#NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (Day 3, 2015)

The weather was agnostic.  There was no commitment to any particular sort of forecast, not even short term, except for the leaves.  Those things couldn’t hold water.  The trees were showing their colors.  Ditches on both sides of the road spilled over with their fallen vestiges, and the skies made their cards known with clouds, as still as ever, dark but not foreboding, standing sentry duty.  No rain, bright sky, but no sun to be found.  Macon knew winter was close, but the air was still polite and her hands could stand to be without gloves.  She drove the roads at dusk.

 
She left the radio off and focused on the taillights fifty yards ahead.  “Focus on the taillights of the car in front of you and you won’t have to worry about staying in the center of the road; you just will.”  She remembered the lessons her foster dad tried to teach her.  She’d heard horrible stories about foster families over the years, but hers was one of salvation.  Her only regret was that she hadn’t been placed with them sooner.

 
A trio of Lodgepole pine trees presented themselves from the other side of the bend in the road up ahead.  Two were upright while the third leaned in as if preparing to tell a secret to the others.  She rounded the corner and caught a sip of the Hood Canal before more pines crowded in to block her view.  Another opening and she glimpsed one of the Olympic peaks, “The Brothers,” she recalled, before the sign ahead offered “Fresh Steak Gyros.”  She slowed and pulled in, parking where the gas pumps had been many years ago.


PrintTune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

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L. Frank Baum, 1899

Writing & Blogging: Lessons Learned in NaNoWriMo2014

If you are a writer, an author, a novelist, or interested at all in the literary world, you know that November marked the popular National Novel Writing Month, or as it is more affectionately (or vehemently) known – NaNoWriMo.  This was my third year participating in the event where writers from all over the world commit to a monthly word count goal of fifty thousand words.  This was the first time I won; I wrote over 50K words and am still going.  But more importantly, I learn a few things from the experience.

1. Keeping a daily writing habit is essential. 

Doesn’t matter if the material is not my best, or even crappy.  Putting my body and mind in the habit of writing something, anything, everyday knocks the idea of writer’s block off its rocker a little.  It means I don’t worry about quality so much as quantity for this exercise.  If you wrap that whole philosophy up into a little stocking stuffer – it means you tend to be looser, more limber, and can step into the ring looking like a buff, energetic writing monster.  It means quality will come easier.

2. Setting a daily minimum keeps me honest. 

Otherwise, I can subscribe to the idea of daily writing and then cheat out a sentence or two and call it a day.  Maybe you don’t have this problem.  I do.  So even if I set a low 500 word count minimum, I can do the math on how much content that gets me in a year and be happy that I’m on board.  With the day job, I think 500 – 1K is reasonable depending on your genre.  I intend on upping that to 3K – 4K when I go full bathrobe writer in 45 days.

3. First draft writing is important for building confidence.

Before my first 50K on one project, I always wrote as if doing a term paper the night before its due.  I wrote, edited, rewrote, wrote some more, polished that, etc.  By the time I got to the ending, I had lovely content leading up to it and the “grand finale” of finishing and being done at the same time was wonderful.  But facing such a large project, I had trouble.  My first two NaNo years were hell because I couldn’t let go and just type.  I made it to about 3K the first time, and only 8K the second.  I knew that I needed to prove to myself that I could tackle a project as large as a novel before resigning and becoming (for all intents and purposes) unemployed.

So this time (and as many of my blog posts display for all to see) I just threw caution to the wind and made myself ignore aspects I wanted to go back and change after a few paragraphs.  It required discipline to stay committed to that plan.  It also required that I let go of the control I relish in the creative process for the time being and just vomit the ideas and ramblings that came to me onto the page.  The experience was a watershed moment in my writing practice and I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried it to give it a go.

I intend to finish the content of the book this way (probably another 50 – 100K) and then revise for the next two months.  Then I will follow the seasoned advice of many successful and published writers and toss the whole thing in a drawer for a few months.  In June or July (right around the time of Camp NaNoWriMo) I will pull it out and begin learning how to edit and develop a third and fourth draft.  Who knows?  Maybe it will be ready for an agent shortly after that.

4. Truth – “Find a niche for your blog and stick to it.” 

In posting my blog since I moved to Idaho for work in 2013, I’ve watched how interested readers/followers are in what I post.  My original idea was to have a daily snippet of writing, just a morsel, that readers could enjoy in less than a couple of minutes with their coffee. I discovered that I don’t do that well.  (Someone who does that really well is – http://myothervoices.wordpress.com/ although the content is not daily.)   I tried serials, but learned writing them “on-the-spot” daily is embarrassing since I didn’t edit them much prior to posting and later wanted to change the storyline or bury my head from all the typos.

I hadn’t learned that lesson until NaNoWriMo2014.  I posted unedited tidbits from my daily word count climb for all to laugh at and/or find amusing.  But since I slid around in the plot arc so frequently, and since there was no character development provided for a backdrop, it was hard to follow any story or stay hooked.  This was the valuable criticism from my lovely beta-reader and wife.  I agree.

Overarching all of this was the countdown theme.  My wife and I have set a goal for my return home once bills are paid and finances in tune for losing my income.  I thought sharing the experience of the countdown would interest some because, who doesn’t dream of quitting their job and writing full-time?!  I learned that to leverage that, I needed much more focus and time than I could provide to the blog.

My point?  The most popular articles on my blog since starting it are the ones dealing with the writing practice, habit, journey, and frustrations.  I love to write about those things almost as much as I like creating fiction.  So I believe I have found my niche.  Expect blog modifications to follow.

Asrai Blessing: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (The End)

The pilgrims gathered on the bow of the ship as instructed by Larien.  Their traveling things, now much lighter, had been hoisted above their heads to the awaiting dirigible airship above.  Now, they each took turns saying their goodbyes to the Asrai.  To R’Zen and Tboi, Amras said, “Courage and wisdom your honor brings.  I embrace you for certain of times.”  Tboi blushed a pinkish color and R’Zen bowed deeply at the pair.

Larian touched Hoss’s face and cradled it there with a rippling kind of sadness in her face, “So acquainted with loss your strength.”  She turned to Ingrid and said, “A heart must never win where knowledge can sacrifice.”  Ingrid made no sign that she understood, but nodded and hugged the brother and sister.

Each of them taking one of Miriam’s hands, they placed a kiss on both and said, “Stories to tell.  Stories to tell.”  She smiled and shivered, thanking them for their blessing.

Terra felt ticklish again as Larien and Amras both gave her a parting hug.  “Take your care, world woman,” Larien still used the mysterious title, “must needs to find the cure.”  She looked to Ingrid and Miriam for help, but neither had any answers to offer and met her glance only with a shrug or raising of the eyebrows.


This is the last quick read of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.  NaNo conquered.  Next move – additions and revision number one.

 

 

 

Lizard vs Horse: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (29)

Terra was excited.  It was one thing to read about things, even to watch vids on them, but in a short time she was going to actually see, with her own eyes, the beaches of Kepler-Z.  R’Zen, reading her excitement from behind and aching to give his much atrophied legs a good exercise, jogged to her side.  Her horse, startled by the appearance of a fully grown matterhorn gentry suddenly appearing at its side, crow hopped and then calmed back to its original trot.

Participant-2014-Square-Button“N’Sa, apologetic for startling dumb animal,”  he smiled his cantankerous smirk and Terra laughed, not missing his intended irony.  “Beach not far,” he trilled, “if Ms. Terra wish to race.”  He was stripping his leggings and tying them around his neck.  Terra smiled, even giggled a little, then played a game she remembered playing with Ingrid what seemed like so very long ago.

 


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (28)

Tboi hadn’t spoken or paid much attention to Terra after their disagreement.  Now she reflected upon how nice it felt to have been stuck in the same awkward plight with him.  She smiled her recognition of this when she caught his eyes.  His face, a pleasant mix of relief and contentment, now shifted to one of hurt and disdain.  He looked away and she was bruised by his disgust.

 

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

The Speaking Tree: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (27)

NEEDANAME was a seventh generation folk-teller.  His stories, when he told them, made young and old sit still and stay quiet.  In the early mornings, when most were stretching their muscles, scratching their itches, and hustling to and fro, there was one story he especially liked to tell.  He called it, “The Speaking Tree.”

“When the moon races slower and the Cimarron week is nearly at an end,” he would say, his raspy voice so quiet you had to stop moving in order to hear over the hustle, “there is a MOGUL that lives in a particular tree.”  He would would stand tall and stretch his arms and hands, then freeze, to imitate a tree.  “If you find this tree, you may still never know of this MOGUL, because for one hundred twenty-one days, it never makes a sound.  But if you find it, or happen to be sitting beneath its dwelling tree, you will hear a song and a word or two, and never will you ever be the same again.”

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (26)

 

“Was there a question somewhere, Bishop?” The Maiden’s voice, less mundane than before and with a bite of disgust, sent ice water through Terra’s veins.

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Tboi: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (25)

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Tboi.  She liked the sound of his name when she said it.  He’d said her name too.  His words leading up to it had been angry, but not when he said her name.  She closed her eyes, could still hear it, “That’s why we don’t touch the ground, Terra.”  She shortened it.  “That’s why, Terra.”  His voice had softened at her name, had been gentle.  He’d asked her what she was thinking.  She wondered, in the silence that divided them after angry words subsided, what was he thinking.


 

Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

Stagecoach Shootout Prelude: NaNoWriMo BotD (24)

“Right.  Anyway, Nog knows the plans, both this one an’ the contingency plan.  If they come at us this way, he knows t’ scuttle the coach.”  He could tell this confused both Terra and Tboi.  “He’ll derail us, so you’ll have t’ make sure yer strapped in on my signal.  Otherwise, Tboi here will be too busy cleaning yer bloody carcasses off an’ trying to heal ya’ to figure out how t’ aim a weapon.”

Ingrid drummed her fingers on the coach wall in irritation and he took the hint, but before he could continue, Terra asked, “If we derail, how will we get away or get to the Depot?”

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“No get away,” hummed R’Zen.  “Must kill all or else.”

 


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

The Matterhorn Gentry – R’Zen: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (23)

“R’Zen,” said Miriam, “Be nice.  She is the product of Ancestrian teaching, but you will find her a very brave and gifted individual.  Give her a chance.” Terra squirmed and continued to weigh her options.

“N’sa,” he hissed with a soft humming, “what difference between Ancestrian and individual?”

Miriam opened her mouth to speak, but Terra beat her to it.  “Individuals can think what they want,” she stuttered as she dropped onto the bench, and purposely scooted as close as his large frame would allow comfortably.  Her defiant look hadn’t quite made it to his eyes yet; she remembered the flicker of orange that surprised her the first time she’d caught a glimpse of his reptilian face upon entering the coach.

A deep rumble churned from his chest and rolled out as a slow laugh that sounded to Terra like he was having a coughing fit while humming.  “Your heart beats pound at me with rapid pace, N’sa.  When finally you meet me, I count you brave as Miriam says.  But you make laughs – so silly.”  His tongue slithered outside the rounded tip of his mouth/nose as he said these last two words, it curled casually upward and then withdrew back into his mouth.  Terra noticed the scales at the edges of his mouth pull upwards as his jaw muscles beneath formed what looked like a smirk.

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

Time: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (22)

Baker’s Dozen took an entire day to traverse and although the light of Kepler, the red dwarf sun, still shone on this last of the solar week.  All three seated in this compartment knew the time of day.  Tboi knew, just as all Lorgose knew, because of their uncanny connection to the planet and its stages.  R’Zen knew by virtue of his third eye, his parietal eye, a biological feature of his alien kind, detecting even the slightest differences in light – and he was able to quickly regulate this sensitivity to the lumen cycles of any world he visited.  Bishop Patel knew because of the antique pocket watch he carried.  “It’s got 21 jewels,” he bragged whenever anyone asked him to show it off.  He wound it daily – just three twists – and calibrated it regularly with the pawns of the Planetary Time Counsel or with his friends like R’Zen or Tboi.

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

Well of Amundsen: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (21)

They could see for only a hundred yards down and then it was as if the well was a black hole that swallowed light and atoms into a swirl of nothingness.

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History Long Forgotten: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (20)

. . . So it was that they lived in peace and a wonderful new harmony was formed in the marriage between the two dweller peoples.  They became one people, the Lorgose.  Traditions mingled and many stories of the two intertwined and became one.  They often asked me to make known these stories in original form, but time and again I declined.  Participant-2014-Square-ButtonI judged it a blessing and refused to curse these, my kindred.  Still they came, time and again, to ask for a teaching on this matter.  On this sol, I am the only remaining constant who can sort them.  The Maker empowered me for the purpose I’m given.  I watch and I judge, and so my blessing and my curse is this:  I remember everything.


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

Baker’s Dozen: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (19)

She stood on a flat and spacious plain.  Remnants of brush and other dead looking flora interrupted the smooth and glistening ground here and there.  She knew this was the rolling desert she had learned about when Maiden Hassium had pushed her to stop lingering on the pictures in her month of geography.  She could see nothing moving as far as her sight covered of the plain.  As for “rolling” she didn’t understand why it was named this way.  The area reminded her of a bowl.  Except for the opening far in the distance where the coach was pointed, they appeared to be surrounded by ridges of rock and metal on all sides.  The solar rays were brighter where they reflected off some of the peaks.

“You ever been outta’ Shackleton?” Patel asked from behind her.Participant-2014-Square-Button

“No, Bishop,” she replied, without a second thought to her learned propriety.

He didn’t correct her, wanting to stay on the subject.  “This part o’ the desert is called, ‘Baker’s Dozen,’ ‘cause there’s thirteen peaks around the edges of the bowl.”  He watched her count and then reached into his pocket.


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

Coach through Baker’s Dozen: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (18)

The air was moving.  The orange solar glare was reaching over some kind of ledge a few feet from her face and behind it, pink-orange hues were drawing swirly lines across a cornucopia of purple shades, interspersed with wisps of cotton clouds.  Participant-2014-Square-ButtonShe squirmed until she was sitting up.  They were on some kind of old fashioned coach, its polymer mold rounded at the corners of the compartment she was in, with no doors to be seen.  Terra yawned and tried to stretch.


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.