Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo 2016 Update #3

Yesterday my word count was 10,305. I’m caught up, assuming I meet my goal today. Unfortunately, I haven’t written anything today and I’m not sure if I will or not. I encountered a problem I’ve never had, not only during Nanowrimo but with writing in general. My story is finished, except it’s not.

Let me explain, since I know that sounds odd. I thought I was prepared enough to write this story but apparently I wasn’t. All the major scenes were planned out. I wrote scene cards and pinned them on a cork board and was confident I knew how to get from beginning to end.

I did. I wrote every one of those scenes. The problem is, with only a couple of exceptions, I only wrote those scenes. Normally, I start with my opener and the first few scenes. Then, if I’m lucky, some magic happens between the first sequence and the next, or even between those first scenes. Call it filler if you will, or transitions, or whatever. It didn’t happen this time. This story reads like a 100 meter dash instead of the marathon it needs to be!

This could mean several things. It could simply indicate this shouldn’t be a novel length story, but I don’t think so. It could mean I am not as interested in the story as I believed. Maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I needed to be. Perhaps this novel needs a lot more planning than previous ones, or less. It’s changed a lot since I first conceived it, so it could be it changed so much my muse doesn’t understand it anymore.

I don’t know what the problem is, so I don’t know how to proceed. Some of what’s missing is what I call padding. I write very little description in a first draft, unless it directly impacts the characters. I have several scenes where I’ve fleshed out the setting a lot and others that only say ‘forest’, ‘town square’, ‘grocery store’, etc.’ I haven’t taken the time to describe either main character or any of the lesser but important ones. I did spend some time on the villain though. I figure I know what they look like so I can just get the story out and add that stuff later.

If I go in and add all the items listed above, I would still only have about 15,000 – 20,000 words. I need to take some time to figure out what happens in between the crucial scenes. Therein lies my biggest problem. I’m doing Nanowrimo. I don’t have time to flesh out a story I thought I understood and still write 50k words.

So today, I’m taking some time to think and make decisions. Do I set aside this story and pick up something else so I can get the word count? I’ve done this before, every year I’ve participated actually. It seems to be my pattern. Or, do I take the time to work on a story I believe has massive potential and give up on Nanowrimo? I can’t do both.

Either choice is appealing to me equally. I will hate making this decision. I honestly don’t know what I should do.

I’ll post another update when I figure it out.


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Nanowrimo 2016 Update #2

My word count is 3749. I’m behind due to not writing yesterday. I had a procedure that involved four gigantic needles being shoved into my lower back. The stuff they gave me made me sleepy so when I got home I took a long nap. Afterward I didn’t feel like writing. I was sore and a bit out of it.

The plan is to make up for it today and tomorrow. Hopefully the injection (nerve block) will allow this.

I’m going to write a scene where my main character uses magic in an unexpected way. It’s either going to confound me or I’m going to write a ton of words. I hope it leads to many more scenes. In my vague index card outline there is only haziness around this scene.

A true planner I am not. I do some basic plotting, pin up some index card scenes, and write a synopsis only I will ever see before I start to write. This leaves me plenty of room to still be half a pantser. That’s where the magic happens for me.

Tomorrow I might go to a write-in. I suspect I need to be around other writers for a  while to pick up creative vibes. Sunday is my writing group so I’ll be busy all weekend. I probably won’t post another update until Monday or Tuesday.


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Nanowrimo 2016 Update #1

Yesterday I wrote 1669 words for my Nanowrimo project. About half were written between 12:00 am and 12:30 am. The rest I managed while writing with my best friend in the afternoon. Everything except him distracted me. Staying up three hours past my bedtime and sleeping badly took its toll.

I feel lucky I met the daily Nano goal (which is 1667). Nothing could make me reread anything I wrote yesterday though. I was so out of it I can’t be sure any of it makes sense. If I read it, I’ll want to fix it. This cannot be allowed. My inner editor is a bitch and will take over, throwing me out of creative mode.

So I’m going to start today’s writing with the assumption I did everything right. Since I’m trying to write in a linear manner, I’ll simply write the next scene, then the next and so on.

All the past Nanowrimos I jumped around in the story. I started out with the beginning but at some point jumped to the end, then back to the middle, and all over the place. Each year I ended up getting stalled and moving to another story. The hopping around in my timeline might have been the reason. So I’m going to try to stay on track this time. Try is the keyword here.

I won’t beat myself up if I do end up following my usual pattern though. What matters is words. I’ve got lots of those.

My goal for today is 2000 words. I prefer to stay ahead as much as possible. There are several days this month I won’t be able to write much and at least one where I can’t write at all. So it’s important I have days where I write more than the regular goal.

Tomorrow is one of the no write days. It’s injection day. I’ve had several of these procedures but I’ve never looked forward to one this much. Sure it will suck getting an IV but if this thing works then it might get me through the month with less pain. Less pain means more writing. I’m very worried back pain will dictate whether I win this year or not so I desperately want this injection to work for me.

I will posts updates when I can but I hope to be too busy to do it often. Good luck to all the other participants!


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Flash Fiction – A Man’s World (and a quick update)

This is from a writing prompt posted in my writing group. It was the amazing picture of a man kneeling down on one knee with several arrows sprouting from his back. It took me quite some time to come up with an idea but when I finally did, I wrote this in a 25 minute timed exercise.


A Man’s World

Conneth dropped to one knee as Elyse approached to survey her victorious champions. Exhausted with blood loss he was glad of a reason to rest. The arrows still lodged in his back might kill him but not kneeling before the crown Princess would definitely cost him his head. He hadn’t fought and killed scores of men for her just to end up one of her victims.

As she passed by, he chanced a quick glance. The royal brat wrinkled her nose up at the sight of the injured but devoted men prostrated before her. He returned his gaze to the ground. Rumor had it she threw men she didn’t have killed in the fabled dungeons of Sarvon for not showing the proper deference.

Not for the first time Conneth wished men could rule. Elyse’s older brother Landor would be a great ruler. He understood the plight of men in this kingdom, but it would never happen. If Elyse didn’t survive to become queen her closest female cousin would ascend the throne, even if the girl hadn’t reached her majority.

Someday, probably not in Conneth’s lifetime, men would not be thought of as lesser creatures. They would not be bred merely to cater to a lady’s whim or to fight wars started by women. What he wouldn’t give to be able to choose his own wife and make his own decisions.

Being paraded at the multitude of Men’s Balls for some random female to bargain with his mother for his hand was degrading. It didn’t help that he was reaching an age where he was almost too old to be marriageable. It was unfair that he would be forced to either marry a stranger who would rule his life or risk being labels a bachelor. His stomach tightened painfully at the thought.

His head jerked up at unexpected movement in front of him. Elyse stood looking down at him. There was a light in her eyes he didn’t like. She stared at him for several minutes as he defiantly glared back. The blood running down his back distracted him but if he was going to die, he was going to go out in his own way.

“This one,” Elyse said to the man beside her, her personal slave mage. “Heal him, send him to my tent. Oh and find his mother.” She turned and walked away.

Confused he stared at the mage as the man bent over him and began the healing.  “What is going on Victor?”

“You poor bastard. You’ve been chosen as the Princess Elyse’s next consort. I probably should have let you die. Maybe you’ll survive longer than the last three. I gave you a little extra stamina, you’re going to need it. Her um…appetites are voracious.” The sympathy on the man’s face was almost painful.

“Sex?” he asked but he knew the answer. Wasn’t that what women really wanted men for? For the first time in his life Conneth passed out from fear.

*rough draft: 496 words


I am choosing not to edit this due to Nanowrimo starting tomorrow. My inner editor is safely tucked away and I hope not to see it until December. I’m going to the kick off event tonight and will start writing my novel at midnight. I’m wimpy so I won’t stay very late but I like the way it starts off Nano. On Tuesday I’ll write for as many hours as I can handle (which of course my stupid back will decide).

I have a procedure scheduled for Thursday, an injection, which will mess up my writing stride but might enable me to get through November and finish Nano.

There is no way to know how often I’ll be posting here during next month. My regular Wednesday posts hopefully and the Saturday post for sure will show up. Updates will be sporadic.

You might see some excerpts but no more short stories as I’ll be concentrating on one project (hopefully).

 

Annual Nanowrimo Post

Today I opened Facebook and saw a post from an old friend about Nanowrimo. He said he’d signed up and was really nervous. A first-timer! So many thoughts went through my head. Part of me wanted to ask if he knew what he was getting himself into. Things like: Are you nuts? Don’t you understand how stressful it is? Blah, blah, etc.

The better side of me said a variation of “You got this!” All the bad things associated with Nanowrimo are true, sometimes. They are false other times. Or the negatives might apply to one person and not another.

There is always my case, where the first year was awful and I failed. Then on reflection I realized I didn’t write 50,000 words but I wrote half that amount, which is 25k more words than I had before November. I acquired a daily writing habit and after I finished being a metaphoric Dobby (imagine him punishing himself), I gained some confidence in my skills. I realized I could and should write.

Let’s break down Nanowrimo. The goal is to write a 50,000 word story in a month. November has thirty days so to accomplish this you must write 1667 words a day. If you’re anything like me there will be days where you pump out twice that or more. There will also be days where you’re lucky to get 70, or none.

Some people get discouraged if they are not right on track with the daily goal but the thing  to remember the end goal. I say this every year but it’s important to note Nanowrimo is a competition with yourself.

What exactly does that mean? It means you only lose if you give up. Fifty thousand is a number some writer picked. Hey, you are a writer too! We all know there is no one correct way to write. So be you. Write as much as you can, as fast as you can, and see what you end up with.

For those of you who are competitive, well, this is the perfect opportunity! Also, you can cheat. No, I don’t mean copy and paste old stuff. I mean you don’t have to write in one story. You can write many short stories, or half of two. It doesn’t have to be fiction, or even a novel. You could do a screenplay, or a collection of poems. What matters is words, on paper or screen.

If you do win there are some nifty prizes (yes, I actually said nifty). Scrivener, my all time favorite program to write in is 20% off if you don’t win but half off if you do. If you want to try out the program there is a special Nanowrimo trial version available: click here to try it. There are free and discounted publishing tools, a discount on a cool timeline program and many other goodies.

The biggest prize of all is words. The words you wrote. However many you end up with will be more than you started with and probably more than you would have written without Nanowrimo.

We need to go back to the negatives so no one walks in blind.

  • Stress. Yes, this happens to most of us, but doesn’t it already happen when you write?
  • It’s hard. At times yes, but most of the time you’re so busy in the process you don’t notice. My best advice is to have some kind of plan. You don’t have to plot every detail out, although if you like to, then by all means do it. Just have at least a basic plan of where you’re going. If you’re an ‘organic’ writer, you might have a difficult time.
  • Life. It will get in the way as often as possible. If you have kids or pets or a spouse or partner who live with you then you’ll realize quickly they are more needy in November than any other time of the year. As soon as you put a pen to paper or hands to the keyboard they will need you. Even when they try to leave you alone, well, you know how when you’re trying to be quiet so you don’t wake someone up? It will be just like that, all the time. Don’t worry, this is a good thing. I’m not crazy, at least not about this. You will learn to write around distractions, or to tell everyone to shut it. If you have a live in significant other, enlist their help to distract the other distractions. Kids thrive on structure. If you set a time for writing and enforce it then they will get used to it quickly and you’ll forever have your writing time. It’s best to also make this their time, as in give them something they can do as well, that is far away from you and preferably doesn’t involve food.
  • Speaking of food, you have to eat and so does your family or pets. Slow cooker. That is all.
  • Not finishing. Notice I didn’t say failing. If you wrote during Nano, you haven’t failed.
  • Writing yourself into a corner. I’ve done this. I had a plan, it was a bad plan and I got stuck. You have several choices if this happens to you. 1. You can agonize and Dobby yourself and not write another word and be miserable. Trust me, this is not the option to pick. 2. You can pour over your outline or synopsis or whatever you did to plan and try to find where it needs to be fixed. If you do this one, try to keep the pouring short and sweet. Once you figure out the problem don’t try to actually fix it. Write as if you already did. You can revise later. 3. If you’re completely stalled then stop working on the story. Try writing something else. It could be a new novel, something you’ve already worked on, some short stories, whatever you like. It’s your contest and if you write the words, they count. It doesn’t matter if it’s all one novel. My goal is 50,000 words, regardless. For the last two years I’ve written in two different stories each time. One year I finished a middle grade novel. It was only about half the 50k, so I started working on book two of the series. Last year I got stalled and another story was trying to take over anyway so I wrote the second one. In fact, I wrote the entire thing in 15 days.
  • Sucky quality. Well, it’s going to happen. When you’re trying to get as many words out as possible, you’re going to have some terrible stuff. For example: The flower was exceptionally pretty, especially the way the ends of the large petals were a completely different, but beautiful shade of the darkest red you can imagine and the stem was a shining and healthy green, like pine trees in the fall in northern Alaska. Long, weird, and awful right? Just wait. Your muse will wax eloquently and you will unconsciously try to stack as much in as you can to reach your word count, especially near the end. Don’t worry when this happens to you. Words first, revision later. By the way, it was hard to make up the above example, but it won’t be in November!
  • The opposite of sucky quality. You might have the inner editor problem. Every sentence must be perfect and if it’s not you might go back and fix it in three minutes. Don’t do this to yourself. It’s crucial you turn off the inner editor. This isn’t a competition of perfection, it’s about word count. You can fix it later. Always remember, no matter how hard you try to make each line perfect, first drafts suck. You will have to revise it later anyway, so just write.
  • Comparison. Remember, this is a competition with yourself, not anyone else. If you’re part of a Nanowrimo group you’ll start seeing people finish halfway through or writing 3000 words every day. STOP IT! Don’t compare yourself. All you need to do is what works for you. Remember my Alaskan flower sentence? For all you know, every sentence they wrote is the equivalent. Or maybe they are channeling Stephen King and simply write that fast. It doesn’t matter. All that matters if you, and what you can do, what you are doing and what you will do.
  • Loneliness. This one is huge. I know writing is a solitary endeavor, but we all need to be around others who understand. It doesn’t have to be in person. There are forums on the Nano website and a lot of regions have a Facebook group. If you can pull yourself out of your introverted ways, attend a few events. Most areas have write-ins a few times during the event. You don’t even have to talk if you go. Bring earbuds and remain silent if you must. Whether you interact or not you’ll be soaking up all the good writer vibes. There is something to be said for being around a bunch of people who are enthusiastic about writing. My first year I lurked in the Facebook page but did all the writing on my own, never speaking to anyone. I wrote 25k words. The next year I got involved and smashed through the goal and have won every year since.
  • Writing Advice. There is a ton out there, especially during Nanowrimo. Don’t read it, at least not during November. You want to write, not read about writing. Read as much as you want or can over the next couple of days but once you start, put the books and posts aside and just write. If you get stuck, then check out some tips and get back to it.
  • You might win. How is this negative you ask? Well if you finish then you have a novel that needs revision, editing, publishing. This is scary stuff, especially if it’s your first book. I can’t tell you how to get over the fear of hard work or success but I can tell you it’s debilitating if you don’t. Writing is a process and it’s hard. It’s not for everyone but if you can get through all the steps it will be worth it and you’ll be so proud of yourself. If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, do it. You’ve got this!
  • You might not win. You may not end up with 50k but you’ll have something. I didn’t win my first year but I did get half the words. I also got my daily writing habit and a huge boost of confidence. I got all the things I listed below, in the good section and a lot more. I can’t forget to mention I got competitive, with myself. I was determined to win the next year. Even with the negatives I had a lot of fun and even though it took some time, in the end I didn’t care that I didn’t ‘win.’

Now for the good:

  • Words.

Yep, that’s what you really get out of this. Sure, if you win you can take advantage of the sponsor offers and goodies but even if you don’t, you have words out of your head. You have something to work with. Whether it be 50,000, 25k, or less, you win at writing. If you participate with others, you might walk away with new friends, a regular writing or critique group, some great encouragement, and maybe a few beta readers. You’ll see.

So to everyone who wants to do Nanowrimo, I say try it. You’ll either love it or you won’t. It’s only one month of your life and you may come away better for it.

Good luck to everyone going for it this year. I can’t wait to get started.

Everything Update

Writing: As mentioned in a previous update, I finished the first draft of book one of my unnamed trilogy. I’m a bit at loose ends now.

I started planning the novel I plan to write for Nanowrimo but the middle is giving me trouble. I know the beginning and end. I even know a lot of things that need to happen in between but once I made my story board I saw the middle was sparse. At this point I don’t know how to fix it.

On a good note, I did figure out how to introduce some important back story. I have less than two weeks to figure out the rest. This may turn out to be only a partially planned story. I’m going to start writing it on November 1st whether I work out the issues or not. It will be like old times, when I would write by the seat of my pants, but with a bit of a safety net.

Since finishing my novel and getting stalled on planning the next I wrote one piece of flash fiction (click here to read it), and not much else. I have a few ideas for more short stories but haven’t been inspired enough to write them. My brain is too wrapped up on other things.

One of those things is an older story trying to intrude and push my Nanowrimo project to the side. This is no surprise as it happens every year I participate. Last year I started with one story and when I got stuck I switched to a different one. The new novel kept pulling my attention away and once I let it have my focus it poured out of my head quickly. I wrote the entire first draft in 15 days. I did the same thing the year before, and the year before that.

Sometimes I write one and a half novels in November and other times it’s two halves but apparently this is my pattern. I’d like to break the habit but I’d rather write parts of two different stories than get so stalled I can’t write a thing. I do not advise jumping from story to story for most writers.

In other writing news, I plan to go to the West Texas Writer’s Academy in June. I know how to write but I feel like adding to my writer’s toolbox is important. Also, I need to recharge my writing battery. I’ve talked to several people who’ve attended in the past and know this is for me. I can’t wait to be around a bunch of other writer’s who want to learn and share their knowledge. It’s part classes, part networking, part absorbing writer vibes.

The problem is it’s expensive. I’ve started saving but I’m nervous I won’t be able to manage it. There is a small scholarship available and I applied for it. I had to write a short essay about why I want to be a writer. Yesterday I finished it and forced myself to send it. I was a nervous wreck! At first, after attaching the file, I kept my mouse pointer hovered over the send button.

I’m not sure how long I sat there in fear but I finally clicked. That’s when I started shaking. Tears were running down my face and I was freaking out. It was weird! I stamped down the ‘what-if’ questions trying to overwhelm me and stared at the table in front of me so no one would notice. I wasn’t sobbing, it was only nervous tears, which I had never experienced until that moment, but I didn’t want anyone to ask if I was okay. Did I mention this all happened in a coffee shop. I’m so glad I sat in the corner! If I had known I would react this way I would have done it at home.

I told some writer friends what I did and even typing it in a text brought back the anxiety. Telling my husband that night did the same. I’m okay now as I type this, but I’m still a bit nervous about it.

That tiny partial scholarship could make the difference between me going or not. I desperately want to go. I think I need to. I have to pay in January and I’ll do everything I can to make it work. Wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it.

Reading: I’m rereading Harry Potter. I don’t want to get too distracted from my own writing so for the last couple of months I’ve only read books I’ve read before. I tried to only pick ones I’ve read several times.

When I picked up book one I was surprised by the beginning. I love J.K. but the first chapter is awful. Not the story itself, but the writing. Even by book two you can see a huge improvement in her skill level. Noticing this gave me hope. I’ve reread some of my early work and been appalled. Knowing this happens to all writers is encouraging. We all get better. I don’t know if I can ever get J.K. better but I can certainly try.

The other thing I noticed was I haven’t reread these books in a very long time. I probably shouldn’t keep reading but it’s already pulled me in. So I’ll treat it as research.

Coincidentally, the story trying to intrude on my Nanowrimo story is a middle grade tale. Reading at least the first four Harry Potter books really is like doing research since Harry is in the age range of my characters.

Okay, I’m pretty sure I just decided, literally as I wrote the previous paragraph, I’m going to switch projects now for Nanowrimo. Tommie the fairy and her friends really want to me write about them and I will. It will be a lot more fun than the story I had planned. It has a lot of death and impossible choices and betrayal and creatures that kill and eat humans.

Tommie and her friends never eat people! Well, one of her friends would if she was allowed outside the fairy realm, but that’s not important here.

I think I won’t pick up The Prisoner of Azkaban today. Instead, I’ll plot out my new Nano project!

Medical: I’m still waiting to hear from the doctor’s office about insurance approval to do an injection in my back. There is a nerve basically being a little smushed. It’s more complicated than that but my silly word serves. I hope this procedure happens next week. If it works then I’ll be all set for November’s crazy writing schedule.

Everything else: I’m going to search for freezer meals today so I can get some good use out of my slow cooker next month. I’d rather spend two or three days preparing a months worth of meals than cook every day when I’m trying to write 2000 words a day. Plus, meal planning will help me save money towards the academy.

For those of you who read my post about my daughter’s friend, I have an update. The abusive jerk who hit this girl got expelled. I’m not sure if it’s because that is policy when someone is accused or if it’s because one of the times he hit her it happened in an alley that runs along one of the parking lots. If they consider it school property, well they have a no-tolerance policy on violence. He now goes to a school across town, so the girl feels safer. I’m waiting to hear what the police had to say about it.

I’ll post an update on my planning progress soon. Don’t be surprised if I change my mind again.

Everything Update (Mostly A Writing Update)

Writing: I’m in the home stretch! There are only four scenes I absolutely have to write to finish the first draft of book one of my fantasy trilogy, plus any scenes they inspire.

This draft will be very bare bones. It has little in the way of description and setting. I used placeholder words such as forest, tundra, ocean, ship, dragon, etc so I could get the story on paper as quickly as possible.

When I get to the revision stage I’ll add all of the details in. Once upon a time I would put in every detail as I wrote the story and it would take forever to get anything accomplished. I finally learned to trust my muse and just get the important stuff out of my head. I can embellish to my heart’s content later.

I don’t need to describe the type of trees in the forest in the first draft (unless it’s plot relevant, which it’s not in this book). I know what it looks like in my head so it can wait while I write the action. I concentrate on the conflict and dialog in the beginning.

Maybe it’s because I find description tedious. Even when reading a book, I tend to scan over the description of places and buildings. Once I have a mental image I don’t need all the fluff and I refuse to add a lot of fluff to my novels.

There were some exceptions of course. The desert in this story is important, as are the magic creatures who attack my main characters (which will be referred to as MC’s from now on) while they cross it. So they got detailed descriptions. I spent some time on the mother of one of my MC’s because she interested me. I described all my MC’s and one of the bad guys. I haven’t spent much time on the big bad but I will before I finish this draft.

Being this close to the end makes me nervous, and excited, and scared. I have finished first drafts before but this one is different. It’s more important to me than any other. This book, the whole trilogy really, have been in my head and trying to be written for too many years.

It began in 2003, on a plane, on my way to make one of the biggest mistakes of my life. All I started with was a character in a scene who could hear dragons. The story has grown and changed a lot over the years, mostly because I kept putting it to the side. I was discouraged from writing it at times, and afraid to write it at other times.

I picked it back up two years ago and wrote a lot during Nanowrimo but something was wrong with it. I didn’t know how to fix it and it was weighing me down so I decided I would write it when I believed I could and it didn’t matter how long it took or if it never got written.

After that I wrote around 80 short stories and several first drafts of other novels, to varying degrees of completion. Clearly I made the right decision.

Not too long ago I found myself thinking a lot about one of the characters from the trilogy. I don’t know how it happened but something clicked and I knew how to fix the story. I replotted the entire thing. Part of the issue was the order in which certain events happened. Once I did some rearranging, removed things that didn’t work and added some new ideas it all fell into place.

I sat down and started writing it again. Instead of fixing what was already written I just made a new file in Scrivener and got to work. When I got to a scene I wanted to keep I skipped it with the intention of copy and pasting it later. If I reached one that had parts I wanted to save then I rewrote it. I was so scared I would slip into editing mode so I didn’t mess with fixing bits and pieces in the old file.

That brings me to today and my last four scenes. I suspect I’ll write more than that but those four are the only planned ones. My nerves were getting to me so I am writing this post to try to shake it off before getting to the real work.

I don’t know if I’ll finish today but it could happen. I do know I’ll finish this week, which is my true goal. Afterwards I will not start revising it. I need to step away and let it all settle in first.

The best course of action may be to start writing something else. Not book two. Maybe I’ll write some short stuff for a couple of weeks. Nanowrimo is coming up soon so during the last half of October I plan to plan. I don’t know what story I’ll work on. I have several in process I could choose from or I might do something new.

I’d really like to have something plotted out to work on in November. Book two of the trilogy might tell me I’ve picked it to write for the month. It was my original plan after all. Still, I wonder if I need a short break from the story. I don’t want to get bogged down again and end up putting it aside for too long.

I’ll let you all know what I decide and keep everyone updated on any other writing that happens anytime soon.

Medical: I went to the pain doctor today. I’ve been putting it off hoping the pain I’m in is a result of my surgery. What I’m feeling is almost exactly what I felt back when all this trouble started. It’s disk pain and I suspect it’s the disk above the fusion. The neurosurgeon and the pain doctor suspect the same.

The plan is to go in for an MRI whenever my insurance approves it. If the results are what everyone thinks they will be then I’ll have an injection. There is also a possibility of burning off some of the nerves, just like they did with the other disk. I hope it works because the idea of having another surgery is horrifying.

I also recently learned the fusion hasn’t bridged which basically means I’m healing very slowly. There can be all kinds of complications in this situation. So medically it all sucks but there is a smidgen of hope.

On Friday I got a call from the Physical Therapy place. I rolled my eyes so hard I was afraid they heard it! They want me to come in for at least one more visit to talk about how I’m doing and to be officially discharged from their care. They should have done that on my previous visit. I think they did a good job but they were determined to drag my therapy out for as long as they could, months longer than I needed because my insurance authorized so many visits.

I understand they are a business and profit matters but for that last month they were wasting my time and theirs. I had made as much progress as I was going to and the only reason they kept me coming was money. I implied as much and no one disagreed. I’m not mad at them, I’m simply done and it’s unlikely I’ll return to them if I ever need PT again.

Okay, I’ve put off working on my story long enough. I’m going to go eat lunch then try to write 1500 words. Expect a post when I finish the draft as I’ll probably be freaking out!

Everything Update 9/12/2016

Writing: Writing is happening! After a month or so of writer’s block I am happily writing regularly now. Last week I had a moment. You know, when of those moment’s of clarity where pieces mentally fall into place. Add to it a healthy dose of stubbornness and determination and I sat down to write.

I was going to make it happen. I’d been having ideas for my fantasy trilogy for a few days and jotted them down but it was really Tuesday that the magic happened. I went to my favorite writing spot and since it was a Tuesday, the elderly table hording ladies were there. I didn’t get irritated (shocking right?) I simply sat somewhere else. I arranged all my paraphernalia and turned on the laptop.

Somehow I knew I would successfully write. I set myself a goal and posted on Facebook about it. I stated my goal was 1600 words but since I’d had writer’s block for so long I would be satisfied with 3000. In the first hour I wrote 1700. The only reason I stopped was my back was hurting from hunching over and I desperately needed a break. It happened to be lunch time so I ate as fast as I reasonably could and got back to work. Did I mention when the table stealers left I didn’t bother to move to MY table? It just didn’t matter.

I ended up with almost 3000 words. I’d joked about wanting this much but honestly I would have been happy with five hundred and overjoyed to get to 1000. In truth, being blocked on this story was the best thing for me. When I wasn’t able to write I was still able to think about it. My muse was in hiding but whispering.

As it turned out, there were several key changes needed in the novel and this month of only thinking made me realize it. Basically I’m rewriting the story. There is a lot of salvageable material from what I previously wrote but the beginning needed an overhaul so I started there. As I wrote I would check the old stuff and if I found something usable I kept it and moved on to the next scene. I didn’t add any of the previous stuff to the new Scrivener file because I want to be able to see my word count progress but I will put it all in soon.

It’s not too complicated or time consuming to flip back and forth between the two files so it works out. Besides, I have so many words trying to come out of me that little stops aren’t hurting my creative flow at all. I also try to have a game plan and glance over all the material before getting started.

Since Tuesday, on the days I’ve written, I’ve managed around 3000 words each time. I know I can’t keep up this pace every single day but I’m glad of it for now. I reset my goal to 1000 words so I don’t freak myself out when I have a day where the words aren’t pouring out.

A few days before my writing breakthrough I replotted the entire trilogy. I don’t do real outlines, I use index cards with scene sentences on them. I have one small wall outside my bedroom covered in cork board squares I use to pin up the scene cards for the first book. When I finished I did the same with book two on a medium-sized cork board and book three on a large one and put them on various walls.

It was particularly helpful because I realized there were some scenes (already written) that worked but not where they were located on the timeline. It’s very easy to rearrange index cards and then later move scenes in Scrivener in the same way. The story now made much more sense and flowed better.

As you can imagine I was so excited to write and thrilled with the results. I’ll keep you all updated on my progress. I hope to be finished with the first draft before November so I can possibly write book two for Nanowrimo.

Medical: It sucks, kind of. I had a CT scan and then a follow-up with my surgeon on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. I’m still in a lot of pain fairly often and I found out why. The fusion has not bridged yet. That means bone has not grown up over the rod and screws to connect to the next vertebrae above it. In short, I’m healing very slowly. My mom had almost the same surgery a year before me and hers were basically finished healing in 12 weeks. It’s been six months for me. I wish I’d inherited her superhuman healing powers.

I can take Ibuprofen now so I have another option. I try not to take anything unless I have to though. The important thing is I’m heading in the right direction, just not as fast as I’d like. In six months I need to have another scan to make sure my screws haven’t loosened (insert mockery here). If new bone doesn’t cover them this is a danger.

The downside to writing so much is it means I sit in one position for too long and increase the pain. Honestly I’m okay with it. Pain sucks but I’m not going to let it interfere with writing anyone. I have no choice but to deal with pain anyway, so I might as well write. When I’m being smart, I set a timer and get up and move around every 15 to 20 minutes. Even simply shifting position helps. When I’m writing it’s easy to get so into it I’m unaware of the passage of time until my back reminds me.

Working out/PT: I stopped going to physical therapy and now am able to do some exercises in the gym. I get on the elliptical daily for at least 15 minutes. If I’m not hurting then I stay on. Every other day I do some of the machines. I can’t lift anything straight over my head, which is fine because I’m a weakling. I can’t push out in front of me which is also fine for the same reason. I can do bench presses but I don’t at the gym because I feel too awkward. No weighted squats are allowed so I do regular ones at home.

I can use hip abductor machines and all the leg machines. No ab machines or twisting things. I can use the machines for arms and I was told I can do leg presses but when I did it hurt so I scratched it off the list. My legs are strong so I don’t feel I’m missing out. There are a few more exercises I can do at home and sometimes I do. I’m very disciplined if I’m in the gym and not so much when at home.

Photography: Nope. I haven’t taken photos since my vacation in NJ. I plan to take a couple of classes on Photoshop and Lightroom but I haven’t because concentrating on photography will knock me right out of writing mode.

Drawing: Same as photography. I don’t want to change creative zones at this point.

That’s all for now. Time to go make some stuff up. Have a great week everyone!

Remembering The First Day Of School Ever

The people who run the Nanowrimo Facebook page posted a writing prompt asking us to write about our first day of school ever. I had to think about it for a while because it was many moons ago. All I remember was sitting at a little table with a girl named Renee and I had to go to the bathroom. I must have been pretty antsy because she eventually said “Just do what I do. If you don’t think about it you will forget you have to go.”

That little gem turned out to be the best and worst advice. It worked in elementary school, for me. There were plenty of other little kids who followed this edict and had to suffer through accidents. I learned to go when I was allowed and it served me well through life.

I don’t remember anything else from the first day of kindergarten but I do recall little bits from later in the year. There were little gender biased areas set up around the room. When it was play time we were called up in random order to an easel where colored clothespins hung. Each station had room for four kids so being called first mattered. All the little boys, and the teacher, would get so irritated with me when I went first because I always picked the Hot Wheels area.

It was cool so it was not my fault! I was a tomboy with two older brothers. It never occurred to me to stick with the ‘girl’ stuff. I did enjoy playing in the kitchen corner but only as a second choice and I never once pretended to clean it!

Another choice was cleaning erasers. I only did it a few times. I despise cleaning but I equally hate being dirty so it wasn’t nearly as fun as it sounded, even if it meant being unsupervised out of the room. There was one area no one liked getting stuck in. Oddly, I have no clue what it was.

I remember kissing a boy on the cheek and wondering what the fuss was about. All the other little girls talked about wanting to kiss boys all the time. If they had understood how much grossness can accumulate on a young male’s face at recess they wouldn’t have been so keen on the idea. That kid was my teacher’s son and she treated me differently after the incident. I suspect she felt sorry for me because she became extra nice.

The only other stand out moment was when this kid named Sean and I were searching for worms (tomboy remember). We were digging behind a bush under a window sill and above us was a wasp nest. We didn’t know it until the buzzing started. Sean freaked out! He started running and screaming and I had no idea what was happening but he kept saying if he got stung he would die. His terror was contagious and it didn’t take long before most of the other kids were running and screaming as well. Not me, I was one of the few who were frozen in fear.

A couple of teachers grabbed him and got him inside, running top speed. Later he explained he was allergic and described in detail what happened the first time he was stung. Besides a recurring nightmare I had when I was even younger, this was the first time I remember feeling real fear.

Averted bathroom woes, Hot Wheels, toy kitchens, erasers, and wasps are what kindergarten was for me. I’m sure I learned a lot of important things and it set me up for the next twelve years of my life but we remember what we remember.

Do you remember your first day of school ever?


Photo by Ryan McGuire

Everything Update 6/27/2016

Writing: I’m about 2,500 words into the re-write of my trilogy. I’m calling it a rewrite because even though I’ve written 40,000 of the story, it was all over the place. There are salvageable pieces but mostly I’ve started over. I don’t regret it.

A majority of the parts I’m saving are in both the second and third book so ‘re-write’ isn’t as horrible as it sounds. I did do the first scene over and it is a vast improvement over the original. The second and third scenes were not touched. The original four scenes following didn’t work where they were so they’ve been put aside for a later decision.

Instead I started introducing my characters in a more interesting way. When I wrote the first half of the book during Nanowrimo a few years ago I got the main ensemble together too quickly. There was no time for me, let alone a reader, to get invested in anyone but the main viewpoint guy. So I chose to introduce them in their native lands, dealing with their own lives before gathering for their save-the-world quest.

So far, it’s working better and I’m happy. I plan to change a pivotal scene. It didn’t play out the way I thought it should and has been bugging me since I first wrote it. I can tell you now, it’s a great relief to figure out what was wrong with it.

One of the reasons I’m rewriting this scene and the others is I don’t want to get into editing mode. Once my inner editor rears its ugly head, there is no shutting it down. So I just rewrite what I want and if I’m not sure how to change it I go ahead and write the next scene as if I’d already fixed the problem one. I suppose it’s somewhere between creating and editing, but it makes my muse happy so I’ll keep doing it.

When I started I would read what I wrote the first time then figure out what I really wanted to say. Bad idea! Editor alert! I have a decent memory of the original so I work from that. If I absolutely can’t remember I might scan a scene but I’m trying to avoid the old stuff.

I’ve made so many changes that it’s not been too bad. I don’t regret writing stuff I won’t use because it helped me improve my abilities. It also taught me I’m not really a seat of my pants type of writer. I need some planning. Because of the planning, everything is going smoother than it did the first time.

It will sound like I’m being overly critical of myself but I believe when I started this story all those years ago, I wasn’t a good enough writer to write it. It was and still is, a good idea but I needed to learn so much before I could tackle it. Now I think I’m at the level I need to be and I can only learn and improve from here.

Writing every day helped me more than I can ever explain. Thanks to Nanowrimo for that, even though I failed the first time (with this story).

My goal is to write at least 1000 words a day, on the days I write. Preferably more.

Photography: I finished the photography class I was taking online. Now I have to decide whether to take the advanced class starting next month or wait until September. Things are going so well with my story I worry that giving myself something else to do will cause problems. I am enjoying photography. I’m even getting good at it, but writing is my real passion. Nothing can interfere.

So I need to decide if the class will interfere or be a good break twice a week from writing. I’m capable of handling both. We’ll see if I want to. Either way, I’ll definitely take the class, it’s a matter of when.

Reading: There is nothing to report here. I don’t have much time for reading. I get 15 minutes in twice a week after physical therapy, while they hook me up to the stim machine with a hot pack. Also here and there when my back hurts from sitting and writing too long. I’ll grab the book I’m reading and lay down for 10-20 minutes. I’ve been trying to finish the same series for months. I miss reading but the reason I don’t get to is writing so I can hardly complain.

Physical Therapy/Medical: I guess it’s going well, with the exception of my last visit. When the therapist, who is not my regular therapist but told me they will all treat me, worked on my back, well it was awful. They do this each time. Basically I lie on my stomach and they knead along my spine. It is not like massage; it’s certainly not comfortable.

The last time was different. This guy got this foam wedge that you put your face on and it lifts your shoulders and chest up, forcing your lower back to arch, a lot.

Of all the positions I could get into, it’s the one that can, and did hurt me the most. I expressed my reluctance to get in the position but he assured me it would be fine so I did it. After it was over I sat up and thought I would fall over. The pain was overwhelming but I figured once I walk around for a second I would be okay. Nope. Walking across the room to do another exercise was excruciating. The exercise itself helped but it didn’t stop the tears.

I am the type to hold in reactions to pain. I might groan or grimace but I don’t yell or cry out. I certainly don’t weep, but I couldn’t help it this time. To make matters worse, once the tears started rolling, they didn’t stop, even once the pain lessened. I was so frustrated and a little angry that all I could do was keep wiping the stupid wetness away.

Of course the therapists noticed. The guy who hurt me didn’t have the guts to come near me for a while so one of the women asked if I was okay. I said yes and she checked on me a few more times. The man who worked with me eventually asked how I was doing then told me it would get easier to get in that position. It might hurt for a while but soon enough it would be no problem.

I stared at him for a second and he walked away, clearly unsure what to do. The lady who’d been checking on me took me to the stim machine when I was finished and went on and on about how chronic pain can bring on emotional responses. This irritated me because, sure I was pissed off, but the reason I was upset was the pain. I’m sure she didn’t mean to make me feel like they were brushing off the pain but I guess I was having the emotional response she talked about so it irritated me lol. I didn’t complain, I simply said as little as possible.

My next appointment is tomorrow. I’ll be honest, I hope I don’t work with the same man. He rubbed me wrong from the beginning and now I don’t trust him. I understand all these people went to school for a long time to learn their skills and this man in particular has been a therapist for quite a while. He’s been with the place I go to at least ten years. In general I trust in their skills and abilities. I know they know what they are doing. However, if he, or anyone else pulls out that foam wedge, I will flat-out refuse.

This isn’t stubbornness. We didn’t work gradually to get me into a position I haven’t been able to do for over a year. He put me that way too soon and the arch was too much. I’m a good read on body language and I could see he damn well knew it too. His explanation was weak and guilt ridden. I will not comply and they can think I’m just being overly emotional.

If he, or any of the other therapists, want me to do exercises to get me to the point of being able to do what he tried then I will grimace and groan my way through it, gladly.

So I dread tomorrow but hopefully it goes better than I fear. This guy told me no one has ever gotten bent out of shape because patients get shifted around to all the therapists. I hope I won’t be the first. I could never have imagined a piece of foam could bring out my rebellious side.

I’ll post another update later this week.


WR