National Novel Writing Month

That’s right. I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Isn’t that exiting? I’m going to track my progress on my blog so I can stay accountable. Wish me luck!

If you’ve never done NaNo and you enjoy writing, you should try it. The first time I participated, I decided on November 1 to do it. It helped me to become a better writer because I wasn’t terrified to let the words out to play anymore. I didn’t second guess everything that I put on the paper.

pantsher_badgeI don’t really have any sort of a plan when I write. I am what is known as a pantser. I fly by the seat of my pants, usually starting out with nothing more than an idea and a belief that everything will work out alright. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

This year I have a little bit more than just an idea. I’ve got an idea and a character! She came to me this morning at 5:00. I was very pleased to meet her and look forward to our adventures together.

One day I hope to be more of a planner, but I don’t know if I will ever succeed at that. I know that a huge part of writing is outlining, but my brain resists it when it comes to writing fiction. Or maybe my brain just does it while I sleep, waking me up at odd hours to tell me to write stuff down.

Here’s to the month of November, the month of less sleep, more coffee, and wild abandon. This year I WILL succeed at writing 50,000 words and my character’s story will get told. As Chris Baty said, the world needs my novel.

Plus, I love the winner’s shirt. MUST. HAVE. IT. (Here’s a link to it. It’s awesome!)

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Lights

I am taking a creative writing class this term and it has been absolutely lovely. I’ve been doing so much technical writing that I forgot how much I love revving up the creative portion of my brain. I really wanted to share this story with people other than my professor and my work-shopping group. It had to be less than 500 words. Do you know how hard that is for me??

Oh, also, if you have any suggestions for titles, please let me know. I am the suck at titles. Here goes:

(runs and hides under bed, fearful that people will read it and fearful that people won’t)

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Lights

(c) 2014

The balcony clings to the side of the building, a metal guard rail buttresses the concrete floor, holding tight. She stands on the balcony, looking out over the city, ignoring the bite of the teal metal on her forearms. The moonless sky draws everything into tighter contrast. Her eyes flit from landmark to landmark, not resting long, not wanting to remember.

To the left, she sees the amusement park where they had their first date, Ferris wheel twinkling orange-yellow-red as it rolls around. She hated everything about the wheel and its turning, but he convinced her to climb into the swinging seat. Her hands grasped the safety bar tightly as they started to curve up. By the end of the ride, he held her hand, her terror turned to the thrill of the first touch.

Her eyes move to the arc of the cathedral where they got married, its bronze cap a glowing beacon in the dark. The memory of the day comes unsolicited: the bright white of her gown, the flickering of candles dancing in his eyes, the alabaster unity candle that sealed the promise of forever. The brightness overwhelms her, compelling her eyes to move on.

The brightness dissolves when her eyes touch the blue and white of the hospital where they lost their first and only child. Only the murkiness of the room remains—the room where she ached, empty where she once was full: alone. Her eyes fly over the void in the center of the city where the child was laid to rest, the hollow place that she never visits.

Choking, she moves on. Her eyes jerk to the skyscraper in the middle of the city. Its neon outline has held her husband captive since that night that the light left them. The late night meetings, the weekend projects, and the network problems claim him more than she ever could. The building looms over the rest of the city. Looms over her life.

The lights blur as she holds back the tears. With a stifled sob, she turns her back to the city, blinking away the memories. All she wants to see is lightlessness. It is no use. The lights glimmer back at her on the glass from the arcadia doors.

 

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Lights by E is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

For Jen

My best friend’s birthday is coming up, and I want to give her a gift.  The thing is, purchasing presents causes me some anxiety. Okay, tons of anxiety. I always want everything to be so perfect that I become inert, unable to decide anything. How do you purchase something for someone who means so much to you? How do you communicate to them the joy you have because they are in your life?

I am complete crap at buying presents. We didn’t have much money so gifts were homemade– and not like “Oh! WOW! Did you make that?” kind of homemade. More like the “Uh, thanks?” type. I never had the chance to practice buying gifts, and doing so is awkward for me. The ideas don’t come and then I feel like I am a horrible person because I have no ideas. Silly, right?

Anyway, I am not super crafty, so I can’t make her something. Well, I guess I could make her something, but I want her to remain my friend. I was considering making her one of those pasta necklaces; you know, the kind with the paint on so you can match them to what you are wearing? I could even put glitter on it! No? Okay.

Then I thought about buying her some little doodad that would make her smile. For about ten minutes until she remembered that it would need to be dusted. She is also a minimalist. Her apartment is warm and uncluttered. I love going there and hanging out in a place so opposite from mine. I’m blaming hubby and the daughter, because I *always* put my things back where they belong. Yeah. Sure

Then I realized that I am forgetting about something I can do for her. I will write her a birthday present. So, here goes:

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Jen,

I thought I knew what being a best friend was all about. After all, I’ve had many special people in my life that I counted as best friends, but they were momentary. I enjoyed my time with them and love them still today, but they were there for only a season. You have taught me so much about friendship and life.

For someone younger than I am, you have so much wisdom. Your steadiness balances my anxiety. When I am freaking out over something, you plainly state your opinion with no judgement. You give me time to process what you’ve said. You don’t preach. You don’t try to solve it. You just listen.

You accept me for who I am. You don’t get upset if we don’t talk to each other for a while. You understand that I need time alone to renew myself. You understand because you are the same. It is so nice to have the freedom to be who I am, to not stress about whether or not I’ve hurt your feelings. You *get* me. I never thought that would happen. Never.

You encourage me to try new things. Even when I am reluctant. And somehow, I end up doing them. I don’t like new things– they stress me out. Your patient persistence has opened my eyes to so much. I’m still not going back to Goodwill with you, though. Adventures with you aren’t as scary as adventures alone. Thank you for stretching my boundaries.

We share so much. You make me laugh. I make you laugh. We share a similar twisted sense of humor. It is totes adorbz, btw. We are awesome, be-yoo-ti-ful ladies. We both love songs with the f-word in them. We are both introverts who are learning about ourselves. I learn so much from you.

You’ve helped me in my journey to self-acceptance.

I have been made better because of my time with you. I am thankful every day that I was one of your mentor teachers and that you stuck with me, convincing me that I really *was* worthy of a reciprocal friendship. I love you, my bff.  You are frikkin’ amazing. ❤

Elizabeth

P.S. Natalie told me to tell you that you are pretty, too. And you are really nice. And you are really sweet.

Lost Words

My body aches when I don’t write.  My shoulders tense up. My hands grasp at the words they want to put down. My stomach feels the pressure of the ideas that need to get out but cannot. My heart hurts with words unspoken, a longing for expression, a desire for release. My brain doesn’t stop spinning the ideas, plates balanced on sticks that continuously reduce centimeter by centimeter, concepts on the verge of destruction through lack of attention, through lack of time.

I long for time alone. A place for my stories and I to get to know each other. A place where there is no seven-year old saying, “Mom. Mom. Mom.” A place where the only things that draw on my energy are my words, the words that so desperately want to get out and tell their stories. A place to dress up words, to dance with sentences, to pull back the curtain and begin blocking the show. A place where I can be alone. Alone.

What I need is so elusive. I can’t seem to find it. I don’t even know where to look.

Then I wonder if I am just making excuses, if I’m not really a writer. After all, if I wanted to do it, I would make it happen. Reading about what a “real” writer does makes me feel like a fraud. The solutions seem so simple.  Just set aside some time every day and write, no matter what. Set up a writing sanctuary where you can be alone with your thoughts. If you are a true writer, you won’t be able to not write. Instead of wasting time, you should be writing. You should be writing. You. Should. Be. Writing.

It really isn’t that simple. Things are so busy, I have to choose between writing and family. Writing and teaching. Writing and sleeping. I know where my priorities have to be right now. I am responsible for my sweet daughter. I am responsible for keeping up my end of my marriage. I am responsible for helping 170 teenagers to become critical thinking members of society. I am responsible for my own health and need for slumber. You’d think that would be enough for my brain to handle.

Yet the desire to write, the ravenous need to put words to paper, overrides all reason. I tremble with pent up inspiration, my words whirling, colliding together, trying to break through. I wonder if it will finally break me.

Sorry I’ve been gone but my days are just too long

Dearest blog readers,

I know I’ve not been posting lately, but I have a really good reason this time. School has started. Usually August is a time when I am completely engrossed in getting my classroom ready, lesson planning, and jumping through all of the other hoops that teachers need to do at the beginning of the school year.

I am tired.

I miss writing on my blog, but most of my creative energy is being consumed by the need to get the school year going. Hopefully I’ll get it under control soon.

Anyhoo… Please don’t forget about me while I get everything situated. I’ll be back as soon as I can with entertaining posts about life and running a classroom full of ninth graders!

Oh, I’ll leave you with some words to ponder:

Wise words from Ser George Carlin