Conflict 101

With November (National Novel Writing Month) approaching, I am gearing up for another month of sugar and creativity (and possibly sore wrists again from all the typing, too…). (Whoever put it in November, with all the leftover Halloween candy floating around the house, was an absolute GENIUS, in my humble opinion.)

Anyway, I’ve been studying the use of conflict in writing as of late, even to the point of watching the driving force of conflict in film, in novels and short stories I’ve been reading, and in my life.

Enter tranquility and peace…enter conflict…enter somewhat settling of conflict…enter more conflict…enter even more conflict…enter another somewhat resolution with or without tranquility.

What I discovered last year while writing for NaNoWriMo was that channeling conflict into my writing actually made me a less contentious person in life. I could give most of my frustrations, aggravations, and issues away for a month to my characters and let them figure out how to solve them. My emotional health was amazing…and not just because my diet consisted of Skittles, chocolate, rolls, turkey, pies, and varied pumpkin dishes. 🙂 I was living in creativity and loving the experience…and less personal conflict in my life!

So, all you writers (and readers) out there: Is conflict difficult or freeing to write? To read? How much is too much? And, will you WriMo this year?

PS–I’m thinking seriously about posting the novel I wrote last year in chapters on the blog. Thoughts? I could use some feedback.

A Haiku

So, this week must be the week of poetry! 🙂 One of my little people had a poetry notebook (for homework this week) in which said little person was required to write two acrostic, two cinquain, and two haiku poems.  As I was trying to explain what a haiku was, I wrote the following:

Slithery snake is
Sunning on the windowsill
Black scales shine in light

I’m not usually big into much more than free verse, but occasionally something works.  I liked this one.  🙂

Relief and Writing

As many of you may well know, I completed my goal to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days for NaNoWriMo last November.  And, up until this week, I had edited about 20 pages of my (so far) 198 page manuscript.  I have been devoting more time to working on it as of late…and I am continually reminded of what I learned last November 30.

I DON’T KNOW HOW TO END A NOVEL.

Thank goodness I have plenty of editing to do before I get to revisit that ending endeavor I performed toward the end of last year.  As NaNoWriMo is a purely creative effort, I have found that minor characters have different names throughout the text as I reread it, and I’ve found some continuity issues with which I am dealing…and some character development…and so on…and so forth.  🙂  But, as I work on it, I am reminded of the energy I feel when I am writing as well as the happiness I feel when I am typing away at my screen, figuratively painting words onto a page…sillouhettes of lives and stories.

Also, I would like to say HUZZAH as I think I have made it through the enormous stress bubbles which have been clouding my vision and invading my ability to see clearly (and I am BEYOND THANKFUL).  I want to give each of you a shout-out for all your support and help through these past couple months (which have been anything but easy for me).  After some events and visitors this past weekend, I came home from errands Monday morning, cuddled with my preschooler on the couch, and we slept for a glorious two hours.  Upon waking, my head was clear, my vision was focused, and my energy was tangible.  As I have continued through this week, I am still feeling happy (mostly) and satisfied.  My perspective has enlarged, and I am moving forward (after a quite stagnant several weeks).  I am feeling relief!  And I am writing!  And…guess what?  I am oh-so-happy!!!!

🙂

What’s in a name?

I have always felt a strange sense of responsibility regarding the naming of a life.  I have long felt that a name can have so much to do–for good or ill–in the formation of a life.

My dad used to tell us about ways that children made fun of his name when he was a child.  I also remember that my brother’s name was one that was used jokingly.  Thankfully, my name’s pronunciation was difficult enough to say, much less make fun of, which I’m sure saved me some sort of embarrassment in one way while creating it in another.  Oh, well.

Still, as we brought each of our children into this world, I felt a powerful need to create a strong force around them with regard to their names.  I wonder if I have taught them enough about the reasons and feelings around the names they have been given.  I wanted them to each have powerful and purposeful names and to know the meaning of their names…but, like all lessons in life, I’m sure this one’s presence in their minds waxes and wanes like the phases of the moon.

                                       From here

Similarly, when I write, I find myself struggling again to name a character…to summon the forces of nature and writing to again create a life.  Sometimes I find myself, though I am past searching for names of lives that will come from my own womb, pouring over baby name books, searching for the name to fit the character I see in my mind’s eye.  I still feel a sense of ownership with these characters, who in some way become real to me, just as Jane Eyre, Clare Abshire, and Anastasia Steele are real to so many (I recognize that these women are oddly grouped…sorry).  I was also reminded this weekend as my husband and I attended the latest film from a franchise older than I am what is in a name…the faces may have changed several times over the years, but when a British accent speaks the name, “Bond…James Bond,” people listen.  His name has a power.

So, do you know why your name is what it is?

Did you ever want to change it?

And what have you done with your name to make it yours?

The Product of NaNoWriMo 2012

As promised, I am recording for posterity (and my lovely blog readers) the lessons I have learned over the past weeks since I made a spontaneous decision to enter NaNoWriMo 2012.  (I was serious blogging about whether or not to do it…having done no outlining or anything…and just did it on a whim thanks to the encouragement of a few lovely voices!…& I thank you sincerely Marissa and Darcy!)  Here we go, in no particular order…:

  • Prayer works.  (Not that I didn’t know this prior to Nov. 1, 2012; it was just reaffirmed to me….)
  • Productivity produces energy.
  • Support from those you love is vital for success!
  • Goals can be accomplished…(and a lot more, too!).
  • I CAN WRITE!!!!!
  • Being purely creative is energizing.
  • My family, friends (& I) love me!
  • Even with road blocks (scheduling, sickness, holidays, etc.)~keep moving forward….! (See Meet the Robinsons for more info on this topic.)
  • God is aware of me and loves me!
  • I HAVE A VOICE (and an important one, at that)!
  • I can cultivate creativity…and a writing mood.
  • Breaks are important.  (I took every Sunday off…and a few other Thursdays sprinkled in the month, as well.)
  • When all else fails, have a dance party with the kiddos (…or with friends…or by yourself…)!
  • Have munchies around always.  (I had a Swiss Cake Roll emergency…luckily for me, I did have some left-over Double Stuf Oreos which satisfied the chocolate/creamy craving.)  🙂
  • Buy back your kids’ Halloween candy and use it for NaNoWriMo snacks…and to last until NaNoWriMo is over and you start making Christmas candy.
  • Spotify created great mood music when I needed it…and was a great resource for the karaoke scene I wrote.
  • You can always edit later.

In the past few days, I have listened to some of the songs on Alicia Keys’ new album–and the chorus and several lines of this song resonate with me.  I do feel like a “Brand New Me.”

The only time I recently felt this kind of growth and accomplishment is when I worked and trained for (& completed) a half-marathon with a dear friend of mine…something about measurable success.  Hopefully, though, I will write more novels than the number of races I’ve run…! 🙂

Hugs!

Epitome…& other words I once loved

I wonder if my husband ever gets jealous.

Salisbury-74copy

I think some of my children do.

You see, I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last month staring at a glowing rectangle, my fingers and fingernails tapping in wild patterns across a dark keyboard with white letters, numbers, and codes painted across them.  Each time I tap a key, WORDS flow from my brain through my fingers and onto a large screen that sits in my kitchen at a desk.  The process has been transformative for me…but that story is for another day.

You see, I used to write quite a bit of poetry.  Poetry can be written quickly when inspiration strikes, recorded with relative speed, and even edited fairly quickly compared to something of, say, 170 pages or so.  I don’t think I’ve ever written a poem over a couple of pages.  And, considering only time, I could write a poem in the time I could write a grocery list…and no one would be the wiser.

Fiction is different for me.  I write pages upon pages, developing characters, rethinking dialogue, and editing.  Always editing.  And the time this past project has taken so far (and I’ve just begun editing)…well, let’s just say it’s taken a little longer than writing a grocery list.  🙂  But the lessons learned and the growth I’ve achieved in the past month have been worth the time commitment.

To me, WORDS ARE POWERFUL.  I live on them.  I breathe them in; I feel them with every fiber of my soul.  They speak to me.  When I watch a movie, the words expressed are what make the movie meaningful for me.  When I receive cards from friends, I read them repeatedly to feel the expression of their words.  When I listen to music, the words–even more than the music–speak to me.

As of late, I’ve been trying to teach the power of words to my children.  They are often flippant in their conversations and remarks to one another…but, I know (and try to actively teach them) that what they (and I) say to one another carries weight and power and can hang in a mind forever.  (Don’t you hold onto words and conversations–for good or ill–which make a nest in your brain that invades your present psyche every now and then?  I do.)

Anyway, in light of the power of words, I wanted to share a few that I think are fun to write (and say) in today’s post!  (If you don’t use them or know how to pronounce them, dictionary.com is a great resource and will also pronounce words for you…and they have an app!)

epitome

onomatopoeia

Terpsichore

and while we are talking Greek Muses, Calliope

juxtaposition

enamoured

iambic pentameter

polysyllabic, and

antidisestablishmentarianism.

You?

Goodbye, November…& NaNoWriMo

I just have one picture to post today…and I will work on my recap (to post sometime next week) of the past month’s adventures!

Winner-100x100-2

I did it!!!!! 🙂

Thank you for all your words of encouragement, likes, and support!

Hope you have checked out the Facebook page, and know you are always welcome to follow me on Twitter!

Hope you have a glorious weekend…I will be walking on clouds until who knows when…!  🙂

Do You NaNoWriMo?

As November’s end is fast approaching, I am behind a bit on my word count (last week brought to our home some illness as well as the holiday that many of you also celebrated).  As of this moment, word count weighs in at 42,644, which, on my word processing program, equates to 153 pages.  Over dinner a week or so ago with some friends, he joked, “Why don’t you just go back to school and use it as a dissertation?”  Some day….

By the end of yesterday, the magic number according to 1,667 words per day would be 43,342…and at the close of today, the goal is 45,009.  Since I had several 800 (maybe) word days during the holidays, and I know I can pull a 4,000 word day (I have already once this month), I’m feeling the energy (even though I’m still below goal) of the magnitude of finishing this amazing feat.  I’m compiling a list of lessons learned this month, which I hope to post at the conclusion of November.

And, I’m wondering how I am going to celebrate….

And I want to give you a shout-out to keep writing!  Your words have a powerful effect on your soul and the lives of others…even if you think you are writing in a private journal or blogging in your own little corner of cyberspace or publishing books–YOUR WORDS ARE IMPORTANT.  Continue to develop your voice and use it–and share it with the world.  You have value beyond measure.  Feel that power and write with it!

Here is one of my favorite “raise your voice” songs:

Strip Me – Natasha Bedingfield

A Little Friday Fiction…

I was talking with one of my cute sisters yesterday and said something that spawned a little bit of a story…so, here goes…!

“I didn’t mean to fall in love with Jude Law,” I heard myself say to a friend the other day–one of those friends that I can go years without speaking to, suddenly call her one day and giggle again like we did across the plastic umbrella-covered table at the local Tastee Freeze while spying on guys we liked as teenagers.

Carmen burst out laughing.  I think she spit a little into the phone, maybe?  “What?’ I heard her yell into my ear.

“Well, it just kinda happened.”  She laughed a little into the speaker which traveled across cell signals through several states–too many to mention and way more than I would like to admit–and filled my soul.  I missed her laugh, the times we shared.  This phone call was long overdue…like the baby that was hanging out in my belly.  Seriously overdue.  Like eight days.  Having something grow inside you can be wonderful and fabulous and amazing and miraculous…but sometimes–and more often than not–I find it uncomfortable, inconvenient–not to mention heavy.  But I didn’t have this child because I was looking for convenience.  I’m not delusional.  Okay, not yet.  At least I think I’m not.  But those are all other stories.  Back to Carmen.

“What just kinda happened?”  I don’t know what she was really thinking happened…not like I have any connection to Jude Law or anything…at least not any more connection to him than anyone else in this small town in the middle of America.  Okay, maybe a little connection.  My grandfather did immigrate here from England.  There–I have a connection to Jude Law.  England is our connection.

I continued, “Well, you know Cliff was on a business trip last weekend?”

“Mmmmhmmm.”

“And, the girls and I were looking for something to do.”  By girls I should define…they are my girls…but they are both minors, and therefore, as a seemingly responsible, non-delusional mother, I wouldn’t put them in any type of compromising situation, right?  “So, we picked up a chick flick from the library…some Christmas-type movie.  What was it called again?  Oh, yeah.  The Holiday.  And Jude Law was kissing Cameron Diaz and all of the sudden I thought, ‘that’s the way Cliff kisses me,’ and then I’m looking at him with her and I’m practically drooling over Jude’s solid jaw,”–like Cliff’s–“and his longing eyes”–also like Cliff’s–“and I fell in love.”

More laughter on the other end of the line.

“To make it all worse, he was a widower–with two little girls that were cute”–like mine–“and British“–not like mine.  “I was like sobbing by the end…and hopelessly in love.”

“You know you’re hormonal, right?” Carmen’s voice of reason came through the magical world of cell service.  This time we both laughed together.

“I even looked him up on IMDb,” I found myself confessing.  “He wasn’t nearly this attractive in the Sherlock Holmes movies, was he?”

“I don’t know,” Carmen was almost gasping for air through her laughter.  “But you are funny.  And I know what I’m sending you for Christmas.”

“No, don’t,” I quickly responded.  “I don’t want Cliff to find out.”

“Find out what?”

And my glorious cell phone droped the call.  “Find out I’m in love with Jude Law,” I say into the empty space as I start to replay the conversation in my head.

Maybe I am a bit delusional after all.

🙂

NaNoWriMo Update

I was hesitant to start reading a new book this month.  I have been writing for NaNoWriMo for almost a week now (today will be my sixth day of writing since I didn’t–and don’t plan to–write on Sunday).  So, amid bursts of words and the patience of my dear family, I have so far (and I haven’t written today yet) 14,096 words (which, double-spaced, equals about 51 pages).  I have always wondered if I had the time, determination, and wherewithal to accomplish such a daunting task, but I guess I know the answer now.  I have been amazed at the positivity I feel about myself and the new energy with which I am able to perform my otherwise perfunctory responsibilities.  I feel the support of my children and husband.  I feel excited to share my news with friends and family and those on Twitter and Facebook.  And, I have an empty sink (since my daughters and I caught up on dishes last night) along with a full heart.  Life is good.

This morning, though, I was feeling a little deflated…so I picked up a book I had requested from our local library.  I hesitated to open it (because I read slowly and just finished a rather lengthy reading endeavor last week) but I found it a delightfully quick read and a nice way to fill my head with a fun, quirky story as a distraction from the craziness I was experiencing.  I do love to read–but the book has to be worth the work my brain has to go through to read it.  I think I’ve found another one I actually want to keep reading.  🙂  See? Life really is good!

So, I leave you on this Wednesday to pick of where I left off, feeling blessed, happy, and grateful once again.  Grateful that I have a voice.  And though, at times, I find it falling on deaf ears, not making the difference I would like it to, I should continue to speak and write and blog simply because I have a message to share and a story to tell…and I’m finally finding the courage to tell it.