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1113In Writing News - I’m one week and 16,000 words into the new novel. I owe much of that word count to a handful of Twitter friends, busting out word sprints of 20 – 30 minutes throughout the day. There’s something about the joint effort, even with virtual strangers, that is motivating. Because writing is, by nature, a solitary act, we can get mired in our own muck and talk ourselves out of exciting and productive work. I’m trying to keep myself accountable this time around – to myself, my NaNoWriMo buddies and most importantly, to my novel.

I had a serious slump on Friday, writing next-to-nothing and Saturday wasn’t much better. But today, I jumped over the stuck point and was able to push through three more chapters. With the exception of the nagging feeling that I’m telling the story from the wrong POV, I’m feeling good about the progress I’ve made and how the story is unfolding. My shitty first draft (a la Annie Lamott) is well on its way.

In Reading News – I’m 2/3 of the way through Jim Beaver’s “Life’s That Way”, a memoir spanning his wife’s illness and the aftermath of her death. Because it was written as a series of e-mails to loved ones as the events were taking place, there is a rawness to the writing that is wrenching. Incredibly engaging and some seriously brilliant thoughts on grief. 

To balance out the intensity of Beaver’s book, I’m finishing up Christopher Moore’s “Lamb; The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” and starting in on Diana Rowland’s “My Life As A White Trash Zombie”.

In Other News – My oven has been repaired, I’ve acquired a cat named Fraidy and I get to see my godchildren in Monterey next weekend. How about you?

on writing “The Boy Suit”

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I was hesitant to publish “The Boy Suit” here for any number of reasons, each of which has been whittled away over the last few weeks, as I was reminded by a handful of people, each in a different way, how powerful words can be when we choose to give them away rather than hoard them (as Wakowski once wrote) “like diamonds up the ass in an African mine”.  That said, here is the first finished piece from my collection of stories and essays tentatively titled The Complicated Geography of Alice.

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NaNoWRiMo-ing … just so you know.

ahem

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It is 1:23 a.m., the early morning of November 1st 2009. At the long desk in the living room of our rented Central Valley California house, my husband sits beside me. There are three dogs asleep on the couch behind us. Down the hall, my eldest sister is typing quietly on her laptop while the cat sleeps on the bed behind her and her fish has hunkered down in his castle for the night.

I am writing this here and now because I committed, less than two hours ago, to writing 1,700 words a day for thirty days. To be fair, I did this while in the middle of a bout of bagel-making, which renders me susceptible to visions of superpowers.

My sister, the one down the hall, is writing a novel. Her third for NaNoWriMo. I have begun my share of novels, but never managed finished one and while various friends have slogged through their own National Novel Writing Novembers, I have never given myself over to the process, nor am I technically doing so now. Mostly, I want to prove to myself that I can still write and honestly, the first step in doing so is giving myself the right and a reason to write again. Both of those things are important and difficult.

Committing to support my sister’s intention to write a rough draft of her novel in the space of one month (at approximately 1,700 words a day) by committing to write the same amount every day feels like an enormous commitment, as these days,  I find it difficult to commit to anything at all.

317 words in, the time change comes and we take a break for bagels. In the middle of the night, in the middle of California, on the border between October and November in the worst year of my life, my sister and I slather cream cheese on still warm chunks of sun-dried tomatoes and discuss plot and characters and such things until it is time to get back to work.

In theory, at the end of this new month, we both have a stack of pages filled with rows of words; hers, a neatly ordered novel, with plot and character development and all these nice twists and turns. While mine, well I have no fucking idea what they will be. Hell, I only committed to this three hours ago under duress, and in the glow of bagel-making in the middle of the night.