NaNoWriMo 2018 – 25,000 Words (The Halfway Mark!)

First 12,500 words.

Last night I hit 25,000 words, or 25,969 (nice) to be exact! I’m halfway there and though I’m a little bit behind my goal of hitting 50k by the 20th, I think I can still make it (especially if I keep on ignoring Vacancy).

There have been a few weird days, but also some really successful days. Even on the most busy of my days, I still made sure I sat down and banged out these micro-scenes that I was able to expand on afterwards. The habit continues, and I very much don’t want to skip a single day.

nano18 pt 2

As you can see I haven’t bumped up my sprint length yet, mostly because consistency hasn’t been my strongest suit. I did write in an actual Starbucks for a few hours, but that only garnered me 574 words total so a terrible word/hour rating. I have no idea how people do that. They must get some kind of thrill from being (what they think is) watched. For me, every voice and movement was distracting, and I couldn’t talk to myself as usual, so that’s not going to happen again! Also with someone with a tiny bladder, getting up to pee and leaving your stuff really isn’t an option in public every 15 minutes.

I’ve been writing a lot more in the evenings which works for me, but I don’t prefer it. I’d like to get my words done early in the day so that if I want to write in the evening, it’s just extra. I’ve been in a really terrible sleep cycle lately though, and it’s hella hard to break.

Also as expected, things are getting murky in the middle. I do a lot of second guessing around my characters’ motivations and their actions because I feel like they’re not well defined. A big part of my issue is “is it too soon in this relationship for this thing to happen?” and I think I need to hold a mirror up to myself here: I’m writing these guys so fast that I don’t know them, but they’re getting to know one another better and spending more time together in between the pages, than I am with them over these past 13 days. Does that make sense? Hopefully after putting this draft away for a bit then coming back to it will clear everything up for me.

I’m planning on a three month cycle after this–I hope! A writing, first edit, second edit cycle, working in new drafts every three months. I think that’s reasonable, but everything looks reasonable from the outside. It’s all theoretical now, so I’ll update on how it goes. I don’t even have enough drafts right now to make it happen, so it might be a two month cycle and maybe that makes more sense? How much time between drafts? Between first draft and final draft?

I’m struggling with all this because this strict plotting thing has been such a boon, but has also thrown off everything I thought I knew about writing and my own process. I thought it was intuitive–and don’t get me wrong, I think it largely still is–but if this, this massive thing, is something I’ve been doing so wrong (for myself) all along, what else has been wrong?

I guess November isn’t the time to consider all that anyway, for right now we must write! I’d like to really overachieve today, and half the day’s already gone, so off I go!

Advertisements

Blogoween Day 27 – An Interlude

blogoween

So big fail yesterday, I actually completely FORGOT to post, I don’t know how, but by the time I remembered, it was too late, SO I’m hoping to get out a bonus post at some point this weekend. But for today, a quick musical interlude. A dude I love has released a new song just in time for Halloween, and I fucking love it, so I figured I’d share it here.

The only thing I don’t understand about Gerard Way’s solo stuff is how muffled/suppressed/drowned out the vocals are. I suppose he’s going for a vintage sound? Or perhaps, as a vocalist and someone who screamed a lot in older music, he’s forcing some subtlety into his vocals? I can appreciate that, but at the same time I always feel like something’s wrong (like literally with my speakers or headphones or whatever) when I’m listening to his stuff. Does anyone have any insight on this?

Regardless, I find this enjoyable because it’s a liiiiiittle harder than Hesitant Alien, and it’s sPoOpY, and it’s somebody for which I’ve had the hardest of lady boners forever getting back into music at the exact right time for me. The Black Parade and Danger Days got me through more than I care to say emotionally and creatively, and even if this goes nowhere and there isn’t an album coming after this, it feels so right.

Blogoween Day 13 – Spooky NaNo Prep

blogoween

I don’t think there’s anything particularly spooky about National Novel Writing Month except maybe the bone-crushing fear of taking on such a terrifying task or the horror of putting yourself through a grueling 30 days of writing to reach 50k words. But unless you’re writing horror, or a thriller, or darker paranormal stuff, or real-life scary things, or, well, you get the picture, you’re probably not going to immerse yourself in spookiness for NaNo.

Still, we should discuss since it’s lurking just beyond the horizon of Halloween, aaaaand I need a topic for today.

I’ve written a few (well, more than a few actually) blogs about NaNo in the past:

If you don’t have time for all those, well, I don’t blame you, Dear Reader, but the gist of everything is this: I’ve never hit 50k words during actual NaNoWriMo, but I sure blog a lot about planning to! November 2017 I did manage 30k, and then last July I completed Camp NaNo, and I actually got 50k words done in 31 days! So I have a lot of confidence for this month coming up, and I’ve identified the tools I need to do it.

I hit a slump in August and September, just after wowing myself with 50k words for the first time, but surprisingly it wasn’t because I wore myself out. On the contrary, I was actually more pumped about writing in July and just after than I have been in years–I felt the invincibility that only teenagers in fast cars feel–it’s just that the rest of life got in the way. So near the end of September I formulated a plan:

  • October: Blogoween and catching up with Vacancy
  • November: National Novel Writing Month with a completely new project
  • December: Edit She’s All Thaumaturgy (working title, 2018 Camp NaNo project)

October is meant to be prep month for NaNo-ers, Preptober, I think? So to warm up my creative juices, I decided to blog every day. Sticking to a daily writing/creative task is good practice regardless of if you’re working toward something, honestly, and for me it’s been a way to sort of clear out the cobwebs (ooh, I see we are getting a bit spoopy, huh?)

And of course the other point of Preptober is planning your novel. I’ve learned that I am absolutely not a pantser like I believed for so many years (it was a bit like finding out I was a Hufflepuff and not a Ravenclaw like I thought for so long), but I’ve been torn the last couple weeks on which plot to pick: I have two projects that could neatly fit themselves into the month 1) The Last House on Magic Lane and 2) This One’s Embarrassingly About Vampires and Werewolves. (Neither of these are even working titles, they’re just what I’m calling them for this post, but there is a part of me that kind of wants to be the author who titles her books these things.)

Last House is something I came up with quite a while ago–it’s another story about a charmed place, as I am so wont to do, and has a complex history and soap opera feel to it. In fact, I originally conceived of it as another serial that I wanted to be a long and complex parody of a soap opera, told from many viewpoints spanning a few generations, but I’ve since scaled it back to a one-off. The story does lend itself, though, to a possible trilogy, and might be better served that way, so it may not be the best contender for NaNo. Right now, this book is a collection of scenes and an overall mythology, but a lot of the motives and characters are not neatly defined.

Embarrassing is kind of the total opposite: it’s a much newer idea, the plot is reliant on a much smaller cast moving from pace to place, and it’s absolutely a one-off. The other pro to Embarrassing is that I have the plot and characters almost entirely mapped out; Last House would require significantly more work to get it to the same place. So the choice seems easy, right? Except it’s not because Embarrassing is exactly that: EMBARRASSING. Well, okay, not really, but it falls squarely into young adult paranormal romance territory (I mean, I have it saved in a folder called “Wattpad” on my Google Drive, for goodness sake!), and my fear is that I’ll fall into all the easiest tropes and cheesiest writing if I go with this story. But maybe that’s who I am and I should embrace it? It’s just a first draft, after all, and I can trash it if I want, but I’d really like this to be something I can come back to in a few months (like I will be doing in December) and rework into something publishable.

Then again, maybe Embarrassing, like Blogoween, is exactly what I need right now. Maybe I need to purge these ideas and words from my system. And maybe it will end up being great after all?

I should probably not rush Last House. With only 18 days to go in October (and a LOT of crazy life stuff happening in that short time) I don’t know that I could even successfully plot out where I would want the story to go over the course of a single novel anyway, and I’d ultimately probably feel like I was cheating myself and the story if I cut out all the grandiose plans I had for it. So, I guess that settles it? This One Is Embarrassingly About Vampires and Werewolves it is? Have I talked myself into it?

Well, I guess so. Now to finish fleshing out the plot, and crossing all my appendages that I can shit out enough words in November to make it count!

It’s Almost October, And You Know What That Means…

blogoween

Actually, I’ve given exactly zero indication that October will be anything special, but now you know! Of course, October is always special because IT’S HALLOWEEN, but I haven’t really been ramping up this year like I have in the past. I missed pre-pre-pre and pre-pre Halloween, and it’s the end of September, and no, past me, I don’t have half of anything that I wanted to get done done! You knew I wouldn’t! So I’m resorting to in-the-moment-ness.

But I knew this year would be significantly different because we moved in February and if all goes according to plan, well, I’ll let that be a surprise, but basically I can’t go all out in the ways I’d normally like this year. So in lieu of all that, I decided the perfect way to celebrate this year is with my blog.

So just like Blogmas, I’m intending to post every day of the month with either something Halloween-related or with Vacancy stuff which will hopefully be on a regular schedule starting next week. I was torn between calling this Blogtober and Blogoween, but only because I think Blogtober sounds better: Blogoween is clearly the superior choice and fits the holiday theme.

I’ve seen a number of Blogoween and Blogtober posts with sets of prompts for the month, and that’s a great idea, but I’m doing my own thing:

IMG_20180925_124036561
Rutherford jumped up on this, erased at least half of everything, and knocked it down from behind twice. He hates everything.

I’ve got a whiteboard that I hastily drew a calendar on and filled in what I want to accomplish and on what days, but it’s all in erasable marker, so… If you’re interested in what’s coming up, or even in following along on your blog, here’s my weekly lineup:

Monday – Vacancy which I’m planning on being at least fall-themed this month.
True Terror Tuesdays – These posts will be ghost stories from my real life. Prepare yourselves for the vast depths of my crazy.
Witchcrafting Wednesdays – We gon’ do some artsy fartsy stuff!
Thursday – Podcast if I can get off my ass and get to editing!
Freaky Fiction Friday – More alliterative posts with spooky short stories.
Saturday and Sunday Spoop – Basically everything else like lists of favorite movies, costumes, and other silly things that fit in with the season.

I’m so excited for October now, I can barely wait! I have some things prewritten and I’m just itching to post. Stay spoopy, Dear Reader, and til then, crep on!

A Short Story About Misplaced Nostalgia

Sometimes, because the human brain is imperfect and possibly glitchy due to some kinks in the simulation, we get songs stuck in our heads. And some of those sometimes, we get not a whole song, but a snippet of a song stuck on repeat indeed like a broken record. And even fewer times than all that, the snippet is unidentifiable. At least that’s my experience which I assume is shared by every other human because uniqueness is theoretical only. Usually this passes, the song is identified or forgotten, but if I had a story about one of those times, I wouldn’t write about it.

This is about the unidentifiable snipped I’ve had stuck in my head FOR LITERAL YEARS.

I have been singing the following to myself for at least a decade anytime 1) someone says I can’t do something, or 2) I get excited about taking on something new:

I can do that
how hard can that be
I can be
anything I wanna be
wanna sail the seas
just like a sailor

I knew the melody to this, and I knew that the voice behind it was male and poppy, but for the life of me I could not remember from where I’d heard the song.

But the theme of the song and the admitted silliness of the lyrics lead me to believe (correctly) that I’d first heard it when I was much younger and that it was possibly on a children’s show only, here’s the thing: I didn’t watch a lot of kids’ TV. I legit watched Friends and Seinfeld and Xena when I was a kid. And while, yes, I know all the little songs to Blue’s Clues and Eureka’s Castle, the problem there is I know those songs. And I know none of them had the melody or the lyrics that plagued my mind.

I consider myself pretty good at The Internet, and also pretty good at remembering specific things. Husband can feed me a line or two where every word is wrong and the melody is nonexistent, and I can get the song correct 90% of the time, but this case was just mind boggling.

I have tried on many occasions to find this stupid fucking song, Dear Reader. Believe you me, I’ve googled that stupid line a hundred times. You know what comes up? NOT THE SONG.

So in the last few years I became kind of content in my lack of knowledge. Ignorance is bliss, they say, and while “they” are usually very wrong, I forced myself to accept this. I even got a little delusional for a while and thought I may have made the song and melody up myself, but that seemed pretty crazy since I have attached a very specific memory of listening to this song, instruments, and a different voice to it.

Well, Dear Reader, I am happy to report that this day, September 13, 2018, I FOUND THE SONG.

I was peeing as I am wont to do quite frequently resulting in lots of good ideas, and the song popped into my head because, I guess, water, and I got the sudden very strong feeling that Len was the musician. Detour: Len is that band known for the incomprehensible “Steal My Sunshine,” the anthem of every late 90s, early 00s summer. If you do not click that link, I’d really like to tell you that you are missing out on an incredibly awkward music video where you see the camera reflected in every fucking pair of sunglasses and they do that thing where they filmed with the song at double speed then slowed the video down to sync it up (but only for the first half) to get a “cool slow mo” feel which is completely out of place, and also if you look closely at 1:28 you will see the girl screw up and VERY CLEARLY say “fuck” and that gives me life. (I wonder what that baby the tat’d preggo woman was carrying is doing now.) Anyway, all that’s to say, I thought Len probably had a second song, and it was that sailor song, but it didn’t get very popular.

Dear Reader, it wasn’t Len. I didn’t even bother to google it because I knew in my soul it wasn’t them. But it did make me think: I had this song on CD, but I didn’t own the band’s actual CD because if I did I would have for sure known them, so that left only one option: it was on a soundtrack.

THE POKEMON: THE FIRST MOVIE SOUNDTRACK.

That absolutely had to be it. Now, you have to understand, the Pokemon: The First Movie soundtrack is…a whole thing. To be clear: I didn’t buy it as a kid because I liked Pokemon, I bought it because I liked the musicians. That’s the kinda fan I was. I needed everything Britney had her name on even though “Soda Pop” was exactly the same on Baby…One More Time. It’s kinda the perfect snapshot of where pop music was at the cusp of the millennium: a handful of really big names that pumped out a lot of soulless shit (no shade, I LOVE soulless shit) for years, a larger handful of one-hit-wonder types, and a couple pseudo alternative but not really edgy enough acts that actually played their own instruments. It’s amazing. I’m fairly certain the songs have almost nothing to do with the movie, and the soundtrack was just a marketing tool for Sony to test out new artists, but I think most of the 90s/00s was just a marketing tool for Sony, so that’s fine.

Anyway I perused these songs for a good while on Wikipedia, but I knew from the titles alone (because I could recall how almost every song went just from the title *sigh*) that none of them were it! How? Did I own some Japanese bonus tracks not listed? Did I accidentally see the movie and remember the one song that didn’t make it on the soundtrack? Did I actually just make the damn thing up?

No, Dear Reader, the song exists. And I knew that in my heart of hearts. The song exists on a CD I owned and on a soundtrack. And that soundtrack could only be to the absolute pinnacle of 90s teen high school movie: Drive Me Crazy. (I was 12 in 1999, by the way, so not in high school. I don’t know what was wrong with me.)

Bonus: The webpage made for this movie still exists thanks to the Wayback Machine and holy fucking shit. I’d show you the boyfriend I made on the Interactive page, but sadly that bit of code fails now. Alas and alack, I suppose Husband will have to do.

So I perused those songs and had so many punches right in the nostalgia feels. But sadly, none of them stuck out to me as the song, and, Dear Reader, I am ashamed to say that I almost gave up. I would never know, it would forever be a mystery, but then I saw a song listed that I just didn’t really remember, and thought I needed to hear it because why not? And, well, I’ll let it speak for itself:

None of the rest of this song would come into my head when those lines I wrote out above would, but as soon as I heard this thing I instantly knew all the words. I also instantly knew I’d HAD THE FUCKING WORDS WRONG ALL ALONG.

Wish I could be
Anything I wanna be
Wanna be a fireman
Wanna be an astronaut
Wanna sail the sea
Just like a sailor
But it’s not the end of the world
So baby don’t get upset
It’s just a little regret

And that’s a fuckload more depressing than my version.

So, Dear Reader, you’re probably wondering why I’ve committed to writing this blog especially after such a long silence, but that’s precisely it. I wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to for the past two months. Research. Now that we have this all clear, we can return to regularly scheduled programming.

Just A Little Something About Your Voice

When I was in college I took a few writing-centered courses. I was in my late teens/early twenties and developing my “voice,” as one does, and learning through practice. I tried to write like someone who knew what they were talking about, but that didn’t really feel very good, so instead I focused on what felt more natural.

I turned in a few pieces as the voice came to fruition. I tweaked it each time, and when I started to figure out what I really loved about it and how I would apply it to the big project in the class I was taking, I got this advice from my professor: “You’re really good at this voice, but I’d like to see you do something else.”

Damn, I thought, I had it planned out. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I’d gotten to know her, and I wanted to use her. And therein, I think, lay the problem: She wasn’t good enough.

A lot of my classmates, women and men, were writing from a more neutral perspective, and let me be clear: when I say neutral, I mean male. There is no such thing as neutral in American culture, there’s just the un-feminine version of a thing that’s not so masculine that women can’t pull it off. There’s no pink-neutral, there’s no skirt-neutral, there is only grey and pants.

So I started to feel bad about that voice. I was one-note, I was too specific (and fuck me, I thought that was what made comedy), I only had one trick. So I abandoned her, and sitting here right now I can still remember the piece I wanted to write as the final for that class, but the piece I actually wrote? Who fucking knows. I eroded the voice I was cultivating so much that it became generic, trying to appeal so much to everyone that in the end it was for and by nobody at all.

Here’s the thing: that voice was by no means perfect. It needed work, and there’s nothing wrong with getting out of your comfort zone, especially when you’re learning, but when you’re on the cusp of learning who you are, I really think you gotta go for that first. Trust your gut, or your heart, or whatever organ appeals to you.

It’s taken me a long time, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get her back, but I’m trying. Here’s to you never losing yours.

Camp NaNoWriMo: 20k Words, Obstacles, and Achievements

Well, it’s Thursday and my post today should have been a Vacancy podcast, but I did not get that done this week! I have had quite a busy past few days, but with what is unimportant, it would all be excuses anyway. The fact of the matter is, I failed at keeping up with the cast, but I DIDN’T FAIL WITH MY WORDS SO FUCK YEAH!

I’m right on schedule with Camp NaNo with 20,737 words completed. The day 12 goal is 19,354 so I’m chugging along nicely overall, but on the micro-scale I’m not quite as pleased with my progress, or lack there of. Let’s take a look and evaluate shall we? (If you’re confused by anything in the below chart, take a look at my first 10k eval for more info.)

camp 2

So right off the bat you can see there are fewer sprints here, but a longer sprint time (all but the first are 15 minutes as opposed to the 10 minutes I was doing before), but I did accomplish the same amount of words.

First 10K took 426 minutes or 7 hours and 6 minutes.
Second 10k took 352 minutes or 5 hours and 52 minutes (not including the two “all days” which were trash anyway so forget those!).

There are a number of possible reasons for this including that I’m getting back into the swing of writing or I’m getting more comfortable with the plot and characters, but I’m fairly certain that there is actually just more value in a longer sprint. I find myself writing slightly less intensely during the 15 minute sprint, and take a moment sometimes to think, but I started out consistently putting out more than 1.5x the words of a 10 minute sprint. Admittedly I fell off the wagon a bit on the 9th, but extenuating circumstances, people!

The story itself is getting more complex now, and over the last week I bumped into my first real “uh oh, I dunno what’s going on here” part. I have a few scenes with the antagonists that I am skipping for now as I’m not exactly sure how I want them to play out, but our main characters’ quest also has a couple holes I’m needing to fill in. Having the mostly fleshed out plot, though, has been a real godsend: if I ever really get stuck I can just move on, but having this map to follow, knowing where I came from and where I’m going, makes filling in the little path from A to B even easier.

One thing I’m not sure is actually improving, though, is the state of the prose. I know this is a first draft, and I’m okay with it being word vomit, but I’d hoped it would improve a bit as I went on. I’m not sure that’s happening, but I am pleased with the dialogue which I always felt was my strongest suit.

Tomorrow will be my first full day at home in a week, so I’m hoping that I can knock out a whole lot of words and set myself up for greatness to come. My characters are really getting into the thick of it now too, so I’m pretty pumped about where they’re going. Bonus: I’ve used the word “fuck” five times so far, four of which all happen within the same couple lines, so here’s a little sneak peak which will no doubt make absolutely no sense out of context:

“To fuck the king?” The twins looked at one another with mounting confusion.

“To fuck Quilliam, I gather.”

“Please don’t talk about my sister fucking anyone,” Voss pinched his nose and closed his eyes, “It’s bad enough she’s been fucking my best friend.”

Like I said, they’re not all great words, and some of them aren’t even good ones, but at least four of them are fucking superb.

10k | 20k | 30k | 40k | 50k