How it went

Well, NaNoWriMo is … still going on as far as I’m concerned, because I am still writing. I was never entirely sure I’d get to 50,000 words in a month, given time constraints, so I’m not terribly disappointed. I did work on the novel every day, though, and I consider that a win. Also? I like to consider myself a “pantser” and all, but all future novels will get a pre-game outline. I’d never tried one before, and it makes a huge difference in the day-to-day when you already know the character’s arc avinvogel_piboldmo_winner-1nd what happens next. Though I did deviate here and there, condensing some things, expanding on others, throwing in an extra chapter. If you’ve already got the path, it’s easy enough to take a few steps off it, look around, consider the scenery, then make your way back to it.

PiBoIdMo, though? I’m happy to report that “30 picture book ideas in 30 days” was a success. In fact it was fun! A few ideas were weather-related (well, it did snow), one was based on something that happened to me long ago, another on something that happened to my mother longer ago, several involving a little witch and her not-at-all-witchy best friend, and one drawn from my family’s trip into the city to see the Rockettes. (I wrote a draft of that one, and my son instantly recognized where the idea had come from. He was delighted.)

My habit of carrying tiny little notebooks around definitely helped in this case. Also? Long car rides — say, a daily commute — are a good space for coming up with ideas. You’re sitting in traffic anyway, might as well do something useful, right?

I’ve already started to put the ideas to good use, and I expect, at some point, to double back and use all 30 of those ideas, which is pretty fantastic.

So thanks again to Tara Lazar for running PiBoIdMo, which I plan to join again next year. And if you haven’t read her “The Monstore,” you really need to, because it’s hilarious.

…. and now, back to writing.

My month of writing feverishly

piboidmo2014officialparticipantnano_logo-aef44f162676a9d773edb93f995492f2So I couldn’t decide between NaNoWriMo — aka National Novel Writing Month — and Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo — aka Picture Book Idea Month. Wait, I thought, why don’t I do both? It’s like chocolate and peanut butter — they taste great together!

(Well, they do. Peanut Butter Cups? The best. I have been stealing them from my kids’ Halloween stash. Shhh.)

The thing is, I’m working in two very different genres — picture books and women’s fiction (or chick lit, if you prefer) — and I like to give each equal time whenever possible. I enjoy both for different reasons: Picture books are just flat-out fun to write, engaging my whimsical side, and reading to children is one of the best experiences to have. Women’s fiction is fun on a slightly more adult level, in which I can take aim at relationships, the working life, social conventions and etc., and I can unleash my inner snark, so to speak. So doing one writing challenge doesn’t take away from the other. In theory.

So far so good — I’m 6,000 words into NaNoWriMo, and have come up with one good picture book idea a day so far. I’m also banging out a picture book draft for 12 x 12. My tiny little notebooks have been getting a workout. (My son was annoyed to find that one notebook contained only ideas for stories, and not actual stories. Sorry, kiddo.)

It is possible that I will be a touch distracted this month, and may be buying Thanksgiving supplies in a panic the evening of Nov. 26, and possibly enlisting house guests to do the dusting. But I’m hoping to have some good writing done by the end of the month, and then I can take a breather.

Right before the holidays kick in. Ah well.

Oh! And Susanna Leonard Hill declared me an honorable mention winner in her Halloweensie Contest! I am delighted my story was liked. Do go back and read everyone’s entries if you haven’t, they’re great.

On NaNoWriMo

Last year I took my first swing at National Novel Writing Month. It was a less-than-stellar attempt. I got about 20,000 words in, meaning approximately 30,000 words short of the goal. And to top it off, I realized I hated the approach I was taking with the story and the total sad sacks I had made out of my characters. Call it a swing and a miss.

I’ve been debating another attempt, because I like this story I’m trying to tell and I think I could do the characters justice this time. If only NaNoWriMo were in a month that didn’t include Thanksgiving, or parent-teacher conferences … though at least Hanukkah gets a later start this year. (You know what’s fun? Shopping for Hanukkah gifts before you’ve even gotten the Thanksgiving turkey. That’ll throw you off.) Still, any other month would offer its own distractions. If you wait for the perfect time to write, you never write. Right?

So I keep circling around this idea of mine, jotting down pre-game notes, working out details in my head, and possibly, come Nov. 1, I’ll have stepped back up to the plate. Who’s with me?

Progress progresses

12-x-12-new-badgeI’m still tweaking the novel, as my writers groupmates have offered some great suggestions for improving things here and there, and let’s face it, you’re never really done with a piece until it’s published. Which I don’t mind. Revising can actually give you a chance to see your work through different eyes, and that changed viewpoint can lead to revelations, and even better revisions. Kill your darlings, as everyone says now that it was the title of a Daniel Radcliffe movie which everyone may or may not have watched. (Full disclosure: I have not. I’d like to, though.)

In the meantime, I’ve joined 12 x 12 and it’s pretty fabulous. The goal is to write 12 picture books in 12 months. The website offers advice from published writers, a place where people can post the beginning of their manuscript for critiquing and critique others in turn, suggested services for writers and illustrators … it’s like NaNoWriMo except you have a whole year to accomplish things.  I didn’t get anywhere near my goal in NaNoWriMo this year (to be fair: NaNoWriMo is in November. We hosted Thanksgiving. That’s a bunch of days lost right there), so let’s see how I do with this.

Writing picture books is fun, even though I can’t quite let loose the way I can with adult fiction. The two genres satisfy different parts of my brain, I think. The tricky part will be balancing the novel with the picture books and making sure nothing gets neglected. Oh, and remembering to acknowledge my family on occasion. I should do that too.