National Novel Writing Month – Winner

I have just been declared a winner because I just finished certifying my novel for having written at least 50,000 words in November.   I wonder about being a winner because it clearly is not a complete story yet.    On the other hand it has enough words that it could easily turn into a novel if I stick with it.   I have always thought that there is a novel in me and for a host of reasons I have never gotten this far before.   It was a great experience and I plan to stick with this one and finish it up.

At the end of 30 days there is lots I have learned.

  • My writing style is pantser.   I am too analytical and if I plan my book I never get beyond planning the perfect novel.
  • I am more flexible that I thought, because the critical conflict was not anything that was on my radar when I started writing.
  • I can accomplish an ambitious goal without it taking over my life to the exclusion of other things I enjoy.  I managed to make cards, teach a creative class, watch movies, read books, visit friends, x-c ski and other things important to me in the midst of this.
  • Work will always impact your home life.   I was on the road for work and did not write for several days, but it did not prevent me from accomplishing a personal goal.   Don’t let work be an excuse for not accomplishing your personal goals.
  • I like creative writing.   It provides a place for all those voices in my head to find a outlet.
  • Longer stories are much harder than short stories, blogs and other writing I have done.
  • Being a writer made me a much more attentive reader.
  • I like writing dialogue.
  • My business writing skills, as good as they may be, are not sufficient alone to support creative writing.
  • I will be looking to take some creative writing classes.
  • I will be looking for a writer’s group to support and question me as I work through the editing process.

Thanks for those who were along for the ride.  It is only the first time around the track and I can see that there is at least another lap or two to be made before I finish this race.

I love this poster and may have to just get one for myself. It captures so much of what goes on in a writer’s mind, or at least my mind this last month.

Count Down to Christmas

One of the traditions at our house is to watch a holiday DVD each day, starting Thanksgiving and ending with our last one on Christmas Day.   We have a great collection of holiday DVD’s.  We have collected them since we got a DVD player years ago.   As a result our collection is large enough that we don’t watch the same thing every year.   There are some perennial favorites that we watch nearly every year. Others make the rounds every two or three years. We try to add something to our collection each year .  We watch Amazon and the local bargain bin at the local discount stores for ones that we don’t have.Occasionally my mom will give us one to add to the collection.  So our collection continues to grow.

This is our first year without any live TV, and so we have come to realize that there are some classics that we would watch on a broadcast TV that we don’t have.   So we will add those to our list to continue to collect.

Very few in our collection are classics, but they make for nice entertainment for an evening.   They tell the same story  from different points of view. The story is always a variation of  peace on earth, let there be love, Christmas is family and goodwill to all.    A reminder for all of us this holiday season.

 

Hold on to that thought

I am been working very hard to maintain a healthy life balance in the mist of some hard changes lately, all of it outside of my control.   I have been seeking to focus on what is truly important and letting go of what is not.   I am spending more time on that which is under my control and not wasting time on things I can not change.   It hasn’t been without some push back by external forces and some feelings of guilt or not being enough on my part.   Yet in spite of it I feel I am moving forward in a good way, toward good things.     I have been reading lots of works by different folks, finding some inspiration, encouragement and jumping off points for reflection on life .  Maya Angelou is often quoted and this particular quote is often broken down and quoted in smaller bits and pieces.  Here is the complete quote   I want to share it with you because it has always been one of my favorites, and really rings true right now for me.

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”   Maya Angelou

This quote also reminds me that although at this moment if feels very much like it is all about me it isn’t.   I can ” be a rainbow in  somebody else’s cloud“, another great quote from Maya Angelou.

I hope that if you need it, this quote provides some inspiration or support to you, if not hold on to that thought it might come in helpful some time in the future.

Life Balance Never Goes Out of Style

This afternoon RangerSir and I spent some time watching a movie and playing cribbage.   We watched the Karate Kid, the original movie that is 30 years old.   One of things that struck me is that one of the key overriding messages that Mr. Miyagi kept on delivering was about life balance for Daniel.    Thirty years ago there talking about life balance for a young kid, and today I talk about it as well.  

I am still working very hard to find a good balance in work and personal life.   I am trying to finding time to do all those things that I have been pushing aside for later when I have more time and work is less demanding.   I am meeting with some success in these efforts to find that balance.  Just like Daniel in the movie I have to practice things over and over and then suddenly the light bulb goes off and I get it.

I am back to full-time work for the next three months.   It is the busiest time of the year for the nonprofit I work for.   It is easy to get caught up in the efforts to get it all done today.    Already I am often working long work days even though I have been back only a short time.   I keep reminding myself the life balance lessons I have learned when my hours  were cut.    It doesn’t always work, but I am working hard to remind myself, that life is better when I life a more balanced life.

Today should have been my first try at a book club.   Unfortunately I read the first two chapters and found the book dry and it wasn’t doing much for me.   I decided that I will try this again later, but I want to read a book that doesn’t feel like a struggle each page I read.   Right now was the right time to let go of this.   I plan to watch what books they select to read in the future, and try it again, when the book is a better fit.

I am still working towards the 50,000 words that is an imaginary number that according to National Novel Writing Month says you did it.   I am not always writing every day but I am moving forward.   Some days there are enough things going on that writing that day just doesn’t work.   I have a brief moment of regret when I don’t write that day, but it it doesn’t fit, it has to be let go for the day and move on to the next one.

RangerSir and I are on work schedules that don’t mesh at all, by that I mean that our days off do not overlap.   Each of us are working hard at finding meaningful things to do together each day,  when I am still in my office when he walks in the door late at night and dinner is often not started. It would be so easy to blow dinner off and both of us unwind alone laying around the living room.  Instead we have taken to having a good glass of wine with dinner every night.   We are using the process of setting a more formal table every night as a tool to help us do more than dine and dash.   We discuss the day, talk about our observations, discuss politics, and share a dream or idea.   It really doesn’t matter what we talk about it is is that slow conversation that we both are enjoying together.

I am learning that balance in life doesn’t come easy.   You have to want it enough to be willing to fight for it.   If you don’t someone or something else will grab your life and suddenly it is out of control.

Never Give Up

This is just past the half-way mark for National Novel Writing Month. I should have passed the 25,000 word mark this week.   I must say this week has been less than stellar for making progress and I am not where I should be.   I was on the road this week with work.   It was a week fraught with other things pulling at me in all directions none of them giving a rip roar about  this little adventure I was on.   Now it seems that I am coming down with something nasty and my head is not doing a lot of clear thinking.   It sounds like I am going to throw in the towel.

I thought about quitting.    I even stayed in bed late this morning hoping a little more sleep time would make me feel better.   It did not and I considered giving up for this year.  Then I thought about a friend who in just a few minutes will be starting her first half-marathon tonight in LasVegas.   She is doing it with friends, one of whom had this on her life list.   The other five are just there for moral support.   She is busy, with as many things as I have, pulling at her as well.   In the midst of this training she has come down with knee and foot problems.   It would have been easier for her to quit, but she made a commitment not only to her friends but herself to be there for her friends.

I made this commitment to myself, and I plan to keep it.  If you are thinking of quitting, don’t just yet.   Hang in there for yourself, it was important enough for you to start it, don’t let yourself not finish it. If you are not working on some goal right this minute, be there to encourage your family and friends who are.   I curse the lost of anonymity on the internet all the time, but for once I am having fun watching and cheering on my friend who I can’t be  there for virtually.   I  plan to be one of the first to text my friend when the live race reporting shows her bib number has crossed the finish line.   I am proud to be in the company of those who never give up.

 

Novel Progress Report

Well I am nine days into this adventure and still going strong.   I have written just over 14,000 words.   This is good in that I am on target to finish if I continue to write like I have been.    But when I think about my goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month it is true that I am not very far in the process.  I sometimes wonder what I have written so far, and RangerSir has hinted he’d like to read it.  I have started this process before and not finished each time so am going to write until the voices in my head tell me it is over or the end of the month whichever comes first.   No getting diverted by early editing.

The good part of all of this writing is that for the most part my real life has not gone down the toilet or put on hold because I am spending all my time writing.   I still have a my job and show up and work each day.   I am carrying my load around the house, not letting RangerSir do a disproportionate amount of the general household chores ( I have a white chicken chilli in the crock pot, my last load of laundry in the drier, and manged to go to down and grocery shop before the mega storm arrives).  I still have carved out time to enjoy some of my other creative ventures including teaching a class, making some cards, blogging a little and reading some for pleasure.   Now that it sounds like I am having it all that is not true, my exercise program in almost nonexistent and I have two Christmas gifts to make that are not even started.    Life isn’t perfect but it is damn good and someday who knows I may call myself a novelist.   You just have to write one not publish one to call yourself novelist, but if I get lucky I could do both.

Now it is time to close this off and get back to the business of writing.

Fun Fridays

This has always been a tough time of year because RangerSir works weekends during hunting season.   He is busy doing what is called hunter patrol.   In past years this was a time where we often found ourselves passing in the night.   My days off were the traditional Saturday and Sunday and his were whatever he could grab.   Many nights he would not be home for the dinner hour.   It was not not a near miss either,  it was often closer to 8 when he blew in the doors.   All he wanted was a hot shower and to relax.

Since I have had my hours cut back and I now have Fridays off as well we have set aside this day to have fun together during hunting season.   We have started off our Friday with a Thursday night date.

Date night is tough because we love to eat good food.  There is not an over abundance of places to eat out and with the loss in salary we felt eating out was an extravagance we probably should not indulge in. Instead we have been cooking together on Thursday nights.   We have had all sorts of special dinners, playing music, drinking wine and dancing a little.

RangeSir looking for wildlife.

RangeSir looking for wildlife.

Our Fridays have been like a one day vacation that we have decided to give ourselves.   One week we packed up a picnic and took a half-finished bottle of Thursday nights wine up to the high country to watch for wildlife and huddle under the blankets.    We have explored some places that we have wanted to explore without the weekend crowds, like a little family owned hot springs that is geographically unfit for most folks to visit.   We had the whole place to ourselves.     How cool is that to be outside in the hot springs with all the forest all around?

Saturday and Sunday are my days.   I spend those days so many different ways enjoying my own company,  letting my creative muse run wild or curling up with a book doing nothing at all.

The rest of the week we are like always two ships passing, but it knowing that at least once this week we will both be in the home port at the same time that makes the rest of it all tolerable. Life is full of blessings when you least expect them.