We spend a good six weeks in Happy Hallowe’en mode around here. We even throw a huge annual bash, usually the Saturday before Hallowe’en (unless the 31st is on a Friday or Saturday, and then it’s the actual day). This year was our 20th annual Masquerade. And when there are several days between the two — as there were this year — it can feel like our party is the big event and it’s just limbo until the 31st after that. It’s a pleasant sort of limbo, though, one in which I can appreciate the other things going on in my life a little better — or get a little more work done — until trick-or-treating time.
So I have to admit my focus isn’t entirely on NaNoWriMo when November 1st rolls around every year. But oh, I do love it when November 1st is here.
If you’ve been following my blog a while you know that I’m not a traditional NaNoWriMo participant. I don’t actually even attempt to write 50,000 words during a month which includes a busy time in the semester and Thanksgiving break. (We host at our house, so no rest for the blissfully weary. Also, every holiday from school is, in one way or another, a working holiday. It just is.) But I do make the commitment to work on my writing in a meaningful way every day or night for the entire month of November. This looks a little different each year and depends significantly on what my current writing projects are.
I like to post about it here on my blog for accountability’s sake, among other reasons. So here we go, my ambitions for 2019’s NaNoWriMo:
* I’m working on revisions for my next book in the Animal Affinities series, and I need to get it very much finished up in the next few weeks. If you enjoyed Finis., you will also probably love the next story. The working title is Homecoming, although my editor might change that. This story revolves around a girl named Raqia. She’s in eleventh grade, she’s a Lebanese immigrant to Texas, and she’s navigating some very weird stuff. Also, if you were intrigued by the wolf packs in Finis., you should know that Homecoming features the wolves quite prominently. And that’s all I’ll be saying about that for now…
* Once Homecoming is out the door, I’ll be back to working on my next novel, which at the moment I’m about a fourth to a third of the way through. I put it on hold while I edited another novel (currently on submission) and Homecoming and put together my next collection of poems. (I mean, yes, it’s been a busy year. But honestly, when is it not?) But I have made a promise that I will get back to this novel as soon as possible, and so that’s on the horizon as well.
* I participated in the August Poetry Postcard Fest again this year, which has been awesome yet again, but I admit I am still a handful of cards behind. (No shame, though. Last year I was still getting cards from other poets all the way into February. So.) Anyway, I need to finish those up. I’m really close to that, so I’m calling it a NaNoWriMo goal and that’s that. (And once those cards are all out the door, I will register for next year’s fest!)
Some people might feel annoyed that I’m using the month this way. I am not concerned about that. One day, I am confident, I will be able to approach the NaNoWriMo the way the creators of it intended. One day. Not today, though. *shrug*
When WordPress sent me their end-of-year report on the stats for my blog, I regarded it with slightly less excitement than before. Yes, my stats are good and becoming increasingly better: my blog is being read in 89 countries (though I’m sure some of that isn’t actual readers), hundreds of people are now following along here (a steady climb upward which I’m grateful for), and––though this is not reflected in the stats monkey report––I’m not beating myself up if I don’t get a post out every single week. But this report, though fun to read, shows only a fraction of what’s been going on.
In addition to the regular kinds of stand-alone posts I write, my “12 Days of Christmas Music That Doesn’t Suck” series (the 2014 edition of which begins here) was received well, overall, again this year, enough to convince me it should be an annual tradition. There have been a few posts about style for “Fashion Fridays,” and in November I launched a new series called “Women Writers Wednesdays,” in which women authors review or respond to books by other women authors. The response to that has been exceptional, and you can look for it to continue on a weekly basis through the spring.
But enough about the blog, for the moment. My biggest writing news for the past year was my publication list. I was asked to write (and did) an article about hats and high tea for the Bayou City Magazine blog last spring. I had a poem (“Stillness / Unrelenting”) appear in Waxwing and another one (“At the El Felix”) appear in the Houston Poetry Fest anthology, where I was selected as a Juried Poet again. And then, of course, there was Finis. My short novella was published in August and is now widely available at so many ebook retailers. (Look for a contest in the next couple of months in which you can win a free copy, or just hop over and pick up a copy of it now while it’s on sale for $2.99.)
And although the last few months have been inordinately busy, what with my teaching job and my family (two kids under ten years old, yo) and our being in the process of moving to a new house, I have still managed to find some time to write! Yay! Edits on the novel are coming along. I have two volumes of poetry in the editing process as well: one a rewrite of my first chapbook, Gypsies, and the other a brand-new collection, Playing House. And I’ve done the preliminary interview work and research for a non-fiction piece on cosplay that will see the light of day at some point.
Sarah Warburton and I have expanded the list of writers who join us early in the morning on weekends and we’ve formed the very official Crack of Dawn Writers’ Group. Work with my Wednesday night critique group continues along well; we’ve even added a new member this month. And perhaps most exciting of all––because it’s very new and very different––I founded the Faculty Writers’ Support Group at school, where quite a few of the authors I teach with (and you might be surprised by how many there are in such a relatively small PreK-12 independent school) get together during our free time just to sit and write in a room where other writers are sitting and writing. This has been a powerful avenue to keep us connected to our art and to our creative selves, which has made a lot of us feel more balanced and better able to be Good Teachers who are also Whole People. I have felt more connected to a community this year than ever.
All in all, I have a lot to be happy about and grateful for.
So what does 2015 have in store for me? Probably a new office, for one thing. Assuming the house move we’re working on goes through, I’ll have a room in the new place which is big enough to be an excellent space for me but too small to be a multi-function room for anything else. I am so excited about this! I’ll need a new desk, since our old house has a built-in that we will not be ripping out and taking with us. I’m in the market for a really excellent roll-top (which you might already know has been a dream of mine since childhood). I don’t have a spinning wheel or a typewriter yet, but I don’t have to decorate everything all at once. At first, my journals and other books will be ornament and personality enough for that room, as well as this sign for the door:
On the blog, this April I plan to revisit the series of poems I featured last year for National Poetry Month (which begins here) and will soon be on the lookout for poets to consider this year. Sarah and I are hopeful that our vlog will finally launch this year, also. We had some delays in getting it going this fall since my family decided to move and all time for video editing was lost. (Sorry, Sarah!)
And as for my own writing, I’m hopeful that this spring the edits of my novel will be finished and can start moving forward on the path to publication. I’m also going to try and have one of those aforementioned poetry collections ready for you; either the vastly updated release of Gypsies or the new one, Playing House, published for the first time as a whole manuscript. (Quite a few of the poems in PH have been published separately already over the last few years.)
In other fiction news, I’m going to try and work on some short stories. I have a couple of literary fiction WIPs that I’d like to finish up this year. Not only that, the response to Finis. has been so wonderful that I’m actually considering the numerous requests from readers that I expand the story. Although I don’t, at this time, expect to grow Finis. into a novel (with apologies and immense gratitude to the eleven people who emailed me or posted on my social media the first week after it came out specifically to ask me to do this, and to all the people since then who’ve asked whether that’s in the works), I have flirted with the idea of turning it into a screenplay, and even if I don’t do that, I have begun work on another story set in that world, and what follows may turn out to be a collection. Because I have fallen in love with the novel form, not just as something I have preferred reading my whole life but also now as the form I most enjoy writing in, my attention to the short story form has been less focused, less intense. I think maybe this is the year I revisit that form, so radically different from a novel, and fall in love with it again.
I have also toyed with the idea, this week, of launching a new online magazine, because I love being able to share new writers’ voices and work with others. I’m quite sure this idea will be on the back burner for a while; I don’t anticipate doing anything with it until my novel gets the all-clear from my editor. But if it comes to something, you will know about it!
I have to admit, part of me is somewhat reluctant to publish this post. Making these goals public could set me up for failure if I can’t accomplish them. But you all have been, in the main, an extremely supportive readership so far, and I like the idea of having some external accountability. So onward and upward!