November–time for NaNoWriMo again!

Leona the Fairy One of the Cover Ideas Book 1

Leona the Fairy
One of the Cover Ideas
Book 1

Tomorrow, the first of November, is time to launch another NaNoWriMo project. In general, I’m a pantser—that is, I write by the seat of my pants. If I know too much about the story, I don’t discover it as I write, and the charm of the thing is lost. I like to have a heart and a skeleton when I begin, and that’s about all: an over-arching theme and a notion of the beginning and the end. The actual trip, however, is to be discovered. By the way, that’s exactly how I like to travel as well—by car, always; and make the trip an exercise in discovery.

For NaNoWriMo This year, however, I know more about my NaNo story than I have in the past. For one thing, the essence of it was ‘lifted’ from book one of the series. I found myself developing a minor character into someone far more important. As I wrote Book 1, once I ‘lifted the Thomas parts and put them aside, I developed a sort of story-board for this book (and also the two books after this book). It remains to be seen if it will be easier or harder for me to actually draft at least 50,000 words this November, starting with a general outline.

This will be Thomas’s story in fairyland. Leona will still be around, but Rosalea will be the side-kick character again. You’ll see some of the same old faces here—Froid and Freeman, Tiddly and Ralph—who I don’t think will be as significant as Driggs and Rigby, and Luck the Gremlin, of course—but you also find some new ones. Figuring the most important among the new faces, is Puppers, the Lacey family dog.

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So, just for review, my overarching themes for Book one and Book two are:

Book 1: Leona the Part-Time Fairy—Identity

You can’t become what you don’t want to be. If you insist on choosing two mutually exclusive identities, you will not become either successfully, but you will become an object of manipulation for forces outside yourself.

Book 2: Thomas Edison (no title yet, sorry)—Creation

To create is to bring something new into being using the raw materials around you. Even intellectual property uses ideas that come from outside yourself. Once you have fashioned something completely new from the old + inspiration, your creation will require your attention—nurturing and shaping—until, at some point, it takes on a life of its own and becomes itself.

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Conceptually, perhaps, the second book should have come first; but who’s to say which came first. Identity is to creation rather like the chicken is to the egg. Some people seem to have figured that out to their satisfaction, but many have not. For myself, in this instance, I just have to trust to my interior instincts which definitely went for Identify before Creation. My way of thinking is founded squarely on using the old + inspiration—obviously the old forms have identities.

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons Why Writers Write + 1 — Number 6. To Know Myself

To not explore this inner space is to go though life as if blind.

To not explore this inner space is to go though life as if blind.

I enjoyed reading  Wordplay: The Writing Life of K.M. Weiland this morning

Whether of not it’s true  that writers write for only 5 reasons, the 5 reasons given seemed fairly inclusive (and I’m quoting from Weiland’s blog here):

1. To Overcome

We can’t choose what life throws at us, but some of us are spurred by obstacles and opposition. Writers with this motivation love to take on the ignorant publishers who reject them and the mean one-star reviewers. They get immense satisfaction from proving the doubters wrong.

2. To Achieve the Goal

Do you like to have a clear goal to aim for? A lot of writers thrive on specific challenges like “500 words a day,” or National Novel Writing Month. They get their deepest sense of accomplishment from knowing they’ve fulfilled their goal or completed the task.

3. To Win

Few of us would turn down praise and prizes, but for some writers, beating the competition is the chief motivation. They’re motivated by a need to be the best, to stand out from the crowd, to gather accolades. They know their sales figures and Amazon rankings exactly!

4. To Create

Some writers get their chief satisfaction from the process of writing. The means matters more than the end. They spend hours if not years perfecting their prose and are avid users of writing how-to books and sites, which help them keep improving.

5. To Have an Impact

Writers with this motivation want above all to leave their mark. They’re focused on getting a response from readers or inspiring change. Sometimes the greatest satisfaction comes from seeing the impact being a writer has on their own lives.

 There is one more reason and, for me, it’s the main reason. I write to know myself. It always amazes me what I know and what I actually think.

6. To Know Myself

There may be writers who plan, outline and plot. I do that as well. What I really do when I write, however, it to trance-in and connect with an otherwise inaccessible inner space. That’s why I write. And so, I’m adding number 6 to the list of why writers write. To not explore this inner space is to go though life as if blind.

 Mona L S Baisch

Swimmers swim and writers write. Right?

There’s a push on now, in a writer’s group I like, to write furiously and do it every day. A ten thousand word a day challenge: just sit down and write! While I appreciate the idea of breaking though resistance and getting words on the page, I have to wonder about the resulting product. To me, to write like that seems not about writing as much as it is about typing.

I’ve been doing the National November writing challenge the past two years — which is to write 50,000 words in the month. That’s about 1650 words/day. I would guess that’s about my usual minimum production rate when I add up all my writing products. The question is: If writing 50,000 words in one month is a good thing, is it a good thing to do it every month? That would be churning out a small book every month. Of course, it’s a personal choice, but when does a writer edit? I can’t believe writing even 1600 words a day results in anything ready for print.

To write 10-12 books a year seems to me to be a mind-set oriented to self-publishing. Even Stephen King doesn’t keep that sort of production schedule. If one were to do it successfully, it would require a support team: editors, researchers . . . and good ones, not just the average Beta reader.

My personal preference (excepting the occasional challenge like NaNoWriMo) is to write well the first time, and to edit the previous day’s work when I begin a new day. At the end of each day, I like to have an idea where I’ll begin the next day. Generally, I only work on a single project once a day. It isn’t a ‘rule,’ just the way things seem to happen. I often work on edits more than once a day. I like to set myself to a prose-ful sort of writing in the morning, and a more poetic sort late at night: I suppose it has to do with an idiosyncratic biorhythm.

It’s true that to be a writer is to write. It’s also true that most successful writers don’t write manically every day. Of course it all depends on the definition of  the word ‘successful.’

Are you successful when you:

  1. find your way into print?
  2. complete a short novel every month?
  3. write every day?
  4. write well?

These points all have their merit but, I think, any writer hopes to write well first; then to find time to write regularly; then to finish a project; then, hopefully, to publish.

It’s interesting to me that many of the writers I most admire were not published in their lifetimes. Commercial success isn’t a universal motivation.

Our commercial society expects instant gratification–instant everything. There is another way of thinking about life, including writing:

  1. Enjoy the process.
  2. Don’t practice failure.

If someone undertakes to write 50,000 words a day, or even 5,000, and do it as a way of a writing life, it may be counter-productive. Very few people write well enough to churn out words at that pace and also string them together in a way anyone would want to read. The edit process for such a voluminous output would be onerous. More important, to write as if on a production line is to write without thought and, perhaps, to reinforce bad writing habits–I mean the kind of bad habits that end up on the page, not the kind of bad habits that keep a person from writing.

Good writing is actually hard. It involves thoughtful choices. Although what makes a writer good is an imprecise question, in the end, good writing feels good to the writer.

So, I’m back to the beginning: Some writers may feel good about spectacular production; then there are people like me who agree that it’s important to write but just as important to write as well as I can. God knows, that’s never good enough.

Mona L S Baisch