NaNoWriMo and the 10,000 Words…

NaNoWriMo, Day 19.  I am in bed today.  I am in bed today, because my fibromyalgia symptoms are significant enough to keep me in bed today.

I am in bed today although I ought to be doing so much else.  Perhaps I am in bed today because I ought not to have been doing as much as I have been.

Regardless of which it is, there is only one thing that I can do today:  write.

I will be writing many things today, including approximately 5,000 to 10,000 words for NaNoWriMo.  Writing so many words will, apparently, bring me back on track to complete the required 50,000 words by November 30th.

The idea of writing so very many words does not seem daunting at all, but rather enjoyable.  This is what I have discovered as I have been doing NaNoWriMo.  I truly enjoy writing stories.  I enjoy the process of discover that happens with every written word.  What I mean is that even though I have an outline (and thank the universe that I do), I am still discovering new aspects of my characters and of the stories.  I am learning that a story is not a linear experience and involves more trekking off the main road than I had previously thought. In other words, I am recognizing that writing a story is akin to writing a poem, where each word hold innumerable meaning.

Of course, it helps to have a deadline, which one may choose to meet or not.  For me, I am certain that I will meet it.  I understand, however, as I have been writing that getting to 50,000 words is not the end.  Truly, getting to 50,000 means only that I have formed the skeleton upon which the body of my story is to be carried.

The setup for NaNoWriMo at home, if I need to ...

The setup for NaNoWriMo at home, if I need to be portable. Long exposure lit by sweeping an LED flashlight over the scene. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Really, I suppose I want to reiterate the point made by other NaNoWriMo writers and bloggers.  That is, the point of NaNoWriMo, I believe, is not to force one into writing a novel in one month.  Rather, it is to inspire one to draft a story, on which one will continue to work until its completion.

Truly, writing an entire novel is a daunting enterprise as many, who have tried to so do, can attest.  The standard novel is approximately 100,000 words.  NaNoWriMo’s challenge allows one to get to the half-way mark, i.e. 50,000 words.  Moreover, having to meet the deadline of November 30th aids in pushing one pass the block of procrastination.  I believe that the focus on quantity rather than quality forces one to dismiss the voices of self-criticism and self-doubt, in order to put down on paper the ideas that have been floating in our creative minds.

NaNoWriMo is not about writing a bestseller off the bat, but perhaps getting our thoughts organized enough to write something of interest to ourselves and hopefully others (if we choose to share it).  I am glad that I read Harley Jane Kozak‘s “NaNoNoNoNoNoNoMo” in Write Good or Die that deals with the challenges and humour of doing NaNoWriMo.

English: An Italian shopping list for groceries.

English: An Italian shopping list for groceries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like Kozak, some of us may find ourselves thinking that the “only way to pull it off is to throw grocery lists into my novel, along with my Thanksgiving Squash Souffle Recipe, William’s home phone number, notes to my kids’ teachers, and drafts of the text for my Christmas cards, which need to get to the printer.”

Perhaps, as Kozak ended, we may even choose to cut and past our blogs to make our word count. 😉  Either way, we should try to have fun with it, no matter how it turns out in the end.  After all, as one of my professors recently said to me, “Every month is National Novel Writing Month.”

I hope all NaNoWriMo-ers are also making their way towards the deadline in good spirits.  Eleven more days to go! 🙂

Until Next Time!



When we are unsure,

…we are alive. – Graham Greene

Tomorrow begins NaNoWriMo, and today I learnt an important lesson:  it is okay not to know.  I do not know what will happen as I begin to write my story.  Yes, I have outline.  Yes, I have been reading various books on novel writing.  Yes, I feel passionately about my ideas thus far.  The fact, however, still remains that the moment my fingers strike the keyboard; tapping out words to form images, tapping out words to create feeling, tapping, tapping; it means I let go of my control.  I let go of the safe thoughts that have been circulating in my mind about what my story is or what it ought to be.  I place myself at the mercy of my imagination and my subconscious.  Is this scary?   Heck, yes!  It conjures images of failure of all types, and failing is something I fear greatly.  This is what I realized also today.  I fear failure, which goes hand-in-hand with my fear of not knowing.

It is okay not to know.  I write those words to remind myself that I am capable of being a good parent to myself, capable enough to allow myself humanity.  There are often times when I surrender to not knowing the future, not remembering the past, not being in the present.  Now, I surrender to not knowing myself in my entirety.  It is okay not to know.

This is my mantra starting tonight.  The last three weeks have been something akin to internal hell with a body that was failing me, a mind that was frustrating me with old expectations that echo from words spoken by people in the past:  there is no room for failure, 99% is not enough.   Still, even after thirty-four years, the drive for perfection in so very many things continues to present in my waking steps, perhaps too in my dreams .  It is okay not know, perhaps never to know.  I am a living being.  I am not static.  I am dynamic, ever-changing, ever embracing the process of life.

I remind myself now that there is nothing for which to ask forgiveness, and perhaps there never will be as long as I am trying my very best.  Some days I will achieve 100%.  Some days I will achieve 50%.  There are only two points: to live and to write.  Perhaps it is to live through writing.

It’s time to begin NaNoWriMo! 😉  Good luck, everyone!



What I write…

Found on Tumblr (File name: tumblr_lxk4ytehyo1qzuyz3o1_500.png)

A relatively quiet Sunday.  All the shops are closed, except the fruit stand and the pizzeria around the corner.  I took a break from writing, and actually took the time to sort through some writing.  I decided to post some work that I had done over the course of the past academic year.

I decided to do this partly because a friend asked me to email her a copy of a short story that I had written, and partly because of something my mother said to me a few days ago, i.e. “It doesn’t make sense to keep all of this to yourself.  You have to share it.”  She was, at the time, referring to my poetry.  I think, however, that the same goes for my other writing.As I prepare for NaNoWriMo, I have come to recognise that although I have always written, I never really considered myself capable of writing stories.

Yes, some years ago, I sat down at began writing a novel, to which I hope to return once I have some more distance from it and have become a better writer.  Even as a child, I started stories, but rarely did I find their endings.  Perhaps it was simply that I did not want to imagine an end to my stories then, or perhaps I did not know how to end them.

It was different with poetry.  I would write, then rewrite, then rewrite.  All of that with the effort of finding the end, finding the meaning of all that wanted to say.  In poetry I sought answers to the questions that plagued me.

It is with tremendous thanks to my professors, authors Carlos Dews and Elizabeth Geoghegan, in creative writing that I have gained the confidence that I can find my endings to my stories.  I hope as I go along that I will make them proud of the foundation that they helped me to build.

So, please, review my stories and personal essays to be found under the Writing section of this blog.

Short Stories

Personal Essays

YWriter5 & NaNoWriMo

Sono distrutta.  There is no other way to state it.  After studying for some hours at the library, then returning home with the goal of organizing my outline for NaNoWriMo on YWriter5, I honestly feel like my brain is melting.

For those of you who either do not know, or have forgotten–November is National Novel Writing Month.  What, do you ask, is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)?  Well, it is a simple test of will and stamina.  At least, that’s how I see it.  I am certain that other people have more that they could say on the subject.  This is, however, my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, and so…I will leave any further comments about it until after the fact.

According to the official website, “National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30.”

Yes, that’s right… Fifty thousand words…One hundred and seventy-five pages…In one month…Um, should I say “Uncle” now?

No, no, I am actually looking forward to it.  Moreover, I have been diligently preparing.  Hence, YWriter5.  What is YWriter5?  It is a word processor created by Simon Haynes (author and programmer), and is specifically designed to meet the needs of authors as they create their novels.   I first learnt about YWriter a couple of months ago while reading/listening to K. M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel:  Map Your Way To Success.  By the way, K. M. Weiland‘s book is truly amazing.  It really helped me to translate my thoughts (I think in images) into words on paper.  It is a book that I have read many time since purchasing it.

The setup for NaNoWriMo at home, if I need to ...

The setup for NaNoWriMo at home, if I need to be portable. Long exposure lit by sweeping an LED flashlight over the scene. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, I am still fairly new to YWriter (as in today-new).  My experience with it thus far, however, has been truly great!  The structure of the program really suits my way of thinking.  There are sections for characters, scenes, chapters, locations, etc.  And also, the sections are further broken down.

For example, the Character section includes biography, goals, notes, image, etc.  And even within those sections, there is still some break down.  Thus, the program really pushes you to think about the various aspects of how you are designing characters, settings, or outlining your chapters and explaining your scenes.  If you like to write, then it seems like a great tool try…Plus, it’s free.

Anyway, the point of my ramble today was not to act as a promoter, but to share my success in actually using YWriter to begin organizing my project (I hate to say the word “novel.”  It feels a bit too scary at this time).  Now, what I have come to realize by engaging in this process is that when I write long-hand, I lack organization like nobody’s business.

Seriously, I have notes scratched here and there.  Somethings that were started at the beginning of one notebook  were continued at the end of the notebook, or on a piece of scratch paper.  I am learning to smile at myself…and I am wicked glad (yes, I wrote “wicked”) that I found YWriter in time to organize myself for NaNoWriMo.


November (Photo credit: kurafire)

Well, I am off to search for more loose pieces of paper before heading off to bed.  Also, if you have ever thought to yourself, Man, I think I could write a book/novel/short story/whatever, then consider joining me on my NaNoWriMo journey…we can cry and laugh together.  Twelve days and counting…Until Next Time!



the small things…and my mother’s words

Found on Tumblr (File name: tumblr_lxk4ytehyo1qzuyz3o1_500.png)

I am listening to Vivaldi‘s Four Seasons: Summer.  I did this last night as well.  I enjoy the Four Seasons in its entirety, but it is Summer that makes me yearn to reach for a life that is beyond the moments that are painful for me.  For me pain, I realise, acts as a barrier.  It shuts out my desires, my thoughts, and thus my words.  The mind contained with the brain contained within the body then no longer belongs to me.  It belongs to my pain.  Why write about this today? Well, the title says it all.  The small things in life make whatever pain I may  be experiencing seem insignificant.  I am reminded that it is temporary.  That like the music of Vivaldi, I, too, will have my crescendo after this prolonged but momentary decrescendo–this is the nature of all things in life.  We fall to rise, rise to fall.  I am not so different than anyone else.  Simply, my pain functions to punctuate the music of my life.  It brings me back down to see the world from a place of quietness…stillness even. Slowly, the music of my life is building once again.  It is a lovely thought.

(How amazing is this violinist exactly?  Yes, I am in-love…You ought to be too)
My Mother…
is an amazingly talented, hardworking, forthright, and beautiful lady.  It’s that simply.  Were I to study for the rest of my life, my knowledge could never amount to that which she possesses. Well, she and I spoke last night for the first time in about two weeks–I have a tendency to hide myself away when I am ill–and she shared with two very important things:
She told me stories about her childhood and her relationship with my grandfather, and even about my great-grandfather.
She told me also to stop hiding myself (i.e. my writing)–this kind of statement may seem strange given that I have a fairly public life (ahem, this blog, etc.).
The second point she mentioned to me after I had read to her some of my new poetry and an essay I wrote about my grandfather.  Now, one might say, Well, mothers say this kind of thing.  Well, not my mother.  She doesn’t say anything unless she absolutely means.  Her honesty is undeniable.  You can count her to tell you what’s up.  She sees it as her duty to help others see where they can improve.  Thus, you can imagine how wonderful it was for me to hear my mother tell me that my new writing was worthwhile and worthy for publication.  🙂  Yeah, I was like Yay!  Go me!

So, where does this leave me.  Well, simply that I feel more energized to write.  The question mark of am-I-good-writer that is sometimes looming largely over my head is quite diminished.  Now the question is what steps should I take to get published.  Hmm?  It seems easier said than done.

Anyone have any thoughts on the benefits of self-publishing poetry?  Or submitting essays? Well, do share if you do.  In the interim, I will be making my own investigations.
Also, I’ve just signed of for NaNoWriMo (Noational Novel Writing Month).  So, please, light a fire under me if you see my word count not increasing once I start.  Start day is November 1st and my username is diemblake. 🙂
Until Next Time!