Sunday, January 24, 2010

TSS - 01.24.10

Yesterday was the absolute perfect day for me - although many might consider it quite boring. I woke up and had a leisurely cup of coffee while reading - and commenting - on several blog postings. I (finally) finished The Swan Thieves, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but am now desperate to go to a museum and spend hours in the European Impressionists wing. I then began reading No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty and found myself totally immersed in the idea of actually writing a novel in a month. I read the book from cover to cover and then immediately placed an online order for the book so that I could add it to my own personal library. It has opened my mind to infinite possibilities!

For those who are unfamiliar with this short, insightful, and quite humorous book --- Chris Baty is the founder of NaNoWriMo --- or, National Novel Writing Month. Now, I must admit that the first time I saw this clever title, I thought - someone needs some help with their capitalization rules. It was quite reminiscent (at least to me) of the poetry of e e cummings. Then once I discovered its true meaning, I thought - there is no possible way that anyone could write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (!) However, after reading this wonderful step-by-step program, I must admit that I am very excited by the possibility of actually participating in NaNoWriMo 2010.

I was first introduced to this book by J. Kaye - whom I am sure many of you know by her book review website, but perhaps are not so familiar with her newest blog, 365 Days of Novel Writing. I am totally addicted to her daily posts. She has (I think) 19 different writing projects she is currently working on - and I am sure those are in a constant state of change. I am totally in awe of her creative ability - and her willingness to share the victories and disappointments of a writer's life.

I feel that the culmination of taking my first writing class last summer, Rewriting a Life, plus the friendship of a fellow teacher that has evolved into a corroborative effort to teach a creative writing class, plus the daily motivation from J. Kaye's blog has created the "perfect storm" for me to try to my hand at writing fiction. Now, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I followed the progress of Ms. Bookish last November when she participated, and completed, the NaNoWriMo 2009 challenge. I was amazed - and mesmerized by her self-discipline and dedication to the goal. Do I have what it takes to complete this challenge myself? I don't know, but I think I am willing to give it a try.

I lack creative ability. I commented to someone the other day that I stopped being a child at the age of 8 - and I mean that sincerely. I have forgotten how to dream - how to imagine - how to be spontaneous and fun. My entire life can be summed up as: she was independent and responsible. Now those two traits are what I have always aspired to be --- but I wonder if I perhaps attained them at the sacrifice of other important character traits.

So here I am at the age of 50 once again wondering, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" Do we ever arrive at a conclusive answer to that elusive question? While the practical, responsible side of me says "yes we should" --- the new me, the me that I would like to become says "no -- for once we have a definitive answer to that question --- all other possibilities cease to exist. And what hope is there in that?"

While this entry is not exactly about reading (what Sunday Salon is supposed to embody) -- it is, however, an entry about life and its wonderfully, infinite possibilities. Let's seize the moment - reach for the sky, and remember that if we should fail - we will still be among the stars.


  1. I haven't heard of this book, but it definitely sounds like one that would help me too. I am a regular reader of J.Kaye's writing blog and it has inspired me to crack on with my own story. I have done all my character summaries, planned out my novel and I hope to plan out the first few chapters this week and actually start writing. I am very excited.

  2. What an incredibly uplifting post! I think you should go for it. Go after that dream! I suffer from being the responsible one too. The craziest thing I've ever done is start a blog, and that isn't all that crazy really. I don't know if I even know what mt dream is!

  3. You go! I couldn't write myself out of paper bag, so I'm always impressed with people who want to be authors. I know it's not in me. But thank goodness there are people who like to write because we editors need you.

  4. If your blog posts are any indication (and I think they are), you're a wonderful writer. It's tough to balance the maturity of adulthood with childlike creativity, but it would be oh so fabulous if we could do it well.

  5. Maybe you should think about writing non-fiction. Or think of your NaNoWriMo project as non-fiction instead of fiction. Find a true story you can research and turn into a "novel." Local history can be a good place to look, and the results can be a book that sells in your area at museum shops and other local interest tourist places. My sister-in-law did this exact thing decades ago and she's still making several hundred dollars a year off of the results. She wrote a book for children about the local Spanish Mission.

  6. Great post. Responsible and independent are two wonderful traits that more people should acquire; however, I completely agree with you about acquiring them too young and suppressing "the other side of life." Do we ever stop wondering "what do we want to be when we grow up?" I always thought that by now (age 40) I'd be settled but guess what? Life is short and should be enjoyed. Do what you enjoy! Do what makes you happy! Be irresponsible every once in a while. You might like it :)

  7. Perhaps it would encourage you to know that I was older than you are now when I wrote and published my five novels, all one right after the other.

    As for growing up...even though I had to be responsible to support my kids, etc., a part of me (the child) was there, waiting in the wings.

    My Sunday Salon:

  8. Oh my gosh, Molly! I'm so glad to find anther person my age who still doesn't know what they want to be when they grow up! I always wanted to be a writer but then didn't end up studying for that in college. I still have hope so your post really interested me.

  9. I had secretly made a New Year's Resolution that I would comment on my comments - if that makes sense. Well, I haven't done well so far, but today is a new day.

    Vivienne - Good for you!! You have done so much more productive work (I tend to use the excuse that I am "researching" in order to prolong taking that scary first step). I hope you will post about your writing progress as time goes on!

    Sandy - I truly believe that starting this blog, and writing my first book review, were the scariest things I have done in a long time! I sincerely hope that I can learn to let go and dream (at least a little)

    Candace - I think if I knew then what I know now, I would have followed the path of editor. I discovered this summer that I really do not know how to revise a piece - but I can certainly turn on the internal editor at the drop of a hat!

    Kathy - you are always so kind and encouraging :) My scales will probably always tip more towards the adult --- but I am just hoping to have a little bit of child visible in the weighing process.

    C. B. - actually, you are exactly right! I LOVE research and have truly given thought to do some creative non-fiction writing first (it is not so far outside that comfort zone). The story of your sister-in-law is inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing with me.

    Bree - not sure I can quite swing the "irresponsible" trait just yet :) --- but I do plan to try to discover what makes me happy and do more of that.

    Laurel - that ABSOLUTELY encourages me!! Thank you so very much for sharing your success story with me. I have a feeling the inner child is waiting in my wings too -- just hiding a bit too well right now.

    Lisa -- If I can do it -- you can too! Hop aboard this adventure with me :)

  10. Possibilities always exist and each moment we can make a new choice. I firmly believe that, and I commend you on learning to be a bit more irresponsible. My Sunday Salon is here

  11. Sounds like that book really inspired you. That's wonderful. You never know what you can do if you don't try. I always tell my kids: You may not be able to do some things, but you can ALWAYS try!

  12. Do we every truly grow up? Do we ever find the answer to the age-old question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" I have to say no, we should never grow up and we should never be able to answer that question. Life is too short to limit ourselves to just one or two tracks or only a few vocational choices. Life is a journey, and the side trips are some of the best ones to take. I say GO FOR IT!! Start writing! I believe you will find it easier than you think and will enjoy every minute of it!

  13. Loved this post, Molly. That's exactly how I was. I stopped being a child at about 8 and was also described as being independent and responsible. Be spontaneous? Silly? Imaginative? How do you do that?

    You go, girl! Reach for that sky! And thanks for being an inspiration today.

    Lynne's Book Reviews

  14. I have a very embarassing ?? While catching up on my google reader, I have seen many posts about Sunday Salon meme. What is it and who hosts it. I look forward to daily memes and enjoy them because it is a great way to visit other blogs. I am not familiar with this one and was hoping you can help. Thanks

  15. I'm trying to figure out what I'd like to do/be when I grow up, too. But I think there's been a change in thinking about that - you don't have to choose just one thing, one time, and stick with it. Shifting gears throughout adulthood seems to be much more acceptable.

    As for writing, I don't think I have the gift for creating fiction, but I do like stringing words together :-).

    (And I responded to your comment on my blog, but thank you again for your condolences about Gypsy.)

  16. Trisha - I so agree. I remember reading a book once that said we always have options. Even when we don't think we do, we have the choice in our attitude toward the situation.

    Janel - I always gave my kids the same advice. The only problem is that I don't always follow that advice (if at first you don't succeed try, try again --- I tend to internalize as "if at first you don't succeed, quit because you're a failure" --- not accurate!!)

    Michelle - I think I am finally beginning to internalize how short life really is (funny how that happened when I turned 50!) You are right - what do I gain by NOT trying?

    Lynne - yes, I definitely need some lessons on becoming silly and spontaneous. But I figure I will start out small, like do one thing each day that will bring me joy (and sometimes - that could be as simple as eating a favorite dessert)

    Mash - not a silly question at all. Usually I include the link with the icon, but today I guess I forgot. Unfortunately I think the "official" Sunday Salon group is closed because the server could only hold 500 participants (? -- my computer lingo is probably not correct) --- but I think you can still participate and use the icon. Here is the website:

    Florinda - thank you so very much for stopping by. I know today is a very difficult one for you. I continue to pray.

  17. I am so looking forward to reading The Swan Thieves. I'll watch for your review. Creative writing is quite the enlightening experience, particularly about ourselves. You get great things from it. Blogging is writing too so you already have quite a bit under your belt. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

  18. Thank you for info Molly..I look forward to the daily memes and always looking for more but you were right about this one that it is closed out. Wish I had found book blogs/blogging years ago. If you ever come across any, would you be so kind to drop me a line to let me know? Thanks Cheryl (CMashLovesToRead)

  19. Molly, this book intrigues me! I am both interested in and overwhelmed by the NaNoWriMo. I don't know if I'll be able to organize my thoughts and render my writing coherent. Maybe I should attempt stream of consciousness! :)

  20. I've been wanting to read No Plot, No Problem for years now. I'm glad it's as great as I thought it would be. I've participate in NaNoWriMo a few times but have never finished. I hope you give it a try. I think one of the great things about life is that we're always reinventing ourselves into people we didn't know we could be.

  21. I believe in the philosophy that says if you want to do something bad enough you will find a way to do it. I think determination has more to do with accomplishment than creativity.

    You already know how to write well and read well. Now, just do it. Belle (Ms. Bookish) also tried for 20 minutes a day not too long ago. Don't wait for November. Just do it now 20 minutes a day. That might be character sketches or scene preparation or research or whatever.

    As these comments show, there are a bunch of us who will be happy to cheer you on. Go for it.

  22. LOLOL! I popped over here to see what you were up to and about fell over in my chair at this post.

    Way to go! I remember feeling like I wasn't creative whatsoever. It's those thoughts that keep us down. It's your desire telling you that you can do it. Keep the flame of desire strong in your heart and move forward. :)

  23. I couldn't agree more! I struggle with writing all the time? Is that what I want to do? Is that fact that I haven't evidence that I shouldn't? Will I regret it if I don't? What am I going to be when i grow up? Ugh!

  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  25. Thanks for your post !
    welcome to my place :links of london

  26. Wonderful post, Molly, and I will be here cheering you on if you do choose to do NaNoWriMo this year. I did it last year and it was really wonderful. I was lucky in that I had enough time and motivation to complete it fairly easily and I'm still wondering if I could pull it off with a full-time job. Hopefully we'll find out later this year. =)

  27. Molly, this is such a beautiful post! I'm so glad you're feeling inspired now. I think that I, too, lost quite a few years to being too focused on being responsible. It's fun to come back to all that creativity and imagination, isn't it? And it's also great fun to be in flux, to have who we are constantly change. That is, definitely, the very spark of life.

  28. Sandra - I truly feel that blogging has been the primary tool that has shown me the love I have for writing. I know I have a lot to learn, but I do feel that blogging has provided me that "under the belt" experience to which you refer.

    Cheryl - it is so very easy for me to fall into the "I wish I had done this or that years ago" - but I am trying to look forward instead of backward :) Just think what joy you will have for the next several years because you found book bloggers!

    Matt - I cannot fathom that you could write anything incoherently. I LOVE your thoughtful blogs and I am sure that your creative writing endeavors would be just as eloquent. You should consider joining me on this year's most daring adventure: the NaNoWriMo :)

    Vasilly - you absolutely MUST read this book! It is an easy read - can be accomplished in an afternoon - and so inspiring. Will you join me for another NaNoWriMo this November? We can encourage one another to crossing that finish line!

    Margot - I must admit that your comment scared me. I realized that I have now put myself out there, so to speak, and I need to follow through on my goals. However, while that is indeed scary, I am also grateful for that additional push. I need to do this - I want to do this - and if making this statement for the bloggosphere to read and hold me accountable - well then, so be it :)

    J. Kaye - you are completely and solely responsible for this "new me" :) Truly - thank you for your daily dose of can-do spirit.

    Kim - I guess I would say - keep searching and discovering what makes you happy. Follow that dream! It will be hard work - but if it is work you enjoy, you will hardly notice :)

    Meghan - we need to keep in touch between now and November! I would love to hear your strategies for NaNoWriMo last year - and what you plan to do differently this year. It truly holds exciting possibilities!

    Belle - what I can I say to you! You have fostered this desire in me for several months now - and I am so grateful for your patience and sharing of wisdom in these scary first steps.


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