Thursday, November 1, 2012

November at What Women Write

By Julie

Hurricane Sandy seems to have turned everything upside down and inside out, even if you were watching from a distance. Here at What Women Write, we were only affected in tiny ways, but we send well wishes to any of our readers who have had to deal with flooding or power outages or simply the heartache of seeing beloved areas devastated by this frightening storm.

(Photo credit: Russell Stainer, whoever he is!
Found on Facebook, thanks to Kim Bullock!)
I was near Ithaca, New York, earlier this week for a writing retreat and found myself sitting in airports for two days attempting to get out of the area ahead of the storm. The irony is I arrived home three hours before I originally intended to be home, but it felt a bit like two weeks as my fellow travelers and I watched the television screens--first, reports about the terrifying movement of the storm nearer and nearer the East Coast, then the horrifying coverage after Sandy struck. But in Ithaca, all was mostly calm, and we were mainly waiting on the airline industry to untie the knots created in the midst of the unknown. My problems were easy. The only positive thing I have to say for all the rest is about the hope I feel when I see photos and coverage of people pulling together to get stuff done in the midst of the last few days of a crazy election season.

Between my little adventure and upcoming travel preparation for Susan, we decided to use the law of averages and post here once today instead of once each Wednesday and Friday. We should be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week. And pardon the mish mash of topics, but my brain is telling me to talk about a few different things today.  

First of all, are any of you attempting NaNoWriMo this year? 

A little patch of sky through a
hole in a leaf, 
near Ithaca, NY. 
(photo copyright: Julie Kibler 2012)
In my usual fashion, I'm making up my own rules.

I hope/intend to write about 30,000 words on my new project. I'm also going against the grain of what I've been preaching for the last few years about outlining. Outlining worked spectacularly with Calling Me Home, from the very first, and I became an evangelist for the process. I assumed I'd be able to drop one right down on the page for the new book and follow it like a lovely little road map. But as usual, my muses are having the last laugh. I feel as if those sneaky Girls in the Basement are reminding me they're still in charge.

I feel as if I'm going to need to wander around a bit more in this new story before it truly gels. So, my 30K may not end up looking like any neat, linear 100-page chunk of story. It may be 30K words' worth of random monologues, random scenes, and maybe many things that never make it into the final draft. I'm listening to the Girls and trusting them to do it right. It's a little scary, I must admit. It's a reminder every single book will likely be a new, uncharted adventure.

Tell us, in the comments, what your goals and thoughts are, if you have decided to use NaNoWriMo as a jumping off point this November.

Stumps always make me think.
(Photo credit: Julie Kibler 2012)
Next. I'm having to embrace that writing retreats don't tend to be very productive for me, writing-wise. I know many other writers who manage to knock out huge chunks of new words on these getaways. I'm easily distracted, so it seems I really need my regular environment to write lots of words. I find that on retreats, I mostly putter around. I explore the building. I engage others in the kind of face-to-face conversations I can't have at home, as much as I love my chats online. I go outside and take a million photos of the tiniest details of geography new to me (or at least not seen very often from my suburban home). I eat vegetarian food for four solid days, and realize it's not so bad. I sample sips of new beers in my never-ending attempt to find one I actually like. (No luck, so far, except Lindeman's Lambic, which hardly qualifies as beer even if delicious.)

Leaves on Cayuga Lake. Of course I photoshopped it! :)
(photo copyright: Julie Kibler 2012)
Last week looked like that, though I had hoped to get a huge amount written. Add to that the worry during the last days about getting home ahead of the storm, and I'm not completely sure what I accomplished. But I think I'll eventually be able to admit comfortably and without guilt that I accomplished relaxing, relationship-building, brain-filling, new-food-and-drink-testing days of fun. I filled the tank back up. Which is also important. Perhaps I will be ready to do some serious work at our upcoming annual What Women Write retreat. Or perhaps I will do a little more puttering and filling up the tank. 

Now it's time to jump into my first Manic Writing Session for NaNoWriMo. What's going on with you?


  1. Hi Julie,
    First, I love the photographs! Just beautiful.

    Second, glad you are okay post Sandy. I have cousins in NYC that I am worried about, but I have lots of faith in that great city. They know how to pull together in a crisis.

    Third, good for you. Sometimes we just have to fill the tank. I've gone to the beach with a writer friend and found that really productive, but have never done a real writing retreat. It sounds wonderful. I think it is interesting that you are searching for the right beer. I took one sip as a child and decided it wasn't for me and won't take another one on the chance that I WOULD find I like it! LOL.

    Lasty, I would love to do NaNoWriMo, but I am between projects and haven't decided what to do next. Also, who was the crazy person that decided NOVEMBER, the month of Thanksgiving, for heaven's sake was the time to write a novel in a month?

  2. Thanks for reading and the comment, Teresa! I used to think November was bad. Then I thought it was good. Then I thought it was bad ... then ... well, you get the idea! I'm not sure there's ever a best month, so maybe the NaNo folks picked it at random. Or maybe they figure the days off for some gives a little extra time at home. Who the heck knows!

    And so far, I'm so repulsed by the taste of beer, I am thinking it's not looking good for the brewers EVER with me. ;) Lindeman's Framboise is pretty tasty, though.

    Good luck with your next project!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...