For me, the NaNo dust is beginning to settle. The excitement and pressure of getting to 50k is gone, replaced now by the warm afterglow of success--although I keep pinching myself as I strive to remember that I still have another half a novel to complete.
And along with that excitement, other things have fled too. Confidence, for one. Some reflection and review has shown there is much work yet to be done on what I've already written, and that of course becomes and easy cause for pause.
I suppose, though I spend most of my days with my head in the clouds, both literally and figuratively, I've never really been great at pressing the 'I believe' button. I don't know if it's my upbringing or 20 years of military service which has made my outlook so pragmatic and unyielding, but I find I must see some shred of evidence--even proof sometimes--before the tenor of my outlook softens from the hardcore skeptic I am most of the time.
But boundless optimism is a prerequisite in this business, don't you think? How can one stick it out, month after month, year after year, writing in a quiet room, all alone (or mostly so), hoping one day someone will read your book and like it, if you aren't optimistic? It can't be done. So I'm learning to look on the bright side and--yet another tool in my toolbox!--to believe! Yep, and it feels pretty good.
Less than 48 hours 'til this thing is over. How you feeling?
P. S. The Golden Eagle has added his voice to our Songfest. Go check out his selection here! Thanks Eagle! :D
Judging by the lack activity here over the last few days, I bet most of you are either stuffed to the gills with turkey and/or stuffing, or out braving the crowds, taking advantage of the varied and fruitful Black Monday deals.
No matter. Life continues on here, as you might expect. Of course the other shoe to fall from NaNo is that once you cross that 50k finish line, you have in fact completed only half a novel (unless your piece is very short). So perhaps it should be called NaHaNoWriMo instead. I'll let you translate. :D
But the good news is I continue on. I expect (or perhaps hope is a better word) to complete my first draft by year's end. I've set aside the actual writing until Monday. A much needed break, you know.
But the cogitation continues, and just this afternoon while I was giving my daughter a bubble bath (aren't these sparks of inspiration the craziest things?!), I realized something profound and earth-shattering and completely cool about my MC. Helps me better understand how to construct my opening scenes, and I am armed with anticipation to go back and make all those wild first draft faux pas right.
But I am sensitive to the fact that some of you are not yet complete on the NaNo front. How's things? Well, I hope. Keep on keeping on, is what I say. And good luck! :D
I wasn't much of an athlete in high school. In fact, my athletic endeavors were pretty much limited to hanging out with friends, playing various coach-assigned sports, in gym class.
As I've gotten older, that lack of athletic activity--and interest--has changed. Since then, I've gotten into running as a pastime, a love that started several years after high school, no doubt a throwback to early mornings when I was ten and eleven, when my step father came to my bedroom door at five in the morning, asking if I was running today. Most days I said no. But on that rare day I said yes, I was in for a thrill.
Since then, I've run a few races. And there's always a very special moment in the race, whether you're running a 5k or a marathon: the moment when the finish line comes into view. I don't know if you've experienced it, but that feeling is breathtaking in it's reality, so visceral and real that I can still conjure it sitting at my desk.
I think that moment is so pivotal because seeing the finish line is a very real example of a payoff. Here's you've been running some long distance, slugging along, wondering how you decided to embark upon such a misplaced, out-of-sorts endeavor, when validation, in the form of a physical end to your troubles comes into view. It's truly a motivator, if there ever was one. And I'd say the fastest parts of the few races I've done have been between that point and the finish line.
A similar thing happened to me today, on the writing front. When I woke up this morning, I realized 50k was within spitting distance, and I happened to have a few hours free this afternoon. A gander over to the right shows the result: I'm done with NaNo 2011.
And really happy about it too! I even bought a bottle of champagne for me and the wife to celebrate.
How goes it with you? Take a look, out there and the horizon, and I think you'll see the finish line too! Here's to hoping you get across quickly, and I'm raising a glass to your success! Cheers! :D
I've sailed into a slight case of the doldrums over the last couple days.
Perhaps it's to be expected. I have to keep reminding myself that, after having such a successful week last week, the expectation can't necessarily be that the next week will be even better. Sometimes it works that way, but more often than not, a great success requires a follow on period of reflection, regrouping and simple basking in the pleasure of having done well.
I think this tends to lend itself to a softening focus, a blurriness around the edges of the day. But no worries. It isn't as if things have gone South. On the contrary. By most standards, I am doing quite well, and have just today crossed the 40k mark. It's just fun (and funny) to watch the ebb and flow of the tide of my motivations on this sea of a manuscript. How's that for a metaphor? :D
And in honor of said metaphor, and said doldrumic period, I present a great tune from Declan O'Rourke: Marrying The Sea. Had to put the video together myself, from old Youtube scraps and slivers of footage I had laying around. I hope you enjoy it!
And I hope your Tuesday is going well. Happy writing!!
There are not many downsides to living in one's head all the time. Balancing the different elements of one's life--friends, family, work, fiction--can be a challenge, but all in all, the payoffs are worth it IMHO.
I have come across one thing I miss: spending more time outside. When I first joined the Navy, I worked as an aviation electrician's mate (this was before I got picked up to be a pilot). This meant I spent tons of time out of doors, and that was one of my favorite parts of the job.
But I am starting to see a trend here with writing fiction, especially if I am ever fortunate enough to be able to do it full time. I have this image of myself, several years older, emerging from the dark cavern of my office, pale-skinned, eyes round and white like teacup saucers, after having written fiction for three days straight. Sunshine? What's that?
So I'm taking a breather this afternoon. Maybe I'll go outside, live in the sun for a few hours. Who knows what might happen? The sky's the limit!
And what kind of music best captures that ray of sunshine optimism, the best anthem for stepping out a bit? How 'bout a little shot of Britpop for starters. Anyhoo, enjoy this video, and I hope, wherever you are, you're having a blast!!!
Feeling like a smoky, jazzy Saturday, so I'll keep it short--especially since I still have some writing to do to reach my wordcount goal. I hope your weekend is off to a grand start, and the writing (or other endeavors) goes well.
Here's a little jazz to set the mood. Maybe it's a little obvious, as jazz selections go, but this tune totally captures that cruising feeling ideal for getting some writing done. Or just hanging out. :D
Notwithstanding my goofy superstition chat yesterday, I am extremely happy with my NaNo performance so far. In fact, I'd have to say that this has been one of the best weeks of my life, writing-wise. Lots of wordcount. Lots of good ideas. For the first time in a long time, I'm feeling in my element.
This morning I took a half hour and looked over some of my earlier chapters. Certainly, they'll need a lot of fixing up. My first drafts are very messy. But I also saw some flashes of--dare I say?--brilliance. At least brilliant by my own standards for my work. I'm relatively hard on myself most of the time, so when I see something I like--especially if I don't have the slightest idea how it got there--I naturally think it's an act of genius. :D Do you find the same thing with your own writing?
It was nice to revisit some of those scenes again, even if briefly, and I'm looking forward to getting the first draft finished so I can spend a little more time on them. Thus I'm feeling happy and warm and somewhat introspective this Friday. :D
But wait! There's more! I have other business to discuss. Two things, in fact.
First, Chris from The Kelworth Files interviewed me yesterday on my NaNo experience. If you haven't checked out Chris's blog, you really should. He delivers solid content, day in, day out, as evidenced by this recent roundup post he put up.
Second, I received an award. Francesca over at Zap's Lobster Tank gave me the Lovely Blog Award. Thanks so much Zap! I'm a new follower over at her place, but I've been nothing but impressed by her work ethic, style and sense of humor. In fact, she reached her NaNo goal: 90k words in 15 days! Talk about smoking up those pages!
I'm supposed to pass this on to fifteen folks, so I'm going to choose some fresh faces this time out, some folks who I've recently come in contact with or have been around lately that have impressed me. In no particular order:
1. Vive Le Nerd
2. Far Away Eyes
3. Let Go Of The Past, Live Today and Create Tomorrow
4. Crazy California Claire
5. The Organic Writer
7. Moody Writing
8. My Literary Jam & Toast
9. I Am A Man
10. Michael Offutt
11. Insomnia Strikes
12. The Girdle of Melian
13. A Daft Scots Lass
14. Live High
15. Writing In A Nutshell
These are all really great blogs and you should go check them out. Now. It's alright. I'll wait. :D Anyway, thanks for stopping in. Enjoy this great classic video and have a totally groovy weekend!!
Have you ever noticed how superstition tends to run in mostly one direction?
Superstition seems intimately linked with unusual runs of good luck. For the batter on a long hitting streak, or the Las Vegas slot player sliding coin after coin into her favorite one-armed bandit, small decisions become very important. Eat a bucket of chicken before the game. Cash out after every win. The slightest variation in the way we approach an endeavor can knock things off track and send the good luck fairies scattering away to spread their good fortune elsewhere.
A crash after a long run of success can easily be blamed on not wearing lucky socks, or forgetting to knock on wood. It happens all the time. How many times have you found yourself talking about how well you are going to do something, and then stopped mid-sentence, realizing you were setting yourself up? Invariably, you go on to crash and burn, almost as a kind of punishment, and your friends laugh at you. :D
I'm in that zone now with my NaNo story. Really. So I've come up with an antidote. As of now, I'm putting every one of you on notice. This weekend, I'm gonna eat it, big time. Really. I'm not joking. Probably have a couple of zero wordcount days. I'll probably delete a couple thousand words by accident. I tell ya, I can feel it: I'm gonna fall flat on my face and scream: "I've fallen and I can't get up."
Good luck fairies, you hearing me? :D
Have a great Thursday everyone, and enjoy good ole Stevie, doin' his thang!!!
Day 16, and we trip over into the second half of the month!!!
My second try at getting this NaNo story right seems to be going well. This morning was my fourth 3k+ day in a row, so I'm feeling pretty good. Trying not to think about it too much. Don't want to jinx it.
That's all I have to say about that. :D
Enjoy some sweet rock from Switchfoot!
One of the things I've learned about myself over the years is that I tend to be a hare (as in The Tortoise and the Hare) in the way that I go about accomplishing things.
Let me illustrate: If it's Monday and there are ten things to do by Friday, the reasonable person might do two a day. Or a go-getter might do seven tasks today, three tomorrow--and have three days to relax. A procrastinator might wait until late Thursday or mid-day Friday to get all ten tasks done.
What I tend to do is sprint, then rest. I may knock out three tasks today. Rest tomorrow. Knock out four on Wednesday. Rest Thursday. Finish the last three Friday. Or I may just inexplicably accomplish everything Wednesday afternoon. It's very mood dependent.
Why is this important, you ask? Well, when it comes to an endeavor like NaNo, where I should be doing something everyday, I tend to struggle with the routine. I tend to fight it. On any given day, I may race ahead, or do nothing at all.
This behavior, of course, has negative knock-on effects. Coming back to a story after a several day lay off feels much different than after having written 2,000 words that morning. The daily grind of getting down a certain number of words everyday builds a kind of writing fitness, where things begin to come easier, where the writer (one hopes) begins to think less about the process and more about the content. When everything is clicking along, the words appear magically on the page without much thinking at all.
So for me, NaNo is a good exercise to try to break my hare-ish habits, at least when it comes to writing. I'm hoping the routine I'm learning now will stick with me, long after November has ended.
What about you? What's your approach to staying 'fit' as a writer? What obstacles do you find you must overcome to be successful?
Took a little doin', though. I had to go back and basically rewrite my outline all the way through the turn into Act II, and now I'm going through and filling in the first draft holes in my story--which is upping the wordcount and also making me feel like I'm progressing. I struggled because for a long time I failed to understand how my character arrived--emotionally--at a key scene leading into the B story. Now that I have that straight, it feels like I'm tracking again.
I probably should have rewickered my outline a week ago, but I was loath to step off the 'write-each-scene-chronologically' bandwagon. Last year I did exactly that when I started feeling lost. For the whole second half of NaNo, I wandered the wilderness of my MS, understanding as I wrote that I probably needed certain scenes and writing those out, but having nary a clue as to how these different set pieces hung together. That is probably one of the reasons why I haven't returned to that story yet--still shaking off all the confusion in my head.
It's early yet, but it looks like the gamble this year is paying off. I'm giving myself kudos for not having given up by taking the same route as last year, and the magic in my head is back. We'll see how long it lasts... :D
So this little video seemed appropriate for today. Back in the Eighties, I was not a great fan of Corey Hart, but his tunes have caught my ear now and again over the years. Watching this performance, regardless of whether you're a fan or not, I think you have to admit that this man is practicing his art--and that must inspire all of us.
I hope your writing--whether it be NaNo or a non-NaNo WIP--is going well! Happy Monday everybody!
Hi all! I'm running out the door as I write this--the reason for the early post. I get to fly off to Croatia on a pop-up mission, so NaNo may or may not have to be on hold for a day or two. But needless to say, it's still much on my mind.
So, I'd like to depart from much of the pop and rock I've been featuring and throw up a beautiful composition by none other than Ennio Morricone. If you've not heard of him, you may be surprised to learn that he's written a surprisingly wide array of soundtracks for many Hollywood movies. You can see a complete rundown at the Wikipedia page.
Here's the soundtrack to one of my favorite films, Cinema Paradiso. Enjoy!!
I don't know about you, but I'm definitely entering a love-hate period with my Nano MS. Some days, I really feel in touch with my MC's dilemma, and the words come easily. Other days, I have trouble keeping all the threads of the story straight, and I constantly glance back at my outline hoping to find some little hint or turn of phrase which will restore the story's magic in my head.
I suppose this is what it all comes down to: learning to write when we don't feel like writing. It's an experience similar to that of a long distance runner who sees yet another hill materialize out of the fog and knows, though he questions whether he has it in him to make the ridgeline, that he must press on anyway, buckle down and dig deep, or risk failure.
It's in this way we find out what we're really made of. :D
ANNOUNCEMENT: Deniz Bevan has posted her video as part of the NaNoWriMoVideo Songfest: The Perfect Ending, by the Whiskey Trench Riders. Go have a listen!! And thanks Deniz for contributing!
Happy writing everyone! Stay groovy!! :D
All over the world, there are people thinking about the significance of today. Here's a taste:
Banging out 50k words in 30 days is a feat, but your friendly neighborhood Marine, Sailor, Soldier or Airman has a few stories to tell too.
Please make an effort to thank a service member today. I think they've earned it. :D
When I originally picked this song as a contender for the NaNoWriMoVideo Songfest line-up, I thought it would be an easy task to talk about its larger message: specifically, finding our way in our (writing) life, making something of ourselves, and learning to live with our own limitations and imperfections.
While this song certainly captures that idea well, we now near the end of week 2 of NaNO and I find myself behind in my word count (not terribly behind, but enough to give myself pause). Therefore, it seems a much simpler and more fundamental point must be made: Of this here novel I'm working on, there is still a lot of it unwritten! :D
I am no NaNo expert, for certain, but I am beginning to understand that much of the drama of the struggle to finish in time is baked into the cake. Finishing a novel is, after all, a gargantuan undertaking, and I think anyone with any sense, faced with such an imposing challenge must pause, reflect, and say to themselves: $%&#*%*#**@!!!
Then you shake it off and go back to work. That's what I'm doing, anyway. So enjoy this great tune from a few years back: Unwritten, by Natasha Bedingfield.
P.S. This is a seven day a week blogfest, so don't forget to stop by on the weekend and see what's cooking! :D
I've had a bumpy few days--but not to worry. I'm still feeling good, and the upcoming holiday weekend will no doubt be a boon for my wordcount. Plus I've had plenty of time to think about my first few chapters and made some interesting connections I hadn't made before.
Bottom line: even though it's getting tougher, I'm still loving it. And I think it's helpful to cultivate a sense of humor about these things--thus today's musical selection.
Enjoy The Lyle Himself performing one of his early hits: Here I Am.
So all last week I was going like gangbusters. Truly! I mean the words were totally flowing and I was feeling good.
This week, I've somehow wandered into a bit of a dry spot. It's not that I don't feel like writing. I do. But the words don't seem to come, like opening a water spigot but nothing comes out. Has this ever happened to you?
I am still at the tale end of the my novel's set-up, and I am anxious to get into the meat of the story--so that's a possible contributor. But I also wonder if I've just pushed too hard. Last week my daily goal was 4k a day, which is a lot, and I came pretty close to hitting it--if you count in the 2k I accidentally erased on Tuesday and some unanticipated work obligations that popped up on Friday.
But there's no choice, is there? Gotta keep plugging away--which of course is one of the virtues of NaNo.
How 'bout you? How goes your writing? Any pointers for getting out of dry spots?
A rare treat today: Ray LaMontagne singing "Shelter." Plus a bonus second song! Have a great Monday! :D
I'm feeling a little need to rock out coming on as we start into NaNo week two! It's been a good first week, but I'm looking forward to settling into more of a groove next week.
How's that wordcount coming for you, BTW?!? :D Have a great Sunday!
NaNo, Day 5!
I'm feeling a little retrospective today. I guess it's sortof a weekend thing. Less going on--at least as far as the work routine goes. And it's also nice to spend some much needed time with the family.
I hope this post finds you well and moving up that thin gray line on the Nano Stats tab. If you're like me, then the initial energy of getting started, of being excited about the idea is starting to fade, even if the shift is barely perceptible. In another few days we'll get into the territory where the act of scribing all these words on the page will stop feeling like a sprint and start feeling like a marathon. It's not that the idea and the characters aren't speaking to us any longer; rather the day in, day out of the grind will begin to take its toll. Fatigue will begin to set in.
And that is when we need to revisit some of why we're doing this, to keep the batteries recharged. And to remember why this story inspired us, and to continue to fuel the fire of imagination that is the engine that keeps us moving forward.
So enjoy this great video--an amalgam of my personal favorites: Gene Wilder singing "Pure Imagination" from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, paired with amazing footage from one of the most imaginative companies making films today: Pixar.
Stay with it. And have a great weekend! :D
Note: I am posting this video as part of my NaNoWriMo Video Songfest, continuing through the end of November. You don't have to be participating in NaNo to take part, and if you don't want to post a video on your blog, I do take requests--just like a real life DJ!
Wouldn't you like to see your song up there on the Master Songlist? :D
So I'm trucking on the NaNo wordcount, and happy with the product, though I'll have quite a bit of revising to do. I tend to write really messy first drafts--but since I enjoy the editing process, it all works out in the end.
Today, I'm sharing a really cool video with you:Van Halen's "Dreams", featuring some awesome footage from the Blue Angels. I hope you find it as inspirational as I do. Even after having been a Navy pilot for 20 years, I am in awe of these guys.
But there's another reason why this video is appropriate. Way back in the dark ages, when I first joined the Navy as an enlisted man, I had dreams of one day becoming a Naval Aviator.
Because of my father's background in the U.S. Air Force, I grew up attending scads of airshows, and I have always loved aviation. But there's a time in particular where The Blues--as the Blue Angels are affectionately referred to in Navy circles--came to the base where I was stationed in Maine. I watched their incredible performance, never taking my eyes from the pointy nose aircraft performing impossible maneuvers, rocketing by in close formation--less than two feet between aircraft during some maneuvers!--and impressing the crowd.
As a guy who finished middle of my class in high school, and a college drop-out to boot, watching those blue fighter jets tear up the sky made me feel like my chances of ever becoming a pilot were slim to none, and slim had already left town, as they say. I might as well have been dreaming about walking on the Moon.
Yet, fast forward two years and I found myself in Flight School. I had worked my tail off, submitted my package, got picked up (much to my surprise). But even though I was successful in getting myself into the pipeline to become an Aviator, I still found the whole idea daunting. I didn't "get" it. I felt like much of what I was expected to know was beyond my understanding, and I struggled.
I remember the moment like it was yesterday: we launched on a training hop late in the afternoon. The event was called a BI (Basic Instruments) flight, where the student (me) spends about 90% of his time under a big hood, flying a series of maneuvers completely on instruments, with no outside visual reference.
One of the manuevers, called an unusual attitude recovery, was considered extremely difficult to pull off well--but that day, I knocked it out of the park. The instructor even went so far as to ask if I was 'cheating' by looking outside. Of course I hadn't, and I told him so.
When we finished the event and turned the aircraft toward home, I pulled back the hood to discovery the whole world bathed in the orange glow of the Corpus Christi setting sun.
There was only one thought in my head: I can do this.
I have recently reached a similar place in my writing. Even before NaNo I was beginning to feel it, but now that I've been plugging words like they're going out of style, that sentiment is strengthening in my mind with every keystroke.
If you've been following this blog for any amount of time, you were witness to my stumble earlier this year, where things went quiet here at ~WSMG~. I stopped blogging, but I also stopped writing fiction at home. I was dogged by self doubt, uncertain of my abilities. I wasn't sure if I could pull it off, and that apprehension kept me from staying engaged. But that skepticism has been replaced by a confidence that I am working hard to cultivate. And thus far, it's working.
So, to what do I attribute this personal growth, this change of heart? Work, and lots of it. As Joel Arthur Barker said:
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes time. Vision with action can change the world.”The novel of a hundred-thousand words begins with the first keystroke. And the next. And the next. Keep at it, and before you know it, you'll be flying too! :D
Hope you have a great writing day! Stay groovy!
Day 3!! I'm feeling good! How 'bout you? I just went over 6k words this morning and I'm hoping to do at least another 1k tonight. So everything's tracking.
How go things with you?
Enjoy this great song--one of my absolute favs! It'll have you on the moon in no time! Have a great Thursday! :D
Day 2 of NaNo!!!!
This is Day 2 of the NaNoWriMo Video Songfest as well. Go get all the details if you want to participate!
So, I am off to a rousing if rocky start on my NaNo MS. How you? Words flowing like wine? Ideas flocking to your blank page like the Salmon of Capistrano?
My wife has coined a new phrase: The NaNo Curse. You may recall my bumpy ride to 50k last year; it seems we're off to another rough start in 2011.
First, my wife was in a car accident yesterday. YES! YES!! Everybody is absolutely alright (Thank God!) but I think the car is toast. We got to talk to some very nice security people yesterday and she's talking to some very nice insurance people this morning (I have this thing called work). And the kids are fine--but with us going home in a few months, the timing is, well, lousy.
Then, because I am so darn brilliant, I managed to save an old version of my NaNo 2011 MS over my new NaNo 2011 MS--the one with over 2,000 extra words in it!--and the word angry doesn't even approach it. Livid? Apoplectic, maybe? Bristling, wrathful, cantankerous, cross, outraged... huffy. You get the picture. :D
But I refuse to be deterred. Because I'm in love. Yep. I totally totally TOTALLY dig this NaNo story I'm writing.
You're loving your MS, right?! You feel love too. I hope so. It's easy to feel good about our beginnings. The old MS ain't given us much trouble yet, see?! Let's wait a few weeks, mmmkay? So we gotta enjoy the good times while they're here, so I give you:
BLUE MAN GROUP: I Feel Love!
P. S. Plus, we've had our first non-WSMG song offering: a totally sweet tune by Miriam Stockley called "Beautiful Day." Go check it out over at Middle Passages. Thanks Liza!