I’ve been awake since 4:08 am.  I do this every time I’m going somewhere that I’m excited to go.  Today, I’m driving four hours to the airport (the joys of living in rural America), and flying to Portland, Oregon to: 1) visit my sister and her kids and 2) attend a real live writing conference called the Willamette Writer’s Conference.  I’m the girl that could happily go to school and learn new things until I’m 95, so three whole days of workshops on writing makes me, well, wake up super happy at 4:00 am.

In honor of this, I decided to write an update on my writing, so here goes.

The Overlander’s Daughter – This is the working title of my novel in progress.  It is has two intertwined narratives; one is historical and one is contemporary.  This summer, I have focused mainly on the historical portion which is about a young woman on the Oregon Trail.  I haven’t gotten as much actual text written as I thought I would this summer, but I have done tons of research.  If you are ever wondering something about the Oregon Trail, ask.  I probably know the answer.  I’ve gotten just over 30,000 words written. I feel like reaching that number was a big milestone to reach though I’m not sure why.

I’ve learned quite a bit about my writing process through this project.  For each section, I write the key scene or most dramatic piece first.  Then, I write the rest of the scenes that surround the key scene.  It takes me about a week to research and really live with the characters in order to write the key scene, then, a bit to actually write that piece.

Finally, I write the “surrounding” scenes.  This whole process takes me two to three weeks, a little bit slower than I had anticipated.  I also have found, surprisingly, that I can often write and get my ideas flowing better by hand, but then I have to type everything up.  This takes a little more time, but by the time it’s typed, it’s already gone through one revision as I always add and delete as I’m typing.

Short Stories – I haven’t written any more short stories and the one I did write last spring has actually become a piece of the contemporary portion of my novel.  I’ve been reading lots of short stories, and I love them, I just haven’t been hit with one that needed me to write it down recently.

The Speaker’s Workshop – This is actually a project I started last summer, shelved when school started, and forgot about.  I’m not sure how I forgot about it so completely, but I did.  I was stunned when I “found” it.  I have the chapters outlined and two written.  It is non-fiction and some creative non-fiction.  It focuses on how to incorporate speaking activities into the secondary classroom. It is not just about “how to give a speech” but how to use speaking and discussion to promote critical thinking about literature and to develop writing as well.  It’s also a bit about my life in the classroom.  I’ve written a few pieces to incorporate into this, but I haven’t focused on it this summer.

Then there’s this blog which I’ve posted at least two times a week since I started and sometimes three, except for my vacation week.  Including all my character sketches, plot notes, blog entries, my personal journal, and the projects above, I’ve been writing . . . a lot.  Though it feels like I should be further along than I am on the above projects, I realize that I need to honor this creative process as well as my life.  It’s full, and it’s full of things I really love, like my kids, my husband, my quilts, my books, and now, my writing.  I have written almost everyday, I have learned a ton, and for now, I’ve decided to keep at it.