NaNoWriMo writing space and a short prologue

    Aaron stood at the edge of the water, his back to the emerging morning sun, and stared across the dark cold surface just beginning to reflect daylight. He liked to imagine if he squinted just a certain way, he could see Chicago on the other side. It was at least sixty miles across the water, but knowing the city so well, his mind's eye could fill in the space beyond the murky horizon, with buildings, bustling crowds, early traffic, and the scents of food carts as miniature kitchens were fired up in anticipation of mid-morning customers.
    He shuddered and pulled the flaps of his winter cap down more firmly over his ears, rubbing his hands together to warm them, keep them from stiffening up. Twenty-odd years ago, when Aaron migrated to the city from his rural family home, he'd believed it held the key to answers he desperately needed. He'd learned a great deal about himself and the world at-large during his half dozen years there, one of the most important being that he was a simple small town man at heart, no matter how little he fit into the world in which he was raised.
    Lake Michigan in mid-Autumn is best seen with a painter's eye. To most people, it merely looks cold, gray, barely moving, and is prettiest in the afternoon as the sun sets over the western horizon, sending sharp yellow rays across the surface. But Aaron could see, in the barely perceptible daylight, all the possibility gray actually holds. It's never really just some value of black mixed with some value of white, not even in the middle of the night. There's always blue, green, pink, gold, red, depending on the time of day and the clarity of the sky overhead. Just before dawn, the water was an inky purple, slowly, lazily waking to a new day. And all at once, at an almost immeasurably small moment, it began to soften into a hazy violet, shimmering as the sun caught its attention. Thus, Aaron and the great inland sea greeted the day together, and he walked back toward town to open the pie shop, in the world he now considered home.

Time travel, characters, NaNoWriMo, and the ways I love men

In the past two days, I've seen two references to Johnny Carson at Google+. I'm taking that as a sort of serendipitous force leading me to consider a topic some like to call "fuck, marry, or kill." Or those actions in another order, but I like this one, as it takes a logical progression.

For the next couple of weeks I'll try to write 1500-2000 words here every day as a sort of warm-up to NaNoWriMo. But I'm not breaking any new ground. I'll write about what I enjoy thinking about; self-indulgent blather, mostly. You know I love story. I love characters. I read biographies but not much other non-fiction, because stories of lives are what interest me most. For a person who spends very little time with other adults, this might seem odd. But it's so.

And I do love men. Rarely have I been entrancingly intellectually attracted to a man I didn't also want to know intimately, but it does happen from time to time, and that's cool by me. Occasionally, as well, I'm wildly physically attracted to a man with whom I would not find intellectual common ground, or else I know he's some kind of sleazy bastard, but some fairly dynamic area of my brain really doesn't care. Especially since it's all largely theoretical. It's story, you know. I can't live it, but I can read it or imagine it in my head or try to tell it.

So I guess I have two "types," or thought I did all along, but lately I've confronted the honest fact that I have a third. Let's let Johnny Carson represent that category, for now. First, though, James Garner. James Garner, that is, when he was roughly the age I am now, or a few years younger. Tall, black hair, direct, uncompromising, charming. I idolized him when I was a child. He was my cowboy detective super hero who also looked good in formal wear. I mean, I knew even then to separate the actor from his roles, but I never could with him, and I'll confess it; I still can't. He's kind of my hero. In the girly sense of things, at least.

The second type is currently represented by Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock on the TV show Elementary. He's the new Dr. House, only really really fit. Miller's Sherlock is dryly funny, enigmatic, well-meaning but often seems rude to other people, detached, but enthusiastic about his pursuits. Out here in the real world, he's the one I'm usually drawn to, something of a mirror to myself, only with a maleness to his guts that I admire. And of course, he's not much in the way of relationship material, is he? But then neither, perhaps, am I. I like a quirky misfit not because I am a quirky misfit, but because I'm content with myself this way.

Right now, if you know me, you're wondering where Bill Holden fits into this picture. Well, you know he represents a time period, largely, but he's also a lot more like Sherlock than he might charmingly appear. Kind of moody, but self-aware. Someone you keep yearning for even though you know he's no good to wake up next to every day, because he has problems. We all have problems, but his are the kind you aren't allowed to touch. He wants to let you in, but he doesn't really want you to find out how vulnerable he is.

Let's change the game name to bed, wed, or dead, because there are only going to be so many times I can type "fuck" without starting to feel silly. Or something. The second group is the kind you'd I'd go to bed with. The first group, maybe that's the guy you'd marry, if he'd have you, because he's the kind of rich ideal that you behave awkwardly around and it confuses him. That makes the third group the dead group, but maybe you I don't want them to actually die.

Johnny Carson is a good example of this. He was a hilarious and seemingly gregarious person who was actually quite a brooder, emotionally detached, impulsive, and selfish. Maybe that guy isn't even good in bed but you still want to find out. Why? I don't know. Plenty of women did, though. He was like someone else I know, who heavily dated only after getting married. The first or second wife wouldn't know this about him, but the third one had to. Being someone's second wife is understandable, I think. Being the third starts to look a little silly. My dad married three more women within about a 15-year span after my mother died. He and Mom were already divorced, but he didn't start his wife train until she was gone. What possessed these women to keep making it legal with him? He didn't even have any money.

I have to theorize that my dad was either, in fact, some kind of Great Lover, or really good at pretending his emotional and intellectual sensitivity made him someone worth trying to keep around. Me, I'd probably just want to kill him.

That's speaking of my Dad, though, and this isn't Shakespeare.

It's some kind of cliché that women are drawn only to this "bad boy" type. I'm drawn to no one who thinks of himself as a "boy," but that's for another topic. However, clichés develop from reality, of course. So what makes us physically drawn to a sleazy bastard we know our hearts should avoid? Biology says we see one kind of man as a good babymaker and another kind as a good protector/provider (shhh, that's another topic, as well,) and of course, the golden ticket would allow us to have the man who is both. Also, supposedly, we are drawn to different types of men at different points in our cycles. I think that's neat, except that in reality we don't get to take advantage of it…

When I was a girl, I loved the TV show Barney Miller. I thought Barney was fairly awesome, but can you guess which character I had a crush on? It was Dietrich. I thought someday I'd probably marry a man pretty much like that, only able to see myself in my mate at that point. Dietrich had a similar personality to my own, though I wouldn't have known it at the time. And I did end up married to someone who is kind of a mirror image of myself in certain ways, only as it turns out, he is better suited to someone who is a lot different instead. I've been thinking about that lately, and it led to this bloated examination of whether I truly have a "type" beyond some physical and superficial characteristics. That keeps leading me back to Johnny Carson, and in a certain way, my dad.

My dad wasn't so bad, as dads go, and I didn't grow up seeking one in a mate. At the same time, he wasn't so great as a family man, either, and I never thought of him as a role model for a husband and father. I'm more like him than I am like my mother, whom I also loved dearly, but I don't know that a male counterpart of her would suit me all that well, either. What makes any of us think we're great marriage material? I would have no real idea of that, even after all this time.

You only truly want to kill the ones you loved and poured yourself into, after all, once you learn that the "forever" vessel has a leak in it. Yet some people seem to want to keep trying at that, like Carson and my dad. I've had my fill, personally.

I don't like even thinking about that. I like thinking about conversation and sex, and sometimes romance, instead. It's good, you know, getting past the age and vulnerable stage of needing a suitable mate for raising a family, and living in a world in which we have the freedom to explore what else we might like in a relationship or in a series of them.

So in a perfect world, I'd time-travel, and have what I liked for as long as I liked, then move on to the next adventure. I had a brief exchange with a man yesterday who said we should time-travel back to the days when Johnny Carson went nuts for an hour or so because his wife was supposedly sleeping with Frank Gifford. He'd take Gifford and I'd have Carson. But only for like a weekend, because I think we'd have to make a murder pact beyond that point, since they'd both end up being extremely annoying. And I doubt Johnny'd really be that good in bed; his problems were the kind that get in the way. No, in the real perfect world, intellect and sensuality would fuse like magic or physics, and the yearning that comes from intensely driven conversation would be equally or even more fulfilling in physical union. Scientists say that phase of a relationship usually lasts for only seven months or so. A couple of seasons. Apparently, though, people are lousy at parting as friends when it's all over. I'd still want to be friends.

In another perfect world, though, we were never really friends at all, just a stellar collision, drawn together by unstoppable gravity, and we create gold when we collide, then each take our share when we part.

I'm going to let my NaNoWriMo book character create some gold this season.


NaNoWriMo actual serious thoughts

Three people have led me, this week, to the realization that I must start taking my writing more seriously. That is not to say I intend to take myself anymore seriously, because people who do that are dreadfully boring. But I know I write well, and I want to write well for others; giving them something to enjoy and maybe even cherish. 

I do not mean to say I am talented in the literary sense. I don't know if I can be, but that is mostly for others to judge. I write like I sing, though with more technical skill. I do not have a beautiful or powerful voice, but people enjoy the way I put over a song, and find my singing pleasant. 

So, the three people. One of them did some research and found that I could have a similar lovely typing experience that I enjoy on the family iMac if I invested in a new Chromebook. You see, my evening typing is confined to an old Dell laptop. This might sound luxurious, daytime machine and nighttime machine, but the nighttime machine makes me weep with mourning for my old terrible Powerbook. I like an Apple keyboard, and I like Apple software. 

But the new Samsung keyboard will have a similar feel, and I won't have to tear my hair out wending my way through the ugliness of Windows software and clunkiness of the Dell keyboard.

He said, "An artist needs proper tools." I like that. We use what we have, to create beauty. But when we can invest in better brushes and canvasses, it is wise to do so.

The second person said, "Write a children's story.  Children see magic in the world and create meaning from it. And everyone likes a good children's story." 

That's true. Everything a child sees is bigger and more magical and wonderful because they see it with newer eyes and a more roomy heart. I'm not sure I could write a good children's story, at least, of any significant length, but I will be keeping this in mind as I write the story I am organizing for November.

The third person is my seventh grade Language Arts teacher, Mrs. Juanita Grayum. The first two conversations brought her to mind, and I am so glad they did. If Google has things right for me, she is still alive and living in Arkansas, at the age of 92. Mrs. Grayum taught me to avoid helper verbs, and she also taught me a few things about dignity, drinking lots of good water, the importance of breakfast, about strong narration, and about seeing more literature in life than is written in the Great Books. I've never forgotten her or our conversations after class.

Informally, at least, I am dedicating this effort to her. She did a lot with her life, and I aim to do much more with mine, starting right now. 

12 - 1 (2)

All the things, part one

(I'm gonna post way too much tonight and maybe even tomorrow night as well.)

I'm just so unreasonably happy to have the iMac sitting on my desk in my private studio for the weekend, with its swift solid keyboard keys, no-fuss mouse, and all the sense-making that goes along with it. 

I do not give a single [redacted] if anyone has a problem with that. Joy! Balloons of Happiness! 

I miss my Powerbook. Working on NaNoWriMo without it last year was difficult. At the end of the year I was given a Dell laptop; sorta given, it's this whole thing, and oh my gosh do I hate writing on it. Or doing anything except looking at, really. So in case anyone reading this has been wondering why I've disappeared from Tumblr and a few other things, that's largely why. Most of the rest is Google Plus, but that's for another discussion. 

I never have conflict in my stories and that's what I'm thinking about right now. I have people do silly arguing, or wonder about how something will go, but nothing really goes wrong. And I just don't groove that way. So I'm thinking about other ways to create tension in a story, although I prefer just writing slice-of-life situations and conversations. 

I thought Jack and Charlie could meet up and go on a road trip. Charlie is sort of maybe a little obviously gay, so would Jack feel conflicted at the idea people would sometimes assume they're "together?" That could be something, and of course they'd have a lot of fun. I know I-70 west to Denver, and a few other roads pretty well. 

But just thinking about conflict makes me a little tired. I am often bored by it; I don't know why everyone else thinks it's so [redacted] necessary.

Okay, the reason I use [redacted] is so you can use the vulgarism of your choice. You might choose goddamned, fucking, bloody, or some combination thereof. As you like.

liliales birthday countdown: 2005

This one is a bit of a cheat. I'm not sharing a blog link from this year only, because they were transferred here with a whole month on each page. You could go find them if you were compelled to. The picture links are broken, though. 

In 2005 our world changed a lot. It was awesome, then it was awful, then there was some awesomeness in the midst of the awfulness. Which was awful. Oh, and I turned 40. 

Here's me shoveling snow in early 2005: 


And here's all the poetry I got written that year, but also it was the first year I tried NaNoWriMo, so that was a neat thing. 

Sipping Gotham

New York Harbor
slice of lime

I walk differently on New York streets,
everything hums erotic vibrations 
through the soles of my feet. 

Carnival of Words

Looking at you in a funhouse mirror
It's shatter-proof, smear-proof
distorted nevertheless

On a carousel spinning,
Artificial breeze soothes
Ride over too soon.

Ferris Wheel stops at the top,
car rocks and I sway, 
unsteady and unnerved til you point out the view
It's wide and breath-taking
and I never want to come back down. 


Slave to your will, or mine?
I can lean back and close my eyes,
or grip your shoulders and draw a sharp path
straight through your pupils.

The shouts are all shut up in my head
and I do not force them out by throat and tongue,
rather with fingernails, teeth, taunting pressure
holding, locking you into position;

It's always at least a draw 
where the spoils are shared, exchanged,
given in love and taken by need—
like rain, or shelter from cold.

This is from the prologue of my first NaNoWriMo attempt. I say attempt because I can write 50k words in a month, but never seem to write a complete story...

I couldn't help myself. As she headed for the newsstand, I scribbled on the back of a receipt I found in my purse and then got up, walked past him quickly, dropping the receipt at his feet, and kept on going out of the park. My heart was racing, but I didn't look back.

The note said, "Meet me in front of Trump Tower in an hour." And he did.

He just walked right up to me and spoke, "She's visiting an old school friend, and we're getting back together for dinner at 7."

I said nothing, just pointed toward Central Park, smiled, and took off across the street, as he followed behind, jogging a little to keep up.

I had never before spoken to him in person, and just didn't know how to begin. It seemed so important to get the words exactly right, even if they were meaningless. So I remained silent until that began to feel absurd. We had a few hours, this one day out of forever, not to be wasted away on shyness.

"An eternity in one long breath. That's how the days seem right now. Like we're all exhaling, and when our lungs finally empty, and it's time for drawing in again, well."

I stopped, realizing I must sound a little crazy, speaking the truth hardly anyone dared voice aloud these days. That's me, from shy to overly vocal in one careless move.



We Gonna Do This Thing: Writing Sanctuary & the Malaise

Today is 20k word day at NaNoWriMo. This morning, my word count stands at 9k. I got bored with it, decided to give myself little creative tasks to do until I was ready to write again. So here I am, having brought the iMac to my little office/study/studio/library (tell me, what would you call it?) and having the weekend before me. Deskchair

It isn't as though I ever have anything else to do, anyway. Well, there is a NaNoWriMo regional dinner tonight, but I changed my r in the RSVP because...

I also have the Malaise. This is an illness I contract about twice each cold weather season, and it's hard to explain. It's not quite a cold, not quite a flu; worse some seasons than others. Last year I first got it in late November and it turned into an extended bout with bronchitis. Probably mild pneumonia, but, like childbirth, the details are lost now. 

It starts with a headache, and some throat drainage. Then a slightly drippy or stuffy nose, heaviness, fatigue. But then it never turns fully into a cold. It rarely produces much of a fever. Yet I spend several days feeling fluish, bedridden part or most of the time, depending. The icky junk stays in my throat, sometimes wanders down to my chest, and eventually wanders off.

I think this'll be a mild one if I'm careful. So in a way it's a boon. I made sure the boys could feed themselves all weekend if I can't do it, though I'll try. I had one of them bring the iMac up here (now sharing it with only one of them, and he was warned he'd have low access this month,) along with clear juice, water, coffee, pain reliever. Beverages
My iPod, Newyorkwall
my new scarf, Bluescarf
a new outlook, Windowcorner
and I'm all set to go.

Except I feel sort of shaky and quivery and stuff, so I don't know. I mean, I gotta do this thing.

It matters to me. Just gotta put my head down sometimes. 

And there's a William Holden movie on in a couple hours. I've set it to record, but you know, if I need a break, that'll be a good one to have...I mean, it's mostly about jets, but they're really cool, and the scenery is cool, and he is very, very pretty. I picked a negative review on purpose, but it's actually an okay movie. Jim Garner has 2 or 3 minutes of pretty face time, in his first movie role.

Not to continually digress or anything.


On listening while not writing...

Here's what I've written tonight:

Chapter Five 

Jack walked into his house that afternoon to hear strains of "Blue Rondo A La Turk" coming from the den. He knew what that meant; his mom was in a reminiscent mood, missing his dad. Jack's dad was a huge Dave Brubeck fan, and whenever Ann got to feeling sentimental, maybe a little sorry for herself, she pulled out his old records. When she was in a more cheerful mood, she played Herb Alpert. 

While listening to this music. 

There's a Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder  Bobby Darin 
Why Was I Born? Frank Sinatra 
Sleepy Time Gal Dean Martin 
So What's New Herb Alpert 
I've Got You Under My Skin Frank Sinatra 
Mighty Lak' A Rose (78 rpm) Frank Sinatra
Blue Rondo A La Turk Dave Brubeck
I Didn't Know What Time It Was Bobby Darin
In a Sentimental Mood Count Basie
Bewitched Frank Sinatra Nothing But The Best
Arrivaderci Roma Gordon Jenkins & His Chorus 
I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart Count Basie 
Try A Little Tenderness Frank Sinatra
Gopher Mambo Yma Sumac 
Love Me Frank Sinatra
For Every Man There's A Woman Frank Sinatra
Azure-Te (Paris Blues) Frank Sinatra
I See Your Face Before Me Tony Bennett
Guys And Dolls Bobby Darin
The Best Is Yet To Come Frank Sinatra

I had iTunes on shuffle. I don't keep much of my music on the computer, and didn't have the iPod plugged in, so it was choosing from a list of 1223 songs. And yeah, about a quarter of that is Frank Sinatra.

But, an hour and nine minutes. 76 words. I'm in the wrong sort of mood, and there's too much going on around me, and I got to "The Best is Yet To Come," and oh, man, listening to that through the headphones, the edges of his voice, I mean, you know? I shouldn't even be here right now. I should be out somewhere, living or something, instead of trying to write about it. 

Okay, shuffle has done a bounce and is now playing "Mr. Blue Sky" by ELO. Maybe it's trying to tell me something, but I doubt it. 

Look, I really love my old blog posts, and I know no one wants to go back and read those on anyone's blog unless they're hilarious, and I'm not hilarious. I am dryly funny or not funny. But do you want to hear "The Best is Yet to Come" and be in that certain mood as well? Go here. About halfway down. Put on headphones; you hear the edges best that way. 

I dunno. Maybe I do this thing tomorrow. Too stuck inside myself right now. 


In some of the corners of my mind these days

You can pretty much judge how depressed I am by how often I update this blog, because I can tweet or reblog at Tumblr no matter how things are going, but here, I want to have interesting stories to tell or thoughts to relate and I cannot do that when I'm feeling low. I also listen to less music, but you wouldn't be able to judge that. Take my word for it. It's unbalanced. And despite my abiding 4+ year love for Twitter and Tumblr, this is the place that's really all mine. 

So in the meantime, here's some vaguely personal stuff with details, but not really details. You know. I'm personal in only the most shallow ways possible.

I want to do NaNoWriMo this year but don't have my own computer. Partly that's okay; only one boy and I are sharing the iMac just now, as the other two were sent cheesy but useful PCs by K12. The thing is, all three of them sit on the dining room table and no matter how I adjust this chair, I end up with pain in my neck and sometimes nausea after sitting here for awhile. 2011-10-05 12.30.57
So that's not super inspiring. I'm so used to a laptop, mostly all I've used for, well, quite a few years. 

The problem is that I need the chair all the way up in order to face the tall screen correctly. But when I do that, I am typing several inches below where that would be correct. So when I do NaNo, I suppose I'll set the keyboard on something to elevate it, but it needs to not slide around…

None of that has anything to do with feeling low. I just do. Too much is not at peace, though our house here is a pleasant sanctuary in most ways. 

I miss my desk upstairs. I created a cozy little studio for writing, painting, and listening to music. But the desk is empty. 2011-10-05 13.04.05
It wants a new Macbook Pro, of course. Maybe someday. In the meantime, I stare at a canvas, listen to a little Frank Sinatra, then wander away to some other part of the house.

I need more poetry, classical music, and cushy furniture in my life. That wouldn't solve any problems, but it would be good. Of course, I can solve the first two needs easily, if I just think to. But the days are just packed, and so is my head. Novel reading has been my meditation lately.

Good things are that I live on the edge of two library systems; Cincinnati and Clermont County. There's a Cincinnati branch 3 miles west of here, and a Clermont branch 2 miles east. All media not at my fingertips is a short drive away, and completely free. 

And we found a great deal that allows us to bowl on Sunday mornings, and we found some parks; none you can get to by walking, as that doesn't seem to be a great priority in this area of the, er, area, but still fairly nearby. Just as in New Jersey, we live moments from a pike (historically; there aren't tolls these days,) which is a good path from way over there to way over there, but this one has almost no sidewalk, no shoulder, and has hills as well as curves, so we cannot use it for walking or cycling.

You see how flat and dull all this blather is? I'm not at peace, because others are not at peace, and I cannot make things better for them. Platitudes are useless. As well, little niggling "red tape" issues still invade my days. I'm no good at them, and they won't ever leave me alone. Avoiding them makes it all worse, of course.

Another good thing is that for the first time in I don't even ever, I have all the clothes I need, *and* I like them all. I've never been the sort of person who wants a huge wardrobe, and I don't much like winter clothing, so I tend not to prioritize that. But I now have two thin cardigans, two longer sweaters, several new tops, three pairs of jeans, two pairs of dress-up slacks, a half-dozen dresses, two jackets and a coat, and new underwear and bras. I even bought socks. I no longer have leather boots, which would be a welcome finishing touch, but I can manage without, if necessary. People do. And I still have good gloves and lots of scarves. I cannot abide bulky clothing, but layering can and will be done when it is too cold to pretend otherwise. 

So this is something moving to Ohio from New Jersey did for me. But we still have very many other needs here to be met. I'm out of focus there, but working on it. 

What I'd like to also do for myself is buy a Kindle Fire and let that be my go-between until I can somehow raise money for a new laptop. I had planned on a Tab or iPad, but they cost three times as much, and I can do with my phone any tablet function I wouldn't have with the new Kindle. It's a pretty great phone, though the next model along is what dreams are really made of, I guess.

Living in Ohio, I have found some people who are like those I met at the Jersey shore. I mean, of course, the real New Jersey shore. Screen shot 2011-10-05 at 10.54.07 AM
People who live closer to nature, who still touch what they make, and who take in nature with the breath they can spare. But they seem to don't live on my street! 2011-10-05 13.45.41
I wish they did. Because otherwise, it is very artificial here, and there's something I'm having trouble grabbing hold of. I can't go back to the sea, to the people who communed with it. Lake Michigan is 300 miles away; it was like that there, too. Screen shot 2011-10-05 at 10.48.42 AM
The seashore, even an inland seashore, breeds the spirit to which I most relate these days. And there's no sea here. Screen shot 2011-10-05 at 10.57.09 AM

There is a bit of color, though. So that's a very nice thing on a sunny warm day in October. Why ask for more? 2011-10-05 13.48.12

Why start/finish NaNoWriMo? (wherein I copy and paste...

...because why on earth would it be healthy for me to waste word count explaining it? I have 1300 words to write tonight!)

This guy does a good job of it, instead. If you're doing NaNoWriMo, you received this in an email. Anyone else? Read up, it's worth it. 

Dear NaNoWriMo Author,

Way down deep in the dark archives of my hard drive, I have a folder called Follies, which contains an impressive collection of abandoned stories: There's the zombie apocalypse novel about corn genetics, the sequel, the one about the Kuwaiti American bowling prodigy, the desert island novel, and many more. These stories have only one thing in common: They're all about 25,000 words.

Why do I quit halfway in? I get tired. It's not fun anymore. The story kind of sucks, and it's hard to sit down every day and spend several hours eating from a giant bowl of suck. And most of all, like the kid who spends hours preparing plastic armies for war, I enjoy setting things up more than I enjoy the battle itself. To finish something is to be disappointed. By definition, abandoned novels are more promising than completed ones.

You have likely reached the moment in this insane endeavor when you need a rock-solid answer to the question of why, precisely, you are trying to write a novel in a month. You have likely realized that your novel is not very good, at least not yet, and that finishing it will be a hell of a lot less fun than starting it was.

So quit. Quit now, or if you're among the many of us who've already quit, stay quit. Look, we are all going to die. The whole species will cease to exist at some point, and there will be no one left to remember that any of us ever did anything: Our creations, all of them, will crumble, and the entire experiment of human consciousness will be filed away, unread, in the Follies folder of the great interstellar hard drive. So why write another word?

Sorry. I reached the halfway point of this pep talk and tumbled, as one does, into inconsolable despair.

Here's my answer to the very real existential crisis that grips me midway through everything I've ever tried to do: I think stories help us fight the nihilistic urges that constantly threaten to consume us.

At this point, you've probably realized that it's nearly impossible to write a good book in a month. I've been at this a while and have yet to write a book in less than three years. All of us harbor secret hopes that a magnificent novel will tumble out of the sky and appear on our screens, but almost universally, writing is hard, slow, and totally unglamorous. So why finish what you've started? Because in two weeks, when you are done, you will be grateful for the experience. Also, you will have learned a lot about writing and humanness and the inestimable value of tilting at windmills.

Something else about my Follies folder: It contains the final drafts of my novels Looking for AlaskaAn Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns. They are follies, too—finished ones. Whether you're reading or writing, there is nothing magical about how you get from the middle of a book to the end of one. As Robert Frost put it, “The only way out is through.”

So here's the pep part of my pep talk: Go spit in the face of our inevitable obsolescence and finish your @#$&ng novel.

Best wishes,
John Green

John Green is the New York Times bestselling author of Looking for AlaskaAn Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns.




Ten days to NaNoWriMo, getting the workspace right, oh, mememe

Stuff goes wrong every year, but this may be the year it all falls together well.  

I have: 

  • new software that actually works okay with my old Powerbook, because it's designed to!
  • A new actual Apple power cord that works well
  • A pdf of the book I'm parodying so I can use the structure of it for an outline and character sketches, and it can't be physically lost
  • and Thanksgiving is a little early this year, so no last minute post-holiday rush

But I do also have a problem with my space bar that is driving me bonkers, and means I'm constantly self-correcting as I type. And, of course, my system can't handle too much internet at once these days; it's been rendered arcane. 

NaNoWriMo has become a sort of annual ritual for many people. Here's where the ritual takes place for me. 


Items of note include the Hendrick's Gin bottle caddy, which I use for scissors, pens, brushes, etc., my green and silver Swingline stapler, Greer flask, New Kirk and Old Spock BK toys, the Mach 5, the iPod, of course, 1964 issues of REDBOOK, and a mug that says PERFECT COFFEE, but which contains Stash Licorice Spice tea. It's good for my cold weather throat and asthma. It has no actual tea in it, so no caffeine. I can only handle a little caffeine ever; more than one cup of something makes me feel ill. Just as with alcohol, I'm physically unable to be immoderate.

I might open the deck of cards if things seem to be going well. Solitaire is one of my favorite cold weather activities. In cold weather, I am a hermit. Part of this is because there's little to do in winter where I live. And part of it is because I'm generally sort of ill in cold weather, with a touch of asthma and a touch of arthritis. 

But, just as with every other hibernation season, I intend to make this the best ever!