Category Archives: Uncategorized

Back in the Saddle

I had a half-finished draft of a post listing resolutions for the new year, but it seems a bit late to put it up now, so instead I’ll just catch you up with things. (Happy New Year!) I got an iPad and wireless keyboard for my birthday, and it is an excellent on-the-go writing studio. This afternoon, in fact, I biked to town and sat in the coffeeshop, sipping a latte and writing a short story. It felt good to write some fiction again, especially something short and bite-sized. I’ve been trying to get back into the writing groove so I can get motivated to edit one of the two novels I wrote by the end of March. Seeing as how that’s coming up a lot sooner than I had hoped, I really need to just go ahead and start editing.

I’ve been pretty excellent in other ways. One of the apps on my iPad is iTunes U, a cool site that offers free courses from various universities. I took an excellent course on moons, and am currently working my way through a Harvard course on the ethics of justice, a writing workshop, and a rather hard-to-follow introductory medical school course on the pulmonary system. It’s all been pretty fascinating so far. Another app that I’ve enjoyed is Duolingo, a language-learning app. It’s not great for actually learning a language, as it doesn’t really do any explanation, but it is excellent for giving you exercises to build up your vocabulary and practice the correct genders and such. I’m using it to learn French and review German. Finally, I am learning poetry. I found an app where you progressively memorize poems, leading up to a recorded recitation of them from memory. I’m really enjoying it! I used to enjoy memorizing poems as a child (I knew large chunks of Where the Sidewalk Ends and all of And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street), and they say that as an adult you will probably still enjoy the things you enjoyed as a child. I’ve already learned Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day, The Jabberwocky, El Dorado, Death Be Not Proud, and just a tiny smidge of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

I may not be doing great on any of the other focus areas for excellence, but it’s not as bad as it could be. So far, this has been an excellent year, and I’m just really excited to get back into writing again! I may try to get into the editing mood by editing the short story I wrote this morning, and we’ll see how that pans out. Not having done much editing before, it’s hard to know what to expect or how to plan for it. I’ll keep you updated.

Winning!

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

I hit 50,000 words on my NaNo novel on 22 November, which felt totally awesome! Then I couldn’t bring myself to even touch my computer for several days. I did manage to write another 2K this weekend, even though we’ve been very busy this Thanksgiving weekend with friends. I said that I was going to write 60K for NaNo, but after hitting 50K and getting the “WINNER!” banner on my screen, it was very hard to motivate myself for the other 10K. So I am only going to win NaNo this year, without overachieving. This doesn’t finish my draft, however; I probably need another 25-35K to get to a stopping point. I have entered a pact to finish the draft by December 20, which is fortunately a bit slower than the punishing NaNo speed. And I’ve entered another pact to actually edit and publish a novel by the end of June!

I thought that this time through NaNo was much easier than in July, when I was hampered by a fear of not finishing. This time, I knew I could get to 50K, and that freed me to write much more quickly than last time so that NaNo didn’t suck up the entire month the way it did this summer. (I didn’t have tons of spare time, but some.) I also discovered that I really enjoyed the meetups. I didn’t think I’d get anything done in a crowded coffee shop, but somehow sprinting with all those other people at the same time was quite productive. I enjoyed meeting others on the same grand adventure into writing as me, and I look forward to trying to keep in touch over the next few (editing) months. To others who met their goals: congratulations! And to everyone who wrote this November, congratulations, and let’s keep writing!

I Have an Idea

With two days to spare, I have managed to come up with an idea for NaNoWriMo. I was starting to get a bit worried when I still had nothing with only a week left, but I set aside some time for brainstorming this past weekend and came up with two ideas for possible novels. One was set in an earlier time period, and had a clear inciting incident and characters, but was really vague about the rest of the plot. The other was modern, and had a clearer overall plot, but I had no clue about the characters or subplots. Feeling happy to have two possibilities for the novel, I set about trying to figure out which one to choose. Then it came to me in a sudden flash of inspiration: why not write both? I could easily move the first idea forward to the present day with just a couple of tweaks, and then I have both characters and a plot! I didn’t expect a traditional quest-style fantasy to fit so easily with a modern conspiracy thriller, but I think it’s really going to work! Now to work out the details before Friday…

I’m a Writer and a Blogger

I went back through recently and reread all of my blog posts. (Although it was done out of procrastination from writing my daily word count, it is a good thing to do periodically; you get such an interesting perspective on how you’ve grown and changed over time.) The most amusing post to me was this post about writing versus blogging. As I am well past the half-way point of Camp NaNoWriMo, over 34,000 words into my first substantial work of fiction, I have begun to call myself a writer. This post made me giggle quite a lot about that, and to think about the way we label ourselves.

I have noticed a theme with writerly-types to be very concerned with labeling things correctly. For example, in the One Hour Plot (a short, aptly-named book to help you brainstorm a plot in an hour), the author highly recommends that you start your hour when the minute hand is up-and-down, smack-dab on the 12. Likewise, if you are going to write a novel in a month, you should start on the first day of a calendar month. Psychologically, these are supposed to be more meaningful in some way. But I am at heart a mathematician. Why should one set of 60 minutes differ in any way from another set of 60 minutes, just because we label them “5:00-5:59”? Why do one set of 30 days differ from another set? They are truly isomorphic. I’m not going to wait around for 40 minutes to start plotting just because someone else can’t see that.

Another thing that the writerly-types seem to have a problem with (judging from my recent time reading writers’ forums and blogs) is the label of “writer”. So many people are afraid to claim that label, like there is more to it than simply writing. I write; therefore, I am a writer. Rereading my earlier post about the difference between blogging and writing, I think I probably even am starting to fit that definition of writing with this novel. I have done some research and planning, and though a lot of it is spur-of-the-moment ideas that I am jotting down, I do plan to go back and edit it thoroughly after this first draft to polish it and craft the words more carefully.

In my blogging life, I remain a blogger. I have zero plans to post any carefully-crafted flash fiction to this blog. I will continue to simply document my life, my adventures, and my struggle for excellence the same way I’ve always done. (This may come as a shock or disappointment to you, Dear Reader, but this blog is not written for your sake, but for mine. I think that is why I can continue to blog when so many other bloggers seem to just give up, or feel too guilty about not posting in too long.)

And now I suppose it is time to stop procrastinating this morning, time to stop blogging and time to start writing…

I Do All My Writing In A Tent

As you know, Dear Reader, I have been writing a novel for Camp NaNoWriMo. It has not all been easy, but I have been pleasantly surprised that it hasn’t been as difficult as I expected it to be. (16,521 words done so far!) I set myself up for success, though, creating a writing schedule that was compatible with my weekday job. Another thing I have done is to create a space devoted solely to writing. Because this was supposed to be a virtual summer camp, I strung up a sheet along a piece of string in our empty dining room and created a tent. My Dear Husband help me drag a spare mattress underneath it to sit on, and I have some pillows to lean against. I lined up all my writing notebooks and pens and spare USB sticks under here, and have a space for my laptop beside the outlet. To make it more like camping, we brought the lantern down here, and I have a small pot of flowers at the tent entrance. Thanks to the care package from my awesome Dear Mother, I have even been making s’mores recently. Mmmmm!!

Okay, it may seem a bit hokey to actually be camping in my dining room during a virtual summer camp.  You certainly don’t need a tent to write a novel. But I think that for large undertakings like this, it is important to develop a space that is solely devoted to that task. Having some sort of ritual, whether that is a special place, a special hat, or a special candle you burn, puts your mind into the right space and lets it know that “hey! it’s time for writing now!” I will be taking down the tent this afternoon (I need the space for something else), but I already have an area prepared to write in for the next three weeks. (I am also planning to try unplugging my laptop from the Internet until I am finished writing for the day.)

writing_tent

 

Everything at Once

It’s been a while since my last post. As I mentioned, there were some major life changes last fall, but now life has settled into — not a routine, exactly, but rather a set of usual adventures. So what have I been up to lately? Well, to put it briefly, I have walked 1/3 of a long-distance trail in my area. (Only 70 more miles to go!) I have been knitting and quilting and dancing. I have had two awesome vacations to Europe so far. I’ve studied four foreign languages (some more in-depth than others). I’ve tried to keep connected to people back home by sending infrequent postcards and frequent emails. And I’ve decided to write a novel! With two more European trips coming up, I have a feeling I’m going to stay busy. Doing everything all at once is kind of fun.

 

New Year

Happy New Year! I hope yours is starting off well. After coughing for over a month, the cough is finally over, and we’re back home from visiting family. I really wanted a clean home for the new year, so I spent some time yesterday tidying, dusting, and vacuuming the third floor. Today I’ve finished up my laundry and finally put away Clothes Mountain that had been growing on the guest bed since October.

It’s the time of year for resolutions and renewal. And in the spirit of The Happiness Project, I’ve started writing down as many resolutions as I can think of. I’ll write more about each of them in the coming days.

First of all, I’ve gained a few pounds over the last two months. Lack of exercise (because of the coughing) and too many holiday sweets had their inevitable result. So my first resolution is to lose those 5 pounds, and 5 more. Mainly, I want to be fit and healthy. The number is less important, but more easily measurable than “be in shape”.

I’d also like to write. I want to write one of everything this year. I want to read a lot (not a problem since I got my Kindle) and to study a foreign language.

I want to live in a simple space, something pleasing to the eye and inviting. That means serious decluttering and staying tidy. Maybe a splash of paint here and there.

I want to cook more often, have more Date Nights, invite friends over, and dance, dance, dance!

And for my crafty resolution, it is the year to finish projects that have been hanging over my head too long. (But that’s a story for a different blog.)

May our year be full of joy, accomplishment, and excellence!