WHEW! NaNoWriMo is Over…Bring on the next deadline!

I am not going to pretend or try to fool you, dear reader, that NaNoWriMo was a successful undertaking for me this year.  Alas, it was a dismal failure!  Again, circumstances beyond my control intervened in my completion of this noble task.

So, I am going to do what I do every year.

Go back to doing what I was doing before.  An obvious choice, perhaps, but one that suits me well.

And for the short term, there is a local short story contest upon which I have honed my focus.  It’s just a week from the due date, so I need to focus in on that somehow, with my one local story that is “almost” done being the thing that needs the fixerating.  It probably needs some major editing, what with a 2500 word limit, but I will, again accept the challenge with hopefulness in my heart and willingness in my hands.

Let’s see if I can complete *this* one, dear readers.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Good luck in your own pursuits!  Now, where did I leave that second cup of coffee….?

+++This message brought to you by a stress-addled mind+++

Keep calm and spike your coffee with rum!

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NaNoWriMo: Five Confessions!

Sigh.

Confession #1.  My word count, as of today, is 10,017/50,000.

This is good, because it’s better than nothing.  This is bad, because the goal for this day, in the middle of the month, is more like 25,000/50,000.  I’m only 14,983 behind.  Unfortunately, this is more than I can make up in one night.

Confession #2.  I am tempted to quit.

See?  This is where I was each of the previous years I decided to partake in NaNoWriMo.  Two weeks in and already so far behind that I feel like I can’t catch up.

So, let’s see if I can talk myself out of it with some rational numbers.  If I can write 2,665 words a day from here on out, I can still hit the goal by November 30th.  It’s not out of the question.  There may be hope?

Confession #3.  I am a really slow writer when it comes to writing in longhand.

Even when I pick up the pace, it takes me about 2.5 hours to write the original goal of 1,667/night with my pen and paper.   Actually, it ‘s pencil, but who is keeping score on that?  So…I have got to turn to typing.  As if with fingers ablaze!  I acutally type about 60 wpm, so with *that* math, it should only take me about 44 minutes to write that much a day.  Easy, peasy.  Right?

Sigh.

The problem with typing is that it doesn’t, for whatever reason, incite the same sort of creative spark that writing on paper gives me.  I wish it did…I really, really do!  But, gosh darn it, it just doesn’t.  At least, not yet.

Confession #4.  I am not in love with my character anymore, and I want her to hurry up and get where she is going.

So…yeah.  I have been writing this story chronologically.  I am stuck in El Paso with a runaway.  She is 18, but kind of…too methodical and beseiged by guilt/sadness to “get a move on.”  Plot twists present themselves and I think, “No, not this girl.  She wouldn’t take that bait.  She is too ____ to do that.”  Or I might think, “I should just skip her out of El Paso to someplace more interesting.”  But then I tell myself I am getting ahead of myself.

I think it is time to give myself permission to write whatever part of the freaking story/character I feel like writing and stop being so…controlling…about it.  Just putting that thought into words is like a little golden apple someone just dropped into my pocket.  How exciting!

Confession #5.  I can’t stop thinking about all the other stories on my “to do” list.

I think it’s because I’m getting into writing again, those favoritest characters of mine are just piping up in the back row of my brain with arms flailing, screaming “pick me! pick me!”  Or maybe it’s a grass is greener in the other story kind of thing.  Or maybe this whole NaNoWriMo method of bucking the system and “focusing” on a single project is difficult for my brain to catch hold of.  I mean, I literally have an excel spreadsheet with like 10 tabs in it to capture story ideas and character details so they won’t float away.  It’s a good exercise, though.  Deadlines and the like.  I get it.  I even want to do that.  It’s just hard to keep the creative juices flowing with just one flavor.  I don’t really have a solution for this confession except to tell myself, “Sit! Stay! Work!”

I’m sure we’ll all survive.  Somehow.  Hopefully, not by quitting.  Again.

Happy NaNoWriMo Eve!

I found this list from another author…you may know him as the man who wrote Tropic of
Cancer (oh so scandalous back in the day!), Henry Miller:

Writer’s, write!

I wish (with eyes closed and heels clicking) that writing…the art and craft and community of it all…can become my primary, sustaining, fervent, fulfilling work.

There is no reason to be waiting until tomorrow to do any of it.  But tomorrow, I start on THE project of the month…that 1,667 words a day undertaking…the one I will do my best to apply the above rules to.  I AM going to have to shoehorn it into my life, but once I get my foot in there, I am going to wear it out like my favorite pair of pennyloafers.

Church of the Palomino…if I have time for it, I will pluck and pin and reshape it into the thing I want it to be…it is still not quite “there” yet, so I am going to have to put you aside for a while.

Tonight (and surely, I should have done this already), I am going to set up my workspace for NaNoWriMo.  The pencils and pencil sharpener will be within reach, the notebooks meant to capture this particular story will be stacked and ready.  I have decided NOT to do this on my computer because I write better in longhand first.  First pass editing happens electronically.  There is no time for editing with NaNoWriMo.  I DO need to set up a particular playlist on my ipod and/or queue up my favorite CDs, so I have no excuse to go looking for them when it is time to write.  And now that I am thinking about it, I need to have a writing “outfit” ready to go, too.  I know that sounds crazy, but that’s how I roll.  Big shirt over pajama pants and slipper socks.  It’s the little things, people.

I have to admit…this feels kind of like Christmas Eve…so exciting with the getting ready!!!  All that is missing is hot chocolate and plate of cookies (and carrots for the reindeer).  And to think…a book is going to come out of this!  That is the most exciting part of all.

Good luck, all ye other NaNoWriMo-ers!  Let the insanity begin!

“Nesting” for a New Story or Gathering Parts?

I can’t be 100% sure if other writers do this…but I feel like they must on some level, at least.  Once a story/article/book is finished, I begin to think about writing a new story.  Much like an expectant mother, I start getting ready for the delivery.  I do this in a variety of ways, but it helps me get excited about this hard thing that I know is coming.  I buy new pens.  I buy new notebooks.  I scrutinize both, because I want to make sure I am getting exactly what I want, because I am really going to be using these things to produce something.  Something magical and messy and of my own creation.  I like to write in longhand on paper (lined OR unlined OR quadrille…it all depends), because it feels more real to me…like I’m getting my hands dirty while I’m making this thing come to life. 

Now that I think about it, maybe I’m more like Frankenstein.

When it’s a big project, I necessarily have (likely) been writing snippets here and there…I gather these together and will often try to type them up.  The typing process is the first editing pass for me.  I add a lot of detail or new paragraphs, cobbling sentences together in a different ways, changing words here and there so it flows better, adjusting names, creating new characters…this is where I may become more like a mad scientist…trying to sew things together that don’t necessarily *go* together or adding ingredients in a random alchemy, hoping for a speck of gold, a grain of a gem.   Then again, if things are already taking some sort of shape as far as format or chronology, I start blocking those things together into convenient packages known as…chapters!  And characters formerly intended to be mere background become main characters or even…(gasp)…the protagonist!  Bwahahahahaha!  It’s ALIVE!

Ahem.  Sorry…probably taking that metaphor a little too far. 

If I really get into creating this new world, I draw pictures of scenes, characters, their cars, their pets, their family members, maybe jewelry if it is important.  I used to cut pictures out of magazines, but those images almost never match what is in my head.  Sure my sketches are a tad bit cartoonish, but if I can glean the “feeling” of what I have in my mind, it helps to keep it solidified–another way to make it all seem more real.  It can also be an exercise in just creating that world on a different level…it helps me identify details I hadn’t thought of before and to simplify overly complicated ideas.  It also helps me realize that my strength is writing and definitely NOT drawing. 

And then, when I feel like I am ready, I start carving out more and more time to let my ideas get on to paper.  If I have a lot to get out, the biggest challenge is to just allow myself to write and write and write, with as little on-going editing as possible.  If I get stuck, as you have witnessed with my previous blog-posts, I make myself use writing prompts or exercises to get the thoughts flowing again.  These exercises are like Lamaze classes, making me get through the writing process with intent and focus.  Or maybe it’s more like opening a new grave, scavenging for anything that will work to fit in that empty socket.

As I consider this next project, I find myself growing anxious about it, because it is going to be my first book-length undertaking since before going to grad school (I wrote a romance novel when I was 18…it was BEYOND terrible.  Then I wrote a slightly more interesting (historic!) romance novel when I was like…24?  I didn’t finish the second one and I lost the first one, so it is time to try it again).  Part of me thinks I should wait until NaNoWriMo rolls around again, but…that wouldn’t be fair to the story I am trying to bring to light, nor would it be fair to my own self in my attempt to get my hands on that writer’s life I want to forge for myself.  And waiting around for the right time is…such a ridiculously lame procrastination ploy.  Especially when I am in the middle of trying to write like my life depends on it.