Monthly Archives: November 2013

NaNoWriMo: Reflection of Longhand & Snippet

Today was a total shocker for me – a revelation. Although I did not write anything towards my novel today, I just finished estimating my word count thus far towards my NaNoWriMo goal of 50k words. I say that I estimated because I am doing quite a bit of my writing longhand. It is working out swimmingly for me, to be honest. My thoughts flow better. I am able to think two steps ahead due to the length in which it takes to physically write each word down. I am also completely free of my external editor. There are no squiggly red lines that appear under my typos when I write longhand. There more no rude green sirens that proclaim a dangling participle. There is just me, the designated color ink for each character (Sharpie pens are the greatest writing instrument alive), and the faint-lined grid of the paper in my journal. I am free to fragment. I am free to run on and on and on. I am free to discover my voice without a robot parsing me its rules.

What I am living most about he longhand process, though, is the surprise it grants me when I do an assessment of my word count. I am figuring a modest seven words per line in my writing, because it is compact and small. I am figuring roughly 38 lines of writing per page. That is a total of 266 words per page. I rounded down to 250 for ease of quick counting. With this completely off base calculation in which the odds will be forever in my favor, I have handwritten a total of 6,850 words thus far. Plus, I have typed 5,831. That gives me a total greater than 12k words, and I am so damn happy about it. NaNoWriMo says that I am still behind. Fine. I say that I am just building up steam, getting readying for my travels home. Four hours of hurtling through the atmosphere at 30k feet can do wonders for my word count. A few days back in my hometown, bellied up to one of my favorite pubs can do the same. I plan on winning NaNo while I am in Grand Rapids, if I don’t do so while inflight on my way there.

The trouble will be to get the words that are written longhand typed up for submission to NaNo. I thought, with some modicum of interest, that if I calculate a more precise word count for my written words, that I could just redundantly copy and paste what I have typed up already into the NaNo word count analyzer. Does that work? Wild you think it was cheating? Its not like I am doing it to boost my count, just delay the process in which I transfer the words from paper to pixel. What are your thoughts?

So I leave you with a snippet of my mentor character in reflection to days gone by.

November 8th

As her mouth opened to speak, a flush of liquid heat welled in Weald’s gut. It spread through his chest and cheeks. He had known what she was on the verge of saying – the commitment she was going to make. Weald was going to hate her for doing so.
“Weald, dear.” Her words were flacid and false.
His hand shot up, fingers outstretched and palm facing the two adults.
“Stop.” It wasn’t a plea. It was an order.

Weald remembered with fondness that this was the moment in which he became a man. His voice did not waiver, let alone crack with pubescent uncertainty.

“I am going to fix this.” His voice chased away any doubt like the wind through fallen leaves.
“Timmins.” His eyes were tight with determination.
“We do not need your help. You may go.”
Timmins’ eyebrows peaked in disbelief.
“Excuse yourself, boy.” The last word was nearly spat with contempt.
“You are not my master, nor the master of this house. You would do well to consider your words.”
He stuck a finger into Weald’s face. Daphne let out a squeak of shock. Without thought, Weald’s own hand danced out, snagging and twisting the finger until the crunching sound rippled through his hand.
“You stick anything of yours out around here again and I keep to Lloraya that you will lose it. Let Ellalyn wear a ring for it.”
His promise had been made with double gravity. He had evoked both Lloraya and Ellalyn. In Lamil, there was little else that could be done to ensure understanding.

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NaNoWriMo: Day 6 – Breakthrough and Snippet

So Wednesday was a pretty great day for me, some of it’s greatness was even writing related. I spent the morning having breakfast (there was pumpkin pie involved) with the fantastic and NSFW (or virginal eyes) Author Claudia. We talked NaNo a lot. We talked through the progress made thus far.

Then she let me vent. She is a fantastic therapist. I talked about my frustrations – not even including how badly she is tanning my ass in word count thus far – and what I was getting hung up on. I acknowledged that my story arc was thin. Three of the major events are the MCs fleeing. That just isn’t good enough. I want depth. I want sinuous strands of intricacies woven tight like a survival bracelet. I want more than I am able to write, and that is the problem.

Claudia’s response? “Where’s the egg? You need to find your egg.”

I was puzzled. She could tell.

“You are making meatloaf.” [sidenote: this fatboy definitely loves meatloaf] “You have the meat. You have the breadcrumbs. You need the egg. The binder to hold everything together.”

::facepalm::

I never thought about it like that. I have heard people talk about writing as a formula – hell, I started writing a romance novel in college because the prescribed formula was just so ‘easy’ when it clung in dusty strokes on the chalkboard – yeah, you heard me right…chalkboard. However, I haven’t thought about it in terms of cooking, which is near and dear to my heart.

So, after some discussion, I realized that the group opposing the church that my MCs eventually defect to, in order to help defeat the church, was cardboard. So I thought in bigger terms, citing Rothfuss’s use of the Fae and Sanderson’s creation of the Parshendi. I needed another race. I have grappled with the idea of different races in my novel, mainly due to the fact that I am using the homebrew world that I built for my formerly long-standing D&D campaign. In that context, there are orcs, half-orcs, elves, gnomes, etc. that populate the land of Cildaire. I don;t seem to run into any of them while running this novel, and I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

Anyways, I have now been working on the group that I have started referring to as the Daear (Gaelic for Earth I believe) and they are one with nature. I hope to high hell that I do not write them into a stereotype. I would hate myself if they read as Native Americans I have a lot of work to do with them still, but I wanted to offer a snippet of my rough writings from yesterday – the day in which I got words on the page after a two day hiatus.

November 6th

As outsiders, Parl and Purl were forced to the back, behind the elongated skulls of the [Daear]. They could see the center of the ring, flickering with shadows that twirled and danced. The Elder, as she was known, was adorned with long strings of precious gems, bits of bone, twines of vine, and various clusters of natural materials. The necklaces hung heavily from her tanned neck to her dirty knees. They came together, forced into constriction between bare breasts elongated from lack of confining support.

It had taken Parl nearly two days to control his adolescent giggles at the sight of exposed breasts – he was still struggling with control over his untimely risings.

NaNoWriMo: Days 3 & 4 – Not Much & a Snippet

So, days three and four were less than successful. Life gets in the way sometimes. Sunday was pretty much a work-around-the-house sort of day. Errands were run. Nurseries were worked upon. Dinner was baked. Preggers was in control. I have no regrets though.

At the end of Sunday night, I was sitting in bed, watching Skyfall with Preggers, and generally feeling content (with the immediate situation in which I found myself in) and irritated (in the fact that I hadn’t written a single word). So, in an effort to push through the laziness, I grabbed my iPad and began writing. It was horrible. It was disjointed. It was only 768. However, when coupled with the longhand ‘warm-up’ that I wrote hours previously, it was 1,216 words. Since I was ahead of schedule (the NaNo prescribed 1,667 words per day schedule, that is) I was elated.

Yesterday was completely different. I worked all day – the first 2013 NaNoWriMo work-then-write situation that I have found myself in. I failed. Miserably. There wasn’t even a moment when I said, “I really need to write”. If there was, it was nothing more than me trying to convince Preggers that I was important and that some big thing was demanding my time. It just didn’t happen.

So, today I am going to sneak words in while “working” (that’s for you, Bradshaw) when I can. With my issues of focus and concentration, I learned long ago, that short bursts of concentration at a task at hand was highly productive for me. So, today, I am hoping to do 30 minute writing sprints, followed by indeterminate lengths of actual work. I need to make up for yesterday. I have  goal to hit 15,000 by the weekend – that will put me ahead of schedule again, which is where I want to be.

November 3rd

Purl starred at his brother. The burned spots near his temples were slick with blood and a clear ooze. A leaf turned golden yellow, stuck near the edge of the ruined scalp. His hair, normally a chestnut brown, held streaks of gray where the blotches of hair had been seared away.

NaNoWriMo: Day Two – Update and Snippet

Today was a bit more flimsy than yesterday. I wasn’t as productive, yet I still exceeded the average daily amount factored for the entire month. I am not sure that will be enough though, what with my holiday travel plans. Here’s to hoping that tomorrow is better – even with the interruption of Endger’s Game in the IMAX at 2:00.

I have a snippet – this is the first time that I have explored my MC, Parl, losing his mind and unleashing his magic for the first time. The scene was intense, and I am sure that I am quite far away from it being as eloquent and terrifying as it needs to be. This paragraph came towards the end of today’s writing, and that is why I think it has stuck out as one of the better sections.

Katrissa’s face drained of all color as she watched Parl burn chunks of hair and flesh from his scalp. Bile rose in her throat. Behind Parl, the bushes were now igniting, spiderwebs of fire spreading out along tight, gnarled branches within the larger shapes of the pruned perimeter. His face was maniacal, twisted in a rage that bespoke heartbreak and terror. She remembered that face well. It was the face father wore when mother jumped on the back of a horse and rode away nearly twelve years ago. It was an expression that would fade into the recesses of the eyes, but never leave. It was the face that paced back and forth, waiting for some calling, little or not, to bring it back out of the den of calm and into the black night of rage.

NaNoWriMo: Day 1 – Reflection & Snippet

Well, I sure thought that I was ready for today. I have been waiting for today for several months now, hoping to tear into my writing with resolve. I did. Sort of. My plan went pretty much according to what I had outlined in yesterday’s post sans the shower part. Preggers was getting ready for work and I wanted to get writing.

The first 561 words came quite easily – they were my longhand warm-up words and I had fun with them. I explored Doris, the elderly lady who helps in the kitchen of the bunker and teaches art to the children once a week. I also met a flirting eighty year old man named Sylvester. Remember, my warm-ups are not in the fantasy world that my real story is set. I am sort of sketching the next project during my warm-ups and using my real writing time for the fantasy story, Wake of Flames.

After my warm-up, things sort of fell apart. The wheels came off. The shit hit the fan.

I was slapped in the face by the fact that I have not outlined the story arc. Hell, I haven’t even thought about it really. I know what I want to happen, but I have no roadmap of how to get from A to B, or where in the shit B even is. I was left scrambling. I was left watching friends blow through a thousand words – then two thousand – then five thousand. One of my acquaintances hit over TWELVE THOUSAND WORDS….TODAY!

I could have given up there. Trust me, it would have been the easiest thing I would have done all day. I thought about it. Why not just chalk it up to another year lost because I didn’t get off on the right foot? I’ve done that in years past. Seriously. If the first few hours didn’t produce three or five thousand words, I wrote it off as failure. I didn’t continue.

That was during the period of my life when I liked to pretend to be a writer. I have talked about this in previous posts, so I won’t go into it again. Needless to say, the allusion that I am writer has been stronger than my commitment to the craft. Well, that changes this year. This blog has, to be completely honest, been nothing more than a ploy to get my ass writing. To commit to the act of writing in one form or another. I am not stopping here. The blog is now the secondary or tertiary act of writing for me. I build a platform. I continue to find my writer’s foundation – the tools, techniques, agenda, and voice that I have worked on amassing for the past several months.

So, today I rang in at 2,903 words. I told myself and my writing buddies, @AuthorClaudiaB @UtahRichie @AuthorLeeFrench that I was going to get to 3,000. I am close enough to be happy, especially since I am writing this post on top of the writing. I have the remainder of the weekend to get another 7,100 words and I will have hit my goal of 10k by the week’s end.

I have already posted this on my Snippets page, but I am going to include an excerpt from today’s writing here as well. It is, in the very nature of NaNoWriMo, unedited and very much a product of pantsing. I hope you enjoy.

November 1st
This was pure pantsing and it created an interesting dichotomy within one of my main characters. Parl is fire. He is fueled by passion and emotion. His twin brother is water. The fact that Parl has sought solace within the realm of water has piqued my interest. I am sure I will explore this more tomorrow.

Deep below, Parl imagined, something stirred. A great, slitherous body of scales and feelers undulating with the currents. He imagined that, had he simply slid off the dock, that the creature would come to greet him. That the creature would would embrace him in taut, wide fins. Parl hoped that the creature would have a jagged, cartilage spear sprouting from its head. He would be lanced, in the heart, and the fire within him would be flooded and extinguished. There would be no smoldering remains. There would be no heat of rage. There would be no burning jealousy. He would be free to live without fear. He might even live without remembering – all reminders of his past left impaled and drowned on the barbed harpoon of the thing under the water.

Further Reading

coulda woulda didnt – http://couldawouldadidnt.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/day-1-of-30-novels-and-role-models/

Lauren Sapala – http://laurensapala.com/?p=1177

Bulging Buttons – http://bulgingbuttons.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/more-nano-as-promised/