Writing about writing

Posts tagged ‘November’

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

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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A week’s worth of Reading Deprivation

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I am currently reading Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY.  I have read other books by Julia Cameron and I really like the things she has to say.  She’s been there, done that as far as writing is concerned and I have come to trust her.  I find it difficult to do EVERYTHING she suggests in her books, but I do find that the things I have done that she recommends are very beneficial for my art–Writing.

I love to write–as I have shared in this blog already.  It is as much a part of me as breathing.  (As is reading, so you may be able to imagine how difficult this week already is and I’m only on the 2nd day of Reading Deprivation!)  I HAVE to write.  I love writing for myself (journaling).  I love writing my blogs–this one and my “Joy Regardless” blog (link to that one is available at the top of the screen) whether anyone reads them or not.  The fact that people are reading them excites me, but humbles me as well.  (Thank you.)  I love doing the writing I do for my job as an English instructor (assignments, emails, proposals, etc., etc., etc.).  I simply love to write.

The problem, though, is that while I have a dream of being a PUBLISHED writer, I find myself stuck in that regard.  I have written several books–mostly during NaNoWriMo (November), but I have never done anything with them.  I know that my serial-killing-teacher story is one that is worth revising and attempting to publish and I know that my Memoir is also one that NEEDS to be revised and shopped for a publisher.  But instead of doing anything about getting them published, they are languishing on my laptop, getting “dusty” from lack of use.

So in an attempt to jump-start my publishing career, I have turned to Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY to help me get motivated.  She is a great motivator.  But I am finding her “suggestion” of Reading Deprivation to be one that makes me want to punch out the lights of anyone who comes near me!  I started it last night and I yelled at my husband and son because I couldn’t find something my husband misplaced–even though I was sure I knew where he had put it!

But I want to give it a shot.  Julia Cameron talks about in week 4, how

“If you feel stuck in your life or in your art, few jump starts are more effective than a week of reading deprivation. . . .Reading deprivation casts us into our inner silence, a space some of us begin to immediately fill [sic–split infinitive] with new words–long, gossipy conversations, television bingeing, the radio as a constant, chatty companion.  We often cannot hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artist’s inspiration, above the static.  In practicing reading deprivation, we need to cast a watchful eye on these other pollutants.  They poison the well.

If we monitor the inflow and keep it to a minimum, we will be rewarded for our reading deprivation with embarrassing speed.  Our reward will be a new outflow” (87).

In doing this Reading “Fast” or Reading deprivation, for 7 days, I will also have to give up a lot of my computer time because so much of the reading that I do is online–Facebook, emails, blogs, etc.  As an English Instructor, a week’s worth of Reading Deprivation is impossible completely because I will still need to check my school emails periodically throughout the week for important work emails–from my boss, other co-workers, and especially important emails from students.  I have created an automatic out-going message, though, for all my email accounts that state that I am doing this week of Reading Deprivation and have asked that if they need me either to come see me or call me instead of email me.

I have also sent out an announcement/email to all of my students letting them know that I am doing a week of Reading Deprivation, but that does not mean I am unavailable to them.  Again, I told them that if they need me, either come see me or call me.

Reading deprivation also means NO READING WHILE I AM IN THE BATHROOM.  I can’t even begin to explain to you how very difficult this one is going to be!  Even when I only need to be quick, I will read at least a paragraph when I go to the bathroom!  I have been reading on the toilet since I was old enough to hold a book–and knew how to read!  If I cheat on my reading “fast” this week, it will be during a bathroom visit, I’m sure!

Julia, I sure hope your suggestions in THE ARTIST’S WAY, including and especially this whole week of Reading Deprivation work and that I will begin to see and feel results in my creative life!!!!!  I know that I am meant to do more with my writing than just write for myself, so here goes nothing at finding a way to dream and dream big!!!!  🙂

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Winning!!!!!!

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So yeah.  I “won” NaNoWriMo this year, 2014!!!  Yahoo!!!!  It really isn’t anything I can honestly brag about though because not a single word is ever going to see the light of day as far as publishing is concerned!  It honestly is a bunch of C.R.A.P.  But I did it.

It’s all about the Words.  It’s all about the Words.  No Struggle!  (See what I did there?  Thanks, Meghan Trainor for such a great song to continue to Parody!  Haha!)

Anyway, I honestly have no idea how I was able to get 50,000 words written in less than thirty days considering how very busy I have been this fall, not just this November.  But here it is, a full three days (or is it four?) before the end of the month and I have them.  Wow.  All I can say is that this writer honestly loves to write.  There is no other way I could have (should have) been able to get 50,000 thousand words in 26 days.

Several years ago, I had a conversation with a close friend about how in the world I was able to read so many books when I was so busy.  She said that she just did not have time to read, and that as a result, it had been years since she had read a whole book.  I, on the other hand, read all the time and have consistently, for many years, read more than 50 books in a any given year.  I have thought an awful lot about that conversation because, to me, it makes absolutely no sense that people just don’t read.

I have come to the realization–the conclusion–that we do what we really want to do.  We will make time for the things we love, regardless of how busy we are.  That goes for anything we might DO as well as for spending time with those we love.  If we want to bad enough, if we really love it–enjoy it with our whole being (as I do when it comes to reading–and writing), then we will find a way to make time for it and we will DO IT.

If you don’t like to read, let alone love it (as I do), you wont’ do it.  If you don’t love to write (as I do), you probably won’t win NaNo.  Or if you do, it will be sheer determination that drives you to succeed.  I don’t care if I ever get published or not.  That is not why I do NaNo every year.  Would I accept a contract with a publishing company if one were to cross my desk?!  You bet your bippy I would!  Of course I would!  But I don’t do it for the fame, fortune, and glory.

I do it because I honestly and truly LOVE TO WRITE.  I would write a lot regardless of whether or not I participate in NaNo.  I would read regardless of whether or not anyone else did.  I would teach to a chair if I had to.  I will spend time with my loved ones regardless of whether or not they want to spend time with me.  (Thankfully, they seem to want to spend time with me, too!  Whew!)

Why?

Because those are things I LOVE doing….with a Passion.  They fill me with JOY deep in my soul.  And that makes all the difference in the world.

The Piano Guys are one of my new favorite groups not just because their music is incredible, but mostly because of the pure JOY on their faces as they are playing.  As I watch John play the piano and Steve play that cello, I am in awe of the smiles spread wide across their faces.  They so obviously LOVE playing.  It makes my enjoyment of their music that much greater. I could listen to and watch those guys play all day long because their enjoyment exudes from them.

It is my sincerest hope and prayer that YOU find what you LOVE with a passion and DO IT.  It doesn’t have to be writing.  It just has to be something you LOVE.

In the long run, it doesn’t matter whether you win at NaNo or not (get to 50,000 words in 30 days).  What matters is that you DO what you LOVE to do!!!!!

Epiphany

Lovely_Bones_coverI have been wondering why in the world I have been having so much trouble writing my zombie story this NaNoWriMo when it has been something I have been thinking about for more than a year.  Plus I honestly do think that there could be a decent story there.   So what has been my problem?

I have come to the conclusion that I am having so much trouble because I haven’t finished my memoir that I have been working on.  I made a goal, a commitment if you will, to finish it by the end of 2014 and putting it off to work on my zombie story is only giving me Writer’s Block as far as my zombie story is concerned.

It reminds me of when I first read THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold.  I always do a little background research when I begin a book by an author I have never read before.   One thing I read doing that research on Alice was that while she was writing THE LOVELY BONES, she found that her own voice kept creeping in and attempting to speak for Suzie, the main character.   While Suzie’s story differs in many ways from Alice’s, because of the similarity of there being a rape in both stories (yes, Alice was raped while in college), she was having a difficult time telling Suzie’s story instead of her own.   So Alice set aside Suzie’s story while she went back and wrote her amazing memoir,  LUCKY.  Once she finished her own story,  she was able to get book_lucky_bonesback to Suzie’s and let Suzie tell it in her own voice.

In other words,  like Alice,  I am having to get my own story out of my system before I can concentrate on my new story.   There have been times when I have been able to work on more than one writing project at a time with little to no trouble.   But this time,  for various reasons,  I simply cannot move forward until I finish my memoir.

Rather than continuing to fight it, I am going to go ahead and go back to my memoir for now.   When I am able,  I will get back to my zombie story.   I know it will be better for it.

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!!!!

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