This month I’m doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The point of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. ideally, the writer begins with a fresh story, but I have a book I’ve already started to write that I really need to finish. So, I started where I was, opened a new document, and went for it. What I didn’t take into consideration was that jumping from the dark paranormal manuscript I just polished to a light story would be quite a jarring experience. My muse balked, and I had to spend time convincing her to help me.
To finish on time, I “should” be around 35,000 words. Actually, I’m closer to 8,000. To catch up, I’d have to write 4,000 words every day between now and the 30th. I don’t see that happening, but I’ll try my best. So what if I don’t win? I’ll still have a bunch more words than I did. I’ll just keep going into December.
There was a time, not that long ago, that I would have been beating myself up, feeling like a looser, working way too hard to try to catch up—and still not getting there. More guilt. More feeling bad about myself. What good would that do. By relaxing and being proud I’ve gotten this far, I’ll actually get more done.
This doesn’t mean I don’t work hard. I do. I write six, many times seven, days a week. I want a career in fiction, and I’m not afraid of working long, hard hours to get there. Many times my body refuses to let me write, even in the recliner. But I do the best I can.
I recently realized that simply pushing and struggling to reach the next goal is no way to live. Reaching a goal is sweeter when you didn’t kill yourself trying to get there.
Do you beat yourself up over not meeting goals? Do you set your goals too high? Do you enjoy the work you do to reach your goals—at least the feeling of accomplishment?
Have a wonderful weekend!
The last couple of weeks I’ve experienced one of those weird cosmic convergences that makes me think I need to pay attention.
First there were two amazing blogs by the Social Network Ninja, Kristen Lamb. Bravely, Ms. Lamb took us places the rest of us where afraid to go. The first was about Empathetic Correctness and how this new phenomenon could seriously hurt writers. The second was about Diversity, and just how strained connection has become. Lots to make all of us think here. I have been a fan of Ms. Lamb for years, and she always has good information. These two, though, they hit home.
Secondly, I read Stephen King’s On Writing. Again. I love this book and in all honesty, I was hoping the words would do the magic they always have before—make me eager to go write. After the last few months, I needed a kick in the pants. As usual, Mr. King stepped up to the plate. Though written in 2000, the words fit today’s PC environment, “…writing fiction in America as we enter the twenty-first century is no job for intellectual cowards. There are lots of would-be censors out there, and although they may have different agendas, they all want basically the same thing: for you to see the world they see…or at least shut up about what you do see that’s different.” Food for thought.
Third, is the death of the brave and amazing writer Maya Angelou. She used the pen to speak out at a time few dared, and continued to write courageously until her death May 28. The world lost a truly awesome woman.
So, little me, sitting here at my desk, trying to decide if I really need to use the f-word in my current manuscript, and wondering if I have the kind of courage to be the writer I have the capability to be. I know I hold back, and not just from profanity. Many times I won’t let myself go deeply into the world in my head, the world where the good stuff is.
Writer or not, we all need to think. Being led along by sound bites and the ravings of those sensors Mr. King spoke of could well mean the end of freedom as we understand it. If we PC everything, then we won’t have words to tell the honest truth anymore. We can look away and pretend bad things don’t happen. Will the bad stuff go away then? I don’t think so. I think bad will go to terrible, and we won’t be able to tell the truth about it. And that will be the end of freedom.
Lots to think about.
I’ve written about CARA before, and I’d like to introduce you to my fellow authors.
CARA is short for Chattanooga Area Romance Authors, a group of five romance writers—all published— who found each other and quickly became friends. Between the five of us, we represent most of the romance spectrum. There should be something here for just about everybody.
In reverse alphabetical order (because I have to be different), here are the women of CARA:
Nita Wick—published in historical and paranormal, Nita turned to contemporary romance in her latest novel, Designs on Haley now available.
Laurie White—Ardent animal lover and very sweet person, her novel Desert Heat will be out from Secret Cravings Publishing later this year.
Kelle Z. Riley—scientist during the day, romance writer at night. The multi-talented woman has more energy than one person should be allowed. Look for some news from her soon.
Leigh Riker—celebrates women with a long list of novels. The most prolific, and published, of our group, Leigh sets the standard for the rest of us.
Cheryel Hutton—Me! I just signed a new contract with The Wild Rose Press, and my new novel should be out early next year.
Have a great hump day!
It’s almost Halloween. Celebrate with a great haunted house read. Shadows of Evil available in both electronic and print format. Boo!
For me, at least, the most fascinating workshop at Moonlight & Magnolias was Junkyard Forensics given by Sheryl McCollum . Fellow CARA members Laurie White, Kelle Z. Riley, and I had a great time learning.
Sheryl showed us how to take everyday materials and use them for forensic tools. Who knew cinnamon would show if there were fingerprints on a plate? Or that you could put food coloring in milk and use rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip, or even your finger, to make it spread out into a rainbow design? I didn’t, but I do now.
Other things I learned: fingerprint powder is really messy. Superglue really can uncover fingerprints. I got to see footprint casting powder. Found that 24 hours in a trunk and anyone can tell there was a dead body there. Flies tell the story of a dead body. That 24 hours is the life cycle of a maggot/fly. You can test ink and know if a pen wrote a certain document. That DNA can be processed in one day, but usually takes about 6 weeks.
We got to see touch and use those special flashlights (can’t remember the name) that show blood and stuff. Actually, they show blood, urine, bleach, and scorpions. Honest. And a few other things we won’t talk about. We got to play a bit and discovered that the public bathrooms at our hotel were cleaned very well.
Sheryl is a wonderful speaker, and I learned a lot and had a great time. If I ever get another chance to hear her speak, I’ll be there.
Have a great week!
Today I would like to continue talking about the magnificent Moonlight and Magnolias conference held in Atlanta last weekend.
The second workshop I attended was about not letting fear win by Maggie Montgomery. As soon as I walked in I realized two things, Maggie wasn’t your average writer, and I was going to love this workshop. Maggie is a fun person with a wild sense of humor. And she is an amazing speaker who kicked my butt out of the doldrums and into my writers chair.
The first point Maggie made was if what you fear can’t get you killed, incarcerated, or committed, it’s manageable. And you can probably work around the those last two if you have to. Wow. And she’s right. She used our own examples to show us the truth in the words. And somewhere along the line I realized I was looking at writing as second rate over a “real” job. Yikes! That made me a hypocrite—and I hate hypocrites. She put things in a different perspective, that’s for sure. And here I am, at my desk, writing my little heart out.
Thank you, Maggie. I owe you.