A Room to Write.

 

 

There are so many potential distractions as I make my way to a place of writing.   My mind is all over the place.   I pick up my iPad to check on the WordPress stats. I browse through other people’s posts. I like this one, comment on another. Consider other social media. And then there are web searches for ideas on what to write about.   There is a time and a place for all of this activity. But when the time comes when I am to sit and just write, I need to pull myself away from those distractions and focus my attention completely on the vital task at hand. Daily pages. Morning pages.

 

 

In an Advice series of posts on WordPress, author Amanda McCormick offers up encouragement to other writers. One of Amanda’s most recent posts offers that one must make time to write and she shares a quote from J.K Rowling which suggests: “I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards her firstborn egg”- I like that image. It’s vivid and feels active. Guard your time to write. With this focus, and Amanda’s urgings, I find her to be a generous soul. How kind to create a place other writers can go to get helpful information and resources on improving and reaching for their own goals. She shares in her profile that she has been writing since she was eleven years old. How magnificent for her that she knew so early on what her passion was. And how lovely that part of her writing make-up is to care about offering advice to others. She helps to propel others in a community of writers to forge their own way.

Amanda sets a goal of 1K words for herself a day.   And I consider that this is a manageable goal for me as well. I know it is physically possible because I pushed out around 1600 words a day during NaNoWriMo; of course, in that instance, I had a specific focus: a novel and a set of characters. And in that novel, I had investment – even from the very beginning. The core of the idea of the novel was bubbling up inside of me and pressing to get out.   And it was such fun. And, now I have this collection of 54000+ words to work through.   And even that stage is filled with excitement and enjoyment mixed in with some frustration and wonder. How will it end? I have the beginning and parts of the middle and need to finish it, re-arrange it and nurture it into its full potential.

 

During this next period of daily pages, I could lean into that project as well, when other things don’t pop up for me. Or, can I? Are daily pages meant to take me onto a completely different tack?   A way to talk to my inner self, to consult my wise soul and find new threads to explore?

 

On Thursday, I am going to a community Artist’s Way meeting.   On that day, I am encouraged to bring a sample representation of authentic creativity. It could be one of my former posts.  Am I ready to share my authentic self with a group of others? The whole point of my blog at the beginning was anonymity. It was safe. No one that I knew would push me down.   No one to invalidate my passion. I don’t know why I thought anyone would invalidate me. Maybe because I didn’t feel valid in the first place?   I didn’t feel I could honestly call myself a writer.   I mean, who did I think I was?

 

And now?   Who do I think I am?

 

Am I a writer?   Do I have the right to call myself a writer?

 

Isn’t it interesting how we can disqualify ourselves so easily?  Is it because we have a higher ideal of what we consider a valid writer?   Do I have a high standard and am I not sure that I measure up to it? What would it take? Is it because I never took formal training in writing?   My degree is in something else.   Had I spent four to eight years in formal schooling on writing, would that have done it for me?   Would I have felt more legitimate as a writer?   Would I have felt I could justifiably render and submit a quality product to an audience via a professional editor and publisher?   Am I not legitimate today because of this lack of formal training?

 

Still, I write. And when I write, I feel better.   It refreshes me and invigorates me.   When I am writing, I have an energy that feels positive and hopeful.   So, I will keep writing. And, if it turns into something of a professional quality and if someone feels it is good enough, then that’s a bonus.   The goal for me cannot be publication on its own.   I don’t want to just publish. I want to express, create, unfurl and extend what is inside of me onto the page. To see it before me so that I can better understand life, mine and the universe.   Connections. Mysteries. All of it.   One word at a time.

 

A year ago, I sought out the idea of organizing my life and creating a space to cradle my passion for writing.   I picked up books on organizing, including The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.   Up until then, my room was a disorganized mess. I did not have a place to write. The room had to contain all of my earthly belongings when I decided to move back into my parent’s home to help in their senior years. I got rid of so much when I moved in.   Sent things on to other homes that I felt could use the items. Offered up furnishings to people who had a need, kitchen supplies to others. The rest to Goodwill. Still, so much remained that had to be contained within one bedroom and a walk in closet.   The room was wall to wall stuff… a place of chaos and certainly not a place of peace and encouragement for creativity.   When I needed to write, I would go instead to coffee houses and plop down for a few hours to write.  It was a solution. But somehow required special planning. It was not as spontaneous as I would have liked. I really needed a safe and quiet place to go and write. A Room of My Own- to write.

 

Over the course of the last six months, I have employed other strategies to minimize my stuff. I took a class on Vision Mapping and came away with some good ideas. More bags exited the home containing clothes, household items, shoes and books. With this activity, I have made room.   And this morning is my first morning of writing in my new space, on a new desk. A corner of my room has now been officially  converted to my writing space.   The place I can go to write. A real desk. The window is open to my right, facing the woods. I hear the rustle of leaves as the wind ebbs and flows.   From my TV, I hear the gentle sounds of pan flutes and steel drums from the Soundscapes Channel that I turned on when I got myself ready to write.   The volume is quite low, barely audible. Truly background music. And, now that song ends and it morphs into a new piece by Matthew Labarge called “First Light”, a soft piano tune that quietly frames my writing space. I look over at the TV momentarily and I see that the Soundscape Channel screen offers quotes.   The one facing me now is:

 

“Resolve to know thyself; and know that he who finds himself loses his misery” – Matthew Arnold.

 

Well then!   Isn’t that part of finding an Authentic Self- and guiding that self into Authentic Creativity.   Tuning into our true self and sharing that in some way with others or even, with oneself. Is art not art unless it is shared? And, can the sharing be with oneself?   Must one have an immediate audience for the art to be enjoyed.   Can that audience not be the self? At least for the moment.   And there you go; 1K+ done!

 

I have more to write today, and more time to do it.   I now turn to the novel.   How does Nina get involved in the underground movement? Who draws her in? When exactly does it happen and what are the stages of it?   What are her fears and does she find purpose in it? What are her risks and what does she accomplish? So many threads.

 

Ah, yes. Indeed. It Is Time to Write.

To submit or to live- must it be a choice?

Another thread from my novel in progress.  .

Love this writing thing!

 

It was all too much to consider and answer here, sitting on a blanket with Frederika.   Still, Oslo wasn’t that far from Hvitsten.  How could she make sure that if she took the leap, she would still have at least a few visits permitted her in order to see her family each year?  Like Fred had from Halvor, allowing her permission to take off now and then to see Nina.  The truth is she was afraid of losing herself to someone else, like Frederika had lost herself to Halvor.   She was afraid of putting herself on the shelf for someone else, of having to ask for permission for things.  It seemed odd as an adult that she would not have authority over her own life.  Her thoughts shifted to her Tante Liv whose marriage, she was told, had begun as the romance of the decade only to end up in an abusive power hungry struggle filled with misery.

 

 

As a young girl, Nina had witnessed Tante Liv and Oncle Bjarte’s strained marriage, the sharpness of tongue that Bjarte threw upon Liv when he was displeased with her.  She never got any story right.  He would correct her and interrupt her at every turn.  Nina watched as Liv lost her voice over the years and ended up rarely vocalizing any opinion.  The playfulness that she remembered of Liv as a young woman when Nina was just a little girl, had all but vanished.  In its place was a pale woman that mostly obeyed her husband’s every whim and wish.   She knew Liv was this way in order to keep the peace at home.  Liv detested conflict.  It made Nina sad to watch Liv transform from this vibrant young woman with the most amazing smile and laugh, into a silent soul in the background of their lives.   It was a rare moment to hear her laugh anymore or to see her eyes twinkle as they had when they played and rode the horses together when she was a young girl.  Bjarte and Liv never had children and Nina wondered if maybe this was a part of the displeasure and irritation that accompanied Oncle Bjarte everywhere he went.

 

 

She wondered what life might have been like if Liv had been blessed with a child or two.  At least she would have a vessel into which she could direct her love.  As it was, she knew that Liv primarily focused on raising the pigs and making a clean home for Bjarte.  Their house was always immaculate and she wasn’t sure whether this was driven by Bjarte’s stern demeanor and demands or if this had been a natural inclination for Liv, perhaps a way for her to simply push forward and make life bearable.  Bjarte walked around as if the world was against him and that his fate was to endure it rather than enjoy the many instances of beauty one finds when each dawn breaks.

 

 

Nina did not understand people who couldn’t see how amazing nature was and all that was within it.  One only had to stop moving, look around and listen.  Become aware of  one’s surroundings.   These experiences placed a struggle within Nina whenever she considered a life shared with another soul.  If she committed herself to someone else, would that someone drain her of her own soul and energy?

 

 

At her age, she should be thinking mostly of the excitement of romance and the thrill of love.   But unlike some of her contemporaries, she had an observant tendency and when she expressed those observations out loud, particularly at school, she would be chastised.   She kept most of it to herself but was keenly aware of the downfalls of being partnered with a mismatched suitor.  So she wanted to pace herself when it came to marriage and hoped that she would see signs of danger before it was too late for her.  Until she found someone who seemed to share in her passions, she knew deep down that a partnership with the wrong person would be a life sentence of loneliness.

 

 

 

 

All is Clear on the Extremities Front!

It’s amazing what one water pill will do. I can already feel the positive effects of this drug on my body. My legs, ankles and feet are still just a bit swollen, but progress is a foot (pun intended).

I returned from my marvelous adventure in Greece late Saturday night and continued to worry about my legs and ankles. I had traversed many countries via four flights, taking me from Mykonos to Athens, Athens to Munich, Munich to Chicago and finally, Chicago to Minneapolis. My feet and ankles ached from the skin being stretched, and my legs had an overall feeling of having been bruised. Each step hurt. So, I decided to check in with the GP. Better safe than sorry. Doc asked me to describe in detail all of the events of the past week, and he was concerned. While he could offer a water pill and we could see how it goes- he didn’t feel comfortable because of the range of symptoms. So, he ordered the ultrasound of both legs and an MRI of my chest, to rule out clots and pulmonary embolism.

After a few hours at St. Paul Radiology last night, I was given the all clear. With much relief, I headed to the pharmacy to fill the water pill RX which doc suggested would ease the excess water in the legs. “You should notice an improvement within three to four days” he said. “If not, call me”. The odd ash all over my legs and feet itched like a crazy obsession, and he recommended some Benadryl should take care of it.

I slept so much better last night with this diagnosis. No back of the mind fears of a clot traveling to my heart or lungs, or brain. Had it not been for my Factor V Leiden condition, I might have been less over cautious. But, now that I know all is just fine, I will wait for the swelling to reduce and the itching to stop.
It’s back to life as normal. And that certainly feels good. All is clear on the extremities front, and this offers me a chance to redirect my attention onto more energizing matters.

While all this was going on this weekend, we had company on Sunday. It had been shared that I was working on a novel and they asked that I read some of it to them. I read a part of my novel that I had not looked at for over six months. As I read it, it felt good. It felt right. And it gave me another boost of energy to think about focusing my attention back onto the novel. Here is that excerpt:

As a preface- the main character Nina enjoys a visit from her best friend Frederika. The story is set in the late 1930s, just prior to the Nazi occupation of Norway.


It was nearly three o’clock and Nina knew by now that Fredrika would just be arriving at the top of the roadway.  She eagerly finished up with milking Lisbet, tugging for one last draw from her teat and then wiped her hands on the towel laying on her lap before rising and pulling the milking stool out from under her.  She gently patted Lisbet “good girl” she cooed.   She walked back to the refrigeration system to deposit the afternoon’s product making sure to properly seal the container and wipe around it.   She grabbed the large mop that was hung high up on the barn wall and pushed it into the large pail of warm sudsy water and then quickly swished it throughout the milking area to clean up any residue.   She didn’t mind the milking duties.  Half the time she was deep in thought about one of the books she was reading or her next outing with Lilly.   But she always looked forward to a visit from Fred and she quickly made her way out of the barn to Lilly, already saddled and waiting just outside.  She mounted her and gently urged her to trot up the roadway towards the gate.  On her way out she passed Vera who was on her way to the barn “enjoy your painting time” Nina offered.   “Is it already time for Fred’s arrival?” asked Vera.  “Yes, she should be here by now”.    “Say hi and tell her we look forward to seeing her at dinner”.  With that Vera waved her sister on and smiled.  Those two had been inseparable since they were first enrolled in that choir when they were about ten years old.  It was an amazing bond and she wished she had a friend as close to her as Fred was to Nina.       

 

 

It had been over three months already since Fredrika last visited on one of her weekend jaunts and Nina was so excited to hear the news on how things were going for her in Moss.  Although her Far could get some supplies locally and he had regularly scheduled deliveries of provisions, it could be months before they headed in to the bigger town south of them for a resupply of those essentials that only an in person excursion could render.  Nina had written to Fred a few weeks ago asking her to pick up a few things for them; a favorite shampoo and almond hand cream. And, there she was, on time as usual, already dismounted from Nordlys and she was working on the chain that held the gate closed.  The journey by horse from Moss to Hvitsten was likely around two hours and one would think by now that Fred, not to mention Nordlys, would need a rest.  Nordlys was an amazingly beautiful stallion with a coat so black it often had shines of blue and green depending on where he stood relative to the sea, sky and pastures.  His coat reflected the nature surrounding him and Fred thought of the name to describe the ethereal Northern Lights that often danced and played out before them in winter time, depending on the atmospheric conditions.  The colors as well as the lightness of the flowing sky were a wonderful description for this animal that could perform amazing feats in the ring.  Nina was glad that even though they had moved to the city, they could still have a few horses stabled at a nearby farm.   She was sure Fred would have gone crazy without her access to Nordlys.   “Hei Fred, so good to see you, here let me help.”   Fred gave her the famous broad smile and flipped her long thick flaxen braid back over her shoulder “Hi Nina, it’s been too long, so glad we could schedule the weekend… I love our time together and Halvor didn’t mind.  Do you want to head out over the meadow through the marsh? Maybe we could walk along the beach for a while until we get to the bend.”    About a year ago, Fred and Halvor moved to the small city of Moss situated twenty kilometers south to open a restaurant, a dream of Halvor’s for years.  With the opening of Den Minne Kjøkken (The Memory Kitchen), he was finally getting a chance to try his hand at cooking professionally.  Halvor’s concept was to offer food that would take every Norwegian down memory lane, to a time of comfort and gathering with those that were the most important.  The space itself was designed to create atmosphere and warmth, a place where one could come in and spend time with friends and family as if entertaining in one’s own home.   The ingredients that Halvor introduced as well as the changing menu were always fashioned to create moments of joy and connection for people and a reflection back to more secure times.  It was as if Halvor already knew times ahead were going to require this comfort.  As much as Fred enjoyed her life with Halvor in the small city of Moss, whenever she anticipated her visits with Nina, she would long for time spent on her favorite shoreline.   “Sure, that sounds perfect- let’s drop your pack and head out”.  

 

They both mounted their horses and walked up the roadway to the main house.   “Gunnar!” Nina called out, “Hei… come and take Fred’s pack for us”.   Gunnar came running down the dirt road towards them with a big smile.    Gunnar still harbored his childhood feelings for Frederika, and they had not diminished since the first time he set eyes on her when Nina came home with her from choir practice one day all those years ago.  Gunnar had seen her in the hallways at school, but never really had a chance to interact with her since he was a few grades behind them.   So when Nina announced one day that she had become friends with Fred and that she was inviting her to their home, Gunnar couldn’t believe his luck.  “Hi Fred, how are things?”   “Very good, Gunnar.  The business is just beginning to take off and Halvor is getting easier to live with now because of it” she beamed at Gunnar, never knowing that her mention of Halvor resulted in him feeling slighted once again.   




Fred never really knew the depth of Gunnar’s feelings for her.  Sure, she knew there was a slight crush but she had no idea how miserable he was when she was around because of how she played with him as if he were a little brother.  And besides, she was married now.  She felt that Gunnar must be over his childhood feelings by now.    Alas, no- as silly as it was he couldn’t shed his affections and still longed for her to look at him the way girls look at someone with whom they are deeply in love.   Gunnar shrugged knowing it was pointless and he felt embarrassed wondering if she had any inkling of the emotional rumblings going on in his gut.  He grabbed her overnight pack and waved them off “see you at the supper table when you get back!”, and with that he retreated back up the driveway to the house.

 

 

They started off with a slow paced walk down through what they called the boulevard, which was a long straight path bordered by majestic birch trees that formed a privacy fence for several hundred meters before the path curved and opened up into the vast meadow where the sheep grazed in one paddock and the horses were contained just beyond in the other.  Both paddocks faced the ocean and between the two was a lovely alleyway formed by the fences which allowed one to stroll down to the beach. “How is the mill doing these days?  Is Mona getting stocked up enough for the next market? Is she showcasing any new colors this time?”    Mona had been busy for months dying the wools for the next fiber market held in Moss, an annual event in late May.   “Oh, you know Mor, each year she churns out more skeins than the last and the fiber community just loves her for it.  She has a new shade that she is calling Brilliant Amethyst which she is getting from the big crop of heather that she harvested last spring.  But it’s the Tyttebær Red that I think will be the biggest hit this year”.   The markets were an opportunity to help refill part of the farm’s working fund.    




Mona was an expert at harvesting the yarn from her prized Spælsau Sheep.   The fiber they provided was so silky and soft. They made incredibly beautiful sweaters that were prized for their softness and perfect for those that couldn’t handle the itch from other wool yarns.  Mona’s colors all came from the nature that surrounded the property; she mostly used the wild flowers and berries and various wild grasses, but occasionally she would incorporate fallen leaves, twigs – anything from which she could soak and harvest a unique pigment. She generally always had a batch of neutrals and also a colorful splash of brilliant prismatic colors which were great for combining with the neutrals or using on their own for an uplifting shawl or coat.   She had once made a coat out of the dye lot she made from the tart berry: Tyttebær, which not only made the best sauce accompaniment for her roasts and meatballs, but also created a deep blood garnet colored dye which ended up as one of the most beautiful full length wool capes that Fred had ever seen, bordering on the mystical.  




In winter time, Mona wore that cape everywhere she went and in the bleakness of winter, one could always locate her from afar by looking for the red splash of color amongst the dull white of the snow, and the ashen browns of the soggy brush and leafless tree limbs reaching for the sky.  She had recreated the shade once again, but this dye lot had a deeper tinge, an almost black red.  Along with the naturally brilliant colors of Mona’s dye lots, she also offered muted tones as well as natural whites, blacks and grey-blues which were a staple for every knitter and weaver.  Her skeins were sought after throughout the region and on opening day at market, most of her supply would dwindle down to a few dozen skeins.   This time she was working towards an even more substantial supply than the last market which she hoped would take her through at least two full days of the market.    “That’s wonderful, Nina.  I am so glad that Mona still thrives with her wool business.  Her yarns are so amazing”.    “I know what you mean- at market I don’t see anything that compares to it- those Spælsau sheep make all the difference.”        

 

***
So the novel is in progress. Characters are developing. Storylines are evolving. The project continues… I only wish I had more time to dedicate to it each day.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” -Thoreau.

Indeed.

Ginger Curls

The unforgiving wind whipped her grey toned skin as she lay bare under the chill of a February sky.  Her body tangled up in layers of seaweed. Her ginger curls had lost their spring, long soaked by the waves lapping up from the shore.  It could still be quite a while before someone happened upon her in this isolated bay in the middle of winter.  Perhaps a hardcore fisherman who ignored the harshness of the season.  This abandonment had been well planned to give plenty of time for the elements to do their thing.  There would be little left of her by the time the authorities became involved.

Who is she? How did she end up lying on the shores of the majestic Oslofjorden, lodged between a few hefty boulders and covered in seaweed. Wrong place at the wrong time? What was her involvement with “The Group”? Was she followed and then eliminated by a master plan? Did she know too much? Was she inappropriately inquisitive with the wrong people?

Anita generally asked too many questions. She needed to know every detail. Her discernment meter could be a bit off when it came to certain people. She trusted too much. Martin had been leery of her ability to follow orders when it came to discretion. He questioned Otto’s judgment in bringing her into The Group in the first place. During her training, Martin would call out instances of weaknesses in her approach to various assignments to the higher ups, only to find his opinions batted away. They liked her. More importantly, Otto liked her. They all wanted to believe in her. Martin worried about her safety and the safety of his comrades. Would she end up being their worst vulnerability? Could her personality and innocence result in harm to the team, or worse yet- a disastrous end to a vital assignment? Otto was unconvinced that she had been a mistake. He kept repeating over and over again that she could be the Ace up their sleeve, the honey to draw the bees. With her supple body, brilliant red curls and sultry ruby red smile, she could be useful in uncovering hidden plots through the plying of her charms to the enemy. It was risky, but he felt she could be that sweetheart that softened a Nazi soldier into giving away secrets. It had perhaps been a naive proposal.

At any rate, she had not received enough training and they had not allowed enough time to fully ensure that she had the full understanding and scope of her difficult assignments; that she had the right appreciation for the necessary precautions that she must take. They had needed more time to hone her instinct. They had likely sent her out into enemy lines way too early. But time was not something for which they had a surplus. Each day and each month deepened the hold the Nazis had on Norway. Letting time pass was not something Martin or any of the leaders of the Group wanted to nurture without some progress in thwarting the Nazi master plan. So they pushed her out of the nest early, and hoped she could fly. And she flew like the best of them for a time. What they had not counted on was that her heart would get tangled up in a romance with one of the Nazis. They had not fully considered that she was a feeling young woman with hungers and hopes for a future that included full fledged romance and belonging. And, poor sweet Anita had trusted the wrong man. While her parents had no idea where Anita ended up, The Group had a strong suspicion that her disappearance had something to do with Helmut. She had not returned from that last assignment, and that assignment had everything to do with Helmut. He had been the key to advancing their project, to gaining better insight into the next steps.

Was this her fate,then? Lying in a pool of seawater, her eyes staring up at the heavens as if asking for help a bit too late. Her face was void of any meaningful expression, her soft green eyes offering only a blank stare up at the sky, as if to say: “look there, a fluffy cloud”. The innocence of her death would break anyone’s heart, even the coldest enemy couldn’t take this scene in without knowing that on both sides, people – human beings, were casualties of this war. Regular citizens trying to make a difference, becoming involved in the layers of intelligence that in a normal healthy world, would never have been necessary. These civilians would have led simple lives with regular jobs and marriages and children. But in these years of occupation, people stepped up. Ordinary people. And in some cases, these ordinary people did not have the skills or insights to properly navigate the traitorous waters of war.

As Anita lay in this agitated pool of seawater, one could not see any trace of a final fear or any strain in her soft face. There was no detection of tragedy to mark her final moments of life. It was as if her death had been a soft and simple comma in a long string of hopeful words. There was no exclamation point to be found here. This was a fade to black moment on an otherwise beautiful sun drenched horizon which invited the waters into a soothing embrace of her body, leaving behind dark green moist ribbons of seaweed to cover her up from peering eyes.

 

No one in her personal circle missed her because she had been absent for so long. It had been years since her parents and sister had seen her. Thinking back, her family might say she had been gone almost since the moment that those u-boats headed up the Oslofjorden in the Spring of 1939. But it wasn’t quite that long ago. It was actually just over a year into the conflict and occupation that Anita had found her way into a friendship with Otto, and it had made all the difference in her world. Her parents had never met Otto, but they knew of him. Anita had mentioned Otto to them early on in her friendship with him, but then just as suddenly, she stopped talking of him. Her parents did not know this, but her silence came along once she had been officially recruited into The Group. When her parents would ask about him, she would offer vague responses and then change the subject. In fact, on most topics, her usual bubbly and energetic responses were lacking. She had become more and more secretive. She had changed.

 

When she disappeared on that day in late August of 1940, they were not that surprised. They had a feeling she had gotten involved in something to do with the underground, but they were not sure of the exact details. They missed their sweet Anita. She was one of those people that commanded an audience. She always entered a room with a full voice and lifted people out of the doldrums. She was a mood booster. She enjoyed people and they enjoyed her. Her absence was definitely felt. The world was not the same without her. As with most people, Anita’s mother hated the war, but she despised it all the more because it had taken Anita from her.

Characters: Organic and Planned.

My efforts at novel writing during the recent NaNoWriMo contest this past November has provided the ground work or perhaps better stated, the initial soil, for a novel that has completely captured my senses. This jump start has provided a tremendous launch into a project that feels in some ways to be the project of my life. It is the corner on the street that, once I turned, I was brought face to face with a breakthrough in my life’s purpose. Strongly stated I know. Perhaps a bit dramatic. But it’s true. I absolutely love writing this novel, each day, in every way- love love love it!

I have stopped writing plot and have backed away from the 53,000 words I had accomplished during the contest. It is time to pause and to learn how to organize, structure, outline and develop the characters, plot, theme and purpose of this novel. I take a step back to ask vital questions and make sure I am on track. It seems a little out of sequence, but this time, because of how those 53,000 words poured out of me during those thirty days of writing, I find it important to step back and look at it with different eyes. It’s the only way. Next time, meaning with my next novel (crazy how I am even consider that prospect),  I will likely outline first. But to be honest, I didn’t even know what outlining was before I started this past NaNoWriMo contest. As such, I proceeded based on what flowed best from me at the time.

So, I am now starting with what are called: Character Sheets. These reside in my fairly newly purchased Scrivener program. Several authors have given me some tips with their own books on: how to write a novel. Before me, I have these 46 character questions that I am meant to answer for every character in my novel. For each and every character, I am called upon to answer specific questions. It starts with the basics: name, age, height, eye color, physical description. Then, there are some deeper questions that will help shape the character: favorite clothing, defining gestures, fondest memory, special skills, religion, favorite food, physical health, any phobias. There are questions relating to the character’s role in the novel, his or her purpose and goals. The list goes on: 46 questions.

 

I am amazed that this is a strategy employed by so many writers. I understand the benefit of this step. So far with my novel, my character introductions and developments have been an organic process. The characters have shown up on the page when they were needed. And now, I can see going back and filling in the gaps in terms of their individual backgrounds. But I am not sure how I would have known at the very beginning, before my novel was to the point where it is now, who these people would have been. I understand the concept of creating the main character first, and perhaps his or her major supporting role players. But there are many background characters that I simply would not have known about until the main character had encountered them.
For instance, in one scene, the main character in my novel has just moved to Oslo, Norway from her farm village situated south of the city. One night, after a full day of work at a family run bakery & grocery market, she stops in at the butcher shop on her way home. I wouldn’t have known about the young boy behind the counter that is helping an elderly lady and how he then turns to help Nina with her own order of pork and beef ground mixture planned for a meatball dinner that night. I would not have known about this little sprout until she opened the door to the butcher shop and walked in and found this adorable young boy working behind the counter. His stature is so slight that he can barely reach from behind the counter to provide the customers with their order. His thin wheat colored hair sticks straight up at the back of his head, perhaps from the dryness of the air and the electrical charges he is capturing in the room. He swims in his apron. His thin arms work hard as he digs into the meat mixture for Nina, using a very heavy metal scoop. Nina watches him work hard behind the glass case. He has wonderful manners and Nina wonders if he is the son or grandson of the butcher shop owner. All of this unfolds before my eyes as I brought Nina into the butcher shop. How would I have known about him before starting my story? And in my view, he is not a minor character, not really. Because I have this feeling in my gut that he and his family will play an instrumental part in a subplot surrounding the occupation of Norway and the ensuing underground movement. But even that is forming in my mind as I type this paragraph.

 

My way of writing forms as I go. I am on the adventure myself. The scenery changes as I pass through the scene with my characters, I layer in past impressions of places I have seen in these locals, images of people I have encountered, and actual moments I have experienced. Then, my imagination mixes it all together, and I create the tableau. It’s mesmerizing. Great fun. And I can only hope that one day, someone else will enjoy reading the adventure as much as I had enjoyment in writing it.

 

So the instructions I have to write out for the Character Questionnaire Sheets for every character in my book, before writing the novel itself, feels challenging to me. But, perhaps, I could complete this exercise for the major characters and since I have those 53000 words of the novel to work from, I have what I would consider to be some basic ingredients with which to craft the novel and it is exciting. All the while, I read anything I can get my hands on from as many expert writers as I can, to learn strategies on how to write a novel well.

 

In particular, I like ideas presented by Elizabeth George as well as K.M Weiland- and there are many others. It feels as if I have signed up for a Master Course on novel writing which I am taking on my own, without paying tuition, just diving into books written by great writers and applying principles to my daily efforts. It’s so much fun! While frustrating for moments, in the end I press on and progress happens.

 
One character question that launched me into a marvelous exploration yesterday, was the idea of favorite music. Suddenly, Nina is lying on her bed with the door open so she can hear her younger brother Gunnar practicing the piano downstairs. The music flows to the upper levels of the house. Nina loves to spend time listening to Gunnar because although he often practices scales, he also delves into the Romantic Era pieces which are Nina’s favorites. She relaxes completely on hearing Debussy’s: Girl With The Flaxen Hair. Sergei Rachmaninoff’s: Elegie in E flat minor, Op 23, No 1 – helps her to consider sadness mixed with moments of joy. There is despair in that piece as well as hope. When listening to music, Nina finds herself experiencing a movie in her mind. She imagines herself running free or riding Lilly, her fjord horse, along the fjord’s coastline. Schubert’s Trio No 2 in E Flat brings images of a horse show, with several horses in the ring – dancing in cadence with one another. With some pieces, she can actually feel the wind on her face and watch and listen to the birds soaring overhead. Music provides the backdrop for her day dreams.

 

And as I considered all this yesterday, it occurred to me that Gunnar, her little brother, has an amazing gift. He is not just talented but intimate and passionate about his music. He is gifted and a natural. He likes composing his own pieces and can spend hours playing. The rest of the family thoroughly enjoys his practice sessions and they look forward to them each day. And here, as I type, I suddenly sense that later in the book, after the war is over: is Gunnar still alive? Perhaps not- and does the silence from his absence and lack of playing become unbearable for his mother Mona.

 
These moments of character development are moments that simply happen. But, this moment happened by answering questions #29: Favorite bands, songs or type of music. I like these questions.

 
And it occurs to me that this cast of characters, this geographic area, the time period, the historic events, the nuances of plot and the main theme of war and romance and purpose, all of these things will likely bring me several years of writing pleasure. I hope that in the end, this novel will capture the hearts of others. But my goal is more natural than that- my goal is to get to know these people, the historic events of the Nazi occupation of Norway, and how these ordinary people get caught up in an extraordinary life.

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Cross Over!

On this day, I write from my balcony at Secrets Maroma on the Riviera Maya of Mexico. It’s a work trip that includes visits to 16 resorts and destination training at three select resorts. In my down time, I catch golden moments when I can sit down with a coffee made in my room (nespresso, anyone?) and write!

 I finished NaNoWriMo 2015 with 51650 words. And in that run to the finish, the result is: I have finished a first draft, and it is truly a draft, of my first novel… my first official novel. Just writing that fills me with a wave of inspiration. Allowing my fingers to venture out into the world of my true calling means that what I just did is more than just write a first draft. I crossed the line from dreamer to doer. And this cross-over into novel writing brings me to a place of peace. A peace that I have been questing after for years, which in big part I find within my faith in God. But now, I find that has now moved me into my passion. And in many ways, I feel this is my calling. What God intended all along. He is bringing me into my passion. Others may balk at this expression and throw jabs in an effort to squelch any gratitude that I feel is owed to the Great Almighty. But I know better. Because it is peace I have prayed for and he has nudged me, ever so gently, into the path that otherwise would not be there- or better still, for which my eyes may have been blinded. He has offered some doors and windows for me to seriously consider. He has placed opportunities in my path and He has urged me to take hold of a future He has for me. And now, having barely pushed that window open, for the first time, I can actually see the view unobstructed. No more serious barriers, no more blockage. Thank you God… for never leaving me, nor forsaking me. And thank you for the caws and the whistles I am hearing above my head coming from the gracklings and the crows that have decided that this paradise place I occupy at this moment, is their paradise as well.
My novel started one way then it took an interesting turn. It started as romance and then ended up being more in line with historical fiction. The premise is a love story set in Norway during World War II… it starts with the lead up to the Nazi occupation and lasts through and beyond it. The time line spans 1938 to around 1948. The characters all come from my imagination, you know- any resemblance to real persons is merely a coincidence. The love story is dosed in reality rather than lathered in romance. Doubts, disappointment and events of real life alter my heroin’s trajectory from home and family life to an arena of murder, espionage, and involvement in efforts of a group focused primarily on sabotage of the Reich’s efforts. This leads to deception within families, and a journey for Nina from farm girl to an underground courier for a movement that would help thwart Quisling’s reach.
It’s amazing to me how developed the piece already is… even as I look at this early draft. There is so much to edit and rewrite but this NaNoWriMo 2015 contest helped me to get words on a page, to have a starting point. I have great source in the country of Norway who was old enough to witness it all first hand. Ration cards, having to wear mandatory dog tags for identity, curfews, air raids and receiving donation boxes from Sweden while Sweden was sourcing the Nazi’s iron ore from Kiruna. So many details that the average person is unaware of – there has been so little focus on the Scandinvian countries realities during the war, both the neutral countries like Sweden, and the occupied ones like Norway and Denmark. My mother’s best friend is married to a man in Norway whose mother hid people, and had the forbidden radio that now sits in a museum in Oslo.  He offers lectures and material for cultural museums in Norway who are seeking to fill out their exhibits in preparation for the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Norway as a result of the victory over the Third Reich. All of this provides fodder for a marvelous passion. Thank you God for helping me tell their stories and it is my hope that I honor the experiences of the many who lived through occupation. While Norway faired so much better than many countries which had harsh and barbaric circumstances; still, Norway suffered in their own way. So I now pray for God’s help in allowing me to write this different layer of the war experience.

And the writing clips along…

I’ve been so busy dedicating myself to the task of the NaNoWriMo November Challenge, that I have neglected writing here, on WordPress.   I am so caught up in the whirl of the contest that I can hardly stand it.  I am having a blast with this new adventure and while I recognize that this may not be a successful endeavor, somehow it just doesn’t matter.   This is a first attempt at an actual story, and that in and of itself is an amazing feat for me.

I have a couple of teaser paragraphs to share today.  This novel began as potentially a historical piece of fiction – creative non-fiction if you will.  Here is my synopsis:
Historical fiction with a backdrop in Norway during the years leading up to and through WWII; people’s lives are affected by forces outside the country and within their own families which pull and sway them in varying directions. Relationships are tested between parent and child, best friends and lovers. Consequences result and families are divided. The novel explores various facets of life in Norway during the war, the occupation, victims who fear the outcome, fighters who take up the cause, individuals who turn to religion to cope, instigators who float from simple politics to becoming traitors. Relationships and war. A messy business.

Then somehow- I found myself writing a little entry piece that looked like this:
The unforgiving wind whipped her cheeks and slashed her arms as she lay bare skinned under the chill of a February sky.  Her dark mocha curls had long lost their spring since soaked from the waves lapping up onto her on the shore.  It could still be quite a while until someone happened upon her in this isolated bay in the middle of winter.  Perhaps a hardcore fisherman who ignores the harshness of the season.  This abandonment had been well planned to give plenty of time for the elements to do their thing.  There would be little left of her by the time the authorities became involved.  


Ok that was sombre… and, then a description of an encounter with strong tinges of romance:

Vidar played in the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra that had been scheduled to accompany the school choir at the yearly spring concert.  Nina met him for the first time for her solo performance practice session the evening before the concert.   Nina had been practicing for months with her own choir but this was the first time she would actually experience accompaniment by a professional violinist.  Vidar was six years her senior, towered above her with his viking features of thick and wavy flaxen hair and green eyes.  She, with her azure blue eyes and ivory skin offset by her silky dark chocolate waves that cascaded down past her shoulders.  She was breathtaking to him.  He found himself completely and utterly in love with her at first sight and sound.  Her soft and pure soprano voice mesmerized anyone in ear shot, and when she sung the first stanza of “Solveig’s Song by Edvard Grieg” he was completely captured.  When her voice rose up into the higher octaves, the entire orchestra which was paused for the solo performance as well as anyone that might have been busy in the wings of the stage preparing for concert night, came to a complete stop.  Afterwards, he could think of nothing else but her until the next day when they met once again for the actual concert performance.  That night, when she performed, he was transfixed by her beauty.  He had never seen any woman as delicate and pure; she wore a simple white strapless gown and a fresh garland of white daisies mixed with baby’s breath which adorned her crown.  Soft tendrils of wavy brown hair caressed her tiny shoulders.  Her blue eyes sparkled as she seemed on top of the world.  You could sense that she truly in her element, where she was meant to be – on this stage, in front of this audience and with him by her side.  Her gentle demeanor was almost timid and she exuded humility in her talents.  She was not haughty but blessed with this voice that reached into the soul and brought peace and joy all at the same time. This physical and musical beauty created such a passion within him that he found himself playing the violin as if the violin itself was Nina cradled in his arms.   It was a challenge for him since she was under age.   She only had four months left until her eighteenth birthday.  They had only a few exchanges before and after the concert, but he sensed that the attraction was mutual.  As the concert had come to an end, he then committed to writing to her regularly in order to nurture this flame that he knew existed between them both and which he had never experienced before.  He felt this mutual attraction was still very immature and knew he would have his work cut out for him since she lived down south of Stavanger and she was busy with her school work as well as the farm chores.   Somehow, he would do everything in his power to make a lifetime commitment to this amazing young woman- a reality.
So what is this?   Where am I headed?   I have no idea – well, ok- I sort of have an idea, a general game plan but most of it is unfolding before my eyes and it is so much fun!!    Maybe one day, this deep urge to write and write and writes will produce something worthwhile.   For now, I am not worrying myself too much about form or style or content.  I am not concerned that I am doing this right or wrong.  Rather, I am just getting to know a few people on the page – and so far, these people are interesting to me and fun to be around.

The Box

I have now launched myself into the full depths of commitment to a specific theme and focus for the November Novel Writing Challenge within the NaNoWriMo 2015 writing contest. When the contest first made itself known to me through the Writer’s Digest Magazine only a few days ago, I didn’t have any ideas of what my novel might be about. This of course made me a little nervous, but somehow I knew it would not be an issue for me. Lately, having taken up the daily writing task once again, there are many threads flowing through me.. ideas that I want to explore and delve into.
Many weeks back, Mom and I had been talking about her aunt and the affair and this aunt’s family alliances and interests in communism. This brief discussion ended up being a jumping off point, an entree point into, the romance novel. I’ve never been a fan of the genre… so it was almost on a lark that I continued typing and bringing the characters together with the tension and conflict of their current condition. In one daily writing session,out flowed this story with twists and turns and character development that I tucked away for later. Again, I am not planning to be a romance novelist. But the story came back to me a few times during later days nudging me to pay attention to it.  Then one day, sitting at the kitchen table with my parents, I ask Mom if she remembers our discussion about her aunt. She nods, her eyes squint and she cocks her head slightly “Yes” she says tentatively “why”? “Well, you see, I sat down and wrote a piece after our talk, and I wondered if you would like to hear it”.   Dad beats her to it “yes”, he says.   She nods in agreement “Sure”.   Shoot, I think did I really want her to hear this.   I wonder how she will react and my brain scrambles back into my memory bank for a moment in an attempt to quickly recall what I might have written that could be awkward when read to parents. I can’t think of anything, it was pretty clean. I leave the kitchen to retrieve my iPad from my bag tht is sitting out on the chair in the hallway. I return powering it up.
I read the story to them. Through it, I hear their sighs and gasps and a small giggle here and there.   At the end, a long pause. Silence. They are both looking off into space – facing each other but each one’s vision is focused on a different point, high up on the kitchen walls just beyond one another. “You should really submit that to True Confessions” says Dad. “Thanks, but I don’t think I am ready for that just yet, I just wanted to share it with you to show you what I am up to lately”.   Mom is in deep thought. This is when she mentions that she has a picture of her- of her aunt.
So this kitchen exchange has been covered in previous posts- but what’s different now is that I pulled out that story again a couple of days ago. In my reread I see something different. I see possibility- a historical fiction piece with layers of various other themes. World War II, what led up to Norway’s occupation, what life was like during those years – for families and couples and lovers.  The aftermath.  The pulse of politics of the day in Norway. The various sides of the equation. An adult’s point of view as well as that of a child. I have a ready source right there under my roof. Mom’s memories of what life was like could be the start. My own childhood in Norway – visiting frequently with our cabin there and time spent in Oslo, this gives me a strong knowledge base for place and culture. My interest in history and politics will take me on an historic research adventure to a time and place that lends itself to intrigue, espionage, resistance movement, passion and fear.
Last night, I asked Mom: “What was it like really to be a child living during the war and the occupation in Norway?”. “Well, I was just a small child really. Unlike other places, Norway didn’t have any outward appearances of upset, we just quietly went about our business- we were quiet when we walked the streets. There weren’t any visible fights or conflicts between the german soldiers and the people of Norway. I remember the soldiers walking quietly down our streets with their german shepherds.” And I nod as this part of her story  that I recall from many earlier tellings over the years. It’s not that she didn’t share, but now I am wondering about the detail of it all. I am looking for a deeper reach into her memory. And then it comes, something new. “I do remember that we used to get a box once in awhile. These boxes came from Sweden..  You know, they were neutral and at times, we would get these donations boxes from over there. I remember Dad opening up the box and how disappointed we were sometimes – because really, the contents were just people’s throw aways. You know, stuff they didn’t want any longer. That’s why when I donate now, I only put things in that I feel the person would enjoy, something they truly need- you know, for a job interview or something like that. I don’t put things in that are worn out or dirty or just ugly. I put things in that I would want to find if I opened up a bag or a box llike that- give people not just what they need but dignity too.”  The box affected her – lasting her whole life.
Listening to her, I imagine a family and a young girl of around five years old, eager to open a box which would contain basic things that they might need because of shortages due to war. Maybe a clean fresh pair of tights and some shoes. Socks for everyone. Maybe a shirt for Dad. Sweaters, mittens, a hat and a scarf. Pants. Needing winter garments. And, even toys to keep the children occupied and content and mostly distracted, during the blackouts and air raids. A doll for a little girl that she could hold on to and craddle during those times of stress and fear. I hear Mom echo her recollections of years gone by: “I used to ask my father all the time: do you think there will be another war?” She was so afraid of another war.. and never really trusted that it was truly over. When the war ended, and Norway was once again free, Mom remembers the parades in the street – with music being played at full blast. She remembers the other parade as well- the one with the women who had been having affairs with the Nazi soldiers during the war. Any woman who had been involved with a Nazi was brought in, head shaved and she would have been paraded on a flat bed truck through the streets. The truck’s flat bed had been outfitted with a wall of wood as a backdrop and these women were now exposed for their war crime- for everyone to see. This was a stigma for these women that lasted for years to come. Some women fled to other countries, in the hopes of starting over.
So many impressions to explore. So, I use my Nina story from weeks gone by as a starting point and my mother’s memories and my history as a treasure trove of possibility. My travels to Norway, my understanding of language, religious perspective, political slant and relational backdrops to flavor and feed this novel. This NaNoWriMo 2015 is a challenge to finish a first draft. This opportunity is perfectly timed. So now, I work on the outline, the research and preparation of the basics for the official start date: November 1, 2015. My prep time is fairly short, but my background and my daily pages practice over the years (off and on I know- but nevertheless, I have been writing for most of my life- it’s just never been focused before). Now, I feel a focus and a wave of excitement that I have never experienced before… I am poised for lift off.

NaNoWriMo 2015- the adventure begins!

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the written word. My bookshelves carry dozens of books on how to write, what to write, when to write and reasons why I should write, along with piles of magazines to motivate me to write. I have had a user ID for NaNoWriMo(National Novel Writing Month)  since 2012, and I believe back then, when I signed up, I had full intentions of carrying out my first full blown writing challenge. But something got in the way.. and looking back, I am not even sure what the culprit might have been. It could have been work, other family commitments or simply my lack of passion and discipline. And, I have not looked at the site since.  A couple of days ago, I picked up yet another Writer’s Digest magazine volume, this one a special edition “Yearbook Issue” presenting the Writer’s Workbook. Initially, I leafed through it and then put it back on the shelf at the bookstore. In its place, I picked up a Publisher’s Weekly and another magazine that claimed its focus was the novel. I brought these back to my spot in the cafe inside the bookstore to enjoy a latte and some glances through these periodicals, a possible help in inching me along to the next stage. The one magazine on novel writing had this really large font and every article had the same layout. It felt as if this was a self-publish magazine. The content blurred through my vision, for some reason, absolutely nothing about it captured me. The Publisher’s Weekly was completely focused on children’s literature; almost every page had cartoon images of children playing, dogs frolicking, monkey’s in trees, dogs barking, frogs jumping. I push this edition aside. I return the magazines to the shelf and find myself picking up the Writer’s Digest issue once again. Opening to the index, I spot the first offering has to do with writing a novel in a month. Sounds familiar, could this be about NaNoWriMo? I flip to the page indicated and sure enough, a section completely dedicated to throwing oneself into the challenge. Steps, inspirations… and I realize, this is the perfect timing. It’s mid-October, I still have time to figure this out before the challenge begins! Plotting, planning, brain storming- these are steps I must do before the actual day. I am a planner. Of course there are those who skip this step and according to NaNoWriMo, these folks are called pantsers (aka: people who wing it).
The NaNoWriMo site has come a really long way since I last set eyes on it. I had to send myself a password reset since it had been so long, and as I finally accessed the site I was blown away. Amazing amounts of energy went into creating that site and they must have quite the crew behind it. There are some workbooks that one can download that they have created for the purpose of bringing the concept to school children of all ages. The site invites me to take a look and download one of the workbooks. I choose the high school one and save it to my iPhone and send it to myself so that I can access it later on my iPad. The document is 93 pages long and contains everything one needs for the basics to novel writing, an essential novel writing 101. And it’s awesome because while I have been writing for years, the truth is I have not really written anything of substance. I love writing but have never had any focus on plot, characters, purpose, or point. It’s just a lot of journal drivel that I enjoy for the purpose of allowing my thoughts and feelings to have a place where they can land. It’s back to that whole discussion about having no one really to rely on for discussion. I do not have a close friend in my life to whom I can share everything anytime I need to – nor whom I offer the same in return. I do have friends – but they are the occasional once a month encounters or long distance support and texts. I don’t have a best bud that I can go to for my personal shares and needs. I wish I did have one of those but that just has not been my fate – to date. Anyhow, so this writing thing, the journaling, has been a way for me to stream my thoughts and line them up so that I can look at them, and make sense of things. It’s been useful. These moments have been my friendship with myself. I actually enjoy my own company and writing and readng what I write, has been an interesting form of dialogue.
What if? What if I could be a writer in the more traditional sense? What if I could write and create something worth publication? Something others wanted to read and once they read it, they wanted more? How do I go about making that happen? And, more importantly, what story do I have to tell? What characters can I develop to help unfold a tale that is worth telling?
I am excited because even though I don’t have the answers to those questions right now, I feel certain that I will in time. Write what you know. That’s a piece of advice I have read in so many of my magazines and books. There are so many threads I can go back to from my journaling days to mine a story line .. a character, a feeling or an opinion. Good story needs conflict and resolution. Well, I have plenty of that in the store room. No need to go out and find those ingredients. I just have to figure out how I take real life experiences and shake them up into a fictitious piece that will make sense and flow and keep the reader’s attention. Back to the workbook: there are great exercises in there. Not to mention all those books I have on writing. Everything from genre, to character, dialogue and pace. Maybe… just maybe, this is finally my year to move myself up a rung from dreamer to doer.
In less than a week, I leave on an Western Caribbean Cruise journey – a work trip.  This is a chance for me to experience a MegaShip that holds 5400 passengers.  My good friend from very far away is flying in to the port city to join me. I love this person like a sister. I am so grateful for her and her personality and her values. She and I will do well on this trip because of our mutual in advance understanding of what will make this cruise a great cruise for each of us. She has liberty to hang out at the pool for hours at a time without worrying about me. And, I will be spending time on the iPad typing away. She knows I am not a pool or beach person and she’s ok with that. And we are both OK with doing our own thing during the day (on some days) and then coming back together to enjoy the evenings. No pressure to have to bend to each other’s agenda. Yay. I am not even bringing a bathing suit because I hate them, hate wearing them, and uncomfortable all the way around in this arena. I have declared it, and claimed it and will be spending my time doing those things I love most: writing and knitting. During several evenings, we have scheduled shows that are included in the cost of our cruise- can’t wait to see the production: Cats. We have a superior balcony cabin which means a large balcony. I can imagine myself hanging out there with tea and books and iPad or yarn & sticks. Thoroughly kicking back to my own version of complete and thorough bliss.  Throw in complete awareness of the cruise experience for future clients… the “work” part of the trip.    Write down those impressions to record on my work place blog when I return, to help colleagues learn from my experiences as well.  I can hardly believe that I have this blocked week for this purpose and I am getting truly excited about it. I had considered bringing my actual laptop but it is so heavy and so I am hoping that my iPad holds out and stores all my writing without problems; this is one of the original iPads that came out so long ago and it’s still chugging along but at times, it does not cooperate so I need to make sure to send all writings to myself by email to ensure that I have a copy of everything. I will bring several notebooks and really good pens in case I have to resort to the handwritten method.

This morning, on one of the local public TV stations, there was an interview with a creative writing professor from the U of M. She had just published a book that was written from the basis of letters of recommendations. I did not catch her name but the interviewer, Kathy Wurzer, commended her for only writing by hand. The professor responded that this was the only way she could write. That, while she has a computer, the computer is like this eye watching her, waiting to criticize her. All that I could think of in that moment was that my writing flows so much better when I type. Partly because my hand seems to cramp because my hand can’t keep up with the speed of my mind. I end up with these very hard to understand written pages that are chicken scratch at best. What also struck me about this professor is that her personality seemed so dry and dead pan- perhaps she was nervous. The interviewers were both so delighted with her product, praising her writing as one that would definitely garner her more requests from publishers for new novels. This delighted the professor of course and for a moment, she brightened with her face softening, a smile displaying as she agreed this would be lovely if it were to happen. It was marvelous that this morning, amongst the political news of the day, that the show had featured a writer since on this day in particular, I am preparing to meet with a friend at a local coffee shop to have our monthly “writer’s meeting.”   When I enter the world of writing, my awareness of life and people and ideas is heightened. I feel that there are signs all around me that I am doing the right thing. That I am pursuing my passion and moving forward with the plan. That I am following my bliss. That I am doing what I was meant to be doing on this planet during my lifetime. And, rather than worry about wasted time or allowing my inner critic to take over to suggest I can’t do it, or that I don’t have it in me, I push forward and reach for my inner victorious self and urge myself to give it a shot. I have nothing to lose… and everthing to gain.
NaNoWriMo suggests 1667 words a day. Today, I have managed to type around 1950. These were merely journal threads on writing and the idea of diving into the 30 day challenge. Still, what I know is that I don’t have a problem these days with getting words onto the page. My focus right now will need to be unearthing a viable direction. The plan. Plotting my course and providing myself with a compass for the challenge. What is my final destination? I have read somewhere that authors at times will write the ending first.. so that they know where they are headed… then, they plot their way backwards in time to create the moment that lead up to that ending- that might work for me. One thing I know from reading other NaNoWriMo participants encouragements- if this is the first challenge, just jump in – don’t worry about it, see what happens. Don’t create a huge expectation, just do it. And, that sounds marvelous to me! I will dive in and see where the journey takes me- how very exciting. The NaNoWriMo prep counselors suggest creating the name of my novel … I am not there yet. But, it’s October 18th …and exactly 14 days from now- the challenge begins. I have two weeks to prep- so grateful for that valuable time.