writing


I have it! A plot!

Welcome, everyone, to this year’s edition of National Novel Writing Month. Joining me this morning is writer S. S has worked on several novels in the past, one of which, Light on the Sea, is going to be published next year. This year, she’s at it again. Her method to some seems questionable at best, and so I’ve asked her in to discuss this year’s plans.

Me: Now, S, is your method this year any different than in previous years?

S: No, it’s generally the same. It’s a little rough to be sure, but it has definite success rates.

Me: Success rates you yourself will soon see, so I hear.

S: Yes! I’m very excited. I’ve wanted to publish a book since I was little, and suddenly it’s turning into a reality. I couldn’t be happier. And this year’s NaNoWriMo is going to be great, too, I can feel it.

Me: This year’s – what? Could you explain to our audience?

S: Oh! Absolutely. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a competition of sorts where you write 50,000 words of a new novel in only the month of November. It’s a great way to get people writing, laughing, and really learning about their own creativity. You can plan all you want before November, but you can’t start any actual writing until 12:01am on November 1st.

Me: That sounds like a fun goal. But it also sounds exhausting.

S: It is [she says with a grin]. It’s nutty. But the first one I ever did is Light on the Sea, so it has some potential. Lots of authors have been published through NaNoWriMo. I’m making my calendar for word count, and also food, before it starts.

Me: I guess we should let you get back to planning out this tough course. But before you go, would you tell our listeners and readers what this year’s novel is about?

S: Good timing, I just nailed it down this week. This year I’m diving into the world of ghosts: Jillian Truell has just died. She sets about walking through walls, frightening the living, and moving objects around a room – except, she can’t do any of it. Confused, hurt, and still dead, she takes up residence in an abandoned house she names “The Temple.” It’s there she meets Barnabus Bugby, a ghost older in both years and death day – 1774. With his help, she learns all the skills to being a ghost. But is it enough? Read that with a really intense movie voice and you’ll get the gist. It’s also the first time I’ll be trying to write in the first person, so it’s sure to be an adventure.

Me: Thank you so much, S. Are there any ways people can support your admittedly –  uh, intense – endeavor?

S: There is, actually. See, NaNoWriMo is put on by a non-profit called the Office of Lights and Letters. You can go to this site and donate. Your donation helps bring free creative writing programs to more than 500,000 kids and adults in approximately 100 countries, 2,000 classrooms, and 600 libraries.

Me: Thank you so much for taking the time out of planning to talk with me today, and best of luck!

~~~

Links:

NaNoWriMo: http://nanowrimo.org

Donation Page: http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=272579

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Novel Update

My novel is now in the capable hands of several other writers and editors.

It is now out of mine.

Ahhh! I sent the draft out, and was pretty excited about that. I am excited about that. And about a day later, I started freaking out a little. It was like all of a sudden all the scenes I wanted to fix climbed out of their locked boxes and yelled, “Hey! It’s time! I’m ready! Fix all of it!”

And of course, I can’t. Because I need to let it chill. It’s time to step away. But all the scenes!

It’s about 160 pages long. This is a thing. A real thing. Whoa.

The Gambia

I’m sponsoring a child from The Gambia. I’ve donated to a lot of charities in the past. This was one of those groups on the streets who managed to get me, and with the knowledge I might just donate once and cancel (rent’s tough), I signed up. A couple weeks later, I got the information on my child – the one matched directly to me. He is named Nfally. And I moved the deductions to my credit card, and will keep it up as long as I can. They know how to work the personal touch.

Especially because I can write him letters. Someone will translate, and he can send letters back. What to write to a 7-year-old across the world? He only speaks Jola, which I would love to translate, but there are over 9 dialects which I’m bound to get wrong. They have rhymes as a subject in nursery school (or perhaps they meant he is good at rhyming), and it is his best subject. I asked if he could write a poem.

new friends new school

the rural rolling hills

so different from the New York suburb

I used to know.

Morning drama class,

a Russian girl could not understand

so we acted it out

and became the tragedy.

it was a game

 


but fires were

still burning,

the innocent

still dying,

the towers

crash down

on all of us

I owe you a post! I’ve owed you a post for awhile. Apologies.

So, I moved out of one place and into another, the boyfriend seems to be sticking around (and reading me better, we’ll get to that soon), and a brother is getting married this week!

The Move:

The move actually went really well. Hire movers if you can. It took them less than 3 hours to move everything out and then in. 3 hours! I remember doing this myself and it was a painful, all-day thing. Not so with professionals! I had rescheduled the Internet/cable technician to come after the movers left, but that memo didn’t get to where it needed to be, so he arrived while the movers were still getting boxes into rooms. Oh well, it all got done in one day. I’m still unpacking stuff. It’s amazing how much you actually need to live and how much you can really do without. I’ll find out a lot more about that when I go on my hike! So I’ve basically been putting it off, but at some point I’ll finish the last boxes and get pictures up, etc.

reading cornerI like the new place a lot. The space is a little easier to work with, and I now have a “reading corner” in my room, which is becoming my favorite place. The trick now is to keep it clutter-free! The kitchen is a touch smaller than I’d like but very workable. Still need a rug for my room and new curtains of some sort.

Downsides: no more washer and dryer in my apartment. It is on site, but you have to put money on this card, and the card machine isn’t even in a laundry room, it’s in the gym room, and the 2 cards for laundry and to get into the gym look exactly the same. Really? But it’s not a huge deal so far. It’ll be good to move more things around. Anything, anything to get myself in gear for this hike! I did my have first roach and other-nasty-bug (centipede or silverfish, ugh) experience yesterday and am on high alert now. They are fine outside. I don’t like them inside.

Speaking of the hike, I did the walk from the office to the new place (conveniently located near a bike trail), and it took me about an hour, 3.3 miles. Hopefully that becomes a regular commute.

The Boy:

He stayed with me a couple of weeks to help me move. So far, so good still. He’s increasingly meeting more friends and they like him, which is always a good sign 😉 A bunch of of went out to see Dazed and Confused because a theater was playing it, and we went out after and had a really fun time. It was even on a <gasp> weeknight! I’m starting to get his humor better, he’s starting to read me better. Wonderful case in point: I was feeling antsy and needed some space after the move. I loved having him here, and trying to get into this strange new routine of eating normal dinners at normal times. It was odd to get used to, as much as I did, with my absurd work hours, and now I know what everyone else who lives with a significant other means when they have to get home, they have to go make dinner, they want to just be with that person, whether they’re working or not. Just to be. Anyway, I am not used to that. And I hadn’t had a chance to make this new place my own, really. But before I would have said anything, I made some comment one morning that my work was going to be nuts, and he suggested he leave me be and go home for a week. And that is, really, what I wanted, but I felt bad saying it. He made it so I didn’t have to, which I appreciate tons (yes, noted that I should say these things in future but it’s not always easy). So, he comes back today and then we are off to said brother’s wedding! Yes, we. So, so, so excited. Aloha!

Other:

What else. I’m experimenting with beer, which I’ve never liked. That’s been an interesting adventure thus far. Work had some drama, but it’s on its way to being worked out. I’ve discovered and fallen in love with a new TV show called The Fosters. Watch it. It’s great. I went back to my writing group after forever, months and months. I am realizing how fast my goal to publish is approaching, so I’m attempting to finish editing the novel. 3am work nights make this difficult sometimes, but vacation soon and lots of plane rides to work on it 😀

I got caught up tonight in reading some of my old creative writing pieces from high school and college. It’s interesting for me to see how I’ve improved, and a little bit of what I’ve forgotten, in my writing. So, enjoy this. College, Intro to Creative Writing.

Baby Squirrels

Don’t ask me why we called ourselves that. I don’t know if there was a reason. I do recall a baby squirrel Halloween costume, but that may have come after the game began. I was about 6 years old, which would have made Chris 11. Video games weren’t even an option in our house. Whenever we weren’t building forts in the living room, we were playing Baby Squirrels.

Gathering supplies was our number one priority. These consisted of an animated Etch-a-Sketch (apparently called The Animator), some string, Legos, and heaven knows what else. We made objects into whatever we wanted. Our objective: navigate the seas of our house. We set up on the landing of the stairs. We could see the front hall and the doorways to the living room and kitchen, and the dining room if the doors were ever open. On the landing was a small wooden bench, handy for keeping our toys on but not for sitting.

We used the Etch-a-Sketch to navigate. We’d decide where on our “map” we wanted to go, plan it out, and then, inevitably, something would go wrong:

“Oh no, oh no! We’re in the deep seas now! Quick, get the rope!” my brother would say. Once I started collecting Beanie Babies, they would come on our adventures with us: a black dog called “Scotty” and a squirrel called “Nuts.” Chris especially liked doing a Scottish accent (as far as we could tell) when he was voicing Scotty. I had Nuts and he had an Irish accent, though my accent was not nearly as good as my brother’s.

I’d grab the rope, if we had one, or grab one from thin air.

“Oh no! Cap’n! What do we do?”

“Turn, turn! Give me the rope! Scotty, don’t jump!”

“Get the scope! I’ll steer!” I grabbed the Etch-a-Sketch and, moving this way and that, made pictures of scribbles and animated them, and we found our way out. Phew. One catastrophe avoided.

There is one adventure I will never forget. Chris and I were crossing the great sea on our landing, as usual, when we realized there was a shark below. This was dangerous, but also half the fun. We weren’t fast enough to outrun it, and we couldn’t very well see it from the top of the ship. Someone would have to go down into the sea to take it on.

There was no drawing of straws. I bowed my head.

“I’ll go.” I said.

“Are you sure?” Chris asked. I nodded. He took up the rope (which I’m wondering now if we ever actually had) and wrapped it around my stomach, then knotted it so I would be safe. He pulled on it, tugging me toward him to make sure it would stay on me. He then presented me with a plastic screwdriver, our only weapon. We looked on our navigator to find out where the shark might be. I was ready.

“Remember, just tug on the rope when you need to come up. Do you have your mask on?” he asked. I stared at him.

“Can’t you see it?”

“Oh. Sorry,” he whispered. We weren’t always on the same imagination plane. “Okay, I’m going to lower you down slowly.”

It was that time of day when it’s just begun to get dark inside but no one’s ready to turn on the lights. There was a little sunlight streaming in through the window in the front door, but even that was covered with a tiny lace curtain. There was more sunlight from the living room on the right, but that wasn’t where the shark would be. I crept slowly down the stairs, careful to avoid any creaks. Once, I missed, and there was a mild “reee!” of the wood. I cringed, held my breath, and with my hands awkwardly raised in a zombie-like creeping motion and my mouth slightly open, I stood there, keeping entirely still. After a few moments, I deemed it safe again and relaxed, allowing myself to go deeper and keep a lookout for the shark. My brother watched me from the top of the stairs, his intense green eyes like seaweed in the ocean. He put his fingers to his lips to remind me (as if I needed it): be quiet.

I got to the bottom of the stairs and froze. My dad was sitting at the kitchen table, his back to me. The shark was one thing, but we had to avoid detection by parents at all costs. I’d have to be extra careful on this run. We didn’t want to get “caught.” It would have brought them into our world by the necessity to interact with them, and that would break our story. It was as if their voices were too loud and would have broken the game, and forced us into “reality.”

I looked around. I crept toward the front hallway. I had to be sure not to stray too far from the bottom of the stairs; the invisible rope didn’t stretch that far. Suddenly, movement to my left. The shark! It was huge! Much bigger than any we’d taken on before. I jabbed at it with my screwdriver, but before I could deliver the final blow, it turned and prepared for an attack. I looked back at Chris. Could he see me? I took a step back and tugged on the rope. I tugged harder. I couldn’t risk even a whisper; we had to avoid parent detection no matter what. But I was going to get eaten by a shark! I shook my fists in an effort to get his attention. The shark would attack any minute, and I was running out of air. Finally, at the last second, Chris saw me tugging for dear life and started pulling me up. I hopped onto the first step just in time, feeling the slimy skin of a fin against my leg. From there, I tiptoed up those stairs as fast as my little legs could carry me.

Once I got to the top, I took in a huge breath of air.

“It almost got me! What took you so long?” I demanded.

“Oh my goodness,” he said – this was to become his classic line. “I’m so sorry. We were getting deep again and Scotty couldn’t navigate. I guess we should leave that to us.”

“Well, I stabbed it, but I couldn’t hit it again before it noticed.”

“Rats. We’ll just have to wait.”

“It was huge!” I said.

“I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Phew!”

“Hey, what do you want for dinner?” our mom called from downstairs. I jumped. I didn’t even realize she was home; everything had been so quiet.

“Fishsticks!” I yelled (this was also my word for physicists until I learned to say it right). Chris and I looked at each other. We’d have to start cleaning up.

“Oh, well,” he said. We gathered our toys and went to our rooms, awaiting another adventure of Baby Squirrels.

Tonight I realized who he was. In this book I’m reading, I’m over halfway done with, and it clicked.

I know who he is, which character. I read the sentences, and slammed the book shut.

It is him. It is him and I feel as I did soon after he left me: used.

I was nothing. I was a curiosity.

Then I became part of the routine, the one it took him two years to break. Maybe he realized he was bored. And so he left. And thank God.

He was not unfaithful, but nor was he supportive.

I can’t believe it took me this long. I read this book the first time relatively early in our relationship. I couldn’t put two and two together. It is him. Is that the fate of an English major? I recall a Venn diagram I saw once, with “The curtains were blue” at the top. The left circle was titled “What your teacher thinks it means” and had inside: The blue represented his despair… The right circle was titled “What the author meant” and had inside: The curtains were fucking blue.

I read into things too much because I was taught to. But then I get lost in books, can’t relate them to real life. They are separate.

Until revelations like this.

I was nothing. I was a curiosity.

Needless to say, this evening has taken a downward turn. But tomorrow is another day.

But damn.

A sunset above the clouds is unlike any other.

At the edge of the horizon it looks like the ocean curling into orange.

The clouds all weave together, like softest snow. It feels like you could just walk right out on them, walk right out to the edge, where the sun continues its descent.

These little rolling hills of cloud, a cushion to the biggest fall.

A soft paintbrush has swept across them, cleaning any impurities for wisps of grey-blue whitecaps.

The closer you get the more you see how layered they really are.

Down. Down.

Engulfed in grey.

I just had to try to capture the sunset from the airplane. Had to. So it’s a bit broken, a bit unfinished. But here for you.

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