2013 in review: 99 posts!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog, which is very nice of them, I think. Although I definitely tapered off in December, I managed to post 99 times in 2013, putting my total at 309 posts. So that’s something to be proud of!

Here’s an excerpt from the complete report:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Pretty cool, huh?

Click here to see the complete report.

Gift guide for writers


So you have a writer in your life, and it’s that holiday season when you have to start thinking of gifts. Well, you’ve come to the right poem, my friend!

Gifts for the Writers in Your Life

Need a gift for writer friends? Here’s how you will succeed

(’Tis an easy task because there’s so much that they need)

You could get a coffee mug with words that he might say

Like “Can’t you see I’m writing? Why don’t you go away?”

Magnets for the frig can please the nerdier of folks

Ones that tell us “Don’t verb nouns!” or make bad grammar jokes

A mouse pad with a writer’s quote could be the inspiration

That prompts her fingertips to type a stunning new creation

We all know that raw talent takes the writer just so far

To supplement, he’s going to need some liquor from the bar

Hemingway and Faulkner knew the power of a drink

You need enough to lubricate the mind so you can think

The other liquid gift that helps the writer reach her goal

Is java by the pound to fuel the body and the soul

So whether she’s a Starbucks fan or in the camp of Peet’s

She would welcome coffee alongside some tasty treats

fountain pen

Then there are your journals and your fancy fountain pens

Which some will like, but others won’t—it really just depends

On how much he or she embraces new technology

They might just want a laptop, which of course is far from free

Reference books are practical, and they last a while

Get the latest version of Chicago Manual of Style

A thesaurus would be nice, or perhaps a dictionary

Although the ones online are so much easier to carry…

Once the novel’s written, there are how-to books to buy

The Idiot’s Guide to Publishing is one that you might try

Or Publishing Made Easy or How to Write a Query

But be forewarned that reading these may make a writer weary

If you’re feeling generous, you could make the offer

To dig a little deeper in your Christmas-giving coffer

Send her on a dream retreat—the kind that writers take

Where she can write for hours or just walk around a lake

xmas stocking 4 writers

I wish you luck in shopping for the writer in your life

Whether it’s your brother, husband, daughter, or your wife

It really doesn’t matter what you spend or where you look

Writers have but one wish—land a contract for their book

Another NaNoWriMo gone by…

nanowrimo logo

I had toyed with the idea for a few years but had never made the commitment. The idea behind National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) is to encourage writers to spend the month of November penning a novel from start to finish. Many people spend all of October preparing. I decided to do it on November 1. Here’s a summary of my log entries since I stopped writing them online on Day 2:

Day 3: I discovered that on my NaNoWriMo page, all the calculations are done for me: how many words I have to go, how many words per day I’ll need to write in order to catch up, and even the date I would reach 50,000 at my current rate, which is in May of 2014. None of this makes me feel better, but at least I no longer have to do the math myself…

Day 5: I’m up to 3112 words. If I continue at this rate, I can finish my novel some time in January instead of May. Progress!

Day 6: I still haven’t gotten the hang of 1667 words a day, but I do have a total of 4072.

Day 8: Today is complicated by the fact that I have to write an entire play in four days, which is likely to put my novel on the back burner…

Day 9: I join fellow NaNoWriMo folks at a write-a-thon at a bakery, having ducked out of my Weight Watchers meeting to make time. So it’s likely that I’ll gain weight over this novel business. But it’s all worth it because I get my 5K sticker for passing 5000 words. I proudly affix the sticker to my laptop.

Day ?: Perhaps it’s what they call the second week doldrums or perhaps I realize that I still have a job that requires me to do something other than write a novel, but I lose track of time and words.

Day 15: How did that happen? The month is half over! I’ve only reached 7207. The good news is that I find out that my play is being staged at Berkeley Rep, which means I spend the rest of the morning emailing everyone I know and promoting the play on Facebook instead of writing my novel.

Day 18: I’m up to 8095, but I don’t go to my NaNoWriMo page because it would be too depressing to see how far behind I am.

Day 19: Tomorrow I should reach 10,000, which is only a fifth of the way there but is still 10,000 more than if I hadn’t attempted NaNoWriMo at all!

Day 20: Enough with the hopeful self-talk. I’m not going to reach 50,000 words. But I’m determined to make this experience worthwhile. I’m just going to focus on writing every day and learn from this, so that I can be ready next year.

Day 23: I peek at my stats. I’ve written 10,245 words. I get a pirate sticker for passing 10,000. To achieve my goal, I would need to write 39,755 words in the next eight days, which would require me to crank out 4,970 words per day.

Thanksgiving: I may not have made much progress in my novel, but I am thankful for other writing I’ve done this week—two articles for my club newsletter, eight critiques on fellow playwrights’ ten-minute plays, two blog posts, and a long poem. (Do to-do lists count?)

Day 30: I go to Berkeley’s main library where nine others are still trying to reach 50,000 in a last-day NaNoWriMo write-a-thon. No prizes for me, but there’s cider and brownies!

Okay, so I didn’t write a novel in a month, but I now have several chapters of a novel. And that’s 13,011 more words than I’d have written had I not taken up the challenge. Plus, I got this blog post out of it.