A month of dedicated writing

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participantNational Novel Writing Month is less than a week away. In six days, people from around the world will start their goal to write fifty-thousand words in thirty days. That’s around 1,666 per day. That’s a lot of words. That’s a competition wherein you compete against yourself to see if you can do it.

I’ve managed to win every year since I started back in 2011. That’s five years of writing. That’s 260,137 words that I have tallied since I first discovered it on November 1st of that first year. I logged on to my computer at around 6:30 in the morning, saw NaNoWriMo on the trending box on Yahoo, and decided to investigate. I’m glad I did.

A little history: I had always wanted to write a book. How many of us have said that, either to our friends, or even to ourselves. I had countless times. I even started several aborted attempts, giving up even before I had written that first page, often even before that first paragraph. Writing is hard!

But that on that cold, November morning, as I sat there glued to the monitor at my desk at my work in the hospital, I knew that I had to do it. I needed something to take me out of myself, to pull me out of the pain and loathing I had fallen into. My marriage had unraveled back in January, ending in my filing for divorce and being finalized in August. A second relationship had just fallen apart at the beginning of October, and the weight of it all came crashing down on me. I was heartbroken and miserable. I needed a way out!

So I signed up immediately. I told my friend about it, and she signed up for it, too. Unlike her, I began to write in earnest, writing with abandon, not bothering to care if it made sense. NaNoWriMo gave me the permission I needed to give myself to write, just write. I watched as a story came to life. I sat there in shock that I actually had the potential to write anything longer than a few measly paragraphs.

I came is at 52,395 that first year. I was proud of myself. I had done it. Though it would take months, years to get over that heartbreak, NaNoWriMo had given me my first outlet. I spent the next year writing one story after another, clearing my mind, purging my soul. It was the catharsis I desperately needed. The page was the vessel into which I poured my misery, emptying even the most desperate and intimate suffering from my being.

I had planned on publishing my books, but I haven’t. I keep saying I want to, but here I am, five years later, and nary a book in sight. I keep saying that what I have written deserves to be read, but I’ve kept them locked up, out of sight, fearing to let myself fall victim to the worst critics among us, scared to inflict further damage on my already fragile self-esteem.

But what did it matter? I’d written something. I had proven to myself that I can do it. I had proven that I had the capability to put into words the often confused images in my thoughts. It hadn’t been easy. Sometimes I had to force myself to write, but I had done it, and I was glad.

Will I do so again this year? I think I will. I haven’t fleshed out any ideas yet, but that doesn’t concern me. I’ve always been a pantser rather than a planner. I’ll start to write the moment I’m allowed to write. I settle on an idea and go from there.

Ultimately, I would love to publish something, but that’s no longer my end goal. When I write something worth sharing, I will. Until then, I’ll continue to write and post the occasional short story, continue to hammer out what I’ve written, working and reshaping until something moves me to either seek out a publisher, or publish it myself.

On creating

14523026_10207637043471284_2871291392957118586_n

My writing space. Special mention, my almost 40-year old teddy bear. 

The countdown has begun again! In less than a month, National Novel Writing Month begins. NaNoWriMo is a contest where the goal is to write fifty-thousand words in a month. That’s 1666 words a day. Easy peasey. Sort of.

That is my future, but lately I’ve been working on other projects for myself. I recently completed a built-in bookcase that hangs above my desk. It’s mostly completed, but there are a few things I need to finish up before I can say I’m 100% done with it.

Next, I have to sew a costume for a friend’s Halloween party. I decided, in my insanity, to go as Severus Snape. The problem is that I can’t find a suitable costume. My solution, if you haven’t guessed, is to make my own.

That’s where creation and ingenuity come in. Although I did take Home Economics back in high school, and part of the curriculum was to learn to sew, it has been more than two decades since I took the class. Will that deter me? Hell no! I see it as a challenge. Bring it on!

The complication is that I cannot find a pattern to use, and that’s where ingenuity comes in. I don’t know how to make my own pattern, so I went to Jo-Ann, searched through their catalog, and I came up blank. The closest thing I could find was a costume jacket similar to the one Alan Rickman uses, but not quite. I decided to buy the pattern, knowing that I’ll have to make a few alterations to the pattern in order to make it.

14469600_10207647809180420_8079433795547802698_n.jpg

Found this a Jo-Ann in Lubbock. Not exactly what Snape wears, but close enough.

I’m actually rather excited for the project. I haven’t sewn in years. This’ll be my first since high school, and the fact that I rather loathe costumes isn’t enough to dampen my excitement. Actually, I can’t wait to get started. It’ll be interesting to see if I can pull it off. I have less than three weeks to actually do it. More than enough time for a tailor to make one, but I’m no tailor, no seamstress. I have almost no experience in something this ambitious. I also have to make the cloak, but that’ll come later.

I also have another project in mind. I want to build a couple of nightstands, again out of red oak, to match my computer desk and book case. I’m thinking about building a bedroom set as well, but one piece at a time. I’m not that skilled at woodworking, but I think I’m getting better. Experience really is the best teacher.

I still have my goal of publishing a book, but that’s only part of what I want to do. I like the act of creation, the art and the science of bringing into existence something that was not there before. It’s almost an alchemical transformations, bringing in several elements, combining them, and giving life to something new. Whether it’s a short story or novel, whether it’s cooking or baking, or even woodworking or crafts, it’s a subtle magic we can all perform.

NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity to give yourself permission to lose yourself in writing, but it shouldn’t be the only time to let your creativity flow. There’s all sorts of things I want to build and create. In this, Adam Savage is almost like a mentor, and I look up to him. You should check him out on the YouTube channel Tested, where he builds and creates anything and everything. While I don’t have his level of skills and ingenuity, why should I let that keep me from doing what I like?

Maybe I’ll try camping

CNW_Participant_Twitter.jpegI haven’t given Camp NaNoWriMo much thought this time around. I usually don’t, truth be told. It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s that I typically fail miserably, unlike the full NaNo during November. Won every year since I started, back in 2011. Aren’t I awesome? (Blushes)

In all seriousness, I have a project I would like to finish, and I’ve been working on it sporadically, and I would love to muscle my way to the end. I’m hoping Camp NaNo will give me that last little boost I need to reach my goal. Currently I’m at 31,898 words, and though my ultimate goal is 75K words, I’m shooting for a Camp goal of 25k words. I’m hoping to surpass that goal, but I don’t want to push myself to exhaustion. Once a year is enough for that!

The project I’m working on is a project I’ve been trying to get right for ages. I’ve written and rewritten it several times, but I just can’t seem to get it right. I think I’m finally on the right track this time, having to change my character a bit. I think I tried to shoehorn my main character into a role that just wasn’t her.

So I’ve got a lot written already, but I’m hoping to get myself set up to reach the end of this one. I’m going to have to set aside some time to write, and though it’s not going to be easy, I know it’ll be worth it in the end.

Post NaNo: I’m ready to start on my real novel

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-SquareHere it is, the day after, and I took a day off from work. It wasn’t the result of NaNoWriMo but rather pushing myself at work the past couple of weeks. I had hoped to last until my scheduled days off, which would have been Thursday and Friday, but when I woke up, I knew I had to rest or else I really would go down for the count.

So I slept in until about noon. When I did manage to get out of bed, I didn’t do much but shower and get dressed. Feeling hungry, I headed into town to buy myself a salad. Another consequence of working to much lately has been eating poorly, and I just needed some vegetables. I’m not sure if a salad really counts, but it was still better than the fast food crap I’ve been shoving into my mouth.

I relaxed and didn’t think about writing. For the past month, I wrote a story that never really gelled. My characters were uncooperative, and the story never took off. The suspense I hoped to create between my two main characters never really formed, and there was never any action between the antagonist and the protagonists. I quickly fell out of love for the story, but I pushed through to the end, happy that it’s finally over.

But as I rested today, an itch to revisit another NaNo came to me. Last year I started writing the story of Giada, a minor character in my first NaNo, The Son of the Father. That too didn’t go the way I planned, and in fact it’s the second attempt to write the story, but I never gave up on it. I simply put it on hold, until now.

I opened both attempts to write the story, and though they are vastly different stories, I think I can use the best of them to create a third, and final version. Or at least that’s my hope. Giada, as I originally envisioned her, was an escort for the rich and powerful, a high-priced prostitute and a former porn starlet. I created her as an act of revenge towards a former flame who I felt betrayed me.

But now, years after the fact, I think that’s been my main problem with Giada. She isn’t some immoral, promiscuous slut. She’s a woman who’s been hurt by the men in her life, namely an emotionally unavailable father, and lovers who saw her as a prize to be coveted rather than a person deserving of respect. Though she lives a very free existence, she’s not some shallow bimbo. Giada is an earnest and sincere woman.

I fell in love with the character in spite of myself. Out of all of the characters I have created, she’s the one I like the most. She’s exuberant and just has a joy for life that I find endearing and contagious. She refuses to be kept down despite all the crap that’s gone her way.

That’s why I’ve had so much trouble writing her story. She deserves a good tale. I know she’s a fictional person, but she is real in my mind’s eye. She lives and breaths as a figment of my imagination, far more than some of the others I have created. She’s a complete woman, with both good and bad in her.

Giada will be the next project I write. I wonder how I’ll do it, to reconcile my the different versions of her, but I suspect most of what I have will be thrown out. Well actually, I’ll probably recycle most of it. It may not fit into her narrative, but it’s too good to let go.

While I may not have found any pleasure in this year’s NaNoWriMo, it may have rekindled my desire to write. Only time will tell if I go through with publishing anything, but for now at least I had fun with the exercise.

NaNoWriMo 2015: Is it day 19 already?

NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-SquareIt’s the 19th day of NaNoWriMo, and I’m slightly behind, but not by much. I just now started writing for the day, and I have almost 2K words to write just to catch up, but over all, I think I’ve done a remarkable job staying on track, but I never was able to build the lead as I would have liked.

My problem right now is that my characters are flip flopping. One was my killer, a male who became a female-to-male crossdresser, but then the female character blossomed and is now a person in her own right. I’m going to have a lot of revising to do to fix this.

Then my two main characters, ex-lovers who are forced to work together in order to survive, are simply getting along too well. The tension between the two isn’t developing as it should. I need their history to make their close proximity to each other a difficult, almost impossible proposition. They need to become more hostile towards each other. I need Shelby’s animosity to grow to the point where her feelings of rejection and abandonment consume her, and it spills over.

This is the story I want to tell, of two people who once loved each other figuring out how to coexist. It needs to be about the pain of a broken heart, and learning to live when someone leaves when you need them the most. It’s the journey from the bitter edge, where one can lose all hope and direction, and learn that there’s more to life than one failure.

Right now, everything is too convoluted to make sense of it. You’d think I would learn by now, that writing doesn’t always go in the direction you hoped it would. No matter. Onward, ho!