30 October 2018
For some bizarre reason, I missed fall. I missed the leaves changing colors and only now notice how bright they are as they fall off trees. The most vibrant colors are the maple leaves back home (New York), and I do miss that part of fall.
Weather-wise, it feels like we’ve gone from warm to cold temperatures, without a slight hint of a morning chill warranting a light jacket. I have a blue and brown field coat that I absolutely love to dig out on such mornings, but seemed to miss that opportunity this year. As the weather gets colder, I also enjoy curling upon the couch with a good book and let the time pass away in another world. If only I could give myself such a day. Maybe in December.
This all makes me wonder: where have I been all fall? Answer: vacationing out of the country and out of the state. Did I sleep through anything? Possibly. My mind has been preoccupied with various personal concerns. What happened to October?!? I cannot answer this. I could potentially be in some kind of a new time warp. Or it can simply be that I have too many writing projects. And I’m also prepping for NaNoWriMo.
National Novel Writing Month. November. The month when writers plan to achieve the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Last year, I wrote 50,000 words in 21 days, and that was in between being constantly sick (most of 2017) and traveling to California for The Night of Writing Dangerously. I finished the month with 56,412 words. November begins to wind down when we become distracted by Black Friday, Cyber Monday and trying to buy some good gifts at stellar prices before we have to park our butts back in our chairs to hammer out 1,667 words a day to reach the goal.
50,000 words does not make a novel. Especially not these days. However, it’s more about the challenge. I had so many outside challenges last year that NaNoWriMo gives me another reason to focus on something that means a great deal to me: writing every day.
50,000 words might make a series of short stories. This was my original idea. Then my muse appeared and shook it all up. She told me to take all of my research and write a novel instead. Then she left before I could ask more questions.
I spent days thinking about this idea. How could it all work? I’ve spent time thinking about the novel and how each piece of research I might incorporate can become part of the bigger picture.
Then I met a dear friend for coffee. We were talking about our ambitious NaNo projects and she brought up Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House.” She was up until 2am binge-watching and recommended it would be a great series for me to watch to get an idea of story structure and the characters that intertwine.
I’ve written stories like this before, but this NaNo beast is something different for me. It’s a complicated puzzle.
So, I took her advice and binge-watched up through most of episode 8 until my new-old male friend came over Saturday. After finishing the series Monday night, I am thankful I waited to finish the movie. I prefer to read books before movies. She prefers not to. I wish I had read the story before finishing because I could have steeled myself for the ending. Bravo, I say! It’s a great tribute to Shirley Jackson and her writing, but goddamn! A family of seven unravels to four after several tragedies. Too much of a parallel, and I spoke of ghosts in my previous blog that also parallels the movie. I may be revisiting the idea once again later this week; it’s a small nudge in my mind, and Halloween is one day away.
Then my muse reappeared Monday morning. Told me to change the title of my story before she disappeared once again. Of course it happened in the shower so I could only finish with several thoughts about what it could be changed to. An hour later it came to me and changed it on my NaNo profile.
I have a blank wall in front of my desktop at home. My landlord doesn’t want nails in the walls or repairs need to be done before I move out. Personally, I don’t feel like it. I’m already battling an infestation of cockroaches, which is not good for my allergies (dust mites, cockroaches, etc. are high on my allergens list). I’ll bug-bomb the house when I go on my next business trip. In the meantime, Raid and I have become good friends.
The wall, right. With my horde of sticky notes of various sizes, colors, blank and lined, colored sharpies, pens and this large blank wall, I found someone posted about a sticky wall from the NaNo boards. My wall has become the tapestry for more story ideas. In fact, in the middle of watching “The Haunting…” I had to pause the movie to spend an hour writing my ideas down that flooded me. The story has large elements of flashback. However, I am taking the idea of memory triggers to use through the progression of the protagonist’s story when the inquisitive, young college intern is assigned as her care giver.
This just might work.
Last year, I merely had writing time on my calendar with reminders popping up 10 minutes before. This year I’m taking a more aggressive approach. I have written a “life schedule” (because life does change intermittently) that includes time at the gym, time writing, time for football; the time I need to spend writing when I’m on travel for work; what I’ll have for dinner. I firmly believe every writer should invest in an Instant Pot.
What I don’t have scheduled are “distractions.” By this I mean my social life, although my writing time ends at 9pm every day, and I don’t have plans to write all day over the weekend. Of course, if inspiration strikes and I have nothing else planned, sure. I’ll turn it into a writing marathon. But I need the evening before bed to unwind. Two hours should be ample enough. Still, sometimes my social life includes spending extra time with my male friend. It’s been nearly three months, but we have a common understanding. While we’re in this town for whatever strange reason, there’s a reason we spend time together. I do like that it’s dwindled down to weekends and not the week. However, I must be clear about my writing time on the weekends for November.
I have healthy snacks ready and gummy bears for those moments when I need the extra sugar boost. I have enough tea and I say this because I was so sick last year I lived off green chile chicken stew and various teas. No alcohol. I plan to go with this route again. Plus, I haven’t been in the mood to have even one drink. NaNo prep is well underway and not a minute too soon!
Then I can use December to return to life, in between holiday baking and parties, and finish the last 25-40,000 words before revising other works.
Being a writer for NaNoWriMo is an insane task, but is a challenge I need at this point in my life. It also keeps me at home with a close eye on Duke; he hasn’t been feeling well all weekend and had another bloody nose recently.
I’m done with vacations until 2019, so the story of Emily in, what is now, Fractured Seams is going to be one hell of a project. My final prep work before November 1 includes: making this week’s meal, making breakfast before the weekend (everything should be microwavable for the week), creating my music playlist, and read 246 pages of The Haunting of Hill House because I am familiar with Jackson’s other works and recognized some of her writing from parts of the movie; I want to get in to read how she wrote. There are some new rock albums (since May) that have touched upon subjects I’ll be exploring, and it can only add inspiration. Lastly, I need to quickly tuck away my summer clothes and haul out my fall and winter clothes. Sweatshirts are going to be my favorite after work wear for writing.
I definitely missed fall, but you can be certain I won’t be missing NaNoWriMo and the huge community of writers working towards one goal: writing a novel (or short story collection) about something we want to say.
To anyone else who plans to write in November, best of luck! Use the community to seek out answers, ask your friends and family to support you during the frenzy writing, but most of all: take care of yourself, get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, get in some exercise, make a schedule and leave some down time in your schedule. Set your cell phone aside in a different room during your writing time. Share conversations and talk about writing. Lastly, know that things in life can happen and some days you might not get those 1,667 words written, but there will be another day for you to catch up; just be flexible.
I’ll follow up with NaNoWriMo at the halfway point on November 15.