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  • Christine Shuck

What If...

The Almighty Plan

Plans change.

Always.

And so it is with writing. I come up with a plan. It works or it doesn't, I learn from it, and then I change the plan to something new. Rinse and repeat. Until I get it right.


As if I even will know when right IS right.


But I digress.


I mentioned it last entry, this idea of seasonal writing. But it was still circling around in my head. The details of it, how it could or should or would work.


Right now, in this moment, as the days grow short and cold and the garden has died back to nothing outside, all I can think of is writing. That will change, however. By late winter, say around February or March (January if I'm truly unlucky and affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder), I will be desperate to get away from the computer, away from my office, away from my house. I'll stride outside, kick at the snow, and curse the fact that I live in a climate that HAS winter.


By April, I'll be an impossible mess if the weather stays cold. I'll be intemperate, snappy, and rather impossible to live with. Heaven help me if I lived up north, in Wisconsin or Alaska. I'd be a real disaster. All I want to do by then is dig my hands into dirt, plant a bunch of plants and seeds and generally do yard work.


But right now, and all the way into late winter - it is the perfect time for me to write. So I've been thinking and thinking on it and how that should work.



NaNoWriMo Helped

November is National Novel Writing Month. Around the world, writers, and wannabe writers, dedicated themselves each year to writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Whether it is their first book, or their 50th, it can be the almighty reset or a jumpstart on writing the Great American Novel.


Or as I like to say..."I CAN write the GAN!"


I haven't participated in NaNoWriMo in recent years. I've started to and then putzed out. And honestly, I wasn't sure I would participate this year as the date approached. I was still puzzling my way through two potential manuscripts, The Glass Forest and Quit Your Job, Change Your Life and trying to decide which one I wanted to do, where I was, and what was left. And when I write, and then subsequently abandon, a manuscript, I have to go back through, read what I've got, figure out the storyline again, the voice, and fall in love with it enough to finish it. Writing is an act of creation, but it is also one of love.


I simply did not have enough time to muddle my way through The Glass Forest before November 1st was upon me and suddenly I seized on the idea of writing short stories instead.


I've wanted to include short story anthologies with all of my main series, not just War's End. And I'm even toying with a 4th book in the War's End series comprised of more short stories. I plan to call it Further Tales of the Collapse. What caught my attention, however, was the tidbits I had already been writing for an anthology in the G581 series. And as I settled into the groove of writing the short story Ayomide and Ireti, the story of how a nanny came to adopt the child of the most powerful woman left on Earth, and then moved on to Make Bombs Not Babies, a solution to my internal question "How is this seasonal writing thing going to work?" began to take shape.


I'm going to write a metric shit ton of words over the next few months. By the end of November, I will have well over 50k in words written - heck, I'm already at 12,834 so far for the first six days! I expect that the G581 anthology will be well in hand by then, if not fully complete. But I won't stop to edit. Instead, I'll move on to the next project. Whether it is The Glass Forest, Quit Your Job, G581: Zarmina's World (which HAS to go out before the anthology) or even Broken Code. And I'll keep writing until I literally cannot stand it anymore and have to run the hell outside and dig in the dirt.


After that, I'll go back and begin the process of editing, having my proofreader go through it, and then getting a cover and blurb written. Publish the books. Market them. I'll also try and handle any potential audiobook production (whether I use AI or record it myself) during the spring and summer as well.


So...


September through March - WRITE

April through August - edit, publish, and market (and write IF I feel so inclined)


I have no idea if this will work. But I'm going to give it a go and see what comes of it.


For the Love of Story

Story comes in so many forms. Not just books, but poetry, theater, film, music, and spoken word. I remember, back in the day, being captivated while listening to Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story. Click on that link and step back in time. They are putting up his episodes there, one week at a time.


In any case, now that Paul Harvey's gone, story, or more precisely the stories behind the stories, have recently become my focus as I delve into those short stories I mentioned earlier. What makes a person the way they are? What random event ends up shaping the rest of their lives?


I asked a lot of questions as a kid. Probably more than the average kid. I know I drove my mom nuts with all of those questions. Probably my dad as well. I became well acquainted with the saying, "Curiosity killed the cat."


Story has always intrigued me. Tell me a story. Give me a glimpse into your life. Help me understand you better. Story helps us humanize others. So that they are no longer "other" and are instead a real person with real needs, traumas, emotions. Story brings us together and gives us common ground.


I listen to The Moth Radio Hour while cleaning my short-term rentals. I laugh, cry, and feel all of the emotions. So when I heard that Moth Mainstage was coming to Lawrence, KS, I had to attend. A friend of mine came with, even though she had never heard of the Moth before and had no idea what to expect. (Which is pretty cool of her when you think about it.)


I laughed as the MC shared a story about his mom being his "homie" for a day. I felt dread for the 87 year old speaker as she discovered her "boyfriend" was nothing but a scammer out for money. I felt tears threaten as a young man took the stage and talked about his desperate quest for touch, for human interaction, while incarcerated in prison. He got so many hugs that night. It was such a good reminder that we need touch, we need those moments, one person to another. Yes, even obsessive introverts like me. I felt empowered to do amazing, and sometimes brave and unusual things as I heard another speaker tell of helping pave the way for poetry and spoken word events here in Kansas City.


I write cross-genre, but there is a unifying theme to it all. It is about people, about characters, and how they react to a situation, to trauma. I write about how they transform their lives, how they live when everything and everyone is telling them to give it all up, and how they find a way toward a life of meaning. It isn't all happy endings. Life isn't like that, but it is a reminder that life is full of possibility. Nothing is over, nothing impossible, until we draw our last breath. And in the corners, and along the seams, I add pieces of my own life to the mix. My short story, Ayomide and Ireti, has heavy elements of my own life within it.


A few years ago, I wanted desperately to participate in poetry slams. But the thought of trying to create rhyme, and remember it by heart, was overwhelming. I loved listening, but standing there reciting something? I can barely remember my own name in those situations. So I put it on the back burner.


After the Moth Mainstage though, I decided to give it a go again, but with storytelling not poetry. Story I can do. Poetry is a stretch, but storytelling? That is something I know and know well. After all, I try to write a little something every day.


I ended up adding an Open Mic event on Wednesday 11/9 at PH Coffee to my calendar. And I bought tickets to R.A.W. Adult Storytelling on the 21st of this month at the Black Box in the West Bottoms.


I can feel my skin stretching a little just at the thought of committing to these two events. And I'm still trying to convince my teen to join me at the event on Wednesday since the other one is for age 21 and older. And all of you are more than welcome to join me if you are so inclined. The more the merrier!


As I settle in to raising my final batch of tiny humans, I'm also pushing myself to do more, see more, be more than ever before. Life is short, best get to living it!


Find Me on Facebook Join my group General Malcontent's Grumbles and Scribbles on Facebook and get plenty of weird memes, the opportunity to read my newest releases for free, pics of the family, and other author news. I look forward to seeing you there!

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