Writing: Live to Write

Are you like me? I struggle with two inner voices. Well, I have more than two. But, this post is about the battle I fight for creative writing time.

One voice urges me to sit; take some time in my writer’s chair. Write a blog post, rework a scene from that 50k I wrote a couple of years back during NaNoWriMo, or read. It tells me, I won’t write unless I make the time. True.

A second — often louder — voice says other tasks have priority. There is much to do; and the clock only gives me 24 hours. Parenting, family, professional pursuits, volunteer commitments, errands, socializing, exercise, household responsibilities and style hunting all pull rank. Something has to change.

I try to quiet the two voices. Compromise is necessary. Balance is in order. I must live in order to have content. Life calls. Experiences give writing authenticity and encourage connections with readers. Therefore, I must not feel too badly when my writer’s chair remains empty for stretches of time. The voice that compels me to create will be victorious… eventually.

NaNoWriMo: The Week After

Well, it’s been almost one week. I have ignored my characters’ pleas to change their scenery or edit their dialogue. In fact, I haven’t even peaked at their story.

I figure it’s the winter holiday season; and I do have two school-aged children chattering non-stop about Santa, Rudolph, and our temporary live-in elf from the North Pole, Neptune. Retracing my steps through Jakarta, Melbourne, and Capri will have to wait for those frigid January days when I am looking for a warm-up.

Looking back on my first 50k experience, the circle of writers I came to know — some strangers and some long-time friends — was the most valuable takeaway. MB, my childhood friend, was really the catalyst for my participation. I truly appreciated having a pal rooting for me to come away with full pages each day. Three new acquaintances I made a long the way include thesweetkitten, talin401, and limebirdbeth. The first posts about Brussels, Belgium. I was drooling over the photos and the delicacies detailed there. The later two are about writing, which I now follow for insight and inspiration.

This first 50k, was indeed, an enriching experience.

NaNoWriMo: In the End

At 11:10 pm, November 30, my word count surpassed 7ok. Clearly, I had made the 50k mark in my first annual NaNoWriMo challenge. But, I told myself my form needed polish. The story read like a 5k without that explosive sprint to the finish line.

So, there I sat listening to Foo Fighters’ Everlong. Do I risk it? If I edit, I could get tripped up or sidelined. I might not make it before the buzzer goes of to call the race. As I considered my options, I kept hearing Jillian Michael‘s voice from her cardio kickboxing DVD.

“Don’t cheat me!” she shouted.

Did I ever mention I hate alarms? They interrupt all the important stuff like sleep, dreams and sex. I think it’s better to let nature tell me when it’s time to wake up, go to bed, walk the dog, or write.

Besides, I just wasn’t content with my story. I kept rehashing the plot in my head. Was it exciting? If I was snuggled on my couch reading late at night, would I fall asleep or stay riveted to the action on my pages? Did the characters have enough to make an audience scream sequel?

As I reconciled the plot, it was midnight. For some reason I didn’t care that the race was officially over. I wanted my characters to feel closure to their story; or have plane tickets to the next destination in the series of adventures I am plotting for them.

So, I centered my attention on making a strong finish despite the time. If the story had just finished playing out on a big screen some-where, would I leave wanting to discuss it with my girlfriends; or would I march myself to the ticket booth to demand a refund?

In the end, I was satisfied enough to consider this very rough draft of my first novel finished. It has been left on my desktop to ferment.

Like my love for wine, it will call to me this Friday. It will tease me. I will be tested to ignore its pleas for a reread.

Thankfully, I have a new, temporary family member to care for. Santa sent Neptune, one of his elves  to keep watchful eyes on Issa and Riff through December 24. There are rules Neptune must follow to in order for his magic to work. His magic enables him to fly to the North Pole each night and to speak elf to Santa while discussing Issa and Riff. This added responsibility to my domestic law enforcement duties keeps my writing addiction in check.

Plus, there’s that Sunday night football contest between the Detroit Lions and the New Orleans’ Saints. I love football and continue to think the Lions can turn in a victory; even without Ndamukong Suh.

Related previous posts …

NaNoWriMo: Weeks 3 and 4 – Gory Scene Stealer

NaNoWriMo: Week 2 – Where It All Started

NaNoWriMo: Week 1- Setting the Stage

My First 50k

 

NaNoWriMo: Weeks 3 and 4 – Gory Scene-Stealer

While I met my daily word quotas during NaNoWriMo Weeks 3 and 4, some homemade gore stole me away from blogging about scenes from my First 50k. I’m not talking about turkey fryer disasters, the carnage at Ford Field on Thanksgiving Day, or Black Eye Friday, either.

The gory scene-stealer resembled something from The Thing and took place on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving. My daughter Issa had just finished up a stellar 60 minutes of play at our local gymnastics center. We were looking forward to lunch with my mom and Riff at a family friend’s home nearby. Upon pulling into the friend’s driveway, I knew something was amiss.

Clue #1: No cars in the driveway or garage. Where is everyone? I’m guessing Riff misbehaved and grandma has him in lock down mode somewhere. Issa senses we’re not eating lunch anytime soon and begins eyeballing the Nutella cookies I made for dessert.

Clue #2: All those unanswered calls on my cell. In my defense, I rarely answer my phone while watching my children dance, play sports, sing, etc. They’re just too cute and I don’t want to miss a beat.

Clue #3: My husband, Tracy, finally gets me on the cell and says he’s at the ER because he hacked up his right hand with an electric table saw. He was just a few planks shy of finishing a home flooring project. Since I can be a bit of a drama queen, I now have visions of his shredded hand dangling by a tendon. Hamburger anyone?

As I’m driving to the ER, Issa is bombarding me with questions. Understandably, she’s worried about her dad and I have limited answers. Here’s the question I could answer without hesitation.

Q: Will this be on the news?

A: No; not unless a neighbor calls them and we have good neighbors.

Upon seeing my husband’s hand at the ER, the laceration was serious, but could have been so much worse. He just had outpatient surgery Monday to repair nerve damage. The biggest challenge going forward is limited use of his hand for the next four weeks.

Previous, related posts …

NaNoWriMo: Week 2 – Where It All Started

NaNoWriMo: Week 1 – Setting the Stage

My First 50k

NaNoWriMo: Week 1 – Setting the Stage

This first week of NaNoWriMo has been all about setting the stage for my characters as well as for myself. Since this is my first 50k, I have put five contingencies in place to ensure a strong finish. What tips do you NaNoWriMo veterans have for us newbies?

1. Working Outline translates to flexible. Previously, I was just going to write until I reached 50k. But, I scraped that plan. Today, I stopped typing to think about the story coming to life on my pages. Are the characters engaging enough? Am I spending too much time on certain scenes?

2. Playlist of tunes to keep me in the moment with my characters. Fellow blogger and NaNoWriMo, MB, shared her playlist this weekend. Tonight, my list included:

3. Running Goal of making one mile in five minutes on my elliptical. This is a 50k, right? So, while I attempt this first with my writing, I might as well train for that Freeze Your Fanny 5k on January 29 at Stony Creek Metro Park.

4. Escape Plan to the living and the real. One can only revel for so long in the fantastical storytelling world. Now, I know why there is a suggested daily quota.

5. Interventions to divert focus from writing to my husband, children, dog, friends, house, neighborhood, etc. Today’s successful diversions were taking my daughter to the salon for a haircut, voting, a trip to the Rochester Cider Mill for a blueberry, maple-glazed doughnut, cooking dinner, helping with homework, and blogging.

Related Posts…

My First 50k

My First 50K

2011 has been a year of first-times. I started this blog, ran my first 5k in May, took my kids to Cedar Point, published a newsletter for a non-profit I advocate for, turned 40, attended a Foo Fighters concert (better late than never), and…

began writing my first novel on November 1. My motivation for this first is two-fold. First, a long-time friend and fellow writer, MB, blogged about her experience participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge last year. Her blog, Tickling My Fancy, briefed aspiring authors — like me — about writing the challenge’s minimum 1,600 words a day in addition to managing a full plate of professional and personal responsibilities. At month end, the result was a 50,000-word novel. I thought … if she can do this, I can do this.

Second, these story bits in my head need escape to a wider audience. For years my wild imagination has mixed kagillion fantastical scenes with snipits from my past and present into what I think are humorous, romantic, thrillers. Some scenes I have journaled, but none had ever been weaved into anything substantial.

So far, I am at 13,133 words.  I admit to developing an outline for my story prior to Halloween. Also, I wrote about four days worth of words prior to November 1. Call me a cheater if you will. But, the words have been written and I’m not taking them back. Besides, I just gave myself some wiggle room. There will be days ahead when I will not meet the daily 1,600-word quota.

In homage to those inspiring me to write this first 50k, I want to encourage followers and browsers to check out MB’s Vigor. This is her first release of self-published fictional writing. I have known her to be a brilliant storyteller for decades. I believe you will agree. Also, I should mention additional two self-published authors — Richard Fancy and Linda Cassidy Lewis — who inspired me to risk putting my stories into words on a page.

Richard Fancy, father to another long-time friend, has written a multi-part mystery series featuring Frank Healy, who dreams of becoming a car stylist. Red Crush, the first in the series is set in Detroit, the global machine of the auto industry in the 1960s. It is a timely read considering the return of intense labor and racial conversations taking place in our country and around the globe.

I discovered Linda Cassidy Lewis soon after transferring my blog to WordPress at the start of 2011. Her book, Brevity of Roses, captivated me from the moment I turned on my Kindle. I couldn’t turn away until I finished the story at 3:00 am the next day. Her blog, Out of My Mind, helps aspiring authors stay the course on becoming published. It is an empathetic read full of tips, real-life experiences, and inspiration.

Finally, I believe it is important for those participating in the NaNoWriMo to help each other along. After all, 50k is no small feat. Fellow participant, Pat Bean, makes me smile with her daily NaNoWriMo posts; and makes me feel as though I’m in good company.

Related Posts…

Chincoteague Island and NaNoWriMo Update 

Write Tunes and 7036 Words to Boot  

NaNoWriMo day 4, so far so good