After writing 12,900 words on Saturday, November 30th in a desperate attempt to beat the midnight deadline, I found myself with no more brain cells left over. So, I stopped an hour and a half before midnight and was just 3,581 words shy of the 50,000 goal.
Even though I didn’t reach the goal, I’m happy with the work I’ve done this month. I have large chunk of the novel now done and I know there ate at least a few of the scenes that I really like (hopefully they’re not the darlings I’ll have to kill later). My hope that I’ll be able to pull off the rest of the novel draft by the end of December, so I can edit in 2014.
With the 13,010 words I wrote pre-NaNo, Under the Midday Moon is now at 59,429 words, which is AWESOME.
New Blog Posts Written: 27
Total Blogging Words: ~15,866
I started to fall off the blog posting toward the end of the month, because all my energy was taken up with trying to finish NaNo. It was an excellent challenge though, and got me thinking about different ways to approach my blog. I’m thinking about doing the challenge again a few times through out the year (probably not when I have other intense challenges going on).
Total New Words (Novel & Blog) Written in November: 62,285
Other Life Stats
Workouts Completed: ~8
I’m not entirely sure of the count, but I made sure to do a minimum of one workout a week, which is vital for my mental, as well as physical health.
Day Job: We went to press on our December issue just before Thanksgiving. This involved me personally writing over 10 full pages of text, proofing every page of the 64 page issue at least three times, and working with authors and companies to get approval and photos. Lots of work.
On the whole it was a very productive month and I can definitely call it an epic win for myself.
1. Thanksgiving yesterday was great, family and food filled fun. Lots of laughing and eating. Turkey and stuffing and salad and twice baked potatoes and candied yams and green beans with bacon, not to mention pecan pies and apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake — all homemade, by the way. Plus lots and lots of champagne.
2. I received a rejection for a poetry chapbook submission, called The Letterbox, sent out many months ago. The rejection included a personal note, thanking me for submitting. The editor said I had a nice narrative arc to my poems and suggested that I submit again. I never take rejections to heart, because they are a part of the process of being a writer, but it’s always great to see that personal touch and get a bit of encouragement.
3. I have no motivation to do anything at all, even though I’m supposed to pull off 18,000 words before midnight tomorrow. *sigh*
4. I’m am enjoying reading Slice of Cheery by Dia Reeves, which has consumed most of my day so far.
5. I’m sure I have enough motivation to seek out more pecan pie, though. Mmmmm, pie. And then a nap.
It was a slow writing week for me, but I made it up to Chapter 19. My day job has been getting hectic, as we have to go to press by Wednesday and there is a ton of work to do. I didn’t take into account the “day job/going to press will eat all the brains” aspect of November when I decided to do these challenges. So, at this point, I’m not sure that I’ll complete 50,000 words. It’s not IMpossible, but it will be quite a stretch.
I allowed myself to skip Sunday for the NaBloPoMo blogging challenge. I had no ideas and no brain cells to spare. So, I just let myself mentally rest.
Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
(Novel Word Count Before Starting Nanowrimo: 13,010)
Goal: Complete 50,000 New Words and Hopefully the First Draft New Words This Week: 6,266 Total NaNoWriMo Word Count: 29,073
Random Rough Sentences: I don’t remember what woke me that night. I just remember the night was bright with moonlight, illuminating patches of gleaming snow outside my fogged window. The sparse birch trees stood like ghosts in the dark. I remember wanting to be out under the trees, running, skipping, rolling in the mud, diving through bushes, kicking the leftover snow.
Novelling Notes: I’m in another slow spot in the novel, at least slow for me. It’s basically a set of connecting scenes between one dramatic action sequence and another, and I find these scene necessary, but hard to write. They’re emotional scenes, full of angst, while also requiring plot movement and writing them is like pulling teeth.
The other thing I’m noticing is that I have a lot of plot threads cast out there with two romances (no love triangles), the werewolf angle, and the family dynamics story. While I’m writing a scene(s) focused on one aspect, I tend to forget the others entirely. In rewrites, I think I’m going to have to weave them together a bit more coherently.
Things To Be accomplished in the Coming Week:
Miraculously Complete NaNo with 20,927 new words (yikes)
Warning; This is a piece of fiction that has been written in a ridiculously short amount of time. Therefore, there are likely errors and mistakes, so read at your own risk. (~_^)
The clouds released just enough moisture to dampen the cement and make it slick, while cars inched by caught in the snails pace traffic that lead downtown. As soon as the streetlight turned green a car back down the line honked, causing a number of other cars to release a litany of honks in reply.
Fay Fairburn looked up at the sound of the honking, her eyes trailing something that moved over the cars chasing the sound of the honks. What ever this something was, it went unseen to passersby, but Fay noticed and she shook her head with a smirk and went back to weaving together strips of cloth, plastic, and strands of her own hair. The end of the weaving held a coke tab, a small stone, and other objects tied into a ball like charm.
Despite all the dirt under her nails, despite the unbrushed and fading blue hair that has begun to dread, despite the torn jeans and ratty tee shirt and mismatched socks and man’s pin stripe suit jacket five sizes too large, Fay did not give the impression of being homeless or lost. Her entire appearance seemed to be deliberately accidental. She didn’t even seem to remember the battered top hat was sitting in front of her until someone dropped a bit of change into it.
Each time a bit of change clattered into the hat and rattled with the other dimes, quarters, and pennies as though it had at last found its way home, Fay looked up from the charm she was weaving and smiled. It was the kind of smile that made the people suck in their breaths linger for just a moment, as though the mist had broken to reveal a ray of sunny warmth. Even those who tried to deposit money in the hat without actually seeing her somehow found themselves struck by the illumination of that smile.
Her papa shuffled around the corner wringing his hands, not so much from the chill in the air, but from the worry that hovered around him like gnats. His clothing was as rumpled and dirty and torn as Fay’s, but while she encapsulated certainty in herself, her papa looked perpetually and unutterably lost. Even if her were scrubbed clean and placed in the finest clothing and the shiniest shoes, he would never release that sense of displacement, of not belonging to the place or time in which he existed.
Seeing his daughter, he shambled over. “Have you seen my Queen?” he asked. “I’ve been looking for my Queen.”
Fay shook her head. “No, papa, I’m sorry. She’s very far away, remember? We left her in the Otherlands.”
“I miss my Queen.” The people walking by ignored the old man with proper New York zeal.
“I know, papa.” Seeing his hand tightly balled in a fist, she asked. “What did you find?”
Fay held out her hand and her papa stared at her open palm, as thought trying to read the map of its creases outlined with dirt. Slowly he uncurled his own hand and gave her a small silver key.
“I didn’t find it,” he finally said. “It found me. Jumped from someplace high to reach me. Almost landed on my head, which wasn’t nice. But now we’re friends.”
Fay nodded. The key was small and shiny and plain and seemed to belong to nothing and no one. It did not look old, but it also did not look particularly new either.
“It’s a very pretty key,” she said and offered it back to him. Her papa didn’t take it. His expression drooped with sadness.
“I don’t know where it lives.”
Fay looked at the key again, considering. “Well, it’s a key, so likely its home is a lock. Do you want to try to find its home?”
Her papa nodded his head, looking like one of those toys she saw the windows, the ones who’s heads jumped and bobbed up and down in a way that always made her laugh.
“Alright, then.” Fay smiled at her papa and for a moment he didn’t look like a piece of brown paper that had landed in the gutter. He looked like he were home.
* * *
This post comes to you from The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge prompt Characters that Haunt You. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish the tale as I intended to today, but upon request I’ll try to finish it up in Saturday’s post.
I’ve kind of burned out a bit over the past week between my day job and writing at home (this has happened past Novembers), so I’ve been avoiding NaNoWriMo. Thus and therefore, this snippet has nothing at all to do with Under the Midday Moon.
The sprite-like Fay Fairburn first appeared as part of a blogging challenge for LiveJournal, called LJ Idol, which involved writing a new post each week based on a specific prompt. For my challenge, I decided to write a fiction piece each week, each one centered around a single character, Fay Fairburn. She came flipping, jumping, and brightly colored into my world and hasn’t left me since. You could definitely say she haunts me, or at least playfully prods me with riddles from time to time, always reminding me that I have more of her stories to tell.
I did not quite meet NaNo word goal for the week, as I’ve been skipping writing days during the work week. Things are getting hectic at my day job, since we have to go to press with our December issue before Thanksgiving and there is a lot of work to do.
But I made it through Chapter 16 on the novel and I’m happy with the progress of the story.
On Saturday, I inadvertently skipped a day of Nablopomo. I created the post for Saturday, but saved it as a draft instead of posting it, so it ended up being posted on Sunday instead. Whoops. I’ve made it up by posting two posts today, however.
In the mix of this, I managed to do two of my three workouts last week. I feel good about this. With all the sitting at my computer, though, I can also feel my spin and muscles tightening up, reminding me that I need to get back to doing my morning yoga.
Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
(Novel Word Count Before Starting Nanowrimo: 13,010)
Goal: Complete 50,000 New Words and Hopefully the First Draft New Words This Week: 8,252 Total NaNoWriMo Word Count: 22,807
Random Rough Sentences: Now, the sun was behind the trees and the sky was illuminated with pink, peach, and red, making the snow blush between the elongated shadows of the trees. Mom and I both stood on the porch, watching the sky with the plastic we’d used to cover the broken window flapping slightly behind us.
“I think we should get out of here,” said mom.
Novelling Notes: I don’t have any deep thoughts at this time. I’m pleased with the progress I’m making and how the story is starting to take shape in my mind. Lots of chapters begin and end with “Author’s Notes” pointing out changes I’ll need to make in the editing process.
This is an excerpt from Under the Midday Moon, the novel I’m working on for NaNo. Adam (as mentioned here) is the main character’s best friend.
This bit of the novel was inspired by the prompt “Traces” provided by the The Daily Post. Since it is a first draft, it is likely to contain errors, typos, and other such idiosyncrasies. Read at your own risk. (~_^)
* * * *
From the front, the house looked normal. Snow had settled over the night, layering the roof and ground with an inch of white, softening the edges of things. As the morning sun rose, bringing with it golden light that made the white bark of the birch trees glow, I could almost believe that last night hadn’t happened after all.
Mom sighed, the sound laden with exhaustion and got out of the car. She slammed the door hard enough to rock the car. I followed her into the house.
“Jesus,” mom said. She stood in the middle of wreck of the living room, looking like stunned survivor of a minor apocalyptic event. The couch was overturned and disemboweled, bits of fluff protruding from the rips in its fabric. The coffee table was crushed, wooden legs splintered and splayed, glass top shattered. The book shelf near the fireplace was collapsed in a heap, books and knickknacks and photo frames mounded in a newly formed hilltop. Shards of broken glass and ceramic were scattered around the room, tiny reflections of light like deformed constellations.
For those who are not aware, I am participating in both National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)* and National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) this November. If this sounds like madness to you, that’s because it is, my lovelies, it is.
I’m finding the dual challenge fun, at least in these early days of the month. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far.
1. Exceed the Daily Minimum.
I kind of knew this one from the previous years I’ve done Nano and it feels like it should be obvious, but I feel like it’s something I always end up learning all over again. If you just meet the minimum requirements of the challenge, then you can get in trouble if life gets in the way latter down the road.
I try to at least get a few hundred words over the 1667 minimum required for Nano, that way I’m not stressed if I don’t feel like writing one day.
For the blogging challenge, this sometimes means I’m writing two blog posts a day, one for the day I’m on and one in preparation for the day after. It’s the same amount of words, but helps me have all my bases covered. In some cases this has resulted in two posts in the same day, because something new and relevant has come up. So, at the end of the month, I may have more than the minimum 30 blog posts (way cool).
2. Write First. Life Second.
Simple, and something I’ve known for a long time. Get the work done that needs getting done first and use the time left over for cleaning your room, chores, errands, watching TV, reading, friends, family, etc.I think this works best for the craziness of these writing challenges, since it only has to be sustained for this short period of time. During the rest of the year family and friends are the priority; cleaning, errands and chores end up on fairly even keel with my writing activities; and play (i.e. TV and movies and such) should be lowest, but isn’t always.
For day to day life, I won’t be able to keep this manic energy up, but I can set aside specific days where I come home from work and make writing my priority.
This work first attitude is also helping to build a habit of getting stuff done, which I’m hoping will carry over after the November challenges are completed.
3. Get Out and Do Things.
Once the day’s goals have been met and exceeded, get out, get away from the chair, go do something. It’s kind of like a reward for the hard work done that day, but it’s also a way of maintaining mental order.
Last weekend was perfect. I got up early (but not too early), had some tea and toast while doing my Nano Novelling, and then went out and took walks with my baby niece and sisters, went to the farmers market, played with the baby, watched some movies. I
I have also been keeping up with my exercises, which helps keep me physically capable of sitting there and writing without feeling like I’m going to fall apart at the seams. And it also helps clear my head and exorcises stress.
These kinds of challenges require a lot of endurance, especially if you are combining them with full time jobs or education activities (and btw, parenting counts as a full time job, for realz). With the combination of work, life, family, friends, and the challenge, I’ve experienced serious Burn Out before, where I realize I’ve taken on too much with the result that I start to get physically sick or I get to the point where I don’t even want to look at a computer. Maintaining a sense of balance by stepping away from the challenge, taking a break, is a good way of surviving the month.
4. Don’t Be Afraid of Going for the Gut.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I discovered over the course of this week that I’d been taking the easy way out in regards to my novel, playing it safe for both me and my characters. But it’s so much exciting for both readers and the writer to go for the gut and take risks. It can be scary, but it has the potential for better writing.
Taking part in NaBloPoMo has had me reading more blog posts this month than I normally would, and I’ve been struck by the honesty and courage of my favorite posts. I haven’t managed this much in my blog, as I tend to avoid writing posts that could be the least bit controversial or argumentative. I’m trying to put more personality into my posts and would like to get into more creative nonfiction, adding stories from my life in (hopefully) interesting and creative ways. It’s something for me to work on.
5. Work Breeds Inspiration.
I rediscover this every time I find myself enmeshed in a big project or doing a lot of writing or a combination of writing and other creative things. The more I write, the more I feel inspired to write, the more easily new ideas and words come, the more quickly I can get those words on the page.
To me, writing kind of like having a big round stone in the middle of a field. You know you want to roll the stone over to the other side of the field. As you stare at the stone sitting there, the idea of moving is looks daunting. The stone is too heavy. It’s too much work. Then, you start pushing the stone and it’s hard, but slowly it starts moving. As it starts moving, it starts to pick up momentum and that momentum makes it easier. If you stop, the momentum stops; you have to start the hard part over again. But if you keep the stone rolling until you reach the end of the project, then the momentum makes the work so much easier.
Nano-ing and other such challenges are huge massive heaps of potential and momentum. They start a pace, which the writer can either keep going or not.
For me that momentum is invaluable. It gets me going and keeps me going, and the sheer act of writing is what keeps my inspired.
Since we’re on the subject, my lovelies. Are you doing any personal challenges this month? What have you learned in the process?
Some writers avoid talking about what they’re working on with anyone, and my understanding is that this is because they feel they loose the excitement of discovering and writing the story when they tell it.
I personally find the opposite is true. While I’m writing, especially in the first draft stage, talking out the story can be incredibly helpful, helping me to plan out where I’m going. Of course, whomever I’m talking to often has many ideas of where they think I should take the story (most of them not right), but even hearing the wrong ideas can help me weed out the right ones.
During lunch yesterday, I was talking the story with a coworker and telling them what I had planned. One if my characters is attacked, and my coworker leapt to an assumption about the identity of the “villain”.
I explained that I had originally planned to write it that way, but had changed to another option. “But I’ve been thinking of changing it back,” I said. “Because I feel like I’ve been pulling my punches do it this way. That I’ve been playing it safe.”
“You are,” she said. “Just hearing the first version was compelling.”
“Yeah,” I said, and thought to myself, well, fuuuuuuuuuuu—.
Because damn it, she was right.
Of course, now all the planning I’ve done has to be tossed out the window and I have no ideas of how to finish this novel. I’m also going to have to make changes in the beginning sections to make these changes work. And the first scenes I ever wrote for this thing before I knew it was going to be a novel, the ones that kicked it all off, will just about have to be trashed entirely. (“Kill your darlings,” the wisdom goes.)
But I’m grateful to have figured this out now. Actually, I’m right at the pivot point in writing the current draft where this change would have to occur. Instead of turning left, I just have to turn right in the plotting. This will save me tones of time during revisions.
Of course taking this plot turn is scary, and that’s how I know it’s probably right. I’m not sure I’m good enough to pull it off, not sure I can make readers believe, not sure I’ll be able to do that much damage to my main character. I don’t really want to twist the knife (metaphorically speaking) once I’ve jammed it into her belly, but I’m gonna have to.
Right now, I’m trying not to flail.
I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening mentally working out how to make the change work, and allowed myself a break from writing. I think I’ve got some of it worked out, but have no idea how to end it. I guess I’ll discover that when I get there.
When you’re writing do you talk the story out? Or do you keep it to yourself until the draft is finished?
Alternatively, have you ever caught yourself pulling your punches while writing a story? Or do you always go for the guts?
The Daily Post has a great blog up called, “Should You Let the Cats Out of the Bag? Blogging About Family and Friends,“ which deals with privacy and the internet, how much you should share and not share, especially in regards to the lives of friends and family. It has some great questions to ask yourself before posting and some tips on how to handle the sharing of private information in a respectful way.
This is an excerpt from Under the Midday Moon, the novel I’m working on for Nano. This bit of the novel was inspired by the prompt “Moved by Music” provided by the The Daily Post. Since it is a first draft, it is likely to contain errors, typos, and other such idiosyncrasies, so read at your own risk. (~_^)
* * * *
Outside tiny tufts of snow flakes drifted, most in a downward direction, but some alighted in drafts of wind, spiraling sideways or even beck up to the grey sky they fell from.
When I was a little girl, my dad and I used to run outside every time fresh snow fell. Not the half rain slush that came down sometimes, but real snow, the light white flakes that floated in and out of the porch light in flurries and drifts. We ran out in whatever we were wearing, pajamas or Sunday dress or, once, wrapped in a towel fresh out of the bath, and stopped only long enough to pull galoshes onto our feet. We would stand out under the cold sky, whether night or day, and let the snow catch in our hair and kiss our eyelashes. We laughed and danced and we stuck out our tongues in the hopes of tasting fresh snow, the cold nothing flavor of winter that was just so perfect.
But those days eventually melted away like snow in Spring as dad’s Black Days took more and more of a toll. He seemed to be more and more tired every year and for more and more days of the month. Sometimes after the moons, it would take him up to a week to recover now. He moved slowly through the house on those days, shifting from room to room, like a scrap of paper kicked up again and again, unable to come to rest. When he finally settled in a chair or collapsed onto the couch, he would just sit there, sometimes for an hour or more, just staring off at an empty spot on the wall.
Things are going well in Nano land and I’ve met and even exceeded (with the exception of Monday) all my daily word count goals. Over the weekend, I managed this by making writing my priority when I first get up in the morning. Then, once I’ve met my minimum I allow myself to get out of the house and go do something fun. For example, on Saturday I went and played with my niece at the park (a cuter child never existed!) and on Sunday I walked around the farmer’s market with my sister. All good things.
I intended to come back from the fun times and get back to writing, but found I didn’t have it in me to do any more writing those days. Since I had already met my daily word goals, I just let myself relax — something I really needed.
Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
(Novel Word Count Before Starting Nanowrimo: 13,010) Goal: Complete 50,000 New Words and Hopefully the First Draft New Words: 7,635 Total NaNoWriMo Word Count: 7,635 Random Rough Sentences: N/A (laptop got left at home and I don’t have access to my drafts at the moment).
Novelling Notes: I’m still having trouble balancing all the little threads of plot and relationships. When two characters are alone in a room together, everything else just disappears. For some scenes that’s okay. For others, I think it makes it so that people forget everything else that is supposed to be going on. Though maybe that’s just my impression, and readers might have a different experience. Now I’m trying to get a better balance of the people and their concern for one another into the scenes.
I’m also getting a better feel for the relationships themselves, which in previous chapters had come off as a bit flat. I’m hoping the relationships seem more interconnected and messy and multidimensional now, but until I get feedback, it’s kind of hard for me to tell.
Advice for Nano-ers:
Try to push past the daily minimum in order to build up a word count cushion. That way, if you have to miss a day later in the month, then it’s not such a big deal.
Get the writing done first, then allow yourself to get outside and play, or even just relax. I find that mental breaks from all the writing helps me be more focused when I return to the work.
Things To Be accomplished in the Coming Week:
Write a minimum of 10,000 words
Do three workouts (1/3)
Good Reading: Over at The Bell Jar is a lovely post called “Learning to Love My Nose,” which talks about body perception. It’s a fantastic read, and one that made me want to try to love myself more and judge others less.
While I love National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and will be participating again this year, it isn’t for everybody. But the idea of challenging oneself to stretch personal boundaries of what you think is possible is a great thing. So, I thought I’d share a few different challenges that you could do this November instead of trying to pound out 50,000 word of a novel.
National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) — Challenge yourself to write one blog post every day this month, which I discovered through The Daily Post. It seems like a simple enough challenge, but since I’ve never posted 30 days straight in my life, I’m sure it would be tougher than I think. I’m planning to go a head and try this (today makes day one!), since I’ll be posting word updates and such anyway this month.
November PAD (Poem-A-Day) Chapbook Challenge — Found at Writer’s Digest, this challenge asks writes to take the prompts posted and writes a poem a day for the month of November, THEN to take those poems and turn them into a chapbook in December, which can then be submitted to the associated chapbook contest. Very cool.
Submission Bonanza! — The blogger at Lighting Droplets came up with a personal challenge to send out 30 submissions in 31 days (they did it in the month of July), but it could be done in November, too. The idea is to rack up rejections (and hopefully an acceptance or two). This sounds like an awesome challenge and one I’ll be trying at a later date.
The 30 Day Vlog Challenge— This is for Youtube and involves creating a new vlog post (at least 1 minute long) everyday for 30 days. I need to do something like this to get back into the habit of vlogging, but it will probably be a while.
I’m sure there are dozens of other such challenges out there, and if you know of any that I should add to the list, please let me know in the comments.
Edited to Add:
National Comic Drawing Month (NaCoDrawMo) — Draw one strip or one page of a longer manga/webcomic every day for a month. Submitted by ingridsykora.