#NaNoWriMo Day Over

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#NaNoWriMo Day Over

It’s the end.

Did I do it, write 50,000 words, penning the next Great American Novel or did I fall by the wayside in ignominious defeat?

Well —  neither.  In fact, I couldn’t even figure out how to upload my word count, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

What I did do was write a respectable 20,000 words, figure out — after much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth — the who-what-where-when-and-how of my protagonist, restructure the start a few times to set the tone I didn’t know I’d been looking for (despite my admonition to myself about not looking back until the month was over — what I now realize in retrospect would have been a complete waste of time since I had no idea where I was going), and basically set myself up for a sweet winter of banging this baby out a few pages at a time.  Because I’m thinking and writing in some form everyday now, and that wasn’t happening before NaNoWriMo.  The whole process has helped to put me in the headspace I needed to be in much more quickly than if I would have tried to do it myself with my life’s competing interests niggling away at the afforded time.

Then there’s the length.  My first novel, Oil and Water, clocked in at just under 150,000 words and was written in nine months.  I think I can do this, my second one, in six, the two holidays in there notwithstanding, and come in somewhere around 100,000 words.  Fifty thousand was never going to be enough words for me.  I just have too much to say, something my kindergarten teacher told my mother years ago, perhaps foreshadowing a writing career? Also, maybe I’m only good for about 15,000, give or take, a month which seems to be my sweet spot, and anything over that would have been useless drivel.

So off I go to get a few pages in today.  Thanks to the #NaNoWriMo folks for a great start!

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The Art of Napping

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The Art of Napping

A friend of mine who is a massage therapist says that symptoms that look and manifest as depression — a growing concern in our country — can generally be traced back to one of three things: bad diet, meaning eating too much sugar or processed food; lack of exercise, because the endorphins released during exercise are their own reward; and the final and perhaps most important, lack of sleep. I believe I’ve been guilty of all three at one time or another, but the one I most consistently abuse is lack of sleep, having unenthusiastically embraced that routine for the last three decades. It’s not that I don’t want more sleep. I crave more, am actually desperate for it, but in order to get it all done, it being all my many wants and desires outside the realm of my J.O.B., I just don’t seem to have enough time for sufficient sleep. This is not just my issue, but a chronic problem in our country, perhaps the world. Anyway, my friend says that if you can rule out those three things and you’re still sad, then it’s probably depression.

Read more here…

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an Invisible Thread

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an Invisible Thread

There are those who doubt the hand of God in ordinary events and those who see it everywhere. A chance encounter with an old friend when you take a wrong turn on an unfamiliar street. A meeting with a stranger on a train who gives you the exact information you’ve been after for months. The miracle is that on any given day, the natural order of your routine could be upended by these coincidental, often helpful, almost unnoticeable moments when we are present and listening, where a small, serendipitous event enters through the side door, carrying with it the power to change your life. And so it was for Laura Schroff who almost missed the moment. To this day, she has no idea what made her turn around, talk to the child, investigate the situation a bit further, but she recounts it all beautifully in her memoir, an Invisible Thread.

Read more here…

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World Toilet Day

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World Toilet Day

I think that if Francois Auguste Rene Rodin (1840 – 1917) knew that one of his most famous sculptures, “The Thinker” had become the symbol of World Toilet Day, a day established to raise awareness of the need for global sanitation, he would be proud.

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Rodin took 22 years to take “The Thinker” from the first small plaster version to the first large cast bronze version, possibly without having a toilet himself. For while the prototype for the modern toilet was made in 1596 by Sir John Harrington, the godson of Queen Elizabeth I (who you just know had a toilet), toilets didn’t become the norm for a couple more centuries. With the improvement of the “ballcock” by Thomas Crapper in the late 19th century, and the advent of the industrial revolution, the commoners were “flush” with the improvements this new invention afforded them given that they no longer had to contend with late night trips to the outhouse.

Read more here…

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A New Jacket

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A New Jacket

If you’ve tuned into this blog before, you know that I have a group of friends from college — the Whales — so dubbed because of a beach house we rented for several summers running (see back story somewhere on this blog), and that as a group we like to do outdoorsy things like hike and kayak and camp and what not. Over the years our group has grown to include friends of friends, and because of our cohesiveness and delight in hanging out with each other, our children have grown up together, too. I refer to the kids as Whales-in-Training and it’s wondrous to watch them expand and change and follow their individual bliss. I especially love it when their bliss syncs with my own. So let me introduce one exuberant high schooler who thinks in terms of centuries, not seconds, who plays the trombone in the high school marching band because its challenging and they said a girl couldn’t do it, who runs track, who bakes like a banshee, and who is on the self-awareness fast track, traveling through life with all the wonder of a child while possessing the maturity of adults twice her age. Oh, did I mention she cares about the environment? (contented sigh)  Read more here…

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Day 14 #NaNoWriMo

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[photo courtesy Alexander Chee at NaNoWriMo]

Day 14 #NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo.  I just like saying it.  It’s a wonderful configuration and consonants and vowels and I like the way it rolls off the tongue.  One of the things that makes writers writers, in addition to writing, is the attention to word placement, sentence structure, alliteration, evoked emotion, but for me, it’s especially the last one — emotion.  How something makes the reader feel and the connection that comes of it is what I’m after.  Also, that writing is cheaper than therapy.  So off I go to write today before the actual day begins.  I’m at 15,055 words as of COB yesterday which is 6,616 off the mark, but I’m undaunted.  The goal for me was never to hit the word count everyday, just to get to the computer every day.  And it’s happening.  I wrote my (so far) only novel, Oil and Water, in nine months doing just this very thing, getting to the computer every day whether it was for 20 minutes or two hours.  Thanks, #NaNoWriMo for kickstarting this endeavor.  More to come.  There always is.

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Dear Mr. President-Elect

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Dear Mr. President Elect

My Greek immigrant grandparents arrived in this country sometime in the early 1920’s from Istanbul when it was still Constantinople, and while no one talks about it, I’m fairly sure they didn’t just leave, but escaped. Ethnic cleansing is nothing new across the globe: WWII Germany; Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990’s; Syria today. For my grandparents, it was the problem of the Armenian extinction. About 1 million Armenians and half a million Greeks were killed between 1915 and 1923, but the number is sketchy because to this day, Turkey denies it even happened. (For a great book on the topic, read Black Dog of Fate, by Balakian.)     Read more here…

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