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Onward and Upward with NaNoWriMo

Imagination Rain.epsIt’s Tuesday, November 15, 2016. November is half over, and so is NaNoWriMo. Once again it’s National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve vowed to write 50,000 words by November 30. So far, I’ve written just over 10,000, and the jazzy graph of my statistics on the NaNo website predicts that at the rate I’m going, I’ll finish on January 11, 2017. So should I give up? No way—there’s still time to salvage what’s left of this ghastly month.

“The time for hesitation’s through, no time to wallow in the mire.” So sang Jim Morrison, and though his “Light My Fire” lyrics were about lust, they apply equally well to creativity. And why not? Like the late lamented Leonard Cohen, the Lizard King was a poet before he morphed into a pop star.

jim-morrison

Jim Morrison

Like practically everyone I know, online and off, I’ve been wallowing in the mire of depression ever since last week’s election, and tiptoeing around the dismal swamp that our government and political system have become for months before that. I’ve frittered away countless hours online, tracking the latest polls, reading the left-leaning articles and opinion pieces in the Huffington Post, clicking the links that lead to still more articles that clutter up my brain with gloom and doom scenarios.

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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

This morning, amidst all the horrifying stories about Trump’s transition and the scary people he’s recruiting to ruin our country as we know it, I came upon some breaking news that’s actually cheerful: People magazine has named “Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as its Sexiest Man Alive. I’ve always liked “The Rock,” though huge muscle-bound men have never been my type. But probably the People editors thought we could use a little levity in these dark days, and despite his huge hulkiness, The Rock is reportedly a nice guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously, unlike certain politicians I could name. (FYI, my favorite Sexiest Man choice in recent years has been Mathew McConnaghey. I even referenced his looks in describing one of the characters in my novel Eldercide.

matthew-mcconaughey

Matthew McConaughey

In hopes of breaking free of the shackles of gloom and doom, I’m resolving to cut down radically on my news consumption, whether online, on TV or in good old-fashioned newspapers. I’m cutting back on Facebook too, since most of my FB friends are still preoccupied with the political scene. Instead, I’ll do my best to play ostrich for a while, focus on the people and pets I love, and zero in on my writing.

For this year’s NaNoWriMo, I won’t be working on a novel. Instead, I’m focusing on a new nonfiction project, a book on creativity and blasting through the blocks that inhibit it. In recent months, I’ve given some workshops on the topic. I’ve enjoyed them immensely, and so have the participants. It’s a lot more fun than reading passages from my novels in hopes people will buy them, and paradoxically, I’ve sold more books when I’m not overtly flogging them.

nanowrimo-camp-2015-poster-get-lost-writeBack in a former lifetime, when I was a creative arts therapist, I gave workshops on creativity, dream work and women’s issues at colleges and growth centers, but it’s a skill set I haven’t used in many years. Facilitating the creativity of others, I realized I’ve got a lot to say about it—hence the book project I’m plunging into now. It will be part memoir, part self-help, part exploration into past and present findings about how the brain works, and much more. I’ll probably include stories from other writers about their own adventures with the creative process. I’ll tell you more about it in my next post. Please subscribe so you won’t miss anything. I’ll talk with you soon!

Block Busting in the merry month of May

woman flaming typewriter cartoon

It’s just over a month till my workshop at the East Greenbush Library on June 4th. Here’s the description I sent for their newsletter:

BLOCK BUSTING:

HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE BARRIERS

THAT KEEP YOU FROM WRITING 

Writer’s block afflicts every author sooner or later. If you’ve ever found yourself paralyzed, staring at an empty piece of paper or a blank computer screen, you know the feelings of frustration and even downright panic that can keep you from writing. In this workshop for writers or would-be writers of all levels, we’ll explore the underlying feelings behind your personal blocks and learn a variety of techniques to help you overcome the barriers that keep you from reaching your fullest potential as a writer.

Julie Lomoe is a novelist and poet with over three decades of experience as a creative arts therapist and workshop leader. This workshop will use creative visualization and writing exercises along with a discussion of successful writers’ tips and techniques for overcoming creative blocks. Free handouts will include a tip sheet and bibliography. 

June 4th feels like a particularly auspicious day, because it’s my mother’s birthday. She died in 1970 of complications from a fall in the house she and my father were renting in Sarasota, Florida, to escape the frigid Wisconsin winters. She was only 61—an age that feels absurdly young to me now—and as a pre-feminist wife and mother, she never reached her full potential. But that’s a story for another time. June 4th is also the birthday of Gloria Tropp, the brilliant singer, poet and artist who was my best friend and matron of honor at my wedding to Robb Smith in 1975 when we lived in New York City, but Gloria deserves a blog post of her own.

So as the birthday of two strong, creative women who played such a significant role in my life,  June 4th is a special day, and I want to do them justice. But I have to admit that since I blogged about this workshop on March 21st, the first day of spring, I haven’t made much progress. Back then I wrote about how fear and habit are my major blocks to writing, and I described a typically pedestrian day in my life and all the distractions and feeble excuses that keep me from writing.

Cherry blossom tunnel, Sakuru, Japan

Cherry blossom tunnel, Sakuru, Japan

But May feels like the true beginning of spring, especially since my garden has finally been blessed with some truly drenching rain, and everything is greening up nicely. A good time for goal setting, and I’ve resolved to write at least 600 words a day, each and every day. Any and all forms of writing will count, including journaling, which I find a wonderful way of getting my creative juices flowing. Last night I churned out nearly a thousand words in half an hour, a relative breeze when I’m blathering away with no literary critic whispering nasty messages inside my head, telling me how inadequate I am as a writer.

The sheer physical act of typing has the power to awaken muscle memories that go deep underground and dormant when I’m not using them regularly, but I feel the energy seeping back into my mind and body even as I write these words. But distractions are creeping in—the sound of my cat Lunesta, her amazingly accurate inner clock kicking in as she scratches at my office door, reminding me it’s six o’clock and high time for dinner, my husband tempting me to abandon my writing with the offer of a roast beef sandwich. My own inner clock telling me it’s time for a glass of wine. But for May I’ve committed to abstaining from booze until I’ve reached my daily quota of 600 words. And now, by golly, I’ve done it. This blog post now contains 637 words, so I can legitimately sign off and indulge myself.

I welcome your thoughts and suggestions on creative block busting – either as comments or perhaps in an entire guest blog post. Please let me know if you’re interested!

Lunesta on printer 7-27-14