Monday, November 30, 2009

I Am A Winner!

I have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) several times over the past few years, but this is the first time I can say ...

I am a NaNoWriMo WINNER!

Despite the fact that I work full-time and attend graduate school part-time, I have successfully written 50,000+ words in 30 days.

The exhilaration of finally completing NaNoWriMo is more than I expected.  I didn't think I would be so excited, so elated, so self-satisfied with my success.  And this is really quite a big accomplishment.  While it is most certainly not the best thing that I have written, it is by far the longest piece that I have ever written.  For a long time - several years, really - I doubted whether I possessed the stamina to write a novel-length piece.  Thanks to NaNoWriMo 2009, I have proven to myself that I can.  While I still have quite a few more words to write before the story is complete, I am now confident that I can complete it, and even though I know that it's not my best work, after I write those last few chapters I know that I will have a complete rough draft to work from - and you can never have a great final version without a (crappy) rough draft as your starting point.

Have you ever attempted NaNoWriMo?  How did you do?

Monday, November 16, 2009


OK, so not entirely FAIL.  But I am behind.  VERY behind.

We are at the halfway mark, which means I should have 25,000 words.

I only have 12,708.

Which means, in order to catch up by next Sunday (because there is no way that I am writing 12,300 words in one day - I need to pace myself) - I need to double my word count.  That's right, I will need to write 3,334 words per day for the next seven days in order to catch up.

I'm starting to have a panic attack.

So, I will leave you with the following as I ponder my NaNo fate ...


"I believe that the so-called 'writing block' is a product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance ... one should lower his standards until there is no felt threshold to go over in writing. It's easy to write. You just shouldn't have standards that inhibit you from writing ... I can imagine a person beginning to feel he's not able to write up to that standard he imagines the world has set for him. But to me that's surrealistic. The only standard I can rationally have is the standard I'm meeting right now ... You should be more willing to forgive yourself. It doesn't make any difference if you are good or bad today. The assessment of the product is something that happens after you've done it."

-- William Stafford, poet
(This was posted to one of the NaNo message boards by BeeJay.  It makes me feel slightly better.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Felt the Need ...

... to change my layout.  What do you think?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Year of the Flood Event

I was very fortunate this past Friday to have the opportunity to attend one of the few Year of the Flood Events.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, this is the promotional tour for Margaret Atwood's new book, The Year of the Flood, and it's unlike any promotional book tour you've ever seen or heard.  Rather than a typical reading and Q&A, The Year of the Flood Event is a multimedia presentation, narrated by Atwood, dramatically read by actors and accompanied by live music, in a vein similar to a holiday cantata or a medieval mystery play

What I found so fascinating about this event was how it evolved in an organic manner, which is thematically consistent with the book.  Central to the plot of The Year of the Flood is a new religion called God's Gardeners, who strive to unite faith, science and nature, and like any other religion God's Gardeners have their own hymns.  According to Atwood, her agent's partner was so inspired by the hymns in the manuscript that he began setting them to music, and when Atwood heard his compositions, she thought they were a perfect match for the narrative, and the idea evolved from there.

And what was really fantastic if that they made every attempt to make this tour eco-friendly, especially considering that this is a major theme of the book.  Rather having a traveling cast and musicians, the only participant to travel with the production was Atwood herself; nearly every actor and musician was a local artist, selected by those producing locally (the one exception was that for this production, we were lucky to have Orville Stoeber, the composer, serve as guitarist and lead vocalist).  Also, each production was allowed to freely interpret the script and score, so that each performance was unique.  So, not only did they minimize fuel emissions by not using a traveling company, they are also highlighting local talent.

This event was a great introduction to the narrative, giving me enough to get interested in reading the book (I only purchased it a few days ago, and so didn't have the opportunity to read it in advance), but it didn't give too much away.

For the event, they only performed seven of the fourteen hymns featured in the book.  I was pleased to learn that Mr. Stoeber produced a CD of all 14 hymns, which I bought immediately after Ms. Atwood signed my book (I was fortunate to be in the front of the line), and I am looking forward to listening to the whole thing!