Friday, October 29, 2010

How I’m gearing up for NaNoWriMo

For the last several years, I've noticed that odd acronym NaNoWriMo pop up in blogs this time of year, so I had some idea what it was. I knew you had to write 50,000 words in one month, but why? Why would you write for the sake of quantity. I shoot for quality, so why would I blather on knowing it would probably be a lot of garbage. Maybe a toss-away novel.

Now I understand. I’ve been in a creative slump for several months. My writing muscles have atrophied and I’m facing my demons wondering if I’ll be able to come up an idea exciting enough that it will pull me and push me along. My plot ideas are still a little fuzzy, but I do have a great cast of characters waiting in the wings.

Then this week, the NaNoWriMo Boot Camp appeared in Nathan Bransford’s blog and I had to see what the fuss was all about. I found the NaNo website and I liked the tone right off. It throws down the gauntlet in a light-hearted way, and knowing that there’s a skazillion other writers wired up on coffee and chocolate creates just the right cyber group dynamic that appeals to me. NaNoWriMo already has over 95,000 people signed up.

As NaNoWriMo purports, “The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly," and for writer's facing a month long hermitage, NaNo promises, ‘Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.”

I’ve never been a prolific writer. I labor too long over the right word, stopping the check the thesaurus, googling ideas and images. Getting distracted, going off on tangents. NaNo will not let me follow those diversions. I’ll have to stick to the ‘paper’. Writing 50,000 words in one month means 1,666.666 words every day.

So how am I gearing up? I'm staying tuned to Nathan's NaNo Boot Camp. He is chock full of good advice, including Day Two's post on how to get ready. Starting with characters and plot points are essential. Knowing what your Protagonist wants, or think he wants and what obstacles stand in his way is what drives the story. Maybe the Protagonist has conflicting goals? And don't forget the Antagonist, who has his or her own goals, a hero in their own story, although it will obviously be at odds with the MC.

I'm going to go sign up today. Wish me luck, especially since on Monday, November 1, the kick off day, I will be on an airplane for 7 ½ hours. Writing 1,666.666 in long hand? Geesh.

Have you NaNo-ed in the past? Are you planning to this year? Never heard of it, or hate the idea? Let me know!

Want to know more about it? NaNoWriMo - What the heck is it?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Living life as a song

“Not only is your story worth telling, but it can be told in words so painstakingly eloquent that it becomes a song.” Gloria Naylor

*image is cover on The Spirit of Flight Journal by fantasy artist Josephine Wall.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Banned Books Week in the U.S.

It's the end of Banned Books Week here in the U.S. and I made the intention to participate in the recognition of this cultural phenomenon of ours. I think it's more curious than dangerous why some books make the list. It always sparks great interest in the book, so I think most authors would rather treasure being banned and join the ranks of notables which includes some (but not all?) of the Harry Potter books, The Adventures of Hucklberry Finn, the American Heritage Dictionary, Judy Blume books, Willie Wonka, and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. The reasons that many books get blacklisted are almost uncomprehensible. Little Women? Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic? I think most indicate the narrowmindedness of people afraid to look at reality. Others showcase the lack of a healthy appreciation of the absurd.

Have you read any banned books? You probably have without even knowing it. Here's a few of my favorites: A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl, To Kill A Mockingbird, and the ultimate book on censorship, Farenheit 451.

One of our local libraries showcased Banned Book Week and I would like to pay a tribute to my favorite intrepid librarian, Kathleen Stewart, Programs Director at the Yuba County Library, who showcased banned books by prominently displaying library copies, labling each with the reason the book was banned. I checked out The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, a YA book about troubled teens. The reason it was banned from some schools was because "virtually all of the characters are from broken homes." Another case of  the fear of looking at reality.

I know some of you are from other parts of the world. Do you have these kinds of issues with banning books and censorship where you live? I'd love to hear from you.

For more on this subject, see The eleven most surpring banned books, a literary agent's list, and The American Library Association's extensive site on Banned Books Week

Take care and happy reading! Check out a banned book today!