Month: November 2007

Choosing to Give Up?

What does it mean if I deliberately choose not to finish my NaNoNovel?

Well, it means I don’t want to write a novel right now. Right now, it’s not where I am.

The avowed point of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing every day, whether they feel like it or not. I never don’t feel like it. (What a sentence.) In fact, I have been writing most days. Just not on the novel.

NaNoWriMo has made me realize a few things. For one, I tend to be of the persuasion that there are enough novels out there, and they shouldn’t substitute for real brain food. Like, I mean, educational stuff, y’know? I do think people should keep educating themselves throughout their lives.

A novel can be brain fodder in some respects. But, to quote my church librarian, “I need something to challenge me.” Now, that’s a librarian who loves to read. So I don’t feel so bad for feeling the same way.

For another thing, I’m not interested in taking on the time commitments of a novel right now. I don’t mean the writing of it. I’ve written two and a half full-length manuscripts before. I know I can do that. I also know I can edit them, get them critiqued, jump through all the hoops to make them actually readable and enjoyable.

It’s the stuff that comes after–the publication process, the marketing process. It’s a lot of work, and this year has been about shedding the extra work. Our family’s not in need of anything except more time together right now.

What am I doing, then? Reading short stories and practicing their craft. Examining some article ideas. And still freelance editing. Even if full-length fiction isn’t my goal or my destiny, the writing world is full of possibilities and opportunities. There is a niche for everyone.


Ode to a Pomegranate

It is 2 a.m., and I am sitting here eating my first pomegranate ever.

There are things I will jump in and try. Like NaNoWriMo. However, new foods are not among them. Therefore, the pomegranate is a symbol of bravery and bold venturing forth. I will immerse myself in my fictional world, which is frighteningly like my real world–which makes it, oh, so much harder than I expected. I will rack up the word-count. I will not be distracted by the bazillion more fruitful and productive things one could be doing . . . at 2 a.m.

I will leave my NaNo page sitting there in the next window, reminding me of progress slowly made. 5,000 words in the last four days. Not really goal-achieving or record-setting. (My personal record is 20,000 in six days.) I will flex my puny muscles and feel them burn as I climb that mountain.

I will sit back and do some self-examination. Because this story is relatively true-to-life, I’m balking emotionally. There is something to be resolved, something to make peace with. Like a pomegranate seed, untried. Ah, the game is afoot. Excuse me while I get introspective and narcissistic. Ta ta for now!

Over the First Hill

No, I’m not referring to my age. Not this time, anyway. Having officially broken the 10,000 word count on my NaNoNovel, I find I’m not very happy with it. In fact, I’m bored with it. There are only so many country mishaps I can find humourous, before it becomes too realistic.

However, I’ve survived my real life by categorizing it as amusing. I suspect I’ll survive the NaNoNovel in the same way. The kids are appreciative, anyway.

Fellow author S.M. Kirkland is within reach, for the moment, at “only” about 2,000 words ahead. However, I’m gunnin’ for Michelle Gregory, who likes to finish ahead of time, and is steaming along at 30,000 and counting. I have no idea how I’ll ever catch up, except to actually finish.

Book Review: Faith Awakened

Faith Awakened
By Grace Bridges
ISBN: 978-1-4303-1111-9
Genre: Christian Sci-Fi

“Then it began. It was sudden and violent. One day, the City lay waiting; the next, the people lay groaning in every direction as the fresh sea breezes brought destruction to our shores. There was no cure…”

A book of two interwoven halves, Faith Awakened combines the fictional journal and the first-person experience of a woman who loses the will to live, yet finds herself embroiled in a battle to save the human race from certain death. The tale is haunted by judgement-and-redemption themes of Biblical proportions, catapulted into a devastated future world racked by the human lust for power. From the first pages, undercurrents of desperation drive the story as heroine Mariah plunges her few surviving friends and her beloved Peter into a cryogenic stasis. Two alternate realities unfold and gather momentum, reaching for each other with irresistible rhythm.

In terms of audience, the idea of faith in God is approached with the assumption that the readership will already have their own understanding of it, not as if to explain it or to convert non-Christians. The book includes second blessings of the Holy Spirit, visions and prophecies, female preachers and a miraculous cure. There is some mention of adult intimate relationships, including a question from a non-believer about the virtual world’s functionality. These are treated with discretion and brevity, and purity of pre-marital relationships is expressed in Mariah and Peter.

Initially, Bridges eloquently captures the stream of consciousness which undergirds the unfolding story. As Mariah’s journey continues, some aspects of the writing style may leave the reader wishing for more immediacy and more detail. If the book lacks anything, it’s a deeper dive into the world it presents. However, the plot soon begins to clarify the reasons behind the author’s structural choices. The unorthodoxy of Bridges’s narrative quickly becomes addictive. The conclusion to Mariah’s struggle through emptiness of world and soul compensates for any perceived lack of depth in the earlier parts of the book.

Throughout, the underlying themes of abiding regret and reawakened hope demand thought and introspection, drawing the reader into a contemplative interaction with the author. Bridges gives generously of herself, sharing her heart and her life experience with her readers. On par with Bill Myers’s Eli and Ted Dekker’s Circle Trilogy, but with a better premise than both, the setting strips away common conceptions of what it is to live. Bridges examines the deeper realities of the heart and soul through a bleak, richly textured storyworld that offers a fresh approach to the question, “What is reality?”

The compelling jacket design of Faith Awakened is an accurate signpost of the vivid, unusual journey within. If you’re a fan of strong leading characters, tense plotting with a few good twists, and long, deep chords of redemptive renewal, Faith Awakened is an invigorating step off the beaten path.

National Novel Writers Month

For the month of November, Banana Brain and I are writing novels. Her word-count goal is 5,000. Mine, as with all adult participants in NaNoWriMo, is 50,000.

The first day has gone off with much enthusiasm. Banana has a great title, a great premise, and a whole stack of great ideas bouncing around in her head. I’m not sure whether the enthusiasm will last. NaNoWriMo veterans tell us newbies to expect a slump in the second week.

I have to say, though, as with travel and any number of other things, life is more fun when you do it with kids. Banana walked into the room yesterday evening and said, “The only way I could stay up till 12:01 is…”

I laughed. She was thinking of the official time when NaNoWriMo starts–the moment it officially becomes November 1st. I had just been wondering whether I had the stamina to stay up till then myself. Sharing the excitement definitely motivates both of us.

I had never really thought I might find a writing buddy in my own household. It’s adorable and inspiring. I believe I’ve discovered the reason the woman in Proverbs 31 smiles at the future: it’s because she has children sharing in her busy days.

My Bestest NaNoWriMo Buddy

My nine-year-old has signed up for the Young Writers’ Program with NaNoWriMo. Her enthusiasm is boundless. We read the “day before NaNo” email together yesterday. When we walked in last night from Wednesday Bible Study, she said without preamble, “The only way I could stay up till 12:01 is if you let me…”

I laughed. “So you’re thinking about it too, are you?”

She grinned. “Yeah, I’m excited.”

Her novelling goal is 5,000 words. She has a great premise, a great title, and it promises to be a fascinating journey together. In her excitement, I have had to encourage her to talk to her siblings less about the story and write more of it. However, she’s over halfway to her daily goal already, which we set at 200 words. She’s writing it in a special notebook, and then I’m typing it up for her and we’re checking the word count together.

Once again, I find that anything done with my children takes on ten times the vibrance and interest. I never thought I’d wonder what I’ll do with myself when they’ve left home. Those thoughts have officially started to occur to me.