Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Teh Ned

The secret to a high word count Done at last.

I'm not entirely sure how it happened, it kind of spiraled out of control, and in true NaNo fashion, there were surprises, tears, laughter, and many, many typos. And now it's done, really done. I typed those two magic words just an hour or so ago, said a small blessing of gratitude to the word gods, and am now planning on taking the muse out for a drink. The old girl deserves it.

If you're out there toiling away in NaNo land, hang tight. I'll send the kids right over, they're a great help.

Monday, November 17, 2008



I know that 50K is just an arbitrary number, a Big Round Figure that's supposed to be huge and scary and cast in unobtanium and all, but it's a great goal. If anything, it's a testament to the power of erosion: of the rippling effect that regular small-scale chipping away can do. 50,000 is a big solid slab of text, but picked apart by word, line, and page, it's completely reasonable. Last year, I couldn't fathom how anyone could not only beat NaNo early, but then go on to set such crazy goals like 100K, 250K, 500K, or 1 million words in a month. (Actually, I'm still out on that last issue. One million? You people are crazy.)

So here I am, green bar on the site, little "winner" dingus on the name badges. A nagging part of me still thinks I've over-estimated my word count, but there's plenty of story left that needs writing between now and the end of November, especially if I want to claim my prizes. There's a lot of roughness going on, but at the same time I'm surprised by the turns the characters are taking, the plot elements that are unfolding within the loose cat's-cradle framework that I've laid out. I'll have to write up a recap when I'm all done-for-real-done, but when it comes to regular writing on a typewriter, I'm a believer.

Friday, November 14, 2008

And it's (almost) halftime...

NaNoWriMo 2008: Day 14

Everybody kicking some wordcount butt? Yes? No? Well, even if you're not, just keep at it. Even with my highly-planned setup, I've suddenly been introduced to three brothers that seem to be serving as both comic relief and some word-building backstory. Writing their pathos makes me think that the rest of the book is over-serious, something I'll have to investigate when I go back to revise: seek opportunities for lightness. I'm concerned that I've got 100+ pages of drudge to muck through before there's any chuckles, and that may be too much for anyone to bear.

Maybe I need appropriate headgear? These three brothers were born of an early-morning writing session when I'm still in my pajamas, groggily blinking my way into the world of the living again. I can get maybe three pages done in the morning before the kids are up, but get another five or six at work on my lunch. I think the button-down shirt is making me too serious. Might need to look into wearing the kilt sometime. (Or you know, not and instead keeping my job.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More on motivation


I've been typing on my novel first thing in the morning, before the kids wake up and flump on the couch at my elbow and begin their Morning Bicker, which is Not Useful For Writing. After the time change, this was pretty easy, rolling out of bed at 5:00 instead of my usual 6:00ish to grab an hour of writing before the rest of the house shuffled out into wakefulness. But now November has really settled in to the area, with its chilly hard-to-get-out-of-bed mornings, and a warm sleepy baby, and a dark house, and... maybe just five more minutes... gzzzzzz.

I've been bragging about my word count, but I'm also lagging in my story, about three or four days now according to my outline. This is almost worse, since the words are coming, but if the plot ain't moving, then I'm not getting any closer to the magical The End that I should be hitting 'round about November 30. I want to work to the deadline, and to get this thing out the proverbial door by the deadline I can't be pissing around with plot in December... January... June... argh, the thought of it makes me shudder.

Yesterday I wrote about why I'm doing this novel: to share with my family. I've beaten NaNo once for myself, I know that I can do it, that's not why I'm participating this year. The hard part now is facing that big stack of Plot from inside my warm morning cocoon, and letting the cocoon win. And so I'm now threatening myself.

I bid on and won a lot of cameras from the other day, including one that I've wanted for a while -- an Olympus 35 RC, a little manual rangefinder camera -- and two Brownies just for fun. The box is on its way now, and with it comes The Deal.

If I fail to hit The End by midnight November 30 PST, my NaNo-widowed wife will be entitled to hurl the contents of the box from the nearest landmark, including but not limited to the roof onto the cold, unfeeling cement of our driveway, and maybe back over it with the family minivan a few times for good measure.

You're all witnesses. If this doesn't get me out of bed in the morning, nothing will.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What moves you?

OK, now I'm just plain gloating. I owe it all to Duffy and the brilliance that is the Typewriter Brigade. I've hit a couple of rough patches here at the end of the first third of the story, but that's mostly due to under-planning on my part. As a whole, I'm excited about my NaNovel, and think it's coming together well for the hasty, poorly typed draft that it is. And I'm especially digging how the lack of a mass-select-and-delete feature has forced me to redo a page or two here and there when I just couldn't let it lie (and needed a hook for later.)

Using Rollabind to keep the manuscript together has been a good thing, too. I've filled the first set of discs, and need to move into a new notebook with today's writing. I like being able to go back and drop in pages that need to be inserted, like this morning's work of fleshing out past scenes or doing some rewrites of exceptionally strange pages. I'm looking forward to revising this around mid-December, and running it past "the critics" in our house, namely my wife, my English prof. mom, and my son, who this whole thing is really for.

Somewhere in the past year, we stopped the habit of the nightly bedtime story: he outgrew it, or his younger sister grew into it, or something, but pretty much gone are the days when he'd fall asleep listening to me read Dr. Seuss or Tolkien or fables or whatever. Now he skulks out of his room just before bedtime, his radio blaring the local all-rock-goofy-DJ station-with-the-awesome-name, gives us a good-night kiss, and that's it until he's hunched over cereal and comics at dawn. He's still reading on the sly, and we keep his room well-stocked with books, but I'm looking forward to sharing this one with him. And that's really the motivation for NaNo for me this year. He's the reason I'm busting out the word count this time around, the reason I'm not anguishing over the really awful clunky dialog I've laid down, and the reason why I'm going to go over every single page with a pen in hand and edit, edit, edit this bastard until I'm not ashamed to read it aloud.

Come December 1 I'll hang up my "novelist" hat for a year -- note to self: buy a noveling hat -- but this year, I'm doing it with a little more pride.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Smiling through gritted teeth

Random crabby thoughts...
  • To everyone who thinks that the outcome of the recent election is "the worst day in American history" and the end of freedoms and the descent of the Marxist state, I say: really? When the rest of the world seems to be celebrating the change, I have to think this result not as bad as it's being painted. Shockingly, I do think that global opinion of the U.S. is important, and that it's surely taken a beating in the last eight years. Perhaps we need to think about ourselves more as citizens of the world, and not saviors. Just a thought.
  • I'm sure it was meant well, but Backdate's latest post is a bit upsetting. Vesuvio, I'm sorry that I'm airing this here, but you seem to have left comments locked on the topic. NaNo isn't a path to published greatness, and I get what you're doing with the mock comparisons, but it rang a little harsh to my ears. No paid authors were harmed during the production of this event, and I think very few people have realistic aspirations of a publishing career from anything written in these four weeks. The world might be a little more interesting if more people did pick up a trumpet, a camera, or a paintbrush and see what they could produce. Can't we all just get along?
  • The hardest thing about sacrificing my lunch hour to the Brigade has been weaning myself from the lunchtime walks and (worse yet) the thrift stores. Gahhh, and it's sunny today, too. I don't want to break the mojo by taking an afternoon off, but still... wahhh.
  • After some back-and-forthing, we now have a number of AlphaSmart Pro's at home. My wife's original one, one other slated for me, and a bonus third one that's gone to my son. I'm staying typewriter-pure for November, but am seriously eyeballing this as the means to forge my final typed revision into digital form. Best of both words, and more flumping on the sofa in December, something not do-able with the big standard Royal.
Have a good weekend, and lots of word-count to the NaNo'ers out there.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I'm not trying to brag...

...but I am completely thrilled with the boon that is the Typewriter Brigade. Good karma all around for the TypeMos. I've never written this much this quickly, and I'm actually falling behind in my story, despite being about three days ahead in terms of word count. There's literally not enough writing time in the day right now.

I know that this is the honeymoon period, the thrill of being able to finally -- finally -- work on the novel after all that time planning and sifting and jotting and sorting, but I'm completely convinced that there's something magical about typing it up by hand, no electronica and especially no distractions. And I'm really enjoying camping out the office lobby with the Skyriter. It's a sweet little machine, even with the sticky "5" and "e" typebars, and it's attracted its share of comments. I just love being able to go heads-down with it and bang out a page or five in an hour.

I've been watching your blogs and checking your word count, and I feel just a trifle guilty about crowing this loudly this soon, but I'm way too giddy not to say something.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Novelists to your marks...

Get set...


November dreaming

Good luck to all the November novelists out there, Typewriter Brigadiers or otherwise. Wishing one-and-all a month of distraction-free creative goodness.