Without a doubt, this has been my best NaNoWriMo experience so far. I started with an outline, which I am only kinda sort of following so I keep discovering new things about the story by writing it, but still using as enough of a guide that I don’t get lost. I also started a little ahead of the curve with some prologue pieces written in advance, and with that in there as a very encouraging buffer I have only failed to meet the daily 1667 minimum twice — once by only eight words, and another time by about six hundred because I got a lil drunk. (Even so, that wasn’t bad for typing most of it into my phone while actually at the bar.) None of my word counts are astronomical but they’ll get the job done.
As far as the story goes, my main character is desperately trying to stall coming out of the closet to himself. The love interest is kind of interested but mostly wants to back off to keep their budding friendship intact. The beard girlfriend is still waffling on deciding whether she wants an actual relationship or to just keep it as an extended fling between friends. The main character’s dog (golden-lab mix) and the love interest’s cat (tricolor Maine Coon) haven’t met yet, but are destined to be BFFs and go swimming together.
… I am going to need a lot of beta readers when this draft is complete. Or whatever the proper term is when it isn’t actually fanfiction.
(Fun fact: The main character was originally a very minor character in an AU fanfic idea where the cast of a cartoon show I used to like were played by live actors. Kind of like RPF, only fictional. FRPF. Furpf. I’m sorry, it’s November and I can’t stop the word vomit. THE WORD COUNT FOR THIS POST IS 312 WORDS!)
Thank you, Internet, for providing me with the means to look up a colonial house layouts with a specific square footage that I can base this on. The characters are going to spend a lot of time in here, pulling out carpet and replacing it with hardwood floors.
Fun times when I realize I forgot to put in the door to the master suite. You enter by climbing in through the bathroom window!
Also, that unlabeled space across the hall from the master bath is a walk-in closet.
NOVEMBER QUESTION: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?
I haven’t finished my past two NaNo novels, although I did hit the 50k words mark on both. This year I’m working on the second draft of one of them, with the eventual aim to publish.
Actually, I’m cheating a little. I started writing the prologue a little early, with all new content before I get to the point in the story where I started it last year. But hey, if it helps me finish, I don’t care!
Here’s my collection of six items I’m going to need for a solid month of writing.
1. Laptop / Cell phone
With the WiFi disconnected / in airplane mode most of the time. Well… not really because I need to keep an eye on email in case I hear back about a job application I’ve put out there. But nothing else!
I’ve taken to using Evernote for daily writing (new note per day) and Google Docs for collecting everything and getting the complete word count. That means it’s automatically backed up on two programs, accessible from both my devices anywhere I have an internet connection.
2. Timeline / First Draft
I haven’t updated this in months, so some of it will have to be adjusted, but I want to make sure that the story doesn’t boil down to an unconvincingly short span of time in which everything happens.
Last year I was going along so slow that I had to do a massive retcon leap — jumping forward in events and pretending that everything had actually happened/been written — just so I could get to the end of the story by the 31st. So technically I did finish that one, it just had a gaping hole in the middle. I’m sure I’ll cringe when I get to it during the rewrite.
I’m not a coffee person; it makes me jittery. I mostly stick to black teas, sometimes green or white. A little rice milk if it’s too hot and a dab of honey if I need some sweet. And, yes, caffeine.
Fresh bananas are great. What I sometimes also do is slice them into bitesized pieces and freeze them, and that basically satisfies my cravings for ice cream.
5. Oatmeal (gluten free)
It’s warm, it’s a hearty breakfast, and the kind I have has flax in it. Plus, I can add dried cranberries.
No power on earth could keep our three furbabies from bugging me for an entire month… Plus, Louie will loaf on my chest and rev up her purr motor, that’s always nice. The other two frequently curl up against my feet or butt and use me as a head source. It’s very soothing.
What’s in your NaNoWriMo survival kit? Do you feel prepared for November 1st?
You know those dreams where you’re suddenly back in school but you have no idea what your class schedule is? And often it’s partway through the school year, and you know that either (a) you’ve been going to those classes for months and have suddenly forgotten everything about when and where, or (b) you just haven been going to them at all, only just realized it, and are completely screwed?
Last night, I had a slightly different variation of that dream. My partner and best friend had decided to go back to college, and I decided to join in. I didn’t look at any other schools, just applied to the same one they did. When I got there, for some reason I expected to have math classes… and it took me a week to realize they were lit classes, I hadn’t gone to any of them, and I was behind on reasoned at least three classic novels with more assignments coming up soon. Then my brain decided I was going for a degree in editing (is that even a thing?) and not only had to read the books, but had to write an evaluation of the most common sentence structure types throughout each and write a short story in the same style.
… I might have been accidentally trying to dream-create a fan fiction major.
If it’s not one thing, it’s the other. This past winter we were worried about flooding throughout the county, and now a raging urban fire has torn through Santa Rosa and other towns throughout Wine Country.
I am very lucky. My partner and I were in Nevada visiting my brother, and were driving back on the Sunday night all the fires started. Instead of driving straight into it we went to the South Bay, where our three cats were already staying at one of our parents’ house. We didn’t realize what was happening until the next morning.
Then began several days of watching the news, which, honestly… was depressing. I feel for the people who lost their homes, and the people who still don’t know if they have homes or not, and the people whose houses are still standing but they can’t return to them because of evacuation rules. But “breaking news” provided more human interest stories than actual information, and here’s why:
There wasn’t any. Everything started at night, when they couldn’t start fighting it until dawn. By then there wasn’t anything they could do about containment, all focus was on evacuation and rescue. So there was nothing informative to report.
No one could really believe what was happening. We get our share of fires here in California, but even we are used to forest fires and wildfires in sparsely populated areas. Even up here where we know that Lake County just a couple hours north has semi-annual fire problems. This was different. This was multiple urban fires throughout four counties (Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lake) all at once. I think part of what kept us watching was these sense of, “wait this is actually happening?”
The news was also meant for people outside of the impacted areas. Because if it doesn’t affect you directly (even elsewhere in the Bay Area where it’s merely super smoky), we want you to know what we’re going through. Local news will broadcast the devastation again and again just to try and convey how real, how devastating this is to the area. Even once they get all the flames out, this will continue to impact our community for months, at least — and we have until then to make sure the outside interest and support will stick past that point.
Honestly, I got more helpful, direct information from Cal Fire’s twitter feed than the local news. (Sorry local news.)
The only other points of reference we had for what was happening near our home were our landlord and a smattering of local friends and coworkers. Our friends are lucky too, because none of them were injured or lost their homes. Some were evacuated, some were on high alert with the possibility, one’s workplace burned down, but overall they are okay.
We happen to be friends with a really cool person who made some of the first moves to set up at evacuation centers and firefighter camps to offer massages, reiki, energy healing, etc. She’s been giving with her whole heart and soul for around eight hours a day ever since her neighborhood was deemed safe (ish, as long as the wind didn’t change, and so on). Firefighters have told her that she and her peers who are pitching in this way are making the experience legendary, because no one has ever done it for them before. (There tends to be a lot of red tape around actually getting into the firefighters’ camp, so she set up right outside one of the entrances and they come to her.) It’s heartwarming to see in her Facebook posts and talk about whenever we see here. We ❤️ you, Rebecca!
On Friday we were able to drive up and check on our place. It’s about twenty minutes from the Fulton Road evacuation line, but perfectly fine, not covered in snow-like drifts of ash as I had half imagined. We harvested tomatoes from the garden and went to a potluck dinner with friends to celebrate being able to get together in all this madness.
On Saturday we gathered up some things to donate. We don’t have a lot of money right now, so it wasn’t a lot. Two cans of tuna, two small containers of gluten free cereal, two cartons of rice milk, a tiny jar of honey, and a packet of hot chocolate mix. Some kitchen things, some clothes we no longer need, some cat toys our girls don’t play with much anymore, and a couple cans of kitten food.
After donating food at Redwood Empire Food Bank, we didn’t know where to go to drop off the other stuff so we visited our friends at Tilted Shed Ciderworks. They were having a benefit for neighbors of theirs who had lost their house, donating 35% of profits for the day to help. They were also handing out fliers for a place just down the street that was accepting donations, which was so helpful because I’d heard that some places had reached capacity for accepting things.
We ended up at what looked like an office building that had been vacant and the owners just decided, hey, let’s open it up and use it as a space to help people out. As we drove out a family was walking out carrying pillows, clothes, and bottled water. The woman I spoke to thanked us profusely for everything we brought — especially the cat supplies, because they had a lot of dog stuff but not a lot/no cat stuff. She asked if we needed anything, if we had been impacted by the fires, and when I said we were okay she offered us bottled water anyway and settled for giving me a hug. (As far as I know, they’re still accepting donations in Windsor.)
It wasn’t much, but it felt so wonderful to be able to help. There are more clothes that we can give away, we just have to dig it out.
On the way back down to the South Bay on Saturday night (since the air quality was okay we decided to bring the cats back up the next day), we were on 101 and drove through some of the area where the fire jumped the freeway. It was shocking. And it was pretty random. There would be one building that was just nothing, just a pile of ash with the remains of a roof collapsed down on top, surrounded by buildings that had been left untouched.
The thing about watching the news was, there was nothing we could do. But it’s empowering in the face of such tragedy to come home and see how much everyone is banding together.
I’ve finally made a few decisions about what I want to do this November.
I will definitely do NaNoWriMo. My novel is already announced on the site and I’ve come up with a working, if stupid, title that I got from googling “how to come up with a good book title.”
… It’s “Good Book Title.” Which probably won’t stick, although one of the main characters is a published author so maybe I can actually work that in.
The temporary cover image is one of the stock drawings from the how to come up with a good title wiki page.
It’s definitely going to be a second draft of the novel I was working on last year, which crept along so slowly that partway through I had to do an emergency retcon just so I could get anywhere near the end of the story by 50k. Despite that, I think there probably still are some bits I can still use, but a lot needs to be changed/rearranged and there will be a lot of new stuff to fill in the gaps.
I’m cheating a little and already writing. At the moment it’s mostly backstory shorts that wouldn’t necessarily be in the novel though.
… I say that, and yet it’s vital character building stuff for the main character’s later struggle with his sexuality as an adult. So I don’t know.
Boy howdy do I write better if I treat each scene like a short story. So for now I’m sticking with that, and filling in later. If I can spend November just getting down the most important bits, that would still be great progress.
So there’s that. Let me know if you’ve tried the each-scene-treated-like-short-story method and how it worked for you!
Tomorrow’s post will be about the fires in Sonoma County, where I happen to live.
For many people, poetry hits the page in a rush of emotion and/or inspiration. Developing it beyond that point can feel a tad sacrilegious, and I remember it took me quite some time both to learn how to do it, and to be willing to do it. I’ve tried writing the kind of poetry that is tinkered out in a calmer and more intellectual way and I can’t honestly say I like the results. As writing poetry is something I do for myself, I don’t have to be workish about it, I can wait for the lightning bolt to strike.
My usual method (other methods no doubt exist and are just as valid) is to write in the heat of the moment, and then put the piece aside for a day or two. When I come back, I’ll read through and see how I feel about it. I then get…
A couple days ago I wrote a short story in which a young character is bombarded with toxic masculinity “life lessons” by his father. It occurred to me today, while I was reading this, that if I continue his story some of these same points will have to be addressed. And any explicit discussion of toxic masculinity will mostly come to him through members of the queer community as he grows up and begins to explore his sexuality.
He’s going to have to figure out…
That it’s okay for men to hug and make other physical gestures of affection, platonic or otherwise.
That he’s allowed to cry and be vulnerable when he needs to be, instead of constantly suppressing.
That it’s totally unnecessary to feel uncomfortable when his boyfriend wears makeup. And/or offers to put some eyeliner on him.
As Sam points out in his post, “An essential part of dismantling toxic masculinity is men taking ownership over their own education around systemic inequality, and taking on the labor of educating other men about it as well.” And so considering this character learned most of this toxic stuff from his father, it seems fitting that he should unlearn it mostly from the guys in his life.