Saturday, October 29, 2011


My favorite time of year approaches... National Novel Writing Month!

I'll admit, it took me a while to get into NaNoWriMo.  I've got a couple of false starts, a few failures and one success under my belt so far.  50,000 words in 30 days works out to 1,667 words per day.  That may not sound like much, but it really is.  Especially when combined with a full-time job and a life that involves things like laundry, grocery shopping, cooking dinner and doing dishes.  Not to mention taking care of a houseful of pets.  And a bum shoulder that starts aching if you sit at the keyboard for any length of time, whine whine whine.

But some of my best writing has come from NaNo.  I used the time in 2005 to shape the beginning of a contemporary romance set in the theatre industry, and even though I didn't win, I've worked on it since, and I'd say there's about 2/3 of a pretty decent story there that I really am going to finish at some point.  I think I only hit about 20K words that year because of my crappy shoulder.

I didn't play again until 2009, when a random idea on November 2 had me signing up and writing.  That was the first time I had ever "pantsed" a story, i.e. by the seat of my pants without an outline, just put fingers to keyboard with no idea where I was going.  And yeah, a lot of crap came out.  My favorite was when I was in the middle of writing this long involved scene with characters I knew were never going to figure into the story as a whole, I just had my main character get up and leave the room, and go to where the story should be.  But then, around 10,000 words or so, I knew where it was all going, and then the writing was exhilarating.  Kind of like when you're driving aimlessly in your car down side street after side street, then you find that one stoplight that you know is going to lead you back to the highway and civilization.  That rush of adrenaline-fueled relief.  Yeah.  Pantsing is like that.

My 2009 NaNovel is what I'm currently rewriting into something I'd like to try to sell.  More about it in subsequent posts, I'm sure.

This year is for fun.  Just a silly romance that I have held in my head for a long time that I want to get down on paper for no good reason.  It's not to sell, it's not even really for anyone to read but me.  Writing as recreation.  Like musicians at a jam session.

So I'm in.  My username over there is jengee, if anyone out there wants to add me as a writing buddy or just point and laugh at my progress.  Just a couple more days till the madness starts!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Who Loves Ya, Baby?

Ugh.  Haven't been feeling the writing lately.  I want to.  Sometimes the characters and the scenes do that awesome thing where they come to me just as I'm falling asleep, or when I'm driving or taking a shower, and say and do these amazingly clever things that I try to remember until I can get to a pen or a keyboard and take them down.  We know how that always ends, right?  I've also had some Life getting in the way: a wedding out of state where I had my credit cards stolen and then got a head cold.  So, lots of excuses not to write.  And who's going to notice, really?  Writing's a solitary gig.  Who cares if I don't get it done?

Then, Julia Quinn shared this story the other day on her Facebook page from romance writer Elizabeth Boyle, a writer I'm afraid I'm not familiar with.  It's about her first sale, and the lengths that she, and more importantly her husband, went through to get her manuscript where it needed to be.  I don't want to say anything more specific than that, because I really want you to read the story and I think giving you the rundown of it here would diminish some of the impact.  I'm a cynical bitch, and I was crying all over my smartphone when I read it Monday.  So just go read it.  I'll wait.

Anyway, at the end, her husband says "Don't ever say I don't support your writing!"  And Boyle ends the article And I never will.  Awwww.

It got me thinking, largely about how writers, especially those of us who have yet to drop the "aspiring" prefix, really write in a vacuum.  There's no publication contract, no agent, no NOBODY pressuring you to get it done, so it's really all on you to write.  It can be kind of liberating, but it can also get really lonely.  And it can be easy to put the writing aside, because Real Life is in the way.  It's not bringing money into the house, there's no fame and fortune in it, so it's not really worth any extra effort.  Not from you, and especially not from anyone around you. (Can you tell I've really been feeling like this lately?)

It's easy to get into that mindset, and fall into the trap of thinking that I'm in this alone.  But I'm not.  Much like the excellent Mr. Boyle, my husband is there for me.  He shoveled out the third bedroom in our house (the designated storage room crammed with stuff) and carved out a writing space for me in there.  He talked me into getting myself a comfortable laptop to write on (so my manhands aren't always cramped over my wee netbook) and a nice chair to sit in.  (I have a hard time justifying purchases for myself, so his help was necessary here.)  He reminds me every so often that I haven't finished my book yet, and I really should get to work on it.

I'm so not alone.  I have such a good friend and cheerleader in Vivien Jackson, who, despite her own crazy busy life, drops what she's doing to read my incoherent drafts and tells me that they're awesome, even though since they're at the Shitty First Draft stage I know they're anything but.

So, to the two or three people out there who have read my blog, think about it.  Think about those people in your life who love and support what you do, even if they don't go to Mr. Boyle-size lengths to show it.  Let that keep you going when you don't really feel like it.