Tag Archives: Hemingway

NaNoWriMo Day #10: The joy of creating

Word count through the first 10 days of National Novel Writing Month: 26,159. Just over halfway to the “winning” goal of 50,000 words. And it occurs to me — as I’ve suspected all along — that 50,000 words will not tell the entire story of “Dixieland.” At this rate I’m on pace to hit 50K on Nov. 19, two weeks from Monday, and that’s the goal that I have now adopted. I’ll need to do that if I’m going to meet or exceed the 64,000 mark I hit in 2011 with “Chasing The Devil.” (Which, sadly, is still unfinished, yet it’s waiting patiently, like a loyal puppy, for some loving attention. Soon. It will be soon.)

Today I encountered that chaos that typically comes much sooner than this. My chronology has come unraveled, and I’m no longer writing in order in keeping with my chapters and outline. Part B requires me to go back to Part A to plug in some foreshadowing, which creates another layer for a major character, which means making sure Part F connects the dots from A, B, and D, but waiting to connect C and E later.

This is where I discover parts of the story that I didn’t know were there. My main character didn’t just show up in central Kentucky and start working for the Silverdale Sentinel, as my outline notes. (Silly outline. You tease, you). No, my main female protagonist, Edna Mae Ferguson, showed up for her first day of work for Carl Smith Stenographer Contracting Company (yeah, pretty lame, but it works for now), only to find out that he’s got something else in mind. The local newspaper publisher called for a stenographer, so crotchety old Carl Smith, who calls publisher Steven Kennedy a “muckraker,” instead sends Edna Mae, hoping the young, unproven steno might cause the publisher some grief, and hoping to get out of paying Edna Mae a $20 sign-on fee and a booklet of coupons for bologna sandwiches from Ore Run Grocery.

(When you think of crotchety old Carl Smith, think “Ed Asner as Lou Grant.” Hey, it’s okay to embrace a stereotype or two).

Until two hours ago, Carl Smith had never crossed my mind. In fact, there’s an entire staff of stenographers in the office at the poorly named company, and one of them — don’t know who just yet — will reappear later as an advocate. Or, in keeping with the perpetual fiction writing mantra of conflict-rising tension-resolution-more conflict again, this still unnamed, uncreated character could be a mini protagonist of sorts.

I love this!

With that in mind, I’m going to share here a post that I made today on the Columbia NaNoWriMo forum in response to another WriMo who lamented that she was falling behind in her word count. Not suprisingly, she is discouraged. Even if she does not complete the 50,000 words in 30 days, however, she found solace in this: “I am writing again.”

Here was my response, and it’s meant for all my fellow WriMos, whether we are on a crazy, blistering pace to finish ahead of schedule or on a slow, cumbersome trek, still waiting to shift from first to fifth gear.

“I am writing again.”

Those words inspired ME. Thank you. Because I know that feeling.

My wife and I were in Hobby Lobby and Michael’s this evening looking for something unrelated to writing, but when I see all those blank canvasses and all the writing, art, coloring, stenciling, etc. materials I really get pumped, because I imagine the sheer glee that someone experiences when they turn those blank canvasses and sheets into beauty.

That’s what WE do. This computer screen is our blank canvass. And any time you’ve written, you’ve done something with that canvass. Is it a Picasso or a Monet? Of course not. Is it Hemingway, Faulkner, Steven King, Michael Crichton? Nope. But we’ve created, and we do it for ourselves first and foremost, because we must. It’s in our DNA somewhere. And the more we do it, the better we get, and the more we realize that the greatest joy isn’t simply staring at the masterpiece, but the process of creating it.

Carry on, my friend. You are CREATING!

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Filed under "Dixieland", Inspiration, National Novel Writing Month 2012, WIPs

Six-Word Memoir: The Write Life

It’s Saturday, time for The Write Life, an exploration of words and the nuts and bolts of the writing craft. Guest posts and comments are strongly encouraged.

Six-Word Memoir

 I continually break blogging’s cardinal rule about brevity.

 I tend to write long. (Not surprisingly, I have the same habit in my day job as reporter for the Columbia Daily Tribune. My editors sometimes need an axe and a cutting torch to trim my copy).

 For those of you who have longed for my long-form blogging to tighten up, Six-Word Memoir is for you. In fact, this one is for everyone. However, your participation and commenting is mandatory. I’m going to ask you to write a Six-Word Memoir and share it with the growing crowd that is Jackson’s Journal.

 Legend has it that Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response? “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

 I’m not sure I can come up with something so brilliant that paints a cornucopia of thoughts, images and mysteries. (On a side note, I’ve been dying to use the word “cornucopia” this week).

 This Six-Word Memoir is not an original idea. The online magazine Smith asked readers to write a six-word story of their own lives in a single sentence. That project birthed Not Quite What I Was Planning, a collection of six-word memoirs by writers, artists and musicians.

Larry Smith, founding editor of Smith magazine, and Rachel Fershleiser, Smith‘s memoir editor, offered their own contributions. Fershleiser’s Six-Word Memoir? Bespectacled, besneakered, read and ran around. And Smith’s: Big hair, big heart, big hurry. Some others: Almost a victim of my family; The psychic said I’d be richer; Mom died, Dad screwed us over; Painful nerd kid, happy nerd adult.

I’m giving you my three stories. Your assignment: write at least two six-word memoirs – one funny, one serious. If you can come up with three or more, you’ll get bonus points. If you can achieve both humorous and somberly serious in a single, six-word entry … well, the cornucopia of warm feelings you’ll have will be the best reward.

Ahem. My stories.

Stop? Ask for directions? Not me!

Apparently left owner’s manual in womb.

Was great, now fantabulous. I’m “Grandpa.”

(Grandpas are allowed to invent words).

Now …

Your turn.


Filed under Living Write, Uncategorized