Holy crap, I’m doing NaNo again (and I did a guest blog!)

The NaNoWriMo crest…which makes me think of writing as a viking-esque pursuit.

If you’ve been following my exploits for many years now, you’ll know that when I first started this blog, I did this crazy thing called NaNoWriMo (it started like this and ended like this). The main thing I learned from it is that it’s a really amazing experience, where you just have to write. It’s not about the editing, or even the cohesion of the story – or even finishing a story. It’s about getting 50,000 words on the page (or screen) and doing it in 30 days. This may sound redundant or pedantic, or some other long-ish word that my tired brain is pulling out of a hat, but that’s really what it is. It completely took over my life, and that’s when I was in school specifically to write creatively. My life is different now. Now I am a PhD student who has academic and critical things to write. Some of these things are due very soon. But I’ve realized that my passion is all-things fiction, both in analyzing it and writing it. I’ve really missed writing it. And what’s amazing is that I’ve looked back at some of the stuff I’ve written and I’ve liked it. This is completely bizarre and jarring, but very uplifting and inspiring. It makes me feel like this time, that this NaNo will maybe be more than just a word count and a bragging tool. This time, I will produce something that I will continue to work on after November, that I will edit and polish and finish. That I will actually write a novel.

Look, it's me as a viking! This picture is proof that I can write like a viking and conquer NaNoWriMo.
Look, it’s me as a viking! This picture is proof that I can write like a viking and conquer NaNoWriMo.

ALL OF WHICH I HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH WHILE STILL WRITING INTELLIGENT AND COHERENT ACADEMIC STUFF. GAH, WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BRAIN??

Not enough coffee. Always the answer. Must to get more of the coffee stuff and to drink it lots and lots.

On a slightly different note, but really one that is just further proving my love of all things young-adult fiction-y, I wrote a guest blog post! In fact, I am going to be a contributor on said blog, where I will write even more posts! It’s this great children’s literature site called The Book Wars and it’s written by some other awesome academic people who also happen to study children’s literature. What a crazy random happenstance! My first post was about Tamora Pierce and essentially how everything she’s written is bad-ass and feminist and is full of life lessons. You can check it out here if you are so inclined.

Some of the glorious publications from the magical Tamora Pierce.

Well okay kids, as you can see, I have a lot of writing in my future. For example, I need to go write another 517 words to reach my 1,667 daily word count goal. Don’t worry – I’m sure to use this blog as a sounding board and procrastination tool. And let’s not forget shameless promoter of myself! But really, aren’t you all glad that I’m using wordpress and writing a blog like this, as opposed to writing a livejournal? Oh, the sappy and emo posts I used to make…Moral of the story: be glad and dance in the streets that I am no longer an angst-ridden teenager. I make a much better and less-public-sadness-inflicting angst-ridden grown-up.

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Winner: NaNoWriMo Success

I did it! I actually did it! 50,000 words in 30 days. I didn’t really think I could do it. There were days when I definitely thought I wouldn’t make it. But I did!

And the best part? It’s not all worthless. No, it’s definitely not a novel (it’s maybe 2/3 of the story? maybe only half?) and not only do I have more of it to write, there’s so much of it to edit. But I finally got a big chunk of this story out of my head and it’s been rummaging around my brain for the past five years, so it’s feeling pretty good. Maybe some ice cream for celebrating is in order….

NaNo Winner
Really explains itself, doesn't it?

Now if only I didn’t have schoolwork to finish.

Maybe proper celebrating will happen this weekend, when a fair amount of my creative writing course is headed off on a writer’s retreat. We’ve rented a large house outside of Edinburgh where we will read, write, eat and drink. Maybe sleep. Maybe do some trust falls. You know, writerly stuff.

As happy as I am that it’s over, I’m going to miss NaNoWriMo. This month has been crazy, and while I’ve mostly kept my life together there have been a few nights when I haven’t gone out because I needed to write. But overall it’s been a really great experience, and I’ve learned a lot about myself, both as a writer and as a person.

Who knows? Maybe next November will tempt me again. We’ll see…

Crazy Days: The Last 48 Hours of NaNoWriMo

Okay. It’s been a week since I’ve posted, and that’s purely because I’ve gone NaNo crazy. The lack of sleep, abuse of caffeine and huge word-count days have kicked in. The past two days I’ve written about 9,000 words and had several cups of coffee. I’ve talked about my story and my word count to almost everyone I’ve sat down with, and the overall synopsis is: GOOD JOB, KATY!

In the sense that they’re proud of me for being able to produce so many words in such a short amount of time.

It’s like I said before–NaNoWriMo might not have me producing the best novel ever, but it’s getting part of a first draft out of my system. I’m not over-thinking what I’m writing and it’s magnificent. I know I’ll be cutting and editing and adding for many months after November, but for the first time I’ve really immersed myself in my story. My novel, if you may. And I’m absolutely loving it.

One of my professors showed us this Pablo Picasso quotation last Thursday. “El enemigo principal de la creatividad es el buen gusto.”

OR

The main enemy of creativity is common sense.

This November hasn’t been logical. My writing process has been crazy. I’ve occasionally felt discouraged and told myself it’s a silly, arbitrary goal that really doesn’t mean anything in the end.

But damnit, YES IT DOES. I will get to 50,000 words by November 30th and I will be a NaNoWriMo winner.

And then I will sleep for days and days and days.

Water Zorbing and the Joy of Writing

I have nothing against hamsters. In fact, I think they’re kind of cute. With the exception of when they eat their young. That’s too Greek for me. However, after this past week, I know how hamsters feel.

Again, not how they feel when they eat their young. Cause that’s gross and I don’t eat babies.

As I mentioned earlier, reading week (a time when little reading actually occurs) just happened. I spent a chunk of my time in Edinburgh, one of my favorite places ever. It’s the only city I’ve visited which melds the shiny and new with the old and fascinating in a way that doesn’t make me cringe. Plus there are bagpipes everywhere. Sometimes they even sound good.

But I’ve never before experienced the wonder of water zorbing, available just outside of Edinburgh in a place called Leadburn Manor, and this is what led to my hamster sympathizing. I think the following picture explains pretty much everything.

water zorbing
Me attempting to walk on water

Yep. Water zorbing is where you climb into a soft plastic bubble and then a man inflates it with what looks like a leaf-blower. He then shoves you out onto a pond–after making sure you don’t have any buttons, zippers or other sharp objects on your person–and pulls you around by a long rope. There are no rules to what you do inside the ball, but as you can see I tried to stand. I pictured myself running along the water, much like the hamsters do in their hamster balls. I don’t know if you can see the pained expression on my face, but it’s not as easy as it looks.

Difficulty of walking on water aside, water zorbing was a lot of fun. I probably had more fun taking pictures of Gavin looking silly once it was his turn, but that’s only because it was less exhausting. And because I don’t get to make fun of him nearly enough.

 

As always, a quick word about NaNo.

Something I didn’t expect to happen during this crazy month of November was how much I’d enjoy pounding out words. I’ve always loved writing…well, no. I’ve always loved having written something and completed it and finished editing it and having people say oh that’s a nice story, good job. For the first time I’m really understanding my characters and know where the story’s actually going. I’ve known the overarching ideas for a long time, but now I’m getting into the day-to-day lives of these people. It’s wonderful. Writing so many words a day has forced me to forego agonizing over each turn of phrase and has allowed me to simply throw everything down on hypothetical paper. I’m throwing up on the page and loving it.

I understand that once November is over and I’ve (hopefully) reached 50,000 words that the writing process isn’t over. I’m sure by the end of it all, much of what I’ve written this month will be gone or changed or hidden under my mattress, never to be spoken of again. But I think it’s going to help me in the long run. I’ll have a great kicking off point for actually achieving something tangible. Something written. And damn I’m excited.

So for everyone not doing NaNoWriMo but wanting to write–just do it. If it’s your first draft, don’t worry about the nitty gritty. You can go back and fix it later. I’ve loved writing my entire life, but for the very first time I’m experiencing the joy of it.

 

 

Showering is for the Weak: NaNoWriMo Day Two

I won’t lie–I didn’t shower yesterday. I also stayed up until three in the morning because I was so jazzed from all the coffee I drank. And all the writing I did. I’m thinking that it was a combination of coffee and writing that kept me from showering. Here’s how I got there.

Coffee = Ability to focus

Lots of coffee = Super focus crazy time

NaNoWriMo = crazy time

Lots of coffee + NaNoWriMo = NO TIME TO SHOWER. If you’re not smelly you’re not doing it right. Or not doing it write…get it??

Below is a picture of me from about a year ago when I also hadn’t showered in a day or so. I think the longest I’ve gone without showering is three days, and that’s because I was sailing on a tall ship and we were only allowed to take showers every three days. If you want to see dirty wait until you see boys who decide that they don’t even need to shower that often…or use deodorant…

Shampoo Free
A picture from when I was in Wyoming and living the Shampoo Free Life.

Fear not: I showered this morning. And it felt great. I also wrote a fair amount, so it is now clear to me that there’s no causal relationship between not showering and a high word count (thanks, stats class!). I shall try to do it every day for the rest of November.

I make no promises, though.

Words written today: 1,790

Total word count: 6,027

AND for getting through that shower nonsense, here’s an excerpt from what will hopefully one day be my novel (keep in mind we’re still in first-ish draft territory):

Calloway had never seen grass in the ground before. He remembered his mother kept pots of it at home after their healer suggested it would be good for her to look after something. He had seen screen shots of clearings and meadows and fields but had never walked on grass before. It stretched on for miles until it ran into a mountain covered with buildings. He knew the rest of the farm was carved deep into the core of the mountain, with rooms for the herders and healers and staff. But all he could do was stare at the grass. He’d known it would be here, but knowing was different than seeing. The different hues of green and the yellow tall-grass and specks of brown where the soil had worn through captivated him. Paddocks dimpled the pasture at regular intervals and he watched as the PlusOnes frolicked in the sunshine.