Tag Archives: challenges

novel turned short story

Today marks the official end of NanoWriMo – my crazy Novel Writing Challenge.

My final word count: 11,051 (which equates to roughly 21 pages).

I didn’t make the 50,000 word finish line, but I have enough material to make a nice short story.  I do feel satisfied and proud of my little victory.  Either way, I’m glad I chose to participate.  As I’m repeatedly finding, it’s the process and journey that proves more valuable than the intended destination.

Some lessons learned along the way:

-Writing seriously requires more commitment than inspiration. It’s easy to write when I’m motivated.  I can sit in a cafe for hours on a given weekend with the right dose of energy.  On the flip side, it was tough to force myself to write during the days that I came home from work physically tired and mentally drained.  Those were the days where I fell the most behind.  And the tiring days happened more frequently than the motivating days.

-It’s cathartic to write from experience, but it’s also painful. I chose to write a mother/daughter story to help me understand the tumultuous relationship with my mother.  While it gave me good material, it also was an emotional struggle.  No wonder writers are such tortured souls.  Maybe my next work should be in science fiction.

-Being a writer is lonely. No one high fives you when you write a clever line or an insightful bit of dialogue.  Thus, another reason to stay committed even when you’re not sure of yourself.  Or find support in a writing group.  I never made it out to a NanoWriMo “write-in” to bond with fellow novelists; that’s definitely top on my list for next time.

-It’s okay to write horribly, so long as you write. The largest nugget of wisdom gleaned in this entire process!  I made plenty of mistakes – created characters I didn’t know what to do with, made them say things that made no sense, and grew bored of my protagonist’s self-deprication.  Whatever.  I made the mistakes, owned it, learned from it, and moved on.

The short story of this long entry: Will I do this challenge again, as painful and messy as it was?

Most definitely.

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green light

San Francisco is a go.

I’m not really ready just yet, but I don’t think I can ever be 100% prepared.  Especially since a lot of factors scream NO.  I will be increasing my commute time from 15 minutes to 1 hour 1/2 (at best), I teach a morning class twice a week at SJSU, the weather will be cold and foggy (possibly rainy) during this month and next, and I will be cutting down the time I spend with J and my family.

With all of these factors weighing against me, I’ve already decided to leave for SF this Wednesday.

The “ideal moment” and the “best time” really doesn’t exist for me.  If I want to do something, I do it.  If I don’t do it now, I may never find the time (or the nerve) to do it later.  I tend to overanalyze, which can inform my decisions and also paralyze them.  If I’m too busy thinking and waiting for that “perfect moment” that may never come, I might lose the opportunity altogether.  I deny myself the experience of confronting challenges head on if I am too fixated on anticipating the challenges beforehand.

My latest strategy for the past couple of years?  Quiet the voice of caution and dive right in!  One, it will be too late to turn around and flee (e.g. moving to Los Angeles).  Two, I typically find myself learning to adapt quickly out of fear/panic/necessity or excitement (e.g. teaching in Los Angeles).  Three, I appreciate the experience and almost never regret it – no matter how challenging (e.g. teaching in INNER-CITY Los Angeles).

With that in mind, here’s to a challenging and exciting month ahead in the City!

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