NaNoWriMo: The Last Three Days

NaNoWriMo ends in three short days.  I can’t believe how fast it’s gone.  Of course, November is a busy month.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  November is the second worst month to have NaNoWriMo. (December is the worst.)  There is, of course, the satisfying feeling of accomplishment at the end of the year.  If you win, that is.  If you don’t, well, you’ve got your first New Year’s Resolution.

I’ve got enough New Year’s Resolutions to break.  As of today, I have 47,796/50,000 words.  According to my nifty stats page over at NaNos site, I have to write 551 words a day to finish on time.  That’s not really my style.  I write huge chunks at a time.  Ideally, I’d be doing that now, instead of writing on the blog, but you know how that goes.  I’ll probably wait until November 30 and validate my novel at 11:59 PM.  I like the drama.

I say I’m going to validate my novel.  That’s not exactly accurate.  I’ll validate a healthy portion of a novel.  It won’t be finished.  In fact, most of what I validate probably won’t be in the finished novel.  This is some meandering, indulgent stuff, people.  I’m doing what Stephen King calls, “Writing with the door closed.”  (From his book, On Writing, which is excellent.  Read it.  It’ll change your whole perspective on writing.  Good stuff.)  The next few months (or longer) will be editing and rewriting, all with the door wide open.  Open to people who aren’t me, reading what I wrote.  That changes things.   And for the better.

In the meantime, I am willing to show a portion of what I wrote.  Some people think they want to read that.  Well, here it is.  My actual words from my actual novel, in no particular order.

 

 

 

 

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NaNoWriMo Dropout

NaNoWriMo is exciting.  In the days and weeks leading up to the craziness, the blogosphere is full of “Should I?,”  “I’m doing it,” and “NaNoWriMo Is Stupid/Bad Writing/Not How It’s Done” posts.  Twitter is all, well, atwitter, with the same thing.  Then, November 1 hits.

Now it’s posts about word counts and plot lines.  Writers, not realizing how pretentious and crazy they sound, complaining their characters aren’t doing what they’re told and talking about the lessons they’re learning about themselves as writers.  I wrote one of those myself. (See here.)  Participants blather on to anyone who’ll listen.  When they run out of real people, they take to the Twitter, where anyone who blindly and innocently clicked their “follow” button is subjected to annoying word count updates and complaints about not sleeping.

You can get riveting tweets like this from me by clicking the Twitter button in the sidebar. I'm sure my follower numbers will soar after this post.

After the second week, these posts and tweets start disappearing.  WriMo’s are dropping like flies.  Some choose to simply fade into the background, hoping no one will notice they flaked.  The smart ones write “NaNoWriMo Dropout” posts.  These posts are filled with the deep philosophical reasons that NaNo wasn’t for them, which all boils down to one argument, basically.

“Quantity over quality doesn’t work for me.  I care too much about my writing/characters to rush through it.”

It’s a valid argument and sure to find support from anyone who’s ever attempted to write a novel.  Like I said, they’re smart.  Me?  Not so much.

If Dropping Out was an Olympic Sport, I’d have about 20 gold medals.  You name it, I’ve dropped out of it.  Piano lessons, cheerleading, college, the gym,  watercolor painting,  Atkins/South Beach/Weight Watchers Points Plan/Low Carb/Low Fat/Low Calorie or any other fad diet you can think of.  My justification of choice is my five children.  Nobody argues with that reason.  But I know the truth.

I am lazy.  Nicer people (you know who you are) call me “laid back.”  Psht.  Let’s drop the niceties.   I am LA-ZY.  In keeping with this truth, I should have dropped out of NaNoWriMo a long time ago.

There have been several days this month when dropping out seemed like the right thing to do.  I was behind on my word count.  My story was lagging.  I was too tired.  I wrote through it, and it shows.  Some serious crap flows from fatigued fingers, let me tell you.  But I want to finish this.  I’m sick to death of dropping out of things that are important to me because I don’t want to put in the work.  What is that teaching my dear children, my scapegoats?

“Mommy could have done something, if it hadn’t been for you.”

And there it is.  The reason I’m not writing a NaNoWriMo Dropout post.  Because this mama has something to prove.  To herself.  Her children.  And anyone who says, “You can’t…”

Who Do You Write Like?

There’s a nifty little tool that will tell you what famous author you write like, when you paste a sample of your work in the Analyzer.  It’s I Write Like.  I’ve used it before with some of my blog posts.  The results were…mixed.  I got Stephanie Meyer and Margaret Mitchell.  One is a Pulitzer Prize winner, the other is not.  I leave it to you to determine which is which.  But hey, either way, I’ve got what it takes to sell a lot of books, right?  Yeah.

Pulitzer Prize for literature

This could be mine one day...

I forgot about the site.  Then, when looking around on the wordpress forums, I saw the thread,  “See Who You Write Like”, started by TheInsanityAquarium.    I started thinking.  Unusual, I know.

I’m writing a novel.  I have over 20,000 words I could plug into this baby.  This isn’t some silly blog post.  This is me, as a novelist.  Who do I write like?

So, I went to the WIP, and copied and pasted each session into the I Write Like analyzer.  (This and Words With Friends is what I do when I should be adding to my word count.  Procrastinate much? )  Anyway, here’s what I got.

Lewis Carrol (once)
Kurt Vonnegut (three times)
Ian Fleming ( SIX times)

Me, the dork that I am, Googled each author and their writing style.  (I could have written 1,000s of words in the time it took.  *sigh*)   I wanted to know what “you write like…” meant.

Lewis Carrol

Lewis Carroll, the well-known author of Alice'...

  • “Frequently use italics for emphasis” and employ “odd usage of parentheses and capital letters.”  Viewed as “unprofessional.”  Source:  Down the Rabbit Hole and Back
  • Use nonsense words.

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut speaking at Case Western Reserve...

(I went to the man himself for style advice)

  • Find a subject you care about
  • Do not ramble, though.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Have the guts to cut.
  • Sound like yourself.
  • Say what you mean to say.
  • Pity the readers.
Ian Fleming oil painting

Ian Fleming (Keep in mind, I got this SIX times)

There is actually a web page called, “How to Write Like Ian Fleming.” 

  • Describe food in detail, but make sure it’s good food.
  • Have your characters drink plenty of alcohol.
  • Include sensuous details about clothes.
  • Let your characters take time to relax and enjoy themselves now and then.

“The Fleming style, which he consciously adopted and employed in all his work, includes details calculated to excite the senses and give readers a taste of luxury and hedonism.”

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There you have it.  Who (and What) I write like.  Three very different writers from three distinct time periods.  So what does this mean for me?

Nothing.

Well, except for the fact that I write like a dude.

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Just for fun, who do you write like?  I’d love to see who you get and what you think of it.  Here’s the link again:  I Write Like…

Spiced Gingerbread Latte Syrup

I’m a coffee addict.  I spend an embarrassing amount of money on coffee at Starbucks or any other coffee-house I find.  So, when I find a good recipe for coffee syrup, I get a little giddy.  When I find one as spicy and wonderful as this one, I have to share it.

Whole allspice berries in a bowl

Whole Allspice Berries Image via Wikipedia

Spiced Gingerbread Latte Syrup

Ingredients:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 TBSP honey

1 (6″) piece of fresh ginger root, sliced
1 cinnamon stick, broken into large pieces
8 whole cloves
1/2 tsp. whole allspice
1/2 tsp. whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp. ground nutmet

Directions:

Combine first three ingredients in a medium saucepan.

Add the spices.

Cook over medium high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool for 20 minutes.

Strain through fine mesh sieve or double layer of cheesecloth.

 I didn’t measure exactly.  I added a little extra nutmeg and allspice because I like my coffee spicy.  It is sweet, so use sparingly.  I only tried this in coffee, but it would be excellent in hot tea, as well.  An added bonus?  Your house will smell heavenly when this syrup is simmering on the stove.  Enjoy!

NaNoWriMo Week One: Six Lessons

Medieval illustration of a Christian scribe wr...

Image via Wikipedia

1.  Writing a novel is hard.  

Okay, so I knew this already, but it’s hard in ways I didn’t expect.  The story came easily enough, as did the characters and the key scenes that had to take place.  The problem is all the rest.

Dialogue.  Point of View.  Continuity.  Clarity.  Back Story.  And the dreaded Setting.  I suck at setting.  It is so important and if you choose a real place, you darn well better do your research.  Research?  You bet.

What is the height requirement of a Rockette? **

You’d be amazed by what I’ve looked up this week.

**Answer:  Between 5′ 6″ and 5′ 10 1/2″ in stocking feet.

2.  I am an incurable editor.

The whole idea of NaNo is to write with reckless abandon, either ignoring or celebrating the sheer crapiness that inevitably comes out of your head.  I can do that, to an extent.  However, today I deleted 459 words because they were junk.  I have some pride.

I correct all spelling errors because my browser underlines them in red.  I can’t ignore that. When I think of something I should add, I do it.  I can’t remember my own children’s names half the time.  I’m certainly not going to remember, in January, to add that super awesome part I thought of in the checkout line at Kroger that one time to the part I wrote on the night we had chicken for dinner way back in November.

3.  There’s no way I’m posting this thing anywhere on Dec. 1.  

“Ooh, I can’t wait to read it!” I get that a lot.  Well, trust me, you can and you will.  This is a massive free-writing exercise.  Glorified pre-writing stuff.  It’s not even a real first draft, which I wouldn’t show to anyone either.  Again, I have some pride.

4.  I am a creator and a listener.

Rebekah Loper, a seasoned NaNo, wrote a post asking the question, “Do you create, or do you listen?”  Basically, do you decide what your characters will do and say or do you let them tell the story?  My response:   “I’m a creator.  After all, they’re my creations.  How can they do anything other than what I want them to do?”  I don’t know how, but they do.  I start a scene with an idea and somewhere along the way, that idea goes out the window, and I find myself in unchartered territory.  I beg, “Please don’t do that.  That’s not how this is supposed to play out.”  Do they listen?  No, they go right ahead and do it.  “Okay then, but you’ll regret this when you see what happens next.”  See?  Listener and creator.

5. Nobody you know in “real” life wants to hear about your NaNo progress.

Honestly, I wouldn’t either if I didn’t know what NaNo was before my friend/cousin/uncle/sister started blathering on about it.  I’ve decided to keep my progress to myself and anyone who happens to read my blog, is my friend on Facebook, or follows me on Twitter.

Creative Commons

6.  Writing a novel is easier than I thought.

No Muse.  No bleary-eyed, middle of the night, frantic scribblings to get down that idea that came to me in a dream.  I’m not drunk all the time.  I’m not doing drugs, aside from healthy doses of nicotine and caffeine.  I’m not depressed.  I’m not mentally ill and I’m not suicidal.  So, my chances of being anthologized in a future American Lit. text-book are not good.   I’m okay with that.

I think a lot.  I sit.  I type.  Grammar, spelling, plausibility.

Voila.

I’m writing a novel.

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It’s your turn.  Anyone doing NaNo or writing a novel learn anything this week?  I’d love to hear about it.

 

 

Walking With Purpose

As anyone who’s read this blog before knows, I am a Christian.  I’m not preachy or “in your face,” because, quite frankly, I find that annoying, not to mention counter-productive.  I prefer to live my life in accordance with what I believe and love my neighbor as myself.  I don’t keep my religion a secret but I’m not going to beat anyone over the head with it, either.

But (you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?) sometimes, something comes along that feels like it was just for me.  A sermon or a Bible verse that speaks to me about what I’m going through at that exact moment.  Giving me an answer before I even knew how to word the question.  This post is about one of those times.  I hesitated sharing it because I know some people don’t want to hear it.  Then I realized I was being dumb.  What if I have a reader who needs to hear it, too? 

A few months ago, Dawn, a friend of mine, sent me a note on Facebook.  It was what I needed at exactly the right time.  I asked her if I could share it on my blog and she agreed.  I wrote an introduction and a response.  I didn’t feel good about it, so I didn’t publish it. 

I was looking through some drafts, wondering what to post, and came across this.  I needed to read it again.  I know why it was wrong a few months ago.  I was trying to add something to it when it wasn’t at all necessary.  It was perfect, as is.  Dawn had already  said it all and said it better.  I hope you find it as encouraging as I do.

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Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to HIS purpose.”

This is a verse we all have memorized or at the very least have heard quoted many times. People use it as comfort for others who are going through difficult times and to some who have been through many trials, it can almost become a cliche’. Through tears and forced smiles we internally roll our eyes and wonder “where is the good in THIS situation, GOD? Where is the goodness for ME?”

This is when we need to closely examine the verse and look at those last few words. “who are called according to HIS purpose.”

It’s been 9 years since my husband got his degree and joined the military. He has his “career.” I worked hard to help him get through that. We’ve been through trials of our own: a transition into the “military lifestyle” that is more different than most people realize, the birth of conjoined twins, life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and then their death 6 months later, the adoption of two children with special needs from foreign countries, the diagnosis of our oldest biological son with Asperger’s Syndrome are all just part of our story. Through it all, I knew that God had something “good” for me but when the dust cleared and everything settled down, still I struggled. I struggled with who I was. I was a 30 something “stay at home mom” with no degree and (in my mind) no value beyond wiping noses, finding lost shoes and cleaning up messes! I needed God’s wisdom for the quiet time in my life just as much as I did when I was going through those hard times! This is when new light was shed on this verse. There’s so much value in the first part “God works all things together for good” but who is that for? “To those who love God.” OK I love God. CHECK! but I started thinking: Am I “called according to HIS purpose?” What *is* my purpose?

As I prayed and sought an answer from God, I began to realize that God’s purpose for this season of my life is to be intentional with my children; to raise them in these few years that they are mine to find God’s purpose for THEM! Not only is that “OK” for me right now, it’s PRECIOUS and VALUABLE! In a society where so many children are cast aside, I have a greater calling.

I want to challenge you today. What is God’s purpose for you? Have you found it? Are you walking in it? If so, have peace! Because HE will work all things together for your good!