Tag Archives: Novel

HANaNoWriMo Word Count for Day 2: 4036

Breezeway Blows Town, Day 2:

4036 / 25000 words. 16% done!

HANaNoWriMo Word Count for Day 1: 2697.

Breezeway Blows Town, progress so far:


2697 / 25000 words. 11% done!

Of course, this is just 11% of the way to my half-assed goal of 25,000 words, not 11% of a finished first draft.  But the prologue is done, and I’ve started on Chapter 1. I feel like I’m getting some momentum, which is a good way to start and a sure sign that I won’t have time to write anything else this week.

Weekend Update: Halloween Yesterday, NaNoWriMo Today.

We had an awesome Halloween. As usual, the Siren risked her health and sanity working her tucus off to make the kids’ costumes:

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Robin Hood

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Joan of Arc

I threw something together at the last minute to amuse the Unfocused Children:

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The mysterious Zorro!

Trick or treating went well. Unfocused Girl monitors the candy Junior gets, tells him when something has peanuts in it, and politely asks the candy-dispensing adult if they have anything without nuts. There were a few houses where the answer was no, they’d just bought a Costco-sized bag of Reese’s and that was all they had, and I had to ask her not to lecture them. She’s a good big sister, and didn’t take any candy from those houses even for her own pumpkin-shaped bucket so we wouldn’t have them in the house.

After trick or treating, we had a few neighbors and friends and their kids over. The kids watched The Never-Ending Story, and the adults enjoyed tasty adult beverages. It was all fun and games until the guests left and it was time for bed: Junior could barely stop crying because Halloween was over.

I had to wash my hair twice to get most of the black spray-coloring out of it, and it’s still a little darker than usual.

Frakking WordPress just ate the second half of this post when I tried to save. Trying again.

Today is the start of National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. I’m giving it a half-assed effort this year — I’ve set a loosey-goosey word count goal of 25,000 (half the official NaNoWriMo goal), but my real goal is to kick-start a new novel, Breezeway Blows Town. If I don’t make 25,000 words but make a good start on Breezeway, build some momentum, and get back in the habit of writing almost every day, I’ll be happy.

I’ll post my word count here, since that’s the only measure I’ve got. Fellow Wrimos can buddy me; I’m user 261488 on the NaNoWriMo website.

Go ChiWriMos!

HANaNoWriMo.

I said I wouldn’t do NaNoWriMo this year. I wanted to do it last year, but was burned out from finishing the first draft of Meet the Larssons in October.  This year, I’m too busy at work, and the Siren has been called for grand jury duty in November which will turn everything upside down here at home. But I need a kick start for my writing, and I have what I think is the perfect idea for a NaNoWriMo novel.

So I’m making a half-assed commitment to make a half-assed effort at NaNoWriMo, with a goal of writing 25,000 words (instead of 50,000) of a new novel in the month of November. That would require less than a thousand words a day, but will be a respectable start to the new project.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year and care join me in my half-assed attempt, add me as a writing buddy on the NaNo website. My user name is the same as it is here, Unfocused Me, and my author ID number is 261488. You can also just click here to add me.

Spring Sunday Stats #9: Five Weeks To Go.

I realize it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted, but I’m insanely busy at work, the last days of school have lept us hopping, and I’m staring at 40 like a deer in the frakking headlights.  In five weeks, I turn 40, and I’m trying to figure out whether I qualify for Social Security yet.

Meanwhile, did I mention that my dad is finally retiring at the end of the month?  He’s 72, and has worked 6 days a week since roughly the Kennedy administration.  You can bet I don’t complain about my hours too much when I’m talking to him.

I’m going to have to keep this short — the kids just got back from playing with the neighbors (from what I can tell, the younger boy from across the street hit Junior in the ass with a whiffle bat, which pissed him off, so he and Unfocused Girl took their sidewalk chalk and came home).  Next up, stats and the usual whining.

On Writing: Project Hometown now stands at 8,640 words, which means I’ve written 4,218 words in it since my last post.  I also submitted the revised and greatly reduced “Jimmies” (now down to around 3400 words from 5200) to a semi-pro online market.  The editor is posting some of her comments on slush submissions on Twitter, which is simultaneously fascinating and unnerving.

I have to admit that the outline I did for Project Hometown over the winter has been an enormous help, and is largely responsible for me being able to make any progress at all.  I want to recommend the Snowflake Method again to anyone who is interested in putting together a detailed story outline and character information before starting a new project.  After writing Meet the Larssons with nothing more than a few pages of notes I threw together just before I started and having so much trouble with the first draft and then the revisions, I’m very happy with the results from outlining first.  The extra work up front is really paying off for me now.

On Running: Pretty good day today.  The weather was ugly – gray, cool, drizzly – but not actually that bad for a long run.  I did 10 miles in 1:27:08, which is better than I’ve done through most of the spring, although not as good as last week.  I had two mid-week runs (one intervals, one not) on the treadmill at the gym over lunch, for a total of 18.86 miles for the week.  Not perfect — I’m shooting for 20+ per week — but considering what the last few weeks have been like, perfectly acceptable.

Last week my Sunday time for 10 miles was even better:  1:24:06, on a beautiful, sunny day, warm but not too warm.  I’m working on improving my stretching and easing back on the painkillers, which seems to be working.  The ITB pain in my hips that was bothering me all through March, April, and most of May hasn’t come back except for the occasional twinge, which is good.  My hamstrings are still incredibly tight, but I’m working on them.

Junior’s looking for me, so it’s time to go.

Spring Sunday Stats #8: Staring Over the Edge at 40.

It’s Memorial Day, in memory of the soldiers, sailors, marines, and others who have died for our country, including the 4300 Americans who have died in Iraq.

My father came in from NYC on Thursday and stayed until lunchtime today, his longest visit since I moved to Chicago for college in 1987.  We had a great time; the highlight of the weekend was the long afternoon at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  He’s retiring at the end of June, and I hope that this is just the first of many longer trips.

I had a very frustrating week (starting with the Sunday/Monday Frequest Flyer Fail), but seriously, what else is new?  The work piled on, and I seemed utterly unable to get anything actually accomplished, just felt like I was on a treadmill from hell.  Thankfully, it was a short week.  I worked at home on Friday, and managed to get a few open loops closed out before the weekend.  This post is late enough, so let’s go straight to the stats.

On Writing: Between work and my father’s visit, I wrote next to nothing, just 150 words in Project Hometown on the train home from work on Thursday.  I did write my piece of a viral story yesterday, maybe 200 words, which was fun.  I’m not sure if today counts as part of the past week, but since it’s a holiday, I’ll claim it; I wrote 362 words in Project Hometown this afternoon.  The total is now 4,422 words.  I think that’s far enough along to post a meter.

I’ve been sitting on “Jimmies,” and need to get it out.  I also had an idea for a new short story last week — a time travel story I like much better than the last time travel idea I had — and may take a shot at that sometime soon as well.

On Running: 20.5 miles for the week, best in months.  I dealt with my frustration by running early Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings, even though I was exhausted.  Not long runs, just 3.75 miles each, but that got me 11.25 miles during the week, plus 9.25 miles on Sunday at a respectable 1:19:32, or 8:35 min/mile.  A great long run, much better than the last few weeks.

This weekend, I registered for the Men’s Health Urbanathlon in Chicago this October, a 10.5 mile race with a handful of obstacles thrown in to make it interesting (climbing over a wall, running up and down the stairs at Soldier Field, scrambling over parked taxis, etc.).  This is the third year the race has been held in Chicago; I’ve registered each time, but both of the last two years have had to blow it off for work.

This year I was confronted with something new:  For the first time, when confronted with the question “Age on race day” I had to answer “40.”  In seven weeks, I’ll be in a whole new age group.    So long, 35-39!  Luckily, Mike is doing the Urbanathlon too, so if I collapse on the course someone will notice and call the Siren.

I also signed up for the World Wide Half Marathon, part of the World Wide Festival of Races, also in October.  This is a virtual race series — everyone runs on the same weekend, but separately – which started with the Half Marathon in 2006 as an idea spread through the Phedippidations podcast.  It’s a lot of fun.

What I haven’t done yet is register for one of the nearby half marathons in June. Gotta get off my ass and deal with that.

That’s enough of this. I’m going to watch Lego Cake or Death again.  We’ve watched it about 10 times this weekend with the kids.

Spring Sunday Stats #6: Feeling Flabby.

I’m back with the first Sunday Stats post in a while.  Before we get to the main part of the post, which is all about me (like so many things), let me take this opportunity to wish the Siren and my mother, Unfocused Ma, a very happy Mother’s Day.

The Siren, the kids, and I just got back from a nice Mother’s Day brunch with the Siren’s mother and brother.  I actually made an appearance at their church this morning, because the kids’ choir had a performance.  Junior has pretty emphatically gotten over the stage fright he suffered from in his younger days, and, like Unfocused Girl, gives signs of having inherited at least some of the Siren’s musical talent.

On to the stats:

On Writing: I made the decision a couple of weeks ago to put Meet the Larssons on the back burner for a while.  I’m not trunking it, but I need some distance from it.  I was getting bogged down in the rewrite, and I was starting to bore myself.

Instead, I started writing Project Hometown, the novel I outlined over the winter.  I’m 3,192 words into it; not great for a couple of weeks worth of work, but not terrible.  The real problem is that I fell out of the habit of writing every day, and my authorial muscles have atrophied.  As I said in my previous post, I have become an undisciplined wretch.  I’m slowly starting to get back into the groove, and since I did so much work on the front end I’m optimistic that as I get back into the habit of writing, the story itself should come more easily than MTL did.

On Running: 10 miles this morning, in 1:33:16.  Like last week, today’s run was slow and painful.  My legs have felt terrible for the last couple of weeks:  my hamstrings are tight, the tendons alongside my hips are sore, I occasionally have bizarre pains in my knees just from crossing my legs.  I’m not entirely sure what the problem is, since I kept up my running pretty well through the winter and crummy first half of spring thanks to the treadmill, but I have some ideas based what’s changed in my exercise habits over the past year.  I think the primary issue is that I’m lifting weights much less frequently, and doing fewer exercises when I do; in particular, I almost never do any real strength training for my legs. Running works some of the muscles, but ignores others, leading to significant muscle imbalances; if I did more strength training for my legs, they’d probably hurt less.

I’m also, for a variety of reasons, more pressed for time than I was a year ago, and find myself skipping the post-run stretching as often as not.  Today, for example, I had to rush to get showered and dressed as soon as I finished my run in order to get to the church in time for the kids’ concert.  I didn’t stretch at all, and by the time I got out of the car in the church parking lot, I was so stiff I had to limp all the way in.  The stiffness worked itself out, but that kind of negligence is going to cost me, and probably already has.

Time, time, time.  That’s what it always comes down to.  As it is, I’ve stripped away as many distractions as I can.  I read less than I used to, and I watch almost no television.  I suppose I could drop Facebook and Twitter, but keeping up social contacts, even over the interwebs, feels like it’s worth doing.  I want to spend more time with my family, not less; I still need to work for a living, and I don’t get enough sleep as it is.

I don’t think there’s really an answer here, just a constant rebalancing of competing priorities.  I can live with that if I keep reminding myself that it’s a long race, and if I can keep from hitting the wall or blowing out a knee, I’ll get to the finish line eventually.  Not a particularly deep thought — I have a t-shirt that says “Life is a marathon, not a sprint” which sums it up nicely — but then, I’m not a particularly deep person, so a personal philosophy that fits on a t-shirt is probably about right for me.