At a wedding dinner this past weekend, someone at my table asked me: “Are you still writing?” I responded quickly and without thought: “Always.”
In actuality, the month of May was an unusual off-writing month, except for some revisions. I was busy with three trips and a wedding weekend (12 hours), and included the Anniversary-BBQ weekend. Yet, I am always writing, even when it’s not working with the words of the story. A couple of examples:
During the outside rehearsal time when I was not needed, I took a walk with a boyfriend of one of the bridesmaids. He grew up in the Philippines. I grew up outside. I pointed out a mint plant, crushed and tasted it, pointed out the square stem and told him a story involving mint where I nearly died. I told him history, too, but mostly when I spoke (there was a lot of silently enjoying nature), it was about the land…about flora and fauna. On that walk I was a teacher, a storyteller, a writer in disguise.
Last month I drew and thought a lot about a large-scale map of my fantasy world, including lands and peoples not even incorporated into my tales. I find it interesting how the landscape can “make” a people. People living in milder climate next to a sea are a different sort from those who live in the mountains with their warm days spent gathering enough food for their long and cold days. Desert dwellers. River folk. Animal farmers. Crop farmers. Each set of people are different, with the land forming who the people are. I didn’t do much revisions, nor any raw writing at all this past month, but I was working on it, thinking about it, drawing it. That’s writing, too.
There was also new people interactions, which is always handy references for characterizations.
Am I still writing? Always. How about you?
Today starts National Poetry Month. Therefore, my April Challenge to anyone willing to accept it, is to write one poem a day all month long.
Okay, here’s my problem: I’m a horrid poet, and know it. I can’t even tell the Longfellow joke right. Sure, I own a few books of poetry and even a couple rhyming books, but, yikes! A poem a day! Who is crazy enough to accept such a challenge? Wait, wait! Aren’t couplets considered poetry? Why, yes, Sandy, they are. Even kids could write two sentences which end with a rhyme each day. What about songs? They are merely poems under another jacket cover. Okay, I’ll get my creative juices going, accept my own challenge, and see how disciplined I am to see how many poems I get written this month. Who knows? I may even be inspired to write more than just a couplet a day.
The Farmer’s Almanac let me know that April comes from the Latin word aperio, meaning “to open or bud,” because plants begin to grow this month. Perhaps… just perhaps some poet will begin to bud this month as well. Good luck to all you poet challenge accepters.
(BTW, today also starts National Humor Month, so if you wanted to swing on over to my Humor Blog ( http://sandycarl.blogspot.com ) you will find one antidote or personal story or joke every day during April. Somehow, that seems so much easier to do than a poem a day. Who thought of this, anyway? A poem a day. Yeesh.)
At the beginning of March, I sent out a personal challenge (and included any others to join me) of writing 20,000 raw words (new words) during the month. How did you all do? Sadly, I didn’t reach my goal. I only made about 1/3 of the way through. If only an editor or agent were on my back pushing me… NO EXCUSES! I didn’t meet my goal. Too bad. Those are 4,000 words I didn’t have before, plus I have a full day ahead of me to write more. (If only the sun would stop shining so I wouldn’t be tempted to go outside and do some yard work.)
Tomorrow’s a new month. I’ll have a new writing challenge to set before you to get those creative juices flowing. For me, it will be a scary challenge. Oh, this challenge is on top of my revision of an entire novel during April. Hello, Spring!
Now you see! With thirty-one days in the month, and no scheduled holidays off from school or work, THIS makes for a much better writing challege month (v.s. November/ NaNoWriMo when it’s not only one day shorter, but has THREE holidays thrown in the mix, plus the holiday weekends often with family buzzing about).
So… simple dimple writing challenge: Write 20,000 by the month’s end. It does not have to be edited. It could simply be Raw Writing (writing without thinking with the editing coming later).
Each January, I set writing goals before me for the coming year. At the end of December, I look over my goals and reflect on how I have improved and/or moved forward in this bizarre career of writing.
The first goal I listed in January of 2010 was to find work at MacDonald’s, or else to quit writing entirely. I’m very happy to announce that I did neither of those things, although working at a fast food for research purposes had crossed my mind several times during the year.
I only attended one live writers conference (usually it’s more), but I participated in several on-line conferences or workshops in 2010.
I’m disappointed that I only sent out a few submissions to editors or agents. Like winning the lottery, and the fact that you must buy a ticket in order to win, so it is with writing. Write your story, revise it, have it critiqued, revise it a few more times, but then you must submit it if you want to see it published.
However, the good news is that I revised (a few times) my historical MG novel, written during the 2009 NaNoWriMo period, and I wrote and revised (a few times) my tween fantasy, as well as worked on some shorter stories. One polished novel a year isn’t too bad at all. Maybe, though, future goals would be more than one a year.
I also helped clean turtles in a river oil spill near our house. This was not a writing goal for 2010; however, I never find time-investments in new things a waste. I’m sure oil spills or turtles will show themselves in a future story.
How did your 2010 writing goals work out?
NaNoWriMo comes in November. So does Thanksgiving and my husband’s birthday. Last year, my first NaNo, I ended up not writing the last six days of the month because of cooking company. (Here is a good sidetrack point about grammar. With a missing comma or word, you may come to the conclusion that I am a cannibal. Not true. I meant that I was doing a lot of cooking, and better than normal cleaning, for company.) Hence, I did not “win” last year. However, I did get a completed novel out of it later, which was, in my opinion, the whole purpose of the NaNoWriMo exercise.
Although I’ve kept up with the daily word count so far this year (1,667 words/day), and have even stashed away some extra words each day, expecting not to be writing around the Thanksgiving period, I found myself sinking into a slump. I was doing well. I am doing well. And yet here I am in a writing depression. What is that about?
And then I open my NaNoWriMo email from my regional leader. She mentioned that Week Two was the hardest week of all. What? Had she come into my house? Into my head? How did she know that? I suppose I should have felt more comforted, knowing other writers were feeling, at this point, the same as I. “No!” I shout. “I am not a groupie. I am an individual writer! I will not be like everyone else. Ha. I’m not depressed any more. There.” And I’m off to write my 1,667+ words.
YIKES-A-ROONIE! I just realized today that earlier this month, I put out an August Writer’s Challenge of writing 10,000 Raw (first draft) words by September first. How you doing? Surprisingly, I may make that goal. I know I have nearly 10,000 words started on a new YA (young adult) fantasy, but I’m not sure if I’m going to leave in certain bits to make it into a MG (middle grade) story or not, yet. I THINK I wrote nearly all those words this month, but I may have started in July, too. I’ve been a tad bit scatter-brained this summer.
Has this summer been crazy for other people as well? Family, travels, cleaning oil off of turtles… well, maybe everyone hasn’t been doing that last one, but I’d encourage you to help if you can… heat, humidity. There are lots of summer distractions for writers.
So… how have you done on the August writing challenge?
No more excuses. There are still six days left in the month. Get writing, already!
Just to keep you on task, and to encourage you to do the same, I’ve written 3 chapters of my newest story this past week. I had to rewrite chapter two four or five times before I could move on. I’m still not satisfied with it, but feel the information is essential as early on as possible. Oh, where is my editor to tell me what works? But this is totally the first draft, even with several rewrites of one chapter. Only a little over 2,000 words so far. 8,000 to go by the end of August. Push. Push. Can do! You, too?
Here it is.. With three and a half weeks left in the month, the challenge I charge to you is to write 10,000 RAW (i.e., new) words by September 1. No, I do not mean for you to write out a list of words like erity, makeabee, xabertous, and bbbbletah. I mean, 10,000 raw writing words, put together into a rough draft stage of a new story or part of a story. Simple dimple, right?
Need a starter word? How about starfish? Or xabertous?
Ready? Set? Go!
Speaking of fairy tales… I thought I’d share a shot I took last week of a premature faerie. Shhh!
Now quietly go write a story about this.