Let’s subtitle this one “I Ain’t Dead Yet”. Life can be defined that regularly occurring nuisance that interrupts attempts to create worlds made entirely of words and imaginings. 2014 provided more life than I care to contemplate and many of my side projects have suffered, this blog included.
Finding words in 2014 has proved difficult on all fronts. My other blogs, while slightly less neglected, still managed to collect dust this year. National Novel Writing Month proved to be a hollow victory this year. While the word count was met, the quality of the work plummeted to all new NaNo personal lows. I celebrated the ‘win’ by shredding the first draft and burning the remnants, after noting the two small workable ideas that it contained. My word goal of 200,000 became laughable at some point, even with NaNo accounting for a quarter of that total.
Words will be found in 2015, even if it means tracking them down in their hidden lairs and dragging them bodily into the light of day. I am feeling very fierce about the time lost during the past year and do not want to have a repeat of the last twelve months. To that end, some goals have been set and some projects lined up for the new year. My overall goal consists of writing 250,000 words total in 2015. To hold myself accountable, I have pledged to write 150,000 of those words as part of Get Your Words Out 2015, which will include fiction, poetry, and public blogs. The remaining 100,000 words will consist of personal journals, academic writings, and various other non-creative forms for writing. I ain’t dead yet, but I may be a writing zombie by this time next year.
I do believe that in my last post I was bemoaning my NaNo progress and citing all of the non-writing activities happening this month. With both Thanksgiving and a road trip to Savannah out of the way, it is time again to focus on that soul-devouring event known as NaNoWriMo. This year’s novel is being written in waves, going a few days without writing and then attempting to catch up in a single sitting. As of this moment, my word count is hoovering somewhere around the 42,000 mark. I may actually make it this year.
The mid-point of November has come and gone without so much as a “Hi, how y’all doin’?” and my NaNo novel for this year is progressing in much the same way. I woke up this morning and realized that my word count is hovering just around 19,000. That’s just a bit shy of the 26,666 that would have had me on par through yesterday. For those of you who are not mathematically inclined, this means I am roughly 8000 words behind. Excuse me while I go have a scream followed by a little lie-down.
It is not a hopeless situation, at least not yet. I am happy to say that after a productive morning, the word count is now a bit over 24,000, which puts me only 2666 words behind where I should have ended yesterday.
Of course, we are not going to mention the additional 1667 words that will need to be written today just to stay on par. Nor will we mention that there is a major holiday coming up that will eat way not only a few pounds of turkey and dressing, but a good size chunk of writing time. I’m also due to make a trip to Savannah before the end of the month. While the city inspires me immensely, I find writing on the road next to impossible, particularly when I’ve been officially designated as the official chauffeur and tour guide. I also won’t mention that the character I’d intended to be the main antagonist has done a complete 360 and turns out not only to be batting for the other side, but is apparently managing the entire damn team. This could get complicated, I think.
In short, that glimmer at the end of the tunnel may be the oncoming train of a November 30th deadline, rather than the gleam of a shiny new novel. I’m not giving up yet, though. In the words of Frost, I have ‘miles to go before I sleep’, not to mention many pages and several chapters and most of a whole damned novel.
Less than three weeks remain until this year’s NaNoWriMo kick-off. I’ve spent a little time over there updating my profile, changing my picture, and dusting off the cobwebs. I’ve explained again to all of my non-writers in my life that I will not be available for the month of November. The family has been advised that, yes indeed, I will again be making a sandwich out of Thanksgiving dinner so that I can keep a hand free for writing. Since I tend to eat terribly during NaNo, I’ve planned ahead this year and am stocking the freezer with homemade foods that actually have more nutritional content than my writing notebooks (although probably not as much fiber!). The tea cabinet is already stocked full of Earl Grey, lavender, and chamomile. The notebooks are laid aside with a pile of pens on top. In short, I’m taking a page from the Boy Scouts and being prepared this year.
Just one wee little thing is missing. I still don’t know what I’m going to write. In a dream world, I’d already have a detailed outline written, characters sketches created, and at least one chapter fully formed in my brain. Instead, I have this:
Yes, that is one big blank and that’s exactly what I have a the moment. In a burst of forced enthusiasm, I dug up the outline and notes for a previous year’s NaNo that never actually came to fruition, a little gem was to be titled Saligia, Inc. For those of you who don’t have heads full of weird and obscure trivia, Saligia is a mnemonic device used to remember the Latin names of the seven deadly sins. I’ll leave the meat and bones of the novel to your imagination for now, as I’m still not convinced that the novel is this year’s novel.
My enthusiasm for that story was usurped by two small pages of writing that I found tucked in among my notes. It’s a first draft of the beginning of a scene in which the narrator is watching an approaching storm. It’s a scene without a story, without a novel, without even a complete sentence at the end. In spite of its brevity, I was entranced and sucked into the scene, which usually only happens when I read the work of others. To turn it into a NaNo novel would be- what’s the word I’m looking for? Interesting? Challenging? Wait, I know – Really Bloody Difficult. It’s one scene, for goodness’ sake, and an incomplete one at that. Yet, the narrator hasn’t stopped talking in my head since I picked up those pages. There’s nothing quite like having your characters go rogue and deciding that they are going to tell you their stories, whether you like it or not. Unfortunately, sticking my fingers in my ears and chanting “Lalalala” has not worked so far. I may have a novel to write after all.
25 Days and counting…
When fall arrives, my thoughts turn to falling leaves, Halloween, and of course, National Novel Writing Month. November has become a month of shared writing madness, best explained by the Venn diagram to the left. If you’ve never heard of it, I can boil it down to you this way: write one novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. That’s all – just write until your fingers bleed for the sheer
pleasure joy madness of it.
This year marks NaNo #6 for me. There’s only one small roadblock standing between myself and a sixth win: I have no idea what I’m going to write. There are fragmented ideas floating through my head, but none of them are lending themselves to a novel-length work. Pulling out my notebook of possible story ideas hasn’t helped this year. Nothing is quite appealing to me the way NaNo ideas typically do. The muse is apparently away at the spa or skiing in the Swiss Alps.
I am a writer without ideas. I am a writer without a plot. I am a writer without a single character in my head at the moment. I am a writer who has 25 days to come up with an idea interesting enough to keep my full attention for another 30 days after that. I am a writer who is living in a literary black hole where no ideas can escape.
Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. Maybe the muse will be back by then.
At Scythe Point has finally been posted in its entirety! What took thirty days to write stretch thirteen months between the posting of Chapter 1 and the Epilogue. I should be more ashamed of that fact, but I’m just too delighted to finally see it finished to suffer through much mortification.
With that project finally off my plate, I’m going to be turning my attention to the subsequent NaNoWriMo novels from 2008 through 2011. In the case of a couple of them, I need to finish the actual process of writing before I contemplate editing or publishing them. When this will actually happen is anyone’s guess. I’ve given up trying to set schedules for publishing; life tends to pencil in other things on that calendar.
It’s also time to start pondering the subject of this year’s NaNo. I’ve kicked around the idea of writing a sequel to one of my previous works, going so far as to outline a follow-up to At Scythe Point in which Michael’s mother disappears under mysterious circumstances that suggest Thanatos may be up to no good. The working title for that one is Family Plots (please try not to groan too loud). If this year is like any other, we can look forward to some other idea cropping up at the last minute and a complete change in direction by the end of the project.
More updates as words happen,
I’ve moved past my July chagrin into deep, despondent, and acute embarrassment at the length of time that has elapse since I last posted here. Could it really be six months since I’ve given this blog the attention it deserves? Cue the deep blushing and utter mortification of a self-proclaimed writer who fails to actually write on her own blog.
While it doesn’t make up for a lack of posts, I have managed to put pen to paper a few times in the intervening months. As usual, November flew by in all of its frenetic NaNoWriMo glory. This year’s challenge resulted in a partially completed mystery novel and one burnt out writer. I always question the wisdom and sanity of participating in National Novel Writing Month. The thrill of the frenzied pace still outweighs the subsequent burnout, so I imagine that I’ll be back again this year.
I’m hoping to have more of At Scythe Point posted shortly… by which, I mean sometime before 2025. Yes, I’m still embarrassed by my lack of posts. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go hide my head in shame behind a pot of Earl Grey while I pencil a reminder in my calender to visit this blog more often.
When I announced that I’d be posting my first NaNoWriMo novel, At Scythe Point, “as time permits”, I’d sincerely hoped to post an average of one chapter per week. A month has elapsed since posting the first chapter, but I’m finally able to say that Chapter 2 is now available for reading. A snail’s pace may not constitute rapid progress, but it is still forward movement never the less. With any luck, Chapter 3 will not be so slow in publishing.
This winter has been a fallow period creatively and the only writings I’ve managed to complete are a few blog posts. A planned revision of last year’s NaNo novel, Odinsdatter, still waits for attention. With the current backlog of work on my writing desk, the decision of whether or not to participate in this year’s Script Frenzy was an easy one. Last year was my first and possibly last attempt at this particular challenge. As I stated when I first embarked on the Script Frenzy challenge, I am a writer of prose and poetry. My only prior script-writing experience was a re-write of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for my freshman English case, a work now thankfully lost to time. Rather than repeat the last year’s frustration, I think perhaps I’ll dedicate April to that novel revision and posting more of At Scythe Point. Unless of course, the unwritten characters in my head have other ideas.