NaNoWriMo, Here I Come

I was talking with my friend Rebecca a while ago, who was telling me about a challenge she had undertaken at her barre exercise class. “The goal is to complete 45 barre classes in 30 days,” she told me.

I was no mathematician, but those numbers gave me pause. “Wait. That means you’re gonna have to do at least two classes per day sometimes.”

“Yep,” she said. I could tell by her determined, terror-stricken grin that she had come to this revelation long before that moment. As someone who worked full-time (and oftentimes double-shifts), as well as–you know–having a social life in other endeavors, adding that type of commitment would definitely force her to make some adjustments to her daily routine.

“Yep,” she said again when I voiced this, but this time her expression softened into a serious resolution. “I don’t know how I’m going to manage it–but Ima manage it!”

To my glee and admiration (and her own initial shock), she did more than that. She completed her challenge well before the deadline, even giving up some of her favorite pastimes temporarily to make the challenge a legit priority.

I’ve repetively told her how proud I was of her. I hadn’t doubted that she could do it; she is someone who is quite resolute when she plans out activities. In fact, her dedication inspired me.

Despite writing more in general (primarily personal journals), I have not focused any time on actually writing a novel itself (there are other reasons for that, but anyway…). Perhaps I’ll have a day of delight and bust out a page or two, but by the next day, the inspiration is MIA.

Seeing what Becca did with her challenge reminded me that sometimes, the key to success is just deciding to do it–and then, just commiting to it. So, that’s what I’m going to do.

And I’m going to do it by adding a resource that I never have before. I’m using the aid of National Novel Writing Month–also affectionately known as NaNoWriMo.

What is NaNoWriMo?

Well, aside from being really fun to say (and debate its pronunciation among others: “Am I saying it right? Am I–am I saying it correctly?”), and residing in the best month evah (*ahem*Scorpios of the world unite*cough*). NaNoWriMo is a non-profit global organization that promotes the creative drive of novelists everywhere. What started as 21 writers in 1999 has since exploded into a resource with sponsors, education programs, word-tracking capabilities, and more. Beginning November 1, novelists will blaze into a flurry of writing with the goal of getting out at least 50,000 words–a solid start to any novel–by the end of November 30.

Despite my love of writing, I’ll confess that signing-up the word-tracking “required” for NaNoWriMo intimidated me. As a child, my writing was my private safe haven. The most publicly I ever shared my works were in college, both in my creative writing classes and my slew of WWE wrestler slash fanfiction that I posted on an online, members-only private forum.

(The Rock and Triple H. Mmmm, those were good times.)

Timidly, I clicked the link to the NaNoWriMo site. The image of a typewriter and a bagel (half-eaten) lured me into its embrace, while the “sign-up” button beckoned me closer.

Scrolling down further granted me an excerpt of NaNo’s vision statement:

NaNoWriMo believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.

From NanNoWriMo.org. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION

…They said my favorite word.  “Creativity.”

…How have I denied my urges for so long??

But NaNoWriMo doesn’t just promote writing and creativity–it thoroughly enforces it. Apparently, over 900 volunteers will organize “communal writing sessions” throughout the world during November, giving its attendees both a place and a sense of support that has never been seen before 1999.

Weighing the Odds…as They Crush Me

I continued to peruse the site, building hope and promise that maybe–maybe this could help me get on track towards finally getting over my fears of writing.

Why do I think it will work? Apparently, several novels were penned with the help of the challenge.

  • Wool by Hugh Howey was a fun, freaky scifi series book that I utterly enjoyed when I found it on Amazon.
  • Water for Elephants is another. Heck, that one was turned into a movie starting Robert Pattison, Reese Witherspoon and Christopher Waltz.

Though my goal to write was not to become a famous, popular author, it was nice to know that NaNoWriMo had served as a solid foundation for serious writers who, perhaps, just needed that extra boost of accountability and community support to keep going.

I scrolled down further on the front page, my heart lightening with each line–and then clenched as two sets of numbers suddenly rolled into view.

  • 798,162 active novelists
  • 367,913 novels completed

Welllll, son of a mother. That’s…a lot of writers.

The Game Plan

If I do Nothing, Nothing will happen.  If I do Something, Something has no choice but to occur.

–Anonymous

Just looking at those stats alone was enough to make me sway and bring back some of my original fears to start writing again. Out of such a high number of novels completed, there is bound to be a notable percentage of those novels that are actually brilliant, witty, emotionally life-changing, literary masterpieces.

That being said, I appreciated about NaNoWriMo (aside from the heavy promotion of nurturing creativity) is that it is not a contest. In fact, they make a point to say that this is a community, a place to support each other as everyone works towards our same, singular goal: to complete our 50,000+ word works.

During a time when physical ability has been a heavy strain, writing is one tool that makes me feel sharp and alive. That–and I can’t say this enough–I love to write. At this stage in my life, I want to do more than leave my random scrawlings in a handwritten notebook.

I have good ideas for novels. I know I do. And I want to share them with others to evoke the joy and delight that my favorite novelists and writers have done for me since I was a child.

If the initial goal is to write at least 50,000 words in 30 days, that averages to 1,667 words per day.

Is it possible? Well, sure. Many things are possible.

But there will be days when the desire to sit and type will wane. There will be days when the last thing I will want to do is stare at my dumb computer screen and paw through the slush that will be the first draft of this novel. There will be times when I’ll feel like I’ve written myself into a hole, and the hole seems a bottomless pit with no hope for landing.

And then, there will be those days when I just think: “This sucks, and I hate everything and what’s the point.” And then, I’m gonna run from my desk like Ron Swanson.

…But.

The very reason I’m joining this challenge is because…I have unofficially written for nearly 30 years, and I have yet to try and publish anything. My self-esteem and fear of producing boring, laughable crap has left me prone, stuck.

I have family and friends who have long since been writing and have successfully published. They were able to push past the inner fears and life struggles, bear down, and do what they needed to get their work to the masses.

I envy them. I admire them.

I want to grab them by the lapels and screech, “How did you do it?!”

But, more than anything…I want to join them. Maybe not in just publishing books, but also in the power of their desire.

I want to know their strength and their ability to commit to a project. I want to know what worked for them. I want to know what didn’t.

But…you know? I actually already kinda do.

I’ve talked with the family members, and I followed the blog of and occasionally chatted with an old friend as her books ranked higher and higher on Amazon.

I truly think I have all the tools I need. There is nothing left but the doing.

Final Thoughts

I don’t want live in excuses or fear anymore. I don’t want to procrastinate.

Committing to this challenge will allow me to hold myself publicly accountable for writing a novel for the first time. Honestly, I’m not even sure what the layout of the site is much beyond the sign-up button. Once I finish writing this post, though, I will find out.

If musicians can lock themselves in studios for 72 hours to get an album done, and my friend Rebecca can dole out multiple barre classes in a single day and still rush into work that same day, then I can sit, plug my ears, shove my insecurities aside, and freakin’ write.

…Wish me luck.

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Calvin Coolidge

Any other first-time NaNoWriMo novelists out there? I’d love to hear what’s driving you this year!

Writing Prompt: City of God

It’s been a while since I dropped some fiction on my blog.  This year hasn’t been my best when it comes to writing and editing the work that I want to publish.  However, while I am trying to rebuild my internal creativity, I’ll continue using writing prompts to keep my mind clear of the cobwebs.

So, without further ado, here is my latest installments from the writing  prompt based simply on the featured image to this post.  Enjoy!


Buddy awoke to the sound of metal crashing above his head.  He jumped up, right into the wide-eyed embrace of Mr. Lewis.  Though his science teacher had been with him since the start of his journey, he was disoriented, and his head hurt.

“Buddy!”  Mr. Lewis scrambled to hold him still, pinning the hysterical boy’s arms to his sides.  “Buddy.” At last he stilled, panting and staring back into his eyes. They stayed that way for a second or two, until Mr. Lewis knew that the boy would finally comprehend what he was about to say.  “You did it.”

Buddy blinked.  He had been searching, traveling so long, struggling through so much, it was sometimes hard to remember what he had done that was good, or important, or real.

Mr. Lewis smiled.  He was one of those adults that 50 and 60-year adults would call young, but to Buddy he was an adult, and so he was old enough.  “You did it,” he said again, and looked over his own shoulder.

Buddy looked over his shoulder, too.  They were still in the alley that the horde of Goers had chased them into, but all of the demonic crones were now gone.  The darkness of the night was also gone. Instead, there was nothing but light–the warm, sweet light of the morning.

But the more Buddy focused, the more he realized that the light wasn’t from the morning.  Behind his own back, as he twisted to check, was the shadows of night. He could even see the headlights of cars as they honked their horns and maneuvered unforgivingly on the narrow downtown road beyond the alley in which he stood.  In front of him only, beyond Mr. Lewis, the alley broke into a large doorway of sunlight. Beyond that opening, down a steep slope and spreading across the landscape as far as the eye could see, were what seemed to be a new, grander town of strange, rural buildings.  Each dwelling was small but artistic and ran all the way into the distant horizons. Even further back, behind the city, majestic mountains framed the borders.

But it was what was in the center of the town and caught Buddy’s breath in his throat.  Standing proud, a column of pure golden light streaking from its peak into the sky and separating the clouds, was a pyramid.

A pyramid.  In the middle of Indiana.

Buddy’s eyes welled with tears that gushed down his cheeks without his needing to blink.  He tried to speak, failed, tried again, and only managed a pantomime of the words he wanted to say.  “House,” he squawked, and saw Mr. Lewis’s chin tremble. “The House of God.”

He could feel the spirit within the very center of the pyramid radiating to him, touching his mind and answering every question and thought before Buddy himself could let his wonders finish processing.  He felt his heart drain of all negativity–the anger of being abandoned, the hatred towards the Goers, the annoyance of being hungry after traveling for so long. None of it mattered anymore. Here, there was only truth, and love.

He was walking towards the city before he realized it and stopped at the mouth of the alleyway.  He felt the cool breeze on his back and turned suddenly, looking for his teacher. Mr. Lewis had remained where he had touched Buddy awake, smiling still but shaking his head.

“This is no longer my journey, Buddy Boy.” Mr. Lewis was the only other adult–aside from his father–that Buddy allowed to call him that.  He had fought it for a while, but after Mr. Lewis had saved his life five or eight times, Buddy had…given up the fight.

Mr. Lewis nodded at the pyramid.  “I think you know the way from here.”

But Buddy, who would be ten in a week and had pumped and paid for his dad’s gas since he was seven, hesitated.  When the Goers had learned what he had discovered and tried to take him in, he had been alone and unsure of who could help him–who would believe him.  He had run to his school, which had been locked and chained up tight for the summer season.  But then, the science classroom’s window had been open, and Buddy had seen Mr. Lewis at a lab table.  Then, Mr. Lewis had seen Buddy–and the Goers behind him.

He had not asked questions.

Now, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, and looking more like an excited new country singer than an elementary teacher, Mr. Lewis urged him away.  “My job was to get you here, not walk you in. You’ll be fine.” He added, as a sort of joke, “I hear He’s nice.”

“But—”

Mr. Lewis’s eyes sparkled, just for a moment.  Buddy, from his distance in the light, didn’t see it.  “You think you’re the only one who had an impossible wish?”  He spoke low; maybe Buddy heard him, maybe not. “You don’t forfeit everything you know for a chance unless you really, really want it.”  In another lifetime, he would have punctuated that statement with a flap of his light, iridescent wings. But that was decades ago, worlds away. Now, he merely ran a thumb over the smooth, worn gold of the band on his left hand. A sweet memento of the life he’d lived for nearly 20 years, the one he would be returning to once Buddy was gone.

Buddy stood, unsure, frightened, and at last Mr. Lewis said the thing he knew would help Buddy make the choice.  “They’ll be proud of you, Buddy Boy!” he yelled.

The euphoria of a fantasy about to come true welled in Buddy’s chest.  He spun to face the city once more; it dazzled and beckoned to him, but it did not entrance.  To enter and remain in that city would always be a free choice.

Delicately, like a cat using his paw to test the depth of a puddle, Buddy called out into the dawn.  “Mom? Dad?” The words hung soft and promising in the air. “Jake? Dylan?”

And in that way, Mr. Lewis watched as Buddy, the first living human ever to cross over into Heaven, shuffled his way down the steep hill straight through the city to the massive pyramid where his family awaited him.

Writing Prompt 2 – “Open Your Eyes. Come back.”

I love writing prompts.  Every now and then, I find one in the the bottomless depths of Pinterest that plants a driving seed within me.  One that must be watered, and nourished, and…

Well, just plain written.

Here is one of my latest attempts.  The prompt itself, in this case, is the quoted paragraph in blue below.  From then on…it’s open season.  Enjoy!


“You’re okay.  Breathe. Just breathe.  Open your eyes. Come back.  It’s okay.  It’s all over now. You’re okay.  Wake up. Please wake up. Don’t do this to me.  Don’t do this to me. Don’t do this to me. I love you so fucking much.  Come back.”

I stopped.

Funny; I thought I heard a voice, something longing and lasting and desperately beautiful calling to me.  But that was a silly thing to think, wasn’t it?

Wasn’t it?

My spirit guide had stopped, too, right beside me.  Her robes drifted in the nonexistent breeze, as fluttering in curiosity.

“Didn’t you have a friend?” she began, then hesitated.  She had no reason to pause; she had kept me strong through everything.  The head-on collision, the rising panic as I felt the blood leak from the inside to the outside of my body, the numbness that spread through my screaming wounds like a forgiving heat.  Then, the coma, and the promise that when the time came, she would walk me out, and I wouldn’t feel a damn thing. And she had been right; the separation had been glorious. I felt lighter and clearer-headed than I ever thought possible.

I stood beside her, waiting until she was ready to go on.  In front of us, the end of the tunnel. She’d promised me temples, buildings with golden and silver and pearlescent domes.  Walkways of diamonds and glass. Fruit trees with succulent treats that sparkled under the eternal sun. And the fashion! Everyone was young and beautiful, and music filled everyone’s hearts so fully, so robustly, that every pulse was a harmony.

She met my eyes.  “This isn’t delusion,” she said.  “We’re not here to drag you into the end.  We’ll always be here.” I didn’t have to ask her what she was talking about.  Like this, I knew.

Fifteen years we’d known each other, he and I.  We met in kung fu training, where he was already loved and respected.  I pretended not to notice him, and he initially appreciated my deceit. He was also already engaged.  I trained hard, became an instructor and his rival for attention. People loved and respected me, too.  He married, to a beautiful, predictable bride. He became busy, and brought her to class in her free time.  She met me and started visiting the studio when he wasn’t there. But I was.

In time, he learned to hate me.  I’d perfected my own ire years before.  His wife was not fooled, by either of us.  Soon, he left the school. I stayed. My job moved.  We ended up working in the same building, ran into each other at lunch.  Found out that we were more similar than we’d allowed each other to know.  It became harder to hate, more painful to avoid. So I stopped the pain. I got another job, in another building.  I told him I would never talk to him again.

And then, the accident.

In that tunnel, I knew everything.  I remembered everything. I relived everything.  It only had to matter to me if I wanted it to. His life was open to me.  His wife had been threatening to leave him for years; finally, he called her bluff and signed the papers she’d faxed to his job.  He’d resented her since the wedding, when she’d confessed that she had never been pregnant to begin with.

Come back.  Come back to me.  Please don’t leave.  I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.  I shouldn’t have waited. I’ll stay.  I’ll help you. Please come back to me.  Please. Please. Please. Please.

He had been in the hospital almost every day.  He left me flowers at first, then trinkets, then cards, then letters from the kung fu kids.  Brought changes of clothes for me, for himself. Turned off his phone and held my unresponsive hand for hours.  Lost weight. Took leave from work. Braced his head on my hip and let his tears soak the sterile, over-starched bed sheets.

The damage I had taken was not permanent, but it would take some time–a very long time–before the headaches would stop and my emotions would stabilize.  The seizures would leave me disoriented, and I would soil myself on more than one occasion. I would always have a limp (stupid shattered kneecap), and in my old age, it would be impossible to sit for long and short periods of time.  He would get upset, scared, angry, hurt, confused.

But he would stay.  I would love him forever for that.

I looked at my spirit guide for confirmation.  “Oh, yes,” she said. “He will stay. Because he wants to.”

I smiled.  Behind me, only a few steps away, I could feel the milky sweetness of eternity parting to welcome me in.  It was ardent and refreshing, a taste I would remember until my final days.

I would tell him all about it when I woke up.

End

Somebody to Blog

There is no better feeling than being busy, especially when it entails seeing friends and family.  That being said, it’s time to get back into the swing of the writing career.  I’m glad that tomorrow is Labor Day and will allow me a full day to write my butt off.Well, not really write my butt off—first of all, cuz that would take days—weeks, even.  My butt is awfully ample, and how would I sit without it? Anyway. Over the last week, I started browsing through writing websites and blogs to get re-inspired on my writing journey.  I made plans to…

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog

Image Source:  http://wvs.topleftpixel.com/05/10/04/ 

 

You never realize just how intricate and involved something is until you have plunged yourself into its core and discovered that you forgot your flotation device. “Well, no matter,” you tell yourself. “Something’s bound to come up.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the mind in its moments when it should be preparing for the new day. This is also the mind when it realizes it might be a few bi-weekly posts short.

Over the last two or three weeks, I have been amazingly busy and found myself saying as I exited each endeavor, “Wow – this would really be something to tell the masses.” It’s not until days later that I remember: “Oh, yeah – I have a blog now!”

I made myself a promise that I would not let this adventure fall by the wayside. That being said, a blog goes well beyond a simple online journal, and one must be mindful of how and what is written. I’ve thrown away several concepts that, though brilliant in their own rights, are not appropriate at this moment in time.

So, what is the point of this post? I could say, nothing other than filler. I could also say, a bookmark to display that I have not abandoned this project and have no intention of doing so, ever. I could even say, “I don’t know.”

I could say a lot of things. I choose, instead, to write and let my peculiar, late-night ramblings of incoherencies and whatnots speak for me.

Every writer, I hope, will read this post, smile, and say, “I know exactly how she’s feeling.”

Online, Take Two

Eight years ago, I opened an account on LiveJournal and began what could unofficially be called my very first blog.  It was amazing just how long and how extensively I managed to write about my life while I was in college.  Every corner of my existence received my greatest attention.  Nothing was sacred. The only difference from today is, my LiveJournal account remained accessible only to my most intimate of friends.  From first loves to first jobs to changes in school to changes in mood – it was all there, yet fenced off and safe.At the time, that was okay. …

Writing Prompt: One Very Memorable Night

In lieu of my pursuit to become a published author (heck, it’s hard enough just getting up the nerve to post here), I have decided to start writing prompts from various websites and posting them here, if I miss the original deadline and, at the very least, give them some air. My first attempt is from the Writer’s Digest January 17 weekly prompt entitled “One Very Memorable Night”.  Read it, or head to the website to try one yourself.  Enjoy!