Thursday, October 31, 2013

Let the Party Begin


It's finally here! Nine hours from now, I will have begun my 2013 NaNoNovel, "The Center of the Univers." I will see what stories the characters have to tell and, maybe, have an idea where we're headed.

Tomorrow there will be a color in the first box of my NaNoWordCount box. As long as there isn't a technology glitch. Which often happen at the beginning of NaNoWriMo, as the system is pushed to its limits and beyond. Or maybe it won't crash this year. Sometimes it's not a crash, but some of the features are disabled at the beginning of the event since there is so much activity in the first few days. After the pack thins a bit and we all get under way, there aren't as many writers logging in at the same time.

So there will, hopefully, be a green square in November first early tomorrow morning. I am assuming I will get at least 1,667 words written at the midnight write-in - which is how I earn a green square. (The colors range from red=no wriring recorded; orange=a few words; yellow = a lot of words but less than the daily average.)

Oh, and it's Halloween. Make sure to have a kale and broccli salad, and a healthy protein if you're indulging in the sweetness of the day. Even if you're not into the rampant sources of sugar of this day, some good protein and a large portion of vegetables is a good idea.

And for al the Wrimos getting ready for the start of another period of writing intensity, protein is an essential option for optimal brain function.

Happy Halloween/Samhain and Happy NaNoWriting Day!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Explosion of Luminous Creation

Tomorrow is NaNoWriMo Eve. I've been thinking that it was today because, as a late night person and a person who will be showing up at the midnight write-in tomorrow at 11pm, that is Tomorrow. But, technically, I will accept that tomorrow being October 31st makes it the "eve" to November 1st. 


Today I pulled up to the location of an appointment to be greeted by this beauty. Fall is my favorite season, I think. Partly because Fall is so variable, so unpredictable,‎ contains sun and rain and wind and clouds, warm days and cool nights. And sights like this. Trees and bushes exploding colors as they prepare for the (probably) colder days ahead. 

Even with the unseasonably warm and calm Fall we've had, we still get the illuminated leaves, golds, crimson, electric green and everything in between. Trees painting the neighborhood; leaves carpeting the streets. 

A tree of creative fire always catches my attention. 

I'd like to capture some of this energy in my NaNoNovel. 

Speaking of... a quick update. I now have photos to go with each of the main characters. I have ages, hair color, main role in the novel, a few attributes. I'm still working on hobbies, likes and dislikes. One of the characters picked up a pet when I found her photo; I didn't anticipate that - especially not a dog. I have nothing against dogs; this will just be the first time I have a dog in my novel, I realize. Usually there are some cats and two years ago the main cat had a central role in the story. A dog! That's good, too.

I think of the old TV commercial, with customer(s) at the door of a still closed store. It's dark outside. The customer(s) chant, "Open. Open. Open."

I'm chanting (silently), "NaNo. NaNo. NaNo."‎

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Temperature Drops as the Writing Heats Up

Here is another of my NaNoWriMo creative companions. This doll was made by my partner a couple of years ago and holds an important Tarot card. It's hard to see in this picture, but Serena even made the doll a cute NaNoWriMo t-shirt with the Office of Letters and Light logo.


On Sunday it rained and on Monday the wind blew. It now feels more like fall; like the end of October. Don't get me wrong! I loved the warm and unusually calm fall days we've had. But I did feel a bit of relief when I woke up to wet tires on the pavement, rain hitting the window, and a tree branch stroking the roof. It was probably the wind knocking over a loose board on the fence and tipping over the empty watering can on the porch which caused disruption in my dream; and that was okay.

The wet sloshing sounded familiar and my blanket felt cozy as I tucked it up under my chin.

I heard that Central Oregon got some snow today. As will Colorado tomorrow and I think somewhere in Montana they are expecting ten inches.

I'm fine with the rain. Which cleared into a cool and crisp and still windy Monday. A nice day which felt like fall.


Today I am meeting (even as I type) with my Tuesday writing partner for the first time in a few weeks, due to "life happens" events. It feels great to be back here with her, writing, talking about our goals, writing.

And today I am already having a NaNoWriMo character rebellion. Only one, but it has already started. The short story character I wrote about earlier, who would be joining this cast for NaNo2013, said "no." Not even with a "thank you" added, she has declined the offer to be in the novel. Or perhaps it was the original character who convinced her that she needed to stay in her own story. The change has been made in my Scrivener character notes and I am underway finding out more information about the original character. The short story beach walker will linger in the wind and sand with her KFC and girlfriend, until I can get back to them.

Ah, NaNo.


Monday, October 28, 2013

ASL Storytelling: Douglas the Space Boy

I won't take you through my process of how I landed on this ASL Storytelling video - except to say that it started with an online search about something NaNoWriMo. Of course it started with NaNoWriMo, which is just three days, eleven hours, ten minutes away from now.

This is a story in American Sign Language (ASL) by Peter Cook, an excellent storyteller who is Deaf. There are open captions and voice over for the signing impaired. And in the entertainment there is some information about the solar system.

Anytime is storytime. And NaNoTime is especially about stories, exploring how we tell stories, exploring the content in stories, exploration. Stories. It seems a perfect time to share a story told in ASL.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Non-Writing NaNoPrep

NaNoWriMo is about writing. And having fun doing it, and more. NaNoWriMo is about a lot of things, but for me, one important aspect of the month is making time for writing. Moving writing up the ladder of Things That Must Be Done.

So my preparation for NaNovember has included doing more writing, stepping back up to writing every day, and thinking about what I might write. I've made several changes in potential topics, titles, and so forth. I think I have a plan, though I can't say as I have a plot. What I do have is ten characters with names and I'm fleshing out their details, writing up character sketches. I do have one of the major settings of the novel and have even come up with a name for the place - it's a theater. I'm writing up some history about the theater company and where they rehearse and sometimes perform, which isn't the same as the theater company's name.

A character from a short story which is currently out of consideration at a magazine, is making an appearance in this larger novel. She seems to want to be one of the major ten, so I have altered one of the original names and will let her play. And with that, I do know that the book's theater company is going to either take a company retreat to the coast or they might be performing at the coast. That part isn't clear, but this character insists on a trip to the beach, so they will.

But every year I have a few projects I want to get done before NaNovember starts so they are not distractions. There are plenty of things to draw my attention away from the novel without significant items on my to-do list. I didn't have many this year, but there are some.

One thing I will do on Thursday - a day off from all work - is laundry. NaNoEve and my clothes will be all clean and ready for the new novel to begin. Yes, I will have to do laundry during the month, but in the first few days, when the writing energy is high, I want as little else to do as possible so I can capitalize on the first flurry of words. Especially this year when I will be off on NaNoEve, NaNoDayOne, and the day after. I should be able to get this novel going with a large word count.

Today I finished cleaning up the garden, mulching, and putting it to bed for the winter. The late spinach never did take off and I pulled out the one surviving plant and had a bitty snack. I discovered two more ripe spaghetti squash and brought them in. And the garden beds are composted over and we will have awesome soil for next season.

Another major, albeit boring task was to replace all the toilet seats. I made a trip to Home Depot (and then to Lowe's for something Home Depot doesn't carry and Lowe's said they had in stock - but it turned out to not be what I wanted, so that project is actually going on hold until spring or until we find someone to do the actual job than my intended temporary fix). Boring, boring, I know. But the seats needed replacing and now they are. And we have shiny, new, better than the original toilet seats and I don't have to think about it while I'm writing.

I also have spinach bagged up in the freezer and fresh in the refrigerator; frozen homemade chicken soup stock, a bunch of apples and a couple of jars of organic crunchy peanut butter. And tea - I already had the tea from our favorite store in Taos, Wabi Sabi, and from a nice cafe and tea store in Yachats; but I now have soy milk to go with it, and I bought some cans of Amy's lentil soups for quick, healthy meals (which goes really well with the spinach).

I am NaNoReady. And still working on the characters. In five days, two hours and thirty minutes, NaNoWriMo 2013 will begin. Then I will be writing about my Novel In Progress rather than my NaNoPrep.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Growing a Writing Group

The Friday night writing group is still meeting. We've undergone a few big changes in our short history; lost a member, gained a member, had a couple of weeks off, now a change of schedule. We're also still finding our way with what it is that we want to do as a group.

The basic plan has been that we send writing to each other a couple of days before we meet. We read the writing ahead of time and make feedback notes. When we meet, the writer reads his or her piece and we discuss it. This week we had one piece from a writer, along with accompanying correspondence related to the piece. It was a good conversation.

We also spend some time each week talking about writing, submitting, current project, and so on. These are valuable writing conversations to have, too.

We've also made a temporary schedule change - to every other week for the time being, for the whole group. Partly due to the upcoming holidays and partly due to other commitments; it is hard to find a time which is consistent for all of us and Friday is the only day where all of our schedules overlap. So we'll make do with what we have and keep writing. On the group "off" weeks, a couple of us will still get together for writing support and, during November, for NaNoWriMo writing time.

The group is still working - it is also changing. And I still have my Tuesday midday writing time with another writer, although we've also missed a few due to "life happens" events. I've mostly managed to keep the Tuesday writing time for writing, even on the weeks when we haven't met.

Take two weekly writing dates, add an online poetry workshop/class (starts November 3rd), add NaNoWriMo, and I think I have a fairly strong writing practice. My hope this year will be to continue the strong writing practice after November 30th.

And I am thinking that I would like to add a manuscript writing/critique group into the mix. That one will take a little more searching and a little more time to find the right fit.

Writing is happening

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rubber Duckie Fun

This is real. I saw a picture and wondered if it was digitally altered or a real event, so I went on an internet hunt.

It seems that there have been several of these 40-foot tall rubber ducks in cities around the world. Each city in which the ducks have appeared, have built their own duck from plans from the original by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman.

According to one article there is no political agenda. Yellow rubber ducks make people smile and that makes people happy. Simple. End of story.

This video is the London duck, floating down the Thames. 

Here's to smiling.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Plot? What Plot? Who Needs a Plot?

I've been searching the internet for a story that fits my criteria for the NaNoWriMo idea I had. That did include a plot. Or part of a plot, anyway, because the actual plot would be based on said story or book.

So far I haven't found anything which caught my attention or looks interesting. Not in the way the first novel I wrote did - and that original story was stumbled on as I was writing my 2008 NaNoNovel.

I've been thinking that I am going to toss that idea out. No, I'm going to put it on hold. I still have this idea for a series. The first book is in revision. And I need to find the subject books/stories for books two and three. But it appears it is going to take more time than I have and I don't want to get bogged down in the search and lose any momentum for writing my story.

Not to worry, though, as I have come up with another idea. But there is no plot. Not yet. The plot will come as I write; I have confidence. I'm going to approach it from a completely different angle. I still have a week to wait until NaNoWriMo officially starts and I'm itching to get doing. But I can't for one week and 23 1/2 hours.

What I'm going to do over this next week is work with my muse on creating characters. Finding their names, getting some back story, maybe writing out some character sketches. Hopefully in that process, a setting will emerge. That's my hope. Gather in a few characters and let them play and let them tell me their story.

This could work. I've never taken this approach before, but I like it. And I do have a secret file of potential names I've been gathering over the years, here and there. I think I do even have a couple of character sketches in that secret file.

This could even be fun!

Plot, shmlot.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Writing Through ______(fill in the blank)

Writing is not something that happens when life is smooth sailing. When the stars are aligned and everything is calm, everyone satisfied, the cat sated and asleep, family members smiling and getting along.

Or maybe I should say that those things are not required for writing to happen. They help! I agree. But not required. I would even argue that life's little knocks are often fodder for story, for getting us to the feeling state - in the body, as I'm sure Lidia Y and Dorothy A would say - which can help keep our writing alive.

I am in one of those states. There is something happening in the circle of my life which threatens to pull me into an eyes forward, hunker down for the storm to hit, kind of state. I'm standing up to it and I am writing. I haven't written about the situation yet - but I'm not letting it shut me down.

I said I was going to post more here as I step up my writing practice in preparation for NaNoWriMo. This morning I did more editing on the professional standard practice paper. That writing was research and formatting of our resources page; not creative writing, but it got my butt in the chair.

So here I am. Writing through the family drama. Writing through the professional paper and related article for our newsletter/magazine. Writing through fighting the cold which is going around and threatening to get in to my body (but it won't win; I'm heavily armed with Wellness tabs and fizzies).

Showing up.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Picking up the Pace

Have I told you that NaNoWriMo is coming?

Oh, I did? Well, it is. Let me tell you, again, in case you missed it. You will also notice that I have added my NaNoFlair in the left column - a little web button widget announcing to the world that I will be undertaking the adventure again in 2013. I also set up my favorite personal word count scoreboard, but that's a little lower in my menu bar since it will remain blank until about 2:00 A.M. on November 1st, when I will be updating to my first 1,667 words or beyond.

Yes, I will be going to the midnight write-in. Of all the NaNoAventures in which I've participated, I've only missed one. That one year was my worst novel. I never completed it. The story never went anywhere, except in circles. I had plenty of backstory but never arrived at the action. I was bored some of the time. I thought I'd go back in and clean it up, but once I hit the 50,000 words I was done. Well, I think I actually stopped somewhere around 50,065 words. I have no intention of going back to that novel. I was, technically, a "winner," but the book was not.

Lesson learned : go to the midnight write-in. It gets the month off to a great start. There is much energy and fun and we're all there to get in that first daily average of 1,667 or a few extra words in the bank. Fun. Writing and fun and commitment.

In the meantime, I'm ramping up my writing. Yes, you can expect to see me in here more often.

This week I interpreted a second performance of Fiddler on the Roof - a matinee for students. There were about 110 or so Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, adults, and signing staff in the audience. The play went really well and the three-interpreter team? We felt great about how we did. It's always nice to get a second chance at interpreting a play after all of the preparation. And it did; the entire audience was awesome and the interpreted section was huge and a lot of fun. I don't have another play to interpret until into December, which mean what? More time for writing. Yes!

Having the play done and the flyers created and posted for the theatrical interpreting workshop I'm presenting - oh, and I'm in the process of typing up the final edits of the task force's professional standard practice paper on performance interpreting - I have even more time for writing. And I will.

Tonight I also talked about potential very general NaNoPlot ideas with a writer friend. I think I have mine; which means I have a little under two weeks to do some more thinking about it and do some research. I think I've decided to go with the second book in the series of my other novel-in-progress. That one is an earlier NaNoNovel and I like it very much. It is very messy and requires much editing and rewriting. I've thought it was a good first of a series, so I think I'll go with that.

My question now is: what will it be based on? I don't want to give anything away, yet. But I do need to find a novel which is at least 70 years old and preferably one that the author died over 70 years ago. In that source novel there needs to be a character who was somehow significantly injured, neglected, or something similar. The offending character does not need to have malicious intent; it could be accidental, or stupid, or out of fear - but they basically don't get caught.

I was talking with my partner tonight and said the offending character "gets away with it." She pointed out that the characters in my first novel didn't really get away with it, they ended up ruining their own lives. True. But they were never publicly found out nor suffer consequences at the hand of others; only their own.

So - if you have any favorite old novels or stories which might fit my needs, let me know. I have a few days to do some looking around and I'm open to suggestions. Old book, dead author, a bad deed is done and the offender not caught. Easy, right? It could be.

And I'm building back up to daily writing. I had planned to start that before now, but, oh well. Here I am. When we hit NaNovember I will be writing (nearly) every day (or every, I hope!).


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Theatrical Interpreting Preparation Series (TIPS) Workshop is Back

theatre masks
Announcing the Theatrical Interpreting Preparation Series (TIPS), part I, workshop for the 2013-14 season!

We will meet for two Saturdays per month, plus one interpreted performance per month, for a period of four months. The workshop will begin on December 7, 2013; the exact dates and times are on the workshop flyer (see below).

Description: This workshop will provide participants training in and exposure to the process of performance interpreting, using theater as a vehicle. This initial training is intended for new interpreters, but all levels are welcome. We will meet twice a month on Saturdays for four months, beginning December 2013. Participants will learn different approaches to theatrical interpreting and explore topics such as script analysis, incorporating characterization, translation, altering signing style for the venue and the production, linguistic considerations, and more.  Through a series of meetings, combined with exposure to specific interpreted performances, participants will gain the basic skills necessary for a variety of performing arts situations. Completion of this training is a requirement for the advanced mentored training, which goes through the entire process from receiving the script, translation, preparation, to interpreting a performance of the project show. 
You can access the TIPS I flyer here, which includes the dates, fees, included plays, presenter bio, and the registration form.

CEUs are currently pending. Last year's participants received up to 3.6 CEUs (see the flyer for more details).
Fee: $450 includes tickets to all four shows. Preregistration is required with a $100 deposit due by November 25th; this is non-refundable and includes a ticket to the first play. If paid in full by or on our first meeting, you will receive 10% off the workshop fee.
Presenter: Dot Hearn, CI & CT, has been doing performance interpreting since 1997. Portland Center Stage, where she has coordinated the interpreting teams since 2003, was one of her first theatrical interpreting venues. She has also interpreted plays at IFCC, Oregon Children’s Theatre, Profile Theatre, Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland Community College (PCC), OSF in Ashland, and more. Dot graduated from the PCC Sign Language Interpreting Program and went on to become adjunct faculty in that program for eleven years. Dot earned a BS degree from Eastern Oregon University, with a Liberal Arts degree and a double minor in Theater and Writing. In 2001, Dot attended the “Interpreting for the Theater” intensive week-long training in New York City, which was held at Juilliard. That training and the instructors have been instrumental in shaping Dot’s approach to theatrical interpreting and her mentoring of interpreters new to this specialty area. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

In Times of Editing

I'm having difficulty being patient with the editing process. It's not that I dislike editing, but - I think - that editing is slow. At least for me. I think if I had a longer block of time to do editing, it would be easier.

What happens often is that I feel like I just get started with editing and it's time to stop. The other side of it is that sometimes I need to take breaks from editing. What I'm trying right now is working on a chapter at a time. I know I have to work on the overall flow, too - but the structure of the M-book works with the sectional approach. So I guess part of my writing practice right now includes patience.

Patience with the process. Patience with editing. Patience with the rewrites and writing new sections taking longer than I would like. Patience that completion of this project is delayed by all of this wonderful new energy and information, insights.


Writing practice.


Old material; new information. New energy.

Oh, and getting ready for NaNoWriMo. I have my mid-NaNovember writing retreat planned and the place reserved. It's a beautiful upper level of a home at the coast. I've been there once before and when I checked the availability, most of November was booked except for the few days I was looking at. I think it was meant to be. I think I have an idea for my 2013 NaNoNovel - but I'm not completely set on that idea yet. I've entered the temporary title on my NaNoAuthor page, just to let it float and see what happens energetically. But the NaNoExcitement has started.

I think that's part of my key to surviving editing, too - having another project in the works. No, I know that's part of my editing survival. I don't hate editing - but it takes a different focus and energy and I need the creating new work outlet.

I will also be taking an online poetry writing class through the Literary Kitchen in November, as well. It's with Daphne Gottlieb and it's poetry, plus. That will be fun and bring new energy to my writing. It's been a long time since I've done a poetry workshop and I'm looking forward to that.

I have a writing friend who says there is a rule of three for writers: to have three different projects in the works so you have variety and don't get stuck. So there is a place to keep writing, keep it fresh, keep the flow moving. Maybe he's right.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Writing Sample from the Dorothy Allison Workshop


We did write first thing in the morning with Dorothy Allison. Yep, we did. But I'm not going to put that piece of writing out there into the world. At least not now, not as written. I don't want to.

What did we write about in the morning? Masturbation. Yes, that's right. In a room with sixteen other writers we wrote about the first time. Then we read them out loud.

Perhaps that gives you an idea of the kind of day it was with Dorothy. Though not really. It gives you a sense that you know but if you've never been in a workshop with her, then you don't know. If you've read her books you might have a sense of the style of conversation, the open discussion about writing, the feedback, her style of telling you how it is from her perspective and experience. And you'd be correct.


That's what today was. Sharing our writing, giving and getting feedback, being open to the process of giving and receiving, talking and listening, asking, wondering. Honest.

Then both groups met up in one room, Anna the owner of Writers' Workshoppe - a bookstore and the sponsor of this and many other workshops - said a few words, then Dorothy, then Lidia. I recognized some faces who'd been in the other group from the Memorial Day Lidia Yuknavitch workshop I'd done up there in Port Townsend. Met a couple of other writers, too.

Promises to each other, to Lidia and Dorothy, to ourselves to keep that fire which was lit inside of us going. Knowing that returning home to the rest of our life challenges that. Knowing that I/we want to keep it going and that will take some attention and care. And we made a promise to Lidia and Dorothy to share the spark, the flame, the fire, with one other.

Writing may be a solitary act and it is for community, for sharing. Take one, pass it along. You can do it.

I'll have more to say about the workshop later. I will. But after two days of being in writing workshops, writing, thinking about writing, talking about writing, then the drive home which always takes longer than online maps say it will - I'm tired. And it's time for sleep.

And dreaming.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Writing Sample from the LIdia Yuknavitch Workshop

This weekend I'm attending a workshop with both Lidia Yuknavitch and Dorothy Allison. The participants are divided into two groups and each group spends one day with Lidia and one day with Dorothy. Tonight we had the pleasure of listening to both Lidia and Dorothy read from their future novels. I'm excited to read them both and I could have listened to more tonight.

It was an incredible day with Lidia, with the other writers. Writing. Listening to their words, those who wanted to share. Strength, power, honesty. Brave.

This isn't something I normally do - but here I go. This is a raw piece of writing from the workshop today. I want to put it out there, as is. This was the third of a series of three related prompts. No, you don't get to see the earlier two and I'm not even giving you the prompt, which wouldn't make sense if you don't get parts one and two.

Here it is, untitled, from Port Townsend.

Flutter in the wind and the waves of knowledge passing through. Directing, redirecting and I know from where the wind comes though I’m not sure where it’s going. The going isn’t my concern, no it’s that you know. That we know that life is a river and you don’t have to stay here all the time you can change your mind and swim upstream or rest on the bank on a rock in the sun or under the shade of a tree if the light is too bright. You don’t have to brave it all at once it all leads to the same place and we will all get there. We will. I promise. I’m soft and downy and I carry the rhythm of not only your life but all life because life needs. Life is. Life. Live it. Stroke me, carry me, hear me if you can but I beat. Under the darkness inside, darkness outside. But I know and you can know if you’re willing, that darkness is just a different way of seeing. It is not absence of sight not absent of light, but a strengthening of the other senses. Strengthening of that inner knowing which I know and I will hold for you. Knowing. Holding. My wings flap and I flutter and I hold you in my gentleness and all my strength. Cry or don’t. Just be. With me.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Let the Games Begin

It's the second day of October 2013 and guess what's coming?

Those in the know are aware that the boards have been cleared and updated and registration is already under way for - tada - NaNoWriMo 2013.

Than's right. It's nearing that time of year, again, when hundreds of thousands
of writers from around the world will be participating in National Novel Writing Month, with the goal of writing a 50,000 (minimum) word novel from midnight:01 on November 1st until midnight on November 30th. That's right: write a 50k novel in 30 days.

And I will be, of course, again, participating. Year number six and going for six consecutive wins.

I will probably be a pantser, again. Meaning, I write without an outline. Open the laptop and go, follow the characters in the story and see where it goes.

Or maybe not. I am considering doing some character exploration, perhaps a little plot hunting, in October. I might take a hybrid approach this year; a little of this and a little of that.

But I'm also working on the memoir and plan to make some significant progress on that book before November. After I interpret "Fiddler on the Roof" tomorrow night and after I attend the Dorothy Alison and Lidia Yuknavitch writing workshop this weekend.

So - start your computer engines and sharpen those writing sabers. The NaNoGames are about to begin.