Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

October, Autumn, and Looking Ahead to November

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Happy Friday! TGIF and all that!

After our summer respite last weekend (80’s in MN at the end of September!), we are now looking fully into the face of Autumn. The trees are displaying gorgeous colors, from brilliant pink to bright gold to bold scarlet. Every year I try to imprint the mosaic in my mind. Each year the colors are brighter or duller, depending on the weather. This year looks like a banner year. The sugar maples are frosted with glowing magenta blending to yellow against a background of green. Wow.

On the dark side, though, it’s back to cold and gray and blustery. I suspect my tomatoes won’t finish ripening before the trees lose all their leaves and a hard frost has the final word on this year’s bounty. Sigh. There’s nothing like fresh tomatoes from the garden, especially when the nights get cool. The tomatoes get nice and sweet!

October ushers in the prelude to Winter. The leaves change, the pumpkins show up on roadside stands, and the Halloween commercials appear on TV. Now’s the time to finish the yard work and make sure everything is ready for snow (yes, I said it). There’s something about the brooding steel skies, the almost-sweet smell of fallen leaves, and the chill in the air that inspires me to write. At least until I need sunshine again in about a week. Then the inspiration gives way to SAD and reluctant baking in preparation for the upcoming holidays.

On the bright side, October also signals my prep time for National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo, or simply, NaNo). I’ve been taking the challenge every year for almost a decade, and have passed the 50,000-word mark in all but my first year of participation. Come to think of it, this will be my tenth NaNo. Now’s the time I spend tasking my Muse with the question of what to write this year. Do I write the next book in my detective series, or rewrite (again) one of my romantic mysteries? Or, do I write something fresh that I haven’t pieced together in my head yet?

The fun part is mulling over what to write. I’ve learned that outlining, at least roughly, helps me put the story together. I use Karen Wiesner’s “First Draft in 30 Days” methodology to lay things out. Every writer does things differently, and I never used outlines until I prepped for my first NaNo. It worked so well for that book that I’ve used that method every year since.

I’ve got a month to figure it out, then I’ll jump into November with a 2,000 word per day goal. That’s it, just 2,000 words per day will get you to 60,000 words in 30 days (gotta give yourself a cushion for the November holidays). Join the fun this year! No, there’s no prizes except bragging rights. But, hey, bragging rights are good! You can say to all those friends who ask if your book is finished yet that yep, it’s done.

The key to NaNo is remembering that what you write is a first draft. Not perfect, not final, and not necessarily neat. The first step to any writing project is getting something on paper, whether electronic or wood-based. NaNo is an opportunity to do just that. And remember to kick the inner editor into a closet and lock the door. Let your muse hide the key. If nothing else, it’ll get you into the habit of writing every day, and we know that is an important habit for a writer to have.

Sign up now:  nanowrimo.org


Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", will be released in March, 2019, by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer with a family of two teens, a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, three chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

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