T’was the Hours Before Battle Of The Five Armies…

I took a look at my post count. Counting this post, I have three to publish before the mighty 300. It’s equivalent of an army of sweaty, half-naked Spartans, lead by this guy:

who can give this guy:

a run for his money in the beard-growing department. (Editorial Note: You can keep your Prince Charmings. I am looking more for a goofy, kingly sort of bloke.)

All joking aside, I will write-up some year-end reflections to close out 2014. One of my goals for 2015 involves taking some time to craft my posts. I have flown by the seat of my pants, and will continue to do so as I want to keep this place fun. Remember fun? I forget about it sometimes.

Anyway it’s time to finish getting ready, and pack some tissues. Got a date with a friend, a Hobbit, Some Dwarves, and Elves.

The Queen of my Own Domain

GoldCrown1 Pic Monkey

Took a step to building a better blog. I upgraded to the Premium features. Therefore (clears throat) this blog will be now known as:

http://stacksandranges.com

Now to some goals and reflection.Stay tuned.

You Win By Starting: A National Novel Writing Month Wrap Up

Last year, blogger Nimue Brown wrote the following about National Novel Writing Month:

If you need NaNoWriMo to give you permission to try and write a book, please ask why that is so. If this is something you want to do, then do it because you want to do it. If you need the driving force of a big national campaign to get you writing, maybe you aren’t as driven by the desire to write a book as you think you are.

Needless to say the post, featured on Freshly Pressed a year ago, caused a firestorm of comments. I even commented on it, and Ms. Brown politely commented back. (Yes, you can disagree and not be disagreeable.) For some people they do write a very short book, and leave it. Others write part of their first draft during November, finish by December, and revise in the new year. Others try, and try, and try, only to finally finish more than 50,000 words in a month not named November. People cringe at the hype, the NaNo sprints, the virtual and in person write ins, wondering why put themselves through something if they want to write. Just do it, they say, why wait for permission?

NaNoWriMo participants do not look for permission. They always felt the burning need to create, but do not have the armour to defend themselves against those saying:

  • It’s silly
  • It’s too late
  • You don’t have any original ideas
  • You write fantasy
  • You write Young Adult Literature
  • You don’t write literature
  • You read all the wrong stuff to write
  • It will not make you any money
  • You have not taken a class, the ‘right’ class, or gotten a Master in Fine Arts majoring in Creative Writing
  • *Insert your own nay-saying quote here*

Let’s begin busting the number one myth about NaNoWriMo. No, National Novel Writing Month does not need to give permission for a person to write. It does give a person an army behind them, and I count myself as a soldier, to support an endeavour. This year I didn’t attend an official write in. I tweeted to people  through the @NaNoWriMo feed, concerned about not doing it ‘right’. Obligations, or just bad luck, bogged them down with worries about word count. It’s not about the count. It’s about the start. It’s about answering the burning desire to create, and helping people realize if they can do this, they can really do anything. It’s the same thing I learned from running. It comes down to two things:

  1. Start something
  2. Follow it through to the finish line

In fact, what did I truly win? I have won the next part of a hard process-revision. 50,000 is a start and more words will come, but I need to fix the plot holes. I have characters created then dropped. I have other character needing a little more shading. My settings suck. I need to visualize, right down to taking pictures of the places inspiring the setting. In this case a school with a library modelled by the sunken-space concept popular in the 1970’s. (My high school library had this concept.)

NaNoWriMo does not dismiss craft, not by a long shot. The 30 days of madness gives people a safe place to begin. Slowly the armour comes together thanks to people providing encouragement. Those same encouraging people will also say ‘I don’t get what this means'; ‘Indent for a new speaker'; ‘Add here'; ‘Delete here’. All will help with the polishing needed before publication no matter the publishing route.

It has to start somewhere. Let it start in November.

Sage Advice During NaNoWriMo: Ursula K. Le Guin and Her National Book Awards Speech

I read pieces of this speech in Twitter feeds. From my laptop as I write word after word, this makes me go back and write more words. Hear it and be inspired:

Coming Up for Air, or The NaNoWriMo Half-Way Point

Current Count: 29,228

It usually starts with a germ. I try to take the germ as far as it can go. In this case, I took a bit of last year’s germ noticing it’s getting me a lot further than before. I just go with the story, letting the character tell it to me. It feels like a gumbo with everything getting thrown in, but I decided as much as much as this looks like ‘pantsing’, the next phase will look more like plotting.

My goal, if I succeed, is getting to 50,000 then tack on another 10,000. I will then leave the draft until the new year, making sure one of the copies is a print out. People forget National Novel Writing Month is a start not the end. Around this time of year among the many articles wondering why people would undertake such an event, a few scoff at the concept. If you want to write a novel, goes the thinking, well write. People do write a novel at anytime, but what makes this month unique involves people brave enough to share the joys and struggles. Writers still work in solitude, but at certain times need to come up for air. NaNoWriMo provides the opportunity to come up for air, take big gulps, and keep diving deeper in the story.

Every year since 2008, under another username, I have come up for air before diving again. This year I did publish a short story with my writer’s group. It proves writing can happen at any time of the year. NaNo teaches me to keep diving. I go below to find pearls, and come back up for air. I started with zero words one year, two thousand another, then ten, before doing over 20 thousand for a couple of years running. One year I cracked 30K. This time I wrote every day, to get to the next thousand. I dared myself to write 5000 words over two days. Mission accomplished. I tweet them and since Twitter stands in for the universe, I better make good on my promise.

I have stepped away from my computer for the day. I also eked out 500 words after feeling tired from a long day. I learned to get back. The blog helped as I do write (not quite) everyday, but stepping away honed my focus. To follow the character, a write has to focus as if in conversation. In a way it does feel one as the story gets told, and I listen.

Will it see its publication? May be. Will I write another? Oh, yes, and not in November. Actually the next project will be the next step in keeping the momentum going, and this time I have mapped a plot to some extent. I just call it a bigger germ. Whatever the plot style, the intent remains to keep diving, and make sure to come up for air.

In the Woods: Free in the Kindle Store

I am coming up for air to say for ONE DAY ONLY Into the Woods is free on Amazon. This is the first of many anthologies featuring the members  of the Off the Wall Writer’s Group. Click below to download and enjoy:

http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00OYZPHGO/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_zV3yub0PB6MVD/177-4409183-8663353

Now back to a wee break before writing.

image

Gone Writin’

I wrote earlier about taking a hiatus for a month from the blog. I adjusted the goal a little bit for a mid-November post. It’s a way to say what’s up other than a simple 140 characters on my Twitter.

Good Luck NaNoWriMo Participants!

Image Credit: Brain Drops

Sage Advice Before NaNoWriMo: Judy Blume

Where do you get your ideas?
I used to be afraid to answer that question. I thought if I ever figured it out I’d never have another one! But now I know that ideas come from everywhere—memories of my own life, incidents in my children’s lives, what I see and hear and read—and most of all, from my imagination.

via Judy Blume on the Web: Questions for Judy.

Canadian Library Month: Keep the Inspiration Going

It’s Halloween. It’s also the last day of Canadian Library Month. After the events pass, and we move into November, libraries will continue to do what they always do, depending on who they serve. They will provide access to resources, programming for those who need it, and information to those walking through the doors. Sometimes it’s to those clad in pajamas, sipping coffee from the comfort of their home.

People try to frame libraries in dollars and cents. It’s the symptom of today’s society to put things, and people, within a profit margin. What use are you? They ask What can libraries produce?  Libraries create a democratic society. They created writers, thinkers, and community. Libraries, like the downtown branch here in Winnipeg, see the price paid by people cut off from school libraries in their youth. Those same people come to public libraries feeling welcome for the first time in their lives. It’s why these same libraries, like Edmonton Public, expanding outreach services to connect people to social services along with reading materials. The price of doing otherwise makes the dystopias of Collins, Roth, and Huxley look like Disneyland.

Amid the databases and non-fiction books, fiction proves the best weapon against ignorance. (Yes, you read that right.) Ken Robert’s report, one I mentioned earlier this month, discusses the shift from consuming information to creativity. It’s not learning things by rote stimulating creativity, it’s reading a novel outside of one’s own experiences, perhaps sparking the next great idea:

People are increasingly aware that creative works feed creative minds and creative minds are highly valued. (Roberts, 11)

What libraries advocate goes beyond bricks, books, and budgets. It does to the heart of what it means to truly be a democratic society, a place with access to information, innovation, and invention no matter a user’s background.