Thursday, November 27, 2014

Announcing: Seven Consecutive NaNoWriMo Wins!

Yes, I did.

At 11:56 pm I validated that I have written over 50k words. I had hoped to reach the goal before Thanksgiving. And I did. Barely. But I did.

It has been challenging and fun. For a while I thought I wouldn't make it. But I did.

Now back to working on the story! I reached 50k, but as I suspected, the plot is not complete. There are words to go to actually finish the novel and I will keep on writing to the end. Then return to the other novel while this one rests.

Woo hoo!!

And my winner t-shirt arrived today. How perfect was that timing?!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The End is Within Sight

One thing I am grateful for is my Tuesday writing partner. We have missed a few weeks here and there, or one of us has, sometimes both - but we have kept it up for a while.

I'm sitting across the table from her now at the cafe. We have our laptops open and we've checked in. Now we're writing. Both of us working on our NaNoProjects, one a Pantser and one a Rebel.

detail of silk painting by Dot.
I am closing in on 50k. My total word count as of the end of Monday, is at 44,099. Which means I am 5901 from the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and November 30th. Which will give me my seventh consecutive win.

Will this story be done at 50k? No, not unless I pull out the stops and toss in some deus ex machina. I would rather keep writing and see where the story ends, which is my plan. This is a decent novel plot and I like some of my character development. It will obviously need major overhaul and clean up. I am the Pantser. This year I am the Pantser with a string leading to a plot (I still don't know who
dunnit) and a setting.

Each year I try a different approach. Last year I had a nice cast of characters going into NaNovember. This year I didn't have any characters, except a stage manager (unnamed until I started writing) and a director friend (also unnamed until he showed up on the page) and the title character, the dramaturg, which didn't show up until somewhere around 35k.

Okay. Now back to writing the NaNoNovel. I'm not sure when I will hit 50k, but I hope to do it by the end of the day on Thursday. The weekend is very busy and I'd like to have the target met so I can not stress about that with all of the other activity, and just write the story to the end.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Another Character?! Now?!

I will begin with my word count update, as of 10:30 am today: 36,834. The target by midnight tonight is 36.667, which means, all additional words written today are extra, are the padding which will help me complete this novel before the extra busy final days of NaNoWriMo.

Today I am writing in Salem. My partner is teaching an art workshop at the Art Department, Inc. and
I offered to be the chauffeur. Which also leaves me voluntarily stuck in Salem for six hours while she does her Wabi Sabi art magic, wandering the cyber-friendly cafes, writing. Yes, I planned it that way. The majority of this week has been focused on my writing, and today is no exception.

I'm starting off my writing day at The Beanery. So far, so good, as I have already written nearly 1,000 words. I'm not sure where I'll go from here, but there are several options, since I have my car parked in an all day free parking spot.

The new character I referenced in the title actually appeared a couple of days ago, for a few moments. No one important, just the new roommate of my MC's best friend. But now that she has flown out to Minneapolis - her best friend passed out for an unknown reason at a closing night party - and met the roommate, more has been revealed. The roommate is more than just that - I know, big surprise, right? Hah. The surprise is that the roommate-now-fiance has turned out to be the dramaturg! Yay. I was beginning to wonder how the dramaturg would ever fit into this story. It has taken him a long time to reveal himself and that's okay. Now he has a lot of importance to live up to, including show me why he has top billing in the title.

The story is progressing well. I have been finally able to re-immerse myself in this plot and I feel a flow. I'm going back to it now, because the creative river is most likely becoming rocky and shallow for a bit after today.

Thank you, dramaturg, for showing up. Thank you muse and creativity for carrying me along. Thank you to the powers that be for the story and the words and the ability to put them down into a relatively cohesive rough draft.

Enough! Back to it.

No dead bodies. No body parts. But there has been a fainting which may have been caused by a malcontent with revenge or cover-up on his/her mind.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Time Out to Write

This is the final night of my annual NaNoWriMo writing retreat. And I am so glad I started this tradition.

On Tuesday I arrived here with 21,668 words written. That was my ending word count at midnight on Monday, November 17th, I should have been at 28,334 if I'd been keeping up on the daily average word count. I had an appointment and a meeting on Tuesday before I headed over, which meant I started this retreat with a 6,666 word deficit. And remember that each day the goal is to write another 1.667 words in order to finish 50,000 words in 30 days.

The ending word count goal for today is 33,334. I just surpassed that number. Woo!

Tuesday I wrote 2,031 words. Yesterday I wrote 4,552 words.Today my ending word count is 33.627.

I made it! I am back on track. I hope to get in some extra writing in the next two days, because I have a few long days ahead when getting in the daily average will be tough. But I am confident I will pass the 50k mark on time. Yes, I will.

NaNoWriMo Update from the Writing Retreat

It was an interesting day. I was woken up early by several dogs singing nearby. I do mean singing. There was one dog with a very melodic voice. And several other dogs barking in reply. But it sounded like a singing dog with a backup bark chorus.

My muse then took that opportunity to appear with another piece of the novel. Either that or it was the whales playing straight out from where I'm staying calling me to watch them. As I started writing I looked out the windows and saw a spout. Then another spout, a few more. I saw them arch in the water as the waves hit the Twin Rocks and sprayed. When they quieted my attention turned back to the computer and I typed. And typed.

Until I hit the energy wall and had to go back to sleep. I'd only had about four and a half hours at that time. So I went back to bed and didn't get up again until about 12:30. The tide was heading back out, so I made brunch, ate, changed out of my pajamas into beach walking clothes.

I walked on the beach for an hour. I watched a seagull struggle with a live crab for a while, while a companion seagull kept potential seagull thieves away. It took a while, but the seagull won the war. The crab appeared to get in several good jabs and the seagull probably has scars. But the seagull won the battle. The tide came up and tried to steal the carcass away, but the bird grabbed it and dragged the heavy, now water laden body up onto the sand, not being able to get much height in its flight, but enough to save its meal.

I've been writing off and on throughout the rest of the day. Taking meal breaks, stretching breaks, and other bodily function breaks.

I did manage to get in a lot of words today. The story is making progress, though it's not surprising some of what is happening in the story. I still don't quite know exactly what the big mystery is, but it is getting closer. I have some significant hints, but a bunch of details are missing. Even the characters are wondering and they are doing their research to see who else is involved and why.

Today I wrote 4,552 words. I decreased my deficit in half, from 7000 words to 3,400.  My current word count is 28,251.

It also started raining tonight, after it got dark. They are predicting a lot of rain tomorrow, so I probably won't go for a long walk, giving me more time to write.

My goal for tomorrow is to be 100% caught up. And if luck and my muse are on my side, hopefully I will again be ahead in my word count. The words are coming a little slower than I'd like, but they came. And I am happy with what I wrote today.

One more full day of writing (Thursday), some writing time at home on Friday, and several hours of writing on Saturday.

I've got this.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Retreat: Rest, Recovery, wRiting

Quick NaNoWriMo update: My current word count is 23,699. By midnight on Tuesday, November 18th, I should have written 30,000 words to be on target. So I am only 6, 301 words behind the daily average goal.

Oh well.

I am here at the coast, in the upper level of a two story house. I have picture windows on nearly three-quarters of the walls, which give me a clear view to Twin Rocks, the beach grass, and patches of the beach itself. If it's sunny I have a front row seat and a short block walk to easy (and flat, for which my knee is grateful) beach access. For when the weather turns, which is expected on Thursday, I have a front row seat to the white caps and blowing wave crests, the wind blowing sand and the pounding rain. No matter the weather, this is perfect.

I have internet access and cable TV, a dvd player. I brought healthy food and tasty snacks, tea and coffee, wine and chocolate. I don't have to leave the house except for walks.

I will write. I have written since I've been here. A little over two thousand words tonight. My goal will be to get caught up and a bit ahead. After I return home on Friday I have a writers meeting that night, and more time to write. And on Saturday I will play chauffeur and then, while she teaches an art workshop, I will cafe and coffee shop hop and write.

I will reach 50k and beyond.

I will get into a flow soon. After some sleep. Tuesday was a long and intense day, all done on not quite enough sleep.

Right now I am going to try to get out a few more words and then go to bed. Tomorrow will be a new writing day and tomorrow I can sleep until I'm ready to wake up. No alarms. No appointments. Just me and my laptop and the ocean and a novel to continue writing.

I can do this.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Still Writing; Retreat in One Day

My NaNoWriMo word count is 21,498. That is still about 5k behind schedule. One more day of work (tomorrow) and a couple of appointments Tuesday morning - then I will be off work until next Sunday. Three nights at my coast writing retreat; another day will have several hours for an extended writing session.

So I'm not worried. Not at the moment, anyway. I will get caught up and get this story done. 

No dead bodies. No body parts. 

But the Minnesota director just seemed to pass out and that mysterious dusty small limo was seen leaving the theater. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

NaNoWriUh-Oh update

Oh boy. I missed a day of writing on Wednesday. Then interpreted a play on Thursday and had final preparation to do - on top of the non-SnoPocalypse which became a mild IcePocalypse. But my word count was very low on Thursday, too.

I just checked the stats and I think this is the farthest behind I have been in any NaNoWriMo to date. Yikes!

As of right now, just a little past midnight on November 14th, I am only at 17,484. I was just a little under 17k as of midnight, which means I was "only" about 4700 words behind. Yikes and yikes. And wow.

Tomorrow is a full and long work day. Tomorrow-now-today. I am contemplating whether to stay up and write more now, or get to bed and then get up earlier and write. There is no right or wrong answer to that question. For me, usually, staying up later works better. But I interpreted a play tonight and I'm tired - so sleep may be the better option.

I know I won't write enough on Friday to get caught up. But I will aim to close the gap a bit on Saturday. Saturday is the halfway mark and the goal is to have 25,000 words written by the end of the day. I don't know if I will make that, but I will give it my best shot.

And I do have the writing retreat next week. I will get caught up. I will finish. And now that this play is done, hopefully, I can get more back into the story I'm writing. The play was good, my team interpreter and I had a good time and I felt prepared, and we had a great turnout. But that story took a lot of focus and preparation and brain space. Now I need that space back for my novel writing!

I am not giving up. I am trying to let go of being 2 1/2 days worth of words behind; the frustration of that will only slow me down.

In the story - the beginnings of an inciting incident are there. It doesn't make sense to me yet - it doesn't seem "big enough" to warrant what is happening, but I anticipate more will be revealed. My MC has been ordered to go "walk it off" during which it seems that she is probably going to contact the friend in Minnesota.

No dead bodies, still. No body parts. Only two conflicting Masters degree transcripts and the threat of losing her job because her qualifications seem to have been faked. Or altered.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NaNo(Slug)Mo - Oh, It's Week Two

Right up front: my current word count (through November 11th) is 15,779.

Which puts me at 2,555 words behind where I would be if I kept up with the daily average of 1,667.

Which is why I started off with a big push at the first midnight write-in and on November 1st. I knew things would get a little busy. I didn't know how busy my schedule would become, with unexpected (but not unwelcome) opportunities, and much "figuring out" to do.

Which is also why I have the writing retreat planned for next week. Just me and my laptop, and everything I need for the time I'm there so the only reason I have to leave is to walk on the beach or soak in the hot tub on the lower deck. Otherwise, it's writing, sleeping, eating + writing, drinking wine + writing, sleeping, eating, writing. You know.

So what. I'm a bit behind.

The story is still progressing. I have quite a full cast of characters and many directions are possible. The big kaboom is about to happen. My MC has a folder in her hand containing documents of .... I don't know yet. They're important but I had to get to work, so I don't know what the folder contains. Other than a civil rights action photograph from an old newspaper.

No dead bodies.

No body parts!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

NaNoWriMo Snapshot Day 8

No, literally. A snapshot of my word count! I hope to write more later today, but in case I don't, here is what I have: 12901 words. 

It has been a very busy few days and word count has slowed. Work and theater and a lot of hours related to theater. It's all good and I'm not complaining - only commenting that writing time has been catch as I can recently. 

The story is still progressing. My MC, the stage manager, has just arrived to work and platters of cookies made by the volunteers. ‎She is about to walk into the AD's office and I have to foreboding that the inciting incident is just ahead. Which makes this the perfect spot to pause and return to the theater for my rehearsal/their opening night. 

In the plot:
No dead bodies. 
No body parts. 
A great lineup of characters with some clashing agendas and at least one has a bit of malice in mind. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

NaNoWriMo Report for Day 5

The words came slowly yesterday. In spurts around other things I had to do. But they did show up. My end of day total word count was 11,245. I am maintaining my word cushion, which is good, since there are some days ahead when writing time will be scarce to none.

My main character had an encounter with another neighbor. Not an alien. Not a serial murderer. She was a little odd and hinted at cracks in time. The main character has written that off to the neighbor's eccentricities and too much time on her hands. Right now my main character is getting ready for work and looking forward to it. The story returns to the theater and that is good!

This is the point in NaNoWriMo when it usually gets a little harder. At the end of week one, beginning of week two. The momentum of the first week, the thrill of a new story, the excitement about what will happen slows. I start wondering where this story is going and how will it get there. I'm along for the ride but the road is less clear. I am confident I will reach 50,000 words in time, but I also need something to happen. The excitement of doing NaNoWriMo is present  - and now the story itself needs a bit of excitement. The foreshadowing or hints of an inciting incident are great, and it is time for the incident.

In the meantime, I'll keep writing. And waiting. It will happen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NaNoWriMo Report Day 4 : Author or Alien?

My ending word count for day 4 of "Cue the Damaturg" is 9.497! Thanks to my Tuesday writing buddy, I was there - not quite at the appointed time as I was running a little slow this morning - but I was there. And she was there. And we wrote. Both of us working on our NaNoWriMo projects.

She is a NaNoRebel and, well, she is writing and aiming for the same goals, just a different project. But still writing new content every day and aiming for 50k.

She wrote. I wrote. I got into a flow and another character appeared on Lisa June's walk. At first it seemed that this character was going to turn out to be an alien. With what had happened a few pages before, it was possible and things were leaning that way. I was screaming "no, no, no aliens" in my head but I just kept typing. I made a commitment to follow my characters anywhere and so I kept typing.

And hoping that this wasn't an alien.

As the two characters talked, this odd man became a little less odd. And my Main Character became less afraid and was talking to him more. Then he explained what he meant by "lost" and that the person he was chasing was his main character, that he was, in fact, an author!

I giggled as I typed. I was hoping for an author to show up. Because I am hoping to get in some work on the novel I'm editing, and if there is an author in this book, then those words can be a part of this authors book and part of the Cue the Dramaturg story! My author showed up today and I found it funny that he might be an alien. I like it when I chuckle at my own writing.

Still no body parts and no dead bodies. There is nothing wrong with mysteries and dead bodies in stories - I'd just like to try writing a different type of novel this year. As evidenced by being willing to accept an alien in my story, I will take dead bodies if they appear and it will turn into a mystery if it must. But I will be really smiling if things progress as they are and I have a full first draft that is not a mystery.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

NaNoWriMo Report Day 3 : It Had to Happen Sooner or Later

I may as well get the low word count days done at the beginning, right? No, not right, but that's what happened yesterday. My word count at the end of the day was 6,675. That leaves me a little bit ahead of where I should be right now (5,000 words), but my flex zone is shrinking.

Losing track of time, traffic, other excuses and reasons. My Monday word count was low but I'm not beating myself up about it.

I did get to the pool and got in my laps. Which is great and my body will thank me. But it left me with less time than I'd hoped and then I forgot something and had to go by home, at which point I gave up the getting in my word count before work plan.

Letting it go. And moving ahead. Back to writing the novel and seeing what happens on Lisa June's walk. Especially given what happened before she headed out. I will aim for at least 1667 words as Lisa June aims to increase her pace.


Monday, November 3, 2014

NaNoWriMo Update Day 2: New Charaters, Foreshadowing

photo: Christopher Allen, Old Light Board: Masonic Temple Theatre

Let me start with my updated word count, because ... I closed out day two with 6,273 words. That is really good.

And I like the story so far.

And, no, I still don't really know what it's all about. But I have met a couple of interesting new characters. There was also another piece of information planted which may grow into a tree. And I ended my writing session with a bit of intrigue.

That is the strategy I am trying to use this year to keep me coming back to the page and to keep the story (maybe) more cohesive than some NaNoFirstDrafts. Leave *myself* hanging. End the day's writing session with something to come back to. If I can't do that in the writing session, at least try to have something interesting, exciting, or a big twist by the end of the day.

That happened today. The two new characters both work in a theater in Minneapolis. (No influence from having recently spent a week with three fabulous writers from Minnesota - no, not at all! And thank you to Jessie, MB, and Judy.) The planted seeds happened at the theater on closing night of the production.

The "ooh, what's going to happen next? What's it all about Alfie?" moment at the close of my writing session was a dusty stretch limo pulling away from the curb. This happened as the lighting and sound operators were sneaking out the back door of the theater to avoid the lobby crowd after the show.

A fun writing day and good momentum on the story.

Oh. And no dead bodies. No body parts.

photo: Insomnia Cured Here, Dusty limo

Sunday, November 2, 2014

NaNoWriMo Report Day 1

At the end of the first day of NaNoWriMo my word count is 4,214. That is a good amount to get this novel on the way towards 50,000. That also includes a little trip to Salem with my partner, for her meeting with the owner of The Art Department Inc., where she'll be teaching an art workshop in three weeks: I had put my laptop in the car, in case I was able to get in some novel writing while she was in her meeting, but that didn't work out. Which was okay.

I also had to do my laundry today. In previous years, I've made sure everything is clean before the NaNoKickOff, but I didn't get to it this year. It didn't turn out to be a big deal, because I can write while my clothes spin. And I did.

Two more characters have joined the cast - the stage lighting operator and the sound operator for my MC's graduate school friend. It seems there were a couple of big deal producers at the closing night of the play who have some extra money to throw around. The director is hoping for a little of it to come his way.

So far, no dead bodies and no body parts. This is good. This year I'm hoping I might write a novel, not a mystery. If it turns into a mystery, that's fine. Really, it is. But I thought it would be fun to try, again, for a more mainstream story. Try for a different type of plot and story progress which doesn't involved dead people.

Besides, I have the mystery novel I'm already editing. One other year I set the intention of not writing a mystery and it turned into one. I've read a couple of outstanding novels recently which weren't mysteries, so I'm hoping those will rub off a bit. I have nothing against mysteries, I love them and read a lot of them. I'd just like to try something else for a change, but I will still follow where the characters want to go.

So far we're in theaterville, two of them. One the world of my MC stage manager, the other of her old friend who is a director, and his lighting and sound leads.

For now, it's good night. I want to catch some sleep so that I can swim and write before I go to work tomorrow. Because once I'm at work, I doubt I'll get any words built on the novel; unless something exciting happens and I can write in five to ten minute spurts!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Annual Strengthen Your Writing Practice Event is Under Way

After the countdown to midnight the event commenced with a hearty "go!"

About forty-five NaNoWriters gathered at PDX (Portland International Airport) in the food court to start another year of NaNoWriMo. Some of us were from NaNoPortland and some were from NaNoVancouver (WA). Here in the Pacific Northwest we are not the last group to get started - but almost. Hawaii and her time zone neighbors still had another hour to wait after we were well under way.

The goal of the midnight NaNoWrite-In is to get your first day's word count in before you go to bed. For some of us, the time is not a problem. Like me, because I often work very late, so staying up until 2 AM is kind of normal. For some, that is well past their bedtime and their bodies were dragging along, kicking and screaming with their characters, asking why they couldn't wait until morning; real morning.

One year I didn't go to the midnight write-in. I thought it wouldn't make a difference and I had scheduled myself to work and I thought, really, No Big Deal.

I was wrong.

For me, being there at midnight with other writers, all driving our words towards a common goal, is important in terms of the tone for the month. I set an intent and follow it with an action. In community. Most of these people I don't know at all and may only see once or twice during the month, if that, if I can get to a write-in where they also happen to be. Most NaNoVembers I only make it to one or two write-ins. So the bulk of my NaNoNovel is written alone, at home or in a coffee shop, on breaks at work, in my car.

Midnight as October becomes November is my This Is It time.

It is also my annual renewal to daily writing. The daily writing practice is my struggle. I make the commitment, I do it for awhile, then a day slips here and there, then I miss two consecutive days. I keep trying.

Balance! Balance? Yes.

Even in NaNoVember, I sometimes miss a day or two. Not many, because it doesn't take long to fall behind in the word count. Which is another reason I go to the first midnight write-in : to get a head start on my novel. I will write again today, try to get another full day's word count in the story. This gives me some flex room for the busier days when I can't get in as much time and the goal of an average of 1667 words per day becomes undoable. (I am deliberately avoiding the word, "impossible.") This is also the reason I have taken to scheduling a personal writing retreat around the middle of every NaNoVember: to catch up to myself in word count and sprint ahead. I take three to four days and go to the coast just to write. I pack up some food and huddle in an ocean front rental with my laptop, a bottle of wine, good food, and let the water and sand and air support and inspire at whatever hour of the day or night and I write. And write.

So every NaNoVember, I recommit to writing every day. And if it doesn't happen every day, then I make sure to have some longer blocks of time committed to my writing. Like the recent writing retreat in Rockaway Beach with a wonderful group of writers.

Okay. My word count when I left the write in was 2520 words, by 2:15 AM. As I was drifting off to sleep, my main character, whom I thanked profusely for showing up at 12:02 AM this morning, told me that I gave her the wrong name. I promised her I would change it when I got back to the laptop; I agree that her real name is better.

Get ready for my NaNoWriMo daily updates. Another commitment I make in NaNoVember: to post my word counts each day and give periodic updates on the story, probably.

The working title of my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel is "Cue the Dramaturg." So far I have my main character, Lisa June, and her cat, Charlie Dean. Lisa Jean's best friend, Christopher, has been mentioned but we haven't met him, yet. I think he will be making an appearance soon. There has also been mention of Lisa June's ex, Minea, whom we also haven't met and their has been a little foreshadowing about the Ex, but I don't know what that's about, yet.