If you want to be a writer, write… right? That’s what they tell us. That’s what we hear no matter what we want to be. A singer, an artist… even a doctor or accountant although those don’t sound nearly as poetic since a doctor doesn’t doct. I’ve always wanted to write. And I’ve always written. But not nearly enough. And while I can trace the mistakes back to my choice of college, no one is going to give me a redo on the last 21 years of my life. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I quit my job. I started writing. But not enough. Not nearly enough.
There is a certain fear that came with the whole quitting the job, moving back to Vermont thing. This idea of, “Well, now you have to do it.” And there is something really scary about that. The doing it part. So I made a LOT of plans. I will write every morning. But then I would walk the dogs. And I’m one of those people who loves a list. Lives by a schedule. And if I don’t do something on the list I get all freaked out and then say, “I will start tomorrow.”
But I’m also a person who really likes to start things on Mondays. And firsts of the months. Firsts of the months that fall on Mondays are, by far, my preferred day to start things. There are not many of those.
Again: it’s the fear. And this is my way around the fearing. Knowing that I am neurotic enough that I will not write because I walked the dogs. That gives me a lot of room to put off writing.
That said, Football Season (I capitalize this because I live with a Football Fan… capital eff all the way) is, historically, a great time for me to write. I write on Sundays, I write on Monday and Thursday nights. Because I don’t understand the first thing about football. And I don’t care to. And Kris and I are in one of those relationships where he is never going to write a story and I am never going to learn football. He’s never going to go geocaching with me and I’m never going to start golfing. And that’s okay. Because this football season has come and with it a concerted effort of mine to do two things.
First: Fucking WRITE. Yes, I said “fucking”. I swear. A lot. And for this I make no apologies. I don’t swear around children or the elderly or strangers so we’re all good. If you have a problem with swearing send me an email or write a comment below and I will — Um, that’s sarcasm. If you can’t take that or swearing my blog is probably not a good place for you.
Second: Stop scheduling writing.
That second one has taken my breath away a few times. Despite working my way through the Gotham Writer’s Workshop which says to schedule 5 hours a week I’m not going to do it. Because, after nearly 4 decades, I have learned that that is how I get out of writing. That is how I give into the fear that I will never publish (I give into this fear by not writing which is the only proven way to actually not get published. Because logic is my forte.)
Guess what. I’m writing! Like I’m writing pretty regularly. I don’t want to talk about how much or when or the times of day I like it because I need to quit doing that and just WRITE. Part of this writing thing is because of #2. Some of it is #1. But a lot of it are other random things. So here are the hows, whys and whats of my writing life at the moment.
How, Why, and What I’m Writing
Yup. Those crazy, deadline driven contests. I signed up for the Flash Fiction challenge a few months ago. They start on a Friday night at midnight and your submission is due on Sunday at midnight. 48 hours to think up, write, edit, edit, edit, get feedback, edit, edit, edit and submit. And since I am cheap, I always get my stories done because I would hate to pay the $40 and not take advantage of the forced writing (which brings out brilliance in my work) and the critiques.
I submitted my Round 2 story on Sunday. I got Romantic Comedy, Nuclear Power Plant, A Jar of Honey (wtf?) and had an idea that ended up being far too many words. After some serious cutting and awesome feedback from two writers (Ana* and Carrie) I met through #flashfictionchallenge on Twitter I whittled it down to 994 before having a phone call with my first NaNoFriend (see next section) (who is so much more all these years later) to finish finding and eradicating the editing scars: places where I left references to characters whom I’d already killed, etc.
I ended up with something I ended up really liking (I’m not allowed to share it yet) and it has actually grown from a seed into my 2016 NaNoNovel…
So last year I put in an application to be a Municipal Liaison for NaNo. For those who are not familiar NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place every November. I have participated since 2009 (except for 10 and 11) and won most years. WON means I successfully completed a novel of 50,000 words. You basically write the shit out of a plot for 30 consecutive days. You can’t stop and overthink it (guess what happened the years I lost?). At the end you have a rough draft. MLs, or Municipal Liasons, are people in areas all around the world who act as local coordinators/cheerleaders/therapists and whatever else local participants need. In Michigan there was an ML in every freaking city. In Vermont? One. While we are a small state, it takes a long time to get from Point A to Point B so there were ZERO local events. Zilch. In Michigan I went to write-ins (informal meetings of local writers who sit around and type furtiously while drinking coffee and scowling at their daily word counts) every single day, including weekends. In Vermont it was me and another writer. She was awesome but a night owl. I’m awesome but morning
is was my jam.
I got the email a few weeks ago that I am an ML this year which means I’ll be able to promote NaNo here in Southern VT and hopefully engage some local businesses and writers to get the heck involved. I should talk to the guy who owns the local bookshop and asked me if I wanted to do a reading when he heard about my NYCMidnight first round. Um, no. But thank you. Eventually.
My hope is that I can get some writer-types together at different times for the camaraderie I miss so much that was apparent in Michigan’s NaNo community. I’m very excited to work with Bailey and Sarah, the other two ML’s to make this year’s NaNo a fun one for newbies and veterans alike.
Speaking of which… if you’ve ever thought “One day I’ll write a novel.” that day is coming! Check out NaNoWriMo and consider signing up!
Still Life With Bees
I’m super excited to share it here first. A sneak peek at my 2016 NaNoNovel!
Ashleigh has a predictable life, a predictable boyfriend, and a predictable future working at the nuclear power plant in Hollywood, Alabama. Well, she had those things. Enter Steve Jones, the high ranking soldier assigned to protect the plant. He lives in a one room bungalow outside of town. Steve doesn’t really understand the workings and dangers of the plant, constantly causing a need for massive cleanups and shutdowns. He will also, in a matter of days, cause Ashleigh to question everything she thinks she knows about life, love, and pants. A romantic comedy for those nostalgic for the late 90’s and early 00’s Still Life with Bees explores one woman’s choice between an orderly life and one where sometimes you just have to live.
I cannot believe I am starting another project when I already have two novels brewing. But the more material I have the better. And I did a TON of research on nuclear power plants for Round 2 of NYCMidnight and man, is it a fascinating world. I couldn’t include most of the crazy stuff I learned in my 1,000 word story but I’d love to explore it in a novel. So here I go. I’ll be kicking off on November 1 and while I doubt I will blog much about it I do tweet a TON during NaNo.
So there you have it. I’m WRITING. Two contests, plus now that I’ve decided on my NaNo I get to start planning it which is always a lot of fun. I have the piece of Flash Fiction to start with and from there will come up with an outline. I may share it here. I may not.
I will update you later this week on all the wine we’ve been drinking. If I can. We’re moving next week (yes, again) so there’s that. I’ll definitely write about that after it happens. Great story.
*Do yourself a favor and check out Ana’s blog. She’s an Aussie living in Oklahoma and blogging all about it. If that doesn’t get you interested I don’t know what will.