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.

Wouldn’t You Like to Write a Novel Too?

“I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. But I just haven’t found the time.”

How many times have writers of all ages, ability, and publishing status heard these words or something like them*? This is probably the most irritating statement you could ever make in a writer’s presence. (At least, I can’t think of a worse one. Even a bad review is better than that.)

I am a (mostly) unpublished writer. And even I have heard this.You might as well just punch me right in the gut. It would have the same effect.

You see, writing a novel is a job. It’s a skill. It’s something that writers work very, very hard for. It’s not something one can complete in a day, or a week, or even a month**. In order to write well, one must do even more than that – a writer must complete one or two or seven or more novels before they come close to being publishing ready.

Most people believe writing is easy. And in every day life, it mostly is. Anyone can scratch out a note, make a list, or dash off an email. That lulls most ordinary people into the perception that writing a novel would be easy. It’s just a long letter, right?

Then again, I can run, but that doesn’t convince me that I could be a professional athlete. I can do a bit of 3D animation, but I wouldn’t just decide one day that I was going to go work for Pixar, either. I can tell you the symptoms of the common cold but that doesn’t automatically give me the knowledge and dedication that it takes to become a doctor. Why in the world do people remain convinced that absolutely anyone could write a novel and get it published with a wave of their hand – “if [they] only had the time”, of course?

“I could make up a great story like that, man!” Said with a snap of the fingers.And maybe you could. Far be it from me to try to crush anyone’s dreams. In fact, the first couple of times I heard this presumptuous statement, I tried to be encouraging and excited for the speaker. I pointed them toward NaNoWriMo and bestowed heartening words that I thought might help them toward their professed big dream.

After dealing with two or three of these people, though, I realized something. These people have no intentions of ever sitting down to write. They have absolutely no concept of the amount of work it takes to actually do the thing that they’re talking about. Nowadays, I just give those people a pained smile and change the subject.

It’s the equivalent of someone who knows the basics of folding a paper airplane deciding they are going to build a Boeing jet in their back yard. Yeah, they might be able to do it one day. But right now, they have no idea of the hard work, the dedication, the blood-sweat-and-tears, the money, the long hours, the putting-off-of-doing-the-dishes, the self-doubt, the despair, the thrill, the joy, the heartache, and the team of devoted professionals it takes to construct a whole new world one tiny wheel-sprocket-nut-bolt verb-adjective-noun-metaphor at a time and then to release the whole beautiful thing into the wild.

I’m not saying don’t do it. In fact, if that’s your dream, then you shouldn’t let me or anyone stop you. But please, for the sake of my sanity, don’t dismiss it as a simple, easy thing to do. It’s not.

*Rant inspired by the wise, hilarious, and read-worthy Patrick Rothfuss.

**Yes, I do know about NaNoWriMo. I love it. I have participated every year since 2004. This DOES NOT mean that your NaNovel is ready to go out on submission to agents or editors on December 1st.

Wouldn't You Like to Write a Novel Too?

“I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. But I just haven’t found the time.”

How many times have writers of all ages, ability, and publishing status heard these words or something like them*? This is probably the most irritating statement you could ever make in a writer’s presence. (At least, I can’t think of a worse one. Even a bad review is better than that.)

I am a (mostly) unpublished writer. And even I have heard this.You might as well just punch me right in the gut. It would have the same effect.

You see, writing a novel is a job. It’s a skill. It’s something that writers work very, very hard for. It’s not something one can complete in a day, or a week, or even a month**. In order to write well, one must do even more than that – a writer must complete one or two or seven or more novels before they come close to being publishing ready.

Most people believe writing is easy. And in every day life, it mostly is. Anyone can scratch out a note, make a list, or dash off an email. That lulls most ordinary people into the perception that writing a novel would be easy. It’s just a long letter, right?

Then again, I can run, but that doesn’t convince me that I could be a professional athlete. I can do a bit of 3D animation, but I wouldn’t just decide one day that I was going to go work for Pixar, either. I can tell you the symptoms of the common cold but that doesn’t automatically give me the knowledge and dedication that it takes to become a doctor. Why in the world do people remain convinced that absolutely anyone could write a novel and get it published with a wave of their hand – “if [they] only had the time”, of course?

“I could make up a great story like that, man!” Said with a snap of the fingers.And maybe you could. Far be it from me to try to crush anyone’s dreams. In fact, the first couple of times I heard this presumptuous statement, I tried to be encouraging and excited for the speaker. I pointed them toward NaNoWriMo and bestowed heartening words that I thought might help them toward their professed big dream.

After dealing with two or three of these people, though, I realized something. These people have no intentions of ever sitting down to write. They have absolutely no concept of the amount of work it takes to actually do the thing that they’re talking about. Nowadays, I just give those people a pained smile and change the subject.

It’s the equivalent of someone who knows the basics of folding a paper airplane deciding they are going to build a Boeing jet in their back yard. Yeah, they might be able to do it one day. But right now, they have no idea of the hard work, the dedication, the blood-sweat-and-tears, the money, the long hours, the putting-off-of-doing-the-dishes, the self-doubt, the despair, the thrill, the joy, the heartache, and the team of devoted professionals it takes to construct a whole new world one tiny wheel-sprocket-nut-bolt verb-adjective-noun-metaphor at a time and then to release the whole beautiful thing into the wild.

I’m not saying don’t do it. In fact, if that’s your dream, then you shouldn’t let me or anyone stop you. But please, for the sake of my sanity, don’t dismiss it as a simple, easy thing to do. It’s not.

*Rant inspired by the wise, hilarious, and read-worthy Patrick Rothfuss.

**Yes, I do know about NaNoWriMo. I love it. I have participated every year since 2004. This DOES NOT mean that your NaNovel is ready to go out on submission to agents or editors on December 1st.

The Power of Kamikaze

Sometimes, I think I’m married to the smartest man alive. Don’t tell him that, of course. I’d never hear the end of it if he knew I thought that, even sometimes.

It’s true, nevertheless. I’ve taken up an attempt at knitting the last day or so. I’ve known how to do very basic crochet since I was a youngster, but the two hands needed for knitting have always looked sort of formidable to me. However, I took the plunge, bought some needles and yarn and looked up a pattern and some videos on the internet.

The attempt … has not gone very well.

I was ready to give up. Until my husband said something that I realized applies not only to knitting, but to just about anything. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here):

If you know ahead of time that you’re going to suck, then you might as well go ahead and suck. That frees you up to do just about anything you can think of with it. You don’t have to worry about trying to be great anymore. That’s the power of kamikaze. Why do you think it always worked?

Putting aside the statistical impossibility of kamikaze “always” working, he does, in fact, have a point. It’s rather freeing to think that, whatever you do, it’s bound to be terrible. Because then you don’t have to worry about being perfect.

What was it about kamikaze fighters that made them so formidable? I think it was the fact that they were willing to do anything – even die – to accomplish their goal. Are you willing to do that for your writing?

Not die, of course – because to die with stories untold would be a terrible waste. But are you prepared to get up early or stay up late to get those words on paper? Are you okay with skipping a shower or leaving those dishes to languish in the dishwasher for another day? Can you give up one hour of TV to dedicate it to accomplishing your goal?

Translated into your writing, kamikaze also means that you shouldn’t worry about always doing the correct thing every time. It means not every word has to be perfect on the page. Not every idea has to be ultra original or have layers of meaning. Being terrible actually sounds rather like a good idea to me.

It means you don’t have to worry about always showing instead of telling. It means you can feel free to use things that don’t make sense. Purple bunnies? Check. A kick-ass female lead who doesn’t fall in love with the male lead? Got it. How about the oldest trope in the book? (Farm-boy-turned-king who saves the world, anyone?) Go ahead and use it.

Have fun with it. Write crap. Being perfect is over-rated anyway.

I’ll leave you with a quote (the source of which I am no longer clear on, as it’s been with me for quite some time):

To be perfect, simply: say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.

I’ll tell you truly – I’d rather be crappy than nothing. How about you?

Why I'm a Writer

y a writer? I’m not published – unless you count a sad POD first novel that I wouldn’t show to my own grandmother. I don’t even get to sit at my laptop and live inside my fantasy worlds for hours at a time. I have a day job and a family to support. I don’t write all the time or even very consistently most days. Very often, I don’t feel much like a writer at all.
So why do my instincts shout that I am, for better or for worse, a writer first and foremost above almost all else?
Well, I’ve been writing ever since I could remember. My very first story was about a young monster who got in trouble with his parents for not being scary enough. I think I still have it lying around somewhere. More than that, something in the written word just calls to me. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve had stories in my head so long that my choice is to either write them down or consider myself insane.
When I was a teenager, I ran across this quote from R.M. Rilke:
“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity”.
It changed my world. Here, finally, was a definition I could fit into. I had never been the outgoing, endearing school girl that I so admired as a child. I couldn’t be the smartest, or the fastest, or the prettiest. I daydreamed. That is what I did. I emersed myself in other people’s stories and tried to use those worlds to make sense of the one I was in. When they didn’t quite fit, I started writing them myself. Now, I finally had a word for what I was: a writer.
It’s been many years since that youthful hope, however. I’ve nearly given up on the whole thing at least a dozen times over the years. The doubts plague you. Am I good enough? Do I have anything significant to say? Can I touch the hearts and minds of my readers the way that the books I’ve read did for me? Then each time I realize that it doesn’t matter, because I simply can’t not write. It’s no more a choice for me than breathing. When I don’t write, I become a zombie stumbling through my daily routines. Life loses it’s luster and I forget the reason I get up in the mornings. It’s a spark of happiness so small that I don’t even realize it’s there until I’ve let it die. And it’s hard, so hard, to get the flame burning again.
But what choice do I have? I’m a writer, dammit. It’s what I am.
I still have a lot to learn. Thankfully, the internet is a useful tool for this. Later, I’ll post for you some of the best writer’s resources I’ve found on the web. For now, I’ll leave with some more modern and equally important advice from CE Murphy. “[I]f I could be content, even happy, doing something that didn’t pile up the rejection letters, that didn’t require spending years of my life at a keyboard when I could be doing something else, if I could get ten or twenty or thirty rejection letters and say, “No, this isn’t worth it,” then it wasn’t worth it. I would be happier doing something else. If I could walk away from writing, I should, because it would make for an easier and more comfortable life.”  http://mizkit.com/index.php/2009/06/19/magical-words-who-pays-whom/
So if you can walk away, do it. A writer’s life isn’t glamorous. It isn’t fame. It’s sitting alone in front of a keyboard, realizing you’ve not done the dishes in three days and you haven’t showered in almost as long. It’s neglecting your real-life friends while the ones in your head clamor to be released. It’s being rejected by agents, editors, and eventually readers – and that’s the best case scenario. There’s a darn good chance that you’ll never get past the agent stage.
But… If you’re like me – if you’re going to write anyway, regardless of what anyone says… Well, then welcome to the club.

Sure, I have a day job. Most writers have to keep a day job. It’s a long, difficult road to making a living off of a writing career. But that’s another post entirely. If someone were to ask me what I do, I’d say that I work in a pharmacy.  But if you were to ask me what I was, the first thing out of my mouth would be, “I’m a writer.”

Why a writer? I’m not published – unless you count a sad POD first novel that I wouldn’t show to my own grandmother. I don’t even get to sit at my laptop and live inside my fantasy worlds for hours at a time. I have a day job and a family to support. I don’t write all the time or even very consistently most days. Very often, I don’t feel much like a writer at all.

So why do my instincts shout that I am, for better or for worse, a writer first and foremost above almost all else?

Well, I’ve been writing ever since I could remember. My very first story was about a young monster who got in trouble with his parents for not being scary enough. I think I still have it lying around somewhere. More than that, something in the written word just calls to me. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve had stories in my head so long that my choice is to either write them down or consider myself insane.

When I was a teenager, I ran across this quote from R.M. Rilke (which is not the exact quote I ran across but conveys the meaning; and this is the original statement anyway):

“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity”.

It changed my world. Here, finally, was a definition I could fit into. I had never been the outgoing, endearing school girl that I so admired as a child. I couldn’t be the smartest, or the fastest, or the prettiest. I daydreamed. That is what I did. I immersed myself in other people’s stories and tried to use those worlds to make sense of the one I was in. When they didn’t quite fit, I started writing them myself. Now, I finally had a word for what I was: a writer.

It’s been many years since that youthful hope, however. I’ve nearly given up on the whole thing at least a dozen times over the years. The doubts plague you. Am I good enough? Do I have anything significant to say? Can I touch the hearts and minds of my readers the way that the books I’ve read did for me? Then each time I realize that it doesn’t matter, because I simply can’t not write. It’s no more a choice for me than breathing. When I don’t write, I become a zombie stumbling through my daily routines. Life loses it’s luster and I forget the reason I get up in the mornings. It’s a spark of happiness so small that I don’t even realize it’s there until I’ve let it die. And it’s hard, so hard, to get the flame burning again.

But what choice do I have? I’m a writer, dammit. It’s what I am.

I still have a lot to learn. Thankfully, the internet is a useful tool for this. Later, I’ll post for you some of the best writer’s resources I’ve found on the web. For now, I’ll leave with some more modern and equally important advice from CE Murphy. “[I]f I could be content, even happy, doing something that didn’t pile up the rejection letters, that didn’t require spending years of my life at a keyboard when I could be doing something else, if I could get ten or twenty or thirty rejection letters and say, ‘No, this isn’t worth it,’ then it wasn’t worth it. I would be happier doing something else. If I could walk away from writing, I should, because it would make for an easier and more comfortable life.”

So if you can walk away, do it. A writer’s life isn’t glamorous. It isn’t fame. It’s sitting alone in front of a keyboard, realizing you’ve not done the dishes in three days and you haven’t showered in almost as long. It’s neglecting your real-life friends while the ones in your head clamor to be released. It’s being rejected by agents, editors, and eventually readers – and that’s the best case scenario. There’s a darn good chance that you’ll never get past the agent stage.

But… If you’re like me – if you’re going to write anyway, regardless of what anyone says… Well, then welcome to the club.

Why I’m a Writer

y a writer? I’m not published – unless you count a sad POD first novel that I wouldn’t show to my own grandmother. I don’t even get to sit at my laptop and live inside my fantasy worlds for hours at a time. I have a day job and a family to support. I don’t write all the time or even very consistently most days. Very often, I don’t feel much like a writer at all.
So why do my instincts shout that I am, for better or for worse, a writer first and foremost above almost all else?
Well, I’ve been writing ever since I could remember. My very first story was about a young monster who got in trouble with his parents for not being scary enough. I think I still have it lying around somewhere. More than that, something in the written word just calls to me. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve had stories in my head so long that my choice is to either write them down or consider myself insane.
When I was a teenager, I ran across this quote from R.M. Rilke:
“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity”.
It changed my world. Here, finally, was a definition I could fit into. I had never been the outgoing, endearing school girl that I so admired as a child. I couldn’t be the smartest, or the fastest, or the prettiest. I daydreamed. That is what I did. I emersed myself in other people’s stories and tried to use those worlds to make sense of the one I was in. When they didn’t quite fit, I started writing them myself. Now, I finally had a word for what I was: a writer.
It’s been many years since that youthful hope, however. I’ve nearly given up on the whole thing at least a dozen times over the years. The doubts plague you. Am I good enough? Do I have anything significant to say? Can I touch the hearts and minds of my readers the way that the books I’ve read did for me? Then each time I realize that it doesn’t matter, because I simply can’t not write. It’s no more a choice for me than breathing. When I don’t write, I become a zombie stumbling through my daily routines. Life loses it’s luster and I forget the reason I get up in the mornings. It’s a spark of happiness so small that I don’t even realize it’s there until I’ve let it die. And it’s hard, so hard, to get the flame burning again.
But what choice do I have? I’m a writer, dammit. It’s what I am.
I still have a lot to learn. Thankfully, the internet is a useful tool for this. Later, I’ll post for you some of the best writer’s resources I’ve found on the web. For now, I’ll leave with some more modern and equally important advice from CE Murphy. “[I]f I could be content, even happy, doing something that didn’t pile up the rejection letters, that didn’t require spending years of my life at a keyboard when I could be doing something else, if I could get ten or twenty or thirty rejection letters and say, “No, this isn’t worth it,” then it wasn’t worth it. I would be happier doing something else. If I could walk away from writing, I should, because it would make for an easier and more comfortable life.”  http://mizkit.com/index.php/2009/06/19/magical-words-who-pays-whom/
So if you can walk away, do it. A writer’s life isn’t glamorous. It isn’t fame. It’s sitting alone in front of a keyboard, realizing you’ve not done the dishes in three days and you haven’t showered in almost as long. It’s neglecting your real-life friends while the ones in your head clamor to be released. It’s being rejected by agents, editors, and eventually readers – and that’s the best case scenario. There’s a darn good chance that you’ll never get past the agent stage.
But… If you’re like me – if you’re going to write anyway, regardless of what anyone says… Well, then welcome to the club.

Sure, I have a day job. Most writers have to keep a day job. It’s a long, difficult road to making a living off of a writing career. But that’s another post entirely. If someone were to ask me what I do, I’d say that I work in a pharmacy.  But if you were to ask me what I was, the first thing out of my mouth would be, “I’m a writer.”

Why a writer? I’m not published – unless you count a sad POD first novel that I wouldn’t show to my own grandmother. I don’t even get to sit at my laptop and live inside my fantasy worlds for hours at a time. I have a day job and a family to support. I don’t write all the time or even very consistently most days. Very often, I don’t feel much like a writer at all.

So why do my instincts shout that I am, for better or for worse, a writer first and foremost above almost all else?

Well, I’ve been writing ever since I could remember. My very first story was about a young monster who got in trouble with his parents for not being scary enough. I think I still have it lying around somewhere. More than that, something in the written word just calls to me. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve had stories in my head so long that my choice is to either write them down or consider myself insane.

When I was a teenager, I ran across this quote from R.M. Rilke (which is not the exact quote I ran across but conveys the meaning; and this is the original statement anyway):

“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity”.

It changed my world. Here, finally, was a definition I could fit into. I had never been the outgoing, endearing school girl that I so admired as a child. I couldn’t be the smartest, or the fastest, or the prettiest. I daydreamed. That is what I did. I immersed myself in other people’s stories and tried to use those worlds to make sense of the one I was in. When they didn’t quite fit, I started writing them myself. Now, I finally had a word for what I was: a writer.

It’s been many years since that youthful hope, however. I’ve nearly given up on the whole thing at least a dozen times over the years. The doubts plague you. Am I good enough? Do I have anything significant to say? Can I touch the hearts and minds of my readers the way that the books I’ve read did for me? Then each time I realize that it doesn’t matter, because I simply can’t not write. It’s no more a choice for me than breathing. When I don’t write, I become a zombie stumbling through my daily routines. Life loses it’s luster and I forget the reason I get up in the mornings. It’s a spark of happiness so small that I don’t even realize it’s there until I’ve let it die. And it’s hard, so hard, to get the flame burning again.

But what choice do I have? I’m a writer, dammit. It’s what I am.

I still have a lot to learn. Thankfully, the internet is a useful tool for this. Later, I’ll post for you some of the best writer’s resources I’ve found on the web. For now, I’ll leave with some more modern and equally important advice from CE Murphy. “[I]f I could be content, even happy, doing something that didn’t pile up the rejection letters, that didn’t require spending years of my life at a keyboard when I could be doing something else, if I could get ten or twenty or thirty rejection letters and say, ‘No, this isn’t worth it,’ then it wasn’t worth it. I would be happier doing something else. If I could walk away from writing, I should, because it would make for an easier and more comfortable life.”

So if you can walk away, do it. A writer’s life isn’t glamorous. It isn’t fame. It’s sitting alone in front of a keyboard, realizing you’ve not done the dishes in three days and you haven’t showered in almost as long. It’s neglecting your real-life friends while the ones in your head clamor to be released. It’s being rejected by agents, editors, and eventually readers – and that’s the best case scenario. There’s a darn good chance that you’ll never get past the agent stage.

But… If you’re like me – if you’re going to write anyway, regardless of what anyone says… Well, then welcome to the club.