Category Archives: Community of writers

NaNoWriMo 2016

A hand holds a pen with ribbon tied to it over a notebook

Ah, November.  A blank page on which to write.

Today marks one week into National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short). This year, I’ve made a commitment to the scribbling craft. The pledge? To write every day.

The force rolling me along is four fellow writers (a.k.a. The Furious 5). Each day, we email the group to report on how much time we’ve written, and sometimes what we worked on. Despite the “novel” aspect of NaNoWriMo, our group sets no requirements for genre. Among our quintet, we’ve already covered fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Timing is also flexible. As one member put it, you can write for “5 minutes or 5 hours.”

If this November is even a fraction as productive as last year, I’ll consider it a success.

What writing commitment could you make for 30 days?

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Thankful for NaNoWriMo

Rhea at the laptop

Working off Thanksgiving dinner in New York. Thinking burns a ton of calories, you know. Photo credit: Marji Yablon.

As I write this, it is Thanksgiving. It’s also Day 26 of NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month. Like many others, I’m grateful for both the family and food I’ve enjoyed today. Like a hefty helping of my fellow writers, I’m also thankful for an opportunity to write (mostly) fiction (almost) every day this month.

I want to take a moment to reflect on what I’ve been doing for the past three-plus weeks. My arrangement is a network binding myself and three other scribes into a daily writing practice. We haven’t pledged to write a novel from whole cloth during this month (though one of us has, indeed, put the final stitches in her book-in-progress. Congratulations, Celeste!) We haven’t even committed to 30 days of fiction. It’s just about writing creatively–for any amount of time–every single day.

What has this meant for me? Let’s see. I’ve written:

  • Nine flash fiction stories
  • Five zygotes of additional stories
  • One pitch for an article (which was accepted!)
  • The article (link coming by Hanukkah)
  • Another pitch for an article (awaiting review)
  • A mysterious file that is blank except for the title “Maybe we thaw and gel”

Great thanks to Celeste, Dottye, and Cheryl for making this happen over daily emails. I’ll miss those one- and two-sentence check-ins. Looking forward to four more days, at the least.

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Ben’s free flights and journalism ethics

Bomb--Arvin61r58

Bomb clip art by Arvin61r58

Interviews are minefields for sources. And the resulting articles? Almost too fickle and frightening to contemplate. At least that’s the view taken by the subject of a Rolling Stone feature who I’ve been reading about lately.

Ben Schlappig’s reaction to major media attention shows the one-two punch of trepidation and surprise that only a savvy source can experience. He describes being cautious taking part in the reporting process for Ben Wofford’s piece, and expecting to emerge either more flattered than he expected or woefully disappointed at the portrayal. The maelstrom of coverage—most of it piggybacking on the RS coverage (see here, here, here, and here)—also got me thinking about journalism ethics.

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What I’m Consuming: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Feminist graphicIt’s time for another What I’m Consuming post. I started with a collection of shortish fiction. This next one is a collection of short nonfiction (i.e. essays) — Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (Harper Perennial, 2014).

What it is and why it’s here

Bad Feminist is a collection of essays by a fiction writer and cultural critic. Gay chews on and critiques all manner of things in pieces you may recognize from Slate, The Rumpus, and others.

The book starts off with disarming reads. Gay’s first essay on feminism has her questioning the absolutism many associate with the term. “I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy,” Gay writes. She is also:

…a woman who loves pink and likes to get freaky and sometimes dances her ass off to music she knows, she knows, is terrible to women and who sometimes plays dumb with repairmen because it’s just easier to let them feel macho than it is to stand on the moral high ground.

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One writer’s experience at Binder Con

Check out my experience at Out of the Binders, aka #BinderCon, on Storify: https://storify.com/RheaYK/out-of-the-binders.

I was inspired by the Storify version of the Google For Media Summit, I decided to make one myself for this conference for women and gender non-conforming writers. Thanks for reading!

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The Google for Media summit, Storify style

Google for Media title imposed over a photo

Journalists and all creative users of video, data, and technology: The Google for Media summit in NYC last week was pretty mind-blowing. From the Google Trends workshop alone, I had dozens of story ideas. And did you know Miley Cyrus crashed her fans’ Google hangouts?

If you’re interested in what we learned, check out this Storify summary. You may see a familiar face in the tweets!

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Gaining Ground covers new territory

Gaining Ground book cover

I recently had a new literary experience. Usually, both fiction and nonfiction touch on familiar emotions and universal struggles—even if the actual milieu is alien to me. Take, for example, Elissa Altman’s Poor Man’s Feast (Chronicle Books, 2013), which I just started reading and already know will make me nearly miss many a metro stop. In this story, I grasp and learn from this editor-turned-memoirist’s search for love and satisfaction in life. The environment of the Altman family’s Thanskgiving/Chanukah feast accessoried with candied-violet-topped pumpkin flan and $100 scotch, on the other hand, isn’t exactly my grandfather’s green beans with slivered almonds. Continue reading

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