History seems to be a running theme with me lately. Mostly the mid to late 1800’s through the mid 1900’s. This Saturday I went to Jonesborough, Tennessee. It is the state’s oldest town and the storytelling capital of the world. Every year, during the first week in October, Jonesborough hosts the National Storytelling Festival. I have never been but I have heard that it really is something special.
We took the walking tour of Historic Jonesborough and learned a lot. Jonesborough was the birthplace of one of Roosevelt’s rough riders, and at least three U.S. presidents stayed there for awhile. In the 1800’s it was the last post of civilization west.
The old Inn still stands, where men were packed as many to a room as would fit. That means in the bed and in the floor. You didn’t get a room to yourself or even a bed. We were able to look around upstairs at a few of the rooms that had been restored to the Victorian era. I knew about the Victorian fondness for wallpaper but it is different seeing it up close; with the bright blue patterns on the wall and the pink circle patterns on the ceiling.
Jonesborough is a place of interesting shops like Paul’s Pens Odds & Ends where I bought a new writing implement. I can’t call it just a pen because the cartridge is removable and has pencil lead which can take its place. Each item in the shop is crafted with awe inspiring talent. I loved the dragon pens and the ones made from 30,000 year old wood.
Jonesborough was a interesting trip through time. However, on Sunday I took another trip which was just as interesting. The kids and I drove over to Red Clay State Park which was the last seat of the Cherokee national government before the Trail of Tears. This weekend for the first time in 176 years, three of the recognized tribes met at the ancestral council grounds.
My children got a chance to see a piece of the past. Like many in the area, we are descended from Cherokee. The Irish and the German in our bloodline hides the native blood behind blue eyes and light hair, but it is still there.
My son really enjoyed it. He got to hear how the water spider brought fire to the Cherokee people and how the Eagle carries prayers to the creator. He got to touch soap stone and see how it is carved. He got to see baskets being woven. We had a fun weekend and we all came away with a bit more knowledge.
I didn’t sleep much this past work week. I tried. It just didn’t work out. Now I am off for a week and can concentrate on all those problems that cropped up while I was at work. I need to visit the Central Office for our school district and either give them a piece of my mind or find out about homeschooling for my son. Maybe both.
For those out of the loop, the powers in charge suddenly decided my son shouldn’t go to the school he has been attending since kindergarten. They sent me a letter after school let out and on a Friday so I couldn’t do anything about it, even if I had been in any mental shape to do so. So I need to go see if I can get it fixed or learn how to home school. (Mind you they gave a legitimate reason. He isn’t zoned for that school. The thing is though, he has never been zoned for that school. I was under the understanding that since I pay both county and city taxes and was willing to drive him to school that it didn’t matter if we were zoned for there or not. This is his last year there anyway.)
I also need to go to the grocery store. Supplies are running low. My brother also has errands he wants me to run and my son woke up sick with fever this morning. Truth be told, I honestly am not feeling that great either. I slept nearly all of yesterday after I got out of work. I should be mostly recovered from the sleepless marathon I have been on. Still tired, sure, but I feel achy and I am pretty sure someone switched out my head with a bowling ball last night.
My main plan for this week off was to get writing done. Lots and Lots of writing. Libertycon is in a week. I wanted to have tons of stuff completed before then. I know my head will be bursting with new ideas by the time I leave there, it always is.
So in short, my coffee better quit slacking and do its job. I’ve got too much going on to feel as run down as I do. *sigh* wish me luck.
I still have a lot to learn about publishing and marketing. Honestly, I know very little about marketing at all. I have a few ideas and I did order a few promotional post cards. However, as I was putting the post cards together my ten year old was looking over my shoulder and giving me tips like: “Mommy you need to use a brighter color there, you are trying to draw attention.”I still have a lot to learn about publishing and marketing. Honestly, I know very little about marketing at all. I have a few ideas and I did order a few promotional post cards. However, as I was putting the post cards together my ten year old was looking over my shoulder and giving me tips like: “Mommy you need to use a brighter color there, you are trying to draw attention.”
So he is now my official marketing agent. Especially since he managed to sell a copy of my poetry chap book to the nurse at the doctor’s office a couple of days ago. I guess, being a kid, he gets a lot of promotions shoved in his face all the time. He is smart enough to pick out what the advertisers do to draw attention. So while having a ten year old as a marketing executive may not sound like a wise business move, it is a resource not everyone else is using. I was impressed by him tossing out a sales pitch for the old book while I had my head stuck in editing the proof of the new one. And he had the flu and was running a fever while he did it too.
Anyway, if you want to check out the new book just follow the link below. It is a book of short stories. Most of them are a little odd. The person who edited them referred to them as “Fantastically Weird”. I read at least eight of them to my son while we were in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, even though I didn’t really intend for it to be a children’s book. (There are a few curse words in a couple of stories.) He liked “Deflated” the most. It was one of the newer ones that I wrote just a week before I put the book together.
The Oak Muse And Other Stories
Last night I had a dream that I got on a bus. I wasn’t going far, just down town or something but wherever I was at was very dusty, like it hadn’t rained in a while and the road I was standing on was plain soft light brown dirt. It felt like early spring but the large trees lining the road had not bloomed or sprouted leaves yet.
The bus was big and silver and I took a seat in the middle but moved closer toward the front after I was harassed by a couple of random high school football players. Then as I was sitting by myself this guy gets on the bus and starts talking to me like he knows me and sits down in the seat next to mine. Then he asks me to look out the window and watch the yellow lines on the edge of the road and let him know if they speed up or appear to slow down. I think he is kind of weird but I do as he asked just so I won’t have to talk to him anymore. And soon the yellow lines do start to speed by faster and then slow down. I turned to tell him but he was gone. Apparently he had gotten off the bus while I was turned around.
I ride a little bit more, before the bus stops and lets someone else on. It’s a boy about twelve but he is the same guy that was sitting next to me earlier. It was then that I suddenly realized that the bus was stuck in some kind of temporal distortion and stopping in various pockets of time and that I was stuck on the bus because if I got off, I didn’t know where or when I would end up. I tried to explain to the kid what was going on and he thought I was kind of crazy. I then realized that was why the guy early had acted like he knew me, because he did. I just hadn’t met him yet even though he had already met me.
Then it hits me that all of these other people on the bus had probably been there a long time. I start looking around at everybody and noticing their clothes all look like they come from different decades. This old lady gets up and walks down the aisle then pauses to look at me. “Well, this is my stop. I’ve been here since the ____ first broke.” Then she winked at me and got off the bus. I don’t remember what she said broke. I think it started with a C. Also when it broke it sounded like the bus had back fired. (I had kind of a flash back through her eyes.)
…..I woke up expecting twilight zone music to be playing. No more reading about the Bermuda triangle before bed.
The dream does have promise. Maybe a short story or something. I needed to write it down and here is where my fingers led me. It seems like my unconscious mind is still cooking up ideas even when the rest of me is out of the equation. That’s a good thing since lately I have felt like I my body has been trying to get me to hibernate.
So the allergies are still kicking my butt and I think they may have morphed into a sinus infection. Lucky me. But enough about my mucus laden woes, I took some medicine that seems to have temporary worked. So I am going to write as much as I can until it wears off.
I wanted to post something useful today, so I am going to talk about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo takes place in November and is probably the single most helpful thing I’ve ever done to improve my writing. It is an insane attempt to write a novel in 30 days. I’ve done it twice and plan on making another attempt this year. 50,000 words may seem daunting, and I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy. (Or at least it isn’t for me.) However the things you end up teaching yourself as you make that mad dash are worth it.
You learn it’s okay to be sloppy as long as you get the words down. You don’t have time to wonder if the first few chapters give your readers an accurate view of the characters. You just write. And you keep writing. And when you don’t know what to write? Well, you write anyway because you only have 30 days to get those 50,000 words. NaNoWriMo allowed me the chance to get me out of the way of my writing.
I didn’t have time for writer’s block or for prettying up phrases. I couldn’t spend days obsessing about the first few chapters because I had an entire book to write. Of course when I was done, it wasn’t the best book in the world. In fact it was kind of a mess, but things always are right after they are born. That is where the clean up comes in. That is when you edit and rewrite. (After a rest, of course.)
There are nay-Sayers out there who smack down NaNoWriMo. I tend not to listen to them. If they don’t like it then they don’t have to do it. I also don’t think they truly understand it either. Maybe they are afraid. Maybe they don’t think they are capable of writing those 50,000 words. Maybe they think that they are above writing dross to find gold. Maybe they simply just don’t like the idea. Whatever their reasoning is, it is fine. That’s their reasoning. It works for them. NaNo works for me.
If anyone decides to join me in writing a book this November, look me up and add me as a writing friend on your NaNo page. I am under thecoffeefox over there. 🙂
Writers are typically a creative bunch and no where are we more creative than with excuses, especial those we make to ourselves. I am a procrastinator. I always have been. I tend to drag my feet on a lot of things even if they are things I really want to do.
That is why for me a writing schedule is important. I need the routine. If every morning I wake up, stumble to the shower, to the coffee/tea pot, and then to the computer I am more likely to get things done. One secret to my routine is that I am not full awake yet so I can’t come up with a good distraction. Then by the time I am it’s too late, I am already sitting at my computer so it would be a waste of time to get up.
Writing can be hard. It can be fun too, but a good deal of the time it is hard. I am currently on my second draft of a book I wrote and I have discovered that I don’t like to edit. I don’t like to rewrite. It’s hard. It’s not fun. It is also a bit terrifying. (Though I am told many people think that editing is the best part. Good for them. Really. For me it is like being wrapped in rusted barbwire and then given a time limit to escape.)
I am over half way finished with my second draft. I was excited until I realized I am about two thirds of the way through my original manuscript. That means I’ve cut so much out of the original that I may no longer have a book, just a really long story. Panic set in. Then the excuses for why I can’t work right now started. Then the distractions…you get the idea. If procrastination was an Olympic sport I would have all the medals.
It is my defense mechanism, how I deal (or not deal) with things when they get hard or scary. I had to stop, take a deep breath, and then have a nice chat with myself. (Writers talk to themselves a lot. It’s okay. Your creative not crazy.) I identified what I was afraid of. ( That maybe my book wasn’t a book.) Then I talked myself through ways to fix it. (Add bits. Write a second part. Wait until I am all the way done to decided.)
Once it was all laid out it wasn’t so bad and I was able to pick an option and keep writing. (I’m going to wait until I’m done.) Sometimes the biggest obstacle we face is ourselves. We can be our own toughest critic and our own staunchest supporter, often it depends on the day. However, if writing (or anything else in life) is what you really want to do then you can’t let anyone trip you off your chosen path. Not even you.
I spoke with an old friend yesterday and talked briefly about writing. She surprised me because she said she didn’t think she had enough material in her for a book unless it was a type of memoir. This person is an amazing writer and someone I’ve always looked up to.
I wondered why she thought a memoir wouldn’t be a book? It all depends on what you’re looking for in an audience. Many famous and wonderful writers will tell you that you write for yourself first and foremost. If you have something to say, say it, even if the only person interested in listening is yourself.
Just because a million people aren’t going to be reading what you write, it doesn’t make those thoughts and words any less valuable. This was a lesson that took me a long time to learn. I have shown my work to people before, people who’s opinion I respected, and have had them tell me the whole idea was awful. I didn’t think it was awful. It was a book that I wanted to read and it wasn’t out there yet so what was wrong with it?
The answer was nothing. I just didn’t know my audience. For that particular story, the only audience it had was myself and a few others that did enjoy it.
Which isn’t to say everything I write is roses. Sometimes the things I write are pure crap. What I am trying to relate is; do not ever ever Not write something because you think no one will be interested in your words. You’re interested, and that is enough.