A Month of Crazy Writing

November is National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.com). That means if you go to the website I indicated in parens, you can join thousands (maybe even millions? who knows, I’m bad in math) of crazy writers all over the world and write a 50,000+ word novel in a month.

That breaks down to 25 days of writing (for me, because I take a break on Sundays) which equals 2,000 words, roughly 5 type-written pages, or 7 book pages per day! If I’m fast, I can write 2 pages/hour. But when I’m slow, it can take all day. So you do the math… I’m going to be busy in November — oops, that’s today! So how many words have I written? 114, just what I’ve written above and that doesn’t even count 😦

This will be my 2nd year participating. Last year, I wrote “The Gifted Zaylin” which is still being edited. At the end of last November, I said it would be my last. And here I am now, considering the task once again. I may or may not finish this time. No promises, just a goal. So why do it?… Besides being an excellent exercise in writing every day, for me, it’s like having a baby. Eventually, you forget how painful it is. You see the cute little toes of a novel, grow into a walking toddler and then the thing you created starts to talk. And you love it when it’s sleeping (or working well) and you “hate it” when it’s not listening (or not working), but it’s alive and wants to thrive. So you forget the pain of birth and you do it all over again. Why, oh why? That’s why.

So if you dare, join me (or cheer me on). Buy a book or two on writing a novel, create a loose plot, then write with wreckless abandon. Then we’ll hug and kiss on the other side of November, with a novel (good or bad) in one hand and a glass of sparkling apple cider in the other (I am writing for young adults, after all).

When the euphoria of finishing ebbs away, the real tough part begins, taking the story deeper and doing the hard work of editing. It’s all part of the wonderful process or birthing a bouncing baby book.

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The Neurosis of This Writer

Recently, I was stressed (again). So I listed all I’m doing (on a daily, weekly and monthly basis). Then I listed all that I wish I were doing and all that I wish I weren’t doing. Then I listed my priorities. If I had a few more days to kill, I’d add to my already existing lists (what to blog list, how to save $ list, bucket list, fix-it list, grocery list, to do list, to read list, to watch list, to learn list, to write about list). Then I’d add lists within my lists: all the people I want to call (many of you are probably on that list), all the prayers I want God to answer, all the places I want to visit before I die… you get the point. I have a lot of things on my mind and I like lists.

The Go Go’s (and I) sang a song in the 80’s, “I am the girl of 100 lists…” Yup, that’s me, to a “T.” Lists help me feel organized and in control, except when I have so many lists, I can’t keep track anymore. I think I’m getting to that stage. Maybe I’ve gone beyond.

So why do I make these lists? Well, it is a form of writing for this writer. But I suppose there’s a deeper issue; I don’t know? Maybe you can help me here? It’s stressing me out to just think about it. I’m tempted to list the possibilities.

For now, the bottom line is this: God created me this way. He created a passion in me, to want to experience much. Often this feels like a curse; I’ve become a Jack-Of-All-Trades and master of none, a jumbled mess of wants. But more than a curse, I am trying to see it as a blessing. And to write helps me go there, to go to God with the swirl of thoughts in my head. And to live in eternity gives me time to do it all.

The key is to do things for the right reasons (for me, it’s to glorify God), prioritize, and relax. There, just a list of 3. I’m getting better already.

Writing Journal: Rejected Rhino

Recently, my first short story submission was rejected from a children’s magazine. I won’t say which one, but it’s very well-known and rhymes with “this bites.”

Honestly, I’m not bitter. I knew going in that I would have to send in 100+ submissions before getting my first acceptance; so I have at least 99 more to go. Still, this rejection stings. And I’m sure every single one thereafter will also.

Everyone gets rejected: from a choice college, a job, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a loan… Unfortunately, I’ve entered and love a field where rejection is the norm. I am (or trying to be) a fiction writer for children. And as such a writer who is finally trying to get published, I must psychologically evolve into a rhino, thick-skinned and always moving forward.

Though I’ve written for newspapers, I feel like I’m learning to write all over again. The children’s book writing world and the business around it has its own unique challenges. And I am learning.

So as I prepare to send my work to agents, I ready my rhino dermis and resolve. Right now, I am a children’s writing nobody and maybe always will be. The glimmer of hope is in knowing that other writers believe in me and in what I’ve written so far. And maybe one day, just the right acquiring editor will also believe in the works I produce.

In the mean time, I try to remember why I write: because God gave me this passion, it glorifies Him when I do it, it feeds my soul because that’s how I was made, and the stories that bubble within are worth sharing.

So bring on the rejections. It’s part of the life I’ve chosen to embrace. I consider it a privilege to enter the arena with masters who have gone before me, who were rejected more times than they can count (J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Herman Melville, George Orwell, Judy Blume, Beatrix Potter, Madeline L’Engle, Dr. Seuss…) They continue, if still alive, their rhino-like efforts to keep doing what they are good at and love and so will I.