NaNoWriMo progress and more updates

So, I’m about 13 days into NaNoWriMo, and still working on my new book. I’m not really writing as fast as I’d like — not even averaging 1000 words a day. But I *am* making progress.

It’s interesting: I felt like I’d prepared well in advance, with one exception. I didn’t get to visit the setting of the middle of the book (a local landmark) before November 1st. Because I outlined in advance, I know pretty much what I want to write in each chapter. But I’m having a lot of problem with the middle scenes, largely because I can’t picture the setting as well as I’d like. G-d willing, we’ll take care of this on Sunday by making a family visit to that location.

I’m also finding writing the “middle act” of the book challenging for other reasons. The middle act is notoriously hard to write, because it tends to sag. You need to maintain suspense, and keep tightening the screws on the main character, while slowly guiding him or her to the ultimate conclusion.

Beginnings are challenging to write, as are conclusions. But I think middles are the hardest of all.

The good news is that because I outlined, I’ve been able to write the final three chapters of the book even with a big, empty spot in the center of the manuscript. I’ll probably gets some of that middle act written within the next couples days, and then hopefully that visit on Sunday will help me pull everything together.

Another strange thing happening is that I’m so focused on writing right now that I’m having problems reading fiction right now. Reading someone else’s well-written middle act, complete with intense suspense, is kinda more than I can handle! Instead of being an escape, a couple novels stressed me out! I’m hoping to polish them off after I get over the middle act hump.

In non-NaNoWriMo news: I wrote a short story I’m hoping to workshop this week with my writing group. My husband thinks it’s very, very weird, but a friend enjoyed it very much last week, and I have high hopes. I’ve also got a couple essays I’m working on.

Writers: what are you working on? Let me know in the comments.


On the Brink of NaNoWriMo

Tomorrow is November 1st, aka the first day of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. I’m all set to go, but feeling very nervous. I’m G-d willing going to be trying out some new software, and I’ve got a partner and a couple online groups for support. And I’ll report back with progress in a week or so.

I’ve got a few tricks to help me out. My great friend, Devorah Talia, suggested an app to me. The app, called Toggl, is free, and helps monitor time spent on jobs. Not only is it helping me make my invoices for freelance editing jobs, it gives me a bit of accountability on what I’m working on. Since starting to use it, I can really see where I waste time, but actually how much time I’m productive, too.

Despite my big NaNoWriMo project, I’m doing other writing, too. I have to write two humor columns in November. And this evening, I spent a big chunk of time writing a dvar Torah to present in my synagogue on Shabbos morning to a group of women. It’s been a while since I’ve taught the parshah of the week, and I got very, very excited about my thesis. A long talk with my husband helped me formulate my ideas, he gave me an additional piece of evidence, and now I’m set to go. I’m hoping to get some feedback on an essay and rewrite it, too.

And I have a couple picture book ideas bouncing around my head, too.

Usually, I’m not exactly a font of creativity at this time of year. This is the season in which I usually start to fade into a hibernation that lasts until Tu B’Shevat, roughly at the end of January. I’m hoping to hold onto my energy and imagination long enough to complete some of these projects!


Well, that was an extended absence…

Sorry I totally disappeared for a while there! Aside from the obvious (the Jewish holidays that crowd Tishrei), I had other reasons for going AWOL. The biggest one is that I started a new writing gig! I have a new humor column in The Jewish Home Los Angeles, so I’ve been writing that in edition to my usual fiction and editing regimen.

Here’s my last column:

The next one is due out on newstands in L.A. tomorrow.

Now that Simchas Torah is over, I’m hoping to return to my weekly blogging schedule already in progress.

Aside from the new column, my big writing goal in the short term is attempting NaNoWriMo for the first time. That means I’ll be attempting to write the first draft of an entire novel in the month of November! I’ve been working on a plot outline, doing a tiny but necessary bit of research, and will be creating some character profiles, too, before November arrives. That should make the writing process go a little smoother, I think.

Anyone else out there planning to write a novel in November?

A Happy Tisha B’Av?

Monday night and Tuesday, the Jewish community commemorated the 9th of Av, the date associated with the destruction of both Temples, as well as other traumatic events suffered by the our people. Late Monday night, I made an appearance on Jew In The City, Allison Josephs’s outstanding blog about Judaism in the modern world. My post, “A Tisha B’Av of Joy?” described the way my family “celebrated” the 9th of Av last year. You can find my guest post here, if you haven’t read it already. Comments and sharing are appreciated, as always!


Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

I haven’t gotten much writing done on my “major” projects this summer, but I’ve gotten lots of reading done (like, up to 7 books a week) and have been spending a lot of time with the family. Some of my favorite moments so far this summer: seeing my nonagenarian grandmother; showing the beauty of Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, to my husband; Continue reading

Glixman Sales, Writing While Parenting, and Other Summertime Thoughts

I heard from the CEO of Menucha Publishers last week, and he says that while there are no official numbers yet, the sales of Glixman in a Fix are strong. I’m a bit frustrated because due to the timing (the U.S. release was just before Shavuos, and now my kids are all home from school), I can’t really spend the time and energy on promoting the book that I’d like.

Writing has been hard, too. I’ve tried to write in the early hours while my kids are still either asleep or curled up with a book, but everything is slow, slow, slow. Still, I managed to write a short essay last week, have added a bit to my novel-in-progress, and started a new short story yesterday.

I’m trying to remind myself that summertime brings all sorts of new and different experiences, especially with everyone home from school and no camp in sight. Hopefully, all those novelties will feed my writing once I have more time on my hands again. But I can’t help feeling frustrated.

Drat! Writers’ Problems

Usually, I pat myself on the back for writing my first drafts in longhand. I fill notebook after notebook. I’m a big fan of cursive and just love the way pen feels as it loops and drags across paper. And my mind operates differently with pen in hand than it does with fingers on my keyboard.

But today, I am cranky because of my longhand habit.

An editor reached out to me about an article. I told her I have the perfect personal essay to suit her needs. All I need to do is find it.

Just in case I’d typed it up already – I suspected I hadn’t but wasn’t entirely sure – I searched my hard drive. Zilch.

I thought, “Maybe I wrote about it in an email to my sister or something,” so I searched my “Sent” box. Nada.

“No problem,” I thought. “I’ll just find the notebook I wrote in last summer.”

I have found lots and lots of notebooks – but not the one I journaled in last summer.

If you hear something while reading this post, it’s probably the sound of my head hitting my desk. Tomorrow I get to dig around some more, and then – if totally desperate – I’ll have to reconstruct the entire incident I want to write about.

Lesson learned: if you want to keep journals and notebooks full of lovely cursive first drafts, organize those journals and notebooks.

Are you a writer? If so, what kind of writers’ problems and failures have you experienced? Feel free to share in comments. I promise to empathize.