Monday, November 30, 2015


And so it ends. My 10th NaNoWriMo under my belt. I don't know why this one seems so important, but it does. I think it may be because the story this year struck a cord and I have a more complete story than I've ever had before. I know what happened, why, who did it, and how it ends. That feels exceptionally good.

This was my first year doing NaNo as a retiree and I had assumed I'd have more time to write. And technically, I did have more time but I was so exhausted I couldn't tell the difference. First, I've been struggling with severe fatigue for months, and it kept getting worse. I usually got up at 6 a.m. and by 10 I was wiped out. I'd have to lie down and sleep for a couple of hours every day to even process the simplest tasks. So, I just knew writing would be a nightmare because I couldn't think.

In October, they found I have severe sleep apnea and I needed a C-Pap machine. I didn't get it until Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I delayed my trip just to pick it up before I left town. So, most of the month, I juggled writing with sleep, very bad sleep. 

The only way I stayed ahead in the counts for the first two weeks was the ChatNaNo sessions online. I could easily get 3000 words a night in there in a couple of hours. Without that, I doubt I'd have been successful. Because of that, I remained ahead of the goals each day until the holiday set in. 

At that point, I was current but we traveled from Indiana to Atlanta and that's a 12 hr round trip for me. So Wednesday and Sunday were all driving. Thanksgiving day was all family and we were exhausted by the end of it.  On Friday, we all went out and my cousin took us for a flight. He recently got his pilot's license. It was a small plane so only one of us went up at a time. That was fun but again, most of the day was used up and we were tired by the time we got home. Still it was the most beautiful day for flying over Atlanta if a bit windy. My aunt took Sarah and my sister shopping for a bit while I sat home and tried to write a bit.
My sister came up from Florida on Wednesday, too. Since I haven't seen her in a couple of years, it was a lovely opportunity and any free time was actually spent with her and my aunt. Saturday was another shopaholic day for my aunt, my sister, and my granddaughter, Sarah. I sat in the most convenient chair I could find and watched them. No, it is not my thing.

So, although I did a little writing here and there, it was dismal and I ended up 4 days behind by the time I got home Sunday. When I got up this morning, I need 6000 words. I started at 9 a.m. and finished at 8:30 p.m. and I wrote them all today.

One of my writing friends, Diane Whitehead showed up for a write-in tonight and that was nice and two others showed up on the ChatNaNo site. Lulu and Azzure. Azzure always blows Nano away. She's a firebrand at churning out the words. But for Lulu this was her first win. She's been making the attempt for several years. I told her tonight that pregnancy must be the secret. She has an 18-month-old and is pregnant so this is an amazing win for her.

I'm happy I won. For the last couple I wasn't able to reach the goal so this makes me feel better. I wish I could explain to the naysayers how good it feels to do NaNoWriMo. Writing at breakneck speed, meeting wonderful new friends and writers, dashing around to write-ins, and commiserating with fellow Wrimos is all a crazy, wild ride and the most fun I have all year. Going in I felt awful and almost decided to just give up. Coming out... the C-Pap seems to be working. The story is great. The friends are wonderful. And winning is just icing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Riding the Rapids

I've had a very busy month, but it hasn't been bad. NaNoWriMo is  always a rollercoaster ride where every year they move the curves. I usually just jump on and hang on tight. The stories are always different in every way, and I tend to stick to mysteries.
Going into this NaNo this year, I wasn't feeling well but a glimmer of a story idea nagged at me a week before and rolling it around in my head and taking notes. It completely changed my "I don't want to do this." to "When can I start?"

Perhaps a raging river would be a better analogy. I mean, some years the novel rolls off my fingers like a gentle, steady flowing river, with depths you can dive into and search like an ancient wreck, for treasures. Around each bend is something new and exciting, like raging rapids, dangerous rocks, or shallow water. Other years it becomes like a torrent in a storm, flowing fast and hard and then slowing to a trickle as the drought sets in. Those years, you spend a lot of time staring at the screen and pulling your hair out, but I wouldn't trade the thrill of all that for anything. I can buy a wig.

I'm happier with this story than I have been about any story for a long time. It's different from what I normally write and there is a depth to it that scares me a little. Diving into that might prove more exciting that I anticipated. It has made me realize that, as a writer, it might be a good idea to do something radically different once in a while. It is easy to stick to a formula or a genre, but I like to challenge myself as a writer. I like to try writing things I haven't written before.

To tell the truth, this story picked me, this year. I wouldn't have chosen to write it, but it was in my head and rolling out as soon at the starting gun sounded. I could no more resist it than I could control that river I mentioned earlier. And once you enter the rapids, going back is pretty much impossible. You just hang on and ride it to the end.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Writing, the Land of Isolation

Ever hear of a socially active writer? No? Me either. Writing is by nature a solitary pursuit. And you do pursue it. You're constantly chasing characters into seedy dives, hiding in corners, behind sticky menus, and tall drinks just to spy on them and get the story. It is true that writers need solitary times and quiet, but they also need connections, especially chronic pain sufferers. You can't survive in a bubble.

Since my husband died I spend much of my time alone. Immediately after his death I discovered what isolation really meant. I also struggle with joint problems and fatigue. I was amazed at how people abandon you when you have a chronic illness.

It is important for writers to get out and talk to other people, particularly if you are dealing with chronic pain or simple isolation overload. You need brain stimulation and to talk to other writers. You need material. Maybe you have a problem you need to work out and discuss. The only way to do that is to have some sort of connection with other people, particularly writers. That's really hard because, well, we stay home and write.

After I found myself alone in a dark house, I started looking for ways to interact with anyone who'd give me the time of day. I had to just write off a whole group of people. I ended up spending a lot of time online on a blog site and made lots of stranger friends who have turned into some of my most loyal contacts. I looked for other people who write wherever I could find them.

After seven years, I know a few dozen people who write. Some of those are even published. I'm involved with National Novel Writing Month and in November I will see a lot of writers. I've been in a few writing groups. All of this made a huge difference.

Still, on average writers spend much of their time in isolation. It is a lonely existence. And other writers can tell you're lonely because when you get a bunch of writers together we hang on to every word someone says and we talk as much as possible . . . mostly about writing: how, when, where, with what, to what effect, etc.

Recently I obtained an "online writing partner" through a site that specialized in this. We've both been surprised at how much of our taste we share in common. We've even read a lot of the same books, although we write in slightly different genres. For a couple of months now, we been meeting online via skype once a week to catch up, chat, and share our writing.

For me, the contact with other writers is important. It keeps me grounded and encourages me. Hearing about the difficulties other writers experience reminds me that I'm not over reacting or imagining things. Learning about how they write, handled problems in their writing, and their successes all motivate me and provide me with tools to help me handle my own writing difficulties.

Writing is a lonely experience. I've been fortunate to develope a circle of people who understand and make me feel less isolated. If you are a writer, don't sit in the dark alone, at least, not all the time. Find way to connect to other writers. It will make the Land of Isolation a lot less empty.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

From the Bottom Up

I've had a busy few weeks. Writing has been going well, too well. I was actually two days ahead a couple of times. Did I say it was going too well?

Sarah got sick with a bug and missed two days of school. Still was able to write but I had problems with my computer suddenly crashing and giving me BSODs*. Things were not working well.

So, I decided to reload to factory settings. Easy job, takes a day. Flip a switch and boom. Reload software and ready to roll.  I'm ahead, so no big deal. Right?

No. Reset, reloaded. Wouldn't update. Things that did work before didn't. Reloaded. Things that worked the first time wouldn't the second. RELOADED! Things just got worse.

So, I think my laptop hard drive failed. At least I think it is the hard drive. I hope it is the hard drive because I bought one. It arrived today. I have to put it in tomorrow. Then..I have to load it. If I can get the drive installed. There is a story there, but I'm too tired to write it tonight.

I'm not behind. I'm not ahead. I still can use the desktop to write, but I can't leave my house to go to write-ins. I didn't write much today because I've been rather tired and I did some editing for a friend this morning. Now, all I really want to do is go to bed.

Maybe tomorrow things will start looking up. I mean, they have to if you're in a hole, right?

*Blue screen of death

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Almost Halfway There

I'm here, but I'm a bit tired the last two days. I have done really well up to this point; I've had lots of energy and my brain was just pumping out the story. Yesterday and today, I've hit a kind of wall. I just want to rest.

So, I'm posting my current progress and going to take a nap.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Seven Year Itch

It all began Sunday. Well, actually, it began in 2006 but never mind. NaNoWriMo began Sunday! To tell you the truth, I wasn't excited. Really, I wasn't. If you notice, I haven't hyped it on my blogs this year. Usually, I start months in advance harping on it. This year? Not so much.

I've been sick with one thing after another. I know people probably get tired of hearing about it and begin to think I'm a hypochondriac. Let me just assure you, I've been really sick. So, NaNo was not looking good.

But I'm the ML. I have to be excited and eager to get started. I have to rally the troops and lead the charge. I have to drive my steed alongside the pack, poking and prodding and cheering them on to victory!

Dude, I really was sick!

Anyway, Saturday was our Kick-off. Me? I'm in the midst of my 3rd severe cold since August and battling some problem with severe fatigue for nearly six months. So,I hadn't prepared the way I did in previous years. The party started at noon and by noon, I needed a nap in the worst way.

On top of that, half a dozen of my staunchest Wrimos either moved away or were not participating. I was not thrilled. Since it was Halloween everyone was invited to come in costume. I became the Novel doctor and wore a hospital mask . . . to avoid further contamination. I thought it was original.

Thank goodness for my faithful Co-ML! She went above and beyond this year and the results was a really well put together Kick-off party.She brought candy, I brought donuts, and the library provided coffee and hot water for cocoa. We had a drawing early one and there were enough gifts for every person. In my sluggish, cold wracked brain I also forgot what makes NaNoWriMo its most awesome. We had half a dozen new folks show up that are just full of awesomeness.

Others decided to come in costume. We even had....
Yes, a clown. Wayne came as a clown. He said he was sure that he scared people off when they looked in the door. I don't think that is true at all. He was not an intimidating clown and is a really nice person.

Of course, some folks felt it important to be mature about the whole thing...

Gary and Cecile were our resident adults. Cecile was a great help with the powerpoint presentation Tammy gave, so it was a really good thing he was there. He is another new WriMo and Gary... well, he is secretly a funny guy. Get him in the Online Write-in and he'll have our Timmy Bot throwing refrigerators at you in no time.

No event is ever complete without a Zombie. Sam filled that void and Carley sat with him so he didn't feel like we were avoiding him.

I think the whole thing was a raging success. A few others filtered in later in the afternoon but by then, I had become a bit less organized and forgot to take other photos.

I missed my old NaNo crew terribly but this year's crop are just as awesome and I really enjoyed meeting them.

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