Who Am I? Why Do You Care?

I am a woman on a journey. Where I'll end up is yet to be discovered.


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November is for First Drafts

Some of you may know that I’m a fan of NaNoWriMo. I know people who love it and people who think it’s absurd – but personally I was hooked from the time I heard there was such a thing.

The first year I participated I had no idea if I could finish or not. I wasn’t used to putting out that many words in a month. Writing had always taken a back burner to everything else going on around me. I wrote whenever I found some time. Doing NaNo that first year taught me something. It taught me that if I wanted to be a writer, I had to stop treating it like a hobby. I had to make time. It’s not always easy to do and sometimes I don’t succeed. But now, for the most part, there is writing time carved into each and every day. I learned that first November that I was more than capable of writing at least 50,000 words in a month.

I’m smart enough to know those words written with wild abandon in November are just a first draft. There’s lots of work to be done in the months following November if I really want to turn those words into something, but getting that first draft out is monumental. It’s vital. You can’t rewrite or edit words you have yet to write.

I was grateful to NaNoWriMo for helping me see I could do it. So it just naturally happens now that I think November is the month I have to write a first draft. Maybe it’s the ADHD in me, or the slight OCD, but as October winds down, I find myself giddily anticipating the new draft I will write in November. It’s a ritual now.

I’ve been at work on Finding Home. I’ve been re-writing and changing, editing and polishing. It’s not quite there yet. BUT – come November first, Finding Home will be put aside as I write my next first draft. I’m okay with this. I still have time on Finding Home.

I’m excited about this new draft. It’s a quirky story with an ADHD heroine. Something I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time. It’s going to be loads of fun to get inside her head.

This evening I’m getting ready to sit down with Finding Home and work on those edits. But come Tuesday, I’ll be joining the masses for NaNoWriMo. The fall air is screaming that it’s time to write a new book!

The best part about being a writer, or any other creative pursuit, is that I get to do so on my own terms. We all have our own ideas about how it should be done. We all find our own writing rituals, quirks, schedules, and philosophies. It’s a craft we get to bend to our own needs and desires. I love that about writing.

So good luck to any of you that are doing NaNoWriMo this year -especially any first timers! I hope you meet (and exceed!) your goals. I hope you have fun, and I hope you learn something about yourself along the way.

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Writing is the Most Amazing Difficult Thing you will Ever do

I was on a good roll with the editing of Finding Home. Life happens sometimes though, and the writing time that gets set aside each day finds itself being pushed aside. That being the case I’ve gotten very little work done this week. I sit here tonight staring at my WIP and thinking of how far I have to go. I read a bit and cringe thinking how awful it is. But you know what? It’s on paper. It’s out there. I can work with it. And it’s there because I started.

Starting is sometimes the hardest part of writing. It was especially that way when I first began to write seriously. I was so afraid to put pen to paper, thinking what if this idea turns out to be garbage? What if it isn’t good enough? What if it isn’t what I envision it to be? All those thoughts racing through my mind threatened to stop me in my tracks before I even began. But then I realized that yes, it was going to be garbage and that was okay. If you are going to learn to write, or if you are going to hone your craft and get better – you must write. It’s okay if those first works never see the light of day. If they help you to find your voice or teach you discipline or help you to get better – those awful first works serve their purpose.

I’ve  said before I do not believe in being an “aspiring” writer. If you are putting pen to paper (or keystroke on screen) then you ARE a writer. Published or not doesn’t matter. If you write you are a writer. Own it. Be proud of it. Just make sure that before you put your work out there that it is the best work you can do. Make sure it’s something you can be proud of. And if you ARE aspiring; if you have not begun because you are afraid that the idea in your head isn’t going to be good enough – you are only hurting yourself. We write because it is a passion. We write because words and worlds consume us and demand to be recorded. We write because to not write is agony. Writing is hard. Writing is hell. Writing never gets easier because with each new first draft you begin at the beginning.  As writers we are just twisted enough to enjoy the torture.

Do you know what? That first recorded idea ISN’T going to be good enough. But what are you gaining from never writing it? You can’t move past that first bad draft and become the writer you aspire to be if you don’t write. It’s as simple as that. To improve you must practice. You must write. Write the drivel. Don’t be afraid of it. Write it and move on to better things.

And that first draft? A first draft is always just that. A first draft. Its supposed to be awful. You aren’t human if it isn’t! But that first draft introduces you to your characters. It gets them out of your head and on the page. Learn from them. Let them tell you all their secrets. Get them all down. Then you get to decide how to deal with them. Second drafts. Third drafts. Fourth drafts. Each one gets you closer to the ideal world you created in your head. Don’t be afraid of writing garbage. Don’t be afraid of the first thing you ever write being crap.

Sometimes we all need reminding that we really don’t choose the writing life. It chose us long ago. Sure, we can ignore it. We choose to sit down and empty the words onto the page, but I think we do so more because it is a compulsion than a choice. Those years I spent not writing seemed hollow. I was ignoring the very real call of what I was meant to do. I was born to be a writer, but I will never get to be the kind of writer I wish to be unless I do one simple thing. Write. With each story, with each new draft I hope I get just a bit better. I hope I learn something new about myself every time I sit down at the computer or sit down on the back porch with a cup of tea and a pen and paper.

I’m not where I want to be. Not by a long shot. I have much to learn. But I won’t learn it unless I dive in and do it.

So today I’m telling you to write. Just write. Don’t worry about how it’s going to turn out. Don’t worry about it not being what you envision. Just get started. Write.


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Second Drafts and Details Details Details

Slowly but surely I’m getting the second draft of my novel finished. Mostly what the second draft has shown me is how much work I have yet to do. Two more chapters and I’ll be done, then I can begin adding in all the details I’m lacking, pick up slow moving scenes, delve farther into my character’s personalities, and cut anything unnecessary or redundant. That will be the hard part.

But it’s starting to take shape. All the elements are there, I just have to fine tune and adjust. Add and cut. It’ll be fun. Sure it will. I’m looking forward to it. No I’m not.

Finishing up is always difficult. It’s the point where you just have to put your butt in a chair and do the work. The writing is easy. (mostly) it;s the re-writing and revising that will get ya. Part of me loves it. Part of me hates it. Part of me looks forward to it. Part of me wants to procrastinate. But when you are finished – truly finished once and for all – there is no feeling like it! It’s all worth it when you are looking at your final draft and you know you got it right. You know that it’s the best it can be at this time and you are happy and proud yet sentimental and lost all at the same time.

Writing is emotional. It’s personal. And it’s an amazing journey. The best part is that the journey is always new. It’s different each and every time you have a story to tell. The emotions are different, the feelings are different, and yet somehow familiar. Your art tugs at you and you have to respond. You have to see it through.

Writing is my sanity. It’s my safe place. It’s the best parts of my soul. It’s everything I love and it’s everything I loathe.

Two more chapters, then the real fun begins!


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New Project Excitement

The first draft of the novel I wrote in November for NaNoWriMo is safely tucked away breathing before I start on the second draft. In the meantime I’ve begun a new project. This one promises to be an adventure, full of ups and downs, tears and joy for me as a writer. I have grand plans for this book – I see it through rose colored glasses of epic proportions. I know what I want it to be, I know how I want it to sound, I know the essence and the feel of it; now I just have to see if I can deliver.

As far as first drafts go, I’m extremely pleased with what I have so far. I’m only about 8,000 words in though, so that is subject to change rapidly. This book is near and dear to my heart, and has a lot of special meaning to me. Although fiction, it contains some real life mysteries that I’m taking artistic license with and coming up with my own answers. Some of the characters are straight from imagination only, and some are loosely based on people I’ve known. Some I’ve taken traits from several people and rolled them all into one character.

Maybe that is the way with writers whether intentional or not; to mold and fashion characters from our own roster of familiar faces. Some of the scenes in the book will be taken from things that really happened, but it is fiction, a web of stories brought together by a few strands of truth.

I have a feeling this story is going to tear at me, turn me upside down and leave me raw. I’ll even say I’m looking forward to it. I believe it needs to. I think only when it rattles me and forces me to dig deep within myself, will the story come to life. If I do my job correctly, the resulting product will be worth the pain of creation.

I have much I want to accomplish with my writing this year. I think I’m off to a good start. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.