Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaNoWriMo Final Update: I've Written Over 50,000 Words, and Probably 30,000 Were Run On Sentences


Just this past Friday - while I was still stuffed with plenty of turkey, gravy, and pecan pie, leftover from the celebrating of the day before, and not to mention feeling a bit of residual Angry Orchard-and-Fireball feeling - I clicked "Validate" on my NaNoWriMo Novel, clocking in at 50,781 words! 

The Hallelujah Chorus erupted in the air around me in celebration of my momentous feat... or maybe it was just the advent of, well, Advent, with Christmas decorations going up all over the house.

Regardless, it was an incredibly rewarding feeling to see the results of a month's worth of hard work, especially because I had been clocking in at about 5,000 words for each of the days I had spent at home for Thanksgiving Break. Now, I'm able to head back to school in Seattle today, recharged and ready to kick butt on Finals... and of course, I've already got a stack of books I'm looking forward to reading over Winter Break!

MY PROGRESS


MY WINNER SCREEN! 

So, yes, I've already announced to you all that I completed my NaNo Challenge, but that doesn't mean the journey's over... I still have a lot of editing to do, and not just because of the litany of what are sure to be grammatical errors and inconsistencies in the plot, but I'm also pretty sure I switched third person to first person halfway through. 

I'm definitely looking forward to going back to revisit and revise, and fill in some of the holes I had left with just a set of parentheses and the words "Fill in this part later." 


But for now, I'm plenty happy reveling in my glorious and decisive victory, which came three days before the deadline, and way damn before I was actually expecting to be finished. Honestly, if you had asked me about a week before I validated my final word count about whether I was expecting to finish, I would have told you that I was way too busy and way too far behind to make it. 

And yet, thanks to a couple different factors - for starters, the continued harassment by my Dad and Sigma Kappa Little about getting it done - I was able to rally there at the end, and bring it all home. 

That's on top of the College Fashion article that's also due this afternoon, as well as preparing for an English class Final this coming Wednesday afternoon. 


NOTES FROM THE FIELD


  • There's nothing like having the world expected of you and having people constantly harping on you about getting things done. My best advice for NaNoWriMo: Tell literally all of your most aggressive, obsessed, and book-intense friends, because they're the ones who are really going to kick your butt if you don't finish! 
  • I'm definitely looking forward to being able to actually read books again over Winter Break... I've been too worried about getting too sucked into a good novel or unknowingly taking on the voice of a different author just because I had their words mixing around in my brain when I was trying to focus on developing my own. On the other hand, I've read a ton of great comic books this past month, just because they were short and visually-oriented. Still, my TBR pile for After Finals has got me feeling some kind of way! 
  • More on what happens when you start to deprive yourself of good fiction: the moment when you're daydreaming about what books you're going to read when you have free time again, and the first title you come up with is Dr. Zhivago. When you're fantasizing about reading Russian Literature for kicks and giggles, you're pretty far gone. 
  • I'm learning a lot about my own productivity levels, of when exactly I'm at my most focused and able to sit down and power write. Up at school, I always thought it was at night, when all my friends were together in our room, and working on homework, but here, at home, I've found that when I get up before everyone else, and I sit in front of the windows in the living room, that's when I can really work uninterrupted. 

FINAL THOUGHTS


Just because I don't feel like I get a lot of wiggle room beyond social media updating to talk about how this success is making me feel, I wanted to state her that I'm really, really proud of myself for making it through this challenge, and I owe a lot of that to how supportive my friends and family have been about it, too. 

I had developed plenty of novel ideas before, but none to the extent of Blood Read (still a working title, I need to find something that's a little less aggressive). The fact that I started out with an outline, and now have almost 90 1.5-spaced pages in a Word document (narrowest margins setting, I might add), is a pretty spectacular transformation, and something I've never done before. It's my first ever novel, and I couldn't be happier to have what I've got of it now, even though I already have been making plans on how I'm going to fix it next. 

And, to be expected, plenty of my friends, including my sister, the Cheerleader, have stocked up with plenty of jokes about how soon I'm going to get someone to publish it. Honestly, that's not even something I want to think about at all right now (partially because I have one too many friends way more accomplished than me in that field, and I know how stressful thinking about publishing really is). 

In fact, no one is allowed to read this thing, until I've spent at least another couple of months on it. After putting all that time and effort into building cohesive characters, plot, and action, I'm just happy and thankful that I have something so cool, that I created. It's nice having something like this for my eyes only. 

Still, I can't be thankful enough for those people, because they're the ones who got me to write all of this in the first place. Thank you, everybody! 


So, there you have it: My 2014 NaNoWriMo journey. Did you take the challenge? What was your result? At any rate, congratulations for taking part, and I'll see you again next year! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

College Fashion Link Up: A Series of Unfortunate Events

I mean, I was a pretty big fan of The Series of Unfortunate Events growing up. Then again, so were more people my age. After The Grim Grotto came out, I remember one particularly malevolent 5th grade counterpart attempting to sway us all to eat great green globs of wasabi as a part of her interactive book report.

(I was bullied into it. While I still hate spicy food, I think I developed a certain affinity to wasabi simply because of the accompanying subconscious "Screw You.")

It's also probably worth noting that I fell into The Series at around the same time I developed a love for Tim Burton and Edgar Allen Poe, not to mention Hot Topic, Scary Tales to Tell in the Dark, and the artistic stylings of Gris Grimly.

I wasn't goth, but I wanted to be, very badly. But after staring a little too longingly at a skull-print black scarf at Limited Too, my mom stamped that dream out pretty quick. It was pink hoodies from there on out, but you could always count on me carrying books like R.L. Stine's Dangerous Girls series, and The Spiderwick Chronicles, in the darkest depths of my Jansport.

Still, there are parts of those older leanings that still make me smile today. And while it's still going to take a while for the ill-effects of the 2004 Jim Carrey film to wash out of my brain, that lingering sensitivity to gothic romanticism and the fear of the wide, weird world is always going to be a part of me. That's why when my media-obsessed younger sister shot me a news piece about Netflix picking up the rights to the novels to develop an independent series, I was more than happy to buy into the hype that was giving a childhood favorite new life.

And, of course, give it an accompanying College Fashion post. Duh.

Here's my favorite look from the post, inspired by the grandiose nature, theatricality, and dynamics of an author who served as part of the inspiration for the mock-gothic stylings of The Series, Edgar Allen Poe:



SEE THE REST OF THE LOOKS FROM THIS ARTICLE HERE!
(Especially if you're a follower of the series... because if that's the case, I've got some special shoutouts hidden in there for the real fans!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

NaNoWriMo Update #2: Holy Setback, Batman, and I'm On Top of the World


Hello, once again, and welcome to the hectic tornado that is my current state of mind, as we hit the half-way mark for NaNoWriMo! Please, try not to judge too hard, as I give you another brief glimpse into what, exactly, is making writing so difficult right now. 

My story for this past week includes a major success, some schoolwork setbacks, and a massive craving for sushi. 

MY PROGRESS



So, like I said, try not to judge. It's been tough goings this past week, with many factors contributing both to an overall lack of time to write, as well as exhausted mental power when I do manage to find a few hours to spare to just sit down and focus. 

For starters, we're heading into crunch time for school, with Week 8 out of 10. Yeah, midterms were all last week, but this past week has had its fill of scholarly deadlines, as well. Between working on a group paper and taking down simple Communications assignments that all add up to a much larger grade, there's been plenty of classes and papers to fill up my time. 

Veteran's Day was also less of something helpful, and more of an awkward break-time that I didn't feel like I made the most of. I went home with my sister and my Little, and we had a good day getting errands done, making cookies, and having a Captain America marathon, but I probably should have spent a little more effort on making sure I got enough written that day. That being said, however, I was a little more focused on writing for an event the subsequent evening... 

That's right, Panhellenic Elections. Hope y'all didn't forget about that, because I sure haven't. After preparing as much as I could the couple of days prior to the event, I ended up running unopposed, and my beautiful speech was prepared to no avail. I'm enormously grateful for my position, and super excited to get started, even if it does mean I may miss out on some more precious writing time. 

And then, of course, there's the other regular parts of sorority life. We had Founder's Day to celebrate this past Saturday, and Initiation for our New Member Class just yesterday, so my weekend and some of the time leading up to it has been a bit compromised. 

Even on top of that, one of my best friends from high school had a birthday to celebrate, and my best friend threw a surprise anniversary party for her parents, so "party time" took up space in the schedule than usual, too. And then there was that pesky College Fashion article I had due by this past Sunday afternoon, that I managed to frantically write in the space of about 28 hours! 

I just had a really eventful week, okay? Unfortunately, that's pretty much resulted in me being about five thousand words behind schedule. 


MY GET-BACK-ON-TRACK PLAN


So, with such a hectic past week, it's no surprise that my Sunday night was originally supposed to be pretty jam-packed, as well; however, after plans for a Panhellenic meeting fell through, I was suddenly faced with a wide-open evening! 

I decided that I was going to write at least 3,000 words before I went to bed, so I set myself firmly to the task. I ordered in some delivery sushi, cranked up the tunes, finally flipped to a new page in my outline, and set about writing as furiously and uninterruptedly as possible. 

It was honestly a pretty successful exercise. I wrote just about 3,100 words, and every time that my brain tried to persuade me to take a break and go wander off into Social Media Land, I was struck on Twitter by the live-tweeting going on at NaNoWriMo's "Night of Writing Dangerously." and turned back to my writing. 

This week is shaping up to be a bit more empty than my last one, so I'm pretty confident in the belief that these next seven days will be a big catch-up period for me. Even if not, my Dad keeps me afloat with the idea of the two of us hosting a kind of in-house writing workshop for just us two over Thanksgiving Break, so we can really dedicate some time to writing deliberately. 

Still, I kind of like the idea of being finished before those last few days of November... when I'm so far behind now, is it even feasible that I'm entertaining the thought of finishing early? 


RANDOM NOTES FROM THE FIELD


  • People are finally starting to notice I'm serious about this stuff. While I'm incredibly happy this has resulted in a little more consciousness paid to keeping me un-distracted while I'm writing, it's also lead to a couple of recurring questions: "Can I read what you're writing?" and "What are you writing about?" Thankfully I've got it down to fairly pared down answers that are seeming to stick with people: "No; it's word vomit," and "I'll tell you when I'm finished." 
  • Also, I had gotten so used to having to explain to people what NaNoWriMo was, I was pleased to be approached by several people this week, who said they had no idea I was taking part in the challenge this year and were excited to see my progress. I forget sometimes that I'm not the only one who loves this stuff, mainly because I'm separated by a computer screen from most of those I know also taking part! 
  • Writing snacks are both a necessity and a curse: sitting down with tea and a muffin - or edamame and miso soup, like yesterday - just seems like such a more deliberate action, in sitting down and writing, but I inevitably run into problems. It's just more cumbersome to juggle good food and writing. Maybe take snack time in stride with meditation time, as a pre-writing exercise? 
  • I'm getting way more confident in this challenge, even with how far behind I am now. It's finally becoming real to me, that by the end of this month, I'm going to have written a big, ol' beautiful book! 

So, that's where I'm sitting in terms of word count right now. Will I make up the deficit this week?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

NaNoWriMo Update #1: My Dad is the Best, My Brain Hurts, and We're Just Getting Started


Hello! We are now officially just a little over a week into National Novel Writing Month - aka, NaNoWriMo - and I figured I'd do a little bit to check in with you all on my progress, just to show you all how I've been doing with the challenge!

While NaNo has been tearing up the book blogosphere for a solid couple of years now on a popular level, I've still been able to get quite a bit of practice in answering questions about exactly what I'm doing:

National Novel Writing Month is a 30 day challenge, taking place during the month of November each year, in which NaNo participants pledge to write at least 50,000 words (the rough equivalent of an average-sized novel). The programs run through the challenge are meant to prompt and sponsor creativity, community, and, of course, education, with accompanying challenges ran for children in school "from Dubai to Boston."

Basically, it's a bunch of nerds across the county, and world, getting together and saying, "Hey, I want to write a novel! You do, too? Let's do it together, right NOW."

And it's fantastic. 


MY HISTORY WITH NANOWRIMO


So, I haven't attempted NaNoWriMo since my freshman year of high school, where I took a general (kinda juvenile) idea of mine - involving a creepy cabin in the forest, a tenuous knowledge of how integrated computer systems work, and plenty of nightmares about shady government organizations - to the mat. Subsequently, I failed about four days into the challenge, when I grew too overwhelmed, and gave up. 

Since then, I've had plenty of friends win their own challenges, but I hadn't been really inspired to complete my own again until last year. I had been sitting on a really great book idea, but was stunted, once again, by the fact that I didn't have a cohesive outline ready for its actual plot line. Instead of taking on the challenge itself, I pledged myself to working harder on my schoolwork and on the blog during the month of November... but unfortunately, that didn't happen either. 

What did happen, however, was that a couple of days into the month, I was struck with genius lightning, and hand-wrote a single-spaced, six page outline in a two-hour time period. I couldn't really use my right hand for the rest of the day, but I at least now I had a story. 


MY PROGRESS



Fast-forward to this year. I still wasn't planning on undertaking the challenge, but I kept alluding to it to specific friends of mine, who encouraged me to try. After breaking down after a particularly grueling midterm, I ended up taking out an old journal full of book ideas, and reading every single synopsis to my best-friend-slash-roommate, who made me promise that I was actually going to try and write one. 

Therefore, despite the fact that this November is busier than any month I've encountered since first coming to college - and no, that is not an exaggeration by any means, in the slightest - I'm going ahead with the challenge. And honestly, I couldn't be any happier about it! 

Sure, it's been a little rough so far. I didn't even manage to get started writing until Day Two, and my writing habits have grown in fits and starts since then, but as you can tell with the above chart, I've had a really good weekend for writing. In yesterday and today alone, I've managed to write 7,071 words, on top of taking care of my homework for the week, celebrating my best friend's 21st birthday, and writing up a speech to give at the University of Washington Panhellenic Elections this upcoming Wednesday (as well as watch 8 episodes of Veronica Mars, but who's counting that?). 

That's right, Panhellenic Elections. I'm expected to give a speech in front of about 200 people on Wednesday, and that's only after I had to write a six-page application for the positions, complete with resume, essay answers, and a sample of my work. 

Plus, I've got another College Fashion article due this upcoming Sunday afternoon that I haven't even started brainstorming yet. I've got a general idea for what direction I'm going to take it, but with everything else going on in my life, it's going to be pretty difficult to find the time to really enjoy the source material. (Can you guess the novel? Here's a hint: it has to do with recent Netflix news...) 

And that's not even really schoolwork: by this Friday, I have my section of a group paper due, as well as three assignments due for a Communications class, and several English readings to catch up on! 

Needless to say, this challenge is going to be just that for me: a damn difficult challenge. However, I think I'm starting to get invested enough into my own story that I'd hate to see it left unfinished, especially when I've already made such headway into writing it! All I've got to do now is keep up the good work, and I'll be sitting pretty come Thanksgiving Weekend. 


RANDOM NOTES FROM THE FIELD


  • I'm not kidding when I say my Dad is the best. Sure, I've got writing buddies tackling their own set of demons with NaNo, but no matter how few or many words I manage to eke out in a day, if I text my Dad my Stats, he's sure to reply with an exuberant, encouraging message. Thanks, Dad! 
  • It is incredibly difficult to write with music with words in them, but I could have told you that just from my many years of homework struggles. Still, I wish there was a playlist full of music to get me into the mood to write! Until then, I just have to listen to Taylor Swift's 1989 album on repeat... 
  • I couldn't get through this without Twitter. Between NaNoWriMo's incredibly encouraging own Twitter, and the many legions of fellow bloggers taking part in their own challenges, I've also got publishers tweeting about their new releases, and Team Epic Reads taking part in YALLFest this past weekend, to remind me of why it's so important to me to be a part of this community. It seems like everyone's got 140 characters to sacrifice from their word counts for the day. Go NaNo! 
  • I think I've achieved a higher state of consciousness with writing. I wrote this whole blog post - about 1,000 words - in about a half an hour! 


So, that's what I've seen in the past week and a half. See you at my next check in!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

College Fashion Link Up: A Wrinkle in Time

 My Dad is incredibly proud of the books he got us kids to read back when we were really kids, making us susceptible to his recommendations without really understanding the significance of what we were reading. He instilled in us, from a very young age, an appreciation for things like fantasy and science fiction, genres with which I might not view with such passion today if not for my Dad's early coaching. 

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, is one of my favorite books, and it's because I first read it when I was maybe eight. The novel follows Meg Murry, a twelve-year-old, self-conscious outcast, who is busy coming to grips with the disappearance of her father and protecting her precocious younger brother, Charles Wallace, from the bullies at school. When a mysterious visitor named Mrs. Whatsit appears in the middle of one "dark and stormy night," and makes her mother faint with the enigmatic words "There is such a thing as a tesseract," Meg finds herself thrust into an adventure across the Universe, to save her father... and maybe the world?

This book was a great source of comfort to me as a kid, because it was nice having someone to read about who wasn't necessarily the smartest, coolest, or most "special," but who was definitely still the hero of her own story. It's one of those things that I still find comforting to read today, that even supposedly ordinary people can also have great adventures (especially when I come back from a class leaving me feeling about as dumb as Meg felt about school, too). 

More impressive is the fact that A Wrinkle in Time was one of the first popularized science fiction novels to make a significant culture impact AND have a young, female protagonist, something virtually unheard of at the time of its first publication in 1962. It's remained continuously in print since then, which is a pretty significant accomplishment in itself, but the fact that L'Engle is essentially responsible for raising the people who write strong female characters in YA fantasy and science fiction today, is pretty damn cool. 

Here's my favorite look from the post, inspired by the droll, doll-like qualities of the people on Camazotz, ruled over by the dark and oppressive "IT." 


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Coming Attractions: November

{This gorgeous geometric calendar from Oh So Lovely is brightening up my desktop this month!}

October was a heck of a month for getting back into the groove of things. But all to soon that month has come to an end... and now I'm staring down the barrel at the month of November!

November is going to be interesting. I'm taking on a couple of new challenges, the very least of which includes my new role as the Editor-in-Chief of the University of Washington Greek Voice, our Greek community publication, and the most of which is taking on the challenge of NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month! - for the first time since high school. On top of that I've got the second half of the Fall Quarter, Panhellenic elections, and more... which means that y'all are probably not going to be hearing much from me this month! 

No worries, that does NOT mean that I'm taking hiatus or giving up on the blog for November. It just means that the kinds of things I post are going to be changing in tone and content. Look forward to NaNoWriMo progress updates and descriptions, maybe a meme or two, and potentially even a review if I can squeeze in time to read. Regardless, big things are happening this month, and you'll be getting an insight into the craziness here! 

OCTOBER HIGHLIGHTS

{Children of the Corn (Maze); Soaking up some unseasonal sunshine on campus with commentary from L.M. Montgomery; Meeting my new GLittle in Sigma Kappa!}



  • My College Fashion posts from this month: Gone Girl and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" 
  • My favorite review to write this month: Nightmares and Dreamscapes
  • Your favorite review to read this month: The Intern's Handbook


  • these are a few of my favorite links

    1. The Epic Reads team does it again with another impressive collection of YA novels; this time, with a chronological timeline of books set during time periods from the Iron Age to the Information Age. 

    2. If you're looking for a classic bit of sweetness to brighten up your Halloween candy hangover, here's an Anne of Green Gables themed wedding, courtesy of wedding photographer Jessica Zais and the Green Wedding Shoes blog! 

    3. We're in the thick of gloomy Seattle November, which has got me feeling wanderlust something fierce, especially once I looked at Buzzfeed's list of 44 Great American Bookstores Every Book Lover Should Visit (go, Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle!). 

    4. If you're taking on the daring challenge of NaNoWriMo like me, then you're probably going to appreciate this post by Notebook Sisters, about how to write 10,000 words in one day! 

    5. And I don't usually link up to my Dad's blog terribly much - mainly because he writes about technology, which is a totally different audience than you guys - but he wrote the sweetest post about a plant in his office that's very special to the both of us, so I just had to share it! 


    quote of the month

    Amen.
    {I've got a lot on my plate. It's going to be important to me this month to make sure I'm managing my time to its maximum possible potential, and that includes saying 'no' to things I can't handle, as well as cutting out things that take up too much of my time. This mug is a reminder that I am more than capable of taking on these new challenges, but only if I give myself a fighting chance!}