Sunday, October 30, 2011


 In the square of sunlight, appearing white on the floor, is a tennis ball.

A tennis ball is of sublime importance to this dog, Sebastian; half border collie/ half God alone knows what, Sebastian is intent on that tennis ball being kicked, and how he will catch it before it gets past him. There is nothing in his universe apart from this activity. Food? Forget it. Need to relieve himself? Back seat. Invading Visigoths bursting through that front door? Are they going to snatch the ball? Might deal with them then, but otherwise, tell them to get out of the way!

Here comes November, and NaNoWriMo.

On November 1st, a writer opens a document, and sees nothing. The goal is to see 50,000 words appear in that document by November 30th. The key to meeting the challenge is to keep the author's eye on the story. Not so much to keep to an outline, but to keep an eye on the characters, what they wear, what they eat, why they live in Baltimore as opposed to San Diego ... and let them do what they will do. It's great to enter NaNoWriMo with a beginning and an ending, but it's not necessary.

If you think about the people you know, they all have stories behind their lives. You don't know all of those stories intimately. But you could, if you wanted to, speculate upon the facts of their existence, and extrapolate.

Lots of NaNovelists get bogged down by time constraints, and that's totally understandable, as Life is busy for many, many people.  The breakdown that saddens me is fear of their own words. Starting to write, the author finds his/her words aren't "good enough" or are "too far outside the box" or perhaps simply not what the author expected to find within him/herself.

NaNoWriMo is just about focusing on word count, and the telling of any story.

Like Sebastian, all of us who sign up for NaNoWriMo have to stay focused, and like Sebastian, it's not the ball, not the words that come out, but something more integral:
in both pictures, Sebastian is not focused on the ball, even though catching the ball is his goal. He's watching that foot, that power that drives the ball.

Writers for NaNoWriMo: Don't watch the words, don't judge the words, they can always be edited. Watch instead the source of the words, and believe that source has lots of power behind it. In your mind, in your heart, there's a story that might want to be told. Give it at least an airing this coming month, and worry about giving it perspective and depth and a makeover ... later.

Here comes the kick!

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