Sunday, December 23, 2012

Annual Reflection

Yes, we measure time by artificial constructs. But we do measure; and we make our rituals to observe the passage. December has always been my month for reflection. So what did I come up with this year?

A year can hold a lot.

What it holds will be good, bad and/or indifferent, in different combination and to different degrees for each of us.

Mostly the indifferent fades over time and we hold onto the good. Or hope to. Sometimes, as for the families and friends of 26 people who were killed in Newtown, Connecticut, last week, the bad in the year is too overwhelming.

The image on this page is a patchwork of the good from my year 2012. It represents travel to places I enjoy, time spent with family and friends, a satisfying hobby, one happily-achieved "bucket list" goal and one promise kept. And unseen on the page are the shadows, sometimes directly behind these images, plus a whole lot of indifferent connective tissue. Only when I see these moments all together here does it occur to me that everything good had to be made to come about; nothing just happened.

What will next year hold? There's no way of knowing. There never is. You must live it to find out.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

NaNo 2012: Winning - ish

'Tis the night after Thanksgiving, and I've "won" NaNo.  That means I've managed to cough up 50K words of a new piece of work. More specifically, with seven days still to go, I've managed 51,507 words.  In NaNo terms, that makes me a winner.

I feel a minor tingle of accomplishment and a big wash of relief. NaNo has been especially hard this year, flying without a net. I wasn't all that confident that I had enough in this new project to write about. I'm glad to have been proven wrong. I've made it and with time to spare.

But I seem to be accomplishing less each year, and that's disappointing. Yes, I've got seven days left, but only a few of them hold good blocks of writing time. I know I won't be finishing NaNo with anywhere near a personal best (that remains at the bar I set on Year One), but I'm not even sure I'll pass the 60K mark as I did in both previous years.

Relief is a nice feeling, but it's a passive kind of nice. It would have been nicer to earn some fireworks.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Status Update: NaNo Week 1

So endedth the seventh day of NaNoWriMo. And I am totally shocked to report that I'm ending the day with a word count of 20,121.

No two of my NaNoes have been alike.

Year One was the Adventure. I was a little terrified at the challenge. The story I chose was in a genre I'd never tackled before, and many times more plot-heavy than my usual tales (probably while I'm still mopping up after it!).  I did a lot of detailed preparation: timelines; family trees; and I hadn't done so much research and organization since my college days in the History department. Most important: I had a wonderful cheering section of friends and coworkers, many of whom I saw five days a week.  I made it through the month and made it beyond the 50K goal. It was exhilarating and exhausting.  And absolutely inspiring.

Year Two was the Purge.  I had a story I knew I reallyreally wanted to get started telling. My prep was a set of character sketches and a long list of bullet points for things I wanted to make sure to fit somewhere into the story somewhere. And I had a very loose timeline that I clarified for myself with a set of doodles that represented character relationships as of the milestone markers. I'd changed jobs, so my cheering section was remote. When my energies flagged, I'd think about the year before and tell myself I'd already proven I could do this.  December 1st found me quietly excited. I had fewer pages, but I'd still gone beyond 50K again and this time I had a number of pages that I felt truly proud of having written.

This year is the Improvisation.  As of October 15, all I knew was that I absolutely had to do NaNo again. The other two NaNo projects were dangling over me, yearning to get finished, but I'd been so distracted this year by publishing (a non-NaNo book) that I hadn't done much writing.  I knew that NaNo would be just the kick in the pants I needed. So I decided to start a sequel to unfinished book #1, on the theory that I'd have familiar characters to work with and that, along the way, I might come up with a few things to iron out some of the wrinkles in book #1.  I did some quick mind-mapping and thought I could see enough shape there to get me started on November 1st.  I'm mostly cheering myself on this year, though I do check in with a circle of NaNo participants who found me from a public G+ post.  It all seems so loose that I can't believe it's enough to get me through to the end. But I'm doing it. And this year, that was the entire point!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blogspot Reboot -- please note domain change!

With NaNoWriMo only a few days away, I can already feel the energy kicking in! Today I was inspired to do something I really should have done ages ago -- reboot the domain and title of this blog.

When I first started here, I just wanted to try my hand at a blog. I didn't have a website. What I did have was a concept: I was going to try and find the 21st century alternative to novel writing. Hence the name  (and domain) "the blovel experiment."  It was sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating, and generally informative.  After I started my first website, I tried to keep this blog site going as well.  The website was, well, a website. This was (theoretically) my spot for experimental writing. Sometimes the only result of an experiment is to learn what not to do and I learned that, whatever exciting new options there might before the next generation of writers, my brain is hard-wired to write long narratives. Time to move on from alternatives and do what makes me happy.

Last year, with Apple dropping their website hosting, I spent a sizable chunk of time setting up a brand new website. An even greater percentage of my writing hours was spent on the publishing of my novel, The Breast of Everything. Between the two, I didn't do much blogging at all, and whatever I did was focussed towards the website.

I kept wondering what to do about this blog. Just turn it off? Leave it static but redirect people to my website? For the longest time, I did absolutely nothing. I recently decided it would be nice to have a place for those random thoughts and observations that I'd like to share but which don't merit a full blog entry on the website. It occurred to me that I already had a place. I'm still not certain exactly how I'm going to juggle this with the website, but at least I've renamed the domain and title so that they align.

Now I'm about to disappear from both blogs and websites for a month and do nothing but write fiction!

(want to see how I'm doing? Check the NaNo counter in the sidebar)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Baby Steps

Having finally made the decision to publish my own books, I found myself overwhelmed by the options to the point where I wondered if this was such a good idea after all.  It became clear to me that I could spend the next year trying to figure out "the best."  Which would be another year that The Breast of Everything wouldn't see print (which I mean literally; I'm determined to have a print on demand paper version as well as epub and mobi digital books).  And if at the end I somehow did pick "the best" and learn all the new skills I'd need to get there, would it matter?  In this particular case, the old "vanity press" label is pretty accurate; I honestly don't expect BoE to sell more than a couple of dozen copies.  So I took a deep breath and made another decision.  I was going to get The Breast of Everything out the easiest way I could and I was going to do it NOW.  

Today was day one on the road.  I've already made some progress.  I chose a full-service publishing/distribution provider and I created an account on Bowker to purchase the ISBN.  Most important, I did a single small thing that made it all seem real: I used my chosen provider's online app to make a mock-up of the cover.  Now that I know what it's going to look like, surely it's going to happen.  Right?