NaNo 2014 Update – Hanging in There

This last weekend, I managed to make up some lost ground.  I wrote around 7000 words in two days, which is decent when you’re about 14,000 words behind.

But I still ended the weekend behind, and I’ve slipped ever further behind this week.

There really isn’t much I can do about it.  This is the busiest time of the year in the power industry.  Monday, I worked a bit late, and had band practice.  Tuesday, I worked a bit late, and took the night off.  Wednesday, I worked really late, and was too exhausted to even write a blog post.

Tonight, I’m going to a write-in at Richard‘s house.  If I can produce at least 2000 words tonight, and 2000 words tomorrow, I’ll be in a great position for another strong weekend.  In order to feel confident about succeeding this month, I’ll need to do better than I did last weekend.  With the Night of Writing Dangerously taking place Sunday, I don’t know if that will be possible.

There are side effects to missing goals, and falling this far behind.  Self-doubt creeps in.  As I was getting ready for work this morning, I let some of the despair take over for a little while.  I thought, “Maybe it’s time to stop pretending that I’m a writer.”

Then I stood up straight, took a deep breath, and let that thought go.

I might not write 50,000 words this month, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a writer.  It just means I’ve had a really busy month, and I’ve been doing the responsible thing, which is to work and support my family.  There’s no reason to feel bad about that.

The truth is that the story I’ve started this month might be amazing, someday.  It’s not right now.  It’s clumsy and misshapen, as many first drafts are.  But there is some really good stuff in it.  Whatever happens with NaNoWriMo, I’ve got something.  In spite of all of the craziness and business that is my life right now, I’ve still managed to start something beautiful.

And that’s what it means to be a writer.


Nano Update – A Little Overwhelmed

It turns out I wasn’t nearly as prepared as I needed to be.

I was prepared enough to write a chapter, but when I tried to advance the plot, I found that there was too much I hadn’t thought of.

Last month, I talked about procrastination.  Due to a lack of clarity, my attention wandered all day on Sunday.  I think I wrote 500 words all that day.

Monday, I felt so bad about falling behind and freezing up, that I couldn’t even get out of bed.  I was depressed and angry.  I called in sick, and I didn’t go to band practice that night.  I thought about the story, and I privately moped in my garage.

We all have days like that.  Often, they’re Mondays.  I let the bad emotions have me for a day, then moved on.

Tuesday, I went back in to work, and I felt a little bit better.  I was able to step back a little and get some perspective.  During my lunch, I opened Scrivener and started figuring out what went wrong.  Why wasn’t I prepared?  What did I need to do to be prepared, so that I could move on?

It turns out that I hadn’t given enough thought to my main character’s family.  The whole first act is going to be with these people, and I didn’t even know how many of them there were, or what their names were.  I knew their.  I’d figured out their genesis and their religion.  I’d done a bunch of world building in advance, but I didn’t actually know any of the people that my main character was supposed to interact with.

Of course, I didn’t have time to write at all Tuesday.  I had to go straight from work to band practice.

I thought I would have time to write tonight at a museum.  It was the first night of a new writer’s group I found via meetup.com.  I thought we’d all be working on our Nano projects, but it turned out to be something else entirely.  They all seemed like nice folks, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking forward to.

I’m probably not going to have much time to write Thursday, because I’m going straight from work to play a concert.  I have 2 or 3 improv solos, and I’m playing music I’ve only looked at a few times.  I’m a little bit nervous about the performance, but it’s not overwhelming.

I did have a little bit of opportunity to work on my story today, when I took my son to the dentist.  I opened a new page in the Research section of my Scrivener project and started creating names that would be appropriate to my story.  They’re simple names, but it was taking me forever.  Now I have a list I can pull from.  I also created a family tree for my main character.

I’m feeling more prepared.  I’m frazzled and stressed and scared, but I feel like I have perspective now, and I think I can make up the lost time this weekend.

Those of you participating in NaNoWriMo, I hope you’re off to a better start than I am.


NaNo 2014 — Writing Sample!

At the stroke of midnight last night, I started work on my new novel.  I was at a kick-off party, surrounded by a bunch of other eager writers.  Some of them have been doing NaNoWriMo for years and years.  For a few of them, this was their first year.

I’m working on the story now, and I’ll be working on it later today at a write-in at Panera.  My plan is to go to all of the write-ins on Saturdays.  It’s encouraging to be surrounded by others engaged in the same frantic activity that I’m enjoying.

Something I may do from time to time is post samples from my story here.  I’m really excited about what I’m writing, and I want to share.  This scene was a lot of fun for me.

Sim crept up to the blackberry bush, hunched over, eyes wary. He placed a hand on Dar’s shoulder. Though Sim’s touch was light, Dar jerked upright.

“Quiet!” Sim said, pitching his voice low.

“I thought you were Ursa,” Dar said. His baritone voice cracked.

“Ursa wouldn’t bother with a warning. She’d just take your head off and be done with you.”

Dar turned back to the clearing. Knee-high blades of wild grain grew within a stand surrounded by twisted, heavy oak trees. The midday sun illuminated the open area. Across from where they knelt, Sim could see dark flecks buzzing in the air. A beehive clung to the bottom of one of the branches, alive and churning with insect life.

“I still think this is a bad idea,” Sim said. He ran a hand through his dark brown hair. Sweat dampened his brow.

“That’s what you always say,” Dar said.

“And I’m always right. How many times were you stung the last time we tried this?”

Dar ignored the question. He said, “Last time, we didn’t try to smoke them out first. Dillontor told me that bees go to sleep in smoke.”

Sim studied the beehive with squinted eyes. He opened his mouth several times, but remained silent. He could argue with Dar, but if Dillontor said something, then it was probably true.

“You should start the fire,” Dar said. He gestured towards a fire bow at his feet.

“This was your idea, mudhead. If you want the honey so bad, you can start the fire. Besides, I’m terrible at starting fires. You know that.”

“You’re not going to be much of a Waverider if you can’t start a simple fire, Sim.”

“I don’t want to be a Waverider,” Sim said, lowering his voice. “I think when my name day comes, I’m going to choose to be a Firedancer.”

Dar turned and fixed Sim with a level stare. Sim avoided meeting Dar’s eyes. After a moment, Dar turned his attention to the fire bow. He said, “You have to be the strangest Child of all the clans, Sim.”

Sim frowned at Dar. His friend was a little bit shorter than him, but much thicker in the chest, with broad shoulders and impressive arms. Like Sim, he was dressed in dark brown pants and a loose fitting shirt, tied at the arms and waste with woven bands. Like most of the people in their clan, Dar’s hair was nearly black, and his skin was the color of sanded oak.

As Sim watched, Dar pushed and pulled the bow with one hand, the other hand holding a smooth stone on top of the bow, steadying it. Dar’s expression was blank, his eyes fixed on the tedious work of coaxing fire out of thin, feathery bark and kindling.

With a sigh, Sim dropped down to the ground. He cupped his hands around the sides of the bowl containing the dried bark. A line of smoke rose from the bowl. The stream of smoke was so thin and transparent that Sim wondered if he was only imagining it. He drew in a deep breath and blew a slow, soft breath, trying to will energy into the spark.

A shadow fell across Sim and the bowl. The branch Dar had been spinning with the bow stopped moving. When Dar gasped, Sim craned his neck to looked up.

An enormous bear looked down at him, its coal black eyes unreadable. A halo of golden light surrounded the bear’s head where it blocked the sun. Its mouth was open, showing glistening, ivory teeth. A deep growl rumbled out of the creature’s throat.

“Run!” Dar screamed.

Sim rolled to his left. Wood cracked where Sim had been on the ground. Sim scrambled to his feet and looked back. The bear was on all fours, the blackberry bush crushed beneath its belly. Dar was on his backside, frantically crawling backwards. The bear was looking at Dar with hungry eyes.

“Dar, get up!”

Dar tried to get his feet under him, but the bear advanced a step towards him. Dar’s eyes went wide, and his feet went out from under him. He skidded on his backside, still pushing himself across fallen leaves and underbrush.

Gritting his teeth, Sim turned the other way. He took two long strides back the way he’d come when he’d first approached Dar. He found his staff where he’d left it, leaning against a tree. Weapon in hand, he turned back to face the bear. Sweat plastered his shirt to his chest and back.

Ursa, the bear, advanced another step towards Dar. Her brown fur was mottled in some places, shaggy in others. She raised her nose and sniffed at the air. Dar continued to back away from the bear, still unable to get to his feet.

“No!” Sim shouted. He ran towards Ursa, his staff raised in a charge. The creature ignored him. As Sim tried to get Ursa’s attention, she took another step closer to Dar. With an incoherent cry, Sim stabbed with the staff like a spear, jamming one end into Ursa’s ribs.

The bear roared and turned. It swatted at Sim’s staff with the back of enormous paw. The weapon left his hands. It tumbled through the air and clattered into the branches of trees several spans away. Ursa raised herself up onto her hind legs, looming like death.

“Mother save me,” Sim said.


And so the story begins.

I’m not editing my story yet, of course.  I want to get the first draft completed before I do any serious edits.  I did clean this up a little bit, adjusting a couple of words so that sentences would make a little bit more sense.

If you like me sharing things like this, please let me know.  If this type of sharing is a good thing, I’ll post some more excerpts I think are interesting along the way.