If it’s broke, fix it!

I’m struggling with my NaNo word count. I’m way behind, and see no breakthroughs ahead that will bring me up to speed.

I hate this book.

I love the plot idea and the small bits of events I have planned. But there’s nothing tying them together . . . I need more subplots and segues. I’m just jumping from scene to scene. The characters are flat (the nice guys are just NICE and the bad guys are just SLEAZY). They’re all one dimensional.

I started writing novels in 1994. I never outlined, I didn’t plot . . . I did do some extensive character development, however. But I started writing with one goal: to get A and B together, or A to meet B – there was always an end result in mind. In the process, my characters spoke to me. They went places I never expected. Yes, I edited a lot. I cut hundreds of pages from the final stories. But I could also crank out as many as 50 pages in a day. I was driven.

But my writing has taken a turn. I’ve since taught high school English and become a grammar-nazi. God forbid I should misplace a comma. And in the evolution of all this, I’ve lost my emotion. My heart. My guts. Like the talented violin player who is technically gifted, but her playing has no heart, neither does my writing have any heart.

And that is heart-breaking to me. It makes me want to quit. To give up this dream of writing books I’ve had since first grade.

I complained to my daughter-in-law about this problem last night—how I used to be able to write by the seat of my pants and miracles happened. The one book I tried to plot took me ten years to write. The other four took just a few weeks each.

She said,

“You’ve changed. You’re not the same person you were 18 years ago. So you need to change how you write.”

CARAMBA! Is this a teachable moment? An epiphany?

I need to change how I write.

I understand this is a defining moment for me and my writing. If I can embrace this notion, maybe I’ll get my writing mojo back.

And maybe I can finish NaNo this year.

Why Would You Do This?

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Why would anyone subject themselves to the torture of writing 50,000 words in 30 days? That’s approximately 6 – 7 double-spaced pages per day. Every day. For one month.

  1. If you’re not someone who enjoys writing, you wouldn’t.
  2. If you don’t have a story burning inside you that needs to be told, you wouldn’t.
  3. If you’ve never thought, “Gee, I can write better than (insert name of famous author here),” you wouldn’t.
  4. If you’ve never said, “Someday I’m going to write a novel,” you wouldn’t.

But if you’ve ever thought any of these, then you just might decide this is the year to give it a shot.

I’ve done all of those things, however, so why am I doing it? Because I feel like my writing has gone flat. My goal for NaNoWriMo is to let myself go…allow myself to put crap on the page– (because save for a few bursts of brilliance, which there will be, there will be lots of crap)– shut down my inner editor and let loose.

The “powers” of NaNo (that would be the veterans) say I’ll want to quit. Week 2 is the hardest, they claim. Don’t give up–just keep writing. That’s what I hope to do.

This will be fun. I keep telling myself that. If I make it, what a sense of accomplishment I’ll have!

Life is all about challenges. And that’s why I’m doing this.

Dog Under the Blanket

No, this post isn’t about dogs, blankets or husbands in the dog house. I just saw my beagle/basset on the back porch, wrapped up in a blanket like a celery stalk in a slice of proscuitto.

And that could be the starting line of my NaNoWriMo novel (although I hope not).

National Novel Writing Month starts in ten short days. I’ve never done this before, although many (many) years ago I pounded out 144,000 words in six weeks. But I wasn’t working then; however, I did have two children in elementary school. It speaks volumes that I was able to ignore them then better than I can ignore the accumulating housework now.

Regardless, I’m going to give this thing a shot. 50,000 words in 30 days is the goal. I have some old ideas I’ve never done anything with, and I’ve been googling for writing prompts and reading a lot to see if anything gives me that spark. All I need is a seed to plant and watch grow. And the cool thing is, I can use cliches like that and just keep on goin’ . . . because NaNoWriMo is all about getting it on the page. Just like my new t-shirt says, “Even if it’s crap, just get it on the page.”

And that’s what I’m going to do.