Reading & Writing

The Writer Who Doesn’t Write

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I have not written in a couple of weeks.

Sure, I’ve rattled off a few blog posts, though you’ve doubtless noticed a decline in quality. And lists: ’tis the season for list-making. But my novel has sat, neglected, inside my laptop. My journal is empty, my mind filled not with whimsy and dreams, but numbers, time frames, estimations.

For me, this is an aberration. It happens occasionally, but pragmatism is not my status quo. It baffles me that there are people who always live in this mind space and not just because they have to. Perhaps it shouldn’t–my husband is one of them, and without his attention to detail we would be in a whole heap of trouble–but while I understand the necessity of all this infrastructure and organization, and even revel in it from time to time, it will never give me the thrill I get from creativity.

At least, I hope it won’t.

A lot of the numbers and lists lately have had to do with my online business: selling vintage books and handmade creations, attempting to figure out what people want to buy, trying to learn to think like a business person. It’s the kind of thing I’ve long known I could do, but have avoided because of the immense amount of time and energy it requires. For me, writing has always come first. I’ve had mostly mindless jobs, partly because I didn’t want to drain my brain and come home too exhausted to write.

It has occurred to me several times over the last few months that what I’m doing now, pushing for an actual career outside the literary world, is a form of giving up. Continue reading “The Writer Who Doesn’t Write”

Reading & Writing

NaNoWriMo Recap

cropped-pen-and-paper.pngI have to confess something, you guys.

I totally failed at NaNoWriMo this year.

I was doing so well for the first week, never letting anything get in my way–you could practically hear “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background. When I didn’t know what to write I wrote anyway. I really started developing my characters.

Then I realized that my characters were me and my husband and it was getting too personal and convoluted and I was using it as therapy and I really didn’t want to write this story because it dug too deep and it felt inaccurate and I got overwhelmed. I tried to switch gears, start a new project. Then I got busy. I did what I told you all not to do; I skipped a day. Then I skipped another. I slid all the way down that slippery slope.

BUT: Do you remember what I said about NaNoWriMo being a writing exercise more than a quick way to produce a novel? Even when you don’t finish it, it is. And the point of writing exercises is to open up your creativity, give you fresh ideas, and maybe help you learn about yourself as a writer. For me, it was the latter. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Recap”

Reading & Writing

NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Skip to the End

IMG_0454You are almost there, you NaNoWriMo-er, you. Just one more day! You will make it to that finish line. You WILL.

But you might be having trouble. You might be exhausted.

Here’s what you’re gonna do. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Skip to the End”

Reading & Writing

NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Something Sweet

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How’s it going, writer? Are the keys still clattering, the pens still scratching? I hope so. It’s pretty amazing to push through a challenge like this. There are low points, yes, but I think overall it gives you confidence. At the end, you get the runner’s high of knowing you finished a marathon. I know from experience: that feels amazing.

 

I want you to reward yourself today. If I could, I would give each and every one of you a piece of your favorite candy and a high five. (And if you don’t like candy, you weirdo, I guess I’d give you…um…bacon?) Obviously, I can’t do that (though if you know me personally, feel free to hold me to my word) but I can encourage you to get yourself a treat, sit down, and savor it. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Something Sweet”

Reading & Writing

NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Go Somewhere Beautiful

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We are smack in the middle of NaNoWriMo, and by now you’re probably getting tired. Maybe you know where your plot is going; maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re getting a little sick of your characters, or you feel like you’re just a robotic typing machine and writing has become little more than a chore you grudgingly get through each day. Maybe you’re thinking that NaNoWriMo is a joke, and whatever reasons you had to start this challenge now seem thin and brittle.

You could quit. Popular wisdom aside, quitting is ALWAYS an option. You didn’t pay anything to do this (unless you donated, but that’s a charitable thing, not an entrance fee) and unless you’ve plugged into the network of NaNo enthusiasts (which it’s never too late to do), no one is really expecting you to finish.

Self care is important. If it’s killing you, why continue?

But is it really killing you? Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Go Somewhere Beautiful”

Reading & Writing

How to Win NaNoWriMo

blogger-chicken.pngHappy November!

Halloween has come and gone and today, All Saints Day, thousands of writers across the country are firing up their word processors for the first day of NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.

If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo, here’s the gist: to participate in the official NaNoWriMo competition, you go on the website, create an account, and then spend the next 30 days hammering out 50,000 words of fiction. Continue reading “How to Win NaNoWriMo”

Reading & Writing

Writing Prompt: Fake News

cropped-pen-and-paper.pngDo you read The Onion? I do, occasionally. Sometimes it’s hilarious, sometimes it’s a waste of time. But amid all the chatter about “fake news” (if people are still chattering about it–I’ve mostly tuned them out) I have to wonder how often humorously fake news sources have had their headlines confused with real ones, and how much periodicals like The Onion and The Oatmeal have affected the undermining of real journalism.

Anyway, this is only a political writing prompt if you want it to be. It could be funny. That’s how I’d go with it–I’ll be straight with you, though, I don’t have time to do a writing prompt today but I have a good excuse! I’m trying to blast through the edits I need to do on my existing novel so I can get to work on NaNoWriMo come November 1. Also, I’m supposed to be editing my brother-in-law’s novel manuscript (Bear with me, Nate! I am progressing through it!). Also, I have about five billion things to make or photograph or list on Etsy, plus kids, plus errands, plus a mountain of dirty dishes.

Excuses, excuses.

Maybe you’re prepping for NaNoWriMo, too, and don’t want to bother with writing prompts. Or maybe this writing prompt works beautifully with all that novel brainstorming and I’ve totally helped you out!

I choose to believe the latter.

Share your fake news in the comments!

Reading & Writing

Weird and Wonderful Books to Read in October

It’s the Halloween season, with candy corn in all the stores and Hocus Pocus playing constantly on ABC Family (or whatever they changed the name to) but that doesn’t mean you necessarily want to read a Halloween book. Horror isn’t for all of us, and you can only read Dracula so many times (I maxed out at three). But if you want to read something sort of eerie, a little bit creepy, or slightly strange this month, something with a little substance and no real scares, you might want to pick up one (or all) of these titles.

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

Karen Russell is one of my absolute favorite authors. This collection of short stories is probably my favorite, with women turning into silk worms, girls struggling with their feral natures, and as much sparky, sparkling prose as you could ever want.

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender is so weird but also sort of incredibly normal. There’s a lot of magic in the mundane in her fictional world, and I think that’s what makes her work so special.

After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

We all know Haruki Murakami is a genius, but I think his work isn’t always the most accessible. I think one way he really connects with his readers is through the use of magical realism (or whatever you want to call that phenomenon of using magic and fantasy within a realistic story–something all of the books in this list do), which gives the reader a metaphorical way of understanding his stories. Plus, giant toads and little green monsters are amusing.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

You probably heard that Kazuo Ishiguro just won the Nobel Prize for Literature, which I think is awesome. He’s such a fantastic writer, and this is my favorite of his novels (though I admittedly haven’t read them all). Closer to science fiction than fantasy, this book presents the perspective of a very special young woman who was not meant to be special at all. I don’t want to give anything away, though they did make this into a movie a few years ago so you might already know the gist of it. But even if you saw the movie, read the book. It’s so totally worth it.

 

 

Reading & Writing

Writing Exercise: Fear

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There are a lot of ways to interpret today’s exercise. You can go the Halloween route if you choose, or respond to the horrors of recent news headlines, imagine yourself the victim of a hurricane (or if you are one, recount your experience). Whatever you write about, today I want you to write about fear.

No quippy lead-up today, no time limit. Have fun with it or use it as therapy. And this time, I’m not going to ask you to share with me, nor am I going to share mine.