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Archive for the ‘NaNoWriMo’ Category

I didn’t set resolutions for 2010; I didn’t set resolutions for 2009.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.

That’s not to say that I don’t make them. I just don’t see the point in waiting till the new year to set resolutions: Why can’t we make ongoing resolutions throughout the entire 12 months? People kickstart themselves into January with a whole list of things they are going to change, start doing and stop doing. And by March, they are usually forgotten and we are left waiting till December to try again.

I think it’s stupid so I stopped taking part in the New Year’s resolution tradition.

Throughout 2009 I set myself goals.

1. Pay off my debt!
And I did, by taking on a part-time weekend job. (Let’s ignore the new debt I accumulated for now, ok? Ok, cool.)

2. Re-establish and strengthen some of my friendships.
I believe I have been successful in doing this—maybe the gals would say otherwise. Among making more of an effort to maintain meaningful contact, we have spent many nights chatting, bitching and debating over dinner, board games (some of us more competitive than others :-p), drinks and even train rides. I feel lucky to have such fun, dependable, strong and determined friends. (Oh and patient… as they have to put up with me! 🙂 )

3. Re-establish my Goals.
Certain circumstances that occurred over the past 1 1/2 years left me doubting many challenges I had set for myself as well as my own abilities. But like all situations that knock you down, you get up again. I’M UP! I’M UP!

4. Relax more.
I have a tendency to schedule myself tightly. Working seven days a week leaves little choice. But I promised to give myself more relaxation time and to NOT FEEL GUILTY about it! And I have. Most recently I have upped my video game collection which has helped significantly in slowing me down. (I’ll kick your butt on MarioKart…)

5. Write my book—before the end of 2009.
Ok this one I fell a little short on, depending on how you look at it. By draft I meant a working, editable, in process piece of work. The draft I got is words, sometimes coherent, sometimes… not.

6. Complete NaNoWriMo.
This coincides with number five. The ‘sometimes coherent, sometimes… not’ piece of work was written in the 30-day timeframe between November 1st and November 30th. I took this on with the goal of completing with a working draft, but alas writing 50,000 words in 30 days was a lot harder than I thought.

With that said, I have set myself a new goal and given myself till the end of the March to complete it. Workable? Not likely but it’s a start… and I won’t beat myself up if I don’t get there—as long as I’m on my way.

In order to complete, or make progress towards, that goal, I decided I needed to disconnect from some of my online habits. The first to go? Facebook. The damn thing can suck you in for hours. And I’m not even referring to any of the silly games I may ot may not play—admit to.) I am talking about chatting with my gals in England, checking out photos of friends’ latest vacas/babies/adventures/etc, and sharing interesting articles and blogs with those I think would enjoy it. In other words, “Staying connected.” That’s the point of social networking sites, isn’t it? As much as I enjoy, and hate the idea of losing touch with some people who I don’t speak with often outside the site, it’s time to connect to my “resolutions.”

So coinciding with my three-month goal, I de-activated my Facebook account in an attempt to “Disconnect” from the world and back into me! Yeah, may sound goofy—especially since you can sign in anytime and everything is there as if you never left—but setting this goal is just another thing to accomplish, so I am doing my best. (I’ve only slacked once so far and that was just to download some pics for a friend and show her pics of someone else… it was for her, not me!)

With that said, I guess I should get back to that book… the one I came to the library to work on.

Maybe I should add procrastination to this project!!

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” —Hal Borland, American author

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NaNoWriMo? Check.

“I snuck out of the vine covered walkways and was greeted with 180 degree ocean views below the steep, rocky cliffs of…”

was about where I ended. Mid-sentence, mid-topic, on a roll to a pivotal point in what I hope turns into some sort of coherent story, was exactly where I was when I submitted my 50,666 words to NaNoWriMo.org for verification.

50,000 words on paper? Check. Complete story? Negative.

Before I began I thought nothing of the, what turned out to be, 84 pages of .doc text. When my friends would react with astonishment at the challenge I was voluntarily embarking on, my brain thought, “What’s the big deal? It’s not that much writing.”

Well, it was that much writing—at times. There were some days I opened my laptop on the train and just stared at it with fearful wide eyes like my grandmother does when I sit down with her to show her emails and photos online. At other times I was so engulfed in my story that the train conductor actually had to give a little “ahem” for me to notice I was the last one sitting on the train. But just one more sentence so I don’t forget my thought.

Throughout the process I picked up lots of tips and advice from other NaNoWriMo participants, friends who do and don’t write regularly, and the constant stream of pep talks famous writers send out to keep our motivation going—my favorite of these was one from week one where the author said something along the lines of, ‘you’ve started, you’ve got about 5,000 words on the page, and now you are trying to decide if you should sack it off while you still can and start over.’ I thought, “OMG! Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking.”

They are all, like, super psychic or something.

Yet through all this, the best advice I received was from the Français fille. She stumbled across a quote from Hemingway that she though I would appreciate. After a stubbornly difficult day of train-typing, I opened my email to read: “I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day.”

It dawned on me, ‘hey, he’s on to something.’ My easiest days of writing were those in which I was welcomed by a half-developed idea because I had been forced to stop writing mid-thought during my last session.

We are so trained in society to finish things: Finish dinner, finish a TV show, finish one project before moving on to another. Stopping mid-task is considered “a lack of discipline.”

I now see it as a little mind game I play with myself.

Stopping mid-way became the key to continuing on: Even when I had five minutes left to write on the train, if I knew I was getting to the end of a scene, I would stop—I will finish later when I have time to dive into a new scene.

Easy as that.

As I finished up on my last day, November 29th, I thought, ‘This wasn’t so hard. What made me think this was hard?’ I had come full circle. But I think that’s what I was meant to do.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to challenge oneself; to set a goal for something you have always desired to do, and to just do it. Without the deadline, pep talks and comrades, many of us would never even attempt the feat.

Yet in the end, I think it’s more of a personal journey than the one you put on paper. Many of us will never ever look at that story again, while others—like I intend to—will finish, re-write, re-write again, edit, change names, flourish the details, add in some fictional excitement, edit, proof, and eventually begin the hunt for a publisher.

But no matter what comes of our stories, we can all take note in our end-of-2009 reflection, that we did it. We wrote a 50,000 book/part of a book/random story/a series of incomplete random stories/a journal/or whatever else took the writer’s fancy.

In the end, we are all the shiz-nit!, right Caitlin?

And with that said, I have to go. We’re in the LIRR tunnel and I don’t want to get yelled at by the conductor again.

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So this NaNoWriMo thing is more difficult than I expected.

Yet, at the same time, easier to get the hang of than it seemed a week ago.

As I predicted, the difficulty stems from the “no-editing” guideline. In order to reach the seemingly more-exorbitant-by-day 50,000 word count, there is no time for rewording, thesaurus searching, or even rereading. I was forewarned about this and intended on leaving my ‘editor’s cap’ behind for this adventure, but as always, easier said than done.

The first week I spent writing and writing and writing: Ooo, a spelling mistake. Wait! Does that make sense? No, I shouldn’t mention that yet, it was make it more suspenseful if I waited until I outlined the other scenario… blah blah.

My word count was suffering.

While in journalism it is beneficial to refine as you write, saving you time down the road, this technique is proving less fruitful for book writing.

Five days in, I received a week one pep talk from Jasper Fforde:
And this is why 30 days and 50,000 words is so important. Don’t look at this early stage for every sentence to be perfect—that will come. Don’t expect every description to be spot-on. That will come too. This is an opportunity to experiment. It’s your giant blotter. An empty slate, ready to be filled. It’s an opportunity to try out dialogue, to create situations, to describe a summer’s evening. You’ll read it back to yourself and you’ll see what works, you’ll see what doesn’t. But this is a building site, and it’s not meant to be pretty, tidy, or even safe. Building sites rarely are. But every great building began as one.

I spent Saturday trying to block out the desire to perfect. Eh, did over 2,000 words; not as much as I know is possible for a four-hour stint at the pub. I mean, if nachos, beer and free wi-fi can’t inspire me…

Then on my Monday commute, I thought back to Augusten’s words: I have a horrible memory. I have to just sit down and go back to that place. I don’t know what I’m writing; I just relive it and get it down. (or something to that affect)

I took out my laptop opened up my manuscript and went back to the place I had been last discussing. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I only stopped writing because I was the last one sitting on the train car in Penn Station.

I got back on the train to go home that night, and once again whipped out my pristine white Apple and continued where I left off. I wrote and wrote and wrote. And again on Tuesday morning, I repeated this routine.

When getting to work on Tuesday, I uploaded my wordcount: More than 3,000 words over the course of two hours and 15 minutes of train rides.

I think I nailed it.

Since then I have added up near an additional 3,000 words in less than three hours time. Not bad, not bad at all. I haven’t a clue how it sounds as I have not re-read more than a sentence or two to determine what I was talking about when I dive back in. And I do not plan on rereading it until I have it all on paper, and that’s not just the 50,000 NaNoWriMo words, but the entirety of what I might want it to say, because the more I go on, the more potential I see for multiple stories.

I took this on to jumpstart my 2009 goal of writing a book—which has been redefined to “first draft of book” now that I am familiarizing myself with the process. But in ten short days I have begun to understand the  intensity—and emotional upheaval—of memoir writing.

But like they say, “you can’t edit a blank page.” And while I can’t wait to start sorting through a decade of thoughts, experiences and anecdotes, for now I’m enjoying reliving, processing and documenting them.

Now, with 33,611 words to go, the only challenge is maintaining the momentum.

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It occurred to be that I haven’t given thanks in a while. So with Thanksgiving approaching, I thought it was time to share all the things I have been thankful for lately.

The past year has been intense for me and resulted in a lot of soul searching. But over the past couple months I have come out on top of things and feel pretty high on life. Basically, things are GOOD! And the things that could be considered “less good” are under control and in perspective. I really have no complaints. What more could I ask for?

With that said, my list of ‘thankfulees,’ is pretty superficial, fun and, well, self-indulgent; I am working towards a lot of personal goals and therefore being kind of selfish and self-indulgent with my time and energy lately. Aren’t we all entitled to that?

Oh, and all this took place within the past two weeks. (It’s been a busy couple weeks!)

1.    Two weeks ago I purchased a new laptop. As well as having a fun, sexy new toy to play with, I am once again mobile, allowing me to pursue my purposes in life, on-the-go. (And this has helped me reach my embarrassingly low word count for NaNoWriMo.)

2.    On Monday I met my favorite author at Barnes & Noble in NYC—Augusten Burroughs. Along with a room full of dark, dry and wordy literature fans, I got to listen to an excerpt from his new book, question him on his editing process and get two signed copies for me and mom. Woo hoo! I left there smiling like a kid who just got her first pair of ballet slippers.

3.    I had a fun night out. [full-stop]

4.    I watched one of my closest guy friends get married to a truly beautiful and wonderful lady who actually got him to dance. IMPRESSIVE!

5.    I found out our office is closing during the holidays giving us 12 days off over the Christmas/New Year’s time.

6.    Mom and I attended a fabulous Broadway preview of the show Fela! last night! Fantastic music, dancing and somehow amazingly awesome seats, front and center, four rows back. Oh and an awesome French dinner beforehand! Thanks mom!

7.    I booked a trip to Ireland with some of my closest gal friends. So come the end of January, Triple A, Carlita, M and I will be boarding a plane headed for pubs, pints, green countryside, cute men and a 5-star castle hotel—Adare Manor—for 6 nights of hiking, biking, drinking, eating and, well, whatever else they do in western Ireland.

Pretty exciting list of fun going on here, eh?

With that said, it’s back to writing. I am 2,635 words behind my intended word count—and as Caitlin would point out, this was 466 words that could have been added to my NaNoWriMo story. Oh boy!

Make that 481!

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I’m not obsessed with celebrities.

I can’t understand how people get hyped up over someone who is essentially the same species as them. Sure, some of them have an extraordinary talent to do something—something we have inevitably built up to be more worthy than it really is—but they are just people.

The other discouraging factor is the idolization aspect of celebrity appreciation. To us, celebrities are what we choose to view them as. No doubt you can get a feel for one’s personality through interviews, articles and the roles/songs/shows they partake in—but what if you met them and they weren’t what you had envisioned? There goes your idol. And it is this reason that I actually never want to meet Madonna; I have no doubt that my oldest longest obsession would be nothing less than disappointing as she would likely curse and make fun of me.

For the few of you who read this, you know this is not the first blog entry I have started with this declaration. And just like the others I am obviously using this to pre-empt a celebrity interest.

Here it goes:

I just met my favorite author. And celebrity authors are by far more intriguing to me than any other sort.

I just met Augusten Burroughs.

Thanks to Twitter and Facebook fanpages (ELH [thumbs up] this), I was in the loop regarding the tour for his new book and had Google calendared his reading at the Union Square B&N months earlier.

So one and a half hours before he was due to hit the stage I was seated in the second row, continuing to work on day one of NaNoWriMo, wiggling around in my seat in anticipation. While the guy next to me seemed to think it was odd I was writing while waiting for a book signing, being that AB’s writing is the inspiration for my book, it seemed like the PERFECT place to be kick-starting the sucker. (He was from Cali, what did he know… ha!)

AB popped up on stage promptly and read an excerpt from his new book: You Better Not Cry. The excerpt was about waking up in bed next to a naked senior-aged French Santa Claus—and not remembering a thing from the night before. (Seriously, get the book, I couldn’t do it justice if I plagiarized the damn thing.)

I took advantage of having the writer who has inspired the style of my book available for questions and raised my hand as soon as I had the chance. Unlike most of the other questions that discussed the content of his books—his life—and his reaction to his success and media coverage, I just wanted to know how many rounds of editing each piece of work goes through and therefore how similar the final version is to the initial draft. Turns out, it’s only edited a couple times… this guy is good!

After finishing up the Q&A with a long-winded response to “if you could go back and change anything in your life, would you?,” to which he answered a definite no explaining how selecting a window seat on a plane eventually led to how he met his book editor—god knows how it panned out, the guy talks faster than me—he sat down to personalize everyone’s collections.

I waited in line while the girl in front of me attempted to casually give AB her business card because she wanted to ‘interview him for the school paper,’ (so lame), trying to figure out how I could portray the importance his work has had on me and my career (I hope!) without sounding desperate like Ms. Business Card.

It was then my turn.

I didn’t say a thing.

He asked me if I was a student to which I replied, ‘no, I am a magazine editor.’ And then he asked how old I was, to which I said ‘28’—for some reason, I keep forgetting I’m still 27 for a couple more months. And to my flattering surprise he told me I was ‘one of those shape-shifters that could pass for all ages.’ So I laughed and told him that I had recently been told I looked 17.

He agreed—making him the second gay man in less than a week to mistaken me for being close to under-age! But hey, how many people can say Augusten Burroughs thought they were ten years younger than they are? Eh? (Just let me have the moment…)

Anyways, he repeated my moms name as he signed and I told him it was my mother and that she was the one who turned me onto his writing. I then told him that ‘although I couldn’t relate to his life experiences, his style of writing inspired my novel—so thank you.’

And he replied, somewhat more genuinely than I expected, with a “Thank YOU and congratulations!” (No need to tell him were only on day one of writing…)

And that is the reason I am sitting on the LIRR with a post-sex like smile on my face.

Siiigh. I guess I do have a thing for celebrities…

I’m just picky!

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Today is Day 2 of NaNoWriMo. (Well, day 1 for me as I was home for a total of 4 hours yesterday and they were spent unconscious.)

Check out this girl’s success story:

Book Keeping: Speed-Writing For Success
Spurred by a month-long writing spree, this 22-year-old novelist sold her first book and signed on to pen 11 more.

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