Writing about writing

Posts tagged ‘National Novel Writing Month’

NaNo Dilemma Resolution

NaNo-2017-Winner-Twitter-Header

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

Advertisements

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.

Levites_Concubine_263

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.

Cross_stabbing_bible_bloody-2

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.

 

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!

20160809_215129

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…..

caro-cliente-ti-voglio-bene

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.

facebook_timeline__nanowrimo__10__by_breezybealle-d5htpb7

I’m still writing…

It’s been a few months since I posted to this blog, but rest assured, I’ve been busy writing the whole time–just not on the blog!  I’ve gone back to writing in a physical journal by hand rather than writing in my e-journal (PenZu) mostly which means that I’m just not on the computer as often throughout the days as I am when I write online.  I know….I know…excuses only satisfy the person who makes them!

Anyway, since the last time I posted here, I’ve also helped edit a manuscript for a previous student.  I am so proud of her!  Back when she was my student, she participated in NaNo for extra credit.  She went so far as to publish her novel!  Since then, she’s written two sequels–publishing one and the 2nd is the one she’s currently editing in preparation for publication very soon.  She is such an inspiration to me.

Here I’m the teacher.  I’m the one who encouraged her to participate in NaNoWriMo.  I’ve participated in NaNo almost every year since 2004.  I’ve won most years, but lost a few years (mostly when I had severe health issues and was in the hospital). And here’s this young woman who has not only participated in NaNo the past several years and won, but she’s also published two of three novels in a series (with the 3rd coming very soon)!  And I’m just sitting on my manuscript, twiddling my thumbs.  Pathetic.

So I’m MAKING the time over the next few weeks to edit my manuscript and get it out for the masses.  It doesn’t matter if anyone buys and/or reads it.  What matters is that I follow my heart and finish what I started! I have a story to in me and it must be told.

11910828_10204855048716088_716343030_n

Not doing well with NaNoWriMo this year

So how are you doing with NaNoWriMo this year so far?!  I wish I could say that things are on a roll and that I’m on track to finish, but sadly, I’ve at least 5,000 words behind.  I have been that far behind before and caught up, but at this point in time, I’m not sure I’m even going to be able to.  I decided to do NaNo this year even though I have a lot going on and I honestly don’t have the time for it.  I even went ahead and pre-ordered the NaNo Winner’s t-shirt!  Somehow or another, I am going to have to find a way to get my act together and WRITE.

I’m having a lot of fun going on Pinterest, Tumblr, and other social media to find great words of wisdom regarding writing and NaNo.  There is a LOT of great stuff available and it’s all fun and interesting to read.  Instead of being motivated to write, though, I’m frustrated because I am simply not motivated.

It doesn’t help that I am sharing my computer with my son.  Just when I think that I will get some motivation to write, he needs my computer so he can work on a report for school.  I have to let him do his homework, so I end up moping around as I wait for him to finish.  I try not to lurk because I don’t want to distract him when he needs to stay focused.  The real irony is that as soon as he gives me back my computer, I’m stumped and can’t write a lick!

But any writing is writing and I have to start somewhere.  So I thought I’d write a quick blog and ask you how you’re doing with NaNo, brag a little bit about the fact that the Dallas Cowboys beat the Jaguars today, and then do some serious NaNo-ing!

Good luck to all you NaNoWriMos!!!!

nanowrimo-DR1sm

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: