NaNoWriMo Bargaining 101

November 1st — I will defeat NaNo this year and I’ll do it by the 20th!

November 6th — I will defeat NaNo this year by the 30th!

November 10th — I can still catch up this weekend. No problem!

November 15th — Well, the whole experiment was about writing consistently, so even if I don’t win, it’s a success.

November 20th — Screw it, where’s the hard cider / egg nog / whiskey?

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Creative Urges

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I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about creativity versus consumption. I’d noticed one day that it had been a very, very long time since I’d used my laptop’s keyboard for anything but typing in URLs and searching B&N for book titles. So long, in fact, that I didn’t quite remember the last time I’d created something.

I’ve done a few tiny clay sculptures in the last few months, and a couple of knitting or crochet projects, but that was all. Was I suddenly just a mass consumer? Didn’t I feel the drive to *create* anything anymore?

The truth is, I do still feel that drive to write, to create worlds that didn’t exist anywhere else but inside my head before I put them down on paper. I tried chalking my non-efforts up to work-inspired exhaustion — but I was finding plenty of time to scroll through Tumblr and catch up on cat pictures.

Maybe I just wasn’t cut out to be a writer anymore. Maybe creating with words was NOT my calling. Maybe I needed to try to focus on something else.

And then I smacked myself on the head.

I don’t WANT to focus on something else. I want WORDS. I want to give someone else the same thrill I got when I first visited Pern and Riva and Narnia and a thousand other places. I. Am. A. Writer.

Except… A writer who does not write is not really a writer. My words were stalled, stunted, stilted. Stopped. Had I transformed myself into purely a consumer by not putting effort into creation? Had I given up my gift?

Then I realized that those were the thoughts of a Speshul Snowflake and they did not belong in my head. It is okay to be a consumer. I came to the conclusion that there is a Consumption~Creation spectrum and that, while all people are on it to some degree, it just takes effort to climb closer to the Creation end of things. Effort that I have not been putting in.

Even my reviews have fallen by the wayside, because I found they were no longer fun. It had become less about my sharing a love of stories and more about checking new releases off of a “to read” list. It was a job and not a passion. The results of that line of thought, however, are a different blog post.

Today I want to tell you that I haven’t given up. I turned around and suddenly I was in my thirties and I had made no real effort to achieve my dreams. I had played at it, certainly, but I had not truly tried.

Why not? Because I was afraid. I am still afraid. I am terrified that I do not have the talent to truly be a writer. I didn’t even want to face that fact enough to even write that sentence, my dear reader, but it is TRUE. I have let fear and anxiety smash down nearly all aspects of my creativity. I have been reduced to a puddled mess of a girl. Even more terrifying than trying and failing, is trying and BEING SEEN.

I have wasted so much of my life trying to be recognized but remain invisible. I wanted to be unique but without that risk of being witnessed in my failure that trying requires. Well, no longer. I am a quivering wreck just writing this, dear friends, but I am nothing if not stubborn. I am stubborn in my blood and pigheaded in my bones.

I will try. I will most assuredly fail at some point, and have to pick myself up and dust myself off, and try to wipe the shame from my cheeks. There is no embarrassment in not having an urge toward creation, but there certainly is in knowing that you do and fearing to try.

We are no closer to our own Creator and to the joys of the universe than when we make something. I am sick of being an empty shell.

If you would like to join me, now is the time. November is National Novel Writing Month (http://nanowrimo.org). I am already hip deep in planning this year’s novel as we speak. It’s a death metal, girl power version of Scooby Doo where the monsters are real. I can’t wait to write it.

“Indie” Publishing and Donkeys

So my darling husband is insisting that I relate this story to you the way that I just did to him — and, well, I suppose I might as well. I guess I could consider it a signal boost.

You see, I was reading this SFWA post about a new writing contest called The 2011 Indie Publishing Contest. Essentially, you pay a $35 entry fee, submit 5,000 words of a novel, and you are then considered for the grand “prize”. Now, you can click over for the full list, but the big part of this prize is: “A print publishing package from Author Solutions”.

This could be a grand thing if you were expecting to do all your own editing, marketing, and selling. If you were expecting distribution to major chains, however, and visibility on the shelf of your neighborhood bookstore – you would be severely disappointed. Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware explains that part of it much better than I would, so go read her article, if you haven’t already. Then bookmark Writer Beware and come back here for my story. I’ll wait.

Got it? All finished? Now, to my story.

I was telling Darling Husband that the whole situation reminded me of the old story/joke about the boy, the farmer and the donkey. (I will warn you now that I don’t repeat this tale very well, but I am confident you will eventually grasp my meaning.)

The story goes something like this: There was a boy who was sort of donkey-sitting this farmer’s donkey, and the creature due to some mishap or another passed away. The farmer, of course, was furious with the boy and demanded that the boy pay him $100 in reparations for the animal.

The boy, who is a very smart young’un, says to the farmer, “I”ll get you your money, but I’ll need the donkey.” The farmer is dubious, but agrees.

The youngster then goes into town door to door and starts selling raffle tickets for $2 apiece. The prize? Is a donkey. Surprisingly, the boy manages to sell 100 of the raffle tickets.

Being honest – if mischievous – the boy draws a winner for said donkey, and the gentleman in question arrives to pick up his prize. “This donkey is dead,” he says to the boy.

“Oh,” the boy says. “It must’ve died while I was out. Let me refund your $2 raffle ticket.” The man agrees, takes his money, and goes away happy.

Returning to the farmer, the boy hands over the $100 as promised. “How did you do it?” the farmer asks in amazement.

“I sold 100 tickets at $2 each,” the boy explains. “But I only had to refund money to the man who won.” Meaning, of course, that the boy has made a $98 profit, all from a dead donkey.

As I told my husband, “Writing contests like these remind me of that story. If you win, you get a bunch of printed copies of an unedited, un-marketed, mostly unavailable novel.

“You pay your 35 dollars and even if you win – all you end up with is a dead donkey.”

DéJàWriMo – Day 5 Check In

So we’re five days into our sixty-two day journey of DéJàWriMo. How have you been doing?

I’ve been doing… not great, to be honest. For the first two days, I wrote nothing. On the 3rd day (Friday), I wrote a couple hundred words longhand on a break at work. Yesterday (the 4th), I concentrated on some knitting projects I’ve been working on instead.

That brings us to today. I’m pretty darned happy with today. I typed up the stuff I’d written longhand and added roughly 2000 more words.

Here’s a word count progress meter, courtesy of Writertopia. Tell me in the comments how your novel is coming along.

DéJàWriMo – Doesn’t It Seem Familiar?

Well, NaNoWriMo didn’t go well for me this year. I struggled through my first 15,000 words or so, upgraded my cell phone to a Droid2, and between the struggle, working 50 hour weeks, and having a new gadget… Well, let’s just say this will only be the second time since I started doing NaNo back in 2005 that I haven’t won.

Congratulations to everyone who *did* win, though. You have my respect and admiration. Now stop reading and go away, darnit. I hate you.

No, no, I’m just kidding. You can come back. Dry your tears. You know I love you, right? I’ll even let you participate in what’s coming next, if you’d like to be an overachiever.

One of my goals and reasons for doing NaNo this year was to get myself back into the habit of writing every day. That didn’t really work out very well and I think there were a couple of reasons:

  1. I was extraordinarily busy and stressed out this November, mostly having to do with day job stuff, and that is not a mood conducive to writing creatively.
  2. Because of the stress, the 1700 words a day required to win NaNo seemed like an insurmountable barrier – so insurmountable that in the latter half of the month, I couldn’t even find the will to get started, because I was so far behind. When I wrote at all, I usually managed about 800 words before my brain went sizzle and quit.

I’m sure I’m not the only one in this situation. So for all of you out there, who didn’t meet your November goals and are feeling kind of bad about it, I say: Let go of the guilt!

Why don’t you instead join me on a new little project I’ve cooked up? I’m calling it DéJàWriMo.

Here is what I propose:

If you were tired, sick, stressed, unconscious, or just plain lazy during the course of November, why not give your novel another try? DéJàWriMo makes it easy on  you!

Let’s write together over the course of December and January. That allows us 62 days in which to write, and gives us the much more manageable goal of 806 words a day to make 50,000 words by midnight January 31st.

Why DéJàWriMo?

Well, why not? It’s a nice play on words that authors ought to appreciate. De Ja because we’ll be writing during the months of December and January. So it’s ‘December and January Writing Months’. And DéJà because you might just get the eerie feeling that you’ve done this somewhere before… In November perhaps?

So why don’t you take this opportunity and try for a gentler, kinder novel writing experience? I think you owe it to yourself.

Sign up in this thread. I’ll even promise to look into doing stickers, or at the very least a special web badge, for our winners.

Edited for clarification: I want 50,000 new words from participants between now and January 31st. I don’t care whether they’re added on to a work in progress (Did you win NaNo but your story isn’t done? Didn’t win but want to continue anyway?) or whether they’re on a brand new plot (Won NaNo and want to be that overachiever I talked about? I’m all for it!). Heck, I don’t care whether it’s 5 or 10 short stories instead – my goal here is for 50,000 brand, shiny new words. That’s all. Do with them what you will.

Writer’s Resources for November 7th through November 15th

This is a list of links I’ve found useful for November 7th through November 15th:

Writer’s Resources for October 2nd through October 17th

This is a list of links I’ve found useful for October 2nd through October 17th:

It’s NaNoWriMo Planning Time!

It’s October. You know what that means, right?

We’ve got less than a month left until November 1st and the start of National Novel Writing Month – lovingly called “NaNoWriMo” by those of us crazy enough to participate!

What does this mean?

It means I, and a few thousand of my closest friends, will be using every spare moment this November to type, scribble, scrawl or hunt ‘n peck 50,000 words of a brand new novel.

It also means that such things as laundry, dishes, holiday shopping and showers will all be forgotten in the mad rush to complete a novel and reach our goal in those short (and if you’ve never tried to write 50,000 words in a month, you don’t know how short) 30 days.

So if you have a friend, a roommate, a daughter, sister, son, brother, uncle, cousin, spouse who is participating in NaNoWriMo this year, do us all and especially them a favor and give your hope, your support, your good wishes to them this November. We’ll need it. And we also wouldn’t mind if you came over with some dinner, either. Just don’t expect us to be able to talk and scribble at the same time.

This year, I’m planning to up the stakes even more. This is my seventh NaNo’ing year, and I had this whim that perhaps working full time AND writing a 50k novel in 30 days wasn’t quite enough pressure. (HA!) So I’ve also opened a NaNo fund-raising page over at the NaNo-recommended Gift Tool site. I’ve only put in a goal of $100. I don’t know if I can manage it, but I think together we can.

If you’d like to support me, and thereby also make a contribution to a worthwhile program for young writers – which also happens to be part of a 501(c)3 organization, which makes any donation  you make tax deductible – please click here and donate what you can. I’m not picky, and neither are these young writers. Support the next generation’s authors. Even if it’s $1, or $5 or even 50 cents.

If you’d like to find out more about National Novel Writing Month – click here. If you decide you want to sign up to write your own novel, you can create an account from there.

If you have an account and are participation in NaNo this year, please add me as a writing buddy. My username is Kiaras.

And, again – if you’d like to donate to support me and the Young Writer’s program, please click here and send what you can – even if it’s the kind of donation that jingles instead of folds.

Good luck, NaNo’ers! I plan to use October for planning and outlining my novel. How about you?

Writer’s Resources for August 14th through September 19th

These are writers’ resource links I’ve found helpful and/or interesting for August 14th through September 19th: