Camp Nano Day 3 check-in


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?

Cue the Soundtrack

Decided to go into my Spotify playlist for my Camp Nano novel and tweak it so that I’m ready to hit the ground ready. It’s become a trend to create and post playlists, or a “soundtrack” that have inspired a specific project, whatever it might be. I just enjoy having the music in the background, so it might as well fit the project.

I got inspired to go back to my playlist for Camp Nano after stumbling across a Trans-Siberian Orchestra album on Spotify I never recalled hearing about. On a side note, I will probably be purchasing it because several of the songs have a delightful creepy vibe to them. Probably not what I would consider some of their better work, but it is still satisfying listening music. Spotify is such a delightful streaming service, and I wish I wasn’t so broke that I can’t afford the monthly fee for the premium account.

When I’m putting together a soundtrack for a novel I don’t always go for exact thematic songs, I might use songs to capture a mood or an emotion. A lot of my music is instrumental, so it makes theming a playlist easier and trickier at the same time. If it’s a heavier topic or setting like the pandemic setting in my novel, I try to balance out more intense and pulsating songs with calm and relaxing songs. It helps have something for the lighter or calmer moments in a novel. It also helps to dial back the intensity mentally, so my brain gets a bit of a break. If it has a unique vibe that I think fits a character or a situation, I might include it just because it feels right. Other times, I might be tweaking the playlist in the middle of writing because a particular song just doesn’t hit the right note like I expected it to, or it becomes too distracting to my writing to be beneficial to my process.

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.


Stay-in Wrimo

Yesterday the Governor of Michigan issued a stay-in-home order for three weeks. I told my mother this is what I get for joking about needing two weeks of self-distancing from a co-worker that was stressing me out. There was also that one co-worker that was showing up in a hazmat suit, gas mask and swimming goggles, and a trash bag over the parts of his head that weren’t already covered. On the bright side, I can at least focus on my writing more for the next three weeks. Not how I was planning on getting all of that writing done, but you take what you can get in a once-in-a-century type situation like this.

I also have several things around the house I can do that I’m always complaining about not having time for.  *nervously looks over at pile of unfolded laundry* So plenty of things to fill the next three weeks with. But writing will definitely be a priority each day. I will at least be attempting to blog daily about all of my writing adventures over the next three days, but that assumes I don’t get lost in my fictional worlds.

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.

Day 3 – A Brief tale of Wi-fi, heartaches, and headaches

Today was supposed to be a day of jubilation. I just needed to introduce one last hero to get this novel off the ground. All did not go according to plan.

Let me explain.

Deep in the land of Nano Rebeldom, there was a write-in at a cozy Culver’s in Holland, Michigan. I had gotten there early to secure our writing fortress and to enjoy some tasty food for my lunch before diving head first into the last section before finally returning to the plot – that thing that every good novel allegedly has. My last hero to be introduced was Emma, a slightly naive, but capable woman who may not have had all of the answers, may not have know what exactly she was getting herself into, but she was optimistic that she would be able to fare well in battle as long as she knew who had her back.

As the clock turned 1pm, the time for my write-in to start, I began confidently typing away on my tablet’s Bluetooth keyboard in Microsoft Word because the Dropbox sync was not syncing over the Culvers wi-fi. Words were flowing trippingly from my fingertips, but there was one small snag that I was not counting on thwarting me was the Culver’s wi-fi which is not reliable in the least bit. In fact, it was not working at all and the only reason I still had internet access on my phone was that it was on the LTE network. So when I went to save my handiness on my dropbox account, Microsoft word gave me the spinning wheel of doom. I naively thought that the wi-fi had somehow kicked in since my tablet was showing a wi-fi signal. But alas, it was not meant to be, and over two thousand words lost in the abyss of my tablet memory, never to be seen again.

And just when I thought all of my headaches and frustrations had reached a point, I had finished writing a section for the day on my laptop, and I decided to save and sync my Scrivener project so that next time I wasn’t caught with my pants metaphorically down. I don’t know what happened, but when I synced between my tablet and my laptop, I lost three sections – including the section that I had to rewrite at the write-in. In total, over 5K had disappeared in one sync.

One minute of unfettered panic.

It eventually dawned on me to go digging through the project files on my laptop to see if there was any chance at recovering the lost sections that way and lo, and behold, there they were in the project folder.  I don’t know what I would have done if I had lost that 5K+in the depths of Dropbox, except maybe cry a lot. Maybe even scream.

Today was not my day for writing.

My NaNoWriMo Delcaration

While it shouldn’t be all that shocking at this point, I have finally decided on what I am going to do for National Novel Writing Month this year.

I am going to reboot the novel I worked on last year. I lacked serious preparation skills in that I had forgotten several important members of my main cast in favour of jumping ahead to the big war that I was apparently really eager to write about. Now, I’m all about cutting to the chase and getting down to what really matters, but when you have nine heroes and you’ve only introduced four of them, well, um… Huston, we have a problem here. So this year I’m going to try and focus more on making sure my other heroes get their fair shot at getting an introduction and good development so that these characters aren’t just showing up out of the blue and everyone, reader and characters, aren’t all, where the hell did you all come from and why are you here?

Of course, that’s also going to mean that I have to do some planning ahead of time. If there’s one thing that I’m almost notoriously bad at doing at this point in the month, it’s planning, especially if there’s a shortage of employees and I’m having to work overtime as a consequence. But that’s the point of NaNoWriMo after all.  It’s a horrible time to be doing this, but damn it, I’m going to find the time to get it done this year.

Time to get my mojo back

What most of you may not know, is that one of my goals this year was going to be to write more, whether it was a blog post, or if it was working on a work in progress. NaNo is a sure thing every year, but I wanted to see if I could write more. Well, as it turns out, getting promoted to shift lead not only gives you zero time and zero life, but it also makes your life miserable as hell because everyone thinks that you don’t deserve to have any time to sleep. I also took a promotion at work and I thought it would be no big deal; I’d get a regular work schedule so I would only have to work one Sunday a month and that I’d have some time to spend with my family.

That never happened. None of it. No writing. No regular work schedule. I’m exhausted from working a nine-day work week as I write this post.

So I stepped down.

It really didn’t take long for me to realize that when someone in a training class tells you that  your time with your family and friends matters to Corporate you should just not believe it. I spent five months being miserable before finding the will to step down from my post. Was the increased pay nice? Yes. But when your boss laughs in your face because you only ever agreed to one Sunday a month, and you were working more than one Sunday a month, and your family was starting to give you grief over the number of Sundays you were working… well, something has to give. Either you continue to let your family rip on you for how many Sundays your working and watch it slowly wear you down, or you step down while you still have the will to say “I can’t take this anymore”.

I’ve written once since the new year, and that was on a weekend shopping trip with my BFF, and I only sort of made progress in editing last year’s nano. A drastic re-write is in order after fixing one scene, I don’t know how else to fix it. Fortunately, stepping down has already done wonders. The moment I told my boss I was stepping down, it was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. Hopefully I’ll be able to stay motivated writing, because I don’t want to hit November and feel more dread than excitement.

NaNoWriMo Day 17 Part 2 – Fixing stuff and fleshing stuff out

So I came to the conclusion as I was on my way to tonight’s write-in that my novel actually ended, or at least I think it’s ended, so I’ve been working on all of the world building I probably should have done before I jumped feet fist in to this year’s nano. We’re still a little past the half-way point of, so there’s still the possibility that this story it will continue, I just have to figure out what it is. I’m mostly hoping I get some ideas for things to add, because the last thing I want to do at this point is start another novel. I refuse to stop writing simply because I’ve exhausted my character’s narrative voice to date.

I spent the majority of the writing session working on notes for my novel, mainly getting all the information down for all the deities that are currently in my novel, and right now, there are at least half a dozen on the dance floor. And on paper, half a dozen doesn’t sound half bad until I realize that I need to figure if they have any underlings and if they have a champion or not, what their patron town is if they have one at all and how likable am I going to make this deity. It is nice though to just sit down and figure it all out now, rather than try and figure it out in the middle of a word war, or simply in the middle of a writing session. I waste so much time just looking for the perfect name, that it’s kind of nice to take a step back to put all the pieces of the puzzle together before jumping feet first back into my novel’s world

I was originally going to introduce dragons, but I realized shortly that I couldn’t pull it off on short notice, and what I was essentially asking of my champions was a effort in futility. I mean, they’d essentially be walking barbecue if I sent any one of them off at this moment to battle a dragon, and as it turned out in my fictional world, only gods can defeat dragons, so it’s kind of pointless to send off a champion to battle a foe they can’t defeat. I’m many things, but I’m not that cruel to my heroes who are already resistant to any kind of fighting.

And on that same note, I had to cave and make two of my champions conditionally immortal, like my othe champions. Initially I was going to make them the exception to the rule and have them remain completely mortal, but when I tried rationalizing it in the narrative, it didn’t really jive well with the god and goddess in question and ended up coming off as more of a convenient excuse for killing off a character than it was for legitimately keeping them mortal. There are other ways to teach people the value of human life that don’t involve killing off the ones entrusted with protecting civilization, I just have to figure out what that is.