I

1 Nephi 1:1
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

I’m trying an experiment. I’ve found that writing is a form of pondering – a very powerful form of pondering, so I’m going to try reading the Book of Mormon slowly, writing about each verse. I would guess that this is the most widely read verse in the whole Book of Mormon, simply because it is the first verse. If I were going to explore the scriptures verse by verse, trying to get as much out of them as possible, I might start with a few questions about how this verse starts. I ask these questions, either because I don’t know the answer, or in hopes that in exploring the answers I already know, I might learn something new.
Why does Nephi write in first person? As far as I can tell, Moses, Isaiah, and most of the Old Testament prophets wrote in third person. Why then does Nephi choose 1st person for his narrative?

There you go. I’m already stuck on the word, “I.” I’ve just been doing a bit of searching, and so far I can’t find a reason. Any Ideas?

I Blew It!!!

I blew it. My first chance and I blew it!

I’ve had a silly idea for a long time. Jenni and I don’t have a TV, so we never see regular episodes of anything. We do rent movies on DVD and watch them on the computer, but we’re determined not to get a TV. I’ve been working on my most recent book quite a bit lately, and I was talking to someone about it, and how much fun it has been to write. When the person I was talking to said, “How do you get the time?!” I fumbled with stuff about getting up early or staying up late, and a little about determination, blah, blah, blah.

After I left, I slapped myself on the forehead. I forgot – completely forgot! See, I’d had this idea that if anyone ever asked me how I get time to write books or CD’s, I’d simply say, “I don’t watch TV, and in the time I would have been watching, I write.”

But I forgot. Blew it on my first chance. Oh, well. Guess I better give up movies so I’ll have more time to write more and when someone asks where I get the time, I can tell them I don’t watch anything at all…

Hmmm…

Nah.

Nano: Writing a Full-size Novel in a Month

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On November 1, Jenni I were about to get ready for bed when she mentioned to me that she had a friend who was going to write a novel in a month. When I asked why he was doing it, she told me about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, and how it was a group that challenged people to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I laughed, wondering what kind of goof would make such a ridiculous commitment. I love writing, but that would be way too much.

Still…

Then gears started turning in my head. “No,” I told myself, “I’m a nonfiction writer.”

Of course, I knew that wasn’t completely true. Anyone who’s been following the Synergetic Novel knows I’ve at least dabbled in the juvenile fiction genre.

Then my fingers started to itch.

“Argh…” I told myself, “but I’ve got a Christmas CD to be working on. I’ve got two other books in the works right now. Taking on another project would just back up their publication.”

But they wouldn’t be ready for publishing until next year anyway.

Then the laptop started calling my name. It was kind of creepy, actually.

So then I took a deep breath and realized that I would just have to look at the logistics of it all to convince myself that a commitment like that was impractical for my situation. First off, to get 50,000 words in a month, I’d have to write about 1,500 words a day – your average high-school essay. That’s not a big deal for a couple days, and every day for a whole month? But I knew I’d need weekends off. So at five days a week, I’d have to do 2000 words a day. Then I figured I’d need Thanksgiving weekend off. Let’s just round it up to 2,500 words a day.

No way. That’s like a five page essay a DAY! Six, if it includes a bit of dialogue! On a good writing day, I could get about 1,000 words an hour – if there was no research necessary.

Then I did a Google search to see what size novel 50,000 words was. According to my research,
The Giver is about 43,000 words, Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone is about 77,000, and Holes is about 47,000 or so. Even Charlottes Web is only about 32,000.

It was almost time for bed – and it was a weekend. If I were to do it, I’d have to start the next day anyway. I’d sleep on it. It’s always a bad idea to make a decision after 10pm.

As I showered and got ready for bed, a plot started floating around in my head. It was one I came up with years ago, but had finally rejected because it had too little message to it – a plot with no other purpose than entertainment. I’ve always had a hard time justifying working on a major project that didn’t have some kind of benefit to mankind. Maybe it’s the idealist in me, I don’t know.

But if I only had a month to write a book, it would be hard to write it with a grand moral message anyway. To do so would be to risk bombing the novel and the message. So if I was going to bomb a story by taking only a month to write the first draft, it may as well be on a meaningless story.

I didn’t dare decide that night whether or not to participate, but if I did decide to do it, I’d use that story.

With that thought on my mind, I went to bed.

Then the tossing, turning, sleepless night started. All I could think about was the stupid challenge. It was a horrid night, but for some reason, when I woke in the morning, I felt strangely fabulous. I suppose it was because I decided to do it. I determined that after the kids went to bed that night, I would get started.

What on earth was I thinking?!

But I was going to do it.

So how was it?

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It was A BLAST!!!

I truly loved it. I had no idea that writing a novel could be so fun. I’ve decided that with fiction, marathoning is the way to go. My first night I got 3,000 words just to give myself a jump-start. Every night after that I did 3,000 words again. I took weekends and Thanksgiving weekend off, and by the end of November, I had 64,000 words. Three days later (Dec 3), I had my last chapter finished, a bunch of plot-holes filled up, and 70,000 words written. So now I have the roughdraft for The Santa Code, and in a couple weeks (it’s always good to put it down and give it some time before redrafting) I’ll begin the second draft. If I do decide to publish it, I’ll let you all know when it’s ready. I hope to have it ready and published by October, since it’s sort of about a Christmas conspiracy, so the holidays would be a good release time.

Hard work? You better believe it. The biggest challenge for me was staying awake. I usually go to bed around 10:30pm, but now I was getting ready for bed at midnight, and still having to get up at 6:30am for work. While writing, I made sure to keep snacks and a couple arcade games on hand for five-minute wake-up breaks. Remarkably, I never got bored of the work, and though I did occasionally find myself getting distracted with research for the novel, it turned out to be very helpful.

If you love writing, you’d love doing a challenge like this. If you are thinking about it, just do it. You don’t even have to wait till next November when they run the challenge again. Just start writing. If writing isn’t an interest of yours, you probably wouldn’t like it, since it requires a few hours a day writing. But if you enjoy writing, do it! You’ll love it!

NaNoWriMo is an annual thing, so you can bet I’ll be at it again in a year. Yay Nano!

nanowinner2009

I Need a Writing/Critique Group!

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——–THANKS EVERYONE!!! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!  We got a writing group together and we are now full.  But if you’d like, we can start some kind of system for helping other people group into writing groups.  Just let me know.  At any rate, I’m leaving the original article up anyway.———

talltab1 Hey, all you writers out there, I have a favor to ask!  I need to be in a writing/critique group, and I’m not sure where to start.  I would be happy to either join one that already exists or start a new one.

talltab1 I’m kind of out in the boonies of Sanpete, Utah, so I can’t meet in person very often.  Most correspondence would have to take place online.  I mainly write LDS nonfiction, so it would be good if it were an LDS group that can help me keep doctrine pure, but most of what I have so far is memoir type stuff anyway.
talltab1 I have done a tiny bit of fiction, but not much.
talltab1 Are you in a writing group that needs another writer?  Do you know other LDS writers that are looking for a critique group?  Please let me know!  Either comment or email me.  I know there are a lot of opportunities for writers living near the city, but it’s hard for me to get up to Salt Lake or Utah county, so your help would be appreciated!

Thanks!

– Chas

chashathaway@gmail.com

Childrens Story: Mr. Johnson

I’ve mentioned my aspirations to write a Childrens book or two – well, here’s another go at it.  This one would portray a small child talking with a very old man named Mr. Johnson.  Thanks to Ezioman on flickr for the borrowed photo!

Old Man and Child

Mr. Johnson

“Mr. Johnson, I declare, haven’t you got any hair?”

“I’ve thought hard, my little scout, thought till all my hair fell out!”

“Why then are your eye’s so crinkly, why is your whole face all wrinkly?”

“Skin can slowly fold in half, each time I smile or start to laugh!”

“You don’t walk, you only hobble, when you try you start to wobble!”

“You can see all things are holy, when you try to walk more slowly.”

“Why then do your poor ears ring, so you can hardly hear a thing?”

“Greater voices that I hear, speak from the heart, not through the ear.”

“Even when you look at me, your eyes are much too dim to see.”

“The greatest things will always be, the things we do not hear or see!”

“Mr. Johnson, please reply, are you so old that you will die?”

“My child, my child, I think I might,
but everything will be alright.
Little one, come close and hear,
for death is not a thing to fear.
There came one once who made a way
so all will live again someday.
‘Follow me, and live’ He said,
and He Himself rose from the dead.
He taught us how to love and give,
he showed a better way to live.
And if we do the things we ought,
and live to follow as he taught,
then when our death comes beckoning,
our death will be a joyful thing!”

“Mr. Johnson, I don’t know, I will miss you if you go!”

“Yes, my child, I’ll miss you too, but I will still watch over you,
and when you come to join me then, we’ll be together once again!”

– Chas

My Musical Journey – What do you think?

Okay, ya’ll, I want your input!

If you REALLY don’t want to vote, just vote the “I don’t think I’ll vote this time!” one. There’s nothing required, and I won’t see who votes for what, so vote away! You can vote for more than one if want, too. Also, if you have ideas about that aren’t one of the options or if you want to expound on your response, either write in the little orange slot or just leave comments!

My Grandma: On Writing

My Grandma: On Writing

My Grandma was an amazing woman.  She died about 16 years ago, but she left some tapes behind for her posterity.  She was a writer, and a very talented one.  Here she speaks about it, and though writing is the subject, her words can apply to any art.

I have the same feelings toward music.