Saturday, November 01, 2014

just say naNOwrimo


Yep, it's that time of year again. Leaves are damp, dying bits of organic compost, we're all diabetic from Halloween, and we're putting our compensatory ass-sitting gadgets in place for a month of marathon writing.

Except, I'm not.

I've done the NaNo. I think, for generative purposes, it's terrific, but at my age, the cons outweigh the pros. The tiny repetitive-motion injuries to obscure, but necessary, muscles and fascia. The headaches. The bleary vision. For me, to write 50K words in a month is physically dangerous. It just is. My eyes, my head, my shoulders.

Better for me is a modified 800 words/five days a week plan. With yoga, walks, and non-screen tasks built in. That's 16K words, folks. Not even a novella. But, it can be just as generous and generative to the idea behind NaNoWriMo, which is, wrapping your mind around a sustainable project, and falling in love with it - seeing it through the long game. Because writing a novel is a long game.

There's the first draft, the second draft, the sixth draft. There's the getting readers excited about it draft. The being able to boil down the idea to a two-sentence conceit draft.

That's why, I'm proposing something different here on this blog post. A sustainable alternative to the life-fast that happens when you're pumping out the pages. Here's how it works:

Choose one project. Doesn't have to be a first draft, either. Commit to visiting it five days a week. Set either a word count or a minute count (e.g. 1K or 90 minutes), and write your last sentence of the day, each day, in the comments section below.

Who's in?

81 comments:

  1. I'm going to kick this off with a sample - (my last sentence of yesterday).
    I've chosen my next Empress Chronicles book as my WIP. (My working title is The Keepsake). My starting wordcount is 22,503. Okay, here's the sentence:

    For now, I was suspended in a place of purgatory, my future as tenuous as the garment that had attempted to lace me tight.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've had a NaNo tab open all day. No plans, no expectations, just considering. Your plan sounds so much saner. I only have a glimmer of an idea, but I may try this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds great! I'm working on another rewrite of my WIP Eating Mud Pie. Starting wordcount (after deletions) is 51,522. Here's the last sentence of the day:

    I lived my life in a perpetual state of good enough, which to the untrained eye might not have seemed like much, but in reality was a feat as daring as scaling Everest.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm in, though with a terribly boring sentence du jour:

    Alone, shivering, we watched the fog gather and settle between the buildings of the city below.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You guys, these are terrific! I love these little golden nuggets! Thanks for being part of this!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Here's today ending sentence, after tapping away for 950 or so words :

    The image of the girl, Alika, and her bird tattoo, is lingering like some interior fly: pesky, loud, intermittent.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Today's sentence, after about 1200 words:

    She sits, settles the Rollei in her lap and peers down through the viewfinder to watch the seagulls strut and connive for their dinner, their flappings reversed so that as a bird approaches from the right-hand side of her peripheral vision, it appears in the tiny screen from stage left.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Slow day - did a lot of research. Only about 750 words.

    He burrows more deeply, slinking down, so now I can only see the very top of his scalp.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Another exciting one:

    I peered at the photograph.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the alliteration. Even in extreme brevity, you're poetic!

      Delete
  10. And just as I hear the clink of the keepsake sliding to the floor, Cory shouts, “Holy shit!”

    ReplyDelete
  11. SO excited for this exercise! My WIP is an untitled memoir, I've been naming each chunk as they come out. This is my last sentence from yesterday from the 'Todd' segment:

    Listened to Mom's stories of bathing skeletons with skin, and feeding tubes and vomit and night sweats and dementia and shit as a body ate itself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Celeste! So good to see you here. Chunk away!

      Delete
  12. I shook my head and slammed the journal shut as if the new ink on the page were a serpent set upon sinking its fangs into my flesh, “I swear it!”

    ReplyDelete
  13. I wrote a fight scene today and left it at:

    "Fuck you."

    This is epic literature.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Must rake brools, as will be working on at least three different books this month. And brools were made to be roken.

    Today, a 12 hour day — hey, I had to finish the thing — a heap of editing and around 1700 new words to finish a "book" at 36,000 words. Glad that's over.

    ‘Keep control of it Preacher,’ he said. ‘If you let this one start talkin’ we’ll all still be here at midnight.’

    ReplyDelete
  15. Shitty day for writing---shitty day all around, as a matter of fact. I was lucky to get 600 words.

    He’d left his shoes at the door, and I could see a small hole in his sock where a circle of pale skin peeked through.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that sentence! But sorry for your shitty day...

      Delete
  16. Pretty good traction today. Finally 1K words and pushed over the 25K mark.

    “She looks ill, poor thing. Hungry, and perhaps ravaged by lice.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And bedbugs! Give that wretch some bedbugs, S.

      Love,
      Backseat Writer

      Delete
  17. Do writers get a day off? I have not written, hence this, now, so I can sleep.

    I had worn my typing fingers to dustwritten bone, a whole damn novel flying from my feebledrowned mind into an ittybit-ebook in a week. The next day, with no words written, I turned ugly as a fresh white-painted room, deserving to be itty-bitchslapped with the pointy end of a typewriter, in uncomfortable places, to death.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How very Catholic! Three Hail Marys and an hour in the chair. That should make things right with the world, eh?

      Delete
  18. Today was a 500 word day, and I felt like a complete slacker. Spent 2 hours on a river walk with my dog and didn't even think about my book.

    Afterwards, I went to a cafe, hoping to get more stimulation from the other-than-home setting, and that's where I pushed out the words. It isn't lost on me that today was "start a new chapter" day, and since I interrupted the last chapter in mid-scene, I was foolishly optimistic - expecting to just take off like a rocket. Alas, not the case. Everything felt contrived and sticky.

    But: it is what it is. So, here is my contrived and sticky last sentence of the day - and it's fitting that it's only one word. (I'm diving into a Scrivener tutorial this evening, and totally dreading it, but I know it's exactly what I need to keep things straight. Series are hard!):

    “Totally.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Managed about a thousand words today. Thank god for my crappy notebook and the fact that I had it with me at Oil Can Henry's. I wrote a page and a half while they changed my transmission fluid.

      Of course the pages are un-fucking-usable, but you can't have it all:

      Early on I had searched for evidence of the dolls but could find nothing but aquarium-related debris: sheets of broken glass, old bits of pump machinery and shards of plastic pipe.

      Delete
  19. Editing day today, four hours for someone else's book, but I couldn't share any of that.
    So I tweaked some sentences of my own third draft, just because coming here has become a thing now, and I had to have something, so I did half an hour I otherwise wouldn't have. Thanks!

    I head to the river as quick as I can and I throw myself in and I sink.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a poetic sentence. Glad you're hooked!

      Delete
  20. Another 500 word day - and today's writing was of the up-hill pushing a boulder variety. One of those situations where I have to remind the readers who read book 1 of a particular plot point, while initiating and intriguing new readers. Ugh.

    Anyway:
    The cooling damp mist and Cory’s warm body create its own micro-climate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love this.

      I was losing my way and had to go back to outlining. Grand total of 221 words today. I'm on fire:

      I began to tremble.

      Delete
    2. Tremble is the word, baby! Losing your way is one of the most important parts of this gig, don't you think?

      xo

      Delete
    3. My last one didn't post for some reason, so, obsessive-compulsively, I cannot move on until I try it again. (Also, why do I think of Averil every time I look at this sentence?)

      I was about to whip my camera out of my bag and film him, but then I felt inadequate about the size of my camera compared to his — that was when I remembered that it’s not how big your camera is but the way you use it.

      Delete
    4. Averil written all over it.

      Delete
    5. As a camera enthusiast, I have to say that, unfortunately, it IS the size.

      Delete
  21. I think I'm finished for the day, though maybe later I'll get a second wind. Next-to-last sentence:

    He had one of those bellies that appears to be impenetrable, a shield of fat from breastbone to hip.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I forgot to post this last night. 400 word day but a breakthrough with the plot. This is the last sentence in a dialogue rant:


    You can’t just mess with a giant piece of history and expect that there won’t be consequences.”

    ReplyDelete
  23. Cue the dramatic music:

    My mother was dead.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I shall stop here, tonight, in a pile of anachronistic clothes.

    Deep within its series of nested undergarments, petticoats, crinolines, nightgowns and camisoles, I had secreted my diary with its new writing from the peasant girl from 2015.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I thought I'd offer a little "first week of NaNoWriMo alternative" word count. After a full week and a day, my count is 6,137 words, which isn't too bad, really, and keeping with my 20k (+-) output - far less than the marathoners, but, happily, with some lucrative side trips and discoveries. Plus, still working, living, cooking, walking, etc...

    I shared my first 50+ pages with Kirk (who is my husband and beta guy), and got the green light in the "moving in the right direction" sector. So. Off to a mini-holiday. As in, 24 hours. Before I go, here's my sentence for today:

    Normally we shared a bed, but on this trip, it was Mummi who stole the covers from me and kept me awake with her snoring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Good going, Suzy. I'm shaking a pom-pom at you.

      I took most of the day off from scene-writing to drill down on some structural stuff. The protagonist is getting progressively darker as I go along, and may even turn out to be the secret villain of the piece. (Swerve!) So I wanted to spend a day thinking about that and adjusting my outline.

      Anyhoo. I did write a few paragraphs, ending here:

      Sunshine gathered in the brass knobs at the corners of my bed, the rays of golden light pushing outward like wings.

      Delete
    2. Holy sententiment BatBabe! Sunshine gathered, a sentence to die for.
      I'm polishing shorts as I catch my breath before a big push next week.

      But enough of our fetid friend Bruce, and his slippery slope, for today.

      Delete
  26. I'm skipping all over the place, as per usual. Later I will reassemble.

    I pushed my plate away, cracked a fortune cookie and drew out the paper: Let the deeds speak.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh my! I am missing so much after 24 hours away from the desk. Fetid sunshine of the spotless mind. Cracking fortune cookies and slippery slopes. Such delicious sentences.

    Alas, mine feels quite hum-drum. We are at the end of a Sisi chapter, in which she is caught between duty and desire. Isn't it always the way? Okay then:

    By the time Mummi flung the bedroom door shut, leaving me with my trunk of dainties and my key to what lay ahead, the fire inside of me was in full blaze.

    ReplyDelete
  28. So, I finally cracked the 30k mark (remember, I started at 22.5, so it's not break out the bottle rocket time. Yet.) Here's tonight's final sentence:

    Any minute Dad’s feet will pound down the stairs, and I’ll hear the screen door skreek open, whap shut, and then his morning pee sound against one of the massive oak trees out back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sweet! I wish I were moving a little faster. I took my pages out to lunch today and just sat there staring into space. Finally and slung down a couple, amounting to about 500 words. Which isn't nothing, but is less than something.

      Sentence du jour:

      "She must have hated them, actually," I said.

      Delete
  29. I'm sorta-not writing, preparing for a big go next week. So I'm writing blurbs and back matter for new books, you know, where you be nice and crawly, and beg people to buy your other books? So even though it's not really writing, I'm putting it here, cos it's all I got.

    And the first episode’s free! FREE! Perfect for someone as cheap as you. Cheap prick. Fuck you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see your spinning signage, HarryPants, and the gorilla suit.

      Delete
  30. Finishing up early after 1K today. Fake "snow" emergency that may become ice later, but now is cold, wet concrete. Plus, have several assignments in the inbox itching to tear into.

    But as the hours ticked down, instead of feeling more certain, I felt less so.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Nasty migraine last night, but a pretty good writing day before that:

    This also is me.

    (As I tried to post this, you blogkeeper informed me that "You do not own that identity" and it deleted my comment. Which seems fitting.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who is that fucking blog-keeper, anyway? And how dare she question your authenticity "Averil." Hahaha.

      I will be switching my own identity as of today. The "letter" just came in from my agent, and it's time to jump off the Empress train and leap back onto the other project after assessing the ramp speed so I don't get pulled under the wheels. Just call me Pauline. As in "Perils of..."

      Delete
    2. Post a sentence per day from that one instead, Suzy. I need you!

      (Also, migraine hangover with that last sentence du jour. Should have been, This is also me. I know, who the fuck cares, right? But I can't leave that weirdness just sitting around uncorrected.)

      XO

      Delete
    3. Averil, I was tagged on one of those facebook things, and I took part because it's actually a good one! I tagged you, but you've divorced facebook (so proud of you), so I'm tagging you here in hopes you'll think this fun (forget about the chain letter aspect of it, unless you're dying to do it):

      The "Sevens Game," rules: Post 7 lines from your work in progress, beginning with the 7th line on page 7. Tag 7 people to do the same.

      Delete
    4. Fun! And so are the seven lines all in a row, starting with line seven of page seven? Or are they supposed to skip forward?

      Delete
    5. Seven in a row. (But feel free to fudge. We don't like rules on this blog!)

      Delete
    6. Okay, so my sevens fall at the beginning of a description. It comes in at ten lines, but since we're all cheaters here...

      I think she understood her particular brand of ugly very well. True, she would have missed the full impact of those wobbly wrists and elbows, the rawboned joints uncertain as if held together by twine strung too loosely through her torso. She wouldn’t have noticed the clutch of muscles working in her jaw, the puzzle pieces of her spine as she bent to tie a child’s shoe or wipe a puddle of milk off the floor. But I remember the way she kept the mirror covered in her bathroom, using cardboard and bits of tape, until all that was visible was the barest sliver of reflective surface. She said she liked to see one part of herself at a time: the corner of her mouth, half her nose, the silvery gleam of an eye. She seemed to realize that none of her features was so awful on its own. The tragedy was in their arrangement, as if some weary goblin had nudged each one just far enough out of alignment as to render its individual beauty moot, then splattered her with freckles so muddy and thick that you longed to take a wire brush to her skin and scrub it clean.

      This paragraph isn't quite there yet, but you get the idea.

      Delete
    7. Averil: I loved "This also is me." Does that mean I am weirdness that must not be left sitting around uncorrected?

      And all: As it's still on this subject of who, what, also is me (me, me, me!) I just realised I can't play the 7 lines game, or much else either, because I am ALL pseudonym, nothing RealName!

      I've been travelling, so I'll post my last words of the night, which were in an email, and here in the wrong spot, because we're all brool-rakers.

      I always eat too much. Nightelnights.

      Delete
    8. xo for that entry. And let's hear it for fake identities!

      Delete
    9. THIS!

      "She said she liked to see one part of herself at a time: the corner of her mouth, half her nose, the silvery gleam of an eye. She seemed to realize that none of her features was so awful on its own. The tragedy was in their arrangement, as if some weary goblin had nudged each one just far enough out of alignment as to render its individual beauty moot, then splattered her with freckles so muddy and thick that you longed to take a wire brush to her skin and scrub it clean."

      Delete
  32. Okay, so here's where I ended up last night. At a Starbucks with the guy next to me staring at my bright pink shoes (he was creeping me out, but then the apparent sneaker fetishist complimented them, so I decided he was nice instead of creepy. I'm an easy mark).

    Oh, and I've jumped off the Empress train, as stated before. Back to draft two of new project (after extensive editorial notes by new amazing agent).

    The Q-tip sticks out his ear like a fucked up version of Frankenstein.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOVE this! Mine, from late last night:

      The lens stared indifferently back at me, a silent witness to yet another fall from grace.

      Delete
  33. Okay, hardly any writing got done today. Working on client work as well as watching the high school soccer playoff final in 25 degree weather. But, I do have this:

    It annoys the fuck out of Piper Sterling, this referring to a pregnant belly as a bump, thing.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Today:

    As if in agreement, the baby punches her kidney.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Anonymous5:23 PM

    That baby bump thing used to annoy me, too. Here's my last:

    Allison stretched out her hand for the lighter. “Takes after her mama.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't wait to read your book, A!

      Delete
  36. Breaking up an already published novel into episodes, and was writing things for each bit to entice (beg) readers to buy the next episode. Trouble is, I'm so fat I can't even get the gorilla suit on.

    Hey, go get the next book right now. If you don’t your cock will most likely fall off.
    You don’t have one? See? It happened to some people already.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I wrote in a bunch of different places today. Feeling slightly chopped up. Here's an insert I thought of while driving just now, and patched in:

    A waft of paper mill finds its way into the Shagwagen, the fart-smell of home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Excellent. (I have a feeling Mr iPants will approve.)

      Mine:

      I closed my eyes until the craving retreated to the back of my tongue.

      Delete
    2. Does that work? I'll have to try it...

      Delete
  38. I feel like this blogkeeper has it in for me. But I'm bound and determined to leave a last sentence anyway.

    The air was cold and flecked with rain.

    Take that, blogkeeper.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I feel like this blogkeeper has it in for me. But I'm bound and determined to leave a last sentence anyway:

    The air was cold and flecked with rain.

    Take that, blogkeeper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need to fire the fucking blogkeeper is what... How can it suddenly decide to put you in the "waiting moderation" category! But I got your back, A. And, what a surprise! The air is indeed cold and flecked with rain.

      Delete
  40. Today was somewhat productive on most fronts, if you don't count the emergency trip to the vet to repair my dog's paw. (She drugged and coned now, so it's all good!)

    Okay. Sentence:

    But now, here comes artsy Piper again, in one of her legging-and-torn-t-shirt outfits, her belly almost snapped back to regular size, and this time she’s holding up an enormous umbrella.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Alrighty. Here's last night's last sentence. Much writing and rewriting. About 2K worth. I hope some of it is salvageable!

    She lets them flutter to the floor, and then, before she can dissolve to tears, she strides out of her mother’s bedroom, into a guest room where no guest has ever stayed, and continues her search.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Okie doke. I'm at the end of another draft of my WIP. Shipped to betas. Whew. I suppose I will devote the weekend to client work, and come Monday get back in the saddle with Empress. Workaholic and proud of it. A few words at a time.

    last sentence that I tweaked today:

    We’re just, you know, a couple of crazy kids who’re fucking our way through the forest, Megs.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Still, imagine the thrill — lonely and empty, we take what we can — to turn in his oh so general direction, stare right not quite at him, my eyes out of focus, trained exactly, precisely, not right quite on him, not have to see through him , but know that I'm never alone.

    ReplyDelete
  44. This blogkeeper thingie hates us all, doesn't it?

    Or it's a message from the universe.

    Or both.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I've always considered NaNoWriMo to be more of a writing stunt than a true creative effort.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting. If you have trouble posting a comment, let me know! suzyvitello@gmail.com