Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thoughts after 3 weeks of NaNo: Is it December yet?

     We are now into week four of NaNoWriMo and I am not exaggerating when I say I am exhausted. Utterly and completely. I can see why some people might slow down or even throw in the towel at this point.
     I think the main problem I'm having now is residual tiredness. At the beginning of November it was very easy to be excited and energized to write like crazy. During week 2 some of that initial excitement started to wear thin, but it was still there. During week 3 I was thinking: wow, am I still doing this? My brain feels jumbled and my fingers are tired from typing, which means I'm making a lot more typos than I did initially. I remember thinking during week one that I should push myself to write this much all the time. Now I'm like, uh, no way. Even I'm not that insane.
     I think my writing has gotten a little worse than it was in early November. Part of that is due to simply being tired, the other part is due to the fact that the middle of the story is the hardest, at least in this case. I had a rough outline of my story in my head. I knew how it was going to start and what was going to happen at the end. The problem is figuring out the steps to take to get from the beginning to the end. What do I write for all the those middle scenes? I was cringing during the writing of some of those scenes, but in keeping with NaNo tradition, I just kept writing.
     Now, I've gone way past 50,000 words, which is really awesome. I'm very proud of myself. That is the win, but it doesn't feel quite right to me unless I actually finish a draft. This is because I'm a little insane and a bit of a workaholic when it comes to writing. But the good news is, this is totally doable for me. I'm a little more than 3 quarters of the way through my draft, so if I keep up my current rate then I should finish by the 30th. Not only that, but this will be the first time I've written a draft that isn't unreasonably long. Third time's a charm I guess. I'm very excited, but I also can't wait for this to be over so my poor brain and my poor tired fingers can take a break.

     Current word count: 74, 868

Good luck to everyone else! Happy reading and writing!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Did I mention I'm bad at titles?

Thank goodness for the archives of Becky, otherwise I wouldn't have much to share on my blog since I'm crazy busy with NaNoWriMo. Here's a weird little story poem that I wrote a few years ago.


If I don’t walk I’ll be pushed,
Dragged, forced, restrained.
So I go.  Slam.  Click. 
Familiar sounds.

Familiar as my nightly drill
Of stripping my layers of scrubs
Right down to the boxers
That some poor slob left stained.
Men’s underwear.  What a joke.
Fold the scrubs nice and neat - sorry excuse for a pillow.
Another night in the hole begins.

Another night of staring up at my
Piss-yellow sky, dotted with gray
Stars of rot and mold, lit up by a
Flickering fluorescent moon emitting
A droning buzzing that feeds the numbness in my brain.

The numbness I cannot escape.
Who could sleep with this incessant buzzing?
Like a freaking fly on the wall,
But at least if it were a fly I could squash it dead.
Even through squeezed eyes I see the flickering.

Flickering blue and red now.
Fuzzy flashbacks of a life I barely remember.
I saw the lights just before
They placed the cold metal on my wrists
That still have bruises and cuts.
Skin and bones I am,
I almost wriggled out until the jerks wised up.
Five against one.
How’s that for fair play?

That’s the how, but what’s the why?
How many seconds, minutes, hours,
days, weeks, months of
Counting bricks on the wall.
All the same except the one with the vent.

The vent that once fed my loneliness.
The first time the door slammed behind me
Sickness bubbled up inside me
And I heard her tiny voice echo:
"Hey, sister.  What ‘up?"
A friend she became, if one could have a friend in here.

She’s no friend to have on the streets.
Murder, she says.
Something about a brother, a father, a boyfriend
I can’t remember, but
You’d never know it if you saw in her eyes.
Wide, blue, innocent.
Where are those blue eyes and that tiny voice now?
I remember her name, but not mine.

Is mine one of these on the wall?
Or is it all the poor saps who’ve come before me? 
Where are they now?
They escaped this hollow arm of hell, but
They could’ve at least left me secrets on how.

All they’ve left are obscene nuggets of putrid green rot
Drying and crusting on the walls.
Some with a tinge of red, like Christmas. 
I dig in and add my own to the mix.
“I was here,” it says, loudly and clearly.

Loudly and clearly comes a pounding on the door.
Morning already?
The harsh voice shouting:
"Get up, scum!"
Click. The door is unlocked,
But another lock awaits.

I stand once more: monotony awaits.
Catch my reflection in my rectangular window
On my unlocked door
Eyes - wide, blue, innocent - stare back at me
“Someday,” they say.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My thoughts after week 2 of NaNoWriMo

     Well, two weeks of National Novel Writing Month have gone by. It's now half over. I'm really excited and somewhat surprised to announce that I am right on track.
     I am currently at 49,583 words. The official goal of NaNo is to write a 50k word novel, so I'm almost done with that goal. That's really exciting. However, my draft will not be finished at 50k. I estimated it to be finished at roughly 90k, and so far that still seems to be the case. At 45k, I'm right on track, which is really awesome.
     I have definitely noticed some differences during the second week of nonstop writing that I didn't experience during week one. First, I'm getting a little tired, which is to be expected. During week one, the newness and excitement of the challenge fueled me. Now that some of the novelty has worn off, it's getting a little more exhausting, but I'm still sticking with it.
     I'm also feeling a lot more self-conscious about the writing and where the story is going this week than last week. I've had a lot more "Oh my God this is awful" and "I don't have any idea where this is going" moments than I did during week one. That's absolutely normal, but is making it harder to keep going. I think part of the reason for that is that I had a clear picture of the beginning of the story, and I also have a fairly clear picture of the end. The middle? Not so much. I've had to wing it a little more, and that might be where some of the self-doubt is coming from.
     I've gotten lots of support on Twitter from other writers, which I'm really grateful for. I don't think this is something I could get through if I didn't have so many other fellow writers cheering me on who know exactly how I feel. So, thanks everyone!
     All right! I'm off to do more writing!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My thoughts after week one of NaNoWriMo

Well, it's the end of my first week taking part in NaNo. I think it's safe to say that I've gotten off to a pretty good start. I decided to make my daily goal 3000 words, and so far I'm right on track. 3000 is high for a daily goal. To reach 50k by the end of the month, one only needs to write 1667 words.
     I chose a high goal for a couple reasons. The first is because I know there will be days in which I won't get as much done or may not write at all, and I want to give myself a cushion. The next, and more important reason, is because I actually want to finish this draft by the end of November, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be longer than 50k.
     Even though I have a rough outline in my head, I'm not quite sure how long it's going to be. As long as it doesn't turn out to be 250k like my last WIP, then I think I'm good shape. I have much more of an outline for this project (even if it is only in my head) than I did the last one, so I don't think radioactive word count will be an issue. (Please, please don't let it be an issue.)
     Since this is my first time participating, I want to share a few of my thoughts so far. First, I'm amazed at how refreshing this feels. It is so freeing to just sit down and write a chapter and push aside the feelings that it might not be good enough. I write a chapter, skim it for typos and only typos (I'm very strict about this) and then move on. I know I'll have to change things later, but it feels so good just to get stuff down.
     While I'm writing I have three other documents open. One for characters, one for things to be researched later, and another just titled notes, which is pretty much anything that doesn't fall into the other two categories. Anytime I think of something I need to look up, fix about a character, or expand upon, I make a note in one of the documents and just keep on writing. I feel like this will help prepare me for the second draft, which I'm already really excited to write, because I am loving this story even more than I thought I would. More about that later.
     Another thing I'm enjoying about this is the sense of community I'm feeling from social media sites. So many people are doing NaNo and while writing is an introverted activity, it's neat to be a part of something that so many other people are doing at the same time.
     I'm having so much fun, I think I'm going to have to do this every year.
     Total word count for week one: 22,777 (I feel like that's got to be lucky.)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

My NaNo Novel

     Okay, so I've talked about how I'm participating in NaNo, but I haven't actually talked about what my project is. 
     This is an idea that I've had kicking around in my head since Spring of 2013. That's a long time, right? It's been a very patient little story idea. I told myself I wasn't going to start this project until Caribou Canyon was completely finished, but it just can't wait any longer. 
     Writing this novel is going to give me a few firsts. First, it's my first Nano. 
     Second, it's an adult mystery. That's right, a mystery. The word "fantasy" is nowhere in the genre of my new novel. 
     Weird, right?
     There are no vampires, no magic, no people with powers, no apocalypses, and no ghosts. Oh, wait…Okay, so there is a small paranormal element in it (because I can't not), but it's not enough to call it a fantasy. It's a mystery. So that's the second first.
     The third first is that the main character is male. I have done very little writing in the POV of male characters, so this will be a fun and interesting challenge. To make it even harder, it will be first person, which means I will be even more embedded in this man's head. I'm not entirely sure if I can write believably through the POV of a man. I guess I'll find out. 
     So, what's the title, you ask?
     Confession time: I'm really bad at novel titles. I can come up with poem titles pretty easily, but it's hard for me to think of novel titles. The original title of my vampire novel (which I'm now going to use as the series title) was Vampiric Vanguard. That's a great title, right? 
     Yep, it is. It's got a nice ring to it. 
     I didn't come up with it. My boyfriend at the time did. My replacement title, New Year's Revolution, is pretty good if I say so myself, but it took me about five years to come up with it. That's right. Five years. 
     The working title of my second novel is Caribou Canyon, which is just the name of the town the story takes place in. The setting is very important to the story, but I'm not sure it's catchy enough for a title. But I don't have any other ideas of what to call it. 
     I don't have the slightest idea what to call my mystery novel, but I need something to call it instead of my new-third novel-NaNo-work in progress-mystery novel. So I decided to write down all the words that I could think of to use in the title and see what I can get. I've come up with Demons in the Daylight, which I actually think is pretty awesome, it just may not be a good fit for this particular story. We're talking metaphorical demons, not the cool literal kind. But I have something to call the story for now, so that's good at least. If I don't wind up using that title, I'm totally going to write a novel tailored to that title, because it's cool. 
     All right, so here's a bare bones synopsis: Caleb is a 27 year old guy with PTSD. His wife tells him she's cheating on him and he gets put in a psychiatric hospital all in the same day. He gets out of the hospital and learns his friend was murdered. He begins to investigate her murder, because he's almost positive that an innocent man is sitting in jail. He has only the help of the victim's sister, who thinks he's insane and is only helping him to get rid of him and to prove him wrong. 
     There's a lot more to it than that (I even know who the killer is!), but I'm going to leave it at that for now. 
     Here's hoping that it goes well. Happy writing, everyone! 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

It's November! Time for craziness!

     November is here! For writers and friends and family of writers, you probably all know what that means. For those who don't know, November is National Novel Writing Month. This will be my first year participating in NaNoWriMo. The basic idea is to write a 50k word novel in a month. Sounds nuts, right?
     It is. From what I've heard, that's what makes it fun.
     I'm going to make a confession: when I first heard about NaNo, it seemed like a pointless idea to me. It seemed to me that it was glorifying writing without editing, and a first draft is just one small component of the writing process.
     I don't feel this way anymore. The first draft is perhaps the most important part of the process. You can't edit something that doesn't exist, and many people have a hard time getting that first draft going. So, I have since seen the error of my thinking. My sincerest apologies for thinking NaNo is pointless.
     Though I've never participated, it's obvious from what I've heard that most people who do it have a lot of fun, whether they actually get to 50k or not. It also really helps motivate people to write and keep writing and helps connect people with other writers.
     So, I apologize again for ever thinking it was pointless.
     Once I got my head out of the clouds and realized that NaNo is an awesome concept, I've been planning on joining in the craziness. For the past two years I seriously considered participating, but kept finding excuses not to. There's always something. I'm busy with work, my apartment flooded and I'm living with my parents, I have a new boyfriend, I'm recovering from surgery, I just moved, my boyfriend's recovering from surgery…
     Okay, so maybe some of those excuses are completely valid, but I figure there will always be things going on in my life that could potentially get in the way of writing. So this year I'm going to give NaNo a whirl.
     Back in September when I chose to participate, I decided I was going to go about this novel differently than my previous two. I had this grand idea to fully plan it out: do all the research, character outlines and back stories, and all the plotting. This is not something I normally do before I start. I'm usually a pantser (someone who does little to no planning, meaning they fly by the seat of their pants).
     This time around I truly intended to plan it all out. I was hoping it would maybe help the entire process go faster. Unfortunately, I wanted to finish my first draft of Caribou Canyon before beginning any planning for novel number three. CC took much longer than I thought it would. I finished on Oct. 26th and decided that I needed the week to recover. So, I'm not doing any planning, and honestly it's kind of a liberating feeling. I feel like I'm staying true to myself by not planning. I'm just going to write like crazy and see what happens.
     Ahhh! I'm so excited!
     Wish me luck! And good luck to other crazy participants! Happy writing!