03 December 2014

My NaNoWriMo Recap

November has come and gone. I'm still here, still standing, if barely.

I did not win NaNoWriMo this year, so no winner's circle t-shirt for me. That doesn't mean that it wasn't a good month as far was writing was concerned. In fact, it was my best month this year!

In the fashion of an engineer, I've taken a look back at the month and gleaned some tidbits to carry forward.
  • I wrote 21,810 words. That's only 45 less words than I wrote all of the rest of the year. (Yes, I use a spreadsheet to keep track of daily/monthly/yearly word counts, complete with graphs. What can I say, creating it was a great procrastination vehicle.)
    • Key Take-Away: The NaNoWriMo game aspect and the deadline motivated me to get those words on the computer screen. It might be useful to create more "at stake" games and deadlines to keep my words count up outside of NaNoWriMo.
  • One of the authors that I admire "buddied" up with me. Talk about a fan-girl moment when I saw that first email.
    • Key Take-Away: Socializing with other writers is fulfilling and fun. Time to jump back into networking with those in my writers' circles. (And it's also ok to squee when reading those emails!)
  • On some nights, I pushed myself to my limits so I could meet that minimum word count. I learned that I can write late at night after a full day of managing the kids' activities and life and still (mostly) function the next day. Just not too many days in a row.
    • Key Take-Away: It's not necessary to push too hard, but I can get more accomplished than I been letting myself so far this year.
There are probably other learnings from my 2014 NaNoWriMo experience, but frankly that's all I'm ready to look for and work on. Knowing that, I plan to regroup, assess priorities, and develop my strategy for another busy month and 2015.

30 October 2014

That time of Year... NaNoWriMo

It's that time of year again. No, not the worrying about having enough candy for Halloween time. And no, not getting ready for Thanksgiving or making those gift lists for Christmas time. It's NaNoWriMo time!

I won't be following the rule of writing a new story or even shooting for 50,000 words. My goal this November is to write every day on my current story, even if it's just 10 minutes a day. (Anything to get this story to its conclusion.) If nothing else, I'll use the NaNoWriMo communities to feed off the energy and enthusiasm of the other writers.

If you are on the fence about participating, give it a shot. It's fun to see if one can write 50,000 words in a month given Life's responsibilities. There are lots of places to look for tips & tricks, pep talks, and tools to get you through the 30 Days and Nights of word sprints and squeezing in 1667 words a day. Here are few of the recent articles that I clicked to find some nuggets of info ...

Good luck to all the NaNoWriMo writers!

edited to add: my username on NaNoWriMo.org is AnneV in case you wanted to Buddy up on the site.

17 September 2014

A Brief Announcement

I've got a writing gig for a local, regional newspaper called the Tanque Verde Voice. I submitted my first piece and accompanying photograph yesterday. Proud writer right here.

Life plays funny games with us humans. This material science engineer never thought I'd write for a newspaper, that I'd be publishing my musings about living in the Tanque Verde Valley, that I'd have to learn how to use watermarks on my photos, or that I'd gain this opportunity through volunteering at the school. Yep, Life likes to play funny games alright.

I'll still work on character development, plot, and conflict as I continue developing my novels. I'll occasionally write in my journal and muse about writing on this blog. Now, I add personal essay writing and supportive photography to the mix.

20 August 2014

#WiskyWednesday, Outlander, and My Life

According to the Hash Tags that Be, today is #WhiskyWednesday. So, I sit with just a wee dram of 10 year old Glengloyne* single malt whisky trying to think of a blog post. When I looked at the bottle of whisky, the idea for this post came to me...

A long time ago, in the Left Armpit of America**, my best friend suggested I read a book that she'd discovered and devoured. That book was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Like the dutiful friend that I am, I bought it. I loved it.

Since then, I've purchased all the hard bound books, most of them signed by Herself, and have listened to the audiobooks many a times. Like any great story, it provided me an escape, let me be with characters that made no demands of me other than to enjoy their story, immersed me in history, gave me food for thought, and inspired my own time-travel story.

But the story didn't stop there. The book series has had an incredible effect on my life. I could try to be poetic about it, but that's not my way. Lists, bulleted lists, that's my way. So here is a list of ways that the story has influenced my life ...

  • A love for another book series that starts with Into the Wilderness
  • The chance to be internet friends with the writer of the Wilderness Series
  • The chance to have Wilderness Series author as my editor (Squee!)
  • A love of all things Scottish especially shortbread, Edinburgh, and Stirling Castle***
  • A whole new group of songs in my music library: Martyn Bennett music, techno bagpipe music, Hey Donald Set by Scottish Women, The Red Hot Chile Pipers (listen to them on the How to Train Your Dragon II soundtrack as well), my favorite traditional Scottish music podcast, Duncan Chisolm, Julie Fowlis, and a soon-to-be-favorite Salsa Celtica
  • A place to enjoy the first weekend of November: Tucson Celtic Festival and Scottish Highland Games
  • Bagpipes
  • Two Irish Dancers in the family, because the older daughter/dancer saw Irish dancers in their blinged-out dresses at the Celtic Festival
  • Because of all the waiting during the girls' classes at the Irish dance studio, a group of dance moms that I am glad to call my friends
  • An unforgettable trip to Scotland with my family, my best friend, and her family
  • A new TV show to watch over and over again
  • An appreciation for single malt scotch (so long as it isn't peaty)
  • A career writing stories (I hope)
Who knows how else my life will be enhanced by this book series? Could be that one of my stories does this for a future reader.

All that from a hash tag and a book.

* For those that can get it, the 18year Glengloyne is much better than the 10 year.

** The Left Armpit of America = Cleveland, OH. I know it has cleaned up nicely and is quite livable. I lived there 1994-1996 and loved going down to the Flats and dancing at the Smart Bar.  I also met my husband and best friend while I was at CWRU during that time. What mars the whole experience for me is surviving two break-ins (one in which the thief came into my bedroom while I was asleep and woke me up) and two winters of lake effect snow.

*** Well I don't know about haggis, as I haven't tasted it.

31 July 2014

Musing about Journal Writing

Yesterday I met a friend for coffee. We talked about family and related issues, kids and the roller coaster ride they put parents through, you know, life experiences. Some of those situations can be filed in the "way less fun than an amusement ride" folder. Over the summer, my family lost five relatives. My friend and her family are dealing with changes and challenges as well.

As my friend has experience editing stories, the topic of writing came up in our conversation. We noted that many writers mention how they have to write or die. While there's an infinite number of reasons to write, the few that stood out to me given our conversation were...

... to distract one from Life's overwhelming issues
... to have something to do while waiting for balance
... to work through emotions
... to share heartbreak
... to relate with others

While the conversation wasn't meant to be thought provoking, apparently it crawled its way into my subconscious. So much so, that when I sat down at the computer and told my husband that I didn't know what to blog about this week, the snippets of the conversation bubbled up.

While fiction writing can be a avenue for these writing reasons, given the topics of today's conversation, journal writing seems more appropriate to me. I've never been a journal writer despite the writing advice to do so. Adding a journal into my writing practice when I can barely fit in my story writing sounds crazy. Never mind that I've tried to journal a few times, but couldn't maintain the activity.

Yet, when I participated in writing challenges that asked the writer to pick from a list of reasons to write, I enjoyed the freedom to rant, to complain, or to love just with my written words. I didn't have to share what I wrote, so I could be as candid as I wanted. A few of the reasons I wrote were to get things off my chest, to write about things that can't be said, and a few of the reasons listed above. The experience was cathartic and heart-wrenching, but was freeing as well.

So, now I'm wondering if I will use that journal for something more than a photo subject...