The Ever Changing Plan

My current NaNoWriMo word count is only at a miserable 36,060. Not the brilliant 5,400 more words I was hoping to gain from yesterday. Not even the minimum I had set for myself. It’s clear that I won’t be getting to 50,000 by tomorrow, and that’s okay. It’s okay to fail. This was a good long haul of work and I’m not giving up on it completely. What I’m doing is accepting that I won’t be hitting 50,000 during the challenge period because I overestimated and overexerted and learned a lot so that when I do finish this novel, I’ll be geared up to write my next one. NaNoWriMo comes but once a year, but the job doesn’t stop there.

So, what have I learned? I’ve learned how much more tiring a day of writing can be. I love writing and love the daily grind of it, but it is exhausting. It’s not necessarily hard, because hard implies certain negative connotations that I don’t really feel when writing. Hard feels like all the other things I will have to do outside of writing. I’ve learned that I can’t expect myself to drive 10 hours and still have energy to write afterwards. I’ve learned that some people won’t respect what I’m doing unless I put my foot down, and I’ve learned that I need to put my foot down more often. I’ve learned that I’m going to write some really dumb chapters, and I’m going to need to do a lot of editing when writing at this length, more than any of the shorter pieces I’ve ever written. I’ve learned that I’m going to have to keep a separate set of notes for the stories I’m inspired to write while I’m writing something else, so I don’t forget them. I’ve learned that I’m not as good as I once thought, and that I’m not as bad as I later thought. I’ve learned that good and bad doesn’t matter so much as actually doing it, so I am.

I will finish this novel, and it will likely be crap, and I’ll write a second novel that will be much better, and I’ll edit and keep at it until it’s up to my standards, because I’m going to hold a higher code of standards than any other critic to start. I hope, along the way, I’ll learn to hold those standards in the unrelenting waves of praise, and in the barren wasteland of not being read.


The Mad Dash

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count: 34,615

What a terrible miscalculation I have made. I’ve still not caught up to where I was supposed to be last Monday. Between all of my other responsibilities and my trip, I’m still about 500 words short of the 35,000 I should have had a while ago. I’m only three days short of where I was supposed to be, plus 500 words, but that means doubling up on the amount I write for the rest of November to hit those 50,000 words. And by that time I doubt my book will be finished. I feel like it’s already more than halfway done, but that could be anywhere from a couple words over to only having the remaining word count to finish my novel.

The real issue is that while I was gone, all my favorite writing spots were covered up with the detritus of reorganizing. So, here I sit, brokenhearted, working at a public desk in the library  where I’ve been dropped off with the instructions that I’m not to be retrieved until I’m finished working. It’s going to be a long day, having to do a minimum of 5,000 words. Still, I feel that I can get more stuff done here with fewer distractions than I would in my favorite writing nooks.

I fantasize, sometimes, about being able to afford a dedicated work space. To have a small office, filled with just what I need. Things like a desk to write at with a comfortable chair, a window to look out, and a bookshelf for inspiration. Perhaps some amenities that would make the work day easier. A small kitchenette with a kettle and a pantry stocked with various teas, including oolong, green and blueberry. Perhaps a small cot for naps when I’ve worked myself to exhaustion but am not yet finished. Internet would be nice, if only for research. I couldn’t let myself do anything but research on there or it would be a travesty. If it happened to be over a Kinko’s or some similar printing shop, that too would be a huge boon. All of this stuff, however, has to come from somewhere. So, I’ll keep writing and push myself to new heights to achieve my goals. That’s what NaNoWriMo is all about, taking the first step to living the dream.

Current NaNoWriMo word count: 32,503

Justice League Poster

I’m a huge fan of DC, because of this I’ve mostly despised the movies. The first of the films I’ve actually liked has been Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot, and I surely wasn’t alone. Justice League is the second. It isn’t on par with Wonder Woman, it lacks a lot of the charm and storytelling elements of Wonder Woman that made Wonder Woman great. Honestly, I had to argue with myself over whether or not this was a good movie or just a decent one. The conclusion I came to was that it is indeed a good movie. It’s not great, like Wonder Woman, but it is good.

Part of that goodness might be attributed to Joss Whedon coming in and finishing the movie instead of Zack Snyder. I feel like this is an unfair assertion, though, as what Zack Snyder does best is on full display in the film, that is, creating a scene. This is something he’s done well in a lot of the past movies. He has the uncanny ability of telling a story in a single shot that builds the world around the characters. The only difference this time is that it is connected to a storyline that makes sense, at least somewhat. In fact, some of the low points were the parts where you could feel Joss Whedon interfering in the film. Certain joke scenes that were obviously him inserting his own brand of humor about these kinds of films were funny in the moment, but felt slightly out of place in the film. Together they made a delightful duo that I wish we could see more of under more favorable circumstances than the ones that led to this.

The movie also had the normal pitfalls of logic. Things like having satellite photos of an area that Cyborg had, only moments before, said held no satellite coverage happened on more than one occasion, but for every one of those we also had a detail like people speaking the proper language when speaking to each other and not reverting to English for the audience. Or the fact that the Flash has cobbled his suit together from possibly stolen equipment, and the body armor is actually held on with wire. And for every one of those details, you get a scene that’s awkwardly short between characters that boils down to one character telling the other, more important character to go do something and the more important character saying okay. Having now seen it twice, once in 3D and once 2D, I can say that it is a good movie. The worst part about it is that it expects you to have seen the other ones in the line-up.

The Many Hats of a Writer

Current NaNoWriMo word count: 30,126

My sleep schedule is all messed up, but I’m at least back on track with my novel. Yesterday was hard, though. The words just wouldn’t come. It wasn’t as though I didn’t know where things were going, or what I wanted to say. It just happened that when I would go to put things down my mind would go blank. Great if you’re trying to meditate, terrible if you’re trying to write. Still, I slogged through the points and promised myself a relaxing weekend where I’ll finish a book and watch through the stack of X-Men movies I haven’t seen yet.

I used to listen to a radio personality from the eighties that my dad had on cassette who would espouse these sarcastic essays on pop culture. The guys name was Ian Scholes or maybe Schultz. I spent the last twenty minutes but can’t figure out which, because that name is just too common. Down to the point, he would have these essays about life contemporary to the eighties that would twist around to all sorts of subjects. Very stream of consciousness. One of these rants discussed the phenomenon known as Executive Burnout. A super ominous name for something as simple as being overworked. I’m not an executive, and though some might call me one I don’t think I’ve burned out yet, but I certainly feel that pressure. That’s why I’m making sure to take weekends off and not over exert myself on days that I’m writing 80 words per minute. That way, the days where I’m forcing my words through a narrow tube and getting maybe 100 words an hour down come far and few between, but they will come, and I’ve had a couple of them this week.

That’s because this is, like any passion, a job. If you treat it like a hobby, that’s all it ever will be to you. So, like I’ve said before, treat this like a job. But it isn’t just one job, like I’ve said before. You’re the financier, the content creator, the manager, the CEO, the editor. You have to wear many hats and often do that all at once. Following a passion is rarely easy. It’s just better than the alternative.

Feeling I’ve Forgotten

Current NaNoWriMo word count: 27,588

I haven’t been sleeping well since Monday. Consequently, I’ve been waking up later and later. It was only a matter of time before it would cause my blog schedule to become screwy. And just after it was back to normal after the last time it was screwy. There’s a reason for that, though. Monday was the day I failed to meet my quota by around a thousand words. It was my first failure of NaNoWriMo, and one I corrected before I even thought about my blog for that day. Ever sense then, I’ve kept my numbers up. But at night, when lying awake in bed, instead of the normal existential terrors, I’ve been suffering this feeling of work left undone.

Things are finished out here. My words are typed and safely saved on my computer. The doors are locked. My girlfriend and dogs have been in bed for a couple of hours by this point, but I still roam the house trying to figure out what’s left to do. I feel the desire to sit down at my computer and triple check my files are saved. Perhaps I misread the word count and it’s actually 25,788. It’s not, I didn’t misread it, nor had I misread it the other ten times I checked. I check again for good measure, then finally go get ready for bed. Then once more. Then lie down. And still it plagued me as I tried to get to sleep.

Perhaps that should make me proud. Everyone wants to write a book that you just can’t put down. I certainly can’t put mine down, no matter how hard I try, nor how much I want to close my eyes, and I’m the one writing the damn thing. I know where it’s going to go. At this point, I think of it as less of a book I can’t book down and more of as a newborn. I feel more like a new father who read a frightening article on sudden infant death syndrome. It’s an awful thing that happens too often, but I’m taking precautions to keep that from happening. I’m feeding it each day, and it’s growing faster than I thought was possible. It’s laughing and giggling as I wring my hands nervously behind it, trying to make sure it doesn’t eat any worms. But that’s what will make it stronger, getting dirty and encountering all sorts of nastiness. It will get cleaned up later and it will be fine. The worst thing is, I also feel compelled to talk to it all the time even though it’s not all that interesting yet. I do hope my next book doesn’t leave me so frazzled.

Drearily Draining

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count: 25,081

Today is a dreary day in my town. It is the kind of day that sees you going around and not doing much of anything. You’ll yawn, scratch your head and aim for the bare minimum of effort in your day. You’ll watch your dog chasing it’s tail and wonder where the energy is coming from for that. You’ll spend time leaning back in your chair staring at the pale yellow ceiling and thinking about how many words 2,500 actually equates to, and wonder why you ever agreed to do something like this, knowing full well that it’s the only thing you’d really ever want to do. You’ll struggle with technical issues that aren’t in any way related to what you need to do today, but are related to procrastinating.

Today is the kind of day where you will do what you’re supposed to do, because you know that you have to, and that if you didn’t you would be mad at yourself. You will do it, but you will also watch a bad movie. Look up a bunch of facts about a fandom you’re not really into because of a game you’ll be playing. You’ll drag your feet as much as possible before getting started and then again on your breaks. You’ll eat too much, and feel ashamed for it, and you’ll quit as soon as it’s time.

But you’ll end the day prouder and happier than you started it. You’ll wish you hadn’t done some things, but by the end it will be so much better that you sat down and did the writing. It won’t be your best work, but you’ll be okay with that because it is still more than you had this morning. You will snuggle up with a good book and read it just so that you can feel all that much closer to holding one you’ve written in your own two hands. You will end the day excited to start the next leg of your book, write the next 2,500 words. At the end of the day, you will be happy.

The First Defeat

At the time of writing this, my word count for NaNoWriMo is 22,713. Last night, when I stopped around half past midnight, the count was only at 21,450. I finished short last night. In fact, I didn’t get any of my own work done over the weekend, so busy was I with my sister’s visit and making sure that she and I spent as much time together as humanly possible, that by the time she left I didn’t have the time left in the day to get any writing done. I did, however, get some writing done. Almost 1500 words. About three fifths of the writing I had to do for that day.

I had fully intended to stay up as late as I needed to finish the work until my girlfriend stumbled through the front door. She was exhausted and demanded snuggles. I am not a strong man when it comes to my girlfriend and I knew she needed those snuggles, so I provided them. And as I lay in bed that night, I pondered what had kept me from getting work done. Part of it was my sister, but then later something else had come up. A friend in need. It wasn’t the kind of need that I would say no to under imaginable circumstances. It wasn’t can you help me move in this couch. If it had been I would have been able to say no.

In fact, there is very little that I will allow to interrupt my writing time, as I informed my girlfriend as she dragged her feet about going on her day off to get things done at the DMV and mechanics. She was whining and begging me to go with her last night and I told her no. She might have the day off, but I certainly didn’t, no matter how much I wanted that day off to spend with her. It’s hard to keep yourself to a schedule as a self-employed person. And there is nothing more self-employed than a writer. Putting pen to paper is a challenge because of the people who will want to come out with you.

You have to think of yourself as two different people, the employee and the manager. If you were managing an office and one of your employees told you that they needed to take the day off to go see a matinee right in the middle of a big project, why would you say yes? Why would you say yes every single day? It’s not easy and you feel like the bad guy, but sometimes you have to be firm in your commitments to yourself or you won’t get anything done at all. Yesterday was a day that I needed to take off, for the most part. And today I’ll meet back up with the total I expect myself to have.

Current NaNoWriMo word count: 17,609

Today, I feel like revisiting my childhood and playing the old Sonic games from my childhood. Later today, I’ll turn on my old Genesis 3 system and pop in the sonic collection with the first two games and play through them as far as I can, all for the sake of nostalgia. Granted, I’ll need to have hit 20,000 words before I can do that. I don’t expect that will take too long, given I have the house to myself without any distractions other than the puppies.

I’m not a huge Sonic fan. I never owned a Dreamcast, or played any of the 3D Sonic games, except for heroes, once, at a friends house. It was never that I was opposed to it, though I’ve seen some things come from the fan base that are pretty cringey, but what I’ve come to learn is that every fanbase has their cringey side. I think it’s a part of devoting such a big chunk of your life to one thing to the point that it’s fictional importance starts taking over your life, but that’s a topic for another time.

The reason I love Sonic has very little to do with the actual character. I never was into the comics. I liked the old Saturday morning cartoon that everyone else liked when I was a kid, but I didn’t feel any deeper connection. My enjoyment of sonic came in the form of playing the first two games with my little sister. My parents were not gamers, and I’m pretty sure my mom was scared of what games would do to our young minds, preventing us from reading or playing outside. It was the typical early nineties mentality. My cousins had all the game consoles and made nightly trips to block buster to check out the newest games. My sister and I were envious, until one day, out shopping at Wal-Mart, my mom saw the Sega Genesis 3 with a collection of games for sale for something ridiculous like twenty bucks. This was not a new console but we loved it immensely. We had a tiny television on a roller cart so that we could move it between our rooms. It was a point of contention between my sister and me, but it was also a major point of bonding. So, later, I’m going to indulge my nostalgia and play Sonic.

Unexpected Visitors

Current NaNoWriMo word count: 15,175

I’ve passed the fifteen thousand word mark. Honestly, I blew past it yesterday. I had to reign it in because I had been working at the library and I’m trying to keep to my regimen of not burning the candle at both ends one day only to not have a candle the next. There was some muffled yeses that got me a few choice looks from patrons. Mostly, their choice was bemusement, though mine was very similar. However, we enter a very dangerous time period for me. One I had not been aware of until it was too late. Today marks the day that my youngest sister arrives in town.

In fact, as I’m writing this, she is sitting in the dentist’s office getting her six month check up. After I finish writing this, I’ll be rushing into the bathroom to get a shower, then back to the computer to try and write as many words to seventeen thousand five hundred as I can before my mom and sister get here to whisk me away to lunch. It will be no easy feat getting my work done. I will likely wind up working much later than I normally do, just to get the bare minimum word count I require from myself. I will most certainly have a fun and celebratory day, as I love my little sister and her service dog, but by the end I will be stressed out beyond belief.

That said, I will never say die. Rather, I will but it won’t have the intonation to make anyone feel as though by saying die I mean that I’m giving up. In a long, roundabout way I’m saying I will never give up on this NaNoWriMo. I will type until the very last minute of November 30th to hit that 50,000 mark, though I do suspect I will have it done much earlier in the day. The fifteen thousand mark was my first goal, and it feels great. I’m going to revel in my victory, no matter how small it may seem to others, because it feels good. I may not be happy with my story at this stage, but I am happy with myself, and that’s what NaNoWriMo is about.

Jumping Hurdles

Current NaNoWriMo word count: 12,628

Today is the day where I will meet my previous record for NaNoWriMo, and it is exciting. What isn’t exciting is the feeling that I’ve lost the plot somewhere along the way. I feel like looking around for it, but it isn’t here. The characters are there and they are well developed, but where is the overarching conflict that I worked so hard on? It seems to have seeped back into the background while plot points get hit without their importance ever becoming relevant.

It is the feeling that I need to tear it down and start over that has plagued me every time before. My downfall every NaNoWriMo has been my feeling that it just isn’t good enough. But the rough draft is never good enough. That’s what makes it a rough draft. The thing about editing is that it’s the majority of the work of fiction. It isn’t something you can just breeze through, at least not for me. I’ve heard legends passed around the English department of writers that can nail the story in a single draft. I would rather be published than be a legend, so I think I’ll stick to editing.

After all, I’ll have eleven months to edit the novel before the next NaNoWriMo. The only people who will likely read this novel in it’s current form are people who I know personally, and will see this as a worthy effort if nothing else. As a person creating something I am going to be my own toughest critic. If I’m not then I won’t put out the best piece I can. That said, I will likely hate most anything that I put forward. I will look on it in the early stages and think this is okay, then edit it until I feel it is better but ashamed that I ever thought this was good, then I’ll have someone else read it. And I need to remember that they will probably like it. I need to remember that they will probably find the work enjoyable in some capacity, if not ready to publish. I need to remember this, because it will help me push on.