn’t wait another minute, eh? If so, I’d like to introduce you to your nemesis…

RESISTANCE!

Four years ago I wrote a post about this very subject. Resistance is the theme of Steven Pressfield’s seminal work, The War of Art. If you haven’t read it… it is a powerful treatise on identifying and fighting resistance.

I like Steven. He is warm, and generous and reminds me of Joe Biden, often wise, sometimes funny, and once in awhile he comes across like your wacky old uncle Joe…read my resistance post here.

Remember, our enemy is not the lack of preparation: it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of your bank account.

The enemy is Resistance.

The enemy is our chattering brain, which if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self- justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.”

Steven Pressfield from Do the Work

What I’d like most for you to know is that you can work through resistance. You just need to show up and do the work, no matter what, no excuse. Put your butt in the chair and produce something, anything. That’s where NaNoWriMo comes in, 50 thousand words in 30 days leaves no room for doubt, or time for resistance,

Writing is like any other skill. You need to practice. It needs to become a habit to build upon your previous work. You wouldn’t expect to sit down at a piano for the first time, or hundredth time, and expect to be a master of it would you? Even when you do reach mastery, you never stop practicing. Right?

Whatever level you are at, whether it is the first time you’re putting pen to paper, or you are on your tenth novel, the process is the same. Write. Write some more. Do it again tomorrow.

There you go. What stops you from accomplishing your writing goals is resistance. What stops resistance is doing the work.

“Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”

Steven Pressfield

Resources:

Joanna Penn interviewing Steve Pressfield

Steven Pressfield’s archive of articles about Resistance

 

 

Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2018

Greetings WriNoShores and other assorted writer friends!

How about a little warm-up to this year’s NaNoWriMo?

Most of you will have found us through NaNoWriMo, but for those you dragged here by a friend or happenstance, and unfamiliar with this awesome event…read this.

Pantser, Plotter, or Hybrid

For those new to the concepts…a pantser is someone who writes on the fly, a plotter makes decision about their story and and characters before they write, and a hybrid is somewhere in between. How you approach novel writing is personal, and takes time to discover.

My advise is to read about your favorite author’s process. Two books I recommend are Stephen King’s On Writing and Elizabeth George’s Write Away. Both are masters in their genres, and attack writing from very different perspectives.

I’m going to keep this post short and poll you on the Facebook Page as to what subjects you might like to delve into, or questions you might have about writing, and NaNoWriMo. Feel free to ask here too if FB isn’t your thing. Or follow us on Twitter.

More info for newbies and prepping for this November event can be found here on the NaNoWriMo website.

 

–Lynne

 

 

 

2018 Schedule of Write-Ins at Lynne’s House and Sundays at Atomic Cafe with Julia

Here they are…your important dates for 2018!

Tuesday Night Write-Ins at Lynne’s House

Jan: 9 & 23

Feb: 13 & 27

Mar: 13 & 27

Apr: 10 & 24

May: 8 & 22

Jun: 12 & 26

Jul: 10 & 24

Aug: 14 & 28

Sep: 11 & 25

Oct: 9 & 23

Sundays at Atomic Cafe with Julia

Jan: 7 & 14

Feb: 4 & 18

Mar: 4 & 18

Apr: 1 & 15

May: 6 & 20

Jun: 3 & 17

Jul: 1 & 15

Aug: 5 &19

Sep: 2 & 16

Oct: 7 & 21

2017 Schedule of Write-Ins at Lynne’s House and Sundays at Atomic Cafe with Julia

Here are the dates for Write-In’s at Lynne’s House for 2017.
They are the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month, 6-9pm.

Jan 10, 24
Feb 14, 28
Mar 14, 28
Apr 11, 25
May 9, 23
Jun 13, 27
July 11, 25
Aug 8, 22
Sep 12, 26
Oct 10, 24

November is reserved for NaNoWriMo. See their website for scheduled write-ins
December we don’t schedule Write-Ins, but check back here for updates and news about any other meetings or write-ins that get scheduled.

UPDATE: Julia is hosting Sunday’s Write-In at The Atomic Cafe in Beverly the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month, 11am-3pm (they open at 8 so feel free to come earlier if you want!).

Jun 4, 18
July 2, 16
Aug 6, 20
Sep 3, 17
Oct 1, 15

 

NaNoWriMo 2016

Another year has passed, and it is once again time to start planning for NaNoWriMo.

There is a crisp chill in the air here on the North Shore. Rather than autumn feeling like a time of waning I am invigorated by the change of season.  I want to be outside in the  swirling burnt-leaf tinged air, low sun warming my cheeks.

If you participate in NaNoWriMo, this time of year may also bring a slight tremble to your hand and gentle prodding of your brain. Then the pleading begins “Please, let me think of something to write before November 1st!”

Sedate bees float by seemingly lost in the decaying garden. The low cruising geese honk in unison as they materialize over the tree top startling the dog.  I cast about for a plot, a scenario, a tidbit of inspiration.

It is a romantic notion, the muse is. I don’t imagine an unseen entity sprinkling writing dust full of ideas over my head. To me it is work, the enjoyable welcome work of having to think and notice and feel and consider and contemplate. The blank page doesn’t frighten me…apparently finishing does.

This is my 7th year of NaNoWriMo. Another WIP to add to the growing file of unfinished work.  I think a few of them are good. Good enough to finish and put out in the world. Why I haven’t is hard to articulate.

It would be easy to blame the usual writer laments, fear of failure, fear of success, imposter syndrome,  all are valid. Yet, I don’t feel any ownership of them. Which leaves me still wondering, why haven’t I finished? Do I lack the ambition to self-publish?

I thought of not participating this year, or not starting something new. Giving myself the ultimatum “No new novels until you complete one.” But, the process of coming up with a story, imagining what’s next, developing the characters, and words flowing by the hundreds, is the part I like best. I need this part.

I will finish something. It’s getting too embarrassing not to. I was ashamed to admit to someone last week that I have spent the last seven years writing yet having nothing to show for it.

As I watched my friend Satin hand her book over to a buyer, I had my deep pang of jealousy that caught me off-guard. I wanted that. I wanted to be able to say, “Hey, I have a copy of my book in the car, I’ll just run our there and get it for you.”

I’m also tremendously proud of her.  She’s well on her way to her second novel’s finish line. And having had the honor of being an early reader, I know how hard she’s worked to make this one better than the first. Writing only improves with practice, a practice that needs to include finishing and moving on to the next work. She’s my inspiration.

I’m not sure what I’m writing this year but I know as soon as the month is over, I’ll be setting it aside to finish my previous work. No more hoping I’ll be finished by some imaginary date.  May 1st is my deadline to hand over The Illusion of Marriage to my beta readers. I’m trusting you all to hold me to it.