Navigation menu

Sunday, January 23, 2022

I'm Gonna Be (500 Words)

The Proclaimer's song, I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), gets me bouncing in the car seat every time I hear it on the car radio. I sing aloud loudly (and off-key). If you're unfortunate enough to never have heard it, I've included it at the end.

The number 500 hit me hard as I floundered for a way to get out of my rut. A friend asked me the other night, "What's going on with your new book?" I was lucky enough to get Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story published last spring, and am halfway through writing the first draft of a screenplay version, but before that--about five years ago--I started another manuscript. It began as a story about a young man (a student of mine) who was a guitarist and ends up channeling Emmett Till. When I got some criticism because my published book was not #OwnVoices, I switched the main character to a young female teen (I used to be one of those, a century or two ago) who suffered from depression (I did and do) who was a cutter (I never was).  I've got 26,000 words down, but it's been gathering dust for a few months.

                                                              image by Pixabay

So when my friend asked, "What's going on with your new book?" I channeled Edwin Starr and his song War when I replied.

"Absolutely nuthin'."

Since I'm obviously in some muddy rut, I looked up some articles about how to get out of one... how to jumpstart my writing again. There were the usual ideas like schedule a writing time every day (I can't do that; my day is always different and I have some sometimes-daily deadlines looming over me), change the viewpoint of the protagonist (did it) or give myself a reward when I make some goals (I already do that, rewarding my sluggish ways. I'll be big as a barn if I up the number of rewards). Then I hit on one that I think could work.

Commit to writing a number of words every day.

Which is where the number 500 came in. This is a goal that I think I can keep up, at least most days, because I can squeeze it in in the morning before I go to work, if I'm not already writing some quiz or worksheet at a furious pace to use that day with my students, or I could work on it before going to bed. Initially, I thought of NaNoWriMo numbers, 1,600 + words a day, but that's unrealistic (for me). 500 words is not even a front and back page. 

And then I returned to a book event I went to this past week. It was cold, but we huddled around a fire pit in a friend's backyard, discussing The Once and Future Witches. Five of us--all women--shared our opinions, our favorite lines, and then we got onto the subject of female power. One writer-reader friend asked each of us, "What witching powers were passed down to you?" When it got to me, the first thing I said was this:

"I was the middle daughter of a woman who gave up two daughters. She gave my older sister (Nancy) up for adoption, and Nancy ended up with a mother who was ashamed she had to adopt. I got parents who told me I was chosen, and made me think they looked at hundreds and hundreds of babies before they picked me. Part of my 'witching powers' was the power that comes from being incredibly wanted."

This morning, I went directly back to the idea of #OwnVoices... and I restarted my dust-covered story. Only this time, the protagonist is a teen who's grappling with their unknown biological past--along with depression. 

26,851 words in my old draft. 141 in my new draft... and as James Brown sang, "I feel good."

Sioux Roslawski is a middle school teacher, a dog rescuer and a novelist. Her first and only book baby (right now) is Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story, which can be ordered via Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Sioux's blot is Sioux's Page.



  1. Wonderful post. That song does stick - but the version I see (and hear) is the James Corden version. What a laugh. Your new version of your story sounds like a very interesting one. Happy writing!

  2. And I would walk ...

    Oh, wait. Writing, not music. Sorry. Love that Proclaimers song and I will sing it along with you. I don't even care if you are off key.

    I love that you have found a way to pull yourself back into this story. There are a lot of people who feel uncertain about their pasts in a wide variety of ways. I think that is something that will resonate with them.

    Good luck diving back into your writing!


  3. And I would walk, too. :-)

    Yes, I love this new concept. And as you know, I give myself a 500 word goal and almost always end up with more. You can do it, Sioux, off you go!

  4. Love the new direction! Sometimes it takes us stepping away from a project to get more clarity on it. I think 500 words a day is a solid goal to aim for.

    "And I would walk five hundred miles . . ." will be in my head for the rest of the day and I'm not made about it.

  5. Beverley--Thanks. (I haven't seen/heard Corden's version, but I love his "Crosswalk" productions.)

    Sue--Whether it's wise or not, I embrace the rough and broken parts of my past, since they had a big part in making me who I am.

    Cathy--I did not know that. I feel great, emulating a prolific writer like you.

    Renee--Yeah. It's such a foot-tapping, head shaking, torso swaying song. (I can dance about as well as I can sing, but I do a great chair/car seat dance.)

  6. Sioux, I LOVE the story about your witching powers! I could see that published as a micro. It's so empowering and could help others. I hope you tailor and submit it to a market like 100-Word Story. :)

    Good job on your word count and setting a daily goal. I'm excited about your project! :)


We love to hear from readers! Please leave a comment. :)