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Posts Tagged ‘nanowrimo’

A mid-November update on NaNoWriMo and new short stories

November 15, 2014 10 comments

I’m smack dab in the middle of yet another NaNoWriMo, right along with all those thousands of others brave enough (or foolish enough) to dive headfirst into this annual frenetic activity. For NaNo this year, I chose to do something a little different in November. Instead of writing something completely new, I decided I would take a “completed” draft from a previous NaNoWriMo (2011, to be exact) and spend the month working on revision. I figured if I could get a minimum of 50K words or 30 chapters edited over the course of the month, I’d consider that a win. So far, progress has been great, and my novel is moving another step closer to becoming a finished product. While it’s far from perfect at this point, it’s improving with each revised chapter.

On the short story front … first, thanks to all of you who took the time to read my last story and leave a comment. I appreciate your support, encouragement, and feedback. Second, I’ve got two different short stories I’m working on right now, though the pressures of November writing might make it hard to finish them as soon on time. One hasn’t even been started, but it needs to be finished and polished up by the end of the month. Ooops. Timing for the other is a bit more open-ended, which is nice. I have a partially written story from years ago already in place, so I hope to expand and complete it in time for that submission. Both should be fun projects.

Hope everyone’s having a wonderful November, filled with plans for the upcoming holidays. My favorite time of year …

–dp

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On NaNoWriMo 2013: a confession

November 6, 2013 21 comments

I first tried “winning” NaNoWriMo back in 2010. Much to my surprise, I “won” with just over 50K words. Since then, that original manuscript has doubled in size and become what I think is a pretty darn good story. It has a few plot holes and characterization issues that I’ve been beating my head against the wall trying to correct, but other than that, I’m proud of the effort.

In 2011, for no good reason other than perhaps I was simply uninspired, I started writing and crashed and burned within a week. In 2012, I once again threw caution to the wind and leaped headlong into the frenzy known as NaNoWriMo. With a good idea and a little bit of inspiration, I was typing away like mad and looking forward to another “win”. But then the phone call came on Sunday evening, November 25th. I rushed to the airport and boarded a plane to meet up with my family in Arkansas. My father was dying. NaNoWriMo came and went and I didn’t care.

And here it is, nearly a year later, and NaNoWriMo is here once again. For a few months prior to November, I was convinced I would attempt NaNoWriMo yet again. But as the winds grew cold and the skies turned gray, and as the days on the calendar inexorably found themselves inching toward the first of November, I found myself losing interest in something as mundane as a writing challenge. And now, NaNoWriMo has begun and I am nowhere to be found.

So this year, as I find myself facing the first anniversary of my father’s passing, I sit on the sidelines and watch so many of my blogging friends enjoying the frenetic pace of generating 50K words this month (all of course except for Eric who was willing to confess his disdain for the month of writing like a madman). I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I find myself missing the excitement of the challenge, of sitting in my office each night, pounding away on the keyboard until I hit the minimum word count, knowing that there are many thousands of other fellow writers around the world doing the very same thing. On the other hand, I’ve found that life so far this month has been more relaxed as the holidays approach, and, perhaps more importantly, I’ve felt at peace as I head, for the first time, toward the anniversary of the worst day of my life.

What will next November bring? I don’t know for sure … time will tell. But for now, I wish all my blog friends out there who are participating in NaNoWriMo the best of luck. Have a blast, drink plenty of coffee, and hit that 50K goal and “win”. I’m rooting for all of you.

–dp

Fear of our own writing (a reblog of sorts)

July 10, 2013 6 comments

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo over the last several years. As part of that, I signed up to receive notifications from a number of NaNoWriMo forums on various subjects. While most aren’t of much interest at this time of year (for me, since I immerse myself in the insanity in November), occasionally a post comes along that merits attention. Today I read one such post. It was so good, in my opinion, I felt compelled to respond to the original submitter in the NaNoWriMo forum, despite my lack of eloquence at the time. I also thought it worthy of a wider distribution, because I think what’s discussed is nearly universal for writers who’ve yet to gain confidence in their craft, like me.

The forum post is entitled, On Writing and Fear: A Realization

It was written by Heather. She gave me permission to pass this along. Go read it. I think you’ll be impressed by this twenty-five year old’s maturity.

http://nanowrimo.org/en/forums/reaching-50-000/threads/114149

For those who don’t want to click on the link above, here’s what she wrote:

If you are at the point that I have been, then I hope this means something to you.

In all of my education and socializing and acquainting myself with the world, I have learned many things. Most of them were very good. Some of them were not.

One of them has… if I can say the words, through trembling lips… destroyed me as a writer.

I learned to be afraid.

I learned that it was not the worst thing to be thought unskilled. There is patience to be found for new writers, who lack experience but not ambition or passion. It is not the worst thing to be thought peculiar. There are a multitude of universes, and corners of universes, where there are readers who beg for material that others would find unsavory or strange.

What I learned to fear was being thought ridiculous.

I learned that the emotions that I held sacred could be pulled from their houses, stripped of their layers of meaning, and dragged through the streets. I learned they could be laughed at, scorned, lampooned. I learned that one man’s honesty is another man’s farce.

So I learned to write, when I could, through a mirror, darkly. I learned to scrutinize every word that flowed from my pen, to see whether it could be twisted and scorned. I learned to be careful not to let myself be open, to fear the daggers of those who came with mocking laughter.

I learned to write dishonestly. And this destroyed me.

I could not be creative. Who would want to be, if they could not tell the truth? Who was willing to shout the truth, if they were afraid to be dismissed with derision?

I learned to apologize for everything I did, to push it away from myself as quickly as possible. If it was mocked, I could mock it as well. I could laugh, be self-effacing. They could not bludgeon me with a weapon I used to bludgeon myself. They could not impale me with their laughter if I was already laughing.

I no longer wrote anything worth reading, because I no longer wrote with integrity.

It has taken me years to remember the courage that I had before I knew I needed to be courageous.

Now I sit, shaking, at the threshold of a familiar country. I am like Eve in the garden, ashamed of my nakedness, clutching desperately at the omissions and apologies that cover me like leaves. When I reach for truth, I know it will burn me, turning to ash the thickened skin of guilt and fear that I have grown.

I learned to be afraid. I am still afraid. I am terrified.

But I cannot run from the words that thrum in my soul, beating against my ribs like a cage, demanding that I let them loose before they destroy me from inside. I cannot shut my mouth from shouting the music that has swelled in my lungs.

If I am mocked, so be it. If I am ridiculous, so be it. If you would parade me through the streets like Lady Godiva, then I will climb onto the horse and ride with the wind in my hair, naked and unashamed.

On NaNoWriMo 2012: An update for those who wonder

December 11, 2012 9 comments

It’s December 12th. NaNoWriMo ended twelve days ago. On November 25th, I had reached over 42,000 words. The end was in sight. And then the world fell apart.

Late that Sunday night (the 25th), I received a phone call from sister that my father was in an ICU, suffering from double pneumonia. I left for the airport around midnight so I could make it to the hospital that following day. Later that week, on November 30th, my father passed away. I wrote about this in my personal blog, which you can read here if you want.

Needless to say, during those couple of weeks, NaNoWriMo was the last thing on my mind. Even now, in the grand scheme of things, it seems pretty unimportant. But the truth is, it would have been nice to finish this year so that I “won”. But considering all that has happened, I’m going to be nice and just give myself an honorary “win”. November will return again next year.

Now I just need to care about writing again. For the moment, the passion has waned. But I’m sure it will come back … eventually.

–dp

NaNoWriMo 2012 – Day 20

November 21, 2012 Leave a comment

As George Takei would say, “Ohh Myy!”. It’s been twenty days of frenzied tapping on my keyboard, trying to keep up with the 1,667 words per day minimum. So far, I’ve been pretty successful. As of tonight, my current word count is 34,024, which is about a thousand words ahead of the pace.

Now I will admit that I’m cheating a bit this year. By that I mean I’m not actually working on one novel exclusively. For now, I’m working on two different books, adding to one or the other as mood and/or creativity strikes me. But who knows? By November 30th, maybe I’ll add to/start another one. For now, though, it’s just the two. I realize that NaNoWriMo purists will look down upon this approach as not in keeping with the true spirit of the event, but I’m okay with that. In the end, I’ll have fifty thousand new words, and that’s 50K more than I had prior to November 1st. As for whether any of those fifty thousand words will be of much use, I can only guess. But the effort has certainly greased up the wheels of creativity and sped up these fingers of mine. Funny how that works.

The month of November has also found me trying to wrap up a few stories that I hope to submit to Cemetery Dance magazine later this year, or possibly early next year, depending on when they open up for new submissions. Thanks to my wonderful wife, Debbie, I’ve gone through several revisions of one particular story. I believe it’s done, at least for the time being, so I’ve set it aside while I continue other work. No hints on the content of the story, but I will tell you the title: Detective’s Lament. Also, I’m just about finished revising another story. Once I’m done, I’ll hand it over to Debbie for her to look over. It’s currently entitled: The Mostly Come Out At Night. After that, I have one final story to edit. Then I’ll just have to hurry up and wait.

I must give kudos to Debbie. She has been awesome. She’s supported my writing efforts all the way and put up with this crazy month of November, where I hole up in my office even more than usual. And so far, she’s proven to be a great reviewer. She’s caught quite a few mistakes, and she’s been willing to tell me when something is clunky or just doesn’t work. About all she hasn’t done yet is tell me that my story sucks. Perhaps that will happen with the next one 🙂

So far, November writing has gone really well, and I’m pretty happy with how it’s all turning out. The rest of the week will find me diligently tapping out my required words, celebrating thanksgiving with friends and family, and taking a bit of time off to watch some football. After that, one final push to the end of November and 50K words and finishing up those short stories.

Good luck to all you other NaNoWriMo-ers out there. And happy thanksgiving!

–dp

Categories: Writing Tags: , ,

On writing: NaNoWriMo 2012 – day 10

November 10, 2012 1 comment

Day 10.

One third of the way through the month of November and I’m at just a shade under 20K words. Not bad. I’m pretty happy with that. If I keep up the pace that means I’ll have around 60K words in one month. If only I could write that many words every month. Never mind that what I’ve written so needs a crap load of editing, and that a portion of it will just end up going into the bit bucket. The point is getting the words out on “paper”, and that I’ve been able to do. It’s also a great way to “grease the wheel”, so to speak. When you find yourself placing your butt in your chair each day and hammering out words, it does, over the course of the 30 days, help you get in the habit of writing consistently. And, it even begins to make it easier to get those words out. Ultimately, that’s the whole point of NaNo. So for me, so far, it’s working.

As an update to what it is I’m actually working on, I’m currently splitting my time between two novels. One that I’ve been working on for quite a while and hoping to finish up, and another one that I started but hadn’t worked on in a long time. It’s kind of nice to split the work like this. Depending on my mood, I can work on one novel if I have some good ideas going. Otherwise, I can shift over to the other one and work on it. So far, so good.

Now, back to it …

–dp

Categories: Writing Tags: ,

On writing: NaNoWriMo 2012

November 1, 2012 1 comment

If it’s almost November, it must almost be time for NaNoWriMo. You know, those 30 days of literary abandon. Once again it has rolled around to November 1st, the day NaNoWriMo begins, and once again the time has flown by. As much as I’d intended to be better prepared this year, here I find myself at the beginning of November feeling as if I have no idea what to do. Truth is, I do have some idea. Several ideas, in fact. I just haven’t written them down anywhere. Ooops.

So, off I go, headed into the unknown, with hopes of either creating part of a new novel, or creating additional parts to novels I have in progress. Either way, it should be fun. Wish me luck! I’ll be back with progress over the course of the month.

–dp