Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So I won NaNo.

Seems to me like such a funny thing to say. It seems disingenuous in fact considering all the crap I let myself put down on paper over the course of the past month (NaNo = National Novel Writing Month). I was skeptical about the idea of winning NaNo before I even started. I firmly believe that in writing, as in children's sports, there is no winning or losing just how you play the game.

Well, that's a little simplistic, isn't it? We can win. There is money, popularity, good reviews, word counts. But the mind plays tricks and sometimes believing we are winners stops us up just as much as believing we are losers.

So I guess everything I needed to win NaNo, I already knew. I had learned it from yoga, from my crying daughter, from depression, from cleaning the house, from children's sports. There is only the moment and only discipline. All you can do is spend time doing what you love or whatever it is you need to get done. And the whole world is just fluctuations between those two things. And sometimes the things I love morph into the things I just need to get done but they usually morph back again - thank, God.

So yeah I deserve to win for pure tenacity. And I truly did win because I learned to trust my process. I found it validating to circle around my novel like a hawk. In the past I assumed my brain was disabled or something, not able to fly straight. This time I let it circle. And found it was heading straight down river but ever looking for prey. I discovered that when my gut is bored or disgusted with the words, it is just as well to stop and circle.

What do I have now that I am done? A book, mostly in long winded synopsis form, summary complete with motivation and character. I have to flesh out the last third into scene. And probably rewrite much of the beginning. (Oh is that all?) And I have the banner, which is darn good looking, right? I have more faith and I have fear and a very blank December ahead of me writing wise. I have been doing my morning pages as I had promised myself - 750 words every morning since I won, regardless of whether I want to or not. And it is a heck of a lot easier than the 2500 that I was doing for the first twenty days of NaNo. I think I need to commit myself to the next thing - whatever it is. Set my sights toward that and the discipline will follow. So yeah I guess I am a winner.

And I do have The Practice Room to keep me going. Come check out the schedule through the door on the right. Commit yourself. Thank goodness it is only for an hour and then you can get on with the rest of your life. Or some days it is the reverse of that, an hour that holds the rest of your life at bay while you do something that you love. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Facing the Word Count

I am re-posting this from awhile back. Remember? It is the Rube Goldberg machine video from OK Go (Yes, apparently it is OK Go week. What can I say? Their videos are relevant to creativity and that is what I am all about).

Jon reminded me of this video with a take on it different than what I gleaned from it awhile back.  It came up when I mentioned my feelings of insecurity as I write the new WIP. He told me to write on through and to watch this video again. The title of the song is in fact "This too Shall Pass." Why I didn't get it before I don't know guess I am obtuse (like that was ever in question). The idea of pushing through adversity no matter what destruction will befall you. No matter how many pieces of toast (this video) or that the TV and the piano will be crushed in the melee.

I am cruising on my NaNo word count. At this particular moment I have 43,124 words since the month began (I will add 2,500 by the end of the day. That is my daily goal till I hit 50,000 on Saturday. After that I plan on still writing everyday but I will ease way back to 750.). I am somewhere in the middle of my novel with just the barest of ideas of what will happen as I get to the end. I keep having to resubmit to the messy process and push on. This is when the doubts creep in. Is the thing I'm making gonna be pleasant to anyone else, make sense, be obtuse like me? The not knowing what is ahead is painful. It is like being in pitch black scary darkness. But the fact that it has worked this far - that I have reached the middle and there already is the tiniest light on up ahead - might mean I could make it the whole way. I guess it is a lot quieter then the OK Go video, but I feel the destruction on the inside. Facing it is the hardest part.

The Practice Room helps. It is humming along, keeping me disciplined. Come write with us. Be amazed with how productive you can be (obtuse or not, The Practice Room keeps me honest). Check out the schedule through the door at the right.

Monday, November 8, 2010

How I Write: NaNo

I have been really liking my project. My goal is 2,500 words a day so that I will be done in time to properly host my parents when they come for Thanksgiving. So far I have been managing to get my words in, even last week when I spent 17 hours at my kids' school's book fair (today I still have 2000 to do).

It seems to help when I let myself start with a meditation on the page. I summarize the book following whatever nonsense flows from my fingertips, then ideas and scenes kind of come out of nowhere about nowhere in particular in the story. So my NaNo document involves a sort of outline by summery between expanded scenes that circle all over the time line. Sometimes I summarize plot points, other times emotions and conflicts After I am done writing my words for the day, I copy and paste everything in roughly in the right order (each scene has its own text document and title in Scrivener). I have a NaNo document that is a mess, including all attempts at brainstorming and repetitions of scenes and a Scrivener doc that I keep neatish!

I have never let myself write so crazily. We'll see if it keeps working.

The last couple of days has been harder. I'm tapped and insecurity has got a hold on me. So the message at yoga this morning was: Trust. And that resonated.

One month and then its gone. Hit select all and delete and all 50 thousand words are gone. But practice counts. Next time I will do this even better. For now, I am trusting. Trusting that this idea is good enough, trusting that my fabulous critique partners will help me make it better when the time comes, trusting that practice makes perfect and not the other way around.

Please check out The Practice Room's schedule through that door off to the right. How do you write?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lookit! - The New Me

Thanks to Jon. Do you still recognize me? Check out The Practice Room, it's all new too. I am getting all streamlined here and will continue to make it more so.

So do you want to know what it is like to work with Jon. FUN! He says things like: I'm all yours and you tell me what you want and I will try to make it work. I am not the first person he has done this for just look at Heather's and Tracy has a fine chalk talk button, and of course their is the quiet but beautiful wibij. So to start, he threw out a mock up and then let me respond. What if we tweak this? Adjust that? We did all of it on google chat. He'd make a change and email me the jpeg and then we'd compare the two colors if only we could write manuscripts with the same kind of constant feedback. So voila! Here it is! He's a marvel and I love it.  Thank you, J!

The final process was coaching me through uploading all the jpegs and fussing with all of Blogger's fine tuning. Now in front of your eyes is part Jon's impeccable taste and vision. Part Jon's take on me and my two little blog spaces and part my influence as we jiggered around a bit. Process is always so lovely (unless it is painful, as it frequently is) and once again beautiful in collaboration! Many hands make the work light or so they say and that is what I hope for NANO as well. You did not think you would make it through this whole post without a mention of NaNo did you?

This NaNo has really coincided with a bunch of things that have made it possible to be rewriting myself right now. Part of the change will be how I write this NaNo novel. My old one just finished itself up and was a sort of master class in writing a novel, so my approach to NaNo will reflect what I have learned. My plan: slow and steady like a turtle. Thoughtful writing. Yet not too thoughtful! I will summarize the scenes I'm not prepared to write yet and focus on quality over quantity. And yet I am not going to fuss much. This is about forward momentum and staying true to the story and getting the words in!

I should be writing my NaNo novel right now!