Tag Archives: Breezeway

Not NaNoWriMo, Day 13: 3,331 Words and Messing With Computers.

Depending on how you measure it, my Not NaNoWriMo has so far been either a complete failure or a raging success.  It’s been a failure by the standards of  NaNoWriMo, certainly: in 12 days, I’ve written almost exactly the number of words needed to be on track for day 2.

Good thing for me that I’m not holding myself to that standard. My goal is to write at least 300 words each day, and although I haven’t been able to write every day, I’m averaging pretty close to that amount and have written more days than not.  My other goal is to get 10,000 words by the end of November, and while I’m not perfectly on track for it I’m not far off, either. I’m definitely feeling more in touch with the story and characters than I’ve been in a long while, and I’m starting to be more comfortable just sitting down and pounding the keys regardless of whether I “feel like it,” whatever that means.

I should qualify that to say pounding the keys or tapping the screen, because I’ve probably written a third of my output this month on my iPhone, using WriteRoom, a great little plain text app that syncs easily with Scrivener. I bought a cheap flexible bluetooth keyboard to use with the phone instead of schlepping my MacBook on the train, but several keys stopped working within a couple of days, so I’ve been typing directly onto the touch screen. It’s less painful than I would have thought, although I type enough emails that way that I should have been more willing to try it sooner.

I’m limiting my word count goal because I’ve got a number of things going on at the office that make doing a full NaNo project impossible this month, and also because I have other projects I didn’t want to put off.

One thing I’m working on is learning more about the hardware and software we have in the house, which I use every day without much thought.  Every three years, the firm where I work gives us new computers and will sell us our old ones for a minimal price.  I’ve now been there long enough to go through two of these upgrade cycles; in 2007, I bought my old office Thinkpad X40 for $1, and a couple of weeks ago, I bought my old Thinkpad X61 for $47 (there was still a month or so of warranty left on it).

The X40 had always been a slow machine, and even with a clean install of Windows XP and running just a handful of non-Microsoft apps (Firefox and OpenOffice, mostly), it was still painful to use, but it was the only Windows machine we had in the house and I think it’s a good idea to have at least one machine other than my current office computer that runs the world’s dominant OS.

Once I brought home the X61, though, I was free to do whatever I liked with the older laptop. So last weekend, I installed the Linux-based Ubuntu Desktop operating system on it.  I’d never done anything like that on a PC, and in the space of an afternoon learned more about the computer than I have in years.

It ran better on Ubuntu, but it was still slow, so I ordered more RAM last weekend and this afternoon while the Siren and Junior were out for his best friend’s birthday party, Unfocused Girl and I had a wonderful time opening it up and adding 1GB of RAM to the 512MB of RAM already in it.  She was very excited about it and wanted to know what our next project would be.  I gave her a couple of choices, so in a couple of minutes we’re going to jailbreak my old iPhone 3G.  Pretty entry-level stuff, but we’re enjoying ourselves.

Not NaNoWriMo Day 2: 365. Also, an Election.

I voted this morning: 13 Democrats, 5 Republicans, 1 Green, 1 independent, not counting judges running only for retention or judicial candidates for open seats running unopposed. So far, it looks like two of the Republicans, the Green, the independent, and one of the Democrats are going to lose, and two of the other races are too close to call. The only races I felt at all good about were some of the very local races; the Democrats managed to field entirely uninspiring candidates for our state wide races, but the Republicans were either no better or worse in most cases. If the races hadn’t been so close, I would have voted for more of the third party candidates.

I added 365 words today, all written on the train to and from work. I was a little more productive in the morning than I was on the way home, probably due to brain drain from the day’s work, and that on the way home I have to worry about missing my stop while going downtown I can write all the way up to the point the last other commuter leaves the train car.

Total word count for Not NaNoWriMo 2010 so far: 783/10,000.

Total word count for Breezeway Blows Town: 75,416/100,000.

Not NaNoWriMo Day 1: 418 words.

Word count for day 1: 418.

The first draft of Breezeway Blows Town was 74,633 when the day started (I’ve been warming up for NaNo the last couple of weeks and have gotten a little more added to where I had been), so adding this evening’s 418 words gives me a total word count of 75,051.

That’s right, I broke 75,000 words on day 1! Yeah, fine, I had a 74,633 word head start, but still.

Once again, I also recommend Geek Survival Guide’s daily NaNoWriMo podcast.  The kick-off is here.

NaNoWriMo: What I’m NOT Doing This Year (sort of).

I love National Novel Writing Month. In the abstract, the idea is wonderful: more than 100,000 people signing up for 30 days of unembarrassed semi-public creativity. At the personal level, this is exactly what an (ahem) unfocused person like me needs: a hard deadline, with accountability. Last year, I played to win and I got there, finishing November 30 with 51,324 words of Breezeway Blows Town under my belt (that title has to go, by the way — it was the working title for the novel I outlined before NaNo started, not the novel I actually wrote). Since then, I’ve written approximately 16,000 words more.

Let me say that again: in November, 2009, I wrote 51,000+ words in the novel, and in the 11 months since then, I wrote 16,000. My average monthly word count since December 1, 2009 has been less than my average daily word count for the 30 days before.

I know what you’re thinking: the boy needs a deadline. Well, duh. I didn’t pick the name of this blog at random, you know.

As I’ve mentioned, this has been an … interesting year, but I haven’t been ready to post about that, which is why I’ve been updating so infrequently. The easy explanation is that I’m getting slammed at work, which is both true and incomplete.  I am, however, ready to start writing again, and I recognize that I need a deadline and the competitive spirit (I’m looking at you, Chad and John — both of whom, I note, finished their NaNo novels; John is podcasting Enemy Lines now, and it’s fantastic) to get me back into the habit of lying on paper every day (insert lawyer joke here).  So here it is: I’m back at the NaNo site, user no. 261488, and I’ll be updating my word count all through November. I will not be starting a new project, and will not attempt anything close to 50,000 words.  If I get 10,000 words farther into Breezeway by Nov. 30, I will do the two-finger victory dance and award myself a bonus 300XP on Epic Win.  My only goal is to finish the damn first draft by year-end, and I have at least 25,000 words to go — in plot outline terms, I’ve only just started act 3.

If we were writing buddies last year, it looks like the site kept that connection; if not, feel free to add me to your buddy list, and I’ll add you back. See you November 1.  Until then, have a happy Hallowe’en, or as some of us call it, All Nanos Eve.

Planning for the Future.

I went to a business development training session this afternoon at the office (it wasn’t mandatory, but it seemed like a good idea). This is not the kind of thing I generally enjoy, and today was no exception; I spent the hour making notes about all of the other things I needed to do and generally wishing I was somewhere else.  I did make some notes about the presentation itself, since the presenter said that taking notes was important (I don’t remember why, because I forgot to write that part down).

Did I mention there was PowerPoint? You knew there was PowerPoint.

At one point, the presenter put up a slide telling me I needed to think about future trends that could impact my business, then told me to think about future trends that could impact my business, then added a bullet point on the screen suggesting that I write down five future trends that could impact my business.  Here’s what I wrote:

  • energy scarcity
  • flooding
  • chemical poisoning of the food supply
  • zombie attacks

I just realized I only wrote down four future trends that could impact my business.  Crap.  Although after the zombie attacks, I’m not sure there would be any future trends to worry about.

Over the weekend, I finished my re-read of what I’ve written so far of Breezeway (95% written during NaNoWriMo last November, the rest in fits and starts since).  I didn’t make many changes on this pass, just a few notes or tweaks here and there; I’m glad to see that it isn’t as execrable as I thought it would be. Today, I managed to write 1100 words, probably the most I’ve written in one day since November 30. If I manage another 1000 words over the rest of the week, it would be the most productive week I’ve had since NaNo ended, too. It’s hard getting back into the habit, but re-reading what I’ve done so far left me really wanting to finish the damn thing.

Getting Back Into The Swing of Things.

How much swinging do things actually do, anyway? Are we talking about Thing, The Thing, or Thing One and Thing Two? And is this any way to open up my first blog post in three weeks? Probably not.

Happy New Year. I hope your holidays rocked. I missed most of Hanukah with the kids because of travel for work, but we did dance the Horah to Bare Naked Ladies at least one night, and got the candles lit a few times. I did manage to teach the kids the dreidel game, which they enjoyed for about five minutes until I heard Junior complain that Unfocused Girl “gets all the gimmels, and I keep getting nun!” That ended fast.

Things at the job quieted down over Christmas, but of course, just as things slowed down for me at work, the Siren‘s commitments ramped up, from finishing her NaCoBakMo cookie baking (which was very successful, thank you to those who participated), to directing the Sunday school Christmas pageant at her church. She managed it all with her usual combination of sleep-deprivation and almost frightening competence, and at approximately 4:15am Christmas morning, everything was finally done.  Starting two and a half hours later, we had a lovely Christmas. We were even able to take a few days up in Wisconsin over New Year’s.

I made no progress on the novel in December after Dec. 2. I should have been able to get a fair amount done in the week before Christmas while the Siren was sewing, blogging, and baking until the wee hours every night, but I think I’d hit the end of the mental road and it was all I could do to spend hours screwing around on Facebook and Twitter. The entire second half of December felt like an extended adrenaline crash that I’m just started to get through.

I’m determined to make some progress on Breezeway Blows Town in January, even if it kills me. I’ve done Write or Die once or twice since New Year’s, which helps.  Yesterday, I sat down to write, and it took me four hours to write 600 words. I didn’t have any problems with the words coming, I just couldn’t keep my ass in my chair, and when I was seated in front of the keyboard I kept checking FB, Twitter, email, etc. Lucky for me, the kids were perfectly happy in the basement having an impromptu Ultraman marathon in their underwear (don’t ask me why; the basement is awfully damn cold, even with the gas fire going), and the Siren was sewing more doll clothes, so nobody cared what I was doing.

I managed a little better today, just over 500 words in less than two hours, including an hour-long nap when I fell asleep after the first 72 words. I was less distracted by social media and more by legitimate, if unnecessary at this stage, Internet research. Not fast, but it beat my performance yesterday.

In order to get our NaNoWriMo writing chops back, my NaNo buddy John Mierau and I have made a solemn pact to write every day for the remainder of the month. Even if I only manage 500 words a day, that’s more than 10,000 words added to Breezeway by January 31, bringing me that much closer to finishing the first draft. More important, it will get me back into the habit of daily writing, which is the only way to get this done. Even more important than that, it will give me an excuse to taunt John on Twitter on a regular basis. By the way, if you’re not listening to his podcast of his short fiction, you’re missing out.

I’m more than halfway through the story I’m trying to tell in Breezeway, and I’m still amused by it, even if no one else will be. Meet the Larssons was interesting in its own way, but it never gave me the opportunity to write anything like this:

“They’re moving!” Frankie shouted.  The car leapt forward into traffic as he mashed the accelerator.  The side of the Crown Vic scraped along the front bumper of the beige minivan, with a tooth-rattling grind.

“Fuck!” Luca shouted.  Tony twisted around and saw the pimp had spilled his mocha frappucino all over himself and the back seat of the Vic.

Tony snarled and yanked the gun out of his pocket, ripping the lining.  With his left hand, he mashed down the power window button and fumed for the 2.75 seconds it took for the window to open.

See what I mean? Meet the Larssons got way too heavy.  Breezeway is still just plain fun, the way I meant it to be.

I thought about writing a 2009 wrap up, and maybe I will, but right now I’m really looking forward to 2010. I’m going to finish the first draft of Breezeway soon, hopefully before spring, then move on to revisions. I have plans for my running, which I’ll talk about separately. And I just started watching Firefly, which I downloaded from iTunes. I’ve never seen it before, and series opener, at least was fantastic.

I’m back in that comfy chair and I’m falling asleep again. Better hit PUBLISH before it’s too late.

NaNoWriMo Day 29, 50,570 Words and Post-NaNoWrimo Victory Update.

The first thing I did this morning was 15 minutes of Write or Die Desktop Edition, and quickly knocked out 448 words for the novel.  I added a sentence here or there later in the morning, for a total of 535 more words for the novel.  Since I WON NANOWRIMO YESTERDAY, the pressure is off, and I had a bunch of other things I wanted/needed to do today.  Here, in no particular order, are some of the things that occupied my time today besides working on my novel:

  • Ran 6.39 miles very slowly (1:04:04).  It was my first run since Nov. 17, and my longest since Oct. 25. I lost a lot of speed (and muscle) in the month spent in front of the computer every waking moment, and it will take a little while to get it back.
  • Read a little of the Sunday New York Times for the first time in mumble mumble.
  • Worked. I’ve got a lot going on at the office (and out of town) between now and Christmas.
  • Went to lunch with the Siren and the kids at the diner for the first time in weeks.
  • Played Sorry with the kids while the Siren went to the supermarket to buy more butter, flour, and sugar for NaCoBakMo.
  • Went to the supermarket after the Sorry game to pick up the dishwasher detergent that the Siren forgot so she could focus on baking cookies.
  • Worked some more.
  • Listened to Christmas music. The Hanukkah music comes later, closer to the holiday itself, because there isn’t as much of it that I like.
  • Ate some cookies before dinner.
  • Listened to the first episode of The Cinnamon Bear with the family during dinner.
  • Ate some more cookies for dessert.
  • Got the kids to bed.
  • Worked more.
  • Had one last cookie.
  • Paid our property taxes.
  • Told the kids to go back to bed.

As much as I enjoyed NaNoWriMo, and I did, it’s good to be able to do a few other things, too.

IMPORTANT: You may have noticed my references to NaCoBakMo and eating cookies, lots of delicious cookies.  The love of my life, the Green-Eyed Siren, has started the first ever National Cookie Baking Month to raise money for our neighborhood anti-hunger charity, the Irving Park Community Food Pantry.  You can read about Day 1 here, and Day 2 here.  She’s baking cookies every day from now through Christmas Eve, and will send a batch to everyone who donates $25 to the IPCFP before then and emails her the receipt. Please participate so that I don’t end up eating all of these cookies myself.  To encourage you further (although if you’ve ever tasted the Siren’s cooking, you would need no further incentive), we’ll match the first $500 in donations.  Get off my blog and over to hers to read the details and see pictures of the delectable dainties as she makes them.

FINALLY, I leave you with The NaNoWriMo Song, because it’s awesome: