Friday, November 30, 2007

No More NaNo

I'm officially done. While the clock is still counting down to the 11:59:59 NaNoWriMo deadline, I've settled at 38,918 words. I could spend the next hour and a half writing another 1000 words or so, but I'm spent. I'm happy with the work I've done so far and I want to continue working on the draft over the next couple of months, but it's time to go back to normal life. There is laundry that needs washing, contract writing that needs to be done, and other freelance work that I'm getting paid for that I've completely neglected over the last month.

So it's back to the real world, where writing fiction is something I have to make time for. At least I know that if I put my mind to it, if I plan and focus, I can reach my writing goals. There will always be something else that needs to be done. I have to make my writing a priority and make sure that even though I'm not getting paid for it, I take the time to write the stories that I have in my heart. I'll never be happy if I don't.

In other news, my car was officially declared a total loss yesterday. The insurance company paid me a sum in excess of what I owed on the car, which was a major blessing. So tonight, I bought a new car. I'm the proud owner of a 2008 Honda Civic in Atomic Blue. It's very cute and drives well, and I got a pretty good deal on it after some haggling. Then there was all the paperwork and the whole financing process. Now I'm exhausted--the car buying process always exhausts me--and ready for bed, which is where I'm headed right now.

Tomorrow I'll be out putting the first few miles on my new car and doing anything other than writing a novel. Of course, I'll still be writing because I have freelance deadlines looming. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #15

After a very long hiatus, I've decided to give Thursday Thirteen a try once again. Of course, it will be all about NaNoWriMo. (I couldn't give up the theme just yet!)

Thirteen Things I've Learned About Myself
As a Writer During NaNoWriMo

1. A Starbuck's Frappuccino can be a wonderful motivator.

2. I am able to product approximately 1500 words per hour if I lock my inner editor in the bathroom or closet.

3. My inner editor is an evil person during the writing process, but is a wonderful helpmate when it comes time to edit.

4. Sometimes my inner editor doesn't like to be locked in the closet during the writing process and insists on being present. During those times, I won't get as much written and I'll use the delete key way too much.

5. Telling a story on paper isn't as scary as I thought it would be. In fact, it's quite fun.

6. A day job is no excuse.

7. I'm way more productive when I'm writing somewhere other than my living room couch with the television on and my cat nudging me for attention.

8. When I put my mind to it, I really can do things I never thought possible.

9. If I had started to doubt it, I know now that I love writing.

10. Plotting is not my strong point. I'm going to have to work on that.

11. Random strangers make great characters.

12. Writing fiction is all about understanding your characters' motivations.

13. Just because writing a story seems like it will be difficult doesn't mean you shouldn't do it anyway. In fact, it usually means you should do it.

There you have it: lessons learned from a month of rabid writing. I know I won't be able to keep up this hectic pace (many responsibilities have been neglected this month) but I certainly know now that writing the stories that are stirring inside me is not an impossible feat. Here's to many more months of productive writing and editing. And just to throw this intention out there, here's to a published novel in my near future!

UPDATE: Here's the daily word tally--1,213 words for today, giving a grand total of 37,796. Seeing that number makes me think I should have typed a few more paragraphs to make 38,000. In fact, I think I'm going to open the file back up and do just that. Add 204 words to today's total. I'm going for 38,000.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's Almost Over

I'm sure you're sick of reading about this process, but it's almost over, I promise. Just two more days of NaNo'ing to go. It's not likely that I'll make 50K, but I have surpassed my original goal. I wrote just over 3,000 words tonight at my final write-in and I plan to write late into the night on Friday, so there's still hope. For now, I'm sitting on 36,583 words.

And now, for your reading pleasure, excerpt number two:

He must have fallen asleep, because when he opened his eyes it was dark in the living room. He could see light coming from the kitchen and the noise of someone rustling through drawers. “Sara?” he called softly, hoping not to wake her if she wasn’t the one in the kitchen. When he didn’t get a response other than more sounds of drawers opening and closing, he said, a little louder this time, “Sara?” Still no answer.

He lifted his leg from the pillows and swung it over the edge of the couch, sitting up awkwardly and reaching for his crutches. “Mom?” he called. This time he heard sniffling and the movement stopped.

“It’s me.” Sara’s voice was strained and thick. She had obviously been crying for some time.

“We can order out,” he said, assuming that the drawer searching and clanging meant Sara was trying to cook something. “All the menus are on the refrigerator.”

“Yeah, that’s fine,” she said, and the sounds started again.

Steve pushed himself up and onto the crutches, sliding each pad under and arm and moving gingerly toward the source of light and sound. When he crossed the threshold of the kitchen he saw what the noise had been. Sara was standing amid piles of drawer contents strewn on the counters, in the sink and on the floor. All of the drawers and cabinets were in progressive states of disarray, some open completely, some only slightly, others appearing not to have been disassembled yet.
“What are you looking for?” he asked in disbelief, looking around at the mess she’d created.

“I can’t find his silver spoon. The one my mom gave him. It’s an heirloom. I can’t find it.” She looked around her wildly, apparently not seeing the mess she’d made and only seeing the absence of the spoon.

He hadn’t seen the spoon for months, since Sam had graduated to solid foods. “I think you put it away in his room, in that keepsake box we got at the shower. Remember?”

Sara looked at him with fire in her eyes. “Of course I remember!” she spat. She stormed out of the kitchen and Steve heard her climb the stairs. He stood there, continuing to survey the kitchen. He would have to call his mother and ask her to come help straighten up tomorrow.

Sara returned a few minutes later, holding the spoon in her fist, triumphant. “I found it,” she said breathlessly. Then without warning she wrapped her arms around Steve and buried her face in his chest. He propped his left crutch against the refrigerator and put his free arm around her shoulders. She melted against him and it took all his strength to hold her up. “I found it,” she breathed again.

After a while, she straightened up and looked into Steve’s face. “Let’s go to bed.” Her eyes were wet, and she looked at him with a pleading in her eyes that he couldn’t bear.

“OK,” he said. “But you’ll have to help me up the stairs. I’m an invalid, remember?”

Sara actually broke into a tiny smile. “I think I can do that.” Steve used the crutches to get to the stairs and Sara followed him up them, steadying him when he wobbled. When he got to their room, he sat down on the bed and dropped his crutches to the floor. Sara sat next to him and put her hand on his knee. They made love with a passion he had never experienced, with Sara or anyone else. And when they were finished, she rolled over and rested her head on his chest. He couldn’t have loved her more in that moment. Despite his pain and sadness for their loss, he was so grateful to have her there, beside him, for better or worse.

Well, that's a bit longer than I expected. Again, remember this is a VERY rough draft--no edits, no re-reads, just writing.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Week's Worth of Excuses

It's been a while since I've updated my NaNoWriMo saga. I'd like to be able to tell you all that I spent my long Thanksgiving weekend writing like crazy and have completed my 50,000 words with plenty of time to spare.

Instead, I have to tell you that I will need to average a little more than 4,000 words per day for the last five days of this month to reach my goal. I haven't given up, but I'm pretty sure that's a little out of my reach. Thankfully I have until midnight on Friday, and I'll probably use every last minute of those last few hours to pound out as many words as I possibly can. I've also decided flowery descriptions and random scenes are not against my writing religion. "Whatever it takes" is now my motto and if that means writing out contractions and describing every detail of the room my characters are sitting in, so be it!

The good news on the writing front is that while I didn't get much writing done over the last week, I did try to write at least a little every day since the last time I posted an update, and on most days I managed it. But in case you're wondering why I didn't meet my word-quota, here is a week's worth of excuses:

  1. I had company last weekend, along with a friend's birthday party and work at the football game on Sunday.
  2. On the way home from the game I was in a car accident. I wasn't injured aside from minor muscle strain, and my passenger is doing OK, although she was a bit more banged up than I was, but my car--well, here are the pictures.
  3. I spent Monday setting up a rental car, working from home, relaxing my back, making insurance calls, getting my belongings out of my car at the impound lot, and stressing about whether or not my car will be a total loss.
  4. Tuesday I worked late to make up some of the hours I missed Monday and some of the hours I'd be missing Wednesday, then went home, did laundry and packed for my Thanksgiving vacation.
  5. Wednesday I made the long drive home after a half-day at work. During the trip, I listened to Elizabeth Berg's Dream When You're Feeling Blue. It helped the time pass on the way there and the way back, and it inspired me to ask more questions about my parents' pasts. It also made me regret what I didn't take the time to ask my grandmothers, who were alive during the war.
  6. I spent Thursday through Sunday with my family and did manage to get in about 5 hours of writing over the long weekend.
  7. While I was home, there were two serious illnesses and several small mishaps that made it quite the adventure, and of course took away time from my writing plans.
  8. The long drive back on Sunday, and then dinner with My Love after several days of not seeing him, meant no writing.
So after all that, tonight there's a write-in and I'm headed to it. I have to try to meet my quota by 8PM so that I can get home in time to watch Heroes. I'm going to do my best to make that 50,000, and if I don't, I'm still 29,000+ words closer to a novel than I was a month ago.

UPDATE: Just got back from a productive write-in and I'm happy to report 3,046 words have been added to my total. And an excellent scene, if I do say so myself. A little wordy, but definitely a welcome addition to the story. Stay tuned for another exerpt...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Playing Catchup

I barely wrote anything yesterday, and I have company joining me for the weekend, so tonight I just finished writing 3,537 words to put me back on track for my daily 1,667 words. I'm at a total word count of 26,745.

Let's just hope I can keep this up for another 14 days. Despite some serious questions about where my story is going, I learned more about my main character's husband today, and met a new character I didn't know existed, and who might have a bigger part in the story that I think. I was also introduced to an egotistical co-worker who thinks he's God's gift to women. We'll see where that takes us.

Have a good weekend everyone! And if you're NaNoing (or NaBloing), keep going!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Plugging Along

No words yesterday.

1,744 today.

Yes, I've been slacking a bit. No, I don't have any excuses or pledges to do better.

At least I'm still moving forward. I haven't given up yet. And, honestly, I think this story could be something.

With a whole lot of editing and rewriting, of course. But something, nonetheless.

Total words: 23,208

Almost half-way there!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Back and Pounding Away

I had a great time in AC with My Love. We shopped and ate and laughed and he even won a couple hundred dollars playing blackjack with some pretty interesting people. People I will surely try to weave into a story or two somewhere down the line. I'm not sure they'll fit into my NaNovel, although if I'm hard up for word count toward the end of the month, I might just throw them in there for the numbers.

I spent several hours today writing away. I'm having a really hard time fleshing things out because I'm trying to figure out where the story is headed and how it's going to end. It's like I keep outlining or dialoging scenes so that I can get to the next scene and find out where things are going. I feel like I do when I'm reading a good book and can't wait to find out what happens next. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone reading what I'm writing would be able to say that about my story--not yet anyway. (It's a first draft, she thinks to herself. It's OK. It's supposed to be shitty. Do. Not. Stop. Writing.)

So, I haven't made my 5,000 word goal for today and I have to head out for a business meeting in a few minutes, but I have managed to get in 4,502 words. That puts me at a grand total of 21,463. That averages out to better than the 1,667 words per day that will get me to 50,000 by the 30th, so I'm still on track. I was sure that the long weekend without writing would put me in the hole, but all's well on the NaNoWriMo front so far.

Hope you all had a good weekend.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Time Off for Some Celebrating

Two hours and 2,603 more words means I'm at 16,959 words. Pretty impressive if I do say so myself. Of course, there are several people writing for NaNoWriMo who have already surpassed their 50,000 word goal and are still going strong.

I, on the other hand, probably won't do much writing for the next four days. I might get in a bit before dinner tomorrow, but that's about it because there's cleaning and packing to do before Friday morning. I'm going to NYC Friday morning and then Atlantic City Friday night. It's an anniversary trip for My Love and I, so I'm guessing there won't be much writing going on. We'll be too busy shopping and playing black jack and eating delicious meals together. It's been a while since we've spent a full weekend together because of our busy schedules, so you can probably imagine how much I'm looking forward to the quality time. We'll be coming back late on Saturday. Then Sunday, there's a Raven's game, so I'll be working at the stadium most of the day.

Thankfully, I have Monday off for Veteran's Day so I'm planning to park my behind at some bookstore or cafe somewhere and ignore all the household chores and other writing that needs to be done so that I can make up for my weekend off. I'm hoping to have a 10,000 word day, so I don't feel too bad for taking a weekend off. Of course, at the rate I've been writing, that would mean 8 hours of work, and I don't really see that happening on a day off. Maybe I'll set my sights on 5,000 words instead...we'll see how I feel after my weekend of relaxation.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesday Count

Two thousand, five hundred and fifty-eight words. Learning so much more about Sara and Steve. And Janice, too. Oh, yeah, and Maddy. I'm almost at 15,000 words.

And I'm tired.

Going to bed now. It's early, but I don't care. Maybe I'll get in a few pages of this month's TBR read (Blue Like Jazz) before my eyelids get too heavy to keep them open. Or not.


Monday, November 05, 2007

An Update and Some Product Reviews

I spent three hours at B&N writing along with another Wrimo tonight and I have 3,134 new words to show for it. Woohoo! That's a grand total of 11,796 words. Um, Eleven. Thousand. People!

You know what's really cool about all this? I feel like I've taken the "have-to" out of writing. There's no "have to do it right," "have to do it perfectly," or "have to make it good." There's just doing it. And it's so much fun!

Now for some non-NaNoWriMo topics to spice things up a bit.

Creative Expressions

If you remember, a while back I suggested you check out the Inspired by Diabetes Creative Expressions Competition. Well now you have even more reason to check out the campaign and enter the competition. Elliot Yamin, best known for his third-place finish during the fifth season of American Idol, has signed on as the Global Ambassador for the competition. (Oh yeah, and Al Roker, too.) At 16, Elliot was diagnosed with Type I diabetes and has since been speaking publicly about diabetes treatment and prevention. I know you're all ready to run to the site and sign up now, but wait! There's more!

Not only will Elliot serve as a judge for U.S. entries in the competition, but in addition to the original prize of a $5,000 contribution to charity and a trip the U.S. Inspired by Diabetes art exhibition, Elliot has also donated concert tickets and backstage passes for the U.S. Grand Prize winners. (Global winners will still each receive a $5,000 contribution to charity and a trip the global Inspired by Diabetes art exhibition.) Now get over to Inspired by Diabetes and enter your diabetes story today!

Curves Cereal and Granola Bars

You've probably seen them on the shelves in your local grocery store by now, but in case you live under a rock and haven't seen the excited women jumping for joy on their boxes, Curves now has a line of cereal and granola bars. I wasn't impressed by their advertisements, or even their peppy boxes--if you ask me, the last thing we need is another diet-sponsored product, but who am I to turn down free samples.

My box of Curves Honey Crunch Cereal was the first to be devoured. I'm a cereal girl, and I'm not super picky, but my cereals have to be crunchy. Honey Crunch was certainly that. They were a little sweeter than I generally like (sweet cereals tend to trigger carb binges for me), so I doubt I'd buy them on my own. But if you like sweet and crunchy, with lots of fiber, this cereal is for you.

The Curves Chocolate Peanut chewy granola bars were next in line. I'm not much of a chewy granola bar eater, and these were nothing new. There are so many other chewy granola bars on the shelves, and these don't really bring anything new to the table. They were tasty, don't get me wrong, but they weren't anything special. I might get them as a treat if they were on sale--at only 100 calories they make a nice candy bar substitute--but they won't be regulars on my grocery list.

For more information on the Curves products, check out Curves Foods. You can also enter their Real Change, Real Women contest, created to promote positive lifestyle changes and encourage women to reach their weight management goals. The Grand Prize is a free one-year membership to a local Curves (worth $5000) and the chance to be on a Curves box. So if you've got a personal story about weight loss and management, why not enter? You just might get to see your jumpin' self on a cereal box if you do!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Weekend Update

OK, the original excitement is starting to wear off. The story is coming in a bit more disjointed manner, and the plot is developing in strange ways. The good news is, I'm still writing, albeit more slowly. The trouble is, I can see where things are headed, but getting there means coming up with side stories and sub-plots. Turns out this is not my forte. I'm working on it, though.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is my first draft. It doesn't have to work perfectly, it doesn't have to fit together like a puzzle, and it doesn't have to be wrapped up tightly with a pretty little bow. In fact, as I'm writing I'm thinking of scenes and information that probably should have come sooner in the story and I'm just writing it out as it comes to me. I can cut and paste later, right?

So here's the weekend tally: 8,662 words so far. If I've done my math correctly, that's 2,861 words this weekend. Not up to my previous daily standards, but not too bad considering I've put in some hours on freelance projects and spent some time with My Love this weekend, too.

Tomorrow, from 5PM to 8PM I'm hosting a NaNoWriMo Write-In at the Barnes & Nobel near work. I'm looking forward to meeting some other local writers and getting in at least 2 hours of solid writing time. I'll let you know how it goes.

Write on!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Something to Whet Your Appetite

Two thousand, four hundred, and seventy-six. Words that is. Yes, you read it right. I've broken 2,000 again today! I'm a fiction writing machine! It's amazing what a little pressure, and the motivation of a large group of people doing the same mad thing that you are, can do for a person. And I'm so excited about my story. I wrote some real crap today, but there are some good parts in there, too, I think.

Here's an excerpt from my write-fest this evening:

Now two of those boxes were pressing against Sara’s stomach from the inside of her purse, waiting to tell her the future, while she sat in her lawyer’s office where in just a few moments she was supposed to sign and file divorce papers.

Whatever Mr. Fitzgerald was saying now, Sara interrupted. “I’m sorry,” she said, standing abruptly. “I just remembered that I have another appointment. Can we reschedule?” She was already heading toward the door. “I’ll call you tomorrow to set up a new appointment. I’m sorry.”

Sara turned the doorknob that she was now holding and forced a smile in Mr. Fitzgerald’s direction. He looked so completely taken aback that he didn’t say a word.

The pregnancy test lay on the edge of the sink. Sara could see it from where she was sitting on the edge of her bed. It had been there for almost an hour. She couldn’t bring herself to look at it.

When she had burst through the kitchen and headed straight up the stairs with energy that she hadn’t demonstrated in ages, Steve came running from his office. “Are you ok?” he called after her. She hadn’t answered him. She couldn’t answer him. How do you tell the person you are planning to leave that you might be having his baby? Again. So soon after he’s killed the last one.

Now remember, don't judge too harshly--it's a first draft and they're allowed to be shitty, ok?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

And the tally is...

I did it! I sat my ass in the chair, and I wrote...drum roll, please...2,224 words! Seven whole pages!

It was way more invigorating than I expected it to be and not nearly as intimidating/frustrating/overwhelming as I anticipated. Turns out that I had a lot more of that story in me than I thought I did. All I had to do was start and there it was. Don't get me wrong, I know a good deal of it was crap, but I'm getting somewhere. A plot is starting to form. Sara and Steve and Jackie are coming alive, and I met some new characters, too. Now I'm off to eat some dinner and get some sleep. I'll let you know how tomorrow goes.

Get Ready...Get Set...Go!

I'm off to the Barnes & Noble for some NaNoWriMo writing madness! Wish me luck!

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