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It’s complicated

With just 13 days—yikes!—until NaNoWriMo starts, I should be well on my way to an outline, character list and setting. At a minimum. And that has been my plan since my failed attempt to win Camp NaNoWriMo in July. It’s a sad story, a common refrain (for me). My July project is floundering and I am unprepared for November.

I thought I had it under control. I knew what my plot was going to be. Sort of. (It’s those “sort of’s” that seem to be my downfall.) All I needed was some additional information from my mother and I’d be ready to outline like a madwoman.

Last night I met with her (my mother, not the madwoman) for what I was certain would be the details that would weave the story together. Alas, all she could tell me was all that she’s already told me.

You may wonder why I need information from my mother to write this story. It’s complicated. But when isn’t it? Back to my resource, my mother. Several years ago, she gave me what I assume is a pewter or silver plated wall frieze of the Roman goddess, Diana the Huntress, and the stag.

She’s 88 (my mother, not Diana), from Germany, and lived there during World War II. The wall frieze was given to her by her mother in 1953 when my mother moved to the US with my father, who was in the US Air Force.

My grandmother found the wall frieze in 1952 in a trunk that her son-in-law (not my father) bought at an auction. Assuming it only contained a bunch of old newspapers, he stored it in the basement. But my grandmother thought otherwise and trudged down to the basement to paw through the newspapers. She was rewarded for her effort with Diana and my uncle let her keep it. She passed it on to my mother, who gave it to me.

I believe that the trunk was property confiscated by the Nazis from a Jewish family. The twist is that a few years ago I found out that the mother of my German grandmother was a Jew who married a Christian. That means I am 1/8 Jewish. Ties with the Jewish part of the family were severed, which may have been what saved my immediate German family from the Holocaust. (I can’t allow myself to think about the fate of the Jewish part of my family.)

Sounds like a lot of potential material for an historical novel. Or would it be creative nonfiction? A memoir? I could incorporate my Jewish and my German ancestry and my American upbringing. And I do want to write that book. But 13 days just isn’t enough time to do the necessary research and develop the plot, outline, setting, characters…..

So I’ll stick to the story of Diana. If I can come up with 50,000 words about a trunk, a Roman goddess, a stag, and a wall frieze.

Confession: I am a pantser

I’ve hit the wall, thrown in the towel, given up on my Camp NaNoWriMo project. Oh, I still plan on completing my novel “Claire”—just not in July. If I believed in writer’s block, I’d have to say this is what I am experiencing. But I know deep down I’m just being plain lazy. And that I set too ambitious a goal.

After all, it is summer and we did just buy a Jeep. A toy that we have gotten maximum pleasure out of in the few weeks that we have owned it, tooling around the scenic roads of Vermont and New Hampshire every available evening, anxious to stumble upon some wildlife, or, absent that, feel the freedom of the wind blow through our (my) hair, removed from the necessities of mowing the lawn and painting the trim on the house. And working on “Claire.”

John, our group’s facilitator, has requested (“suggested”—too passive) that I bring in an outline of the book to the next writing group meeting in two weeks. I readily agreed. Deadlines are my allies. And the outline is half-written anyway. Which may be my source of writer’s block. Assuming I believed in it.

I am a “pantser.” I start writing with a germ of an idea for my work of fiction and then I write. I usually don’t have an outline when I start—that would make me a “plotter.” I prefer for my plot to evolve organically. (I just learned that there are also “plantsers.”)

I’m not alone in this approach. But the plotters will tell you that this only makes more work for us pantsers in the long run, that I’ll need to write a few rough drafts to be where they are after their first rough draft.

Hang in there—I’m getting to my point….

Which is that for Camp NaNoWriMo I decided to write more like a plotter than a pantser, outlining before adding to the 10,000 plus words I had already written for “Claire.” Seemed like more than a good idea. More like a necessity. After all, this is the first book in a trilogy and a thriller. That worked. For a while.

Now that I have a half-finished outline, I’m unable to get back to the story and write. Or even finish the outline. So I’m stuck. Writer’s block. Lesson learned: I am definitely a pantser. What I really want to do is just write the damn book.

I’m relying on my writing group to jump-start my writing. Bring it on!!

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for July 31 so that I officially can announce that I did not win Camp NaNoWriMo 2015.

Camp NaNoWriMo

It’s the Fourth of July weekend, I’ve just returned from a cruise and land tour to Alaska, my endocrinologist has started me on a new medication with adverse side effects, Camp NaNoWriMo has just begun, and—naturally—it’s my turn for a blog post.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska

No, I don’t expect any sympathy. I don’t work so I should have plenty of time to write. Right?

Rrriiiggghhhttt.  Time isn’t the problem. What do I have to say that is worth reading???

Since this isn’t a cooking or entertaining blog, I won’t bore anyone with my plans for celebrating Independence Day.

Since this isn’t a travel blog, I doubt if anyone wants to hear about my trip to Alaska. (I did have good intentions of keeping a journal. That lasted a day.)

Since this isn’t a medical blog, I’ll save you from a description of how the .05 mg of fludrocortisone is affecting me.

Guess that leaves Camp NaNoWriMo, the July session of the traditional NaNoWriMo held in November, which you may or may not know that I have “won” two times. (Winning entails submitting an original novel of at least 50,000 words written during the month.)

For July, I’ve committed to writing an additional 50,000 words of my already started “Claire” novel. Submitting a work in progress is legal during Camp NaNoWriMo but not in November. My brilliant idea for “Camp” was first to outline how I am going to connect the three novels that I have based in the town of Woodbury: “Anne,” “Claire,” and “It Takes a Village Store,” (all evidently working titles) and then write “Claire,” the first book in my trilogy.It made sense a few months ago….

Now that I am attempting to commit to paper how to connect the three books as well as write the first book all during July, I’m starting to rethink my plan. If the idea is to write 50,000 words in 31 days (note that November only has 30!) and it’s already the 3rd, maybe I’ll forgo working on the links among the three books and instead devote my efforts to “Claire.”

I already have 11,000 words written for this book, as well as a ton of backstory, and I even know the ending—at least the ending as of today—so it makes sense to just whip out the rest of the book. I might even be done before the end of the month….

Happy Fourth of July to all of our followers!!

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