Tag Archives: national novel writing month

We’re Off to Camp NaNoWriMo

WritingDespite the number of book reviews that I’ve been posting lately (this was really never intended to be a review blog, but I like to help out other writers and small publishers), I have been spending a fair bit of time writing other stuff. I’ve made some progress in “Payroll” but it’s slowed down a bit, and I’m feeling like I need a short break from it to refresh my brain.

Since I’ve been getting a lot of ideas for short stories lately, and I want to develop them, I’ve decided to participate in the spinoff from the National Novel Writing Month, Camp NaNoWriMo this year. Given that it’s not the real NaNoWriMo (okay, it kind of is, but I consider the real one to be in November), I don’t feel too bad about setting my own goal for it. For those not familiar, NaNoWriMo occurs every November, and the goal is to write a fifty-thousand-word or more novel in 30 days. Camp NaNoWriMo is similar, but it occurs in June and August.

Anyway, I’ll be making June my short-story month. My goal is to write ten stories that are five thousand words or longer in length. It will amount to a full story every three days. So I will still have a fifty thousand word goal, just not as a single story. The stories will likely not be interconnected, at least not on the first run through.

My goal is two-fold. First, I want to branch out a little and not be so focused on writing my one novel at this moment. Secondly, it will give me more to work with, stories to submit to publications, magazines, etc. I may even throw a story or two up here for sample purposes if I feel comfortable enough with what I produce. Which is the tallest order of all, since I know that I’m my own worst critic. And it may give me ideas for other stories or expand to full novellas or novels at a later date.

I’m not sure what I will be writing these stories on. I’ve got a few ideas, but if anyone has any thoughts or has calls for submissions, I would be happy to incorporate it into my little collection to be written during the month of June.

NaNoWriMo: Fail; Weight-Loss: Meh

ThumbnailMore than a month without an honest blog post. Because I’ve been working hard…or hardly working.

In short, I ultimately did not participate in the National Novel Writing Month this year. I had everything ready to go, and at the closing bell on November 30, my word count towards a NaNoWriMo novel was a whopping zero. That’s not to say that I didn’t work on anything. As I had decided near the end of October, I chose to focus on the manuscript for “Payroll,” but that has also slowed down somewhat, and I’m losing faith that I’ll finish the manuscript by the end of the year as I had hoped. Am I disappointed? Of course, especially because I thought my idea for a NaNo novella was not bad. Maybe not great, but something to write in the insane pace of NaNoWriMo that I could feel comfortable with and not get too attached to.

But, as I said, I also didn’t get as much work done as I had hoped in general during November. Aside from increasing the amount of time I’m spending trying to find regular work, I’ve also had some depression issues that started around the end of October. This isn’t unusual for this time of year, and it’s been something I’ve struggled with in the NaNoWriMo years I’ve participated. Every year around this time, I start to suffer from a general depressed feeling. I’m pretty sure it’s not Seasonal Affective Disorder (more commonly known as SAD) because I tend to feel the same way around April and May of each year, too. It seems to run on a six month cycle, so it likely has a biological basis. I think I’m starting to do a little better now. It’s also probably the reason I haven’t written an honest blog post for over a month now.

I have started exercising and trying to improve my diet, not only to combat my current depression issues, but also because I really need to lose weight and get in better shape. I’ve had some other physical issues, and with my back problems getting worse as the weather gets colder, I’ve decided to actively try and strengthen it before I become bedridden again with back pain during the winter to see if I can make it easier or shorten the down time. When I weighed myself a couple weeks ago, I weighed in at 199 lbs. Not good, and my blood pressure has been responding in kind, being in a pretty consistent state of prehypertension. That’s the biggest concern. However, my girlfriend gave me twist stepper as an early Christmas present, something I can use to get a good lower-body cardio workout that’s low impact so my back is able to handle it. As of now, I’ve only lost about 2 or 3 pounds (my scale is not terribly precise), but I’m looking leaner in the face and neck, and my girlfriend has said that I’m looking different. I’m chalking up my slow weight-loss right now to muscle gain, as I’ve been taking protein shakes after my workouts to facilitate muscle-healing, but it seems to be having the side effect of building a lot more muscle than I’m used to. The fact that I’m looking leaner with much actual weight-loss would confirm this.

I’ve also started drinking these nasty vegetable drinks, which consists of spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomato, cucumber, a squeeze of lemon, and water blended together to get the maximum nutrients out of it. I’ll admit, it doesn’t taste great, but after a few time, it felt like my body was craving this drink, like it was desperate for the nutrients. Actually, it’s more tasteless than anything, so the squeeze of lemon gives it some needed flavor and opens it up a bit.

Of course, during all of this, I seem to have caught the cold that won’t die, so while I’m still doing all of these things to fix my body, a virus seems to have some other ideas. So, I’m cutting this blog post a little short as I’m still groggy from the NyQuil and it’s hard to concentrate. The only good thing about being sick is having a reason to take that stuff.

Doing NaNoWriMo Half-A…er, Half-Way

WritingSo, will he or won’t he? The answer is “Sort of.” I have decided how I’m going to handle the National Novel Writing Month this year. I will meet the NaNo goal half-way. Not necessarily at 25 thousand words, but here’s the plan.

I’m still committed to focusing on the manuscript for “Payroll,” but I think I’ve figured out a way to have some leeway to let me participate in NaNoWriMo. I will focus first on “Payroll,” needing a minimum of one hour to an hour and a half per day to meet my goal by the end of the year. I’ll work more on it if I feel so inspired. I still need time to work on other things, such as finding regular paying work.

If after this, and only after I have put in my time on “Payroll,” I feel so inclined, I will work on my NaNoWriMo novella. And I’ll be honest about it. I’m only going to include my word count from the NaNoWriMo novella, even though I will be technically writing a whole lot more during November. I’ll also probably limit myself to an hour on the NaNoWriMo novella each day. So a minimum of an hour on “Payroll,” and a maximum on the NaNoWriMo novella (yes, I have a title in mind, but I’m not loving it yet).

The end is in sight, and I can’t get distracted with the finish line so close, but I can’t ignore the muse when she calls or risk losing the inspiration for great ideas. This is the best plan I could come up with handle the big project, handle life overall, and satisfy the muse.

I should probably whip up a quick outline over the weekend, as there’s not much time. Making this decision at the last minute is probably going to cost me sanity-wise. But given it’s novella nature (not to mention that it’s actually a pretty simple concept anyway), it should be pretty short and sweet.

Go Cards!

Why I Write

WritingOn this, the third annual National Day on Writing, writers have been asked why we do so. I’ll add my bit to Twitter and Facebook, but I feel that a more comprehensive post about it is in order, and an opportunity to give an update on the manuscript for “Payroll.”

I’m not entirely sure why I write. It’s simply a deep-down need, without an identifiable base. It’s always been there, ever since I was in grade school. I wrote stories back then. I’m not sure what became of them since they were written out by hand and not on a computer, but I have some memories of them. No, I don’t care to discuss them right now, and they’re probably better left buried.

A friend and teacher once referred to the writing bug as a disease, which is probably quite accurate. Writing is a mental disease, where if you don’t have the writing compulsion, you aren’t going to truly understand it. As such, it makes it extremely difficult to put into words. How’s that for irony. A disease that compels a person to create and mix words also prevents a person from describing the disease using said form.

It’s also has to do with a love affair with the printed word. I read a lot as well as write. Given the number of book reviews I’ve posted, that should be fairly obvious. I simply can’t imagine what my life would be like without print, other than devoid and empty. It gives me meaning. It sees me through darker times. It conveys strong ideas, stirs emotions, and takes us to other times and places, real and imaginary, and even beyond imagination. It inspires people to new heights, pushes cultural changes, and sparks revolutions.

Yes, this is the glamorized ideal of the writer and what we all wish and imagine our work will accomplish. At the same time, most of us also realize how rare it is to accomplish such feats. And yet we still try. Our mental illness compels us to do so. The great writers are and have always been my heroes, the ones whose work changed society. However unlikely it is that I can achieve equal status, I still have the disease, the compulsion to keep trying, to inspire others, make them think, and even laugh in the process.

At the same time, it’s just plain fun. I get to make little word games to play with people’s minds. Anything I write is limited only by my imagination. If I want there to be a horse with 12 heads, there will be a horse with 12 heads. Because I say so. So, yes, there’s probably a little bit of arrogance, if not megalomania, involved with the compulsion.

We’ll see how well it ultimately comes out once I finish my manuscript. At the same time, I’ve gotten a little distracted on that front (how’s that for a segue). I’ve begun to reconsider my decision to not participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I had a dream about a week or week and a half ago that was really vivid, and I felt like it would make a good screenplay. Now that I’ve tried to lay it out a little bit, I’m starting to feel like it would make a better novella, and then adapt it to a screenplay. And it would be the perfect thing to write for NaNoWriMo. Ack! Sometimes I hate my muse. I’ve only got ten days left to decide whether to allow myself to get distracted during November and delay completion of the manuscript for “Payroll” to my birthday. It is a self-imposed deadline, after all, but I’m not sure that I want to break with my own goals. Where does it stop, then? Decisions, decisions!

I’m also wondering who came up with October 20 for the National Day on Writing. November 1 would be so much better, as it would coincide with the start of NaNoWriMo. We need to coordinate, people (not to mention coordinate people).

To NaNo or not to NaNo?

WritingWith less than two months left to go before the start of the National Novel Writing Month 2011, I’ve had to make a difficult decision: I’ve decided not to participate this year. After participating for the last four years, and my dismal failure last year, I’ve decided to take a year off. This was not an easy decision to come to.

It’s not without good reason though. It has nothing to do with the failure to complete much of a word count at all last year. That happens. The main reason I won’t be participating this year is because I’m trying to focus on getting the first draft of my novel finished, which I’ve been working on and rewriting elements for too long. I’m the worst kind of artist: An absolute perfectionist. So, I’ll still be writing during November, but I’m not going to put the pressure of having a specific word count and giving myself the leeway of rewriting and correcting, something that is nearly impossible to do during NaNoWriMo (although that’s also part of the point of it). Since I’m trying to iron out some wrinkles and character issues, I find myself getting into a rewrite pattern at times, which slows progress, to say the least, but it’s still a necessary part of the process that I need to allow myself to deal with. That, and I’ll be working on something that I’m already working on, which is technically a violation of the rules.

However, this is will still be a good tradeoff. Completing this novel is important to me and I need to put the proper work into it rather than jamming it through. Besides, I tried that already. This novel was partially written during NaNoWriMo two years ago, and I was not happy with the result, which is likely what contributed to my dry spell and having to fight through some blocks until recently.

Still, I’ll maintain my registration with the site and participate in the forums. I may enter my word count for what I actually write during November into the site’s word counter just to boost my region a little, but I will definitely not be shooting for those fifty thousand words that I’ve tried for every November since 2007. I might also write at midnight on November 1 just to feel connected even if I’m not really participating.

As I said a while ago, I’m hoping to have the first draft of the manuscript done by the end of the year, so I’ll probably be back next year. But this year, I have to focus my creative energies in a different area, and dividing them at this crucial stage would likely be disastrous. I have to sacrifice something for the greater and long-term good.

I will miss you, NaNoWriMo, but we will meet again.