National Novel Writing Month is Here

Well, it’s finally upon us. National Novel Writing Month or NaNaWriMo, starts today. The challenge or goal is a 50,000 word manuscript by the end of the month (Nov. 30). That’s approximately 1,700 words per day for thirty days. A tall task to be sure, but I would urge everyone to join in on the fun. Who knows, maybe you’ll write the next great American novel.

I’ve technically already started mine, but I’m still committed to writing the 50,000 words by the end of the month and having a finished manuscript in hand come November 30. Good luck to everyone participating!

Jedidiah Jenkins

By: Thomas Belskie
October 16, 2017

If there’s one person out there right now who inspires me more than anyone else, its Jedidiah Jenkins. He’s inspiring not just as a writer (he’s an incredible writer), but as a person. A few years ago Jedidiah quit his job and decided to ride his bike all the way from Oregon to Patagonia and write a book about it, which is insane. But his reasoning for doing so was anything but insane. Listening to him talk about why he did decide to do it makes all the sense in the world to me. I’ve never heard a more eloquent perspective on living and what it means to be alive:

I want to be aware of every day I’m alive and I want to make it to 85 and be exhausted because I have been alive and awake every, single day. I think that’s the duty of being an adult. When you’re a kid, everything is new, so you don’t have to work for it, you’re just astonished by it. Once you’re an adult, that’s a choice. You choose adventure for your own life. But it’s not about the bike. It’s about getting out of your routine and that could look like anything. And that’s what I’m doing here, that’s why I’m doing this bike trip. Because I don’t want my days to control me. I don’t want my life — the calendar to be my boss. I want to control my days. I want to choose the adventures that I go on and I want to choose a mind and a soul that’s wide awake because, in a sense, it turns your 100 years on this planet into 1000. And so, I mean, that’s why I’m doing this bike trip.”

One of the most insightful things Jedidiah says in the short video about his trip is that, “the routine is the enemy of time. It makes it fly by. When you’re a kid, everything is astonishing. Everything is new, and so your brain is awake and turned on. So every passing second your brain is learning something new, learning how the world works, and so the muscle of your brain is activated. And as you get older and your brain has figured out the patterns of the way the world works, ‘this is how you make money, this is how you graduate school, this is how you get a mortgage, this is how you have kids — I’ve got that on lockdown. I know my car, I know how to go to work every day, I know how to check out,’ all these things. And once your brain establishes a routine, it stops — the alertness goes away — the fascination with the way the world works.”

I feel like I am at about that same point in my life as Jedidiah was when he had that realization. I think that’s why his story resonates so much with me. I’m realizing my 30’s are rapidly approaching and the idea of settling into a routine for the next several decades scares the shit out of me. It scares me enough that I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to take a path that lets me avoid having the coming decades whiz past me only to wake up one day an old man who just never took a shot.

A few months ago I was thinking about going back to school to get an M.B.A. and in a temporary bout of insanity, I even took some classes. Thankfully I snapped out of it.

He wrote a book about the experience and his Instagram bio says “My book comes out 2018” So, I hope that means early 2018. I can’t wait to read it, but in the meantime, I’d urge everyone to check him out on Instagram and read his posts. I don’t think anyone does it better than him.

My Favorite Quotes About Writing – Part 1

By: Thomas Belskie
October 12, 2017

  1. “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”
    -Ernest Hemingway
  2. “A writer without interest or sympathy for the foibles of his fellow man is not conceivable as a writer.”
    -Joseph Conrad
  3. “I went for years without finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.”
    -Erica Jung
  4. “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but its the only way you can do anything really good.”
    -William Faulkner
  5. “You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have to say something.”
    -F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
    -Maya Angelou
  7. “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
    -Elmore Leonard 
  8. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
    -Anton Chekov
  9. “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
    -Stephen King
  10. “There are three rules for writing a novel…unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
    -W. Somerset Maugham

Some Thoughts About the Pro-Life Movement

September 21, 2017
By: Thomas Belskie

There’s a lot of hot-button, political issues where I just can’t understand or wrap my head around why people feel the way they do. I stare at them in disbelief or curse their stupidity under my breath as my insides slowly boil with rage when I listen to them espouse their backward, irrational, and often what I would consider, dangerous, beliefs.

But there is one issue where I can understand the other side. Pro-lifers, while I personally may not agree with them, I get where they’re coming from. I can wrap my head around that. I mean, who would want to kill babies? You’d have to be a sick person to want that, right? I have no problem wrapping my head around the impetus to want to protect the unborn.

Unfortunately, that’s where my understanding stops. I’d have a lot more respect and might even agree with the Pro-Life movement if they didn’t so strongly align themselves with one party because of this one issue.

If you want to tout yourself as pro-life, fine. But it is the height of hypocrisy to vote for candidates who want to eviscerate the “welfare state,” after-school programs, gut funding for public education, and destroy teachers unions among many other policies that would have disastrous impacts on poor and underprivileged children.

I heard a joke, shortly after the “president” unveiled his proposed budget plan that went something like, ‘how do you get Republicans to care about kids?’ The punchline, while funny, was also sickeningly true: ‘you jam them back in the fetuses.’

I don’t want to attack anyone here, but rather implore the Pro-Life movement to consider the bigger picture. Give these unborn children you are fighting so hard to save a real shot when they come into the world. If you’re pro-life, you should be for all life. You should demand that your party do more.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the anecdotal Fox News report about some women who receive eleven welfare checks every month and hasn’t looked for a job in years and is just totally scamming the government. It probably makes you mad, but it’s small potatoes. The overwhelming majority of people who benefit from social welfare programs are children.

Don’t just fight for them to be born, keep fighting for them long after that. It’s the only way you can possibly stay morally consistent. I can respect moral consistency.

 

Preparing for National Novel Writing Month

September 12, 2017
By: Thomas Belskie

National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO), is just around the corner (November). I’ve never participated in this event but have always wanted to and it just so happens I am in the process of writing a novel. The idea behind it is to write a (short) novel in thirty days. At the end of the month, you should approximately 50,000 words.

So while I am excited to participate, there’s also no sense in waiting around. I’m already preparing for and getting myself warmed up. Today’s goal is 1500 words. Join me in preparing for national novel writing month! By the time November rolls around it will feel like a cakewalk.

First Novel Update

As none of you know (because no one reads this blog, yet), I’m working on my first novel. This will be my first “update” about it and my progress. The working title is “Breaking Free,” it will probably be told entirely from the second person point of view, and I’m approximately 5,000 words in.

I don’t know exactly what it’s about yet, but I have a good idea where it’s heading. My goal is to have it finished by January 2018. It’s probably going to be on the short side as far as novels go, maybe between 50,000 and 75,000 words.

From what I’m told and read, writing an entire novel in the second person is a horrible mistake, but I don’t care. One, because I’m a badass and it’ll be great anyway and two, because who cares? I’ll be lucky if five people who aren’t my friends or related to me read it anyway so I’m just going to go for it.