Sunday, April 30, 2006

50K or Bust!

The memoir I'm writing resulted from my participation in National Novel Writing Month 2004. Yes, I know, everyone else was writing fiction. I cheated.

NaNoWriMo, as it is affectionally called, is the brain-child of Chris Baty in which authors around the globe produce 50,000 words in thirty days - the month of November. That's approximately 1667 words per day, or for those of us who didn't begin until November 6th, that's 2084 words per day (give or take a decimal point). I had Natalie Goldberg's "writing practice" technique to lean heavily on and I surprised myself at the sheer volume of words I could produce on the same topic.

Although I'm busy revising my book, I miss the pressure, excitement, comaraderie and structure of that month. For old times sake, I visited the NaNoWriMo website to see if anyone was hanging around and found a list of other nanowrimo type events:

NaNoFiMo.org - National Novel Finishing Month (December). Goal: 30,000 words.

JaNoWriMo January Novel Writing Month (January). Goal: 50,000 words. Must be a LiveJournal user to participate.

NaNoEdMo.org
- National Novel Editing Month (March). Goal: 50 hours of revision

NaNoWriYe.com - National Novel Writing Year (Year-Round). Goal: 100,000 or more words in a year.

Why wait until November?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Truth

truth n. , pl. truths. Conformity to fact or actuality. A statement proven to be or accepted as true.

In the current controversy over whether memoir should be "true," Mary Karr (Liar's Club, Cherry) makes her position clear. "If you're gonna call it memoir, don't make sh*t up!" Ironically, I heard her say this at the 412 Creative Nonfiction Conference in November, 2005, several months before thesmokinggun.com revealed the "truth" about James Frey's Million Little Pieces.

Frey is not alone in his exposure, only in the amount of mediaplay he's getting. This month's Poets & Writers Magazine includes, "The Literature of Lies," a discussion of several untruths. Author "Nasdijj" who in his essay and memoirs claimed to be Native American, is in fact a Caucasian former gay-erotica novelist named Timothy Patrick Barrus. Since Oprah didn't choose his memoirs for her book club, he's not getting the press. In the same article, P&W discusses JT LeRoy, an alleged man who wrote a novel supposedly based on his childhood experiences. In fact, LeRoy turned out to be Laura Albert, a female forty-something from San Francisco. Many authors use psuedonyms, but because LeRoy's novel hinted that "he" based the work on real life, the public felt betrayed.

What's the lesson here? I'll side with Ms. Karr. Isn't the fact that the author needs to tell a beautiful story within the confines of events that actually occurred what makes memoir so compelling? If not, why bother categorizing literature at all?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Endnotes

TCI, a writer friend, told me yesterday what to do with the enormous book project I am lost in. She suggested labelling each little section (scene, summary, musing) with an endnote. If I go through the whole thing [300 pages or more at this point] and create an endnote every so often, at the end of the document I'll have a little roadmap. When I start to move things around, I won't feel so lost. Each endnote will move too.

Perhaps the true secret isn't bum glue after all. It's endnotes. Of course. I'll need bumglue to sit down and do the endnote process. Okay. So now we're back to bumglue.

I tell you. It is truly the secret of writing.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Frederick says

If bum glue isn't the true secret of writing, what is?

After all, you can't steer a boat that's not moving and the muse can't enter if you're not writing. My muse (which I fondly refer to as Frederick) only hangs around while I'm at the page.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Statistics

Today I tried to explain bum glue (the substance and the blog) to Kyle, a writer friend. "Bum to chair," I said gleefully.

He looked glum. "If only it were that easy."

I nodded. I'll freely admit that writing involves much more than just keeping my behind in the Aeron™. But if my behind is not in the Aeron™, the chances of increasing my word count slide from scarce to nil. At least Bum Glue improves my odds.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Keep Your Hand Moving

While we're discussing writing truths to live by, we must review the "rules of writing practice" (ala Natalie Goldberg). Here they are in no particular order:

1. Keep your hand moving.
2. Don't cross out.
3. Don't worry about grammar, punctuation, spelling or even the lines on the page.
4. Go for the jugular.
5. Don't think.
6. You are free to write the worst sh*t on Earth (or any other planet).

And then there's the three classics from Katagiri Roshi:

1. Continue under all circumstances.
2. Don't be tossed away.
3. Make positive effort for the good.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Found it!

Aha! Sisters in Crime seems to have located a bottle of the magic stuff. Follow their directions:

BUM GLUE
Apply to seat of pants.
Sit. Write.
Warning: Do not use while writing in the nude.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

And then there was the bad writing. . .

Author Bryce Courtenay once asked Stephen King what makes a book good. Bryce probably expected a detailed lesson on writing. But King simply replied, "Bum Glue."

At the 412 Creative Nonfiction Conference last year, I asked author Mary Karr to include a writing tip in my copies of The Liar's Club, Cherry, and Viper Rum. In each book she wrote the same thing, "A** to Chair."

My meditation teacher, Buddhist monk Shinzen Young gave a similar lesson. When asked how he meditates, he replied, "Put your tush to the cush!"

So that's it. That's the true secret of writing. Bum glue. Anyone know where to buy it?