Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 28...

Colored kaleidoscopes are a nostalgic way to view one's past.  The hues help one to see previous events with a different lens; a different perspective.  But that's all it is, a different perspective.  The events are the same but how we now look back at those events tells the journey of how we came to become what we are today.

It's now the predawn of Day 28.  It's really early, or really late -- depending upon your perspective.  Day 28 of what?  National Novel Writing Month.  I've been totally obsessed with it all month.  My word count is almost at the desired goal of 50K.  It's now standing at 47,060 -- less than 3,000 words away.

But what, why do I hesitate?  Why did I watch 5 episodes of Fringe yesterday delaying and shortening my writing time so close to the finish?  The last of the demons?  Who knows.  The real significance of doing this writing blitz challenge is that I've done something very differently from what I've done before.

I've pushed through quote, unquote barriers in time.  I said I didn't have any time to write.  Well in 27 days I wrote over 47,000 words.  I'm not going to denigrate my success by qualifying if the words are "good" I'm going to say they are but that's immaterial.  I wrote an outline with all the milestones of the story.  I have stayed on plot and on track throughout the month.  The characters are relating well to me (they're still kind of pushing me around and doing what they want to do but hey, you can't have everything!), writer's block?  What's that?  And I've done research as well.

I can never say -- it can't be done -- ever again.  I just need to focus and find the time to get the story out of my head and into reality.  Thoughts float from head to head, I've been told.  So, if I don't put it down in reality...someone else will.

I hope you all had a very enjoyable and memorable Thanksgiving.  I know I did.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 19...

 National Novel Writing Month was something I had vaguely heard about.  It was so vague that all I knew was that it was some sort of speed writing thing where insane people decided to write a book in a ridiculously small amount of time.  My brain could not conceive of such a thing so it just didn't take it in.

National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo, has been my life, my lover and my all-consuming passion for the past 19 days now.  Somehow, this summer it all just...clicked.  I wanted to write a new novel -- really badly.  BUUUT...I was still revising one that took me 5 years to write (68K+ words).  I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders.  Who needed a new novel when I could slave over my old one.  That was August.  Fast-forward to mid-October and I start getting the emails from NaNoWriMo.  It's gearing up!  I don't really look into it because I lost my username and password!  Too lazy to get it out I didn't bother.  A storm was coming and the news kept telling those on the East Coast to prepare.  (Yeah, yeah.  It'll be a big blow over.  Just watch. -- infamous last words...)

SuperStorm Sandy hit on Monday, October 29th.  The City of New York turned off the MTA so there was no way to feasibly get to work.  New York shut down the schools.  There was no feasible childcare options when everyone was home.  So, after baking, cooking, playing Monopoly and hoarding food -- not necessarily in that order -- I decided to hunt and find my keys to the Golden Ticket of the NaNo experience.

On the 31st of October, I finally was forced (maybe shoved is a better word) to write an outline for the novel that had been brewing in my head since the summer.  It took me about 2 hours but I got it down.  I felt ready to start.  Oh, I managed to find my password and username.  Then, the race began at midnight Thursday, November 1st, 2012.  I had 30 days to write 50,000 words.  That's 1,667 words average per day.  Nuts!

Week 1 was wonderful, exhilarating.

Week 2 was okay, not so exciting because I realized I was EXHAUSTED.  Writing that many words felt like pouring out my brain matter onto the keys and having to do it every DAY felt like sheer lunacy.

By the end of Week 2 I had a breakdown of sorts.  I felt all kinds of crazy, stupid and incompetent.  I thought my life was done.  My job was done.  I was just a hopeless mess and that I had no right to lead/help anybody or anything because I was such a failure.  Yeah, pretty extreme.

At first, I thought I was just having a really bad day but then as it got time to go home I didn't leave work.  I stayed really late.  I then didn't go home.  I wandered around the City.  It finally dawned on me I was avoiding writing.  See, by doing this little itty bitty challenge of writing consistently every day and meeting a goal, I was challenging every demon that every lived inside the four walls in my mind.  Those demons were going apeshit...and I was letting them win.

A very good friend of mine talked me down and helped me to see the garbage and the demons for what they were.  So, while I only got down about 495 words that night I WON.

This past weekend I did a 4-hour writing stint and got back on track because, of course, I had fallen behind steadily all through last week.

Week 3 -- Dunno.  Just embarked upon it.  It feels good.  It feels like a car that has broken into the last lap and has been around the track a few times and it knows what to expect.  Just look to your right and you'll see my current word count.  I'm on track! :-)

I've never written a novel under these conditions.  This is only the second novel that I WILL have completed.  So, the feel of the story, the rightness of the story are still new things to me.  I'm getting on my novelist sea-legs.  Right now, I still have to take 'Dramamine' to get through the ride (read COFFEE lots of it) but hopefully soon, I won't need the stimulus of coffee to keep words flowing onto the screen.

Kudos to the Office of Letters and Light, the nonprofit behind the NaNoWriMo experience.  I want to thank them for making this possible for 299,999 other writers like me to experience a rekindling of their craft.  They even have a challenge for Young Writers!  They are truly awesome.

So, if you've stuck with me this far please take a moment to donate even $1 to the Office of Letters and Light to help keep them going so they can help keep writers all over the world going.

Ta-ta for now,
Notebook Blogairy

Friday, November 2, 2012

Rise Above Mortal Distractions...

Creating another world, possibly in another place or time period, is daunting work.  Yet, over 300,000 writers have embarked on this adventure of writing a novel.  You may say, That's awesome.  But here's the caveat; these adventures must be written in 30 days.

National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo to its adherents, started in 1999.  People write about it, curse it, love it, don't know about it.  Whichever category you fall under if you're an aspiring writer, NaNoWriMo is a site you should visit.  Here's some good advice from writer Carolyn Kellogg -- Get off the Internet.  The other great (no-brainer) idea is to shut off your smartphones, click off the boob tube, and box up any gaming systems you have lying around.

Here in New York, there's a huge built-in distraction that's a hair problematic to ignore...Hurricane Sandy not so affectionately nicknamed FrankenStorm

I'm in Brooklyn and we're a lovely little island on the same piece of land as Long Island and Queens.  As you well know, Manhattan is an island as well.  Given that New York has not seen such a bad storm in 108 years, most of our infrastructure is below-ground.  Guess what the waters that overflowed their banks did?  Bingo!  Flood our our infrastructure including our venerated subway system.

I write all of this to let you know that even though my normally 40 to 45-minute commute was an hour and 45 minutes in length on Thursday and a little over two hours this evening.  Yesterday, a companion and I walked from E. 24th Street to Delancey Street before we caught a bus over the bridge (oh yeah, no trains are going over the three bridges connecting Manhattan to the outer boroughs).  Even with all of these distractions, I still have written 4,549 words and it's still technically Day 2.

Writing this post is part of me working on my second wind to see I can get in a few hundred more words in tonight.  The goal is 1,667 words a day in order to keep on pace to finish 50K by November 30th.  I'm figuring that with Thanksgiving late in the month the last few days are not going to be very productive so I should push for the higher word count in early in the month.  Gotta have a strategy right? :-)

So, if you're still here and reading this, and need to read some Sandy stories click here.  Then right after this, click off the Internet and get to writing.  We have only one life.  Let's do what we say we want to do and stop the games.

One last thing, you can't even say you're going to watch the NYC Marathon on Sunday to support the athletes.  It's been cancelled.