Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Soon to Vanish Within My Garret

NaNoWriMo (the National Novel Writing Month) kicks off tomorrow, and I'll be participating. For those who missed my attempt last year, NaNoWriMo is a completely insane quasi-competition in which people from all over the planet use the month of November to write a 50,000-word novel. It doesn't have to be a good novel. It doesn't have to be publishable, or literary, or even particularly coherent. It just has to be 50,000 words or longer by midnight in your time zone November 30th, with no prose having existing for the novel before the start of the month, for you the writer to "win."

There are any number of reasons why this can justly be called crazy: November is, at least for Americans and most westerners, the second-busiest month of the year, with a holiday, traveling, shopping, family obligations and the like all impinging. It's also a shorter month (30 days), and (well, for some this is an issue, not me) happens November right after the switch from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time, so circadian rhythms can be off.

Why do it? I participated last year, and while I didn't win, having topped out at 28,500 words, it was a seminal event for me as a writer: I'd never generated so much prose at one prolonged whack before. Some of it was even pretty good, and the corpus from last year's effort should be editable into something interesting down the road. I'm not sure whether all the rest of the prose I'd ever generated in my life before NaNoWriMo '05 added up to 28,500 words. It had a miraculous effect on my confidence as a budding writer and eventual published novelist.

So this year, I'm going to win. I've picked a slightly less esoteric subject for my novel this time, so existential and other issues won't be the ones slowing me down. I've put together a mind map of the rough plot, characters, themes I want to explore, and other minutiae so as to clear some of the logistical that roadblocks that slowed me down last time.

On top of all that, the stalwart and steadfast Amy is on board and being wonderfully supportive. Changes the entire landscape when you've got such a lovely cheerleader on your side.


PS. And, via Tripp,
You scored as Reformed Evangelical. You are a Reformed Evangelical. You take the Bible very seriously because it is God's Word. You most likely hold to TULIP and are sceptical about the possibilities of universal atonement or resistible grace. The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can go to heaven when they die.

Neo orthodox


Reformed Evangelical


Roman Catholic




Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




Modern Liberal


Classical Liberal




What's your theological worldview?
created with

Monday, October 16, 2006

One of Those Weekends

You know, when you have one of those crazy good weekends, when you throw a big engagement party, invite friends and family, and everything goes incredibly swimmingly with everyone getting along, wishing you and your intended the best, and celebrating your coming life together (together with cheese chosen by her and wine by him, pairing fabulously with one another and the hors d'oeuvres from her mother)?

You know, that sort of weekend? The kind where your parents visit your soon-to-be parents-in-law, visit for hours on end, tour their house and land, and laugh and tell stories into the night?

Yeah, that kind. You know the sort. Amy and I had one of those.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

On Reestablishing Contact with the Handwritten Word

I have been having an inordinate amount of fun lately with writing. With journaling, plot, theme, character and all that, too, but specifically with the simple, human act of writing by holding an ink-bearing stylus of some kind in my hand, and wiggling that hand in a more or less (usually less) disciplined way as I move it across a sheet of paper.

Most of the rest of the world figured this out back last year or so, what with the Moleskine craze and Getting Things Done movement taking off; but this is the romance of hand-writing, come home to roost in my personal nest.

Typing vs. Writing
Typing has a lot to recommend it, and I type for several hours each day in my day job. But typing, being a digital activity, both in the sense of using the digits on the ends of one's hands, and in the output (these days) being stored in a digital computer, exercises certain linguistic and manual-dexterity parts of your brain, yes. But typing is primarily a process of selection: your brain selects sequences of individual letters and punctuation (representing in their effect the words you want to convey to your target medium) and engages your hand and arm muscles to push the buttons on the keyboard in front of you, in more or less the proper sequence.

Writing, by contrast, is an expressive effort. You and your body are responsible for every contour of the words you write: we draw our handwritten words, and so every person's penmanship is unique, just like his or her fingerprints. Our handwriting's looseness, flow and tidiness vary with our state of mind. It's actually a wondrous thing, considering how each of us is so different from one another, that we can read one another's handwriting at all. Of course, each of us has tried and failed to read a particularly badly scribbled prescription on occasion, so we know it's hardly foolproof.

Everything Old is New Again
I've written a diary entry and/or bit of prose and/or series of story-idea notes every day after procuring my first Moleskine notebooks. It started as a sensual thing: pretty notebooks, nifty pens, but it's since become a comforting end-of-day routine. Feed the dogs, eat dinner, do an errand or two, shutter the lights in the rest of the house, perhaps read for a bit, and then scribble in my notebooks for an hour or so in bed on my lap desk before turning in.

I find, that since typing is faster and more efficient (due to its digitality), I've really had to slow my thinking down when it comes to writing. It's thrown off my e-mail communication rhythm with Amy (poor Princess!) something fierce, but she's been very understanding so far. Typing up this blog entry has helped me reacquaint myself with thinking and typing, actually.

The brain is a funny place. I'm having a blast, and prepping for NaNoWriMo at the same time.