NaNoWriMo Day 12: Dreams and So Forth

Ever have one of those dreams where a beloved children’s book author takes pity on you and takes you out for Chinese with the rest of his family? I’m not sure exactly where we went afterward, but I’m pretty sure you get the general idea. One standard belonging and camaraderie dream coming up. Nothing says you belong quite like having to suffer through family with someone. (Or, uhm… well, it was actually a very nice imaginary family.)

So, look at me. Apparently, I do get REM sleep from time to time.

And, apparently, I have mad desire to belong issues going on. So, will everybody still love me, if I decide to write children’s books about space bunnies?

I got up early today, and worked on my revision. More revision at lunch, and additional revision, after I got home.

And yes, that makes this the first day I’ve missed writing anything for NaNoWriMo, unless I settle down and come up with some kind of plot twist in the next hour or so.

I really must run. I’d like to put in at least five or six words before I conk out for the night.

Nanowrimo Day 11: Something Goes Here

One of the benefits of writing by hand is that it slows me down and makes me think about the words I’m putting on the page. And one of the downsides of writing by hand is that it slows me down.

I don’t know what it is about 1,667 handwritten words that seems so much longer than 1,667 typewritten words, but there it is. I am not getting all of the handwritten cannibal-space cadet words that my nano challenge requires. There is also the added typing, which is a few days behind.

I also find myself running into a very limited number of conflicts that you can have on a spaceship, and even fewer if you limit yourself to the five people who are on board that spaceship. (Plus or minus a few characters… uhm… yeah. Don’t look behind the curtain.

And then, there’s the Scrivener thing. Which goes with they typing thing. And I still don’t particularly like Scrivener. I’m still looking for the spark that everybody else seems to get with it. It’s not as intuitive as YWriter, and while it may be customizable at some point, I’m having trouble imagining what the customizations would be for me. Then again, I’m not really the kind of person who has a big old bundle of research notes on the computer.

And, in the trend of electronics dying around me… my fitbit lost it’s one button, today. No. I don’t know how. And there’s a break that’s a little hard to even describe, but I think it’s probably going to be fatal.

And coming soon…

Karen replaces the power supply for her pet computer. I’m not sure, but I think that may officially mark the very last of the original pieces I built the thing with in the first place. It’s had a good run. I don’t know if anybody’s interested in pictures of the process, but if you have a preference, let me know.

Let The Typing Begin

I got up early this morning, and started to type. I mean type, not write new words out of my head in a typer-ly way. I have a few NaNoWriMo pages left to type into the fabulous Scrivener program (okay, so closer to fifty) And we’re finally going to get to the root of how many of my handwritten pages equal how many words.

I have been putting this off since day one.

The answer turns out to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 220 words per page, which means that to be on the safe side, I need to be writing about eight pages a day.

And how many pages per day have I been writing? Well, I think I’m averaging in the four to five range. That doesn’t include organization for the nano story, of course, and I haven’t been counting revision work, either.

I would probably have a lot more words, if I were typing from the beginning.

I still believe that the words that I do have are much cleaner and more usable than the words that I’d be doing with start and stop typing.

The place where I’m doubting myself, though, is whether my morale might not be higher with a few more words on the page. A green bar or two from time to time wouldn’t hurt me, and the idea that I can finish my 50k by the end of the month might not be bad, either.

Yes, I know, objectively that it’s not really 50k, if I wind up throwing large chunks of it away, and I know that I’ve been chasing that cleaner manuscript ever since I started manuscript number two.

Of course, if I keep this up, the notebooks I’m using are always going to be available, and the word count should remain pretty much the same. (Unless I can weasel my way into a few more words per page.) And I definitely have that color-coded, quick glance to see how a day went thing going on.

It may just be time to suck it up, and say that since this is what works for me, Nano may have to become a primarily social activity.

What do you think?

NaNoWriMo Day 9: The Artemisium Has Arrived

After a long wait–and a shipping mistake–and another long wait, the Artemisium Absinthium that I’ve been waiting for finally arrived today. And it barely made it into the house, because, well… an ounce of dried leaves, another ounce or two of ear-wrap, and a manila envelope don’t do all that well in a stiff autumn wind. I had to fish the package out of the bushes.

But, it’s here.

Now, let’s be honest. This is an experiment, not a commitment, and as such, I ordered the smallest possible package from Amazon. As it turns out, an ounce of artemisium absinthium goes a long, long ways. A serving is half a tea spoon to a tea spoon, and this… well, it’s a lot of volume. Probably about two decks of playing cards worth. (Some bending would be necessary.)

And my first response is that this stuff smells really, really good. It smells like something you’d put on a turkey. In the neighborhood of sage for the smell.

So, double checking what the always reliable sources on the internet say, we have half a teaspoon of artemisium steeped in about a cup of boiling water.

For five to fifteen minutes.

Yes, I had to read that part twice.

Okay. So, I aimed at five minutes. I’m not saying I’m cautious with drugs–dewormers or otherwise–but let’s go with the lowest possible dosage of the thing for starters. Five minutes, half a teaspoon of artemisium, and fingers crossed.

On the low end of five minutes, I tasted it.

And it does not taste the way it smells. Well, maybe it does, but my first impression was that it was like drinking very, very watery ear-wax.

A couple of sips later, when I had not acclimated to the stuff, I added some splenda. Well, it’s the only sweetener in the house, and I’m pretty sure you’d lapse into a diabetic coma, if you tried sweetening this stuff with real sugar.

I’m not–in general–all that squeamish about bitter. I mean, I actually like aspirin (poster child for accidental poisonings here) and I’ve been known to chew acetaminophen or caffeine when I’m just too lazy to get a cup of water.

Just so you’ll know what I mean, when I say “This is bitter.”

As in slightly more bitter than the stuff you use to keep the cat from chewing on things. (And guess what I’m doing with the rest of it).

The splenda helped, but there’s still an aftertaste that seems to get caught between your tonsils.

The after-after taste (read burps) is actually more or less what I would have expected from the original sniffing of the artemisium.

I did not make it through the entire cup, and I’m fairly certain there’s absolutely no measurable affect (although I do maintain that I do not have worms.)

I am also in a fairly upbeat and positive mood.

I doubt we can attribute that to a few sips of wormwood tea, but the new experience was well worth it. I may, at some point, try it again, using some of the fabulous pointers that I completely ignored, this time. Then again… I’m having trouble envisioning a little licorice tea as being that sweet.

Do I feel more creative?

Maybe just from having confirmed that I am, in fact, the kind of person who tries new things.

Fighting Off… well, something.

I was pretty well out for the day. I got in some work on my revision, and maybe a couple of hundred nanowords, but overall, more sleep than I’ve had in a week, and less writing than I would have hoped for.

It is possible that working at home is not for me.

It is also possible that cutbacks to library funding mean that I have nowhere to go until 10 in the morning, by which prime writing hours are over.

I’m still eyeing that drop-in membership at the co-working space, but to be honest, it’s a lot of money just so I can have someplace not home to write in and a bunch of non-writers to write around. It’s also… **ahem** a slightly creepy building to be in alone early in the morning.

I’m debating whether I actually need more sleep, or if I’m falling asleep out of boredom (very possible, since the book is starting to sound like case studies of insects) or if it’s just that winter hibernation thing kicking in. (Pops another round of vitamins.) Perhaps if I were actually sitting at my own desk in my own house, instead of curled up on the sofa…

My new scene in the revision is going incredibly well. The trick was to remove every single character I possibly could, and especially the ones who were doing the most talking in the first version. I should write that down somewhere.

And there’s always the perusal of literary agents for the “list” later on. I’m still debating the size of the query batches I should be sending out.

NaNoWriMo: Side Effects and Warnings

One of my favorite things about NaNoWriMo is the fact that the word counter doesn’t just tell you how many words you have, it tells you how many words per day you need to finish on time, and just exactly how long it will take you to finish your 50,000 words, if you keep going at your current rate. I’ve been writing long hand, and updating at a rate of 100 words per day (Just to keep track of the fact that I have been writing every day) which means that at a hundred words per day, I should be finishing my 50k novel by March. Of 2019.

Now, that sounds a whole lot different than I should finish by the end of November, or even I should finish by early next year.

But it’s still an estimated finish date, and you know what? Most people never finish their novels.

I might be a whole lot less smug, if I were doing nano with seven screaming children and eking out every last second of my day, but really… 2019 isn’t all that bad.

The other thing that NaNo is doing for me, is forcing my mind to take a break, and with that comes a new perspective on my revision. The scene I’m revising now has two characters that I’m removing.

Right now, I feel like I’m making progress on the revision. I also have characters arguing–just a little–over the fact that she’s a cannibal in my fabulous sci-fi novel.

What’s New? And Other Questions Not To Ask During NaNoWriMo

I don’t know why it is that people (that would be non-writers) always stumble into the questions that you probably shouldn’t ask a writer on a fast-drafting binge.

And I don’t know how they manage to sound so utterly clueless while they’re doing it.

I mean… there can’t really be people out there who are unaware of the high holy day month that is NaNoWriMo, can there? I’ve invited a couple of people to join me in the excitement, and having some strange fascination with sanity, both of them have declined. (Whilest backing away slowly, and removing any sharp objects from my immediate reach.)

Nonetheless, co-worker has decided that today is a good day to ask me “What’s new?”

This isn’t someone I know well. And maybe if I hadn’t been right in the middle of trying to think of how a cannibalistic alien and a time traveler find common ground, I wouldn’t have found it so annoying.

And he does tend to hover.

So, of course, when I said there’s nothing new, rather than accept that, and move on, he pointed out that he hasn’t talked to me in six months. (Which may be literally true) and something must be new.

Nope.

Not a thing.

There are times when I’ve answered the same kind of question from the same person with a real answer. Being a non-writer, though, he doesn’t really want a real answer. For a second, I actually thought I’d killed him last year, when I informed him that my nano book was about a family that is caught in a quantum entanglement with another family who died at Hiroshima.

I could actually not think of a single “new” thing in my life that would interest him.

Or a lot of people.

Perhaps I should have children. Then, when someone asks me a question like that, I can go into detail about potty training, and how little Herkimer is making poo-poo in the toilet. (And by the way, we’re talking about the most beautiful, trumpet-shaped dumps you’ve ever seen in your life.)

Or not.

This question is, of course, still topped by the guy who asked if I didn’t think I should finish the first book, and revise it, and get it published before I start in on the next one.

Uhm, no, and by the way… don’t you think you should raise the first kid… get him through school… and medical school before you start in on the next one?

If I didn’t need to work on my revisions over my lunch hour, a lot fewer people would know that I am writing a novel, let me tell you.

I’m not sure there are any good questions to ask about someone else’s novel, particularly if you don’t know them well, and are not working on something, yourself.

Yes, My Words Count for Word Count

Today is day 5 of NaNoWriMo, and I’m busily listing all of the things I know about my characters and my setting.

Because I don’t have the faintest idea where the story goes from here.

This is where fast-drafting becomes really odd for me. It’s a little more like talking to myself than, you know, actually producing a novel. Or, maybe more precisely, my characters are sitting around talking to each other, and nothing is really happening, except, possibly, I’m working out the various relationships in the book.

The what’s going on.

The starting point.

And five days in and thousands of words on the page just seems like a really strange place to be looking for a starting point.

I’m trying to remember if this is just one of the phases of my picking up a new novel, or if there’s something wrong with this scenario.

I think the answer is that if I keep going, things will be fine.

But right now, there are a lot of things to distract me. Including, by the way, my own revision. Right now, it would be incredibly easy to walk away and never come back. It’s not that the topic is bad, it’s that the momentum just isn’t there, yet.

And damn, right, I’m going to count the list-writing words, and the characters talking to each-other words, and the inner monologues while staring at an engine words.

They may not turn out to be in the finished novel, but they’re definitely a part of the process.

NaNoWriMo Day 4: Plot, and Other Missing Items

So, now that I’ve finally managed to make my characters somewhat interesting (to me, anyhow) they probably ought to be doing something. Other than ruminating on the pros and cons of killing and eating their mates.

And naturally, they have a very minimal space in which to do it. It’s a colony ship. With a 5 person crew. More or less. And no, you don’t want to ask. It’s a straightforward journey. The goal is to get from point a to point b, and start a colony, when they get there.

All I have to do is fill in the 20,000 light years between point A and point B with something other than middle-aged angst, and preferably still have some kind of a cast when I get there.

Did I mention that one of my characters tends to devour her mates?

And as far as other things not showing up?

Well, the package that was supposed to have my fine NaNoWriMo quality sample of Artemisium Absinthium arrived. And as it turns out, all of the nice, sensible things are there. I have gloves. And a couple cases of highly nutritious (read vitamin-enhanced) protein shakes to get me through Nano.

And… oh, yeah. No Artemisium.

I have complained to the powers that be, and have been given an arrival date somewhere in the realm of mid-Nano for the replacement.

No. Not a moment sooner.

As it turns out, Amazon does not particularly care if I’m eaten alive by intestinal worms.

(No, I don’t actually have intestinal worms, but I would most certainly be devoured alive by the time the wormwood shows up to vanquish them, if I did.)

From now on, I’m buying my drugs on the street corner from some guy named Roach like a normal person.

(I assume that street-style drug dealers have a solid grasp of 20th century American poetry.)

The Question That Clicks

The last couple of days, I’ve been writing nanowrimo word count. Something along the lines of I’m going to write a novel now, because that’s what we do in November. And I ran out of plot that I knew–of course–about a scene and a half into writing my novel. Because, well… pantser here.

So, you run out of novel, and then, you keep writing, because at some point, you expect something to fall into place and turn into a novel. I mean… if you’re writing a novel, there’s got to be a novel, right?

I finally found the thread I should have been tugging on all along.

And here it is, short and sweet, for anybody else who has been suffering along with me.

The super-secret novel-writing miracle we’re all looking for.

Are you sure your characters are human?

As it turns out, quite a few of mine are not.