Sunday, November 30, 2003
I suppose after doing this twice I have a certain sense of confidence, one that almost replaces the actual act. I know I can write a novel in a month because I have written a novel in a month, so why do I have to write a novel in a month?
But I started a novel. So, I have to finish a novel. And so I did. I killed them all. Well, not everyone. Damon lives (mostly because he’s doing the killing) but Dympna, Brother Gerebran, Raina and the Minstrel are murdered.
I went over to The Coffee Table and sat in the back and had a little split pea soup and green tea with ginger and just wrote the ending.
The manuscript itself is a horrible mess. I abandoned using chapter headings back at chapter three, and I’m not sure I even marked breaks. I wrote the fairy tale piece as one long chapter, but it’s really supposed to be interspersed in alternating chapters. But if I don’t have chapters, how am I supposed to alternate. I suppose I only have four chapters ... I never did any spell check. I know there are several large gaps and other continuity errors.
But such is the way with NaNovels. For now I am going to go to bed with a gentle sense of self-confidence. Not only did I write a novel in a month, but my tally shows that I spent a scant 32 hours actually at the keyboard working on it. So how much can anyone expect?
Yes, it’s hard to end a novel when you know how it’s going to end, oddly enough. I knew from the very beginning that the novel would end with my main character dead. (I hope I haven’t spoiled anything for you, but you must have figured if it’s the story of a Christian martyr that they do end up dead at the end ... always.)
But for the past week I knew that I was not going to write today, at least not during the day. November is a stressful month and deserves a little diverson.
I went for a hike today with the Man and wrimo Will. We went to Devil’s Punchbowl in the Angeles National Forest. We went off the trail, which has its benefits, and drawbacks if you end up getting. Which we weren’t, seeing how we always knew where were, just not necessarily how to get back to where we knew we wanted to be.
Oh, and I took lots of photos!
Saturday, November 29, 2003
You’d expect a binge on Thanksgiving day. I mean, it is the eating holiday. But I don’t suppose there’s a binge expected on the Saturday after.
I slept in. An essential prequel to a binge, if you ask me. And you should, since I’m an expert of the easy binge. I showered and did my emails and such and then I headed over to Espresso Mi Cultura in Hollywood. I found a spot on my second loop around the block, which is good because I really, really wanted a Mexican mocha with a double shot of espresso. I’m really not much for sugary drinks (I like my sugar in my candy, thank you very much), but a Mexican mocha is a very, very nice way to start a binge.
That leaves me less than 3,000 words to wrap up the story. Unfortunately it’s not that easy. I’ve only accounted for two miracles, but I figure I can just skip over the third, because I find no mention of it in the listings of her life story anyway. It’s a novel, not a petition to the Pope for beatification, after all. I’ve gotten them to Gheel. Now I just have to have the spies find Dymphna and have Damon come after her.
I’ll try to post later with the latest version. Right now the one that’s up is 12,000 words shy of where I am now. I’m sure you’re all following along with the home game, right?
Friday, November 28, 2003
Ah, the holidays. I didn’t figure on writing on Friday, but then again, I did think that I could get some words down on Wednesday, so it was only catch-up.
We went down to Crystal Cove in Orange County to the beach for the afternoon. I got some cool photos ...
Then home and off to The Coffee Table in Silverlake for some words before dessert.
I wrote a horrible scene (in the sense that it was emotional) where Damon kills his horse when it comes up with a broken leg after a tumble in a stream bed while chasing Dymphna. But it’ll give me a good spot to start from tomorrow.
Monday, November 24, 2003
Yes, in an effort to assuage the sense of doom I’m getting over the bad, bad novel I’m writing (see, I wanted to write a decent story ...) I’ve gone back and dug out my first novel.
I’ve not looked at it since I finished it way back in November of 2001. I might have glanced through it when I exchanged novels with some other wrimos back in the early days of the nascient 21st century, but other than that it’s been sitting on my hard drive.
Well, I don’t recognize it. I opened the file in order to make a PDF, and I really didn’t recongize it. I didn’t even realize that the main character’s name was Alicia. That doesn’t sound like a name I would give a character. Well, I must have. I don’t think someone found the file on my computer and did a global find & replace. But maybe our firewall isn’t as good as I thought ...
Anyway, it’s up now. Have a great time reading it!
To bring you up to date, I did not write this weekend. I did a brief session over at Silverlake Coffee Company, but the blaring music, bad service and incessant smoking caused me to leave halfway through my three hour session. So I only got about 2,500 words for the weekend. I’m planning to write LOTS AND LOTS later this week. Maybe a session on Wednesday and then doubling down on Saturday and into Sunday. Whee, a last minute wordcram!
Sunday, November 23, 2003
Yes, it’s Sunday and I haven’t done my 10K for the weekend. Yet what I’d really rather do is paint. Paint in the kitchen and make my house pretty. I can make my house pretty (or prettier ... it’s pretty much a mess) and everyone will look at it and praise me.
Or I can keep writing a novel that gets shittier by the day and feel only the satisfaction of completing the task because I really won’t have anything of value to show for it.
Maybe I can paint a little now and write a little and then paint a little.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
I’m planning on writing out again this evening and probably tomorrow, too.
Things are going along okay with the novel. The pacing, again, is off. I feel like I haven’t gotten the story going very well, but I think I feel that way every year around the 30K mark. Someday I’m gonna write a novel that is just crammed full of plot and when I run out of plot I’ll just cram some more in there. But that’ll be another year.
This year I’ve got a plot and involves a girl running away from home in order to keep her father from forcing her to marry him. And he’s just now announced that he intends to marry his daughter. I’m at 27,000 words and he’s just now mentioned this?
I know, I know. Just write it and worry about it later. I will. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, I will. I’m just talkin’, you know? Because I hadn’t updated my blog and I wanted to let you know that I hadn’t forgotten about it.
I also spent a little time fixing my excel status spreadsheet. It was misbehaving because I wasn’t writing every day. So I just took out the days I wasn’t writing, so it won’t have 30 rows like it’s supposed to have. It’ll probably only have about 14 rows. Let me know if it’s still not working properly.
Sunday, November 16, 2003
A flexible schedule is key, I guess. I got about 3K under my belt by just letting a few loads of laundry slide. I just figured I should try if I can. So I did. And it’s done. I’m over the half-way hump. I’m not at the 30,000 mark, which is where I’d like to be, but I’ll take what I can get at the moment.
So, since it was late in the evening, I went local, to the Silverlake Coffee Company. Unfortunately it was the busiest I’d ever seen it, so I had to settle for a seat outside. I’m a whiner and I’m gonna tell you it was just a smidge too cold for the manual dexterity needed to operate a keyboard.
I had a lemon bar and a large cup of gen mai cha. They really have the best tea there. I don’t know if it’s because it’s loose tea or because they’re very generous with it.
The first twenty minutes were a bust as I moved tables twice, but you get the idea here:
So, the goal is to go out on Wednesday night and perhaps get another five thousand words under my belt. Maybe they’ll even be good words.
Saturday, November 15, 2003
I’m working on it! I’m working very hard on it! I went out to Silverlake Coffee Company today from noon to three. I did a little over 5,000 words.
I had a nonfat latte and vegetarian sandwich, this time without mustard and without mayonaise.
The afternoon went something like this:
So, to reward myself I walked across the street to Rockaway (I don’t actually recommend that website, btw, it’s quite annoying, though it may actually have some good content) and bought myself two used CDs, one was the missing Enya and the other was a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I actually wanted one of those monk chanting CDs, just for writing purposes because I’m having trouble with my first plot.
I headed home for a little while and took the dog out. She had a little upset tummy earlier this afternoon, so I wanted to check up on her before I headed out again.
Then I headed over to Rocktitlan in Hollywood.
I had a Mexican hot chocolate with a shot of espresso and one of the worst croissants ever. (It was small, sticky, had milk chocolate instead of dark and was more bready than buttery.)
That’s okay, I got lots done, a little over 4,500 in two hours.
That brings the tally for the day to 9,638 and my total so far is 23,953. So I’m a little more than a thousand off of half-way, but it certainly not an unrecoupable lag.
Oh, drat! This is not what novel I belong in. I mean, the Oscar Wilde thing is dead on, but Dorian Grey ... sigh. I thought I’d end up in ... jeepers, I don’t think I even know what novel I should end up in. I won’t even tell you what tripe popular novel I ended up in with the other quiz I took.
Which Classic Novel do You Belong In?
brought to you by Quizilla
Thursday, November 13, 2003
I like to think of myself as a sidelines person, mostly because I know I’m a control freak and would probably try to dominate anything that I get involved with. But here it is, the middle of November and I am again Municipal Liaison for Los Angeles for National Novel Writing Month.
Perhaps I’ve embraced the ideals of NaNoWriMo a little too whole-heartedly or perhaps I’ve just appointed myself a vehment disciple or knighted myself, or perhaps I’m just angling for a fight.
What am I talking about? Rules. The rules for the damn challenge.
I think I’m a purist at heart. In all things. I don’t like hybridized things (well, except my new car, but that’s another story). If you’re going to bake a cake, make it a real cake with sugar and flour and all that, because making something out of soy and apple peels is not the same thing, it’s a valid thing, but I don’t consider it a cake.
I think NaNoWriMo should be preserved in all its purity. Write a novel of at least 50,000 words in one month. Period. A pure work from your own mind within the month of November. Sure, your idea comes from somewhere, something that may have happened to you, or an idea sparked by a painting or a cartoon, but it should be something you create.
I’ve taken it upon myself to spread this message on the NaNoWriMo Forums. Not in an evangelistic way - I don’t go inserting myself into every conversation saying that folks are not following the rules. I just hang out in a little poorly traveled corner and hope to answer questions.
Sure, I probably come off sounding like a have some sort of exclusionist view or superior attitude. But they asked, didn’t they? Who did they think would answer.
Anyway, my rules for writing a novel in a month. The novel must be started and finished within the month of November. No pre-writing (I had character names and a map of Ireland from the middle ages as reference). No picking up an unfinished work. No stopping at 50,000 words. That’s right, the story must come to some sort of conclusion - no matter how hastily and awkwardly tacked on, it will end.
Now is that so hard?
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
No sleet, but it was rather chilly this evening and we had an actual thunderstorm here in Los Angeles. I don’t have much time lately with work and this short film thing (I’ll explain that some other time) and the municipal liaison thing and then the kitchen and all that rot.
I went over to The Coffee Table and sat on the back patio in the waning rain and the kerosene heaters and popped my earbuds in with my celtic/new age mix.
As I posted on my excerpt at the NaNoWriMo site, I have nothing much to say about the actual thing. I don’t recommend reading it, especially at this juncture. I’m working on the interwoven story, but I haven’t done that yet, so it just sits there like a turd in the wrong spot (I’m not sure the right spot for a turd, maybe a kitty litter box or a toilet, but I digress). So, I can only beg your forgiveness or at the very least caution you not to give a looksee until maybe December fifth or so. If even then.
But here it is in a nutshell, this is how Word AutoSummarized the thing:
So, that about brings you up to date. I’ve got a character named Dymphna and she has some sort of trouble with her neck.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
I know, I complain a lot. But this is a blog. Which I think is Dutch for whine. I’ve noticed that weblogs.com has not been showing me as an updated blog when I put a new entry up.
I know, there are only three or four of you reading and you don’t need to see that I’m updated on weblogs.com, but it’s a feature of blogger and I’d like it to work.
So, I’m going to try to do it manually.
Sunday, November 09, 2003
So, as I posted in the Los Angeles Forum I went out to Pasadena to write out with other wrimos at Zeli’s which is located inside Vroman’s bookstore on Colorado Blvd. I got there a little after two and realized immediately that this was the worst possible place to write. The coffee house was cute enough, with some sort of revival gothic theme with pointed arches and iron light fixtures. And wrought iron furniture.
The tables were low or high, small or huge. But as far as I could tell, there was no way to match a level surface to a comfortable chair in order to type. So, I pulled a small side table up to a little couch that had a cushion on it of the same level as the table and I set up my laptop and just hunched over it and typed. I got about 1,000 words in before the first wrimo showed up. Overall, the day netted 4,505 words. I’m still behind where I should be at this date, but I know that I will be able to write one evening this week (I didn’t last week) and I’ll catch up.
It’s a great bookstore, and the coffee house would be great to hang out in under other circumstances, but for a novelling location, I found it a little off. But who am I to argue with 4.5K?
Saturday, November 08, 2003
I went out this evening, having decided that it was too cloudly to watch the eclipse with the intention of making 10K (that’s 6K in one sitting for those following along at home).
Well, best laid plans and all that rot. I got to the Silverlake Coffee Company. It’s blissfully deserted. Just me and the guy who works there. The music is loud, he’s playing Blur, I think. But I drop my laptop on the table closest to the door and order:
1 large cup of Gen Mai Cha (green tea with toasted rice)
I settle in and when the fellow behind the coffee bar disappears (he sits out back and smokes), I went and found him and asked if he was going to sit outside if he could turn the music down. Which he did obligingly.
And I got to writing. A few more people came in and a few left. Then a fellow started moving tables around. Then he brought in a couple of guitars and a small amp. Oh, there’s live music on Saturdays. I’m the only one there, except for a kid at one of the computer terminals, I think he’s the owners son. The guitarist introduces himself, to me, because I’m the only one there. Steven. He usually has a vocalist, but she’s sick right now. So, he played for me. Ordinarily I wouldn’t mind a little instrumental (maybe not right next to me) but he was exceptionally chatty. So, I didn’t get quite as much done as I hoped. But I did get 3K in, and at this moment, that’s something to be pleased with.
I’ll probably go back next week, but probably a little earlier.
Okay, maybe I’m feeling a little cocky. I said to myself that I’d been behind before. In fact, I’ve been behind every year.
Well, I did a little looking. Last year, on this day I had 10,271 words. In 2001, when I was sick and had to pick my mother up at the airport for her week-long visit I had 7,699.
Of course the day’s not over yet.
I found it! There’s this quote I’ve been looking for, and apparently I was looking for it once before and I found it and I put it in my drafts folder of my email. Well, I was looking for something else and there it was.
And here it is:
A poet’?s object is not to tell what actually happened but what could or would happen either probably or inevitably…. For this reason poetry is something more scientific and serious than history, because poetry tends to give general truths while history gives particular facts.
Basically, it’s what I tell people who are writing autobiographies or historical novels. The fiction writer’s job is to correct history. To put things in the proper order and mode so that they make sense, so that perhaps we learn from them. I know somewhere along the way someone else said something to the effect of “A playwrights job is to correct history.” But I can’t find that so the venerable Aristotle will have to do.
Yes, I’ve got only 4,009 words on my novel and I’m sure if someone (not me!) went through this blog you’d find more than 4,000 words.
I haven’t written in days. I plan to write for a few hours tonight and hopefully most of the day tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to looking back and seeing that I did the novel in probably five days ... that would make me feel really weird to see that a whole novel only takes one day a week or so.
Tonight I think I’ll hit the Silverlake Coffee Company again tonight.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
I went over to The Coffee Table this evening after work.
The good part was that I started like gangbusters.
Start Time: 7:30
The bad part is that somewhere in the second fifteen minutes I got a single drop of tea on my keyboard. The J key, to be specific. And this little spot of tea got under the key and shorted something out. I pulled the keys off and dried it out, but it seemed to make little difference. The J wanted to be insert itself everywhere. Even when I hit the delete key it seemed to come up Js.
So, I packed it in. I pried the keys up and I stuck them in my pocket and I headed home. Not an hour had passed since I left and I came home fully defeated.
I used the last breath of pressurized air to blow out the last bits of moisture and things seem to be working fine now, but I was sure as hell annoyed earlier.
It just wasn’t supposed to be my night.
I’ll get more done tomorrow maybe. Or Saturday.
Wordcount for the evening ... 733.
I’m horribly distressed. I’m a little bit disheartened by the tone of my story at the moment and not looking forward to working on the more depressing aspects of it. But I’m really surprised at the lack of support I’m getting from everyone.
Yeah, it’s not my best effort. I know what it is in my head, and sure the beginning isn’t great, but that’s really my problem. Sorry, I’m not really looking for a critique now because NaNoWriMo is about plowing ahead. I’ve had this iead of putting these two stories together for years and I don’t think it’s a bad impulse.
And whatever I pick as the topic for my novel is really only my business and I should learn to keep my fool mouth shut. At first I thought I wasn’t describing it properly but it turns out that everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) thinks it’s a bad idea. Maybe I’m just bad at telling what the novel is about and I’ll get it right when I write it?
It’s supposed to be a catharsis, not just the novel itself, but the process. Maybe it’s too personal. So, from now on, the blog will only talk about antiseptic word counts and what I ate and drank and where I type and how I feel about it. No content whatsoever. If you want to read the novel, it’s over there and you can have a look. But that’s for you to look at, for you to see that I’m doing it. I’m not looking for any work-in-progress feedback, because I don’t think I can handle another opinion right now.
Monday, November 03, 2003
Yes, I know I only mentioned it briefly in yesterday’s post, but I started over. I was only 850 words in and I decided that I packed too much into those words and that I had to loosen up the story a bit, or else I’d run out of plot before 50,000 words.
I’m still on track, but I don’t expect to write today or tomorrow. Maybe Wednesday after work I can get a few thousand words in.
The big trouble is that the story is very sad. I know, I know, it opens with a funeral, what did I expect? But it just seems dismal at the moment and I can’t figure how I’m going to get it out of that mood smoothly. Hell, I guess for NaNoWriMo it doesn’t have to be smooth.
The other nagging question is brining in the other storyline that I was going to alternate. Should I just start a new chapter and go for it? Should I try to introduce it into the current story, like make the Jester/Minstrel tell it to the travelers?
I suppose I have a few days to think about it. Then again, I may get the house put back together tonight and maybe I’ll be able to write for an hour or so.
Sunday, November 02, 2003
I went out to do some errands this morning and then headed out to write. I figured I’d stop at Espresso Mi Cultura but after two passes, I couldn’t find a spot. And my motto is, “If there are no parking spaces, there are no tables.” So I moved on, heading up Franklin to Psychobabble. I pulled into the parking lot behind it and there were no spots to be had. I turned around and continued down Franklin to Silverlake and didn’t even slow down for The Coffee Table - I could see the line out the door all the way from Hyperion.
Ah, but The Silverlake Coffee Company, they were just right. I pulled into their large lot and had my choice of nearly a dozen spaces. Nice roomy spaces that meant that I wouldn’t have any trouble getting out.
I picked a set of tables - one wobbled, so I sat in the outside seat facing the door (because ya never want yer back to the door!) and unpacked my laptop. I had a full battery so I didn’t plug in. By the time my sandwich came I was booted and had my playlist going and my earbuds in.
Playlist - a mixture of Enya, The Cranberries, Afro-Celt Sound System, Deep Forest, something called Celtic Air, and The Prayer Cycle by Jonathan Elias. I’m thinking of also picking up some Enigma. I’m not that fond of them in general, but it might help with the mood. Heck, maybe some of that Gregorian Chant stuff, too.
And then to writing. I didn’t even bother to open yesterday’s file. I just started over with a fresh, blank slate.
I’ll post my status spreadsheet and work so far later on this evening, but here’s how the afternoon went (yes, I log my wordcount in fifteen minute increments).
Start Time: 12:30
Somewhere around 2:00 I got a refill of coffee.
Are you wondering if I’m going to keep this tally going for the whole month? Are you wondering why I’d do such a thing in the first place? And then share it with you?
I’m trying to find the perfect writing moment - the moment where the words just pour out. Maybe by noting the conditions in which I do my writing and analyzing them I can somehow figure it out. Like it looks like somewhere between one and two I was really blazing away. I had finished my sandwich and was into new territory and the music was pretty good.
I guess I’m going to go back to The Silverlake Coffee Company. It’s worth a shot.
Saturday, November 01, 2003
A little after ten this morning my neighbor Robin and her girlfriend Amy stopped by. They wanted to see my new floor. Hard not to see it since pieces of it are in the front yard. I told them they could see it installed in the house too.
Robin started her novel this morning. She already has 1,500 words. I’ve been trying to get her signed up for several years. I found out about NaNoWriMo at her birthday party back in ‘01 - one of her guests mentioned that there was this thing were you write a novel in a month. Several months later there was an article in the LA Times that confirmed this, so I signed up. Somehow I thought she would, too. Then last year she took off to travel around Europe for a year. Something she calls Slow Motion Tourism. Anyway, apparently traveling around Europe without a job is too time consuming to write a novel. So, when she got back a few months ago I started bugging her. Obviously a year of traveling means that you HAVE TO write a novel.
Turns out that the desire to write the novel that she didn’t even know she wanted to write was too much and she’s in. 1,500 words in.
Oh, and she’s also considering getting the bamboo floors too ...
Well, when it started, pretty much anywhere in the world, I was asleep.
I went to bed last night at 10:30 PM. And I got up at 8:00 AM. It’s almost nine and I still haven’t written anything yet. Well, this.
I’m not ready. I just realized how unprepared I am. I don’t have some new headphones for my laptop to listen to music. I ripped some music, but I haven’t created playlists yet. I’ve got things to do today! I’ve got more workers coming to the house and an appointment to get my hair cut (I can only figure I scheduled it for today because I knew that I wouldn’t do it later in the month.)
I don’t have little treats hidden away in my laptop case. Ginger Altoids, a Luna bar, some Advil, that topical anti-inflammatory cream that makes my hands feel better when I’ve been typing in the damp cold. My desk is literally piled with crap (the piles are literal, the crap is just an all-encompassing word for stuff that I’m not fond of).
And here I am rambling about this. I could just be writing.
Oh, I have no coffee, and no milk. And even if I did, I don’t know where I put the coffee maker yesterday. Maybe they’ll give me coffee at the salon ... do you think they’d fill my travel mug for me before I go?
Maybe I should start with a shower.
During November it's all about me writing a novel. Sometimes it's about whalewatching. You know, and then there's other stuff.