What would happen if one woman told the truth abouther life?The world would split open.
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She had me at “hello.”
Congratulations. You have woken the witch that lives deep inside me. You have removed the slumber chains from the giant of old. You have handed me a box of matches and no chaperone And a wor…
To say this has been a difficult week is perhaps the greatest understatement since, “Wow, the Civil War was messy.”
The days following the election of (oh, I can barely stand to write it) Donald J. Trump to the office of U.S. President have been some of the worse of my life. Hell, November 8 was the worst day of my life. Hands down. Even worse than the day I swallowed an entire bottle of prescription drugs and spent the night in the ER drinking charcoal and Sprite to empty my stomach. Worse than 2005, when my mother-in-law had a heart attack, Hurricane Katrina decimated the Gulf Coast (including the city of my birth, New Orleans), and my gross income was $2500! Yes, November 8, 2016, was worse for me than all of those horrible things combined.
“Oh, come on,” you might say. “You’re over-reacting. It’s not that bad.”
And to this platitude, the angel over my right shoulder says, “Yes, dear, it really is that bad. I understand you’re trying to help. I understand that, from your viewpoint, not much is going to change. But things are different here in the real world.” Read more
Margaret, maybe we have this all wrong. Maybe the big news didn’t happen on Tuesday. Maybe it was Wednesday. They say Trump woke a sleeping giant, but maybe that giant didn’t wake up before the election. Maybe it woke after the election when we all finally realized that everything we hold true and dear about […]
A million years ago, I was hanging out in a hotel room in Rome with a woman named Ann. It was the end of one of those 28-day, “if it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium” college trips to Europe and I’d holed up in Ann’s room because my actual roommate was driving me to distraction. I was 19, it was Rome, and I was depressed. Ann was older, weird, and to my eyes, a worldly guide to life beyond my sophomore year of college.
I remember her telling me about her trip to New York and her glowing review of the Broadway play, “Sunday in the Park with George” (which would later become a large influence in my life, but that’s another story.) We talked for hours about theater, writing, and music. She insisted that she didn’t listen to music, and when I asked her why, she said something that would stick with me for the next 30 years: “If you fill your head with other people’s music, how in the hell are you ever going to hear your own?”
November is upon us again. In some circles, that means pulling down dollar store cobwebs and chucking melted jack-o-lanterns into the dumpster. To others, it means one thing and one thing only: National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as it’s commonly known).
I just finished an amazing post on NaNoWriMo by author Caitlin E. Jones, and she honed in on the major problem I have with NaNoWriMo: writing the book is only the start. NaNo, and the model it presents, does not really prepare the writer for the often-grueling task of editing their 50K word masterpiece.
I’ve only ever completed one NaNo challenge, a science fiction novel called The Dreaming. While I have to admit, it was wonderful getting the story out of my head (where it had lingered in my brain for years), the completed draft was a hot mess. A hot mess with some great ideas, moments of prose so beautiful it made me wibble, and a few unexpectedly wonderful characters–but a hot freaking mess, nonetheless.
Without the planning and on-the-spot revision one usually incorporates into the writing process, my NaNo novel took several wonky detours (including a murder plot, blackmail, and several other things I have no business writing about). By the time I was done and ready to start the revision process, I realized more than half of those fifty-thousand words were completely unusable.
The “finished novel” that resulted from my successful NaNoWriMo experience sat, partially edited, on my cloud drive for nearly three years. I just couldn’t bear to look at it. Couldn’t bear to think about how this story that had meant so much to me was no more drek than I felt myself capable of redeeming.
So, that was my last time participating in NaNoWriMo.
But all hope is not lost. I’ve decided to dedicate November 2016 to salvaging The Dreaming. This morning, I finished deleting the unusable scenes, cutting my word count down to less than 20K. It’s not a completed novel by any stretch, but I think I can work with this. I think I can do what I should have done in 2013–think, plan, revise, and figure out exactly what I want this novel to be. Then, and only then, will I feel I’ve actually completed my NaNoWriMo novel.