I will be the first to admit I go out of my way to do things differently. That's not meant to be defiant. I just like to do things on my terms and not be pressured or forced to do anything that I don't find comfortable. For several years I have had students ask me if I was participating in National Novel Writing Month. Sometimes I say I am and other's not so much, only because I'm a streaky writer. When I'm in a groove if it happens to be November, then I'm writing in November.
Granted, it's not like I haven't written a novel before so participating in this challenge is not newsworthy on that regard. In fact once I get going the entire first draft for all of my books have been completed in a matter of weeks, usually 2.5-3. The more I write, the more I feel pulled to get the words out and to craft the story as fast as possible. This year, I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month because I just finished my 90k word memoir on Brindisi and feel like getting some fiction done before the holidays.
Knowing this I thought if you are a writer and are also doing this challenge, feel free to add me as a buddy on nanowrimo.org/ I'm jfkwrites which should come as a real shocker :) I just setup my profile today.
On a different note, expect to see some changes to the book page of the website over the next few weeks. I feel inspired to update more parts of jfkwrites.com. Likewise, because Winnie asked me, I have taken more interest in my Youtube page and have added that link as well to the right under my photo. If you click on the icon you'll find a new video with footage of my writing space. I hope to get more videos made sharing my writing process over the next few weeks. Perhaps I'll even video blog about my National Novel Writing Month experience.
That's it for the weekly update. I hope this month concludes on a high note for you and that November comes in with a smile.
Ciao for now.
In August of 2016 I found myself as an expat, working and living on the heel of the boot. Italy was an eye opener in many ways. I expected it to be similar to the United States, yet "cooler and more hip," knowing many friends and family who had traveled to Rome, Florence, and to Venice. There is a glaring difference between those popular spots and to the region I lived. Granted a Northern Italian might dispute my assessment but I found Puglia to be more vibrant and beautiful and the people friendlier. Less developed than the industrialized and commercial heavy northern regions, in my area of Brindisi people managed and thrived on community, family, and living life to the absolute fullest. Pleasure was and is put before work, especially in the summer months while food is considered the ultimate unifier.
After my teaching assignment ended, I returned to the States for good in June of 2018. For over two years I thought about writing on my travels, but not until the last month did I finally take that leap. I'm happy to report that I finished the first draft today. It's over 90000 words or around 305 pages. I'll share more about this non fiction piece in the weeks and months ahead. There's going to be a major edit job as I dictated the entire book over the last three weeks. As I read over parts, let's just say my dictation was not 100% word for word transferred. At least the foundation is in place.
Still, I think we can expect to see a book cover before Christmas and who knows a release in early 2021 looks promising, that is of course unless my new pandemic novel doesn't take priority.
I find it funny that for months I wrote nothing. If we don't count the occasional obligatory blog, after I returned from Italy in summer of 2018, I have not consistently written. There was a period of five months where I journaled to at least rationalize that I still possessed the traits of a writer. Then my computer broke and the motivation was all but exhausted.
Several students reached out to check on my progress over the last two years. Some were looking for the next book in the Luza series and others just wanted to read whatever I had started or finished. Writing is a finicky thing for me. I go in spurts. Yes I have read how some will find time to write daily. They set a goal of a page or three, or there is a set word count where the writer won't do anything else until that is met. I have tried that with some success, but I have also found that I don't like to force creativity. I know when I'm forcing the issue because the words don't flow.
This isn't writer's block. I can force myself to write on any topics at any time. Still there is a difference between good writing and well writing that's not worth sharing. Granted not every part of a story is going to be in the flow if you will, but more often than not when I get into a grove, that's exactly what happens. The last week has been more in that vein. I'm writing daily. Sometimes I write 5 pages and others 20. Wanting to enjoy the moment, I even cut myself off after an hour or 90 minutes, so I don't exhaust my energy and this wonderous phase. I won't force this process because in the end I want there to be something I can share, not rubbish that sits in a folder and lies in permanent writing purgatory.
When I am in this groove, I see story ideas everywhere. Out for a drive this afternoon, I took pictures of different scenes that will likely show up in a follow up piece once I'm done with my Brindisi book. Here are some of the photos for you to examine for yourself. Do you have any ideas or story you want to share?
In the midst of another autumn day, I hit the roads again but this time to the familiar sights of where I spent my formative days. It's funny thinking of the word "formative," because for me all of my travels and moves have been an education filled with blessings and challenges. Still, there has to be one place where my journey started. There was a school where I found myself writing my first story. Under the influence of my hobbit loving teacher, I even had the gall to think a publishing company would want to publish my wordy text. While "Jolly and Bolly's Adventure," never saw the success I had envisioned in my fourth grade mind, I did get my first rejection letter from the publishing industry.
In between the lessons at Swasey Central School, I fell hard for the Brentwood leaves and a childhood sheltered from the big, scary world. I would venture often into the woods, exploring the deer made trails, and the river's edge. A CCD teacher at our local antique shop introduced me to Narnia and the magic of the forest, thus making my adventures more rich and powerful.
Brentwood was my first home, the one my twin and I identified the most with. Today in honor of that time, I drove around and took pictures. Sure my years at the adjacent town's high school eventually led me to finding a path into education, but without my years in Brentwood, my imagination would be far different than it is today. There would be no Luza, no Running With Vince, and certainly not this blog to share with you. Don't ever forget where you came from, bad or good. We can always take so much from those early years and that is a blessing that can't be overstated.
Winnie swindled me into buying her books to read today. I guess now that I'm writing an hour each night she wants something to do. Granted, I think it has more to do with the fact that I'm reading before bed and she wants to be like her dad. That's the reason right? While Winnie will read her new Beatrix Potter books I have decided after I finish the second book in the Left Behind series I will shift to the horror genre. It is the season of Halloween so Frankenstein is on the list and some Poe such as "Tell Tale Heart."
It's comical to me that for several years I didn't read at all. I always thought that if I read it would take away from my writing. I was of the belief that reading would skew my creativity. I will admit I was wrong on this one, seriously wrong. When Stephen King said he spends time reading daily even reading more than he writes, I had to take notice. When I moved to Florida, prior to my time in Italy, I got a library card and read as much as I could. That was over five years ago. Now I'm back to being an avid reader although I don't really read in the genres I write in. We can get into that more on a future blog, but for right now, I'm shifting between memoirs and apocalyptic and end of the world literature. That might be because the election and the pandemic. What do you think?
On a writing note, I'm 75 pages in. I wrote over 3800 words tonight. The words are flowing and for that I'm grateful.
Despite the prospect of rain on Saturday, Winnie and I headed north for leaf peeping. She forced me to walk along the trail in 38 degree temps for the perfect photo spot. Little did she know, she would only get out once for a few pictures before the rain overtook our shoot. Nevertheless, being out in the crisp air and looking at the change in seasons was relaxing to say the least. I'm at a loss as to why I saw so many cars from Maryland, New York, and New Jersey meandering on the fall covered roads. Perhaps these people forgot there is a pandemic but then again I guess you could say the same to the hundreds of cars from out of state, mainly Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut who decided it was a perfect day to hike near the Old Man of the Mountain and Mount Major. I don't think I have seen so many cars parked on the side of the road, ever. Like we are talking a good mile out from the trail entrance at both locations.
On a different note, Winnie thinks she deserves her very own Instagram page. She's a bit young if you ask me. From our animated conversation, I set her up nonetheless with the link underneath my running commentary. Feel free to join her page and share some of your best furry or stuffed friend pictures. We'll see how long this lasts...ha ha ha.
In writing news, I'm 44 pages in to my Italian memoir. This past weekend I picked up steam and wrote over 18 pages after months of doing nothing. I'm hopeful this is an upward trend. I will keep you posted. More photos to come next weekend from the southern part of the state. Until then, enjoy your week.