The new issue of Hunger Mountain, the journal of Vermont College of Fine Arts, is up, and I’m in it! There you can read some terrific articles from folks like National Book Award winner Kathi Appelt, and excerpts from winners of the Katherine Paterson Prize. Judged by the Ambassador, herself! (Have I mentioned I was runner up? The excerpt from my WIP “Tornado” is here.)
Check it out!
Not that she would be stopping by this blog, but I would just like to say Congratulations to Katherine Paterson on her appointment. She becomes national ambassador for young people’s literature today. You can read the article in the New York Times here.
I did hear Katherine Paterson speak, once, at the New York Public Library. Perhaps she was winning some award, I don’t recall. I sat beside Charlotte Zolotow, so it was already a great evening before Katherine Paterson stepped up to the podium, but when she did, she spoke about the nature of the human heart. I was so moved, I’m sure I ran all the way home to my dinky studio apartment and wrote everything down. “Dear Diary; Katherine Paterson is totally awesome!!!”
She totally is.
I haven’t posted in a while because I’m in a post-nanowrimo funk. This is an annual condition that, when combined with end-of-year deadlines, holiday events, standing in line at the post office, and summing up the year on a single page for my family’s Christmas card… err, where was I going with this. Oh, yes. The novel-writing has not been top notch. But I’ve had a few good days of it, and I can be happy about that.
Also, this fake morning news show segment from The Onion made me laugh. Click on “laugh.”
There. Did you laugh, too?
Remember when you were a kid, and someone read you a story? Countless stories? Didn’t you love how they all ended in the most satisfying way, with the same two bracing words?
Here it is the close of a long November and NaNoWriMo ’09, and my two daughters have won. They met their word count goals and brought their stories around to the place where they could write: The End. In Eliza’s story, ogres are defeated, the antidote is found, and the villain becomes the hero. As for Molly, the character she named and brought to life — Lilac –finally finds the answers. In the end, the girl knows who she is.
My daughters do, too. They’re writers.
Today, I’m talking with Molly, 9 year old wrimo.
Molly, you’re a nanowrimo veteran, having won last year. What has been your experience so far, NaNoWriMo -09? Well, sometimes I’m feeling that I can’t get up and write, but if I just write, I can get unexpected plot ideas. And I’m enjoying nano this year, even more than last year, because I’m older, and have more experience with writing. It’s just really fun.
Unexpected plot ideas? My characters are in a dilemma right now. One of them is an orphan, and she really wants information about her parents. She moved from Florida to New York, and she made a friend named Sydney. But I felt really tired a few days ago and couldn’t think of anything. And suddenly this crazy weird but exciting idea came to me: I’ll have them kidnapped!
That definitely sounds unexpected, Molly! Any tactics for the final week of nano? I’m just going to keep writing, fill in a few scenes that I haven’t filled in yet, but first do the end. (Which I actually already wrote.)
Oh! Can you tell us how it ends?
Fair enough. Although it’s completely irrelevant to nano, do you think your novel is very good? It’s better than last year’s, but that’s not saying anything. But I actually do like it for the reasons that it deals with some real life problems, as well as being really exciting.
That sounds like a terrific novel, Molly! Thanks for talking with me today. Good luck!
Okay. Now I have to leave and work on my nano.
Right. Me, too.
Week three of nanowrimo 2009, and it’s supposed to be a great ride from here on out to 50,000 words, the finish line, the whirr and rattle of the printer spitting out the winner’s certificate. Instead, I’m having the worst couple of writing days so far this month. So I’m taking some time to do some research about the following items, all of which (and more!) play a role in my high-speed novel.
1) cutting an album (what do I even call that? pressing a cd?),
2) EFP (explosively formed penetrator) roadside bombs, and,
3) the roosting habits of the Little Brown Myotis. (I am already aware that these bats can eat their own weight in mosquitoes every night. That would be like you or me eating thirty pizzas in one go. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but… well I am. It can’t be done. I’d hate to see the Big Brown Myotis bat.)
749,689,061. That’s the total NaNoWriMo 2009 word count as of 9:05 am, Pacific Time. My novel is at a very respectable 21,720. But that was week one, the week during which all that easy breezy beautiful first ten to twenty thousand words just pours out, high velocity style. (which is to say, not anything like publishable, but fast and furious.)
Screech! Now we’re into week two. My nanoing daughters and I keep saying, hopefully, to each other, “things are going great, and I haven’t even had to use any tricks yet!” By that we mean: nano tricks.
Such as having a character read aloud from the 164 – box of Crayons. Many of the colors have two-word names, bonus! Or, having a character walk on and sing all the lyrics to Waltzing Matilda, and then disappear, never to be seen again. A dream sequence. A sudden recollection of a past life. Two past lives.
But here’s really a neat trick. A few weeks ago I saw the (former Oregon resident and) poetDorianne Laux give a reading, and one of the poems she read was called “Cher.” The origin of the poem was a challenge from her husband, the poet Joe Millar. He gave her ten words and told her to use them to write a poem meant to say something she’s been wanting to say but hasn’t. Let’s us try it.
Here are ten words:
1. Peat moss
3. Post-it Note
10. Custard cup
You can try this yourself, or — nano trick! — make your character write the poem. It will probably take your character several tries. Record them all in your novel. Good luck.