An update post for November, showing the status of my writing efforts to spit out 50K words on a novel, Blue Popcorn.
Daily Updates Dairy of a WriMo Marathon
I completed NaNo off just now. The novel is done to first draft. I will still be revising before putting it away for maturing, so will remain working on it for a couple more days. But I have the certificate, the badges and the Winner signs. All done.
November 26th, 3:33pm
Wow, if there’s one thing I can say, it’s with gratitude. For NaNoWriMo this year, my novel looks doomed. The hard drive crash, the loss of software, and now – a bush fire. Yep. We had a bush fire in our back yard yesterday. Fifty firefighters, and the loss of 6 hectares of national park later, and all is well. Thank you to the NSW Fire Service and Rural Fire Service for looking after our homes and families – the helicopters and news reporters and sightseers were more of a pain. The flames never came close to our house, although the location was only a few hundred meters away. But we did get a lot of the wildlife searching for new homes, and the smoke. The whole day and night was very surreal, and reminds me that we really must re-assess our Bush Fire Safety Plans.
Now that I’m back at my desk, the weather is still horribly hot and humid, with more storms rumbling over the horizon.
I am aiming to confirm the NaNo win by about Wednesday. I’ve started another middle scene today, with a smaller one yet to be added, but I am champing at the bit to get finished on the draft, because there are so many notes, and editing things I want to do before setting it aside.
Total words written on the 26th day of NaNo- 1830
Running total 56398
November 23rd, 11:33am
I completed the very final scenes this morning. I also went back and edited the climatic action scene. I have started to make some notes on revision needs, and also have two more scenes which need to be placed into the middle acts, which I’ll save for next week to write. Technically, I may have finished the novel, but it won’t quite feel that way until I have those two loose scenes done and dusted. This one will be difficult to walk away from, however, and let rest for a revision pass.
Total words written on the 23rd day of NaNo- 2245
Running total 54568
November 22nd, 12:10pm
I added a couple of new scenes in today. I really must re-order and chapterise my draft at some point. That’s something I don’t really enjoy about NaNoWriMo marathons – the onus is on not editing (or organising) but that’s like telling somebody who gets satisfaction out of seeing their home all shiney and without weeds, to not do any house-cleaning or gardening for some time. No clean, no satisfaction.
I broke the rules anyway. To shimmy in some new scenes I had to find where they were best placed, and the time sequences leading up to, and after them. I subsequently had to edit quite a few of those written scenes. My wordcount of today includes some movement, both positive and negative against previous written passages.
Total words written on the 22th day of NaNo- 2250
Running total 52323
November 21st, 1:38pm
That one scene I’ve just completed almost single-handedly brought my writing to a stop. Nevermind the hard disk failure, or re-installation of several pieces of software. No, it was the action scene from hell. Okay, not actually set in hell, I’m not doing fantasy or religious fiction. But boy, was that scene difficult. And having slaved my way through it for several days, at roughly 100 words per hour, I can’t say it’s turned out anywhere like I wanted it to, and will probably need to be completely rewritten once sanity prevails.
But it’s finished, and thank goodness for that. And I’ve just made the 50K mark, with perhaps another three or so scenes to go. The action scene was actually the climax – I have a quick denouement scene to go before the structural end of the novel, but with two or three additional scenes I want to implant through the middle. Until then, I won’t be confirming the NaNo win, just in case my wordcount is screwed also.
Total words written on the 21st day of NaNo- 2546
Running total 50084
November 20th, 10:39am
This morning was hard going. Settings in my new install of Scrivener weren’t as I liked it, and working my way around the new operating system took a little time also. Plus, I hadn’t written for four days, and had lost focus on the story. I’m working on the climatic scene, the big action sequence, which is difficult also. I’ve only managed the minimum wordage today, but I can hardly complain. At least I’m back in the seat.
Total words written on the 20th day of NaNo- 1688
Running total 47538
November 16th, 11:28am
Today, I managed to finish off that scene I’d left uncompleted yesterday. It went kicking and screaming, though. I didn’t want to move onto the next scene – the big climax. I’m keeping that for special, it seems. At just over the 45K mark, it looks like I’ll be finishing the novel first draft at the same point as finishing the 50K challenge, give or take…but I am starting a list of additional scenes I need to draft also.
My diary entry today was to be accompanied by a lovely little picture of some little colorful parrots outside my writing studio window. Those were yesterday, though. Today it’s raining – that fine tropical rain that despite being light, gets into you – or feathers if you have them. My photos of today’s lorikeet invasion therefore would show you some drenched and quite angry little birds. Instead, I have this – a native brush turkey. And no, we’re not allowed to eat them.
This is one of three male chicks we had wondering around here last Autumn. He and his brothers now consider feeding time for the birds also something they are entitled to, and enjoy a good sunflower seed just like the rest of ’em. And you thought my writing was only accompanied by Mickey the dog, or the occasional cockatoo, right?
Total words written on the 16th day of NaNo- 1839
Running total 45850
It was hard going writing this morning, I’ve had to leave a scene incomplete. It’s the penultimate scene moving into the climax, and one with action. I’m not great at action scenes so far (not good for a thriller writer, so something I need to focus on soon). But today I’m feeling a bit rough again, and wanted to get the bare minimum words out.
I also spent some of the time in research mode, looking up details on the vespa scooter my MC has as a ride. I really (really!) want one now, but Santa needs to concentrate on our needs this year rather than wants. And the state of my laptop overwrites most things. But anyway, here it is, Blue Rayne’s sky blue vespa – it’s an LX 150, the 2009 model of the original classic. Just look at those curves.
Total words written on the 15th day of NaNo- 2013
Running total 44011
November 14th, 12:34pm
Not a particularly spectacular wordcount today, given I’ve been writing since 7am this morning (with some interruptions – my dog’s still a little sick). But I’m happy with the result – two new scenes at a crucial turning point in the novel. And lookee – I’m above the 40K mark. I could have gone on, but it seemed kismet when the battery in my wireless mouse ran out right after the word.
I also had the fun scope of explaining the meaning behind a pet cat’s name in one scene.
Today is Donation Day for NaNoWriMo. I’ve already donated, and have a halo around my head on the NaNo boards. It’s a difficult task to come up with extra money around this time of year. I’ve only just remembered I need to get some Christmas shopping organised myself. But if you have a spare $10 lying around, and enjoy all the NaNo posts you see across the web, then go to the NaNo site, and donate. The money goes back to supporting the many writing programmes of the Office of Letters and Light. Online donation is falling under much scepticism and abuse lately, but these guys are doing real things, for real writers.
Total words written on the 14th day of NaNo- 2981
Running total 41998
November 13th 11:00am
A very early finish today, but I am mindful that I seem now to have found a second wind through the middle sequences of my novel. Last week I bemoaned my lack of quality, and to some extent, loss of inspiration as people were already disappearing from NaNo. This week, I’m back at producing 2000-3000 words per day, and finishing with more ease. I’m ready to suggest that for the moment, I’m out of the doldrums.
However, the pep talks coming through for week 2, where most participants are expected to have the 18,000 wordcount, are more towards how I was feeling last week. Chris Baty’s pep talk of today discusses middle doldrums, zombies and other things, then goes on to say –
…the back half of NaNoWriMo has always been a place where writers get their second winds. As long as you keep working, your potatoes will turn back into charismatic protagonists, and your imagination will build a path right out of these mid-month doldrums.
You can help build that path faster by hitting your writing goals for the next three days. This may sound like a small thing, but little, consistent writing achievements open the door to huge writing breakthroughs.
Mine’s already here. I’m in the back half, which I envision looks like a donkey bottom. So I’m sticking with the small fast method, and signing off writing for the day. I thought I’d not tempt fate by going for that 40K mark, leaving an incentive for tomorrow.
Total words written on the 13th day of NaNo- 3252
Running total 39017
November 12th 2:11pm
An early finish to my writing day, with a smaller wordcount appropriately. I really pushed myself over the weekend to make those bonus points, but I was also quite sick, and am still recovering. Now my dogs are sick. These things happen.
So, today I attended (late) another write-in, virtually in-world of Second Life. I have the highest wordcount of the bunch (gaggle, wedge?) of writers logging theirs onto a neck badge, which is both embarrassing and inspiring (me) to keep it up.
However, little do they know that I’m still having problems with my main character. I’ve had problems with her before, but it was actually some feedback from the sex writing workshop (remember that?) that pointed out to me that I’m still not quite believing in her as a character. I’ve described her in one way, that would work, but written her differently. I’m writing like me. Not only is she blonde and I’m brunette, but there are many more differences. Not that I’m under-emphasising the hair colour difference – that’s one I am very mindful of. My MC is tall, swelte, athletic, and blonde. Not, erm, me at all.
I’m trying to write an assertive extroverted character with several flaws, but she keeps coming out as this emotional introvert. I used to be assertive, had to be in my own managerial jobs, but that was a persona I put on when needed. I took it off on weekends. (Yes, really. Introverts can still be excellent managers, we just need a lot of breaks away). I now need to learn how to put it back on, for writing. Hopefully a believable character will eventually arrive out of this personal tussle I’m having, maybe an amalgam?
The write-in wasn’t my main concern today. Half way through there was a writing workshop. Taken by published author Sharon Clare, we had a good hour on Character Driven Plotting. The workshop was free, although we all tipped her of course. And we got a free volume of the book she used to show us the workshop content. I bought all four volumes – they are a pittance in Linden dollars to US exchange. The first volume, on characterisation, contains some tables and ideas that I’ve been adding to my toolbox when trying to face down my own character today. Aside from that, I’ve been napping, cleaning up after sick dogs, and reading. It’s all going okay. (apart from the dogs, maybe).
Total words written on the 12th day of NaNo- 2274
Running total 35765
I’ve been a little sick this weekend. Mickey the dog is home with a cone on his head, I’ve spent most of my time in bed, so not that much writing. There was enough from Friday to roll over to make Saturday’s bonus points. But the team will have to do without bonus points on my Sunday writing. I feel lucky to have managed a little writing anyway. Update : Added 858 more words tonight, Sunday.
Total words written on the 10th day of NaNo- 3334
Total words written on the 11th day of NaNo- 2759
Running total 33491
4000 words today, so to claim the bonus points in that NaNo group I’m in. It was tough going, though. Not because of the heat this time – which still exists – but because I was missing my little writing companion. Mickey, the cavoodle, normally occupies the floor somewhere around my studio, as I write. But this morning he went in for his “big op” and although everything apparently went well, the vet is keeping him prisoner overnight, and late into tomorrow also. That’s him there, in the car on the way to the vets, looking far too trusting for his own good.
It has been a lonely write-in without Mickey.
Total words written on the 9th day of NaNo- 4174
Running total 27398
November 8th, 3:35pm
Last night, I told one of the NaNo groups I am in, that I would be taking the day off from writing today. It was a decision based on my aching hands, mostly. But the group is trying to win points, allocated with a formula of points for writing on the day, doing a group challenge, whether you get the 1677 wordcount (it doesn’t give you extra points for exceeding this) and other factors. However, this coming Friday-Sunday there are bonus points up for grabs if a writer doubles their wordcount. And what do you know, I wasn’t going to write on weekends, but now I am. My extra wordcount will actually finally be profitable for the team, which makes me happy, but I have to break my no-weekend-writing rules, which is an impact on my family also. I’d rather make the most of the opportunity to add for the team, however. Which means I need to rest these arms.
Not writing today was interesting. I did have workshops to catch up on, and I played around within Scrivener to organise what I had written a little better, creating the start of a timeline also. My novel wasn’t set in a timeframe.
And a little time has finally been found to go around the blogs and leave some comments. Although it’s still hot and sweaty here in Sydney, so I’m trying to stay out of my stiffling study before my joints swell up. Such is life at a certain age.
I did a wordsprint in-world at a write-in first thing this morning my time (Image to right). The event wasn’t very busy, only two of us doing a 20 minute sprint. At just over 400 words, I was pipped by the other writer by a 100 words difference. I don’t know how, but I somehow mucked around. Since then, I’ve been busy finishing off that one new chapter. 4500 words later, it’s finished, too long, and pretty crap with it.
Oh. I’ve hit that middle section of NaNo, and how. My writing makes me unhappy, and both wrists are now arching from the typing. But I have a blog post due, a workshop course to attend, lots of NaNo updates of figures across the web, and…real life too. Still, some progress, and I’m almost 50% of the way there.
Total words written on the 7th day of NaNo- 4512
Running total 23224
November 6th, 2:30pm
It’s hot. Even hotter than yesterday. I have no air, I am sweating into the keyboard. I am tired. I am giving up on today’ writing, but have managed another couple of chapters, and sent an encouraging IM to a writing buddy on NaNo, who I’ve just found out is writing in third person present voice. That’s a toughie. I don’t think I’ve actually read a present voice full novel before.
Total words written on the 6th day of NaNo- 3394
Running total 18712
November 5th, sometime in the late afternoon
I haven’t written yet, shame on me. But I’m putting this up with the accompanying photo for today. As you can see I may have my proportions wrong, but believe my priorities are straight.
Update – I’d hoped for 5000 today, but didn’t quite make it. It was so sweltering hot, I feel like I melted the words into existence.
Total words written on the 5th day of NaNo- 4836
Running total 15318
November 4th, 5:49pm
Interruptions prevailed today, and I didn’t get as much written as I’d hoped for, but I’ve hit the 20% mark.
Total words written on the 4th day (weekend bonus) – 1944
Running total 10482
I cried off my normal domestic duties this morning – which entailed going to a rainy school cricket match, and supermarket shopping. At 7:30am this morning I was in Second Life (accidentally) at the right time to show up to an official (if virtual) NaNo Write-in at Milkwood. I also zoomed over later to pick up a wordcount widget and report in my wordcount to another writing group on SL. I’ve taken a shot of me with the widget above my head. Save for carrying a billboard around on me in real life, there’s no match for this virtual facility to toot our own horns.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to change my avatar. I have to log onto SL during non-peak times, any others for me are just too laggy. I’d logged on early this morning with the intentions of putting some more food out for some breedable butterflies (yes, there are various breedable virtual animals on Second Life – I have butterflies, plants, seahorses, kitty cats, and probably a panda coming up – all of which require food and/or water to sustain their virtual lives).
Instead, I realised I had time to make a write-in for NaNo, but went dressed as Blue my MC. So, it now appears that Blue Raynes is doing NaNo too. Which makes me ponder whether I should make her a writer in her novel life, or some other hobby. She looks good with a pen in hand.
I didn’t intend actual writing during the weekends, but this morning brought a need to finish off a missing chapter for the end of Act One. I’ll update this blog and the NaNo site with any bonus weekend writing, but will be holding off putting the wordcounts up onto any groups, social networks or SL where I am sharing them, until the week. It can be quite time limiting having so many other outlets to report NaNo wordcount on, but I’ve found my almost accidental social participation has many more pros than cons.
Total words written on the 3rd day of NaNo (Weekend bonus) – 2056
Running total 8538
November 2nd, 4:30pm.
Another few hours of writing today. I had people at home, and then some shopping to do. I’m feeling reasonably good about the marathon, but know from past experience that the first week is the easiest. The hard slog is yet to come. For some reason, I seem to be creating much less wordy chapters, just adding to the synopsis or scene thoughts I created in preparation. It still seems to be working, but I keep having a niggly feeling that the middle chapters and sequences will not be as easy, because they aren’t as thought out.
I also am pondering the best time to update groups. I realised that I’ve put myself into three different NaNo writing groups on Second Life, all of whom suddenly ramped off late my night last night. And then there’s the SavvyAuthors one, and I now have two writing buddies in the MTS genre within the NaNo forums themselves. The one in England has just messaged me to ask where she actually writes her novel, so I’ve provided some quick instructions about using whatever software she has on hand, and getting writing. Of course – for her, she’s only a day late, and my panic on her behalf that she’s not started yet is an over-reaction on my part, due to my ahead-of-the-game timing.
I’ve completely forgotten the actual real life Sydney based wrimos, but it’s early days yet. Although I’m normally quite an introvert and happier clucking along by myself over marathons, it seems this year’s NaNo has drawn me in socially in aspects I never would have reckoned on. Now I have several areas I have to go to, to update my groups I’m involved in. Meanwhile, my head keeps coming back to work on aspects of the novel.
Total words written on the 2nd day of NaNo – 3193.
Running total 6482
November 1st, 2pm.
I feel quite odd having completed my first NaNo writing day – alone, knowing that for many people participating, the start of NaNo isn’t for another 15 hours or so. I have joined in a Mystery Suspense group on SavvyAuthors (we’re called the Dark Ones), also realising that my word counts and points earned are a day forward from everybody elses.
Writing wise, it could have been better today – I allowed myself to be distracted for two hours by watching some videos I found on YouTube, crying tears at the Boxing Day Tsunami. I had intended putting in more words, given I don’t want to write on weekends, but ended my writing efforts today at a natural ending within the storyline.
Total words written on the first day of NaNo – 3289.
Running total 3289
Today I put this sticky post up, ready for the start. Spreadsheets etc are now ready also. Still working on some character work, chucking around index cards also.