Do Write On

Write OnIn case the turkey- and pilgrim-themed decorations at Walgreens  haven’t tipped you off, I will tell you: it’s November.  In fact, November is clipping along, and along with it, National Novel Writing Month, which is already a third of the way through.  Which means I have no business working on a blog post, which the other eleven months of the year is something I find excuses pressing reasons to put off, but tonight am using as an inspired tool of procrastination.  (My Official NaNo Word Count Goal of the Day has also already been met, thanks in no small part to the gift my NaNo-ing cousin made me of some Trader Joe’s French Roast coffee, yum yum.)

Week Two of NaNoWriMo is notoriously among the more challenging.  As faith (or, worse, interest) in your story begins to wane, your characters refuse to get off the couch and go do anything, and you begin to realize that “fifty thousand” is a dastardly synonym for “one million trillion.”  Clearly nobody but Superman and maybe Anne Lamott could produce such an absurd ton of words in thirty days, which is suddenly revealed to be the most microscopic measure of time ever.  And since there is no visible means by which to achieve this once-friendly goal that now taunts you from afar, there is little point in typing more than, say, fifteen words a year.

Or so it seemed the other day, as I crept along towards my goal of 5,000 words with honest-to-goodness snails in our fish tank looking out and laughing.   Continue reading

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What Happened When The Kaspersen Brothers Met Myrna McGee

My approach to National Novel Writing Month consists of five main components: 1. A catchy title (see above).  2. An enticing synopsis (see below) which gives me a plot arc to follow but plenty of leeway to veer (way) off track as necessary.  3. My NaNo coffee mug.  4. My Safeway-brand NaNo peppermint white chocolate coffee creamer.  And 5. My “Write On” t-shirt, which was gifted to me by my very best friend, himself a writer, on the eve of my first NaNo and which, when all else fails to inspire, can crank up my word count like nobody’s business.

This year’s story, as you will see, is about Hawaii.  More specifically, about a tourist’s-eye-view of Waikiki from the cheesy (and ever-so-awesome) Food Court Oasis that is the International Marketplace, where my cousin and I once decided would be a perfect place to open a wedding planning business.  Everything you’d ever need for a wedding — leis, muumuus, gift items, cheap local food, heck, even Live Entertainment — is available on-site, all under one banyan tree.  I don’t plan to examine authentic Hawaiian culture, naturally, but rather to use Hawaii, the Tourist’s Paradise, as a setting for a story about family, friendship, and getting a hold of yourself.

In years past, I have blogged my novel as I’ve written it, allowing a rollicking, day-by-day glimpse into my Creative Process and spamming Facebook with almost daily updates, no matter how horrifying.  Last year, though, I had to quit publicizing my output about halfway through, the better to allow myself to smear the page with the disaster that became necessary to drag my story across quite a few rough plot holes to stick a satisfying ending.  I started with a strong idea and some delightful characters, and who knows?  Properly edited, something could yet come of it.  But mostly it served as a reminder to me that the whole point of the exercise is to take loads of time off work, sit down, and make it happen, for better or for worse.  I might post excerpts this year; I might tweet funny quotes or particularly embarrassing dialogue; I might write the entire Masterpiece in secret.  But write it, I shall, and if you want to be super proud of yourself in thirty days, and maybe get out of doing the dishes in the interim, I’d encourage you to join me.  It’s hard, it’s exhausting, and it’s more fun than I know how to have with a cup of coffee in one hand without spilling it.  I’m born again as an artist every November; can your favorite Safeway-brand product promise that?

About this year’s novel:

When a long-forgotten uncle of her long-dead first husband shuffles off this mortal coil, Myrna McGee inherits a Waikiki condo and a stall at Honolulu’s International Marketplace, and along with them a ticket out of Saskatoon and a crack at a fresh start. With help from capricious local cutie Lio, she runs the Wiki Wiki Wedding Chapel and Hawaiian Honeymoon Clearing House, which quickly becomes a favorite fixture of the giant tourist trap. When the three Kaspersen brothers and their B-Movie Mom find themselves with a gay wedding to plan, Myrna and Lio sign on to deliver the perfect party on the cheap. But when opposition arises from an unexpected corner, the wedding is the least of the things they’re called on to try and save.

We start tomorrow!  Sign up at nanowrimo.org

Your Secret’s Safe With Us

Tomorrow we embark on a much-anticipated trip to Hawaii, where we will meet up with my cousins who live on O’ahu, stalk sea turtles across the North Shore, ogle beer-bellied honeymooners in Waikiki and ransack the souvenir stands and the lunch wagons at Honolulu’s International Marketplace.

Setting sail (albeit on an airplane) for the Sandwich Islands puts me in mind of a story.  I fly for a large, international airline with flight attendant bases in five countries, but at heart, our work group is more like a small town, and anybody who cares to can know your business.  Stories abound of the two girls together on the jumpseat rhapsodizing about their wonderful new boyfriends, everything sunshine and lollipops until the identical photos are busted out and yet another pilot is found out for the dog he is.  On a Maui trip many years ago, I worked in First Class with the captain’s ex-wife while his new wife slung trays in Coach, and I don’t mind saying, a more uncomfortable hotel van ride I have yet to endure.

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