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     Society has defined a set of standards and ideals which they deem “normal”.  It’s not documented anywhere, nor is it enforced by law, it is just implied.  Creative types, by definition, don’t fall into these standards, thinking outside of the box and coming up with ideas that others may deem odd at first.  For many, myself included, this can cause an internal struggle as we try to understand who we are and how we fit into the world around us.  

     Growing up, I always knew that the way I thought or viewed things didn’t always fall in line with the way everyone else around me did.  I tended to try to stuff my personality quirks back into the box for fear of embarrassing myself in front of others.  I tried desperately to fit into a mold that wasn’t designed for me and for a long time, that left me feeling very lost and alone.

     The older I get and the more I experience in life, the more I learn to embrace my quirks.  They are what makes me who I am, what makes me tick.  And I’m finding the people that matter the most to me, accept me with my quirks and all; they even like me all the more for just being who I am.  Letting go of the fear of not being accepted for who I am has opened a new door for my creativity.  The more I embrace it, the more I find myself wanting to do.  A world of possibilities is now open to me and I refuse to ignore it any longer.

It’s never too late to follow your dreams.

     Some people are lucky enough to learn this lesson early in life.  Those are the people that you find changing the world and living their dreams.  But that doesn’t mean the rest of us are lost causes, it just means that we have some lost time to make up for.  So the next time someone tells you that you are weird or odd, don’t think of it as an insult, simply say “Thank you”.  Because the truth of the matter is, there is no such thing as “normal”.  We are all hiding something because we think someone will make fun of us or we feel self conscious about it.  The sooner we realize this and stop caring so much about other people’s opinion, the sooner we are free to be happy.

Image courtesy of digital art /

     I absolutely love the articles I find on  They provide great, useful information for everyone.  The best part of these articles is that they offer advice, tips and tricks in layman’s terms so they can be understood by anyone from a novice to a professional.  One such article by James Altucher focuses on how he makes his living writing and how anyone can do the same.  

     I’m not going to just regurgitate the article for you here, so click on the link above to check it out for yourself.  The advice is actually rather simple and Altucher not only tells you what you can do, but offers examples of how he does them.  In a nutshell, here is how you can make a living writing:

  1. You Are a Writer
  2. Read a Ton of Stuff 
  3. Get Rid of Prejudice
  4. Self-Publishing is not E-Books
  5. Bookstores are Evil
  6. Platform is Shit
  7. Blog
  8. Write Everyday
  9. Rewrite Everyday
  10. Can I Make Money Writing Articles?
  11. Write A Lot of Books
     Some of these things are a bit obvious and you will hear them time and time again.  Others may seem a bit contradictory, but that goes to point number 3.  Many of us have preconceived ideas of what it means to be a writer, but the industry has changed and is still changing, so we need to learn to change with it.

     The key to making a living as a writer seems to be volume.  The more you write, the more chance you have of making money and selling your work.  That seems like common sense right?  But many of us have been seduced by the success of authors like EL James and Stephanie Meyers who made it big off the success of a first book or series.  Not everyone will have that same success and so we need to write, write, write… 

     We also need to keep in mind that not everything we write will be written with the intention of publishing and selling.  Like any other art form, the way to improve your writing is to practice.  The more you write, the better you will get.  On days where you don’t seem to be inspired, write anything that comes to mind.  In Altucher’s example, he wrote 1500 words about bowel movements.  No, it was not for a medical journal or other such publication, it was simply because that is what came to mind and so that is what he wrote about.  

     Most of us think that if what we are writing is not awe inspiring, then it isn’t worth writing, but in truth, writing anything is better than not writing anything.  And the more you write, the better your chances of earning money doing what you love.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

     I recently engaged in a conversation with other authors and the topic of self promotion came up.  Several jokes were made about the various methods of self promotion that can be used to garner the most attention.  This then led to a thought provoking discussion on the quality of the attention we attract versus the quantity.

     Sure, we all want more fans.  The more fans we attract, the greater the potential for our work to be seen.  But the kind of self promotion you do can sometimes attract the wrong attention.  We all know that sex sells; the concept is thrust in our faces on a daily basis, from commercials to magazine ads to billboards.  The more scantily clad the model (male or female), the more attention the ad gets.  But how many times do we remember the half naked model more than the product they are advertising.  Sure, it will attract oglers, but does it bring in more clients?  

     Social media is a powerful marketing tool that can be used by anyone from seasoned professionals to novices.  When using social media, you need to decide what is more important to you, the number of fans or followers that you are able to amass, or the quality of those fans/followers.  This is something that I thought quite a bit about when I first started promoting my writing.  I would look at other pages and see that they were able to gain a large following relatively quickly and I would wonder what I was doing wrong.  Personally, I’m not all that great at self promotion because I hate feeling like I am bothering other people by constantly thrusting my work in their faces.  I’m a big believer in having my work speak for itself.  The trick is to find the right balance between the two.

     If all you care about is how many people are following you or subscribing to your page, etc… then you will use any means necessary to gain those followers, even employing tactics that appeal to the wrong audience.  There are even services out there that offer to direct traffic to your page, guaranteeing a boost in followers.  But how do you know that those new followers will actual be true fans?  Just because they follow you does not mean that they will take the time to read your work or learn more about you.  Is that really a good gauge of how well your work is being received?  Does it indicate to future potential fans that your work is something they would enjoy, just because you have a large number of followers?  What if those fans don’t engage or offer any honest feedback?

     On the other hand, having less fans/followers may feel like an indication that your work is not getting attention and can be hard on anyone’s ego.  But if they are true fans, they will follow you because they are interested in your work and will engage and comment on your activity.  This kind of engagement will lead them to tell others and slowly, but surely, you will gain true, productive fans.  Taking the time to focus on ensuring that you offer these fans quality work, is far more important than boosting your numbers.  Having happy, involved fans can help you grow as both an author and a brand.

     So the choice is yours.  Do you care more about the number of fans/followers you can get?  Or are you looking for your work to do the talking and attract meaningful fans that can offer productive exposure?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

     Have you ever looked around and felt like everyone has their life together but you?  Like they figured out some secret to the universe that makes life a breeze?  With minimum to no effort, they receive the very things you have been struggling and scraping for, but you, you still have to jump through flaming hoops, walk barefoot across burning coals and swim piranha infested waters just to get anywhere.  That’s how I’m feeling right now.

     I used to think I had my life all figured out and for the most part, I was happy or at least content in knowing that while I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be, I was at least on course.  If I could just make it through the rough patch, I would reach the clearing and everything would be daffodils and sunshine.  But instead, the rough patch seems to be growing rougher with each passing day and as I get older, the self assurance that I used to possess is slowly vanishing, causing me to feel lost.  My rational mind is still telling me that this is only temporary and will eventually pass.  But we human beings are anything but rational.  Add to that the fact that I am a female and you have a recipe for an emotional disaster.

     Knowing that my problems are trivial compared to what many others are going through should be enough to keep things in perspective, but it isn’t always.  Especially not when I deal with people waiving their good fortune in my face on a constant basis with little to no regard for my personal situation or my feelings.  That, coupled with how little they appreciate their good fortune, is enough to drive a person mad.  And have you ever noticed that the worst people tend to have it the easiest?  Sometimes, I wonder how I have managed to stay sane this long.  Other people have even asked me that question and the only answer I have is that I have always tried my hardest to look at the brighter side of things, searching for the silver lining no matter how thin or imperceptible it might be.  If something didn’t happen for me, then it just wasn’t my time.  If yet another obstacle was thrown in my way, it was because I had the fortitude to deal with it where others didn’t.  But there are only so many times you can look at the glass as being half full before you start noticing that it is half empty.

     For so long, I put the needs of others before my own.  As a parent, I tend to do this with my children quite often, not always understanding that sometimes the best thing for them is really for me to do what is best for me.  But I didn’t only do this with my children, I did it with anyone that I love because, that’s what love is, isn’t it?  When you truly love someone, you will move heaven and earth to make them happy, be it family, friends or a significant other.  Soon enough, I was buried under a sea of other people’s needs, left floundering around, trying to figure out which way is up.  And now, I don’t even know what I need.  All I know for certain is that whatever my needs are, they aren’t being met right now and the weight of that realization can be soul crushing at times. 

     I am thankful that I at least have my writing, although I don’t write nearly as much as I need to.  When the weight gets so heavy that I can barely breathe, I inhale as deeply as possible and exhale through my words.  Letting every emotion shape and color those words, so that they bleed out of me and onto the page, has to be the most liberating things I have ever felt.  Even now, as I write this blog, I feel slightly lighter than I did before I started.  So while I know my blogs have become less regular and more off topic, sometimes it just helps knowing that we are not the only ones going through certain things and the only way we can know this, is to share what we are feeling instead of swallowing it down and keeping it to ourselves.

For those of you that continue to read, thank you for your support, it means the world to me.

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 /

I gave you everything I had;
My heart, my mind, my body, my soul.
The entirety of my being was yours
And still you wanted more.

My innocence and youth

Were yours for the taking.
I blindly followed where you led
And still you wanted more.

My love became replete in the form of a child

Our first born,
A son,
The physical embodiment
Of all that I had to offer you
And still you wanted more.

Reaching deep within,

Where I had never gone before
Finding the last of my reserves
I offered you a daughter,
A little girl to adore
And still you wanted more.

Empty and depleted,

Running on fumes,
My love lay dying
Where you tossed it on the floor
Because despite how hard I tried,
I had nothing left to give
And still you wanted more.

You already possessed all of me

So how could I possibly give you more…

Image courtesy of dan

     I used to see my future laid out ahead of me, as far as the eye can see, and still, somehow I knew it extended far beyond that.  It was a long, wide path, filled with possibilities.  But lately, visibility is pretty hazy and I’m having trouble seeing any farther than the end of the day; sometimes even seeing that far is a blessing.  The path I’m on was once so certain that I dashed ahead with little thought or concern, simply following the road, oblivious to anything other than reaching the prize that I knew awaited me at the end.  At times, this singular focus made it difficult for me to see and appreciate the gifts I was being given along the way or to take heed of the obstacles being placed up ahead.

     Now the path has narrowed and there are so many twists and turns and dark stretches of road that I tread cautiously.  There was a time when I was surrounded by so many people, traveling along the same path, but little by little, they branched off and now, quite often, I find my path deserted; devoid of any signs of life, of humanity, other than my own.  It can be difficult to convince myself to carry on, but somehow, I always manage to continue trudging forward.  Deep down inside, I know that eventually, the path will once again become smooth and easy, even if I can’t see it ahead of me.  It is how I handle this treacherous stretch that defines who I am and shows what I am made of.  I will not let myself fall prey to the creatures that lurk along the edges, waiting for me to falter, so they can pick me apart like vultures.  I refuse to give them the satisfaction.

     With my head held high, I put on a brave face and try not to let my fear or sadness show.  But if anyone bothered to look closely enough, they would see the tiniest quiver of my lip, feel my heart pounding in my chest and hear the unsteady rhythm of my breathing as I gasp for air to keep the tears from running down my face.  

     No longer thinking, I just put one foot in front of the other, letting the momentum of years of motion guide my limbs.  Well worn and weary, I feel older than my years.  The stitch in my hip, the ache in my knee and the heaviness in my heart; all reminders of the trials I have already survived.  Like battle scars, they are my badges of honor, yet they feel more like evidence of my past transgressions.  Sneaking off the path in search of momentary joy, has its consequences, but has provided valuable life lessons to hopefully keep me on the straight and narrow from here on out.

     The forecast calls for clear skies in my future.  Until then, I will just continue to use caution while navigating with limited visibility.

     I almost didn’t write a blog entry for today.  Instead, I almost wallowed in my emotions and let myself be controlled by them.  Then I had a small moment of clarity.  Rather than sinking into the despair, I chose to pull myself out and use those emotions; to create, to write, to purge the demons that were threatening to drag me down into darkness and put my heart on display.

     Sorry I’ve missed a few blogs.  Between work, the holidays and some personal things that I’ve been dealing with, I just haven’t done much writing of any kind.

     Last week, I found out a few things that put me in a bad frame of mind.  I allowed myself to slip back into an angry place that I haven’t been in for some time until I realized that being angry was useless.  The person that I was angry with had no idea that I was upset and informing them so would just give them a power over me that they should never have had in the first place.

     Thinking things through for a few days, I came to a realization.  I wasn’t truly angry.  I was in fact sad.  Sad that someone I once loved was gone forever, something that I already knew, but the new information just confirmed.  This person was lost to me years ago, but when you love someone so deeply, that love never truly goes away, it just evolves, for better or for worse.

     With this realization, I thought about everything that had led to this point, all of the things that caused this person to slowly disappear right before my eyes.  And then I thought about my son; how one bad choice can send him spiraling down the same dark path and changing the kind hearted loving person he is into a self absorbed, damaged person incapable of being loved.

     I like to think that thanks to my love and influence, my son will never have to meet that same sad fate.  And so I decided to write an open letter to the person I lost so long ago.  I thought of all the things that might have made a difference, that might have kept things from falling apart around us.  Here is that letter:

Image courtesy of Vlado

Rise Above

Letter to a young black man I used to know.

Dear young man,
The road that lies ahead will not be a smooth one.  It will be full of hurdles meant to test your resolve and strength.  Don’t give into the temptations used to distract you from achieving your dreams.  An education can only get you so far.  It’s how you apply that education that shows just what you are made of.
Don’t base your worth on the opinions of others.  It is only by accepting yourself that you can be truly happy.  Love yourself before attempting to give your heart to another or you will become an empty shell of your former self on a never ending quest to fill a void that can never be filled by another.
Don’t let your past experiences color your future opportunities.  Rise above adversity instead of letting it drag you down a dark path that you may never be able to return from.  Just because you have been hurt in the past does not mean everyone you come in contact with is out to hurt you.  If someone tries to love you with all that they are, let them, don’t question that love until it becomes so shrouded in doubt that it cannot survive.
Don’t focus on the negative.  It will prevent you from seeing all that is truly right in your life and enjoying the present.  Harboring doubt and resentment in your heart will leave no room for love and hope.  Failure is a part of life.  We all get knocked down a few times before we can learn to stand on our own two feet.  It should not be taken personally and internalized until it crushes your spirit.
Don’t let society’s ideals and poisons fill you with a false sense of security.  Material possessions only offer temporary, instant gratification.  They are not a sign of your value.  Save and build for the future that you want because no one will hand it to you.  And turning to substances will only numb the pain for a short time.  Once the numbness wears away, the pain will grow stronger and it will be all that you will be able to focus on, sending you in search of something stronger to help you forget.  This cycle will take over your life and you won’t even be able to see how it affects you or those you love until one day you wake up and everything you love is gone.
Don’t let history repeat itself.  You know the hurt and abandonment that comes from growing up without a father.  Your children will offer you a love so pure and unconditional that it will be unlike anything you have ever known or will ever know again.  Cherish that love and hold onto it for as long as you can because no one can take it from you if you guard it like the treasure that it is.  Reciprocate that love so that they will never feel the same hurt that you live with on a daily basis.
Don’t run away when things get tough.  There is no way to outrun your problems and they will always catch up to you wherever you go.  In time, they will just compound and snowball. Stand strong and face your demons because it is the only way to defeat them.  Ask for help when you need it because no one can get through this life alone.  Accepting help from others is a sign of intelligence and not a sign of weakness.  
Don’t always look for the easy way out.  Struggle and sacrifice now so that you will not have to do so for the rest of your life.  Find a partner that challenges you, keeps you on your toes and always makes you strive to be a better version of yourself.  No one is perfect and there is always room to grow, so grow together.  Never stop growing.  A partner that idolizes you will only hold you back, never allowing you to reach your full potential.
Don’t become the epitome of every negative stereotype.  Becoming the angry, unemployed, deadbeat dad with a record is never how anyone envisions their future.  Blaming the pitfalls society puts in your way is nothing more than an excuse.  Keep your eyes, ears and heart open and you will never become that victim.  Teach your son by example what it means to be a strong black man.  And show your daughter how a real man takes care of his family so that she will never settle for less than she deserves.  
Don’t make promises that you can’t or don’t intend to keep.  Words have power and shouldn’t be brandished like a weapon. They will mean nothing if you don’t have the integrity to follow through and prove them with your actions.  When you wield empty promises and lies like a sword, you tend to lose sight of the truth.  Once you start to believe your own lies, it is hard for anyone to believe a word you utter.
Rise above young man.  Let your dreams carry you far in life.  The world is yours for the taking as long as you have the guts to fight for what you want.  
Fondest Regards,
Someone who tried to love you

P.S.: I only wish that I had the insight to offer you this advice when you were still that young, black man, so full of hopes and dreams.  Before anger, hurt and disappointment colored my words so they fell on deaf ears.  Finally learning to let go of that hurt and resentment, I offer you this advice.  It’s never too late to find your way back to the person you always wanted to be.  Rise above.

This letter doesn’t just apply to young black men, but as I said, I wrote it with a particular person in mind. I will not name that person because if they ever come across this letter, I would think they would know who they are. For anyone else who reads this, do with it what you will. Take the advice or leave it, it is just something that I needed to say. It is not an all encompassing letter and somehow seems to fall short, but we lived too much life and made too many mistakes along the way to fit it all in a single letter.
To making better choices in the new year. May we all rise above!

     A fellow Google plus user is issuing several “Done to Death” writing prompts throughout the month of December.  Every other day, he will be posting a writing prompt for a theme that has been done to death.  The first of these prompts was issued a few days ago, so I am a little late, but better late than never.  In response to the “Kissing in the Rain” done to death prompt,  here is my story:

     Miranda looks up at the clock for what must be the tenth time in as many minutes.  Time seems to have slowed down and she is finding it difficult to concentrate on anything the teacher is saying.  While she is physically sitting in the middle of her social studies class, her mind is a million miles away.

     Mentally cataloging every item of clothing she owns, Miranda mixes and matches outfits.  She has to find the perfect one for her date with Brian tonight.  It is their first date and she wants to make a lasting impression.  Her thoughts are interrupted by the bell.  Grabbing her things, she flies from the room, heading straight for her locker.

     “So, are you ready for the big date?” Stacy asks, falling into step beside her best friend on the way to catch the bus.

     “I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” Miranda confesses.  “My stomach is in knots right now.  Will you come to my house and help me pick out something to wear.”

     “Where else did you think I’d be this afternoon?”  Stacy nudges Miranda with her shoulder.  They get on the bus and slide into their usual seats.

     “I have nothing to wear,” Miranda flops down onto her bed which is covered in discarded clothing after rummaging in her closet for the last two hours.

     Stacy is still searching through Miranda’s closet.  “Why are you stressing so much?  He clearly already likes you or he wouldn’t have asked you out.  Here,” she hands Miranda a casual jersey knit dress.

     “That’s so plain.”

     “Yeah, but it’s also comfortable so you won’t be stressing over a wardrobe malfunction.  And we can dress it up with accessories.”

     Resigned to the belief that she has nothing better to wear, Miranda changes into the dress that Stacy has chosen for her.  Stacy moves on to selecting accessories, looking through Miranda’s shoes and belts before digging through her stash of jewelry.  Once the girls are satisfied with Stacy’s selections, they get to work styling Miranda’s hair.

     “So where is he taking you?”

     “We’re meeting at the theater.  I’m not sure…”

     “Whoa, you’re meeting him there?  He’s not picking you up?” Stacy interrupts.

     “Yeah, is that a bad thing?  I knew it.  I’m not going.  It’s probably just some Carrie type setup anyway.”  Miranda gets up and starts taking off her jewelry.

     Stacy grabs her by the arms and looks Miranda in the eye.  “Slow down there.  I’m sure there is a good reason he can’t pick you up.  Let’s not get too hasty.”  Miranda takes a deep, calming breath and sits back down on her bed so that Stacy can finish doing her makeup.  “What time are you supposed to meet him?”

     “He told me to meet him at 7:30.”

     “Good.  That means that you have another hour to get ready before you have to head out.  You’re gonna look so good that even if he thought about playing some kind of prank on you, he’ll change his mind when he sees you.”

     Finally, the time has come for Miranda to head out.  She is walking to the theater and wants to make sure that she has enough time to get there without working up a sweat from having to rush.  A block from the theater, it begins to drizzle.  Oh great, Miranda thinks picking up speed.  She doesn’t have an umbrella and the rain will wreck havoc on her hair if she doesn’t hurry up and get inside the theater.

     Out of nowhere, she is caught in a sudden downpour.  There’s no way I can let Brian see me like this.  Miranda slips under the awning of a nearby shop that is closed.  Across the street, she can see several of her classmates, but there is no sign of Brian anywhere.  Slipping out from under the awning, Miranda turns back, hoping to get home before anyone sees her looking like a wet mop.  She’ll just call Brian later and tell him she wasn’t feeling well or something.

     Up ahead, she sees Brian heading in her direction, but he doesn’t seem to be alone.  Miranda doesn’t recognize the girl that is chatting away with him, under her bubble umbrella, completely dry and looking gorgeous.  The knot that has been in the pit of Miranda’s stomach all day tightens and she thinks she might vomit.  Turning down the nearby alley, she leans against the brick building, breathing heavily, trying to make her world stop spinning.  She can hear their voices getting louder as they get closer.

     Moving further along the alley, Miranda slips into the shadow, hoping to remain hidden. To her dismay, Brian and the mysterious female turn into the alley instead of walking past.  The girl is giggling and the sound is like nails racking across a chalkboard, in Miranda’s ears.  She wants no part of whatever is about to go down, but she is stuck where she is if she doesn’t want to bring any attention to herself.

     Brian leans down towards the girl and Miranda squeezes her eyes shut, not wanting to see her date locking lips with another girl.  When she opens her eyes again, she sees the girl  has dropped her umbrella and is all over Brian, kissing on his neck, probably giving him a hickey, Miranda thinks in disgust.    She tries to move deeper into the alley, but bumps into a trash can, sending the lid clattering to the ground.  Looking behind her, she sees the lid spiraling in place.

     Worrying that the sound has drawn the attention of her unwanted guests, Miranda tries to slip out the other end of the alley without making any more noise.  She isn’t fast enough and feels a hand clamp around her wrist.

     “Miranda?”  She doesn’t want to look at him, but something about Brian’s voice seems off.

     “Just let me go, Brian.”  She tries to pull her wrist free, but it is no use.

     “Miranda,” Brian says again, but this time, her name comes out in a choked gasp.

     “Oh my god, Brian,” Miranda manages to free her wrist from Brian’s loosened grip.  Instead of the cocky, self assured smirk she was expecting, Miranda finds Brian’s wide, frightened gaze staring back at her.  His left hand is pressed against the right side of his neck.  Along with the rain dripping from his fingers, is something red.  Pulling Brian’s hand away from his neck, Miranda sees two small puncture wounds that are dribbling blood.

     She looks down the alley, but there is no sign of the strange girl that was there just moments ago.  Miranda slowly begins to realize that what she mistook for a kiss in the rain was something far worse.

Image courtesy of talliesin  morguefile

     I reached a point a little over a week ago, where I just couldn’t write anymore.  It wasn’t writer’s block or anything like that.  I still had plenty to write about.  But between work, NaNoWriMo and normal life stuff, I was wiped out.  When I’d sit down at my computer to write, I’d just sort of zone out; eye glazing over, mind shutting down, words dripping out so slowly that it would take hours just to get around a hundred words.  Even my body was screaming at me to slow down and take a beat.  So that’s exactly what I did.

     For one week, I didn’t write (not even for the blog), I didn’t read, I didn’t even keep up with social media. What I did do was rest my brain as much as work allowed.  Fortunately for me, this break came at the most opportune time.  With Thanksgiving thrown into the mix, I was afforded a rare, but much needed, 5-day weekend.  Five whole days of no work, where I was free to do fun things like spend time with my family, go to the movies, or go shopping.

     And then something happened.  Not only was I ready to get back to writing, I was finally ready to focus on that edit that I had been putting off for months.  I didn’t just want to edit it, I needed to.  I had abandoned my characters long enough and was actually starting to miss them.  A “visit” with them was definitely in order.  But I didn’t immediately get started.  I allowed my mind and body the time needed to finish relaxing and restoring.  The headaches that were coming virtually everyday were gone, the lower back and hip pain that had me walking around like an old woman were also gone.

     Finally, on Sunday night, I booted up the Mac, opened Scrivener and got to work.  By the time I was heading out to work on Monday morning, I had actually managed to get through four whole chapters.  My goal is to get this edit done so that the novel is ready for either another beta read or posting to  Once I get this novel sorted out, I can get back to focusing on the rest of the series that had to be put on hold so that it didn’t get disjointed after all of the changes happening in book one.

     Sometimes, taking a break to get your mind right is more productive than soldering on to put words on a page.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

     NaNoWriMo is about writing a novel in 30 days.  The rules state that you start writing a brand new novel on November 1st and after 50K words and/or 30 days, you should have a new novel.  But rules were made to be broken or at least bent.  Many participants use the NaNo challenge to finish a novel they have already started, because 50K words does not a novel make (at least not completely, for most genres).

     So if the rules can be bent to continue a novel already in progress, why can’t they be bent even further (or in the other direction maybe)?  The point is to get the writing done, right?  Why force yourself to sit and focus on something that inspiration refuses to participate in?  If I am bored writing it, then the reader will get bored reading it.  It will feel as forced to the reader and it does to me, trying to pull the words from someplace they don’t want to be found.

     More than 26K words in and I am still eking towards the real action in the story I am writing.  I’m actually only one scene away, but it’s like there is a wall preventing me from seeing or going any further.  There is a lot of lead up and a good chunk, if not most of what has already been written, will likely not make the cut when it comes time to edit (which is not until after November of course.)  But the closer I get to the good bits, the harder I find it to focus and produce the words I need to get there.  And no, there is no jumping ahead and writing the good bits first, because I only know the feeling I’m going for and a portion of how it will be achieved.  Getting through the lead up helps shape the story as a whole and without it, it would be like building a house with no foundation.  At least, that’s how it works for me.  Other writers will have different opinions and approaches.

     Yesterday, I was barely able to write over six hundreds words.  My mind and my heart just weren’t in it anymore.  So why force myself to continue something when inspiration is pulling me in another direction?  Simply to stick to the rules?  But then doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the challenge, to get me writing?  So as of this morning, I am going back to working on a short story I was writing before joining this year’s NaNo.  Anything new I write will be counted towards my daily word count since I am still writing, just not the novel I intended.  If I finish that and I still don’t reach the 50K word goal, then I will just go wherever inspiration leads me.

     It just doesn’t make sense to fight with my muse because he/she/it isn’t telling me what I want to hear and then later curse him/her/it out because they aren’t telling me anything at all.  Unfortunately, as many writers can attest, we are slaves to our muses and not the other way around.  So we need to be open to listening when they are speaking and that’s exactly what I’m choosing to do.