speaking of hope, fear, and daring…

nanoThis is what NaNoWriMo looks like around here. You might see the text in the background — but what I’m talking about is the stress eating.

Ice cream.

For when nothing else will do.

I’m not going to lie; that sad little block of Heath Klondike has nothing on this.

What’s your poison?

why am I doing NaNoWriMo…again?

Well. I said maybe I was, then I wasn’t, now I am. This NaNoWriMo thing is crazy. I’ve done it for several years, and here I am doing it again.

I never win. By that I mean I never achieve the 50 thousand words I’m supposed to produce. Interestingly, it’s about producing words. Not producing some good content. So you’d think I could do a massive brain dump and give myself permission for a terrible draft.

We’ll see. Stay tuned for some unexpected updates. Like. Maybe I finish. Or give up after 75 words.

Coincidentally, St. Teresa of Avila happened to write on scraps of paper (see picture above). Now that she and I are friends, maybe things will change.

I don’t know why she has a tambourine in this picture, but I’m going to take it as a sign that she’s my cheerleader. I’m sure that’s it, cuz I’d be sorely disappointed if it was to launch into a painful rendition of Kumbaya.

St. Teresa, pray for me.

The Day After

An Open Letter to My NaNoWriMo Friends,

Congratulations to all of the winners! Wow, you guys are amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed racing with you and doing word count sprints. That was a lot of fun.

But it was also a lot of work.

The most important lesson I learned in this year’s National Novel Writing Month is that relationships with other writers are important. It’s a lonely business to face the glow of the monitor, alone, but that’s how writing gets done. It’s the before and after that can make or break us. To have someone say, c’mon, let’s go tackle 300 words in 10 minutes inspired me. To see word counts pop up in the Twitterfeed added a nice element of friendly competition that was less about competing and more about accomplishing.

I loved that. We’re all producing different things, but we’re doing it in a community. Kind of like real life outside the anonymity of social media. We’re real people living real lives away from the glow of the monitor.

Imagine what we can accomplish if we encourage each other in those other pursuits.

And to the other Nanos, like me, that came in under the 50K, well, congratulations to you, too! It’s a crazy race to finish that goal in 30 days and sometimes life gets a little in the way of meeting the word count. Let’s keep at it.

Notice that I didn’t congratulate anyone for finishing the novel. I’m careful to say word count and not finished novel because I think there are more than a few unfinished novels that have a great beginning, don’t y’all think? I do.

And then there’s that other thing: revision.

I’m going to make a note of all my writing buddies and check back in with you guys in six months. We should be done by then. Right?


avoidance post # 3

I should be writing.

Well, this counts, right? Thought I’d take a break from writing…to do more writing. Yeah. I’m weird that way. I just thought I’d share what Ive done in the last few hours.

  • wrote a caption for a picture of…a sock
  • created a new Pandora station (try Beny More if you want some AWESOME Cuban music)
  • wrote 3K words towards my remaining 20K (now 17K woohoo!)
  • made a tasty dinner of palomilla and rice (with lots of onions!)
  • folded some clothes (and put them away!)
  • made some tea (Earl Grey, with a tea kettle, not a replicator)

And finally, what prompted me to write this in the first place, I discovered that I have a racing stripe of gray hair right in the middle of my head. I know, weird, right?

Okay, look, I’m really fine with the salt and pepper thing I have going on. Really. I quit dying my hair years ago, and it has been at least one less thing I have to keep up with, so…whatever. Sure, every once in a while the cashier at Publix asks if I want the senior discount, but other than that I’ve never really thought too much about it.

Except now.

I have a gray racing strip in the middle of my head.

It starts right at my crown and if I brush my hair forward I look like Pepe Le Pew. Of course, I entertained myself by combing it in other directions. Because, you know, I’ve got those 17K words waiting for me.

Thought I’d share. Back to my regularly scheduled writing.

brother, can you spare a word? or 36K?

The problem with NaNoWriMo is not the challenge of writing the 50,000 words (what? I didn’t really say that); it’s what writing 50,000 words does to my other writing. For starters, it’s a different  genre.  I’m so long-winded it’s probably a good fit for me … but right now I’m hitting that wall that comes in the second week.  Seasoned NaNoWriters say that getting past this hump is the hardest part, and then it’s smooth sailing.

Okay. Sure. Easier said than done.

Let me wallow in my little pity party a minute, and then I’ll get back to the novel. Because, you know, I’m gonna do it. I just thought I’d take a little break from it and use up some words on the ole blog – you know, where I got crazy and decided that I wasn’t going to die if I actually shared what I wrote every once in a while.

So the big challenge is the word count. Finding the words that count. Add up. Tell a story. Oh, you say, is that all?

Well, yes, that is all. That’s a lot. For writers, that’s what we have to work with, and most of us have this little love affair with words that maybe only we understand. But sometimes, there’s more than words – the stuff that’s abstract and floating around in our heads, our hearts, maybe our souls. Those are the things that we write about, but we need to find the words to articulate it first.

Sometimes, though, words are not enough. Or maybe, the right train of thought here is that words are not necessary. It’s okay to just feel it. Ha! And then, inevitably, write about it. But first we feel.

Let me tell you I’m feeling a lot right now. Scared is probably at the top of that list, followed by its best friend, insecure. I’m taking the GRE this Friday morning and applying for a doctoral program in English and Communications. This is just the beginning of the process, so I don’t have anything to add but a simple request for prayers. You decide what you want to pray about – I certainly don’t know.

Well, hold on. How about prayers that I remember the math I took THIRTY YEARS AGO. Sheesh, that’s a sobering number. Anyway, there you have it. You heard it here, first.  Suddenly my little experiment with 50,000 words isn’t so daunting, even if I did just give away 411 words.

today’s avoidance post brought to you by Pop

Well, it’s that time. I’ve hit the wall at NaNoWriMo. Time to do something different…get some fresh air. Do the laundry. (there’s always laundry). Phone a friend.

My dad, he of the million and one email forwards of ridiculous and painfully obnoxious email FORWARDS has struck again. Only this time, it’s funny. Or maybe not and I’m just in that place of desperation. In either case, I’m sharing it here. Because that way I don’t have to think. Thanks, Pop!

A first grade girl handed in the drawing below for her homework assignment.

The teacher graded it and the child brought it home.

She returned to school the next day with the following note:

Dear Ms. Davis,

I want to be perfectly clear on my child’s homework illustration.
It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint surrounded by male customers with money.
I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm.
This drawing is of me selling a shovel.


Mrs. Harrington


time to create some characters

I’ve often mentioned that one of my favorite things to do is people watch…and I’ve admitted that it isn’t always a charitable activity on my part. When I say that it’s uncharitable, I don’t mean that I am devising insane and intentionally mean judgments of people, but rather, that I am working on a kind of characterization.

I am building imaginary characters from details that I see. I call it uncharitable because I am using real human beings as my starting points, and I am drawing from their visual details. It’s voyeuristic, I suppose, but it’s how I people the short stories that I write. I’m not above doing it to myself, by the way, and garnered a little bit of confusion when I created a character based upon myself — and got some pretty pointed questions from friends and family. Ha. By the way, dear friends, I don’t do this to you. I have a conscience. I promise.

Anyway, characterization is important, and I met someone this weekend, a poet, who goes to the airport and sits under the big escalator at baggage claim and watches the people come down. She pointed out that the first thing she sees is shoes, and she writes these amazing character descriptions about shoes, and what kind of people wear those shoes.

Um, Linda? Shoes? I’d get really self-conscious if this woman delves into hair, but the conversation shifted a little and all I was left with was the validation that either what I do is normal, or I have found another person crazier than me (ok, in full disclosure, I have gone to the airport to people watch).

I have this minor in psychology, mostly classes on personality development and abnormal psychology (I would have double-majored in psych but I couldn’t do the lab — ew. I couldn’t bring myself to work with the rats.) So the classes in personality development, all very interesting theories and such, but I could have saved time and money if I had considered just taking courses in Agatha Christie novels. Specifically, anything with Miss Marple.

Miss Marple is this old lady who solves crimes because she observes people, chalks up who they remind her of in her home town, and then responds to them accordingly. I’ve really simplified that a great deal, but I think that she has a really strong theory — this Marple Theory of Personality Development. Anyway, it works for me, and I was reminded of it this weekend when I sat in seminar after seminar seating, people-watching. It was fun and entertaining. And I think I’m ready for NaNoWriMo now.

hello my little blog

Do you miss me? I miss you. I confess that I have been cheating on you in a secret place … NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. I promise I’ll be back soon. Maybe even Monday. How about that? What if I promise that I’ll put something very special here on Monday. Or maybe Tuesday. Yeah. I’ll do that.



I failed. Again.

It’s December 1 and once again I don’t have a novel. I have figured out that evidently it takes me three tries. That means next year! Grand total? 17k.

My good friend Darth says it well: