i have a question...

Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010: Final Update

Now that I'm a NOVELIST (ha!), I want to share with you my tell-tale strategy for writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (or 29, in my case because I am so awesome, finishing last night before 10 PM):

1. Be sure you do not have a full-time job.
I believe my unemployment status helped me not only have the time to do this but that doing this WHILE unemployed kept me from going even crazier than I would have otherwise. (Honestly, I probably would have done this if I had a job too, but I would have had to SERIOUSLY sacrifice my TV time and that would have ultimately been the hardest part.) (Also, it feels good to have this finished as I look ahead tomorrow to a promising job interview. (Cross your fingers.))

2. Be harder on yourself than anyone else is.
I don't think I'm going to end up being a novelist, but I punished and scolded myself into doing this project and writing every day because I did not want to fall behind on my word count and have to struggle more than I already was.

3. When taking up writing each day, do not fret over what is already on the page.
Actually, I was impressed with my ability to do this. I am the kind of writer who writes and then reads and tweaks and continues to write and then reads and tweaks again. Not big revisions ever but rereading and small tweaks as I go. This project was too big to do that, so I was able to take up from just the previous sentence. It kept me moving.

4. Take judgment out of it.
I often wrote just stream-of-consciousness, which upped the word count and did little else. I don't think I could have done this a couple years ago because I would have been paralyzed by self-criticism. Writing crap is part of this. Who cares?

5. Ignoring its slightly obnoxious abbreviation, sign up on the NaNoWriMo site and read all the pep talks and watch all the videos.
Dave Eggers wrote to us yesterday, first of all, which made me gasp as I opened my email. But, also, I think this is a great, fun, positive and encouraging organization, and you might as well get as much support from other people who are doing it as you can. I promise it helps. Especially since I was the only one who survived the month in the Facebook group I created. My friends were no help. (Love you guys!)

6. Get out of your house to write as much as you can.
My bedroom is so distracting. I don't know what it is, but I sit on my bed, with my computer on my lap and play games and watch YouTube videos instead of what I'm supposed to be doing. This is probably why, by the end of the month, I was waiting until at least 10:30 at night to write and felt, then, that I was racing against the day to get my word quota in. Every time I met a friend at a cafe to write, I would write quicker and with more focus. On second thought, maybe that was because of the wine.

7. Tell everyone you know you're doing this.
I'm sure everyone found it obnoxious, but I kept track of my word count on Facebook. It was partly for bragging rights and partly to keep me honest. I couldn't let down my hundreds of Facebook friends by not completing the task! Plus, when I told them I was almost finished and then that I WAS finished, they gave me lots of love and support.

8. Do it your way.
Mess up. Write a bunch of words you hate. Skip ahead in the plot to the really juicy part or the part that you were inspired to write about by seeing that creepy guy on the train. Write a full day's work on just describing the hallway. Do whatever works for you. And keep going because 30 days isn't really very long, and this will forever change not only your perception of what you can do but also how much time you thought writing 1667 words would take.

The first draft of Bright and Gray is 156 pages, 50,050 words.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010: Week 4 Update

I had a realization this week that, while I appreciate having a time frame to write and this project has given me a structure, I'm not really sure how I feel about NaNoWriMo.

I'm writing and am pretty sure I'll reach 50,000 words tomorrow, but I don't like it. The writing is not good, and I'm not sure about my motivation level to make it better, once I've got a first draft.

On the other hand, I'm really terrible at looking at the task itself and going, HOLY ESS, I JUST WROTE A NOVEL.

At the same time, I did write twice the daily quota two days this week. Once, to get ahead so I had Thanksgiving off, and once to get ahead, so I'd be done TOMORROW instead of Tuesday, when I'm sure the NaNoWriMo site will be swamped. Plus, everyone is freaking out about the word validation program not working right, so I want to leave time for any last minute writing I may have to do.

This is a boring post. Maybe I'm just destined to write boring writing forever now.

At least I'm almost done.

150 pages, 48,421 words.

UPDATE: I have to admit, though, that it is particularly exciting to see my word count bar fill up on the NaNoWriMo site. Only 1579 words til 50,000. That's just a tiny bit of bar left.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Holidays! (Don't Cry!)

I have to admit to being a little...curmudgeonly about this video.

I watched it and thought, "That CAN'T be live!" Even though I'd cried for the last minute of it.

But then I actually read about it and became a believer.

Is that Amber Tamblyn at 2:55?

Hope you all travel safe this week and have a great Thanksgiving!

I will spending it with the cousins, their good friends (lots of chefs among them), and the baby! (All very exciting.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010: Week 3 Update

I am procrastinating writing tonight by writing a post about my writing this week.

How meta of me.

Actually, I've gotten into a bit of a weird schedule this week, starting my writing at or around 10:30 PM and furiously writing for an hour, just staring at the increasing word count.

When November 30 comes, I hope this daily procrastination subsides, so that it is not a mad rush to midnight. I've never been a procrastinator, so this all feels kind of strange.

I almost didn't write at all Thursday night, after drinking most of a bottle of red wine between the hours of 6:30 and 9 and watching Thursday night NBC shows, but then I made myself. Wrote through the commercials of The Office, the end of Grey's Anatomy, and Private Practice.

I woke up with a hangover on Friday morning (the morning of a phone interview, oops), so I'm sure the 1667 words I wrote while inebriated aren't my finest. Haven't taken the time to revisit what they were yet.

I'm sure that will be good for a laugh.

Aside from that, this week wasn't as hard as last week, but I know for sure now that this novel isn't good.

I write and think about all the revisions I will have to do to make it more than an indulgent psychoanalytical fest. (I may as well call the book, Exorcising My Demons, but I won't.)

In fact, I have a couple titles in mind: one is A Girl, Unguarded and the other is Bright and Gray. We'll see if either sticks.

Current word count: 33,467 (should be past 35,000 by tonight...at some point).

Update: It took me three hours, but I ended up at 35,043.

There are just ENDLESS ways to distract myself on Facebook, dammit.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Wedding of Our Generation (in which I try not to sound too bitter)


Prince William and Kate Middleton are engaged.

And, for some reason, I've been affected by this news.

It might be because I'm a little bit too young to remember Diana's wedding to Prince Charles, but when she died and there were all those documentaries about her on VH1, I remember seeing footage of that huge dress. It's like emblazoned in my mind.

So, I figure her oldest son's wedding to a statuesque brunette will pretty much be the news of the year, if not the decade. (If you don't count that Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey are also probably getting married next year...to OTHER people.)

Remember when everyone called him Wills in the late 90s, when he still had a full head of hair and looked like this?

(I swear I didn't, like, Google "Prince William hair loss." This was the first picture that he looked super hot in when I image searched.)

Anyway, he's exactly one year (to the day) older than S.

So, maybe part of what I'm feeling is old and lonely.

Anyway, I'm excited for them, I swear.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010: Week 2 Update

This has been a tough week for my novel.

NaNoWriMo calls it the Week 2 Doldrums, and I definitely felt it.

It didn't really help that I had a particularly discouraging week in terms of my unemployment, coming to terms with the fact that I don't think I'll get a job until the holidays are over, which means pinching my pennies REALLY REALLY hard for another few weeks.


It took me three hours to write my daily quota a few days in a row, which was a little upsetting considering that when I'm not at home and distracted by everything going on on the internet, I can bust it out in an hour and a half or less.

I become aware just of the little word counter in the corner, barely even thinking about what words are coming out or if they sound at all good together.

Quantity, not quality, indeed!

Friday night, I met up with my friend to attend a regional write-in at the Prudential Center Food Court. Armed with a Starbucks chai latte and orange chicken from Panda Express, I was ready to surround myself with and be inspired by other WriMos, but when we sat near the window in the mall and saw that the WriMos were all old and female and that they were putting up charts to keep track of word count and moving tables so that we could all be together, we hightailed it out of there.

Give me a roomy booth and a glass of wine, please.

And I busted out the quota in under two hours.

Yesterday, I did it in an HOUR, which is a record, so far.

It helps that I'm nearing the halfway point and thinking about the emotional climax.

Certainly, I'm barreling along: 74 pages and 23,349 words!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010: Week 1 Update


All evidence points to the fact that I'm writing a novel.

For someone who has never in her entire life had to write anything longer than about 15 pages, this is rather remarkable. (Although, I guess the 35-page play I wrote counts...)

I've been through a lot this first week, in my novel-writing endeavor.

The first few days, the words just kind of poured out of me.

I was way ahead of the daily word count of 1667 words a day, for days in a row. I'd write in the morning and then, I'd write at night too. Anticipating what I had to do the next day, so using my writing time very effectively.

A couple days in a row, I even wrote with my favorite writer ever, Suzan-Lori Parks. As part of her Watch Me Work project, she is holing up in the lobby of the Public Theater with her (orange)typewriter, a timer, and a camera. She invites people to join her there to write for an hour every weekday.

She's also live-streaming it on the web, so I spent my writing time on Wednesday and Thursday with her. I kept her visible on my minimized word document screen, typing away, compulsively sipping and eating mints and chewing gum.

At the end of the hour, she takes questions about process from the people there and on the internet.

So, I sent in a question. And she answered it.

Told me something like, if Taylor Swift can write about her personal experiences, then so can you. Then she made a heart with her hands.

It was pretty much perfect.

Friday, I spent the day writing with a friend at a cafe that served great food, great tea, AND alcohol. We spent about five hours there, chatting, catching up, and then struggling through our daily word quota. It took me about three hours to write what had previously taken me about an hour and a half.

It's been just as hard ever since, even having had a great breakthrough to include a long section of the book set in the past.

I am actually pretty amazed at how uncensored I've been. I'm not micromanaging myself, I don't reread what I've written each day and start revising. I just read from the previous sentence and continue. Watch the little word count in the bottom left corner of my screen.

37 pages and 11,676 words later, and I don't even hate it yet!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Post-Election News (Blues?)

You would think it's kind of funny and ironic of America to have recently elected Sean Duffy into the House Seat in Wisconsin.

He of Real World: Boston fame and married to Rachel Campos, she of Real World: San Francisco fame. (It sometimes still freaks me out that these people have last names, and that their lives continued after the notoriety of their reality TV appearances.)

You'd think, oh! America has a sense of humor! And, wow, those Gen-Xers must have really come out in spades to vote and make a statement about the political importance of mid-90s MTV.

Because Sean was on a season of The Real World famous for introducing the world to the term "lipstick lesbian" and for that one hostile red-head (as if I don't really know her name: MONTANA!) being fired and almost kicked out of the house for offering the students they were volunteering with some alcohol.

Except, Sean is like, SUPER conservative, and just keeps knocking Rachel up. (They have six kids.)

So, mostly, this just makes me nervous.

(Leave it to me to make even a political post about TV.)

(In other Real World-related news, Matt from the New Orleans cast apparently delivered his new baby daughter on the side of the highway.

Why do I know these things?)