Comments are up!

It took a long time, but comments are finally available on the homepage instead of having to navigate to the post page (Thanks Jonathan!). It’s been driving me nuts, but probably not anybody else, and that’s okay. It’s fixed now, so I’m happy.

I know it’s been a few days since I posted anything. Honestly, I’ve been distracted, and I haven’t had any decent ideas of stuff to write about. I also haven’t been reading anything for the past week. I’ve chosen to spend my evenings instead binge-watching Orange Is The New Black on Netflix. I’m starting the last season, though, so I should be back to reading soon.

My writing time is catching up with me, though, even when I’m watching TV. I keep catching myself analyzing character development and plotlines throughout the show. I’ve never paid that much attention before, but now I can’t not see it, I can’t ignore the story being told and just zone out like I’ve always done in the past.

I do have an idea of what I’ll be reading next. I’m going to forgo the library for a while and focus on some of the books I have at home. I have several works of J.R.R. Tolkien that I haven’t read yet (not Lord of the Rings, I’ve read those 4 times, I think). I also brought back, along with the poetry book, all of my parents’ classics, so I think I’m going to dive into them some too. We’ll see. I tend to accumulate books and not read them, usually from book sales where I can’t pass up 50 cent books. I’ve nearly run out of bookshelf space.

So that’s what’s going on here, at least for now. Don’t give up on me, and keep reading. I might say something useful one of these days.

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is upon us! For non-writers out there, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is, of course, the month of November. The point is to set a daily writing goal, and complete 50,000 words over the course of a month (you can find the official website here).

I have a confession to make. I’ve never done NaNoWriMo. I first heard about it a couple of years ago, and I really wanted to do it, but at the time I was working a lot and honestly didn’t believe I would be able to put in the time necessary. I wasn’t writing consistently at the time, and the daily goal of about 1,600 words seemed impossible.

Some days that daily goal still seems impossible. There are some days I don’t write at all. Some days I try, and only manage to eek out 1,000 words or less. Even on my best days, I’m lucky to hit 2,000 words. So each year I think about it, but I never really have the desire to sign up.

NaNoWriMo is somewhat disputed in the writing community. I’ve heard arguments on both sides of the issue. On the pro side, the challenge helps writers by giving them a static goal, allowing them to track their progress, and to focus simply on getting words onto a page. They don’t have to be the best words, and editing is discouraged. The sole goal is to just throw them out there and see how far you can get. Some writers may need that, that motivation to just write and not re-think everything.

On the con side, the challenge makes writing a forced activity. The idea of having to meet a specific word goal puts too much pressure on the writer to write those words and doesn’t allow the story to flow the way it is supposed to. The challenge is marketed as “Write a novel in a month!”. But 50,000 words is only 50-75% of a novel, if that, depending on your genre and target audience. So, even if you complete the challenge, you still haven’t written an entire novel. Another con is the quality of the writing. If your sole goal is put words on a page, then you’re not putting them there in the best way possible. Even if you finish, your story will still require significant editing and rewriting to really shine.

Both sides have merit. I’m not taking either one. I don’t feel drawn to do it, and I’m not passing judgment on those who do. But I do love what it represents. Check out the following statistics from wikiwrimo:  in 1999, the challenge only had 21 participants. Fast forward to 2016, and there were 384,126 participants! That’s 384,126 people who made a decision to take their writing to the next level, who made a commitment, who tried. And that’s inspiring.

Talk to me in the comments. Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? What are your thoughts?

Heirloom Poetry

“Through this toilsome world, alas!

Once and only once I pass;

If a kindness I may show,

If a good deed I may do

To a suffering fellow man,

Let me do it while I can.

No delay, for it is plain

I shall not pass this way again.”

“I Shall Not Pass This Way Again”-Author Unknown

After nearly two weeks at my parents’ house, I’m finally home. I know my posting has been erratic, but it should stabilize now. Before I left, my mom wanted to go through the bookcase with me and send me away with their classics. I’m talking Huckleberry FinnGulliver’s TravelsArabian Nights, etc. It’s pretty cool. Although now I have a box of books that don’t fit on my already too-small bookshelves. She also gave me a book of poetry.

This isn’t just any book of poetry. It’s a family keepsake, handed-down book of poetry. It’s called The Best Loved Poems of the American People, and was compiled by an editor of the The New York Times Book Review. My mom got it from her grandmother, Daisy, and now she’s handing it down to me. There’s a handwritten inscription inside the cover: This book was presented to Mrs. Daisy Wilkins by her sister Mrs. Mina McAnally on May 24th, 1952 while in Mary Sherman Hospital.

1952! It smells musty, and there’s a little water damage on the cover, but I think it’s beautiful. My family doesn’t have much in the way of heirlooms, but I couldn’t have asked for a better one than a book.

 

Writing Amidst Distractions

I used to require absolute silence to write. No music, no TV, no people, absolutely nothing. And then, if my concentration was broken, the day was lost. I could never get back into my story. Once that distraction came, my productivity was shot.

I still prefer to write in silence. There’s something about shutting out the entire world and getting completely wrapped up in my project that just helps my story to flow. But I don’t require it anymore. More importantly, I don’t find it much anymore.

At the moment, I’m sitting at my parents’ dining room table while my nieces and nephew (ages 7, 4, & 2) run around and play with my dog and scream at each other and wait for Grandma to make them grilled cheese sandwiches. Granted, I was balancing my checkbook and now I’m writing a post, I’m not involved in my novel, but the concept still applies. While the kids are here, I don’t get perfect silence. But I’m learning to keep them in the periphery. I can’t shut them out completely, because I need to intervene if someone cries or gets knocked over by the dog or whatever else comes up that needs my attention. But I can think over the noise.

I don’t get perfect silence at home, either. I prefer to write in the morning, when I can, but it doesn’t always happen that way. The problem with that is, my husband is home in the mornings. He works second shift, so he’s always available to interrupt and invade the living room and ask me questions and bang stuff around in the kitchen. He also plays a lot of video games in one of our bedrooms, and the music typically drifts down the hallway and into my brain. Sometimes, when we haven’t seen each other much, I’ve even taken my laptop into the bedroom and sat on the floor while he played. That’s a bit harder to do, because I have a tendency to watch him play instead of focusing on my own work, but at least a little gets done.

The whole point being, if I were to wait for complete silence to write then I would rarely get things done. At least, I wouldn’t get them done when I wanted to get them done. My house is pretty quiet late at night, but I don’t think well that late and would much rather get my work done earlier in the day. Keeping my focus is a mindset, one I’ve struggled to cultivate so that I can work through the noise, buckle down, and get the work done.

Talk to me in the comments. How do you fare working in distracting environments? How do you keep your focus?