Thursday, November 16, 2017

Going back to high school

I got a chance to go back to my old high school and talk to students. It was part of the career fair where like four dozen different people come and talk about their jobs. Mostly it’s a how I did it kind of thing, or at least it was for me.

I had to give two thirty minute presentations about my path to being where I am now. It made me look back over my career journey and consider it. Considering things is one of the main things author do; they absorb life, reflect and refract it and then shine it out.

Looking back on my life, I realized one thing that kind of surprised me; I’m right where I want to be. I can see how each different journey I took helped the equation to ad up to now. I was also impressed how true I was to my original goal in life: being happy. It was my thematic lighthouse and when I veered off course for long, the pain of not following the light, brought be back, usually by upturning my whole life and lighting it on fire, but still, it was true.

I don’t know if the students I talked to today know anything more about being an author after I talked than before, but I hope I made it clear that life is for living and happiness should be your goal. Ignore the odds, think outside the box, measure in different metrics, be true to yourself. Yeah, it all sounds corny her, but it’s really what it was all about.

It’s good to walk the old halls and measure the distances between. Alta High School made me who I am, as did every other thing that ever happened to me. But still, Alta was huge. Well done.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Good Day Writing

A good day writing is the best tonic I know for my emotional well being. Exercise is good, don’t get me wrong. Eating right could happen. Could. I might find time to meditate, like if the stars align right, but the only true and consistent medicine I have for happiness is writing.

I know this, but like most things that are important, we take it for granted and we can forget. NaNoWriMo, happening this month (see last week’s blog post) has reminded me of how good it is to get the words in day after day.

Only a week in, I’ve had my challenges. I missed an entire day last Saturday and have struggled with a couple others, but I’m still plugging away. I am reminded that I know I can do this, I know I can finish this big project and this project has been kicking my ass.

How much of an ass-kicking you might ask. (you might), Well I had a terrible shock yesterday as I poked around my NaNoWriMo dashboard to see my past achievements and such. I’ve done a few Nano’s but not all of them since I began my journey into authorship. Anyway, what I discovered in looking at my Nano scorecard is that last year’s NaNoWriMo project is the same as this years! OMG- I knew this book was talking a long time, much longer than any of my other books, but to see the same title for the 2016 project as the 2017 project shamed me to the core and gave me new motivation. (Shame can be good if used properly. Ask the Puritains. No. On second thought, don't.)

I didn’t make the 50,000 worlds last year for the project; it really is a complicated piece, and I doubt I’ll make the required words this year (because I shouldn’t have that many left to finish it, but still. Jeeeez, What a year it has been if I haven’t finished a single book, complicated or not. There were years when I’d do three or four, then two or three, then one or two, then one, then, not one. Not good.

NaNoWriMo however has juiced me up. The writing retreat ahead of it primed me and the speech propelled me, but now I’m going. I’m paying attention. I’m doing the work and making real progress. I may be a few hundred words behind, but I’m on the track and I’m blazing. And if I finish the book by the end of the month, regardless of the word count, I’m going to be winner. Not just because the black is on the white, but because I feel better. A good day writing is a good day. Period.

Nano is all about made up deadlines and goals, but if you believe them and they get you there, what’s the difference? It gets me good days.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NaNoWriMo is here

If you’re not a writer November can be a fun month. It’s got Thanksgiving, where we eat until we’re sick and then have a piece of pie. However if you’re a writer, it’s a month of stress and endurance. It’s National Novel Writing in Month month—NaNoWriMo.

Last week, I had the privilege of giving a kick-off speech to our local group entering upon this great and important undertaking. Many had done it before, some had succeeded, but there many newbies. I warned them that this simple personal promise to write 50,000 words in a month, to complete a “novel” might be the most dangerous thing they’d ever done.

It’s about confidence. It’s about goals. It’s about success and not giving up. It’s about realizing your power.

I wrote my first novel for NaNoWriMo, I realized I could do it. That’s it. A simple confirmation that I could actually consistently write and produce something that didn’t make me want to throw up. I had done what my heroes do—I was a writer. Being an author was short easy step compared to that.

I don’t mean to over simplify the experience but it was life-changing. To this day, when I am on my game, I use the NaNoWriMo model for my daily work-1,666 words per day, record progress, minimum editing for first drafts and keep going. Finish what I start and critics be damned. I’m a writer.

I’ve fallen off my game a bit of late. My new project is beyond complicated and technically challenging. I’m also lazy and distracted, but that’s beside the point. It’s time to get serious again.

Deadlines are magical. I’m embracing them again—NaNoWriMo here I come. I’m joining the race this year. I haven’t had a November project in a while, but I do now. I might not have 50,000 words left in this book, but with the pressure, deadlines and support of the community, I’m confident I can finally finish this work and start another in November.

Put the black on the white. That’s what NaNo is about.