28 November 2006

View from the Finish Line

Yes, sportsfans, I did it. I started four days late, I finished four days early. I finished. Oooh, say it again, it gives me chills; I finished. 50,000 words in less than a month. I have written a novel. This is heady, heady stuff. I took the challenge on at the insistence of my pal A, who thought it would do interesting things to my head. She was, of course, right.

  • I'm an editor for a living. It was nearly impossible to wrestle my Inner Editor into the closet in order to get out of the way of the work, and let the story get written. As it was, she snuck out a few times and wreaked some havoc before I bodytackled her and got her back under control.
  • It was fantastic to be on the other side of the red pen. I think this exercise has brought me some empathy that will really be helpful in the editing process with other people.
  • Story is a living thing. I thought I had a clear idea about my general plot outline, characters, and themes. Only to have a subcharacter muscle his way in about 1/3 of the way through, and take over everything. Other folks have written about this phenomenon, and I'd always thought it was, I dunno, disingenuous. But no. That's really what happened.
  • Writing is an emotional thing. I mean, I knew that, I write emotionally here and on my various groups all the time. But it's short-duration stuff. 50K is a sustained amount, and I'd go from the top of the world and having tons of ideas to thinking I should just pack it in because it was all crap in the course of a few pages. I felt rather like Baby-Face Nelson, actually.
  • Fiction is astonishing. I am so used to working in the Land of the Verifiable Fact, that I kept wanting to research and footnote everything. Hello! Fantasy novel! No research required! That didn't stop me from hitting Wikipedia every so often anyway, so as to decorate the story line with nuggets of actuality.
  • Apparently, having a writing soundtrack is critical to my process. A big shout out to the folks in the fabulous NaNoWriMo Forums, who turned me onto Corvus Corax, whose music took over my story when the rogue character did. Other soundtrack music included Loreena McKennitt, who had the grace to release a new album on Nov. 21, Boiled in Lead, Dead Can Dance, Jethro Tull, Faith and the Muse, and a tiny little bit of Johnny Cash.
  • "That which can be done at any time, will be done at no time." It's a Scottish proverb. And it's the crux of the matter. I'm leaving it on my desktop permanently.
A few heartfelt thank-yous are in order:
  • To A, first and foremost, for goading me into it, and being right there every minute to talk me up and talk me down.
  • To J, who was the godlike supportive spouse. He put up with me being basically absentee all month, he took on extra duties, and every time I checked in, he actually managed to still be encouraging, without even once asking to read it.
  • To I, who pitched in to ride herd on the boyos, above and beyond.
What's next? Glad you asked. I have a month's worth of neglected family, bills, and housework to catch up on. Gonna let the story sit and percolate a bit, then jump back in to edit. I'm sure I'll whine about that here, when I get there. What's it about? Vigilante fiction, with antlers. No, you can't read it yet. I'm, uh... still working on it.

20 November 2006

Just Go Read It

I'm still not blogging much, because I'm NaNo-ing (and it's going beautifully, thanks, although it's a terribly emotional ride; more about that in the future...). But for now, someone on one of my lists sent me this: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/sci_edu/problem.html Go read it. Cause therein lies about 18 of my best tirades. I'm quoting the end; so if you don't want the spoiler, go read it, and if you want to know why you should go read it, here you go:

The point is that thinking, and being able to think, is the only way to make anything BETTER than it is, and sure there's a risk in that but its a hell of a lot better then sitting in one place and trying to hold everything together, particularly when it isn't really quite what you want and you know damned well that its all going to come apart one way or another anyhow. Thinking IS fun, and the only way we have to make anything better, but its ALSO the best way anyone has ever come up with to REDUCE risk. The world wasn't made for people, you know, and we don't understand all about it, and we never will, and there will always be things happening that we didn't expect, and the only way to deal with that is to have people around who know how to think, instead of just doing their particular job the way they were told to do it. Never thought about that, huh? Makes sense though, doesn't it? So what should we do about it? Well, I know what I'm going to do about it. I'm going to spend less time worrying about whether other people think I'm doing my job right, and more time thinking. And I'm going to tell my students that that's what they should be doing too, whether or not they or anybody else think that's what I'm supposed to be telling them. And I'm going to tell my kids to stop trying to get everything right on their worksheets, and instead every once in a while to try something different, to do something differently, just for the hell of it and to see what happens. Yeah, life will be a little more chaotic, and sometimes things will go wrong because of something I did instead of because of things I hadn't yet somehow managed to get under control. And maybe, if it spreads, I might have to work harder to persuade people to do what I want them to do, and walk farther to get a quick lunch. I'm pretty sure though that I'll feel a lot safer, and I'm damned sure life will be a lot more fun. Want to come along?
Yes, yes I do.

16 November 2006

A New Blog!

Hey gang! I've started a new blog, about us moving aboard. It's called TeamHudson's Excellent Adventure, and you can find it here: http://excellentadventure.wordpress.com/ I'll continue to post here about stuff pertaining to me, to the boys, to birth and family. Stuff about the boat, and our transition from here to there, goes on the other one.

14 November 2006

New Post on LWOS -- Reprise of Financing the Gap

Hey gang, I know I haven't been posting here; most of my writing oomph is going into my novel for NaNoWriMo. I will be back when November's over! In the meantime, I've got a new post up at LWOS. It's a reworked, superior version of a post I launched here, originally, a long time ago. Check it out: http://lifewithoutschool.typepad.com/ or http://lifewithoutschool.typepad.com/lifewithoutschool/2006/11/the_finance_gap.html If you haven't wandered on over there, you should. There is some incredible writing, and some amazing thinking, about the capability of the human spirit. It's pretty inspirational stuff. Have fun!

04 November 2006


I am in chiropractic rehab therapy. Nine + weeks of exercises, daily adjustments, and 20 minutes of traction. It's to hopefully cure the fact that my upper spine is curved 145 degrees backwards of where it should be. A normal person's neck curves back, mine curves very nearly perfectly the other way. This causes neck and shoulder pain, headaches, carpal tunnel and hand and arm numbness, and nearly constant muscle tension across my back. It's uncomfortable and annoying, and thankfully, responding well to treatment. The exercises are, frankly, severely boring. They take around 15 minutes, every single appointment. So that's a lot of time to let your mind wander. Yesterday, my mind drifted to an exercise that I learned, of all places, at an improv workshop at the Northern California Renaissance Faire. The exercise was called Commonality. You'd stand in the center of a group of people. 10 or 15 of them. And find something in common with each one of them. Maybe you're both women. Maybe you both have blonde hair. You're both performers, you're both in this class. You're both interested in living history. You're both having trouble with this exercise. At first, it's really, really tough. You know nothing of these people. Nothing at all. Not even their names. But as you practice, as you work through the group, it is astonishing how much you have in common with a group of fairly randomly selected strangers. So that's what I did while doing my exercises. Commonality with these people. What do I have that's like you? Where's our common ground? If we were all to start talking, what would I say to you to break the ice? I'm reading a book about near death experiences (NDEs). Strange, I know, but it's written by, of all people, the man who is our boat broker, and I'm gaining all kinds of insight into him, and into his operating style. But anyway, one of the things he says in this book about NDEs, is that across all cultures and across all time, people who have them come back with an unshakeable faith in the unity, the oneness, the commonality, of all creation. It's a small exercise, really, in the face of the grandness of all creation, to muse about what the 10 or so other patients in the chiropractor's office might have in common with me. But wonderful, in its grounding. Give it a try.