It’s NaNoWriMo time again. To those who don’t know what that means, it’s NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH. It takes place every November. The idea is to write 50,000 words during the month of November (that is equivalent to 1,666.666666 words per day). Not really a difficult thing to do for someone like me. I say someone like me, because I do the Muskoka Novel Writing Marathon every July. That’s a 72-hour novel writing marathon (that works out to 16,666.66666 words per day – a little more tricky!). But in November my writing skills are almost non-existent. So it’s just as hard for me to do 1,666 words a day this time a year as it is for me to do 16,666 words a day in July.
So…in order to cut myself some slack during NaNoWriMo, I have always taken a different look at this event than others have. I know some take the same view as me…but I also know that some take the win/lose side of NaNoWriMo very seriously. I’m just not the kind of person to take stuff seriously to the point of chastising myself…writing is my hobby. It’s something I enjoy profusely, but it is not something I’m going to start using as a weapon. Ever.
For ME, NaNoWriMo means getting your bum in a chair (B.I.C.) and getting some writing done. If the goal is 50,000 words in the month of November, I give myself a pat on the back if I manage to get 20,000 words completed. It doesn’t mean I didn’t win…it means I have 20,000 words that I otherwise would not have. Yay, Me! I refuse to see 20,000 words (or 10,000 or 15,000 or 45,000) as a failure. People have to give themselves CREDIT for getting B.I.C. during NaNoWriMo. The idea is to get writers writing…not to get them to beat themselves up if they don’t write enough.
When the starting whistle goes off tomorrow (NOVEMBER 1st, 2011), please don’t go in with the desperate feeling that you will win or lose. Go in with the knowledge that you are going to give the writer in you some extra time to get more words down. Give yourself a pat on the back, no matter how many words you end up with on November 30th. The idea is to get B.I.C., not make yourself feel terrible about your writing. It’s actually an event that celebrates writing. Remember this…and give credit where credit is due.
Be kind to yourself this NaNoWriMo. Forget the word count. Lose yourself in the words…not the quantity of the words. Output only matters in the sense that you are having output.
November 4/5/6, MuseItUp Publishing is hosting their first retreat to be held in Montreal. Writers from around the world will gather for a three day event that includes a huge booksigning extravaganza at:
Zellers Pointe Claire on Saturday, November 5, from 1 to 5 pm
Come and meet our authors that day and have a chance to win one of several door prizes, including 500,000 Club Z points offered by Zellers to one lucky winner.
It’s true. I will be in Montreal November 4-5-6 to help promote my publisher and my young adult novel SUMMER ON FIRE. We have a lot of things lined up…I do believe we will be taking Montreal by storm.
Lately, I’m realizing how hard it is to continually promote yourself and your work when you’re not in the self-promoting mood. To be truthful, I am NEVER in the self-promoting mood. It feels contrary to who I am. But I feel it’s a blessing to have my work published and I am grateful for the opportunity. I don’t want to waste it by being myself and hiding in a corner somewhere trying desperately to look like I don’t exist. SO…I will be in Montreal, signing copies of my debut novel. If you’re in the area, please come out and see some of the wonderful MuseItUp authors. I will be the desperate wallflower aching for a wall.
Available directly from my publisher, by clicking the book cover above. Or, you can also purchase SUMMER ON FIRE through CHAPTERSBARNES & NOBLEAMAZON and other booksellers.
On Saturday, I gave my baby away. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. And it had absolutely nothing to do with writing.
Our little girl was married to a wonderful young man and the moment that made me choke up the most wasn’t during the vows, or the kiss or the signing of the marriage certificate or even the introduction of the husband and wife to the assembled guests. The moment that choked me and made me want to burst into tears was when we swung the doors open and I prepared to walk my daughter down the aisle in front of all of our family and friends. That was when the groom saw the bride…when everybody else was looking at the bride and seeing her in her wedding gown for the first time. As Father of the Bride I was the only one (other than the bride herself) to see the look on the face of the groom. And what I saw was a love SO large and pure and strong I knew it would last forever. And as I walked my daughter down the aisle, the groom’s face only blossomed more and more. I watched the couples’ faces the entire ceremony and what I saw was unbridled love. As a father, that’s good to see (but not unusual-I’ve seen him look at her that way many, many times). Our new son-in-law adores our daughter more than I’ve ever seen anybody adore another person. This makes me happy.
Well, I just wanted to share that. I’m a writer every day. It’s once in a lifetime you get to walk your baby down the aisle. I figured I could talk about something other than writing for a minute. (-:
Sometimes deadlines are made to be broken. Okay, not really. But if you notice you’re breaking them, it’s time to stop collecting them. That’s just what I’m about to do.
I have been extremely fortunate with my Muskoka Novel Marathon experiences. I’ve participated four times, and I’ve won Best Novel Award four times (2007-Sebastian’s Poet, 2008-The Reasons, 2010-Half Dead & Fully Broken, 2011-That’s Me in the Corner). The winning manuscripts get sent to the desk of a publisher for both consideration & feedback. This is a huge opportunity. I’ve had great feedback on my manuscripts over the years.
My problem this year is that deadlines and commitments are converging. I’m trying not to look a gift-horse in the mouth, but his outrageously large teeth seem to be right at eye level at the moment. I now have 20 days to pound my winning manuscript into top form before it moves on to Red Deer Press for feedback/consideration. I’m still sitting at between 1/2 and 3/4 of a novel. You heard correctly…this is the first year I didn’t completely finish my first draft at the actual marathon. And I’ve had 3 months to complete it since the marathon took place. I was so absolutely sure my manuscript wouldn’t win this time around that I hardly worked on it between marathon time (July) and wrap-party time (in September, when the winners are announced).
I was going to find time to marathon the last 1/2 of the novel on my own. But two of the last three weekends before the November 1st deadline are already spoken for, and the 3rd weekend is three days before the deadline. I do believe my goose is cooked either way I look at it. I might be able to marathon the rest of the manuscript on the weekend of the 28th, but it gives me no time to take advantage of the marathon appointed editor to give it a final polish before it goes on to the publisher. The pressure is killing me.
But, boy did I ever digress. I was going to talk about deadlines and getting rid of them when life gets too full.
I missed a deadline a couple of weeks ago. It was like a stabby shot to the heart. And not only did I miss it once, but I was given a grace period second deadline and I missed it too! I HATE missing deadlines. It was for a Wordweaver (WCDR Newsletter) article on writing dialogue. The thing is, not only did I have SO much going on at the time…but I also struggled with the content of the article. It was one of those things–I know how to do it, but I can’t figure out how to explain it to someone else! Have you ever milked a cow? It looks really easy. And when someone is sitting there showing you how to do it, it looks so simple you get all cocky before it’s your turn to do it. Then you sit on that freakish three-legged stool (which in itself is a test. I think the Buddha himself created the three-legged stool…just to see if people were paying attention.) to give it a go and BAMMO! It’s not as easy as it looks. You pull and pull and pull…but that bloody udder won’t give you a drop. And the cow resents the hell out of your stupidity, too. She mocks you with a few growls and moans (or, if you prefer, MOOS). And, yes, I swear I even recall hearing a cow laugh. But then, with practice and discipline you figure it out…you realize there’s a real finesse to getting that milk to come. And then you sit there on your three-legged stool and you don’t fall over and you don’t tip the pail and you actually get a good portion of milk to come out. You’re a milker! BUT…then you try to tell someone else how to do it and you return to being your helpless self. Because you tell them, “Like this…see” and they fall off the stool and tell you, “this cow’s empty” because they can’t get the milk to come. It’s a vicious circle. DO is so much easier than TEACH.
Wow… okay. So much for staying on task. DEADLINES. I’m giving everything up for a little bit. I will see if I can’t get the marathon novel into submission readiness by November 1st, but after that I’m going to make no commitments. I seem to be living life lately…too busy for this huge train of a hobby that has somehow become such an integral part of my life. I can’t make writing commitments if I’m not meeting deadlines. I am anal about things like that.
Besides, life is so interesting and fulfilling at the moment. There are times when you just have to jump in and have fun. Put the writing away for a spell (is it true that only old people use the word spell in that context?).
My daughter is getting married on Saturday (Oct 15th) and the following Saturday I am going on a short trip of discovery to Ohio. I am SO looking forward to this wedding…I’ve seen the dress. She’s going to be the perfect bride. And we are getting an amazing son-in-law. It’s all good. I don’t want distractions. I don’t want deadlines bickering in the back of my mind for attention. So I’m just going to ignore the not-gonna-make-the-deadline-guilt that I’ve been feeling lately. I have to. Because sometimes, when life gets in the way, you have to take the leap…and get into life!