Spent all day packing and cleaning. Am too tired to breathe. Every part of my body hurts. My hair hurts.
Tomorrow, very early, I move. I’m not doing most of the work, so hopefully by the time I drive 200 miles, unpack some stuff, and rest a little, I’ll be able to crank out some pages. I’ve got a long drive to think about it.
This is my last night in this house. Though I won’t miss this city, I think I’ll miss the house a little. It was super annoying a lot of the time, but it was home for quite a while.
If I could have made a life here, I might have stayed, but there was just no way. Obviously, I don’t belong here. Well, if I get everything I ever wanted, I’m not going to complain!
I’m behind already. Well, the same thing happened last year and I hit the target, although I did start with 15,000 words already written.
Today, I signed the closing paperwork on my house, a rather emotional event. Then I came home and did some packing. I only have two days before I move — most of it’s already done. All I have to do is:
pack my dishes and the things I’m actively using
put all the rubbish in the bin for one last pickup
take some stuff nobody wants to the thrift store
drink a gallon of milk (it won’t survive a three-hour drive)
and do some large loads of laundry.
I’m also leaving a bunch of stuff for the buyer. He’s getting all the appliances, some furniture, and a few things I don’t need anymore or can easily replace later (cleaning stuff, snow shovel, etc.). None of it’s junk; it’s all stuff he can use.
The Catalyst is a working title. I don’t know if it will be the actual title. But! I did finish my outline last night, so I sort of know where this story is going, although I have no idea what will happen.
I’ll post a word count, etc. every day during NaNoWriMo.
Posts may be short, especially during the first week, since I’m moving and
hopefully at least temping while I continue the job hunt in a bigger market.
It bugs me that I didn’t make more progress on editing Book 2 this year. I got distracted by the conlang and life things. I decided to proceed as if nothing will happen with Pitch Wars and Tunerville. While I will be disappointed I’m not selected, writing New Book will undoubtedly take my mind off it for a bit.
The advice “Write what you want to read” has produced some really amazing works. I mostly read genre fiction. I’ve been struggling to land on a type in which to specialize. When I decided to get serious about my writing, I originally intended to do whatever I wanted, regardless of genre. No restrictive branding slots for me!
Of course, publishing and marketing don’t work that way. Bookstores have categories, and if you do well in one, you tend to get locked into it. Only huge success a la Stephen King allows you to break out and write whatever and still make money, and even then, you’ll have readers who eschew any non-conforming works.
For the record, I’m a die-hard SK fan who really liked Joyland.
While I enjoy literary fiction, I’m not sure it’s best for me as a writer. Secret Book, despite its ignominious end as a trunk novel, taught me how to elevate my writing. It contains some of the best prose I’ve ever produced, even if the premise was cringingly awful. My grad school writing professor, a Mark Twain scholar, told me that no time spent writing is wasted, and she is right.
Neither is time spent reading. Even as an unpublished writer, I get questions from non-writers about craft, and the two things I emphasize most are writing (butt-in-seat!) and reading. Although there really are no new stories, there are as many ways to write them as there are writers, and reading will fill your inspirational well. If you read widely, you’ll see what works and what doesn’t.
If you’re a screenwriter, you must watch movies (and read
scripts). It does not matter what kind. Despite what certain directors have
said recently, there is value in all cinema.
Speaking of that, I just want to disavow people of the notion that comic books, horror films, and comic book films can’t be recognized as fine art.
Some of the most beloved classics are fantasy. Peter Pan, The Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland . . . I’m sure you can think of some. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus is arguably science fiction but I had it twice in college.
When Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Return of the King won 11 Oscars in 2004, including Best Picture, I cried. It was the penultimate film from a book that has set a nearly unsurpassed standard for the high fantasy genre, a film with elves and orcs and hobbits and dwarves and all manner of beasties, with a villain who is nothing more than an immense, ever-open eye. I cried because it was like the opening of the Black Gate in real life, behind which the books and movies we loved were dismissed and imprisoned.
And it’s given us movies like Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.
Story arcs with iconic and beloved characters like Captain America and Iron
Man, whose actors can play them with depth and nuance because the writers want
us to see them that way and there’s room now to do it.
No longer are comic books a joke; now they’re winning Oscars for costume design and music (Black Panther, in 2019), and even acting. Heath Ledger’s posthumous award for playing the Joker might have seemed a nod toward the tragic cutoff of a promising career, but it absolutely was not. Anyone who saw The Dark Knight knew they were watching a darkly brilliant performance, and it didn’t matter that he played a comic book character.
To be fair, Martin
Scorsese has a point in that Marvel’s dominated the movie house to the
point where indie-style pictures can’t get greenlit easily or at all.
Publishers have behaved similarly in blowing off new and midlist
authors for fiction with mass-market appeal, because publishing is a business,
Looking at my past works, I see speculative elements in every one of them (with the exception of Rose’s Hostage, another trunk novel). Very well then. Tunerville and Book 2 are urban fantasy, with ghosts and portals but set in the real world. It leads to you didn’t think I was actually going to tell you what happens, did you?
Now I shall try my hand at a full-on fantasy.
It may be a complete failure, but as my professor said, it
won’t be a complete waste of time. Since these genres have become commercially
viable, that gives me hope. Writers who enjoy fantastic fiction have a shot. But
we still need to be true to ourselves, even while hoping it hits that sweet
spot leading to publication and even moderate success.
We want to write it, and we want you to be able to read it.
That’s a worthy reason to keep doing this. To everyone participating in
NaNoWriMo, good luck!
Yes, I’m taking a stab at it. This year, it’s going to be a bit harder, as I have a LOT going on.
What’s Going On?
Hallelujah, I’m finally getting out of the town I’ve been
stuck in for-fricking-ever. I’ve been job hunting forever, and there is no
growth here. Plus, I’ve priced myself out of the small market. So what I need
is a bigger market.
My crappy house has sold, and I’ll be able to move anywhere, though it will probably have to be within Nearby BiggerCity for now. I don’t really want to be there, either. However, the universe has been throwing favorable signs at me, and I’ve thrown a bucket of wishes at it, so we’ll see.
Since I won’t make enough profit to move somewhere cool and then get a job, I will be the literal
nerd in her mother’s basement. It’s just temporary, however, until I find
something. If I find work out of state, Oliver and I can just tootle away. I
can come back for my stored stuff later.
Photo: Elizabeth West
Closing is November 7 and I have to move 200 miles and two locations away before then, so this is going to take some organization.
Since I’ve no clue where I’m going to end up or what I’ll need, the new homeowner, a younger person starting out whose grandparents are buying the house for him (aww), is purchasing some of my furniture. I’ve sold a lot of the rest on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Only a few things are going with me; the rest will be in storage.
Yes, I’ll have to move twice, unless something happens between now and then. The next two weeks will be key. It’s a little difficult to pack while you’re still actually using the things you need to pack.
This may not even happen, but if I’m chosen as a mentee, I
will be revising one book at the same time I’m writing another. Gah!
There’s a new idea floating around in my head, though I might actually write Book 3 just to get it out and done. If nothing comes of Pitch Wars, then I can take my time with the conlang and revision of Books 2 and 3. It’s possible to publish earlier works later after you’ve broken through (please, universe, let me break through).
Several tasks remain before I’m ready to dive into this year’s project.
Book 3 is already outlined in my head and has plenty of notes. New Idea is currently nothing but a blurb I wrote while practicing query letters. Regardless of which I choose, I should at least hit the high points to keep myself on track.
Music to write by
Last year’s Writing Music playlist will suffice. If I make a new one, I’ll share. I still have loads of albums to pick from.
I don’t mean a schedule, but the way I prepare and how I get
into each session. Since I’m trying to cultivate a better writing habit, I’ve
spent some time thinking about what works best for me.
Sitting in one place at basically the same time
of day (usually evening, especially if I’m working)
Reading a little where I left off (this only
works if I’m writing from start to finish, which, as you know, I don’t always
I want to talk about that last one. Sometimes, when you sit down to write, it’s hard to get started. Long ago, when I was stuck once, I did an email workshop called Daily Writes, created by Shery Arrieta Russ. I discovered that it helped to free-write for a few minutes about what I intended to accomplish that day. After finishing the workshop, I kept the habit as a way to unblock myself when I couldn’t seem to get started. All the blah-de-blah can be deleted later and doesn’t affect my word count.
I don’t expect to get all the way through Book 3 (or whatever) in November, but last year, I finished Book 2 the following month. Since I’ll be in a new city with no money (until I find a job) and no life, I reckon I’ll have lots of time.
Y’all, I only managed 211 words tonight. We’re making history all over the country.
Massachusetts elected their first black Congresswoman
Michigan and Minnesota are sending two Muslim women to Washington
Colorado chose the first openly gay governor in the U.S.
Florida restored voting rights to over 1 million convicted felons
KS elected the first Native American woman in Congress ever
Women are kicking ass everywhere
We didn’t win everything. Beto O’Rourke lost to Ted “Zodiac” Cruz, but that frees him up to run for president. I hope he does, and I hope he picks a woman as a running mate. Or I hope Kamala Harris runs and picks Beto as her running mate. Either way, I’d vote so hard for that ticket.
Climate denier Rick Scott won a Senate seat in Flori-duh; good luck with that when sea levels rise and flood the entire state, suckers.
And Bannon-backed Trump asslicker Josh Hawley beat Democrat Claire McCaskill in Missouri (precipitating my exit from the state that also got a travel warning from the NAACP; goodbye, you racist pesthole).
Good news; he didn’t beat her by much. Voters this year have been fierce.
And although Missouri state legislature looks to stay solidly red (ugh), voters seem to have approved an amendment to improve ethics and campaign finance rules and curb redistricting. Also, it’s early, but it looks like medical marijuana will pass. And the minimum wage increase too, hopefully!
I hope your races are turning out the way you’d hoped. Don’t be discouraged if they didn’t. And don’t be complacent if they did. We have only just begun our work. Keep participating, keep voting in local races, and hold our newly elected representatives accountable.
Celebrate wins, mourn losses, and tomorrow, we roll up our sleeves and push that Blue Wave forward. On to 2020!
Okay, remember when I started Book 2 last NaNoWriMo and couldn’t finish it? This graphic shows how far I got.
I’m gonna finish it.
The entire time I’ve been messing around with Invasion, something about it kept poking the back of my brain. I thought this meant I should just write the damn story, which is why I chose it for this year’s challenge.
I’ve been super bummed about NaNoWriMo this year. Prep was
fun (especially making those quinoa patties — yum yum), but I wasn’t excited
Today, while I schlepped around the grocery store, the reason for my malaise finally clarified itself. The problem isn’t one of story but structure. Invasion would work much better as a screenplay. I’ve been flirting with writing one for a while, but I didn’t think I had any ideas that fit.
It makes sense that way. As a book, it just didn’t, at least not in my head. Writing it as prose makes me want to set my hair on fire. Since it’s taken a long growing period and hundreds of dollars to get my hair exactly the way I want it, saving this story for my first screenwriting project makes better fiscal sense.
My head has been in Book 2 for a while — in world-building, in character development, in outlining. Why stop now, especially after I did all! that! work! restructuring Tunerville? I still have a very strong feeling it wasn’t wasted, and not just because I’ve learned a ton about craft.
So, here we go. Finished scenes are in Atomic Scribbler. Notes and outlines are too (another great feature; they open as pages in one window, unlike Wordy McWorderson, which only opens them as annoying separate documents).
I haven’t lost much time, since I already wrote a chunk. I doubt I’ll finish it completely by the end of November, but I’m sure the momentum will carry me through.
Check out this nifty little way for Atomic Scribbler to make me feel inadequate!
The writing program from Bad Wolf Software has a Daily Word Count feature that keeps track of your output and updates a graphic, which opens in your browser.
It’s a little different from Word, but Bad Wolf’s writing programs export your work and merge all your scenes into one document (Page Four, their older offering, did the same thing). I like this because I can move scenes and chapters around in the project window instead of cutting and pasting. Then I can shoot that bad boy out into Word and mold it into a proper manuscript format.
No, I’m not a shill for this program or Bad Wolf; I just like it, and them. They’re a small Irish company with cool products.
I think I’ll post these progress screenshots as we go, and you can watch my productivity wax and wane.
Getting started has been difficult. I’m not sure I like this idea, or these characters, or this concept. Everything could change before I’m finished.
Short post; I need to get up early tomorrow to meditate with my sangha. It’s already past my scheduled bedtime and I need to wind down before I can go to sleep. Plus, I’m hungry. Trying to write when you’re mentally constipated uses up a lot of energy.
Keep checking your voter registration before Tuesday, November 6! And make plans to VOTE!
Sheesh, WordPress picked a not-so-good time to redesign their editor.* Lucky for me, I pick this stuff up quickly. Also lucky — I always write my posts in Word first so I have a backup in case my website goes blooey.
WORD COUNT: 1,625. I already had this many before it started.
Yes, I know you’re not supposed to begin NaNoWriMo with any actual writing already commenced, but 1) I didn’t officially sign up, and 2) if you know me, you know I do this almost every time.
This book, referred to in last year’s NaNo end post as Invasion, has been rattling around in my head for a while. Though I’ve heard post-apocalyptic fiction isn’t really a thing anymore, when you’re facing a real-life apocalypse (or the potential of one, thanks to the dictator’s ass-kisser in the White House), one’s mind does tend to turn in that direction.
This month, you’ll likely get very short daily posts. I won’t talk much about the story; it tends to ruin things when I’m writing a first draft. I learned that lesson with Tunerville. I might discuss things I’m learning, share any news, or maybe just whine a bit. Writing a whole book in a month is tough. I may have to build in time for another MCU marathon.
I hope everybody had a safe, sane, and happy Thanksgiving weekend. If you don’t celebrate the Day of the Turkey, I hope you had a good weekend regardless.
Welp, it’s the last day of NaNoWriMo and I have not finished Secret Book. I have written 15,250 words this month, which is more than I wrote on the thing in quite a while, so I don’t consider it a failure at all. My total words come out to 94,997.
According to my NaNoWriMo stats, at the rate I went this month, I will finish on February 7, 2016. Maybe. Maybe sooner, if I push myself through December. I’m starting to see the links in this story (actually, it’s two stories that converge, then break apart again), and that perks me up a little. It’s like building something; at first, it’s just a jumble of parts, but when you get to a certain point, you start to see the finished product emerging.
Just stack those over there, Nigel; we’ll have this done in a jiffy.
Photo: Elizabeth West
I don’t think I’ll do NaNoWriMo to finish something this complicated again. Tunerville had the distinct advantage of being somewhat simplistic; it’s just a straightforward urban fantasy and I could fly by the seat of my pants throughout.
So now there is a month left to go before New Year’s Day. I shall lurk a bit and see if I can finish the draft by then. I’ll keep posting the increased word count (I made a cool spreadsheet) so watch the counter on my homepage. You’ll know when I’m done. Hell, they’ll probably hear me scream all the way in London. I still have a couple of vocabulary posts to go, so expect those upcoming.
Thank you for sticking with me through the lamest NaNoWriMo of all time. I PROMISE I WILL FINISH.
Now I shall leave you lovely people and go watch The Walking Dead. Here is a video of a dog who feels my pain at having to get up to go to work after a long weekend.