Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NaNoWriMo Progress, Day 25

Holy cow, may I just say that doing anything for 25 days in a row could, perhaps, make you crazy? 

Besides the brownie interlude, I have successfully tap tapped my way to oh, about 44,000 words so far. I'm close enough to make it, but never has 6,000 words seemed like SO MANY.

Thank you for listening, again, to the whining. It will stop soon. Or it may not. A glass of very nice red wine was just placed in front of me by my dear husband, so I guess that should tell me something: my whining is ever-so-much more tolerable after I've had a few glasses of wine. Or not.

My spelling is definitely worse.

I think that means I need to stop blogging now and go back to the NaNo novel and finish it. Should be interesting reading in a month or two, or ten. 

Peace, and have a glass of wine :)

Jo Taylor

Monday, November 23, 2009


My son came home from school today and made brownies for me. I love brownies. I've been hard at work on school, writing, work . . . all sorts of stuff, and so my son decided I needed a treat. I happily agree with him. So a brief break for brownies . . .

There now, don't they look wonderful? They smell good too.

Oh, and here is the brown dog pitifully waiting for a taste of said brownies . . .

Ahhh, much better.

Before I was distracted by the wonderfulness of food, I was contemplating how amazingly weather parallels human mood. You read it in fiction all the time, you see it in movies, and people make comments about how the weather affects them. I personally think the only thing that affects people more than weather is music, but that may be only in my own little world.

I looked through various photos I had to see if it would help me to mood-set as I wrote, seeing as how it is almost always sunny here on the Central Coast of California. I found out that I don't take many pictures that show the weather.

But, I have noticed that I use weather very often to mirror or intensify my characters moods. I don't know if that is an amateur move or not, but it works for me right now.

Sunsets? I have tons of those. Dawn? Hardly any. Clouds and troubled skies? I found one from just recently when rain threatened but never came. That happens here a lot. We don't really have weather. As a matter of fact, if it rains here, people stop what they are doing to go look at it. I'm not kidding.

Here is a picture of that one cloudy day -

I thank you for your patience, most of this post was to facilitate figuring out how to put pictures up on the rare occasion that I don't have much to say, but still want to show something.

Goodnight . . .


Jo Taylor

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Being Brave

The novel I am writing, Road Clothes, has a main character that is the most not-me of anything I've written to date. If you are a writer, writing variants of yourself is common, though not mandatory, and I found it works as a way to learn to write character. Start with what you know.

This girl, Cassidy, is not intentionally like me at all, nor is she the antithesis. I gave her things to do that I have done, but her qualities are not meant to be a version of me. It is turning out to be harder than I thought.

The blatant dissimilarities are:

She is 25, I am . . . not.
She is auburn haired, fair skinned, I am . . . not.
She has snappy comebacks . . . I realize two days later the thing I should have said.

(Writing is cool for making retorts be just the way you imagined them. It gives me great selfish pleasure.)

Her ideas about love and family and truth are not necessarily mine. She is a younger generation and thinks differently due to the experience and influences on her life being something I've only watched in others. It makes me wonder if I'm getting it right. Is she congruent and believable despite her made-up-ness?

So, it has made me think a lot about how generations view each other. Do I really understand, given the environment she grew up in, her motivations for action? Or will someone that age read her with the knowledge that an older author wrote it? Only time and 27 revisions will tell.

But, I'm working hard to get it right. I have friends her age and I have always been an observer of people. Even if I cannot have empathy for someone and agree with what they think or feel, or how they see a situation, I usually know what they are after when certain behaviors show. And I think writing from the point of observation lets me simply write the characteristics and let them drive the actions of the story.

My stories are not usually about happening, but about character. I spend most of my writer-thinking-time (sort of like nap-time in kindergarten), on their desires and motivations to bring about a logical story. Something that elicits their best, their worst, and allows the reader to see someone familiar in there.

This isn't to say I don't try to have a good story too. I see it as a picture and a frame. For me, the character is the picture, the story is the frame in which that character finds himself. Most frames and pictures are interchangeable, and either can stand somewhat without the other. But often there is that one combination that looks and feels best.

Unfortunately, in the current times we live in, we have the luxury of choice: too much choice. I'm one of those people who would like 3 or 4 choices and leave it at that. Same goes for stories. I have been too dependent on similar characters and stories, the frames and pictures all have a certain style. So, this time I'm trying to be brave, do something different. Every once in a while, you have to put the Picasso in a plain wooden frame.


Jo Taylor

Friday, November 13, 2009


My night shifts are completed, but it has taken me literally three days to recover. During those three days I was still trying to write because I have a deadline, and this morning I made the mistake of reading back over some of what I wrote. Bad idea.

So, I'm following Dory's advice to "just keep swimming" and cranking out sentences. Pitiful, wasted sentences that will require months of revision. Sentences that are truly cringe-worthy. But, it's all good because I am soon to finish the story. I know where I'm going. Once I get it all written down, I can re-write to my heart's content.

This will be a huge accomplishment for me as I've never finished a novel before. I've started three or four (or five) but haven't covered the entire length of the story. Once the ground is covered, it can be retraced, backtracked, reviewed and revised. Re-covered. Recovery.

I'm starting to get sick of my own words. I'm only now beginning to understand the value of pushing myself to complete a project in a certain time frame. Just do it. It is painful and humbling and a whole lot of fun. It is, in my opinion, very worthwhile. I'm learning something about the way I write that will help me in the long run.

I've also had the premise for two new short stories come up in the times when I was stuck for some direction or dialog or setting. Things I thought of that wouldn't fit in the current story, but are great ideas for later. So, I just jot those down too and "keep swimming."

My writer friends have been very vocal and encouraging and I've failed on my end to be as much of a support for them. I realize that, but cannot pull myself out of the viewfinder to look around and acknowledge those near me. It is a very different thing for me, social animal that I am, to be sort of insular in order to accomplish my goals. I'm not sure what it says about me.

Perhaps it is that I've taken on too much at once, and in order to finish everything, as any good over-achiever knows is the only acceptable outcome, I've had to put blinders on the other parts of my life that are not time sensitive. This too shall pass. I think I've heard that somewhere before.

It is 1pm, as in 1 in the afternoon and I have yet to get dressed. I've been writing all morning. I don't know yet if that is a good thing, or if I've just developed the best excuse in the world for my inherent laziness (you know I am, really I am). I promised myself I could post to the blog if I finished 1500 words for the day, and I did, so I did.

Now it's back into real life: groceries, walking the dog, getting the kid from school, making dinner (nah, let's go out), school, work . . . what was I talking about? Ah yes, recovery. Also known as writing.


Jo Taylor

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Night Shift

I've been absent from posting for a little reason I like to call NaNo (22,000 some odd words - yeah!) but tonight I am doing the unthinkable. I am working a night shift.

Yes, I did this (work night shift) for 15 years, but I have not done it in a while, and I am not only doing 1 of them, but I am working 4 night shifts in a row!

It is yet another sign of the apocalypse.

How in the bleep did I do this all those years. Years which, I might add, I barely remember. I liked it once upon a time, but that fairy has died and I do not like it now. Only because I love my co-workers (and hope they work for me so I can go to Jamaica again), do I do this.

Thank you for listening. I'm done now.

Road Clothes is coming along nicely. I've had a few things happen that surprised me, and the word count is rising without undue angst. If I get stuck for some transition, I have the characters go out to dinner, which is what I do in my real life for almost any reason. It is all about food.

I'm sorry that I don't have anything interesting to say. That does not mean that I will not stop talking or writing, but I won't be so offended if I am tuned out. All of my effort is going to my novel and my writing classes, so the blog necessarily takes a back seat for a bit. I thought about putting up an excerpt from the book, but it is really a first draft and while not horrible, it is not in show-off shape yet.

But maybe just this one paragraph, some of you will know the setting:

It was 4:17 pm and 74 degrees on the 12th of November when Cassidy left the impound yard. She eased the Mustang out of the steep drive and headed east toward Union Road. Top down, radio up, Cassidy was taking her pony for a ride. It was the sole reason she loved fast cars, for the feel of the wind in her hair and road humming by beneath her. Some people drank beer to relieve stress, some smoked or yelled at their wives or beat their children. Cassidy drove. And sang. The driving she did well, the singing, not so much, but it was the release that pleased her, not the act. A few miles out Union and the road narrowed too much to be safe at high speeds, so she turned left at Geneseo and then headed east on Highway 46, the complete opposite direction from where she’d found the arm, away from her mother and sister, but closer to something. Closer to herself maybe.

There. I'm not sure that will even be in the final draft, but I'm happy with it for now. I think I just want to prove to myself that I'm making progress in my writing. So that is all for now. After I finish my night shifts, I think I will take some new "character stage" pictures with my dress form and show how Cassidy dresses. That is the goal for the weekend.


Jo Taylor

Thursday, November 5, 2009


In Jo's little world:

5 Days
10 Chapters
15,931 Words

In Fort Hood, Texas where I lived from 1969 to 1972:

13 Dead
30 Wounded

I am proud of the first stats and horrified by the second.
There are no words or chapters or days . . .

Jo Taylor

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNoWriMo (Again)

Yes, I know, boring title. I can't manage anything pithy right now.

Sarcastic, maybe, but not pithy. I believe there is a difference.

It is 7 pm or so and I have been writing all day. I got stuck for a few hours about getting from here to there but I think I solved my problem. My total word count is now 12,611.

As a very sweet and thoughtful reward, my son brushed my hair for twenty minutes. I think I hear angels singing.


Jo Taylor

Monday, November 2, 2009

NaNoWriMo Progress, Day 3

The National Novel Writing Month has begun and so far, so good. I've prepped the family (that I will be busy writing), cleared my calendar (not really, I'm working 15 days this month instead of my usual 10), and set a schedule (not really on that one either).

So, what have I done, you ask?

Written 10,064 words so far, that's what! It is amazing what thinking about a story for 3 or 4 months and not being able to write it will do to you. Word spillage all over. Not that it is necessarily readable, mind you.

Notice that the title of this post is blah, blah, blah, Day 3. Do not look for a Day 1 or Day 2 as they do not exist. I skipped blogging those days. Oh, horrors.

My brain is pretty much fried as far as anything intelligent to blog about after sitting at the keyboard all day. But, I wanted to congratulate all my writer friends for their progress so far, encourage them to keep it up (or step it up), and offer a toast for the next 27 days . . . may they be filled with coherent words!

Jo Taylor