Write A Little Mo…

July 4, 2012

THE END!

Filed under: Write Stuff — Mo @ 11:29 pm

Holy cow, I have just finished writing a novel! OK, so it isn’t the one I’ve been blogging about off and on (more off than on, I’m afraid) in here, but I have written an honest-to-goodness young adult novel of about 60,000 words (I lost count). Since this afternoon, I’ve been writing the very last chapter, and just a few short minutes ago, on this very auspicious day (Happy July 4th, my American friends!) I finally typed in those two elusive words: THE END.

I have been attempting to write novels all my life. Usually, I get somewhere around halfway and I run out of steam. This seemed to be the fate of my historical fiction as well. Last November, when I decided to tackle NaNoWriMo again, I made a radical decision. I opted to put the historical fiction on the back burner, and work on an idea that burst into my head a few days earlier after attending a writer’s conference in Toronto called Packaging Your Imagination. The idea? A ghost story. I had grown up devouring tales of horror with about as much voraciousness as I did science fiction and fantasy, so it wasn’t a huge stretch for me to write a tale in this genre. My plan was to write as much as I could in November, and then return to my historical fiction.

But it’s hard to get a lot of writing done in one short month when you also have a full-time job and a family to feed and keep happy. So by the end of the month, I was nowhere near finished. But the story would not leave me alone, and I made a quick apology to my historical fiction – and my in-laws, while I continued to hammer out this novel.

Then my health got in the way and I was in for another major surgery, less than 18 months after my other major surgery. If there was a positive side to this setback, it was my two months off work to recover. Plenty of time to write! So I spent every afternoon working away at it, with a goal of finishing the novel before the end of April and my return to work.

I was two chapters away from finishing. Sigh.

Returning to work was difficult and exhausting. I came home and struggled to get to my writing. Some days were productive, some not so much. Then, by mid-May my hopes of getting any writing done were pretty much dashed. I had a yearbook to finish and get to press. I had a graduation slideshow I had to put together and my own daughter was among the graduates, so it had to be extra special. Then there were all the other little things in-between that distracted me from my writing.

I can’t kick myself too hard. I did manage to finish one more chapter, leaving me with the very last one to write. The one I couldn’t get around to writing until today, but was determined to keep on writing until I finished with THE END. So, with husband making all kinds of racket renovating the kitchen, and the kids watching TV with volume cranked above his racket, I retreated to my shed outside. It was hotter than blazes in there, even in the cooler evening air, but I steeled myself for the task. I had managed to write four pages in the quiet afternoon indoors in air-conditioned comfort, and for one brief moment as I stood in that humid little shed, I thought about leaving it for the day.

But who was I kidding? I could almost taste THE END.

So I soldiered on. And when my laptop battery dwindled to 6% and my electrical outlet didn’t seem to work, I retreated indoors and plugged my laptop into one that did work. And I kept writing, even as I sat next to my daughters with the TV blaring and my husband still working away – but thankfully making less noise. And then, when everyone headed off to bed and quiet fell over the house like a fleece blanket, I snuggled in it and kept on writing until I finally got to do what I have waited my entire life to finally do. I wrote those words. THE END.

I want to cry. I’m so happy. Even though I know this isn’t the book I should be writing THE END to (so sorry, historical fiction, but I will get back to you now), I want to dance. This isn’t going to change anyone’s world. It’s just a ghost story. There’s no life-changing message hidden in it. It’s pure entertainment and who knows if anyone would even want to publish it. But it means so much to me. It means I can write a novel from start to finish (finally). It means I can actually do it. It means that even if it never sees the light of day in a book store or library, that’s all right. Because I told a story, and I didn’t just drop it halfway like I did with the novel about of friendship I wrote in high school, or the fantasy I started writing later on. Or even my poor neglected historical fiction – which I promise you I will return my energies to its telling.

I finished my ghost story. And tomorrow I am going to start revising it. After that, we shall see. But tonight I am going to sleep so well, because I can honestly say to myself and to others around me that I wrote a book.

I wrote a book.

THE END.

January 24, 2011

Flash Forward…

Filed under: Write Stuff — Mo @ 8:52 pm

Nope, not on the manuscript. No moving ahead there. But time sure has a way of surging ahead.

To update on NaNoWriMo, it was more NO than MO. With my recuperation, two sick kids to tend at different times, snow days and other distractions, I didn’t really find much “alone time” with my ms. I found myself looking longingly at my shed in the corner of the yard, the path to it buried under heaps of snow. I was tempted a couple of times to brave the elements and hide out there, but even with the space heater, I knew it wouldn’t get warm enough in there to be comfortable to write. Sigh.

I have accepted these peaks and valleys in my writing. It doesn’t mean I’m giving up. It just means that I’m not going to sit and whine about how nothing is getting done, because in due time something will be written, as long as I don’t give up completely. So I am back in the saddle (for now) and hopefully I can keep the words flowing for a little longer each time.

I’ll try not to let months pass before I post another update. (Yeah, right!)

November 2, 2010

Day 2: NaNoWriMo

Filed under: Write Stuff — Mo @ 8:23 pm

Coming out of the gate, so full of excitement and energy, I had a lot of confidence that this was going to be a month of accomplishments. Unfortunately, I’m currently not in the best state of health to be doing anything so ambitious, and my body made sure to let me know yesterday. I am recovering from fairly invasive surgery I received in mid-October, and had to go to the emergency room yesterday in great pain and fearing a complication had occurred. My concerns were taken very seriously and so in addition to treatment I was asked to return today for further testing.  Things were already much improved in the pain department this morning, and the tests came back negative, so all is good again. But I was so worn out from 5 hours in the ER today and lots of walking (which I am not used to doing post-surgery) that I was pretty much wiped out for the rest of today. So Day 2 and the word count is a whopping 0. On the plus side, before things went horribly wrong yesterday, I revised two chapters, so at least I made some headway.

Let’s hope tomorrow I can finally start adding new words to the count!

November 1, 2010

NaNoWri Mo — and go!

Filed under: Write Stuff — Mo @ 10:35 am

Last year, I unofficially participated in NaNoWriMo to put a fire under my butt and get going on my languishing manuscript. The results were fairly positive. I had a very productive month, and while I was far from finishing said manuscript, at least I made some headway. But as usually, things continued to go up and down since then, and I am still far from finishing.

However, here we are back in November, and once again I am an unofficial NaNoWriMo participant. This time I am not even working full-time, as I am recovering from rather invasive surgery and I have an 8 week leave, so I have no excuses and plenty of time to get some writing done. My goal is lofty – to finish the manuscript. Alarm bells should be ringing: I can barely manage baby steps, so attempting to actually finish something is huge. But I don’t care anymore. If I make it, great. If I don’t, there’s still the hope that I got a lot more done than if I stuck with my little goal.

So here goes nothing! I’ll try and be diligent in posting my progress and word count.

Good luck to all you NaNoWriMo people out there!

September 19, 2010

Speak Loudly – Protect Your Freedom to Read!

Filed under: Random Stuff,Write Stuff — Mo @ 7:38 pm

Freedom to Read Week is coming up, and although book-banning zealots are out there every day of the year, they seem to work up to a frenzy in September. This time a man by the name of Wesley Scroggins is attacking another piece of amazing YA fiction that I just finished reading the other day: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This is the story of a young teenage girl who is raped at an end-of-summer party but cannot bring herself to tell anyone what happened. She ends up in a downward spiral of depression until she is able to find the words to tell the truth. What an excellent opportunity to open discussion with our sons and daughters, but others like Mr. Scroggins want to decide for you, me and our children which books are acceptable to read. In an opinion letter to the Springfield, MO News-Leader, he condemns Speak as soft pornography. Pornography, by definition, is intended to arouse sexual excitement. I think his choice of words is highly inflammatory and completely out in left field. This novel is meant to enlighten, not arouse. This is a story that must be told, to give voice to the girls and women who have been victimized and haven’t been able to make themselves heard. It is meant to promote discussion between teens and their peers, and hopefully between teens and their parents – more on that later.

Mr. Scroggins not only attacks these books in his opinion piece, he went to a Republic, MO school board meeting to try and get this and other books removed from the classrooms and libraries. If you read to the end of the article, it is reported by the editor that another book that Mr. Scroggins found questionable, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, was actually removed from schools. This might be an American school board, but what saddens me is that it is just as likely to happen up here. How is it that the voices of the few can speak for the many? How is it that great works of literature continue to be banned, burned and buried?

I am a school librarian, and a parent of two teenage daughters. Because of my job, I am more likely to read material for young people, which puts me in a fortunate position in that I can discuss these books with my kids. And this is why I am constantly telling parents to read what their children read — because it opens the doors to discussion and offers parents teachable moments. Even if you disagree with the content of the book, you can share that opinion with your child. Case in point: I had a parent request that I restrict her daughter from taking out a picture book because one character referred to another character as “stupid.” I explained to her that the book actually provided her with a great opportunity to discuss why name-calling is hurtful and wrong. She still insisted that her daughter never check it out again. What a shame! She just passed up a teachable moment with her daughter.

Thankfully, she didn’t demand that I remove the book from the library shelf – and a good thing, too, because I would have refused. Making a decision about what her child can read and process is her right, but making a decision about what other parents’ children can read is not.

Every year, there are books for young people that cause a whirlwind of controversy. Words are taken out of context, and messages are twisted to fuel public outrage against the books in question. I’ve seen well-intentioned parents jump on the banned-wagon (pun intended), never actually taking the time to read the book, never actually using the book as a teaching tool. As I said before, even if you disagree with the message, you have a chance to sit down with your child and explain why that particular book had a negative impact on you. And if you found the book carried a powerful message worth sharing with your child, you have the catalyst for a discussion you might never have had if it weren’t for that wonderful book.

I believe in talking about issues with my children, but every now and then, even I don’t know how or where to begin. Thank heavens for books! My 14 year-old daughter brought home Go Ask Alice (another book that continues to be challenged and banned because of the subject of drug abuse) from the public library, and I told her it was a very intense book and to come and talk to me about it if she wants. I received the typical teen eye-roll as she headed up the stairs to read it. But amazingly, we had not one, but two terrific discussions about drugs because she WANTED to discuss the book with me later. I was able to share my opinions and values with her, and she was ready to listen. I don’t think it would have happened as easily if I just sat her down at the table and started rambling on about the evils of drug abuse. She had an opportunity to safely experience the destructive nature of drug abuse, and sought me out to discuss it and help her process what she just read.

Parents, I urge you to read what your child is reading. Some books might be out of your comfort zone, but they can help you and your child navigate the ups and downs of adolescence together in the safe environment of the printed page. Books can open the doors to discussion. Books can help you share your thoughts and ideas. Moreover, books can help you build your relationship with your child because they provide bonding moments that might not have happened otherwise. So read those books!

And if you still believe a particular book is not meant for your child, that’s entirely up to you. But please don’t make that decision for the rest of us.

If you want to read Wesley Scroggins’ op-ed piece, and author Laurie Halse Anderson’s response in her blog, here are the links:

http://www.news-leader.com/article/20100918/OPINIONS02/9180307/Scroggins-Filthy-books-demeaning-to-Republic-education

http://halseanderson.livejournal.com/318655.html

March 20, 2010

March Break Madness

Filed under: Write Stuff — Mo @ 3:33 pm

I have a love/hate thing with March Break. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • I work in the education system, so I get to enjoy a week off. It’s a week off without pay, but hey, it’s still a week off.
  • That means more time to write and hopefully even more time to write.
  • My children also have the week off, and it’s an opportunity to spend some quality time with them.
  • I get to sleep in. YAY!
  • I get to catch up on some reading.

Cons:

  • My children also have the week off, and there is lots of distraction to keep me from my writing.
  • I sleep in too late and lose a lot of valuable time.
  • I stay up late reading – hence the sleeping in part.
  • There is pressure to attend to long-neglected chores – cleaning out closets, going through piles of paperwork, organizing computer files, etc.

I’m sure there are lots of other things I could add to either pro/con section, but you catch my drift. It’s definitely a week of give and take. So I spent a whole day with the girls at the mall, and I met a friend for coffee one night, and that was great! I also cleaned out two closets and filled a garbage bag of shoes and another of coats to donate.  I finished reading a couple of great books.  I wasted a lot of time on Zombie Farm and Twitter, and a little less time on Facebook.

But I did get some writing done — or at least revised three chapters. And if I don’t waste too much time here, I might even be able to get to Chapter 13!  So as much as I got productive with my closets and had a good time with family and friends, I also squeezed in some time to write. As much as it would be great to disappear all week, I compromised.  Maybe it wasn’t madness after all.

March 7, 2010

OLA SuperConference and Writing

Filed under: Write Stuff — Mo @ 8:18 pm

Last week I had the double-treat of attending OLA SuperConference wearing two different hats.  Wearing my librarian hat, I got to learn some wonderful new things about libraries and librarianship, and I got to be a total fan of the writers in attendance — getting books, getting autographs, and gushing over their talents.  Wearing my own writer’s hat, I got to meet up with my other writer friends, exchange updates, and of course get them to autograph copies of their newly-published books and gush over their talents.

I’m so privileged to count these people as my friends, and as we sat down to a late lunch, it still felt surreal to me, being among such a talented bunch when I still haven’t completed a manuscript or achieved the ultimate goal of getting my work published and being a “real writer.”  They in turn, have been encouraging and and supportive, and I so appreciate their vote of confidence. As usual, I struggle with esteem issues and worry about reaching my own goals.  But they are always there to remind me of their own struggles and their own worries, and insist we aren’t that much different.  I just need to get off my butt and write!

So today I pulled out my Mac and tackled a couple of chapters.  They were already written and in need of revisions, but I am moving forward and hopefully it won’t be long before I get to where I left off and continue the thread of the story.  Just keep pushing me, friends.  I don’t know if I can make it any other way!

December 31, 2009

So long, 2009

Filed under: Random Stuff — Mo @ 11:58 pm

Just a couple of minutes left in the old year and soon to start a new decade. May this new year bring all your wildest dreams to fruition!

December 2, 2009

Happy, happy, happy!

Filed under: Write Stuff — Mo @ 12:32 am

Well, NaNoWriMo is over and I didn’t even crack 20,000 words – and they weren’t new ones either – so I guess in reality I didn’t do well on that front.  But on the plus side, it got me off my butt and working nearly every day on my ms.  Congratulations to those of you who started from scratch and wrote like crazy for NaNoWriMo!

If I didn’t do so well with NaNoWriMo, why am I grinning like a Cheshire cat?  It’s because I (finally) got enough courage to post my first three chapters in my private online writing group, and the feedback was better than I could ever have dreamed!  And when that feedback comes from two published authors who have tons of experience in writing historical fiction, I couldn’t help but pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming!

This makes a huge difference in my attitude.  I used to just poke at my writing, always doubting myself and wondering if it was all worthwhile.  The only thing that really kept me going was my promise to myself and to my in-laws, Irena and Anthony, that I would tell this story and hopefully get it out there.  Now that I know I can write a compelling first chapter, I can finally leave it alone and keep going!  No more looking back!

November 10, 2009

Chopping Trip

Filed under: Write Stuff — Mo @ 1:11 am

I am hard at it, chopping my second chapter into three, smaller, more easily digestible chunks.  I never realized how much I wrote in just the first two chapters… over 10,000 words.  I think it will work much better now that I have six small chapters instead of two big ones.  But I guess the real test will occur when I post them in KidCrit.

I really need to get off my butt and start the ball rolling on that!

On the plus side, this unofficial NaNoWriMo is keeping me motivated and forcing me to work on my WIP every day.  I know I am mostly editing right now, but still, I think that accounts for something!  And I am hopeful I will return to the writing feeling refreshed!

Check out my wordcount — I’m already at nearly 20%.  I don’t know whether to get excited or scream in defeat because it’s six chapters and nothing is really happening yet.  Ugh.  Maybe I should just shut up and go to bed!

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