A NaNoWriMo Virgin No More

Hello to all you writers out there, this is Adair Heitmann writing today about my NaNoWriMo experience. Last October’s blog shared information about November being National Novel Writing Month. The contest is billed as “Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon.” It hosted 337,618 writers from 45 countries this year. The purpose of the challenge was to complete a new 50,000 word novel in one month.

Imagine all those writers feverishly writing within the same erudite community during the same month. How could anyone not be psyched? I certainly was. Becoming a member of this intergenerational writing society was so cool! As authors we are often alone at our kitchen tables writing longhand on yellow legal-size pads, as our dishwashers churn away. Or, with open laptops, sitting isolated in a busy coffee shop, hammering out our stories, while blends of French Roast fill the air. Being an active participant in the NaNoWriMo literary adventure helped me feel a part of something larger and greater than just me.

However, I knew from the start that I only had time to brush the surface with NaNoWriMo this year. With my other professional deadlines and personal responsibilities, writing a new novel 2-3 hours a day would be out of the question. But I still wanted to play. I figured, I may as well enter and see what NaNoWriMo was all about from the inside. I had a ball, and the memories from my month are keeping me all a-flutter.

The entry form asked for a genre, which made me pause and think. As a mostly non-fiction author, how did I want to spend my infinitesimal NaNoWriMo fiction prose time? It was a toss-up between Satire, Humor & Parody or Erotic Fiction. Going into this with an open mind and a cavalier attitude helped free me up to recognize that I had nothing to lose. I may as well stretch my creative muscles, and write something outside my comfort-zone.

As November progressed I straddled my world of by day being a mild-mannered literary consultant and by night flying wildly in free expression. This lack of inhibition, however, caused me to be confronted with literary questions that I don’t ordinarily have to face.
1. As an author of non-fiction, my articles, books, essays, and blogs don’t require a disclaimer. But as I wrote in my chosen NaNoWriMo genre I started to realize that I may want to change my name. You see, I need my day job and wasn’t sure if the genre of my fictional piece would jeopardize it. Entering “NaNoWriMo-Land” had really inspired me to let my hair down, I’d become downright reckless.
2. As a parent of a budding teenager, I wondered if what I was writing might be an embarrassment.  I can mortify my child very easily on my own without intentionally adding to it.

Then, through a Facebook connection I learned of a writing contest in one of my genres of choice. Hmmmmmmm, could I be published and paid very nicely for my new novel? I wondered that I might be able to pay for my child’s college education by writing with such freedom and frivolity.  November found me juiced up every time I sat down and wrote.  I didn’t even need an oven; the heat coming off my pages cooked the Thanksgiving turkey. Then I got to wondering, with all the time and effort I’ve spent building my writer’s platform with my real name, if I had a nom de plume for this new genre I’d have to start creating an entirely new writer’s platform for my pen name. Oh, when would I find the time?

My NaNoWriMo month ended as I finished fleshing out tantalizing characters, entwined with moments of dizzying delights. At the end of the contest, I leaned back, inhaled deeply, and smoked a cigarette. My month was like a good one-night-stand, filled with tantalizing memories, but I didn’t end up marrying the man. Will I date him in 2012? You bet I will. Delving into fun fiction was like stroking my hand along luxurious silk. Could I wear it every day in my active life? No. But would I put it on for certain occasions? Yes, oh yes.

As 2011 draws to a close, all of us at the Fairfield Writer’s Blog wish you a very happy holiday season. May Santa fill your stocking with your heart’s desires, and may the New Year bring you ecstatic hours of literary abandon.

Until next year, keep on writing!

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Turning Rejection Into Gold

Hello to all writers out there, this is Adair Heitmann writing on how to make losing contests work for you. One of my 2011 writing goals is to enter contests. Recently I did just that. I had a ball writing an 800 word essay portraying 20 years of my life in one location into a meaningful story. My writing critique group vetted and helped me tell the story I really wanted to write. I revised and polished the essay until it shone, then I sent it out . . . and waited, waited, waited for the results to come back.

When I found out that I did not place, my shoulders slumped over my computer. I stood up, walked out of my upstairs office, down the wooden stairs into the sunlit kitchen and stood at the kitchen counter eating Triscuits and American cheese, all the while sighing and looking out the kitchen window. The soggy lawn reflected my dejected mood. I washed my comfort food down with a glass of blueberry pomegranate juice cut with seltzer and felt “Oh woe is me!” After about 10 minutes, I was ready to go back up to my writing office and resume work.

By then, I was genuinely thrilled for a member of  my Wednesday Writing Critique Group who placed second in the contest. I was also anxious to read all the winning entries to learn what they had that I didn’t.

For the inner child in all writers I think it is important to feel the pain of loss, even wallow in it for a moment or two, then get back up on the horse. I’m now energized to submit the same essay to other contests and publications. Just because one organization turned me down, it doesn’t mean they all will. When I revisit my essay, I’m still proud of it, it’s a good story and the bottom line is I felt happy while writing it. That alone is a reward.

Moving on:

1. This became the topic of today’s blog.

2. I’ll write a different version of this story in my own professional blog.

3. Congratulating my writing group member via email, in person and publically on Facebook and in Twitter, helped me put it all in perspective.

4. I’ll tweak and submit the same essay in a different venue.

For me, I’m back to the drawing board, sharpening my pencil and still feeling the delight of being a writer, losing contests and all.

Until next time, keep on writing.

Writing Competition(s)

Hello again, Adair Heitmann here, making today’s blog post. Competition, now that is a word some of us shy away from. Are you the kind of writer who timidly has a manuscript on your closet shelf, too shy to send it out? Or are you like our adventuresome writers honored below? The art and act of writing is private and introspective and I generally find it a joyful experience, even when I am pulling my hair out, striving for the right flow. I’ve learned that to grow as a writer, I also have to send my work out to be scrutinized, dissected, analyzed and reviewed. Sometimes it gets rejected but oh . . . bliss . . . sometimes it is accepted and even wins! Contests really are a good thing. They give you, the writer–notoriety, free press, sometimes $$ and each contest you win, catapults your career.

There are many ways to find writing competitions: 1.) You might sit in a cozy chair at your local library and search in the back of literary magazines. 2.) Look up e-listings from sources on-line such as http://www.writersdigest.com/competitions 3.) Get yourself on a mailing list of an editorial e-newsletter such as Latinidad, Marcela Landres’s e-newsletter in which she periodically lists upcoming contests http://www.marcelalandres.com  4.) Follow your passion seeking out competitions in your genre, I recently submitted a piece to http://www.memoirjournal.com/submissions/ 5.) Go for the gold and apply for a grant http://www.cultureandtourism.org/cct/site/default.asp, like one of our winning authors.

All you need to risk healthy competition is willingness and efficiency. You have nothing to lose, the worst that will happen is you won’t win. Contests give you a built-in deadline for your writing and a project to work toward in your writing groups.

We recently heard of a few awesome winners, all writers in our literary community. The following mere mortals have either been speakers, presenters, or participants in the Fairfield Public Library’s annual “Winter Words” writing conference. Please join me as we celebrate their accomplishments!

* Leslie Connor is the winner of the middle-school award for Waiting for Normal published by HarperCollins Children’s Books

* Nina Nelson has been chosen as a Smithsonian notable for Bringing the Boy Home

*Tony Abbott’s book The Postcard has been nominated for an Edgar Award by The Mystery Writers of America

* Stacy DeKeyser has been awarded a 2009 Artist Fellowship Grant from the State of Connecticut’s Commission on Culture and Tourism, to support the creation of new work in fiction

CONGRATULATIONS ONE AND ALL!

Published in: on March 16, 2009 at 8:11 pm  Comments (4)  

Welcome to our First Post for Fairfield Writer

The town of Fairfield, Connecticut has a wealth of interest in writing and the literary arts.  We have three public libraries and two universities. Each institution celebrates writing frequently with their programs for writers and about writers, their curricula, their resources, and their spaces. We also know many published writers live in and/or do business in Fairfield.

We are offering this blog as a way to connect with other writers, and to share information about upcoming literary events, contests, and conferences. Are you considering joining a writers critique group but don’t know where to start? Are you seeking inspiration or need a more rigorous method to write? Do you feel isolated as a writer and need to connect with others?  Do you have a nagging question you would like to pose to other writers? If so, we invite you to join us in this literary endeavor . . .

Published in: on February 10, 2009 at 3:25 pm  Comments (2)