30 October 2014

NaNoWriMo vs DigiWriMo

It's that time of year again, and a lot of people have been asking me lately whether I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. For those unfamiliar with this challenge, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, happens every November (and now in other 30-day months as well), and the challenge is to write 50,000 words of the same story in 30 days. I've never done NaNoWriMo because I haven't had an idea for a novel or one that I was ready to work on come November.

But I have done DigiWriMo, which was started a couple years ago by an ex-colleague of mine, Jesse Stommel, and his colleague, Sean Michael Morris. DigiWriMo is another writing challenge that's run in November, and it too involves writing 50,000 words in 30 days. The main difference is that with DigiWriMo, the focus is on digital writing rather than on a novel. You don't have to write 50K words of the same story; you just have to write 50K words digitally. That can include words typed into emails, blog posts, Twitter and Facebook interactions, digital slides, word processing documents, etc. I imagine it can also include words spoken into digital recorders and voice-overs for digital stories...things like that. Any words you compose and store digitally.

This year I have a couple novels I'm working on for my pseudonym, but one of them has fewer than 50K words to go, and the other is going to take more research before I'm ready to start writing. What I'm working on - as I've mentioned in my other ROW80 updates this round - are various short stories and nonfiction pieces. I'm also making small progress on one of the novels, but it doesn't feel mentally healthy to me at this time to focus solely on the novel for the sake of getting it done. I need variety. I need expansiveness.

23 October 2014

Awakening narratives

Over the last year or so I've started to notice a recurring narrative in some of the books I've read, one that I'm calling the awakening narrative.

The awakening narrative has at its core this story: protagonist (usually female) becomes aware, usually with help of one or more men, of innate spiritual/supernatural abilities that she had hitherto not suspected or had used in a sort of accidental way without understanding them fully. Over the course of the books (usually a trilogy) she learns more about her abilities and becomes one of the most powerful people around. Through the developmental of her talents, she becomes the key to some kind of huge change in her world, whether a shift in balance of good and evil or a complete paradigm shift or the revealing of hitherto obscured truths that change everyone's understanding of the world.

Examples of the awakening narrative:
  • The Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Host
  • The All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness
  • The Farseer trilogy by Robyn Hobb (male protagonist)
  • The Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones (currently at 7 books)
  • The Hot Damned series by Robyn Peterman

15 October 2014

Writing is a whole-person activity

When I read that Hemingway quote about bleeding on the page, this is what comes to mind:

What I think I know is that writing - or at least creative writing, the kind of writing I want to do - is a whole-person activity. What I think I know is that if I'm stuck in life, I'll be stuck in my writing. That if I'm not being honest with myself, if I'm not willing to face the hard questions and risk the answers I don't want, if I distract myself from my feelings and experiences instead of processing them, if I disconnect from myself out of fear or to avoid discomfort, I won't be able to connect with my creativity and hence won't be able to write stories that connect in a meaningful way with other people.

I imagine I'll have more to say about these things later, that in fact every post I write is some version of this, but for now this is all.


ROW80 Update 

"A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life."

08 October 2014

Hay is for horses

Is it just me, or does everyone seem to be talking about horses lately?

Every so often I'll notice that there's a recurring theme in my life. Call it coincidence or fate or whatever you want, but the same idea or word will pop up repeatedly within a short period of time. (I'm sure this happens over long periods of time, too, but I don't notice because too much time passes between events and my memory isn't that great anymore.) I have several of these recurring themes going on in my life right now, one of which is horses. It's weird when your friend, whom you've known for 15 years and have never associated with horses, is suddenly contemplating quitting her office job to go work on a horse farm, right? Right.

Anyway, one of the horse-related news items is particularly exciting: My friend Kiersi Burkhart (different from the friend mentioned before) announced that she and her co-author have a book deal for their middle grade horse book series! Woot! Congrats, Kiersi! And exciting news for me, too, because I've known about this for a while and can FINALLY invite her to talk about it here on my blog. Yay! (She said yes, by the way, so stay tuned.)

01 October 2014

A long, loud scream (& ROW80 Round 4 Goals)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!

Photo by Rick Campbell
My feet-dragging turned into a full-blown crisis of confidence when I sat down to apply to a couple of writing residencies yesterday. While I still found my artist's statement inspiring, as I read through my completed stories, rolling my eyes at any perceived imperfection, all I could think was, "This isn't good enough. I'm not good enough."

Good enough for what? For someone to pick me, to think I'm worth investing in as a writer. Good enough to have someone give me free room and board and possibly to pay me a stipend as well. Good enough for someone else to think it's any good.

My writing doesn't fit the contemporary trend. It doesn't fit what I was taught was "good writing" in my college creative writing courses. It doesn't look or sound like the writing I admire. There is an element of my writing not yet being equal to my taste level, but more than that it's an issue of my writing being different.