Tag: NaNoWriMo

Author’s note: This post was first published October 27th, 2010.  Please feel free to comment.  As I am busy climbing a mountain now, I’ll respond to all comments when I return.  Thanks!

When we paid a visit to Rome in July, I snapped this picture of an outdoor stone staircase near the Colloseum.

The wear and tear on those steps, the way the curves seemed to speak of a several hundred years-long process of people walking up and down them and wearing them down, really fascinated me.  If my travel companions hadn’t been tugging gently on my sleeve–“Come on,” they urged.  “We have a ton to see!”–then I probably would have spent the morning taking a million and one snapshots of this set of stairs.

Many images and objects I come across in daily life make me think of writing, and the writing process.  My environment gets me thinking, or, rather, I puzzle at the writing process utilizing an objet du jour–a set of stairs, for example!–as a sort of lense through which I filter my thoughts.

In this case, the steps made me wonder about the stages involved in writing, in the step-by-step process of taking the barest seed of an idea, developing it, first-drafting, marching right through Revision Hell (sometimes more than once!), getting beta and second-reader eyes on it, querying, and if everything goes really well, maybe even finding an agent and getting the durn thing published.  What we all hope for, right?

The staircase becomes a metaphor.  What could be simpler.  But looking at that staircase, another set of thoughts hit me.  As the steps led from the most ancient part of the city to the Colloseum, no doubt they were heavily travelled.  Over the years, countless travellers on their way to Gladiator Games or Chariot Races must have climbed or descended them with nary a thought as to their construction, or with any true understanding of their utility. 

Yet there must have been a certain class of citizen–perhaps the Colloseum workers or the Senatorial runners (whose job it was to run messages back and forth all over the city–the ancient equivalent of e-mail)–who knew those steps better than anyone, who knew every crease in the stones, the measure of every riser, the missing knots and blemishes worn slick by sandal and shoe, who knew the spots to avoid, the safe passage.

After all, they’d been up and down those steps a whole lot more than the average bear, fallen a few times, picked themselves up, dusted themselves off.  They’d successfully traversed those stairs in darkness, sometimes when the rains blew in, or in the newday light of morning when the stones were slick with dew.  Those few had skipped the tricks of the trade and learned the trade instead, a process which granted them a wisdom not shared by their peers. 

Their continued success was built on that wisdom.

As writers, I think we share the same challenge.  The best way up the hill may not be the fastest, or the safest, or the easiest, but it’s up to us to discover what works, to uncover our own set of rules.  As I thought about this, and tarried to marvel at those majestic stone steps, I realized when it comes to writing, my stairway looks a lot like this:

Clearly, I have plenty of work to do.  πŸ˜€  But I am committed.  I want to keep building, learning, discovering.  Someday, I want my writing process to feel as weatherworn and understood and real as those beautiful Roman steps.

_ _ _ _ _ _

But wait!  The story’s not over yet!  Hours later, over a beer and in a goofier state-of-mind, I wondered what the stairs for different types of fiction would look like.  I mean, would Horror look different from Science Fiction?

After some snooping and hunting around on the intertubes, here’s what I came up with.  Enjoy!

Short Fiction:
Experimental Fiction:

Mystery/Thriller Fiction (DL, I’m looking at you :D):

ο»ΏEpic Fiction:
Horror:
Historical Fiction:
Fantasy:
Science Fiction:
Romance:
Combat Fiction:
Pantser Fiction:
Plotter Fiction:
Writer’s Block Fiction:
Unfinished Fiction:
Here’s hoping my upcoming NaNoWriMo project–and yours too if you’re doing one–doesn’t end up looking like the last two!  What about you guys?  What would your fiction look like as a set of stairs?  Or any other architectural device for that matter?
Hope you’re having a great hump day, and don’t forget to stay groovy!

All I can say is NaNo was a total blast this year. 

And that fun isn’t just about success.  It’s also a lot about sharing a process with you fellow writers–struggling, failing, digging deeper, carrying on, making it work, facing the beast–and being a part of something bigger than myself that made it so fun.

I still have another 50k or so words to write to complete this year’s NaNo MS, but I’m already thinking about next year–and all the fun I’m going to have in the interim, making this story shine, seeing how far I can push it.

I think it’s totally appropriate that Thanksgiving comes in November, the same month as NaNo, because I am again reminded how thankful and grateful I am to be a part of this community of writers.  Life is short, and sometimes we need to stop, take a look around, and realize how good things really are.  This is one of those days. 

So thanks to each one of you!  It’s no exaggeration to say I couldn’t have done it alone, so let’s celebrate this perfect day.  Truly.   πŸ˜€

How was your NaNo experience this year?  For those not doing NaNo, are you making progress on your own work? 

For me, the NaNo dust is beginning to settle.  The excitement and pressure of getting to 50k is gone, replaced now by the warm afterglow of success–although I keep pinching myself as I strive to remember that I still have another half a novel to complete.

And along with that excitement, other things have fled too.  Confidence, for one.  Some reflection and review has shown there is much work yet to be done on what I’ve already written, and that of course becomes and easy cause for pause. 

I suppose, though I spend most of my days with my head in the clouds, both literally and figuratively, I’ve never really been great at pressing the ‘I believe’ button.  I don’t know if it’s my upbringing or 20 years of military service which has made my outlook so pragmatic and unyielding, but I find I must see some shred of evidence–even proof sometimes–before the tenor of my outlook softens from the hardcore skeptic I am most of the time.

But boundless optimism is a prerequisite in this business, don’t you think?  How can one stick it out, month after month, year after year, writing in a quiet room, all alone (or mostly so), hoping one day someone will read your book and like it, if you aren’t optimistic?  It can’t be done.  So I’m learning to look on the bright side and–yet another tool in my toolbox!–to believe!  Yep, and it feels pretty good.

Less than 48 hours ’til this thing is over.  How you feeling?

P. S.  The Golden Eagle has added his voice to our Songfest.  Go check out his selection here!  Thanks Eagle!  πŸ˜€

Judging by the lack activity here over the last few days, I bet most of you are either stuffed to the gills with turkey and/or stuffing, or out braving the crowds, taking advantage of the varied and fruitful Black Monday deals.

No matter.  Life continues on here, as you might expect.  Of course the other shoe to fall from NaNo is that once you cross that 50k finish line, you have in fact completed only half a novel (unless your piece is very short).  So perhaps it should be called NaHaNoWriMo instead.  I’ll let you translate.  πŸ˜€

But the good news is I continue on.  I expect (or perhaps hope is a better word) to complete my first draft by year’s end.  I’ve set aside the actual writing until Monday.  A much needed break, you know.

But the cogitation continues, and just this afternoon while I was giving my daughter a bubble bath (aren’t these sparks of inspiration the craziest things?!), I realized something profound and earth-shattering and completely cool about my MC.  Helps me better understand how to construct my opening scenes, and I am armed with anticipation to go back and make all those wild first draft faux pas right.

But I am sensitive to the fact that some of you are not yet complete on the NaNo front.  How’s things?  Well, I hope.  Keep on keeping on, is what I say.  And good luck!  πŸ˜€

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!  HAVE A GREAT AND GROOVY DAY!!!