#AtoZChallenge — Racing

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Let’s start with a scenario…you’re scribbling (or tapping) away, totally in the zone and the characters are behaving themselves so it’s smooth sailing. You’re totally going with the flow, your mind is racing, the words pouring forth, and you start to wonder why you ever thought writing was so hard. Then the inevitable happens, you stumble over a simple word choice and reality hits you like a slap upside the head.

“Rack your brains,” Melissa Barker-Simpson

This is pretty much where I am with the story I chose to dedicate myself to for Camp NaNoWriMo.

When I started out, I was flying. So much so that I had to break the first half of what I’d written for chapter one into a prologue because it covered a ridiculous amount of time. By the time I was done with that, I also had a chapter by chapter outline, with notes and relevant songs to use as prompts/inspiration for setting the kind of mood I want. All of this was still vague enough that by the time I got to chapter six everything was still on track as planned, with the addition of some cool little plot developments that I’d figured out along the way.

And now, most of the way through chapter six and 45k words already in the doc, I’m starting to hit The Wall.

In endurance sports such as cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk is a condition of sudden fatigue and loss of energy which is caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles.

During middle school, I got into cross country running for a while. I felt The Wall many times. It’s pretty much the same as in writing… At some point it becomes a lot more effort to carry on, I’ve been working on the project so long and the shiny newness isn’t as shiny anymore, and I start feeling like I’d rather be doing anything else when, ultimately, that’s not the case.

It’s as important to finish the story as it is to finish the race, but sometimes some foot-dragging in the middle is to be expected. Also, it’s encouraging for me to note that this is the first big, chaptered story that I haven’t abandoned the draft somewhere in the middle. I’m firmly convinced that this newfound endurance — as well as taking the time to build a solid yet flexible outline — is from doing NaNoWriMo for the past few years.

And also this: sometimes the step back we need to take while writing comes in the form of adding an [insert whatever’s missing here] and forging ahead. I haven’t exactly done that (with this current project) but I have written some bits out of order. Having plot point C written made figuring out a point B to connect it to the already written point A easier.

I’ve also come up with solutions at those inopportune times that meant staying up late and throwing off my already weird sleep schedule. Ah, the writer life.

IWSG Post #12

DECEMBER QUESTION: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

When it comes to writing…

I could not be happier with my NaNoWriMo success this year. A lot of it was building on my momentum from last year, which is ultimately what I want to do. I need to just finish a project, and then I can go from there! And the way I want to get there is writing a little bit every day.

Planning ahead of time and getting a complete timeline worked out for the story really, really helped.

If I’d thought of it more ahead of time I might have spent more time researching baseball teams and all that. My main characters are happily bonding over things I know nothing about, haha.

View this post on Instagram

#catsofinstagram #christmascookies #catmascookies

A post shared by Jean (@cat_in_the_ciderbarrel) on

When it comes to everything else…

I would go back in time and start actively balancing my checkbook earlier in the year. At least that would have felt like the sky was falling all at once when financial disaster finally hit.

Most everything I would do differently has to do with how I’ve been spending money.

One of the things I wanted to do this year was get more into yoga, and it happened relatively late in the year but it has happened! We made a friend who is now hosting a yoga group in the loft of her house. I finally have a reason to dig out my yoga mat. Success!

I’ve been baking and cooking more lately. The only thing I would change about that would be to start doing it sooner. It’s been very therapeutic, creativity inspiring, and also a lot of fun to share the recipes here.

And I’m not going to lie, the only way that could have happened is if I’d quit my job earlier. It had just become a place I didn’t want to be anymore, and was running me into the ground.

NaNoWriMo 2017: Progress Report

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 2.20.23 PM.pngWithout 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!)

Stopping in the middle of NaNoWriMo to draw a floorplan

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.

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 4.16.08 PM
First floor
Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 4.16.19 PM
Second floor

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.

Research Help Needed!

I posted this on the NaNoWriMo forums as well (here), but…

I’ve decided to set my novel in New Hampshire despite never having set foot in the state. I also live in California and don’t really know what real weather is. Please help with the following!

  • What’s the weather like in July, August, October, November, and December?
  • What baseball team(s) do people follow?
  • What styles are most of the houses?
  • What is the LGBT scene/atmosphere  like?
  • Slang people use
  • Anything else I should probably know

IWSG Post #11

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!

NaNoWriMo Survival List

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.

3. Tea

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.

4. Bananas

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.

6. Cats

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?

NaNoWriMo 2017

I’ve finally made a few decisions about what I want to do this November.

ONE:

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.

TWO:

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.

THREE:

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.

FOUR:

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.

NaNoWriMo victory due entirely to air travel

I flew to Montana this week for my paternal grandmother’s funeral service and internment. The service was nice, the cremation urn was beautiful, and Montana in November is a bit on the cold side.


I did receive an inheritance, which takes a lot of worry of my plate for the time being. Part of will go into an investment of some sort and the rest will go towards keeping my bank account above that magic number below which they start charging maintenance fees.

But the other thing my Grammy gave me was time. I am not much of a sprinter when it comes to writing. Work keeps me busy and I am easily distracted. Pantsing this novel didn’t help, although I always had a pretty good idea of the story arc in my head that will become infinitely better articulated in the second draft.

Flying to Montana from California happens in two legs, connecting either through Seattle, Salt Lake City, or Denver in my experience. (Hashtag SeaTac is my favorite airport of all time.) Each flight is about 1-2 hours long, providing a good long stretch of no internet and the imminent concern of running out of battery power, thus significantly limiting distractions and lack of urgency.

Flying there, I hit almost 5000 words in one day. Flying back, I hit somewhere around 7000 for the win and validated my novel in the car ride home from the airport. Grammy, this victory was for you.

Daily Writing Progress #37

Sunday, November 20th

  • Project: Todd
    • Total Word Count: 25452
    • New Words: 2337

Monday, November 21st

  • Project: Todd
    • Total Word Count: 26071
    • New Words: 619

Tuesday, November 22nd

  • Project: Todd
    • Total Word Count: 28018
    • New Words: 1947

Wednesday, November 23d

  • Project: Todd
    • Total Word Count: 28128
    • New Words: 110

Thursday, November 24th

  • Project: Todd
    • Total Word Count: 28128
    • New Words: 0

Friday, November 25th

  • Project: Todd
    • Total Word Count: 30971
    • New Words: 2843

Saturday, November 26th

  • Project: Todd
    • Total Word Count: 33412
    • New Words: 2441