Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Slaying the NaNo Dragon? I think I need Cocoa Puffs

NaNoWriMo, i.e., National Novel Writing Month, i.e., November, ends today. I'm sad to see it go. November has been a great month. I turned 40, on which day I received not one but two vases of flowers. The lilies still smell wonderful.

Which reminds me. On our wedding day, I had lilies in my bouquet. The yellow powdery stuff from the flowers' pollen was getting everywhere, and while we were on our honeymoon, my new husband was putting in his contacts and the yellow powder got on his finger and turned his eye yellow. Very weird.

But I still love the lilies.

One of the scenes from my NaNo novel has Monet's pond of waterlilies in it. The protagonist and her tormentor/love interest nearly drown in that lily-filled pond. She's a champ and pulls him, a nonswimmer, out. It's good fun.

So, did I make it? Did I beat the challenge to write 50,000 words in a month on a brand new novel? Oh, yeah, baby! I made it. Last night, after a week-long dearth, I was able to crank out the final words and land at 50,250~. Bring on the Cocoa Puffs! It's time to celebrate!

No, the novel isn't complete. I think the thing that surprises me as a newly minted fantasy writer (contemporary fantasy. I'm not great at world building and probably never will be) is the sheer number of words it takes to write a fantasy, the descriptions have to be more ... profuse. Not that I've ever struggled with having too little to say. Ha.

Meanwhile, the house is a total WRECK. I had to do ELEVEN loads of laundry. Somehow there is an entire bag of polyester pillow filling strewn in bite-sized tufts all over the back porch. Like snow. Only messier, and I can't simply wait for it to melt so it will go away. The kitchen floor has been attacked by pineapple juice, one of the stickiest substances known to man, second in the Griffith household only to the honey which is liberally slathered all over the kitchen counter beside the vases of lovely lilies. My windowsill above the kitchen sink is tastefully decorated with empties--empty PET bottles from Old Orchard Apple Cherry juice (quite delicious, a must try) waiting to be refilled with fresh water for emergency storage, but who has time to fill a bottle with water and put it in the pantry? Not I, apparently. The NaNo Dragon has had me by the neck. Neckbreaking. I think my friend DeAnn was right. I think the broken neck is going to happen because of all ten thousand toys and books strewn all over the house waiting to trip us.
Image Detail
I think I'll have to put the final estimated 35K words to finish this book on hold and regain control of the chaos here. Meanwhile, I blow on my knuckles and rub them on my clavicle and say, ha! Beatcha this time, NaNo, at about the same rate you beat me. Let's call it a draw.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Yard Sale Christmas with a Popcorn Observation

This morning my son and I hit the yard sales. That's after I took two of the girls yesterday and the other son. It's amazing weather here this time of year. Perfect for yard sales. I know, I should extend more sympathy to all you all who are toughing it out in the snow and cold. Apologies.

Anyhow, it's the tradition for the past couple of years that I take the kids to buy presents for each other at yard sales. It started in 2008 when everybody went through "austerity measures." Then, because it worked so well, we hung onto it.

There are quite a few things I love about it. One, I get to go to yard sales. I love to see other people's things and talk to new people and find a very fun bargain. Just today I found a classic children's book I'd been salivating over for a while. It was (drumroll, please)... TWENTY-FIVE CENTS. Yeah? Yeah.

Two, taking the kids gives me a chance to have one-on-one chats with them in the car while we drive around town. They're so funny and fun! Most of the time it's a five-on-one situation, so it's a good change. Yard sales are a good excuse. I say yard sale and they say, "Me, me, me!" How often are kids just dying to be the one on the errand?

Three, I like to see them be generous to each other, and yard sales make it possible. I used to take them to the store, and they'd want to get their siblings nice things, and I'd always cringe and apologize and say things they wanted to give were just too expensive. Well, they were. >shrug< At a yard sale, I almost never have to say no. (Early on we established a "no dirty stuffed animals rule" so the nays dissipated.) It's nice to have a time of year when I can take them shopping and say yes. Once my youngest got her brother a bean bag--something he has used almost every day since. They end up getting fancier things than they'd end up giving/receiving from the dollar store.

Four, and most of all, I noticed in 2008 that the duration of time a kid will enjoy a 50-cent toy is roughly the same he/she will enjoy a $50 toy. Why was I bothering spending much at all on Christmas when we could thoroughly enjoy something someone else was done with? It's my contribution to the universe of recycling.

Anyhow, the oldest son and I went out trolling for gifts around the valley before we went to work a charity booth. He had to work setting up the tables and chairs and hauling things for me so I let him go over and buy himself a treat at McDonald's. A few minutes later he reappeared with a huge bag of popcorn and a soda (the nectar of life, according to this child.) I loved his observation:

"Popcorn and a soda is a lot cheaper at McDonald's than it is at the movie theater."

Love that kid. Now, I think I'll go eat some of the rest of his bag of popcorn and see if I can get a few words on the page for my NaNo novel. I'm trying to break that 50K mark, but I'm only at 41K now. When I hit it, I'm going to read my novel--not the one I'm writing, the one that languishes on my nightstand calling to me with its tempting siren song. No, the 50K won't mean my story is done; but I'll take a break at that point and reward myself with a post-NaNo great read.

Here's a picture of turkey. The countdown could be measured in hours now.

Roast turkey. (ThinkStock)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNooo NaNooo (That's Orkian for I'm Breaking My Neck)

My friend DeAnn said she's not doing National Novel Writing Month because she finds the pace "too neck breaking." Well, she's right. It's also housework breaking, homework breaking, meal-preparation breaking, and probably a lot of other things. I am not sure it's truly worth it. It's fun, the creativity and the sense of accomplishment, but I hope I'm not losing sight of other things that could really use...sight.

Meanwhile, my go-to sustenance during this neck breaking is something I found at WalMart called "Strawberry Awake." It's cold cereal, kind of like Frosted Flakes but with slices of delicious freeze-dried strawberries in it. Oh, and the flakes are not corn. They're wheat and rice flakes, so the texture is unexpectedly crisp. LOVE it. It's a WalMart brand, and I don't know if there's a brand name comparable cereal, and I don't really care. This is doing the job for now. Until it runs out and I have to break away from my broken neck and go back to the store.
Great Value Strawberry Awake Cereal, 16.7 oz

The 50,000 words in a month isn't a problem. I can probably type that just in Facebook replies alone. (I'm kind of a junkie lately. It's also contributing to the housework-breaking, I'm sure.) It's getting those 50K into a coherent form, with pacing and characterization and excitement and scenes. I keep having to jump away from the text flying from my fingertips and do research checks online. (I am doing something a little technical and I need to check my facts as I go.) This leads to Facebook checks. And slowed progress.

But I will sally forth! Right now my total, as of November 8 in the morning before typing a word in the document, is .... 16,707. So I guess I'm on my way. But I have to accelerate the pace of word insertion because of being on my way over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house toward the end of the month, during which there can be no progress due to the intense pie-making and pie-eating activities I'll be required to immerse in. And not grudgingly.

Can't wait for pie. So many, many good pies in my near future. It makes everything sweet.