acdntlpoet: (grammar police)
No Time for a real post. But I do have time for this:

50,205 words in the bag.



Yup. I "won". And by won, they mean I completed 50k+ words in under 30 days to form a fiction novel first rough draft. A VERY rough draft I'll admit.

This doesn't mean I am done working on it, rather it means that now I get to -really- dig into to what I actually wrote and massage it to make this fiction novel readable. I honestly am not even the least bit happy with what I created here, so a LOT of editing is in my future. But what I AM happy with is the fact that I was able to produce 50k+ words in under thirty days and keep them all focused on a basic story line.

I promise you all this: when I have a moment, either over the vacation days ahead or possibly into next week, I WILL post the Title, Synopsis, and Excerpt.

For now, just revel in my joy that I'm DONE!
acdntlpoet: (grammar police)
To try and help pump out my word count this weekend, I opted to push myself even harder with very specific set goals and limits to try and compete with myself. To that end I found Write or Die, a great website that lets you set a number of words and a time clock to countdown. If you stop writing for a few seconds, bad things happen, so you literally have to keep writing until your time is up or you hit your word count. fun stuff!

So, from http://lab.drwicked.com/writeordie.html I give you my latest count set at 1500 in 60 minutes:

1893
62
lab.drwicked.com


1618
58
lab.drwicked.com
acdntlpoet: (grammar police)
Right off the bat, it seems some of my friends are still a bit confused as to what this all is. Let me explain... no, no time to explain, let me summarize:
NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org for more details). The concept here is to produce a 50,000 word short fiction novel in the Month of November.

That said, I am now squarely in week 3 of this challenge and am finding that at 31,034 words down I am also encountering those week 3 doubts. I am sure that this novel is utter rubbish that any 3rd grader with a mind for story telling could write. I didn’t believe [livejournal.com profile] thejamez when he said I’d get to that point back around the end of week one. I figured that I knew it was bad, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing ever written. Silly me. I am up to my eyeballs in doubt. Luckily, I have done enough reading over the course of this ‘experiment’ that I know this is exactly what –everyone- encounters during week 3, so my hope is not lost.

The words are more difficult to find now in day 18. My daily word counts are still barely making grade, and are taking longer to obtain. I’m sticking with it none-the-less. I’m nothing if not stubborn. Still, I feel like I am reaching to push the story along. I have the deep sense that this first draft, once completed at the end of the month, will have a very short existence in its current form, and will hopefully not resemble anything close to what it is now, once I am able to focus in on editing next month.

I just need to continue trudging through the words and not pay attention to my brain; just build the count so I can move past the doubt and into week 4. Of course this weekend will be the toughest yet. Since I won’t be in a position to put down many words between the 26th and the 30th, I am hoping I can get to 50k by noon on the 26th. But, that means ending 4 days early, when I am already a day or two behind the curve.

All in all, it should be an interesting week between now and next Wednesday.
acdntlpoet: (grammar police)
This week has been a bit more miss than hit, mainly due to a metricbuttload of work and a night out on the town Tuesday evening. Combine the higher work levels and lower sleep levels, and you get a burnt out Jason. Last night I only managed to pull out 611 words in two hours before tossing it in.

No major revelations about the process yet this week, other than I am starting to another break in the story coming soon since I can’t visualize much of where it is going again. The last few pages have just been building out a scene and characters a bit more but not progressing the story at all. It seems when I start to feel stagnant in the story, as I had started, a major break will be seen in the next day or two. I am hopeful that will happen since I need to play a bit of catch up with my word count after missing last night by well over half, and coming short a few times at the beginning.

The good news is that my count to date is at 19,055 total since Nov. 1st. Not too shabby. Oddly enough, I actually am beginning to expect to build the word count much further past 50k after November when I start editing, since I have a feeling the first 19k here are rushing through some key pieces which need to really be flushed out much further. Who knows, this text may have some legs on it yet.
acdntlpoet: (grammar police)
Saturday was pretty much a failure all around for me. Wordstock was essentially just a book fair with some authors reading passages from their books. Neither is my cup of tea since I find I am rather annoyed by author readings (there is a reason they are writers, not orators) and shopping for books is only fun for me when I am looking for something particular. Jean brought home a stack of tomes, so she made out well and the day wasn’t a total loss for her.
Back at home, a quick nap turned into a lost afternoon into evening, and the drive to do –anything- had completely vanished. Two dvds later and we called it a night.

Sunday was off to a slow start as well. I sat down around noon to get some writing done and found that some system maintenance had to be done, requiring a reboot. So I addressed those issues before digging into my word doc (so as not to interrupt my work flow for a system restart). Three hours later and I was just opening my draft doc to start writing. Nothing like system maintenance to steal hours from your life.

Luckily I was able to pull out just over 3500 words again within about three hours time, making up for the loss of my Saturday in terms of pure word count and bringing the grand total thus far to 14,886. This puts me just slightly behind track for 50k words by Nov. 30th, which I should be able to recover if I up my daily count to 2k per day instead of the 1600 I have been shooting for. This will also take care of the travel at the end of the month where I doubt any writing will take place at all.

On the actual story side, things are starting to come together and are finding a bit more clarity. I’m starting to see the characters in a bit more dimension and they are pushing the story forward as a result. It seems to be working its way into a techno thriller, but I think it is way too early to really make that call and define the genre. I feel a sense of excitement as well as a sense of fear moving forward. I want to figure out how the story plays itself out, but I’m also wondering how I can pull off another 35,000 words by the end of November. I’m not sure the story has that much in it. I have a feeling towards the end of this little project, I will be going back into what I have written here at the beginning and build out some scenes even further to make the 50k goal.
acdntlpoet: (grammar police)
Friday was off to a rocky start, even though I had taken it as a vacation day. Or, perhaps, -because- I had taken it as a vacation day is what led me into a half day of doddling, watching a movie, a random nap, cooking some lunch, etc. I got nothing down on paper before noon.

After lunch, and a nap, I sat down to punch out at least 1600 words for the day. In all honesty I had hope to nail down substantially more since I had the whole day to write, but that didn’t seem possible when I started. The motivation wasn’t there, and it was slow going at first.

But…

I tried something new: The location and two characters weren’t taking me anywhere interesting yet, so I built out a scene instead. Starting tight with a vague concept of something I had been rolling in my head for a bit (prior to NaNoWriMo), I pushed out just over 3500 words in about three hours. Whenever I’d hit a snag, I’d toss in two dashes separated by a return so I can go back in and fill in missing stuff in December, and then continue pushing forward wherever the story was taking me. It was quite a relief to finally be interested in the story. The motivation that interest provides was the biggest key for me yesterday, and hopefully into today/tomorrow.

Speaking of which, in a moment Jean and I will be heading out to go take a gander at WordStock, http://www.wordstockfestival.com/
The timing is impeccable, and there will be a NaNoWriMo booth as well as an area for NaNos to site and write together… should be intriguing at the least. Plus, it gets me out of the house and in the midst of intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals alike. That should be good for my atrophying social muscles…

Plus, dinner in the city is always nice. The only downside is I am not sure how this will affect my 1600 word goal for the day. Perhaps I’ll just need to bang out another 3500 tomorrow.
acdntlpoet: (grammar police)
So I sat down last night to work out a better tactic to move this piece forward in a direction I could sink my teeth into, or if not, at least a direction I could see. I failed to that end yet again, as I still have no idea what I am writing about, even with 7k+ words about two characters, and now, a location to boot. I figured I try taking a hint from something I heard long ago, that location can often be a solid character. I though that since I was just focusing on building characters and getting words on the page, that this may be a key for me to build out a third character without flooding my writing with a bunch of people. Additionally, this would hopefully force me into concrete imagery as well, since it is easier to descriptively write about solid places in ‘concrete’ terms… ok, that was bad, but hopefully you get where my head was on this angle.

Suffice to say I am as equally dispassionate with the location as I am with the two characters I have already worked on. This, I can assure you, is going to make it much more difficult to pull 1600+ words a day for another 3 weeks to make the 50K mark. I need to find my interest in this all. My two characters are flat, one dimensional, and lifeless, but worse, I don’t care what happens to them; which is the death of any piece of fiction. I need to care about something here, otherwise this is an exercise in the abundant use of unnecessary and unconnected adjectives. Hmm, I guess that last sentence kind of proves the point, doesn’t it….

I was hoping that pushing through with a location would spark some sort of emotive connection to this all. I want to be passionate about my characters. I want to care what happens to them. I want to know who they are. And this is the problem I have with fiction; they can be anything I want them to be, but not until I care about them, and I wont care about them until I know more, and I wont know more until I write more, but I can’t write more until I know what I want them to be. BAH. Travelogues and diaries, and ed-op columns, and general musings on life are so much easier than fiction. All I have to do is write about things that exist. With fiction I have to create things which don’t. And that, my loyal readers, is NOT EASY.

So, today, I am going to step away for a bit. Do some laundry, watch some crappy TV, and try tot relax. Rest up. Build back those reserves of emotion that have been drained from me for the past few weeks and then sit down this afternoon to really crank out some big time word counts. I will not focus on ‘trying’, I won’t over think it like I have above, but rather I will just sit down and continue building these three characters until something snaps, or until I hit 50k, whichever comes first. :)
acdntlpoet: (grammar police)
My Twitter update last night pretty much said it all:
AcdntlPoet… pushed through a hard fought 1658 words in an hour and a half. Today felt like blood from a stone, but the words still came.”

I was exhausted, physically and emotionally from the long day of work that was behind me. Because of that, I fear the 1658 words that came out last night will end up on the cutting room floor at the beginning of December when I start editing. To this point I haven’t read ANYTHING I have written, but I have the sense that one of my old problems and criticisms from my creative writing classes has reared its head again: lack of concrete imagery. As I pushed through last night, working to attain a 1600 word evening, I knew as I was writing that I was missing that solid item. What ended up coming out was just more esoteric internal babble surrounding the character, not describing or showing, but platitudes and clichés.

So, tonight and into tomorrow, the focus is concrete imagery. Still need to build out the characters more, and I have the sense that I am on the edge of some surprise to me, but it’s not quite attainable with what I have yet. I’ll be working to 1600+ words tonight again, and have the day off tomorrow, which I am thinking I’ll use to play catch-up from the beginning of the month and perhaps over achieve for the days later this month when I know I won’t be able to put any words down at all.

I’m also finding that fiction is not one of my strong points. The act of creating something from thin air is daunting, and what I can muster seems only thinly veiled from real life. I find writing about reality much easier to accomplish. I find I work best when a definitive structure is present. With fiction, it seems to me, I have no map to guide me on the way, leaving the journey a rambling mess of a path, at the end of which I find I haven’t gone nearly as far as I had hoped I would, and didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary or exceptional.

Not surprisingly, I have the same problem when I go out to ride my motorcycle; without a destination chosen, my journey is stalled at the beginning not knowing whether to turn left, right, or continue ahead. Some of my best rides were all based around particular destinations, providing that structure to work within and find the most enjoyable way to get there. Not knowing what to write about is leaving me in that same space currently. I fear I will make three right turns and end up finding my journey was a short circle leading me back home.
acdntlpoet: (grammar police)
Also behind me is another 1831 words. Marking a grand total (as of Day 5’s start) at: 4,262 words in 4 days.

As I intimated previously, last night’s effort would be on a different character. This worked well to get me started, but things soon swung back to the initial character’s focus. A scene even began to build out unexpectedly and led me down a path I hadn’t planned on. While I am happy I got so much out of that attempt, I am a bit annoyed that I wasn’t able to build the character more, but I guess that’s how this game goes, eh? Just let it take you where it will and don’t worry about what you, as the writer, desires the story to be.

So, tonight I feel, may be a bit more difficult. I am tired from a late elections night and a decided lack of sleep during the work day. Not to mention all the actual work getting in my way of catching up on sleep during the day. Additionally, I feel a need to totally redo what I wrote last night. A feeling which I am fighting, but one that will make it more difficult tonight. Perhaps if I just step back and work on building that second character again, things will come out in a different way, but in a way that will still build on what came out yesterday. Still, the drive to build the character is there, so I should be able to pull out another 1600 in an hour or two tonight again.
acdntlpoet: (grammar police)
Yesterday was a beast. Over the course of a chat with theJamez, I realized that I was focusing on the wrong things to make NaNoWriMo completion a possibility. Coming from someone who successfully ‘won’ with over 50k in a month, I take his recommendations seriously. (Well that and he has an MFA in creative writing, so there is academic AND practical experience talking there.)

Given his pep talk and profound advice, I sat back after work yesterday evening and broke into a flurry of prose. I focused only on building out a character. More description than anything else, but it allowed me to pull off 1700 words in just under 2 hours. If I can keep up that pace and do some extra over the weekends, I can easily reach 50k by the end of the month.

The whole process last evening was quite interesting to me. I sat down without knowing –anything- surrounding what was to come, other than the fact that I was going to write about a character. And by that I don’t mean I was going to write about ‘this character’… I mean that all I knew I was going to write about was ‘A character’. From the first word, I began to figure out the basics: man/woman/adult/child, etc. and a scene began to build out of it, hints of a back story started mixing in, and before I knew it, I had six or so pages filled.

I’ll be doing the same tonight before Jean gets home and we sit down to laugh/scream/cry at the television coverage of the election results. Tonight, however, I’ll step away form yesterdays character and work on someone else. That should give me two points to focus future energy when one just isn’t working… I can step away and work on the other to keep things a bit mixed and fresh.

We shall see if this process works as well a second time around.
acdntlpoet: (grammar police)
I added about 200 words yesterday, and another 500 or so today… what I have discovered in the first two days of attempting the month long novel: I need a guiding direction. Right now, I have no idea what word will come next; no clear concept of –what- I am writing about.

I sat down last night to watch a few movies, and had my notebook and pen next to me to start building out some sort of inspiration or direction. Nothing. I was only able to put down a few ideas of things to help inspire me, nothing about what I want to write about.

It seems it has been so long since I flex my creative muscle that it has atrophied to a scarily stagnant point. I have been so focused in the past ten or so years in building out my technical writing muscles, that I have completely neglected the creative ones. I have substituted any thought about what _I want_ to write about with what I _need_ to write about for work.

I thought I would start by putting a few ‘first lines’ down, but that resulted in tripe. So, instead I pulled out a short piece (which accounted for the first 200 or so words) which I had written ages ago, to build out and use as a basis since it is the one short piece I am most proud of in terms of the craft of writing (the content is really irrelevant). Alas, I can’t even find the inspiration to build that out yet, since it has always stood as a complete piece in my mind.

So I pulled out one of my favourite short works of fiction to read: Earnest Hemmingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”
I figured a good read of an inspirational work would get me in the groove… which worked for another 500 words, but resulted in a poor imitation of what I had just read.

I knew when I started this process that it wouldn’t be easy, and that I was setting myself up for failure; after all, I hadn’t written for over 10 years, what made me think I could pull out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days when I also had 40-60 hours of work to focus on each week?

I think what I need to do right now is NOT focus on writing, but rather focus on a topic/theme/subject and find my muse to throw some inspiration my way. Perhaps pulling out a few of my books on writing fiction and novels may be a good start; a way to step back and evaluate or discover what I want to say, what story I want to tell.

At the same time I think I will still continue to try putting down a few paragraphs each day as an exercise in writing and flexing that creative muscle. It doesn’t matter if they are disjointed and unrelated. It doesn’t matter that they may be only exercises in building character or scene, or just focusing in on imagery or dialogue, it will hopefully help me build up those creative chops so when I find that story I’ll be ready to write it down at the speed of light and make my 50K words by the end of the month.. ah, hope springs eternal!
acdntlpoet: (Jaco and Bass)
Yesterday, a dear friend of mine unintentionally inspired me to be a bit more creative in my daily life. The muse came in very simple form: a Twittered Haiku about a lost post.

I quickly replied with my own Haiku about Lotus Notes 8 having crashed on me. And again, once I was able to Fix Lotus 8 and continue on with my day.

As my day progressed, another friend from Facebook (I have my tweets pushed to my Facebook status) commented on my Haiku and called me out for thinking I shouldn't have time to write Haiku about Lotus Notes. This gave me a moment's pause until I realized that it really took no time at all. Haiku is an easy form of poetry to mimic (NOT an easy form to master, or even do well, mind you); being an English lit major with an emphasis in poetry from years back, I find it fairly easy to write in the 5/7/5 format.

Over the course of the remaining day, as I sat back and pondered Twitter Haiku a bit more, I came to realize the brilliance of it all: Haiku is the perfect format for Twitter. The 5/7/5 structure fits nicely with Twitter's 140 character limit. This same limitation also leverages the ability of Haiku to convey complex imagery and ideas in small structured bursts.

While I will never claim to write good Haiku, nor can I even come close to genuine traditional Japanese Haiku, I do find creativity and amusement in writing modern English Haiku. I tend to focus on and enjoy the dichotomy of technology in a poetic form traditionally using nature based motifs. Error Code Haiku is a personal favourite...
Which should explain why I found brilliance in Twitter Haiku. Perfection!


So, my challenge to my Twitter friends: leverage the Haiku form to create your tweets for as long as you can stand it. I am certain that pure brilliance will emanate from this experiment.

My challenge to all friends not on Twitter: Find your muse. Explore some sense of creativity every day. Join Twitter and start writing Haiku, or update your blog only in quatrains. The idea here is to find something simple and easy to do which still provides a sense of creativity which I know we all lack most of the time.

A Twitter challenge.
Create Haiku update tweets.
Revel in brilliance.

Read more on Haiku at Wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiku

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