Whose idea was it to have Nanowrimo in November?
My husband’s birthday is in November – his 50th birthday, so we partied for TWO weekends. And then there’s Thanksgiving. To say it’s been challenging to write is an understatement, what with work, family, and parties…but it’s SUPER FUN!
I’ve set a goal for myself to write a “novella,” (7,500 to 40,000 words) instead of a novel (60,000 to 100,000 words). I wanted to set myself up for success, afterall! So I targeted 25,000 words and averaged it the number of days in November. Here is my excel sheet to monitor daily progress:
|11||9174||on the road, wrote in word|
As you can see, I have to write at least 475 more words tonight. So here I go! I hope you are enjoying the process and making progress. Once in awhile, I have to remind myself to HAVE FUN and not stress about the word count or listen to Monkey Mind!
Just keep writing!
Monkey Mind. It’s what Buddhists call the mind that jumps from one worrying thought to another worrying thought, like monkeys swinging from tree to tree.
I am well acquainted with my Monkey Mind – especially since I’ve been working on my novella for Nanowrimo this month. I’m chugging along and it keeps saying, “This is terrible. Seriously. Why do you continue? You should scrap this.”
But I do my best to ignore it and I continue to write because if I listen to it, I’ll stop writing. I’ll be a quitter and the only thing worse than being a bad writer is being a quitter.
I know you’re familiar with Monkey Mind, because you’re listening to it all the time.
What if I miss my plane?
What if I don’t lose the weight before the reunion?
What if I fail as a parent?
Donald Trump is our President! He has no experience! I’m worried that he’ll get us into a war because some other world leader makes fun of his hair!
How do we handle Monkey Mind?
Focus on your breath. Focus on the present moment. Notice it and say, “Oh hello, Monkey Mind. You don’t bother me,” and continue on your way.
I’m still writing, just haven’t blogged about it. Thought I’d share the progress (and I want to hear from you, too!)
I am an entire day behind on Nanowrimo. As I wrote last night, I have been busy planning and executing my husband’s 50th birthday and it was WELL WORTH IT!
My children’s book is also progressing nicely, my teacher/friend is halfway through the Spanish translation. Yippeee! Somehow, it looks more real when I see progress that someone else has added to it.
When I realized I am not on pace with my Nanowrimo schedule (approximately 900 words/day), I started to feel a bit bad/sad/panicky. And then I was reading The Book of Joy and Desmond Tutu said something that gave me pause: sometimes, our ambition wrecks our happiness.
All the spiritual leaders I know have spoken about this. It’s FINE and GREAT to have ambition, as long as it doesn’t stress you out and cause you negative feelings. I don’t want to give up my goals, but I also don’t want to feel bad when I don’t reach my goals. I’ve always used stress to motivate myself (so my husband tells me). What to do?
Work towards them and remain flexible for a bend in the road. Continue working happily. Continue working through obstacles happily. Work around them and just remain equanimous.
Readers, I’m thrilled to share my interview with Calla Devlin. We were in a San Francisco writing group together over 12 years ago. She’s worked hard at her craft, balancing marriage, children, and full-time jobs. She is a testament to staying focused and true to one’s art and she shares her lessons here.
Kismet: First of all, I want to say, I am really looking forward to reading your novel. The book description (due out in Fall 2016) reads: Tell Me Something Real tells the story of three beautiful blond sisters who travel with their mother into Mexico so she can receive alternative cancer treatments for her leukemia, all the while remaining completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home, and that their world will shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal. I remember when we were in the Kicking Muses writing group together in San Francisco (over 12 years ago!) and here you are, on the brink of getting a novel published!
Calla Devlin: That writing group was so valuable to me. I did share several chapters of this novel with the group, and I published a few chapters as stand-alone stories in anthologies and literary journals. Writing this book was a long process. It started out as a collection of linked stories and then a book that explored the characters as adults. Ultimately, I needed to narrow the focus of the novel to a single protagonist and the events that unfolded one summer.
Kismet: Did you ever doubt yourself or get tired of the storyline? I know many writers, including myself, doubt our stories time to time. How do you get over that?
Calla Devlin: I wrote several complete drafts of this novel. Originally, it started out as a collection of linked stories with chapters told from various points-of-view–six in all. This novel changed so much with every draft and i discovered myself and my voice in the process. But it was a very labor intensive process, and when you’re balancing being a mom and working full time and writing drafts of a novel, doubting yourself is inevitable. While it was a struggle at times, I am very fortunate to have a champion of a literary agent, who encouraged me every step of the way. Also, being in writing groups also kept me motivated and committed.
Writing is a solitary and fearless act. We sit alone before the computer and dare ourselves to be original and honest with our stories. Hesitation and doubt are a part of the process, but I truly believe that each and every one of us has a story to tell, whether written or spoken. And when we are able to share our stories, it is such a gift.
Kismet: You have two beautiful daughters of your own. Are you often inspired by mother/daughter relationships?
Calla Devlin: The mother-daughter relationship is so defining and complex, and I’m inspired by the interconnectedness of that relationship. I began Tell Me Something Real before I had children, and it was just a short story. While writing it, I had had my first daughter, then I lost my mother-in-law to cancer. She was very important to me and very much a mother figure. Then I had my second daughter. Becoming a mother and grief shaped the way I approached the book, and my sympathies for the various characters evolved over time. Because I write YA, I approach the material from the daughter’s point-of-view, and the myriad ways in which daughters need their mother’s support and approval—and what happens when that is somehow compromised. Also, the novel is as much about the sister relationship as the mother-daughter relationship.
Kismet: What do you hope your readers will feel or how will they be changed after reading your work?
Calla Devlin: Tell Me Something Real is very much about resilience and a character who learns to trust herself and claim her voice. I, of course, want readers to feel connected to my characters, but I also hope readers are inspired to share their own stories.
Kismet: Tell us what your writing process is. Do you have a strict schedule and process (where, when, how do you write)?
Calla Devlin: I’ve always balanced writing with work, and also with my family. I try to carve out writing time when I can. I don’t write every day, but I’m engaged with my writing every day. I read a great deal, which I think is an essential part of my process. There are weeks when I’ll write in every spare minute, and others when I write for just a couple of days. I cherish opportunities to take writing retreats.
Kismet: You’ve been published many times in many distinguished journals. Do you have advice for writers who write for the love of it, but also hope to get published?
Calla Devlin: If you love writing, write! I feel such joy when I am immersed in a novel and connected to my characters. I encourage everyone who loves writing to do just that—write for the joy of it. There are so many excellent literary journals in print and online. I read as many as I can and I think it’s important to submit to journals that share a similar editorial vision and voice. It is about finding a home for your work, which means that the journal is kindred. If you connect with a journal, it’s great to tell the editor why you’re submitting there and how you see your work being consistent with their publication. It requires reading and research, but the process is a wonderful one.
Calla Devlin’s website: http://www.calladevlin.com/
Calla’s debut novel is coming in the Fall of 2016 from Atheneum Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.
I’m having a great day of writing! I swore off Facebook, CNN.com and even Oprah to write all afternoon. 7,292 words on the novel thus far and there is no stopping me. I’m feeling good about the content too. I just have to keep writing every day, keep up this progress.
I’m learning so much through this exercise. For example, did you know that corporal punishment in South Korean schools was REINSTATED in 1999? I’m also able to write about common themes which seem taboo: lack of paternal affection for sons, climbing the corporate ladder, cultural clashes. More to come…
Goodness. Sad state of affairs when having our laptop go out of commission completely blindsides your blog! On top of getting the computer up and running (a complete overhaul was necessary, lost all work), I could not remember my password! But here I am.
Making nice progress on the novel. I visualize it as a movie, which is different for me. I did not write the 300 words today. Somehow, the gym workout always wins over sitting and writing. Being in good physical shape helps me alleviate stress, which is #1 for me and my loved ones!
Went to a 6 year old’s birthday party today. Bowling. 6 year olds have a knack for bowling in slow motion. Amazing. Even they get bored watching the ball roll slowly toward the pins. They look away for awhile and then the adults say, “Look! Look!” just in time to watch the ball mysteriously roll AROUND the pins. Then there is the cake and opening of gifts. Claude loves Star Wars. We had a heck of a time shopping for a boy. What do they like?! You could buy a girl her 90th Barbie and she’d be happy…anything pink and shiny. But boys….trucks? Action figures? We settled on Star Wars Legos.
Celebrations remind us of milestones. I could not help but think that little kid birthdays could be celebrated within the family alone. I mean, we don’t really know all these people, I don’t even know Claude. Will Claude remember this birthday? When he’s 18 and looking at his Birthday Pin, signed with all the names of children who attended his 6th birthday, will he remember any? What will he feel?
Willey and I will celebrate our 12th anniversary this year. Maggie turns 9 in August. Supposedly, labs have a life expectancy of 10-12 years. Looking at Maggie, she looks to be at the top of her game. I refuse to believe she will pass within the next 4 years. Impossible! Ava is about to turn 6. I received a “Kindergarten registration” form from the school and was happy to toss it. We’re over that hump! But there is sweet sadness to it all too. They are so innocent and funny. They hug me indiscriminantly. I pick them up after school and they scream “Mommy!” with wild abandon.I hope above all else that Willey and I will always enjoy a close relationship with them. I don’t want them to shut us out with electronics and slamming doors. I dream of visiting them in college and taking them out for luxurious lunches, getting our nails done, etc. I hope!
This year, we had JiMin with us. What a wonderful, rich experience it has been. We have only one month left and there are so many things I still want to ask her and share with her. We will all feel the loss come June 5th. Her presence and the issues that have arisen from her visit are the direct inspiration for my story. Still, she never exhibited the rebellion I’ve heard of other students displaying: smoking, drugs, drinking, sex, or skipping school. Through tears, frustrations and tons of laughter, we have met our expectations and then shot right through them.