#NaNoWriMo, it’s not just for writing novels anymore.

from Flickr User Monda, used under a Creative Commons attribution license
from Flickr User Monda, used under a Creative Commons attribution license

So, it’s NaNo.

The month that fills every writer I know with a sense of hope and possibility. Or, as likely, dread and insecurity. Whatever the feelings, NaNo inspires a certain type of person to get behind a keyboard.

Whatever the end result, writing is good for a person’s soul.

And as much as I am not prone to loving the hype, I think NaNo is pretty great. I have never successfully participated myself, but I talk about it from time to time, and I like to hear about it, read the posts, enjoy the energy from my every-month-of-the-year-WriMo perch at my little table in my little office.

I get annoyed with all the snobbish woe-is-me posts from seasoned or professional writers saying things like, “better yet, don’t write that novel,” and “to win, you could theoretically write the prhase, ‘nipple sandwich’ 25,000 times and earn yourself a little certificate.”

The second quotation isn’t from a technically hating piece, but it’s from a post that does, at its core, seem to be about de-glamorizing the writing life and explaining that writing is not just this magical thing that happens while you hardly notice then suddenly you’re getting piles of cash and accolades like you’re some kind of Stephen King protege.

And that’s truth. The piece is called “25 Things You Should Know about NaNoWriMo.” It could also be called “25 Things You Should Know About Being a Writer, some of these relate to NaNo.”

Get to the point, already!

I hate hacks.

I would tell anybody. And I am. See? You’re anybody. I maybe don’t know you at all. And now you know a little truth about me. Hacks make me full of ire and nasty words I have no shyness or fear about spewing all over hack backs.

But I don’t hate NaNo.

Call me Pollyanna, but my feelings on the matter are this: People who finish NaNo are people who are, at least in some small way, committed to living the writing life. It is not easy to write every day, least of all 1666 words.

And whatever else happens, the douche fools who query agents and editors Dec 1 with their shitty 50,000 words are people who would do it anyway. Maybe they wouldn’t do it Dec 1, but at least now there is the possibility for an editor/agent to blanket ignore any unsolicited submissions that appear on Dec 1-15 (note to self).

But this year, my writer friend and I have committed to writing-related goals in honor of WriMo. She’s finishing her novel (she’s been working on it for years), and I am submitting my essays to literary journals and querying agents to the tune of 5 each week.

It took me a year and a half to write all these essays, and I still consider the manuscript to be in progress, I am, in fact, revising three new essays for it now.

I’m keeping a spreadsheet which I will show to my friend once a week.

My friend is showing me her pages.

So NaNo is about accountability. About setting and reaching writing goals.

So get yourself a partner and write! Or Submit! Or Query! Or Revise! Or Outline! Or plot! Or whatever you need to do to get wherever There is.

Floatsam and Jetsam of Living the Dream

Peasant Woman, Art.
Peasant Woman, Art.

Last grad school residency, my cohort was required to attend a panel discussion of agents and editors. As I’m sure you can all imagine, we were chomping at the bit to impose our tendrils of ignorance on these people, the very ones we hope will help us realize our writerly publication dreams.

I have been following the publishing industry in a sometimes obsessive, but mostly casual way these past couple of years, and by all accounts, it is nothing like it was even ten years ago. Now, there are still authors who have success, but not as many, and the quality of the work has tended downward.  Porter Anderson does a weekly feature on Jane Friedman’s blog about the perils and perks of the publishing industry in all of its current iterations. It has been a helpful starting place to read all the moaning, so I was more-or-less prepared for what the Editors and Agents said.

They said that almost none of their authors are making a living from writing alone.

They told me that I’m living the dream already.

That was heartening.

Living the dream means cobbling together a living from constituent parts that allow your writing to flourish, that don’t make you miserable. That give you both enough time and money.

Tricky alchemy, that.

I write every weekday morning from sometime between 5 and 6 a.m. to sometime between 7 and 8 a.m.

Then, I teach on Mondays and Wednesdays.

I work in a restaurant on weekends.

And I do freelance writing when I can get some that doesn’t annoy me, even if it pays shit.

I take on clients. I am interested in coaching/teaching and developmental clients. I am booked through January, though, so if you are interested, gimmie a buzz and we can get you on the calendar. Not to be a wanker, but Karma’s been on my side since late March, and I’m in increasing demand.

At the end of this week,  I will have completed the first revision of my manuscript. It is twelve personal essays. About a week after that, I will have completed my second revision, and it will be “ready.” I will embark on my personal trek of hell rejection submissions. I have a list, a strategy, and a budget. That’s a future post.

I’m calling it a memoir. I have the worst ideas for titles, so if I sell it, I’ll let you know what they’re calling it.

I have my half dozen beta readers lined up. These people deserve to be sainted.

My undergrad mentor’s memoir came out last month. Here’s an interview on Bookslut.

The book is called FEAR AND WHAT FOLLOWS, it’s available for pre-order on Amazon. I’ll be reviewing it in the Sun-Gazette’s lifestyle magazine in the Fall issue.

A guest post I wrote will be on Jamie Chavez’s blog next week, on the 16th. Go subscribe to her so you’ll catch it when it goes live. Another post I wrote about creativity, that will only be on Jamie’s blog, will show up there another time soon.

Doesn’t sound too glamorous?

It’s not.

But it’s rewarding, and I am, for the first time in many, many years (maybe ever), truly content.