Tag Archives: Novel

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.

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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:

NaNoWriMo Update: In Which I Totally Kick Ass.

I win! My winning word count, as verified by the word-counting gnomes at NaNoWriMo headquarters in Oakland, California is 50,073.  Here it is in bar graph form:

Breezeway Blows Town, Day 28:

50073 / 50000 words. 100% done!

So, to be clear: Me. Winner.  I have already performed the butt-shaking victory dance for the children, so you know it’s official.

I’m going to get more written tomorrow and Monday before the deadline, so this is not my final total word count, but the pressure is off, and I have more real work to do.  I’m already thinking about my goals for December, with the ultimate goal of finishing the first draft (which I expect to be around 80-90,000 words) by the end of January.  Sometime next week I’ll try to post my thoughts on the whole experience while they’re still fresh, but as my podcasting Canadian writing buddy John Mierau tweeted the other day, the best part of NaNoWriMo has been writing like the professionals do, planting our butts in our seats in front of our keyboards, day in, day out, whether we felt like it or not, and getting the story written.

For now, though, there’s a turkey on the grill and a bottle of good champagne we scored at a silent auction years ago in the fridge.  Not to mention a new batch of cookies fresh out of the oven.

NaNoWriMo Update: T-910 Words!

Way too pumped to write much of a post here, but my total NaNoWriMo word count is now at a massive, artery-clogging 49,090.  Let’s see how this looks on a bar graph, shall we:

Breezeway Blows Town, Day 28:

49090 / 50000 words. 98% done!

Yes, that’s 98% done! Despite the occasional tickle fight, shouts of “Figgy pudding!” (the funniest phrase in the English language), helping Junior a little with his train set, and helping Unfocused Girl clean up her box of beads after I accidentally walked into it (oops), I knocked out just under 3,000 words today — for a total of 49,090, did I mention that? — and now have less than 1,000 words to go before I can declare myself a winner and do the dance of TOTAL VICTORY!

Excuse me, I need a moment.

Thank you.  I have also started considering the possibility of post-NaNoWriMo let down.  What will I do when I no longer have my time filled by generating 2000-3000 words of fiction almost single day?  How will I deal with the adrenaline crash?  I suspect everyone has their own way of coping after NaNo ends.  Me, I suspect I will handle it by eating cookies.

As if our December wasn’t going to be crazy enough, the Siren is back to her blog with a plan that makes NaNoWriMo look positively sedate.  Mmm, tasty, tasty insanity.

NaNoWriMo and Word Count Update: 46,119.

A productive day: 3300 words, plus a work call and a nap. I’m rounding third and heading for home:

Breezeway Blows Town, Day 27:

46119 / 50000 words. 92% done!

NaNoWriMo Update & Word Count, Day 26: 42,760.

We were invited to the home of some good friends for a merging of the families for Thanksgiving dinner, and thus had very little to do in advance.  Despite minor distractions from the Macy’s parade on TV and changing batteries in Junior’s Geotrax train set, I managed 2000 words, to get me to a very respectable total, just a few hundred words behind pace:

Breezeway Blows Town, Day 26:

42760 / 50000 words. 86% done!

Careening towards 50,000 words and the end of NaNoWriMo, although nowhere near done with the first draft, which I figure will come out to 80-90K in the end.

We had a very relaxed Thanksgiving, in pajamas until 1pm then got dressed and joined our friends for a ridiculously immoderate feast.  We finally left around 11pm because the kids cracked and admitted they were tired.

Hope your Thanksgiving was as good, or for those outside the U.S., hope you had a wonderful Thursday.