November: A Month of Writing Challenges

First of all, HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Aside from pumpkins, costumes, and too much candy, how was your October? Mine started off with a bang. I graduated from Dr. Mira Reisbergs Picture Book Academy, I finalized two of my favorite picture book manuscripts and sent them off to agents, and I wrote a magazine article that is currently looking for a home.

But something happened during the second half of October. First, I received four rejections in one day (Ouch!). Then I checked out a stack full of Halloween picture books from the library to read to my kids. A couple of the books were delightful, but I was disappointed with the majority of them. Really disappointed. I couldnt help but wonder, how did these books get published while my clearly brilliant manuscripts are collecting dust in the recycling bin? I felt the fire within me start to fizzle out. Maybe I am not cut out for this. Maybe I really dont know what Im doing. Maybe I should just give up.

Thankfully, I found a match (actually two) to relight my writing flame.  I will be participating in two challenges in the month of November: NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo.

Lets start with NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. That breaks down to about 1,667 words a day. Im extremely nervous because Ive never written a novel. But Im also extremely excited because Ive always wanted to write a novel. Ive been gearing up for this one for a while now. I have a Young Adult mystery/thriller novel in my head which I have roughly outlined on my computer. It involves a teenage girl at a prestigious summer riding academy. It involves a ghost story, a missing woman, a creepy barn hand, a cute boy, and plenty of horses. I was going to call my novel Ghost Rider, but after doing a quick search on Amazon I discovered there are approximately 27 other published books with the same title. Back to the drawing board on that one . . .

The second challenge, exclusively for picture book writers, is Tara Lazars PiBoIdMo or Picture Book Idea Month.  The challenge here is to come up with one idea for a picture book every day so by the end of the month you have thirty ideas for books you can write in the coming year.  I have to admit, Im probably going to cheat a little on this one because I am constantly thinking of ideas for picture books.  If you dont believe me, look at my white board.  It looks like a crazy person lives here.  Ive been saving up my ideas for the last couple weeks, so I think I have my first 10 days covered already.  Sshhhh!  Dont tell anyone.

Now, both of these challenges are on the honor system.  I have no responsibility to report my actual productivity to anyone, but I am going to keep my faithful blog followers updated on my progress.  Ill post one update mid-month and Ill check in again on November 30th to let you know if I completed the challenges.  Hopefully, Ill have finished a first draft of a novel at the end of this.  Note, I didnt say it would be a GOOD novel.  So, are any of you joining me?  Please let me know!  We can cheer each other on!

A New Horse in My Life

Im taking a break from writing about writing today to write about my other favorite topic yep, horses! Over the last few months, there have been a lot of changes at the barn where I ride. My riding instructor retired at the end of September and sold many of her horses, including the horse I was previously leasing, Edoras. Sadly, I could not purchase Edoras due to financial and time constraints. (Big sigh). But as my husband likes to lovingly remind me, No one feels sorry for you, Laura. I know hes right. And no one should feel sorry for me because, despite not being able to purchase Edoras, good things are happening.

First, theres a new horse in my life. His name is Louie. Where should I start? Hes so stinking cute, I cant stand it! Hes a 10-year-old, black, appendix Quarter Horse who Im now half-leasing. That means I get to ride him three days a week. As far as the jumping goes, hes still a little green (a.k.a. not fully trained), but he always tries hard to do the right the thing. At 15.2 hands, hes not a big horse and not as sleek and athletic as Edoras, but he can jump over 3 feet with ease. And he has the most lovable personality. Hes quick to nuzzle and happily receives hugs (and treats!) He may be a little horse, but he has a TREMENDOUS stride and a heart of gold. Wait a second. This sounds like inspiration for a picture book, doesnt it? But I digress . . .

Secondly, I have a new riding instructor who is amazing. Ive already learned a ton from the first three lessons. I was so nervous during my first lesson with her that I think I forgot to breathe for the first 15 minutes.  She has a very positive teaching style, which is refreshing in a sport where yelling at and berating riders is often the norm.  She observes things about my riding that Ive never noticed before.  It has already benefited me to receive feedback from another instructor with a new perspective.  In the end, it will help me become a better rider.

So, I guess the moral of this story is that change, although sometimes difficult and scary, can also be good.  If dealt with productively, change allows us to challenge ourselves, view things from other perspectives, seize new opportunities, and, ultimately, grow to reach our full potential.

Happy writing and riding!