Monday, October 17, 2011

Did you know? I'm a writer.

I'll be participating in my third National Novel Writing Month this November.  NaNoWriMo, if you weren't aware, is a challenge to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (the month of November).  I started in 2009 and successfully completed 50,000 words.  Let me tell you something:  That's a lot of words.  A LOT of words.  Many try.  Few succeed.

Check it.
In 2010 I gave birth in September and attempted Nano in November with a 6-week-old in the house.  It was a spectacular failure.  But I was ok with that.

So now I'm trying again, 2011, ready to go.  My baby is a year old now and reliably goes to bed at 8 and sleeps all night (holla!).  So I should be able to get some writing in each evening and get my gears turning again.

Because I want to be a writer.

I want to be a writer?  How sad.  I used to say "I am a writer."  But writers write.  Right?  Writers write, and I don't write anything these days.  Well, let me qualify that.  I write for a living.  Technically.  I am a writer.  But I write marketing copy, admission letters, college catalog copy.  I write other people's words.

And I write this blog.  And I love writing this blog, and part of the reason I started blogging was to find my voice again.  And I plan to keep writing this blog as long as you keep reading it, and maybe even if you don't.  But at the end of the day, the writer I want to be is a fiction writer.  A novelist.  And I haven't been actively writing fiction since...November 2009.

So I'm here to say that I am a writer, and I am going to write. I'm going to write marketing copy and admission letters and academic catalog copy, and I'm going to write this blog, and I'm going to write 50,000 words of fiction in 30 days.

 I'm pretty sure placement of this badge constitutes a legally binding contract.

Some of that may cross over.  Well, I won't make you guys read any admission letters.  Probably.  But you might have to read some of my NaNoWriMo fiction posing as blog posts.  Deal with it.  It's good stuff.  You'll like it, ok?

Oh, also?  I'm cheating.  The rules of NaNoWriMo state that you must write an entire novel, a new novel, in 30 days.  I'm not doing that.  Because that's not what I want, what I need, from this experience.  And I don't work for NaNo, NaNo works for me.  Yeah.

So I'll be starting my word count at 0 and doing 50,000 new words.  But they'll be part of a larger work in progress, because I'll be continuing the novel I began two years ago.  OK, the novel I began at age 16, the novel that has grown up with me, that's been written and rewritten and burned and resurrected a dozen times in a dozen different iterations over nearly half my lifetime.  Because that's the novel that's in me, and someday it'll be finished, and someday it'll be great.

Here's a synopsis of that novel:

In 1979 Dr. Vivian Bell, two-year-old daughter Julia in tow, led a motley band of idealists from a California university to a patch of rural farmland and built a commune--a self-proclaimed “Utopia” seeking to create a life of equality and harmony. Rebelling against both the competitiveness and materialism of the culture at large and the free-love individualism of the hippies before them, the founders of Orchard Valley Homestead set out to create something better for themselves and their children. Decades later the community lives on, forgotten by the world, its members doggedly clinging to ideals they’ve failed to live up to time and time again. It was here that Julia grew up, both inextricably bound to her mother’s creation and unbearably resentful of it. 
How We Go On is the story of mothers and their daughters in a world defined at once by isolation and by community. Vivian will grow larger than life in this world; Julia will be destroyed by it. And in her last moments Julia will throw her own daughter, 13-year-old Shelby, the only lifeline she has—a life somewhere else, with a man Julia once cared for, a man who left their childhood home without her. Shelby steps out alone, still numb with the loss and betrayal of her mother, towards an unknown future in a culture both deceptively familiar and terrifyingly foreign, only to be confronted by her own past: her newly appointed guardian, an uncle she’s never known, holds secrets about her, her mother, her long-forgotten father—and the community they all once belonged to, the only family Shelby has ever known.

I hope you guys will all stick with me through November, and cheer me on, jeer me, kick my butt, mock my failures, etc.  I need you to hold me accountable.  OK?  OK.  Thanks.


  1. Talk me into playing despite being less than 90 days away from the rest of my life. I want to be a writer too, and the wedding is already driving me crazy, so what's a little more crazy? Only sanity keeps reminding me that this is INSANE. So... yeah. Talk me into it.

  2. Sooooo INCREDIBLY excited that Vivian, Julia and Shelby are back!! You left me hanging last time and I NEED more!!

  3. Umm...I'm gonna need for you to finish writing that book at some point, because the synopsis alone is intriguing and leaves me wanting to pick the book, curl up with it, and read until I reach the back cover.

    Good luck with Nanowrimo! I want to write a book someday - I'll be happy if I can just think of an idea. o_O

  4. You guys are the best. Cassandra, you simply MUST join me in this adventure. I can't do it without you, dear. I'll be on the lookout for your NaNo Buddy request. My handle this year is NearNormalcy.

    Angela, please clear your schedule so you can read my every unfiltered word as it emerges from my brain. I know how you like that.

    JW Moxie! When I finish this book and it appears on the bestseller list I am sending you a free signed copy just for that comment. BAM. I'm a giver.

  5. I can't wait to read more! I want to be a writer too (shocking in the blog world, isn't it?) and I could only wish to write a synopsis as good as yours! I just can't wait to read more!

  6. @momnextdoor...OK, you get a free signed copy, too. I'm feeling the love around here today.

    But that's it, ok? Anybody else who comes up in here and butters me up just gets gratitute. No more free books! I'm trying to make a living here.

  7. Be my writing buddy! I'm roxanne.piskel - I participated & won for the first time last year and I am SO EXCITED to do it again. :)

  8. I think I'm going to need to start over from the beginning to get acquainted with everyone. may not remember this, but i was promised a mention on the acknowledgments page. :D

  9. Roxanne!! Yay. Ok I checked and the writing buddies feature isn't up yet. But as soon as it's available I'll add you.

  10. I really want to do NaNoWriMo, but I think I might too chicken/lazy. Go ahead, try to inspire me.

    (You go, girl.)

  11. So, joining me: Cassandra, Roxanne, Kate. Moxie? Momnextdoor? You ladies in? You know you want to.

  12. I love your pitch!

    I'd read that. Totally.

  13. Brilliantly original. You're already 20 steps ahead of me - go go!

  14. Thank you! What a lovely comment. :) "Brilliantly original." Can I put that on my book jacket? ;)


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