Writing Routines, Odd Research, and NaNo Update

First update of the week! I got a little behind this weekend on my word count, not really by doing anything fancy, but just throwing away the little bit of routine I have during the weekday does make for more of a challenge. I finally just got caught up today and am days away from making it halfway through!

As for my story, I’m essentially in the same boat I was before. Very little plot. It almost seems like I am writing the backstory for my characters, like the actual action starts long after the parts that I’m writing. Does anyone else do this? While definitely not a useless exercise, it’s a little discouraging. If the whole month goes by and I haven’t made any progress in terms of plot, then I suppose I will try my hand at outlining a plot in great detail and see how that shapes up. But no time to think about that until November is through!

Also since I made it back on track with my word count, I have some spare time to do my favorite thing: Wikipedia research! Look what I’ve found: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Hazzard. Linda Hazzard started a sanatorium in a small town in Washington State where people from all over would go for her fasting remedies. She went to prison after over 10 people died in her care, due to starvation, over a period of four years. This has sparked a bit of inspiration regarding alternative medicine and quack doctors. An interesting read and definitely relevant today.

My story is set in a sort of alternative wellness center in middle-of-nowhere Washington, so this’ll be good inspiration.

I’ve also been on the NaNoWriMo subreddit, which has had some interested conversations that I hope to later turn into posts, such as revision plans after November, time management (e.g., what to do when you fall behind), and how to schedule the time to write, for example, with a toddler. Stay tuned for future posts!

Nano: Eventual update

Despite all odds, I’ve been keeping up with my word count. I’m now at 13K and counting! Though my story is in tragic shape, the actual part about putting the words on paper (normally very hard!) is coming much easier than usual. So I suppose I can’t complain…but I’m going to anyway.

My story itself is a mess. It’s just a collection of shorter stories about a variety of women and their various problems (all could be individual stand-alone stories in the own right, if I wasn’t so set on something else). As of yet, they are not related, so I need to think of a way to connect the stories (you know, a plot or whatever). Ugh. I am so worried that I am going to get to the end of November with 50,000 words, and think, “what the hell was I doing?” Well, too late now.

Today I wrote a little piece that was basically this retelling of a kabuki play that I learned about on NHK’s Kabuki Kool.  (By the way, one of my favorite shows). It’s called the Zen Substitute, I think, and it really resonated with me because it concerns deceptions, broken promises, promiscuity, and all sorts of fun relationship stuff. But mostly, it struck me because the husband never calls his wife by her name, he calls her this not-so-flattering pet name, “the mountain god.” Actually, it sounds kind of flattering, but I think he’s basically saying she is terrifying. And he goes to great lengths to avoid her wrath. It doesn’t stop him from keeping a mistress, but, whatever. I’m not completely sure why that stuck with me, but it did. Something about how female rage can be elevated into a sort of godlike status, almost mythic proportions. I want to make strong female characters in my story, but I also want them to have depth. Through their own shortcomings, through their own missteps and failings, they emerge into their full, dangerous potential. That’s the gist of what I’m going for, at least.  More on mountain gods later, I’m sure!

10,000 words

Hi there! Here’s another quick status update on how NaNoWriMo is going. Today, I hit the 10,000-word benchmark–that’s right, I’m 1/5 of the way done!

I wish I could say that my story is coming together. It’s not, not really. I’ve still no clear plot to speak of. But I do have a host of interesting characters, and these images and ideas keep popping up. I hope that at some point it’ll just come together, or at least I’ll be primed to put all the pieces together and get to the true heart of the story after November is through. So, to those of you still plodding your way through NaNoWriMo in the dark like me, keep at it! It’s not a sign of failure, just a sign that you’ve got more writing to do!

Quick Update

It’s November 4th. It’s been an exceptionally busy week (Halloween + my birthday + my daughter’s birthday), but I’m happy to say that I’m not even *that* behind on my writing.

I’m at 5,000 words!

But I have been getting a little discouraged in my story. As I write, it’s painfully apparent that I have no idea where to story is going (not shocking since I spent hardly any time planning). Even though I knew this would likely be the case when I went into the month, it is a little daunting, sitting down and free writing, no editing, just whatever pops up.  I keep thinking, “you’re going to waste your whole month with this?”  “This is going nowhere.”

It takes a lot of effort to keep telling myself that this is to be expected, that it’s part of the fun, and that it’s maybe even necessary to get at the soft underbelly of what I want to say–the real story. If I spent all November writing meaningless, disorganized drivel, but came away with a solid kernel on which to base a “real” story … that would be worth it. Or, even if that doesn’t happen, if there are no breakthroughs and no kernels, I still wrote something, and maybe it was something that needed to be written, that will pave the way for ideas later down the line. Maybe it’s just something I need to get out before I can move on to something better.

I do, honestly and from the bottom of my heart, feel that it is really important to trust the writing process. You might not get what you want out of it, but you get what you need. Regardless, it is challenging, to come back to the keyboard day after day with some vague hopes and a whole host of self-doubts. There are so many other things I could be doing, things where success is much easier to gauge, things that are instantly gratifying. So many things that don’t seem as likely to make you look like a complete and utter failure.

Anyway, I just wanted to be honest about how quick and easy it is to fall into this mindset. Hopefully, I’m the only one in the world who feels this way, but I doubt it.

Happy NaNoWriMo Eve!

Hello! It’s the last 30-odd minutes of October and the perfect time for a quick blog post. I’ve had this empty blog for a while, and I figured why not start it up as a little diary of this year’s National Novel Writing Month activities?

This year I am starting out with a less traditional route: I’m writing a non-linear, multi-dimensional collection of writings, more or less based on a theme, a feeling, an idea. Eh, it’s confusing to explain, but I always am a bit short on plot and heavy on ideas, so this works for me. Or maybe it won’t, I guess we’ll see.

As if it’s not painfully clear, I haven’t spent too much time planning this out. No outline to speak of, just a list of books to read, research to do, and a few random ideas scribbled in a spiral notebook. Hopefully, I’ll include more on the specifics later.

Here’s to a productive and creative NaNo!

Oh, and if anyone’s out there, please feel free to find me on NaNoWriMo.org. I’m ProphetOfProse.