Washington’s weather slunk in today with freezing drizzle. The kind that requires chipping away at the iced-over car door just to get into the driver’s seat.
For good or bad, when I stop and pay attention, I notice how the weather affects my writing. My thinking. My motivation. My poet friend laments: it’so awful out that she can’t compose.
Instead of kicking ourselves, another option is no blame. Just loving observation. Does the weather affect your internal go-meter? Does anything else?
When I have a cold, my sinuses swell into my brain and press against my IQ. I have to make tea. I walk around dragging the tail of my electric blanket’s extension cord. It tethers me to the wall. I wrap Julie’s lovingly knitted scarf around my sore throat like a hug. I invent new comfort foods. Then I write its recipe. I tell myself: I wrote.
What do you do, mindful writers?
…trapped crystalline in
my frozen mind
burrow under blankets
like my ammonite doggy transforming
air to lead if anyone tries to
drag her out
It’s okay to curl up
snug and warm.
The squirrels will still be there tomorrow
When Chris Baty and twenty-one San Francisco Bay area friends held the first National Novel Writing Month in 1999, I was preparing materials for a year teaching kindergarten in Colorado. Curriculum-writing, not fiction, was on my mind. But mountain lions, hiking, wild fires, white buffalo, and avalanche survival were part of my life in the Rockies. Someday, Fiction-writing, I would face you, armed with material.
St. Mary’s Glacier, CO
National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, has been held every year since 1999. And for the last two years, I have written. I’d love to say that I finished writing last year’s novel, sent it out, and was instantly rewarded with a contract. But I’d be lying. The truth is I did something equally important.
Last year’s NaNoWriMo helped me break a bad habit. I once heard that the average number of revisions on a first paragraph is twenty-five. So I was about average, with twenty-five revisions of my opening paragraph. Except I had gotten into the habit of revising my first paragraph twenty-five times BEFORE writing my second paragraph. Which leaves a lot of second paragraphs never written. I had to replace my bad habit with a good habit.
NaNoWriMo helped me rediscover fluency – writing, without stopping for correction edits and better idea revisions. NaNoWriMo helped me to WRITE; to get a wealth of material on actual pages. And some of it was really good material. Later I can revise it . Later I can edit. Now, I must let my characters speak, discovering what they want to say, to what sights, sounds, and scents they attend, where they want to go, unhindered by my inner editor. It’s a happy habit to have. This experience worked with Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen (interview).
This year’s goal: Fifty-thousand words in thirty days. THEN revision. Then submissions. Then a contract.