Philosophy By Christy

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Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Are you ready for Camp NaNoWriMo 2013?

camp_nano_promo_13 How do you really know when you’re ready for any writing adventure? I honestly don’t feel as prepared as I should. Though when I look back last year, I wasn’t really prepared much in November. All I keep trying to reassure myself that this experience in April and July will be just as amazing in November. All that really matters is that I write, and every thing else will come after.

I learned about the pesky Inner Editor  & Inner Critic through my NaNoWriMo experience. That Inner Critic needs to pack its bags and fly north somewhere because it’s not going to persuade me to change my mind on what I’m going to do. I will write in April and July no matter what. Now that Inner Editor is like a kid pestering you to constantly edit everything you write, and stopping your flow. The Inner Editor has to leave too, but only for vacation. I just imagined my inner editor editing in Orlando, Florida… “Sorry, but that theme park ride disclaimer has a word spelled incorrectly.

I really panicked on Monday when I realized that there was only a week left, and now we have several days before Camp NaNoWriMo begins. Though I felt reassured that I wasn’t the only one in the boat panicking. A few others I know that will be writing in April, told me that they didn’t have much planned out either. As you know from last week’s post, I’m a planner, but the more I think about it… It seems like I plan a bit and then I write to see where I end up. That’s all I can do really. I have to sit down every day, and write as much as I can till I reach my goal. That’s what everyone else will be doing as well. Though we know that we have support from our family, friends, cabinmates, and fellow writers.

The things I remembered doing before NaNoWriMo last year were:

1) Making the decision to participate, and which story I was going to write (I already had an story idea that I had started and I wanted to make it into a novel).

2) Letting people know through social networks, and talking about my plans to participate in NaNoWriMo. Also learning who will be particating locally, and personally.

3) Researching what I could about writing a novel, any tips that my help prepare me, and any other information.

4) Planning out my plot and characters through NovaMind. It was useful to visualize the information, and a source where I can find information quickly while writing.

5) Creating a NaNoWriMo board on Pinterest related to images to my story. It was a way to visualize what my characters might look like, setting, and it springboard my thoughts to what I might do for the story.

6) Create a playlist on Spotify of songs that connect to my story, or inspire me.

These are basically the same things that I’ve done this time around (except I feel like this time I had to think more about the story to figure it out), and I’ll do these things again to prepare before July. Hopefully it continue to help me. Right now I’m glad that Easter landed in March this year. I really love Easter, especially when it’s connected to my Catholic faith. Even though I’m a bit worried about Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m thankful that I can focus a bit more during holy week to prepare for Easter. Next month, I don’t have much planned besides transitioning to shadowing my friend Melissa who teaches composition at our local university, and few other important things. I’ve got the time, but I have to use it well.

To all my fellow campers (aka writers), remember we’re all here to support each other so we can get to our goals. It might get crazy difficult during the writing process, but we can get through it. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun.

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Always the Planner, and Sometimes Spontaneous

visualizeideas

NovaMind: Mind Mapping

It seems like most of my life, I’ve felt like I had a plan for every thing. Though not everything turned out as planned. So when I finally graduated college, I freaked out because I wasn’t ready, but most of all, I didn’t have a plan. Last year gave me a chance to explore finding a job, dealing with that job without having the additional pressure of classes at the same time, and as well as personally learning. I learned more about my Catholic faith, and about writing (especially experiencing for the first time NaNoWriMo). All this just seemed to happen, throughout the year without me planning or planning to much about it. I felt the only thing that I really planned was going to Ascendio, a Harry Potter conference, which was amazing but even that experience was nothing like I had expected, it was better. So I’ve wondered if it’s a good thing to plan or not. Society kind of expect us to plan, especially for the future. You can’t just decide to go to Grad School and go right away. You have to plan ahead of time to apply and make sure that all the requirements are ready before the due date. As Camp NaNoWriMo is arriving soon, the April session and later the July session, I’ve begun to try to plan out an idea of what I’ll do.

2013-Participant-Facebook-Cover

I’ve decided to write a detective style novella. Normally NaNoWriMo in November the word goal is 50, 000, but for Camp NaNoWriMo writers can choose their own writing goals below or above 50,000. You don’t even have to do a novel. It can be a script, poetry, blogging, or a set of short stories. I thought a novella,  which is around and possibly above 30,000 words, would be a good option for me. For NaNoWriMo, last year, I was able to reach 37,042 words in 30 days. Then later I continued to write a bit more, and revise my story in the new year. Even though I haven’t finished my novel, especially revising, I still want to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo for both months… even more so because I won’t have much time to do NaNoWriMo in November, if I get accepted to Grad School in the Fall. I know I need to still work on my first novel, and I still will. Anyways, I feel that a novella would be a good goal for April. Then I’ll figure after what I’ll do for July.

The last few days before November began, last year, I made a decision to participate in NaNoWriMo. I had a bit of an idea of a story that wanted to write into a novel, where I wanted to go with it, and a bit about the characters. I tried to outline a bit, and figure out a bit more about my characters before I started the journey the first of November. Now that I reflect back on it, I wonder if planning a bit more would have helped me while I was rushing to write a much as possible during NaNoWriMo. So I began to think in the beginning of this month what I would do for Camp NaNoWriMo. Through the month, I decided the word count goal, and then I decided what type of story I wanted to write. As soon as I had these two things set, I could figure out what my main characters would be, and start making an outline of some plot points. Though I haven’t done the outline yet. I have figure out a bit about my main characters. Soon I’ll try to have a basic outline of what I might do. Some times it helps to write it out on a word document, and I learned about using NovaMind (the free version) last year as way to plan and figure out my characters. I don’t want anything really detailed because I want it more as a guide that way I’m open to what ever comes to mind during the month. Like I said before, some things that aren’t completely planned some times turn out better. I think that’s kind of who I am as a writer. I need to plan out something a bit, and then I can work on figuring every thing else out down the road.

A detective story was something that I felt like doing for a while, but I haven’t done really. The fanfics (that I’ve done for Castle and one for Sherlock) don’t really count as a detective story because they don’t focus on a certain case. I’m a writer that enjoys writing about characters and their interactions with each other. Though I do love reading stories that have both really interesting characters and plot. Since the beginning of college, I’ve been seeing a lot of procedurals (such as Castle, Bones, Unforgettable, Fringe, and BBC’s Sherlock). As I mentioned last week, I’ve gotten the Sherlock bug. Now I’m re-watch the show and finally reading the original Sherlock Holmes stories. I’ve read some other mysteries as well. So I feel like I could write one of my own. Yet today, I started to look through the internet about how to write a novella, and especially how to write a detective/mystery novel. As I was looking around at a few sites, I took some notes down to give me an idea of what I need to plan and remember when I’m writing. It gives me a bit of a guideline as well. Though I know there isn’t any exact rules. I have to learn most of it on my own. I have to figure it out, and I will. It just helps me to have something to go on ahead of time before I jump into writing a story. Kind of like a springboard to launch me towards my goal.

I believe that my experience in November has helped me to figure out so many things about writing. It will also help me as I participate for Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July. Though even with a lot of planning, I know it still won’t completely prepare me for the difficult moments that I’ll very likely to have during those months, but it will reassure me a bit. Plus I’ll have pep talks to read in my inbox, and cabin mates that I can chat with, via their website. Also I’ll have the South Texas Scribes (the local writers group in my area), and my friends to help me… well, as much as they are able to anyways.

So are you planning on doing Camp NaNoWriMo? If so, have you done it before? If you have, what would you suggest to me and those who are participating for the first time? If you are planning to, no matter if you’re new or returning are you planning a bit of your story before you start or as they say in NaNoWriMo land, “Pantsing” (which is basically writing without a plan)?

I will still continue to write on this blog, even during these two months but it might not be as long as I’ve been writing. I believe it will help me to write about my progress, and share what I’m struggling with during Camp NaNoWriMo. Before and inbetween, April and July, I’ll write a bit about revision and planning. So now you have a bit of an idea what I’ll be doing as well not only for Camp NaNoWriMo but also for my blog. I wish everyone luck on their writing adventures, especially those who will be part of Camp NaNoWriMo of either or both sessions. I’m sure not matter if we plan, or not, before hand I believe we can get to our goals as long as we focus and help each other as much as we can.

Even writers need a Spring Break…

spring break

I’m taking a Spring Break from writing on my blog. I’ll be back next week to write about something related to writing, or maybe about revising.

For now, I’ll be reading (Sherlock Holmes [original stories, other stories like Sherlock in Love, and MasterMind]… maybe re-watching a bit of BBC Sherlock on Netflix too… my friends gave me the Sherlock bug!!). I will also be enjoying my time with my friends during their spring break and some other things… such as preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo [April and July], which is just around the corner! I’m going to try to participate in both months. Planning is good before NaNoWriMo, but it doesn’t fully prepare you for the crazy awesomeness that comes with any thing related to NaNoWriMo.

What I love most about Spring Break is having time to just read for fun (check out this link to read my friend Tabitha’s great blog post!). So that’s what I’m trying to do. Hopefully you find some great books to read as well. Writers need to take breaks once and a while to refresh by reading, and enjoying life. That way they can continue to write great stories. This can apply to anyone else though, breaks are useful to be refresh and be able to continue to do our best in anything we work on, even things we enjoy. Those who don’t have an official spring break, because you’re out of school (like I am right now till I go back for Grad School in the Fall semester, hopefully), make your own. We all need a bit of a break from difficulties of life and just enjoy the simple pleasures, like reading.

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P.S. Even though I said I wouldn’t write, I did anyways… Well, at least it’s shorter than normal… what ever that may be… 😀

Some stories are hidden in the past…

Local Greek Festival - 2012Photo by Christy

A local Greek Festival – 2012
Photo by Christy

I’ve always been curious about the world around me, but also my family history. My mother was born in Mexico, and became an American. Her family roots come from Italy and France, from what we know. Even though my father was born here, his grandparents came from Mexico, Spain and Greece. By having a Greek last name, there was something that always made me curious about my Greek heritage. I’ve wanted to know about the history, the culture, and my great-grandfather as well as my ancestors. It wasn’t only Greek, but it was a stronger influence than my other family roots, possibly because of my Greek last name.

Last year I learned that March is Greek-American Heritage Month. If you walk around in the stores this month, you won’t see much about it. There is more focus of Irish-American Heritage Month. The main reason is the popular Irish national holiday that celebrates Ireland’s patron, St. Patrick (March 17th). Though both the Greeks and the Irish share this month, thanks to Former President George H.W. Bush and Congress in 1991. It gives honor to both cultures for their contributions and achievements to the US. They chose to have Greek-American Heritage Month in March as well because of Greek Independence Day is March 25th.

I knew a bit about my Greek heritage through local annual Greek festivals in Texas. It’s a wonderful experience to go with family and enjoy the great food and music offered. They even have a little store where you can buy products from or about Greece. Though I love going with my family every year, it only has given me a glimpse of the culture that I really wanted to learn more about. When I was younger, I read myths from different cultures, but my focus was on the Greek. In my studies, I’ve read the great Greek epics like the Iliad and the Odyssey. Later, I read on my own the Percy Jackson series, that are based on the Greek myths. I knew that there were stories out there that focused more on the country than the myths, and those who immigrated to the US, but… where were they?

The Greek Americans

That began my search to see what I could find in literature, music, and in history. The first thing I found was two book lists, one from 2009-2011 and another from 2012. It gave me a starting point. I continued my search online and found the Greek American Foundation. I also found books in the public library, such as Corelli’s Mandolin and a history book on Greek-Americans. My search even went to finding songs on Spotify. I learned that my great-grandfather arrived in the US at Ellis Island, and even found the name of my great-great grandmother in the records from Ellis Island. We didn’t know if he had arrived at the port on Ellis Island, or another one, and when I found a book on searching through the Ellis Island Records online. I realized that I didn’t have to travel far to find out. Learning that he came to that port, made a difference because by searching the history of Ellis Island I could learn more about what my great-grandfather experience as an immigrant to the US. It was wonderful to do my own research just to learn and experience my heritage. It’s even made me want to pursue studying Greek-American literature in grad school.

Now it’s another March, now I’m wondering what can I learn and read relating to my Greek-American heritage. Though I’ve found some interesting fictional books (The Island by Victoria Hislop, Lipsi’s Daughter by Patty Apotolides, Falling in Love with Sophia by Robert Krantz, and The Green Shore by Natalie Bakopoulos). I’m sure there is more that I don’t even know about, that includes relating to history. It’s just a bit harder to find, unless you’ve studied it. I’ll keep searching this month, and explore what I find. 

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

I’ve thought about traveling to Europe, especially Greece. To learn more, but also to give me another setting to write about in my stories. Though I can’t afford traveling right now, maybe doing a some research could help me start writing stories about Greek-Americans, and Greece. I’ve written a poem about my desire to learn and experience Greece. One of my former professors even suggested to me that I could write a story similar to my great-grandparents, and he was also the one that told me that if I truly wanted to go to Greece, what was stopping me from doing so. I kept telling him that it was the cost, and he insisted that wasn’t a good enough reason. He said I could save up enough money to travel to Greece. As much as I try to save up money, I don’t think I’ll be traveling to Greece any time soon. Though I realized last year that there were other ways to experience Greece, without spending a lot of money. I had it all near by… the festivals, books,music and food. It not a lot, but for now it’s enough. Plus who knows what stories I might write with Greece as a focus.

Is there something about your family past that makes you curious to learn more about? If this applies to you, I recommend doing your own research and learning everything you can. You may never know what you might find, and what stories or poems might appear.