on writing

Welcome, NoShaveNaNoWriMo…erm, November

It’s that time of year again. My little sister’s herd of screaming girlfriends rampages the house, strung out on soda and Halloween candy, in honor of her birthday. We prematurely play Celtic Woman Christmas and Michael Bublé on the car radio (can only listen to him around this time… don’t know why). Men and women alike vow to lay aside razors in favor of the Cavemen and Girl-power Looks–with accompanying smell. There’s the usual Macy’s Day Parade, a triptobed from tryptophan, and thank-you notes on hand-traced crayon turkeys. Most importantly, NaNoWriMo culture invades campuses and workplaces across America. For scholars, the first casualty to our 50,000-word goal is usually homework. Concern for proper MLA formatting on a 20-page teaching module flies away like something that flies, but I don’t know what because I’m already low on similes. The next death in the family of sedentary activities: blogging (this fact stated, why am I blogging? I’m already behind by 500 words). Happy November.


I’ve never really done this insane thing called National Novel Writing Month before. Not whole-heartedly. This time around, I’ve pretty much sold my soul. As much as I love blogging and writing poems, I have missed lengthy prose with characters I know better than real human beings. The momentum of NaNoWriMo will help, I think, get me over my initial dislike of new narrative worlds. Sometimes, new settings are like new shoes, and since my greatest comfort zones are riddled with familiarity and comfortable “souls,” the newness of the novel can jar me enough that I stop writing. This cannot happen. Those 500 words call my name. Excessive description perhaps? At least, to tide me over until my 1,667 words due tomorrow.

Speaking of which, have any of you ever heard of “purple prose“? My fellow Writing Center tutor and NaNoWriter, Steph, was attempting to explain this phenomenon to me today in between tutoring sessions. According to Steph, what’s-her-face fluffs her Twilight books up with it, namely via descriptions of Edward’s Adonis-like torso. “Literary self-indulgence…” she said. Well, this gal is going to be giving herself over to quite a bit of purple prose. No outline in sight…settings as new to me as to any future reader…oddball characters who have yet to let me name them (these willful brain-children…)… Who cares? I’ll revise in January 2008-01-01 00.00.00-58after the ink’s dried out during December.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Must write the thing first. In case I run into a wall or a wall pops up out of the floor while I’m dashing through the maze of my characters’ minds because they are disobedient creatures… I’ve made my own version of a NaNoWriMo Prompt Jar. Everything will be a rushed fog this month, and no, I won’t be shaving. Hence, I shortened it to “nanojar”– fewer syllables. nanojar of inspirationIt is full to the brim with folded slips of construction paper on which I have written writing “dares.” For instance, #14: “What’s the worst thing that could happen to your character right now? Do it.” (But shouldn’t that always be our motto? If novelists did to real people what they did to their characters, they’d get locked up.) You brave souls, add me as a buddy (search “dorinorman“) and write with me if you dare.

on writing

goodwill wins again (the public doesn’t)

Books gasp for air on the rickety wire shelves and wail, bruised and busted-up like concrete-kissed knees, on the dusty tile floor. Some sprawl scattered and violated on plastic food carts, severed from the main body of books and forced to roommate with glazed duck statues and mystery electronics.

I cannot believe the classics people have thrown away.

After a few minutes of intent, book-by-book, shelf-by-shelf scouring, I pile pepperminty-smelling, greasy texts with brutalized bindings, pristine hardcovers without dust jackets, and glossy “acceptable” paperbacks along my forearm and mentally delete at least three books from my eternal Amazon Wishlist.

Today’s finds include

–       Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

–       Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster

–       One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty

–       If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland

–       Confessions by St. Augustine

–       One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

–       Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke [… I actually found this one about two weeks ago, but it was the same Goodwill, so that counts, right?]

–       For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway [also a previous find]

–       Novelist’s Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes by Raymond Obstfeld

–       The Poems of Marianne Moore

–       Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

–       And finally… On Writing by Stephen King

 (I urge you, kind readers: give your shelves a facelift and go rescue a book or two.)

Photo on 8-29-13 at 2.24 AM #2