NaNoWriMo: Update 1

Willow - NaNoWriMo 1

Longtime readers of this blog and my other writings (all three of you) know how frustrating my journey has been for all of us. I’m the classic big-idea guy who never quite gets around to following through.

My personal frustration led me to yet another re-prioritization and a first-time resolution to complete the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge – write the first draft of a 50,000-word novel during the month of November.

After three days, I’m pleased to say I’m on track. I averaged about 1,700 words each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, just enough to reach the 1,667-per-day average output for 50,000 words in 30 days. With Chapter 1 already done before I started, I had a 3,762-word head start (although I’m therefore aiming to complete a 53,762-word novel by Nov. 30), and I start today at 9,141 and looking forward to cracking five digits. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo: Update 1”

OK. I’m in.

the office

After writing one chapter of Comfort & Joy in the summer of 2018 and then freezing in place for more than a year, I have decided to force myself into action by publicly declaring my participation in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, when thousands of longtime procrastinators like me declare our intention to write a 50,000-word novel by the end of November.

As of now, six hours before November starts, I haven’t decided whether to start over or use Chapter One as a “head start.” But as I typed that sentence, I realized the point of the exercise is to move forward and write new stuff, not edit the old, so Chapter Two it is.

I have given the novel the working title of “No Chance to Dream” and described it as a fantasy mystery, being as it is The Thin Man meets Harvey. I plan to track my progress at the NaNoWriMo site (here is my page) and will probably update this post to provide word counts for you, my half-dozen readers.

See you in the funny papers!


Stay in the game and keep swinging

dejah - keep swinging.jpg

There’s a moment when your consciousness detaches from the writing and starts to read and recognize – “Oh, that’s good, that’s sweet, that’s meaningful” – and that’s the moment of truth.

Either you pause and celebrate what you’ve just written or you double down – you say to yourself, “Shut up, Self, we’re writing here and nobody cares what you think at this moment.”

Maybe you do shut back up and keep writing, or maybe you start trying to outdo yourself and it turns out sounding like self-conscious slop, or maybe you stop and say, “Well, there it is, that’s the best I’m going to do today so I may as well stop.” Only one of those three choices is likely to produce more brilliance, but you have a chance of batting .333, which is mighty good baseball.

Sports make pretty good analogies. Babe Ruth’s strikeouts and Brett Favre’s interceptions are part of their stories of brilliant success. Ted Williams set a record by failing six out of 10 times – because the best hitters have always failed seven or eight of 10.

And the point being: You don’t get a hit every time you swing. You just keep swinging.

Gently down the stream

gently down the stream

Author’s note: The other day, after neglecting my journal for a day, I picked it up and entered a “zone” and didn’t set it back down until I had filled 16 pages. At several points I became aware that I was writing without thinking and enjoying the stream of consciousness, so I’d tuck my brain away again and keep going. Afterward, reviewing where my mind had wandered, I got the idea to share the whole 16 pages, almost exactly as they’d come out, with only one addition: the word Trope.

Why would you want to read this? Why would anyone care what I write when I’m just riding a stream of consciousness to nowhere or somewhere or wherever this goes? I don’t know. Maybe I’m the only one who finds this writing exercise interesting, but that’s OK. It would not be the first time, or the last. Continue reading “Gently down the stream”

In which an unexpected judicious edit leads to conquering the fear of the wonderful

zen edit

There is something scary about discovering the miracles that abide inside us. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and – having been made in the image of our Creator – we are capable of crafting fearfully-and-wonderfully-made things.

In a burst of creative madness, I wrote Chapter One of a marvelous story more than a year ago.

It was good, which scared the sh*t out of me, obviously, because I let it lay dormant for more than a year. At the time, I shared the chapter to be sure it was good, and sure enough, people whose opinions I respected said, “This is good. I would like to see what happens next.” What happened next is I let it lay.

Then the other morning, as I am wont to do, I was re-reading Ray Bradbury. Continue reading “In which an unexpected judicious edit leads to conquering the fear of the wonderful”

Seemingly seeming seemly


“It just seems.”


“It just seems. That’s all.”

“Seems like …?”

“Seems like what?”

“You said it just seems.”

“Yes, it does.”

“Seems like what?”

“What are you on about?”

“You said it just seems, and usually when people say that, they finish the sentence.”

“I did.”

“That was the whole sentence?”

“Yes, yes, it was.”

“What did you mean?”

“Does everything have to mean something? Can’t it just seem?”

“Seem like what?”

“Oh, bother! You’re such a nitty-pick.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means what you want it to mean. Leave me alone.”

“Well, this just seems –”

“And there you are!”


A short short story about a man who rested his eyes and woke up as a pod person

rest my eyes

“Just – resting – my eyes … I’ll do it after I – rest – my – eyes –”

He slept, and when he awoke, he was a pod person. His soul had withered and died in the night.

And he lived unhappily ever after.


“What kind of a story is THAT?!”

“Well – it might be a real one. You know the old proverbs about folding your hands for a little sleep …”

“What proverbs are those?”

“Oh, look them up.”

The trope of the horribly wrong

horribly wrong

A nerdy science student is bitten by a radioactive spider. A scientist rescues a kid from a nuclear bomb test site but is irradiated by the explosion. A family tests a spaceship and flies through a gamma-ray cloud.

Scientists try something and it goes horribly wrong. It’s the quintessential superhero origin story. And supervillains, too, come to think. Continue reading “The trope of the horribly wrong”