NaNoWriMo 2019: Done

There were moments I wasn’t certain it would happen. After being sick three days, and having a day or two of subpar numbers, I knew it was going to be close, and I certainly didn’t think I’d finish any sooner than today.

As it turned out, I finished yesterday – at least with the part of the writing governed by “write 50,000 words in November.” The story itself is still unfolding on the page, and I’d estimate there’s at least another 10-20k words before this draft is done.

What carried me to this finish line yesterday was some Herculean writing and a persistent but awesome kid.

I started the day yesterday knowing I’d have to write 2,000 words yesterday and today to finish in time. And so, yesterday morning, I sat down and wrote and wrote, and then wrote some more, until I hat that 2k mark. With a big sigh of relief, I declared myself done for the day.

And then my youngest, who I guess isn’t so young now at 13, reminded me that I had promised to go to a coffee shop with them and write while they worked on some sketches. The promise had been made months before I even considered doing NaNo, but somehow kept getting pushed off. Which meant I knew better than to put it off any longer.

So, grabbing my laptop and kindle (just in case), we packed up, ran an errand, and then drove over to Papacinno’s, not too far from the house. Fresh coffee in hand, classic coffee shop ambiance in place, we sat down and I let the demon’s loose again. And boy, were they wild and rampant! Even with breaks for finger cramps and chit-chat, by the time I left I had done it. I had written the other half of the 4k needed to close the gap and call NaNo done.

That doesn’t mean I’ve taken a break from writing, though. I’ve already sat down today and jotted down the next 500 words in the story. My new goal is to write 500-750 words a day (500 is my base goal, 750 is my ideal, but my base is fine too). It’s not an incredible lightning pace, I know, but I was inspired by this article on Tobias Buckell’s blog. Looking over my own graphs of words produced, I see a definite zig zag in productivity, with my biggest dips usually following my greater peaks this month. We’ll see how it goes.

What’s the future of this NaNo piece, currently titled just Titan? Well, we’ll see where that goes and how it ends.

Thanksgiving 2019

This is an American centric post. Today is our Thanksgiving, a curious holiday in itself. Apologies to my non American readers ahead of time.

This year is an odd Thanksgiving for me. It is the first year I will be celebrating without my parents. Although we’ve lived apart for decades, and separate coasts for nearly five years, Thanksgiving is one of those occasions you always call your loved ones. Like Christmas, but with more food and less presents.

I have tons of great memories of Thanksgiving growing up. If Halloween is the gateway to the holiday season, Thanksgiving has always been the rising action of the second act. A feast day in itself, it signifies the start of the stretch of holiday events and activities that hallmark the season.

Oddly enough, though, it was only this year I learned the historical relationship my mother’s family had to the day we celebrate as Thanksgiving.

I imagine it’s a common thing to do when you lose older generations. You want to record it somehow, put a context to the tragedy. And so it was that in the months following the loss of my parents, I was updating a genealogy site.

This wasn’t my first foray into family history, but I’d always focused on trying to learn more about my own surname. A mystery, I might add, that continues for now (my great grandfather was an orphan). This was the first time I looked at my Mom’s side of the family.

And to my surprise, thre was a lot there. Because while my maternal grandfather may have been uninterested (a self proclaimed black sheep), the information was there. Generation after generation, going back centuries, documented and verified. And right there near the middle, a note that shocked me.

My grandfather’s family came to America on the Fortune, the second ship sent to Plymouth colony. Where a young member of my family tree grew up in Plymouth, worked for the city (oh, the irony of civil servitude going that far back), and marrying a woman that came over on the first Mayflower. Their children had children, as such things happen, and here I am.

The Mayflower. The Fortune. Boats that as kids we all talked about in November while wearing construction paper hats.

Don’t get me wrong, I know now, as an adult in an age where we have removed the blinders, that all was not roses and communal sing alongs. But as someone that had believed for the first forty years of their life that all of their predecessors had come to America during the immigration flood of the early twentieth century, it has been a shock. I also recognize that given the number of intervening generations, while interesting, it really is just a footnote of interest.

Still, I wish I had looked before. As the descendant of armchair historians and avid readers, I think learning about this might have sparked some interesting discussions. I think my Mom would have been fascinated to learn about her family. Instead, it will be a sidenotetoday while we celebrate all that we are thankful for, and remember all that we have lost.

NaNoWriMo: Week Four

Well, tomorrow we kick off the fourth and final week of NaNoWriMo. By the end of week two, I was flying high. My story was flowing, the words were tamed, I was the captain of my destiny. I had what I’ve coined my “Focus” – that combination of organization, train of thought, and action that come together when things are going well.

Then we had week three. I can literally pinpoint the time – it was just after a 3pm meeting on Tuesday last week, at roughly 3:30, that the plague erupted in my head. Maybe it was because of Kumoricon the weekend before (and why I missed a blog post, eek), and this was con crud. Or maybe it was just a bad head cold and would have happened regardless. Either way, 3:30 Tuesday I went from “hey!” to a sickly jerk.

Needless to say, for three days, I didn’t write. I whined a lot. There was a fog in my brain. Much tissue was used.

Late Thursday I started feeling better, and by Friday all I had left were the sniffles. At first, I felt daunted. I was behind by three days. How could I catch up? And then I realized, I could, because I had always baked extra time into my word goals. I just hadn’t planned on that time being used like this.

To “achieve” the 50k of NaNoWriMo, you need to write at least 1,666 words a day for 30 days. But I had been tracking closer to 2,000 words a day. I actually had a little overhead. I was still behind after three days, but I wasn’t egregiously behind. So starting Friday, I wrote.

7,377 words later, I am caught up with the average NaNo participant. I passed the 40k mark today, and have no reason to believe that I won’t finish, maybe even a little early. A little. Like, minutes.

And what happens after NaNo? Because the novel will be at 50k, but it won’t be “done.” Oh, no. I estimate this will be about the 70k mark based on how much is left to say/write, and where I am in the plot currently. So the writing will continue. What will change is the pacing (a little). I said at the start that the pace of NaNo was unmaintainable – as soon as I hit that 50k, I will be dialing it down to a 750 words a day goal (the three page goal). I may go over, I may adjust that number over time, but that’s what I’d like to aim for. Enough writing to keep the juices flowing without the pressure to produce words at any cost.

And that’s where I am at the start of week four! See you on the other side of the 50k marker.