Tag Archives: nanowrimo

Why I quit nanowrimo 2013

Okay. So, I realize that technically there are still 4 more days in November; and that if you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it; and it’s not over until the fat lady sings, etc etc. But here’s the thing. I have some really good reasons for why I’ve decided to quit Nanowrimo this year.

1. Ultimately this is about fun. So when I’m having an adult temper tantrum because I “have” to write, then the purpose has been defeated. At least for me.

2. I guard my sleep jealously these days (since it’s still interrupted multiple times a night, and it’s always over by 7am at the latest). I’m not about to stay up until 2am writing, like I used to.

3. I thought I liked my story, until I got to a point that I was like, what the heck is this about. (Yes, I know that’s kind of the point of this whole thing.) But then I abandoned it midstream and switched to this YA novel idea. And it was downhill from there.

4. I also joined a dietbet this month, and I won that, so you know, you win some, you lose some.

5. When I started this, I was shooting for 25,000 words (the “real” goal is 50,000). I figured that 25,000 would still be impressive, especially with the other things I’ve had going on this month. And I made it to about 32,000 words. So I think that’s something to be proud of.

So…that’s that. Sorry, I hate when people just whine about how busy they are. But I’m not going to spend the next four days (and over Thanksgiving, even!) feeling guilty and stressed about this. There’s too much other stuff to pay attention to. Sorry, unfinished weird novel. I’ll read you over in a few months and see what’s salvageable. RIP.

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Filed under Endings, Fiction, Memoir, Nonfiction, Not awesome, Self improvement, Writing

Throwback Thursday: NaNoWriMo

I am doing nanowrimo again this year, and I’m determined to win. So of course today, when I’m almost 3500 words behind, I have decided to do things like: read past nanowrimos; throwback thursday blog post; make plans for hanging out with old friends via Facebook.

So this will be quick, and then I’m seriously going to get writing. I’m doing this thang this year. I have a plot in mind and everything. I’m pretty psyched about it.

I’ve done it in the past. I think I’ve only “won” in 2003 and 2011, but I might be forgetting a year in there. 2007? I’m not sure.

Here is an excerpt from 2006, a year I started writing, but didn’t finish it. Enjoy!

==

Luke started stealing when he was three years old. Goaded on by his older siblings, Luke loved being the center of attention when, around the corner from the store, he would turn his little pockets inside out and wield to them the treasures he’d gleaned. For Moira, the ten-year-old, there was always nail polish, and for Gavin, the eight-year-old, mostly candy and occasionally baseball cards. Luke never stole anything for himself. He hadn’t associated stealing with gaining things; he only associated it with pleasing his siblings.

It began very casually, in a department store, on a shopping trip with his mother and brother and sister. His mother was taking forever in the underwear section of the store, so the three children wandered off together: nothing new, as Moira often babysat her two brothers. They found themselves around the corner from the department store, facing a candy shop with a display window filled with things so tempting that a diabetic nun would have to pause and consider it.

Gavin went in first, followed by Luke. Moira, trailing after them, was already forming an idea in her head. She selected a piece of peppermint salt water taffy (her favorite) from one of the barrels, and when Gavin wasn’t looking, she handed it to Luke behind the racks of novelty candies.

“Here, Luke,” she said. “This is for Mom. Put it in your pocket like a good boy.”

Luke worshipped his mother and delighted in the idea of bringing her presents. He put the taffy into the front pocket of his little overalls. As soon as Gavin came back from the chocolate-covered pretzels, bemoaning the fact that they didn’t have any money, Moira raised her voice to say, “We should probably get going, Mom will be done shopping soon.” Then she hurried them out onto the sidewalk.

They were back in front of the department store when she held out her palm to Luke. “Give it back now, baby,” she said, one hand on her hip.

Luke clutched his fist over his pocket. “Nuh-uh,” he said sternly, “This is for Mama.”

“You can’t tell Mama about it,” Moira said slyly. “You know why?”

Gavin looked back and forth between the two of them; he’d missed it altogether.

“You stole it, Luke,” Moira said. “Do you know what stealing is?”

Luke didn’t, but he understood that it wasn’t a good thing.

“Stealing is when you take something that’s not yours to take,” Gavin said solemnly. “Did you steal something, Luke?”

Luke’s eyes were big. “Moira gave it to me! She said it was for Mama!”

“What was for me?” his mother said, coming around the corner.

All three of them jumped, although their grasps of the situation were all slightly different.

“This, mama,” said Moira, with the true cunning of a ten-year-old child, and she gave her mother a big hug around her middle.

“Yeah,” said Gavin, and he and Luke joined in. Luke could feel the lump of taffy pressing uncomfortably against his chest as he hugged his mother, and he could feel a lump of similar size rising in his throat as he thought about what he had done.

Later, Moira convinced him that stealing was not bad. She convinced him that store owners had more than their fair share of things like candy, “and nail polish,” she added seriously, letting that sink in. All stealing was doing was spreading around the wealth. And there was nothing wrong with that, was there? Luke shook his head, understanding that Moira was right, she was right about things like this all the time. His mother said to listen to Moira, especially when she was in charge of him, and that’s what he had done, he had listened to his older sister. He knew he had done nothing wrong.

And that is why, when Moira took him to the corner drugstore the next afternoon, and in the back of the store, pointed out a color of nail polish she had been coveting, he obediently slipped it into his little pocket once again. It lay there, heavier than the taffy, and making a bigger lump, but Moira zipped his jacked up over him, claiming she didn’t want the baby to catch cold, and carried him out of the store, right past the store owner. The store owner didn’t even look over, he was flipping through magazine pages, bored with the kids who came in to check out the comic books or the gum rack, but never had money to purchase anything.

He noticed the little girl with the baby brother coming in more and more often, though. Sometimes it was the baby brother with an older boy. But always the baby brother. And the kids often bought things: shampoo, a magazine, a bottle of juice. He imagined that their parents just sent them out on errands frequently, and they brought the youngest one along to keep him out of the way. He didn’t put the little kid with the faded overalls, and his inventory which kept coming up short, together.

By the end of the summer, Moira’s nail polish collection had increased considerably, Gavin had been comfortably kept in Bazooka bubble gum and tootsie rolls, and the owner of the corner drugstore was out a little more than a hundred dollars. Luke had celebrated his fourth birthday, and had become one of the slickest fingersmiths on the Lower East Side.

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Is it already almost November AGAIN?

It’s October 11, which means we’re into the middle of October, which means it’s almost November, and November, as you know, is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Dangit. It just kind of snuck up on me this year. If I’m going to even attempt to do it again this year, now’s the time to think about it, so that we don’t get to November 1st and I just panic and start writing and then end up with 12 pages of third-person narration where the main character is obviously just a thinly-veiled version of myself.

I want to put some thought into it, and come up with a storyline ahead of time. Even though all of the Nanowrimo propaganda is about how fun it is when you hit a wall and you don’t know what’s going to happen next, and then your characters do something crazy that you weren’t expecting, I don’t work well like that. (See above, re: 12 pages, thinly-veiled version of myself.) I need to have a storyline to follow, and some idea of where things are going. The details that crop up on my way to the already-envisioned end can surprise me. And the ending can surprise me too, ultimately. But I have to at least think I know where it’s going.

I’ve been getting the year-round emails from the crew at the Office of Letters and Lights (they are in charge of Nanowrimo, as much as you can be in charge of a concept), and I haven’t unsubscribed from them, although I have to admit I haven’t opened and read them either. I guess I’m just walking a middle line, refusing to commit to either participating this year, or to making a decision to not participate. (I have 20 more days to decide before November 1st – technically I could still join in after that, but I’ve never been successful at starting late.)

I would love to make this work this year, especially since I’m not going to work and so you would think that I would have more time at home to write. We’ll see how this unfolds. If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave in the comments. In the meantime, a Google “I feel lucky” search for “plot generator” suggests this: “The story starts when your protagonist buys a new car. Another character is a gypsy who put a curse on your protagonist.” I don’t know…

Ooh, but refreshing the plot generator gives me this: “The story starts when your protagonist shoplifts. Another character is a thief who is the most attractive person your protagonist has ever met.” I kind of like that.

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2011 New Year’s Resolutions: Finis

Now is the time to look back on 2011 and see which of my New Year’s resolutions I accomplished. I’m happy to report that this year went pretty well!

1. Get off of unemployment

In June of 2010 I finished up a contract job at Marin Theatre Company, and I spent the remainder of the year patching together work from MTC, the San Francisco Opera, and reading for Samuel French, as well as supplementing with unemployment. While it wasn’t the tightest things have ever been around here, it was frustrating to be constantly thinking about trying to get enough hours among all the jobs. My number one priority as the year turned from 2010 to 2011 was to get off of unemployment. Which I did, basically right away, when I started subbing in January.

2. Get a career type job

Subbing was very interesting and I learned something, I’m sure. But it was obviously not for me. And like I said before, I was tired of cobbling together a living. My number two priority was to get a freaking real job, with stability and health benefits. Which I did in February! So far, 2011 resolutions are going great!

3. Lose 30 pounds

Oops.

4. Pay off at least one credit card

Oops again. Well, that was a tall order and I might have guessed that it wouldn’t happen.

5. Help Megan to have the best wedding ever

Done and done. I might add, I also helped Liz have the best wedding ever. A good year for weddings!

6. Change everything to my new(ish) last name.

The things I hadn’t yet changed over to my new last name (from my 2009 wedding) were my Mastercard, my gym membership, and three store credit cards. As of this morning I had changed my Mastercard and my gym membership. I planned on just moving this resolution to my “2012 resolutions” list, but then I had this big burst of inspiration, and so I spent some time on the phone this morning calling around and changing the rest of it. 2011 ftw!

I want to mention that every customer service representative I talked to said, “Congratulations on your recent wedding!” when I told them why I needed to change my name. I was too embarrassed to say, “Thanks, it was over 2 years ago.” How time flies.

7. Remember birthday cards for important family members this year

Well, unfortunately I had a couple lapses this year, and for that I am sincerely sorry. I have changed my system because having them in my planner is not working out as well as it used to – I’m just not in the planner often enough. I put the birthdays that keep slipping past me into my gmail calendar so that I’ll get a reminder 2 weeks out, so I can actually get something in the mail in time. 2012 will my card-sending, offending-no-one year.

8. Get a passport!

Thanks to Drew and the scavenger hunt he arranged for my birthday, I am now the proud owner of a passport. And I used it to fly to New York in October, so I know it works.

9. Write!

This was broken down into 5 categories to make it more quantifiable:

  • Script Frenzy in April
  • Submit to Samuel French Off-off-Bway Festival in July
  • Nanowrimo in November (I made the conscious decision to stay sane this November)
  • Blog 100 times over 2011 (the actual number is 168 public posts, counting this one)
  • Look into a Record-Bee column (I actually submitted about four of these)

I’m feeling pretty good about this year! So it’s time to start making me some 2012 resolutions. While I ponder over those and try to make them as specific and achievable as possible…let me know what your biggest resolution is!

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Filed under Awesome, Beginnings, Being a girl, Dreams, Drew, Endings, Family, Memoir, Nonfiction, Self improvement, Sentiment, Writing

Don’t think of it as quitting

On Sunday afternoon, I sat down to finally start my Nanowrimo 2011.

For those who don’t know, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month – it’s November of every year and you can find more info here. Basically, you write 50,000 words in the month of November, and it’s a great bonding experience (if you can find someone else who’s doing it), and fun, and you feel so accomplished at the end.

But this year has just been kind of crazy. We were busy every evening last week, and then I was in Lodi for Liz’s wedding Friday and Saturday. And in the past years that I’ve done it (2003, 2006, 2010), I’ve written during the day, while at work – well, last year I was working backstage, so I did a lot of writing in the dark with a flashlight during the show – and right now, work is really busy so I can’t fall back on that.

So Sunday was the first day that I could begin this year’s novel. I had an idea for it and everything. I was ready.

But then I started writing…got through 500 words…just 7500 more to go to catch up with my projected word count for Nov 6th…and I thought, There are so many other things I want to be doing right now. Books to read and time to spend with Drew and I have to bake a cake tonight. And this weekend is our 2-year anniversary, and I want to be able to relax and have fun and not be feeling guilty the whole time that I’m not writing.

So I decided: not this year. Which is weird, because I haven’t actually ever quit once I’ve started. I feel weird about it. And like I have to defend my decision. But whatever.

There are some other word-related activities I want to get done this month:

  • Blog more often (I still have a Sleep No More blog post to write…right?).
  • Submit to the paper again. 
  • Work on that musical that Jonathan and I keep saying we’re going to write.

And if I do all that, I guess I don’t have to feel guilty about quitting Nanowrimo. So…I should get on that.

I mean, right after this game of Super Scrabble.

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