Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Over 5000 words so far

Writing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)  http://www.nanowrimo.org/ has proven to be just the medicine I needed to propel me towards my keyboard everyday .-  several times a day.  Characters were born yesterday and now they live in my head throughout the day, each trying to assert themselves into the storyline.  No one wants to be left out.  As I write about the catalyst of the story, each have quieted down and allowed the story to be told.  In a quiet, anxious voice that leaves one's head bowed and reverent waiting for the news that will take the story and form it's life.  These characters are not completely real to me yet.  Not like my girlfriend who has begun to dream about her characters.

But I am 1/10th of the way into the story.  5,015 words are on virtual paper and the story has begun to take shape.  There are fellow NaNoWriMo comrades on my street.  There are 72 in Fredericksburg all together.  Writing groups have begun to spring up.  Encouragement parties, if you will, to help you shutup the inner editor and click away with abandon.  One friend pushes her screen down completely so she can't see any errors.  Another keeps a yellow legal  paper over the screen, lest she see something she needs to change.  I, of course, am too OCD to even try those methods.  I have gone back and changed the voice to third person throughout.  if nothing else, it's helped me stay consistent in my head...and that's where it counts.  I find myself shutting off the TV ( SHOCKER!) and locking myself in the backroom (my room of scrapbooks, candles and things that make me happy) and sitting down and writing sentences and parts of sentences.

This idea of throwing you into the writing pool and demanding you sink or swim is a positively charged circus of writing frivolity that allows the impossible to take shape as the possible.  Slowly ridding myself of the inner editor that sits with red pen in hand to circle my mistakes and correct spelling and grammitical errors is freeing.  It's like taking the dictator away and allowing the country to run itself...for a time.  Because the editor comes back in December and fixes the plot holes and the run on sentences.

For now, I bask in the freedom.  I am setting my words free and asking them to come together as the nucleus for a story line!  Ready, set, ......write.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A 50,000 Word Novel in 30 Days?

Someone sent me to a website today that caused my heart to beat faster and my eyebrows to raise up several times as I read through the content.  http://www.nanowrimo.org/  I had never heard of this site before or what they encourage people to do in just 30 days.  And there are thousands of people ready to participate.  Last year they had 120,000 people register and 20,000 people finish what they started....this year I hope to do the same.

No one ever reads a beloved novel and thinks about the initial rough draft....oozing with words and grammatical errors.....run on sentences and words placed precariously atop one another as a poor excuse for sentence structure.  But....that is generally where they all begin.  This writing project wants thousands of would- be novelists to do just that.....to write crap.  Word vomit.  To ignore our inner editor and just write the story that is in our heads.  The one that we've been writing for years.  So, I'm going to do it.  I'm going to jump into the deep end of the ocean and just write.  From 12 AM on November 1 (happy first) - Midnight on November 30 (my shared birthday) I am going to write and write and write. 

I only discovered this site today and now I am trying to pick out a story to tell.  A flimsy outline to pull from, complete with antagonists and protagonists.  I have an idea of which road I would like to follow and I hope that road takes me in the direction I hope to go, but I know it's going to be bumpy.

If you are reading this and you are a hopeful, would -be writer ~ go to the site above and jump in the deep end with me.  If we finish it, we can have a novel ( it doesn't matter if anyone reads it, likes it or understands it) we can say we wrote a novel in one month.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It Was Almost Painless

The writing group met, despite the fact that we were a month early and not everyone could join us.  Three of us went ahead with the group...I mean we were meeting for our Scotch tasting anyway, right?
I deflected the request to read my piece first and succeeded.  Having someone else jump into the icy waters first, helped me realize I could do this.  I could read aloud the words that came from me, crafted and whittled for hours and I could do it with confidence.
So I read.  Finding my own mistakes as I did so, knowing they were like a snag on a nail and they would be filed or clipped later.  The response from my fellow group members was positive and helpful.  The work I presented was a rough draft.  Okay, a rough, rough draft...but it had potential.  So I head back to the drawing board for further whittling.  This has to be ready for presentation by September 7....

Friday, August 28, 2009

What's it gonna take?


I'm a writer. There I said it. How or why do I know this, I couldn't tell you. It's not just that I've journaled most of my life. It's not because I love words and their origins. It's not because I was the "geek" (a word yet invented, but applicable just the same), in fifth grade who kept a journal in my black and white marble composition notebook on all the homophones I could find because I found it fascinating that two words could sound the same --- and yet be spelled differently and have different meanings. Or that I have a running dialog in my head....it's not any one of those things that make me a writer, but perhaps they are the sinew and marrow of the beginnings of one.

Tonight is my first experience with a writing club. Fortunately, it's made up of other writers who have a desire to write, improve their skills and hone their abilities. I am excited and scared. It's like the first day at middle school again. Will they like my writing. Will they laugh and wonder why I ever thought it was possible to link words together in a sentence. It's not like kindergarden where I'm sure the teacher is nice to all the little doe - eyed children who rush through her door. This feels like the stuff fear and wonder are made of.

And like every experience I had in high school, when it came to huge projects, I have procrastinated until the last minute. I've got the ghost of an idea. I've nutured the idea, while cleaning bathrooms, cutting hair and playing stupid games on Facebook. This afternoon, I will sit down and call this ghost to the forefront. I will give it life by breathing words onto a page and then I will hope and pray that the members of this writing club don't extinguish the flame and make my idea a ghost once again......

Friday, April 24, 2009

I have had many opportunities in the past few weeks to be creative with my food. I'm not talking about playing with my food, like an absent minded child who has no desire to eat what is in front them. But being creative when I am going to be with people who do not have to care what they put into their mouth.

I discovered, a few weeks ago, that I have become intolerant of gluten. A substance found in more foods than I ever thought possible. While my granddaughter and daughter have known about this lifestyle for some time, I am a newbie at this. I have it alot easier than my daughter did while she was trying to help her own child fight for her very life. She has found the links to websites that provide vital information for her family. She became a warrior; a fierce mama bear alert to every possible danger on the horizon or those lurking in her pantry and refrigerator. She was a "wedge-breaker" of sorts. And through trial and error, she has saved the life of her daughter and herself. And she has made it much easier for me to set out on this journey. A journey I feared and never wanted.

So now I know I have an intolerance to gluten. What was mistaken for gall bladder pain, has ended up being a sensitivity that causes bloating, gas and excruciating pain. But beyond all of that...like that's not bad enough...it caused a rethinking in this world of fast food and easy meal plans. Menu choices might as well come with a side order of cautiousness and paranoia. Every label must be read before I can buy the simplest of grocery items. Salad dressing, dried fruit, even Butterball Turkey can contain gluten or just be made in a plant that contaminates it enough that it might as well be gluten. If it was simple enough to just have meat, fruit and vegetables, I would be fine. But my palate is made for the more extravagant. For gravies, cream of something or just the occasional slice of bread. I have recipes from my mother and grandmother overflowing in their box. Tastes and smells that reach out to me from childhood and remind me of home. All of that is now a poison to my body. Some can be remade into a dish that I can eat, but it's not normally the same. I'm not normal or the same either. I have given up more in the past few weeks that I ever thought I would....but pain is a difficult task master and the best deterrent to straying into the land of "NO".

I will spend the rest of my life learning how to adjust to a world than has no idea what gluten is or where it can be found A world where eating what others cook for you is taken for granted and a true luxury. I will learn to plan ahead. Which is not a bad thing. In fact, it is the goal of most people. But where their failure to do so may cause them to be late or propel them to the nearest store to purchase what they forgot to pack.... my failure can cause hungriness, isolation and severe pain.

Food is a binder. Much like gluten. It is the centerpiece of almost every gathering where people come together for celebration or mourning. Picnics are for lovers, popcorn and candy for movie goers, barbecues for summertime lovers and funerals a place for the potluck. Tonight was my oldest granddaughter's five year old birthday. It was held at a kid's restaurant. A place no adult in his or her right mind would enter...without a child dragging them by the hand. The smartest thing this restaurant, and I use that term loosely, ever did was offer beer on the beverage list. I know this was to keep the adult overseers on a calmer plane and less likely to bolt out the front door at the most opportune moment.

But for me tonight was one of isolation and hunger. Tonight hunger won out and I am paying the price. In a place where pizza reigns supreme, I knew I could not and would not succumb to the temptation to take a bite. But having worked all day and being unprepared with snacks of my own I sat next to friends and family celebrating together by eating a common meal. I put my hunger pains aside and took up my camera. I took on the photographer role and began recording the joy and fun that a 5 year old birthday party could bring. When it came time to open gifts, my stomach won out and I went in search of anything I might be able to eat. Lightheadedness from lack of food is not becoming or understood by anyone when you are surrounded by mounds of cheesy, greasy, pepperoni covered dough. The explanation takes too long and by then you could pass out.

I found it. Something I could eat. The salad bar. But wisdom and being on guard was knocked out and placed outside. I put sunflower seeds (probably contaminated) and blue cheese dressing right onto my salad. Fresh veggies were okay I kept telling myself. I didn't put croutons on. I patted myself on the back. So I proudly went back to the table and sat next next to the pizza eating, beer drinking friends and family who were clueless to my isolation. Within the hour they cut the cake and passed it out among the guests. It looked wonderful. It looked sweet. It looked like heaven. But I couldn't have that either. I dug in my purse for a piece of candy. Anything to accommodate the sweet craving that had taken up residence in my mind and belly. But...I was unprepared. Nothing. But there was no real reason to worry. By the time I left the building my stomach began to bloat and cramp. It was painful to touch. I knew the cardinal sin I had committed against my body and I knew the penance would be a nighttime of uncomfortableness and discomfort.

This new life is hard. It is hard to constantly be on alert. It is hard to explain it all the time. It is hard to have family who neither know or care about how this affects you. It is hard to get excited about upcoming vacations. Where and what will I eat. Will I have to forgo eating with those I travel with? Become creative, even on vacation? Or just live in fear that everything I put in my mouth will cause my severe stomach pain? This will become easier as I practice this life of abstinence. I will become adept at it. An old pro even. But until then I have a growing list of foods to which I must say a very fond farewell. I will continue to celebrate. I will continue to crave. And I will continue to be diligent while striving to be better prepared and organized to go out into a world than is no longer as forgiving as it used to be.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Through the Years

I grew up as the daughter of a Marine. This meant lots of travel, loads of opportunities to make new friends every few years and the gift of belonging to the wonderful family of the Marine Corps. Through the years one woman has kept me up to date on her family through the treasure of a Christmas newsletter. We trade these back and forth each year and I look forward to sharing in all the events, both good and bad that have happened throughout the year. Last year's letter ended with the promise that she would come to visit me...and she remained true to her promise.

Aunt Joan called this week and told me that she was visiting her daughter, who was a childhood friend of mine, and that they would like to drive the two hours for a long, overdue visit. I was thrilled. I think I actually hollered out loud and then went about jumping up and down and enthusiastically telling my children about my joy at seeing these women. I'm not sure they could understand my joy. They have grown up in the same town for at least twenty years. They have not moved all over the world. They have roots here. They run into people that went to the same elementary, middle and high school as they did.

These two women have known me all my life. My "Aunt" Joan recalled the first time she ever laid eyes on me. I had a pacifier in my mouth. A pacifier. I didn't even know that I used one. My mother isn't around for me to ask these questions. When she was here, we were too busy arguing for me to ask her important questions. But here was someone who knew me as a baby and a young child. Stranger still....someone who knew my parents when they were my children's age.

My childhood friend, Tari, also recalled stories that were long forgotten. At my age, I'm not sure they weren't tossed out of my brain to make room for other stories. Did I remember agreeing to accompany her to a boy's house? A special boy who had invited her over to swim. I don't remember donning the polka dot bikini she said I wore and I especially don't remember me being more busty than she was at that age. I don't even remember having breasts as a young woman. In fact, my own breasts probably don't remember being young either. She was happy though that regardless of my pre-teen voluptuousness her special friend chose her over me. Well, of course he did, I told her......she was beautiful, had straight blond hair and was sweet; The All-American Girl. I was a short, curly haired mouthy girl who wasn't super concerned about this guy.

Something about being around these folks was so special. Sure, I could go home to family and they have known me forever, but this was different. I felt like everyone else I know. I had friends who had known me a long time. And they chose to stay in contact all the way through my childhood and into my adulthood. I was a part of the bigger picture in life. Even though I had the gifts that moving to different states and counties can give you, I never had the tap root that plants get when they are going to be in one place for a long time. These woman felt like such a wonderful link to my hazy past. I only hope my children can appreciate the roots that they have as they grow into mature adulthood.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why bother saying "No"?

I have had four children. All of them are now in their twenties, flown the nest and are leading their own lives with children of their own. I have had the privilege of watching my grandchildren over the past four years whenever I was needed. Sometimes overnight and sometimes just for a couple of hours. Now that I am reliving the experience through my grandkids...I am amazed that anyone has children, much less more than one. I am a more alert observer this time around. I don't see these offspring through sleep deprived eyes or the rose colored glasses of denial. Perhaps my memory has fogged over with time. But as I told my two year and one year old grandsons not to climb the brick steps outside.....for the hundreth time ....only to be ignored.....I paused and wondered why do we say no? Looking back I realize you spend your whole life saying no. It is generally the first word most children learn. They say it back to you. They say it to others. They know what it means. But from early on, they don't see it as applying to themselves. It's comical actually. Except when that tumble results in stitches. Or riding with no hands ends up with a cast.
How many times can you recall saying no. You said it with the best intentions. As parents, we don't say it just for the sake of hearing ourselves speak. Even though we have been accused of this very thing. We say if to keep them safe. We say it because we know what it will lead to....we once turned a deaf ear to the word. When they are young, the word may work. "No, don't put that bobby pin in the electrical socket." If said with enough volume, we can stop a child in their tracks. But as they get older, we have to disguise the word. Making them feel as if it is their own idea to deny themselves certain activities. But eventually their true desires come out and although we've said no, they do what they want.
We just want to protect them from bumps and bruises. We say no so that they don't get hurt. But eventually it's not just about them getting hurt, it's about them getting a tattoo, a motorcycle, marrying the wrong man or woman, getting a dog/cat/fish or some other ridiculous thing you know will end in disaster or worse yet...a problem you have to fix or take to the pound.
So I wondered today why on earth the brick steps were such a magnet. Why he would not heed my constant No, no, no when I knew he would get hurt. But when he got to the top step he cried out in excitement! Both arms raised above his head! He smiled at me triumphantly and clapped his hands. He made it to the top step. If he had listened to me, he wouldn't have learned. It cost him a bump and a scratch, but he did it on his own and stretched his horizon beyond the limits it had before. They've all got to learn the hard way. Just like me. If I had listened to all the "No's", I definitely wouldn't be where I am today.