Monday, November 27, 2017

2017 NaNoWriMo Update #4: I Won NaNo 6 Days Ago!

This time last week, I writing you all about how hard I was working on NaNo. I was decently far ahead of schedule, and had just launched myself past the 40K mark after a brutal couple of days recovering from surgery, but there was obviously still a long ways to go before I got to claim my rightful place in the winner's circle.

Little did I know, that less than 48 hours after I wrote that, I would be speeding across the finish line! 

Okay, I did hope that I'd be able to claim a swift victory, but it was still only achievable after clocking in about 5,000 words on those last two days. Whew! Maybe one day, with those numbers, I'll be able to complete NaNo in ten days, but for now, I'll definitely settle for a successful 21.

That last day was a definite stretch, too, being that 4 hours of it were spent holed up in various urgent care hospital rooms with my sister, who sliced her thumb open while working on a school product. Then, there was the Dancing with the Stars finale - go, Jordan and Lindsay! - and I ended up ticking in my numbers within only minutes to midnight.

Now that I'm done, there's still a lot of ground left to cover. In total, I only finished three short stories, and still have to complete the fourth, which I am only really in the middle of right now.

One of the reasons I chose the medium of short stories in the first place, was so there would be a greater chance of me effectively editing them. Ask any of my family members - annoyed with the fact that I've now completed three different winning NaNo years, without letting them read anything that I've written - and they're pretty urgently expecting the honor of reading my work.

Here's the problem: the last time anyone read any of the creative fiction I've written was about six years ago, when we completed a short story unit in my Junior year AP English class. I didn't take any creative writing classes in college, and I'm very protective of my fiction. One of the reasons I drag my feet so much in letting people read my work, is because it's been a really long time since anyone has gotten the chance to (and vice versa!).

So, the rest of my November will be spent gearing up for rewrites in December, and finishing up that last short story I had been working on. Who knows? Maybe I'll have something worth reading in the new year. As for right now, I'm plenty content to bask in the glory.

nano final stats, as of last Tuesday
total words: 50, 263
average words per day: 2,393
my best day: 5,039
short stories completed: "SuperKids," "Keep It Down," "Leave the Light On," and halfway through my final short story, "Sisters Forever"

How is your NaNo project going? Which is worse, the pain of editing, or having someone else read what you've written? Let me know, in the comments below!

Monday, November 20, 2017

2017 NaNoWriMo Update #3: Writing on Pain Meds, and Squaring Up for Turkey Day Weekend

I may be saying this a little prematurely, but I'm almost done with NaNoWriMo! 

As of 7:32pm last night, I officially hit the "under 10,000 words left" mark, and I couldn't be happier. This mark has always signified the sort of Final Lap of NaNo for me, the culmination of the good writing habits I've been building up in the weeks prior, truly put to the test!

Of course, one of the reasons I'm so happy, is because I actually hadn't written any words at all in the two days preceding, with zero words logged on either last Friday or Saturday... because I had been undergoing, and then recovering from, surgery! After a lithotripsy on my right kidney, I was feeling pretty knocked out, and definitely not in the presence of mind required for writing so many words. Truth be told, I was kind of bummed when I came out of my pain-med-daze and realized I had given up the "updated every day for thirty days" participation badge... but let's be real, what better reason to miss a day or two, rather than a literal medical procedure?

So, in celebration of my successful - but still totally unpleasant - surgery, and hitting that 10,000 words mark, I've actually already ordered my NaNoWriMo Victor's Shirt. Yes, it's still a few days early, but I can honestly say, I've never, ever been more certain I would take the title, than now.

If I can write my way out of post-op recovery, I can definitely finish a little over 9,600 words before my remaining week and a half of November is up.

So, hopefully I'll have plenty of time to celebrate my victory - or pre-victory - this upcoming Thanksgiving weekend! I'm not sure how much time I'll have to write with all of my family here, but I always find a way, somehow. If anything, maybe what I'm most thankful for this holiday season, is that my parents and siblings are always so supportive of what I do.

(As well as willing to deal with my pain-riddled brain for a weekend!)

nano weekly stats, week three
total words: 40, 383
average words per day: 2,125
my best day: 3,309
short stories completed: "SuperKids," "Keep It Down," "Leave the Light On," and getting started on my final short story, "Sisters Forever"

How is your NaNoWriMo project going? How close are you to that elusive finish line? Let me know, in the comments below!

Monday, November 13, 2017

2017 NaNoWriMo Update #2: What I've Been Doing When I'm Not Writing

We're officially about two weeks into NaNoWriMo, and about halfway through the month. However, thanks to more than a few late nights writing, and very productive afternoons, I'm more than 3/5s of the way done with Leave the Light On, my supernatural short story collection!

I'm not going to lie, I think this year's NaNo feels a little bit different to me... maybe it's that I'm working a little harder to make this draft easier to edit, or its that I don't have as much going on in my life as I did in years past, but I find myself really wanting to take my time with writing this stuff. Which is a little weird, being that I'm already a little farther ahead, right?

comparing myself to others... and myself

Hearing about Cait's epic victory with her NaNo project, over at Paper Fury, made me burst into applause (and maybe turn a little green). There's a significant amount of competitiveness that comes through in NaNo, and I'm far from exempt. Far and away, however, my favorite person to compete against is myself. That's why I can't help but compare my pacing and writing from this version of NaNo, to projects I've worked on in Novembers past.

My first successful run, in 2015, with Dead Beat Reporting - which, at the time, was still going by the somewhat more morbid title Blood Read - was very much alongside the pace of what you're supposed to be doing during NaNoWriMo, averaging around 1,667 words per day. That November, not only was I still a full-time student, but I was also still writing for College Fashion, and successfully secured a spot on the UW Panhellenic Executive Board for the following year. I lived in a sorority with over 100 other women, and shared a room with three others, so it wasn't exactly easy to find time and space to write, but I still managed. My numbers were done by-the-day, and I ended a little early, only because coming home for Thanksgiving allowed for a fair amount of alone time.

My second win, last year, with Hit, was such a wholly unexpected and joyous victory, that it temporarily shoved me out of the depression spiral I'd been in after graduating college. The first eight days of November were spent in Disney World with my best friend, so I did no writing... then the next four once I'd gotten back, I was pretty confined to my bed, after experiencing shooting pains in my right side. Which meant I didn't really start writing for my NaNo project last year, until about today. Still, I pulled out a surprise completion that was pretty significantly tied to the support I got from my family, and re-instilled a lot of faith in myself that there was work worth doing, even though I've been having a really tough time finding a job.

So, as someone who's always found a lot of joy in being busy, it's hard to just pledge myself to work at NaNo at a normal pace. I feel like I have to keep finding other ways to fill my days, because if I'm not writing, then what the heck am I doing? 

taking sewing classes at Jo-Ann Fabrics

For my birthday, my mom signed me up for three sewing classes at Jo-Ann's, as the first steps in fulfillment of a long-time goal of mine, to be able to sew my own clothes. In our first class, we created a super cute and basic pillowcase - which is now the comfiest thing in the world, and perfectly matches my new bedding - and a drawstring bag, and for my next class next Wednesday, we're making snuggly flannel pajama pants, just in time for winter!

buying new journal supplies and stickers 

So, I'm not a huge believer in retail therapy... unless, of course, there's a sale, and it's on things I will always need, like a thick new journal (for $4), my favorite nerdy stickers from Redbubble (on super discount, with about 20 stickers averaging out to $23), and major themed sets of washi tape, which were also on sale! I'm still trying to wrap things up in my journal and planner for this year, but it's next too early to stock up on supplies... and I know it's going to feel great on January First, to know that my new journal for 2018 is ready to go!

going shopping for new Fall clothes

Like I said, shopping is not a huge thing, for me... so when we started to head into October, and the temperature outside started dropping, and I found myself layering up on my favorite thrifted sweatshirts and coats inside my own home, it forced me to confront the fact that my closet is currently in a bit of a pickle. Thankfully, my mom knows just how to contend with my fitting room agoraphobia, and led my siblings and I in a whirlwind of Veteran's Day weekend shopping! Now, with two new sets of jeans (that actually fit), several new sweaters and blouses, and even a sort of fashion-y cardigan, I'm ready to face the seasonal changes ahead, with some outfit changes of my own! 

stats for NaNoWriMo, week two
total words: 30,388
average words per day: 2,337
my best day: 4,193
short stories completed: "Superkids," "Keep It Down," working on "Leave the Light On"

What's your NaNoWriMo project looking like for this year? What's your word count so far? Let me know, in the comments below!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

2017 NaNoWriMo Update #1: What I'm Writing, and What I'm Reading

Y'all know what time of the year it is: it's November, which means, it's time for National Novel Writing Month, aka, NaNoWriMo. I'm so absolutely excited to get started on a new writing project again... I've been waiting for this since July!

And for the first time, I'm doing something a little new. But I'm hoping to come out of this not just with a collection of relatively finished short stories - a structure I haven't really written in since high school - but to find that drive to write every day again. It's hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and NaNo is really great for helping me find that off-center mark: the more you're working on, the less afraid you are of failing. You don't have time for fear, here. You barely have time to write!

So, without further ado, just like last year, here's my mock cover and blurb synopsis for this year's NaNoWriMo project: Leave the Light On, a collection of supernatural short stories.

A father's visit to a local parenting support group, reveals a secret community in need of help. A new collegiate, excited to take part in sorority life, comes face to face with a neighborhood ghost. A down-on-their-luck couple finds an unlikely source of protection, in a lamp that won't turn off. An angry teen finds his life is left a lot quieter, after damaging an old woman's strange music box. 
Finding their footing in real, daily tragedies, the true ghouls of this collection are not otherworldly so much as firmly grounded in the realities of many, from grappling with the heartbreak of losing a relative, to the inescapable loneliness of feeling abandoned, and the pervasive social ills of sexual assault and domestic violence. 
These supernatural stories, and the characters within them, explore the boundaries of personal horror, by flipping the focus from the ghosts and demons found within, to the misfortunes of the human experience. Together, they form a compendium of shorts, which highlight all the ways the exaggeration of horror and fantasy give way to pedestrian truths: pain cannot help but be felt, everyone deserves your respect, and true love can transcend anything.  
Meanwhile, if there's anything that stands as a daily struggle during NaNo that's not just tied to writing, it's figuring out what to read, too. I have a big problem with reading fiction during the month of November, just because I feel like inevitably, the voice of the writer I'm reading, interferes with my ability to write using my own voice.

But it's not like I'm just going to stop reading, because that's neither productive, nor is it, in the long run, going to help my own writing all that much. I still need a ways to relax, take a break, and get out of my own head every once in a while, and that's why reading can be such a crucial resource during the month of NaNo.

So, I went to the library last week, and picked up a couple of good books to prepare for the month ahead. Because I wasn't invested in reading too many stories that would distract me, here are the genres I chose as my focus, instead:
  • business-oriented and self-help books : I'm still caught in the miserable throes of trying to find a job, so at least this way, I'm still being productive in my down time. I'm excited to finished with Leave Your Mark, by Aliza Licht, so I can get to Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink, and Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resistance, and Finding Joy, by Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg.  
  • cookbooks: It's no secret that whenever I go to the library, I return with at least one cookbook, so nothing too out of the ordinary here. I'm big on breakfast, and these freezing Fall mornings have been making it difficult to get out of bed, so I'm excited to go through Rise and Shine, by Katie Sutherland Morford, to find something delicious and new. 
  • poetry: I've had an itch for poetry since this summer, when I found out some of my friends and favorite Internet creators still had a habit for writing it. I haven't really devoted myself to poetry since maybe middle school, so it would be nice to get back into the habit, which is why I picked up The 100 Best Poems of All Time, edited by Leslie Pockell. 
Hopefully, these reads will still be entertaining enough to loosen up my strained brain when I need a writing break, without being so distracting that I'd rather spend my time reading than writing! 

my stats for 2017 NaNoWriMo Week 1, as of the end of Sunday, 11/5: 

total words: 12,528
average words per day: 2,505
my best day: 3,361
short stories completed: "Superkids," working on: "Keep It Down"

Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? What does your writing project look like this month? Let me know, in the comments below!