FIFTY

(What? People who do NaNoWriMo are totally allowed a couple weeks of ignoring their blogs after Novemer 30th… *cough*)

1st order of business: This is my fiftieth post on this blog!

50th

2nd order of business: I managed to write fifty thousand words in November and therefore win NaNoWriMo 2014!

Winner-2014-Web-Banner
…Hence the fifty in the title. (Yay double meanings!)

This was my craziest NaNo yet.

And if you know anything about my first NaNo (completely pantsing the story, no idea what I was doing, had to write 8k the last day to finish), you will understand the full meaning of that statement. Allow me to explain.

My brain is tired so I’m going to do a list. Okay? Okay. List it is.

  • My story was not plotted because I had not had time before November 1st hit.
  • Which means I was effectively pantsing my whole NaNo. I’m a planner. This was not going to go well.
  • I was also MLing. NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaisons (that’s me; fancy title, eh?) are volunteers who organize local NaNoWriMo regions, so I was taking care of a regional forum, answering question, and helping organize and attend write-ins and other events. I was also writing regional broadcast messages to keep my Wrimos up to date and encouraged. This all may sound like a walk in the park, but when you throw it on top of trying to write 50,000 words and keep up with regular life… it’s gets a little less walk-in-the-park-y.
  • All of this, while I was getting ready for, and then gone on… a roadtrip. Out of state. For the last two weeks of November.
  • Let’s just say I made enormous use of 15 minute word wars against myself. And basically freaked out all month long because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it to 50k.
  • And I wrote a lot in the car.
  • A lot.

My view for much of the trip. Yay music.

I also wrote extra for a couple days when we were snowed in ish at my uncle’s longer than we thought we’d be.

View out the window. Who knew my uncle lived in Narnia?

Which brings me to my next point.

Snow.

Snow, people. As you may be aware, I live in that very big and very warm state known as Texas. Although it is not actually a desert full of cacti as many non-Texans seem to believe (at least not the part I’m in), snow is a rare occurrence. We get an occasional dusting. Every few years or so. Once, I remember we got two or three inches. Unheard of, I tell you! But on this trip… I saw SO much snow. There was like 8 or 10 inches at my uncle’s. It was so weird/awesome. I discovered, for instance, that the snow crusted on the top so that you sort of had to break through it, and you had to lift your feet high when you walked, because my goodness, that snow was taller than my boot!

(…Okay, so I don’t have all that much experience with multiple inches of snow. I’m from the South. Sue me.)

Moving on. And whoops, I fell out of my list.

Well, the long and short of it is, despite perils obstacles (and icicles. Another thing about traveling north-ish in November: IT’S COLD. ALL THE TIME. I was so happy to get back to my warmish southern sunshine, and 60 degrees felt so WARM in comparison. Normally at 60 I’m shivering in several layers of hoodies and sweaters. But after constant 20s and 30s and even getting to 14 degrees–seriously WHY?–60 felt positively summerish. After getting home, I sat on the steps in the sun and rolled up my sleeves and it felt fabulous. Naturally the weather is laughing at me now and it’s nearly freezing all the time, so I’m back to my normal winter state as an icicle, but the contrast was nice for awhile there…)

Obstacles. I mean icicles. They weren’t really obstacles…

…Where was I? Icicles and obstacles. Right. Despite obstacles of numerous sizes and shapes, I pressed on intrepidly. In the midst of a crazy last-day-of-NaNo all-day writing event, closed in at the library with several other kindred spirits all typing madly away… I made it to the other side, triumphant with 50,000 words of my novel Heartseeker.

NaNo2014dashboard

It needs a ton of editing, and it’s probably only about two-thirds done. But it was a fun crazy journey and I love the story so far and made the goal of NaNo 2014 when I was sure this would be the first time in five NaNos that I would fail. But I made it!

2014NaNoStats

The day I caught up in the middle there was at said uncle’s house in Narnia.

…Of course as soon as I finished NaNo, I promptly collapsed and wanted to do nothing ever again after such a long and stressful month of craziness…

There is that…

But still.

Aaaand this post is not 50,000 words, but seems to be rapidly approaching it, so I’m going to cease and desist regaling you all with my epic adventures, and leave you with a bit of a photo-dump of some pics from my trip. Enjoy.

On the road…

Train

A TRAIN on a bridge next to the one we were crossing. So exciting. Made my day.

Christmas scenes are all apparently from snowy places. And I managed to catch one. So beautiful!

Christmas scenes are all apparently from snowy places. And I managed to catch one. So beautiful!

orphan's song

The only book that traveled with me, which I was reading during NaNo. THAT BOOK. <3<3<3 I must review it but cannot find the words to express how much I love it. (Soon, though.) Also pines. Because PINES. (Pines do not exist very much where I live. So they are exotic and beautiful.

And a baby dinosaur I met. (...Okay, it was at a museum.)

And a baby dinosaur I met. (…Okay, it was at a museum.)

A very blurry picture of inside a cave I visited.

A very blurry picture of inside a cave I visited.

Typing at my uncle's. You can't read the "NaNoWriMo" on my hoodie very well. But I wore that thing nonstop in November and it kept me nice and warm. <3

Typing at my uncle’s. You can’t read the “NaNoWriMo” on my hoodie very well. But I wore that thing nonstop in November and it kept me nice and warm. ❤

This was at a restaurant. I thought of Sherlock and freaked out. Of course I took a picture.

This was at a restaurant. I thought of Sherlock and freaked out. “Lucky cat.” Of course I took a picture.

It should say "Except on Party Business" instead. Doesn't it know it's the month of The Hobbit??

It should say “Except on Party Business” instead. Doesn’t it know it’s the month of The Hobbit??

In My Own Little World

Greetings, earthlings! (And… non-earthlings welcome too I suppose, if there happen to be any around…)

I return from my unannounced blog hiatus! *trumpet fanfare*

Camp NaNo wore me out and I had several life things to catch up on, so my poor bloggy fell silent… But now I’m back, and haven’t done an update on general stuff, so I think I will do that!

Updates!

Here are a few of the things I’ve been doing in the last couple weeks…

Blog: You may notice I’ve been doing a bit of tweaking to the blog… I updated some stuff in the side bar and stuff and updated the about and story pages and so on, so look around if you like. 🙂 I’ve also *ahem* been having a ton of fun making new graphics…

Blog Button

Blog Button

Playing with Pictures: The updated header etc. is due to my latest online obsession: Pixlr. A good friend told me about it some time ago and ever since I’ve been addicted to it. I’ve never done much more than very simple photo things because it’s never been important enough to me to bother buying something like photoshop. But this is free and easy to use and I must say I’ve been enjoying it immensely! Especially making book covers… So much fun!

Camp NaNo: I won! 10 thousand words in a month may sound low to most of y’all prolific writers out there (who I admire greatly from a distance) but I hadn’t done much writing at all this year until now so I was very pleased to make some headway on a some stories. I got nearly a chapter of The Invisible Mask done, and got well on my way into Snowfall at Kedran’s Wood, which I’m super excited about! I think I’ll probably write another scene or two and then take a break to try to figure out the crazy plot that’s all over the place and needs to be sorted before I go much further…

AprilCamp14

April 2014 Camp NaNo stats

Other than that, I’ve been doing miscellaneous other things including:

  • Enjoying the rain and cool weather. And, alternately, roasting in the heat. (Our weather keeps doing weird things…)
  • Eating cream cheese on crackers, my latest food obsession.
  • Going to a few writer meetings, which are always fun.
  • Reorganizing my bookshelves – I do that a lot, don’t I?
  • Discovering the wonders of perusing the story boards of friends on pinterest. All the pretty!
  • Brainstorming fairy tale retelling ideas for stories!
  • Which has also led to no longer being sure what I’ll write for this NaNo. Now I have three different ideas fighting each other in my brain over which one gets to be written…
  • And going out walking and taking pictures:

Thistles

That’s about it.

I have a few blog post ideas simmering in the back of my brain, including a long forgotten batch of Liebster award answers that I need to get to, and some general thoughts on writerly things that various blog posts have gotten me thinking about.

So hopefully you shall hear from me again, and soonish!

In the meantime, I’ll try to get back to doing writerly things. But I’m afraid that when all’s said and done, especially as far as sticking with one story and then getting distracted by a shiny new idea… this is me:

Could Not Catch Them All

(Remember that post I mentioned I’d written? That I said I wouldn’t post unless I ran out of things to post? Well here it is. I’ve yet to write the Writing-Anniversary post but I hope to do it soon… The last time I was about to write it, I ended up starting writing another book instead. Go figure. 😉 Anyways, here, a post.)

***

There was this song I heard once about a juggler in a circus, and I feel like him right now, trying to juggle too many things in my life.

“But as he threw his skittles to the sky and watched them fall
He knew: tonight’s the night he could not catch them – could not catch them all . . .”

In these last few months, I’ve been trying to do way too many things, which consequently means that I really haven’t been getting anything done. I keep piling on more and more obligations, whether real or imagined, to myself and to other people.

What with NaNo prep back in October, NaNo during November, all of December swishing by with Christmas, and January with a new year and new responsibilities, and then February gone in the blink of an eye, I feel like I should be back in September of 2013.

Trying to balance my writing, reading, internet of all shapes and sizes, life, family, friends, everyday things that need to happen, and other projects . . . I don’t know, it’s just gotten overpowering lately. There are, for instance, emails I haven’t replied to since way before NaNo, stories by friends I’ve promised to critique months and months ago and still haven’t, etc.

I really need to sit down and analyze everything I’m doing and should be doing and basically completely reorganize my life. But that’s going to take time too, time that I could be using to catch up on those things, or to take care of the immediate life things that keep coming up.

Sea

I feel like I’m in the middle of a body of water, and the shore is barely visible far away, but I’m paralyzed by the distance. I know I can’t get there so I don’t even try, and as I wait the water rises higher and higher and the shore gets further and further away until it disappears and I’m just . . . stuck.

More song lyrics? I’m reminded of “Gollum’s Song” in the credits of The Two Towers:

“We are lost . . . We can never go home . . .”

(Okay, that’s a bit extreme. Maybe not that one. I do, however, use that as the theme-song for one of the characters I’m writing . . .)

Just rather overwhelmed here. I kind of feel like I need a vacation. From everything.

Buuut first I would want to catch up on all those things so I wouldn’t feel burdened by them . . . And the guilt cycle starts over again. Heehee.

I don’t even know what I’m trying to say, or why I’m spending the time to say it on my blog since it’s doubtful that it’s interesting or edifying. I guess I just want to say that if I vanish sometimes, this would be why, and also as a sort of mass apology to anyone who’s reading this who feels like I’ve abandoned them with not emailing or critiquing things I said I would do.

And I don’t know if anyone has suggestions either. Everyone’s lives are different. And I’m sure my problems are extremely petty in comparison to others — I’m not saying I have it really bad or anything and I really don’t want to complain! I’m having a lovely little life over here and I’ve been extremely blessed. I’m just a little lost. Sorry to dull the day with my little problems, and if you’ve stuck with me this far then . . . Here, have some profound thanks and a hug and a cupcake.

Cupcake

On a more upbeat note: wordcount meters! I found the link from this lovely lady’s blog, and I just love them! They’re going to sit proudly on the side of my blog and urge me on to actual writing. 🙂

Perfectionism and Pictures

There almost wasn’t going to be a post today. Because as you may or may not know by now, I’m a perfectionist.

Sometimes that may be a good thing, but in the case of blogging . . . not so much. See, it means that in order for me to post something, I have to have a solid topic, and write some long semi-essay on it, and find some good pictures, and set up everything just so and make it . . . perfect.

And I was thinking that, well, if I keep doing that, I’ll never keep up with this blog. It worked early on because I planned several posts ahead when I started the blog, but I don’t always have that kind of time these days. There’s only so many perfectionist-friendly post ideas, and there’s only so much time in the world with which to write blog posts — and in the case of blog followers, read them. So I need to stop writing such long things (a bad habit of mine, I’m afraid), and stop needing everything to be perfect.

I want this blog to be fun and casual, but whenever I try that, my inner perfectionist takes over and has to be all eloquent and turn everything into a project . . . and whenever my perfectionist self decides that something is a project, it puts it off indefinitely because it knows that it will be an enormous task to do that project perfectly. It thinks that something not done perfectly is something not worth doing. *rolls eyes at perfectionist-self* Yes, it’s a problem, and one that I need to deal with sometime or another . . . as long as I can pretend that that won’t be a project. 😉

As I was thinking today about all of this and the fact that I didn’t have a topic to post about, I suddenly thought —

“Wait a minute, that’s a topic!”

My perfectionist-self raised a cynical eyebrow and went, “Really?” It wasn’t so sure.

And I said, “Emphatically yes.”

And I wrote the post that you have just read most of, but not all of because it isn’t over yet.

(And no, I do not actually have conversations with my inner-perfectionist, or at least not in so many words, but in addition to being a perfectionist I’m also a writer, and writers like to expand on things and make them dramatic, and can turn practically anything into a story. Though not necessarily a good one. This being a case in point.)

Anyways, the actual point of all this is that I’m going to try to write shorter, funner, less topic-heavy posts and be less of a perfectionist when it comes to blogging. Key word: Try. So . . . kinda. Sorta. Almost. Maybe. Ish. At least, I won’t do those all the time. I need to remember that it really doesn’t take long to write up a post, and if it’s taking too long I’m probably being too much of a perfectionist or making it too enormous.

Now that I’ve managed to write an entire post about nothing in particular (take that, pefectionist-self! Ha!) I sort of feel like I should give some slight substance to this . . .

When in doubt: pictures! It snowed this week, which is basically unheard of where I live — at least, it’s been a couple of years — so I was making the most of it. Even a light dusting is cause for cheers and a frolic and obsessive photography.

So here, have some Texas snow pictures.

snow_cactus_2014

Cactus in the Snow (good one, right?)

snow_cardinals_2014

Cardinals must be so smug… they’re adorable and they know that we know it

snow_paw_prints_2014

Someone went by here…

snow_seahorse_2014

Poor Little Seahorse: “Why didn’t I stay in the sea where it was warmer…?”

snow_cedar_2014

Christmasy pic! If only the snow had come a month earlier…

Lost in a NaNoWriMo Mist

And creeping up, November came
We readied, all, our hands and wrists
Sat down before that pale white screen
Lost in a Nanowrimo mist

(A scrap of poetry I wrote the night before my first NaNo. Inspired by this song, with the same melody. Give it a listen — it’s beautiful and haunting.)

NanoPic
It’s NaNo, as you may have noticed . . . This means my brain is too busy coming up with words for a story to be able to think about words for a blog post. My prose is being used up at a rapid pace and I must conserve it. So you get a collection of pictures, poetry, and music links instead.

NanoMascot
My little NaNo mascot (borrowed from my brother) with my books on writing.

Day5

Here’s my current Stats Graph. Which I spelled Graff the first time. Yes. I re-read and watched Ender’s Game recently and have been obsessively listening to this part of the soundtrack while writing — give it a listen too, it’s epic.

GriffinSketch
Everyone needs some inspiration. I haven’t gotten to the griffins in my story yet but this was something I doodled to inspire me when I get there. (and encourage me to keep writing so I can get there!)

2013NanoBoard

My Nano Toshiba Board (which is a cork-board type thing that came with my precious). From it I can reach most everything I need for my story, including shortcuts to the folder with all the plotting and writing, and music to keep me going, and inspirational pictures etc. Plus there’s the Doctor telling me I should be writing. So I guess I’d better.

So here ends my post.

If you’re NaNoing: good luck to you and don’t give up — you can do it!!!

If you’re not NaNoing: good luck in whatever else you’re doing, you wonderful sane person you, and I hope you’ll not get too sick of hearing about everybody’s month of noveling. 😉