It’s that time of year again. Who’s ready to NaNoWriMo?
Before we get down to raising our word counts, let’s kick November off in style! You are cordially invited to come to our potluck and meet other writers in the Massachusetts North Shore area.
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.
Happy New Year!
As usual I’m scheduling them 2nd and 4th Tuesdays. Looks like I don’t need to change any of the dates this year. Here it is.
January: 12th and 26th
February: 9th and 23rd
March: 8th and 22nd
April: 12th and 26th
May: 10th and 24th
June: 14th and 28th
July: 12th and 26th
August: 9th and 23rd
September: 13 and 27th
October: 11th and 25th
November: See NaNoWrIMo Scheduled Write-ins
December: None Scheduled.
Oops, we did it again!
Can you believe we have another year of NaNoWriMo under our belts? This is the 6th for me, 7th for Sara, and 12th or so for Sara-with-an-h.
What keeps us coming back?
Each other. At least for me, more than the writing itself, the company I keep has become the greatest compelling force (at least until I finish something).
Seriously, you guys keep me going-kept me going this year. After my sister’s death I did not think I would be up for this. Once we got going though I couldn’t help but find my voice, my story and once again, my writing friends.
I’m grateful for your support and ears and words. The readings at the TGIO Party rocked ! So much talent, so many different stories, so diverse a community-though the commonality of quite a lot of us seeming to have no trouble killing the innocent-that’s slightly disturbing.
To the newbies who joined us this year, I hope we lived up to your expectations. Let us know if there is anything that you would have changed, or if you have suggestions for next year-you will be back-we welcome your input.
Thank you to all the regulars, those stalwarts who continue meeting all year at my house or Plum Island Coffee Roasters.
As usual, we’re taking a break in December but I’ll be posting the 2016 schedule in the coming weeks.
Enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate, but keep writing.
See you in the New Year!
“Sometimes me think ‘what is friend?’ and then me say ‘Friend is someone to share last cookie with.'” Cookie Monster
For the second year in a row a few us WriNoShores headed to Maine to spend a long weekend with Sara Leahy at her tiny cabin in the woods.
Rather than give a detailed account of the events, which basically consisted of laughing, writing, imbibing, eating, singing, dancing, and laughing a whole lot more, another aspect of our gathering emerged. An activity that struck me as greatly important–conversation.
We spent much of our time talking, and questioning one another on all manner of life’s little complexities. So much so, it stood out to me as being something rather extraordinary that I needed to reflect on.
I’ve know these women for a few years now, several for five or more and Sara and I are as close as women get to being sisters without sharing DNA. Over this time we’ve built a circle of trust through the shared terror of reading our work aloud. But this weekend there seemed to be a yearning for connection and significant dialogue that was deeper and more palpable and unrelated to writing.
Though we have exposure and access to one another through social media, email, Skype, texting, etc, there is seemed to be a wholehearted desire for one-on-one conversation. To be present and able to react and respond in the moment. Too see the tears, the grimaces, and the hand gestures that accompany retold tales.
Perhaps, the connection through electronics isn’t as sincere as face-to-face, where editing ourselves has become a reflex. We need to sputter and spit and sigh and groan our way through a story to get real in the moment feedback and challenges to our thoughts.
There’s nothing like making each other laugh. I loved the ease with which we spoke, the faith in one another obvious. I held back nothing. I’m sure others were just as candid. Am I the only one who sensed this momentous shift? The deepening of bonds?
I stopped myself several times during the weekend to write about it. Because that’s what we do, write. We examine life through language, through words on paper. We interpret, filter and assimilate into new narratives everything our senses consume. It’s a solo endeavor even when we are together.
That might be why these gatherings–where we are able to spend time talking without our usual distractions–have become so necessary and coveted. We are uniquely ourselves here. Not mother, daughter, wife, employee, just us– friends me share last cookie with.
Here’s a terrific interview from author Edith Maxwell, member of the Newburyport Writers Group, from her blog series-Ask the Expert.
Seth Godin’s blog post this morning struck a nerve for me (it’s only four lines–go read it)
Not only is it super easy for us to think of ourselves as critics worth listening to, but writers worth reading.
Let’s never mind the critics since they are so unreliable. How do we determine whether our efforts deserve the reader’s time and money? Or even our own time and resources?
Do you care about the quality of your work? By whose standards do you measure it?
Do you even question the works value? Or is producing it the payback? What makes a work so self-serving merit readers attention?
If you haven’t considered whether the work you are producing is worthy of what you are asking for it (a reader’s time and money) then you are a hack.
But, that’s just my opinion, take it for it’s worth.
An amazing local event the Newburyport Literary Festival 2015 kicks-off Friday, April 24th with opening ceremony conversation between Michael Blanding, bestselling author of The Map Thief, and Boston-based investigative journalist Dyke Hendrickson, followed by dinner with the authors. While the dinner cost 50.00, the event is free. Crazy I know, but what an accomplishment by the festival organizers!
Saturday, April 25th begins with an informal breakfast and conversation with poets at 8:30 am, and closes at 7 pm, this year honoring Jean Doyle, teacher, historian, and author. What comes between those two is no less than 50 scheduled events.
The plethora of writers across genre, and forms is quite astounding. See the full schedule here. I don’t know how I’m going to chose from the many talented, interesting and compelling authors.
If you’ve never been to this event, here’s what happens. First marvel at the schedule. Choose your favorites though have back up choices as some events fill quickly and occasionally there has been a cancellation. Set out for the venue which is, for most people, an easy stroll around the town. They are held in bookstores, the arts center, many churches, the library, and The Firehouse Center. It is busy but pleasantly so. Even a rainy day doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd. Go sit, listen, ask questions, engage with your seat mates. Talk to everybody and anybody they are all there for the same reason you are-their love of literature, reading, writing and authors.
One of my favorite events and always impressive is Annual Youth Poetry Slam happening at 2:30 at the Greek Orthodox Church. If you’re looking for me, you can catch-up with me there.
I hope everyone can attend, you needn’t be there for the whole day. There’s no check-ins, or tickets (except the dinner) no pressure, it’s just an enjoyable day spent immersed in the writer’s world.
Afterwards: Did you love it? Please consider a donation to support this exceptionally well run and captivating event.
Looking to start the editing process? I am too. I’ve started with Shawn Coyne’s site The Story Grid and am still working my way through it.
I’ve linked to this before but haven’t elaborated on its content. And because I think your time is precious and you should be writing or reading what is most relevant to you I’m only going to briefly say this…I find this site to be the clearest and most effective resource for clarifying your plot, getting down to the very basics of what your story is, and needs to be. Go.
Woot! Wednesday Woo is back for 2015!
I considered changing the title and focusing on something other than linking to information I find helpful or interesting, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
A reminder of the topics cover in 2014: Research, Criticism, Advice From Writers, Process, Resistance, Structure, Book Covers, Professionals, Procrastination, The End?, Beta Readers, Success, Business of Writing, More Business of Being a Writer, Plotting, Writing Communities, Writing Communities-Online, Music to Write By. I’ll start this year off with a few questions.What can I do to help you? Is there a topic you’d like to suggest for the Wednesday Woo? Is there a topic I already covered that you’d like to see expanded on?I personally would like to find out more about the editing process, so look for that post soon.