Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween and 'I Can't Wait' Writing

     On the days I've been subbing this month, I like to ask the kids what they'll be for Halloween.
     Their eyes light up! Hands shoot into the air! Some can't help themselves and they shout it out instead.  Some revelations are just too monumental to remember proper classroom behavior.
     'I'm going to be a princess!'
     'I already have my fireman costume!'
     'My mom made me a kitty costume, but I'm not wearing it. Kitties are for babies.'
     Oh, yes. Remember when deciding what to be for Halloween bridged the boredom between summer vacation and Christmas? The anticipation of finding the coolest outfit even though there were a million different versions on the streets; getting dressing in the final hour; making the grand entrance in front of your friends so they could ooh and aah? The anticipation was half the fun.
     That's what I'm feeling now, the same sense of anticipation while the NaNoWriMo clock ticks away, counting down to the final hour when I can finally start writing the story that's been tumbling around in my head. Maybe I'll fizzle out at 28,000 words like I did in 2009. Or maybe life will interfere again like it did last year and I won't even hit the 10,000 mark. Who knows? I'm excited and that's enough for now.
      Good luck, NaNoWriMoers!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Smart Writer's Guide to Procrastination

     Instead of my usual Friday Five post, I've decided to shine the light on a few instances when I've caught myself behaving badly as a writer this week. I'm a firm believer of BIC (Butt-In-Chair), thanks to Jane Yolen and her prolific writing life. But for some reason, it didn't work for me this week. I lost my focus. Admission is the first step to recovery, right?
     Anyway, I had an agenda this past Monday -- I was supposed to finish a rough draft of a non-fiction picture book which I've wanted to write for awhile. My intention was to have this draft done so it could 'stew' during November while I took part in NaNoWriMo. Ideally, I'd like to take it to a January workshop for some feedback. Well, it didn't happen. Instead, I found myself:
  1. Cleaning out my writing files. I found a lot of article clips for story ideas that I'd forgotten about. Also came across many form rejection letters. I'm not sure why I decided to keep them. There's nothing useful in them, so they went into the recycling bin.
  2. Dusting the bookshelves. The 'Dust Me' message from my daughter had collected a new layer of dust! Not a good sign...
  3. Started to categorize and ALPHABETIZE the bookshelves. Okay, this is really pathetic. I realized this after I got through the chapter books and was working on the middle grades so I stopped. It's not a bad idea in theory, but still.
  4. Going through my recipe box and cookbooks for Christmas cookie recipes. 
  5. Making suggested changes to a MG manuscript so it can go out on submission.
     The good news is that, with the exception of #4, everything at least relates to writing. The bad news? My Monday agenda is now my weekend agenda. Procrastination has always been a problem for me, especially without hardcore deadlines.
     Do you procrastinate? How do you stay focused? And by the way, if you have a really great holiday cookie recipe, send it along!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nano Fans: Tips from Writer's Digest

     NaNoWriMo is almost here! The blogs are buzzing about it! The forums are filling up. Excitement continues to build. Can you feel it? Here's an article from Writer's Digest to read for encouragement, tips, and affirmation that it's all right to dedicate a month of your life to frenzied writing.
     Looking forward to the challenge. Who's in with me?
                                              Happy Writing!


Friday, October 14, 2011

Prepping for the Marathon: My Friday Five

  1. Are you gearing up for NaNoWriMo in 2 weeks and 3 days? I am. I'm ditching my WIP (for now) which isn't working and starting the story that's been niggling for attention. What do you do to prepare yourself?
  2. How am I getting ready for NaNoWriMo? I found the Novel Novice blog this past week which is helping me with an outline and character profiles. Here's the link if you want to take a peek.
  3. Chris Guillebeau at Art of Nonconformity says he tries to write 300,000 words a year. Wow! That sounds like a finger-numbing amount, but then I thought of all the e-mails, posts, and comments I make on Facebook and blogs, not to mention the manuscripts I work on during the course of a year, and I guess it's not that big of a stretch. Someone shared his article on Facebook a few days ago, so I'm posting this link if you'd like to read his article. Interesting!
  4. In between NaNoWriMo prep, I'm working on a rough draft of a non-fiction biography picture book. The Illinois SCBWI chapter is hosting a workshop with the award-winning non-fiction queen Candace Fleming in January and I'm going!  Keeping me company and cheering me on are two favorite picture books on my desk right now -- Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan as well as Darwin by Alice McGinty. I love these two books for their story-telling voices and rich illustrations.
  5. Unrelated to writing, but worth a mention: orange is one of my favorite colors. And orange with glitter just rocks! What I'm finding out is that even though my husband's favorite color is orange, too, he can tolerate only a set amount of glittery pumpkins around the house. Apparently, I've exceeded the limit.
                                                                                      Happy Writing to you!

    Sunday, October 9, 2011


     Ahhh. Fresh air, singing birds, and look! it's fall! Leaves falling, garden fading. When did that happen?  
    My writing hole (well, not really but it could very well have been!)
    Okay, I wasn't completely cut off from the world, but I've been in a writing cave for the last month, revising a previous manuscript for my agent.
         I'm a multi-tasker by nature, thriving when my plate is full, but revisions require single-minded focus (at least for me). The laundry piled up, the food supply dwindled, the yard looked like a prairie restoration project.  Yet I plugged away, tweaking chapter after chapter, writing a few new ones, combining others.
         I reread the manuscript first, before I started surgery. It'd been since January when I worked on it last. I love it when, on looking back at a piece of writing, I'm surprised by sections I don't recognize, paragraphs which I don't remember writing. Does that ever happen to you?
         Anyway, it's out of the house once again.  I'm ready to work on something new (like the WIP I ditched a month ago). So I'll leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes on revision and a poem.

         "It is with words as with sunbeams -- the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn." -- Robert Southey

         "My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out the parts readers skip."  -- Elmore Leonard

         'Ring the bells that still can ring;
         Forget your perfect offering;
         There is a crack in everything;
         That is how the light gets in.'  -- Leonard Cohen

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