November is just around the corner.

November is National Novel Writing Month, and if you don’t know what that is, please click on the above image because The Office of Letters and Light will do a better job of explaining it to you than me. During the month of November I do my best to write 50,000 words in thirty days. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at novel-writing November is the perfect month to start because you’ll have 300,000 other people there to motivate you and encourage you and help you leap over plot holes.

I could tell you that it’s easy and that 50,000 words is not a lot, but that would be a giant fib and I’m not going to lie to you. I will tell you that winning feels AMAZING and you get a sense of  accomplishment even if you know that your novel is going to require some serious editing later. There will be late nights and early mornings and getting eight hours of sleep at least one night a week will seem like an impossibility. Caffeine will become the newest love of your life for the duration of the month and you will get enormous dark circles under your eyes but after a while you’ll stop caring about your appearance because it takes away from your writing time. You will make new friends and have an intelligent support network (via the NaNo forums)  at your beck and call at any time you need them, because you can’t afford to get lost on Wikipedia.

You’re probably thinking something along the lines of: I can’t write a novel in a month! I have no idea what to write about and I don’t have a plot. BUT YOU CAN and it will be brilliant. I had a general idea that I wanted to do something with Fairy Tales and Dinosaurs for this years NaNo and it took me maybe thirty minutes to think up a plot to combine those two radically different things. Your mind can and will surprise you with the sheer amount of imagination, creativity and ideas that it can produce.

Even if you don’t reach 50,000 words by November 30th you’ll STILL be a winner because you’ll have given it your best shot and you will probably write more than you ever have before. Yes, you will be rocking some serious sleep deprivation and be more over-caffeinated than you’ve ever been in your life, but it’s WORTH it. Your family will think you’re strange and some of your co-workers will avoid you when you’re writing in the break room, BUT IT’S WORTH IT. I promise.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel I highly encourage you to give National Novel Writing Month a chance, and if you haven’t, well, I can tell you that you’ll be missing out on a grand amount of fun.

Warning: there is much friendship sap ahead.

You know when you’re a kid and you make that ONE great friend who likes all the same things you do and then you end up keeping them for the rest of your life despite them moving across the country and not seeing them face to face very often? Yeah, well I wrote a sappy poem-song about mine. Clearly I’m just trying to embarrass myself, but it’s absolutely worth it. Also – I am not a poet so this is most likely rubbish.

This is an accurate depiction of how our friendship started and still is. If anyone can pick out which books are referenced in the poem-song I’ll give them virtual brownies! ( I promise it’s probably not that hard to figure out – brownies for EVERYONE).

The Heart of an Open Book

Rainy day; school library
Eleven years old.
Stuck inside, but I don’t mind.
This story untold.
You sat down right beside
Me on the floor.
Nose in a book, I took a look
I’ve read that before.

Now we’re wrapped up in conversation
One that took us by surprise
Magic and swords, knighthood and wars
A squire girl with violet eyes
Finding common ground with fantasy
Made our friendship start to bloom
When the bell for class rang at last
I didn’t want to leave the room

Sunny day; school library
Seventeen years old
Time passed and up we grew
Our friendship no longer new
Still reading side by side
Our minds out with the tide
From the pages our eyes rarely stray
Until one of us has something to say

Suddenly a whirlwind conversation
That no longer takes us by surprise
Magic and charms, lightening bolt scars
A wizard boy with bright green eyes
Our love of books brought us together
And made our great friendship last
Best friends through the good and bad
Who knew time could fly so fast?

Now we’re twenty-five
With our own lives
There are provinces between us
And the distance made us wise
Now too many things take up our time
And books have taken the backseat
But now and then the phone will ring
And on the other end –

An enthusiastic conversation
That makes us pleasantly surprised
Dragon tattoos and family feuds
A girl who played with fire
Books keep us glued together
Even when we’re far apart
Friends like us will last forever
We know it in our hearts.

PS — It’s Banned Book Week and this is an awesome thing! Everyone should read a banned book at least once in their lives and this is the perfect time to do it! Go out there and fight censorship, WITH READING! How amazing is that?!

PPS — Did anyone else meet their best friend in a library? Or was it just us? We’re a bit weird so if it WAS just us then it wouldn’t surprise me.

PPPS — Happy October! Halloween is on the way and Autumn is here and that means that I can drink all the pumpkin spice latte’s that I want without getting strange looks!

Because I will be the picture of discipline.

For one reason or another I seem to think that buying material things will make me happy, and they do. For a VERY short while. A new laptop, Blackberry, or purse is NOT going to fill the void in my heart. It’s like I’m justifying the purchases by being convinced that this next new item will do what the other item didn’t. It will make me happy and somehow fix whatever is wrong with me. NOPE. Not even close. Despite knowing that it won’t actually help, I still listen to that voice inside that tells me to buy these things. I think it is most likely because I still get that small rush of adrenaline when I purchase some new thing. Endorphin’s create a small bit of happiness that I keep clinging to. Honestly, that type of happiness is like the one-night-stand that tries to get away without waking you in the morning. Fleeting satisfaction.

Books though! Books are fantastic. New books bring me ACTUAL joy. They fill the void a lot more that anything else seems to. They wake me up. They pull me past the sludge of reality and into something wondrous. Until the book ends. Less one-night-stand; more summer-fling. I know they won’t actually help fix me, but it’s nice to pretend. Distractions help get me through.

 

Know what else helps get me through? Amanda Palmer.

And in my mind
I imagine so many things
Things that aren’t really happening
And when they put me in the ground
I’ll start pounding the lid
Saying I haven’t finished yet
I still have a tattoo to get
That says I’m living in the moment

Even if the skies get rough.

One of the things I enjoy about writing is the feeling of being unleashed. Like, being set loose after a long time in confinement. The need to write and create. The feeling of the keys beneath my fingertips typing out every little thing that pops into my head. Every word, every descriptive paragraph and every scene. In a way, writing makes me feel alive. It gives me a reason to get through the day, so I can come home and type out two measly paragraphs. That might not seem like such an accomplishment, but after a long and exhausting day at work, I’m lucky to even make it past my couch to get to the computer chair. It’s an effort that I’m willing to make, at least, when I’m not partially unconscious.

The feeling of a pen in my hand, the slide of ink on paper, and the easy relaxation that comes from jotting down disjointed thoughts in the margins of notebooks. I can type faster than I can write, but one thing I’ve learned is that some things are better written out by hand. Letters to friends a few provinces over (even though I talk to them regularly over the phone) and little notes that I leave on my mothers fridge when I visit (they make her smile and I know she keeps them all).

Writing, whether by hand or by computer, helps me relax and unclog my mind. It’s the calm in my storm and I love it unconditionally. I’m sure everyone has something they cherish like I do writing. I also think that everyone should take the opportunity to acknowledge that ‘thing’ and hold onto it with all their might. It’s the thing that you do everyday because it keeps you sane. It’s the thing that you think about doing while you’re at work or stuck in traffic. It’s the thing that you gladly give all of your attention to without a second thought. For me… that thing is writing.

What’s yours?

“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.”

Happy 200th Birthday Mr. Dickens! If only you could have known the affect your writing would still have on the world two hundred years later.

“Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.”

“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”

“There are strings in the human heart that had better not be vibrated.”

“It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper; so cry away.”

“To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart.”

“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.”

Charles Dickens – 7 February 1812 to 9 June 1870.

Awkward bookish fun, anyone?

Sometimes all you need to have a bit of creative fun is a black Sharpie and an old newspaper. Poetry isn’t really my thing, and I don’t think this actually counts, but if you want to see some really amazing stuff you should go here:  http://newspaperblackout.com/

This is a brilliant way of beating writers block, and yes I am speaking from experience here. I think it has to do with trying to find the right words that go together within someone elses words. After doing three of these my block vanished and my creativity was back. Fun and therapeutic should go together more often (like bubble wrap).

Start me up!

Lets talk about things that have a tendency to keep my motor running, so to speak. Writing and photography.

One of the things I enjoy about writing is the feeling of being unleashed. Like, being set loose after a long time in confinement. The need to write and create. The feeling of the keys beneath my fingertips typing out every little thing that pops into my head. Every word, every descriptive paragraph and every scene. In a way, writing makes me feel alive. It gives me a reason to get through the day, so I can come home and type out two measly paragraphs. That might not seem like such an accomplishment, but after a long and exhausting day at work, I’m lucky to even make it past my couch to get to the computer chair. It’s an effort that I’m willing to make when I’m not partially unconscious.

Photography makes me feel the same way. When you’re looking at the world through a camera lens, I find that you’re really able to see the things you generally overlook. For example – looking up. I find that too many times when I’m out walking or exploring I never take the chance to look up. I find, since that realisation , I do it often now, even when I’m not taking photographs. Sometimes a perspective change is all you need to see something beautiful.

For me, photography is about having fun. Yes, there are times when I take it very seriously, but there are also times when I just have fun with it. Everyone should just have fun and be a bit of a goof with their photography. For example: I once spent forty-five minutes chasing a butterfly at Fundy National Park simply because I could.

Randomly chasing a butterfly is also, probably, among the list of reasons why my mother thinks I can’t go anywhere unsupervised. I’ve been living on my own for ages now, but when I tell her about things like chasing butterflies, she’ll give me a look that says I’m suddenly five years old again and she wants to properly educate me on why chasing butterflies is not socially acceptable for adults. It’s probably why most of the crazy things I do, she doesn’t know about. I think that everyone should get that look at least once in their life. Socially acceptable for adults? Pshhaw! Be a five-year old!