Tag: Jamundí

NaNoWriMo Day 30 – Victory!

And so, it is complete. I have defeated NaNoWriMo for only the second time in my life. Yesterday I rather fittingly decided to hunker down at the same Panera Bread where I beat it a day early all the way back in 2008, though this was one of the few times when I could have done so over the past few years – I’ve been all over the place since then. Last November found me in Colombia, the several before that found me in Central Illinois as a reporter. The very first one I defeated happened just as Barack Obama won election to the presidency the first time, and now here we are miles into his second term.

I have a few observations about this go-round. Firstly, I feel okay about what it is I wrote. I have the distinct feeling some things will ultimately be done away with, but I also feel as if the greater majority will remain. This writing also helped me get through a deeply muddy time in the book, when literally every character is moving in concert and it becomes difficult to keep them all straight. That is going to be a major difficulty moving forward, but it’s also important that it be done: The story is partly one of a town, and not just the three main characters. Some advice a girlfriend (at the time) told me was that I should peel back the other stuff, and she’s right. I think I overdid it in some scenes, but cutting is easier than producing, and if we must cut later, then we will.

Writing this in concert with reading The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub was also weirdly instructive in a few ways:

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In-between places (and a novel excerpt)

Orange Line elevated train stop at 35th & Archer, Chicago, 10 Sept. 2014 | Kenneth Lowe

Orange Line elevated train stop at 35th & Archer, Chicago, 10 Sept. 2014 | Kenneth Lowe

That’s my view on the way to the Orange Line each morning. I’m not 100% on being here in Chicago, but I do know that it is affording me some great opportunities that I did not have. Writers trade on experiences. One of the reasons I got into journalism originally was that I wanted to draw a paycheck for writing (heh), but another was that I knew it would give me broad license to go places and meet people that others do not.

As a reporter I met governors and senators and the ragged and unwashed people so many of their policies fail to help. You might recall people sneering about Barack Obama having been a “community organizer” ; I actually met community organizers, still have some on speed-dial, and I see the kind of work they do. I’m less intensive a reporter now, since my freelance is limited to document-driven pieces in the interest of avoiding any conflict of interest in my current public sector job, but I do still find myself feeling the outsider-looking-in feeling that I’m pretty sure every writer feels.

In that regard, one thing about my time living in the various places I have – suburbia, ag-industrial-rural nowhere, urban South America, City of Big Shoulders, &c. – has been my fascination with in-between places. In places like that, we all feel like outsiders.
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