Beer and Writing

Founders Kentucky Bourbon Stout brewed with chocolate and coffee and aged in oak bourbon barrels. As soon as I heard about this beer, a limited seasonal beer produced by Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids, MI, I knew I wanted to try it. Doing my due diligence, I learned it was supposed to be released on April 1 here in Austin, and I was prepared to go to my local “beer store” to grab some before they sold out. I’m friends with this particular store, Sunrise Minimart, on Facebook, and that’s how I learn about all of the cool new craft beers that they get. Except they got the beer a few days early and although they posted an announcement on Facebook, Facebook decided I didn’t need to see that particular post, so by the time I realized what had happened, it was all gone. It was a fail on the scale of Greek tragedies. And then, a fellow homebrewer posted a photo on … Read more…

Camp report: Writing by dictation

I got off to a great start with Camp NaNoWriMo! I started writing at midnight last night, then I wrote again at a writers meet up yesterday evening, and as a result had logged over 3000 words for the day. Then I realized I should do some more writing later, after midnight, which is my normal time to write, so I’d be sure to have writing done for day two. I just didn’t feel like sitting in front of the computer. So I wrote a big chunk by dictating it into the speech recognition doohickey on my iPad and saved it in Google Docs. That actually works pretty well, especially if you’re writing in first person and don’t need a lot of quotation marks. It’s actually how I’m writing this post as well, although I’m writing it directly in the WordPress app on my iPad. At any rate I feel like I got some really good writing done, with almost … Read more…

Camp NaNoWriMo has begun!

At midnight, I left for camp. More specifically, midnight marked the start of Camp NaNoWriMo. Like the month-long NaNoWriMo novel writing month, Camp is also designed to get people to write every day, though this time things are less structured, and you don’t have to write an actual novel in 30 days. You can also set your own word count goal (the official NaNoWriMo goal is 50,000 words, or 1,667 words each day). I’ve decided to tackle another 50K with Camp, since I was about to write 71K and change last November. My biggest challenge has been deciding what to write. I’m still in the editing process for my NaNo novel and have been struggling with the climax and resolution. I know where I want it to go, but getting there has been a bit more difficult than I expected. What I have learned in the editing process is that I don’t really know my characters all that well yet. I thought I did, but not … Read more…

Camp NaNoWriMo: Not one, but many challenges

A true writer can’t resist a writing challenge. It takes a crazy person to pile them on, one on top of another. 🙂 About a week ago I decided to commit to doing Camp NaNoWriMo, a somewhat more laid-back version of the November National Novel Writing Month, where you can choose a wider variety of things to write and can make your own word count goal. Back in November, I had participated in NaNoWriMo proper, and wrote 71,664 words towards a brand new novel during those 30 days, without missing a single day. Since that time I have engaged in the perhaps more painful and difficult task of editing it into an actual, you know, readable piece of writing with good characters, a logical plot, suspense… the kind of things that are hit or miss during a marathon month of writing. In November I created some amazing gems and a lot of stinkers. I’ve made amazing progress along the way, … Read more…

When a writer becomes a novelist

Thanks to a colleague’s suggestion, this year I took the NaNoWriMo plunge. With less than a month to fashion the concept of a novel, I signed up, drank the koolaid, and jumped off the cliff. I’ve been writing fiction since grade school, but only in November 2013 did I really start to think of myself as a novelist. And that’s not because I “won” NaNo by writing over 50,000 words, though I did (71,664 to be exact). Nor is it because I “finished” a novel in 30 days, though I did that as well (see below for the synopsis). I think of myself as a novelist now becase I realize that the art of writing a book isn’t just about putting words down, creating fun characters, and entertaining yourself. It’s actually hard work that requires a great deal of commitment and focus, and many lessons learned along the way. NaNoWriMo offers writers the opportunity to plunge forth into the alchemical … Read more…

Writers’ Angst

In this short video clip, Ira Glass talks about the craft of writing and how all writers struggle early on with the creative process. He describes how we have great taste, so when what we write doesn’t measure up to what we like, we get frustrated. The mark of a true writer is the one who fights through the disappointment and discouragement and just keeps going, until one day the writing is good enough. The most important point is that all writers go through that angst. And as I wind up my NaNoWriMo novel this week (or sometime in the not too distant future!) it’s a point well taken.

Bruised Egos

By Jackie Dana Winner, Fourth Place, The Eighth Annual Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest, 1999   “Give me the daggers,” he demanded in falsetto. From the first day he walked into class I knew Mr. McGinty wouldn’t be like our other teachers. Maybe it was because he was Australian, a foreigner. Maybe it was also because he used to teach at a boy’s boarding school. Didn’t he joke that it was going to be hard to adjust to teaching girls? He didn’t do things the way everyone else did, that’s for sure. Instead he set his own rules as it suited him. We were reading Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and he had assigned us each a part. “It’s a play. We won’t treat it just as cold words on a page,” he explained, his deep accent sending us all swooning. I wanted to view the play as he did. Maybe that’s why when he chose the other parts, I really hoped he’d … Read more…