Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NaNoWriMo Update #3

“10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer
Write more.
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
Keep writing.”
― Brian Clark

“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that - but you are the only you.
Tarantino - you can criticize everything that Quentin does - but nobody writes Tarantino stuff like Tarantino. He is the best Tarantino writer there is, and that was actually the thing that people responded to - they’re going ‘this is an individual writing with his own point of view’.
There are better writers than me out there, there are smarter writers, there are people who can plot better - there are all those kinds of things, but there’s nobody who can write a Neil Gaiman story like I can.”
― Neil Gaiman

Day 26
Total word count: 46,699
Pages in Word: 90
Estimated mass market paperback pages:187

In my last post, I said I would share the plot of my story, so I guess I have to deliver now. Just keep in mind, that by sharing this plot idea, I present a brain child to the world like Simba in the Lion King: up for view, for potential admiration or critical judgment.

I have based my novel on true accounts I have read about women during WWII who worked in the OSS, the predecessor of the CIA. My novel tells the story of one young woman's experience. I don't want to reveal too much about the storyline, but I hope that tiny snippet simultaneously satisfies and piques people's curiosity about it.

With only a handful of days left in the challenge, I can see that I will not be finished writing down the entire story by the end of this month. I hope that is a sign of a decently strong plot!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! This year, I am particularly grateful for the gift of my expression and for this experience. I am also grateful for a supportive husband who has cheered me on this whole time, even at his own inconvenience.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Save Thanksgiving!!

I love Christmas. I like finding gifts for my family, catering presents to their hobbies and personalities, to our inside jokes and connections. But I have to admit that I dislike Christmas shopping. Crowds. Tons of merchandise no one needs. People buying stuff they can't afford. Children screaming--more than usual anyway.

A few years ago, Tracy and I stayed up and decided to go to Walmart to witness our first Black Friday. In the past, we have gone shopping later in the afternoon on Black Friday, well after the rush, and found some items we wanted. But we wanted to see what we had heard about on the news: the mass of humanity in a whirlwind of chaos and greed. Although we did not witness a trampling, we saw people who had three or more TVs stacked in their carts with another cart full of toys. We saw the lines circle completely around the store. In all honesty, my stomach churned. Didn't we just spend a day being grateful for what we have? Now we're stocking up to get more stuff.

I'm sure everyone has heard the news that Walmart will open its doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, which shocked me. Even more alarming, Kmart will open its deal-busting doors at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving! Before we can even put the turkey in the oven (much less take it out and eat it), play turkey bowl, watch the parade, count our blessings, or even wish family Happy Thanksgiving, some of us are out anxiously shopping and pushing for deals in store lines, convinced that this stuff will make our holidays meaningful.

Although some companies attribute their early opening to a Christmas season six days shorter this year, I would argue that businesses already start the commercial Christmas season before Halloween. Commercials play jingly tunes before we've carved a pumpkin. Christmas products, decorations, and specialty items crowd the stores well before the spooky costumes leave the shelves. So why do Christmas deals have to occur only on one occasion, Black Friday? Why not have a Black Saturday (or whatever color you'd like to put with it) the Saturday before Thanksgiving? Then wait and have more crazy sales on Black Friday.Why not sprinkle the crazy deals from October through December?

The Huffington Post posted an article a few days ago that made me want to hug some business executives--or at least give them a friendly high five--for the first time ever. Some companies stand for preserving Thanksgiving for the holiday that it should be. I hope that their integrity will be rewarded with increase sales as well as warm fuzzies from doing the right thing.

According to the Huffington Post article, some shoppers have started petitions, which I wouldn't not sign (for the double negative impaired, this means I would sign it), but I think what would send a clearer message to companies is simply not shopping until Black Friday really starts--on Friday. You may miss some deals. You may even have fewer gifts. But there comes a time when you have to decide: what are you willing to spend your holiday time with? Family or things? People or prices?

When I think back on Christmases and Thanksgivings past, I remember some significant gifts, some significant objects or things. But more than that, I remember moments, traditions, time spent with my parents, siblings, and friends that no door-busting deal on a cell phone can replace. I hope people realize that by saving Thanksgiving for family and reflection, we save what truly makes this time of year special.

Monday, November 11, 2013

NaNoWriMo Update #2

"Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone." -- Amy Tan

"There is no great writing. There is only great rewriting." --Justice Brandeis

Day 11 
Words: 20,457
Pages in Word: 40
Estimated mass market paperback pages: 82 pages
Days remaining: 19

After eleven days into the NaNoWriMo challenge, my first wind or high from doing this challenge has started to fade, and now comes the exhausting reality of writing so much in a short amount of time. It is now time to push until my second wind. Like in running, I could quit or slow down now after my first wind, convinced that I have done enough, more than I have in the past. I could, but I won't. I have to dig deep for motivation and drive. Even on days when I feel tired, when I feel overwhelmed with other tasks, when I run out of ideas or specific words I want to use, I have to keep writing. I want to finish this challenge, and what's more, I actually want to see this novel exist on paper, rather than just in my head.

Everyone needs a support system when conquering a marathon. Tracy reminds me daily to push beyond my goal word per day count, so that if I need to miss a day for whatever reason, I will have that flexibility. I'm sure when Thanksgiving Day rolls around, I will be grateful for his nagging, I mean, his advice, and for the extra time I worked every day to build a buffer.

Friends have asked if they can read my novel when I finish this month, to which I reply, "After I have a few months of revision, maybe." Because I know inconsistencies, repetitions, remnants of past plot ideas, and usage errors are sprinkled throughout the story already. Perhaps one day I will have gained the confidence and courage to share this story with others, but until then I ask for patience.

In my next post, I will share the plot of my story, so stay tuned. Happy writing!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NaNoWriMo Update #1

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."--Ernest Hemingway

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."--W. Somerset Maugham

"Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people."--Roald Dahl
Day 5
Just short of bleeding, I have survived days 1 through 4 fairly unscathed. I found out early just how hard to overcome my compulsion to edit immediately would be. I sat at the computer for hours, just to complete my daily goal of 1,667 words. On day 3, this past Sunday, I had a hectic schedule, which limited my word count for the day to around 700 words (about 967 words short), which left a busy day 4 to make up the deficit. I did it though! My goal now is to work ahead, so I can have a cushion for days like day 3.

Now that we are on day 5, my mind focuses more on the larger story than on the minute details. Over the last five days, I have told myself: Let it go! I'll fix it later! It has not hindered my editing abilities, thank goodness, but it has enabled me to write longer pieces in a short amount of time, to get more words on the page faster. However, even at the end of 30 days, my story will desperately need rearranging, elaborating in some spots, cutting some parts altogether, and some serious spring cleaning. My typical writing style still serves me well, but I am expanding my repertoire of styles to include long fiction.

Now that I am getting past growing pains, I am starting to enjoy this!

Tracy and I counted the number of words from a random page in a mass market paperback and came to around 250 words per page. My total word count currently is 8,419. That's 17 pages in Word and 33 mass market paperback pages. By the end of the month, I will have at least 200, a modest novel, but still a novel.

Only 25 more days to go!

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo: Here We Go!

One of the best ways to ensure you'll do something: tell someone you're going to do it and make yourself accountable to that person. Well, I suppose I am becoming accountable to whoever reads this blog.

I am going to participate unofficially in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The NaNoWriMo challenge includes writing 50,000 words in 30 days. That's about 1,667 words a day. This isn't going to be easy.

When I write, I revise. I reorganize, rewrite, reword. I revise. And then I revise more. The NaNoWriMo challenge requires that I leave behind my tendency to stew on and improve a sentence or paragraph and just keep going. This isn't going to be easy.

I have a few ideas for novels that I like, but I lack the confidence to share those ideas with the world. This challenge allows me to pursue at least one of those possible stories in a rather low-stakes way. But it still won't be easy.

I plan on sharing my experiences, progress, and lessons learned as I go through NaNoWriMo, so stay tuned.

Click here for more specific information about NaNoWriMo. And feel free to share your experiences if you decide to join me in this goal.