Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Greetings From the Middle

Well it has been awhile since I have been able to write a post on this blog.  It seems my free time has been limited, and whatever I do have, is taken by actually, you know, writing.

We are more than half-way through the month, which means I am now starting to look at my progress and worrying about:

  1. Whether I am going to hit the 50,000 word goal (currently at 32,762);
  2. Whether everything I've written is complete crap (answer: yes, probably); and
  3. What comes next (can I actually keep writing this story to the end and get through the process of editing it enough so that it is readable?).

I first heard about NaNoWriMo on twitter.  Some authors and book bloggers were talking about whether they were participating, and the pros and cons of the theory behind it.  The cons seemed to argue it was an artificial way to write a book- that you can't just force writing.  The pros argue it is freeing.  I tend to agree with both sides.  If you are just writing words (quantity not quality) then are you really accomplishing anything?  On the other hand, giving yourself the freedom to just write, not edit or worry too much about content, but just spend a few hours every day writing whatever you want, well it can be a catalyst for something great.  I know this because I stare at the list of authors and books I have read who got their start by taking the NaNoWriMo challenge.  I think they must have had the very same thoughts I've had, or any amateur writer has, and yet look what they accomplished.

I have found this process interesting, and for the most part, fun.  At the beginning, like most people, I was so excited about starting that I didn't really over-think things much.  I didn't bother with an outline (probably- definitely- a mistake), I didn't spend much time getting to know my characters (I meant to, but the November 1st date just really snuck up on me) and I didn't really know how my story was going to end (or really what was going to happen in the middle).  Like that matters, right?  

With all those things missing it is no surprise I am now having problems continuing (hence my procrastination writing this blog post).  However, in the spirit of NaNo, I am not going to really worry too much about how I need to develop my characters more, or that my story needs to definitely be tightened.  Instead, I will just continue trying to meet my daily word count goal (I missed the last two days and it is killing me) and comfort myself in knowing that once December rolls around I will be able to go back and worry about quality over quantity.

I am still determined to "win" this thing!  It just means I now have to write about 1,724 words a day for the next ten days.  No problem, right?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Work Free Friday...

Well we finished out our first week of NaNoWriMo (well technically a little more than a week) and when we hit the weekend, I got my first taste of distraction.  I just could not bring myself to focus and sit down and write.  It wasn't like I didn't have ideas in my head to write about.  In fact, I was still working on a scene I had been looking forward to writing, but which hadn't really gone as well as I had hoped.  (Yeah I know it is technically editing which is sort of contrary to the whole purpose of NaNo, but whatever, I break some of the rules- it's how I roll :) )

Rather, it was just like I couldn't bring myself to sit down and actually write.  I sat down to start my work and here is what I did instead:

1.  Checked Facebook

2.  Checked Twitter

3.  Checked my Email

4.  Checked Twitter again (this is seriously going to be my downfall, I mean there is always something new posted and all I have to do is click on some link and I'm distracted and going down the dangerous path which is the twitter time suck.  Its addictive.  Even the distraction free screen on scrivener doesn't keep me from getting on twitter.)

Finally, I gave up getting any work done on Friday.  It was late, and I knew whatever I wound up writing I would likely delete on Saturday, so instead I decided to take the night off.  I spent the rest of the night reading parts of books I've already read.  Which is weird, right?  The thing is, I was trying to figure out why I like certain books so much, why I would spend the little time I have rereading stories over and over again, and I think it comes down to the characters.  There are some characters you either identify with or you just love.  Of course this is a very subjective thing, but I was thinking what it is about these characters that I like so much.  What causes me to identify with them or have crushes on them and I came up with some common features, most of which I value in the people I know and love, or wish I possessed.  (Disclaimer: this may have just been my way to justify reading instead of writing, but whatever, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

The point is, by the time Saturday rolled around, I was ready to sit down and write.  For one thing, I felt kind of guilty about not writing at all on Friday.  For another, I am extremely competitive and I wanted to stay on track with my word count.  I wound up writing 4,957 words, which was more than what I needed to make up for my slacker Friday.

What is probably more exciting to me is the rest of my book outline came to me.  I had a general idea of the story I was going to write, but I was missing a lot of what happened in the middle and the end.  It sounds weird when I say that, but I was literally writing with the hopes the rest of the story would just come to me eventually.  Saturday, while working on my beginning, my middle and end plots finally came to me.  Now I just have to figure out how to exactly reach those points (little things), but at least I have a much better idea of where my characters are going (big sigh of relief).  

Which got me thinking about what I've already written.  I expect the beginning of my story may be too long.  I mean I was just spewing verbal diarrhea hoping I could come up with an interesting enough story to keep my attention so I could reach 50,000 words.  And as I hadn't really managed to think of a complete story ahead of time, I was winging it until the story came to me.  Excellent plan, but probably not the best way for me to come up with a cohesive story.  Plus, if I detail the middle and end of my story the way they should be, I will be left with an extremely long book.

Which basically leaves me with two options:

1.  Edit the crap out of my story (necessary regardless); or

2.  Break this up into several books.

I am not sure how you determine whether to write a stand along book or instead write a series.  Part of  me thinks this is kind of presumptuous.  Ok a huge part of me thinks worrying about that is presumptuous.  Whatever.  Instead of worrying about it, or even thinking too far ahead about whether I can even come up with enough to fill one book, much less several books, I am going to just continue what I'm doing.  Writing without worrying (well at least not worrying much).  Hopefully, the rest will work itself out later.

Day 11 Stats:

Wrote Today: 1,770 words

Total Written: 23,002 words 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Toddler Birthday Party Nightmares... and Day 7 recap...

So I must have tried to start my blog entry last night a half a dozen times but my brain was just fried and it showed in my writing.  I wasn't making a lot of sense.  So instead I went to bed early with the thought I would write my blog post while Terror 1 was at school and Terror 2 was napping.  Which means I have like thirty minutes to do this.  So this may just be a lot of me spewing verbal diarrhea and not a whole lot of making sense.

I mostly blame the fact that The Commissioner has been out of town so it has just been the three of us for the week.  Which means I don't have much time to do anything non-chore related until after the girls are asleep at night.  Usually, I have a few hours during the day while Terror 1 is at her preschool but that time has been filled with errands lately, not the least being our planning of Terror 1's birthday party.

She's turning three next week.  We've never done a birthday party but now that she's in "school," and has all these friends who do them, she is aware she has been missing out.  So we are going ahead and planning out a birthday party.  Of course just having a simple thing at home wouldn't be enough so now we are going all out and having 20 of her closest friends to a little party at a local zoo.  Seriously?  She's 3 and probably won't remember any of this.  And 20 kids?  What were we thinking.  But the biggest headache has been the gift bags.  Any parent will tell you that the gift bags are such a waste.  They are filled with crap that gets lost or broken within a day, but if you don't have them, your party will be considered a failure by every toddler in the area.  I only wish I was joking.

We had such plans to get organized and not have to resort to buying the usual crap from Party City or wherever.  Except as I've said, I'm all great when it comes to planning, but poor when it comes to execution.  So we are a week out with no time to order anything and I'm going to be making a second trip to Party City this weekend (don't ask.)  I've already bought gift bags, erasers with zoo animals and stickers... I'm still going to buy animal crackers... not sure what else we will put in these bags.  It just seems very random.  And I should probably order a cake soon.  Ugh.  I hate planning birthday parties!

So that was my rant on all things not writing related which have been the focus of the week.  As for writing, well I managed to have a pretty good day yesterday considering how exhausted I was (although I haven't read anything I've written from yesterday so I'm not sure how much of that will need to be erased!)

I wound up writing 2,022 words, which brings my total to 14,438 words.

I haven't started on today's writing, but the Commissioner will be home today!  So as long as we don't wind up getting distracted with birthday planning, I'm hoping for a productive evening.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 6 Recap

So like most people, I've been glued to my TV, twitter feed and Facebook watching as the election results came in, and ultimately called for Obama.  I can't even express how much I love election days.  And the fact that my candidate is the one who won tonight doesn't hurt.  Listening to his speech tonight literally gave me chills.  I teared up.

Anyway, all that is explanation as to why I'm posting late tonight, and why I am going to keep this extremely short.  After all this excitement, I am ready to go to bed.  However, before I do that, I just wanted to post my recap of today's work.

I was, happily, able to meet my daily word count, and in fact exceeded it.  Today I wrote 2,112 words, which brings my overall total to 12,416 words.  And tomorrow, I get to write a scene I am really excited about! :)

Now, I'm going to go to bed with a smile on my face.  Obama was reelected (most important) and I met my word count (important to me).  It was a good night.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Eve...

So like many people tonight, I am distracted.  I have been distracted all day, and I will likely be distracted all tomorrow.  I love and hate election day.  Of course it is a whole lot more fun when your  guy is the one who is victorious, but there is something about exercising your right to vote.  Sometimes I think it is very reaffirming.  Sometimes I wish I could take that right away from people.  I'm only half joking.

Anyway, tomorrow I will be taking Terror #2 with me to go vote.  Well I hope to, we'll see.  In true us fashion, The Commissioner left today on a week long business trip.  With my license.  In his wallet.  So I am now without my ID.  I flipped out, but thank goodness for google, it doesn't look like a drivers license is necessary.  This kind of surprised me, but whatever.

Election day is a favorite in our household, but this year it will be different.  I don't think Terror #1 will let me watch as the results start coming in, as the only way she would care what happens tomorrow is if Mickey Mouse was running.  But I will be checking my phone early and often.  Which probably means my productivity will be down a bit.

Today, however, went pretty well.  I took a big step today and I posted a status update on Facebook telling everyone I was participating in NaNo.  That is basically how I told my mom I was doing this.  I had resisted making it public for various reasons.  Not the least being I am "friends," with some people who I don't think would be very supportive.  Which begs the question, why am I "friends" with them.  It's a good question, which I don't have the brain power to think about now.  I was also nervous about announcing it because I know there will be some friends who are extremely supportive about my attempting this.  So supportive, they will want to read what I'm writing.  And that is a whole other can of freak out.  Actually letting someone read what I'm writing?  I mean, I'm having fun writing this, but that doesn't mean anything I'm writing is any good.  So to let anyone actually read what I'm doing is a whole other step that I'm not quite ready to tackle.  Of course, thats down the line.  First I need to write  my book (and hopefully complete NaNo).

Day 5 Recap:

2,388 words written today, which makes my total word count for the 5 days 10,304.  That amazes me.  I am officially 1/5 of the way through my goal.  A good day.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weekend Recap...

Okay, I am exhausted.  That is my disclaimer for what ramblings are sure to follow (as well as typos and poor grammar).  Between the fact I actually went out Saturday night (hooray for babysitters) and the fact my kids don't believe in time changes (boo early wakeup calls), we got little sleep.  So I'm going to keep this short, but I wanted to document my progress for the weekend.

Saturday was almost a complete bust.  I had no time to write all day with both kids home and The Commissioner around to distract me.  Then we went out to the movies for a belated anniversary celebration.  Which sounds lame, until you see the cinema we went to.  It's freaking AMAZING.  We reserved seats for Flight, which was great but seriously the movie was second to the fact we had LEATHER RECLINERS.  WHAT???  AND WE GOT TO ORDER FOOD AND GROWN-UP DRINKS... all from the comfort of our chairs.  Even during the movie!  I never wanted to get up.  It was so comfortable and the food was actually really good!  No crappy movie theater food for me- gourmet all the way!  On top of that, the movie was good and, oh yeah, WAYNE GRETZKY was there!  Somehow we missed TMZ interviewing him about the NHL mess, but we did see him!

Anyway, I did wind up writing a little bit when we got home from the movies, but not much.  Because we came home and Terror 1 had manipulated our babysitter into staying up.  It was 10:00.  She's supposed to be asleep by 8:30.  On top of that, when we checked on Terror 2, The Commissioner noticed her pjs were on BACKWARDS.  How do you do that?  They have feet on them.  It should be self-explanatory.  I really worry about who we entrusted our kids with, but my desire to have a night out will win out in the future I'm sure.  In the end, everyone was in one piece so I can't ask for much more than that.  Clearly.

When I got up today I knew I needed to make up for my progress on Saturday, and I did.  Tonight was good.  I figured out a few story ideas I was worrying about, and I really really tried hard not to edit what I have already written.  I managed to add 3,449 words today.  NaNo has a nifty stat tracker and it basically says I'll hit the 50,000 goal by November 25 if I keep this up.  It also has a graph tracking my productivity for the day.  I could do without that as it clearly shows my Saturday slacking.  HA!

Point is, four days in and I'm still on target to finish, and I still love doing this.  Here's hoping the rest of the week is productive.  I'm a little nervous as The Commissioner will be out of town so I'm on my own with the terrors.  On the other hand, once they go to bed I'll have extra time to write.  So we'll see!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Guilty Pleasure...

Ask anyone who knows me and they will ultimately talk about my love of all things YA.  The Commissioner loves to tease me about my love of YA books, t.v. shows and movies.  Seriously, my kindle could be mistaken for a teenager's reading list, well not completely but you get the point.  Anyway, in doing NaNo I've been thinking about why I like YA so much, and the more I think about it, the less I "guilty" I feel about it.

Young adults, new adults or whatever you call them (I seriously don't get the categories publishers have come up with) are completely passionate people.  They are ruled by their emotions, they are often obsessed with love and relationships and they don't yet have the weight of the world on their shoulders.   Yes, I know some YA books address very serious issues that YA's face, but mostly, the books are focused on true love, or sparkly vampires or high school.  And there is just a part of me who loves living vicariously through these characters.  I mean who wouldn't love to be the focus of a vampire's attentions, or the bad boy at school or whoever your particular character interest happens to be.  Or wake up one day and find out that you have magical powers (I really would like this even now. Seriously.)

Also, a lot of YA is unapologetically shiny and hopeful.  It deals with things like first loves, crushes and best friends.  It often focuses on characters who have their whole lives in front of them and it more often than not has a happy ending.  What's not to like about that?  Anyway, one of the NaNo experts gave the advice that you should write what you would want to read, so it should come as no surprise that I am writing YA.  I hope it turns out to be something I would want to read- even if there aren't any sparkly vampires in my story.

Day 2 Recap:  I have written 4,467 words, which is 1,133 words over my deadline for the night.

(Confession: even though you aren't supposed to, I couldn't help but edit my prior work a little bit.  I tried really hard not to, but I went back to check something I had written and I just kept thinking I MUST DELETE. I MUST DELETE. I MUST DELETE.  So I gave in, but only a little.  I know the goal is not to come out of this month with a finished product, but rather a good start that you can hopefully salvage with intensive editing.  I have to admit though, it is really hard not to stop and edit!)

I am hoping to continue my writing over the weekend but as Terror #1 won't be in school I'm guessing that will cut into my productivity.  Also, The Commissioner and I will be going out for a belated Anniversary celebration as we finally found a babysitter.  So we're going to go see Flight at a fancy schmancy movie theater that serves dinner.  Both time efficient and fun.  Still, I hope to fit in some writing time.  I have a feeling that I am writing too much "pre-story," but so far I like the direction the story is headed.  We'll see how I feel about it in a month!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 1- Recap

Even though I actually wrote a post on this blog earlier, I thought I should update it now that I am done for the night.

So the helpful people at NaNoWriMo have basically figured out in order to complete your goal of writing 50,000 words by the end of the month, you need to write approximately 1,667 words a day.  I, like most overachieving newbies I imagine, exceeded that goal and wrote 2,566 words.  I really want to erase about 2,500 words so I am not sure it really counts.  I'm trying to take the helpful advice sent out by the NaNo folks to tell my inner editor to take a hike, but the thing is, it's all very satisfying to reach or exceed a word count goal, but it does not mean much if the words are total crap!

This all sounds overly pessimistic.  The truth is I loved every minute of it.  I loved actually writing.  I have wanted to do this for so long and this "competition" gave me the very excuse to at least try.  I still have no clue where my story is going, but overall I am happy.  I have words on paper.  2,566 words to be exact.  I am actually writing a story.  I may even have a finished product at some point.  Something I can look at, and even if nothing else happens, I can say I accomplished my goal, for even just this little time, I was a writer.  So I can't help but be excited.

To recap, I more than met my first goal of 1,667 words (even if I had to physically restrain myself from pushing the delete button) and I am ready to start day 2.  All it took was a couple cups of coffee, some good music (I'm listening to Of Monsters and Men right now) and a few pieces of candy from my kids' Halloween stash.  Don't judge.

Heres hoping everyone else had a good first day and that tomorrow is successful too!  Happy writing.

PS- I have to also send out a HUGE congrats to E on her admission to graduate school.  So excited for you!  xoxo

NaNoWriMo- Day 1

OMG its November 1st and NaNoWriMo has officially started... which means I am already behind!  I had such good intentions, I really did.  I was going to start writing at midnight in order to kick-off NaNo on a productive note and, well, Halloween got in the way.

I have two young kids.  Terror #1 is 3 years old and Terror #2 is 7 months.  So Terror #1 was completely bonkers most of the night on a sugar high (as well as an excitement high) from a Halloween party at school and trick-or-treating with one of her little friends.  By the time we got her down to sleep, I was literally about 30 minutes away from falling asleep myself.  Which means by the time the clock struck midnight and the excitement of NaNo began, I was asleep.  Sigh.

However, today is still November 1st, and still technically the first day of NaNoWriMo, so I will be getting my word count in for the day.  (On a side note, writing a novel with word count deadlines, way less sexy than the idea of writing a book!)  Of course, I need to fit this in during the kiddos naps and/or after bedtime, but I am determined, I will be getting in my 1,667 words for the day.  Which means I better stop writing on this Blog and start writing my, wait for it, NOVEL!

Happy writing.