Monthly Archives: November 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 Days 22-29

Wow, I certainly haven’t updated in a while and NaNoWriMo will be wrapping up tomorrow, so it’s beyond time for me to tell you about the last week.

The last I updated, on Day 21, I was about to drive to GA to see my family, along with my friend, Nanci. Our reason for traveling before the holidays was to attend the last milonga at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, a beautiful venue I had danced at once before while visiting my family. It was a wonderful evening, filled with so many great dances with fabulous tangueros and tangueras. That was Day 22.

On Day 23, Mamma Mia! and I went to see Catching Fire, which we both enjoyed quite a lot. I felt like it was a very good adaptation of the book, faithful to the spirit, which is a hard thing to do, even in two and a half hours. I was immediately filled with impatience at the end, sad that I have to wait another year for the next installment. Time to re-read the books, then. We spent the rest of the day creating a Thanksgiving feast, together with Papa Bear and Nanci. We have our special family traditions and it was nice to see Nanci experience them. Even more, it was a reminder that all holidays are just social constructions. It doesn’t really matter if you celebrate Thanksgiving on the official day, or a week early, or a day late. If you can celebrate Thanksgiving any day, you can also celebrate it every day, which I think is a good goal to strive for. That evening, Nanci and I went to two step/line dance with my childhood friend J., at a cowboy dance hall. It was a fun night, but basically meant I was suffering from a distinct lack of sleep when we woke up early on Sunday to drive home.

Day 24 was spent on the road. Once we were back home, I decided to go to the monthly milonga at Galvez, despite the long drive and the lack of sleep over the previous few days. It was nice dancing with my home community after the time away.

Days 25-27 were a flurry of work and getting back from the trip. Day 28 was Thanksgiving proper and, at Nanci’s suggestion, I spent the morning volunteering at the Sheriff’s Dinner at the Convention Center. It was an experience like I’ve never had, spending a holiday serving dozens of people I might never otherwise encounter. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same and I really hope I won’t, because the feeling of being useful and of cherishing people stuck with me long after I left the Convention Center.

Which brings us to today, Day 29, and you may have noticed that I haven’t talked about words or writing yet in this update. This is what I’ve been doing this week: I’ve been reading my novel. I’ve thought for years that the first section was “done,” and it was the last two sections that needed the most work. Yet. Yet, this NaNoWriMo, all of the work I’ve done has been on that first section. As I was reading the later part of the novel, I was flying through it, instead of getting snagged on all the changes I needed to make. There’s still some work to be done, don’t get me wrong. But perhaps not as much as I thought.

I treasure NaNoWriMo for its spirit of reckless creation, for the feeling of community it instills, when it’s so easy to feel alone in these endeavors. I’m not going to “win” this year, but it’s been a valuable experience in dozens of unquantifiable ways. Plus, I’m a writer all year long and my work won’t be done at midnight tomorrow, just as it didn’t start on November 1st.

What about y’all? Are you going to “win”? Have you won in other ways? I’d love to know.

Expect a new bragging on post soon…

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Days 19-21

No words! However, I woke this morning with a new certainty about my main character, a piece of her story. I haven’t dreamed about her and that world for a long time, though I used to all the time. I woke up this morning feeling like I had a key to wrapping up the first section of the book. So, that’s impossible to quantify for a project like NaNoWriMo, but it’s worth everything. And something about NaNoWriMo, the heady, reckless pace, lets me slip back into that frame of mind where anything is possible, once more, for this overwritten book. Anything, like maybe being finished.

I’m going out of town for a few days, to celebrate Thanksgiving early with my family and to dance with tangueros in Atlanta. I probably won’t update again until I’m back, but who knows what I’ll have to say then?

Good luck to all of you writing, whether it’s for NaNoWriMo or not.

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Days 16-18

So, back on Day 15, after I posted my update, I went to a fantastic concert at House of Blues’s Parish Room (which is also where I saw Lissie’s phenomenal show a few years ago). I was looking forward to Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes for *weeks*, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go till the day of the show. While waiting for my friends N. and M. outside, I saw a guy who looked vaguely familiar with a lady who didn’t look familiar at all. We had a pretty typical New Orleans conversation:

Me: “Hey, do you know where I know you from?”

Him: “No, but you sure do look familiar to me, too.”

Me (shrug): “Well, it’ll come up again some day, I’m sure.”

And then it took a turn for the surreal, which is still fairly typical of New Orleans conversations:

Her: “Hey, this guy just gave us two tickets to this show and we can’t stay for it. Do you want these tickets?”

Me: “Oh *hell* yeah!” (snatches tickets).

Still, no clue how I know him. Except now I know them both as concert ticket-bequeathing angels.

The Honorable South opened the show, which was exciting. I found out about them when my friends Adam Gambrel and Jax Baker directed and produced the music video for their song The Beast. Realized while grabbing links just now that more friends worked on it: Jil Szewski and Natalie Johnson. Adam’s just directed another video for their new song Saint Charles Parish.

Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes were everything I’d hope they’d be. N’s friend A. joined us and we totally danced a loopy awesome swing style dance in the midst of the packed crowd. It was probably totally obnoxious to everyone around us, but also totally awesome. It was just one of those nights. I hope you have one or two soon, yourself.

I worked on Day 16 and had another long, fantastic social evening. No words! Ditto with Day 17, except it (Sunday) included a performance of Waiting for Godot at Tulane, attending with a friend with friends in the cast. It was really funny and well-done. Afterwards, we had to sustain ourselves with steak. So, still no words.

So I broke my no-word streak today. After a long day of work, I had an hour-long word war with Sis. At first, I didn’t know what to write. I started reading the next chapter of my book, looking for sections that could use shoring up or extra scenes. And I got inspired. As I was writing the scene, I realized that I may completely discard it, but that it was telling me something about how I felt the story had to go. By the end of the scene, I was fairly sure I’d keep the scene and change the rest of the book. The magic of NaNoWriMo.

I wrote 1,215 words, which brings my total so far this year to 10,538 words. I need more than 3,000 daily in order to hit 50,000 words by the 30th, so it’s increasingly unlikely I’ll “win” this year. But what an educational adventure it’s been. And at least I creeped over the 10K hurdle. In my worst year, I only wrote 6,827 words. So, I’ve already done better than my worst. It’s all gravy after that!

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Days 12-15

Work and tango on Day 12, no words. More work, lots of work, on Day 13. Managed a scant 562 during two word wars with Sis at the end of the night. However, since I’m not just counting words, I’ll say I’m happy with the character insights and sketches I gained.

Day 14 was the third installment of Tango X, which required a bit of setup and errand running and then, lots and lots of dancing. I got to assist during the class beforehand, which was so much fun. Overall, I spent about 7 hours at the venue and was wrecked when I finally got home. Wrote a whole 189 words, though. Count ’em and weep! Here’s a cool picture from Tango X:

Dancers at Tango X

Today, Day 15, I word warred with RedStickRedHead for a half an hour. At first, I was distracted and didn’t know what to write about, so I “wasted” the first few minutes. Then, in about 25 minutes, I cranked out 888 words and a pretty cool scene. I’m up to 9,323 words total so far.

My goal was to “finish” new words on The Winter Circus by today and move on to Tango Face for the rest of the month. I’m not finished with TWC, so I haven’t decided whether I’ll push on or if I’ll write new words for Tango Face in the remaining two weeks. What do y’all think?

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Day 11

Feeling a mostly better today, I ventured out to the coffeeshop, warred with RedStickRedHead and wrote 667 words. The cool thing about working on a project I’ve been writing off and on for ten years during NaNoWriMo is that the spirit of NaNoWriMo gives me permission to not just edit but rewrite a scene that’s been “done” for years. Something that feels locked in stone (though that seems crazy) now has fluidity. So while I’m only managing about 600 words a day, sometimes I’m completely reinventing whole scenes and sections, discovering new emotions and motivations in characters I’ve known for a long time. It’s pretty cool.

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Days 9 and 10

Yesterday sucked – no words. Still sick, but today I was able to really baby my cold and try to get better. Watched movies and read, then went to see 12 Years a Slave. I’m incredibly proud to have worked on this project because I think it’s one of the most important movies that’s been made in a long, long time.

In the last hours of today, Sis and I had three back-to-back 30 minute word wars, which really helped. Today’s my best day so far, word-wise: 1,743, bringing my total to 7,017.

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Day 8

I’m sick! Had to work today. Wrote 424 words, though not technically on the novel, but the memoir instead. Time for bed.

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Day 7

Only 801 words today, but I’ve finished the next chapter in the book, smoothing out the rough edges. So today, the end of the first week of NaNoWriMo 2013, here is how I choose to look at my progress: I have finished two chapters that weren’t quite done yet. I have 87 pages of my novel that satisfy me. Of course, more of the novel is done than just those 87 pages, but I’m progressing through and wrapping up loose ends. I couldn’t be happier.

So, I’ll go ahead and tell you my ambition for this NaNoWriMo. I hope to finish the novel by the 15th and switch to the memoir for the rest of the month. Which means I have about 8 days to finish the novel. We’ll see how that goes. But it’s all a work in progress and you’re winning as long as you’re writing. At least, that’s what I’ve learned after all these years.

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Day 6

Trying to get back into the habit of updating every day! Today, I wrote 1,198 words, all in two emails that I sent myself in moments that I could snatch at work. I really like the scenes that I sketched out and the direction they’re taking the story in, which is to say that the story feels like it’s back on track.

So, my total word count is 4,049 words (maybe about 4-5 hours). I’m still very, very behind (if I continue at this rate, I’ll finish the 50,000 word challenge in January…), but I like my progress, which is ultimately more important this year.

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Days 4 and 5

Yesterday was a good day – but I completely forgot to update. I finished a new chapter that I’ve been realizing is necessary but which had been a rough sketch previously, only a page or so. It all came together yesterday and I wove together a lot of new words with some I’d written at various times. The whole chapter is 1,868, most of them new. Enough that I’m counting all of them. It was about three hours of writing/editing.

Today was a busy day with work. Then, I went over to Octavia Books to see Maurice, Rebecca Snedeker, Eve Abrams and Billy Sothern read from their parts of Unfathomable City. It’s a really cool book. I guess this counts as a brag, in the middle of NaNoWriMo, no less.

I did get write 423 words tonight. It’s about all I can manage at the moment.

Total so far: 2,851 words.

 

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