Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Another year, another win! #nanowrimo2021

Another year, another win! Not just having written 50k words in 30 days, but having rebuilt the habit of writing every day.

One of the things I find every year when I do this crazy exercise is the flow and ebb of creativity. Flow first, because it always seems when I start my NaNo journey I take off with a rush of creative energy, but by week 2, that energy starts to ebb, and I find myself writing a lot of inline notes to myself, or more accurately, stream of consciousness writing along the lines of “what if this happened now” or “this sounds stupid, fix it later”.

With the cooler weather, and … oh, heck, it’s the sunset at four freaking o’clock … I haven’t been walking as much as I was back before we turned the clocks back, and before the sun set earlier than six o’clock. Walking really helps with the whole brainstorming process for me. There was a writer some time ago who posted about walking whenever she got stuck … Come to think of it, a LOT of writers walk when they get stuck.

Anyway, I end up doing a lot of brainstorming, or just brain-nothing, when I walk. But now, with the early sunset and working until late afternoon (i.e. after the sun goes down), I’m not getting my daily dose of fresh air, and I’m not getting the benefit of the half-hour or so of “brainwalking”.

So what’s a writer to do? Wait for the winter solstice, for sure (about three weeks and counting!). But I’ve learned that writing longhand is a great way to stoke the creative energies. Of course, writing longhand means the computer doesn’t conveniently count how many words I write.

What does work, though, is writing … er, drafting a project outside of the NaNo window, then transcribing that into the computer as a NaNo project. It’s amazing how many words can come out of a longhand draft. I had started writing one of the novellas this summer, I think, then started it again (cuz I had a better idea, or the first one sucked worse than usual or something along those lines). I knew that novella was going to be one of my NaNo projects.

By the time I transcribed the part I’d drafted (only about the first third to a half of the novella), I’d gotten back into the story, and managed to finish it in a way I had never considered when I started it. Score!

I’m feeling like a real writer again. I mean, I am a real writer, but … you know what I mean. I’m back into the “writing every day” habit (or most every day), and I’m going back to my police procedural to revise that a bit right now. Or maybe my small-town mystery. Or maybe book 3 …

I feel a craft-related post coming up for next week, now that I’ve finished reading a couple books that had me analyzing the way the authors used the craft. Very interesting, and they had me reading as much for gleaning ideas on how to write as much as for the story itself.

Keep on writing!

For you, B! A furry kitty tummy!


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NaNo Week #4: Home stretch #nanowrimo2021

“Are you kidding me? You were supposed to post this morning.”

My Muse leans back in my chair. “You said I was supposed to write the post, love. I’m writing it.”

“This morning. I always post in the morning.”

“Do you want me to finish it or not?”

Grumble. “Yes, finish it.”

He raises a brow. “I was helping you, if you recall. You’re almost to the finish line.” He points to one fo the recliners in the alcove. “Now, go finish. You’ve got what, less than 4k words to go. If you get your ass moving, you can finish tomorrow.”

“Fine.”

“You know this is going to be a really short post, right, love?”

“Just do whatever. I’m writing my last four thousand words, remember?”

“Okay, then.”

My writer settles into a recliner and gets her laptop going. She’s been really good the past week. Finished both novellas she was working on. With my help, of course. And it helped that she didn’t have to go anywhere for Thanksgiving.

Speaking of, Happy belated Thanksgiving to everyone! I’m sure my writer meant to post that day, but as I recall, she was on a roll (courtesy of moi).

Three days to go for NaNo. Good luck in the home stretch!

Nyx and Tibbers. Cozy!


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NaNo Week #3: Slipping away #nanowrimo2021

Damn. I spent a half hour this morning writing. I mean, I started on a roll, too. It was progress. I got maybe 450 words down. Then I went back to another file to check something (I use Scrivener), copied some notes to paste into my current file …

And it was blank! Gone! All those words I’d written. And Scrivener automatically saves every, like, 10 seconds, and saves on exit (I set it up that way), so it wasn’t like I could go back.

Four hundred words. And of course, real life–I had homework last night and tonight. Bottom line? I ate up my meager buffer, and now I’m behind. Sigh.

And you know who has been scarce lately. One of my writing sisters …

Slam!

Crisp November wind wraps around the wall separating the alcove from the outside door to my writing office.

“Is that you?”

His baritone voice, with its Australian brogue, takes away the chill from the breeze he let in. “Yes, it’s me, love. You better be writing.”

He comes around the wall, rubbing his hands together to warm them. He’s broken out the fisherman’s sweater, jeans that haven’t faded but still fit like they were made just for him, and …

“Are those bear paw slippers?”

He lifts a leg to show me the paw print pattern on the bottom of the thick fuzzy footwear. “Like them?”

……

“Julie?”

“Those … are so not your style.”

A grin stretches across his face, deepening the divot in his chin and lighting his eyes. “But they’re fun. And warm. But mostly fun.” He shuffles over to the other recliner, stopping to grab a beer from the mini-fridge before dropping into the chair. “You’re supposed to be working on your NaNo project.”

“Dude, I’m writing my blog post, which you were supposed to do this week.”

“Me? Why me?”

“Because you went AWOL this week. I hit a block, and where the hell were you?” I hold up a hand. “Wait, don’t tell me. You crashed the wedding, didn’t you?”

He sips his beer. “Why would you think that, love?”

“My writing sister, who I know you’ve hung around with, not that she’d ever admit it, had a family wedding last week, and you were conveniently not available.”

He doesn’t even have the sense to look sheepish. “It was a nice wedding. I only stayed for the cake, if you must know.”

“Sure, you did.”

“Did you ask her if she saw me there?”

“Yes.”

“And?”

“She was busy. Of course she didn’t notice you were there.”

He leans over to check my laptop. He smells like pine and the cold outdoors. I’m much warmer than I was five minutes ago. Except for my toes. They’re always cold.

“You were working pretty steady.”

“Sure, until the past three days. I didn’t even hit a thousand words.”

“You’ve got the weekend to catch up.”

“You’re not planning on going anywhere, right? I mean, no pub crawls with E or anything, right?”

“Nope. You’re stuck with me, love.”

“Good. Now, help me rewrite the stuff that disappeared this morning.”

“Ask nicely.”

I can’t hold back the sigh. “Will you please help me rewrite the stuff that some cyber dog ate this morning?”

“Much better. Of course, I’ll help.”

As long as he doesn’t plan on sneaking out again. So, my goal is to catch up to where I’m supposed to be this weekend. Next week is a short week at work due to the holiday, so hopefully I can go all out and at least give myself a decent buffer. If I’m really going, maybe I can even finish my 50k.

A girl can hope.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate!

Being a cat is so exhausting!


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NaNo Week 2: Steady as she goes #nanowrimo2021

Week 2 of NaNo is off and running. I had a few spits and starts this past week, some good writing time interrupted by my class. Sigh. Still debating whether to take another class next semester.

Anyway, a few days of clearing 2k words, a few days of missing 1,000 words, but overall I’m keeping up. The story is meandering pretty good, but hey, it’s a first draft. Trimming comes later, with the whole revision routine.

Are you playing NaNoWriMo this year? Are you keeping up? One of my Writing Sisters had the fortune to spend a solid week quietly writing at the beach.

I’m envious. I mean, a solid week of nothing to do but write, walk along the beach, and write some more? Yes, please! It got me thinking about the place here in MN I’ve been eyeing for an extended weekend of writing. Not now, because winter in MN and the only heat in those little cabins is wood heat, but definitely thinking spring/early summer to test the place out over a long weekend. If it feels good, I see a week-long annual writing retreat in my future 🙂

There are other options, I know, more formally set up as writing retreats or residencies. I’ve been thinking about those as well. More pricy, but there’s also the thing about muses gathering when writers get together. More creative energy to help inspire.

More to think about. Not now, though. Winter is coming (we got a coating of snow yesterday, but temps are predicted to hit 50 F this coming week, so welcome to November in MN, climate change edition). Well, maybe in a warmer locale…

Back to writing. Hope you have a bountiful writing week!

Just a feel-good pic of Tibbers and Nyx


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Week 1: So far, so good #nanowrimo2021

Quote from barbara kingsolver: there is no perfect time to write. there is only now.

Week 1 of NaNoWriMo is almost over, and I’m on track. Not ahead, since I missed my quota a few days this week, but I’m about where I should be.

What’s better than getting back into the “writing every day” habit? Realizing the difference between two versions of the same story.

I spent time over this year writing the opening scenes for a novella in longhand. One version in one notebook, then later decided to redo it, and used a different notebook. Couldn’t find the newer notebook, so started transcribing from the older one first. The writing? Meh.

When I finally discovered the newer version, I see the differences in the writing. Namely, the second one is a better version. Why? It reads like I was more “in tune” with my creative energies, if that makes sense.

I’ve also started reading a new book (new to me, and if anyone is wondering, it’s Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey, a local author and foster mom for adorable kittens! The one she’s fostering now is unbelievably cute! (she posts pics on FB)), and the writer in me is taking mental notes on how she’s writing, and the techniques she’s using, especially when it comes to drawing readers in. Granted, she was an English professor until she started writing full time. If you ever have the chance to attend a presentation by her, I recommend it.

Anyway, the take-away for me is being conscious of ways to draw the reader in and immerse them in not only the story, but the characters. That’s the difference between the two versions of my current project: the first is more mechanical, the second has more “heart” to it. Now that I recognize that, I’m going to try to incorporate more of that into my own work. I’ve even gone through some of my assignments from my writing classes that went toward my writing certificate, and I’ve done it. I’ve written with more “heart”, but those were short (2k or less) pieces. I can do it, now it’s a matter of focus and being conscious of not just the actions in the scene, but how to immerse the reader in the scene with the characters.

Practice! I’m off to write. And don’t forget to turn the clocks back tonight!

It’s getting cold. Only time I need a lap!