Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

My Year in Review: 2012

4 Jan

What a full year 2012 was! Here’s a quick little recap:::

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In January I announced that the rumors were true. But it took the full year for it to finally look like this.

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In February I joined Pinterest to discover how it may help me as a writer and have been happily pinning ever since.

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In March my personal essay was included in the book Creating Space.

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In April I was one of the editors representing the Burnside Writers Collective at the Festival of Faith & Writing. It was so special to get to catch up with the other editors and writers, whom I just adore. I also had the opportunity to teach a writing workshop while I was there.

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Image via On the Road with Bob Holman / Rattapallax

In April I also worked to create awareness about what we lose when we lose a language. My interview with poet Bob Holman appeared in BOMBlog.

In May I received my MFA in creative nonfiction from The New School. I had a fantastic thesis advisor and a beloved peer group, who challenged me to dig deeper in my memoir about growing up Greek American. After I read a snippet at our thesis reading, an instructor I’d never even had came up to tell me how much he liked my work!

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Image via The Human Tower / Rattapallax

In June I witnessed the world record being broken for the tallest castell on a rooftop.

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In July I heard Amber Tamblyn read for The Paris Review at the Strand. Afterwards we somehow ended up on the elevator together, and I didn’t say anything to her. I never know in those situations if it’s polite to say something like “nice reading” or if the person just wants her privacy. I know she’s involved in the Beat literature community, though, so I should’ve probably talked to her about that.

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Image via The Millions

In August an article I wrote about a funny incident I had related to Jack Kerouac sparked a fiery debate and went viral, getting mentioned everywhere from The New Yorker to The Paris Review.

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Photo via RA Araya

In September I had one of the most surreal moments of my life–reading with David Amram. I got to hear him perform again, this time as an enthralled audience member, in December.

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Photo via RA Araya

That month I also read for poet Miguel Algarin‘s birthday bash.

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I also road tripped through northern and central California, visiting Cannery Row, City Lights Bookshop, The Beat Museum, and attending my college friend’s wedding.

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In October Hurricane Sandy hit New York, and I spent a lot of time in bed.

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In November I failed miserably at NaNoWriMo, but I had a lot of fun creating this ever-evolving Pinterest board for the book I never wrote.

I also gave a reading that got upstaged by a wedding proposal.

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In December there was a flurry of Jack Kerouac-related activities to promote the film adaptation of On the Road, and I got to see author Ann Charters and film director Walter Salles in person at IFC. I also got to take a writing class with screenwriter Jose Rivera at 3rd Ward.

I also went out to Lowell and got to meet Jack Kerouac’s friend and pallbearer Billy Koumantzelis.

 

What were the highlights of 2012 for you?

10 Quotes about Persevering and Finding Your Story

21 Nov

I’ve never been intimidated by a blank page or a brand new diary.  When I was younger and in elementary school, I relished in-class writing assignments.  Inspiration and ideas came easily to me, and I wrote fast and furious.  Perhaps this is because I was a quiet student, who probably went days without speaking in class, so writing assignments gave me a chance to let loose all the thoughts that had been bottled up inside my head.

Most of the time when I sit down to write, I have little idea what will come out.  I almost never work off of an outline, and even when I have a thesis or a direction I want to take my work, the writing seems to have a mind of its own.  I feel that my job as a writer is to just let the words flow and the story will find itself.  If I try to wrestle my words down to keep to some preconceived notion of what I am expected to say, I run the risk of missing something purer and truer.

Much more intimidating to me than the blank page is a work in progress.  Are my words rebelling against my story and leading me astray?  Has everything I’ve said been gibberish?

Below are famous literary quotes about persevering and finding form and structure:

The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with. ~William Faulkner

There is no method except to be very intelligent. ~T.  S. Eliot

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.  ~Hart Crane

Something that you feel will find its own form.  ~Jack Kerouac

The task of a writer consists in being able to make something out of an idea. ~Thomas Mann

If the artist does not fling himself, without reflecting, into his work, as Curtis flung himself into the yawning gulf, as the soldier flings himself into the enemy’s trenches, and if, once in this crater, he does not work like a miner on whom the walls of his gallery have fallen in; if he contemplates difficulties instead of overcoming them one by one…he is simply looking on at the suicide of his own talent. ~Honore de Balzac

Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer. ~Ray Bradbury

It is perfectly okay to write garbage–as long as you edit brilliantly. ~C. J. Cherryh

Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it… ~Michael Crichton

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good. ~William Faulkner

 

Do you plot out your entire work before you begin writing?

10 Quotes for Writing When You’re Staring at a Blank Page

14 Nov

The blank page.  So full of potential, yet perhaps the most intimidating for some people.  If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or just starting a new writing project, you may be facing the blank page wondering where to begin your story or what you even want to say.  Here are some famous quotes by authors who have come before us to inspire and encourage us when we’re faced with a blank page:

So often is the virgin sheet of paper more real than what one has to say, and so often one regrets having marred it.  ~Harold Acton

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.  ~Vladimir Nabakov

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air.  All I must do is find it, and copy it.  ~Jules Renard

If you haven’t got an idea, start a story anyway. You can always throw it away, and maybe by the time you get to the fourth page you will have an idea, and you’ll only have to throw away the first three pages. ~William Campbell Gault

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.  ~William Wordsworth

Find the key emotion; this may be all you need know to find your short story. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes.  ~William Makepeace Thackeray

Write down the thoughts of the moment.  Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.  ~Francis Bacon

First thought best thought. ~Allen Ginsberg

Every writer I know has trouble writing. ~Joseph Heller

 

How do you approach a blank page?

Jack Kerouac and NaNoWriMo

8 Nov

Jack Kerouac claimed to have written On the Road in three weeks.  That’s only partly true.  My coauthor, Paul Maher Jr., and I tell the less marketable but more realistic story in Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

Part of the way Kerouac wrote his novels was to sit down at a typewriter and write, write, write til the story was told.  There’s something to be said about this.  The intensity of writing a whole novel in a short time span drives the work.  It’s so easy as an author to get distracted, to start something and never complete it, to get so caught up in getting syntax correct that the story never moves forward.  The “backspace” button on the computer keyboard is all too familiar to most authors, struggling as self-editors.  We want to get it right.  Sometimes this happens at the expense of getting it done at all.

While many would disagree, some authors believe that the key to writing is to push out a first draft.  Once the backbone of the story is there on the page, the author can always go back and edit it.  Most times, the editing process is the longest and most arduous.  Whole sections are moved or deleted.  Characters are killed off if they’re not important.  Diction is tightened.

I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — this year to gain a better sense of what Kerouac went through when he wrote his books.  Call it “method writing” to understand the subject of my book better.

Happy NaNoWriMo Day!

1 Nov

Today is the start of NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month!

NaNoWriMo is touted as “thirty days and nights of literary abandon!”  The premise is simple.  On November 1, anyone interested in writing a novel begins a novel with the goal of completing the first draft by the end of the month.  More specifically:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30.

Here’s how it works.  The novel has to be completely new, though you are allowed to write an outline before the official start of the month.

In addition to the writing goal itself, participants receive encouragement from the staff and from famous authors and can join in in a variety of meetups, virtual and in person.

I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo for a few years now without writing a single word toward a novel.  I’m interested in actually participating this year for a number of reasons.

Check in next week to find out why!

Are you signing up for NaNoWriMo?