Most people in the writing community know what November first means. It means the first day of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It means embarking on a major writing adventure. 50,000 words in 30 days. 1667 words per day. A fun way to get that novel you have been meaning to write done and in a fairly short amount of time.
I liked the years I participated, even when I didn’t win. If you can make it through week two, it is a great slide. That is how I was writing my Kings of Proster series. If nothing else, you get to meet other writers and they are a fun crowd. My first year of NaNoWriMo led to the creation of a writing group at the Prince George Library that is still going strong today.
Unfortunately, I will not be participating again this year as school conflicts with the writing challenge. Also I started my latest writing project two weeks ago and I’m 8k words into it. NaNoWriMo rules say you should be starting fresh for the month of writing. So, I am going to sit on the sidelines and cheer on all others who are choosing to participate. Have fun! Enjoy the company! Finish your novel!
In the last few months I have been working on a book. I wrote the first book with these characters over the summer. Then they showed up in a short piece in the middle of August. After that I thought maybe I could move on to other projects, as I have many waiting. Then the next book came along before I could get into them. And I have been working on it until Friday when I finished it.
This last while writing the story, I have felt trapped in the story. Working on other things have been a problem. Homework has really been put on the backburner. Things I need to do for my financial situation are taking days longer than necessary. Reading used to be an escape but now I lack interest in picking up a book. Even other stories I’ve started I don’t feel like going back to.
I thought I had gotten free on Friday when I finished the book. The characters don’t agree as she has been telling me the next piece, giving me no choice but write it down.
I have put out a short story collection titled The Best Brownie Recipe. It contains 28 stories of varying lengths and subject matter. I have spent several years collecting these stories and then this summer I put them together in one volume. Some of the stories I like, some stories I don’t really like, and some stories I have no idea why I wrote them.
A few I had written for contests and some were for school. Some were just ideas that came to me and I wrote them down. With the collection, I add in short explanations about how the story came about. I was told I didn’t need to put them in but I wanted to.
Several of the stories are experimental and others are the style I use in my novels. As much as I call myself a novelist, I do find myself writing shorter pieces. Aside from sending them into contests, they just sit on my computer, which is why I decided to publish this collection to share them with people. And I really like the brownie recipe.
I find when I sit down to write for the day the first thousand words of the day are the hardest to get down. I struggle through the first hundred and the slowly crawl through the second hundred. I’m likely to give up before I get to the third hundred if I don’t have something pushing me to keep going. This can be true of a story I am really into and couldn’t wait to get started for the day. I could be in the middle of the best scene in the whole book and if it within the first thousand words of the day, I struggle. After the first five hundred words it gets a little easier.
But after I hit the first thousand, it is like the muse has decided I am serious about writing and opens the flow gates. It goes from forcing words on to the page to the fingers trying to keep up with the thoughts. The second thousand comes easy. Sometimes I forget the time and when I come back to reality I find I’ve written ten thousand words. Those are the good days.
However, most days I struggle getting to that first thousand. With some many other distractions, a hundred is an accomplishment. But as I writer I live for those days when I can get through those first thousand words and let the rest fly.
There is something about being a writer that means dreaming up things that don’t exist, but you really wish did. I thought up years ago that I really wish existed, but they aren’t inventions to put into books. The first is a machine for letting the doctor feel the pain the patient is in and the intensity. I think it would greatly help the medical profession do a better job of diagnosing illnesses. As someone who gets annoyed at doctors, especially when they don’t listen to me, making them feel my pain sounds like a good thing.
But really the invention I thought of that would be useful to me as a writer is a chair. It is a comfortable chair, but it has a piece that closes the writer in. This piece is connected to the writer’s computer. Only when the writer had completed their set word count will the bar open and let them out. There would be an emergency switch for those times when something comes up, like urgent bathroom break or the fire alarm goes off.
One of the hardest obstacles to overcome when writing is putting the butt in chair and staying there. This invention would help with that.
Lydia knew the woman was looking for her. The woman did not look like the type of person who typically paid for Lydia’s services, which meant more work for less pay or the possibility of pro bono work. On the plus side, Lydia didn’t need the money for rent or food, but on the other side, the Houdini Challenge was in a month and she didn’t want to take a job which would interfere with her plans to compete in that.
The bartender kept shaking his head, but the woman persisted. Finally, the woman managed to convince the bartender of her need, or he decided he wasn’t getting paid enough to be harassed, he pointed to the booth where Lydia was sitting. The woman left the bar and approached.
“Lydia Sumerton?” the woman asked once she was standing beside the booth.
“Maybe,” Lydia replied, “Why?”
“My name is Elizabeth James,” the woman moved her hand as if she was wondering whether she should hold it out to shake, “I need your help.”
“I don’t offer help,” Lydia said, “I am paid for my services.”
“Tyler Durand sent me to you,” Elizabeth twisted her fingers, “He said you would help me if I offered to pay you for your services. I don’t have much, but I will pay you what I can.”
Lydia studied Elizabeth for a very long minute as Elizabeth continued to twist her fingers.
“How do you know Tyler Durand?” Lydia asked.
“We went to school together,” Elizabeth answered, “We have kept in touch over the years. When I told him my situation, he suggested I come to you.”
Lydia studied Elizabeth for another minute before nodding toward the vacant side of the booth. Elizabeth sat down quickly as if she was scared Lydia might change her mind.
“What are you looking for exactly?” Lydia took out her notebook, sipped her drink, and waited for Elizabeth to start. Elizabeth hesitated as she took a deep breath and readied herself.
“My baby has been stolen,” Elizabeth said, “And I need to get her back.”
“This sounds like a job for the police,” Lydia said.
“I filed a report and they have been working on it,” Elizabeth said, “But months have gone by without them finding anything. The more time it takes to investigate the case the less time and energy they have to put into it.”
“And you think I can help?” Lydia asked, “I am not in law enforcement or any other profession, which would be useful to your situation. There are plenty of agencies around who can help you.
“I have been to many of them,” Elizabeth said, “And they try, but really they can’t help.”
“So, why me?” Lydia asked.
“Tyler said you are a thief,” Elizabeth answered, “Which means you can go places and get information unavailable to the public. You can find out what happened to my child.”
“I’m an independent contractor with certain moral ambiguity,” Lydia said, “But I don’t think that will help you much.”
“No one else has been able to help me,” Elizabeth’s voice caught in her throat and she took a deep breath before continuing, “I promise to pay you for your time.”
Lydia was quiet and sipped her drink. Elizabeth clasped her upper arms and waited. Occasionally she would let out the breath she was holding. Lydia waved down the server for another drink and did not speak until it arrived.
“Tell me what happened.”
For my creative writing course I wrote a novel. I have no memory of where the idea for the story came from. I was looking for something to write on just after News Years and that means going through the documents on my computer until I find one I can continue. The first class of the semester the teacher said we were expected to submit five pieces for critiquing, the same as last semester, but this time we could choose our genre. We could submit poems, short stories, scenes from a script, pieces of a novel, and even pages from a graphic novel. Being a novelist the choice was easy for me and even better I was working on a novel.
The first piece I had finished because it was already written and waiting for me. This worked well because I was sick the first week of classes and having troubles getting anything done. The second piece came easy. Then suddenly I couldn’t concentrate on anything else as my mind was caught up in the story. This caused a slight problem with getting other things done, but I passed all my classes. I finished writing it during reading break and parts of the rest of the semester editing it as I received the comments from my classmates on how I could improve things.
Now thanks to my creative writing course I have a new novel out. A Thief in Search of a Baby is available for sale on Amazon.
In September I started a two year diploma at the Okanagan College. It has been fun, but there are several English courses required and English courses take a lot of writing. All those essays and other pieces take a lot of words. Two of the English courses have been creative writing, so there have been extra writing connected to those courses.
I have been able to write some that aren’t connected to my courses, but not much. Even the story that I wrote was connected to my creative writing class, as I chose to submit pieces from a novel for the critiquing done in class.
I am hoping that with the summer break my words can be refilled and I can write on other things. I never truly realized that it was possible to suffer from lack of words and hope recovery is fairly short.
In my creative writing class the teacher has been giving out multiple writing prompts per class. Usually the writing prompts are meant to illustrate the point of the lesson; like writing from a character sketch while talking about creating characters. But many of them, especially at the beginning of the year, were just to get us writing. I know that this is a first year English course and that many of my classmates are not used to writing. However, I do not need any writing prompts, I already have plenty of random bits sitting around my study. Some of it is sentences that came to my head, but all I have is the one sentence. Other pieces are full paragraphs, It was a scene in my head and so I wrote it out, but at this point in my life there is nothing more in my head to write down. On top of all that I usually have a novel that I am working on.
With all the bits I have sitting around I could probably put together a book of writing prompts. I’ve thought about it, but it isn’t high on my list of projects and thus not likely to happen in any time soon.
According to many people’s thinking all writing is the same, so if you are a writer than writing essays must be easy. Except that there is a vast difference between writing fiction and writing essays. Fiction writing I find much easier than essay writing. With fiction writing, I am making everything up as I go. A few things require research and when the story does the subject it usually something I am interested in. Essays are an argument written down with the evidence provided. This requires serious analysis and thought. And research. Usually the research is a lot of boring reading. Also as an assigned piece of writing so the subject is one I am not as interested in, which makes the whole thing harder.
There are different kinds of writing and they all take different sorts of energy and thought processes. A poem comes from a more emotional place. Stories come from escapism. Essays come from research and deep thought. Technical writing is logic based. Each uses parts of the brain that other do not. So, as I fiction writer I write essays only when necessary and usually in the stressed, adrenaline fueled last hours before it is due.