NaNoWriMo Accountability Time

It’s November 30.

Which means it’s the last day of this month of National Novel/November Writing Month.

Where highly-motivated and/or crazy people join a big movement to commit to writing the first draft of a novel (generally thought of at about 50,000 words) in one month.


Which means one would write about 1,700 words each and every day of the month. Translated into the traditional “page-length” feel from when we all used to hold books in our hands and flip the pages instead of reading them on screens, this means a little over five pages a day.

You’d think maybe you could do that, right?

I have friends who’ve achieved it in other Novembers, and some who achieved it this November.

I didn’t.

Not even close.

I wanted to. I thought I would. I thought it wouldn’t even be so very daunting, compared to all the other stuff in life that is truly daunting.


It became completely apparent to me by November 3 that there was no way I could produce 1700 words a day on a novel. That my usual rate of 400 words a day when writing daily on a novel might be ramped up to 600 words a day. But that there was no way I was going to squeeze out any more. Not any day. Let alone thirty days in a row.

Did I fail?


And no.

Because I have 12,000 words of a novel that I like.

Which is a big win, compared to what was happening before.

Which was getting 20,000 words into the first draft . . . twice . . . in two completely separate drafts . . . of the first-novel-sequel I have had in mind to write for the past two years. . . and hating both of them. Because they did not sing along to me–not even close–the way the draft of the first book did. And I knew that if they weren’t singing to me, they sure as hell weren’t going to be singing to any readers, either.

So I canned them both.

And I walked completely away from the story and project a year and a half ago.

I worked on a bunch of other stuff. And left Tiberius (the narrator and main character in the first novel) completely alone.

So, now?

Finally being able to come back to these characters and their places and world and to see and hear them again in ways that make me enthralled and interested in finding out what’s next? And having a new mystery unfold in the same way the first one did . . . as I went along through writing, and in visions that would come to me suddenly during the day on walks and in dreams and insomnia at night? That’s a win. That’s success. That’s a miracle.


And I’m chugging along. And if I can do the 400 words a day every, I’ll have the first draft done by the end of February.

Which is way, way, way, way, way good enough by me.

[By the way, the word count of this post is 448. And it wrote itself, and then knew exactly where to stop.

And a further by-the-way: part of the sequel is set above. In Salona. The ancient Roman capital of Illyria/Dalmatia . . . just outside of the city of Split, in present-day Croatia.]


Cyber Monday Deals: Places to Come Write With Me!

Let me take this opportunity to entice you with a virtual coffee . . . .

. . . . to sit down, read this post, be inspired to contact me at and sign up for one (or both) of these tasty treats.



Best. Writing. Start. Ever.

I’ll be leading three in-person Saturday writing workshops on the West Coast this January to start our 2017s off right: with a generous commitment to what wants to be written.

This can be anything from a novel idea that’s been haunting you, to family memories you want to do something with, to blog content for your business, to anything and everything else in-between.


Through a series of visualization and writing exercises, we’ll get our own deep senses of what wants to be written now, and how we’re going to build spaces in our lives for that. There’s no need to come pre-prepared with anything other than your desire. No worries about sharing actual writing in the workshop. Brief discussions after each exercise will be had . . . during which time you’ll be free to share, or absolutely free simply to listen. The workshops are for YOU and YOUR marinating writing projects–to get to know each other, and to make happy commitments to making them happen.

All three workshops will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with breaks for lunch and beverages on our own.

All three will take place in rich, warm, creatively-juicy places:

January 7: Whidbey Island, Washington . . . at the gorgeous private residence of a writer in the woods in Coupeville. Class size is limited to six participants . . . AND THERE’S ONLY ONE SPACE LEFT!

January 14: San Anselmo, California . . . at the inviting, versatile and creatively-inspiring Self-Care Studio, with about the coolest individual portable writing desk/chairs I’ve ever seen, and where we’ll be inhabiting the great, tall-ceilinged room used during weekday times for massage therapy and healing. Class size is limited to eight participants . . . AND THERE’S ONLY ONE SPACE LEFT!

January 28: San Diego, California (originally set for January 21) . . . at the sophisticated-yet-warm, European-bistro-like, neighborhood-local-feeling Mission Hills Wine Cellar, where we’ll have the place all to ourselves and sit in banquets and comfy tables perfect for imaging, envisioning and planning. (And I’ll be staying after 5:00 p.m. to drink wine and share some of their delicious platters with you.) Class size is limited to ten participants.

Cost: CYBER MONDAY DISCOUNT — I’m extending the $95 early bird sign up from November 30 to December 5. After that, cost will be $145.

Old school: you’ll simply pay in cash that day. Email me at to reserve your space.


The Inky Path’s 2016 Winter Joy Retreat.

The folks at The Inky Path have put together another (their fifth year!) cool two-week, on-line, end-of-the-year writing retreat for all of us who feel the need for a workshop but who don’t have the time, money, energy or opportunity during December to go away to one.

This year’s theme is the travel-based “Passport to Memory.”


You can check it out here.

It starts December 5, and is conducted entirely on-line, and features guest writers as part of each day’s juicy information and prompts.

I’m proud and lucky to be one of those guest writers.

And as one, I can give you the code for a $29 discount off the $129 cost if you’ll email me at

And I’ll be writing along with you in the program.







Top Five Reasons I Write.


Why does one keep writing?

Given that the chances of “success” — in terms of readership, in terms of anyone in this huge world of so many words even finding ours at all, and certainly in terms of economic payoff — are, essentially, infinitesimal . . . .


Why do we do it?

The answers are probably different for everyone who does it.

Here are mine.

1. Because I love hanging out with my characters.

Let’s face it: we humans can be irritating as hell.

Even the people we love (and sometimes especially those) can bug the crap out of us.

Characters are not like that.

Characters are endlessly interesting. And not irritating. And imaginary.

With them, you go to different worlds where things are not like they are in real life.

My characters do not freak out about the elections. My characters do not post things on Facebook that drive me nuts. My characters do not make appointments with me and flake out. My characters do not make me frustrated or sad on their behalves.

Because they are imaginary.

There is none of the crap that comes along with real life.

It’s a breath of fresh air to get to hang with people that you feel extreme affection for who don’t do all things that we humans do that make us such pains in the ass.

You know how you love some characters you read so much that they feel like they are your friends, even though they don’t actually exist on this Earth?

(You know you do. You know how that feels when you are reading a book you love.)

Writing about those characters?

Even stronger.

2. Because I like finding out what my characters are saying and doing.

When I say I’m in the process of writing a new book, I get asked all the time whether I’ve “got it all plotted out” yet.

Like that’s a necessary first step.

Hell no.

Any time I’ve ever worked on a draft from that method . . . the draft sucked.



Like just putting someone . . . me, the characters, the eventual readers (if I’d put those shitty drafts out in public) through the paces.


I want to be surprised.

As one of my really, really good (as in, she’s a great writer) writer friends puts it, “How are the readers supposed to be surprised if you’re not surprised along the way?”

I don’t think most writers do this.

From the number of questions I get from other writers (interestingly, mostly dudes) about whether I’ve “got my plotting done yet,” I’m thinking not a lot of writers are willing to trust this process.

For me?

It’s the best way to go.

I do not want the responsibility of figuring it all out for all the characters. That feels too much like being a mom. I am old now and tired of being that kind of mom. I like being a grandma. “What would you like to do, kiddo?” That’s how it is with grandkids, and that’s how it is with my characters.

And it feels solid.

Love your characters so much that you trust them and you just want to write down what they tell you. As you go along is fine.

And I wish more of life was like this.

3. Because I am not the boss.

See number 2, above.

I just write down what whomever, from wherever, is telling me at the time.

4. Because I am the boss.

As in, I can do whatever the hell I want to do. And there is no one around who can, or has a stake in, telling me otherwise.

Oddly, when you are not “successful” in your writing, you get to have even more, “You are not the boss of me” ness in your writing. Because, when nothing has taken off, you have all the room in in the world to be as creative, maneuvering, nuts as you feel like being in your next go ’round.

Because you have absolutely nothing to lose.

5. Because I can’t NOT write.

This is it.

This is the main reason.

I can’t not.

I do it everywhere.

On Twitter. On Instagram. On Facebook. In novels. In blog posts. In morning pages. In journals I’ve kept since I was tiny.

Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.

It’s just something I do.

It’s how I see and process and share and love the world.

It’s like blood or foods or water.

It’s part of every day, and inside of me.

I can’t not.

No matter what else in life.

That has never changed.

And the more I let it be so, and follow whatever whichever “voices” are popping into my head, wanting to be written down and shared, the better each day is.

Hands down.