The NaNoWriMo Conundrum

It’s that time of year again. November is just around the corner. I’m not sure if it’s the golden tones that everything assumes (even when it’s still 80 degrees) or some strange Pavlov’s dogs-like response, but all I want to do is write. It’s been months since I’ve done more than a blog post or letter every once in a while, and I’m yearning to change that.

Normally, NaNoWriMo would be my excuse to go crazy. 1,667 words every day. It feels good. But let’s be honest: 1,667 words a day isn’t realistic this year. A busy job, housework, and the baby guarantee that.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, obviously something in between the two.

In November, I’m going to have a writing commitment. I’m going to spend at least 10 minutes every day. Nothing compared to what I’m used to, but it’s better than what I’m doing now. Just like with my lacking exercise routine, it’s okay to warm back up to it. Renew the habit.

So here’s to November. I might not come out at the end with a good chunk of novel complete, but I will come out with far more than I have on paper now.

What’s the project this year? Well, Novel #1 has been taking on new life. The characters have been whispering to me while my daughter falls asleep in my arms at night. We’ve all changed over the past few years, and they have some new stories that they want to tell. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

What does your writing routine look like? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? What project(s) are you working on right now?

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A Hobbit Day Stroll in the Garden

Somehow, it’s been nearly a month since my last post. As promised, though, I come bearing pictures of our Hobbit Day adventures.

I’ve always debated whether I’d fit in better with the Hobbits or the Elves of Middle-earth. This September 22nd, though, made me think that maybe I err more on the side of Hobbit. For one, I’m certainly not willowy and graceful. And for two, I really like food.

In either case, though, I love gardens and the outdoors, so our National Museum Day adventure to a large garden was perfect.

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Yes, the lily pads are real. They’re huge! 

Did you do anything for National Museum Day or Hobbit Day? If you lived in Middle-earth, which group would you live with?


Happy Hobbit Day!

I love excuses to celebrate, and tomorrow is one of my favorite events of the year: Hobbit Day!

Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday has been such a longtime tradition that I don’t even remember when we started observing it. This year, though, I’m excited to introduce it to my daughter. Granted, she’s under a year so she won’t remember, but what better way to encourage her to be a third generation Tolkien fan.

The best part is that tomorrow’s celebration falls on the same day as another favorite event: National Museum Day. My family discovered it several years ago as well, and it’s been a staple ever since.

This year, our museum adventure couldn’t be more hobbit-appropriate.  We’re going to a garden. (Pictures to come, of course!) It will be my daughter’s first time to a real garden. I can’t wait to watch her take it in and start getting in touch with her hobbit side. (She already has the appetite for it!)

Do you celebrate Hobbit Day and/or National Museum Day? What’s your favorite museum to visit?


Wonder

Last weekend, my husband and I saw a longtime friend at a kid’s birthday party. He watched fondly as my daughter stared up at him, taking in his features and imitating his smile.

“Babies are amazing,” he said. “They’re experiencing everything for the first time.”

It’s true. And it’s something that I’ve noticed over the past few months as well. I always wondered if being observant was learned or inherited. While I still don’t know, I do know that she seems to notice everything. But the best part is how she takes it all in with wonder.

A few weeks ago, we took a family trip to an aquarium. My husband and I love watching the fish and sharks, but watching her take it all in made it even more delightful. She stared at the fish, laughed at the jellyfish, and seemed like she wanted to climb in with the turtles. The experience felt like the moment Dorothy stepped out into the technicolor world in The Wizard of Oz. It was great before, but watching her wonder made it truly incredible.

To me, wonder is one of the best things about life. It can take the mundane and make it epic. There is so much to relish, from spotting a vivid sunset through the window to the flavors of hot Darjeeling tea in the morning. I want to always remember to take the time to enjoy those things.

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The Unintentional Hiatus

Where has the summer gone? It’s vanished as quickly as sugar sand falling between my fingers. Normally, this is the time when teachers can find time for relaxation between lesson planning, but that hasn’t been the case this year. Class changes and the baby turned it all upside down, and instead of passing like a gentle sea breeze, the summer has come and nearly gone with the voracity of a hurricane.

This time two months ago, I was reflecting on how much my novel was changing as it continues to find its place. I had hoped to start sneaking words onto the page now that the baby sleeps all night, but that hasn’t happened yet. As strange as it is to say, I hope the school year changes that.

After vanishing for two months in an unintentional hiatus, I’m back. I hadn’t realized how much writing revitalizes my soul until I found myself too busy to take part in it. Well, besides a few jotted sentences to help me remember exploring an aquarium as a family or the baby’s giggles. I’m ready to dive back in. First, this blog. Maybe next, the poor neglected novel.


Morning Walk (A Poem)

She runs ahead of the stroller,

wide eyes take in everything:

the squirrel watching from the brick wall,

the ducks swimming in the pond,

the cars whizzing by to unknown destinations.

She trots after the man on his daily ride to the store

until I call her back, remind her we have to get home.

She whispers the stories of the passing joggers

and dreams about what stories we should tell next

to the sleeping baby in the stroller and in those books we want to finish.

My world has grown small and busy,

but hers is still wide with our childhood dreams.

I may not have time to write down all her words yet,

but she keeps telling me stories

and reminding me to take in the beauty  around me.

 


The Noveling Cycle

I’ve been working on novel since middle school. Even though I’ve crossed into 30, it still isn’t done yet. Every time I think it is, it reveals  just a little more about itself. It’s a cycle that happens every 8 or 9 years. And it’s been 9 years since the last major changes. Every time, the cycle is the same.

Phase 1: Hmm… Why am I telling the story like that?

It’s a dangerous question. Sometimes, I have a good answer. But if the answer is just, “I’ve been telling it that way for a while… but I’m not quite sure why,” there’s a danger that it’s about to be turned on its head.

Phase 2: I don’t like that anymore.

The frustration that builds at this phase is a great motivator. I want this novel to be the best that it can be, and what I have just isn’t good enough. Yet.

Phase 3: Hey, what if…?

It starts like a light rain, but eventually turns into a sudden and torrential downpour. The story starts telling itself to me all over again, showing me what to change and what to keep and why things should be the way that they are.

Phase 4: Time to write it all down!

A blank document quickly turns into the newest version of the novel. It all starts to fall together. Sometimes it takes a little while. Other times, it practically appears overnight. (And not just because I sometimes do this during NaNoWriMo.)

Phase 5: Revise like crazy.

And then, after a few years, I find myself back at Phase 1.

Right now, I’m knee deep in Phase 3. My characters are changing and becoming more complex. And I like it. I’m glad I never published what I had before because this is how the story was meant to be told.

Or maybe I’ll find myself in the cycle again after Phase 5. I guess we’ll just see.

Do you find yourself in a similar situation? Does your writing go through predictable cycles? Is it always different?