Starting in the Middle

I have a bunch of story ideas. They are semi-organized; meaning that most of them have character lists and sketches and are in their own folders. Some of them are no longer viable or interesting to me and some of them will become subplots in other stories but one of them is a must write. The working title is “The Funeral” and I initially started working on it based on an observation one cool, overcast morning in D.C. in 2001/2. 

Don’t be ‘a writer.’ Be writing. 

                     -William Faulkner 

The story is a mixture of that initial observation and quite a few outrageous occurrences. Unfortunately, I have had quite a bit of experience with funerals and they have included some weird moments so I hope to insert that feeling.  One of my cousins, who’s like a sister, and I have the tendency to laugh at funerals. We’ve done it so many times that it’s probably second nature at this point. That’s another underlying theme that I want to infuse into the story; the unexpected hilarity of family gatherings. I am intrigued by the idea that outrageous things happen even in times of sorrow.

I have switched the heroine three times in drafting/working on the story but I’m convinced that I finally have the right one. The supporting characters have remained the same for the most part and they are all extremely entertaining. I have index cards with dialogue and interesting tidbits to insert But in revisiting the story I realized that I will be crafting it from scratch because I lost three to five pages in the great hard drive crash of 2012. What I do have though is the original folder: full of ideas, character sketches, and my initial observations and I’m so excited about building this story.

I’ve decided that this is one of my projects for this year and I am not waiting for November to get started. I look forward to sharing bits of it with you as it’s created. Do any of you have a story that just won’t leave you alone? One that you just have to write?

Writer’s Travel List-Update

I went to New Orleans, again! This time, I was able to mark off something from my literary travel wish list. Right before I landed, I took a look at the New Orleans section of the list just as a refresher. Of course, I visited the French Quarter, and ate beignets and po’ boys but…I also went to Faulkner House Books. It was so amazing! It’s a small place but it’s shelves are filled with books so as a bibliophile I was suitably impressed. I managed to keep my purchases down to two books but I’m already envisioning a trip back. 

I was also able to sneak in a bit of writing while I was away. I’ve found that when I travel, I’m almost always inspired to create. So expect to see that in the coming weeks. 

Don’t Make Plans

A few weeks ago, I shared that I planned to do things a bit differently this year at least concerning my submission goal and that I planned to study for and take the GRE. Well, we’re almost through the first month of 2017 and I’m already flaking on those goals. Seriously! In my defense, there are a few literary journals that I already had listed to submit pieces to and I need to get those in by February for the most part. 

I still want to work on some academic and nonfiction pieces while I have the time but first and foremost is getting these poems submitted. Especially since it’s on my to do list for the year. I have so many pieces that I think are interesting and one that I want to research and build so here’s to hoping that I can make it happen. 

The GRE is being pushed to the back burner because I am seriously reconsidering, again, whether I truly want to pursue a Ph.D. I’ve been waging this battle for quite a while but I think that I’ll eventually (hopefully) get the GRE taken. 

 In the meantime, I am finishing these poems for submission and then getting back to my original plan. I  hope! 

Notes from Grief


As some of the longtime readers of the blog know, I went through several really difficult losses from 2011-2012 and again in 2014. When I lost my fur baby in January 2011, I was unsure if I would survive it. He was my first pet after a really disastrous loss of my previous pets and I grew up surrounded by dogs but it was still hard. Until I lost my mom in 2012. I thought that I would never recover from that loss. It was as if my heart would never heal. Then in February 2014, I lost one of my best friends and in September of that year I lost a cousin who was like my sister. Those losses battered me. Make me feel as if I would never feel anything ever again. 

Those losses taught me some lessons that I absolutely want to convey into a writing course for people who are grieving. Until then, I wanted to share this short piece that I’m adding to the novella that I wrote as my thesis. 

If you’re lucky, grief doesn’t break you. It may shake your foundation and alter you irreparably but often it makes you stronger. In the days after, you wonder how you’re going to make it through another day then you realize that you’re still breathing, walking, feeling; even if it’s nothing but hurt. Grief doesn’t destroy you completely. It’s like a natural disaster; it makes you rebuild. 

                                      

Next Year, New Plan


Normally I begin the year with pre-set writing resolutions/goals and that list typically involves creating and shopping new pieces. Next year, I’ve decided to do it a bit differently. I’m going to open the year by studying (really this time) for the GRE and by working on a few academic/nonfiction pieces. I am currently experiencing the kind of creative inspiration that happens periodically so I have ideas coming from all over but they sparked the decision to try to work and create differently. Not in the hopes of having a better outcome but of being more creative and productive. 

I’m currently taking a nonfiction course and have just finished the first draft of the one story that I’ve been avoided since October 13, 2012. It was not cathartic but in getting the story on paper I feel as though I have accomplished something. As I began revising it and trying to decide how I could make it real for the reader I saw the Google Doodle for Steve Biko and remembered a paper that I wanted to write so I jotted down some notes for that idea too. One of my favorite things about teaching World Literature II this spring was having the opportunity to insert some protest literature into the course. That allowed me to introduce myou students to Biko and others they were unfamiliar with. So I want to write about that experience or about that literature.

Are there any ways that you plan to alter your plans for the new year? Have any of you already set your goals for the next year? 

AM I A NANOWRIMO’ER?

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So I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately because of what happened during last year’s event. I wanted to be honest with myself because I hate failure but I don’t know if I have it in me to try again. When I first found out about NaNoWriMo in 2010, I knew that I wanted to try it. Although it took three years before I got the chance, I really enjoyed the process the first two years and I felt enriched and empowered by the experience. Last year, I exploded in an inferno of pressure and a lack of commitment.

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. -Benjamin Franklin

I have been trying to convince myself that I can dedicate the time and energy to tackling the event again this year but I simply have no drive. I have several stories sitting around waiting to be completed but have not made the move to work on them. I have even almost convinced myself that I can complete something by simply sitting down and writing almost every day without having NaNoWriMo as motivation. Usually, I have a notebook together, with the plot outlined and character sketches completed but this year I have nothing. Not even an idea about which story I would tackle. Almost two weeks from now, I should be ready for a series of write in’s but I’m just ready for apple cider, hot tea and snuggling up on the couch to read after work. And I have decided that I’m allowed to do that too.

Is anyone else quibbling over whether to participate this year? If so, what are your other plans?

 

Prepping for November

 

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It’s almost that time again. November is right around the corner and I have been toying around with whether I’m going to participate this year after last year’s disastrous results. I’m going to discuss that in a later post but for now I want to talk about a few different preparation events/sources that are taking place this month.

Resources

Prep_tober is an event led by Rachael Stephen geared towards helping writers prepare for NaNoWrimo but more than that she provides resources that you can decide what to pay for. What I like about this resource is that it helps you get into the mindset for November which can be a long month if you’re not inspired. She also has live events in Glasgow this month which I think would be especially helpful since it’s reminiscent of NaNoWriMo’s Write In events.  http://www.rachaelstephen.com/prep_tober/

Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.     –Confucius

Ninja Writers is awesomely amazing group that provided resources and workshops that will help you prepare for writing your novel. Shanta offers both free and paid workshops, a Facebook group and prompts that will get you in the mood to write and keep you writing. Right now the big thing is 31 Days of Being a Ninja Writer. Although I’m posting this late in the month I still suggest giving it a look. Every day, in your inbox you receive a suggestion, tool or idea to help you write for ten minutes every day. Ten minutes, how sweet is that?  http://www.whatisaplot.com/the-ninja-writers-academy/

 

Rachel Giesel’s Real+Good Writing is another resource that I highly suggest. She has a great blog posts and a wonderful library that you can access if you opt in to her mailing list. I cannot recommend this site enough. Rachel has also recently launched a writing workshop too. So be sure to look out for the next time it’s open. One of my favorite posts revolves around the Camp NaNoWriMo packing list which you can also use during November. The post includes links to other sites that also have useful posts for prepping for NaNoWriMo. http://rachelgiesel.com/

 

I hope these resources provide some help for anyone preparing for next month or simply to write a novel. I am still undecided but these sites make me feel as if I will be prepared should I decide to tackle NaNoWriMo again.