a weblog for readers and writers

Monday, August 27, 2018

Do you Wri Mo?

No, that's not me asking whether you "write more" with a bad accent. WriMo is short for NaNoWriMo, which, in turn, is short for National Novel Writing Month.

National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November, is a time when thousands of writers attempt to write a novel of 50,000 words or more. It may sound crazy, but if you're a diciplined writer anyway, NaNoWriMo can be a good tool to motivate you to apply pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

I should know: I participated in NaNoWriMo five years in a row, from 2003 to 2007. And I was declared a winner each of those five years for completing my 50,000+ word novels. In fact, if you do a search of "NaNoWriMo" in this blog, you'll find several past references to the days (more than 10 years ago) when I participated.

By 2008, I realized I had too many rough drafts (dating to well before NaNoWriMo) and not enough polished manuscripts. I decided to focus more time on revising.

NaNoWriMo is a good exercise to get a rough draft on paper. But after NaNoWriMo ends, the real work begins: rewriting, revising, and turning your slung clay into a fine sculpture.

Tracks: A Novel in Stories and Womb: a novel in utero found their origins during those NaNoWriMo days. 

It's amazing what you can accomplish if you unplug and cast away the things that usual keep you busy for a short period of time. I discovered that to a greater degree during my residencies at The Art Institute of Chicago's Ox-Bow. During one of those 2-week stints as Ox-Bow's Writer-in Residence, I did a rewrite of Womb. During another, I wrote a 350 page rough draft of an as-of-yet unpublished novel: Setting the Family Free.

So will I be doing NaNoWriMo this year? Probably not. Because I'm going to do something that even I consider crazy. Ever heard of the Anvil 3-Day Novel contest?



Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Crickets and Dragons in Baltimore Style

While I was exploring the Baltic States, Baltimore Style Magazine published my travel story on Beijing, China. “Crickets and Dragons” is available in the print and online versions of the latest issue.

In the article, my daughter, Nicole, and I venture through modern and historic Beijing, rickshawing through the Hutong, touring Tiananmen Square, strolling through the Forbidden City, and dancing with locals in the gardens of the Summer Palace.

Music wafted down a hillside path; we climbed it and arrived at the Garden of Virtue and Harmony. A full band sounded, as dozens of seniors sang from songbooks and others danced in circles. We were pulled in and danced, hand-in-hand, in their cozy circle. Their smiles brightened our morning in a way that the smog-veiled sun did not.

Tourists and locals, in perfect harmony.

Join us and read “Crickets and Dragons” now in Baltimore Style.