NaNoWriMo Behind Us; Christmas Ahead

Hello Everyone,

I’m almost done my time-consuming writing projects, namely my NaNoWriMo novel followed by my Christmas greetings to special friends and family. I’ve only a few letters to write, then work at formatting Silver Morning Song as a print book. I have a lot of older friends that never read e-books and there are lots of folks in general who prefer a print copy, so I’ll work through CreateSpace and do a print-in-demand edition.

So I’m ready to start blogging again and share something of my experience writing my novel in November. Usually I don’t sit down to write anything until I have the article, story, or book outlined and scenes gone over in my mind. With this project I had only a vague idea of the story I wanted to tell and a few particular scenes in mind. So my experience turned out much like this quote:

Driving--Writing quote

I’m so thankful for the way different scenes came to mind as I worked at the story, events that would fit into a summer “working holiday” for Joy, almost twelve, and her 15 year-old brother Gerry. I still have lots of smooth out and some more to write after Christmas, but I know where I’m going now.

I get the feeling that the greatest benefit of joining NaNoWriMo and committing yourself to write this novel is that by the end of the month you’ve learned to know and care enough about these people to keep on and finish their story!

My two siblings spend the summer with their widowed Aunt Patty, age 33, and her two small children. They’ve been sent to help her as she starts a market garden near a small Ontario town; they also help fix up her house which is old and sadly in need of repair. So they get to meet new — and some quite odd — people and do the things kids did before the electronic age. I’ve even included a writer of Wild West novels for teens. 🙂

There’s a family in this town — every town had at least one when I was young — where money is scarce and troubles abound. This particular dad, scarred by the battlefield conflict in WWII, drinks too much and domestic violence impacts the children’s lives. The oldest boy becomes a bully and gives newcomer Gerry — “that rich city kid” — a hard time. Joy becomes friends with Darlene, a girl from this family, and gets an idea of what life on the wrong side of the tracks feels like.

I barely knew my characters when I started, but now I’m enthused about them. I didn’t give them any major conflicts while I was writing because the conflicts only presented themselves to me as I got towards the end of the summer. I had no outline to start, but soon needed to make a two-month calendar to keep track of the day-to-day happenings.

 

Teddy Bear quote 3

I committed myself to updating my story EVERY single DAY. I’d drag my feet sometimes until late in the evening, unwilling to start. But then I’d tell myself, “You must — even if you only add another paragraph.” Which led to writing another scene, maybe a thousand words. So I’ve learned more about the value of commitment.

But I never left sloppy copy behind. I will need to delete some lines where I changed my mind and restated some thought or dialogue, but I corrected all typos and fixed my story as I went. I could have gotten done a lot sooner if I’d left all the changes, but I’d never have courage to face the task of editing now. To each his own. For me the important thing is to have a story when you’re done —not a 50,000-word mess to clean up.

I haven’t been very energetic this year, since my chemo-therapy treatments I’ve been tired a lot. However, I had a checkup at the Cancer Clinic Nov 23rd and the oncologist was very pleased with the effectiveness of the treatment. She tells me all is well with my blood counts. I told her I’m SO forgetful and she says that’s normal, things should improve, so here’s hoping.

I had a bad few days in November because of gout in my right foot. I guess it’s handy that I was planning on sitting anyway. 🙂 I was home-bound almost a week not able to put on shoes — which is nothing to really complain about. Since then arthritis has moved into my left knee.

But now November has sped by and we’re facing the Christmas season with all its glitter and glow, carols and gatherings. Texas has gotten the snow while we have a balmy 5 C! If this keeps up there’ll be no white Christmas for us. Nevertheless I wish every one of you, wherever you live, all the joys of the season.

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Snow, Woe and Micro-Tales

We’ve had a fair bit of snow this past week; our world is quite dazzling white now. And it has been COLD! Yesterday our grandson, now working for his dad doing snow removal, came with a loader and cleaned out our driveway. Hard to realize he’s big enough, and mature enough, to operate such big machinery. How the years do fly!

I’ve been besieged by a new ailment this week. Old Arthritis in disguise. Monday morning my right foot — particularly my big toe — started to hurt. The pain has gotten worse, the swelling increased. Looks and feels like a genuine “club foot” now as I limp around the house. Not very nice.

Heading into Week Two of NaNoWriMo today and I’m well on the way as scenes keep coming to me for my story. Since I’ll be doing a lot of sitting this week anyway, maybe I can aim to have my 50k words written by Sunday night. 🙂 Then comes the edit — though I am editing a bit as I go along. Even if it reduces my overall word count, I will take out unwanted words and fix typos. Don’t like leaving a mess to clean up later.

Speaking of writing, I just got an e-mail telling me that one of my newest 100-word stories was published on The Drabble this morning. You might call this crime fiction — or you might not. You can read it here: “I Confess”

New Friends And Nosy Critters

We had quite the windy, cloudy day yesterday and our Internet wasn’t working for most of the day. Which was okay because we had friends join us for dinner and a nice visit after. In the evening we worked on a jigsaw puzzle. Thankfully this morning the wind was down and the net was up and running as usual.

Among the e-mails that came through was one from The Drabble, telling me they’re publishing another of my short stories today, titled A Friend Drop By. This one has never appeared on this blog so if you want to read it, Click Here.

We went to the city today to do some shopping. Among other things I looked at shoes, but would likely have to give an arm and a leg in exchange for a nice pair. (Around $130 CDN.) Tried to stock up on groceries to prepare for the coming writing marathon.

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow at midnight. Will anyone be up typing at 12:02 am? Here’s the synopsis for the children’s story I’ll be working on:

In the summer of 1957, 14-yr-old brother Gerry and 11-yr-old sister Joy take the train to their widowed Aunt Patty’s new home beside a small town. She’s hoping to earn a living for her and her two children by growing a market garden. Gerry and Joy are going to be her “hired help” this first summer.

Among the various characters living in and around town there’s a retired map-maker, now a famous writer of the “wild west” teen adventure stories —of which Gerry is very fond. Reginald Gentleman (who writes as Reg Savage) has just prepared a manuscript for posting when it disappears. Gerry and Joy help search for it.

I plan to work some other excitement to keep the summer hopping. A touch of romance, too. A widowed farmer from the district helps Aunt Patty whenever he can and talks the School district into having an old fashioned “Box Social” to raise money for sports equipment. Of course he’s hoping to buy Aunt Patty’s box and thus get to know her a bit better. Oh, do those plans go awry!

Books: 5000 Words Per Hour

5,000 WORDS PER HOUR: Write Faster, Write Smarter
© 2015 by Chris Fox

In preparation for NaNoWriMo I’ve been rereading this short, motivational e-book. The writer gives his system for improving your writing skills to the point you’re whacking out 5000 words per hour. Can you see yourself doing that?

Motivation is a powerful force, he says. And he knows, because he’s motivated himself to lose 100 pounds and write a dozen novels plus half a dozen other books on writing and editing. So he’s not just whistling Dixie. He has developed this system and shares it because it has worked for him.

We start with short writing practices or sprints, typing without pausing to edit in any way, including correcting typos. Here’s where I digress. While I see merit in what he’s saying, I simply must correct my spelling mistakes. (I make one or two for every ten words.) If it slows me down, so be it.

He advocates using the same “sprint” system for editing. Don’t agonize over each word during the first edits. This thought helped me a lot. I tend to want Chapter One perfect before I move on to Chapter Two. I never do get to the last chapter.

Anyway, as you practice every day and chart your progress, he promises you’ll see improvement in both speed and also your ability to plot out your scenes in advance and catch your writing flaws. By the way, this author once a pantser who rarely finished a manuscript, is now a confirmed plotter. You need to be one to crank out this much content without stopping to wonder, “Now what happens next?”

I’d encourage any writer to read his book and see what you think. Some of us older ones are so set in our ways I’m not sure it will make a lot of difference — but they say you can always learn something new.

Even if you don’t get past, say 2000 words an hour, you’re still going to ace NaNoWriMo, where you need to do just over 1670 words a day for a month to get your 50,000 words Winner’s Badge. I did a fifteen-minute sprint and my word count was 650 words, which would give me 1300 words in half an hour — spelled right. 🙂

Practice every day, the author says. That’s the ticket.

When Tales, Like Mice, Scurry Through

HELP!

Can you share a bit of your wisdom and experience with me, dear Readers? ‘Cause I really need some guidance in managing my attention deficit disorder (or whatever it is?) as I prepare for NanoWrimo.

I’ve always had trouble making decisions, nothing new about having six suggestions pop up to fill one morning and not knowing where to start. Since I had chemo-therapy my brain seems fuzzier than ever; some mornings I feel like a dozen worthwhile ideas are scurrying through my mind and I just can’t grab one and hold it still long enough to execute the task.

Kind of like mice in a cheese factory.

Saturday I re-read a book on how to become a faster writer. (Will do a book review in my next post.) Practice, he says. Time yourself. Every day; keep on track. By using this system he’s trained himself to write 5000 WORDS PER HOUR — the title of his book.

When Tales, Like Mice, Scurry Through

So I sat down to do one of the sprints he recommended and … um… what should I write? I can think of a lot of little tales and experiences I could relate. Alas! Here’s where my ADD comes in. I’m giving myself permission to sit at the computer and type straight time for fifteen minutes, and I reach to grab one of those tales I’ve always wanted to tell. Suddenly four others run across my mind, squeaking, “NO! Write ME!”

Now how to catch and nail down one of these speedy little inspiration flashes and actually get something written? Like most writers I’ve stored up a number of short stories I want to write and like mice, they all pop out of the holes in my brain as if someone had yelled, Cheese! Come and get it.”

But when I grab for one, they all dodge. I get hold of one and it evaporates while several others run across my hand. I see one but before I’ve got it by the tail it’s into some dark hole where I can’t reach it. Does anyone else have this problem? How do you solve it?

Annoying as it is, this isn’t such a big thing. Finally I do sit down and write something and it doesn’t much matter what because this is, after all, just a practice.

NaNoWriMo Challenge

My problem is that NaNoWriMo is coming up in November and I really want to do it this year. But I’m in the same predicament. Half a dozen mice are jiving around my brain, wanting to be written. How do you decide, when you can think of at least four books you’ve always wanted to write? Toss the titles in a hat and pull one out?

I did decide on one, but it’s the fuzziest idea in the bunch. Several book are resting in my “Someday Box” as I sit here, waiting to see the light of day. I’ve worked them through in my mind over the years and could just sit down and write. Yet I’ve picked the vaguest one, planning to flesh it out as I go along. Hit by a wave of cold feet now. Will I be able to?

It a challenge, right? At present this story-line is like a skeleton whose larger bones are lying at my feet, but all the small bones are scattered and must be gathered up this week. Bits and pieces are coming to me. But there are so many other stories I could start on. Or some more short tales about Winnie and Raylene. I’ve been wanting to do a short humorous book featuring those two friends. Another mouse joins the party in my mind.

If you’ve ever wondered what living with attention deficit is like, now you know. Any suggestions?

PS:
I did this bit and the book review as my first exercise, managed to write 650 words in 15 minutes, knowing exactly what I wanted to say. I wrote one scene from my upcoming book as the next day’s exercise and did 450 words in 15 minutes. The difference between knowing exactly what I wanted to say and having to plan as I write. I won’t be doing 5000 words per hour next month. 🙂