That time I stopped making excuses for writing my novel and just wrote it

This is that time.

Open-Book

With every friend and colleague who publishes a book, I become more and more motivated to actually start writing mine on paper (or rather typing mine on computer) and stop merely musing about it in my head.

I recently read a friend‘s manuscript and it wasn’t good. It was freaking brilliant. I couldn’t put it down. Sure it needed some polishing and shaping, but she wrote a novel. And she did it while working part-time, mothering three children, wifing a husband, cleaning a house, caring for two dogs, a cat, and I lost count of how many chickens. She has me beat. I have no excuses.

Here’s David Sedaris’ advice for aspiring writers: “Write every day and read everything you can get your hands on. Write every day … with a pen that’s shaped like a candy cane.”

I don’t have the candy cane-shaped pen, but I’m going to start the whole every day thing. It might not always be on the blog. I’m also going to keep a journal handy — Lord knows I have enough half-filled ones lying around.

I have my main character. I know her pretty well, and I know what she’s been up to. I just need to figure out how to introduce her to you.  She’s pretty sure you’ll hate her, but she doesn’t give a shit. (She actually does give a shit, but she pretends she doesn’t.)

As I write this, I’m in a cafe listening to three middle-aged women in the booth across from me talking about their writing and their works-in-progress, and I just know it’s time for mine to be in progress. The woman on the left says she doesn’t care if hers becomes an NYT Bestseller. She’s a big fat liar. I want mine to be a success. And I want it to happen while I’m young enough to go on a book tour without an oxygen tank in tow. A nitrous tank would be cool though.

200_s

 

Wordspotting #4

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I’m sure someone (if not several) people have told you in your life that the more you read, the better your vocabulary gets. My problem is that I have a horrible memory. If I’m reading a book or blog post and come across a word I love, if I don’t write it down immediately, it’s gone. So in an effort to remember and use new-to-me words that strike my fancy, I’ve been jotting them down as I discover (and in some cases rediscover) them and then sharing them in an ongoing series I call Wordspotting. If you missed the first three installments, you can check them out here.
Most of the words in this post I found while doing my job, which is editing for a website called The Cheat Sheet. I read dozens of stories every day, which expose me to lots of interesting news, facts, trivia, and when I’m lucky, intoxicating words such as these.
Definitions via Google Dictionary.

1. Quotidian

quo·tid·i·an
kwōˈtidēən/
adjective
  1. of or occurring every day; daily.
    “the car sped noisily off through the quotidian traffic”
    • ordinary or everyday, especially when mundane.
      “his story is an achingly human one, mired in quotidian details”

2. Eponymous

e·pon·y·mous

əˈpänəməs/
adjective
  1. (of a person) giving their name to something.
    “the eponymous hero of the novel”
    • (of a thing) named after a particular person.
      “Roseanne’s eponymous hit TV series”

3. Swashbuckle

[By no means a complex or new-to-me word, I just love that it exists and hate that it’s so typecast. It’s not used enough outside of the pirate realm and I think it should be.]

swash·buck·le
ˈswôSHˌbəkəl,ˈswäSH-/
verb
past tense: swashbuckled; past participle: swashbuckled
  1. engage in daring and romantic adventures with ostentatious bravado or flamboyance.
    “a crew of swashbuckling buccaneers”

4. Corporeal

cor·po·re·al
kôrˈpôrēəl/
adjective
  1. of or relating to a person’s body, especially as opposed to their spirit.
    “he was frank about his corporeal appetites”
    • having a body.
      “a corporeal God”

5. Kerfuffle

ker·fuf·fle
kərˈfəfəl/

noun

BRITISH informal
  1. a commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views.
    “there was a kerfuffle over the chairmanship”

6. Castigated

cas·ti·gate
ˈkastəˌɡāt/

verb

formal
past tense: castigated; past participle: castigated
  1. reprimand (someone) severely.
    “Some lawmakers, military analysts and former soldiers have castigated both the White House and NATO for failing to understand tribal conflicts.” ~ The Cheat Sheet

    What are some of your favorite words? 

A Little Viral Media Humor For You.

Writing for a social sharing site is WAY different than writing for magazines. This story from Upworthy offers keen insight on why we choose to click on and share certain stories from our Facebook feeds and favorite websites. It’s a theory called the ‘curiosity gap’. And whether you’re a writer or not, the psychology behind it is very fascinating. If you’ve visited The Onion’s new sister site Clickhole, you’ll see how they brilliantly satire the whole concept.

Unless you are in the viral media biz, you aren’t going to get this, but I was so pleased with myself I had to share:) LOL!

CuriosityGap

 

 

 

My husband, the writer.

I usually reserve my bragging rights for Jed, and even try to keep those anecdotes to a minimum. (I’m aware that he is not the only smartest, cutest kid in the whole entire world.) But today, it’s the other guy in my life I’m proud of.

When Dave first came to me and told me he wanted to start his own online magazine, I felt a tad territorial. I wasn’t going to pee on our laptop or anything, but the publishing industry, and writing in particular, was my wheelhouse, my career path. He had been blogging for a bit, but I didn’t think he was serious enough about it to take it to the next level. Here we are, a couple of years later, and not only is his own magazine doing well, but he’s also pitching and getting asked to write for others! He can do something that not a lot of people can do well, which is write in his own voice. You read something of Dave’s and you can hear him talking to you as if he’s sitting right next to you, or 100 feet across a crowded room (his voice really carries).

This month, he has a story in Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine called “Fly Fishing 101”, and I had to brag on him a bit. Even if you’re not into fly fishing, it’s worth a gander… he’s pretty damn funny. It’s a quick read if you have a few minutes this weekend. Happy Friday!

He even has a cover tag:)

Wordspotting #3 and Goodreads.

One of the best ways to increase your vocabulary as a writer is to simply read. I’m always making mental notes when I stumble across great words in books, but I have horrible recall skills and never remember them. So I’ve started marking pages with noteworthy words as I read through books, starting with the most recent one I finished, Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult, in which I found these three gems (definitions from Dictionary.com). A couple were new to me (As far as I can recall), one an SAT flash card flashback:

Gustatory: adjective. of or pertaining to taste or tasting. Example: “Care to share a piece of gustatory paradise from Federal Hill?”

Meretricious: adjective. 1. alluring by a show of flashy or vulgar attractions; tawdry. 2. based on pretense, deception, or insincerity. Example: “One [legal allegation] that calls me meretricious and deviant.”

Mollify: verb (used with an object). to soften in feeling or temper, as a person; pacify; appease. Example: “But hearing that Zoe hasn’t left for good seems to mollify her.”

I’ve also started a Lindsey Reading widget from my Goodreads account in the righthand sidebar. I have read more than seven books in my life, but decided recent reads and favorites were a good place to start. You can read my review of Sing You Home by clicking on the book cover in the sidebar.

What are some great words you’ve found through books? Any good book recs? I need some to add to my to-read shelf!

Grass feather.

I love looking at the world through the eyes of a toddler. While I fear the day he starts saying things like “I hate you!” and cringe at every “No!”, most of what he says amuses and amazes me.

When we registered for our wedding, we were fresh off a stay at a W Hotel and envious of their clean, modern-meets-natural decor. It showed in our registry choices as our bed and bath felt like a hotel room for the longest time (minus the Heavenly Bed, boo). We’ve evolved past a lot of that look, but have held on to some of our favorite decor, like this faux grass piece from Pottery Barn:

There were a few loose blades and Jed pulled them out. He held them up to me and said, “Grass feather!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Dave’s doppelgänger

Ever since we moved to Asheville three years ago, friends have told us that my husband Dave bears an uncanny resemblance to David Pransky, the bass player for Asheville-based band Toubab Krewe. I had the pleasure of interviewing their percussionist Luke Quaranta today for a story and during my research, finally looked up a picture of Pransky:

I always had a thing for musicians. I guess this is as close as it gets!

I always wonder if I have a doppelgänger out there. I’ve been told I look like just about any celebrity with curly hair from  Minnie Driver to Chelsea Clinton. (Especially Chelsea… and especially during her/our awkward tween years.) I was also once mistaken for a journalist who was held hostage in Iraq, based on the pictures shown of her on the news right after her release. Apparently I looked like I had been terrorized and tortured. Really, I’d just gotten back from a bachelorette weekend. So I can see how the mistake was made.

I like to think Identical Me (a slightly less hippier version with bigger boobs, just so I can see what that looks like) works in her family’s bake shop in the south of France making amazing wedding cakes, and designs beautiful eco-friendly clothing in her spare time. But she probably works in the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Not even as one of the gals in the windows, but more likely the person who cleans the bathrooms of the women who sit in the windows. (I mean they can’t sit in those windows all day without taking a bathroom break, right? Especially the really old ones.)

Who do you imagine your doppelgänger to be?

Also, Traveler turns eight today! He’s one salty old dog and I love him to death — grumbles, gas and all. We took him to the park for a romp, and will give him a special birthday “Better Than” pig ear after dinner. I promised Jed he could help Traveler blow out his candle:) Happy birthday, Trav!

Wordspotting #2

Another installment of a few fun words found around the blogosphere. Definitions provided by Dictionary.com.

Steampunk– 1. a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or fantasy world. 2. a subculture inspired by this literary and film subgenre: the fashions and gadgets of steampunk.

“Though it’s easy to recognize (look at ModCloth’s Steampunk Style section  to get a bit of a better idea), steampunk is a bit harder to describe.” ~ Life in Style

Smattering– A small amount of something.

“And despite how touristy the monument is, there were surprisingly few Westerners present in proportion to the mass amounts of Indians in a smattering of bright, eye-popping hues who had made the pilgrimage to Agra.” ~ Camels & Chocolate

Petulant- (of a person or their manner) Childishly sulky or bad-tempered.

As in: Bill Compton’s description of his newly-made vampire, Jessica: ‘She’s petulant, dangerous, and scared.'” ~ Au Courant Columbia

Advice for the working woman.

Just because I’m gainfully unemployed doesn’t mean I don’t have pearls of wisdom to offer you working women out there. Actually, this was something a friend emailed me three years ago when I was having a bad day at work. It made me snarf my latte.

I turned it into a post on a short-lived blog, and being that it’s NaNoWriMo time (made my goal today!), I’ll be re-posting a few gems from those days this month. If you were one of my tens of readers in 2008-09 when I blogged as Emily Postal, we can relive the glory days together:)

Originally posted September 25, 2008:

I emailed a close friend this morning, bitching about my job. I do that a lot. Her reply:

Here is a what I recommend…have fun with your job.  Listen to weird Indian music off your laptop and NEVER cover your mouth when you sneeze in the workplace…eventually they will promote you to an office!  I frequently have a contest with myself to see how far I can roll my chair away from people speaking in meetings…last week I made it into the hallway before someone asked what I was doing.  I told them I needed to toot.

Keep it light and have fun.

What are your working girl pearls of wisdom?

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

I once heard awhile back that when asked what their dream job was, a whopping 40 percent of people replied it was to write a bestselling novel. Being one of those 40 percent, I find this both staggering and overwhelming, but I take solace in the fact that:

1) I am actually a writer, and

2) that number has dwindled since the reality TV epidemic (it always surprises me how many people in this world want to be famous for doing absolutely nothing)

Since I lost my job, I have been backpatted and assured by friends and repeatedly by my husband and mom (love you guys!) that something bugger and better is out there for me. It was meant to be. So call it coincidence, but less than 10 days after my last issue went to press, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins.

I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile, and have been thinking about my novel for even longer. So last night, I took the plunge and signed up! Now, with an update on Facebook and this blog post, I am accountable to my “Friends” and the blogosphere to give it my all. The goal is to crank out 50,000 words in one month. They say last year out of 200,000 participants, 30,000 saw this to completion. I’m guessing that even with my “full-time job” of job hunting, the occasional freelance gig and watching Jed, that I have way more free time to take this on than most who take on this challenge.

It’s all about quantity, not quality, which will be a challenge in and of itself. I’m a harper. I can linger and obsess over a single phrase for hours. But this contest will force me to just keep going, get it out on “paper”, and deal with the editing later — a whole new approach for me. I’ve done a little research in the past 24 hours and it turns out there are two types of NaNoWriMos: those who thoroughly prepare with charts, graphs, character sketches and color-coded Post-its… and those who don’t. Being that I’m throwing my hat in the ring at the eleventh hour, I fall in the second category… what they call the “pantsless” approach. I learned all about it from a fellow pantsless writer here (thanks, Amber!). Totally made me feel better to know I’m not the only one flying by the seat of my pants (or lack thereof). Plus, Asheville seems to have a great NaNoWriMo community with write-ins twice a month where you can get together with others and simply write. While those meet-ups are all about writing, I’m also secretly excited about getting to know other writers in the area as all of my writer friends are scattered across the country.

This probably means my posts here in November will be short but they will be.

Anyone else writing a novel or taking on the literary Everest that is NaNoWriMo? How are you preparing for it?