Day 26

So close to the end and nowhere near any of my word count goals!

Yesterday, I managed to shave my left index finger with the vegetable peeler. It was basically the first thing I did in the kitchen as I started to prep for Thanksgiving dinner, done while peeling an apple to include in a cranberry salsa for the appetizers no one truly needs. The salsa is pretty darn tasty, though, and is going to go great on turkey for people who like spicy salsa, so maybe it was worth it. But it hurts to type this morning, which presages bad things for my word count.

Also presaging bad things: R comes home today, today, today. It was my first thought when I woke up this morning — well, after, “why I am awake so darn early?” So my second thought of the morning. But I suspect today will include more getting ready for Thanksgiving (I’ll be making roasted squash for a salad and preparing the mashed potatoes ahead of time, plus setting the table and polishing the silverware if I can find some silver polish, and maybe baking some cookies, plus definitely doing a little cleaning) and a lot of anticipating of R’s arrival. Oh, yeah, and some wrapping of Christmas presents. Anticipated word count: eh. I’ll try to write a few sentences just to make sure that I stay in the goal of a daily word count existing, but I’m not going to worry about it too much.

Probably not a surprise, but I am not going to win NaNoWriMo. Except, I hope, for the blogging every day part and that wasn’t even a goal when I started. And I also hope — and maybe even believe — that the project I started will someday turn out to be something wonderful. But thinking about those things is for the future. Today… R is coming home! Yay, yay, yay!

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Day 25

Yesterday started out great, but somewhere along the way… yoga, actually… it took a wrong turn. A thousand words of outlining turning into a sentence or two of story by the end of the day.

The outlining was good, though. I have some solid ideas for where the story is headed. I may have made a major tactical mistake in my point-of-view characters, though, which could be a pain later. I had a choice between using Rose’s POV or Dillon’s and I chose to use Rose’s, but as the plot is currently shaking out, that was probably the wrong way to go. I don’t particularly want to change it, but I may have to decide to later. That’s a worry for another day, though. Today — grocery store, kitchen guy, starting prep for Thanksgiving, wrapping some R Christmas presents so he doesn’t see them when he gets home and somewhere along the way, squeezing in a bunch of words.

And staying off the internet. I need to get one of those blockers to keep me from getting derailed by every interesting train of thought that heads off in the wrong direction. Yesterday’s was whether people who acknowledge that they are not nice guys are potentially less “not nice” than people who pretend to be nice. It started from a football conversation about the guy who answered every question at a press conference with one word answers and went off in all sorts of interesting places, but it really wasn’t a good use of my time. I don’t think knowledge and curiosity are ever wasted, exactly, but it’s late November of the year I decided to take the business of writing more seriously and I have not exactly reached my ambitious goals. Ugh. Not going to think about that, because it’s not exactly making me more cheerful. Time to walk the dog and then after that, time for some words.

Day 20

Word count yesterday: 0.

That’s not quite, true, though. I actually opened up a fanfic that I’d started a while ago and wrote a couple hundred words on it. Then I reformatted A Lonely Magic with its lovely new cover and I wound up spending the day on that project, including editing the first chapter. I would swear that I edited and re-edited and edited some more that first chapter, but I couldn’t resist making more tweaks when I had the chance. Part of me thinks that’s terrible — move on, write the next thing, don’t get trapped into endless revisions — but the editor part of me was a lot stronger yesterday. No regrets.

Today I’m miserably allergic and having guests over for dinner, so it’s not likely to be the most productive day. Not to mention that most of my brain seems to be endlessly trapped in a loop of what to do about my kitchen. What to do, what to do… ugh. I’m sick of it and it hasn’t even gotten ripped apart yet. But maybe it’ll be like the floors and I’ll really love it when it’s finished.

Goal for today: to do something productive. To write some words. To get back into Cam’s story. It’s a fun story, and if I weren’t feeling so miserable, I’d be a lot happier about being able to play in it, but the tissues are piling up and I’m starting to think chicken soup might be the menu for the evening.

Last night I had a revelation, though — sitting in front of a fire in a friend’s backyard and watching the flames, which is really the best possible way to have a revelation — that perfect is boring. Not only is my perfectionism getting in my way and slowing me down, it also doesn’t make for better writing. I’m not talking about avoiding typos, of course, but about being too obsessed with things like repetitions, grammatical accuracy, and following rules.

For example, one of those “rules” for good writing is to find the verb that avoids the preposition, so instead of “put up with” you should use “tolerate” and instead of “figure out” you should use “deduce.” Straightforward, right? And actually excellent advice for people writing non-fiction. But in fiction, the prepositional phrases feel natural. They flow. Searching for the “better” verbs slows me down, but also doesn’t always improve the language. It can turn the text into thesaurus-verbiage instead of a smooth, unnoticeable voice. Even more important, it doesn’t make the story better. The plot, the characters, the setting — none of them become more alive because I’ve avoided using a preposition.

I won’t jettison that rule entirely. Good verbs–ones like jettison–are great when you can find them. But I’m going to try to relax when it comes to rewording prepositional phrases and try to give myself permission to be less perfect — not with the idea that I’ll fix it later, but with the realization that perfect isn’t the most important quality of a story.

500 words written this morning and not one of them on my book. Oh, I am bad, bad, bad at NaNoWriMo!

Day 13

I just typed Day 30 by accident in the title bar. I wonder if that was wishful thinking?

I decided this morning that I should create a new NaNo goal for myself, just to make sure that the pressure of my impending failure doesn’t make me shut down and freeze (any more than I already am, that is.) 30K words and a blog post every day. That’s an achievable goal and a lot more likely to happen than 50K words, although I do think I could make it to 50K words if I just gave up my need for them to be good words. I could write 50K words of babble, I’m sure. But 50K words of babble would be reasonably useless, while 30K good words plus a blog post every day would not.

At any rate, I decided that, and then promptly forgot to write my blog post for the day until now. Ha. My mind does so like to play tricks on me. But at least it’s not 11PM when I’m remembering that I didn’t write a blog post.

Yesterday was not a huge word day. I intervened in a dog fight–well, first I caused it, but then I intervened in it–and wound up with a bloody, bruised, but fortunately not broken, pinky finger. I wound up taking some painkillers and going back to bed. I did eventually do some writing and some editing (bad me), but I also went to the Orlando Indie Alliance meeting in the evening and watched an extremely wonderful Supernatural episode at my housemate’s prompting after that, so words were never the priority that I had intended them to be. So it goes. (I feel like I should explain the dog fight but it’s a boring story: short version, my terrier is far more protective of me than she needs to be & I used a voice that made her think I needed help when I didn’t. I suppose the even shorter version is that I appear to be incapable of training my dog not to attack C’s dog.)

At any rate, 30K words means that I’m behind by about 5K words instead of 17K, so it’s doable at a pace of 1.3K words per day. I already did some writing today, but that gives me plenty more to do, so time to get back to it. I’m going to be writing a chapter with Rose as the POV character today and I’m hoping it’ll be easier than other chapters have been, since Rose is a familiar character to me and I’m not working out who she is at the same as I write about what she’s doing. I’m also feeling like my scenes are being a little floaty–not enough context embedding to give the reader a sense of place–so I’m hoping to get some more of that in there, too. And off I go to make it be. Happy writing!

Day 12

I couldn’t sleep. I finally gave up at around 5:15, which means today is not likely to be a great day. At the moment, in fact, I’m sitting in the dark, only the glow of my computer screen lighting the room, with one dog cuddled up on my arm, the other on my legs, wishing that I could sleep as well as they can.

Yesterday’s words–eh. It was a day of jumping on every distraction. I finally quit when I found myself editing, not writing, but after I shut down the computer, I figured out where my problem lay (dialog going backwards) and how to fix it (reverse the order of the conversation). Today’s first task will be to get back to that problem and switch it up. I think I made it to about 700 words yesterday, so still way off the word count I need, but at least it’s forward progress.

I did discover–and I wanted to call it serendipity, but it really wasn’t, it was just research–a wonderful book that I spent a chunk of my evening reading, called Learning from the Voices in My Head. When I (spoiler!) wrote about someone with bi-polar disorder in my third book, I was a little uneasy, but I have plenty of experience with the condition. Right now, I’m writing about someone who could be diagnosed as schizophrenic, and I don’t want to minimize or make light of the condition. The book is written by a woman who has learned to live with the voices she hears. It’s definitely going to get mentioned in my author’s notes. It even–ironically, for the second or third time this week–made me wish I hadn’t dropped out of school. It’s the kind of book that should be required reading for all people working in the mental health field.

None of which is about writing. Ooops. Um, yeah, back to the point of the blog: today will include some outside of the house events. The indie writer’s meeting in the evening–I’ll see you there, Lynda, and Tom, I wish you could make it, but have fun at your writer’s conference! Yoga, also, and… drat. Something else. Oh, possibly a visit to the kitchen cupboard place so that I can get a final estimate on what my kitchen is going to cost to fix. More than I wanted it to, is the probable answer. That, combined with not enough sleep–well, today’s not going to be my 2K word day. If I manage to get some writing done, I’ll call it good enough.

(I did have a fun NaNo idea, which is to, at the end of the month, take all my blog posts, all my instant message chats, and any extended comments in other spaces and put them together with my actual WIP. I bet I can make 50K words that way. The book becomes a novel about an author who spends too much time writing the wrong things and not enough time writing what she should be writing. Sounds fun, right? And look, not even 7AM, and I already have 500 words for the day!)

Day 11

I am so far behind that I should probably admit defeat. But I’m not going to.

Yesterday was 500 words. Precisely 500, because yes, I pushed those last 16 words to hit the even marker. I did end at the end of a sentence, though, so at least there’s that.

Yesterday was also dealing with my car repair place; making plans with a friend; yoga; assorted cooking including finishing up some homemade chicken broth which had been simmering overnight (easy to start, work to finish); CostCo, including making single-serving freezer packets of fish and meat; meeting a friend; and then going out for a quick dinner with other friends. Oh, and taking the dogs on two long walks. For me, it was a very busy day. The fact that I got 500 words during it is more something to celebrate than something to regret.

Admittedly, the rest of the month is going to have plenty of equally busy days. I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 11. It’s going to absorb a lot of my attention for a couple of days. (It already is, as I browse recipes for interesting AIP-friendly food that won’t seem AIP to my audience, ie arugula and roasted squash salad & grilled Brussels sprouts.) I’m also getting my kitchen cupboards replaced. Not sure that will happen in the month, but apparently it may involve some more negotiation with the insurance company. When the guy from the kitchen company came out this morning, I discovered that the wall has broken. Apparently the nails in the metal inside the wall, when they get wet, can rust and expand and break the wall. Sweet, huh? But it may mean that I’m back talking to the insurance company again. I’ll be visiting the kitchen guys again tomorrow, when he’s got an estimate ready. The point, though, of all this babble is that I can’t assume that the next twenty days are going to be any more productive than the last ten.

Despite that, I’m not ready to give up. I need to write 2K+ words per day and there were definitely days when I was writing A Lonely Magic that I hit that number. Other people can do it. I can, too. I just need to remember my three new NaNo rules. 1) No editing. 2) Have fun. 3) Write without doubt.

Hmm… not to doubt myself immediately, but it seems to me that the third rule covers both the others. If I manage to write without doubt, then I will have fun and I won’t edit. So, okay, new rule for NaNo: Write without doubt.

And it is so me that I’m immediately thinking about how I could edit that, how I could say it to make it stronger, whether Abandon is a better verb, what the implications of abandon are… but I’m going to stop myself. Time to move on to the story. Tomorrow maybe I’ll invent a new rule.

Day Two

Breakfast is over, day 2 has begun and no words have been written. Except, actually, I wrote almost 500 in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep and realized that the plot bunnies were procreating. I had that “oh, you’ll remember in the morning” thought, followed by “no, you won’t, you never do” so I got up, turned the computer back on and typed notes as fast as my fingers could move.

I have not yet looked at those notes to see if they make any sense, however.

Today’s plan: to keep going. I’d like to get to the stage where I’m hitting 2K words, not just the bare minimum. (Yesterday I hit 1670 and quit, but then it was 10PM and I hadn’t had dinner yet, so…).

More important, though, is to remind myself to have fun with it and to stop, stop, stop editing myself. Last night, when I was deleting words as fast as I wrote them, I reminded myself that Russell Blake would say that I was carrying an anvil uphill. Put that damn anvil down. Nobody’s going to be asking me to … shoe a horse? hammer a sword? what the hell does one do with an anvil these days? But maybe that’s the point. It’s a useless anvil.

Hmm, I can see that I’m rapidly getting trapped in that metaphor and whether it’s suitable for the modern world. The other day I stumbled over a failed souffle in an article and when, out of curiosity, I began to research, I learned that most people know about failed souffles from Warner Brothers cartoons. I suspect anvils are much the same. It’s a visual metaphor, cliche because it has no meaning in our real lives and yet is easily understandable to most people.

Anyway, today I’m going to try to set the anvil down. 300 words written for this blog post and none of them count for NaNo. Off I go to see if I can pump out a couple thousand that will count!