Monthly Archives: July 2014


Blog day is upon me and I have not painted. I did accomplish something this week, though. I won Camp NaNoWriMo.

Ta da!

Ta da!

I may not have finished the novel I started last November, but I did write thirty thousand words in the month of July, and I did it without counting my weekly blog post or my daily morning pages. I actually hit thirty thousand on Monday, July 28th. My daughter saw that I broke twenty-nine thousand the day before and couldn’t believe I went to bed without going for the goal that day. There was no need. I had plenty of time and I was enjoying myself. I had already discovered that pushing myself too hard was not fun and I wanted to continue to have fun. It was easy to finish the next day and my daughter was here to help me validate. I never can find that little button when it’s time to go for the win.

It’s good that I was so close on Sunday because my other daughter came over to visit that day and she brought me a great temptation. She’s letting my borrow her 3DS and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. If you know me at all, you know how hard it was for me to do anything else once that game was in the house. For those who don’t know me, I should explain that I tend to become obsessed with video games and that The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was my favorite Nintendo game of all time.

I loved the first Zelda game, on the original NES. The second one, also on original NES, was not their best effort, but it was Zelda, so I played it anyway. Then they moved on to the Super Nintendo and came out with A Link to the Past. It was faithful to the original Zelda, but the graphics were so much better, it was like living in Hyrule. Hyrule was in danger and needed a hero. I had to be that hero.

The game my daughter is letting me borrow is the direct sequel to A Link to the Past. It’s a different story but everything in it is so familiar, it’s like coming home. I get to be a hero again. I get to go in search of the pendants which will prove I am worthy of the legendary Master Sword, hidden once more in the Lost Woods. Seven Sages, seven dungeons in the dark world, rupees, arrows, bombs…

Oh, my goodness! Bombs were the clue to solving a very difficult puzzle in A Link to the Past. I was stuck on it so long that, even now, when I’m worrying about any problem in my life, my husband will say, “Try throwing a bomb at it!”

I’m not kidding. That game was part of the fabric of my life as a young mother. Now I have the sequel in my house and I’m expected to accomplish other things? Hyrule is in danger again! It needs a hero!

I can’t believe I’m writing a blog post instead of swinging that Master Sword.



Orange hates me. Okay, maybe I started it. As secondary colors go, orange has always been my least favorite. I’m trying to give it a chance. I really am, but orange is just not playing along. Last week, I painted a big picture of some flame azaleas I photographed on my June trip to North Carolina. I shared it in last week’s blog post, even though I was far from satisfied with the orange flowers. It was a painting; it was a learning experience and it counted towards my goal of painting fifty paintings in my second blog year. Those oranges were really bothering me, though, so I decided to try again, on a much smaller scale.

Orange defeats me.

Orange defeats me.

I mean an itty bitty scale. This experiment did not go well. I kept trying and the oranges kept getting muddier. Eventually, I stopped trying and signed the thing. It’s a painting. It was a learning experience. It counts. I’ll probably gesso over it at some point, but for now I have plenty of itty bitty canvases. Feeling frustrated and staring at lots of leftover red, yellow and orange paint, I pulled out a piece of printer paper and started brushing paint on that. I wasn’t trying to come up with a pretty painting. I just wanted to come up with one pretty orange petal. Still no luck. Curse you, orange!

I’m not giving up in despair but I do think I will leave orange alone for a while. I need to paint something that makes me happy before I tangle with orange again. Meanwhile, I need to get thirty thousand words for Camp NaNoWriMo. As of right now, I am on track to finish by July thirtieth. That is assuming I get my nine hundred or so words today. I’m not sure that will happen, but if it doesn’t, I will just have to bake more pies and have another make-up day.

I may not be having success with my painting and I may be dragging my feet on the writing, but I can always bake. Pies, cookies … whatever it takes. Cookies made out of pie dough and filled with fig preserves…

Fig cookies

Fig cookies

I can do that.

Fun With Writring

I am caught up on my word count for Camp NaNoWriMo. Now I can meet my goal by doing about nine hundred words a day for the rest of July. As I suspected, the process did require pie.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Also cookies.
No-bake Cookies

No-bake Cookies

And my favorite flavored coffee.
Jamaican Me Crazy

Jamaican Me Crazy

And more pie.
Custard Pie

Custard Pie

And one big painting.
Flame Azaleas

Flame Azaleas

The scan is a bit fuzzy and it washed out the sky, which is blue, not white, in the actual painting. This is the biggest one I’ve done yet and it’s different from the rest in other ways, too. It was based on a photograph. I prefer to paint from life, but we saw some beautiful things when we were in North Carolina and I didn’t have time to paint on the Craggy Flats trail. That’s where I took the picture of flame azaleas on which this painting is based. The other difference is that I painted it in stages over several days, instead of all in one sitting.

Of course, the result is not all that I had hoped it would be, but it was a great learning experience. I tried new things. I can’t expect new things to work perfectly the very first time I try them. It’s called “trial and error” for a reason. I am happy that I was able to allow myself to make errors.

I should confess that the other reason I am caught up on my Camp NaNoWriMo word count is that I’m trying new things there, too. I haven’t dropped my word goal, but I have given myself permission to write whatever I want to write. I know I said I wanted to finish my novel from November, but I was so stuck that I was starting to feel like Mozart in that scene from Amadeus where Constanze is trying to get him to work on the Requiem and he looks at her with hollow eyes and says, “It’s killing me.”

Yeah… not a fun place to be. I want to finish that novel, but I’m not going to kill myself over it. This is Camp; it’s supposed to be fun. It can be any type of writing, not just a novel. It can be nonfiction. It can be a collection of poems or short stories. It can be a screenplay if that’s what you want to write. It can even be revisions of a novel you have already written. I’m still writing. I will write thirty thousand words in the month of July. They will all come from my head; I won’t have a character in my own novel read passages from some real, already-published novel to pad my word count. My daughter, who spends time on the NaNoWriMo forums, says that is a tactic some people use.

I may now be a NaNoWriMo rebel, but I’m not that much of rebel. I just set my inner artist free, that’s all. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, says that the inner artist is a child. You can’t make a child happy by dragging her, kicking and screaming, to a word processor and chaining her little hands to the keyboard. As soon as I told her she could write whatever she wanted, she started jumping up and down, clapping her hands and saying, “Really, really, really?”

A little freedom was all it took. Well…that and a whole lot of sweets.

Still Writing

Week two of Camp NaNoWriMo feels a lot like week two of regular NaNoWriMo. I don’t have enough words and I hate every one that I’ve written. I’m convinced that my story is crap and that I have no writing ability at all. A voice in my head is telling me to give up but I will not give up. I know this is how week two always feels.

The first year I participated in NaNoWriMo, I got behind on my word count because I decided to rest when I caught the flu. It was a good decision, but it meant that I got to late November and still needed way more than my planned two thousand words a day. Fortunately, Thanksgiving came early that year and I was able to take a make-up day on Black Friday.

I don’t shop on Black Friday. My usual tradition is to eat leftover pie and watch Christmas videos. That year, I pulled out my netbook and worked on my novel while I was eating leftover pie and watching Christmas videos. By the end of the day, I had made up my word count. I was also full of pie and Christmas spirit. It was an excellent make-up day.

I’m hoping to find one of those at some point during this Camp. I set myself a goal that I thought would be easy: thirty thousand words. I wrote fifty thousand words in November; how hard could thirty thousand be? I should learn not to ask those kinds of questions. I’ve finished eight days of Camp NaNoWriMo and only one of them was a thousand-word day. Some days, it’s a struggle to write five hundred.

One day, I wrote no words at all. It was a holiday, so I figured I could take a break. Unfortunately, there’s no leftover pie after Independence Day. We make ice cream for Independence Day. There’s no pie and there are no uplifting videos to watch. I’m not in the mood to watch Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas in July.

There’s another problem. All I want to do is paint. I spent most of this past week doing tie-dye inventory (we like to count things every quarter) and trying to work on my novel. The inventory is finally done. That should give me more time to work on my novel, but all I can think of is grabbing a canvas and splashing paint on it.

No, it’s weirder than that. Suddenly, I want to make a big painting. It would be easy to do something with a tiny canvas, claim that I painted, and move on. When I decided to allow myself a little painting time today, I thought I would do that. Instead, I grabbed the biggest toned canvas in my studio (okay, I’m lying about the studio. All of my painting supplies are on the dining room table because my creative space is full of tie-dye) and I started to plan how I would paint it.

Yes, you read that right – I said “plan.” I did a detailed sketch, with color notes, before I added any paint to my canvas. All I could get done in the time I had left was a few bits of sky. It was the most boring painting session imaginable and I loved it. I can’t wait to get back to it.



I don’t feel that way about my novel, but I know that’s normal for week two. I will paint, but I will also keep writing. I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo. I chose to participate. I made a commitment. I will follow through. I will get my thirty thousand words, one way or another. I don’t know how I’m going to manage that right now, but I’m pretty sure the process will involve pie.

Writing Again

When I won NaNoWriMo last November, I had a little over fifty thousand words, but I did not finish my story. I won, I printed out my winner’s certificate, I bought the T-shirt, and I put the story away. I figured I could finish it when things were not so hectic. I didn’t look at again until the day before yesterday. Why that day? It was Monday, June thirtieth – the day before the start of Camp NaNoWriMo.



Camp NaNoWriMo takes place twice a year and is described by some as “NaNo Light.” You can set your own word goal, starting as low as ten thousand words, and you can do any kind of writing. It doesn’t have to be a novel; it could be a memoir or a script or anything else you want to write. You also get cabin mates to help you in your Camp endeavors. My daughter has been doing it for years. She has tried to get me involved and I have always said a very definite, “No!”

I was sure that one intense writing month was enough for me, but this year, I thought of my poor unfinished story and I decided I wanted to finish it.

That’s what I’m doing for Camp NaNoWriMo, which started yesterday and ends on the last day of July. I’ve set my goal at thirty thousand words, though I really have no idea how many words it will take to finish the story. I am not a planner; I just sit down, start writing, and see where the story takes me. Right now, the story is at sea, heading for a hidden island sanctuary. It’s so well hidden, I’m not sure how my characters are going to find it, but that’s okay. There’s a character on the ship who knows and I am confident that she will get us there.

I’m hoping she will do it today. I started writing the sea voyage yesterday and I only got 527 words before bedtime. I thought it was a bit early in the game to be staying up past my bedtime to write, so I decided to have faith in my ability to catch up on a better day. I only need 968 words per day to meet my goal and I tell myself that should be easy, after the 1,667 I needed in November. As of my bedtime last night, I was the only person in my cabin who had officially written anything at all. That might make me feel superior if I didn’t know that my daughter is a night person. She was writing long after I went to bed. I’m sure she has passed my total with no trouble by now.

Knowing her, she has at least tripled it. Her goal is fifty thousand words and she has never set a NaNoWriMo goal that she has not met. Her first year, she lost two weeks to friendship crises and still finished with time to spare. Those of us who engage in word wars with her do it to increase our own word counts. I don’t know of anyone who has ever won a word war with my daughter. I wish I could say she gets her writing speed from me, but the truth is, I have trouble coming up with a five hundred word blog post once a week. I’m not a bad writer but I am also not a fast writer.

That’s okay. Camp NaNoWriMo has another interesting feature: you can drop your word goal at any time.