Posts Tagged ‘Nadia Clifford’

I am going to write a novel next month. Yes, just like that. A sci-fi novel that I have been procrastinating about for a while. I am going to let Siberian Daughter get some rest and work on something completely different.

First I thought maybe I should say “I am going to TRY to write a novel” or “I am going to START writing a novel”. Then I thought what the heck. If I start my public announcement so timidly it will take away from my own motivation.

There is this worldwide initiative called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. It provides crazy people like me with an online platform and a social network of encouragement to bang out  50,000 words in the month of November. They even have local meetings!

50,000 words is the length of an average novel. I have an idea, loads of motivation, and the month of November. Every day I keep wavering between keeping this experiment quiet or letting the world know. If I keep it quiet to myself, and I fail, no harm no foul, right? But then I miss out on a potential support from all my friends, and the benefit of not having to explain my temporary insanity come November.

But then if I fail I will have to admit it publicly.

So what’s considered a failure  when you set out to write a novel in a month? A failure is that you DO NOT write a novel. Well, I am not that gullible to believe that banging out 50K words would constitute a novel. It would be a pretty decent size first draft though.  And according to my favorite quote of Ernest Hemingway “The first draft of anything is shit”. I am not under pressure to deliver a masterpiece.

So is a failure then not writing 50K words? Even if I write half of that I would be pretty happy with myself. I will have overcome procrastination, will have learned something about my writing process, and will still have a draft to work with.

So what if I discover that I hate the idea of being a writer? The solitude of it, the constant internal monologue, the boring research.  Will that be a failure? No! That will just mean that I can stop moaning and groaning about wanting to be a writer, and channel my energy elsewhere with clear conscious. I tried.

So there is really no way to fail. Either way you look at it. I have been writing 750 words every day for a month, as part of a writing exercise. I will just need to double that.

So here it is then. I am going to write a novel in November.


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I recently gave an interview to Andrea Hessmo on writing a novel in English as a second language, on being an immigrant in the US, what I miss about Russia and what I don’t miss about it at all.

Now I think Russian only adds a specific color to my writing that I otherwise would not have had. It’s an asset rather than a disadvantage…

…My identity has gone through quite a transformation. First I came to the US as a wide-eyed young woman, eager to fit into the new culture and eager to build my life here. I did not know much about the American way of life but I dove right in. …

…The recent events in Russia upset me: blocking American adoptions, anti-gay laws, human rights abuses when people go to jail without fair trial, and many other things I am following online. I am sad that it is now becoming ever so fashionable to bash Russia, to identify it with Mr. Putin…

Read the full interview here.

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Getting Personal

Back in the fall I invested quite an effort into my new website and blog. I read books on building social platforms and blogging, spent more time than was reasonable selecting color schemes and fonts. I wrote several decent blog entries and then I disappeared, losing the delicate momentum.

I did have a pretty decent excuse not to write. And I feel compelled to explain that in my first comeback post. But my excuse is personal. After weeks of pondering, I still don’t know where to draw the line on personal in blogging.

Someone wisely told me to just find a balance by trial and error. And that’s what I am going to do. As my former coworkers know, I always advocate doing rather than pondering. And if you read my stories, please do let me know if they get too freakishly intimate or too dry.


My excuse was my own health crisis. Back in December I was hospitalized for a week, after months of a slowly deteriorating condition that suddenly reached its scary culmination. I was allowed to go home on Christmas Eve, just in time to watch the kids unwrap presents, most of which I had not bought or wrapped. I really have to thank my wonderful family, both my side and my husband’s. They all mobilized very quickly, on the day I had to be driven to ER and the kids needed someone to stay with them overnight. My future brother-in-law came on a moment’s notice, even though we live way out “in the sticks”. People drove hours to come stay at our house, cooked meals, sent flowers, bought and wrapped Christmas presents for my children, called, emailed, and texted while I was in the hospital.


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I first wrote this post for Art of Storytelling blog where it was posted on July 24, 2012

English-Russian DictionaryRead Part I of the post

I have developed my own approach to writing in English over many years. Even though I just started writing fiction in English, I had to write in English before.  My blog was one of the examples. I have also had to write a lot of business documentation in the last 15 years. I have always been known for poignant complaint letters.


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I first wrote this post for Art of Storytelling blog where it was posted on July 24, 2012


I nursed the idea of writing fiction for many years.  Just like for most budding writers the idea seemed both fascinating and daunting. One of the most intimidating factors for me was writing in English. English is my second language. (more…)

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