sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 17, 2006

busy weekend ahead
posted by soe 3:50 pm

The weekend ahead is going to be a busy one.

We start tonight with a Bob Dylan concert. He’s performing with the Raconteurs (Jack White’s second band) way out in Fairfax. I’m pretty sure that’s in West Virginia. (Okay, it just might as well be…) I’ve heard Bob perform before on double-bills with Joni Mitchell and with Paul Simon. I like Dylan. (Who doesn’t like Dylan?) But I really believe that his songwriting far surpasses his ability as a singer, even if Bear Mountain Massacre is a kick-ass song.

I’ve not heard anything from the Raconteurs, although Sam did not give it a ringing endorsement. But it would seem that’s because they were a bit too … cheesy … for his tastes. I like cheese. Particularly if it’s in tune. I’ll reserve judgement.

Tomorrow I will rise before is humanly reasonable and go on a walk to raise money for programs aimed at helping the homeless. Thank you to those who donated to help me raise money for Martha’s Table. Anyone else who would like to contribute is welcome to head here… My friends Sarah and Amani also will be walking tomorrow morning. I’m particularly grateful to Sarah who is no more fond of the early morning than am I and who, therefore, is less likely to mind if I spend the first mile or so half-asleep under my warm, woolen hat, a cup of tea nestled between my gloves.

Tomorrow night, Rudi and I head out for another oldie but goodie — Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame. (Last week I wouldn’t have thought it necessary to explain who he was, but I’ve been asked several times, so I’ll just make it easy for you.) I’ve never been impressed with Brian’s live appearances on tv, but Rudi has seen him in person thrice now. And the last time he raved about the show and said I should have gone.

FYI, Rudi lists that show as one of his top ten concert experiences ever in his blog:

A magical night, as Brian and the band performed SMiLE in its entirety. Brian was in a fine voice, and his band is top-notch. The brass instruments ace actually played by horn players, the string parts by a string sextet. And the Warner is a wonderful old theatre, perfect for concerts like this.

Rudi has a pretty good sense of my tastes after 11+ years together, so when he says, “You’ll regret not coming,” I listen. And I’m looking forward to the show.

And somewhere in there I need to pound through some major quantities of words. The problem with a word-count goal is that you stop thinking of the best way to say something and start thinking of the longest way to say it. I already lean more toward the Faulkneresque in my writing style, but apparently I need to be yet more verbose. (That sentence contained 20 words. I could have said, instead, “I already have a tendency to write long compound-complex sentences that make people’s heads spin while they try to suss out the meaning I intended, but apparently I need to use even more words in an attempt to say what I mean in the least concise way possible,” which would have given me 44 words.)

I eked out only a thousand words last night. Just as I was checking my email before going to bed at 3 a.m., the ringleader of NaNoWriMo dropped all the participants an email saying, as long as you’re at 35,000 words before next Friday you’ll be fine. Ummmm, yeah. If we double what I have written up to this point, I’m still not at 35,000 words. (Ooh! How would that be for a narrative trick? I could just pause where I am currently, go back to the beginning and retype everything that’s happened a second time! Better yet, I could just cut and paste! Instantly, 35,000 words would no longer seem so intimidating! And if I paste it in for a third iteration, I will nearly be done! I think we have ourselves a new plan!)

Does anyone else sense sleep-deprivation induced mania coming on here?

Category: arts,nanowrimo. There is/are 6 Comments.

November 16, 2006

names needed
posted by soe 1:42 am

I need some names for a cappella groups in my novel. Ever wanted to name a band or a singing group? Now’s your opportunity…. Leave me a comment with your ideas.

(For those who did not attend a liberal arts college in New England, an a cappella group is a singing group that does not use instrumentation in their performances. Some adapt modern pop music and fake the instrumentation with human voices.)

(Edited to add: As the strains of my favorite Kris Delmhorst song came over the computer speakers tonight, I passed the 15,000 mark. And it’s not even 3 a.m. yet!)

Category: nanowrimo. There is/are 6 Comments.

November 15, 2006

nanowrimo: the first half
posted by soe 2:45 pm

Two weeks have passed since the beginning of NaNoWriMo and I continue to trail behind the word count I’m supposed to have in order to get my novel to 50,000 words by the end of the month. This is particularly problematic since the second half of the month includes two concerts and the Thanksgiving holiday, during which I plan to spend many hours stuck in traffic. Some of this problem has been alleviated by the arrival of the laptop, but I can (and should) only write when not driving, so it’s not wholly fixed.

The first part of the writing experience can be found here.

Day 6: The night of the James Taylor concert. It has been a crappy day at work and JT has finally turned it around for me. I opt to become a bit more behind in lieu of actually going to bed in a good mood acquainted with the candidates I need to vote for in the 2006 election. I do not regret the decision. Words written: 0.

Day 7: Election night. The day starts with clouds and ends with a steady drizzle. (It is November, after all.) But I walk from my polling place to work in the morning, so I feel more energized and less resentful of a day spent inside. Plus, didn’t you know that all great novels really get going on “a dark and stormy night?” I alternate between typing and goofing off. I knit and watch House. I return a few emails. I watch election coverage, and rejoice as good news rolls in. But I also put in 2000+ words, which is the daily goal at the time.

Day 8: I sleep in a writing position over the keyboard.

Days 9-11: Writing officially goes on hiatus for several days while I reconsider whether I want to keep writing a novel. Reaction is mixed.

Day 12: After encouragement from home and abroad, I get back into the saddle and plot out where the book is going. This helps to resolve several questions. I include the outline in the same Word document that contains my manuscript, so it currently is being added to my word count. Hearing that one of the D.C. moderators is writing while undergoing cancer treatment does not make me feel encouraged about my slacking off; nor does it lessen my desire to slack off instead of write. The first conflict to feature both a suspect and a victim takes place.

Day 13: The novel crests the 10k mark and surpasses 20 pages. Suspect #3 is introduced. A person can get by on 4 hours of sleep. I know it’s possible. It just hurts. When is my victim going to die?

Day 14: I attend my very first write-in at a nearby coffee house. Sadly, less writing gets done than one might expect because participants are so excited to talk to someone, anyone. I did hear the reassuring tale of a girl who, last year, wrote the final 34,000 words of her novel in the last two days. I pick a random plot device out of a tin: A rusty hatchet. Despite my novel being a murder mystery, it does not really help my story. Perhaps it fits one of my readers’ stories and they would like it for their novel. If so, I bequeath it to you with the best wishes of the DC NaNoWriMos.

Day 15: My goal for tonight is to write 2,600 words, which will bring me up to 15,000 words over the first 15 days, and to kill off my victim right at the end. That will place the murder pretty much at the end of the first third of the book, which seems about right for the standard mystery genre formula I’m following.

You can’t read my novel, but you can view my progress. Please note that the progress bar measures by actual date. My own progress is recorded in “college days” (the idea that a day does not end until you go to bed; i.e., if you haven’t gone to bed in 36 hours, you’re still operating on one day’s worth of time), so writing that happens after 11 p.m. (their clock seems to still be running on daylight savings time) or so tends to get shuffled into the next day’s work. So really the progress bar makes me look like less of a slacker than I am.

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November 5, 2006

nanowrimo: the first five days
posted by soe 11:56 pm

Five days out seemed like a good time to look back on the NaNoWriMo progress made to date.

Day 1: I roared out of the start, completing 2,017 words on the first night. This much progress was made in less than four hours, during which time I also was able to eat dinner and talk to my MIL on the phone. I was impressed with myself, perhaps a little cocky. I felt confident that I could write a 50,000 word novel and still have a life.

Day 2: Hubris is an amazing thing. 619 words. I did not turn the tv on. I did not pull out the knitting. It had been a long day at work and Rudi went out for the evening to a meeting, leaving me home alone. I think that a better strategy would have been to take a 30 minute nap and then to have gotten up to write because I was clearly exhausted. I did manage to Swiffer my ceiling, so the evening was not a total loss.

Day 3: Little writing was expected to get done this evening because I had long-standing plans to see a movie with friends. Of course, the movie was sold-out. But we went out for tea instead. The good news is that the victim of the story was named through a joint effort by my friends. When I got home, I fell asleep on the couch instead of writing. Total words: a big, fat 0.

Day 4: Painful, painful, painful. I hate novels, writing, and everything about them. I am miserable. Rudi is miserable. Why am I doing this again? Think of how much knitting I could have gotten done by now this month if I weren’t supposed be working on this stupid thing. The day was lovely and I spent it all inside. I feel like Sally Brown in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, after she skips out on trick-or-treating and a party to sit outside all evening waiting for something she thought would be even better. Is it possible for this to get worse? I eke out just over 600 words.

Day 5: Before going to bed on Day 4, I decide that Kat has the right idea and that I need more micro-goals in order to get where I need to go. So I wrote out a whole page of numbers. This helps some. As does actually leaving the house during daylight hours. The word count currently sits at 5,515. I’d like to get in another 535 words before bed because that will be double what I had when I started the day.

Encouragement is welcome (and necessary).

Category: nanowrimo. There is/are 7 Comments.

November 1, 2006

panic ensues
posted by soe 3:23 pm

Today marks Day 1 of NaNoWriMo. Think positive thoughts for me.

Because I have to spend more time writing a novel, I may have to cut back on the amount of time I spend here with you. I will keep posting. Regular features, such as Three Beautiful Things and Into the Stacks, will continue to appear, although I cannot swear to the latter’s timeliness. But other posts may have more of a “AAAAAAACKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!” feeling to them than before. And there will be less knitting content (although, for those of you who keep coming back for that, I do have my Socktoberfest socks that will be blogged about later this week), because I will have less time to knit.

Other November things to look forward to:

  • Concerts by James Taylor, Bob Dylan, and Brian Wilson
  • Running with Scissors, Stranger than Fiction, and A Good Year
  • A long Thanksgiving weekend in Connecticut
  • Election results (I’m staying positive here, people!)

I didn’t check my word count before I left for work, but when I got up from bed this morning, I did dutifully sit down at the computer and typed out my first paragraph. It’s something along the lines of three sentences. I wrote those 50ish words before I got the email from the NaNoWriMo folks who said I ought to aim for 2000-2500 words a day for the first week. After that I curled back up on the couch to whimper for a few minutes….

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October 24, 2006

one week and counting
posted by soe 11:59 pm

Well, there’s one week ’til the start of National Novel Writing Month.

You’ll be pleased to know that I do have an idea for my novel. It could be 175 pages worth of idea. Let’s hope…

I’m going to write a mystery. The idea is the combination of a suggestion from Dad, current D.C. events, and general answers to my late night questions provided by Rudi.

I have a protagonist. I have a victim. I don’t have a perpetrator yet, but I’m sure I’ll be surprised as I go along.

My goal for the month is to write every day. I have lots of fun things planned for the month of November, so I’m not going to stress about the word/page count. If I get to 175 pages or 50,000 words, that’ll be great. But if not, that’ll be fine, too. I have a bad habit of abandoning things that I can see clearly aren’t going to work out, so I want to remove that impediment from the start. If my goal is merely to write something — anything — for 30 days, that seems accomplishable and easy to rebound from if I slip off the wagon. If I were to stick with the official rules and didn’t write the necessary 5 pages a day to stay on track, I could see abandoning the project after the first weekend in November.

So, I’m starting the typing exercises. Warming up the computer. Clearing the extraneous stuff from the schedule. But also keeping it realistic and fun and meaningful in the long run.

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