Posts Tagged ‘ pigeons ’

NaNoWriMo Day 8: My Life as a WriMo

NaNoWriMo 2011, day 8

Today’s personal word-count goal: 19,998

Today’s actual word-count so far: 17,620

Ahead or behind? Behind! I’ve got 2,378 words to write today.

Years I’m Writing About: 1991-1993, on my Facebook Page you can contribute your own words about these years.

In 2008, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time, and my life has changed forever. My 2008 novel is in its 5th draft now. I can see a light at the end of the revision tunnel.

I just revisited 2009’s manuscript for the very first time this August when I went to Hawaii, from whence one of that story’s main characters hails. I did some great research, but that manuscript still has a long way to go.

In 2010 I tried something different based on my own theory that you’ve got to write about 50,000 words to get 500 good ones. I wrote 50,000 words about my city’s pigeon population, hoping to edit them down into a 500-or-so-word children’s story.

This year, because I’m about to turn 40, and because Susie Bright‘s memoir really moved me, and because of some wise words from Jane Fonda and Julia Cameron, I’m writing about my life so far, a memoir, though Jane would call it a life review and Julia, a narrative timeline, not necessarily for publication but instead for my personal and creative use.

Get a piece of the action. There are several ways to participate in NaNoWriMo. Support the do-gooders who run this free event online by making a donation to the Office of Letters and Light on my fundraising page. And visit the The Sexy Grammarian Facebook Page to contribute your own words to my daily word count.

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Day 27: Saturday Morning Cartoons With The Sexy Grammarian

Watch the Sexy Grammarian participate in National Novel Writing Month for the third year in a row.

Day 22: Flying Blind

Today’s Word Count Goal: 43,565

Today’s Word Count So-Far: 37,025

Total Word Count Goal: 50,000

 

When birds fly forward, they are not at all looking in the same direction they’re moving. Instead, they watch the passing scenery, like a passenger in a car. Birds fly blind.

From now on when I’m writing first drafts in a word processing program, I will set the screen view at 50% or less. I’ve been doing it all month, and I love it as a new technique for writing with abandon. Flying blind.

The idea first came to me in conversation with the my friend and colleague, the astute and talented Ken Stram, author of the brilliant blog, Ken and the Art of Entrepreneurship.

Honing his own writing skills, Ken confessed to me that he had resorted to taping a piece of paper over his laptop screen to keep himself from reading back and self-editing while he journaled or drafted new work.

I thought it a brilliant idea but too fussy for this month’s gonzo, laptop-on-the-street, pigeon-stalking writing adventures. But shrinking the view to an unreadable size? A cinch.

Try it. You’ll have more typos than usual, of course, but you can fix those later. The point is, I can just write, write write without reading back, without judging, without editing, without even putting on my reading glasses. I can keep moving forward.

And like a bird, it’s really okay, that I’m not looking at what I’m doing. In fact, like a bird, I may gather more interesting, imaginative, and scenic information by looking elsewhere.

Watch my next few blog posts for shots of other childrens books about pigeons. I’m doing my market research!

 

Watch the Sexy Grammarian participate in National Novel Writing Month for the third year in a row. I’ll post word counts and worries here daily, Tweet about it, raise funds for the Office of Letters And Light, and host Meet Me/Tweet Me open loft writing sessions all month long.

Day 19: Good Questions

Today’s Word Count Goal: 40,360

Today’s Word Count So-Far: 33,403

Total Word Count Goal: 50,000

 

 

I guest-taught a writing class at CCA Monday night. I’d been asked to help ten women artists narrow research topics, a formidable task.

On Monday afternoon, my friend and colleague, clinical sexologist, Dr. Sueann Mark, took me to a pond in Golden Gate Park, where she loves to watch the ducks. She’s also noticed a flock of pigeons there, so she thought I might like to check it out.

We sat on a bench, watching ducks, lamenting the laws against bird feeding, and musing the mysteries of bird behavior. The pigeon flock never showed, but I found inspiration in our conversation.

Dr. Mark asks good questions. She delved beyond, “How is NaNoWriMo going?” to things like, “What’s really fascinating you about pigeons right now?”

She responded to my mutterings about pigeons and death and darkness with engaged conversation: “What’s wild about that is the way they just sit in the street when cars come at them. Are you writing about that?”

She got me thinking, and when we parted ways, I wrote with more enthusiasm and focus.

So I scrapped my lesson plan for the artists and their research papers, paired them up, and compelled them to ask each other some Dr. Mark-style questions like these:

Project Background Questions

  • What is the inspiration?
  • What fascinates you about this project?
  • What drew you to the topic initially?

Emotional Questions About A Project

  • Why is this project important to you?
  • What opinions have you formed on this topic?
  • Do you have any personal stories that connect you to the project?

Conversational Ways To Deepen & Focus A Project

  • What I’m really interested in is . . .
  • What do you mean by . . . ?
  • My big question about this is . . .

I’ll admit I was a little scared that they’d have nothing to say. But they talked fast, and when I told them their talk-time had expired, they asked for more time!

Once they’d talked enough, I let them loose with paper and pen to write about their projects.

Try asking these questions of someone you know who’s writing. Ask a friend to interview you about your project, keeping these questions in mind.

This is how we deepen our writing ideas. So often, we imagine the business of writing a solitary venture, but I believe it cannot be that, not all the time.

Sometimes I need to go sit by a pond with a friend and talk it out. Don’t you?

Watch my next few blog posts for shots of other childrens books about pigeons. I’m doing my market research!

Watch the Sexy Grammarian participate in National Novel Writing Month for the third year in a row. I’ll post word counts and worries here daily, Tweet about it, raise funds for the Office of Letters And Light, and host Meet Me/Tweet Me open loft writing sessions all month long.

Day 12: Word-count Crisis

Today’s Word Count Goal: 29,500

Today’s Word Count So-Far: 18,782

Total Word Count Goal: 50,000
I’m in NaNoWriMo crisis–way behind on word count and haven’t written in two days. Also I’m getting on an airplane and going somewhere snowy. I think being in the air and then at a higher elevation will be good for my perspective. I’ve been thinking that maybe I could understand pigeons better if I could fly.

I also have new technology, a shiny iPhone that I don’t really understand very well yet. It’s distracting and maddening and thrilling all at once, kind of like trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Watch the Sexy Grammarian participate in National Novel Writing Month for the third year in a row. I’ll post word counts and worries here daily, Tweet about it, raise funds for the Office of Letters And Light, and host Meet Me/Tweet Me open loft writing sessions all month long.

Day 10: Filling The Well/ Pigeon Stalking

Today’s Word Count Goal: 23,600

Today’s Word Count So-Far: 18,782

Total Word Count Goal: 50,000

 

Julia Cameron writes about the concept of filling the well in her creativity bible, The Artist’s Way. “As artists we must learn to be self-nourishing,” she writes. “We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them–to restock the trout pond, so to speak.”

I’ve certainly been drawing on my creative resources over the past ten days, and yesterday, I went out to replenish them. I went pigeon stalking.

Pigeons are everywhere, but I’ve been keeping a little list of especially abundant pigeon haunts.

I took a long walk yesterday through the Embarcadero area, Justin Herman Plaza, North Beach, and Chinatown. I watched a lot of pigeons and photographed a few too. And I wrote.

Here are my planned pigeon-related field trips this month:

  • Civic Center/Tenderloin:
    • Hibernia Bank
    • Main Library
    • Hallidae Plaza
    • various street corners
    • Civic Center & Powell St BART stations
  • the mysterious and fabled pigeon pond in Golden Gate Park
  • Embarcadero
    • Justin Hermann Plaza
    • Noah’s bagel’s
    • Red’s Java House
    • docks
    • Bay Bridge lower deck eves
  • The San Francisco Zoo
  • Mission BART stations

Any other suggestions?

Watch the Sexy Grammarian participate in National Novel Writing Month for the third year in a row. I’ll post word counts and worries here daily, Tweet about it, raise funds for the Office of Letters And Light, and host Meet Me/Tweet Me open loft writing sessions all month long.

Day 5 observations, a movie, and another blog

Today’s Word Count Goal: 14750

Today’s Word Count So-Far: 8811

Total Word Count Goal: 50,000

I know much more about pigeons than I ever did before. Today I caught myself stalking a fine, dark-gray specimen in circles in a gutter on Mission Street. And I’m stretching my imagination much more than I’ve asked it to stretch in years.

I’m way behind on my word-count, but I’ll make it up this weekend.

I’m finding all kinds of fascinating themes to explore about pigeons. Very few of them are kid-book friendly, but I’m not letting that stop me.

So please enjoy this very kid-friendly movie about pigeons. I feel just like Bert when he says, “Boy, just looking at these pigeons makes me feel terrific!”

And now that I’ve entertained you, please go over to my WriMo pal Eric’s blog and give him the love and encouragement he deserves. He’s been writing 50,000+ words every November since at least 2004, and lately, he’s blogging about it everyday.

 

Watch the Sexy Grammarian participate in National Novel Writing Month for the third year in a row. I’ll post word counts and worries here daily, Tweet about it, raise funds for the Office of Letters And Light, and host Meet Me/Tweet Me open loft writing sessions all month long.