The burnout is real

It’s been awhile since I posted an update. It turns out between writing and making masks I have no time for blogging. Makes sense in the large scheme of things. I’m taking a break from making masks though because I’m burned out. And it probably is the exhaustion that comes with assembling 20 cloth masks. It probably has a lot to do with trying to maximize the amount of good I want to do and realizing the amount of good I am realistically capable of doing in my limited capacity.

So I’m trying to focus on just one thing as I go back to work tomorrow. Since I’ll only be working 4 days a week I figure I can spend 4 days dividing my time between writing and working, and then on the 5th day I’ll use it for finishing my current mask projects that just need the ties attached to them.

Depending on how my wrists are feeling at the end of the week, I might start a second batch, but if my wrist pain gets to be unmanageable, I’m not going to worry about the masks. It’s easier to stabilize my wrists as I’m writing and working. It gets a bit more complicated when sewing. It requires some repetitive wrist motion that starts wearing on my wrists. It’s the one down side to having tendeonitis, and in times like this I wish it wasn’t an issue, but self care is important.

Camp Nano Day 3 check-in

Camp-2020-Writer-Facebook-Cover1

I’m on day three of Camp nano, and I’m overall pleased with how the story progressing. Beginnings are usually easy for me, it’s normally once I get deeper into the novel that it starts getting harder, because I have to start thinking about pacing and when to introduce conflict, and making sure I’m not moving too fast. I’m on pace though. Actually, if the site is to be believed, I’m ahead. I decided to aim for 40K, but I would absolutely love it if I could hit 50K in true NaNo fashion. I’m just trying to have some does of realism amidst this pandemic and the fluidity of everything.

I”m going to have to slow down my daily word count ambitions for now. Not only am I noveling, but, at least until I can get back to work, I’m also going to be working on cloth face masks. I’m largely making them for people in our factory because we will be expected to wear them on the factory floor once we get back to work. Gentex has a whole bunch of them stockpiled, but I don’t want to risk disruptions in the supply chain at this point. We very nearly had an issue before we were dismissed for the stay-in-home order.

Now, the distance between what I want to achieve versus what’s realistic is probably the size of the Grand Canyon. But hey, you have to start somewhere, right?

Connecting with Community

There is one thing that I like about the newly renovated Nanowrimo website, and it’s the writing groups function. It’s a nice way to keep people plugged in with writers outside of the nano season, especially during it’s camp sessions.

A lot of times the chat rooms die after the main nanowrimo event (don’t get me wrong, I love logging into Discord), but the writing groups offer a simple place for writers to get together and chat while writing in the off-season, whether you group by genre, interest, location, or (if you’re a potter nerd) you group by your Hogwarts house. Also, you’re not confined to just one writing group. You can join several writing groups if you want to, as long as you are invited by the writing group’s admin, or if you decide to create one (or two) for yourself.

This Camp event, I’m looking forward to some responsible social distancing via writing groups with local wrimos, and also globally connecting with fellow Hufflepuffs. It’s a great opportunity to commiserate with fellow writers while safely meeting new people via the web.

Write safely. Write responsibly.

Casting Call

I’ve always been a pantser when it comes to writing, but I’m trying to go in with a pretty solid idea of where I want to go with the story. In all honesty I wasn’t planning on doing Camp nano, but I’m not playing video games for three weeks straight. Not to mention, I love my mother, but three weeks with her is going to get boring after awhile. And my brother-in-law wants to talk about the pandemic and frankly, I’m at a place where I need to remove myself from those conversations.

I have a coworker on my line who spent two weeks telling me that six years ago she did all of this pandemic research and how prepared she is for everything, even a nuclear or radioactive apocalypse, and I am sick of talking about pandemics.

I have another co-worker on another line who has come to wear the most ridiculous outfit. On top of the standard PPE for our work in a glass area, he brought a gas mask, swimming goggles, a hazmat suit that apparently has no hood on it (and he doesn’t wear it during the full shift so I don’t know how that’s going to save him from the virus, let alone, if he’s wearing the same suit every day, it’s self defeating), and he wears a trash bag over the parts of his head not covered by the googles and the breathing apparatus.

People have arrived at the hight of absurdity, to the point where it creates needless panic and fear. Our cleaning ladies have also gotten slightly freaked out by Hazmat guy.

I want to incorporate a lot of the experiences I’ve gone through, the people I work with, but I don’t want it to be so obvious that if this ever got published someone would recognize I made a character of them and proceeded to portray them in a way they might find offensive (or even get upset that I included them at all).

I’m sure I’ll figure it out. I have until next Wednesday to have that stuff locked into place.

 

Unplugging and refocusing

I’m unplugging from Facebook for two weeks. I never realized how much I used it until I made the decision yesterday to walk away for two weeks. Right now it just feels like too much stuff going on and something has to give, and at the end of the day, Facebook is nonessential to my life. My anxiety levels are pretty high right now – about where they were when I quit my gas station job – and I need a happy place right now.

Writing is my happy place.

I’m going to be doing Camp Nano in April.

I’m sure with time and perspective we’ll find out that we did our best given this is a once in a century event. But right now I’m surrounded by panic, anxiety, and fear and I just need some place to escape from it all. Writing makes sense to me. Maybe not to most, but it’s an easy solitary activity for me. It makes sense to me to retreat into my fictional worlds, so that’s what I’m doing right now.

Why you should pack up for Camp Nanowrimo.

Spring is theoretically around the corner (at least it would be if the weather would cooperate for once), and if you haven’t heard the latest talk in the Nanowrimo community, you’re in luck!

For its third year, the folks that run National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) are getting ready to launch Camp NaNoWriMo for the Spring and Summer. I couldn’t be more excited for camp to come, and if you’re wondering why you should participate, here are some things to consider arguments:

  • You can write what you want. Unlike its parent event, National Novel Writing Month, your work doesn’t have to be a novel, and you don’t even have to start from scratch. Not that it’s stopped NaNo rebels in the past, but this is the month where no one cares what you’re working on, as long as you’re writing. Seriously, You can work on research for your novel (get those characters all fleshed out), outline a novel you’d like to get working on, your thesis for college, continue working on a work in progress, anything writing related. You could work on writing blog posts if you wanted to. All that matters is that you’re writing, and working towards a word count.
  • You determine the word count. National Novel Writing Month has a fixed, inflexible word count goal minimum of 50,000 words. With Camp Nanowrimo, you can write anywhere from 500 to 500,000 words. So if you’re feeling ambitious and wanting to really push yourself, or if you’re busy and don’t want to commit to more than you think you can manage, Camp Nanowrimo accommodates everyone from the “overachiever” to those who are just looking for light writing exercise. I’m personally just going to challenge myself to 10K in April.
  • The Cabins are awesome. The cabins are an awesome experience. This year they’ve increased the cabin sizes from their typical size of 5 members to 11 members. In the two years I’ve done Camp NaNo, I’ve met some of the most encouraging writers through Camp from outside my local NaNo region. It’s also a handy place to bounce around ideas and help get other writers out of a tight spot in their writing.
  • It runs more than once a year! Even if you don’t sign up for the April session of Camp Nanowrimo, you still have the opportunity to do it again in July. You can even do both sessions if your heart desires. The whole point of Camp Nano is to write, and to enjoy a stress free, low-stakes environment during the spring and summer months. It’s also a great substitute for NaNoWriMo if you can’t do it, or if life made last year’s event difficult to finish.

It’s still not too late to sign up. All you have to do is hop on over to the Camp NaNoWriMo website to sign up. I hope to see you there!

So you’re probably what’s happened to me that caused me to fall off the face of the planet. The truth is, I’ve been focusing on picking up any extra hours I can get my hands on so that I can pay down my private loans (at the very least). Fortunately, over the next few weeks, I should be getting back into the habit of blogging semi-regularly so that I can start getting into the habit of writing daily again.

“What’s the occasion?” You ask.

What would be going on in writer’s land that would inspire Allyson to get writing again. Truth is, this year Camp NaNoWriMo is in session in April and July. For better or worse, I’ve signed up for the April session. Largely because I really want to finish Myth of the metals, but also because I’ve got a ridiculousness plot bunny that I want to test out in November, but I want to finish Myth of the Metals first before I start venturing out with that plot bunny.

OLL is doing a few things differently this year with Camp NaNo.

  • We have customizable goals! So if you want Camp NaNo to hold you accountable for writing 100K in thirty days, by golly, Camp NaNo will hold you to it. Only want to manage 30K or 10K? No problems! What ever your gal is, it will be considered every bit as acceptable as the traditional 50K goal for NaNoWriMo!
  • Additionally, since OLL has retired Script Frenzy, they’re now allowing scripts, and other NaNo rebels to join in the fun. So if you were looking forward to Script Frenzy this year, there’s a place for you at next month’s Camp event!
  • They’ve also introduced finer controls in the cabin selection process so that you can request a cabin that has people who have similar word count goals, or a cabin with a certain level of activity.

I’ll probably try my best to get ahead since I know for a fact that I’m going to be spending 3 days in the middle of nowhere, northern Michigan with no internet connection. Is anyone else going to take the plunge this April?

Camp NaNo update

For the first time it looks like I’ll actually be on track to finish on time, which feels a bit strange. On the one hand, I’ve enjoyed this new thrill of being painfully behind in my word count and spending several long nights working on catching up.
On the other hand, it’s a relief. I’ve never been behind in my word count before, so doing 3K or more every night gets a bit exhausting. Last NaNo I not only enjoyed the benefits of crossing the finish line early, but I also enjoyed the thrill of writing more than 50K for a novel (I ended closer to 55K). I’ve never done that before for a nano, so it was exciting.
I’m beginning to learn that a 50K Fan Fic isn’t something I can just belt out in one month. I obsess over the details too much: Am I capturing the character’s voice correctly? Am I portraying them correctly, is this response reasonable for this character in this situation? THese questions constantly haunt me whenever I set out to write fan fic, and I decided this was the NaNo to figure out how many ways I could complicate the crossover between two fandoms before I lost the will to finish.
My longest Fan fic work before this was a joking news article about why the chicken crossed the road according to Lord of the Rings, complete with a conspiracy theory that the chickens “cluck” actually means something. That was only 842 words, and even then I struggled a bit to come up with humorous content for the article.
Ah, well, that’s the one thing I love about NaNo. I always learn something new about myself as a writer.

Dialogue Part 3: How do I punctuate my thoughts?

One of the most widely debated points of dialogue is what the hell do we do with thoughts? Should I just italicise them? Should I put them in quotations? Should I just use single quotations?
At the end of the day the answer comes down to your personal style.
The winter semester before I graduated, I took a required non-fiction writing workshop class. As part of our final project, we had to submit one of the stories we’d worked on in class to workshop with the class. One of the common critiques for my piece was that they wanted all my thoughts in quotations. I had all of my thoughts in Italics.
I personally disagreed with this and ignored that critique. Why?
I recently started thinking about my motivations for doing this as I’ve been crawling along in my fan fic that I’m writing for Camp NaNoWriMo. I have instances in the story where I sometimes have characters think something immediately after they realised they probably shouldn’t have said something. I began questioning why I use italics for thoughts in my stories. I’ve come to the almost satisfactory conclusion that for me it is a visual separation from the character’s spoken voice and the narrator’s voice.
Other people argue that thought is a form dialogue, only it’s internal, therefore, it should be in quotes. After all, the ‘thought’ tag exists for a reason doesn’t it? My only problem with this is when I’m using first person (which is rare if it’s not non-fiction) or if I’m using multiple point of views to betray certain character’s thoughts throughout the story, this not only gets repetitive, but it begins to become bland. Then that sultry temptress, the thesaurus, starts beckoning for creative alternatives to ‘thought’ so that the dialogue tag does not become another dull tag like ‘said’ or ‘asked’ or any of those other generic, all purpose dialogue tags writers are so dependent on to convey meaning in conversation.
However you decide to punctuate your character’s thoughts, just remember to pick one way and use it consistently
How do you show thought in your stories?

A Brief Explanation

So I’ve been severely lacking in the blogging category this month, and I have a few reasons for this.

  1. I try to experiment every Nano to push myself. At the time, it seemed like a great idea that this nano was to experiment with point of view. Although I probably should have realized that with this story being a crossover fic, I probably shouldn’t have ventured out into new writing territory. Let me just say, I have a whole new appreciation for my favorite authors GRR Martin and Rick Riordan. As I’ve been doing this, I’ve discovered that keeping three distinct narrative voices is trickier than it looks. But that will have to wait until later.
  2. For awhile, I had a part time job that really only ever took up my weekends. It was a stressful job, but hey, it was some money in the bank and gave me some temporary financial independence from my parents as I continued my job search. I have learned that I can’t novel when I’m stressed. I open Scrivener and the only thought floating through my head is, “I don’t want to do this.” I”m not putting the job search here as an “excuse” because finding a job is a legitimate reason for not working on any kind of creative writing. Nano is a hobby, and it won’t pay off my student loans.
  3. I have been plain lazy, and I’ve had other blogs that I’ve had to keep fresh. It’s particularly stressful when one is a newsletter where the article writers haven’t been handing anything in for the past two months and you only update once a month.
  4. I’m trying to write my book when I’m not in my writing zone, which is to say, I’m writing outside of my comfort zone, and it is producing nothing. Writing in the morning and afternoon mean I spend most of the day with my internet browser procrastinating on Tumblr because I have too many fandom opinions.
The good thing about this is that, like every NaNo, I start to learn more about myself, my style and my process. I will try to post more about that later, but it looks like I need to write another thousand words! Adios, and I will definitely be posting more sooner.