Monthly Archives: November 2013

Let Me Be Grateful

It’s blog time again and I’m not sure what to write about. It’s just been an embarrassment of riches, this week. I validated my NaNoWriMo novel, I baked seventeen pies, I hosted a warm, wonderful, love-filled family gathering on Thanksgiving and my daughter and I finished all the tie-dye we wanted to get done for Small Business Saturday at the local arts market. We loaded it all up in the van, so we’re ready to go bright and early tomorrow morning. I even got a chance to eat leftover pie and watch “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas” today, which is my favorite Black Friday tradition. I was feeling tired, but happy and grateful when I went to Facebook.

I just wanted to send out something from the tie-dye page to let folks know about Small Business Saturday but, of course, I ended up looking at my newsfeed and it was full of things “friends” were sending out, apparently with the intent to make as many people as possible angry and/or sad. I don’t understand why people feel the need to do this.

“Oh, you’re feeling happy and grateful? I can fix that.”

Please don’t. I have things in my life that make me feel thankful; let me be thankful. Don’t tell me I’m not allowed to be thankful because evil Europeans killed a lot of Native Americans several hundred years ago. Yes, that was evil and wrong, but it is not evil or wrong for me to be thankful now for the good things in my life. It’s appropriate.

Don’t tell me I’m not allowed to enjoy my pie and my heartwarming Christmas videos because lots of crazy people are running over each other in big box stores today. It’s greed; it’s horrible and I am apparently supposed to be appalled, all day long, that this sort of thing is going on. I don’t want to be appalled, okay? It’s their choice to be out in the malls and it’s my choice to stay home and watch videos. If it makes them happy to shop, let them shop. I can’t make decisions for them. Neither can any of the people posting about it on Facebook, but they sure are angry about it, and they want to make everyone else angry about it, too. Why? Do they think that’s the way to make the world a better place?

I don’t. The only way to make the world a better place is to put more love into it. The world doesn’t need more anger or sadness, so why are people going out of their way to promote anger and sadness all over the internet? Look, I have been fighting depression for years and the one thing I know for sure is that you can’t fight darkness with darkness. Light is what makes a difference. You find a little bit of light and you grab it and hold on to it and do everything you can to make it grow. I am putting my attention into light, because that’s what I want more of.

Yes, I just ended a sentence with a preposition. Feel free to report me to the grammar police.

Blog Time Again?

Apparently, another whole week has gone by since I last blogged. How did that happen? I guess time flies when you’re trying to write a novel, get ready for Thanksgiving and also get ready to take the tie-dye to market. I believe I am now officially sorry I booked us into the market on Small Business Saturday. We never do the market on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We tried it the first year our local market opened and had the lowest sales of any day that year (well, that year so far; a December Saturday two weeks later when it rained all day was much worse, but that’s another story). We figured everyone was still in the big box stores or exhausted from Black Friday and decided never to do it again. We’d rather be eating leftover pie and watching Christmas videos.

That was several years ago, though, and Small Business Saturday has kind of turned into a thing since then. The market promised lots of promotion this year so we finally broke down and booked it again.

What were we thinking? Now we need to make lots of tie-dye during National Novel Writing Month. I was dyeing all day yesterday and then stayed up past my bed time adding two thousand words to my novel. Determined words. Desperate words.

And now, I’m about to do it again. I spent the day outside dyeing Christmas Tree T-shirts, Rainbow Hearts and Rainbow Rayon. All day long my inner critic was giving me a hard time about my novel, telling me it was worthless, hopeless and without any redeeming social value. Also lame. And, oh, by the way, I’m never going to find my place in this world and I’m going to die with all my songs still inside me. A real piece of work, my inner critic.

I vehemently disagreed, of course; I always do, but the fight makes me weary. I didn’t want to dye. I didn’t want to write a blog post. I didn’t want to add two thousand words to my worthless, hopeless, lame novel. I finished the things I needed to finish before dark and I came into the house to make the best possible use of the hours I had left before bed time. I needed to write a blog post and I needed to add to my word count, but I wasn’t feeling up to facing those tasks without doing something else to raise my spirits. Something that always works.

Hot apple pie

Hot apple pie

I baked a pie. I feel better. Now, on to my novel.

I Survived Week Two of NaNoWriMo

A week has passed since my last blog post, which means I’m supposed to come up with another one now. I have two commitments this month: a blog post at least once a week and fifty thousands words for NaNoWriMo. Sitting here typing a blog post makes me think, “I need to be getting word count for my novel.” If I were getting word count for my novel, I’d be thinking, “I need to be working on a blog post.” It reminds me of my days as a working mother, when I spent my work time worrying about my kids and my kid time worrying about the things left undone at my job.

It’s been a difficult week, week two of NaNoWriMo. Several of my writing buddies have fallen by the wayside and I don’t know if they’ll make it back. Others are making me look bad by speeding through the week and adding impressive numbers to their totals every single day. One of them has already hit fifty thousand words and is just getting started. I’m proud of myself because I just kept going. I’m not way ahead of my goal number for this week, but I’m not way behind, either. I’m still very much in the game.

My daughter keeps reminding me that it’s supposed to be fun. It’s hard for me to remember that in week two. My characters are still plodding along, though they’re doing it out on the trail now instead of stuck inside a cozy little cottage. Something might actually happen soon. I’m resisting it. If something happens, my characters might be in peril and I’m worried about how I’ll get them out. Of course, it’s not much of a tale if they’re never in peril. They have abilities. They have gifts. They have skills. It was funny when I took them to a safe house along their journey and had them join their hosts for supper. My characters are not introverts, particularly, but I am, so I was nervous for them. I didn’t want to send them to that supper table because that situation would feel like peril to me. Pretty silly. My characters have good manners and their hosts were kind people. It went fine, but it worried me for a while there. The children of the house even washed up the dishes without complaining. Hey – it’s a fantasy.

It’s a NaNoWriMo tradition for week two to be hard. Things are supposed to be much easier in week three. I’m counting on it. For week two, I just wanted to keep writing and not lose ground. I did that and I’m happy.

The Monkey

The Monkey

The proof is in the monkey.

NaNoWriMo and Cupcakes

I just wrote two whole sentences of a blog post, decided I didn’t like them and back-spaced all the way to the beginning to start over. It felt wonderful. I’m now a week into NaNoWriMo and the hardest part of that challenge is to JUST KEEP WRITING. I’m not allowed to edit. I’m not allowed to decide that all of chapter two sucks and I should just toss it and start over. Nope. I have to keep writing. Of course, right now I’m running smack into the second week slump and I hate everything I’ve ever written and I’m pretty sure I’ve never had any writing talent in my whole life, but this is my second NaNoWriMo, so I know that’s perfectly normal and the only way through it is to just keep writing.
Even if I have no idea what comes next, just keep writing. Even if my peripheral character is threatening to take over my whole story and my protagonist seems to be okay with that, just keep writing. Even if I just wrote a plot hole big enough to hold the Empire State Building, just keep writing. Throw a few elephants in there for now and move on, because my characters have places to go and things to do and people to see. Or to hide from; it depends on the people. The point is, they’ve been drinking tea and discussing ancient history long enough. It’s time for something to actually happen, even if I don’t know what it is and I’m scared to find out.
My procrastination strategy for the beginning of week two is to write a blog post. My daughter decided to bake cupcakes. Mochaccino Cupcakes. That’s right, blog friends, there’s strong, black coffee in these babies. AND sugar. She even made them NaNoWriMo cupcakes by adding the slogan from last year’s Winner T-shirt.

Winner Slogan

Winner Slogan

By the time the cupcakes made it to my house, all that were left were “excuses” and “words.”

Yummy words

Yummy words

I’m working on words. I don’t need any more excuses.

It’s NaNoWriMo Time

It has begun. One month. Fifty thousand words. No excuses. That’s what it says on last year’s NaNoWriMo Winner T-shirt. If I’ve done it once, I can do it again, right? Last year was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo and even though I came down with a particularly nasty virus on November second, I still managed to get my fifty thousand words before the month was over. I gave the virus a couple of days that were all lounging in bed with no writing and I made up for it on the day after Thanksgiving, when I wrote all day while eating leftover pie and watching Christmas videos.

That will not be an option this year. Thanksgiving comes late this year, on November twenty-eighth. We’ve booked the tie-dye business into a booth at the local market on Small Business Saturday, which is the thirtieth. I dare not put off validation until the twenty-ninth, when thousands of other folks will be trying to validate. I’ve heard scary stories of the NaNo validation program coming up with a word count that does not match the count of one’s personal word processor. I don’t want to be scrambling for extra word count or fearing the crash of the validator on my favorite pie and video day, so I’m setting the goal of being finished by the twenty-sixth. The twenty-seventh will by my pie-baking day and the next day, I will be hosting a huge family gathering at my house. When I think of the things I’m thankful for that day, I want “finishing NaNoWriMo 2013” to be on that list.

Yesterday was kick-off day and I shared it with my older daughter, who is the one who talked me into trying NaNoWriMo last year. She first tried it in 2011 and she has two wins under her belt, so she’s an old hand who makes the whole thing look easy. More importantly, she makes it look fun.

Plenty of people kick off NaNoWriMo at midnight, after partying for Halloween (or “NaNo-een”, as my daughter and I are beginning to call it), but I am not a night person. My brain does not want to function past eight or nine o’clock, so my plan was to get a good night’s sleep and start my novel when I was feeling alert and full of first-day enthusiasm.

Also, there was half-price chocolate to be acquired. My daughter doesn’t get up early very often, but she’s willing to do it for half-price chocolate. Our after-Halloween shopping tradition predates our NaNoWriMo tradition by many years. That story could be a blog post all by itself (along with a haul video if I knew how to make one) but let’s just say that our mission was accomplished and we now have enough chocolate to get us through November.

Our NaNoWriMo kick-off tradition involves Starbucks. Last year, we actually took our netbooks there and started our novels at a table outside, with lattes in hand. That quickly became uncomfortable and we ended up taking our lattes to my living room, where we could kick back in soft chairs and relative privacy. It seems we do not write well with others. This year, we didn’t even try.

We got our fancy drinks to go and drove back to my house to set up our writing stations.

I think I'm ready

I think I’m ready

Netbook, check. Eggnog latte, check. Fleecy blanket, check. Leftover Halloween candy, check. Ridged potato chips, check (hey, they were on BOGO at Publix and NaNoWriMo was the perfect excuse to allow myself this rare indulgence. Just F.Y.I., they do not go well with eggnog latte). I was ready.

Okay, I stared at a blank screen for twenty minutes while my daughter added to the eight hundred words she had written at midnight, but I did eventually write two thousand, one hundred and twenty-one words. I am on my way