I feels good. I feels real good. 🙂
Before the baby was born, I had loads of time to write. In fact, thinking about how much time I wasted pains me the way burning $100 bills pains Scrooge McDuck.
Even so, with all that time up the ying-yang, my productivity and efficiency weren’t all that great. In fact, they were terrible! I was getting stuff written, but it was a lot of put it off, put it off, put it off, write it all in one big glut, then sleep. Then I’d spend a few weeks gearing up for the next cycle, which meant putting it off, putting it off, putting it off, et cetera.
Now, in the midst of NaNoWriMo frenzy, pushing 43,000 words so far, I have also written two short stories for my class that I’m fairly happy with. My first drafts are closer to final draft than the first drafts of my previous stories, they’re shorter and more concise, and I wrote them in record time…all because I needed to get back to the novel in a hurry.
On top of that, I’ve probably posted to this blog more than I have any other month, as well as kept up on some other writing projects.
And the wild thing is I’ve been able to do this around the baby, who rightly takes up 99% of my time. Fat Cat plays with her for two hours in the morning, and she gets her Dada time. The rest of the time, she’s with me. I even write in bed while she naps.
It’s sort of mind-boggling, to be honest. I’ve spent months trying to get through a revision of a 70-page novella, and in the course of 24 days, I’ve written over 170 pages. How does that happen?
I guess I’ve been going about this the wrong way all along. I should have had a baby a long time ago. 🙂
This is where I dream in front of the computer these days. My NaNoWriMo novel has taken me to breathtaking places.
But this is the reason I’ve been a bit quiet. Just plugging along. I just broke 36,000 words today. I feel like I was really streaking along there for a bit, but I kind of got gummed up the past few days working out plot tangles. It’s been worth the slow-down though. The antagonist, a very seductive Venetian man, has removed his mask and revealed his true self to me, which has, in turn, changed the whole feeling of the book for me, making it just a shade darker. Me likey.
So I’ve been busy enjoying my characters’ travels. I’m even dreaming of murky green canals and handcarved teahouses. I’m determined to finish this book before the end of the month. I am a woman obsessed!
So off I go!
I love language, and I had a ton of fun looking up American idioms for a short story I wrote today. I found myself giggling in Starbucks with people around me wondering what I had up my sleeve. It’s no wonder that the English language puts non-English speakers into a fog.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- In like Flynn
- A lost ball in the high weeds
- One sandwich short of a picnic
- Bean counter
- Bless your pointy little head
- Left-handed cigarette
- Not enough room to swing a cat
- Go down like a cup of cold sick
- How long is a piece of string?
An unfamiliar one I came across was, “Use your loaf.” I can’t wait to use that one on Fat Cat. He’ll have a gas at that one.
One of the websites I came across had a funky font that was hard on the eyes. “Sick as a dog,” became “Slick as a dog.” “Icing on the cake,” looked like “Itching on the cake.” Silly rabbit.
It gave me a crazy idea that I thought I’d run up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes. Revise a common idiom and see what floats to the top. And send them my way! I’d love to read them!
P.S. NaNoWriMo Update: 30,400 words. I am over the moon! 🙂
Fat Cat thinks it’s not a good idea to write about a place you’re not familiar with. My take on it is you go where the story takes you.
Of course, it’s ideal to experience firsthand a particular locale, but it’s not always possible. Think about folks who write about 20,000 leagues under the sea, or galaxies far, far away.
That’s what research is for.
Half of my NaNoWriMo novel takes place in Venice, Italy, during Carnival time. Although I’ve been to Venice before, I was 12 at the time, so — well, you know. It’s been a while.
Yeah, I have my Italian phrase book and Venice guidebook, along with a couple of maps I purchased from B&N, but obviously, those resources represent a small fraction of the universe of Venice, and only specific tiny facets.
This is where the Internet never ceases to amaze me.
I discovered a wonderful website called SlowTravel that has a huge archive of slow travel trip reports to dozens of different countries. And they’re a wonderful resource, these firsthand travelogues. One particular trip report was over a 100 pages long, beautifully written, and filled with fantastic details regarding food, customs, and language. That’s where I came across a comment that Italian toilets don’t have seats.
Great. Because in one scene, my protagonist suffers a very unfortunate bout of diarrhea and has to scramble to find a public toilet. I remembered the little tidbit about toilets in Italy having no seats, so I did a search to verify that fact.
Guess what? Not only does PoopReport.com have an article regarding Italian toilets, but it covers details like water pressure and what to expect in different regions, accompanied by 17 pictures. Like a toilet trip report. And they have poop reports in various destinations including Ethiopia and Iran, cleverly entitled “Travel Logs.” Who knew?
In my research, I’ve also discovered that Modern day Carnival in Venice begins with the Vollo del’Angelo, or the Flight of the Angel, during which a famous woman “flies” suspended on a cable from the Companile tower in Piazza San Marco to the loggia of Palazzo Ducale (except in 2008, when the rapper Coolio did the honors).
Since my protagonist is there to witness the event in my story, I needed to find a way to describe it realistically. Besides the numerous pictures and videos that can be found, I also found this totally rad 360-degree interactive panaramic picture that can be manipulated to look at the scene from every angle. Amazing. It’s like standing in this frozen moment of time. I can see that the sky is clear, the crowd is literally packed asses to elbows, and everyone’s got a camera held up above their heads. Fantastic detail.
Not only that, but a search of YouTube will uncover videos of almost anything you can imagine. Searching the Flight of the Angel revealed the little detail that they played “Hallelujah” over loudspeakers during the 2009 event.
So although it would be ideal for me to be able to experience all 10 days of Carnival in Venice, including all the wonderful masquerade parties and the wonderful restaurants, it’s not in the cards for me at this time.
However, that doesn’t mean I still can’t write about it, because it’s not so important that I get to go to Venice as it is that my readers get to go to Venice.
Which reminds me, my next novel takes place in mythological Hawaii. Menehune country. I can’t wait to visit.
I started this blog entry on the 5th. This is what I wrote:
“It’s 4:14 a.m. as I type this. I’m 5,283 words into my novel for NaNoWriMo. My husband and baby are in bed, undoubtedly warm and cuddly, under the blankets with the fan on. I’m taking a short break from writing. I’m wondering when the blood is going to start flowing back into my posterior.”
That’s when I think I checked on the baby and got seduced into bed by my slumbering family. I put up a good fight, but in the end, I had to raise the white flag. Babies smell so good. 🙂
Now it’s the 11th — scratch that. It’s the 12th. I’m still on schedule with NaNoWriMo at 19,000+ words, and something’s changed in me, for the better. I’m finding out for myself the truth about time management — it’s bogus. There is no management of time. What utter nonsense — and arrogance on my part! — to think that time can be managed. And I think I’ve known that for a long time. There is only now, and that’s all anybody’s got.
Truth be told, this is the first time in years that I’ve spent every free moment devoted to moving the story forward. Being a new parent has shrunk my “free time” to the size of a peanut compared what I was used to, and yet, I’ve become twice as productive, and only getting better.
Not only am I writing faster, focused on moving the story forward, ignoring my inner editor — that wretched, jealous bitch — but I’m getting rid of the extras in order to trade back more time. Emails, surfing, shopping, excessive research, blog-reading, even unnecessary eating (my favorite)…these things have all fallen by the wayside in favor of the book.
That’s right. Now, instead of thinking, planning, dreaming about writing, poking stories along here and there with my slowpoke stick, I am writing the book. And it’s a book now, no doubt about it. Not an idea, not a concept, not an outline, or even a synopsis. It’s a friggin’ book.
Originally, my intention with this post was to ask people when they write, whether they’re more productive in the morning, afternoon, evening, et cetera, as I, myself, used to be a night owl, but have found I’m more productive if I write in the morning.
But like time management, ultimately all that type of discussion can be pretty pointless and lead to procrastination strategies I’m better off without. I prefer to write every morning from 10:00 to noon at my local Starbucks. That’s my preference, and that’s when the juices seem to run the juiciest. However, it is a rare occurrence these days. So here I am after midnight, squeezing in a blog post before I jump back to the book. Glory be!
Turns out, the best time for me to write is now. It always has been. I just was too busy avoiding it to realize it. So back into the trenches I go.
NaNoWriMo has completely taken up what very limited free time I have. I’m at 13,000 words now, so I’m keeping up, though just barely. But the other writing projects have suffered, including the blog. I’m working on striking a balance, but I admit, I’m excited about the 13,000 words I’ve got. They’re starting to look suspiciously like a real novel, and I like it. But no worries. I haven’t disappeared. And I will post more frequently.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share some pictures I took during our morning walk. The first picture was taken a few days ago, and the second one was taken today. This is a prime example of what California weather can be like. The sun always prevails.
But it was absolutely wonderful walking in the mist. For once, it was quiet. Somehow, the fog muffles everything. It’s like walking around incognito. I love it. The Pups seemed to love it too. She poked her nose out of the stroller and kept breathing in deeply, letting the wet soak her face. By the time we got home, we were both pink-nosed and renewed.
I’m at 3,574 words and counting.
Now to bed. Fat Cat’s back home from his trip to Texas, and he and Pupsters are both curled up in bed, cozy, warm, and snoozy…and that’s where I wants to be too!
Pow! And we’re off! This is the year I go from Participant to Winner! I will be posting my progress as I go along. Feel free to nag, badger, and pester at whim.
Good luck to everyone crazy enough to take on this endeavor. May you arrive at the finish line to the sounds of cheers by crazed fans, tears of happiness of loved ones, and 50,000 words tucked under one arm. Eat lots of carbs, and type really, really fast.