“If you want to read the mystic story written in your future, you'd better start to write it now.”
Gaia Consort

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

someday never happens but nano comes THREE times a year these days what the hell
Mon 2020-04-06 19:31:37 (single post)
  • 50,059 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 50,347 words (if poetry, lines) long

April is Camp Nano--basically National Novel Writing Month but in April and with a summer camp theme. I've never really gotten into it. My annual participation sputtered out around the time I decided that twelve years in a row, ten of them as a Municipal Liaison, was a lot and I was ready to set that particular tradition aside for a bit. (My apologies to anyone who's been hanging out in my "[USERNAME] wants to be friends!" queue for the last 5 months--I only just logged in today and saw you there!) Besides, I was tired of how few short stories I had out on submission at any one time, so I decided I'd get back to my novel-writing attempts once I had a more healthy stable of submittable manuscripts.

Thanks to last year's 100 Rejections goal and corresponding Submit Every Day initiative, and the ways in which I've continued those patterns this year, my stable of submittable manuscripts is much healthier, and I think I'm ready to spend a month focusing on novels again.

My Camp Nano goals--and, to be clear, I'm still not really participating in Camp Nano, not in the social aspects of it, anyway--I'm not joining a "cabin" and I don't feel the need to add new virtual write-ins to my life at this time--my goals for April are very modest. They are as follows:

  • Review existing novel drafts on my hard drive.
  • Pick one to begin completing and revising this month.
  • Spend a little time each weekday doing that.

That's it. No end-goal, no X-amount of words written nor even a strict Y-amount of time to accumulate by the end of the month. I'm just folding novel-writing activities into my day-to-day writing life, into the slot on my timesheet reserved for Revising Stuff Destined For Commercial Submission. And the novel is allowed to take priority over short fiction and poetry. The latter two aren't going away, of course; I've got four new poems to revise and submit thanks to the poetry-writing contest on Codex I participated in last month, and this morning's freewriting session gave me hope I might yet get an entry into Escape Pod's Flash Fiction Contest for 2020 after all. But I have plenty of short works ready to submit and resubmit "'til hell won't have 'em," so this year's collection of rejection letters won't stall out just because I take a month to see where I'm at in regards to long-form fiction.

At this time, I've completed the first two items on the above list. I found myself falling in love with the first couple chapters of 2005's NaNoWriMo effort, Right Off the Page, in which a character goes missing from the protagonist's latest work in progress. But that's the second book in a vaguely planned series. Happily, the next year I took a stab at writing the first book, The Bookwyrm's Hoard, in which that same protagonist inherits a hometown bookstore and discovers its unusual quirks. So that's the book on which I'm going to focus the efforts implied by the third listed item. I'll see where that gets me by the end of the month, and whether I'll want to continue with it or with a different novel for the July edition of Camp Nano.

Bonus food content! So one of our old roller derby friends used to host a "Potluck of the Month Club", but then she moved out of state. Inspired by all the virtual hangouts that the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated, she scheduled an online potluck for yesterday. So John and I made cheese enchiladas and refried beans, which we sat down and ate in front of the computer while logged into our club reunion via video conference. There were a lot of smiles and laughter and gossip and also some ranting and commiserating. It was good. A+ would virtual-potluck again.

And right now this minute I am eating french fries that John made for me. John makes very good french fries.

On Low-Tech Tale-Spinning
Tue 2005-12-13 09:23:14 (single post)
  • 52,650 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 56.50 hrs. revised
  • 50,059 words (if poetry, lines) long

So, life quite suddenly sucks. My computer has died.

Well, that's putting it a little overly strong. Life doesn't exactly suck, per se. I mean, John and I are in Bloomington, Indiana; we're staying with Cate; we're comfy and well-fed and in loving company. True, the Saints did not win last night, but you can't expect too much from your weekend. Life is actually pretty good.

But somewhere between hibernating my laptop yesterday morning and attempting to wake it back up again yesterday afternoon, Something Went Horribly Wrong. After I halted its unsuccesful Resume From Hibernate prrocess, it entered a cycle of disk checks during which it deleted many purportedly corrupted sectors, and then after gnawing on itself in this fashion for several minutes it utterly failed to recognize a bootable drive. I get the Averatec splash screen and then nothing but a blinking cursor.


So today I pulled out my spiral notebook, wrote down the previous novel-editing session's final sentence from memory, and then tried mightly to keep going. Boy, what a comedown. I've used computers for so long that my handwriting is illegible, and my longhand writing mentality is all, like, "This is just freewriting and Morning Pages and stuff, why should I care about quality?"

Clearly I need to compose manuscript copy in longhand more often. It's no good to rely so completely on electricity and microprocessors.

So today I mostly spent trying to convince myself to write as though it mattered. Then I got a little into Sasha's seemingly unplanned meeting with her classmate crush in the Wilcox Plaza bookstore. And when I get back to Boulder I need to dig up my Windows XP Home Edition install disk, which I am assured exists and ought to be in my possession. I am skeptical of this, having no memory of bringing one home at the time of my laptop's purchase....

As for other things: In my opinion, The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe was very, very, very, very good. Faithful fans of the Narnia books, whether their interest is in the fantasy story or in the Christian allegory, all ought to be well pleased. I am, however, a little troubled by an acquaintance's concern over the "appropriateness" of Lucy's friendship with the faun Tumnus. "I mean, he's, like, ten years older than her and he goes around shirtless! Is it right that they're going around holding hands all the time?" Is this an issue that ought even to occur? For heaven's sake, it's like watching Finding Neverland and begin convinced, despite James Barrie's protestations otherwise (which, by the way, the audience is supposed to believe), that the adult author is sexually involved with his children playmates. My goodness, we live in a corrupt age.

Other than that--other than having my mind now forever tainted by the previously unheard-of concept of little Lucy being preyed on by her best friend in Narnia--I have no complaints. Well, I was unimpressed by Liam Neeson's voicing of Aslan. But maybe that's unfair. Probably for me to be satisfied you'd have to get freakin' God in on that role. Well, God or James Earl Jones. Either one will do.

And in yet other news, the NaNoWriMo article in dirt has come out. Whee! Go read it right now!

And the winner is.... ME TOO!
Years Won Nano: 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005
Wed 2005-11-30 22:28:35 (single post)
  • 50,168 words (if poetry, lines) long

Yes indeed. I had to turn all--of--these into this - kind - of - thing to get the NaNoWriMo Word Count Validator to agree, sort of, with WordPerfect 5.1, because the former apparently doesn't count double-dashes as word separators, but, you know, whatever. I've hit "THE END" and I've hit 50K+ and life is good.

The last IHOP All-Nighter of the Month is breaking up. Two of us validated our word counts and got our purple winner bars right here (and winner icons and winner certificats and happy little banners on our profiles) along with a lot of applause, and one more of us is bound to manage it in the next half hour. A photographer from Boulder's free paper dirt got a lot of pictures (look for them on December 12). The blue pencil got to be showed off. Much fun was, in fact, got.

And that's all for tonight. Tomorrow: The TGIO Party at Conor's! The Baking Of The Fruitcake! The Beginning Of The Lightning Edit Round On Becoming Sara! Stay tuned.

Twenty-Seven Chapters
Wed 2005-11-30 07:08:28 (single post)
  • 47,834 words (if poetry, lines) long

That's how many are in this novel. That's the chapter heading I typed last night before going to sleep.

Either Chapter Twenty-Seven will be about 2,500 words long, or I'd better pull a sub-plot out of my back pocket.

In about four hours, you should be seeing bright blue bars on my wordcount bar graph. Stay tuned.

Penultimate Day Blues
Tue 2005-11-29 14:29:16 (single post)
  • 44,752 words (if poetry, lines) long

Hi-ho. Yes, writing continues. It continues to be a bit behind schedule, but not such that success cannot occur. I'm really closing in on the final scene now. I'm hoping to bag about 3,000 words today and another 3,000 tomorrow--that should put me at "The End" as well as over the 50K mark.

Here's a bit of word count trivia. Word Perfect 5.1 counts the words on either end of a double-dash (like this--see?) as two words. NaNoWriMo.org's text file validator counts them as one. When I uploaded a text file of my manuscript and saw a 300 word drop between my count and its count, that turned out to be why. So, aspiring NaNoers who use this puctuation mark: either shoot for 50,500 just to be safe, or replace all "--" with " -- " in your manuscript just to be safe.

And another bit of trivia: I would have started on my novelling for the day by now if it wasn't for those damned spammers. After an hour on the phone today with my ISP (DrakNet is good) I finally figured out how they've been exploiting my email forms over at Littlebull.com--a trick that resulted in that web site getting suspended over the weekend. I had to stop everything I was doing to roll through all my pop-up contact webforms and seal any header injection holes I could find. Grrr. This is me going "grrrr." Me ain't happy.

But! Me is now writing. And any potential spammers what get between me and writing, oooh their ears are gonna be burning.

The Big Blue Pencil Of Doom!
Sat 2005-11-26 14:41:12 (single post)
  • 41,703 words (if poetry, lines) long

Hi there. I'm at the Tea Spot. I'm here with SlyCrow and his Big Blue Pencil of Doom (pictures to follow). I just finished writing my 2K+ for the day, putting me at just over 2K due on every day through the last in order to win. I also just realized I haven't posted for several days, so it's about time I did.

I'm closing in on the final scene of the book. I'm not entirely sure that the story as it stands has 8,300 words left in it, but I think I have a subplot or two in my back pocket, so it should be all right.

In other news, the wedding present is done and in the mail; I am told it will arrive by Monday. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that. I didn't take any pictures, so I have none to show, sadly, but you can take my word for it that the results of all that knitting are very warm and cozy and soft indeed. Now I get to knit bears and mouse-slippers for Community Knitting. And then get to work knitting several second socks to make pairs out of my collection of singletons.

Tonight is "techno party night" on the ice. John and I are planning on dinner and skating accordingly. Tee-hee. We're gonna have a date. We never got to date, growing up, what with living some 600 miles apart, so these days we try to make up for that.

So. Back to considering subplots, and exactly how the ending of the book is going to pan out. And where we're going to have our Thank God/dess It's Over party. Yeah.

When It's OK To Quit
Wed 2005-11-23 00:07:18 (single post)
  • 35,205 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 7,322 words (if poetry, lines) long

No, not me. I ain't quitting. No sir. I didn't do a full 2K today, but I did this much:

A daily word count of 1,667 would have put you at 36674 words.
You have averaged 1600.227 words per day thus far.
A daily average of 1859.375 will make you a winner!
Good luck!
So, my actual average is approaching 1,667 (even though my recommended future average has actually increased by five words since yesterday) and my total is very close to what an on-track total would look like. I'm practically caught up!

But not everyone "wins" NaNoWriMo. And that's OK. From talking to at least two people today who started the challenge and then stopped, here are two reasons to give up on the idea of a single 50K work written in 30 days:

  • When you're no longer interested in the story. One person I know started an entirely new novel during Week 2, and now has given up on that story too. But she still comes to write-ins and does stuff like freewriting and brainstorming. Sometimes a given story just dies, or needs to be put on the shelf for awhile. Pushing past the point of authorial interest will only guarantee an uninterested reader.
  • When you're no longer interested in writing. Some people take on NaNoWriMo, having never written much before, with the intent to discover whether they have a book in them. Sometimes they discover that no, they don't. At that point, it's probably best to stop writing and move on to something one would prefer to spend time on. Because, heck, life's too short to spend on something you don't fundamentally enjoy. Granted, writing isn't always playtime, even for the most inspired writer in the world. It'll be work from time to time too. But if the work isn't fulfulling, move on to something else. Don't turn your daily word quotas into a penance undertaken for the sin of not coming out of NaNoWriMo a lifelong career writer.
I suppose I'm just saying this to remind myself and fellow Municipal Liaisons that "You can do it! Keep going!" isn't always the most appropriate answer to "I'll never reach 50K by November 30, and I think my story's dead." How to respond to a low word count in Week 4 depends largely on why the participant started playing the game and what they've gotten out of the course of its progress thus far.

Moving back into my own NaNoWriMo 2005 experience: I did a bit of kvetching today about how Right Off The Page is the second book in a series whose first book isn't written. Kandybar's response was a sort of "Oh, I hate it when that happens, I've totally done that." My husband, on the other hand, said, "You're an idiot!" He's very sweet and wants to see me get published, and he knows that if I'm banking on this series then I'll have to publish The Bookwyrm's Hoard first.

He also knows that means one more book for me to write before I'll finally get back to work on "the ghost story." This refers to an as-yet unnamed novel which began as a short story roughly inspired by thinking too much about Tori Amos's song "Toast." That alleged short story refused to show signs of ending after 2,000 words. (At this point I had Stern Words with my Muse about false advertising. "Oops," she said, "did I say short story? Maybe I, er, underestimated." She means lied.) John would like very much to read it, but only those 2,000 words exist as of yet. He would like more of it to exist, please, and as soon as possible.

It's times like this when I thank the Gods for supportive husbands. Some writers have spouses that say, "That's nice, dear, but when are you getting a real job?" or "What do you mean, you're busy? You're only writing." I have a spouse that says, "Is it finished yet? Can I read it? What do you mean, no?"

(He would also like me to be the next J. K. Rowling so he can retire on my book advances. Well, so would I.)

It's nearly Thanksgiving. I have thanks to give. This is not the only reason, but it's a big one.

Extra Goodness
Mon 2005-11-21 23:11:59 (single post)
  • 33,315 words (if poetry, lines) long

Chapter nineteen is halfway done. Mickey's first victim is in the hospital recovering from having been sucked into Brooke's plot. Brooke has just finished recapping how her date went up to that point, and exactly what happened when Mickey showed up. I think, plotwise, I'm in the first scene of Act Three.

I meant just to do about 2,000 words today, but the whole getting shot in Central Park thing was kind of exciting to write about, so I just kept going. Now, my calculator tells me, I've averaged about 1,586 words a day and will need to meet a daily quota of 1,854 words going forward. The numbers just get better and better!

Except, of course, having written to the end of my steam tonight, I'm not sure where I'm going tomorrow. I suppose something to do with Gwen's realization that even if she herself isn't involved with Brooke, someone will be, because that's how the plot goes, and Mickey will try to kill that someone, because that's how the plot goes. And that if he succeeds in killing someone from Real Life things will be Bad. And that the only way to solve things is to put everyone back in the book regardless of how unfair that is.

I want this book to address deep philosophical concerns, such as how Gwen has victimized her antagonist by making him too two-dimensional, and how characters can't be spared but they can be treated like real people rather than like constructs, and how writers maybe fall prey to the temptation to treat real life people as characters who can be manipulated for the author's convenience... but right now I'll be pleased just to get all the plot down.

Meh. Grandiose philosophical themes are a second draft matter. Time to inject lit crit goodness during the rewrite.

Belated Sunday Report
Mon 2005-11-21 18:07:14 (single post)
  • 30,115 words (if poetry, lines) long

First off: It's getting to be Fruitcake Season. Time to go shopping for dried fruits and nuts and liquor. I'm thinking rum this year. Nice dark rum. Solistice is said to be December 21st this year, so I'm telling everyone that our open house vigil with Yule log and dawn carpool/caravan to Red Rocks for Drumming Up The Sun will be Tuesday the 20th.

Second: My recommended daily word quota starting Monday (today) is 1989.

Third: My characters are wallowing. None of them are communicating with each other, and they're all bloody miserable. I think I really shall send in the ninjas. Actually, what I'm sending in is the escaped antagonist who's after Brooke. Nothing like actual assault and battery to liven up an emotional melodrama. "Hey you! You pathetic people! Here's a catalyst--now act on it!"

And that's all for now. More in 2,000 words. No, I mean it this time.

Saturday and Speedy and Squeak All Start With "S"
Sat 2005-11-19 16:59:13 (single post)
  • 27,913 words (if poetry, lines) long

Quoth my handy-dandy NaNoWriMo Calculator on Saturday, November 19:

For Reference:
A 1667-word daily average would result in a total of 31673 by the end of day 19.

Your Stats:
Your daily average thus far is 1469 per day over 19 days.
At this rate, you'll wind up with 44070 words.

In order to win...
You need to average 2008 words per day over the remaining 11 days.

Good luck!

Today was a good day for writing.

(It used to say I needed to average 2,089 words, going forward. So I figured I had to write more than 2,089 words to make things better. In case there's any confusion, 27,913 minus 24,585 is rather more than 2,089.)

Plus Gwen got to meet the talemouse. That was cool. Apparently, a talemouse's natural voice is like a dog whistle that humans can hear, and it's kind of like fingernails on a blackboard, and Gwen now has a super colossal headache.

I got to visit with quite a few fellow Boulder-area NaNoers at the Tea Spot today. Tea was duly sipped. Dim sum was summarily consumed. And words got written in great quantity. In my case, I'm fairly confident of the quality as well. Rewriting this bad boy, I think, won't be nearly as painful as rewriting other novels has been.

Tomorrow's 2000+ words will involve... well, I'm not entirely sure what they'll involve. I'll have to give it some thought while I double-knit 11" of ribbing and 11" of ribbing-with-stockinette-panel. By this time tomorrow, I'll know more than I know now, and will hopefully be ready to mail off a wedding present to the New Orleans area too. Or at least I'll be a lot closer to ready.