“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” Mark Twain

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Yes, National Novel Writing Month. If you ever thought you wanted to write a book, this is for you. Thirty days of literary abandon. 50,000 words in 30 days. Turn off you inner editor. Writeordie.

This is my third year. In 2008, I wrote my first novel, slightly over 50,000 words titled A Box of Rain, named after one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs. I joined a critique group a few months later and didn't get laughed out after my first submission. It was fun to write and edit. I created an alternate ending that morphed into it's own book, Another Place on the Planet. I just finished it--for the second time although it still needs much editing and revising. I hope to submit it for publication by, lets say, the end of 2011. On top of that, I have about 1000 pages and scores of scenes which will hopefully find their ways into sequels. I love the characters, I really do.

in 2009, My Nano Novel was The C Word Can Make You Cry. I don't really like that title anymore, but... I cheated a little on it. Last year on Nov. 29, I had about 400 words left to write and I was so tired and having a bit of trouble with the end so I said, "I'll finish tomorrow. What can possibly keep me from it?" and went to bed. A lesson in hubris. I left work early the next day with severe abdominal pain and midnight approached on that Nov. 30, I thought, "Oh, I didn't finish. Oh, I feel too crappy to write, no biggie if I don't finish and win." But it was. So, I borrowed a few pages from Another Place--it was all written that month--and copied and pasted and had my 50,000 words. And won. And went to the hospital.

This year my novel is called Subculture. It's actually an idea I got for Another Place, a movie the MCs were making. It's going a little slow. I'm only at 31,000 and should be at like 40,000. Yikes! But five days off is upon me. I can only write any kind of volume with Write or Die, a website where you select a word amount and a time and if you stop typing the screen turns red and annoying sounds go off. Otherwise, I write, but take lots of time to think or pluck my eyebrows or go on Facebook or clean off my key board with an artist's paintbrush. I have ideas. Have several choices for the ending. Guess I'll just choose one. Can always change it.

So, novel writing wasn't enough and in April, I did ScriptFrenzy, by the same fine folks that bring you NaNoWriMo, the Office of Letters and Light. 100 pages of sreenplay in 30 days. I did much reading about screenwriting, joined a website and started following blogs by Hollywood script readers. I figure selling a spec screenplay has the odds of winning the lottery without buying a ticket and getting struck by lightening on the same day, but with a whole lot of work going in before hand. If nothing else, I'm learning to appreciate the art of film more, like playing an instrument helps you appreciate music. Plus, I save time and money avoiding movies I know I'll hate. Novel writing and screenwriting are two different forms and while certain understandings apply to each, it's important to not get the two mixed up while writing, especially the screenplay.

My April script was based on the third book (drafted but unwritten) of Another Place. I finished in plenty of time and started to edit it, where it remains until this day. I go back to it and diddle around from time to time. I also started one based on The C Word.

So, two years ago, I began writing and haven't stopped. I gave up watching TV and crafting because I do that when i watch TV. One bad thing is I don't read as much, except books about writing. It wasn't hard to give up cooking and cleaning because I never did much of those things. If only I could give up my day job...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Remission Confirmed

The last time I went to the oncologist almost a month ago, I was depressed for a few reasons, not just the leukemia i have. Money was a big thing, my husband another and the frustrations of living with a head injured man. The PA was very sympathetic, listened to my teary whining, telling me things I already knew, that my disease is chronic and mostly just a pain in the butt.

The tests from last time said what they said the other time, that there is no detectable leukemia in my blood. I had a good, quick response to the outrageously priced medication and may even be able to come off it permanently in the future. If only!

So, I do feel lucky in that way a cancer survivor can feel lucky. It's my second kind of cancer and with neither one did I need chemo or radiation or any kind of nasty treatment. I'm about as functional as I've ever been which has always varied, it seems to me. I don't need to go back to the onc. until April--six months.

I read this week that Jill Clayburgh, the actress from the 70s died recently from chronic leukemia. The article didn't specify which one, but it was like a slap in the face, or at least a dead leg. You know, when someone bumps the back of your knee with theirs and yours buckles for a split second. Like, whoa. I didn't really need to know that. It said she'd been living with it for over two decades. If i have that long, it will put me in my 70s. Not a bad run.

I still don't know how one dies from leukemia. I keep forgetting to ask my onc. or look it up. I think I'll forget again now and go back to my Nano novel.

A room

We bought our house almost four years ago. We looked at a few in the town we settled in, Youngtown, Arizona. It was the only place were we could afford a single family dwelling other than condos. Now, I know we should have waited, but, oh well.

Most of the places were empty and needed more work that we could afford to put into them. One place had a horrible feeling to it. A spiritual oppression. Even Jonas, our realtor felt it and mentioned it before I did. I don't know if everybody has the ability to discern the feel or spirit of a place. I do. This place just grabbed me by the throat had squeezed.

I don't remember where it is, what it looked like, nothing I was interested in even if it didn't feel like Satan's fold-out couch. I hate to think what happened there.

There was one room, however, that was different. A different feel, a different look. The block walls were off-white but had a colonial blue color rubbed on so the blocks were outlined. I remember speckles of red, too. Just a little, but maybe I'm wrong about that. Unlike the rest of the place, it looked like someone tried to care.

It had a bed, made up in a dark blue spread, old, but the bed was neat. On one side, near the foot, was a pile of three books. One looked like a journal and another was a Bible, a paperback version, like the occupant or past occupant staged that one room only and wanted to leave a message.

It's one of those mysteries I wish I could have answered in this lifetime. Who made the bed, staged the books like a magazine photo? All I can imagine is that the person was female. What she had endured there, in that oppressive place, I don't know. But I liked to think she wanted to leave some hope in that place that held the opposite.