30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 19: No Escape

I managed to write today, although it was my first taste of getting home at 10PM.

Yes, unfortunately, the Doubles Experiment is going to have to wait; the busy season has already reared its ugly head at work, and my schedule is already suffering.

I only got to write for maybe 15 minutes on the job (and then another 30 or so at home, just now). Unfortunately, the work writing session ended with a problem I was hoping I’d figure out when I got home. Only, getting home turned into walking through a rainstorm for a cumulative 20 minutes, with no umbrella. I don’t want to complain (it’s starting to feel like that’s all I do in these posts), but what I’m saying is, getting home around 11, soaked and knowing I’m back at work at 8AM, so I only have about an hour to write, transcribe the day’s words, and write this post  . . . it sucks.

I just didn’t solve the story problem when I got home. I didn’t solve it, and, despite thinking that I’d drop in a placeholder for it, I didn’t.

Because this isn’t a problem that can be placeheld; it isn’t a name, easily switched–it’s Modis’ power. In H&T, everyone has powers, which are called Talents. In today’s scene, Modis is trapped in a cell and he needs to use his Talent, which is pretty weird, to escape–without making noise. It’s a scene I’ve been excited to write for a long time . . . but newly added, logical caveats of his Talent are making it a huge pain in the ass. Maybe it’s the rain, or the writing-this-at-12AM, but the solution just isn’t coming.

Ugh. I hate this. I hate that I’m using this as a forum to complain. Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to go to sleep, I’m going to wake up, spend the first half of my shift tomorrow considering a solution to this problem.

And then, on lunch, I’m going to write my ass off.

Words for the Day: 267

NaNoWriMo Total: 8,161

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 18: The Problem with Indulgence

I had a strange moment earlier, when I felt a spot of charming dialogue coming on . . . and I narrowed my eyes.

The clouds had parted and, after a few hours of work, I actually got a moment to sit down with my notebook and work out a scene. I got a few hundred words in, when Sydney met a fellow Annex Hunter, Taurean–the sidiest of side characters.

The exchange, meant to be something quick as Sydney entered the scene, slowed down suddenly . . . because it seemed like Taurean had something to say.

And, “Waaaait a minute,” I thought. “Is this Hunter about to talk to Sydney about his feelings?”

But . . . that couldn’t be right, could it? Taurean is a tough dude, first of all. Second, he’s not an important character.

And, third, I’d already had a bunch of scenes where characters let emotions out. So far, this chapter had been all about the protagonists being vulnerable.

So, why the hell was I going in on Taurean’s feels?

Because I wanted to.

Not that I wanted him to be vulnerable, but because I already wanted him to be a bigger part of the story. The selfish writer in me was all, “Eh? Eh? Why not add a whole exchange between him and Sydney, huh? Maybe he becomes a major part of the adventure? Eh? I mean, it’s what you want.” Before catching myself, I almost acted on that want.

But . . . ages and ages ago, when I forced a barbarian character into my first, worst novel–just because I loved him and I didn’t care that his presence made no sense–I learned that, sometimes, my wants as a writer can completely derail and/or muddle a story.

In that first novel, about undead monsters, there was this giant barbarian dude who served exclusively as comic relief (ugh, it hurts even to explain it). He rarely spoke (because I often forgot he was there), and when he did, it was to deliver lines on par with Zangief’s, “Quick! Change the channel!” from the 90’s Street Fighter movie. When I rewrote that novel (which still wound up being bad), he was the first major cut I made . . . before thinking that I should replace him with a new character–a bizarre ghost-ninja who I also loved. To my credit, I never wound up adding that ghost-ninja either.

Because, with that rewrite, I learned the strange, hollow feeling of writing something really selfish. There’s something cold about it, like the sensation of being watched, only the total opposite–as if I was walking with a friend only to realize, without looking, that they aren’t there anymore.

In no way would Taurean’s feelings help the plot. I’d be detracting from the action that ends this chapter, adding a bit of drag right before it starts, for no purpose other than humoring myself.

So, today, I just stopped writing that scene, tore those pages out of my notebook, and tossed them.

Oddly, it still feels like progress.

Words for the Day: 0

NaNoWriMo Total: 7,887

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 17: Writing a Kid

I wound up just sticking to one writing session for today, because that session was a pain in the ass. For reasons that I now totally understand: Yesterday, I got to write the intense nightmare Sydney Tempest was having. Today, I had to write Modis being super positive.

But it wasn’t so much the positivity that made today rough–it was Modis’ age.

I remember certain things about being a kid, but I have no idea how old I was when I felt those things. I know everybody’s different, but I also know that being young means being subject to a universal suite of things–being much more heavily swayed by what everyone else is doing, for example. So . . . when I was 10-ish . . . was I trying to be cool already? Did I care if other kids liked what I liked? Was I smart enough to get myself out of trouble? Was I still naive enough to think my mother could solve any problem?

Of course, so much of this is case-sensitive; Modis is a smart kid, so, regardless of the intelligence of other kids his age, he’s able to get himself out of harm’s way. He’s had a really solid upbringing, so he’d probably be extra naive about his dad being able to solve any problem. A bunch of this I’m pretty sure about.

But, around it all, there’s the question of, “Is he believable?” Do I make him sound too much like a grown up? But wouldn’t it be really annoying if I gave him the speaking ticks kids have (“Hey! Hey! HEY! Um…,” “Whoathatssocool,” etc.)?

Questions like these made today’s scene super slow-going, especially because it involved Modis interacting with his familiar. In the end, I’m satisfied with what I got, but I can’t help thinking he sounds older than he should. 11? 12? Eh–I’m not sure.

But what I am sure of, at the very least, is that I’m not locked into making him 10; when the novel is done, whatever age he reads like is the age he is.

And, in the meantime, I should just be thankful. This is a new problem; I’ve never had to worry about a character sounding the right age in my work. At the very least, I know that I’m doing something I’ve never done before, and that feels awesome.

Words for the Day: 649

NaNoWriMo Total: 7,887

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 16: So Tired

Hi there. Sorry if this post is super short, but I’m… what’s the title of this post again?

How writing went: the first half of it–the writing at work half–went really, really well. However, I completely acknowledge… that was only because I was stuck at another post where I could write and it was another super quiet day. Work won’t always be this kind. In fast… today was probably the last day where it will be anywhere near this kind.

But still, point is, full, detailed scene at work. I’m not sure how many words exactly though, because…

… I passed out so hard when I got home.

I had a second scene in mind and knew how it started. I was super excited to write it, but I just had zero energy. Zero energy like, “Holy shit, I actually just passed out in a seat, watching something, then woke up just now, at 12:50 AM,” tired. Tired like, “I’m sorry, but I don’t even want to type up what I wrote so I know how many words I got,” tired (I’ll update my numbers tomorrow morning).

So, a solid answer for the Doubles experiment: it isn’t a thing on work days. On work days, I’ll just be grateful to get one scene done.

That said… tomorrow’s a day off, so I’m tryin’ again!

Yaaaaaay.

Words for the Day: 603

NaNoWriMo Total: 7,212

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 15: The Double

So, today went alright. Not as awesomely as I was hoping though.

Because, while getting ready to go out and get breakfast (instead of the jacket I previously mentioned because it was raining and the water wasn’t running in my apartment)… I suddenly had an idea.

When it comes to daily writing, I’m learning that my MO is this: I write scenes. I don’t beat myself up too much about word count (at least at the moment). Instead, I try to finish up an entire scene, regardless of whether it’s short or long, as long as it’s strong. I’m okay with that right now… but I want it change.

And today turned into an attempt to make that change.

Only… not by pushing myself to write more than the one scene at a time. Because I realize that I need time to recoup after a writing session; I need time to think about the next scene, feel it out, and find a starting point.

So then . . . how can I reliably double the amount I write in one day?

By doing two scenes a day.

Now… maybe this is a complete no-brainer for some writers, but, for me… it feels like a revolution. Genuinely, the idea blew my mind. Just the simplicity of it… If I really like having a solid writing session that’s a few hours long, during which I complete one scene… why not just do that more instead of trying to write past the one scene in one sitting, at which point I always feel like I’m forcing it? This year’s NaNoWriMo is teaching me that I can just write pretty much any time of the day, anywhere, in any medium… so why not use that flexibility to do two sessions a day, no matter where I am? It didn’t just feel like an idea, it felt like a solution.

So, today turned into a hybrid experiment.

Step 1) Write early in the morning/after getting home (left over from the experiment I was originally going to run today).

Step 2) Do anything else.

Step 3) Write again much, much later, after taking time to think about my next scene.

How did it go?

Well, the first step turned out to be super, duper easy; as I’ve learned, doing what I always assumed was bad–thinking of writing as work–is just the solution for my motivation problem. Sit down. Just do it. Treat it like a job; you love the process enough to avoid feeling like it’s a job once you start.

On top of that, I had my first scene with post-conflict Modis, so the writing itself is still coming very easily. Almost too easily; I got to the point where I had to decide if I was actually giving Modis a familiar, something I’d been really unsure about. When I first outlined this scene, he had a bunch of them, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it–if it was total overkill and too campy. But then, through the sheer, beautiful magic of writing, an answer came from a simple concept I fleshed out earlier in the manuscript. The process just handed me a simple, charming answer (he does have a familiar, but just the one, and it doesn’t talk). It was a pretty gratifying writing session.

Step 2 was also easy. I mean, of course it was. But it’s also where my experiment ran off the road. I got so wrapped up in doing other things–reading training material for work, reading not training material for work, doing maintenance, playing video games, etc.–that I wound up…

… not really thinking about what the next scene would be.

Of course, the real danger is in the shrug. “Well, I already wrote today, so whatever.” Which I did. LOL Not going to lie about it; I 100% shrugged and actually said that to myself.

But I’m aware how completely that could put a cork in the Doubles idea. So, I’m posting this, then hopping in bed, waking up early to get my first scene for the day out of the way, before work… And then seeing how well a second scene during lunch/when I get home goes.

I’m not sure how many words I’ll be able to get at work, but upward and onward, right?

Words for the Day: 545

NaNoWriMo Total: 6,607

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 14: Before the Storm

Today was another easy writing session. Mind you, I left it for the absolute worst time of the day, when I’m least likely to write–in the evening, around bedtime. Not an ideal time to aim for, of course, but alright for training. Important for training actually . . .

Because that busy season I mentioned, coming up at work . . . it starts in two days.

And once it starts, writing around 8-10PM while totally exhausted, is going to become the norm.

So, even though part of me thinks, “Take the luxury of not having to deal with that immediately!” the other party of me is like, “Figure it out now.”

Of course, the solution continues to be, “Just think of it as work and force yourself to start,” but the real test is going to be coming home at 11PM after working an 8:30AM-10PM shift, which is totally a thing at my job.

Part of me is all, “OMFG, go out tomorrow and walk around Manhattan for 13.5 hours, then try to write at 11! Figure it out!” But the other half of me is all, “Ughaslkhjaiwawuiaoeuhwua . . . I just want to sleep.”

I’m going to go buy a jacket tomorrow. Going to at least do that and then train myself to write first thing when I walk in (instead of relaxing).

If that doesn’t work . . . it’s going to just be hiding during lunch breaks at work, trying to knock out a few hundred words in my tiny notepad.

Uahodaojkmflkwaooqajdklajapfjcxzkjf . . .

Words for the Day: 798

NaNoWriMo Total: 6,062

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 13: Back in the Comfort Zone

So, I want to talk about something I realized yesterday. Could’ve talked about it then, but I felt like it deserved its own post.

After my toaster refused to work, after narrowing my eyes at birds ripping leaves off of the tree by my window, I decided to head out and buy actual food–a wholesome breakfast of literally-just-bread wasn’t going to cut it.

On the walk, I found myself wondering why I was struggling so much with the start of the book. Why I couldn’t quite figure out how to write this happy kid’s exposition.

And then it hit me. While walking outside, I smiled and chuckled at myself.

“I’m having a hard time writing this happy kid’s exposition . . . because he’s happy.”

Before it sounds like I’m being a bitter, emotional asshole, let me explain. What I’m definitely not trying to say is, “Meeeeh! This character’s happy and I’m not, so fuck him!”

What I am trying to say is . . . emotionally compromised, fucked up characters are really, really my comfort zone.

Aixa Silva is this complicated, traumatized mess. Kole Buchanan is a massively beat down guy who has spent his whole life trying to survive, a reflex he’s forced to fight. Eli Brunner, from a short story I’m still tweaking, man, he is all kinds of damaged. Lethe Dega is probably insane. Edin Attenborough is . . . ugh; I don’t even know where to begin with her.

And that’s the part that I laughed at. “All of my protagonists are fucked up! Modis is the first ever who doesn’t start off damaged! Of course!

“But he eventually becomes damaged, so phew!”

Cause, ya know, that’s a thing to celebrate.

Sarcasm aside, I finished the exposition yesterday and presented Modis with the major conflict of the story. Today, I followed up with a scene full of upset people. Both sessions were incredibly easy–even today’s, which I intentionally left for late at night, wanting to write in the midst of just-got-home-from-work-wanna-relax time.

I know that, when I edit, I’ll need to have prep for the exposition by meditating on the good parts of my childhood, trying to remember what it was like to be an energetic 10-ish year old. Because, of course, getting that feeling right is another challenge I can’t turn down.

But for right now, I’m just glad to have two sessions go really well with minimal stress.

Words for the Day: 892

NaNoWriMo Total: 5,249

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 12: It Didn’t Work

Words for the Day: 1,492

Weird thing about that word total; my plan from yesterday (establish a work space at home, make coffee, write early in the morning, save a line as an easy starting point for the next day) absolutely didn’t work.

My experience with the attempt:

  • I woke up to find that my cat wasn’t on my bed, ready to be pet. Always an ill omen.
  • I put on coffee, decided that the best spot would be next to my window, to at least simulate being outside. That’ll totally help get the writing mojo going, I thought.
  • While putting together my coffee, I attempted to make toast, only to find my toaster was broken. Alright. Just . . . bread. Bread and coffee . . . Sure.
  • I sat down at my window, looked out, and realized I have no view from my room. Or, well, there is a view . . . but it’s of branches. The tree in front of my building hasn’t always blocked my window, but it definitely does now.
  • And in that tree, on those branches, there are cute birds. Adorable warblers fluttering around and . . . ripping leaves off of the trees? And trying to eat them? What the . . . What?
  • I watched them for a bit, confused, determinedly eating my breakfast. Of bread. My breakfast of only bread. With coffee.
  • And, sitting there, in the quiet room, with the bland bread, watching birds tear into nature feet away from my window made me feel impossibly, comically trapped. Tired, sipping decaf, watching birds chirp and hop around on branches that bobbed on the wind, I found myself thinking, “Man . . . I so wish I was one those bird.” Because times are better for me (way better than they were in 2013 or 2014), but they’re still insanely rough.

So, basically, yesterday’s plan of attack turned out to be the worst possible attempt at getting in the writing mood. Despite all logic, it actually shoved me hard in the opposite direction. So far in the opposite direction that I felt silly afterward. Why would I think sitting at a window, looking outside, would be a good idea when the last few years have been all about getting out of my apartment–a place that I hate? It would be like throwing a writer in prison and then setting up their writing desk by the front door.

The point is, I rolled my eyes and left the window. I decided to watch something for a bit and try to unwind. I considered going outside to write . . .

But I was determined to figure out how to write from home. Because I have to–not figuring it out is a luxury I can’t afford.

So, what did I wind up doing?

Absolutely nothing special. Like yesterday, I hit a point when I realized I should write. Only, when I had that thought today, I just did it. No romance. No majesty. It felt like work.

And maybe that’s the lesson here? When I actually started writing, I fell into it. It wasn’t hard–it was just as fun as it always is.

So, maybe don’t hammer down an exact time and perfect beverage to have? Don’t wait until you’re outside. And don’t count on toast.

Just sit down. Open your manuscript, and write.

But still save one line for your next writing session, because that bit actually helped a ton.

Words for the Day: 1,492

NaNoWriMo Total: 4,329

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 10: The Old Ways

I seem to have forgotten the old ways.

Today, I had a day off. Actually, today was the beginning of my last chain of days off for the year, before the holiday season hits at my job.

I’d told myself I was going to start off with a ton of work. I wound up doing 400 words and a bit of editing on a different project.

The thing is . . . my third eye was opened when I realized that a simple change made the writing became easy.

See, when I have a day off, I sit on my couch, with my laptop. Starting to write turns into a wash of distractions. Make coffee. Check gaming news. What’s up on Twitter? Youtube! . . . I had a few false starts.

And then I picked up my note pad and walked to a different room.

Immediately, the words came. And it made me remember the old ways. 30 Days 1, writing at different spots all over New York. The searching for a spot was always time consuming and there were just the days when I wasn’t having it, but I remember coming out of that experience thinking, “I have to write outside. It’s the only way I can get things done.” Two years later, I’m convinced there’s no one way to write anything–outlines work, but eyeballing scenes also works; typing at a computer was my bible, but 80% of my current words on H&T were done freehand–so, my reflex is to challenge the writing outside thing.

But I think that a nice alternative… would be sticking with that note pad. Maybe buying a new one using one of the countless spare notebooks I have as a dedicated H&T draft book. One that I can just grab, walk to another room with, and write–away from my computer and my PS4.

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

Words for the Day: 400

NaNoWriMo Total: 2,865

30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 9: Calm in the Storm

It rained today.

Of course it did. Never has the weather felt so wildly appropriate.

The thing is, it would have been so easy to not write at all. It would have been so natural to just wallow–take another day off.

But . . . it rained. And, because everyone was sad, there were no visitors at my job. And that meant . . .

I got to spend a few hours with my notebook, no one bothering me. I still didn’t turn out as many words as I feel I should be, but I did start on a scene I was super excited to get to.

And I did get back some of the faith I’ve been slowly losing in myself as a writer–the sinking sensation that I’ve been a hack this whole time, or that the one short story was my prime and my work already has a receding quality line.

Remembering that I’m writing a first draft–and that my first drafts always need a lot of work–helped bring me back. Aspiring to reach the plot points I already have planned helped get past the hurdle of uncertain transitions. I managed to do both of these things today, stopping at a point where I know exactly what’s coming up (instead of being worried about absolutely everything that came before). On a good day, that’s progress.

On a day like today, you better believe I’ll take it.

Words for the Day: 733

NaNoWriMo Total: 2,465