The Greatest Gift You Get As A Writer… Other Writers!

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Today was an all-over-the-place kind of day. I couldn’t get my shit together with the proverbial pooper-scooper, so I was flying around doing errands on a windy afternoon, trying to TCB before meeting up with my pal Chad to workshop our awesome novels-in-progress. Anyhow, finally I got to sit down with him at our local java joint, and we started parsing the verbiage.

Now, I don’t know about him, but for me, the session was electrifying. I’d been gnashing my teeth and pulling my hair over the direction of BOOK 2, which is very dear to my heart. I am determined to “get it right,” whatever that ends up meaning, but struggling to figure out how best to accomplish my goals. During the course of a couple hours, we got to hash out the central themes, what would make them stronger, what’s working and what ain’t. It was a bit scary, frankly, to find out that my suspicions were correct–this is still very much a work in progress, not perfect straight outta the gate. But it was also pretty remarkable to see how, talking it through aloud, I could come up with some character adjustments and some additions to scenes that would make everything work so much better.

It’s my favorite feeling in the world–when you go, “Ooh, ooh, I got it! How about if X does this instead of that…” and suddenly your story makes more sense. Yes, I’ll have tons of revisions to do because we took such a hard look at the story, but it’s worth it in service to the finished product–and now I’m thinking the finished product is actually not going to suck.

A little while later, a gaggle of NaNoWriMo’s descended (all of whom won, getting 50,000 words while I… well, I did not) and we started working on our novels. The gathering was crackling with cheerful banter, and a great energy settled around our communal table. It reminded me of just how fun it is to do something creative! It’s like being in kindergarten and being handed a huge lump of Play-Doh and told, “Have at it, kids!” I was so happy to be hanging out with people who have the same passion for wordplay I do, who can commiserate over crappy characters and laugh at our shitty first drafts. When you work alone so much of the time, it’s nice to be reminded you have “peeps.”

And then I arrived home and got a lovely, supportive email from a dear friend and pen pal, a wonderful writer who’s enmeshed in “the process,” with all the mushy, gloppy gut-wrenching it entails (entrails?).  It was another reminder I’m not alone, and a validation that writing is a passion, an avocation, and a fucking hard bit of work. And we’re all awesome for undertaking this crazy career.

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Good Review, Kick-Ass NaNoWriMo First Day… Who Says Mercury’s in Retrograde?

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BLISS by Hilary Fields…Probably a poor idea to tempt the fates in such a way, but heck, I’ve had too much Diet Coke, I’m hopped up on a successful first day of doing NaNoWriMo, and a great rave review of BLISS from Woman’s Day Magazine online. (You can watch the video here.)

I’ve wanted to participate in National Novel Writing Month for several years, but a combination of factors prevented me.  1) I’m chicken-shit, 2) I’m not convinced “vomit-writing” is really a great way to write a viable novel, and 3) I usually spend the last week of November in a turkey/stuffing/yam/pie coma.  But this year I’m on el seriouso deadline.  BOOK 2 must make its debut (at least to my editor) in spring, and that’s no joke.  It’s going great, but a kamikaze balls-out dive into the deep end of my creative juices would certainly only aid my efforts. So I told enough people I was gonna do it that I’d feel like a chump if I backed out.  (Works great for quitting smoking too.)

It was exciting to make this commitment, though daunting, because I usually write closer to 1,000 words on a good day than the 1,667 one needs to average for the thirty days of November in order to “win.”  I don’t think I’m in it to win it, frankly. I’d rather have 30,000 carefully chosen words than 50,000 blurted-out stream-of-consciousness rambles I have to spend the next month sorting out.  But I hoped signing up would spur me to write something every single day.  So last night at midnight I joined my local chapter liaison at Denny’s, laptop in tow (and dressed like Spock because it was, after all, Halloween).  Seven hundred fifty one words and five mozzarella sticks later, I looked up and it was 1:30 in the morning.  Even most of the drunks in Miley Cyrus twerk costumes had headed home for the night.

After collapsing back in bed around 2, reading a bit of Stephen King’s DOCTOR SLEEP (in my opinion one of his good ones), and passing out to endure some very odd llama-and-psychic-vampire dreams, I arose a few hours later feeling like it was going to be a good day.  I added another 1,100 words to my count during the course of the day (and was surprised by a llama named Severus Snape playing Frisbee with Merry’s cowboy hat), all while baking a loaf of sourdough (pictured) and standing at my standing desk instead of sitting around.

Sourdough Bread So I guess success breeds success.  The more you do the more you’re capable of doing, and yadda yadda.  Speaking of success, it’s really been awesome to see the first reviews of BLISS trickle in.  I wish I weren’t too much of a moron to figure out how to post the video review from Woman’s Day, but a link will have to suffice.  It’s just amazing when someone reads your stuff and laughs out loud, relishes the characters, looks forward to your next work.

I can hardly believe the release date for BLISS is only 18 days away. I got my finished copies this week and I think they’re stunning (even if the picture of me in the inside front flap seems monstrously big).  It’s amazing to me that some readers–strangers, out there in the ether–have already gotten hold of copies, and others will soon.  Lots of others, I hope.  All of whom will of course want to plaster five-star reviews far and wide across the web.  Hey, a girl can dream, right?  So here’s to big dreams, and the ambition–and stamina–to bring them to fruition.

Cheers!