Challenge upon a Challenge

50,000 words, thirty days, one novel. A daunting task under the best conditions. Such conditions being A. a fully functional word processing laptop B. a job to pay for a car and the gas to get to and from write ins C. picture perfect mental health and a life devoid of all external stress. So far I’m 0 for 3.

Granted there are people attempting NaNoWriMo in far worse straights than I, but for me it’s still pretty damn bad. No laptop, only an ancient (though very reliable) Dell desktop system. A license (finally), yet alas no car to go with it. Then the stress of no job/no money with the prices of everything under the sun increasing, yeah not so fun.

However, as I am obviously writing another blog post on the matter, you can bet that I am making my third attempt at National Novel Writing Month. Despite certain things going contrary to my whims, I am soldiering on in my life long goal of writing and eventually publishing a novel.

How am I doing this you ask? (I know you didn’t, just play along). You see I was doing some very interesting calculations the other day while contemplating how I would attempt my noveling adventure devoid of a portable machine to record said novel in. Calculations which made a very good argument for less conventional means.

Let me take you back to last year on All NaNo’s Eve, midnight. Picture me just starting to plug away at a novel on my now deceased laptop, Microsoft Word bright blue and cheery and working like a dream. Then back to me, looking down at my tiny word count every couple of seconds. I didn’t make good time that night or any other night that month and eventually I gave up entirely.

Fast forward back to a few days ago, me alone on my bed with a tiny heart-shaped Claire’s calculator and a notebook page filled with writing. I’ll never know where the idea came from, but I counted that page and figured out I had 300 words just on that one page. Then it hit me.

I took the daily word minimum for NaNoWriMo and divided it by that 300. If I were to write by hand everyday, I could make it with only 5.6 pages a day! That’s only three full pages front and back. And by my calculations if I added another page (front and back) I’d be around 2,400 per day.

Accounting for dialogue and shorter paragraphs that might come later (since I was counting just a blah page of boring plot) I figured an average of 225 to 250 per page (450 to 500 per page front and back). Even at the lowest amount the most I’d have to write would be 4 pages front and back.

Now imagine me this year, no word count to check and my only focus being on getting to the end of a page. Do you see how much easier this sounds? Aside from the possible strain to your wrist, carpal tunnel, and arthritis that could result. But hey, we risk those with typing as well. Then there are other benefits.

If you save your typing until after writing the first draft, the typing itself becomes the first round of editing. Naturally you have to read through your work to type it up, during which time you can capture the first blaring mistakes you see before they are even set in your hard drive.

And let us not forget the unsung benefits of having an immediate hard copy. Computers can be so glitchy and are not immune from nasty viruses that like to wipe laptops clean like an evil cleaning crew. Many a WriMo has sadly lost their masterpieces this way, but with a handwritten copy safely tucked away hope will never be lost.

Thus is my plan this year. To write my novel in the ways of the classic literary geniuses by pen and paper. It may be more difficult, requiring many more steps in the end particularly with validating my work. Requiring me to either keep up with my typing throughout the month or having my local Municipal Liason validate me.

Regardless, I have confidence that this will be the year. And by the so-called end of the world (December 21st, 2012) I might even boast a published novel! Leaving plenty of time to maybe find true love and all those other life pursuits. Seems like a decent state to leave life in.

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I Bows My Head In Shame

What great and terrible thing have I done you ask? Oh nothing much, just completely and utterly failed at NaNoWriMo last year (again), lied about it (again), and hid away from my blog(s) for a year pretending not to exist. So…the usual for me. And here I am again, still filled with hope and optimism.  

They say third times the charm, and you might say the victory is in keeping at it. Though in all honesty I feel no better than someone bashing their head against a brick wall…repeatedly. Its like I’m just waiting for common sense to come back and tell me it ain’t gonna happen.

So what do I do in the meantime? Buy another handful of clearance notebooks and pens from the back to school aftermath, redesign my writing space, and demolish my entire plot for When Heroes Fall and reset it in (hopefully) a newer and more exciting way. Again, my usual.

My name is Rae, and I am here to tell you I am back for another exciting National Novel Writing Month season. This is a shout out to all my peeps (being the people who may still follow this blog if they weren’t completely turned off by my antics and some newbies) GIVE ME A YELL BACK IF YOU’RE HERE, OR STILL HERE!

Stick with me folks, this may be the year I make it. If I do, you may not wanna miss it!

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Chronologically Speaking

Well, it has been three days since I last posted an actual entry. I hope you all enjoyed the last clip I left you with. Having looked at it again, I see many edits to be done once I finish…if I finish.

That is not to say I am giving up on NaNoWriMo. Quite the contrary actually, I am only changing things up a bit. For you see there has been an obvious lack of enthusiasm for my project since the start of November. With the minor exception of day one that is.

Due to this lack of fun and merriment at writing my novel, I’ve decided to not write it…for now. The only reason I decided to write this particular novel is because of my ridiculous notion that I should write this series chronologically. Yes I said it, this novel I am writing is one book in a whole trilogy or more of books.

The idea for this series started with things and people not seen until the second and third books. Therefore most of what I know about the story has yet to happen, and all these people I’m dying to meet in print are in waiting. For what, I don’t now know.

Of course I’ve read “No Plot? No Problem!” and several other writing sources that say writing novels chronologically is absurd. But I just took it to mean that when writing a novel, you can write any scene you wish to at any time. I never applied this to a series idea, assuming it would be best to start with book one.

But more than a week into NaNo, and several thousand words to make up if I have any chance or hope of winning, I have had a revelation. I know now that my head isn’t in book one, my head is in a completely new story line.

As such, I am breaking away from “When Heroes Fall” and moving on to a new time in the story. I will call this book…some random unknown title once I think of it. It will still have my main characters from this series, only several years later.

Ben will be a middle-aged man, married and with a son. He also will have a daughter who is currently MIA. Egil, making a villanous reappearance, will be automatically assumed as the kidnapper. While his own bastard daughter Katherine ‘Kit’ Kelly (my NaNoWriMo user name), though under Ben’s protection, is also assumed to have some part in the diabolical scheme.

There is of course, a lot more to the story than just this. But much of it is tangled at the moment, and would take reading the novel itself to understand. Depending on how this novel turns out, I may or may not declare this currently untitled masterpiece in the making book one.  “When Heroes Fall” will be a prequel of sorts after I publish, much like “The Hobbit” for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

There is my dastardly plan for today, subject to change at any time short of my own demise or the eventual publication of this series. Which ever comes first.

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The First Meeting

(A special look at the first meeting of the brothers Egil and Ben Kelly)

Ben turned and made his way to the main entrance of the manor. Stopping in his tracks only when he heard footsteps closing in behind him. An elderly neighbor fell to his knees panting as Ben turned to face him.

“Kelly, it’s your mother.”

“What about her?”

“I don’t know lad. There was screaming, and I saw strange men around your house.”

“What strange men?”

“They said they knew your Mam, but they don’t dress like regular men. Their clothes, it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen.”

Ben could barely hear the mans last words as he ran for his mother’s house. There was little in this world he held truly dear, and his mother was the most important thing he had left being his only surviving family.

“Take caution, boy,” he shouted after Ben.

The house however, did not seem to be in such a dire situation as the man had led him to believe. Upon approaching his front door, nothing seemed out of sort to his eyes. There were several footprints leading up to the steps, but not so many as to cause him any grief.

Inside was another matter entirely. His first sight after opening his door was a large group of mean, just as his neighbor had described. They dressed in clothing not of his, or any other world he knew. The fabrics were unlike anything the Earth could create.

They smiled viciously as he entered through their masses, parting the group just enough for him to pass by. He saw that each were heavily armed, though none sought to use their weapons against him. For there was something far worse to be seen on the other side of his house.

When the final man moved, he saw his mother laying on the floor in a bloody ball. She was wearing nothing but her linen shift, and her eyes were halfway closed in exhaustion. The steady knife against her throat was the very last thing he noticed.

Ben followed the arm holding the knife until it came to the face of a total stranger, dressed exactly as his comrades. Instinctively, he crouched to attack him before being knocked hard in his chest. Ben lay winded on the floor as he looked into the eyes of their leader.

He was dressed in all black robes, with only his brass and copper weaponry to counter it. His hair was as black as Ben’s, and his eyes were just as grey. In his entire life, there had never been another man who looked so much like himself.

“Do you know who I am?” he asked with cool eyes.

“No.”

“Not even a guess?”

Ben shook his head in simple reply, though a hundred thoughts crossed his mind. Uncle, cousin, second cousin? Yet he couldn’t understand why any relative would invade such a humble home and harm his own mother.

“Pity, but I suppose it is to be expected.” The man sighed before kneeling in front of Ben, “My name is Egil Kelly, and I’ve come just for you, little brother.”

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Week One In Review

Let me just say that this week, for lack of a more appropriate term, sucked. Though many other things went much less than perfect, we’ll just focus on the writing part for now. I figure you won’t want to read any self-pitying melodramatic nonsense.

Day One: Was my best day, and only decent day as far as writing goes. I ended the day with over 2,000 words, and a 500 word surplus for day two. With a smile on my face, I trotted to bed feeling confident that I would finally win NaNoWriMo this year.

Day Two: My surplus became my biggest enemy on this day. Feeling over cocky, and thinking I could polish of little more than 1,000 words by the end, procrastination ensued. Before I knew it, midnight came and went. I don’t think I wrote more than 300 words.

Day Three: This was the day of my first NaNo season write in. I brushed off the day before, ignorantly thinking I could pick up the slack by writing outside of my house. Past history showed I can be more productive in an unfamiliar environment.

Of course I didn’t figure in my equation the addition of six other people besides myself. So to you newbies out there, do not mistake your local write ins for anything more than a writerly social hour. There is a reason the handout gives you a trophy for writing 1,000 words during a write in.

I wrote no more than 500 words.

Day Four: This is my giving up day. Knowing my not so prolific self, I don’t even bother to pick up so much as a pen. In my mind, the game is over. Why bother trying when I have no hope of winning? (Insert ridiculous pout here)

Day Five: This is the day I consider doing something very naughty. Flashback to Wednesday/Day Three at my write in. I have nothing else to do, so I copy and paste each of these very blog entries into a Word document. The word count turns out to be over 8,000.

Since Wednesday/Day Three, I contemplate adding this to my total count for my book. But on this day I actually count the two as one. Coming up with a word count of almost 12,000, I breathe a little easier. Until the guilt sets in. But regardless, I post the 11,000ish word count on my NaNoWriMo page and saunter off to bed.

Day Six/Today: Guilt monkeys bounce in my head all day. I can feel last year repeating itself all over again, and the tightness in my gut from being a dirty little cheat. Both my laptop and little red notebook seem to shake their figurative heads at me.

Today could have been the day for me to give up entirely. Forfeit the challenge completely, and crawl back into the hole again. But by nothing less than a miracle, I didn’t. I was saved by a single thought, which ultimately brought peace to my tired head.

It was the realization of how stupid I was being. I was so caught up in the winning, and the obsession with writing that 1,667 words per day, that I sucked the joy out of writing my novel. I didn’t, and couldn’t write my novel because I hated it. I hated the fact that I could fail.

Then I finally opened my eyes and ears to those whose wisdom exceeds my own. Chris Baty himself was behind me one of those days I was pitying myself. Countless others haven’t even reached four digits yet.

But more important than that, one of my fellow WriMo’s at the write in had failed last year. He failed, and was still doing NaNoWriMo this year! What a novel thought, that it was okay to not finish 50,000 words. As long as you never gave into defeat, you were still something special at the end of 30 days.

Day Seven/Tomorrow: This will close week one of NaNoWriMo. After this there are only 23 days left out of 30 to finish my 50,000 words. I will not hide, nor will I pity myself tomorrow.

I will not try to fit any ridiculous word goals in, or try and reach some minimum. This novel will not become another chore for me. This novel is going to be something I will enjoy creating, that the reader in turn might enjoy reading.

If I fail, it will mean nothing more than spending a month of my life writing my heart out. I made friends with people I otherwise would never have met, and wrote with them for hours of fun. Regardless of my final word count, I will have a sizable chunk of a novel to call my own.

Tomorrow I will reset my NaNoWriMo word count back to my honest number, and I will spend the day playing with my novel. It is my new shiny toy, and it should be cherished as such. Then at tomorrow’s close I shall update with an equally honest word count, along with a small sneak peek at my book.

And with that honest and heartfelt sentiment, I am ending this overdue entry. Good night and good luck fellow WriMo’s.

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NaNo Day One

Welcome to the latter portion of day one in NaNo Land! The site is hazy and temperamental today, most likely tomorrow as well. But that doesn’t stop the thousands of writers from hitting the first 1667 words of the month. A powerful day indeed, which for me brings many a memory.

Picture me, exactly one year before today, Halloween 2009 to November 1st. I have 10,000 words to my NaNoWriMo novel. But how is this possible you ask? Are you a magically prolific writer who writes four or five novels in a month? Let me tell you here and now, I am no prolific writer!

To be perfectly frank, I was a filthy dirty cheater last year. The last five or six days of October I wrote as much of a buffer as I could to get a head start on my word count. Somehow I thought I would breeze through with 10,000 words on the competion. That however, was not the case.

I tried to write honestly (if it were even possible) after that. Only picking up my 10,000 words if were to fall behind. Of course with that safety cushion I thought nothing of taking a week off and picking up the slack later. But by the end of the week, I had given up on NaNoWriMo for good that month.

This year, I am very happy to report that honesty pays big time. Speaking as a writer with over 100 words of wiggle room for tomorrow,  who is still going at it until she reaches at least 2,000 words tonight, I am a god(dess).

I will not say that I breezed through today, because I didn’t. I have been writing since 10:00 this morning, only adding increments by the 100’s throughout the day. To tell you the truth, I didn’t start in earnest until 7:30ish tonight. And if today is any indication of this month, it is going to be a long road to 50,000 words.

I can’t be counted among those who write 5,000 words each day, but for the first time in my writing ‘career’ I set a goal for myself and met it. Surprisingly, with that thought I am not ashamed when I look at my prolific peers and their puffy word counts. I am still counted among them as one who tried and succeeded, if only on day one.

Now, before my artificial sugar rush comes to its end, I close with my current word count. 1,775 words, 48,225 left to go. When I wake in the morning, I pray it will have reached 2,000. And why not? 225 words is little more than half of this entry. Childs play!

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NaNo Eve 2010

I have a little less than two hours to go before my NaNoWriMo journey begins. I know I said the last post would be my final post of today. But with the site down for whatever reason, and a bowl of peanut butter M&M’s in front of me that I have to save for after I finish my first 1,667 words, I obviously need something to distract me.

To fill this void of time I have before NaNo, I thought it might be a good idea to inform you…the reader…of how this blog is going to function throughout the month of November while I’m at my noveling best.

1. The first widget to the right (the girl running along a pencil) is my word count for this month. Since it would be silly to post a new entry for every word mark I hit, you…the reader…can check on my girl to see how far along I am. For I will be updating her when I need a break from writing, or if I am just bored.

2. Though it may be crazy, I will update this blog everyday alongside my novel. Someday’s it will have a funny anecdote to distract you…the reader…or inspire you. Others will shed some light on the NaNo experience. While the rest will be composed of an assortment of excerpts from my novel as chosen by me.

3. Finally, this blog is not going to stop after NaNoWriMo this year. It is not run on NaNoWriMo noveling power. This blog is following the journey of one novel (When Heroes Fall), through its creation (During NaNoWriMo), and eventually to its publication (Crossing Fingers). So you…the reader…can tune in at your convience throughout the coming year.

4. I will be taking on NaNoWriMo dares from my blog readers if you…the reader…have any you would like to share. Give me your worst by posting them as comments on any blog entry. When I have written said dare, I will post the excerpt here with a shout out to the man/woman who inspired it.

5. Say what you…the reader…want! I welcome all commentors to my blog (aside from spam bots) to share whatever sage bits of wisdom and whatever. As long as they are to WordPress.com’s standards, I promise to read and respond to them all.

That should cover anything and everything. So questions? Mildly related comments?

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