Thursday, November 30, 2006


I'm back to work on Ripples. This afternoon I finished reading through the printed manuscript, which I haven't looked at for the last month. Now I'm ready to start revising. Which I have.

But I needed to take a break. I had written an intense emotional scene and I needed a breather before I could go on. That's when I know I'm hitting my stride.

I may have said this before. Writing is one profession where we're happy if people cry. And the reaction starts with me. If the passage doesn't move me to tears or laughter or make my muscles tense then I'm not doing my job.

I cried the most when writing the 9/11 scene in Innocent People. The feelings of that day surged unexpectedly. I knew I had done what I was supposed to do.

I talked yesterday again about first drafts. Usually my first draft--most of it anyway--is dry, nearly void of intensity or emotion. When I revise I write like a reader, looking for the best way to make an impact.

I'm sure you've heard it before. It's not what you say. It's how you say it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Feel Free to Criticize and Advise

I have often said that a first draft is only a beginning. It is a way to put the story to paper and see where it will take me. It is exhilarating because the thoughts in my head have become words and plots. It is also embarrassing. Many of the phrases and sentences I have written will later be deleted. They are poorly worded, redundant, or sometimes even contradictory to other parts of the book.

In short, while my first draft is helpful to me it's not something I would be willing to show the rest of the world. Until now.

I have posted an excerpt from my NaNo novel on my website. It's very rough. I've read through it again after posting and see the changes which need to be made. But it's a start. And from this seed, insha Allah, a novel will grow.

So feel free.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Thrill of Victory

It happened last Wednesday, but I'm still elated. I am a NaNoWriMo winner. Today I downloaded my certificate. And my profile has a special little logo on it now.

Writing takes perseverance. I've spoken with many people who have started something but never finished. Of course, many have good excuses. Small children. Full-time jobs. Finishing college.

I deferred my dream for many years. Finishing college. Working full-time. Raising my children. After 9/11 I decided life was too short. The following spring I quit teaching and started writing.

I know there are many writers out there who have not finished a manuscript. I hope they are able to do so. Reaching the finish line is so sweet. Bittersweet, actually, because the book is finished. The book you have lived with for so long. But sweet nonetheless.

And for NaNo writers it's only the beginning. Now it's time to start revising.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I did it!!!

Less than thirty minutes ago I finished my NaNo story at 50,413 words.

I'll take a few days off. Then it's back to work on Book Four of the Echoes Series--Ripples. I still haven't found exactly the right approach for this book. But I hope the NaNo 50,000 word challenge has helped me.

It's a great feeling. Alhamdulillah!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Blame it on Nano

I'm sorry I haven't posted here much this week. It's NaNo's fault.

I'm up to 42,507 words. And I don't want to stop until I'm done.

Though I'll have to, of course. We're going to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I wanted to be finished before we left, but I won't quite make it.

Insha Allah, I will complete the 50,000 words before the end of the month. Then I'll put the manuscript away for a while. But I like my characters, so I'm sure they'll resurface. In a few more years, you can look for Nina Weston.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Nano fatigue

Sometimes I wonder why I'm doing this. I wonder if the story I'm writing will ever be publishable. I wonder if I should just call it a day.

But I keep pushing away. Over 26,000 words now. And less than two weeks left.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. . .

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hitting my stride

I'm nearing 22,000 words now, and expect to pass 23,000 before going to bed tonight. Almost halfway there. I still have a ways to go, but I have a chance.

The story is finally starting to pull together. I bumbled around quite a bit, trying to locate the plot. The character I knew, but I had to find her reason for existence. I'm getting there.

Writing a book requires patience. Lot of it. It would be nice if we could just wish it into existence, but in truth it's a great deal of hard work. The rough draft. The revisions. Lots of them. Pulling the story together and finding the nuances to make it unique. Finally the book is published--and holding your own completed books in your hands ranks up there as one of the most satisfying experiences of life.

Of course, then there's the marketing. A book won't be much good if it isn't read. This is my weak point. There are many of us who would prefer to sit behind our laptops and never have to face real people. But, with few notable exceptions, successful writers cannot be hermits.

My NaNo story is far from publication, though I do think I will one day get it published. It is extremely rough. But it's there. It exists. And it's getting stronger, which is always a good sign.

Writing is not for the faint of heart. It takes determination and perseverance. A heavy dose of impracticality always helps, I think. I mean, how practical is it for a person to sit at a keyboard for hours on end and expect to produce something which will change the world.

I always hope I'm not just tilting at windmills.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I passed the 20,000 mark

Which isn't quite enough, really, considering that the month is half over now. But I have been making good time since my slow start. The prize is still in view.

My biggest problem is that I'm not certain where the story is going. As I've said before, I'm one of those writers who jumps in with both feet, without an outline or much of a plan. I do know where I ultimately want the story to end. But it continues to surprise me.

When the month is over, I need to get back to Isaiah. That boy still needs a lot of work.

It has helped me, I think, to take this short break from the Echoes Series. I have an entirely new character, Nina Weston, with her own challenges and attitudes. When November is over I'll put Nina aside, but she exists in my writing world now. I plan to come back to her at some point and fully develop her story.

What is most differento, to me, about the Nano writing exercise is that the word count is everything. Normally I pay little attention to how many words I have. Not until after the story is finished anyway and I realize I need to cut out all the excess verbiage.

This is quite an experience. I think every writer should do it at least once. Why? Because it's there.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Yesterday I was full of optimism. Today hasn't been quite so hopeful.

I've written, of course. Just not as much as I wanted to. I still have an hour or two before bedtime and I hope to sneak in a couple hundred words, at least. But it hasn't been easy.

I realized sometime last week that I would need to expound on some early sections in my novel. If I were simply writing, I would probably finish a very rough draft first and then go back and fill in the empty spaces.

But it's not an ordinary novel, it's a Nano novel. So after fiddling around for much of the day I finally went back this evening and provided much needed description and transition.

I briefly thought about giving up. But I still think I can do it. In fact, I feel much more hopeful than I did at the beginning of the blog. Talk about the power of positive thinking.

When I do write normal, usually more than one month novels, my first draft is basically an extended outline. All of my books, so far, have doubled in length since the first draft. In my newest novel, Turbulence, I actually started in the middle of the book. Later I realized it was the middle and I needed some very solid opening chapters. You could almost say I wrote that novel backwards.

I'm not satisfied with my NaNo effort. Given several months of revision I think it could be quite publishable. But now it is like any other long-term project--essentially bare, waiting for growth and development.

I don't know if I've helped any readers by writing this, but I have helped myself. I'm ready to go again. Two hundred words before bedtime. At least.

Monday, November 13, 2006

15,000 with 17 days to go

I started very slow. Only a few hundred words the first day. Now I', working to make it up.

This whole NaNoWriMo experience is exposing me to a very different way of writing. Normally I proof and revise as I go along. Often I change the entire direction of the story before I finish writing it. The problem is that revision takes time, and I have only 17 days left.

So I push ahead, knowing I'll need to change much of what I'm writing but not daring to pause. It is a marathon of letters and syllables strung together into a plot. It is a challenge and a competition. Mainly with myself.

I'm determined to make it, even if I don't get much sleep in the last days. When I was in college I successfully walked 20 miles to raise money for hunger relief. This endeavor is a selfish one. But on December 1, insha Allah, I will be able to relax knowing I've met my goal.

Back at the ranch. . .

Thursday, November 09, 2006

6000 words and counting

I haven't been very diligent yet in my NaNoWriMo effort. Just a little more than 6000 words so far. I have my characters and a central plot. Today I simply spent too much time catching up on my email.

But I'm going to do it, insha Allah. I'll buckle down and write a couple thousand words ever day. After my granddaughter leaves next week. Which is not a day I'm looking forward to.

At least I will have my novel. And I'm determined to finish it. I just have to remember that writing, like everything else, is 99% perspiration.