Monday, November 30, 2009

Sweet Success!

I finished my novel. *phew*  This makes me a three-peat NaNoWriMo winner for whatever that's really worth. I know the next question on everyone's mind is, why don't you look to publish anything, but I'm still young and I'm learning and growing as a writer and I have a lot of learning and growing as a writer left to do.  I can honestly say that what I came up with in '08 was way better than what I composed in '07 and I think my '09 work, though possibly a weaker story, is probably better written than my '08.  Cheers to all those who NaNo-ed with me and special thanks to those that cheered me on along the way.  I got very close to giving up mid-month and probably would have without such cool people supporting me.

Some people might look at this accomplishment as just a silly game.  I wrote a crappy 96 page story, big whoop, right?  But aside from writing, NaNoWriMo is also about the focusing on a goal, dedication above distraction, and pursuing creative ideals.  If you look at the stats too, less than 20% of the participants that start NaNoWriMo actually reach the 50,000 word mark (last year was actually the record-high for wins with 18.2% of writers winning). So I guess that's worth at least a nod of admiration for sticking through what most abandon.  (But even those that don't reach 50K have something to be proud of.  As I've told friends, even if you write 1000 words for NaNoWriMo, that's 1000 words you would not have written otherwise!)

But I think I've put in enough words for today. I'll try to keep my prolific writing up with more blogs in the next month.  For now, break out the bubbly and join me in a toast to the wonderful world of writing!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I swear they aren't in kilts...

I love my laptop computer.  it's pretty much a dinosaur, weighs a ton of bricks, and offers me second-degree burns if I use eit on my lap too long, but i really do love the thing.  Most of my attachment to it is sentimental. I'veee covered it with some of my favorite stickers (NaNoWriMo onees, a goonies stickere, and NevereWear's Scary Trouseer one) so it has a fun and whimsical look to it and it's also been with me through somee fun times. I finisheed my '08 NaNowriMo on it and so far it's serving me weell through '09. 

And in a rare break from noveling, I'm using it to compose this blog entry now too. 

Which eexplains what you may have noticed that there aree some things looking a little eodd about my writing tonight.  I have a few sticky keys on my keyboard.  Namely, the shift key which makes for some rrather difficult capitalizations, as well as the 'e' and the 'r' keys which rrepeat themselves at odd increements with rather unpredictable frequenciesee. 

Of course, these arre things that are easy to corrrect, but i thought I would write this with no corrections just to show how amusing things can look if you geet rrandomly repetitive 'r's and 'e's into normal sentences.  In my novel it's been especially funny because thee word 'the' (corrected) more often then not comees across as 'thee'.  add in that with the rrolling 'rr' and it seeeems that most of my characters are speaking with Scottish accents.

So far though, none of them are wearring kilts.

35,000 words and counting....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NaNo Halfway and Something Different

I'm just past the 26,000 mark in my novel. I'm not having quite as much fun with the story as I did last year. I think it's one of the deals where I can't force humor, though in the right mood I can come up with some pretty amusing stuff. I guess I was just in a more lighthearted mood last year. But then, so was the rest of the country it seems...

This year is teaching me how much my emotions are tied to my writing.  When my energy levels are low, in walks writer's block.  When I feel a fit of giggles sneaking up on me, that's when I'll write the funny parts.  And when I'm just peacefully content, that's when I come up with the inventive adventuresome part.

In a note of encouragement, a friend told me that "you have to write a lot of crap before you get to be good", and in a strangely negative way it makes me feel better. I might be in the stage where I'm writing 'a lot of crap' right now, and that's okay.  What matters is that I am writing.

In a slightly related note, my friend Sean (who falls into the friends-that-write-way-better-than-me category) posted a facebook note about a fiction contest over at  It sounds like the prizes are essentially awarded at random, but I entered more as a chance to take on the challenge of writing a story in just 100 words.  It made a nice contrast to NaNoWriMo in which I'm often fluffing up ideas to boost word count.  The theme was "Found in Space" and here's what I composed (in about 12 minutes on my lunch break):

They would not have landed if the computer read ‘Uninhabitable', but the weary travelers needed a reprieve from decades floating in space. The natives looked and spoke like them - an amazing coincidence considering the multitude of tongues spoken in the galaxy – which made easy the procurement of food and fuel.

Six years later, they still lived in solitude. No aliens welcomed them, learned who they were or where they came from, so eventually they left. Their stop gave new meaning to the word ‘alienation’ - the only memory they would take with them from their brief time on Earth.

Okay back to my novel.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Conversation

I was at the Naperville train station this morning going through one of my waiting-for-the-train routines of reading the headlines through the glass of the newspaper vending machines. The Chicago Sun Times and The Naperville Sun both displayed front page pictures of the flag display at rotary hill: 2009 flags on the hill for Veteran's Day 2009. As I looked at the beautiful photos, a stranger's voice behind me spoke up.

"Have you been over to see it yet?"

I glanced up and saw a young man, probably around my age or just past thirty at the oldest. I hesitate to admit it but he looked like my typical image of a young Naperville resident. His hair was shaggy and spiked with gel in the I-meant-to-look-messy way that seems popular now and his clothes appeared a combination of Abercrombie and Gap though no conspicuous labels were shown.

"No," I replied to his question. "But some of my friends visited and I saw some great pictures."

"It's amazing," he said plainly. There was no trace of awe or inspiration in his voice, it was as though he was stating simple fact, not opinion.

"They did a great job with it," I said gesturing to the pictures on the papers in front of us. "It's a really...powerful gesture." I searched for the right word, but 'powerful' seemed to convey the imagery created best.

"You got that right," he concurred. "Five years in the marines and I was moved to tears."

In a stroke of awful timing, he conveyed this last fact to me just as he turned to walk toward the train that pulled up behind us.

"Thank you!" I called after him, but aside from a brief nod of his head he had nothing more to add to our exchange. I hope sincerity echoed in my voice; sincerity, pride, and honor.

A brief pang of shame struck me as he walked away. I never would have guessed this young commuter was a veteran. If he were in full uniform I may have saluted, applauded or even bought him a morning coffee to show my appreciation. All I could do though was call out my hurried thanks over the shrieks and hiss of the train's brakes. I had inadvertently pegged him in my mind as a Naperville yuppie, the usual guy who elbows in front of me to get on the train first or pointedly ignores the opportunity to offer his seat when I'm standing in heels after a long day: the kind of commuter that I sometimes think should be a little nicer or a little kinder, the person I think owes me something ...when in fact I owe him so many of the freedoms I take for granted every day of my life.

Thank you to all the men and women that have served and are currently serving this country. Thank you to all those who have lost loved ones in the military. Your sacrifices are worth more than I can ever say.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


"And I wonder where these dreams go, when the world gets in your way.
What's the point in all this screaming no one's listening anyway."
- Goo Goo Dolls, Acoustic #3

Communication has been frustrating me lately. A lot.

Both at work and in my NaNoWriMo project. At work it's saying the same thing multiple ways and using every ounce of energy to explain yourself, only to be entirely unheard or misunderstood. In my writing, it's my frustrations with not being able to get the right descriptions out and feeling like whatever poetry I create is just a repeat of something that's been said or done before. So I'm frustrated. Feeling like I'm speaking and shouting and still can't get my point, my thoughts, my ideas out.

And then I realize that's probably how God feels most of the time.