Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 30

So, this is weird. I feel like I'm sitting in limbo.

For the first time in weeks, I don't have a writing project on my hands.

Now, that's all going to change tomorrow (I'll talk about that then). But for now, it's... actually kind of scary. I'm floating around looking at all the time I have on my hands and not getting anything done (more or less). I made some progress on my reading, played some video games, and generally wasted time.

It was kind of miserable. Not having anything to write felt... wrong, somehow.

I did enjoy it, sure. And I do think it was a good thing (that's a big shift, by the way; for the longest time I felt terrible every time I took a day off). Breaks are necessary in order to "refill the well," as Brandon Sanderson likes to say.

All that being said, though, I'll be glad to get back to writing tomorrow. I don't want to lose this momentum.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 29

Way, kitty. I'm finished.
Well. That's that. My NaNoWriMo adventure comes to a close. Sorry I've been quiet for the past week. Between the holiday and the traveling and the trying-to-get-the-book-done, I've been a bit busy. I would have liked to offer my insights on the last leg of the project, but... well, it just didn't happen.

Wow, though. This feels good.

You may or may not know this, but Sentinel is only the third book that I've managed to type "The End" on (and I'm going to type "The End" on all my books, it just feels too good to pass up).

Monday, November 21, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 21

No, you stupid cat. I'm allergic! :-(
Well, I guess that's what I get for sleeping in this morning.

So, for those of you who don't have to live with me this week, you should know that I've been getting up consistently at 7:30 in the morning to do two hours of writing before getting started on other things for the day. It's been an amazing practice to get into, and it's probably the main reason I've gotten so much done.

I've also been sleeping on the couch. That detail is important for this next bit.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 20

No comment; just cutes.
K, I'm all caught up now. :D

On a few other notes, here are some things I've realized over the past 24 hours.

1. I no longer complain about not having enough time.

Now, I'm not saying that I got more time, or even that I do have enough. Rather, I stopped complaining about it.

For those who don't know what I mean, here's an example. If you knew me when I was younger, you might have found me wishing for more time, complaining that "I don't have enough time for that." Heck, I used to put "Time" down half-jokingly as the first item on my birthday list each year.

That's how much I wanted time to write (and do other things, of course, but mostly write).

I don't do that anymore.

What changed?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 19

Yeah, that's kind of how I feel right now. :-)
There we go. That's more like it.

Somehow, even though I've been home almost all day, I've still managed to sit myself down for TWO whole writing sessions.

Which, as you should know from reading these posts, gives me almost 5,000 words for today!


Granted, I'm not caught up yet. But if I pull this off for the next four days, I can finish the NaNo before Thanksgiving Day! (Which would be lovely for a number of reasons, but I'm going to focus my energy on the actual writing for the moment.)

Anyways, not much else going on right now. It's the weekend, so I don't really feel obligated to offer and incredible insights or anything.

However, I do have the two new chapters of the NaNo I wrote today posted over in my Writings section. Lots of action (finally) and some big twists. Go check it out. I enjoyed writing it, so hopefully you'll enjoy reading it.

Until next time...
-josh k.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Progress
Today: 4,912/1,666 words.
So far: 29,982/31,666 words.
Total: 29,982/50,000 words.

Friday, November 18, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 18

Hey, you. You're cool.
I'm home, now! :D

It's the beginning of Thanksgiving Break for me now, so I've finished (most all of) my papers and homework that needs to be turned in. I've survived the moderate drive back to St. Louis, and now I'm home.

Which is dangerous for the writing... but at this point I'm not really concerned. I'm just glad to have some time off from school.

In other news, I've made more progress on the NaNoWriMo novel, which means I've finally finished chapter 9! (Took me long enough.) Hopefully I'll be able to get back on track and make regular progress on the book again. There's a write-in on Sunday that I'm thinking about going to, but that's thinking just a little too far ahead right now.

First, I'm going to celebrate my sister's birthday. Then, I'm going to settle in and reconnect with my family.

Tomorrow, I'll try to make more progress on the book, and get back on track with things.

For now, though, like I said, I'm just happy to be home.

Until next time...

-josh k.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Progress
Today: 780/1,666 words.
So far: 25,070/30,000 words.
Total: 25,070/50,000 words.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 17

Yeah... I have no illusions about getting any writing done today. I'm still writing this paper for tomorrow, due to my horrendous procrastination habits when it comes to academic and other "real world" deadlines.

However, on a significantly more awesome note, I have several pieces of exciting news to share with you.

First, I was interviewed in the student newspaper this week! It's a part of an article the paper ran on NaNoWriMo (so this post is totally topical, yep), and I'd say I acquit myself fairly well, even if I was apparently too verbose for any actual quotes.

You can find the article on the Index's website: Writing contest creates bonds.

On another happy note, my proposal for English Honors was accepted today. Not only that, they gave the idea some very high praise.

Here's the relevant portion:

"We would like to share with you the following remarks, made by a reviewer, about your creative project proposal:
"Sounds great to me. A fine plan for proceeding on a creative project. Contextualized, researched, written with literary models in mind. I wish all the creative honors projects were this thought out."

*pleased face goes here*

I'm excited, despite the fact that I'm behind on my wordcounts and still struggling to finish this paper. I'm sure I'll be sharing much of this excitement over the coming months, but for now I'm going to buckle down and finish things so I can go on break (during which I will work very hard to catch up on all the writing and homework I've neglected).

Until next time...
-josh k.

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 16

I am not pleased.

My writing has continued to slow more and more and more on each and every front this week as I struggle to make progress on not just NaNo, but also schoolwork, and blogging.

Obviously, seeing as this post is going up the day after it was due.


So, yeah. No quote today. No kitties. Barely even an update. I just don't have the time. (Or, rather, I've told myself I don't have the time, but that's a separate issue.)

Instead, here's a series of posts from Dean Wesley Smith (yes, again) about setting goals for your writing. Not only what types of goals you should be setting, but also how to set them and break them down into manageable chunks, as well as how to follow through with them and trick yourself into getting the work done.

They were a surprising find for me yesterday, and managed to teach me  few new ideas. Considering and setting goals for next year is just about the one thing I have made progress on this week, so I hope I can pass on that productivity to you through these thoughts from Dean. I realize it's a bit early for many of you to be considering goals (or "resolutions") for the new year, especially since we're waist deep in the midst of NaNo. But like I said, this is about the one thing I've managed to do well this week.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 15

"Read aloud. Look up words. Study grammar. These three things will take your writing to levels you never dreamed of."
-M. Todd Gallowglas
Sometime, this is how I feel. I sit there peering into the screen and inside I'm screaming, "WHY WON'T YOU MOVE, YOU STUPID, BLINKING CURSOR!!!"
Sometimes, I get a bit over-dramatic with myself.

I refuse to miss a midweek post. I absolutely will not stand for it.

So here it is. A bit late, because that's how the writing has been today. But here it is nonetheless.

Once again, lots of interesting stuff I've been reading today about self-publishing from all these lovely people.

Like I said, interesting stuff. Kinda scary that I'm considering this stuff again. But there you go. It's a scary, difficult road you walk as a creative person -- no matter which route you take.

Right, so, on with the reflections and advice.

Honestly, it's difficult for me to write this one, because I haven't gotten to the midpoint yet.

Wait, wait, backing up.

Let's talk about the midpoint!

(Okay, there we go.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 14

New blog post at The Vanishing Blog. Why Brandon Sanderson's The Alloy of Law is a cheeseburger. Also explained, why the above statement makes the book awesome!

Go check it out.

"Good books don't give up all their secrets at once."
-Stephen King
Hey, remember that picture of a kitty in a glass? We were in quite a bind then, weren't we?
Yep, now we're in a double-bind.
Yeah, it's been a while, as usual for the weekends.

Good news, though, I'm back, and I'm almost back on track for the month.

In related news, I've been reading a lot of stuff today from Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, KW Jeter, Joe Konrath, Lee Goldberg, and David Gaughran about the self-publishing model. (Did anyone know that there were SO MANY self-pubbing authors passionate enough about the idea that they basically crusade against the current publishing industry on a daily basis? Apparently this idea has some weight to it. Who knew?)

Obviously, this has gotten me to thinking quite a bit about what kind of writer I want to be in the professional realm of things. But that's not a discussion for us to have right now. (It's a discussion for me and my family to have, first of all, and it's also not a discussion to consider when you're knee-deep in slogging through word counts. [Are you ever not slogging through word counts, Josh?])

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 10

"First, you get the idea. It may germinate for a long time or it just pops into your head. And then you work out a structure. And when you feel confident enough, you start to write. And you have to allow yourself the liberty of writing poorly. You have to get the bulk of it done, and then you start to refine it. You have to put down less than marvelous material just to keep going to whatever you think the end is going to be -- which may be something else altogether by the time you get there."
-Larry Gelbart
Anyone feeling the SQUEEZE yet?

Well, here we are. If you've done your writing for the day, and you're on track with the word counts, we are exactly one third of the way done with NaNoWriMo.

Even if you haven't done all those things, we're still one third of the way through the month of November, which is almost basically the same thing.

This is, most likely, where you're going to encounter your first real instance of "writer's block."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 9

"If you understand the basic elements of crafting fiction, craft will help you find your way when you are lost in your story."
-M. Todd Gallowglas

But don't worry, none of them are about you...
Lots of news today.

First, the above quote is from author and bardic storyteller Michael Todd Gallowglas. I met him at WorldCon in Reno this past August (for tales from my Reno adventures, take a look through my blog archive). He's been seeing some success with independent publishing and often has insightful things to say about the writing life on his blog.

Speaking of which, today he talked about "Why I Write," which is a question many of us authors have either asked ourselves or else been asked before. Like I said, some thought-provoking insights. So I encourage you to take a look at it and see what he has to say. While you're there, you can also find links to his works on Amazon. I haven't had a chance to read through it yet myself, but I've bought it and it's on my list and it all looks like some fun stuff. So go ahead and give him a look.

On my own side of things, I can now make my big, exciting announcement.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 8

"I like to think of what happens to characters in good novels and stories as knots -- things keep knotting up. And by the end of the story -- readers see an "unknotting" of sorts. Not what they expect, not the easy answers you get on TV, not wash and wear philosophies but a reproduction of believable emotional experiences." 
-Terry McMillan
...which was only slightly larger than my ego this afternoon.

For those of you doubters, quibblers, and overly picky people from yesterday...

Welcome to week two!

(I consider myself a member of the above groups.)

How's it going everyone? For you NaNo-ers, are you on track? Do you know where your story is going? Have you gotten a grasp of who your chief characters are?

I think it's time to have another structural discussion, because at this point, you should begin seeing it unfold.

This is week two, everyone. This is the end of Act 1. This is the beginning of the end, er, middle...

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 7

Another new post from me at The Vanishing Blog. This time, "Why Portal 2 is Awesome."

Check it out.

"If you want your reader to understand something about a given character, his habits of intellection and control of his emotions, show the reader what the character thinks about, and then the reader will think about it too."
-George V. Higgens
See, this is what I want you to think about.
It's working, right? :)
And so we progress. Into week two. Or, well, the end of week one, technically. But let's focus on the fact that it is Monday, instead.

Into week two!

I'm feeling like I'm running out of profound things to say in this space. Granted, I haven't been especially diligent in saying profound things here anyway, but I'm focusing so much on NOT sticking to my schedule, and yet still getting the work done, that it seems I have little thought left to devote to this space.

So, instead, I'm going to share one of my favoritest episodes of Writing Excuses, lovingly referred to as "The One Where Mary Schools Brandon, Dan, and Howard," AKA Season 3, Episode 14: The Four Principles of Puppetry with Mary Robinette Kowal.

The ideas explored in the above episode dovetail nicely into the above quote and presents some really powerful and effective tools for you to consider employing as you try to write from the perspective of your characters.

As always, if thinking about craft as you frantically try to churn out words is a detriment to the actual churning out of words, then go ahead and save this for the end of the month, or after you've churned out your words for the day, whichever you think is best.


Until next time...
-josh k.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Progress
Today: 2,333/1,666 words
So far: 11,459/11,666 words
Total: 11,459/50,000 words

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 6

"The unconscious mind takes the gem of an idea and develops it, but usually this happens only when a writer has tried hard, and logically, to develop it himself. After he has given it up for a few hours, getting nowhere, a great advancement of the plot will pop into his head. I have been waked up in the night sometimes by a plot advancement or a solution of a problem that I have not even been dreaming about."
-Patricia Highsmith
"Okay, okay, I'll write my NaNo!
Well, that was a fun weekend. Now it's time to play catch-up.

I quite unintentionally took Saturday off from writing in order to play video games.

Did I enjoy it? Heck, yes.

Do I regret it? Only if I don't finish my NaNo.

As it is, between the work I had done earlier in the week to put myself a head mixed with my extraordinary boost in productivity this afternoon (2100 words in an hour and a half; I think that's a new record for me), I'm just at the recommended wordcount levels for today.

I am, of course, behind for my own goals, but I'm happy enough to have caught up with the official pace.

Now, as I head into another week of work and school, I get to play my juggling act of productivity all over again.

Because of that, I hope you will forgive me for making this a shorter post. If you're looking for more insight than I can provide, I recommend that you go check out this week's episode of Writing Excuses, or read a short story, or take a nap, or buy The War of Art, or play Arkham Asylum (you can find my review of it at The Vanishing Blog).

Any number of things can help improve your creativity. Sometimes desperation is the best motivator (as I have proven today), but I highly doubt it's the healthiest.

Until next time...
-josh k.

(Also, you'll have likely noticed the "Writings" tab above. I don't have news about that yet, but pay attention for an announcement sometime this week, as I'll hopefully have it all worked out by then.)

NaNoWriMo 2011 Progress
Today: 2,135/1,666 words
So far: 9,126/10,000 words
Total: 9,126/50,000 words

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 3

"Sit in sun. Sun goes behind cloud. Look at watch. Notice that second-hand does not always point directly at little marks on dial. Sometimes it does, though. Then sometimes it doesn't. Why? Feel panic at how quickly life slips by. Get to work."
-Nicholson Baker
My friend brought me one.
It was spicy.
No, that's not a euphemism.
Shut up.
Goal for today: Regain momentum.

Did I meet it?

Not yet...though I probably will.

Right now, I'm sitting at around 1500 words for the day. That's really close to the recommended daily dosage, but it's still 1,000 words behind my personal daily goal. (Remember, I'm taking Fridays off, I don't expect to get anything done over Thanksgiving break, and I'm trying to do this "one chapter a day" thing. That's why I'm being so strict with myself.)

I'm on track, according to the official site. In fact, I'm ahead of schedule. But I'm not far enough ahead, and my production is clearly beginning to lag.

(For those of you who are still struggling to get started, yes, I realize that this is a luxurious complaint to have, but there it is anyways.)

Let's look at the numbers:

Day 1 wordcount: 3,151
Day 2 wordcount: 1,667
Day 3 wordcount: 1,491 (so far)

That's a trend, folks. And it's one that I don't like.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 2

"Don't look back -- something might be gaining on you."
-Satchel Paige

Yes. There was some at breakfast today.
That is all.

Goal for today: Don't lose momentum.

Did I meet it?

Yeah, mostly...

Okay, thus far, I have successfully met the wordcount suggested by NaNoWriMo for today. And this puts me ahead overall and on schedule to finish early. So I'm happy about all that.'s not up to yesterday's stellar start, nor does it match my own standards set for myself.

That's...a bit disappointing.

Even so, I'm still glad that I'm keeping up with it. And I'm maintaining my goal of finishing at least one chapter each day. And I'm further maintaining that goal by keeping the wordcount of each chapter around 2500 words. (They've been a wee bit short thus far, but I'm okay with that. It means I'll have some leftover words to shove into some of the juicier chapters.)

I'm just hoping that this isn't a sign of things to come and I simply continue to backslide off of my strong opening.

Anyways, that's all I've really got for right now. If I think of anything more profound to say, I'll throw it in here with an exciting "UPDATE" tag. But until then...I've got other work to do.

-josh k.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Progress
Today: 1,667/1,666 words.
So far: 4,818/3,333 words.
Overall: 4,818/50,000 words.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 1

"There's a myth among amateurs, optimists, and fools that beyond a certain level of achievement, famous artists retire to some kind of Elysium where criticism no longer wounds and work materializes without their effort."
     -Mark Matousek
We're all in this together guys.
No HSM references, please.

And...we're off with NaNoWriMo 2011. Now with more kitties!

Right, so I should probably explain that.

My roommate is to blame, honestly. We were talking about blogging and he made an offhand comment about how "I would only ever get people to really start reading if I had pictures of cats." [Paraphrased]. Well, between that and another offhand comment about how some people could probably use a greater "cute cats" presence in their life -- for emotional sanity, y'know? -- I decided to take him up on that challenge.

So, for all of you who are stressed out about NaNo, school, work, family, friends, life, and whatever else, I hope that this can be a comforting place for you to come and release some of that emotional tension by looking at pictures of cats.

At least for the first glance. After that, we're back to concrete NaNo discussions.

Also, I'll try to share a quote about writing or creativity or perseverance or somesuch, just to make sure I fulfill my "Inspiring" quota for the year. (Yeah...don't expect it to last.)

Anyways. Let's begin now, shall we?