You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2009.

Yep. It’s the very last day of November: the last day of Nanowrimo, the last day of Nononano. Thanksgiving has been and gone, leaving nothing behind but memories and a few extra pounds.

What do you have to show for the month?

If you’ve been doing Nanowrimo, here’s hoping you’ve got your 50,000 words all onto the page where they belong. And if you didn’t finish, I’m betting you have a few more words than you did at the beginning of the month. Maybe you learned some new habits of daily writing. Maybe you decided writing totally sucks and you want nothing to do with ever again.

Some people played along with the Query Party – I hope you got some requests out of that, or at least some good practice in getting queries out into the big wide world where they belong.

No 50,000 words for me, but still November has been an eventful month. I completed what I believe to be the penultimate draft of Swimming North. Seriously. At this point, I’m hopeful that there is nothing much left to do except polish.  (Knock wood and all that).

Well, that’s about all I have to say – I’m off to work here in a minute. Please share your triumphs or your failures – I love to know what is going on with the writers out there.

I woke this morning to a world in white. Every year this happens. Every year it is a miracle.

The timing is perfect. There has been too much darkness in the world of late. My work brings me often into contact with people on the edge of  despair. Sometimes all I can do is stand beside a soul balanced on a precarious no man’s land between life and whatever lies beyond, and bear witness to their pain. Spending too much time in that place of “to be or not to be” takes its toll, makes it hard to remember all that is still bright and beautiful in the world.

Yesterday it seemed that everything was grey, and always would be. This morning there is transformation, both outside and in.

A skiff of snow doesn’t bury or obscure – it highlights – the intricate complexities of leaf and twig and blade of grass made visible to the casual gaze. Once upon a time, many years ago, I wrote a poem, lost now except for the first line which lingers in my memory:

“Snow is the last magic upon the face of the earth.”

And this is so.

This morning I know I will be writing before the day is through. I’ve taken a brief pause: the last draft of Swimming North completed, it needed to rest. But I can no longer hold off my hands. There is an itch of the soul when I cease to write. It begins subtly and can be subdued by television and Twitter and casual conversation. But it will not be ignored.

When I try to ignore it – and in the past I have, for years – my world becomes tangled and twisted. There is no clarity. Despair grows.

This morning, I dream of agents and publication and success, and I work hard toward reaching these things. But I write not for these reasons, but because I must. Because I am only fully alive when I am writing. Because the words complete me.

Sometimes, when the writing is hard, I forget this, but something always reminds me.

This morning it is the magic of snow.

I am grateful.

Well, writers – how is it going on this 3rd day of November? Are we still using the the Nanowrimo energy and enthusiasm to launch us to greater literary efforts?

Do you want to know how many words I’ve written on the WIP today?  Zero. Yep, that’s what I said. Zip. Zilch. Nada. There is a tiny and tenacious piece of me attempting to change this, but I think it’s a losing battle. I’m sitting in front of a warm fire with a drowsing cat beside me, and it’s been a long day.

Hey, it’s not like I have to write 50,000 words this month, or anything. All I need to do is continue revising the never ending novel. Right?


Better Self: Come on, it’s only 7:30. Buck up. Move to your desk. Make some coffee.

Lazy Self: Give me a break. I’m tired. It was an emotionally difficult work day. I think what I need is a drink. Then a nap.

Better Self: You’re lazy. If you never write on difficult work days, you will never write.

Lazy Self: Sleep would be good for me. The time change messed me up. And I’ll write on Friday – I’m off on Friday.

Better Self: Friday is Query Party day, in case you’d forgotten.

Lazy Self: Oh, shit.  Fine. You win. But you make the coffee.

So there you have it. I am being dragged off against my will, away from the fire and the oh-so-comfortable-cat, into the murk of the WIP.

How goes the writing for the rest of you? Speak up – your comments give me good excuses to stray from my writing tasks.

Dear Writer:

You are officially invited to my Query Party.

What is a Query Party, you ask?

Well, a Query Party is an opportunity to replace the idea of querying as an onerous task with – yes, you guessed it – a PARTY!

Anybody want to play? Come on, you know you do…

There are several advantages:

1. You get lots of query letters out there. After all, industry advice is to ‘query widely,’ and the more good queries you send, the more likely you are to connect with your special agent.

DISCLAIMER: Before any stray agents come by my house to perform a drive by shooting, let me clarify. Querying widely does not mean sending out blanket queries to every agent you can find. It does not mean sending one email query with 300 agents CC’d, addressed to “Hey You,” or even “Dear Agent.” It does mean researching agents to make sure they are a good potential fit for what you are sending, and making sure you have a professional letter to send.

2. You get to feel virtuous about having done something to promote your work and get it published. And eat lots of candy. Don’t forget that, because it’s important. Buy your favorite snacks. Lay in a supply of good music. This is a fun day. Indulge yourself. (Just save the alcoholic beverages for later. Drunk querying is not recommended.)

3. You beat the post-November onslaught of crazed Nanowrimo completers who will flood agent slush piles in December with ill written queries. We do not want to query stressed and grumpy agents. If we could, we would provide rainbows and bluebirds and perfect chocolate to every agent who is about to read our queries. Some of you may have these magic powers. I do not. In their absence, I will try to query wisely.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not talking about responsible authors getting writing done with Nano. I love Nanowrimo. I’m talking about the idiots who apparently complete the rough draft and throw it in the mail without the re-reading, proofreading, beta reading and editing that are always necessary before moving to submission.


Where: Why, wherever you choose to be. At home, at work, at the library or the coffee shop.

When:   Friday, November 6. Begin at 6 am, and stop at 6 pm.

Stop in here anytime during the day to report progress, ask questions, seek support or share candy.  If you’re on twitter, by all means hang out all day. You’ll find me there as @uppington.  Look for the hashtag #queryparty.

And that’s all folks. I hope you’ll join me. Now it is time to get back to my turtle paced revisions.


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