Now, Day 25

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 Oh, the hubris.  That strawberry was so lushly red and plump at 6:00 a.m.  When I went out on the deck at 7:00 a.m…. Manise, you may want to click away rather than read this travesty: it was half eaten.  Half!  What, bird, it wasn't good enough?  I would have eaten the whole thing.  

Yesterday I shared the first watercolor in the journal that I'm keeping as part of the Creativity Boot Camp project.  I'm late to the party, but I just love the idea of taking creative risk in a medium I mess around with but don't dedicate much time to.  Watercolor painting, like ice skating, is something I know I'm not too good at, but I have a whole lot of fun doing.

A few days ago, a friend of mine posted on my FB wall that she needed a writing pep talk.  We arranged a lunch date, and I scanned my writing books shelf for some encouragement.  The photo above shows the little stack I brought her.  She's a well-read woman (a librarian.  I'm really attracted to librarians.  I want to be a librarian.) with a fantastic idea for a YA novel.  I can't wait to read it–the idea is THAT good. This is her first stab in the genre, and I remember that wallowing feeling all too well.  I thought these books would provide just the right encouragement for a new writer in need of a pep talk.  What would you have added to the stack?

I have had an encouraging writing week.  In fact, I honestly can't remember the last time I was this excited about and in love with my novel.  I'm moving away from the protagonist into the story of her mother as I've decided to make it the story of how the three generations (original protagonist, her mother, her grandmother) and their secrets entwine.  It took a few weeks, but I found the voice with which to narrate the mother's section, and this week, for the first time in ages, I was surprised by plot.  I even got choked up by the scene I was writing today! 

Today I went to a writing group that meets at La Paloma in Hartford.  I usually steer away from writing groups as too often they descend into complaining about the publishing industry.  This group simply writes in each others' company.  I like it.  I'm going back for more. 

It feels fantastic to be so inspired, to have my creativity feeling "on" for the first time in so long.  Call me silly, but I really think I freed my head when I moved the beast of a loom out of my house and took back my office, made it a studio.  There's something to be said for honoring one's work with a special space, no matter how big or small.

Hope your Friday was wonderful, too!

Exuberant Imperfection

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Last night, at around 5:00 p.m. or so, I typed "The End", verified my word count (50,079), and gave in to a few tears.  A little later, Neal cracked a bottle of bubbly (Martinelli's sparkling cider…not so big on the champagne around here) and set off some fireworks in the back yard.  It was a good way to celebrate the all-consuming 29 days of writing (well, I skipped two days.  Twenty-seven days of writing).  

The discipline of NaNoWriMo has, I hope, served me well.  I was able to get a character who had been hanging around since February on to the page.  I discovered that even with only half an hour to write, I can bang out close to 1,000 words if I really, really want to.  

More importantly, though, I rediscovered the fun of writing.  The adventure of it.  I loved my MFA program, but since graduating, my own work has seemed burdensome to me.  I have felt so serious about the novel I call my "serious" novel (hmmm…wonder why), and I have feared that the writing in that novel has suffered because of my own sense of gravity about it.  I'm ready to return to it (not for a week or two.  I need to attend to such things as house cleaning and short story submissions), and I want to write the next draft just like I wrote my NaNoWriMo draft:  fast and dirty.  No more fussing about every word.  Not for this draft.  

I feel like NaNoWriMo has given me back the gift that I learned to hone while out in New Mexico.  And that renewed joy in writing makes me feel like a champion.  Going forward, I'll have this bracelet on my wrist and a commitment to one thing: exuberant imperfection.

Congratulations to all my fellow winners.  Believe me: if you tried, you are a winner, no matter what your word count.

 

Open Road Writing

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I am thrilled to share my big news with you.  Today I am launching Open Road Writing, my writing consulting business.

Round about the end of May, the idea for this business occurred to me, and I've been hard at work getting everything ready for today.  For many years I've done freelance writing and editing jobs, and I've started to do a lot of manuscript reviews, too.  When I hit on the name Open Road Writing, I knew I had to hang all of my writing hats on one peg. 

Why Open Road Writing?  I wanted a name that would bring together two parts of my life:  my time on the east coast, and the too brief time I spent out west.  The open road connotes possibilities, journeys, and adventures, which is what writing is to me.

I'm fortunate to have had valuable assistance in creating the site.  Penny served as my web guru, answering endless e-mails.  Chris created the ORW logo, taking my vague statements about the 40s and pick up trucks and turning them into just the right image.  Scout graciously gave me permission to use one of her sensual photos; really, I can feel the heat coming off the road in her picture.  Karen edited and advised throughout.  

I hope you'll check the website often.  I'll be posting weekly writing prompts there, as well as tips for business and student writers. I appreciate your taking a look, and I would love to chat with you about your writing needs.

Here's to a new adventure!

Back to the Future

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This is where the writing usually happens.  After Carole told me that Joyce Carol Oates has returned to using a typewriter, though, I couldn't get it out of my head.  I found and bought an Hermes 3000* (well, I bought two accidentally.  When the other one arrives, I'll see which I like better and sell the other).  My idea is that I'm going to try drafting on the typewriter and revising on computer. In theory it should work out.  I've learned that I'm not as good a typist as my computer lets me pretend to be. 

I'm struggling with a name for my new machine.  Any suggestions?  Oh, you want a look at the new writing digs?

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*I did not buy it from this site.  Even I wouldn't pay that much for a new fancy.

No NaNoWriMo for Me

Each year about this time I wonder if I should do it, just jump in, screw whatever my current project is.  No, I decide.  The time isn’t right. 

I have a deep fondness for NaNoWriMo.  I heard about it too late to participate in 2001, but I donated money because I loved the idea.  The following spring, I decided to make my own private version of NaNoWriMo, extending it to a schedule of ten weeks, which suited my schedule better.  I wasn’t after the thrill of a novel in 30 days–I was after finishing a piece that lurked in my head.  Hell, starting it, never mind finish it.  I succeeded and a year later, an excerpt from that novel got me into graduate school.

November 2002 found me revising and dealing with personal crises.  A year later, I was swamped in MFA applications and working three jobs to pay my bills since I was on my own after my husband asked for a divorce.  At some point during those years, I donated my old laptop to the cause, providing a writer in need with my favorite writing tool. 

Novembers of 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 flew by, and each year I hoped I’d be able to participate, but each year graduate school obligations sucked away the time I needed to participate.  One of my ex-sisters in law once told her brother (a musician, engineer, songwriter), that our poverty was good for his creativity.  She claimed that her friends who were artists felt they produced more when sleep deprived.  In other words, she subscribed to the theory that suffering is necessary to create.  I don’t buy into that bullsh*t at all.  I create (and my former husband feels the same way) better when I have money in the bank, my bills are paid, my refrigerator is full, and I am well rested.  And warm.  And feeling content.  Or maybe it’s just that I have enough darkness in my head that I don’t need anything external to motivate me.  In any case, my point is I am unwilling to lose sleep for a month in order to complete Nanowrimo, and year after year, that is the only way I can imagine making it happen within my particular schedule.

I applaud everyone who is participating, though.  It’s fantastic to imagine so many writers all at it for the next 30 days.  I will be cheering for all of you. 

And I’ll be starting a project of my own.  In tomorrow’s post, I’ll outline the commitment I’m making in celebration of an important event in my life.

Still Here

The week has been buzzing by.  My workshop ended today, and after a bbq dinner, I’ll be at the bar to see if anyone wants to dance.  Tomorrow I head to Albuquerque, then on Monday, back to Connecticut.  I can’t wait to be back home with my Neal and my dogs.  My bed, too.  That’s going to be nice.  And my chairs.  And different clothes. 

I just wanted to say hi, let you know that I’m happy, my brain is full, and that I know I’ll miss New Mexico as soon as I land in Connecticut.  I’m a girl with a foot in the east and west of our country now, which I finally realized this week.  I like NM an awful lot and wish I could divvy up my time between my two homes.  There’s always next year’s conference!

On Getting Ready for a Conference

Tomorrow I head to New Mexico at 8:30 a.m.  I’ve spent the day washing and folding laundry, getting the house in order, and deciding what to bring with me.  I’ll be gone for ten days, most of which will be spent in Taos.  Books and projects always present a quandary for me when I travel.  Inevitably, I think I’ll have far more time than I actually do for reading and knitting.  My outward bound flight’s reading is selected (the last of the master class’s novels), and I have three books to keep me in material while I’m there.  Never mind the book table at the conference where, no doubt, I’ll spend a huge portion of my budget!  I’m bringing the slim Epic of Gilgamesh (can you believe I’ve not read it?), Shame, and The Monsters of Templeton (I thought a first novel would be appropriate for my purposes).

I’ve yet again gotten to the point of my knitting cycle where I have too many projects going at once.  At least now, thanks to my decision to rip those I don’t love, I’m excited about everything on my needles.  I have two small surprise projects that I’ll bring, and I’m adding Tuscany to the mix, just in case I finish the smaller ones.  I may break down and through a sock in my bag, too, but I’m trying to have some restraint!

I’ll have my laptop with me, so never fear!  You’ll be hearing from me.  I’m off to decide what to wear for the next ten days.  Besides my dancing shoes.  Those fellows in Taos sure know how to dance!

Word Nerd Coop Site is Up!

There is plenty of work to do on it still, but the Word Nerd Cooperative blog is up!  If you’d like to challenge yourself with a writing goal this summer, head on over and see what it’s about.  To join, simply e-mail me at wordnerdcoopATYahooDOTcom, and I’ll send you an invite, followed by a questionnaire for you to post.  Hope to see you over there!

399 and The Co-op

This is my 399th post on this blog.  I wrote 101 posts on my previous blog, which means, technically, this is my 500th post.  Fancy that.  Take a moment to digest that information as you need.

Once you’re ready, especially if you’re one of the group who showed some interest in my Writing in Company post, take a look at my thoughts on it, and please, please share yours!  I wrote up some notes yesterday, and I’m just going to spill them out for us all to make sense of as we may.

Name:   I came up with a name that I’m pretty pleased with, although if anyone hates it and has a super fabulous suggestion, do tell:  The Word Nerd Co-op.  I want the word "co-op" in the name of the group as it is really important to me that we’re all reminded of the spirit of the whole thing: encouragement and cooperation.  The word nerd part is a tip of the hat to what I’ve called myself for years…well, that and writing whore, but I’m not such a writing whore as I once was.  Plus, I don’t like the sound of it as well!

Mission Statement:  It occurred to me when the Tobacco Valley SnB split into two groups that part of the reason for animosity on the part of some members was my fault; I never articulated the vision I had for the group, and so when it expanded beyond what I saw as feasible in terms of that vision, and when the natural opportunity to split arose, there were disgruntled folks who later accused me of drama.  If I had put a mission statement into place at the start (frankly, it never occurred to me; it was meant to be an intimate, informal gathering…why should I think I needed a mission statement?), I would not have had to expose myself to such criticism.  In any case, I learned a lesson, and any group I start from here forward will have a mission statement.  That may be developed and changed, but at least my vision will be clear to anyone choosing to join me. 

My foray into mission statement writing then, goes sumthin’ like this:  The mission of the Word Nerds Co-op is to provide an encouraging and supportive community for writers of all level and experience.  Participants will be matched with a fellow nerd for support and accountability.  Goals and rewards are strongly encouraged.  Sharing trials and triumphs is welcomed.

It’s rough still, but at least there’s some sense of what this is meant to be about.

I’m still working on questionnaires for the initial round of participants, and I’m setting up a WordPress blog where we can all post for free.  Here are a few tools for the Co-op that I’m imagining will be located on the blog:

  • Links to each others’ Treadmill journals or writing blogs.
  • Links to websites on craft, submissions, conferences, and writing programs.
  • Craft book reading lists.
  • Lit. mag lists (we should, after all, read the places we hope to be published!)
  • Writing prompts.
  • Goal pledge sheets.
  • Prizes!!

Okay, now it’s your turn to give me some feedback.  Names?  What to include on the site?  What else would be a useful tool? 

I can’t wait to hear your ideas–let ’em rip!!