NaNo Nutshell

In a NaNo Nutshell, everyone should be encouraged to write and express themselves. I visit schools and inspire students to see words as magic and to be unafraid to use them. As a kid, I wrote out new vocabulary words and carried them around. I tried these new words out on school mates, but they laughed at me and told me to shut up. I kept using them, but not so much in conversation. I was a dreamy girl trying out new words in ridiculous ways. I think all children and adults should be so ridiculous.

However, having a profession as a writer is another matter. What other profession would be so disrespected? One where many people think they can do what you do without considering the cost? One where just about everyone is writing a novel or claiming they should write one, and then inundating publishers and agents with ill prepared and sloppy writing? I had a Victorian tea catering business years ago; I am a known baker in these parts and I’m also working on a recipe/essay book. However, I would never apply for a job at a five star restaurant for the position of pastry chef! I’m not trained. My husband’s engineering company would not hire an applicant for an engineer position unless they had the education, skills, training, etc. I wouldn’t apply for a dance teacher position, or audition at a theater as a dancer. I am not trained, although I’ve danced for years. But with writing, too many people think they can do it without skill, education, talent, hard labor, etc. Long ago, publishing houses had so many slush piles that they closed their doors to unsolicited manuscripts. And I can’t believe that many of those slush piles contained polished writing. People write out of some kind of drunken, playing the lottery frenzy and then send it out as is. Piles and piles of words not well thought out before spoken on the page.

However, having a deadline and a means to free up someone who has dreamed of writing is a good thing. And even for experienced writers, a kick in the pants marathon can move them out of procrastination and discouragement.

I have been guilty of thronging the market with poor writing, too. I am not the most skilled and honed writer. I am in process and still in training. But I’ve also learned something about this marketplace. And I have writing heroes whom I know have more experience and have given blood, sweat, and tears to this profession. I don’t assume myself to be in the same place they are in. I have fallen down and gotten up many times; I have gone to school, worked with mentors, been in writing groups, re-written and re-written, had epiphanies, gave up and started again a day later. I have paid a lot of dues. And now is the time in my life I would like to have my words shine out there, inform and touch lives, entertain, and yes, bring some affirmation. But I’m up against so many odds and I see the glaring, blaring, superficial, artificial, and crazy marketplace (and a great deal of this dumbing down thing) and oftentimes I don’t see where I fit. Maybe this reaction to marathon writing is also because I’ve sat at too many book events where people came to my table for up to an hour and talked to me about their novels they are writing or dreaming of writing…and then walked away without purchasing my $8.00 books. I have helped other writers, encouraged them…in fact, I just did on Saturday. I encourage people to not put their writing dream on the back burner, but to also expect to sacrifice time (more than a month) and to expect to do a lot of re-writing, re-writing, re-writing, as well as crying. It is as it should be. This quote really says it straight, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” (Red Smith)

About cynthianeale

I am the author of The Irish Dresser Series that includes The Irish Milliner and Norah, The Making of an Irish-American Woman in 19th Century New York (Fireship Press), two young adult historical fiction novels, The Irish Dresser and Hope in New York City (White Mane), and Pavlova in a Hat Box, Sweet Memories & Desserts. I’ve written a screenplay, The Irish Dresser series, adapted from these works and I’m ready to sell! My historical fiction novel, Catharine, Queen of the Tumbling Waters, a story about a real life Native American/French woman set during the French and Indian War and American Revolution in Pennsylvania and New York is being released in April 2023 by Bedazzled Publishers. I write plays, screenplays, essays, and short stories. I am a native of the Finger Lakes region in New York and reside in New Hampshire. I enjoy reading, writing, Irish set dancing, waltzing, walking, learning about nature, traveling, painting, baking fanciful desserts, kayaking, creating events for food, dance, and fund raising, invisible volunteering, laughing until it hurts, and dreaming about possibilities.
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3 Responses to NaNo Nutshell

  1. Cynthia walks her talk, and writes it, too. I know: I am one of the aforementioned writers she has encouraged… sometimes gently, and other times with a kick up the arse (when needed, which is usually in my case).

    Now I write, sorely but surely, just so she won’t get out those kicking boots again.


  2. Anyone who reads your work can see the enormous magic you weave, creating a whole time and place and character who breathes and hopes… But it’s true that many people do not appreciate what hard work writing is, how much effort and sacrifice it takes to do it well. Just like so many other professions that obviously require a certain level of excellence. Perhaps because there are so many different kinds of book and of writers. Artists (painters, etc.) and musicians face the same thing as do chefs and actors, I imagine . I bet a lot of people think acting is easy, but I have a feeling it is really truly a profession that requires learning a “craft.” But since actors and writers seem to be everywhere, how hard can it be? some think.

    I have learned when out socially among strangers that I seldom say I have a publishing company. I always say I am a book designer, which is true. If I say I have a publishing company, I can almost guarantee that person, or their spouse, or sibling or close friend has written a book or wants to write a book and can I help. Would I please explain it all to them right now or better yet, just make it happen for them in a short time because they’ve been hoping and thinking about this for a while (but not going to school, researching, reading books about writing, or … writing).

    I’ve decided this must be human nature, and maybe even particular to American society, to think a bit of knowledge practically qualifies one to be so near to being successful and an expert, that we can just skip ahead and see ourselves that way. “I could do that!” is almost as good as “I did do that.” I’ve been guilty of that in my life in a few areas as well.

    I guess the upside of all of this is that people want to be writers, even if they are not pursuing that with professional diligence, because in our society we respect writers and books. We know it is meaningful and special. We know it is magical and we want to have some of that for ourselves. If these folks only knew how much writers value readers!

  3. Nancy Kelley says:

    Thank you, Cynthia, for your poetic and well-constructed insights into the life and mind of a writer. In our market driven age, these are encouraging words, especially for this practitioner of the ‘re-write, re-write, re-write.’

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