Tag Archives: November

Moving On…

Here’s something I didn’t anticipate.

I thought writing something new would be fun. It has been, sometimes. But I can’t stop thinking about my first story. I want to go back to it, to rescue it from the space of forgotten books, to bring it back to life and make someone else love it too. I almost feel like I’m cheating on our year-long relationship by dipping my pen somewhere else. There’s still work to be done. I miss my characters. These new ones are alright, but they’re not the same. It will take time to know them, to love them the same way.

I’m tempted to throw NaNoWriMo down the drain and go back to save my old book. I’m ready to mean business this time, really. I know what needs to be done. Still, maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder? Maybe starting something new always feels this way? Maybe two more weeks will do me good? I’m just having a hard time putting my heart into it. Last year felt so different.

For those of you who have written more than one book, was it easy to move on?

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NaNoWriMo Day Two: Gray Whales, Sea Kayaking, and Mermaids

I’m a day behind in NaNoWriMo world. Yesterday yielded zero words. I left home before 7AM for work and returned from a long day of teaching, fall festivaling, and celebrating a family birthday happy but exhausted. This is exactly why I chose to set my goal at half. 25,000 words in a month is more realistic than 50,000. Today I brought my total to 2,265.

In the process, I was reminded of a few lessons I learned last time, lessons I have not needed for awhile:

1. Just let the damn words flow. This morning I read and reread and reread again. I was writing in perfectionist mode, the exact mode I taught my students to avoid by locking up their inner editors. It’s easy to never write anything when you write this way. Finally I remembered the beauty of NaNoWriMo– just write without looking back. Sure enough, the last six hundred words I spit out came much more easily. In the past, I’ve criticized the NaNoWriMo method for producing work that needs to be heavily edited, but I overlooked something important in this criticism– better to have written something to edit than nothing at all.

2. The internet is my friend. I’ve finally reached a good spot of being able to ignore all other Internet impulses while writing. This is the polar opposite from me over the summer. Maybe it’s because I know my time is limited. Instead of using the Internet to waste time, I’ve been putting it to work for this new book. Needed to learn about gray whales, Naga (a mythical, serpentine mermaid), and sea kayaking today. I feel so spoiled to have so much information at my fingertips– I can’t imagine what it was like for writers before the Internet.

3. Music. I started my day in silence, but this afternoon I turned on Pandora to Iron & Wine, my favorite writing station. I always forget my words flow more easily with some background music. I also sometimes get this creepy feeling Pandora is reading my mind. The song below came on as I was thinking about nicknaming my protagonist’s old truck Jesus. Not sure if that’s me being inspired by Pandora or Pandora being inspired by me…

4. Connections matter. Knowing that many of my blog friends out there are also writing this month is already helping to keep me motivated. It’s kind of like having a friend willing to go to the gym with you… And, it’s exciting to read other people’s NaNoWriMo posts and see those word counts climbing! Hurray for collective brain power. If you include your NaNoWriMo name in a comment below, I’ll be sure to add you as a writing buddy. I’m TodayBestLife if you want to find me, (old blog identity).

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Thankfulness Thursday: Passion

Tonight I wrote 898 words. 25,000 is my NaNoWriMo goal.

Half as much as everyone else, but that’s okay. Between late afternoon IEP meetings, apple donations, birthdays, weddings, life, that’s about as much as I can handle.

Last year I reached 22,222. Still an accomplishment. The beginning of my first book.

This year something completely different. For now, forget mainstream, commercial fiction, (unless of course you want to pay me for it). This time a novel that at the moment has no genre. We’ll see where it ends up. Tonight, just two lost souls on a rugged Oregon beach. Tomorrow, one might be a vagabond exploring the Pacific Northwest, the other a dark mermaid. Maybe not. That’s the beauty of NaNoWriMo, it’s unpredictable.

Reminds me of ninjas. All good NaNoWriMo novels have a random ninja somewhere, or at least that is what I have been told. The official welcome letter I read to my students even mentioned ninjas. When I explained that the common NaNoWriMo wisdom is to just add a ninja when you get stuck, they grinned. My last book had a ninja. Or at least a misunderstood joke about a ninja…

So here’s to all the unexpected ninjas this month might bring and to the reminder that starting something new can be fun. Tonight I’m thankful for my passion to write because it takes me on new adventures from the comfort of my couch, with my dog asleep on my left foot and my cat sprawled across my lap, her paw on the keyboard. Doesn’t get much better than this, or at least not for me.

This year’s inspiration from Bandon, OR… If only I could write from here…


Link up for Thankfulness Thursday @ Domestic Fashionista.

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Writing Crossroads


I’m standing at a writing crossroads and having a very hard time deciding which path to take. I don’t want to get stuck in one project, but I also don’t want to start more than I can feasibly finish:

Option 1: Put everything Expecting Happiness related on hold for the month of November, (unless of course some very enthusiastic agent wants to snatch me up…), and have fun letting the words flow for NaNoWriMo. This was my original plan. I figured I’d come back to Expecting Happiness either because of outside interest or after I played around with something new, learned some more tricks in the process, and was ready to revisit.

Option 2: Here is what I was not expecting. Reading up on the writing craft this month has left me more aware of the places I could strengthen Expecting Happiness. Likewise, I have received input/interest from two of the people I reached out to in my querying process and see that with a little guidance I might be on an even better track toward getting this thing traditionally published. So, my other thought is that I get this book truly done for good before allowing myself to explore something new.

I feel very torn between both options. I am so excited to be back in that first writing stage again where everything is fresh and you’re living inside the story. However, I also feel like I’m beginning to make some breakthroughs in how I understand my own writing, some breakthroughs that might make the difference…

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Teachers, Get your NaNoWriMo on!

Okay, I’m now excited for November for two reasons: Time to write something new AND time to walk my students through their first novels… That’s right, I’m doing it, diving in head first and teaching the NaNoWriMo Youth Writing Program. Fortunately, it fits right in with what we’re already teaching this time of year– narrative writing.

Part of why I am so excited is because my students cheered me on last year as I attempted to write a novel in one month. This year, those same kids will get to try it themselves. When I unveiled my master plan to my students this afternoon, they were giddy. The kind folks over at NaNoWriMo will even be sending them a free box of goodies to keep them motivated.

Today we locked up our inner editors. I almost passed on this, thinking it might not be the best use of instructional time, but they had a blast drawing the mean voices inside their heads that keep them from writing. It turns out that even ten year olds have fears of not being great. We’ll need our editors again in December when it is time to revise, but until then, we’re locking them up so we can just get the words out, (good advice for us grown-up writers too!):

Good-bye for awhile evil inner-voice editors!

It’s funny, I was a little hesitant to teach narrative with NaNoWriMo because it feels like such an epic endeavor to convince fifth graders to pour their attention into novel writing for an entire month. However, day 1 down of preparing their thoughts and I feel like it might be an awesomely memorable part of their year. They’re excited, I’m excited… Wish us luck!


PS. I’m now contemplating making my NaNoWriMo novel targeted at a middle grades/young adult audience. This is completely off-course from my previous plans, but it sounds like fun to write something I can actually share with them while they’re writing…

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