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Archive for November, 2009

A Novel Update

So I did it. Yes, yup, sort of can’t believe it but it is true. I wrote a novel this month. Saturday afternoon at 1:32 pm, my word count for NaNoWriMo was validated at 50,050 words.


It feels amazing to have written so many words in such a short time. My novel isn’t finished (not by any stretch of the imagination). Yet the bulk of it is out in its baby-step form and now I can edit and write, write and edit and fiddle and fuddle around with it.

And then see what comes next.

One thing that is coming next is a lovely month of improv holiday shows. Let It Snow: An Improvised Holiday Musical opened last night… if you live here in the Bay Area, come on by and see us for an evening (or Saturday matinee) of a classic Broadway-style musical created on the spot by the Un-Scripted Theater Company.

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The Kindness of Strangers

Another Tuesday and I’m happy to participate in the Moms’ 30 Minute Blog Challenge. See what other moms are blogging about over at Steady Mom.

LP and I just returned from 4 days in Boston and it was a whirlwind of activity, family and friends. Overall, a great trip and since it was a short trip packed with things to do and people to see, neither of us got adjusted to East Coast time so it has been an easier return to our daily life.

Along the way, we experienced many kindnesses large and small. I’ve realized over the years that the practice of improv has helped me become a better observer of life. I’m more aware of body language and eye contact and more likely to engage with strangers who are “available.” As I’ve grown more willing to be take social risks (saying “yes” to someone who is available for interaction), I’ve also become more willing to ask for help when I need it (completely against my New England DIY upbringing).

What a gift that was to me on this trip!

So thank you to the strangers who helped us:

*The TSA folks in Boston who helped retrieve the Kleen Kanteen I left on the plane on the way in and helped me get through a particularly hectic security line on the way back

*The family that took a turn listening for our names to be called to get our seat assignments so I could take LP for a much needed diaper change

*The flight attendant who took pity on me in my quest to board early simply to deal with the carseat (no, no, no said the airline) and took it on with him when he got on the plane

*The older woman who was fun conversation during our extra hour wait in Logan Airport and who came to sit with LP on the plane and read to her so I could go to the bathroom alone

*The passengers on both flights who helped me get the darn carseat off the plane (If we travel much more, I’m getting a CARES harness and checking the thing)

Happy Thanksgiving all around…and if you are in the Bay Area, remember Let It Snow: An Improvised Holiday Musical opens this Friday! We perform a full-length, Broadway-style musical set in the hometown of one of the audience members. It is a great way of traveling for the holidays, without all the hassle!

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Write, write, write!

This blog post is part of the Moms’ 30-minute Blog Challenge over at Steady Mom.

Ten days in and I am still an active participant in National Novel Writing Month. Which is thrilling for me. I hit my initial goal of 10,00 words (50,000 words is the goal of the project) and set a new goal of 30,000. After sitting on that for a few days, I realized that I should just leap for the big one….so my new new goal is the whole shebang of 50,000 words.

19,250 words down; 30,850 to go.

Things I’ve discovered:

*LP is willing to go head to head with my desire to be writing. She has upped the whining ante but also is having some breaks in the whine when she is distracted by entertaining herself in play.

*Participating in Steady Mom’s 30-Minute Blog Challenge the past few weeks has helped me see that I can write in a restricted amount of time. While I try to a chunk of time of 30-60 minutes at least once a day, I’ve also discovered I can pound out 100-200 words almost anytime I get my fingers on the keyboard.

*I would not have been able to do this challenge years ago. Back then I think the goal-oriented word count focused nature of the beast would not have inspired, where as now I’m somewhat addicted to checking my word count.

*It feels great doing something that is completely for me.

*LP is less likely to interrupt me if I stand up while I write.

*The temptation to reread and edit is so strong; I have to constantly remind myself that crafting the novel, forming its shape and honing and refining character and action are all a future activity, now is just about letting the words flow.

*Improv is so helpful for the writing process! Whenever I’m stuck (say every 10 minutes or so), I use some improv activities to trigger my imagination and get going again. Here’s two of my favorites with links to descriptions (I modify them to use for writing):

This is my main one. When I’m stuck on the action, I move to coloring in the picture or feelings. When I’m tapped out on those, I see if I can move the action forward.

I use the most simple version of this…really I just take a breath and ask myself “what comes next?” and try to take the simplest, smallest thing that comes to mind.

  • Ask for a suggestion/blind offer

Sometimes it helps trigger my imagination to get something from the outside to work with…much like starting an improv scene from nothing is often more challenging that getting some kind of audience suggestion (a location or name or feeling). Last night I asked LP what the next word in my novel should be and she replied, “Please.” (Which surprised me but also says a lot about what’s been going on around here). So that will be my next word and I’ll find out where that goes.

From a lots-of-things-happening the rest of the month (like a show opening! Let It Snow goes into previews on Nov 19th!) (and teaching “Every Day Improv” next Sunday), it is going to get more and more difficult to find pockets of time to write AND I’m going to keep pushing forward and writing words as fast as I can.

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Saying “Yes” to Me

This blog post is part of this week’s Moms’ 30-Minute Blog Challenge over at Steady Mom.

Last week, I had an important “yes” experience. One that was all about me.

I was fortunate enough to have a bodywork session with Marion Rosen; she is a phenomenal 96 year old powerhouse of a woman who created a school of bodywork, The Rosen Method, that is practiced internationally.

The actual experience was very simple. I lay on a table. She put her hands on me and occasional did some very light manipulation and made some observations and suggestions. Very direct observations and suggestions. I felt a sense of release both on the muscular level and in my psyche during the session and since then, I have felt more lively, more awake and more able to do and not just drag through the day.

One of her observations that hit home (for there were many, she is an insightful being) was that I hold back and don’t reach for what I want.

Immediately I thought of my writing and how often I have put it aside. For good reasons and for not-so-good reasons. Because of work or exhaustion or fear of not being interesting enough or just plain good-enough. I’ve put it aside because of anxiety, because of ambivalence and sometimes just because. There are all kinds of reasons that I haven’t written much these past few years (motherhood is just one of them albeit a BIG one) but I’ve had a nearly lifelong struggle to give myself space to live a writing life. Writing is the experience, is the place that I miss, I long for and that I don’t reach for despite that longing.

Blogging (which I started doing in late January of this year) has helped me have a little writing practice in my life. Yet to really embrace the reaching, to really say “Yes” and “YES AND” to my own creative desire, I need to dive into something whole-heartedly.

So I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month. Which is completely crazy, over my head and impossible. The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. WHAT? Where is the time to write that many words ~ never mind craft the kind of story I want to create?

And I’m doing it. I’ve never really thought about writing a novel before. In my earlier writing life, I mostly wrote plays with a smattering of short stories and poetry. So this is all new, uncharted territory.

I’m saying yes to my own impossible impulse. And that feels good.

And I’m curious to see if it will refresh my saying “yes” to LP’s big inspirations.

Is there something lurking in your life, waiting for you to say “YES” to let loose inspiration?

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