BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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The Dangers of Procrastination and Amazon One Click

I am now the proud new owner of several novels that I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to read. It’s all one click’s fault. Well, no, maybe it isn’t. It’s all Twitter’s fault. Nope. Not it either. Oh my gosh, it’s all my own fault.

You see, I was happily working on my latest novel for NaNoWriMo when I felt the need to look at my phone. I know. I shouldn’t have done it, however, I did.

twitterThere, by the little Twitter bird was a red circle, meaning that I just HAD to click on it to see what was new in the Twit-o-sphere. Well, reading Twitter is like eating potato chips. You can’t read just one tweet, you have to scroll down and read 47 of them, at least. And in that 47, if you’re actually following people who are of interest to you, there are several clicks that take you other places. Places like novelists’ websites, where they gush about other novelists’ new books, and tell you things like, “hey, read this book, it’s on sale for just $1.99 and it’s fabulous!”

Well, how can I NOT read this fabulous book endorsed by this fabulous author when it’s only $1.99? I do read a lot on Overdrive, which makes MOST of my reading free, but I also can’t resist a deal, and authors still get something when I buy a $1.99 book, so there’s that.images

Well, one click leads to another click which then leads to another click, and before you know it I have several new books downloaded. Swell.

Now I’m not unhappy about this. I didn’t spend a ton of money, and as I said, I’m not opposed to authors earning a little something from their writing, not at all. I’m just saying that those evil geniuses over at Amazon know what they’re doing. Sigh. I just hope that someday they’ll be doing the same thing for me and my books.

 


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Am I Really A Writer?

I like to think of myself as many things. Some of them are irrefutable. I am a mother. I am a teacher. These are simple facts. I have a son, therefore I am a mother. I go to work each day and spend the day teaching fourth grade students, therefore I am a teacher.

What else am I, though? And how do we verify these different identities?

Lately I’ve been a writer. How does one become a writer? By writing, some would say, but many others would say that one becomes a writer only when one’s writing has been published. Even that definition isn’t sufficient for many people. I’ve heard the argument that in order to be considered a writer one must be published and paid for one’s writing.

Well, I do write. And I have been published. I publish here, in my own little corner of the internet, regularly. Nobody pays me for it, though. I’ve also been published on other websites, like Scary Mommy and Education Week. Again, no money in that, but to me it’s still pretty cool.

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My design!

I have actually been paid to write. Not much, but I’ve submitted tips to a teaching publication that have been published and I’ve been compensated for them. I also designed a fish quilt that not only made it to the cover of Quiltmaker, a well-known quilting publication (it’s an inset photo, but hey, it’s still on the cover), and the design was turned into a kit complete with gorgeous watery indigo fabrics and magentas and purples for the fish. I was paid for that too, not much, but still they cut me a check. That one, however, wasn’t really a writing win, even though I was published.

I’ve been writing for NaNoWriMo, too. I finished a manuscript during NaNoWriMo in 2013, and I’ve been revising it with help from my critique group (another thing real writers do, I’m told). Now I’m into a new one story, about a young English teacher who needs to solve a mystery that threatens the security she’s found amongst the quilters she meets in a small town. See what I did there? Teaching, quilting, things I know and like.

I also teach writing. I teach it to my fourth graders, sure, but I’ve been teaching it in the summer too, for the past three years. Kids from seven to seventeen have come to these camps, and working with them as they explore the creative side of writing has been such a privilege for me. We’re not focused on grammar, structure, or spelling in these camps. We’re focused on imagination, empowerment, and risk-taking. We’re helping kids to develop their voices through their writing, whether in a poem about a leaf or an ode to their dog or a comic about super heroes and villains or an introspective look at their own strengths.

This type of writing is so powerful for kids that I’ve begun an after-school creative writing club at my school that is well attended. Both boys and girls come in to write and share their writing, blasting the stereotype we sometimes hear that “writing is for girls.” I’m sure Stephen King, James Patterson, Dav Pilkey, Neil Gaiman, Alberto Ríos, and many others would disagree.

So yes, I’m a writer, even though you won’t see anything I’ve done on the shelves at Barnes & Noble and if you search me on Amazon you’ll come up empty. I’ll keep at it, though, and maybe someday you will see my work there. Maybe someday soon.


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To Nano or Not to Nano? 2016 Version

NaNoWriMo is coming up… soon. Before we know it November 1 will be on the calendar and National Novel Writing Month will be upon us. It’s a beautiful thing, this challenge to write a novel in 30 days, and it can be done. I know. I’ve done it.

Well, sort of. I’ve written a draft of a novel. The whole thing, beginning, middle, and end. There are characters, settings, conflicts a plenty, and even a resolution. But is it done? Not be a long shot.

When did I write this manuscript? crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafb

2013.

Gulp.

Yes, it’s been three years. It was a glorious time, really. The ideas were flowing, the words jumped out of my head and through my fingertips onto the screen. Not all days were like that, but overall it worked! I tracked my progress diligently, and worked hard to deliver those 1,600 words per day. Some days I didn’t make it, but other days made up for it. By the end of the month I did it. I finished!

Now I’m in revisions. Still. To be fair, I didn’t touch it for a long time, but also to be fair, I’ve been really slow about revising. Good thing I belong to a terrific writing group which forces me to bring material for review from time to time, or I might not be working on it at all. So why do I keep doing it?

First of all, at this point I have a lot of time invested in it. Sure, I haven’t worked on it every minute of the past three years, but it’s been part of my life for that length of time. I’d hate to just cut it loose and say that it doesn’t matter.

Secondly, and more importantly, I think there’s something to the story. Each time I work on it I’m surprised by how much I actually like the story. My writing group is encouraging (and they are NOT a smile and nod type of group, they tell it like it is), and frankly if I can figure out a little bit of a plot hole I think I could be done with it soon(ish).

The problem is that plot hole seems like a canyon at the moment. When I wrote the draft it all made sense, but when I reread that section (a very pivotal scene) I realized that the motivation for the characters actions was completely missing. The action simply doesn’t make sense without some type of explanation, and silly me, I forgot to include it. At the time I know why he did what he did, but now for the life of me I can’t remember, and it’s causing a problem. I need to figure it out so I can move on!

All that leads me to November. Am I ready to start a new project? I have ideas, and I think I could commit the time, especially now that the boy is in college. It might be the spark I need to get me going creatively, and maybe as a result I’ll come up with a stellar solution to the plot hole in manuscript number one. Maybe.

What do you think? Is this a challenge I should face or a burden I’ll regret?