NaNoWriMo 2017

I was fortunate to recently meet author K.J. Scrim.

A pleasant visit over a a meal I’d been craving.  I probably annoyed her with my incessant questions.  Brain picking experienced folks I admire is a sometime hobby of mine.  I was so pleased to finally meet this woman and learn a few things from her.

In any case, a while back I’d seen on her blog mention of Insecure Writers Support Group. I was intrigued.  This group of writers support and encourage one another through their blogs. The first Wednesday of the month, a question is presented; I appreciate that it isn’t one of the same tired old things I see asked regularly.  I’ve never been part of a Blog Hop before, and this month’s question is relevant to me, so I decided it is time to give it a go.

The Question

Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

What the Heck is NaNoWriMo?’

For those who may not know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, and the goal of participants is to write a complete novel starting November 1st and finishing by the end of the month.  The event began in 1999, and in 2005, National Novel Writing Month became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. NaNoWriMo’s programs now include National Novel Writing Month in November, Camp NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers Program, Come Write In, and the “Now What?” Months.  Only 21 people participated in that first event.  This past year, over 384,000 took the challenge.

The Short Answer

Super easy for me to answer.  No and No.  Not because I’m a complete failure at NaNoWriMo, but because this is my first year giving it a go. And This is Why

I plan on finishing,  making it to my 50,000 words, and I hope to do so before the month is out.  I never take the easy path, November is busy as it is, with Thanksgiving and the holidays just around the corner.  This year, I’ll be dealing with some extra distractions beyond the normal.  This, I hope, will make my victory all the sweeter.

As far as possibility of publication, I have a bit of hope, but think it will be unlikely.  My primary motivation for participating in NaNoWriMo this year is to reinforce the discipline of the habit of writing regularly.  I’m confident I’ll accomplish that.  But I found, as I began getting words down today, the first day, I realized that I lean hard towards planner. Not such a bad thing, except I keep finding skips and gaps and holes in my outline.  I’m forcing myself to just go with it, writing and only occasionally tweaking the planned chapters and scenes.  But I’m pretty certain that the final result will need some serious surgery before being ready for public consumption.

New Approach Here

What fun I’m having, having excised my internal orders to not just write, but write really well from the get-go.  I will be something of new experience holding off all that editing for later on.  Word Sprints are going to be my friends.

The NaNo word counter I stuck on my home page is working!  Now I have the accountability that goes with  half dozen or so of you who stop by my blog viewing my progress. One more little nudge to keep me on track.

Once I get my own post live, figure out the linking for the Blog Hop, and get this out, I’m going to go and see what all those other writers had to say on the matter.  I know I’ll be finding good things.

Thanks to awesome co-hosts for the November 1 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton,MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!

 

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At Least I’ve Got the Page Numbers Done


“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” ~ Stephen Wright


Then…

I suppose I should begin with the times when it was easy.  When I was a student, an intern, a researcher, a scientist, an engineer, those were the easy days.  I wrote textbooks and technical papers, manuals and government reports.  I wrote Really Hard Stuff, except that is wasn’t that hard.  That writing came with the job, and the priority was the data, the process, the procedure, the specifications.  I got published.  My work is still in use, decades later, around the world.  I made a few bucks.

Early on, when I was part of a team, I knew I’d be expected to get our results documented.  Nobody else wanted to do it, after all. Except, here’s thing…  Whatever you’ve got in your head is amazing and profound and life-changing only to yourself until you share it with others.  Not just share, but share in a way that can be understood and put into practice.  I never got why others hated writing.  I loved distilling a whole mess of technical into something organized and understandable.  Useful.charles bukowski quote about writers block

And I Got Paid…

Later, I did more solo projects.  First I’d justify the cost.  Then I’d do the researching and the calculating, the experimenting and the graphing, the justifying and the concluding. I’d get to document the whole messy thing.  I’d distill piles of sticky notes, mounds of data and journals and scribbles into something useful.  And people would read what I wrote and use it and make a difference.  I taught people.  I shared new discoveries.  I developed and documented procedures that saved corporations more money than I’ll earn in a lifetime.  I showed workers how to do dangerous things without killing themselves or anyone else.  I revealed the secrets that engineers needed so they could teach to those whose brains work more traditionally.  I translated government mandated policies into real-world application.  And I enjoyed every last minute of it.

And I got published.   And I got paid.

Then I took a break, set my sights on different priorities.  And now I’m back.

Now…

And I want to make stories.  I’d like to change people’s lives just a teensy bit, one chapter at a time. I hope to create something compelling enough that it provides entertainment and escape and maybe even a life lesson or two. That’d be perfect.  I’d settle for even one of the above.

And I am Stuck.

I see too much expanse of blank whiteness, sitting silently and expectantly, mocking me for my inability to string together a few coherent words.  Oh, I want to silence that accusing blankness with some genius keystrokes or the scritchtey scribing.  The inability to string together a coherent paragraph always takes hold at the worst possible time. No, not when I’m facing a deadline.  The absolute most  inconvenient time to have trouble composing is those occasions, oh so few and far between, when I have uninterrupted time to dedicate solely to my craft.  Most unfair!

Okay, so today I got nothing done on my novel.  But I thumbed my nose at The Block and got a blog post put together. Perhaps this will be the introduction to my  future series on how to overcome The Block.  Ideas a-plenty – I’ve got’em!

Now, let’s see what I can do with them.

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God Be With You Till We Meet Again

God Be With You Till We Meet Again

lyrics and music for hymn god be with you till we meet again

Its no secret that I’ve been a hospice volunteer for over a decade now.  I continue to see my little piece of involvement in end of life care as a privilege and a gift.  I know that when my feelings change, it’ll be time to move on to something else. But I’m not there yet. Even after all these years, sometimes I experience a goosebumps moment.

Recently, I regularly spent time with a bedridden patient and sat with her while her husband got out of the house and ran a few errands.  He’d visit with me a bit, make sure she was settled, assure her he’d be back shortly.  Then he’d take off to take care of the little things that we don’t even think about.  Little things become a logistical issue when you’re a full-item caregiver.  While he was gone, she and I would visit until she tired, then she’d rest.  I’d stay close, within touching range, in her line of sight, and I’d read a book until he returned.  She always woke up when he returned.

One visit, while she was sleeping, he initiated a frank conversation about her death and his own life after she was gone.  He said he’d be okay if she just died in her sleep one night, and that their sons would be around to keep an eye on him.  And he promised me that he’d take care of himself, that he’d be okay.

The next week, while he was out, she spoke to me about how her husband and sons would manage without her. She said she knew they’d be heartbroken and lonely, but that it would be okay anyhow.  She told me she was finally going to see her son again – the one who’d died in a horrific accident decades ago.  She said she’d see me again, but neither of us said “next week”. She drifted off to sleep and I stayed by her side, holding her hand feeling bones and warmth and heartbeat beneath delicate skin .  Her eyes fluttered open as her husband returned from his appointment.  This tiny little bedridden woman flashed me to most brilliant smile then turned her gaze towards him.

We chatted for a bit, then my visit time ended and I prepared to leave. I leaned down over the hospital bed,  she and I shared a gentle hug.  I turned towards her husband, standing right there.  Instead of releasing me from our hug, he pulled me closer, over to her bed. He placed my hand on her shoulder.  He said we were going to sing together, God Be With You Till We Meet Again.  I’m sorry to admit I didn’t know the words.  So I hummed along and listened as she gathered enough breath to get a few of the lyrics out.  He, a man very near his ninth decade, sang with the voice of  youth.  He sang with strength, and sorrow, and utter faith and trust.  We ended the song with tears in our eyes, and we said goodbye.

Then, as he did every single week,  he asked if I’d taken a look at the literature he’d left for me.  Photos and testimonials and pamphlets for a miracle health product which had saved his life.  Yes, it was an amway product pitch, each and every visit. That  slightly awkward multi-level marketing opportunity provided us a transition from this confidential little life story back to the day-t0-day of the world around us.  Plus, you know, it was an amazing opportunity, too.

As I headed  towards my car, I heard the click of the deadbolt, just as I’d heard each and every week since I’d starting seeing these two.  In the car,  I paused before starting the ignition. I reminded myself that goodbyes are part of the deal when spending time with people who are dying.  I took a few breaths, gathered my composure, and mustered up some patience for the inevitable highway traffic I was about to face.  And I drove off.

Later, I contacted the hospice office and asked for an update on the patient’s condition.  I was told that her decline continued but there was no evidence that her passing was imminent.  Of course, we never can tell for certain, but there were no changes that would suggest she would die very soon.

But she knew.  And he knew.  And so did I.

We knew I’d never again enter that overheated room, where she liked the drapes closed  for privacy.  That I wouldn’t  hear about their farm, long since sold,  or sift through and admire photos of children and grandchildren.  I knew that I’d never again gently deflect his requests for me to share marketing materials with all my friends. We knew that we’d not have another opportunity to thank one another for the gift of our time together.

And she passed away, quietly, in her sleep.

Goodbye.

 

 

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Review: Sleeper Protocol

Sleeper Protocol
Sleeper Protocol by Kevin Ikenberry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t usually reach for soldiery books, as I often find all the action is done better on a big screen. Not so here. Kevin Ikenberry created a world I (almost, but only because this world is one scary place) wanted to jump right into. I’d be happy to meet those characters, well, except for that one cold calculating woman, she terrifies me. Pace and tension kept me engaged and eager to keep turning pages. The relationship aspect was possibly a little simpler than real-life, but hey, the book is written by a guy. Took me a chapter or two to get into it, but then I couldn’t put it down.

I’m now awaiting the next one; quite eager to find out where Mally puts herself (possibly in the mind of that woman – would be deliciously cunning). And him and her and the general… oh the possibilities are endless!

Well done, Mr. Ikenberry. Your debut novel has me hooked.

Kevin, please say there will be a next one, and soon!

View all my reviews

Tipping According to Tim

Tipping According to Tim

Stick Figure of Tipping TimUpdate on this this tipping post.

I’ve got tipping down pat at home, but I’ve recently spent some time in Europe.   Friends who live here said you pay what your’e charged, you don’t have to worry about doing math in your head, tax and tip are included.  Easy, right?  Not.  So my friends, some who have traveled far more extensively than me, said of course you have to tip, just only 10%.  Then, when I asked politely, I was told by locals that only Americans tip.  Of course they’ll not say no, but really, it isn’t necessary.  To top it off, I am handed a restaurant tab that say, in bold “service not included”.  So, am I to tip and expect quiet sniggering behind my back?  Or am I to pay the exact amount and risk being cheap?  Or… a possible solution, how about pretending I don’t know the local currency and having the round up to the nearest whatever?  Yes, I have seen some do this.  Creative, I suppose.  Instead of being tightfisted or American (why should that even be an issue?), I’m just not very smart.   Hmm.

 

Husband and I pretty much agree to disagree when it comes to tipping. He’s old school – 15%, a dollar a bag, etc.  In contrast, I’ve worked for tips and tend to be (possibly) overly-generous.  Ask my barista.  It is unlikely we’ll ever be on the same page, but there are worse things a marriage can suffer.

And…here’s Tim to the rescue.  His blog is a romp to read, plus he has stick figures.  And charts.  I love charts.  So, now we all know where we fall on the tipping spectrum. At least based on a relatively small survey of New Yorkers a couple of years back.  Thanks, Tim, for doing the heavy lifting.

Here’s the link: Wait But Why on Tipping