Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Things on the Table
(2011 NaNoWriMo)

This morning I awoke about ten minutes before four o'clock. I gave the dog a good hug, a scratch behind the ears, and then stepped outside with her into the cool morning air. Which lasted about three minutes until a neighborhood cat belled by its owner--maliciously, I think--tinkled by the fence line and successfully sent my lovable, and for the most part quiet, pooch into a canine frenzy. Suffice it to say, I rounded up my dog with a few sharp whispers and together we walked back inside. Her genetically curled tail stood almost erect with pride.

The coffee made, I then went about the task of lining things up to sit down and work my magic on the keyboard. Today is Day 2 of the 2011 National Novel Writing Month, or affectionately known as NaNoWriMo to those who have participated in the past. Two hours and fifteen minutes later, my daily quota almost finished, I wrapped things back up and started with the task of waking children and preparing for another day. I'm happy to report that I am still on track with the project. By tonight, I will have passed my quota and moved my work-in-progress bar a little closer toward the ultimate goal: fifty-thousand words in thirty days.

While it may be easy for others--I have read somewhere that Stephen King sits down to write ten pages each day--for me writing a novel in this timetable doesn't happen without some planning. Two years ago, I made daily walks, mapping out issues and whole scenes in my mind. I had a good idea of where the novel wanted to take me before my fingers ever typed out the first word. This year, I didn't engage in daily walks, but I still had the mind working through scenes and issues prior to the first of November. I even drove to the office supply store last week to purchase a dry erase board, a tool I find indispensable for my style. It allows me to brainstorm ideas and to jot things down and erase them with ease. On Saturday, I made an initial sketch of the village for my novel, identifying some of the quirky places therein. All told, I believe I have put some serious planning into this novel like I did with the previous one, and I believe the dividends of my labor will pay off in the end.

This is not to suggest that I don't leave room for magic to happen. I do. In fact, yesterday morning I woke up earlier than expected. In that quiet moment between fully asleep and fully awake, I felt the magic stir within me. Short stories that I had started working years ago suddenly clamored for attention. "Hey," one shouted. "You remember me? Maybe I'm not a leading actor, but I can certainly play a supporting role." And thus, the spell began. I considered that story's statement, and then gradually nodded my head, the fog of sleep clearing with each passing moment. Yes, I thought. I think you'll do. And what I originally planned to be a YA novel has now changed into something else.

As writers, our inspiration can come from all sorts of influences: people we've met, conversations overheard, and yes even stories that we've never finished. The thing is to keep our minds open, even if the inspirations appear like phantasms in a dream. Allowing all options on the table is a key step to moving forward in writing any kind of story.


  1. Hi Stephen, I just popped in to wish you good luck with your NaNo. I'll try to catch it some time after it's finished if possible.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Steve. So far the NaNo project is going well. I'm now at Day 5 and still on target with my goals.

    If you want to be one of my first readers, I'm sure we can work somethiing out. Thanks.

  3. Glad to hear the juices are flowing for you Stephen, and yes, I would look forward to reading the finished version.