Sunday, October 31, 2010

50,000 words. 30 days. No problem.

As I look at the title of this post  I feel like screaming, "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"  Because I do have a problem.

Tomorrow I, along with tens of thousands of other writers, will embark on the month long writing sprint called NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month.  Now that this particular brand of insanity has been named, let me tell you my plan for the month.

Here goes...

I have no plan.  Nope.  No plan.  Nothing.
Okay, I have a character list.  And I have character sketches.  And I have backstory.  However, the plot structure is weak, at best, and I have no doubt I will write myself into several corners over the course of the month.

So why am I doing this?  That is easy.  Even if I'm not writing my best work for the entire month, if I come out of it with 50,000 words, I have 50,000 words I can work with.   Additionally, there is the community, the bond, the knowledge that I'm doing something hard and that other people are struggling and fighting for every word the same way I am. I did Nano last year and reached my 50K word goal.  The book is pretty much done and would have been finished sooner, but my big revision threw off my time table.  I'm editing last year's Nano novel now and I'm ready to start another.
So, while I may not have a real plot going into tomorrow, I do have a loose plan.

1. Stock up on coffee.

2. Plan to write at lunch.  That's 40 minutes every day to write.

3. I'm giving myself permission to write crap.

4. I'm going to seek out encouragement from others.

The last one is big for me and exciting.  I wrote on my own last year.  This year, I have buddies.  People who will encourage me when I'm procrastinating or doubting myself.  The writing network I often blog about is heading to Nano in November.

We're in this together and that's pretty awe inspiring.  So how about you?  Are you jumping into the Nano pool?  Ready to write 1700 words a day? Come on in; there are a lot of us here and we'll keep you from going under.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: Hamlet's BlackBerry

It’s a rare person these days who can keep the digital world at bay.  As I write this post, there are three applications on my computer that demand my attention.  There’s a message on Facebook, there are a dozen tweets I could answer and I’m sure there’s something in my inbox.  I heard the chime on my smartphone signaling that I have a text message.  We tweet; we e-mail; we instant message, text or BBM.  There’s Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.  Everywhere we turn our attention is drawn to someone who needs us and is letting us know through technology. For most of us, the draw of a smartphone and the ability to stay in touch with everyone at all times is hard to control.  We are in personal information overload and the book, Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, by William Powers gives us a look at how we are becoming hyper-dependent on the digital feed and how all this dependence could be a result of us being hard-wired to respond to new stimuli.

Powers, a former staff writer for the Washington Post, delves into several areas. He looks at past technological revolutions as far back as Guttenberg and the printing press and how all technological advances were criticized for pushing forth too much change.  Just as we are being warned about the all-consuming addiction of social media, Powers reminds us of the warnings that came with the development of radio and TV and how with each new thing, humans adapted.  He also looks at how this new wave of change is taking so much more out of our day and intruding on time that we used to spend with ourselves. 

However, we may not be able to help it.  Research done recently supports the theory that the new stimuli cause a reaction in our brain that produces a little high.  So if you remember how excited Meg Ryan’s character got when she heard those little words “You’ve got mail,” her response may be grounded in fact.  Scientists have discovered that we get a little shot of dopamine every time one of our technological tethers tells us someone wants our attention. 

But, hard-wired or not, the revolution is cutting into time we would normally take to think and recharge.  Powers is sometimes redundant in his warnings, repeating over and over how the over-connectedness needs to be managed. Fortunately, he does present strategies we can use to combat the “techno bind” we find ourselves in today. 

Hamlet’s Blackberry is an interesting read.  The book puts this new frontier in proper historical context and gives those who are interested ideas on how to manage the constant demand the new technologies place on our time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Words to Live By

I'll write more for my weekly post, but this quote is perfect today:

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat. " 

~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Everyone have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Too Much Information?

Image from The Digerati Life
It's no secret that I have a book on submission.  Maybe it should be.  Perhaps I should have guarded it like a state secret, but I couldn't.  The reason I'm wondering if I did the right thing is because now my failure will be as public as my triumph.  Do I want the whole world to know if my book doesn't make it?

The point is, it's tempting to tell all when you are hooked into social networking.  It's a necessity in this day and age to show you have a web presence and that you are conscious of publishing as a business that will require you to do your fair share of book promotion.  But with all this connectedness, we risk a lot of ourselves out there in cyberspace and I wonder if this is a good thing.  

My previous post was about how writers supported other writers.  Most of the people who were telling me to keep going after that last rejection were people I met online--other writers who were looking to connect with their own kind, who were looking for support.  I've had friends jump in and offer encouragement and people I never would have expected are rooting for my success.

So, should I have put myself on the line like I did?  Is is okay that anyone linked to me by a mouse click knows my writing fate?  Maybe not, but if the trade off for that means I get to know more people like me who are working toward perfecting that book and getting "the call," or I get to see the positive, generous side of so many others, then it's all worth it.

So what do you think?  Too much, too little or just right?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Writers Helping Writers

As I hinted at in a previous post, I got hit with a rejection not too long ago that stung.  When a full manuscript gets rejected it always hurts more than the partial.  With a partial you can always say the reader didn't get to the good parts, but with a full, it's final and no matter how kind the agent's words, there's no way to avoid the burn.

The thing about this business is it turns on a dime, and after sending out  a new batch of queries just one night after getting the rejection, I received a positive response early the next morning.  Yes, less than twelve hours after sending the query, a full was speeding through cyberspace.  I don't want to jinx anything, but my reality this week is very different than my reality last week.  And it is good.

However, what I want to write about is what got me through the initial burst of disappointment. This writing business is brutal on the ego.  Tougher people than me have packed it in.  But I find I can keep going as long as I don't feel alone.

That's really the key.

Through different online outlets like blogs, Facebook and Twitter, I've met some amazing writers.  I'm also a member of two local writing groups that offer tremendous support and camaraderie.  Whether online or in person, these are people who are going through the same battles I am.  We're writing and submitting and dealing with rejections. Or maybe we're doubting whether what we write is good enough to be seen. When the rejection came, I reached out for a hand, for some sympathy, for some advice and it came back in droves. I was able to put the rejection in perspective and move on, but I was only able to do it because of some women with very big hearts.

I've always found the writing community to be a pay-it-forward kind of place. I was on the receiving end of that last week.  I can only hope that I have to opportunity to do the same for someone when they need the help or encouragement to keep going.  Because when we stick together and weather the storms with others, reaching that finish line is not only easier, there are more people to celebrate the success.

How do you feel less alone?  Has someone reached out and helped or encouraged you?