NaNoWriMo and National “Write a Novel” Month

NanoWriMo Logo
The logo for NanoWriMo. Pretty cool!

November is National “Write a Novel Month”. No, you haven’t traveled backward (or forward) in time using a time machine built out of a Delorian – It IS currently February and I AM talking about November.

The reason I am talking about November and National (Worldwide?) “Write a Novel” Month, is because I went “down the rabbit hole” this morning with internet searches in my groggy, sleepless state.

What I found (whilst searching for “format of scripts for graphic novels”, also known as the reason I was up at 2:25AM) was a concept/site called NaNoWriMo. The idea is simple: write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November (that’s 1,666 words a day if you write all of the 30 days). The site has garnered both praise and criticism (and although I signed up, it seems there hasn’t been much activity as of late, but when October/November rolls around I may likely see some action), and I wanted to know more as being in a crunch usually gets me motivated and moving forward. I am a fan of the idea.

I first found the site by landing on author Anthony Johnston’s, website who had this to say about NaNoWriMo:

You’ve no doubt heard of NaNoWriMo, the annual event where amateur writers pledge to complete a 50,000-word novel in one month. It has many supporters… and many critics.

I’m one of the supporters; and, while musing on a quotation of mine that refuses to die, I finally put my finger on why.

The quote is this:

File under ‘Hard Truths’: the creative muse is fiction. If you sit around waiting for the right moment to create, you will die waiting.

Intense, right? Insert your art/craft here – it applies to life in general. (Additionally, Anthony Johnston has some excellent resources for writers here).

All of this talk of criticism of NaNoWriMo got me searching with The Big G (Google) to see what all the hubbub was about. This led me to Chuck Wendig’s website, Terrible Minds, where he talks openly about NanoWriMo here and why some authors are critical of it. He also lays out some amazing tips for writing in general and if you don’t have time to read it (although I encourage you to read it. Twice), the bottom line is this:

You get out of it what you put into it and if you finish the 30 days with half a manuscript then that’s half a manuscript more than you started. There is WAY more information in the actual article, so, again, I encourage reading it.

Write!

If I go to bed now, I could sleep for one hour and ten minutes…worth it?

An Open Letter to the Muses

Hesiod and the Muse (1891)
Gustave Moreau: Hesiod and the Muse (1891)—Musée d’Orsay, Paris

I thought it prudent to write you all a letter, as you’ve been very active lately. Don’t get me wrong, I am truly grateful for the flood of story ideas as of late, but I do want to let you know how it is I work so that we’re on the same page.

The truth is, I need time. I need time to go from the creative spark, the initial incept of the idea, to the first sentence and so forth.  from the creative spark to writing the first sentence and then I need more time after that. This is how I work. I don’t forget the idea or the story and I am not ignoring you, I just need let it mull around in my head for a while until its formed enough to get it down into words.

So, with this in mind, I am asking that you not take the idea and give it to someone else and, to that end, I will make a deal with you: if an unreasonable amount of time goes by and I have sat on an idea for too long, , I will happily release it (and you know that I will because I’ve done it before). It is at this point that you can give the spark to someone else to transform into the flame that it deserves to be.

Deal?

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

As I was walking in to work this morning, I was reminded of a familiar scene. It was the opening scene to another one of my favorite movies, Joe Versus The Volcano

Unrelated side-note: why is it that most of my favorite movies are most people’s least favorite movies?

joe-versus-volcano-image
Joe Versus the Volcano

Moving on! The opening scene depicts hundreds of workers shuffling themselves into the typical, soul-sucking, monolithic corporate environment, all the while the song Sixteen Tons, by the late, great Tennessee Ernie Ford, plays in the background. The refrain of which is:

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

To complete the scene, the weather is damp, grey and foggy as the zombie-esque workers, who “sold their soul[s]”, trudge up a lightning shaped path into the belly of the American Corporate-Industrial Complex. Do you feel this way when you arrive at work? I used to. I recently realized that it’s all on my head.

At my workplace, I park as far away as I can. Partly because I did that on day one and like some consistency, and partly because I like the exercise (in addition to the 6 flights of stairs I go up and down each day). I noticed this morning that there were two types of people: shufflers and striders.

The shufflers were the ones that looked as if the invisible cords of mortgage and car loans were wrapped around their bodies, dragging them toward the front door. The striders‘ paces were brisk and full of intention. From outside, both groups seemed mixed (white collar, blue collar, executives, minions). The only difference was their mindset.

“But how can you know that?” I can hear you ask. That is a great question, and here is the even better answer: I used to be a shuffler. Now I am a strider!

Is this job my final destination? No. Is this my passion? No. Do I find joy in my work? Not always, but I look for it when I can. What this job is affording me are the following: a house, a car, food, clothing, heat and the financial ability to explore my passions. This is my day job and I figured out that I can look at it one of two ways: “It eats up all my time away from the things I love to do” or “It affords me time and money to work in the margins on my passions and I am eternally grateful, thank you, thank you, thank you”.

I’m choosing the latter. What will you choose?

I hope you’re well!

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Today being Groundhog Day, I had an epiphany this morning about my own Phil Connors’ moments over the years (if you don’t know who Phil Connors is, go here).

Every few months I would notice in my Facebook “On This Day” (which is a look back on what happened, well, on this day last year), there would be the same post over and over. The post was similar to “I need a new job. Help!”. I finally saw it from everyone else’s point of view: how terribly annoying this is. And it wasn’t even true. My boredom (or, quite honestly, the wavering confidence in my abilities) simply got to me and instead of rising to the challenge, I would try to dump and run. Also, sometimes when I don’t get my way, I’ll pull the same bullshit. Hey, I’m the youngest of four kids, what do you expect?

In 2017 I’d like to switch this up, as Phil Connors did when he finally stopped trying to kill himself and decided to use his reoccurring day to enrich his life (and let’s be honest, self-sabotaging is a form of killing of the self). This year, the job is the job and it’s just the job. I carry my weather with me and if I’m not happy where I am currently, I won’t be happy anywhere else.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Your Life’s Purpose

Whether it’s actually true or not, we all feel that we have that one thing that we should be doing with our lives and that somehow we are not doing that thing. For whatever reason.

That being said (and even though I feel like I know what that one thing is for me) I like to periodically test the Universe by taking online quizzes about what I should do with my life. I mean, come on, who knows better about what I should be doing with my life than an internet quiz created by someone trying to get me to visit their page to see all the advertising they can cram into my eyeballs?

In my travel through this dark, dusty hallway of second guessing, I stumbled upon Mark Manson‘s 2014 article called 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose.

Let’s just say he doesn’t pull any punches.

Enjoy!