Otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. I’m sure that most of you have heard of it but November, every year, hundreds of thousands of writers from around the world commit to writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Last I checked there were about 400,000 writers signed up this year.
Many have never written a novel and are using this as an incentive to finally achieve that goal. I applaud you for that. Even if you don’t hit the 50K word count mark, hopefully, you will see that you can achieve it and will be so addicted to writing by then you’ll keep going.
Many of the participants have done this before and know that the support and camaraderie will get you a long way toward achieving your goal. Many have done this and achieved 50K words all the time but being part of this group just inspires you. There are as many different reasons for signing up as there are writers who made the commitment.
I signed up to do this for the very first time. Then I got cold feet and was going to back out before I read a blog post by an author I know (by his writing and through FB) and after reflecting on the whole concept of 1,666.666 words per day (yes I did the math) I realized it was a great opportunity to just write without worrying about every single word choice, whether it would be good enough, and all the other neurotic thoughts that are a hindrance sometimes. I have also found a group of people that will band together and support each other through this process. I feel very lucky to have met these writers. They are a real gift.
On December 1st, I will either be jumping for joy or I will be locked in a padded room wearing a straitjacket and I will have a 50 thousand word document comprised of one sentence repeated over and over. “All work and no play makes Liz a dull girl.” Luckily I don’t own an ax.
Good luck and happy writing to all the NaNoWriMo participants of 2017!
(If you don’t get that reference, it’s from “The Shining”) If you like this post, please share it or comment. If you hate this post, please comment. If you really hate this post make a voodoo doll of me and stick pins in its hand so I’ll never write again –ok please don’t do the last one. If you’re a NaNo and need another writing buddy my username is LJLeighton.
In “Journal of a Novel,” John Steinbeck wrote, “I know it is the best book I have ever done. I don’t know whether it is good enough.” I’m no John Steinbeck and never hope to achieve the status he did as an author, but even he had insecurities about his writing.
Maybe my insecurities are justified. That’s one way to think and going down that particular rabbit hole is where I find myself too often. I constantly have to ferret out all the voices in my head that tell me that the last sentence, the last paragraph, or even everything I’ve ever written is just drivel. It somehow makes me feel better, and not so alone, knowing that even John Steinbeck struggled with such insecurities.
For the past few decades, most of my writing has been technical, nonfiction, or novels. I recently made the decision to pursue my passion for writing novels once again. I never tried to publish my last two novels and I’ve told myself for years that I was just happy with my accomplishment. The truth is that my insecurities held me back and have kept me from writing another novel until now.
Since I made that decision, I’ve set aside some of my reading time for articles and books about writing. One of the suggestions I’ve read from numerous sources is that novelists should give flash fiction and short story writing a shot. Each writer gave lists of reasons for doing so, but the one that caught my eye was that it could stimulate creativity.
I was very insecure about this new fiction form. How could anyone pack a story of any interest into such a compact space? I gave it a whirl anyway with a lot of starts and stops. I didn’t count how many times I edited it. Then I finally posted it on a website where I knew it would get serious reviews. I was terrified and expected to be shredded. I felt vulnerable and exposed.
I was torn between wanting to see my reviews and never wanting to even check them, but humans are inherently curious and curiosity won the battle. I had to see what kind of “train wreck” I had written. I was so shocked when I read my first reviews that I thought there must have been some mistake. There were genuine critiques of my story, but my aggregate rating was 4.5 out of 5 stars.
So, to all of the insecure writers out there, tell the negative voices in your head to shut up. Do it every time they try to sneak into your thoughts. I have to do it constantly. Remember that even John Steinbeck had insecurities and most importantly keep writing.
After waiting 38 years for today’s solar eclipse, I’ve been anticipating this astronomical event for months. I planned to travel to the 70 mile wide band that would experience the total eclipse but circumstances arose that made this trip impossible for me. However, the eclipse would be 73% where I live and I was determined to enjoy what I could.
I researched the appropriate glasses for viewing and ordered a set recommended by the American Astronomical Society well in advance. I gave the extras to friends and family who also wanted to witness this fantastic event but had not thought about it far enough in advance. There was no place to buy the glasses locally and I was so happy that I had gotten extras to share.
3 days ago the weather forecast predicted 40% cloud coverage here and 20% chance of rain. I was disappointed in the forecast, but I tried to remain optimistic. The odds were still in my favor.
The Waiting was Over
I jumped out of bed this morning full of excitement. The eclipse would begin here at 11:46 am, reach the 73% maximum coverage of the sun at 1:16 pm and be over by 2:45 pm. I looked out at the sky and there were a few clouds, but not many. Things were looking great!
I finished my morning routines and gathered together the things I needed to make my trek out to my friend’s farm. I live in an apartment complex surrounded by buildings and trees that would obstruct the view and she has wide open fields, perfect for viewing. I had 2 pair of the eclipse viewing glasses left—one for each of us.
Disappointment or Success?
As I drove, I noticed the cloud coverage increasing. I finally reached the farm and the cloud coverage had gone to about 80%. “Meteorologists!” I muttered to myself. “What other job could get by with being wrong so much and still keep their jobs?” I was getting a little frustrated.
We both looked at the enormous dark cloud separating us from the sun. I muttered a few choice words and we decided to go inside and watch the photos coming in from Idaho on the TV coverage. The eclipse had reached totality there and the photos were incredible. The diamond effect the footage showed as the sun began to reappear were gorgeous and something I’d never seen. I gasped at the beauty. I have to admit the clear blue skies I noticed in the background, as the totality ended in Idaho, sparked a twinge of envy.
We walked back outside to see if there were any changes in the cloud coverage here. I peered through my protective glasses up at the sky. I saw nothing but black.
Suddenly I began to notice a dim light appearing. As I watched, a small break in the clouds appeared and then a clear view of the sun emerged. I was so thrilled. The moon was at about 15% coverage of the sun. I think I yelled I was so excited. It was only visible for a few minutes, but we had gotten our first view of the eclipse.
On TV, I watched as Nebraska experienced totality and afterward I noticed the clear blue skies in the background there. This time I was still so psyched after seeing our first view here in Texas that the feeling of jealousy was gone.
We got a few more breaks in the clouds and were able to catch a few more minutes of viewing here and there while we were approaching the maximum coverage we would experience here- 73%. We began to watch for sunlight and the appearance of shadows on the ground as we viewed the live coverage on TV. When we noticed these, we would scurry outside for another view of the eclipse.
About 2 minutes after the partial eclipse had reached its maximum, the clouds began to break up and we were able to watch the rest of the eclipse without any issues.
It never occurred to me to take any photos of the eclipse after the articles I had read. My friend had read some other articles on taking photos that suggested we could take some with our phones using selfie mode. That way you didn’t have to look directly at the sun. I decided to give it a try. I pointed my camera over my head in the direction of the sun or what I hoped was the right direction.
In order to see what we had really captured in our photos, we took them inside to evaluate them. They appeared to be disappointing at first glance. Upon closer inspection, we saw some very interesting artifacts in the photos and I want to share a few of them with you. I saved the best photo for last.
In spite of the changes in plans and all the challenges with the cloud coverage, it turned out to be quite an exhilarating experience. I’m already looking forward to the “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse on Oct. 14th 2023 and the next Total Eclipse on April 8th 2024.
When it comes to starting a blog, I’ve made every mistake in the book. I just jumped in with my eyes wide shut. I’m working on a post detailing all the mistakes I’ve made and all the things I’ve learned the hard way. I’ve learned a lot about blogging and a lot about myself. So please stay tuned for my next post.