Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

November in Review

Can I start you off with the best thing?  I dare you not to smile.

You guys, I’m tired. I’m on doggy hospice duty these days, and the ol’ Fuzzball has been needing a lot of middle-of-the-night tending for weeks now. But it’s the greatest gift I can give him these final days. It does make me foggy the rest of the day, though. We push through, don’t we?

It’s also been a month of tremendous work output – I somehow finished NaNoWriMo in eleven days – and now I am retreating a little to take stock and refocus on next steps.

I rarely wait for New Year’s to start a new goal. Heck, I won’t even wait for a Monday. I’m finalizing some plans and will share here when ready. I also have some very exciting news to announce shortly.

I do know that I want to write one essay a week starting this week. I have no end point, no plans. There is no “1 Essay a Week for the Next 100 Weeks” type thing. But if NaNo taught me anything, it’s that I like being motivated by a goal that has a tight timeline.

I had a semi-momentous birthday in November, which may be contributing to this deep-seeded need to get grossly introspective. I feel sometimes like I’m Konmari-ing my own damned mind and life. All good. All good.

I’m not sure what it was about late October through November, but I sure pulled some great reads off my shelf.

Beth Ann Fennelly’s Heating and Cooling packs a lot of emotion in  a slim volume. Outrageous, hilarious, painful, and poignant.

Chelsey Clammer’s Circadian is a breathtaking and bold piece of art that merges and weaves together various forms and styles to try to arrive at understanding what may never be understood fully and to stumble upon truths that are often hard to accept.

Maggie Smith’s Good Bones. Breathtaking poetry about motherhood and middle years with strong, hearty through lines and themes.

I posted this review of Michael Ian Black’s Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (but also my mom’s, which I know sounds weird):

Reading Navel Gazing was like discovering an up-and-coming band on a college radio station that you want to run around and tell everyone about and force them to listen. Not in a hispter way, really, but more in a "This guy gets it" way that made me go back through old yearbooks and double-check that we hadn't gone to school together back in Jersey.

Michael Ian Black packs a lot into this book -- health, aging, relationships, genetics, ancestry, mortality. It's surprisingly existential at times, rich, full, and just snarky enough to avoid being saccharine.

And funny. Did I mention funny? I literally was chasing people down to read them quotes from the book. And they don't hate me for it!

Highly recommended and truly appreciated.

Here are some fun things I ran across on the Internet this past month.

Here’s why you’re bored after you accomplish something.

Speaking of Konmari, can watching Groundhog Day make you a better artist?

Always time, always hope.

And now? I read, write, and figure things out. It’s a good end-of-year task. Something about low light and angles of things. Asking and truly answering “What do I want?” is an act of courage…and a lot of fun!

NaNo Victorious

I won NaNoWriMo in 11 days. That means that in 11 days, I wrote 50,000 words.

And I just don’t feel great about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I love meeting a challenge. I love filling out the forms and seeing the stats. How many days ahead I am. How many words per day I average. That’s actually quite a rush for a left-brained writer like me.

I wrote a few thousand words half-heartedly in a poorly thought out novel idea I have. The remaining words were in a series of essays that felt more like confessionals than anything else. They were sprawling and unfocused and certainly unfunny.

I know that 50,000 words of any sort are nothing to sneeze at. I’m a big fan of this notion:

But I’m also, like a certain famous founding father made popular by the luminous Lin-Manuel Miranda, writing like I’m running out of time. That’s just the point I’m at in my life. This is probably a result of having celebrated a fairly major birthday yesterday, but that’s another post for another time.

I am fine if I write bad first drafts. I am used to it and know what to do.

I am fine if I write pointless first drafts to be tucked away probably never to see the light of day again.

But I’m not so fine when it’s both. And this felt like that.

The novel? I need to really flesh it out, to plan, to consider, to walk around in that world longer than the one week I did in October. The book itself jumped around from young adult to “show me your ID” adult, and that, if nothing else needs to be cleared up.

I like writing essays and poems, though. That’s where my heart is. That’s where, right now, the humor is.

But those essays are not things to be rushed for the sake of NaNo or any other false deadlines. They are things to be rushed for real deadlines — the ones I impose on myself, the ones that wake me up at 3 in the morning because if I don’t get the words out, they pull apart and bind with the oxygen in the air and float away.

My husband pointed out that sitting down and doing the work, getting to the writing, has never been my problem. My problem, for better or worse, is idea generation. I tend to struggle for the right things to write about. Once decided, the words flow. That’s an entirely different situation than what I believe NaNo addresses., which, as far as I can tell, turning off the internal editor and working past certain elemental fears that all writers have.

So, for now, I am NaNo victorious, but the work is nowhere near done.

NaNo Scatter

I’ve had the privilege of two protracted, relatively uninterrupted writing days. I’m closing in on 10,000 words already. First drafts and word counts are rarely my problems — it’s the rewriting, the editing, and finding the art in the marble that causes me to sweat.

So far, I haven’t felt particularly funny and instead wrote stark, necessary essays. Now purged of some of the sulfur, I’m reconsidering the novel I put aside the other day in favor of writing essays.

Maybe a few thousand words will let me know if this is the right time for a novel. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel funny. Maybe in a week, I’ll have the courage to continue the serious pieces.

So I’ll permit myself this oscillate-writing. Back and forth, concurrent, parallel, and distinct. Perhaps an unsurprising constellation awaits at the end.