Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thinking of Wigwams.......

If you look at any blogs being written in Wisconsin you'll see the same story: it's about -22 degrees outside this evening (and if you take into account "Wind Chill" factors, it's about -47 degrees).

In Wisconsin terms, when it's colder than twenty degrees below zero, we concede that it's "gettin' there". It's pretty cool out.....downright chilly. When it drops below about thirty degrees below zero (especially before wind chill) we nod wisely and say, "Uhn-huh....gettin' cold. Pretty cold out."

Of course, on the flip side, when Weatherman Gary announces that it may be up to 34 degrees above zero next week - even if it IS still January, we start rooting through the drawers to find shorts and tank tops, because clearly summer is right around the corner. And believe me -- when it gets up to +50 degrees in March we WILL be going out in sweatshirts. It's all relative, and we have a saying here: "If you don't like the weather.........just wait a minute." (We have been known to have three distinct seasons -- between sun-up and sundown, in one day.)

So what has that to do with wigwams? Well, think about this: in the Old Days, it would be lovely and snug in the wigwam. The sleeping mats are drawn close to the glowing fire, the buffalo robes and beaver-pelt covers are warm. But then -- nature calls. Imagining this I thank the Powers that Be once again for the brilliant thinking that evolved into the Indoor Bif, for which I am eternally grateful. Just sayin'.

On the writing front -- I did a little tidying-up of the first ten pages of my NaNo novel (!) and boldly took it with me to my Writing Group. I felt cheeky as all get-out, truth to tell -- but I did it. Now, I have to admit - the first few pages I was really writing -- I got into the heavy-duty padding a little later on. I was more nervous than usual - I've taken short stories with me up until now and gotten excellent meaty comments and some decent feedback. A "novel" is a whole different pig race.

Well -- I did get the anticipated good comments, some descriptions of such things as "point of view", &c, and two comments which I took particularly to heart -- no, three actually.

1. They said that they DO all agree that those first moments intimate a story worth telling, and that I definitely SHOULD continue with the salvage plan;

2. My long suit is, without any doubt, description, and they all enjoy my descriptions. Stephanie again said various bits were evocative, which is, in my mind, about the highest praise. "Evocative", to me, is the imaginative creation of an experience, and when I read stories that *I* feel evocative I am one happy reader;

and the 3rd comment, which truly went to my core: I think it was Patty said it but the others concurred: I should start to think past "short stories" and begin planning and anticipating longer works, perhaps YA - but in the realm of NOVEL.

Those group meetings are always stimulating, inspiring -- but I thought that was really something. What it means, of course, is that I'm going to have to buckle down even more, start to get much more serious, and instead of fancying myself a writer I'm going to have to accept and embrace the identity of "Writer" and act like one.

My new-found discipline that saw me keeping up the word count every single day during NaNoWriMo has .... waned, diminished, faded - and must be revived and stimluated. I'm not going to say "Resolution"....but I'm going to try to establish some compartments in my daily turn. I'm easily distracted (OK, I'll wait while you laugh your behinds off, wipe your eyes and regain control) but c'mon, after 10:30 pm I have a chunk of time Entirely My Own, and I'm going to try to establish a genuine habit of going into my writing room and ... you know, writing! (The sad part? The reason I'm going for 10:30 pm is that theres nothing I want to see on the teevee after that. Sheesh.) resolutions, but I'm going to make a little list:

1. Reduce the amount of time spent in front of the teevee
2. Fill the time away from the teevee with knitting or reading (or knitting AND reading)
3. Except for the Tuesday Night Conference online, keep Daisy in the Writing Room. (Note to self: if you try to watch the teevee AND write or work on the computer, it doesn't work.)
4. Sublist: items requiring genuine research, and it is NOT one minute too soon:
a) Mary Hayes-Chnoweth
b) The Metis Wife and Mother in the Fur Trade
c) that lady doctor up north


Put in scheduled time to work on not only the novel but the other ideas -- and last -- set a goal for myself, a deadline, and actually DO submit the stories the Group told me to submit. Those magazines aren't going to come to the door asking for something to publish.

That is all. Now then - to work!


Jen in CT said...

**cheering you on!!!**


Jamwes said...

Ya gotta be productive. I can kick your rear into gear if you kick mine into gear as well. I sent you a message on NaNo with my email addy if you want to meet up and share novel rough drafts some day.

Thinking of wigwams makes me think of one year in elementary school when my class went to a Native American exhibit at a downtown Museum. At one display the guide asked what the stick was used for that was lying in the snow. Since I had just read a book describing such sticks I raised my hand and blurted out the answer, “A Snow Snake.” I felt so smart and the guide was impressed I knew it. Thank you for the memories.

Shan said...

First off, woohoo! for the excellent feedback. That's awesome (but not nearly so surprising to me as it might be to you).

Secondly, *sigh*, I recognize the weather-related comments. As a born and bred Southern California girl who has enjoyed going to the mountains to play in the snow and then going to the beach the next day, my tolerance for cold isn't nearly the same as my husband's (he's originally from IL... not far below WI). It used to drive me NUTS when he would say it was "getting cool" as I wrapped my body in tights, jeans, socks, slippers, a tank top, long-sleeved T-shirt, sweatshirt and a blanket. I mean, 49 degrees is COLD in my world, haha. But the funny thing is, whenever we go to Illinois and Wisconsin to visit family (every other Christmas), I adapt to much colder temperatures pretty quickly. I suspect it has to do with not being seen as a wimp around our families (mine are the main reason we venture into WI).

Oh, and thirdly, I'm looking forward to the prospect of someday reading your novel... whether it's from NaNo or no.