Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 26: Reaching the Summit

November has only days to live and NaNoWriMo is winding down for another year. We're at day 26 and if all goes well, I will finish tonight, the earliest that I've ever finished a NaNo. At least I think so. I don't have that great a story but there are bits and pieces in the debris that I can see have potential in something else. In writing, nothing is wasted. You learn from the junk and you gloat over the gems.

This year's WriMo group has been a lively one and that's made it a lot more interesting. I'm feeling a bit down knowing that in just days it will all be over and everyone will go back to their daily lives. Part of you is always relieved when NaNo ends but there is this other part that hates to see it stop, to lose your writing buddies for another year, to not feel the exhilaration of trying to meet that daily goal, the excitement of write-ins, and just talking over your story. Even if you win NaNo, you lose something.

We do NaNo for all kinds of reason. You always hope to end up with a great story. Most are probably not so great. The more serious among us will wrestle with that story like Jacob with the Angel of the Lord and they'll throw out more than their hip to accomplish it. For me it has always been a personal challenge.

When I did my first NaNo in 2006 it was all about seeing if I could write 50,000 words of a story. I probably had several times that in boxes of handwritten and typed stories. I really had no idea exactly how many words that was. It's a lot of words. I made it to just over 30K that first year. I was disappointed but when I finished, I knew that the next year, I was going to try again. I won that time. From that point on, every year, I've set myself the goal of writing 50,000 words, with mixed results.

For me, the exhilaration of hitting the flow and the words pouring from your brain through your fingertips and onto the computer screen is about the greatest high you can get. Of course, there are days when you would kill for the next flow fix, when the words are dragged from you like a 19th century dentist pulling bad teeth. It's hard and it hurts. You don't stop, though. You keep going because, after you've done this a few times, you know that the next fix is just a matter of the right word, the right phrase, the right sentence.

There are unexpected side effects to participating in NaNo. You meet some really nice people from all over the world, online and in person. Many writers are pure introverts. We don't mix well with people. In fact, if asked, we'd rather not. I've noticed that once you get them out of the shadows, NaNo has a way of socializing introverts. They become much more talkative and excited about things, if by things you mean stories. They almost become extroverts. Almost.

I think the most radical side effect is what you learn about yourself and your writing. I've become less of an introvert. I'm a lot more confident in my ability as a writer. NaNo has honed my skills to a finer edge and so I write better. No, I'm not published. That has never been a goal for me, a dream maybe, not a real goal.

More than once I've been asked, "Why do NaNoWriMo?" Why do people climb Mt. Everest? I'll let George Mallory tell you.

“People ask me, 'What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?' and my answer must at once be, 'It is of no use.' There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron... If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.” 

― George Mallory, Climbing Everest: The Complete Writings of George Mallory

I guess you could say that NaNoWriMo is my Mt. Everest.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Telling Horror Stories

I did this months ago with Sarah, my angle and my heart. I watched it again tonight and ended grinning from ear to ear. This is what happens when two storytellers compete.

 We have such fun when we're together.

Day 15: Halfway to Glory

Muffy just reached the halfway point
two days early in her online write-in!
I can't believe we're already at the halfway point in NaNoWriMo. It has been an amazing two weeks filled with write-ins both physical and virtual. Seems the virtual write-ins are a hit with those bent on hitting the goals ahead of time. I've been astound by the way my and the participants' word counts have skyrocketed at these virtual write-ins.

Participation is higher as well. Will we someday see only virtual write-ins? I hope not. We all need the contact, visual, auditory, and physical to really give us a new energy to move on to the next writing session. While the virtual write-in is well suited to facilitate a more focused and more intense writing session that gives you high word counts, there is something to be said for actually meeting and putting real faces, real voices, and real names to the people on the boards.  I like my NaNo Peeps even more after meeting them.

So here we are, half way. I'm two whole days ahead! I can believe that. Honestly, it is totally due to the virtual write-ins. I am averaging 1900 words at every online write-in. I've done very little writing outside of that since I started them over a week ago, except at the physical write-ins, and word counts were lower at those. So, this week I made it a point that when I'm going to write, I log into the chat site and stay there. Gradually, more and more of the group is dropping in and they're racking up the numbers. Word is getting out that if you want your count to climb, you need to do the online write-in as well. I know it works for me.

If I can continue this pace, I'll be done by Thanksgiving. Well, I'm hoping. I'm not very vested in this story yet. I hated it after it was started, got two days behind and then when I caught up, things began to look better for the story. I don't hate it, it just hasn't jelled yet. There's a good idea that needs a lot of work. For now, just get the words down.

One big problem has been my rheumatoid arthritis. I've had horrible pain in my hands, neck, and feet. The hand issue has made it very hard to type at times. When you think about it, I'm on the computer nearly 12 hours a day, typing in some way. The meds don't seem to work well anymore and I'm resistant to trying anything else if it is only going to cause me other physical problems, like going bald. Yes, bald. At the moment, my hearing is taking a beating with the nsaids. I've got constant ringing in my ears, sometimes so bad I can't sleep. I have to use sound blockers, e.g. ocean wave sounds, soft music, etc. But it is only a patch. I don't know how much loss I've got but I suspect it is considerable. But I'm not stopping writing until I can't write anymore.

The local group has some folks interested in forming a critique group. Its still in the talking stages but something will be eventually posted on the Facebook Group page.

I'm on my way now to Panera Bread for a Write-In. I'm hoping that I can get another couple of days ahead and get some interesting things going on in the story. They're talking me to death at the moment. It is a killer to try and get word count with dialogue.

To all my fellow WriMos, hang on. You're halfway to Glory. The purple bar awaits you it you just keep writing!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nano Day 7: The Rocky Road

So, here we are, at day 7. What to say.... I've had a rough couple of NaNo days. From Saturday until last night I was consistently behind 400+ words. That doesn't sound like much but it is about two pages of typed text, so you try it. Without a plan or anyone telling you what to write.

The problem with getting behind in NaNo is that it is cumulative. Today you're 400 hundred behind. Tomorrow you have to do the daily count + the 400 missing words. If you miss the daily count of 1667 by say, 100 words, now you're behind 500 words. You see how this can get out of control very fast. It only takes a couple of days at that rate to be 1000 words behind and that, my friends, is roughly five typed pages. That's a lot and very hard to overcome unless you are prolific.

So, last night, I caught up and passed the daily count by a couple of hundred words. Yay! But joy such as this is short lived. When I woke up this morning I realized this. During NaNo you may go to bed caught up. You will wake up behind, 1667 words behind. And you must catch up by midnight.

Depressing? Well, for a moment. But you know that you'll do it. If you want to win, you'll do it. You'll sit in the chair, turn up the music, get in an online write-in, and you'll do it. That's what I did. I did an online write-in with a couple of my NaNo buddies. I put some music on my media player, and we all did some writing together. In one hour I had my words. You kind of want to do a happy dance. But I was sitting Indian style, wrapped in a cozy, warm blanket. I just did a happy bounce and a shout or two. Today, I'm feeling a bit better about the whole thing.

NaNo tends to suck you dry a good bit of the time. Unless your story is blazing and the muse is screaming at you, you can run out of steam pretty fast. You find yourself at stop lights thinking about a plot twist or what makes the character tick while the character behind you is blowing his horn and flipping you off. You go to bed wondering what you'll come up with the next day since you just used your last idea but you fall asleep from exhaustion before you come up with anything. Or you lie awake from the caffeine buzz from all the coffee you've been drinking to stay awake so you can just catch up.

You brush your teeth and think about the look in your characters eye as he/she demands you do what they tell you but you have other ideas. You're not sure about the ax he has in his hands. You argue with people who are not there and the people who are there look at you strangely and start searching for the number to your shrink. You have one, don't you?

In thirty days, you'll begin to sport bloodshot eyes, a scraggly beard (males... well maybe), hairy legs (women....well maybe), uncombed hair, and you're wearing your pajamas every second you're home. The dishes are stacked on every surface and there's a mouse dead behind the fridge. You think the trap got him but maybe it was food poisoning. If you're over 30, you may gain twenty pounds. If you under 30, you may develop zits from the excessive chocolate.

This is the road to glory. Thirty days of alien lands, rugged terrain, dangerous conflicts, and sneaking, conniving, lying, backstabbing characters all bent on destruction. Thirty days of shining cities, searing heat, freezing cold, and a holocaust. Thirty days of silent, stagnant, boring characters refusing to do a darn thing but stare at you in the bathroom mirror as you brush your teeth.

This is the Rocky Road to NaNoWriMo Victory!


Monday, November 4, 2013

NaNo Day 3: Another NaNo Monday

I know that it is actually the first NaNo Monday but I needed a snappy title and that one worked.

It is, indeed, day 3 of NaNoWriMo and as of last night was 100 words short. Of course, that means today I have to write 1766 words. But that's doable... if I can get this stupid story moving.

I really don't have a story. It is almost laughable. I'm struggling with it already and that's a bad sign. It means I didn't' have a story to start with. I had a good opening idea that didn't translate well when I finally wrote it.

To top all that off, I feel utterly terrible. I'm hurting in several places, most notably my neck. When the neck hurts, everything else is bad. I am tired because I stayed up too late on Saturday and then I didn't sleep well that night. The time shift sort of backfired on me. I  got up late and spent Sunday sitting around watching television... I think. Maybe not.

Today, I'm sort of blurry, if that makes any sense at all. My head, neck and shoulder hurt. I'm still sleepy. I'm guessing fibro attack. There is some joint pain but it is mild compared to the neck.

Now, back to the grindstone to polish this nose. We'll see how the writing goes when I get home.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

NaNo Day 2

As day two comes to a close, NaNoWriMo is well underway in my region. I've got a lively and involved group this year. Several lurkers have come into the light and we have several first timers. It is always a lot of fun the met these two group. They're eager, excited, and scared to death. It makes them a lot of fun to be around.

I'm on target for the word count but I got to say, the story I thought I had seems to have evaporated as soon as I touched the keyboard. That's not unusual either but it is so frustrating. I had a good grasp of where I wanted to start and when I began to type it simply didn't sound the same. Still, one must just Keep Calm and Keep Typing. 

I'm tired tonight and I've had a rough afternoon for some reason. Well, actually... I know the reasons but it can't be helped and whining about it here won't serve any purpose. Outside of NaNo, I'm fairly isolated and it become very trying at times. I don't always like coming home to a vacant house. My world has shrunk to 1200 square feet and that gets very frightening at times. You begin to wonder exactly what's the point.

Today, I think I just want to go home. Really home. I want to see Mama and I want to see Jerry and I don't want to have to worry about anyone else's problems. I suppose everyone feels that way now and then. I've spent a lot of time lately asking God for a map. He has me on hold.

Moving on. I've been cleaning off my list of contacts in Facebook and G+. Amazing how you can accumulate people that don't actually give a flip about you. How does that happen? I'm sure they're very nice people but there is no relationship. So, poof. 

I have to admit that I'm rather tired of the social network scene. The publishers and agents are saying "You have to have a platform." Yes, a platform. You have to be on Twitter. You have to have a blog and be blogging. You have to have a brand. More social networking, not less. Eek, it is enough to make me  run screaming. I was overwhelmed by the conference. So much information and a lot of it discouraging to a writer who is not yet published. Over 1.5 million books published each year and the average published author sells 500 books. Say what? Yep. 

So, the question becomes "Why would I waste my time?"

Because writing is something I have to do. Published or not.

NaNo Day 1

Only two days until NaNoWriMo begins. I have an idea and I'm going to run with it but I have several characters who have suddenly decided they want to be heard. So, I'm swamped with all these voices in my head yelling, "Pick me! Pick me!"

Look it's only figuratively. I know they aren't real. That's what it's like when I am eager to write. So many stories and characters that spend an inordinate amount of time trying to distract me.