Saturday, November 3, 2012


Day Two of NaNoWriMo, and I feel lucky to have found time to meet up with my girl GEW today to write. Seeing her is inspiring, because she's cranking right along despite so many other demands on her time, and it's also clarifying, because I can see how much farther along she is in terms of conceptualizing her project.

Unlike her, I am all over the place. I've written about 3500 words, but they're only tangentially related to each other. There might even be three different projects tangled up in there.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that I ended up tonight, after wandering through a couple of digressive scenes, focusing on stories from my own life that have been rattling around in my brain (and, let's be honest, my heart) for years now. Probably haunting more than rattling: "One need not be a chamber to be haunted," and all. The words themselves came easily, just like the memories that informed them, although, as I was writing, I felt 20 years old again both in spirit and in skill level. It was as if I'd used Scrivener as a time machine to transport myself back into that era again. Maybe this little trick will help me write dialogue eventually, but it definitely isn't helping me write great prose right now.

So, I must admit to myself now, if not to others in my circle, that it appears that my chamber is, indeed, still haunted by ghosts from my past. This is probably part of the reason I've avoided "creative writing" and turned toward the safety of academic writing since my college years. I've read before that you have to get rid of your own stories before writing anything truly imaginative. Yup. These old, not-even-that-interesting stories are bleeding out of the edges of the little worlds I've been trying to build with words. I'll see if I can wrastle 'em. If not, it looks like, for me, NaNoWriMo might become an exercise in exorcism.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 1: 1759 words

Still loving Scrivener. It's been great for my academic writing, and it's been great so far for my novel. Ahem ... "so far" being all of one day.

P.S. So, I met my novel goal today, but not my academic goal. Can I write 500 words in the next 9 minutes, or shall I stretch my "day" past midnight to fudge the numbers, or shall I lie on the couch and read Choices, choices, choices ... 


So, I'm taking the NaNoWriMo challenge this year. One month to write one novel!

Let the games begin! GEW, I'm looking at you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


8 months/32 weeks left.
Overall goal: 80,000 words. Monthly goal: 10,000 words. Weekly goal: 2500 words. Daily goal: 500 words.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Here I sit, so much unwrit ...

But! I'm going to focus on the positive. This is my new mantra, my new philosophy, my new self. Glass half full, baby. Hell ... glass all-the-way full.

It would be absurd to pretend that there's not a long road ahead. Indeed, so much is yet unwritten. (What up, Natasha Bedingfield!: Unwritten) But this means that it all is yet to be determined--and by me. Where else do I have this kind of control? Only in my dreams.

Writers are lucky. They build their own worlds, populate these worlds, determine the joys and catastrophes in these worlds. Let me change that: "Writers are lucky. WE build OUR own worlds, populate these worlds, determine the joys and catastrophes in these worlds." Even an academic book, with all of its restrictions, is mostly open for the filling, like a great pie crust. (See! I just created a pie-crust world!)

Time to start making that filling.

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's on!

It's been a long time since I've posted, and, to be honest, I'd forgotten about this little blog. Sorry, little birdie.

I'm writing here again because I'm writing again, period. I've been in a bit of a manic period as far as inspiration goes. I've got about half a dozen books simmering in my head right now: a literary novel, a YA novel (trilogy, of course), two academic books, one scholarly edition, and a popular history book. All of them are related by topic but they are, clearly, different in approach. I had one crazy night when I imagined that I could write all of them at once. Okay, let's be honest ... I still have moments when I think that's possible. I mean, the research applies to all of them (except for one of the academic ones), so wouldn't it be more efficient to write them all at once rather than repeat research in the future? (I know I would have to do the latter, because my memory just isn't that good.) 

Anyway, I'm also writing here again because, while I have lots of ideas percolating (simmering! percolating! looks like I'll be able to both eat and drink!), I've only *really* worked on one of them. The proposal I mentioned in my earlier posts was finally--finally!--dealt with by the publisher. And, it was good news! They want to see the whole ms. when it's done, and the acquisitions editor has been really excited and supportive. I know it's her job as acquisitions editor to seem excited and supportive of any book that seems even minimally cool, but I actually believe her. I think they do want this book. But ... um ... that means I have to write it now. Even worse: I have to get the full ms. to them in 8 months. Another of my genius self-imposed deadlines. Holy mackerel. 

So, here I go again. I just skimmed the old posts, scant as they are, and I realized that I was similarly panicked 8 months ago, when I was completing the proposal. And see how that worked out? Well, see how it at least potentially could work out? And thus begins the new adventure. 

Some thoughts on this:
1. After completing six more weeks of teaching, during which time I have blessedly little prep and grading compared to most quarters, I am on sabbatical. Did you hear me, universe? *Sabbatical*! I can barely believe it's true. I almost cannot imagine what those days will look like. Oh, except that I have imagined them for many, many, many days leading up to now. They will be sublime ... and I mean that in the real sense of the word "sublime," meaning they will be equal parts beautiful and horrifying. 

2. In the midst of preparing this ms., I also will be working on the co-authored scholarly edition mentioned above. This will include a trip to the British Library (yay!) with said delightful co-author and lord knows how much other work. This is all quite interesting and new to me. The topic is terrific and the co-author is, too ... these are things that I already know. What I don't know much about: (a) co-authoring in general. We're thinking about using Google Docs to write collaboratively. (b) how to put the ducks in a row for a scholarly edition. Securing document permissions, securing an editor/publisher, getting images, determining content, indexing ... so much to learn. 

3. In The Eight Months, I also am taking a group of students to the UK for a literary field trip. This will be awesome, of course. Who wouldn't want to do this, right? But, I did it last year, and I know it will require more time than I have, really. However, the money will be worth it (not a great deal, but enough to make the trip worthwhile), and I will be able to sneak in an extra prep week by myself in the UK before the students, hubs, and lil wun arrive. This, I think, will be blessedly welcome. I'm actually a little nervous about being out in the middle of nowhere by myself in the UK countryside, but it will be good for me. 

4. Most importantly: it is time to be a writer, not just think or talk about it. As Whitman said about the years leading up to the publication of Leaves of Grass, he'd been "simmering, simmering, simmering." He apparently needed Emerson's words to boost him a bit. I don't know what my boost has been--perhaps I'll be able to look back someday and identify it--but I have felt this same bubbling up within me for the last long while (thus the simmering and percolating metaphors offered above). It is time. It just is.  

So, as the title says, "It's on!" It's time. I'm a writer now. Let's see where this adventure ends up. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

3 weeks out ...

I have to submit my proposal in 21 days.

This is a self-imposed deadline, but I shared this self-imposed deadline with my contact at my first-choice publisher. So, it's a real deadline, and it's no one's fault but my own. I thought this was wise--that it would force me to get my work done. Instead, it's backed me into a corner, and I'm panicking.  

So, I'm trying to take the kind advice offered by some friends and a few thoughtful strangers. It's time to suck it up, spew it out, and send it out. No more dithering. 

{ ... many many many more dithering words redacted ... }