Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

November 1, 2012

Novelists write on

TAHLEQUAH — Novelists spend endless hours painstakingly choosing words, setting up scenes, building conflict, seeking resolution, and revising and editing.

November is National Novel Writing Month, and two local novelists, Layce Gardner and Saxon Bennett, agree that to be a “real” writer, you have to write every day.

“I don’t believe in writer’s block; I think [that excuse] is just writers being lazy,” said Gardner. “I mean, you might throw away everything you did that day, but you wrote. Writer’s block is code for ‘it’s too hard.’”

Gardner and Bennett both pen women’s romantic comedies. Gardner has had two novels published, “Tats,” and “Tats Too,” and will have a third published in May 2013. Bennett has published 14 novels, including “Family Affair,” which won the Goldie Award for General Fiction in 2009.

The pair share a home and work space, and often, ideas.

“We barter for ideas, and bounce ideas around together,” said Bennett.

Gardner agreed.

“Exactly. For instance, I got the ambulance chaser [for one of my stories], and Saxon got the woman who never paid admission at the museum,” she said.

The pair are often asked why they chose writing as a profession.

“I write because I don’t know how to stop,” said Gardner. “It’s not unusual for me to have 15 pieces on my [computer] desktop that I’m working on simultaneously.”

The novelists’ workspace includes a desk with a laptop where Gardner writes, and an overstuffed chair, where Bennett sits and works from a laptop.

“I used to write everything [in longhand] in composition books,” said Bennett. “The past two novels, I moved to working on a laptop. After transferring everything in the notebooks to the computer, I decided to cut out that one step.”

Both employ distractions to hone ideas for stories.

“I used to think I couldn’t write without smoking [cigarettes],” said Gardner, who has been tobacco-free for over two years. “I’d use the cigarette to stop writing, think and then rush back to my computer when an idea would hit me. Now, I clean and do other things.”

Bennett juggles and uses a yo-yo when she needs a break from writing.

For those aspiring to become novelists, Gardner and Bennett recommend reading and avoiding television.

“You really should read a lot,” said Bennett. “It also helps if you wait until you’re over 40, so you have some life experience to pull from. I read a lot, but while I’m reading, I’m also picking things apart, it develops muscle memory for writers.”

Writers agree it’s important to practice the craft every day, but what if quantity – not quality – was the ultimate goal?

The National Novel Writing Month – known as NaNoWriMo – organization challenges would-be novelists to spend the month of November concentrating on output, rather than cohesiveness of plot or finished product.

According to the organization’s website, participants begin writing at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 1, and the goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately  175 pages) novel by 11:59:59 p.m., Friday, Nov. 30.

“Because of the limited writing window, the only thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output,” states the site. “It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks and write on the fly.”

Event organizers believe that by making the commitment to write every day – regardless of quality - fledgling authors will permit themselves to make mistakes, and thereby grow more comfortable with the craft.

In 2011, NaNoWriMo had 256,618 participants, with 36,843 crossing the 50K finish line by the deadline.

Former Daily Press Staff Writer Betty Ridge, now retired and living elsewhere, is working on a memoir of her experiences from 35 years as a journalist in northeastern Oklahoma.

Ridge said journalism provided her a vast array of subject matter.

“One day, I was covering the first execution in Oklahoma in nearly a quarter century,” said Ridge. “Two days later, I covered a cow chip-throwing contest at the Muskogee State Fair.”

Although Ridge’s missive is non-fiction, she said the techniques used for publication are similar.

“While my work is based on memory and research, I have to use many of the same techniques as a novelist to make my story interesting,” said Ridge.

“There is plenty of dialogue, although mine comes from newspaper quotes. We have to set the scenes and tell our stories well.”

Ridge belongs to a seven-member writing group that attended a seminar in September in Midwest City. Four members are novelists, and the balance are non-fiction writers.

 

To see the complete version of this article, subscribe to the Daily Press e-edition by following the link below.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered every day to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Stocks