Léna's Lit.Life

Léna (me): Lit, as in literature, Lit, as in light, Lit, as in a little kooky: Life.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life Beyond #NaNoWriMo

Thank you Nanowrimo, for helping me put my nose to the grindstone. You and my cohorts made me push through my story, and I have just reached my personal goal of 40k, with 222 words to spare.

So no, I won't get a NaNoWriMo "Winner" badge, but I've written more in a month than I ever have before, and I have a live story with a character arc and a beginning, middle and end. I am fully satisfied with my experience in Nanowrimo-land.

I made sure to set a realistic goal for myself when I realized that I wouldn't be able to write at all during Thanksgiving week. I appreciated the momentum I had already built, and I didn't want to give up.

Writing a first draft is agony, but what gets me through it are those moments when I am surprised by my story. It makes me want to keep writing. But writing is a discipline, yes? And discipline isn't always fun. The fun part for me is in revision, because that's where craft comes in; I don't have to rely so heavily on the muse - it is something that I can control. (And agonize over as well of course, if something isn't "working.")

What's next? Setting up all of the advent calendars around the house tonight when the kids are asleep so they can be "surprised" in the morning on December 1st. Going back to the gym, preparing for Christmas with decorations, tree lighting ceremonies and music. Catching up on my favorite TV shows, being more available to family and friends.

This month has been intense, people.

I'm ready to let my WRITING sit and marinate for a little while so I can gorge myself on READING. I don't know about you, but I haven't had any time to read this month and my TBR list is about three miles high.

Next year you'll see me doing Nanowrimo again: I'll never have that Thanksgiving week to write, but maybe I can plan a little better and make it to 45k.

*Wink, wink, wink*

What about you?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy 93rd Birthday Madeleine L'Engle, my Gran

Dearest Gran,

You were born on this day in 1918. You would be 93. Thank you for your legacy of love, laughter and eating the impossible for breakfast. Thank you for continuing to write, against all odds, and for being such a powerful mentor to those who were moved by your work and your process.

Thank you for showing me the way, just by being you.

We are celebrating your birthday with the launch of your brand new website, where we hope both new and old fans will get to visit and celebrate you too.  Countless of people will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of A Wrinkle in Time in February: you are remembered, you are loved.

You have been a beacon of hope and an inspiration to many - not just writers, but all kinds of artists, scientists, mathematicians. Many of us spend much of our youth folding ourselves up into pretzels, trying to please others and to conform to our ideas of what our family, friends, society want us to be. We are afraid of not being loved. You have helped us come into our own.



“On Camazotz we are all happy because we are all alike. Differences create problems. You know that, don’t you, dear sister?”
            “No,” Meg said.
            “Oh, yes, you do. You’ve seen at home how true it is. You know that’s the reason you’re not happy at school. Because you’re different.”
            “I’m different, and I’m happy.” Calvin said.
            “But you pretend that you aren’t different.”
            “I’m different, and I like being different.” Calvin’s voice was unnaturally loud.
            “Maybe I don’t like being different,” Meg said, “but I don’t want to be like everybody else either.”

Thank you for inspiring me to be my own writer, and not try to channel somebody I can't  be.  And to mentor other young writers, to show them that "originality" is finding their own authentic voice. To pay it forward.


“Who have our fighters been?” Calvin asked.

“Oh, you must know them, dear,” Mrs Whatsit said.

Mrs. Who’s spectacles Shone out at them triumphantly, “And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.”

            “Jesus!” Charles Wallace said. “Why of course, Jesus!”

            “Of course!” Mrs Whatsit said. “Go on, Charles, love. There were others. All your great artists. They’ve been lights for us to see by.”

            “Leonardo da Vinci?” Calvin suggested tentatively. “And Michelangelo?”

            “And Shakespeare,” Charles Wallace called out, “And Bach! And Pasteur, and Madame Curie, and Einstein!”

            Now Calvin’s voice rang out with confidence. “And Schweitzer, and Ghandi, and Buddha and Beethoven, and Rembrandt and St.Francis!”

Thank you for teaching us that we can be fighters too by embracing our authenticity, our creativity, our gifts; that we can fight darkness just as well as anybody else; that we can be the heroes and heroines of our own lives.

xoxoxo I miss you, and I love you more-than-tongue-can-tell.

Always.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

My cup runneth over - I am blessed with so many wonderful people in my life, family and friends - work that I love. 

This time twenty years ago I never thought that I would feel this way, let alone be comfortable in my own skin. I sat around a circle in my Eric Morris-inspired acting class in San Francisco lost, alone, afraid, but most importantly, numb. Our acting teacher Robert wanted us to get in touch with what we were grateful for. I was ashamed that I couldn't think of a single thing. I was uncomfortably numb, so to speak, and for the next two years, I continued to vacillate between this awful numbness and search for comfort.

Feelings aren't always comfortable, are they? But growing up necessitates us learning how to manage those feelings, and it's hard. We're not perfect.

Make no mistake about it - gratitude is grace but it can also be a choice in the actions we take.

I am most grateful for cultivating gratitude, and for not believing that a state of numbness - comfortable or not - is acceptable. I am grateful to be able to experience the rich bounty of feelings that come my way, and the lessons that I learn from them.

I am grateful to be alive - and that twenty years ago I didn't give up.

What are you grateful for this year?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Saying Yes . . .

. . . is so easy - it slips off the tongue, it's my default answer. Everyone knows that I'm a softie, and that saying "no" doesn't come naturally.

But I realized in my mid 20's that saying "yes" to everything without discernment isn't really an affirmation of life - it is more like a slow death.

I'm a recovering *buzz word* people-pleaser. And we've all learned that never leaves anybody happy in the long run.

It's a slow and LONG recovery folks.

As I grow up I'm able to experiment more with the boundaries of "no" and the fluidity of "yes".
Where am I going with this? I set out to write a post about saying "yes" to be part of a Performer's Showcase for the Westchester Library Association, and before I even mention it, I'm off on a tangent.

But I said "yes" without knowing what it was  performing? Do they really want to hear me sing? and then I promptly forgot about it until I got a reminder email from the organizer, who said: if you have any brochures, make sure you have at least 75. Brochures? I don't have brochures, but I've always wanted them, so this was the impetus to get 'em. (Say yes!)

My husband made his priority creating me a gorgeous brochure over the weekend to take to the event today, with a description and some reviews of EDGES and a number of workshops that I do. It's an a la carte brochure - almost like a spa!

I felt so good about this that I wasn't nervous about "performing" - I had a piece of paper to fall back on. (Which is another blog post in and of itself. WHY DO WE NEED A PIECE OF PAPER TO FALL BACK ON?)

It turned out to be very casual, and there were actual "performers" there - a science program - fashion designers - actors! There was one other writer hawking her wares too, and she happens to be a neighbor from Katonah whom I've never met: Deborah Batterman who has published a short story collection entitled: Shoes, Hair, Nails. I am looking forward to getting to know her!

Deborah, the other "performers" and I sat at separate tables so that librarians could come and talk to us about our programs. Mine? Red Rocks and Brownstones (Edges talk), Mining Your Life For Your Fiction, Truth, Fiction and Unicorns, The Modern Diarist, A Wrinkle in (an hour's) Time.

Of course, librarians, if any of you are reading this, I can tailor any workshop to your needs!

And I have to say, all in all, it did feel GREAT to have a brochure to fall back on. :-)

P.S. I said "yes" to NaNoWriMo, and miraculously, I am up to 30k. Yippee!!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

These Boots Were Made For Walkin' #NaNoWriMo 25k

I gave my brain a NaNoWriMo break today.

Why, you ask. Lord God, why?

Well. I hit the halfway mark with 25, 000 words last night.

I often forget that the carrot works better than the stick and don't celebrate my own accomplishments, but I think that 25k warrants some kind of reward. Don't you?

So. I had to drive into the city for some meetings, and during a free half hour, I bought the new pair of boots I had been too cheap to get myself.  (And no, they weren't on sale.)

I need to celebrate, because it will be a miracle if I make it to 50k by the end of the month with the holidays coming up.  (And then I won't have anything to celebrate.) With the craft projects and cooking and extended family. It would seem impossible.

Then again, I thought that 25k in ten days would be impossible.

Don't we always see our dreams as impossible at first? I dreamed of being published and yes, got my heart busted up in the process, but that doesn't take away from the fact that my dream came true, and that I am a writer. I would be a writer even if I was never published. "You're a writer if you write," was the mantra that my grandmother instilled in me.

So I will dangle more carrots. For every 5k, I will indulge myself. A pedicure. Lunch with a friend. (Any other ideas?) Boots!

These boots are made for walkin'
And that's just what they'll do -
One of these days these boots are gonna
Walk all over . . . you*

*The negative voices in my head that tell me I can't do anything**
** Oh, now she has voices in her head, does she? ***
*** Don't all writers?

What are your carrots?
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Week #2, Bring in the Dancing Ninjas, #NaNoWriMo

I was off to a roaring start. As of last night, I clocked in almost 20k words over the first week, excluding the weekend.

I went to work, but I did not go to the gym, cook or clean. My words were having a major dance party.

But today I am drawing blanks. Oh, I make myself write, but not as fast or as furious.

I am full of excuses, and I am starting to stress about how much busier November is going to get.  How can I possibly write another 30k?

I couldn't stay and write in bed because the tree guys were back at 8:30AM with their cherry pickers to clean up the mess from last week. (We had a freak snow storm resulting in loss of power for a few days and lots of poor, damaged trees.) (Yes, the noise and the expense makes me want to cry.) (And yes, I know that all of these parantheticals aren't correct.) (So what?)

I voted in our local elections, and then came here, to Starbucks. But I happened to be privy to a loud conversation about office politics from two brassy real estate agents. Sigh. However, I can't blame them, because now they're gone and I've resorted to . . . blogging. Which is still writing, btw, but it doesn't count for #NaNoWriMo.

Thank goodness for the pep talks that #NaNoWriMo gives you, like this one from last week from Erin Morgenstern.

I hear that the slump is more than common for writers, and that I need not despair. I need to keep carving out this space for writing, and give myself permission to dance with ninjas.

Back to Scrivener - farewell my lovelies!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Disturbia in Suburbia

A level 3 Sex Offender has moved to my street in Bedford/ Katonah.

And as you all know, I have three children of my own.

What does this have to do with a literary life? It doesn't, but if I throw in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and label Humbert Humbert as a level 2 sex offender, then you have some kind of reference. But I'm not blogging about Nabokov, or exploring the sexualization of young girls.

I am writing because I have been feeling helpless since I heard the news two days ago. What can I do? I can't make it/ him go away. But I can write.

This level 3 sex offender, David Ohnmacht was convicted only 8 years ago of various acts of sexual abuse (i.e. rape and sodomy) against four young girls on four separate occasions.  He held numerous jobs interacting with children including a DJ for children's parties, driving an ice cream truck, and camp counselor.

Why aren't there any "Child Safety Zone" laws in Westchester County, when there are in so many other counties across the country? How could the State have placed him on a street in a neighborhood largely comprised of families with multiple children? According to those laws, he wouldn't be allowed within 1000 feet of a school bus stop. But he is. He is much closer than that.

And yet I am torn. I want to believe in rehabilitation, in second chances, that people can grow and change. I was a psychotherapist for years. I have volunteered and done workshops in prisons - indeed, I am going through the extensive paperwork to volunteer at the Bedford Women's Correctional Facility. People's pain doesn't scare me.

But when it comes to a repeat offender kidnapping and raping children, my heart not only weeps, but ends up losing the muscles of tolerance that I have built up over the years. There are going to be many pains that I can't shield my children from. But I hope to God that rape isn't one of them.

The fact is, that this is a messy and complicated world, filled with both beauty and ugliness. I have to be on the look-out for both - to appreciate the random acts of beauty and kindness that the world offers, and at the same time, deal with disappointment, ugliness, fear. Protect myself and my children by giving them life skills that will help them navigate the pit falls inherent in a life lived to the fullest.

This is more than an issue of public safety. One of my wonderful neighbors wrote to our local congressman and I am suggesting that we all do the same. There is power in numbers and in words, in writing.

Will you join me?




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Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo Rocks!

Hello sweet people,



9252 words in 48 hours. My words are soaring because I am not censoring myself - I am not an "author", I am a writer, and for this month I can write whatever I want, because people, I've been stuck. ("Write fantasy" one person says. "Don't write fantasy - you'll invite unfavorable comparison to your grandmother!" another says. "Give up on the one about Reality TV - Libba already did it.")

Too many voices!

This month NaNoWriMo gives me permission to write what comes out of my heart. Yes, there's Reality TV. Yes there's Rock Band and a charismatic, philandering priest, and yes, there is a boy. Or two! I have scratched one novel, but some of it is reworking it's way into this one. I can't help it - it's not out of my system yet!

Maybe I'll be able to let go after writing it all out. Maybe I'll be able to move forward with a new project, or maybe THIS will be my new project, and I'll get to have fun revising from December through May. I'll get to stop and think. But for now - just write!

What about you? (If you want to add me as a NaNo buddy, I'm LénaRoy.)

PS Oh my! Look at the time! I am driving into the city for a writer's lunch at my Gran's favorite restaurant, Henry's. This will be my first time driving in! My God du Jour for driving is Gladys - she is the Goddess of traffic and parking. Be with me Gladys!