30 Days of NaNoWriMo – Day 26: The Prep Session

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.26.14Where I Wrote: The New York Public Library in Bryant Park. In case that means nothing to you (it sounds so bland), it’s the flagship of the NYPL system–the striking Beaux Arts building with the two stone lions out in front, just a short walk from Times Square.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Really good.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Excited!

The Experience: After the insane success of yesterday (and its negligible degree of total failure), I was really excited to get back out there today.

As will probably be the standard with the rest of NaNoWriMo, I brokered no bullshit with my choice of a writing spot. In fact, as it was hailing outside (which I guess is what you’d call today’s soft, thick, slushy snow drops that pattered to the streets with the rain’s exact rhythm and tempo) I brokered no bullshit so hard that I did it twice; the first time, I chose the most straight forward and definitely open and comfortable of the spots I have left. And then, when I got to 42nd St. on the way there, I super brokered no bullshit by bailing on that spot in favor of the NY Public Library at Bryant Park.

The weird thing is, I’d never actually been to that library; in the weird way of many New Yorkers, its a giant, impressive landmark I’ve walked past many, many times without really even looking at it.

But, if I learned anything from the NYPL at Lincoln Center, it’s that big Manhattan libraries are always amazing for writing. You go in. You find a seat among other people who came into a library, of all places, in the heart of Manhattan. You all sit there, mutually agreeing to leave each other alone and make as little noise as possible. Always good.

I was instantly thrown by how amazing the library is though. I’ve become acutely aware of how easily I’m impressed by certain architectural feats and landscapes. I’m definitely aware that I go into full Lame Dad mode when I see a weird-looking building (“Wow, kids! Wouldja look at that building? What an adventure, huh?”). And, really, I’ll own that–I am a nerd who loves architecture and landscapes like he loves earth sciences and D&D. Fuck it. You got me.

But all of that is to just set up that holy shit have you been to the library in Bryant Park? My… God that place is amazing. I feel bad not capitalizing “library” when I write about it. I mean… I walked through its revolving doors and found that the elaborate stone work that was outside… was also inside–everywhere inside.

I refuse to try to put it all into detail or this post will just be way too long. Instead, I’ll explain it with a single emotion: it felt strange to be there because it felt like I was in a foreign country, standing in an ancient building that’s still in use. Of course, that’s what the Library pretty much is, but if you’re a New Yorker, you’ll understand how rare that feeling is because you’re so used to flat cement and hastily-painted ply wood.

I found that the main reading room was closed unfortunately, but thankfully, shenanigans did not escalate.

11.26.14-WhereIWrote

I found this reading room on the second floor, which afforded the same experience as the reading room I used in the library at Lincoln Center (although thankfully without the exhaustion). I sat down and got to work reading and editing everything from my late addition to the middle of the book to the start of its endgame (a personal term for a great, exciting third act).

And I was glad to find all of it good and enjoyable, but not perfect (as odd as it sounds, I would’ve been put off if it was all perfect). There was some solid editing that needed to be done and, of course, small additions to tie my new second act to the rest of the novel. The editing session was not without its bumps. It honestly took hours.

But I did finish editing the rest of what I’ve already written. And I added a small scene–a brief check-in with the villain that helps establish the endgame more firmly.

When I finished that scene, I knew it wasn’t perfect, but I was glad to add something new–glad that yesterday’s love for writing persisted today without effort. I had to stop myself from adding more, certain that I needed to get back into the mood of the conclusion first.

And now, a train ride of brainstorming later, I’m excited for tomorrow–the beginning of the endgame. The fourth-to-last day of NaNoWriMo. #BringItAlready #AirHorns

30 Days of NaNoWriMo – Day 20: All of the Curve Balls and Every Last Wrench

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.20.14Where I Barely Wrote: My local library. I feel like this means that I’ve ultimately lost the expert planning challenge for this week, but so be it; something I didn’t plan for at all made me think I had to stay in the Bronx. The funny thing about it? I later found that I definitely didn’t need to stay in the area after all.

How I Feel About What I Typed, Slowly, Letter by Letter, with My Index Fingers: Okay? All obvious bitterness aside, what I put down was a good start. A good start for an addition I decided to make at about… 1AM last night?

The Experience:

“Hi!”

I looked down at a small child staring up at me in front of my building. I was just getting back after my first visit to my local library.

A visit that began with me realizing I hadn’t eaten anything or even drunk anything before deciding that writing in my library was better than waiting until 4PM to go somewhere else and write; I didn’t want to rock my schedule–didn’t want to get back home and rush out a post only to put in time at work in a desperate, inefficient haze. But the library, it turned out, was a theater in which two middle-aged white men made jokes about viagra and prattled on about conspiracy theories (involving pedophiles [because of course]). I was there for maybe ten minutes before leaving and getting breakfast.

And being confronted by a kid in front of my building.

“Hi!”

“Hello,” I said, staring down at him, trying my best to not be a Snape about it. Probably failing. Ronald… Weasely…

“Do you live here?”

The fuck? “Yes. I do.”

The child said something that I classify as ‘kid inaudible.’ I just repeated that yes, I live in my building.

“Oh. Which side?”

“That side,” I pointed. I had to do it twice.

For a split second, I thought that maybe this kid was actually lost–that he was asking for help getting into his place. For a split second, I was ready to drop everything and help him get into his building and find his apartment or maybe a neighbor who could help him.

But then he said, “Okay. You can go ahead,” and waved me along like a police officer.

I… despise police officers, I wanted to say in my best Alan Rickman. I didn’t, although not because I was adverse to confusing this child–I just don’t dislike police officers.

Instead, I said, “Thanks,” letting the humor in the moment coax out a smile before heading inside. I still had to reach for that smile; the encounter was cute, but I just wasn’t in the mood. That wasn’t this weird kid’s fault though. If anything, I hope I didn’t dissuade him from being a weird Building Monitor to anyone else.  I’m a fan of strange random encounters. At least in settings where I’m guaranteed an easy exit.

But, regardless, all I was in the mood for was getting upstairs, having a meal, and waiting for a package or for someone else to get home so I could try the library again. I took the time to play a bit of Rebirth and consider a detail that I’d be writing in Memory the moment I got back to the library.

A detail that was part of an addition I decided to make the previous night, when I realized that my suspicions about the gravity of the endgame were probably right; the events I had planned were probably more epic for me because I love my characters but those events wouldn’t be as epic for readers because the book was too short. It needed at least one more event–one more bit of adventure–to really seal the deal and strengthen my protagonists’ relationship, an idea that I would’ve been unsure about if there wasn’t already a place in the plot where that extra point fit perfectly. Not a problem at all–but an addition that actually makes NaNoWriMo significantly tighter for me (I will actually have to start hitting their quota now to be sure I finish Memory in the next ten days).

I had about an hour to play and plan before someone got home, the delivery never having made it in the first place. But whatever. Down to the library. Back to writing.

“Hello!”

… No. It… can not be.

Sitting in one of four adjoining chairs at the library, glad to see the middle-aged men gone, I turned to see that indeed it wasn’t; I expected the same kid and instead got a new one. Apparently, my neighborhood is full of way too friendly and social Hispanic kids.

I said hello back.

And then said hello to Kid B, one of Kid A’s jealous friends.

Then said hello to Kid A again.

Then said hello to Kid C.

To which Kid C said, “Is that a Galaxy Tab III?”

Ohhhh my God, I thought. It was lyrical, my brain singing it. “Yes.”

“Where’d you get that case?”

“Online.”

“Oh.”

Internal sigh. I didn’t want to be a total bastard to this kid. “On Amazon. I just… ordered it.”

“Oh. Is the original case white?”

“I don’t know.”

“You didn’t get it?”

“No. I actually didn’t even really use this thing until I got the keyboard.”

“Oh that keyboard is linked to it?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s pretty cool… Do you go to church?”

What? “I haven’t been in a while, but yeah, I have.”

“Oh… Do you have a Bible?”

WHAT? The walls were crumbling down. It was sinking in that writing was a bust. This kid was not going to stop talking to me. I was not okay with this. The only thing that could save the moment was if his mom came around the corner and happened to be Eva Longoria; if I just so happened to walk into a romcom with Eva Longoria today, I’d be fine.

But there was no Eva Longoria.

“Yes. I have one at my house,” I answered.

“Oh. God bless you!”

“Thanks,” I said, enjoying for just another flash the cute weirdness of the moment.

But it was only a flash. At this point, Kids A and B actually started running circles around me and almost hitting me. This, I realize, was an intentionally ridiculous joke I’d made in my post for Day 10 at Loreto Playground. Ten days later, it had actually come true. Kid C was no longer engaging me, but I just sat there, holding my tablet, staring off into space.

“Do you play games on that thing?” It was Kid C again. I heard this and thought, How did I not know that that’s where he was going with this?

“No,” I answered honestly. I don’t; I actually despise mobile gaming. “I don’t have any on here.”

I expected an immediate question about whether I game–perhaps an observation that Link was on my t-shirt, riding a bear.

Instead, they broke away, chasing each other somewhere. And I realized that today… was just not the day for NaNoWriMoing. Before the day even began, I’d thrown a wrench in my own plans. And then the Local Brigade of Inquisitive Children followed up.

Tomorrow, I will wake up as early as I can and get down to the city. I will hit my NaNoWriMo quota. I will, once again, make progress.

But tonight, I work. I brainstorm. I finally reply to emails from friends I’ve been meaning to get to. I will, perhaps, read followers’ and likers’ blogs, something I’m impatiently saving for December.

But no matter what I do, I let today go and prepare for tomorrow, taking into account the possibility that there are other wrenches waiting.

30 Days of NaNoWriMo – Day 15: Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.15.14Where I Wrote: The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Really good. It’s not perfect (as I was packing up my tablet, I thought of an addition I had to make). I honestly might cheat a bit tonight and add a handful of tweaks to the major dialogue exchange in today’s scene, but, overall, that scene achieved a few things I was hoping it would (and a few others I wasn’t expecting). It was a really emotional day for my characters and, although it was a struggle to realize that at first, I eventually got it to shine through naturally.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: It being an emotional day for them made it extra weird that I was insanely exhausted today. I do not know why; I woke up tired, rallied for Isaac (because, ya know, a man needs energy to fail a few Rebirth runs, I guess) and then passed on coffee I didn’t think I actually needed on the way to my spot. Turns out, yes. Yes, I really actually needed that coffee.

The Experience: I did not take pictures of the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. There were many people there, but I probably should’ve gone for it regardless–snapped a picture of the exterior at least. I probably should have bothered.

But today… was not the day for bothering.

I had no trouble getting out of the house. I had no problem hopping on my train. I had no issue landing a seat on said train and enjoying more Clariel for most of my ride.

No, the problem began near the end of my commute, when I genuinely started to nod off while reading.

Empirical Fact #1: It was not Clariel.

Empirical Fact #2: Today was one of those weird days when I woke up to find that the bags under my eyes actually black. I know other people must experience this too, but my first bout of life this morning was a trip to the bathroom, a distracted observation at the mirror that I looked like a raccoon, and a prompt return to sleep.

Empirical Fact #3: When I got outside, I found that my left leg hurt. Weird. My left leg never hurts–it’s my right leg that sucks. I believe I actually thought, Huh. It’s almost I’m over-exerting myself or something, but that’s silly.

Empirical Fact #4: I had coffee before leaving. So… why even with the exhaustion?

I convinced myself I didn’t need coffee because of that final fact and proceeded to ignore the second and third… And the fact that I’d slept maybe five or so hours in total after last night’s work marathon. Five hours. Not bad when you’re sedentary.

Horrible when you get outside every day.

I wish my brain had not been an unfocused blob today. I wish that I wasn’t so wasted that I actually turned on wi-fi and checked Kotaku for a few minutes in the middle of my writing session.

I wish especially that I’d had the energy to explore more of the Performing Arts Library, which I’d only been to once, years ago–so many years ago that it seemed like a completely different place. I wound up heading right up to the second floor–which I think I saw the first time (please forgive–still tired)–but where I expected to find generic library cubicles, I instead found a sleek, glass encased sitting room with massive tables and chairs that were so comfortable that they definitely didn’t help with the exhaustion. I’m absolutely sure there are other great spots in that library (and as it’s absolutely free in a beautiful location with outdoor seating and coffee shops galore, I’ll absolutely be back to find them).

But today, I just clung to the one reading room for dear life–satisfied that it was literally the first thing I saw after riding an elevator up to the second floor. Particularly unwilling to migrate when I found bathrooms directly next to the elevator I’d just stepped off of. I found the chair farthest from everyone else, sat down, started writing.

And hit a block. I honestly wasn’t falling asleep (it wasn’t that bad), but it was insanely hard to work out any details for any part of my story. Everything I clumsily smacked onto my keyboard was vague and simplistic. I knew that today would be a little tough–I knew I hadn’t plotted out every detail, leaving myself some decisions to make this session–but making those decisions was like pulling teeth. I was checking my progress after 300 words. And then I was online, actually reading articles and other blog posts. I was contemplating having another sub-1000 day.

But then I actually got a little annoyed at myself. You can do it. You’re just not doing it, I actually told myself. I took a deep breath and sighed a sigh that was dangerously close to being a whiney “Fine-uh!” sigh.

But it was an, “Alright. Let’s kick this pig,” sigh.

I buckled down; reread the last two days’ work; spotted small tweaks that needed to be made; made them; kept reading; discovered that, with today’s exhaustion, I’d missed an emotional beat for my protagonist that really needed some seeding in yesterday’s work. I went back. Added. Ironed. Straightened. Got to new content and rolled right into one of the first scenes I imagined for this story (a year or so ago, when it had a completely different conclusion). By the time I was done, I’d almost hit NaNoWriMo’s quota and definitely surpassed my own (which is hovering around 1000 words these days).

And, more important than anything else, I was up to a huge, emotional payoff that leads right into the conclusion–a fact that feels strange to me even now. Because just last night, I’d blinked and remembered that Memory of the Black Sun is a play off of Shadows of the Black Sun, the title of the very first, insanely generic Fantasy story I made up when I was… God… 13? 12? It was wildly different now–Memory isn’t even comparable to Shadows. The original was supposed to be a multi-part epic. Memory is shaping up to cap around 200 pages–a novella by Fantasy’s standards.

But now, suddenly, after a snap decision made 15 days ago, it’s almost done. On a whim. I easily could’ve pushed this story back another year while postponing my last edit of War of Exiles. But now, Memory’s almost done and, against all reason, I’ve actually started to get excited for the edit of Exiles. Outside, I spot reminders of it and its unwritten sequels and my breath catches because I know I’ll be back in that world soon. I’d been terrified of a focused, straight week of editing, done quick so that I could keep all of the plot threads together instead of procrastinating and losing track. But now, that editing week feels more and more like it’s going to be child’s play; silly to fret over–sillier to silence my world for.

There’s something intimidating in that determination. Something scary because it’s so wildly different. NaNoWriMo’s going to end and I’m not going to be able to stop. And that terrifies me.