Monthly Archives: November 2013

Post NaNoWriMo

I have finished NaNoWriMo this year with a flourish. I had the 25th as my finish date. On the 23rd, my brother and his wife arrived. They were on their way to visit their daughter.

That night, we had the same winter storm here that affected most of the US. The next day, he was unable to leave. The roads were uncertain throughout most of the state and NM. I usually cook when they are here, so I had to put together an unplanned dinner. Going to the corner store was out of the question, everything was closed. I threw together some sriracha chicken legs, with rice, and won ton soup. Not traditional Thanksgiving food, but it worked.

My brother knew I was working on NaNoWriMo, so he suggested I tend to my business on the 24th. That gave me a few hours to catch up.

When he and his wife left on the 25th, I discovered I had miscounted my words and had only a few hundred words to go instead of a few thousand. So, I ended on the date I planned to finish. That was a satisfying feeling.

I also had midterms to mark the week before Thanksgiving. Plus, I’m dealing with students who want to turn in a semester’s worth of papers on the last week. (Anyone like them for an employee?)

What does any of this have to do with the art and craft of writing? You do it when you can, not necessarily when you want to. Life has a way of throwing curve balls at our plans. You have to play what is thrown at you, not what you want.

Okay, okay. I’m reaching for a writing moral to my tale. Give me a break. Whimper, sniff, sniff. I’ve been writing all month, and I just wanted to give myself a break from writing.

I hope your Thanksgiving was a pleasant as mine.

NaNoWriMO: Almo Finisimo

So, here we are more than half way through the month. I am at 42,422 words. Almo-st Finis-hed. I have less than 8,000 words to go. Tonight, I intended to add 3,000 words making the finishing glide through Thanksgiving week an easy one.

Then reality, in the name of my wife, sets in. We have guests coming in two days. She has an early winter cold and has had to miss work and somebody has to do the grocery shopping for next week. I wonder who that somebody might be.

Yes, I went to the store at a balmy 86 degrees. I shopped for two hours, not because I had two hours of shopping to do, but because everyone was doing their one hour of shopping at the same time. For some items, shelves were cleaned out, eggs are an example. No eggs.

The longer I shopped, the less I wanted to get back home and begin writing my 3,000 words for the day.

When I came out, it was 54 degrees and shopping carts were sailing across the parking lot as a winter cold front blew into my region. The temperature went down a few degrees as I drove home. The call to write dimmed as the evening wore on until 8:00 PM then slid into total darkness.

I didn’t write one word on my novel tonight. But, I did have a breakthrough in a dream last night. Some of you may remember I rewrite and edit my works while sleeping. Here’s what happened. My heroine has an experience that turns her eyes a pale shade of blue.

I’d been thing about what to do with her mother. I had her mother presented as an insane person at the beginning of the book. But, I wanted to have the mother and the heroine connected. Ah, in my dream state, I saw the mother with pale blue eyes.

Now I have a back story to account for how the mother behaves as she does and why the daughter is as she is. The backstory even foreshadows what will ultimately happen in the novel.

I don’t feel too bad about missing a night of adding words. I love having dreams like that.


The Madness will End Soon – NaNoWriMo

I’m on day 17 for NaNoWriMo. As of today, I have 39,343 words out of a required 50,000. So, I should be done by the 22nd. That’s great because I will have house guests on the 23rd. They will be here for a couple of days, then it will be Thanksgiving and I want to be finished before Thanksgiving week. There are so many things going on that week, anything I leave on the table will not be done.

I had a little crisis this weekend with the writing. It’s not that the voices in my head stopped talking to me. It’s that I got tired of listening to them. I decided I needed to spice up my current chapter to hold my interest until the end. I went to good ole Joseph Campbell and looked up the Journey of a Hero. In this case, my protagonist is a female, so I also looked up the Journey of a Heroine. They are different in storyline and timeline. Interesting stuff.

That got me going again. I decided to have my heroine meet a hermit/priestess in a cave. Problem? How do I get her to the cave, what will the priestess be like. How does she live in the cave. What will happen with my heroine as a result of meeting her.

There you go and there I went. I threw off the write’s slow down – not quite writer’s block, and began with a fresh outlook.

I modeled my hermit/priestess after Vicki Mackenzie, a real life Buddhist monk. But with due respect to Priestess Mackenzie, it was only a partial modeling. She was my inspiration, my take off point. The priestess in my story doesn’t resemble MacKenzie except for a few brief lines.

I left my heroine in the hermit’s cave eating magic mushrooms and nibbling on centipedes. By tomorrow, I will be thinking about getting her out. She will be changed by her experience. How will she be changed? I will be surprised by what happens to her, just as you will.

NaNoWriMo Week Two

I sat out to write a novel this month in the NaNoWriMo contest. The first weekend I wrote 18,000 words, then next few days, a little over 6,000. I now stand at 24,137. Tonight and tomorrow night I’ll write 3,000 each, then this weekend, I’ll shoot for another 18,000.

So far the experience has not been that bad. I haven’t been able to keep up with my favorite shows on TV – not a great loss. My ‘Honey Do’ list has been neglected. I made up for that a bit this weekend.

The biggest problem came last Monday. I came off my 18 hour work weekend with the inability to pronounce words clearly. Words that I normally have no problems with, when giving a lecture, I stumbled over. Words I normally have a problem with, I couldn’t say at all.

I didn’t recover until I had a few nights sleep without writing. I can’t say I didn’t think about writing. I frequently dream about stories I’m writing. There is a scene I’m doing to write tonight I worked out in my sleep. In it, the protagonist is in the proverbial sealed room with no way out. It’s her childhood bedroom’s accompanying bathroom. She recalls the clothes hamper is a ‘V’ shaped storage bin that opens into the bathroom and the laundry room. All she has to do to escape her bedroom is crawl in the bin and push on the ceiling so the bin tilts into the laundry room. She does have to be careful though. If she doesn’t control her speed, there will be an audible thump when the bin comes to rest in the laundry room.

I actually had a laundry bin like that once. It was in my bathroom. One day I opened it at the same time my neighbor opened hers. I saw light and bent to see my neighbor looking back at me. We said quick embarrassed hellos, then closed the bins.

We talked about the issue later and had the land lord install a barrier so neighbors wouldn’t be so ‘neighborly’ by accident.

Nanowrimo: Day Two

I have begun writing in my second Nanowrimo. That’s the National Noval Writing Month for the uninitiated. It’s a challenge contest where you compete with yourself to write a 50,000 word novel in one month, November.

I ‘won,’ that is I finished last year, and I’m competing again this year. Today is day two. I have written just over 12,000 words so far. To ‘win’ you have to write 1666 words a day. I’ve written over 6,000 words a day for two days. I’ll do the same tomorrow.

Obviously, I’ve done nothing else but write for the last two days. I’m not a masochist, I’m pushing myself because I’m a professor. I’ve set aside this weekend to push myself to my limits. I want to get 18,000 words in three days, and another 6,000 words this week. That will put me half way through the project. After that, I will have 888 words per day to knock out.

With everything else I have to do and Thanksgiving coming. I didn’t see another way for me to finish. This year, the semester ends early, the second week of December. If I didn’t have a push at the beginning of the month, at the end I would be overwhelmed with class and the contest.

So, after two days of nothing but writing, I’m surviving. I know I’ll survive three. Then I’ll be able to kick back.

Just one more thing. There’s a list of books on NaNoWriMo’s website for writers. Take a look at them.