No one chooses to be a writer,
not when the process is lonely.
And these days,
quickly overtaken by the
self-marketing, the self-promotion, and the self-branding –
even the self-loathing.
Because if you neglect to do those
non-writerly things, no one will know
who you are – or care
And still the writer will do all that and continue to write anyway,
because her Soul will die if she doesn’t –
little by little
every single day.
No one chooses to be a writer,
If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?
There is one other city I seem to talk about as much as New York City, and that’s wherever I happen to be. And at this point on my life, it’s Long Beach, California, a port city just south of Los Angeles. While New York City is buzzling crazy, no matter where you are, where I no longer fit in but doesn’t mean I love it any less, and hella hella expensive – even Brooklyn is the second most expensive Burroughs to live in now as Manhattanites are moving to Brooklyn in droves – there’s Long Beach.
Long Beach is a city of contradictions, where you can be in a ritzy section one minute and walk two blocks up, and there are homeless people muttering in their coffee, the one that they got for free as a refill in their days-old reused cups. It’s a city that has retro row on one end of 4th street and a few blocks away you’ve got LGBT central, with the Silver Fox to the south of Redondo Avenue and Executive Suite to the north.
I really thought Executive Suite was just what it says, a building with suites in them till someone corrected me and said it’s a lesbian bar. That explained the people lining up to get in at night.
It’s taken me a long time to warm up to Long Beach, but as the years go by and I’m still here, walking along its boardwalk and patronizing from every small shop that strikes my fancy – especially bookstores like Apostrophe Books on Main Street and the understatedly hip Viente Y Agua Coffee House with its open mic nights and book filled-up pin-up board – it’s a city that’s been waiting for me all these years. And I’m glad it did.
Yesterday someone in the NaNoWriMo Facebook group linked to a post that basically said that while everyone is supposed to have a story inside them, it doesn’t mean it has to be written.
Spare the world your story because the world doesn’t need it – basically that’s my take on the article that I could only scan through because it made me gag.
It makes me wonder how anyone can tell someone such a thing to their face, but at the same time, welcome to the world of clickbait and the new wave of publishing where the reader has more power than ever before, even to the point of telling you that the world doesn’t need your story. Or your poem. Or your essay.
I don’t know about you but I only have three words to say to whoever that pompous reader was: I’m writing anyway.
“Writing is really lonely…but it’s time to do a novel.”
He started the evening with two stories, the first one about Harlan Ellison and the second about Terry Pratchett. Then he read a poem he wrote shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attacks about ideas which is his credo, so to speak.
“I believe that ideas are invisible and they linger and sometimes they are true.”
I loved his answers to questions people posed before the talk, among them his advice about writing (read, even the things you aren’t into), writer’s block (doesn’t really exist though being stuck in a story does) and how long it takes him to write a story (between 2-1/2 months for Oceans at the End of the Lane and 22 years for The Graveyard Book). He also read a short story, The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury from his book of short stories, Trigger Warning.
“My biggest moment of self-doubt is probably the same reason in up here on the stage in front of you.”
I loved how he spoke about Amanda and his baby, Ash. I love the man, and have loved him since I first read American Gods so many years ago. And I count myself lucky for being there tonight.
five years ago today
you passed away
but I still can’t believe
i never got to say good-bye
nor understand why
though memories of you
but i finally did get to pen
those stories in the end
the ones I kept telling you
the ones you never forgot,
of loves and lives overwrought
for never once did
you ever doubt
that i’d finally let the ghosts loose
step away from that noose
that kept me silent
for so long
you knew it all in the end
my dearest, loveliest friend
just where I truly
November has always been about passages for me, life changes and transitions. I always wondered if my own clock was more in tune with the earth than it was with the Gregorian calendar, though now I just realized why I feel such loss around this time of year.
Five years ago, my best friend passed away after a 2 year-long battle with ovarian cancer. Through it all, she never complained. She told me once that she had two choices – complain about the things that weren’t good or be grateful for the ones that were. So she chose the latter, choosing to surround herself with white light no matter the challenge.
Today, while my son was going through his swim therapy, I perused through her old email messages to me, the only things I have to remind me of her kind words no matter the challenges she was faced with at that moment.
She died on 11/6/10 and I remember my last visit to her two weeks earlier when she gave me her massage therapy manual for that’s where we’d met back in 1997 and I’d lost mine a long time long before then.
A week later she called to tell me to keep writing even though I was too ashamed to tell her the truth – that I’d stopped writing 8 years earlier. She also told me to watch my weight and be kind to myself.
And while I haven’t exactly watched my weight that well, I have resumed writing – as you all probably have noticed. And today I ordered two copies of the paperback version of the book I dedicated to her, Finding Sam – a surreal experience that’s more surreal than when I ordered my copy of my second novel, Loving Ashe.
And even though being a writer navigating through the new social media can be scary, I have to remind myself that like Pam, I have two choices. Complain about the things that aren’t exactly going great (it’s all perspective as well) or be grateful for the ones that are – like health, family, and life in general.
Well, it’s November 1st, and that means that NaNoWriMo has officially started. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is a monthlong write-fest for people like me to write 50k words in 30 days. It sounds crazy, but the whole point is to get the story down on paper. Don’t edit, don’t stop. Just keep on going till you get to 50K and even higher.
It also stands for National Novel Writing Month and here’s the official information from their website:
National Novel Writing Month is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (formerly known as the Office of Letters and Light) that believes your story matters.
Through all our programs, we work to empower and encourage writing and vibrant creativity around the world:
- The Young Writers Program promotes writing fluency, creative education, and the sheer joy of novel-writing in K-12 classrooms. We provide free classroom kits, writing workbooks, Common Core-aligned curricula, and virtual class management tools to more than 2,000 educators from Dubai to Boston.
- The Come Write In program provides free resources to libraries, community centers, and local bookstores to build writing havens in your neighborhood.
- Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writing retreat, designed to provide the community, resources, and tools needed to complete any writing prompt, novel or not.
I’ve always been an advocate for literacy so this ticked all my buttons when I first heard about it three years ago. I totally failed the first year, churning out 16K words after ten years of not writing. But the bug hit me then, because the following year, when Camp NaNoWriMo came along, I churned out 90K words of a novel whose character of Greg became the basis for Erik Maystrom in Finding Sam a year later.
That was a major accomplishment for me and I realized that even after churning out 140K words of fan fiction, I could also write just about as many words, even more, of original fiction.
For last year’s NaNoWriMo, I wrote Loving Ashe, and by the time I was done, I had 110K words done in a month and a half. Then off to the editor followed by 8 months of percolating till I hit the publish button in August of this year.
This year, I’m rewriting the second book of the Loving Ashe Trilogy, Loving Riley, for my NaNoWriMo project. With everything from the beginning to the clunky ending, the poor baby needs a major overhaul so instead of jumping into a whole new story, this month is devoted to Ashe and Riley (well, maybe Collateral‘s Heath and Billie, too, which is in editing phase) so I can get them through that awkward growing phase in any relationship. It’s also Ashe’s story, which turned out to be more stressful to me as a writer because I had to rake my poor muse through the coals in this one.
If you’d like to see my rewriting progress, check out my Loving Riley page here and if you’d like to be updated of the latest chapters, opt in with your email address as well. I think Leanpub has an option to integrate Mailchimp, which is an email software, but I’ve yet to even figure out my Mailchimp return address (oh the joys of having your own massage practice yet needing to get a PO box for your writing career).
Leanpub, which is where I’ll be hosting Loving Riley as I rewrite it, is an awesome platform for serialized fiction, with variable pay ranges for readers to choose, even more than the suggested retail price. You see exactly how much my royalty will be, and because I’m choosing NaNoWriMo as the cause that I’m supporting, you’ll see just how much of my net proceeds will go to them.
I wrote about Leanpub last year but need to do a new one since they’ve done some major changes to their site, making it easier for writers to now upload finished work instead of having to write in markdown language. While I already do write in markdown language, majority of people I know don’t.
It’s primarily populated by technical books and while it intimidated me last year, I realized how serialized books in technology works so well because coding wins and fails depends on open communication between readers/testers. But its founder has always maintained that it’s a platform for fiction writers, too, and I was really impressed already with its output epub, mobi and pdf output. This year, with its latest updates in the interface, I’m giving it another try with my novels. I also like that you can automatically allot a portion of your royalties to a cause you choose.
Alright, for Day 1 of NaNoWriMo, I sure am chatty, aren’t I? Oh well, hope I didn’t bore you too much and I really need to get started with the rewriting.
What about you? Are you dong NaNoWriMo this year?
Via Liz Madrid http://lizmadrid.com/2015/11/01/nanowrimo-files-day-1/
I’m still here and I even sketched something for my you all just in time for all Hallow’s Eve! What are you doing this Halloween?