Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Waiting for Dawn

Wednesdays come and Wednesdays go, but this has not been my best Wednesday ever. It started too early, for starters. I didn’t plan to wake up at three o’clock in the morning. I didn’t want to wake up at three o’clock in the morning. I’m not sure why I woke up at three o’clock in the morning, but once I was awake, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I gave up after a half-hour in which my dark bedroom just seemed to get darker and darker.

If you have never been afraid of the dark, you will not understand how heavily the darkness weighs on a person like me. I guess everyone is afraid of something. What is it for you? Deep water? Spiders? Clowns? Whatever it is, just imagine how you feel when you see that thing and you will have some idea of what happens to me when I have to face a dark room. I know it’s not a particularly rational reaction. Please don’t tell me there’s nothing in the dark that’s not there when it’s light. Believe me, I’ve heard it. It’s a big, fat lie. My fear is there and it’s as real as that spider crawling up your arm.

I may be a bit touchy about this subject. The point is, it was dark and I needed light. I couldn’t just turn on the bedroom light. My husband didn’t need to get up until five-thirty, so I couldn’t shine a big light in his face at three-thirty. I grabbed a flashlight and headed for the bedroom door. Once I had it shut behind me, I turned on the bathroom light. Then I turned on the kitchen light. Then I turned on the living room light. I put water on to heat for coffee and I grabbed the notebook in which I write my morning pages. Any time after midnight is, technically, morning.

I wrote. It helped. I drank coffee and wrote some more. I listed the things I could do that would make me feel better, like Sweatin’ to the Oldies and accomplishing things I had been putting off. I knew I would be okay once the sun came up, so I just kept writing to keep the darkness at bay. It’s always peeking in the windows and trying to get past the weatherstripping. Not on my watch, darkness!

I finished my morning pages and then I updated all my iPad games. I squished monsters in Springfield, I picked apples in Ponyville and I hatched out a Spunge or two in My Singing Monsters. I found hidden objects in Pearl’s Peril and Mirrors of Albion. I caught up with all my friends on Facebook. That doesn’t take long at four o’clock in the morning, if one has done it the night before. I went to Words with Friends to see if any of my Friends had come up with any Words. I am currently playing nine games, but seven of them are with my daughter, who rarely takes her turn. My other friend never fails, though, so I had two games to update. I had no vowels on one and almost no consonants on the other, but that just keeps things interesting, right?

When I ran out of games to update, I decided I might as well get my word count for NaNoWriMo. My novel might have taken a dark turn at that point if my novel made any linear sense at all, but it doesn’t, so that wasn’t a problem. Two thousand words later, the sun was up and I had survived the scary darkness, one more time.
In your face, darkness! The sun always rises.

NaNoWriMo, Why Can’t I Quit You?

There are people who can do it. I saw one of my Facebook friends do it. She came to the NaNoWriMo page and she said she would not be participating this year. She’s sitting this one out. She’s offering support to people who are participating but that’s it. She’s not writing fifty thousand words this November and she’s okay with that. I thought I could do it, too. I had already told my daughter, who got me involved in NaNoWriMo in the first place, that I would not be jumping on the bandwagon this year. I was not excited about participating. I didn’t have an idea for a novel. I had no desire to commit myself to thirty days, fifty thousand words and no excuses. I had done it three times already and I wanted a break.

Then November first rolled around. For most of the day, I stuck to my guns. Everyone else could have a lovely National Novel Writing Month, but I was not going to join them this time. I saw them posting about it on Facebook and I just scrolled on by. Nope. Not this year. Not me. The day wore on and I stuck to my guns. I did. For hours and hours and hours, I did not participate in NaNoWriMo. I was fine with it. I was glad I wouldn’t have word count hanging over my head every day in the month of November.

Then evening came and it just felt … wrong. It was the first of November and I was not writing. It was the first of November and it was getting late and I was just sitting there, scrolling by the NaNoWriMo posts on Facebook, trying to congratulate myself for escaping the craziness, but I wasn’t buying it. I was forced to admit that I was MISSING the craziness. I began to weaken. Then I caved.

I couldn’t remember my NaNoWriMo user name, so I messaged my daughter to ask her what it was. I was still on her buddy list, so she had no problem finding the information. She passed it along and I went to the NaNoWriMo web site. I couldn’t remember how to log in, so I messaged my daughter again. She was happy to enlighten me. I logged in. I created a novel. I went back to the word processor on my netbook and started a file that would be my 2015 project for National Novel Writing Month.

Okay, I’m in. I have to confess that I’m a rebel this time. I am not writing fiction. I’m not sure exactly what I’m writing, but I’m writing. The only absolutely hard and fast rule in NaNoWriMo is that you can’t write the same word fifty thousand times. I am not doing that. I’m writing complete, original thoughts from my own brain. I don’t know where they’re going from paragraph to paragraph and I don’t care. I get to go to the NaNoWriMo web site every evening and update my word count.

It feels like coming home.


I was so busy last week making pies and posting about making pies that I forgot to mention a couple of other things that happened between that post and the one before it. The first was that I won NaNoWriMo. I wrote fifty thousand words. They’re not very coherent words, but there are fifty thousand of them and I wrote them all myself, so they count.
The other was that I painted. If you were looking closely at the “before” picture of my table in last week’s post, you saw my painting. I still want to share it in close-up here so I can count it.

Gourd and Turban Squash

Gourd and Turban Squash

My friend, Sarah, of Full-Time Writer Mom, gave me the gourd and I picked up the turban squash on clearance because I thought the gourd needed a friend for support. Literally. The squash was a whole lot easier to paint than the gourd. I let all the little bumps intimidate me, so the basic shape is a bit off, but I still had a good time painting it and that’s what matters.

I’ve joined a new challenge for December. This one comes from my niece, Grace, and it’s a “sketch-a-day” challenge. I don’t think I’ll be sharing all of my daily sketches in my blog, but here are the first three so you can see how it’s going.

Turban Squash

Turban Squash

Goofy Gourd

Goofy Gourd



I made use of the turban squash for my first sketch and the gourd for my second. My third is of an apple from my refrigerator. So far, my theme appears to be “Fruits and Vegetables Floating in Space.” For me, the sketch-a-day challenge is not about creating great art, it’s about presence and commitment. Drawing something – anything – is a way to bring myself into the here and now. It improves my mood and makes my whole day a better day.

I’m looking forward to lots of good days in December. They will be crazy busy, of course, but if I manage a sketch every day, there will be a small oasis of peace in each one of those crazy busy days. I’m ready to show up for that.

Trying Not to Think Too Much

It’s week two of NaNoWriMo and I am still writing. I’m convinced that everything I’m writing is crap and I will never write anything good and I should just give up and stop trying, but I remember that week two always feels this way, so I keep going. This is also the time I start thinking that next year, I will be a planner, not a pantser. I hope I really mean it this time. My story is all over the place because I just introduce some characters and let them do whatever they want. It turns out they want to be boring. They don’t know they’re in a story and they just go about their everyday business, doing everyday things in everyday ways. Whenever I ask them to do something interesting, they start heading down those dark paths I’m trying to avoid.

Sigh…that probably means I’m going to have to go there. I swear I will not write something relentlessly bleak and hopeless. If I go dark, it will be funny dark, not desperately dark. Right now, I’m still arguing with my muse and my plot bunny, but they will probably have their way. I need to keep writing and that means I need to put my typing fingers at the service of my anthropomorphized helpers. I didn’t plan, so I’m pretty much at their mercy.

At this point, it’s about getting out of my own way. That seems to be true of the painting, too. If I think too much while I’m painting, I hate everything I paint. Nothing looks the way I want it to look or the way I hoped it would look. I’m trying things and I feel as if they’re not working and they will never work and I’m a terrible painter and I’m not getting any better and maybe I should just give up.

I have to just paint. If I do that and I let myself have a good time, I end up with a painting that pleases me. It may not look exactly like the model in front of me, but I like it anyway. I’m learning to trust the process. If I’m painting, I’m improving.

Golden Acorn Squash

Golden Acorn Squash

This pleases me. It’s a golden acorn squash and I had fun painting it. I know it’s not perfect, but that doesn’t bother me. It’s my painting. I had fun. I like it.

Who Let the Dark In?

Okay, WriMos, who’s missing a dark muse? A rabid plot bunny? Somebody showed up at my house last night and tried to send my story in a scary, apocalyptic direction. It was not my muse. My muse is named Amber and she’s part of the Thalia corps. I don’t write dark stuff. I don’t even read dark stuff. Has a hacker broken into the computers at Muse Central? Have some wires been crossed? Is Melpomene trying a hostile takeover?

Whoever you are, I need you to call off your muse. Or your plot bunny. My plot bunnies are always fluffy and cute, in pastel colors or jewel tones. This one is black and has fangs dripping blood. He is seriously off course and he needs to move on. I am not going to write a dark story. I would rather lose NaNoWriMo than write a dark story.

I am absolutely not kidding. Well…I might be kidding a little bit about the bunny. There was not literally a blood-soaked black rabbit in my living room last night. My story did take a dark turn, though, and I am definitely not going there. Not now. Not later. Not ever. The world has enough darkness in it; I am not going to be the conduit for more.

I think I’m going to stay away from my story for a while today. I will finish this blog post. I will probably bake something and I will try to make myself paint. I am tired of feeling betrayed by words. I am going to play with cookie dough and I am going to play with color. I will go back to my novel this evening and I will try to turn it towards the light or, at least, towards the funny. I can stand darkness if it’s funny. Funny trumps everything.

We’ll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I can report that I did paint last week.

Pumpkin Painting

Pumpkin Painting

This is my Halloween pumpkin, before I carved it, and a Sweet Dumpling squash that caught my eye at the grocery store. I’m still fighting with the orange, but I do like the small squash.

Oh, and I do have other good news to report. My daughter and I went to the after-Halloween sales Saturday morning and found perfect NaNoWriMo hats, at half price.

Kick-off Latte and NaNo Hat

Kick-off Latte and NaNo Hat

Wait…my daughter and I both bought these hats. She came over to my house yesterday and did some work on her NaNoWriMo novel while she was here. My daughter writes horror fiction. She loves the creepy stuff. If the dark side really has cookies, she probably baked them. What if…

Nah…we couldn’t have mixed up our hats, could we?

I know she reads my blog, so I have to ask: Mary, have you seen any pink plot bunnies hanging out at your house?

It’s Nearly November

Somehow, NaNoWriMo is sneaking up on me. It’s National Novel Writing Month. It always starts on November first and ends on November thirtieth, so I should be able to see it coming, shouldn’t I? Yet here I am, on October twenty-ninth, totally unprepared. I don’t have an outline. I don’t have a plan. I don’t even have a supply of appropriate snacks.

I do, of course, have a good supply of my favorite coffee. I’m not a complete slacker. Some things cannot be left to chance. If I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo, I must have enough coffee to float a small armada. That “if” ought to mean I have a choice. I don’t really have to write fifty thousand words in the month of November. No one is holding a gun to my head. Theoretically, I could decide not to do it this year. I’ve done it twice. I’ve won it twice. I could give myself a break.

I wonder why I can’t imagine doing that. NaNoWriMo is hard. I have lots of other things to do in the month of November. I need to fill a tie-dye special order that involves four different color palettes. I need to get my house clean enough to host a family gathering on Thanksgiving. I have to make stuffing and yeast rolls and fifteen or sixteen pies. Why do I take on the added challenge of writing at least one thousand six hundred and sixty-seven words a day, when I don’t even have a plan?

I’m hooked, that’s why. I’m hooked on the camaraderie. I’m hooked on the November first kick-off latte, the excited first-week word sprints and the horrible second-week doldrums. I’m hooked on the pep talks, the word count updates, and the plot bunnies. I’m hooked on the traveling shovel of death. I have tasted the adrenaline-laced word frenzy that is National Novel Writing Month and I can’t give it up.

If you’ve managed to avoid NaNoWriMo until now, there’s still hope for you. You can have a November free of late night typing fests and frantic word count updates. You can spend your November evenings doing jigsaw puzzles or playing Monopoly. You can eat leftover Thanksgiving pie and watch Emmet Otter’s Jug-band Christmas on Black Friday without worrying about catching up on two days worth of word count. It’s too late for me but you can still save yourself. Run! It’s almost upon you!

Or you could go to nanowrimo.org and join us. Come on, you know you want to. All the cool kids are doing it.


Blog day is upon me and I have not painted. I did accomplish something this week, though. I won Camp NaNoWriMo.

Ta da!

Ta da!

I may not have finished the novel I started last November, but I did write thirty thousand words in the month of July, and I did it without counting my weekly blog post or my daily morning pages. I actually hit thirty thousand on Monday, July 28th. My daughter saw that I broke twenty-nine thousand the day before and couldn’t believe I went to bed without going for the goal that day. There was no need. I had plenty of time and I was enjoying myself. I had already discovered that pushing myself too hard was not fun and I wanted to continue to have fun. It was easy to finish the next day and my daughter was here to help me validate. I never can find that little button when it’s time to go for the win.

It’s good that I was so close on Sunday because my other daughter came over to visit that day and she brought me a great temptation. She’s letting my borrow her 3DS and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. If you know me at all, you know how hard it was for me to do anything else once that game was in the house. For those who don’t know me, I should explain that I tend to become obsessed with video games and that The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was my favorite Nintendo game of all time.

I loved the first Zelda game, on the original NES. The second one, also on original NES, was not their best effort, but it was Zelda, so I played it anyway. Then they moved on to the Super Nintendo and came out with A Link to the Past. It was faithful to the original Zelda, but the graphics were so much better, it was like living in Hyrule. Hyrule was in danger and needed a hero. I had to be that hero.

The game my daughter is letting me borrow is the direct sequel to A Link to the Past. It’s a different story but everything in it is so familiar, it’s like coming home. I get to be a hero again. I get to go in search of the pendants which will prove I am worthy of the legendary Master Sword, hidden once more in the Lost Woods. Seven Sages, seven dungeons in the dark world, rupees, arrows, bombs…

Oh, my goodness! Bombs were the clue to solving a very difficult puzzle in A Link to the Past. I was stuck on it so long that, even now, when I’m worrying about any problem in my life, my husband will say, “Try throwing a bomb at it!”

I’m not kidding. That game was part of the fabric of my life as a young mother. Now I have the sequel in my house and I’m expected to accomplish other things? Hyrule is in danger again! It needs a hero!

I can’t believe I’m writing a blog post instead of swinging that Master Sword.


Orange hates me. Okay, maybe I started it. As secondary colors go, orange has always been my least favorite. I’m trying to give it a chance. I really am, but orange is just not playing along. Last week, I painted a big picture of some flame azaleas I photographed on my June trip to North Carolina. I shared it in last week’s blog post, even though I was far from satisfied with the orange flowers. It was a painting; it was a learning experience and it counted towards my goal of painting fifty paintings in my second blog year. Those oranges were really bothering me, though, so I decided to try again, on a much smaller scale.

Orange defeats me.

Orange defeats me.

I mean an itty bitty scale. This experiment did not go well. I kept trying and the oranges kept getting muddier. Eventually, I stopped trying and signed the thing. It’s a painting. It was a learning experience. It counts. I’ll probably gesso over it at some point, but for now I have plenty of itty bitty canvases. Feeling frustrated and staring at lots of leftover red, yellow and orange paint, I pulled out a piece of printer paper and started brushing paint on that. I wasn’t trying to come up with a pretty painting. I just wanted to come up with one pretty orange petal. Still no luck. Curse you, orange!

I’m not giving up in despair but I do think I will leave orange alone for a while. I need to paint something that makes me happy before I tangle with orange again. Meanwhile, I need to get thirty thousand words for Camp NaNoWriMo. As of right now, I am on track to finish by July thirtieth. That is assuming I get my nine hundred or so words today. I’m not sure that will happen, but if it doesn’t, I will just have to bake more pies and have another make-up day.

I may not be having success with my painting and I may be dragging my feet on the writing, but I can always bake. Pies, cookies … whatever it takes. Cookies made out of pie dough and filled with fig preserves…

Fig cookies

Fig cookies

I can do that.

Fun With Writring

I am caught up on my word count for Camp NaNoWriMo. Now I can meet my goal by doing about nine hundred words a day for the rest of July. As I suspected, the process did require pie.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Also cookies.
No-bake Cookies

No-bake Cookies

And my favorite flavored coffee.
Jamaican Me Crazy

Jamaican Me Crazy

And more pie.
Custard Pie

Custard Pie

And one big painting.
Flame Azaleas

Flame Azaleas

The scan is a bit fuzzy and it washed out the sky, which is blue, not white, in the actual painting. This is the biggest one I’ve done yet and it’s different from the rest in other ways, too. It was based on a photograph. I prefer to paint from life, but we saw some beautiful things when we were in North Carolina and I didn’t have time to paint on the Craggy Flats trail. That’s where I took the picture of flame azaleas on which this painting is based. The other difference is that I painted it in stages over several days, instead of all in one sitting.

Of course, the result is not all that I had hoped it would be, but it was a great learning experience. I tried new things. I can’t expect new things to work perfectly the very first time I try them. It’s called “trial and error” for a reason. I am happy that I was able to allow myself to make errors.

I should confess that the other reason I am caught up on my Camp NaNoWriMo word count is that I’m trying new things there, too. I haven’t dropped my word goal, but I have given myself permission to write whatever I want to write. I know I said I wanted to finish my novel from November, but I was so stuck that I was starting to feel like Mozart in that scene from Amadeus where Constanze is trying to get him to work on the Requiem and he looks at her with hollow eyes and says, “It’s killing me.”

Yeah… not a fun place to be. I want to finish that novel, but I’m not going to kill myself over it. This is Camp; it’s supposed to be fun. It can be any type of writing, not just a novel. It can be nonfiction. It can be a collection of poems or short stories. It can be a screenplay if that’s what you want to write. It can even be revisions of a novel you have already written. I’m still writing. I will write thirty thousand words in the month of July. They will all come from my head; I won’t have a character in my own novel read passages from some real, already-published novel to pad my word count. My daughter, who spends time on the NaNoWriMo forums, says that is a tactic some people use.

I may now be a NaNoWriMo rebel, but I’m not that much of rebel. I just set my inner artist free, that’s all. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, says that the inner artist is a child. You can’t make a child happy by dragging her, kicking and screaming, to a word processor and chaining her little hands to the keyboard. As soon as I told her she could write whatever she wanted, she started jumping up and down, clapping her hands and saying, “Really, really, really?”

A little freedom was all it took. Well…that and a whole lot of sweets.

Still Writing

Week two of Camp NaNoWriMo feels a lot like week two of regular NaNoWriMo. I don’t have enough words and I hate every one that I’ve written. I’m convinced that my story is crap and that I have no writing ability at all. A voice in my head is telling me to give up but I will not give up. I know this is how week two always feels.

The first year I participated in NaNoWriMo, I got behind on my word count because I decided to rest when I caught the flu. It was a good decision, but it meant that I got to late November and still needed way more than my planned two thousand words a day. Fortunately, Thanksgiving came early that year and I was able to take a make-up day on Black Friday.

I don’t shop on Black Friday. My usual tradition is to eat leftover pie and watch Christmas videos. That year, I pulled out my netbook and worked on my novel while I was eating leftover pie and watching Christmas videos. By the end of the day, I had made up my word count. I was also full of pie and Christmas spirit. It was an excellent make-up day.

I’m hoping to find one of those at some point during this Camp. I set myself a goal that I thought would be easy: thirty thousand words. I wrote fifty thousand words in November; how hard could thirty thousand be? I should learn not to ask those kinds of questions. I’ve finished eight days of Camp NaNoWriMo and only one of them was a thousand-word day. Some days, it’s a struggle to write five hundred.

One day, I wrote no words at all. It was a holiday, so I figured I could take a break. Unfortunately, there’s no leftover pie after Independence Day. We make ice cream for Independence Day. There’s no pie and there are no uplifting videos to watch. I’m not in the mood to watch Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas in July.

There’s another problem. All I want to do is paint. I spent most of this past week doing tie-dye inventory (we like to count things every quarter) and trying to work on my novel. The inventory is finally done. That should give me more time to work on my novel, but all I can think of is grabbing a canvas and splashing paint on it.

No, it’s weirder than that. Suddenly, I want to make a big painting. It would be easy to do something with a tiny canvas, claim that I painted, and move on. When I decided to allow myself a little painting time today, I thought I would do that. Instead, I grabbed the biggest toned canvas in my studio (okay, I’m lying about the studio. All of my painting supplies are on the dining room table because my creative space is full of tie-dye) and I started to plan how I would paint it.

Yes, you read that right – I said “plan.” I did a detailed sketch, with color notes, before I added any paint to my canvas. All I could get done in the time I had left was a few bits of sky. It was the most boring painting session imaginable and I loved it. I can’t wait to get back to it.



I don’t feel that way about my novel, but I know that’s normal for week two. I will paint, but I will also keep writing. I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo. I chose to participate. I made a commitment. I will follow through. I will get my thirty thousand words, one way or another. I don’t know how I’m going to manage that right now, but I’m pretty sure the process will involve pie.