Tuesday, November 25, 2008

words, words, words

This is just a quick update to let you know I'm still here, still alive and that I will be back in full force soon.

I'm still pushing my way through NoNoWriMo. In the last 23 days I've written over 43,000 words. That's a lot, at least for me.

For the most part I'm really enjoying it, the story has only fought be at one or two points, the rest of the time it's been a romp through my imagination and vocabulary. Some of the words I've gotten to play with have included:
  • susurrus
  • moonglade
  • filigree
  • bannock
and more. Whew!

Once I finish I'll be back here, rambling and writing as always. I'd welcome any topics suggestions, story requests, etc. In the meantime, take care and have a Happy Thanksgiving (if you celebrate it) and a lovely remainder of November.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The written word

I am participating in NaNoWriMo again this year. For those of you who may not know, NaNoWriMo is a breakneck attempt to write a novel of 50,000 words in one month. The theory is that if you have a deadline you are more likely to strive to meet it, more likely to finish. At the end of the month you end up with a novel, albeit in all likelihood a crappy one.

I participated last year and had a blast, finished a novel of over 50,000 words and developed a better writing discipline than I've ever had in my life. This blog was born out of NaNoWriMo; after I finished the novel I really wanted to keep writing with some real level of intensity but wanted an audience and purpose. While I love writing, doing so without an audience or deadline is challenging, so I began blogging.

I've written before on the differences between writing and telling. It's a tricky thing, writing my told stories seems to suck the life out of them, but I am trying, for this year's NaNoWriMo, to write down some of the stories I tell, the Crazy Jane stories in particular. I decided to risk this for a couple of reasons.
  • I know these stories really well, they're in my bones and blood. I think they will remain alive even if I write them down. The characters are so much a part of me that I have some confidence that becoming written won't hurt them.
  • These are really good stories; frankly, these are really good characters, people I love. If I were to be hit by a bus tomorrow I want to know they won't be lost.
  • And I am enjoying the chance to really craft them. Usually it's the play with the audience I love, but here I have the chance to pick out just the right word, take the time to consider synonyms and the luxury of detail.
So this feels like a risk. But oh, it feels so good to be writing like this again, thousands of words every day, letting my fingers be a direct conduit for my imagination. I'm sure blogging will be affected for the month; I'm equally sure my writing life will change again after doing this a second time. It will be interesting seeing where the journey takes me. thanks for being patient with me.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

We are the change we're looking for

Now the work really begins. Creative Commons License


Like millions of others, I voted this morning. Like millions of others, I stood in line. This was the first time in my voting life that I've ever had to stand in line to vote. We take voting for granted in this country.

I was so very glad to stand in line, so proud of my neighbors for coming out and standing there at 7:00 in the morning, waiting to have their say. I kept getting teary. There were parents with their kids and I remembered my mother bringing me into the voting booth with her, remembered her explaining to me that it's important to vote and this is how you do it.

As I was walking to the polls I passed an older white woman slowly making her way back home after voting. She had an "I voted" sticker on and a big Obama button. I stopped to tell her I liked her button; she lifted up her fist and said, "He's my man." That made my morning, gave me hope and energy to smile my way through the line, through the ballot and onto the day.

Good luck to you today. May your lines be joyful and the weather fine.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer
Creative Commons License

Monday, November 3, 2008

And words to carry us into tomorrow

For everyone who has argued, fought, called, voted, rallied.

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

-- William Shakespeare, Henry the IV

And for tomorrow, a site to watch:
http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/ Creative Commons License

Hope in action

I have been afraid to hope for the last two years. Afraid to hope that maybe, just maybe the American people might vote for real, substantive change. After the presidential elections in 2004 I felt so deeply disillusioned by the voting and non-voting populace that I lost hope.

But now... I am finally feeling hope leak out through my pores. I am finally thinking that there might be a reason to believe in the better angels of our nature.

I don't know what will happen tomorrow. I do know that each and every one of us has the chance to have our say.

Get out and hope. Vote.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

Stepping out of context

I love traveling though I don't do so all that often. I'm not talking about work trips, where you go someplace and only see the inside of a conference facility or an office building. I'm talking about the kind of trip where you go somewhere and are reminded that the world is so big, that you are so small and that there is very little difference between you and the next person.

None of these observations are original, of course, but I am reminded of this quite forcefully after the last few days. I've been traveling a lot lately, all for work. I've seen more hotels and conference centers and tourist meccas in the last eight weeks than I would have expected. These were by-and-large good trips, fruitful and interesting. I met a lot of good people and was reminded that there is at least a variety of geography on this planet, but none of these trips gave me the opportunity to explore, to step out of my rushed working self. None of these trips were anything other than my usual self in a slightly different physical context.

Last week I actually took a vacation, a trip to Vancouver, BC. It was a really good visit, lots of mini-adventures, but the best part was this: It did what a vacation was supposed to do. By stepping out of the context of my own life (the everyday stresses, the regular routines, etc etc) I was able to get some distance and clarity on where and who I am right now. I felt as though I was coming home to myself for all that I was thousands of miles from my physical home.

It's hard to do that in my everyday context; it's too easy to be distracted by the mundane concerns. I needed to be far away, where I had to figure out new buses and money and slang, to remember who I am, to remember that the baggage I carry isn't necessarily all that weighty, to remember that I am not merely my everyday routine. I would like to think I could do this at home, but I'm not sure, I think I needed to go away to remember.

It was a good trip. And I'm glad to be home, having left some of my baggage far away.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer
Creative Commons License
True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.truestorieshonestlies.blogspot.com.
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