Done! NaNoWriMo2015… Challenge accepted. Challenge met. Final word count: 60,093. That feels pretty damn good.
You would think, at the ripe old age of 976 that I would have acquired all the information I’d need to swim the deep waters of publishing fiction. I’m a writer. I have been for years. After all, my byline has sat prominently in print many times and a whole lot of people have seen the ads, heard the commercials and even read the essays that came up out of my head.
I have found that a vastly different set of writing muscles is required to park yourself in a chair for hours on end to crank out sixty thousand words of make believe that engages and enthralls a reader. I figured out I might need some guidance after first trying to do it all on my own-since that’s how I’ve always done things. Five minutes after he had carefully attached the newly purchased training wheels onto my baby blue Schwinn, I asked my dad to remove them. One minute after that I was riding down the block like a pro. So, given my knack for quick study, wouldn’t the transition from contracted writing to fiction writing be just as easy for me? It was not.
There were considerations of dialog and plot, pacing and setting in the marathon that is novel writing that require specific training not needed in the short sprint writing of a five hundred word article. After slogging through the process of putting the story down on paper I became painfully aware that a whole other obstacle course awaited me in the form of professional editors, literary agents, publishers, marketing, intellectual property protection and the list goes on.
Two years ago, I stumbled across an ad for the Write on The Red Cedar conference taking place less than a mile from my home. Workshops! Craft lectures! Answers! Other writers! I bought my ticket that same day.
Writers tend to put their nose to the keyboard and forget that there is a world out there beyond the one they are creating on paper. Writing can be a lonely business. Hours of research and development happen in solitude. Unless Homeland Security has been spying on your browsing history for your fiction novel. Then you might have unexpected “company.”
Joining a group like CCWA puts you in touch with other writers both novice and published who are ready and willing to sit down and pound your manuscript into a shape worthy of a reader’s time. You’ll do the same for them because these people will become your friends, your co-conspirators navigating the ever changing waters of writing and publishing. They will have answers or they will point you in the direction of where to find what you need at whatever stage your project is currently in.
That’s why I joined the Capital City Writers Association here in Michigan. CCWA; the people, the gathered wisdom, the community of writers that together can help each other take the next big step as an author. Czech writer, Vaclav Havel, said so eloquently, “It’s not enough to stare up the steps. We must also step up the stairs.”
CCWA is the next step for serious writers in Michigan and I for one, am very glad I took it. With great programs like Finish The Damn Book- a year round series of workshops and special events, you’ll be doing instead of just dreaming about it.
Write On The Red Cedar conference January 22 & 23, 2016 with keynote speaker, New York Times Bestseller- BOB MAYER! Are you kidding me? He’s amazing. Meet him. Learn from him. Buy his books: http://www.bobmayer.org/
Here we go again. 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s the National Novel Writing Month challenge. Day two and I’m in 1950 words. Not a lot, but I’m doing it differently from the way I did my first challenge.
This year I’m a *pantser*- that’s a writer who didn’t use an outline and is writing by the seat of their pants. Last year my room looked like the Op Center at NORAD. Giant post-it notes stuck to walls with timelines and names and an area to plot the progression of the manuscript.
I probably should have done it the same way this year – but at the very last minute, and I mean less than twenty four hours until go-time- I decided not to use the month for a non-fiction book of blessings that I’m working on. I had to get back to the crazy storyline I started last year in the paranormal/action/romance series, The Leelanau Chronicles.
The thing about NaNoWriMo that makes it so much fun and ridiculously difficult at the same time is that you aren’t supposed to edit as you write. Word count is the name of the game. Just slap whatever comes into your head down on the paper and keep on going. There will be time to weed out the garbage and fix all the mistakes after November 30 when the clock strikes midnight.
That’s easier said than done. The primal urge to edit our writing is akin to the reflex of salivating when we smell cookies baking or when we see Tom Hiddleson doing anything adorable. It is so hard to step away from the bad sentence…the atrocious grammar…the phrase that makes no fricking sense at all.
So I’m in it now and I won’t come out until I get to the other side of this story. See you at the finish line……
My working book cover for inspiration-