Going Beyond National Novel Writing Month

I’ve got two shiny new badges in my sidebar. One is the JuNoWriMo Winner’s badge and the other is the CampNaNoWriMo Winner’s Badge. That’s right. I did it. I wrote 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. Actually, I wrote 53,137 of a novel in 29 days, but who’s counting? Answer: Me, because that’s kind of the point. It’s about the numbers.

I’ve got the numbers. I had the numbers in November for the official National Novel Writing Month. What I don’t have is a completed novel. I have 50,000 words (give or take a few) of two novels and neither one of them is even close to finished. That, my friends, is not the point of National Novel Writing Month. I’m supposed to complete a novel. Problem is, I don’t know if I can.

If I’ve learned anything from the NaNoWriMo experience, it’s that vomiting words on a page is not how a novel gets written. Not for me, at least. It takes me a good 30,000 words to even find the heart of the story and those first 30,000 words? Are mostly garbage and completely unsalvageable. It’s probably my fault. I don’t outline before I start the word purge and nothing good comes from writing on the fly, hoping something that someone might actually want to read spews forth at 3 AM when the only thing keeping me awake is copious amounts of tobacco and coffee. Substitute alcohol for the coffee, and maybe. Isn’t that how Hemingway did it?

Hemingway drinking and writing

I love him.

I’m kidding, of course. Not about Hemingway. That’s true. But I’m no Hemingway, neither in writing ability nor in alcohol tolerance. And I’m never going to Spain to watch bull fighting.

Point is, I need to find a new way–a better way–my way– to write a novel. It will involve planning and dedication and hard work and patience and a basic grasp of punctuation and grammar usage–none of which are my strong points. Seriously, the odds aren’t good. Thing is, I’m not a math person. I’m a words person. And I have those in droves.

Now, to take these two pieces of a novel and decide which has more “viability”( By “viability,” I mean “which sucks less”) and devote myself to it. Get it in my head that a novel is not written in a month. It will take time and sweat and a schedule and learning how to use commas.

I can do it. I will do it. Otherwise, I’m a wannabe novelist. That’s unacceptable. I’m aiming for the big prize: The Unpublished Novelist. Because that is a title I can be proud of.

Coincidentally, I learned something new this week. Did you know that it is incorrect to use two spaces after a period? No, I’m not kidding. It’s a rule. The Chicago Manual of Style says so. That blows my mind. Anyway, in my endeavor to follow grammar and punctuation rules, this post was written using only a single-space after each period.

That is progress.


Related Posts:

NaNoWriMo Dropout
NaNoWriMo Week One: Six Lessons 
NaNoWriMo: The Last Three Days 

Advertisements

Chin Hair and Other Fantastic Things

So I found another hair growing out my chin this week. It’s amazing, really, how those things just sprout over night. One day, you’re feeling pretty good that your diet is paying off and you only have one chin, instead of three, and the next–BAM! A long, black hair is poking out of your new-found chin. I guess it’s nature’s way of keeping you humble.

woman shaving

Despite the weight loss and not working, my back is worse than ever.  I wake up most mornings not able to walk or stand up straight without gasping and/or crying.  That means I haven’t been able to start exercising.  I want to exercise.  It will help my back and speed up this dieting drudge.  It’s the ol’ Catch-22.  I need to exercise to make my back feel better but I need my back to feel better so I can exercise.  Grrrr.

Oh and the 6yo had a stomach virus yesterday which I now have.  I’m sitting here, typing, in an effort to concentrate on anything other than the fact that I could vomit at any minute.  When I vomit, I cry, and I’m an ugly crier.  So, I’d rather not be an ugly, puking crier.  I’ll just keep my slightly green tinge, thank you very much.  *deep breaths*

Dawson Ugly Crier

“I don’t want your life!” Oh wait. That’s not right. Oh yeah. Joey left you for Pacey. Poor Dawson. No girl AND an ugly crier.

There is something that happened this week than I’m really excited about.  I discovered a wonderful blog gathering called, “Yeah Write.”  Basically, it’s 50 blogs linking up and competing for awards–peer choice, editor’s choice, and 2 lurker’s choice.  But I don’t really care about the awards.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’d love to win one.  Who doesn’t like to win awards?  Stupid people, that’s who.  And I’m not stupid.  But just reading these blogs and leaving comments and having these sweet people do the same is award enough.  Seriously, these are some awesome people.  I wish I’d found it sooner.  If you’re interested, you can read more about it here.  If you don’t want to compete, there is a hang-out where you can just read and share the blog love.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go throw up.

Related Posts:

I’m Thinking of Growing A Beard…
Wordless Wednesday:  Momfog’s Survival Kit 
Ten Things I Learned On Summer Vacation  
Scheduling Summer 

Three Tier Staggered Squares Wedding Cake

I did a wedding cake this weekend.  Wedding cakes freak me out.  They have to be as close to flawless as possible and I don’t do flawless work.  I prefer the cakes that have to look like something else.  The kind that, if I mess up, I can cover up the mistake with a fondant flower or some other random decoration.  Anyway, this one was pretty simple.

Three square tiers with ribbons around the bottom.  Impossible to mess up, right?

Psht.  Right.

busy bakerThe first cake I baked stuck in the pan.  When I tried to turn it out, it came out in a million tiny pieces.  I said some choice words, cried a little, gave the mess to 5 very happy children, and made another one.  It turned out perfectly, as did the next 4.  In all, I made 6 pound cakes, but only used 5 of them for this cake.

Then I cut them into squares, as I don’t have square pans.  Again, more remnants for the cake monsters.  They ate cake for breakfast for 3 days.  I won major Awesome Mom points for that.

I made 14 cups of buttercream icing (thank God for KitchenAid mixers!), iced them, put dowel rods in them (to keep cake from collapsing,) iced them again, and stacked the suckers. Then, I spent 1 hour, applying scotch tape to the back of ribbon so the grease/butter from the icing wouldn’t bleed through.  That was FUN.  *eye roll*

I attached the ribbon and went to bed.

The next morning, I got up, got myself and 5 kids ready for a wedding and loaded them and the cake into the car.  I hate driving with cakes in the car.  I just know somebody will rear-end me and cake will fly everywhere and the poor bride will be left with no wedding cake.  I drive very slowly, turn corners at a snail’s pace, and tick off drivers every time I deliver a cake.

Anyway, I got it there in tact and on time.   Here it is.

staggered squares with ribbon wedding cake

Not much to it, but it’s at least relatively smooth.  Not smooth enough (my cakes never are) but I did the best I could.  It tasted good, or so I’m told.  I’m dieting and can’t eat it.  Bummer, huh?

This little baby packs some major calories/carbs/fat or whatever else you’re not supposed to have while dieting.  Here’s the rundown.

  • 14 sticks of butter (cake and icing)
  • 15 cups of granulated sugar (cake)
  • 28 cups of powdered sugar (icing)
  • 15 cups flour (cake)
  • 30 eggs (cake)
  • 7 cups Crisco (icing)

I think I gained 15 lbs. just by typing that.

Related Posts:

Wedding Cakes
My Cake Hobby 
Let Them Eat Cake 
Three Cakes 

A Birthday Party at the Commune

Happy Birthday Hippie Style

Happy Birthday Molly! 9 Years Old. Wow.

Okay, so it wasn’t a commune. It was a campground. But when the birthday girl is wearing a bathing suit with peace signs and hearts on it, the cake is decorated to look like a tie-dyed peace sign, and everyone shares a bathroom, a campground has a definite commune vibe.

My daughter had a slumber party.  There was a pool, a lake to fish in, swans and ducks to feed, a fire to roast marshmallows over, and a cabin to make bohemian bracelets and watch movies in.  It was a pretty good birthday party.  Only 4 girls showed up instead of the 7 she invited, but that was fine by me.   I had help, but I don’t know if we could have handled an extra three girls and still maintained our sanity.

The weather was perfect.  Not humid or too hot, which is a minor miracle for June in Savannah, Georgia.  The girls had fun and my friend and I had a pot of Starbucks coffee, our laptops to get some Camp NaNoWriMo writing done, and we even got to watch a movie that didn’t feature animals or mermaid Barbie.

Oh yes.  A cake picture.  Molly wanted a peace sign.  A tie-dyed peace sign.  As usual, I didn’t put as much effort into my kid’s cake as I do for others (bad mama).  It turned out okay but my son was spot-on when he said, “It’s not your best.”  At least he’s honest (the butthead.)  The picture quality isn’t great, either.  As usual, I forgot the camera (bad mama) and had to take the picture with my crappy phone camera.

tie-dyed peace sign cake

Groovy

No, she’s not a hippie.  She’s a normal 9yo who has been bitten by the fashion bug known as Justice.  You know the clothing store–an explosion of glitter, peace signs, hearts, and too short shorts.  I don’t allow the shorts but the tops and dresses are okay.  She adores it.  Good thing, because she got $75 worth of gift cards to spend there.  She couldn’t be happier.

Somewhere in the last year, my baby grew up.  She looks older (thanks to bangs), is an expert eye roller, and always has a smart-butt comment for everything.  If she’s this lovely at 9, I can’t wait to see her at 15.  I can feel the gray hairs sprouting, just thinking about it.

Camp NaNoWriMo

Some of you may have noticed a new badge in my sidebar.  The Camp NaNoWriMo participant badge.

Camp NaNoWriMo Participant Badge 2012That’s right.  I’m doing it again.  50,000 words of a novel in a month.  I figure if I managed it last November when I was working, I can certainly do it now that I’m not.  It might even be easier.  And better.  Surely it could be better because the last one sucked.

No, seriously.  It wasn’t good.  I read over it now and laugh and laugh.  It’s a great pick-me-up after a rotten day.

So I’m going to try again, using a character from the old one and anything I can salvage from it (that won’t count toward the 50,000 words because that would be cheating and I’m not a cheater.)

Or maybe I’ll write something new.  Who knows?  I’ve got time.  23 hours to figure out what in the world I’m going to write about.  No biggie.

The only reason I’m doing this is because somebody asked me to.  I didn’t even know about Camp NaNoWriMo until she opened her big mouth.  Then I opened mine and said I’d do it.  Now, we’re both committed.  Thanks, JM.  (JM writes the wildly entertaining blog, Accidental Stepmom.  She’s stepmom to 5 fabulous children, one who has a serious addiction to bacon.  Then again, who doesn’t?  You should check out her blog.  You can thank me later for introducing you.)

Just to pass on the “holy crap, what have we done?” vibe, I sort of talked my friend into participating, too.  That’s not accurate.  I let her talk herself into joining in and neglected to tell her what she was in for.  Misery loves company, and all of that.

I’m an excellent friend.

Coincidentally, she also has a blog (*gasp*  *say what?*) and she just wrote a fabulous post about what it means to be a military family.  It’s not easy (duh) but it’s even tougher when you have 4 kids, all with special needs.  She’s sort of my hero.  Yeah, she’s got her issues (don’t we all) but she does a much better job of hiding them than most people.  Go.  Read her post.  You’ll see.

Change @ Mom’s Mixed Nuts  (Isn’t that a great blog name?)

After you read these wonderful women writers, you’ll understand my panic about doing Camp NaNoWriMo with them.  They set the bar awfully high and I’m a terrible jumper.

Scheduling Summer

It’s the second week of Summer Break.  We spent the first week staying up and sleeping late, cleaning house, watching television, and just knowing it was really and truly summer and we didn’t have to go back to work and school for a long time.

Miraculously, the kids haven’t been fighting too much.  It’s tough for five kids in a relatively small house with one TV and a small yard not to fight and they’ve done so well.  But I know it won’t last.  Sooner or later (I suspect sooner) they’re going to get on each other’s nerves and then they’ll get on my nerves.  There will be screaming, picking, hitting, and tattling.  Oh, the dreaded tattling.  There’s nothing like hearing, “Mo-om” in that tattling voice.  It sets my teeth on edge.

To ward this off, I’m making a schedule.  A summer activity schedule.   And if it works out, I might even get some alone time.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

1.  Bowling.  I signed the kids up for free bowling.  You read that right.  FREE bowling.  There are time restrictions, but not very many.  For $25, you can add up to four adults on the pass.  Me, my 5 kids, my husband, and my husband’s parents get to bowl all summer for $25.  You still have to rent the shoes or do like I did, and buy cheap bowling shoes.  If we go 7 times, the bowling shoes are paid for and we don’t have to wear those scary rentals.  But don’t worry, cheap bowling shoes are every bit as ugly as the rentals, so you still have the genuine bowling experience.

Oh, did I mention that when you sign up, you also get a gift certificate from restaurant.com.?  A gift certificate for $25?  Yeah, that’s right.  That makes the bowling absolutely FREE!

The website to sign up is kidsbowlfree.com

2.  The YMCA.  We’ve been members of the Y for years.  We haven’t actually been to the Y in a while.  Where we lived before, it was too far.  There was a local Y, but it didn’t have a pool or the super awesome sprayground.  Now, we’re less than 15 minutes from the Y.  I plan to take the kids to the pool/sprayground at least twice a week.  The only downside to this is that I have to get a bathing suit.  Is there anything more stressful/horrifying on the planet than shopping for a bathing suit?  No, there is not.

old-fashioned bathing suit

Think I can find one like this?

Another great thing about the Y is the childcare.  I can drop my kids off for up to 2 hours while I work out.  I can attempt a spin class.  I can start taking Pilates or yoga again.  I can spend some time on the elliptical.  I can sit in the locker room and read a book.  Kidding.  (Sort of.)  2 whole hours by myself.  I get giddy just thinking about it.

3.  The Jacksonville Zoo.  We’ve been planning this trip for a while but something always comes up. (See my tips for dealing with vacation letdown here.)    We will do it this summer.  I love zoos and it’s fun to get out of town, even if it’s only a 2 hour trip.

sand pail on the beach4.  The Beach.   When I was younger I wanted to live close to the beach.  I pictured spending my summer lying on the beach, soaking up the sun.  Well, I’ve lived 30 minutes from a beach for 10 years and have actually set foot on the beach about 10 times.  That’s just crazy.

I had my reasons.  A lot of those years, I had infants.  A beach outing is a pain in the butt when you have to tote pack and plays, diaper bags, baby food, formula, umbrellas (for shade) and all the other crap that infants require. By the time you lug all that down to the sand, you’re exhausted.  And then you have to drag it back to the car.  Not fun.

Now, my youngest is almost 3.  She doesn’t need anything but a bucket and a shovel and a buttload of sunscreen.  She’ll adore the beach and I’ll love watching her adore it.

Basically, the idea is to keep my kids busy.  The more they have to do, the less likely they’re to pick on each other.  Also, the more we’re out of the house, the more likely it is to stay clean.  It’s a win/win.

What about you?  What are your plans for the summer?  How do you keep your kids from whining, “I’m booooooooored.”?