The Blank Page in 2015

IMG_5147A new year started at midnight and I was up to let it in. I have this tradition of “letting in the new year.” My husband laughs at me, but every New Year’s Eve as soon as it strikes midnight, I open the front door to take a breath of the fresh air of a fresh year. A year in which I’ve made no mistakes.

It’s exciting and frightening at the same moment. Like a blank page on a computer screen.

I’m sort of in between projects right now. I’ve got several started but haven’t been able to commit to one idea since National Novel Writing Month ended successfully for me in November. I tell myself it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break, especially after such an intense exercise as writing 50,000 words in 30 days. But the truth is, when the words don’t flow, I get spooked.

That’s when the self-doubt begins. Maybe I never was meant to write, anyway. Maybe I’ve been wasting my time. Time I could have spent with my kids, but instead I sat in front of a computer. Dreams of being a successful writer–dreams I’ve had since I was seven years old–seem trite when the words won’t come.

But I know they will come. It’s like building a fire without kindling sometimes. Try as you might to light a green log without kindling, it won’t catch fire. So you add some. A few words, an outline, writing a scene…you throw all that into the mix until something sparks and suddenly the story takes off. The log catches fire.

Happy New Year, everyone. Here’s to a word-filled, successful year for myself and all my friends, whether they’re readers or writers. Let’s embrace the blank page with all its fearsome possibilities. It’s only as terrifying as we allow it to be.

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My blog: 2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,900 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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At the crossroads of Here and Here for Now

I always get a little introspective at the end of the year. I could look at this year in a multitude of ways. Definitely as a success, as my three growing, amazing children, two new novels and happy homelife can prove. Definitely as a year of personal growth. I hope I’ve learned as much about forgiving and becoming less selfish this year as I think I have. I’m reading more. I’m writing when I can. I’m in a good place.

It’s a comfortable way of being, this being Here. It’s contentment and happiness. I’m happy with Here. But I’m becoming aware that Here is slowly changing to Here for Now.

Subtly different, Here for Now acknowledges that Here is more than a simple point on the map. It’s a point on the map with roads leading away in all different directions. Here for Now allows that change, while slow coming, is always a possibility. And Here for Now is where I’ve decided to be.

I’ve noticed some differences in my writing recently. I’m no longer content to write simple romances where the romance is the final destination, in essence a fairy tale. I want more for my writing and my readers. So I’m Here for Now, but I’m reaching for that more. I’m hoping for change and I’m working toward it, even if it means slowing down and taking better stock of what I already have.

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National Novel Writing Month Retrospective: A Good Month’s Work

Winner-2014-Web-BannerOn Sunday I achieved my goal. I slayed the NaNoWriMo beast: I wrote 50,000 words of my next Sleight of Hand novel in 30 days.

So what next? I took a day off. I baked a cake. I shopped for towels. I watched three episodes of The Gilmore Girls (my current guilty pleasure). And then I sat down to think about the crazy, hazy (caffeine-fogged) days of November.

I noticed some things about my writing during NaNo that are different from the way I normally write. For instance:

1. Writing was THE most important thing in my life this month (except–in most cases–for my family). Everything else, including daily exercise and even food, was a luxury.

2. With a daily word count in mind, I could make myself sit at the computer until it was done. I let Facebook and Twitter go. I totally neglected this blog. I haven’t done nearly enough to promote my newest book, Island Magic.

3. I only took one day (Thanksgiving) off writing the entire month of November, and even on that day I wrote a couple hundred words.

4. I wrote straight through the storyline. Well, almost. Normally, I am wont to skip around and write whatever scene most appeals to me at the time. This usually results in a lot of discarded writing. For my NaNo this year, I wrote straight through, beginning to end. I skipped a couple of scenes in the middle, but I made a note about what they would be.

5. I didn’t stop, even when I knew I’d screwed something up in the beginning. I didn’t go back and fix it either, which is what I normally would have done. Instead, I went back and made a note about what needed to be done to fix it and kept writing from where I was as if it had been that way all along.

So what’s next NOW? Well, that particular novel is going to sit on the shelf for a while. At least until January. I’ve got a couple of other ideas percolating that I will eventually begin on, though I may take another day or two off. I know there are a LOT of things to fix in my story. I know, for instance, that I accidentally named one of my minor characters after a country music star. Oops. That will have to change. I also know there are scenes to add and references to fix and I think I left at least one blank instead of trying to come up with a place name. It was just easier.

I also know that this book, Movie Magic, will eventually join my Sleight of Hand series. It will be book 4 and it will be done by October 31 of next year. That’s pretty good for one month’s work.

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The Pinch: Michelle Garren Flye

Today I was interviewed by fellow author A.J. Brown. Check it out here: The Pinch: Michelle Garren Flye.

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NaNo Halfway Point: What It Means to Me

twentyfivek_earnedNational Novel Writing Month means different things to different people. Some people start it to prove to themselves that they can write a novel. Others brag a lot about how many words they’ve already written. I think still others (hopefully not many) consider it a farce and might even type “the” 50,000 times just to say they finished NaNoWriMo. There’s nobody to say you can’t do that. If you want to spend several hours typing “the”, the powers of NaNo aren’t going to stop you from wasting your time.

Today marks the halfway point in my own NaNoWriMo Quest, so I figured I’d take a minute to examine what it is to me. After all, I’ve written nine novels and a novella. Writing 50,000 words is no longer the nearly insurmountable objective it once was. Writing 25,000 words in 15 days hasn’t seemed horribly hard, and I’m fairly certain that, even taking into consideration travel time later this month, I should be able to fit the other 25,000 words into my schedule too. So why do NaNo when I can write a book without it?

National Novel Writing Month is a sort of boot camp for me. Over the course of a year or two of writing, it’s easy to get discouraged when the words aren’t rolling off my fingertips. It’s easy to forget the number one requirement to be a writer: YOU. MUST. WRITE. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Without fail. Without pandering to self-doubt. Without wondering where the words will come from. Because if you force yourself to sit at the computer, the words WILL come. They may not always be the right words, but once they’re on the screen, you can move on until the right words do show up.

So what will I end up with at the end of a month? A book? No. A manuscript. I don’t even think it will be a complete manuscript. Fifty thousand words isn’t really long enough. I’ll probably keep writing for another ten or fifteen thousand words before I declare it done. And then will it be a book? No. It’s still just an unedited manuscript and while it will contain a lot of words, I’ll know they’re not all the right ones. But at least they will be written ones.

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National Novel Writing Month eats my words

And therefore I have none to spend here. However, just a quick update, I’m writing a novel tentatively entitled “Pirate Magic” and it’s up to 18,500 words. So I’m right on target. I’ll try to post a new word count every day. It’s been great practice getting me back into the groove of writing a certain amount every single day, no matter what. Participant-2014-Web-Banner

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