Thursday, December 1, 2022

NaNoWriMo 15th Consecutive Win

 This year I wrote a personal best: 84,906 words written from November 1st to November 30th, 2022. That is a lot of words! I crossed the finish line early - around November 19th, I think. That writing retreat in the second week of the month sure helped. Along with joining, which provides another type of writing community and "gamifies" writing. At 4thewords, they had a special dragon event just for NaNoWriMo, which made it fun, too. 

Everything I wrote in November is draft. Some of it is pre-draft, some of it is worldbuilding, some of it is writing myself out of the stuck place. No novel this year, but I have some great fuel and ideas for at least a long short story, perhaps a spine to build a novel around. 

Most importantly: I wrote every day. That doesn't often happen. I also wrote many words and I think I did break through some writing or creativity resistance. November was a good month for writing!

Saturday, November 12, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022 - second week update

I have been staying at a very cozy, very Oregon, cabin in Oceanside OR since Tuesday night. The weather has been cool and clear for the most part, until yesterday. Yesterday morning woke to pouring rain and a light wind.

I do not mind storms while at the coast, at all. In fact, this is only one of two or three times I've stayed in Oceanside over the past many years that I haven't lost power. 

Pre-pandemic, coming over to the coast for a NaNovember writing retreat was pretty standard. I often came here to Oceanside because the town is small, slow going, and beautiful, with one of the most incredible views from anywhere. The cabin where I'm staying now is a definite favorite; I have stayed at a couple of others, but will get this one when I can. This cabin is about 1/3 of the way up the hillside, so the view goes for miles and miles: ocean, sand, sky, mountains. And there is a view of the quiet little town.

Also, Oceanside has one longtime restaurant, a very tiny ice cream shop/cafe at the edge of the wayside parking lot, and there appears to be a working pub of some sort now. There is no temptation or expectation of shopping of any kind, no museums, no bookstores - just nature doing its thing, with time and space to write. 

Once when the power went out for a couple of days, the longtime restaurant fired up a generator and had a portable cooking unit or two. They provided a very limited menu at shortened hours - it was during the winter so daylight was short - and even had limited hot coffee. Everyone was friendly and helpful. And the power did come back on; it always does. I learned after the second time it went out to make sure to keep devices charged. 

Speaking of which: there also is virtually no mobile data service available in town. I have found over the years that the only place to consistently have a chance of getting a signal is on the beach. Up here where I'm staying, or down below us in the town, mobile phones and data don't work. Which is another refreshing thing. The small cabin does have wifi, which is much appreciated. But even that fluctuates and drops off; there are a couple of hours midday where the signal is strong - usually.

So it has been delightful to feel comfortable coming back here this year for my annual NaNoWriMo writing retreat. My NaNoFriend - who is an IRL friend, coworker, and writing buddy - and I have been hanging out, writing, sleeping, sharing meals, writing and writing and procrastinating and writing.

This has been a very productive retreat and it feels good.

I admit that my story has not advanced very much at all. But there has been some progress. However, I do also include world building and backstory writing; brainstorm writing; and even process of writing writing during NaNovember. Some of this applies to the book project, some does not but since it applies to me and me being in the world as a writer and creator, it actually does apply to the project I'm writing.

See? Being a writer means writing. Whether I'm writing on the current project or the words belong in a different category, I am writing.

Will I come out of November with a 50k draft of a novella written? Probably not. I could be surprised; but if the second half of the month goes like the first half, it will be difficult once I return to the rest of my life in the city and my life as an interpreter and performance interpreting coordinator.

This writing retreat was just what I needed. My writing is better for it. My writing confidence is better for it. And my word count is soaring! That I also needed.

My current word count? 31,077 words written since November 1st. Woot! I am on track to hit 50k around November 20th, which gives me plenty of time in November to work more on the story. 

[I'm not going to take the time to go deeply into it now, but I will write a post about a website I'm trying out for NaNovember, as well - 4THEWORDS. It pairs writing and gaming and, so far, it's been good and helpful. They have a special event this month, pairing dragons and NaNoWriMo, so, good time to try out what my friend has been using for a couple of years!]

Sunday, November 6, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022 - first week update

       Other than getting my partner's cold this week, NaNoWriMo is going well. I do have a germ of a story. It hasn't quite taken sprout, yet, but it's there. I think once I'm over this cold I will be able to make some progress on that and excavate its bones. 

Despite the cold - and we have confirmed we have a cold and not COVID. We have both tested every day for over a week and all of the tests are coming up clearly 100% negative - which is a relief. This cold is not good, but it also seems I may have the shorter version of it than she does. 

Back to writing: it is happening. I am able to write every day. Some days are lower counts, some are higher. I've just written Sunday's whole average word amount, so I wouldn't have to write any more today, but I will. 

So: writing every day? Yes! On track with overall average word count so far? Yes! Is there a bit of a story being written? Yes!

NaNo for the win! Current word count = 9101 !!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

announcing: NaNoWriMo 2022

My blog posts may come and go, the frequency varying from every few days to missing a month or two. I am still working on finding a new path with this space and it hasn't landed anywhere specific, yet. I'm confident I'll get there.

Soon. I hope.

But one thing you can count on in this space is the announcement for NaNoWriMo!

Here it is. I considered - briefly two or three times - not doing it. The organization has changed since the founder stepped down a few years ago. Some of the organizational changes have not been what I would choose (but no one asked me, right?). The website overhaul a few years ago was a disaster - and that is not just my opinion; it was fairly widely agreed on that they broke it and it's not as cool and helpful as it used to be.

But this idea of joining hundreds of thousands of people around the world in a writing marathon? Yes, please. 

The idea of setting aside anything non-essential in my life for a month and making my writing an absolute priority? Yes, please.

The idea that - for one month - I can strive to write every day and I can set a word goal and I give myself permission to write badly and gush out onto the keyboard whatever comes into my head even as I'm rolling my eyes at the content? Yes, please.

So here it is: NaNoWriMo 2022 is less than one week away. By this time next week I will be writing my Day Two words. I don't know how many words I will have - but there will be some.

In the spirit of me being a self-proclaimed pantser, this year is one of my Ultimate Pantsing Journeys[TM] and the only "planning" I have done is to announce my project on the official website. The first thing it asks is the title of your project, so as to not leave it blank, I present my WIP title: "there will be words."


I am looking forward to another year of NaNoWriMo. And this year my COVID-pod writer friend and I will reinstate our NaNo coast writing retreat for a few days. It's a sweet spot on the Oregon Coast, off the beaten track with a view for (literally) miles. 

Buckle in writers. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. In 5 days 5 hours and 2 minutes, NaNoWriMo 2022 will officially begin!

Monday, October 17, 2022

Licking Ice Cubes After They Melt

This is one of my Inktober 2022 favorites and it started as just a few marks on paper. I had no idea where it was going and I let the page and the pen guide me. Step by step. Left that pesky inner critic behind and the imposter syndrome crier in the drawer. Let this being and her words evolve with each stroke of the pen and then, she said, I need a poem.

Smelling the flowers in
mid-October when its
unseasonably warm, is
like licking an ice cube
after it's melted.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Inktober 2022, a few pieces

 This year I decided - on a whim - to participate in Inktober. I've seen artist friends tag some of their drawings "inktober," but didn't look beyond that. And some of my writer-visual artist friends and acquaintances. But it has not been anything I've considered for myself or had even looked into.

I decided that this year, with the now almost three years of continuous comics workshops I've been doing, and that I published a haiku comics chapbook, maybe this was my year to join. So I did. I decided on day two, so I made two drawings. Day three another drawing. Then I also decided to start doing daily writing because ...tada... November is just around the corner and - yes, I'll be doing that again. It's been a while since I've written every day, so I thought that maybe drawing as a warmup for NaNoWriMo wasn't quite enough.

On about, oh, day five or six, I noticed someone mention an Inktober prompt.

Prompt? There are prompts for Inktober?!

Yes, indeed. An Instagram search - because isn't Inktober kind of made for Instagram - found an "offical Inktober prompts" list, as well as many variations. Some individual prompts, it seemed, some group prompts. Which made me feel better, because I wasn't using prompts, I was just drawing.

Now, I'm still pantsing my Inktober drawings, but of course! But one day I was stuck in the grief mud, so I opened my writing Instagram account, where I saved as a favorite the Inktober prompts story I'd posted, and took that day's prompt from the "official" list and drew. It worked!

Here is a sampling of my Inktober drawings. I've also noticed that I'm starting to add more words into most of my drawings. No surprise. A writer writes, right?

In the heart of the city
there is a soul
still beating out
Do you hear her?

Transition: final appointment with my longtime naturopath and acupuncturist,
who is retiring at the end of the month. 

Franz, the portable outhouse cleaner, who likes his job because it gives him reason to be a martyr;
 Mavis, a siren of the soliloquies, a gentle soul sent to give a message to Franz;
and The River People, who are in need of a helping hand and not another rando saint.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Writing Into the Void


Maybe that's what I'm doing here. 

This is not Substack. It is not Medium. It is not Conversations. It is not Patreon content. It is not any of those other here-let-us-sell-your-words-for-a-fee sites. Which I'm not against. This just is not that. 

This is a space I created for writing. I had some thoughts toward goals when I set it up many years ago. But, as with many things, I did not make a plan.

I'm not a planner. Not in my writing. Not in my comics making. I'm just not. Which is not the same as never having a plan! No! I just ... I guess I build it as I go. I've said for many years that - in terms of my writing - if I tried to plan out what I was going to write, I would surely miss all the good bits.

Which I believe to be 92.5% true. When I can get in 'the zone' and write write write, good things can happen. If I get out of my way. Which I can do when I give myself time and space.

So here I am. All these years later. 

In this space.

My space.

Is anyone reading?

Is anyone out there?

I know I had one faithful reader, who died a year ago. I hope she's still catching my words now and then. I think she is. 

But is there anyone left who still sees what I type? What I throw out into space? Either way it's okay. This is my space and these are my words. This is also a place where I hold space and there are a few memories and, because I'm terrible with (some) dates, this is also a place of time markers.

If I ever turn this space into that bigger dream, maybe I can retire this part. Or hide it somewhere. I don't think I want to delete it because - good or bad - this is part of the journey I've been on.

Now. Back to the words on paper that I'm editing. And notes I'm making. And comics I playing with, doodling, drawing. 

Holding a space in time.


Friday, September 16, 2022

New Chapbook and a special deal

 **new in August 2022**

Illusions of Time :: Haiku Comics 
is a collection of graphic haikus by Dot Hearn. The haikus include traditional and modern haiku conventions, and include three types - haiku, haibun, and haigga - as well as wordless haiku.

$15 includes standard shipping to the lower 48 US states. If you need it sent to another country or expedited, send me an email and I will check into pricing.  

Published August 2022
64 pages. 
Page size 5.5 x 5.5 inches.
Perfect bound.
Black & white cover, with color comic on front; interior b&w.

Purchase "Illusions of Time" for $15 via PayPal

Orders will be mailed within 3 days of receiving payment, excluding weekends and holidays. You can also order at the Literary Kitchen, where you can purchase books from other Wayward Writers and see what class offerings are currently available.


 ** special combo!  ** 

Purchase both books, Illusions of Time and Pickle Blanket Chronicles, together for a discounted price of $25, which includes shipping to the lower 48 US states. (See below for more information about Pickle Blanket Chronicles.)

Click here to purchase both books at the special price of 
 $25 via PayPal
Orders will be mailed within 3 days of receiving payment,
excluding weekends and holidays.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Current Projects

My book, "Illusions of Time: Haiku Comics" was published in August. It is available to purchase it on the BOOKS by Dot tab (or click the link *wink). Also, if you don't already have a copy of my previous chapbook, "Pickle Blanket Chronicles - A Flash Mixtape," you can purchase that. Purchase both books together for a discounted price!

I am also working on final* edits for the hybrid memoir. No publication date, but I will post it here when available. [*"final" means, final for this round. After this edit, I will be sending it to an outside editor to put their eyes and experience on and see what I get back.]

The printed manuscript has its very own soft-yet-sturdy pebbled sangria-colored leather carry-bag, which is also plenty big to carry pens, sticky notes, a notepad and other editing needs. I need the printed manuscript because I am currently doing what Ariel Gore calls "sonic edits" - which means that I read the entire book aloud, making notes as I go. I find reading my writing aloud to myself tedious and want to skip it. Simultaneously, I remember that every time I've read a piece of my writing aloud - whether in preparation for a reading/spoken word event, or in preparing a story for submission - it has been immensely helpful. There are tips and tricks to optimize the experience - and .every.time. that I read my work aloud, it gets better. I know this. So I grit and grin as I take it one page at a time, remembering that the book will be better because of it.

I am continuing to work on developing my comic making skills. I still attend the Friday Night Comics from SAW (Sequential Artists Workshop) when I can, and I am currently in another online Haiku Comics workshop with David Lasky from Seattle, hosted by Pull/Pull in Seattle. David's teaching style is perfect, in my opinion. He is an experienced artist and author, he gives us history and examples of haiku and comics, there are drawing demonstrations. He give us time to create, as well. This late summer comic haiku class, he added information and exposure about using watercolor in comics. He is competent and calm and I appreciate his classes, his art, his teaching very much. (He will be doing another Haiku Comics in the fall.)

I will be doing "The Wayward Writer One-Year Maven of Mythmaking Certificate Program" with Ariel Gore in 2023. This is a new offering in The Literary Kitchen and it looked like exactly what I have been yearning for, for several months. So I signed up. A full year program! Registration is now full, though there is currently a wait list. A month or so ago, I also signed up for "Gore’s Grotto: A New Way to Structure Memoir & Fiction," a one-day workshop via Zoom near the end of October. This end of October workshop is perfect timing, because ...

... I will being doing NaNoWriMo again - my 15th consecutive year! But, for the first time since 2019, I will be taking my annual NaNo writing retreat at the coast. The cozy cabin I love in Oceanside was available for the dates I wanted. It is a nice, quinessential Oregon coast cabin, with a full kitchen, two bedrooms, a living room, a can't-be-beat view and front row seats for miles of weather and ocean activity. And it is mine (and my writer/friend/covid-pod-mate's) for six days of writing in November.

I'm missing our boy today. He was an excellent cat and we loved him. 
Cats get old and get cat diseases and then it's time to let them be at peace, 
even though the decision is not easy.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Hearty Prickly Survivor


She's a survivor.

This prickly pear cactus nearly died several years ago in a rare (for here) winter storm, which left parts of Portland OR under inches of snow-ice-snow for days. We get a little snow, we get some ice, but not usually for very long. People laugh at us because longtime Portland residents can get a bit panicked if there is a forecast of inches of snow. 

But people not from here should understand: we don't get very much or very often. The snow might come in a day here or there in winter. It might leave a dusting or an inch. If there is more, for a day or two, it is generally accompanied by ice and/or freezing rain on the transition back to our typical milder winters. So, when we get actual winter weather, a lot of people don't know what to do - how to drive, for example, and many people have no experience in the stuff. So, yes, sometimes we panic a bit.

And sometimes with reason.

That time about five years ago, it came down hard and long and parts of the city were stalled and stuck for several days.

This beauty was much smaller than now, though still a good few feet in diameter and the tallest paddles were probably two or more feet high. Before the snow storm hit, we assumed, with everyone else, that it was going to be another situation of Pacific Northwest Snowpocalypse warnings, followed by an inch or so out in our east part of town, maybe two inches in the West Hills and bare pavement out near my work near Hillsboro. 

So it was a surprise when the snow started and didn't stop. For a long time. For days. 

So this beauty was in our front yard. This storm was accompanied by freezing rain and layers of snow, ice, freezing rain, repeat. The prickly pear was covered in ice and so beautiful in the blankets of snow.

Several major paddles were lost when things started to thaw a few days later. The poor plant looked a bit scraggly and tired. And still very much alive.

It grew little by little, sprouting new buds turned to paddles and grew and grew. There were no flowers for a couple of years and some of the older paddles which survived were scarred; some are still there, with holes from the very cold and frozen winter.

But the prickly pear is now over five feet tall in places with a diameter of probably six feet or a little more at the widest. 

This is the first bloom this summer. And she is poised to show many more. There is an abundance of new paddles alongside the flower buds. 

We truly weren't sure if she would survive that winter storm. She did. And is thriving.

A note to those who don't know: if you've never touched a prickly pear cactus paddle, don't be fooled by their soft appearance and the lack of spikey thorns. I knew that and I was still surprised. Last fall we have a heavy windstorm, which batted the cactus around and a few paddles and one branch separated, fell on the ground. I was picking up some yard debris and, looking at the paddles, they did indeed seem harmless. I didn't have on gloves. I picked up a couple of the paddles and in seconds regretted it.

The "fuzz" on the side looked like soft fur, but it wasn't. Each was like a needle poking my fingers and my palms. I spent a long time with a flashlight and tweezers, pulling out those very fine hairs.

The prickly pear cactus is a survivor. Do not judge her by her appearance.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Exactly Two Years

In the time of the pandemic, there have been milestones, markers, of the passage of time. Time has been variable, sometimes feeling like an eternity and sometimes moments seeming to disappear when they'd barely begun.

Today was another of those markers.

The first big marker of event time passage was a year ago. In March 2021, I was one of the interpreters for the Oregon Poetry Out Loud competition. The event itself was virtual, but the host and coordinator (the amazing Deb Vaughn) and the two interpreters were live in a recording studio. We were masked until the recording began, and we were spaced about twelve feet from each other. The second interpreter has been in my pandemic pod since the beginning, still is, and we work and write together. The time marker of that event is that Poetry Out Loud had been the last live event, in-person, that I'd interpreted in March 2020. I had been preparing and rehearsing to interpret a play - which was canceled. But Poetry Out Loud, regionals, was the last in-person event. So Poetry Out Loud was both a last and a first.

Tonight I interpreted a Portland Community College Theatre Arts production, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. This is another marker of a sorts in pandemic terms. While TMLMBGB is a very different production than the one in March 2020 (Our Town) - I was at PCC exactly two years ago today, when theatre started shutting down, when stay at home orders were beginning to be issued.

I had gone to PCC on March 12, 2020, to work with an interpreting team - watching them to a sign-through, practice run - to be followed by feedback session and discussion about the show, their interpretations. When we arrived, about an hour before the show was to go live, we went backstage and found the director talking to the cast and crew, in costumes, standing in a large circle on the stage set and ready for act one. The director was telling them that the college had made the decision to close the school and the production was canceled immediately. There were tears. Lots of tears. And confusion. 

One of the interpreters and I left after a while, after the second interpreter showed up late and then left after learning about the closure. The other two of us walked to the parking lot. I received an email notice of a cancelation of another play at another theater. We stood at my car, talking about the virus, the state of things - it wasn't yet being called a pandemic (I don't think). I received another email with a "hold" on a production (which would be canceled two weeks later) and then another.

The other interpreter and I decided to drive to the coast. To get away for a few hours (we're lucky we live close) and think and breathe fresh air. We did.

As the days went by things changed quickly. More pauses and postponements from those who were hopeful. Cancellations from some who were near the end of runs or couldn't extend. One by one by one things fell away as the COVID-19 numbers increased.

Then, today, exactly two years to the day, I was on the (volunteer) interpreting team for this PCC production. It seemed fitting to be here doing this play at this time. It is not the first PCC play on Zoom that I've interpreted since the pandemic begun - and yes, they have all been pro bono. Keeping the access alive and supporting the creative and innovative and passionate work of theater that PCC has continued throughout this time. 

This is a photo of the setup the other interpreter and I used for tonight's interpreting set-up. I don't think we're done with this pandemic; or, more accurately, the pandemic is not done with us - the virus is not done. I would love to be wrong, but numbers around the globe are growing in the BA2 variant. And I, for one, do not want to get the virus. I have genetic conditions and a prior health situation which put me at risk for severe illness and significant complications - so I do not want to get it at all. Simply "surviving the virus" is not an option, not a risk I want to take.a

So - I may be doing more of this. Or less of this. I have to see what's ahead, how the numbers actually go and not just the wishful thinking of the wealthy, young, healthy, White people who are wishing it was already gone, so they are "acting as if."

Exactly two years ago today I know where I was. A vivid memory. And what a pleasure and a full circle to be working with the same theatre group. Their hearts are warm and glowing and their passions are clear and directed. Thank you for letting us be a part of your circle - in 2020 and now and in the future.