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Posts tagged ‘NaNoWriMo’

NaNo Dilemma Resolution

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For the first time since I started participating in NaNoWriMo, I have “cheated.” I wrote 50,000 words, but only about 20,000 of them have anything to do with my story. In spite of the fact that I did not win NaNo in regards to writing a story with 50,000 words, I have won because I finally wrote the story that has been swirling around in my head for more than 30 years!

As I share the plot of my story and the fact that it’s based on Judges 19 with others, I am extremely fascinated with their responses. Almost to a one, everyone tells me s/he does not remember reading this particular story in the Bible, everyone tells me s/he does not remember a pastor ever preaching on this passage, and everyone tells me s/he agrees that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to figure out why this story is in the Bible at all.

What makes the writing of this story that much more interesting than the typical story authors often write (even those based on other stories) is the fact that with every single person I have talked to regarding this story, we have had some absolutely fascinating and super interesting conversations. I cannot tell you how very much I love the fact that not only are people talking about Judges 19, but they are reading their Bibles!!!

How cool is THAT?!

Even more awesome is the fact that I know I am not finished with my own study of Judges 19. I want to find a definitive answer regarding WHY this story of gang rape and the cutting of a woman into 12 pieces is in the Bible. What is the purpose of this story? What exactly is God telling us?

Or….

Is it a complete mistake that this story is in the Bible at all?! I honestly don’t believe that it’s a mistake, but why don’t people talk about it?

Why don’t pastors preach on it?

Why do yearly Bible readers gloss over it and forget about it as soon as they’ve read it?

Why does the Levite treat this woman so callously?

Why does the Levite wait 4 months to go get her?

If, as many translations state, the woman/concubine had actually had an affair, then according to Biblical law, she would have been taken into the center of town and stoned. So then why wasn’t she stoned?

Or are other translations that refer to her as having become angry with her husband more of an accurate description of why she left him in the first place?

Why does a Levite, a man set apart as holy unto God as a result of his work for the Temple of God, have a concubine, to begin with?

What significance is it that we are told, several times, throughout the course of this story that there was no king in the land?

And, for heavens’ sake, why in the world does the Levite not only throw his concubine out to the men of Gibeah, but then he sits in the house with the door shut throughout the night?! Why doesn’t he DO something?!

And what in the world does he mean when he so casually says to her dead body at the doorstep, “Get up. Let’s go.”?

Seriously?

Am I the only person who reads Judges 19 and desperately wants to punch the Levite in the throat???? His concubine–wife–is GANG-RAPED all NIGHT by the men of Gibeah while he sits in the house with the old man, doing only God-knows-what!!! Of course it matters that the men of Gibeah wanted the Levite instead of the concubine, but the fact remains that it wasn’t the Levite they raped!!

And what about that old man?! He offers his virgin daughter and the Levite’s wife to the men of Gibeah because it’s such a shameful thing for them to want the Levite!!!!

Duuuuuuuuuuuddddddeeeeeee!!

There isn’t a single innocent person in the whole story, but yet, somehow, according to the fact that a war breaks out after the Levite sends the 12 parts of his concubine’s body to the 12 tribes of Israel, he (the Levite) comes off smelling like roses and the old man and his virgin daughter are completely forgotten–never to be mentioned again!!!

Do you begin to understand my fascination with Judges 19???

Do you?!

Winner-Congrats

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NaNo Dilemma

As has been my norm for more years than I’m even aware, I am currently participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I love NaNo. I love writing. In spite of the fact that November tends to be one of my busiest months of the whole year, I seem to thrive on adding the job of writing 50,000 words in 30 days!

I started National Novel Writing Month November of 2017 excited and ready to go. I had my story. I knew exactly what I was going to write about. Way back when I was a teenager, I read my Bible through from Genesis to Exodus in a year for the first time. When I got to Judges 19, my mouth dropped and I asked every Bible reader I knew if s/he knew THAT story was in the Bible! I was horrified! I couldn’t believe that a story about men wanting to rape another man but gang-raping a woman all night to the point of death and then her husband cut her up into 12 pieces to send to the 12 tribes of Israel was a story in the Bible!

Seriously?! What was even more surprising was the number of Bible readers I talked to either had no idea that story was in the Bible and/or none of them wanted to talk about it with me.

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I was intrigued. This horror story has been on my mind for more than 30 years. Every time I read my Bible and I get to Judges 19, I’m still wondering why this story is in the Bible. I have read every concordance and Bible reference book and website and so on about this story. Not one reference work has ever sufficiently explained WHY this particular story is in the Bible. Many of them valiantly attempt to explain the WHY, but none explain it sufficiently for me.

Every so often over the years, I have attempted to write this story in modern language from a modern perspective. I probably have as many starts to this story as my current age. I have never been able to get this story out of my head. It haunts me.

So this year as I was preparing for NaNo, I decided that I was finally going to write this story that had been hounding me for so long. As soon as I decided on that topic, I had that place of “knowing” that writers (creative people) get when they KNOW they have hit on a great idea. It doesn’t matter whether or not anyone else agrees. The point is that the creator KNOWS s/he has found his/her Muse.

I decided that I would modernize the story and call it The Deacon and His 2nd-Best Wife. I love my title, by the way. 🙂 I added in details to the beginning of the story where it is slightly ambiguous regarding the concubine’s role as well as whether or not she actually left him because she had an affair or got angry with her husband. It all depends on which translation you read, so I felt that I had credibility in taking a bit of poetic license with the first part of the story.

Early in the writing, I struggled with getting started, but once I got started, the story flew out of my fingers onto the keyboard and on the screen in front of me. Because NaNo is all about getting words on the page and not about editing, I wrote my little heart out.

It is currently November 20. There are 10 days to go in NaNo. And I’m finished.

I am nowhere near the 50,000 words. But the story itself is finished. I’m even going to have to delete a large portion of the story where I overdid it when I go back and revise. But as far as writing the whole story goes, it’s finished. I managed to squeak out 30,000 words (or just under that), but that’s because I included with my word count many of the other writings I’ve done for other activities throughout the month.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. If a NaNo participant wants to “win” NaNo, s/he must validate a Word document with 50,000 words. That will get the participant the rights to wear a Winner’s t-shirt as well as a really cool certificate to declare him/herself a NaNoWriMo 2017 Winner, and the rights to some really cool stuff by NaNo sponsors.

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My NaNo dilemma is that I don’t want to keep writing just to get to 50,000 words. The story that I started writing on November 1 is finished. I feel as if I have accomplished exactly what I set out to do for NaNoWriMo 2017: I wrote the story of Judges 19 in my own words with a modern twist, focusing on the rape a whole lot more than in the original story.

I have “won” because I have written my whole story.

But according to NaNo’s guidelines, I have 20,000 words to go in order to truly win.

But I don’t want to write anymore because I have already finished my story. I simply don’t feel a need to continue writing specifically for NaNo to get to 50,000 words to win according to their standards. For my purpose and my NaNo 2017 goal, I’ve won already.

What do you think?

Would you keep writing to get to 50,000 words just to win at NaNoWriMo or would you stop writing specifically for NaNo (quit worrying about word count, etc.) and begin the “What now?” process?

I’d love to hear your answers.

 

Writing without a Net

Over the many years I have been writing, most of it has been for personal use only–journaling, participation in NaNoWriMo without any intentions of doing anything with my novel, blogging, or for school purposes (as an English Instructor, it’s impossible not to write). I have never feared my writing–what I write, how I write, the physical presentation of what I write, and so on. I have always written mostly for myself and in a manner that pleases me, myself, and I–since I had no intentions of publishing anything I wrote.

But in recent months (ok, years), I’ve determined to finish my memoir and publish it. (Still vacillating between self-publishing and going the traditional route.) In doing research on memoirs and the publication of memoirs (because that’s what we’re supposed to do before publishing, right? research the genre to see what else is available?), I have discovered that the memoir genre is wide open for methods in presentations. The memoir genre is currently hot in the world of reading as is evidenced by the fact that we can’t really do a search of any kind on a subject without running across a memoir on that subject.

The good news is that means that my memoir fits right in with the current demand. The bad news is that so many people are writing and publishing their memoirs. That means then that I have to find a way to write my memoir in such a way as to make it stand out from the rest, to make it similar enough to other memoirs so I don’t scare away potential readers, but different enough so that readers don’t toss it aside with a groan because it’s “just another memoir.”

I feel fairly confident that I have found a way to put my memoir together in such a way as to be just different enough to be cutting edge and just similar enough that readers will be glad to pick it up to read.

One idea I have about my memoir that is very different from other memoirs is that I would like to include or publish alongside my memoir a Bible Study. This is where I’m thrown for a loop. While I have read and completed many Bible Studies over the years, I have never even thought of let alone attempted to write one. As I have begun researching how to write (put together) a Bible Study for publication, I have discovered that there is NO information on “how to write [and publish] a Bible Study.” There are dozens if not hundreds of books, websites, etc. about how to write and publish a memoir (or just about any other genre you can name or imagine), but there is NOTHING on writing/putting together a Bible Study!

Considering the fact that I am writing in unchartered territory, I was hoping for at least a little guidance in writing a Bible Study–as I have had over the years when writing fiction or basic non-fiction. But there is NOTHING. At least not anything that I have found at this point.

I have come to the conclusion then that there are no rules or guidelines that are expected to be followed when it comes to writing a Bible Study. I’m sure there are some because obviously writing a Bible Study involves using the Bible itself and must be faith-based, but are there rules or guidelines regarding the expected translation? Are there guidelines regarding physical appearance on the page?

What makes things even more interesting, if you will allow me to use that term, is that I want to write a JOURNALING Bible Study and maybe even include pictures to color!!!! Are there any rules or guidelines regarding journaling Bible Studies or including pictures to color in a Bible Study??

The good news is that no two Bible Studies that I have ever done have ever been exactly the same style or set-up (except those that are published by the same group or organization, but even within the group, the set-up is unique to each). The bad news is that means that I have to “invent” my own style or set-up.

The good news is that this means that I GET to “invent” my own style or set-up for my JOURNALING BIBLE STUDY/Memoir!!!!

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Butt in chair

As a writing instructor as well as a writer-wanna-be, I have read and taught more times than I am able to count about the importance of “butt-in-chair” when it comes to writing. The most basic answer to the question “how do I write?” is for the would-be writer to sit down and write–whether it be by hand or digitally doesn’t matter. What matters is putting the butt in a chair and writing.

Period.

Ha!

Haha!

Hahaha!

Yeah. Right.

If only it were that easy.

Because, see, here’s the problem: the moment I put my butt in my chair to write, I think about the hundred other things that I need to be doing–the 100 things that honestly have priority over writing–except during NaNoWriMo (November). At the top of that list of important projects is the grading that always needs to be done. If you teach, then you know that even before you finish grading one assignment, another is already waiting behind it to be graded.

And if grading isn’t the top priority, then prep work is. Any good teacher knows that even when we have assignments that we recycle, assignments are constantly being improved upon or simply changing based on class personality or needs. Which means, then, that even seasoned teachers such as myself are always doing prep work.

Since my son is currently a teenager, he no longer needs to live in mommy’s pocket, but yet because he is an only child, he loves having my undivided attention. That means that my son–my family–more often than not takes priority over my writing.

With all that being said, though, I have this desperate need deep in my very soul to write. I love to write. I love to journal. I love to write for my blogs. I have participated in NaNo for more than 10 years, off and on, and won at least half of those years. I love writing letters. I even enjoy writing up assignments for my classes.

So while I do have to prioritize because that is simply the way life goes, writing is and always will be lurking just below whatever item is at the very top of my list of priorities…which means that I will always find a way and time to put my butt in my chair and write–even if that means writing for no more than half an hour!

The Write Stuff Club

First of all, I can’t believe I haven’t written in this blog for so long!!

Secondly, since I last wrote in this blog, my school has started a creative writing club and I am one of the advisors for it! The best part is that just about every faculty member in our department is an advisor; that way we can spread the love around and no one faculty member is obligated to be at every single meeting or responsible for everything club related.

As a new club, we have a fairly low membership so far, but we are gaining recognition and membership with each passing day. In fact, just today, we had someone stop by to tell us he wants to be in the club! We are confident that our club will only continue to grow as more and more people find out we are even on campus

The first big thing that we did as a club was invite an author to our campus. Originally, we had thought we would have her come just to our club meeting, but the more we talked, the more we wanted her to come so anyone across campus  could come hear her speak. Angela Pisel came to our campus on Wednesday, January 25 and shared her writing process with a room full of folks eager to absorb any and everything Angela wanted to teach us!

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By the way, if you haven’t had a chance yet to read her book, it’s called With Love from the Inside and it is AMAZING!!!

Last November our club also participated in NaNoWriMo. Most everyone in our club who participated won–reached his/her 50,000 word goal.

As a writer myself, I am thrilled to my very soul that we have FINALLY gotten a creative writing club on campus. We have talked about it ever since I first started here more than seventeen years ago, but we’ve never done anything about it….until now!

Check us out! The Write Stuff Club

Writer’s Software: To Use or Not to Use

It is my biggest dream in life, right now, to finish and publish my memoir. I wrote the draft several years ago and have worked on it off and on since. I have found it difficult to keep up with what I’ve written and what I haven’t written as well as in finding a particular section–quickly–while using Word and/or Google Docs. Both programs are easy to navigate and certainly great to use as a writer. The best part about Google Docs is that it automatically saves and I can access it wherever I am as long as I have internet access.

But the struggle to revise such a long document is real. As you know if you have participated in NaNoWriMo any time over the last several years, NaNo winners often receive some awesome goodies that participants do not. One of those goodies is 50% programs like Scrivener or FastPencil and the like. These companies also make their software available for a free trial for November for all NaNo participants.

I did try Scrivener one year during NaNo, but I found it very distracting during the first draft stage, so I quit using it and never looked back. Since the whole concept of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days with no revision, software like the ones mentioned were clunky and kept me from simply writing. What about you? Do you prefer to use writing software such as Scrivener when writing the first draft, especially when participating in NaNo?

Now that I have a really solid draft of my Memoir complete, I am finding it very difficult to use Word or Google Docs as I revise. When I want to find a particular passage/section in my book, I find it difficult to navigate approximately 80 pages of a single-spaced document. I can do a search, obviously, for what I am looking for and that does help. I am thankful for such features in your basic writing programs.

But when it comes to the serious revisions such as seeing at a glance the chapters and overall content, Word and Google Docs are not helpful at all. But software like Scrivener is fantastic in that area. I can view all my chapters at once either in outline form, as part of my Binder, or on a digital cork board. I can move chapters or sections around with a flick of my mouse rather than having to highlight and drag whole sections, possibly losing the whole section or putting it in the wrong place because of the sensitivity of the mouse. (Know what I mean?)

In Scrivener, I can also use a split screen right there in the program so I can compare sections. I don’t have to open two separate windows and place them side-by-side or one on top of the other on my screen. Scrivener does that for me.

Scrivener also easily formats my book when I am finished. It creates the title page, keeps a running total of my overall word count, adds chapter titles as well as chapter breaks, and so on and so forth.

I have only just started using Scrivener as part of my revision process. I like what I see and what I have used so far. There is a lot to the program, though, and I am finding myself feeling at a bit of a loss since I am not familiar with the program. It is fairly self-explanatory but there are some cool features that a newbie won’t know without either playing with the program or having someone else show him/her.

So what about you? Have you tried software like Scrivener or Fastpencil? What do you think of such programs? Why? Do you prefer Word or Google Docs? What are some positives/negatives about each of the various programs–to you?

I really am curious to know what you think…..

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NaNoWriMo 2015–Halfway There

Today is the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo. How is it going, Friends? So far, I have been able to stay on track in spite of my computer crashing. It has been frustrating, I must say. I was ready to throw it through a window, but somehow or another, I have managed to hold myself together and move forward. We had a computer that I had bought my son that he was not using, so at least I only lost a day of writing–easy to make up.

I am actually enjoying the story I am working on. It took me several days to get to that place. When the month started, I had no idea what I even wanted to write about. I had no story, no topic idea. Nothing! My mind was a blank page and I had no words to fill it. I spent the first several days of the month just writing about “things” that were on my mind.

Yes, I am counting those words for NaNo! I wrote them during the month of November, so they count!

But then I remembered a story I had started earlier this year and inspiration struck! Now I making great headway and I can hardly wait each day to sit down and work on my story! Because of the problems with my computer, though, I find myself not wanting to write much more beyond my word count for the day. Normally I would keep going once I would get to my word count. But not the past several days.

So here I am, with a few fellow NaNo-ers at Barnes & Noble, doing my best to write and not chat!

And hoping and praying that the back-up computer I am using will continue working for as long as I need it this afternoon.

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