Monthly Archives: July 2015

Camp NaNoWriMo Summer 2015: Final Update

I finished the terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad, 60,139-word first draft of my novel for the summer. Phew! I can rest knowing that I accomplished what I needed to this summer to head into the next school year with more confidence. Am I pleased with this draft? Obviously not. Hahaha. I tried to be a “pantser” instead of a “plotter” this time around. I opened a billion folders in Scrivener and just wrote scenes, trying to keep things fast-paced and action-filled. If I got bored, I went to a new scene. I realized new characters were necessary at certain points and added them in, fully aware that their introduction was in no way satisfactory. I changed the climax and end-point of the novel multiple times as the story grew more in-depth. 

So it doesn’t look pretty. I tried to string the resulting scenes all together, but that’s going to take a lot more work at a later time–it’s not just sticking on band aids that’s required, it’s a full plastic surgery so this sucker doesn’t look like Frankenstein’s monster anymore. It’s exciting and terrifying, as it should be. 

But that is a project for a different time. What I did achieve was psyching myself up for the very necessary bloody revision of “Copper,” the story that keeps evolving every time I think it’s done. We still haven’t found out what grades we’ll be teaching this year (which, depending on how many new grades I get, will affect how much time I can devote to writing), so I don’t know if I can finish that before the end of 2015. Twitter recently held the MSWL event, where agents describe their manuscript wish lists. A few hit some key points of Copper. I think a fighting chance is still out there. But how soon?! I want it to be soon! 

Arg. 

For now, I am celebrating my hard work–and my husband’s week of vacation–with a spontaneous road trip to Napa and San Francisco. We are driving now, and things were perfect until I started to write this… at which point my husband ran over a massive tire tread, which ripped off part of the bumper. When he went out to try to fix things, he scraped up his hands on the asphalt (we don’t have a first aid kit in this car!! Bad travelers) aaaaand ripped open his pants. Not an auspicious beginning. So, if you’re a praying type, please pray that things look up! He doesn’t like traveling in the first place, and I’ve worked hard to try to cultivate an adventurous spirit in him since that’s important to me. I want this to be a fun memory-making trip for our marriage, not a lousy one he only remembers for the crappy first leg of the road. :( We’re on the lookout for a Wal-Mart or Target to grab band-aids, duct tape, and new pants. 

What an adventure, right? 

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a change of scenery

I’m currently participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, a version of National Novel Writing Month in which one can set any word goal (I went higher than the normal 50,000 — up to 60,000 — in hopes of drafting something that will be more marketable in the long run) as well as be placed in a “cabin” of other participants. I have written before about how much I love the NaNo situation because it provides encouragement, structure, and accountability to my writing life.

So I have to write about 1700 to 2000 words every day to complete my goal before July ends. Usually I sit at home, enjoying the quiet and my dog’s company. Occasionally I venture out to a coffee shop so someone else can provide my caffeine, and so I’ll be less tempted to go check Facebook or Twitter.

But sometimes, I want an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT atmosphere to get those creative juices a flowin’… which has taken me to the beach and to Disneyland!

One day I took Benny Dog out to Huntington Beach, where they have a section of sand & ocean for trained dogs to roam off the leash. Since Benny has a lot of shepherd in him, his instinct is to herd me and stay close, so he doesn’t wander off or misbehave like other dogs I’ve witnessed. I laid out on my beach towel, took my journal in hand, and let the sounds of the ocean be my background as I wrote. I kept getting distracted by the desire to cool off in the water or jog down the coast, so I allowed myself plenty of breaks to  do just that. When I got home and typed up my work, I realized I’d goofed off a bit too much, and only written about 1200 words. Still, it was worth the mini vacation.

Benny enjoying the sunshine

Then this week, since my husband and I currently live only half an hour from Anaheim, we purchased Disneyland annual passes. I drove myself over on Tuesday and spent a lovely day alone (well, plus 50,000 other people) at Disneyland. The lines are long and boring, but hey–I had words to write! So, my trusty journal in hand, I wrote out (in sloppy cursive because people kept looking over my shoulder, like “what in the world is she doing, is she writing about me? Is she a reporter? Is she psycho? I want to snoop”) my daily word count while standing around waiting for my turn on Thunder Mountain and Star Tours and the Matterhorn. Then when I got hungry, I wandered over to snack on Mickey-Mouse-shaped soft pretzels and the famous pineapple Dole Whip. It was very fun, and I left when the heat got unbearable around 1:00, with the added benefit of avoiding traffic that way. The nice thing about working by hand is that I had no little computerized word count ticker to stare at in the corner, so once I typed up my work for the day, I had written over 2200 words, above my daily goal.

Did you know that Lucky the horse lives at Disneyland? We’re friends now.

My WIP kind of sucks, but as Nora Roberts says, “I can fix a bad page; I can’t fix a blank page.” Plus, writing this novel is helping me broaden my perspective of the fantasy world in my head, which will benefit Copper when I go back and pick up those revisions again.

So there you go. Pick somewhere new to write this week and see what kind of inspiration hits!

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writing life

Gosh I love summer.

Or July, at least. For this tiny stretch of time–August doesn’t count, because we teachers start up trainings and need to do lesson planning again–I have no boss. I can wake up as early or as late as I want (except I feel guilty if I sleep past 9:00). As long as I don’t totally ignore all of my friends and family, who feel ignored all school year and need some attention over the summer, I am free to spend all of my time reading and writing.

Here’s an outline of my typical day over the past few weeks: wake up at 7:30, jog with the dog for 45 minutes, shower, make coffee, and sit down to write. I get to about 1,000 words before I need a break. Then I putz around the internet, checking Facebook and Twitter, and sometimes watch an episode of something interesting (The Librarians, Friends, Chopped, etc.). That usually brings me to somewhere between 11:00 and 12:00, so I make lunch and get re-energized. Then I can run through my final 700-900 words for the day, back up my work, and take the dog for a short walk around the condo complex so we can both stretch our legs again. Then my afternoon is free to read (or run errands, boo) before Jeff gets home from work around 5:00.

I feel like a real writer today because all I’ve had so far this morning is copious amounts of coffee and bacon (and I’m within 200 words of my daily writing goal). Add in a cigarette–if smoking wasn’t absolutely pointless, harmful, and disgusting–and I could fit right in to the classic cartoon image of a writer.

Last night I couldn’t fall asleep because I had all kinds of questions about the world of Copper running through my head. I invented the magic system when I was 12 and have been using it all this time, but it doesn’t have the realism necessary to the fantasy genre I’m going for. As I mulled it over, a ton of puzzle pieces fit together and I can fully picture the price of magic, its mechanics, the power struggle over time, and a bunch of other things I’ve never taken the time to consider. Holding this entire other world in my head is incredibly exhausting and rewarding. For the first time in a while, though, I feel like I’m making major progress.

I’ve been taking comfort from these wise words:
Picture-5

NaNoWriMo (and Camp) have been essential deadlines for me. The effort, practice, and revision required to become a strong writer are encouraged and honed in discipline during the months that I stick to a daily word count like NaNo provides. That “special thing” is slowly, bit by bit appearing in my work…

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Camp NaNoWriMo, Day 1

Currently writing: right on schedule for my next novel. I decided against doing a revision because I get so frustrated with my words… writing something new as I continue to discover my style is a bit easier. 1700 words a day for the month of July is going to become a first draft of something new to be frustrated about revising. :)

Currently reading: “Crimson Bound,” a Red Riding Hood remix. It is interesting but has a lot of faults, though I shouldn’t be surprised, because that’s exactly how I felt about the author’s first book, “Cruel Beauty” (a Beauty & the Beast remix). It’s a little heavy on the creativity, which sounds like it couldn’t possibly be a fault, but when you can’t picture what’s actually going on because the story and characters are sacrificed for really weird world-building, it isn’t possible to follow. Bad news.

I also read B.J. Novak’s short story collection, and man, does he have a weird mind. I enjoyed it and recommend it with the caveat that readers need to be prepared for the cursing (lots of f-words).

Currently feeling: lousy. I’ve had a cold for 10 days now, so I finally dragged my butt into Urgent Care. The doctor said I had a cold, but now I have a disgusting sinus infection. She put me on antibiotics, a nasal spray, allergy pills, and Mucinex. It took an hour at the pharmacy and $55 to get all that. :( I hope I magically feel better soon, because summer should be for hiking with my pup, not sitting around wondering if my head is ever going to feel normal again.

Currently watching: The TNT channel series “The Librarians.” Jeff recorded it for me but I never had time to watch any of it, so I’m finally getting caught up. I don’t know how I feel about it. I’m 4 episodes in and find it interesting but annoying–it’s so cheesy! Like, Doctor Who-level cheesy, but without the charm. All the characters also feel like they were modeled after Firefly (the cheeky hunk – Mal = the Librarian; the anxious super-genius – River = Cassandra; the con who doesn’t know if he likes being on the good guys’ team – Jayne = Ezekiel; the badass woman – Zoe = Eve; the nerdy but cute one – Wash = Jake…). I’ll keep giving it a chance, since I like the premise of superhero librarians, but it had better step up its game soon.

In other news, I made a huge chunk of money subbing for summer school and am feeling quite pleased about that. Summer as a teacher is always a little nerve-wracking, since the mortgage payment and student loan bills still need to be taken care of, but now I can relax. Yay!

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