I usually try and keep my youtube channel and this blog separate but since this is just about me and my videos I thought I would share it with all of you. Thank you so much for all the support. I couldn’t have gotten this job without all of you reading this blog over 7 years. Thank you , thank you, thank you
So as you all know I have been working on my nanowrimo book for the last 8 days and I am happy to report I just finished my 27,350th word. That means I am over half way done and it is just day 8. I am really proud of my dedication and hard work and can’t wait until it is finished.
That’s the good part…
The bad part is I am not loving my book. I really don’t want anyone in my writing group to read it and haven’t wanted to post new sections because I know it isn’t great. It certainly isn’t nearly as good as last year’s book and I’m not saying that was some kind of masterpiece. Then again it is the first time I have ever written fiction so maybe I am being too hard on myself?
Have any of you guys had this happen when you are writing nanowrimo, where you just become kind of disillusioned with your story? It is a bit hard to sit down and write everyday but I set a goal and I am going to finish. I really think my story will be better as a screenplay because you can more easily show a person talking in another person’s body. That is really hard to do in a novel. It’s too bad Script Frenzy ended last year 😦 I do much better when I have a group challenge and am not just dependent on myself for motivation.
I couldn’t even find a section that I wanted to show you, which is certainly different than last year. This is the best I could come up with. A single and married woman have switched places and find themselves frustrated with living the other’s life instead of their own. This becomes particularly so when the married woman’s back goes out and the single woman has to deal with all the pain. Eventually she goes to the hospital and they give her a shot for the pain. This makes her kind of nutty and she starts spilling the beans about the switch but nobody will believe her:
After about 10 minutes in the hospital Marnie could feel the shot start to kick in. She could move her back and neck but now the problem was she couldn’t think clearly. Everything was muddled and cloudy inside and the world felt like it was spinning. She didn’t know where she was, who’s body she was in or what she was doing.
The nurse came in to check on her and Marnie pulled her aside and said “My friend stole my body and gave me her bad back instead. That wasn’t very nice was it? I feel all lose inside like an eel. How do you feel?”
“Uhhh…no that doesn’t sound nice and I’m doing just fine” said the nurse inching away and chuckling.
“She also gave me her 4 children and took my quiet apartment and especially at Christmas. Why did we have to be switched at Christmas? Isn’t that mean? I could keep the kid (they really were quite cute kids and she felt like she could talk to all of them, deal with them), but I miss my cat. Her name is Pepper. Do you have a cat doctor?” she says with a bit of drool coming out of her mouth.
“I’m not the doctor but do you need me to get him” said the nurse “So you say your friend gave you her four children? Why would she do that?”
“Because I told you silly- she took my body and gave me her children” with that Marnie began to get off of the exam table. “I took her body but it has a bad back. Otherwise I like it just fine and she doesn’t have to go to work but gets to spend time doing something important. “ she says with a slur.
“But I really love her and she’s my best friend. Did you know we have been friends since I was 7 years old. That is longer than I’ve known anyone, oh but my mother. My Mother is dead. Did you know that”
The nurse nods. :That’s too bad. Now please try and relax. That I the only way your back is going to get better is if you relax”
“But what about the children.? They are JT, Julie, Callie and the youngest. Oh yeah Addie. Who is going to take care of them if Becca is in my body . They need their mother”
“I am sure they do. Mrs. Phillips, we need you to relax and take some deep breaths. Everything will work out.”
“That’s what everyone says but then nothing ever does. My whole life I’ve been waiting for things to work out and they don’t. Aside from meeting Becca I have had the worst string of luck. I get a chance at the promotion and I’m in someone’s body. I meet a great guy and I can’t go on the date with him because I’m Becca Phillips not Marnie. I just want to have my body back and I want Becca to have hers. I promise I will support her more and help more with the kids. Please give me my body back” Marnie grabs the nurse’s sleeve and puts her hands together as if to be begging. “Please help me”
The nurse gives up trying to talk to her and looks at me. “Sir, can you take responsibility for Mrs. Phillips and make sure she gets home”
“Of course he can” she says “he’s Santa. He can do whatever he wants. What do you want for Christmas? You should ask him now why you have the chance. Did you know that Rudolph actually has a red nose and flies? I’m tired. I feel like you are made of glue and all clear inside. Am I clear like that?” Marnie interrupts.
“Honestly I want a night off to relax” says the nurse.
“Well, take a step back because you may get what you want. Do you have a best friend? What is her body like? You better make sure you like it because you may end up in it for next Christmas. Is she pretty? Maybe I can swap with that? Becca is very pretty but her back hurts. That’s why I had to get a shot and now I feel funny”
“Is that so?” The nurse looks truly mystified even for someone on a muscle relaxant shot this is unusual. Not wanting things to get any more out of hand I jump in.
“Ok. Sweetie. I will get the nurse her night off. Let’s go. Put your head on my shoulder and let’s walk to the car”
“All right but we need to make sure that she gets the right body because I’m Marnie and I was born in 1981 and my best friend is Becca”
“Ok. Let’s go” I can’t help but laugh at the half dazed conversation attempts made by poor Marnie. This really was a new side of her that I don’t think anyone had seen.
“Are we going to go on the reindeer?” she asked. “I want to see Rudolph’s red nose and meet Spencer the elf”
“How did you know about Spencer the elf?” I say with surprise.
Why go on, you ask? Well, I finish what I start and nanowrimo is no different. Plus I read this pep talk from Malinda Lo and I found it very encouraging. Here is a segment: ”
That’s what inspiration is. It’s seductive and thrilling, but you can’t depend on it to call you. It doesn’t work that way. The good thing is, inspiration is irrelevant to whether or not you finish your book. The only thing that determines that is your own sense of discipline.
Here’s what happens when I sit down to write. First, I turn off my access to the internet by engaging Freedom. (The internet is the number-one killer of writer productivity!) Second, I open Scrivener. (Substitute whatever word-processing program works for you.) Third, I force myself to sit there with my work-in-progress until Freedom says I’m done. (I always set it for at least one hour, and often three.) I don’t allow myself to get up to make endless cups of tea (one will do). I just sit there. That’s all.
How often am I filled with inspiration before I start writing? Pretty much never. Instead, I usually stare at my work-in-progress with a vague sense of doom. I often think to myself: What the hell am I doing in this scene? I don’t understand how to get my characters from Point A to Point B! I really want to check Twitter!
The trick is this: As long as I sit there with my work-in-progress, at some point I will write something, because there’s nothing else to do.
Whatever I write may not be any good, but that doesn’t matter. When you’re writing a first draft—which most of you are doing this month—the most important thing is to keep moving forward. Your first try will be riddled with mistakes, but that’s what revision is for. Right now, you only have to put those ugly, wrong words on the page so you can fix them later.
So, inspiration isn’t what gets your book written. Discipline is. However, inspiration does sometimes pop by for an unexpected visit.”
“The trick is to write something”. I really like that and it is exactly what I am doing. I am writing something and I will make it better and work on my 1st book even more because believe me it had much more inspiration. I know it isn’t the greatest book ever but I sincerely love it and want to make it as good as I possibly can. 22650 words left and I’ll be done! So excited.
How are you guys doing on nanowrimo and what do you do when you stop loving your manuscript? Do you just give up on it or finish? Thanks in advance for your insight.
I am up late waiting for nanowrimo to start so I can write the first chapter of my book. They had this great pep talk by James Patterson on the nanowrimo page that I thought I’d share with all of you. It is so true for life and writing. Enjoy
So Writer, you’re trying to write a novel in 30 days. Has anyone told you you’re crazy yet?
You’re not crazy. I promise. I know because I’ve written a novel in a couple of months. And yes, I’m a human being (just ask my editor, or my wife) and I do sleep. The book even got published. So anyone who tells you it’s impossible is wrong and you should probably stop taking their advice. Unless it’s your mom. Then just stop taking her advice about writing (you should still floss once a day).
There’s no getting around the fact that it’s hard, though, is there? By now you know that better than anyone. Maybe you should give up on this whole novel business and go relax. Or work at a paying job. But I say, keep at it. Because, like I said, it’s possible. And as you must suspect, it’s a pretty fantastic feeling to have written a book.
So how do you do it? Here are some tips on making it to December 1 without going crazy or giving up. (Though if you have to do one of them, I’ve always found sanity overrated.)
Outline. If you already have: gold star; proceed to the next piece of advice. If you didn’t, don’t worry, because it’s never too late to go back and make an outline. An outline isn’t something to be scared of, it’s just a chapter-by-chapter description of the scenes that, lined-up together, make your book. On the count of three, tell me the story that unfolds in your novel. All the way to the last chapter. Now write that down. There’s your outline. Easy, right?
Lie to yourself. Honesty is a great quality, but we’re writing fiction here, so you’d better get used to a little light lying. Tell yourself you can do this. Tell yourself your book will be great. The world will love it and you’ll be the next J.K. Rowling, J.D. Salinger, Art Spiegelman, or whatever flavor of author you hope to become.
Get into a writing routine. Think it’s hard to write every day during NaNo? Most professional writers keep this kind of pace all year round. Holidays, birthdays, vacations—you name it, we’re writing. The trick is making writing into a daily habit. Same time. Same place. Same hot beverage of choice. Every. Single. Day. Again. And. Again.
Don’t do it alone. If you live with somebody, tell them to be unpleasant to you if they see you doing anything else during your writing time. Buy them a water gun. If you live alone, have friends call and check on you. And if you have no friends, you will have no trouble writing a book in 30 days. What else do you have to do? (I’m not knocking friendless people. We’ve all been there.)
Don’t stress. I don’t mean to undermine the above, but remember this is one month, not your entire writing career. Try hard, learn from it, and if you don’t get to 50,000 words, figure out what you did wrong so you can get there next time.
Stop reading this. Start writing. Now. (Or at midnight your time.)
So I got the first 2478 words done (about 3 chapters and I’m really excited about it). Here is my first paragraphs:
“Mr Kringle the alarm is going off again” Spencer yells across.
Elf’s you see are worriers. It could be something as seemingly small as a gear on a truck that isn’t quite right or a color of hair on a doll that seems slightly off but it will capture their attention for weeks and weeks. You will literally see them pacing the halls of the Kringle castle muttering to themselves
“What to do? What to do?”
A few top level worrier Elf’s are given the special assignment as high human concern liaison. This is an elite team that watches the human need switchboards and reports to me, Santa Claus when things are looking bad. There is a large switchboard that monitors human activity, gauging present wish lists, childhood belief levels and human crisis intervention needs. When a man or woman, boy or girl, calls out to Santa or makes a wish they are notified by a blinking light, quickly a team interviews and assess the situation and then notifies me of the best course of action.
On this particular Sunday Spencer found me at the North Pole fitness center getting my pre-cookie body into shape. You see I can’t fit down all those chimneys singing Christmas carols and you try eating 6 billion cookies in one night and see how rosy and trim your figure is? It’s a busy time as you might expect and sometimes the gym is the one moment of peace I have for months. Sadly today was not going to be such a day
For my birthday my sister Megan got me A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. I am about 50 pages into it and loving this book. It is a bit hard to describe but basically Miller is a writer who begins to feel that his life is boring that it is unworthy of a memoir (even though he had just published a memoir and was blocked on writing his newest one). While feeling frustrated and blocked he gets an offer to write a screenplay and in his meeting with the other writers they mention that his character will need to be changed to make a better story. This makes him wonder even more about what his life is all about and how much of a hand God has in the development of his story.
I am still reading but there was one part that I just had to share. Donald goes to an intense story-writing conference where he hears 36 hours of lecture and is still confused about what makes a great story. When packing up his bags he mentions his frustrations to his buddy who responds:
“A Story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it”, he said with remarkable assurance.
I looked at the definition for a second wondering at how simple it really was. He was right. A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it is the basic structure of a good story.
“That’s it!,” I said to him. “That’s the essence of a story”
Realizing this truth he has a fascinating interaction with a friend of his. This friend has a daughter who is starting to experiment in drugs and is dating a guy “who smelled like smoke and only answered questions with single words ” (I love that description!). After repeated grounding attempts nothing seemed to be working. On a whim Donald tells his friend that his daughter is “living a terrible story”.
“What do you mean?” he asked
“I don’t know exactly, but she’s just not living a very good story. She’s caught up in a bad one”
After that the two friends talked for a long time about living the right stories. A couple of months later he ran into this friend and asked about the daughter. ‘”She’s better” he said to me smiling. And when I asked why, he told me his family was living a better story”. Basically the friend went online and looked for something different, better to be involved in- something that might catch his daughters eye. In the search he found an organization that builds orphanages around the world. He then called the organization and signed up for the service.
“So I went home and called a family meeting…I told them about this village and about the orphanage and all these terrible things that could happen if these kids don’t get an orphanage. Then I told them I agreed to build it”
My wife sat there looking at me like I’d lost my mind. And my daughter, her eyes were as big as melons and she wasn’t happy.
He then goes on to explain that after getting over the initial shock the entire family became excited including his daughter. She even wanted to use her website and blog to promote and fund raise for the orphanage.
“That’s incredible” I said “You know what else, man?” “She broke up with her boyfriend last week. She had his picture on her dresser and took it down and told me he said she was too fat. Can you believe that? What a jerk.”
“But that is done now,” he said, shaking his head. ” No girl who plays the role of hero dates a guy who uses her. She knows who she is. She just forgot for a little while”
I have a quote on my wall that says “If at some point in your life you are not where you want to be it has no bearing on the future. You can always reinvent yourself”. I don’t know who said that first but I think this is a very interesting idea. Just like the girl in the story or the prodigal son from scripture, we can come to ourselves and think upon our ways; thereby, creating a new story, a better story, or certainly a more dynamic story. Even if it is not a redemptive change, knowing that change is possible is so wonderful. For example, if I am able to lose weight that would change my story- it may or may not make it substantially better but the chances are it will make it a longer story. Another example that comes to my mind is the new story which was created when I quit my job at JWA. I felt 100% authentic to what God wanted to me to do and what was consequently right for me. As Donald says “And once you know what it takes to live a better story, you don’t have a choice. Not living a better story would be like deciding to die, deciding to walk around numb until you die and its not natural to want to die.” This is the best summary of how I feel now compared to how I felt in my old job. I just wasn’t living the story I was meant to live- it wasn’t a bad story, just not the one for me. I am so glad I had the guts to leap into the unknown and try something new.
On my mission I saw many people who started to tell a different story. They experienced conversion and fairly quickly his or her life became a life with a “Mormon” story thrown into the mix. I’d be curious to hear of moments in your life where a change in your story had a dramatic affect or a smaller but memorable one.