Sunday, November 18, 2012

Oh No! NaNo's Starting To Wind Down

So I posted my last update super late again, but this time it wasn’t because I was slacking on my posting of the chapter. I had both of my new chapters up at about 11am. This meant I had an hour to post my weekly update here. That should be plenty of time for normal bloggers. Not so much for me since I’m so long-winded. However, since I’ve been writing these diary entries at the end of each day all I had to do was copy from Word and paste here on Blogger.
And then all hell broke loose.
Ever since January’s start of the weekly updates and new formatting I’ve instituted, I’ve been slowly learning HTML code. For almost a month now I’ve been writing only exclusively in HTML because it was easier and faster to write the code ahead of time; instead of going back through and finding all the places to add all my links and all of those yellow underlines so you get more info when hovering over with your mouse. For about a month this tactic worked. I thought I was slowly mastering HTML.
Boy, was I ever wrong! This past week when I tried posting everything I wrote at least half of it got erased because some line in one of the codes was off, and everything written after that bad code got deleted. I battled for almost four hours – Hubby sleepily rubbing my back to help calm me – before finally getting the post up. Didn’t even bother announcing via twitter or my Facebook account. I was too ticked and I didn’t have time. I was already running late for work.
By the time I got home, celestialTyrant was hanging out with Hubby and we stayed up until 11pm playing Super Mario Bros. Wii. So, the day that is normally fantastic for my writing availability ends up being a day I crash my writing streak. *sigh*

Hubby coerced me in to watching Highschool of the Dead before work. So there goes three-some hours I watched TV instead of writing. I then did my shift, which ended up being longer than it’s supposed to be because no one else took out trash the entire work day and so the trash bags were piled up higher than the container could handle, and the bags were stuffed heavier than they could handle, so I’m doing a balancing act trying to get these bags to the back. Meanwhile, at least two bags ripped on me when I tried to lift them. Awesome.
By the time I got home all I wanted was a shower, late night dinner, and watch my Monday night shows.
Therefore, I go from a super-awesome writing streak to yet again going days without writing. I need to seriously tweak some things in my life if I’m going to get a proper writing rhythm down.

After wasting my Monday evening checking in on Facebook and DeviantArt in search for the winners of the Hey Arnold Halloween contest, I started off the day nervously checking once more.
Sadly, as predicted – especially catching all those stupid typos – I didn’t even place. I’m hoping to one day read all the other entrants in the contest, since I’ve now seen all the pictures entered. Sadly, ChibiSunnie didn’t place with her picture, which I thought showed so much more attention to detail and creativity than any of the other drawings – no offense to the other contestants. However, the winner and runner up were very well executed in their own right. I think they demonstrated more mastery over the art than Chibi – cleaner; more polished.
Here’s the runner up:
And here’s the winner: 
And here’s a refresher on what Chibi’s looks like:
Although Chibi didn’t place with her picture, she still took SECOND PLACE WITH HER STORY! XD Hazzah!
For a girl who claimed she couldn’t write prose; for a girl who never wrote prose outside of school work; for a girl who never wrote any fanfiction before; for that girl to get second place WHEN I DIDN’T PLACE AT ALL…. now THAT is saying something! And it should be saying it pretty loud and clear to all of you self-doubting writers.
You are always going to be your worst critique and doubt how good you are. However, you’ll never truly know until you get those words out there and see how people react to it.
Also… this story holds the lesson of
Yes, that goes for ALL my writers – as well as my readers here that might also write, but haven’t let me know so I could read their works. *hint, hint*
But there’s also a flipside to this lesson. And that is how to bounce back from rejection.
Yes, I was “graded” by “my peers” – the administrators of the Save The Jungle Movie Hey Arnold group – and not a publisher or professional editor. Yes, my career didn’t sink or swim with this contest. Yes, my story wouldn’t be “otherwise published” or “made money” if I had won. And finally, No, Craig Bartlett – the show’s creator – was not a “secret guest judge” for the contest and therefore my lack of winning was not him telling me that I suck at writing episodic-style stories. So, aside from not getting my name announced and not receiving the autographed book – which I would have given to Chibi anyway if we actually did collab on her gourd scarecrow story – nothing changed in my world.
But not winning still stings. Knowing that at least two other stories were better than mine – when I only know of five submitted stories total, including mine – is a bitter taste. Although having my name announced as a winner isn’t a groundbreaking achievement, it still could have been. My name could have finally been out there as a fanfic writer. I could have actually gotten more of a following. And there’s that nagging “what could I have done better if I had time to proofread” question – as well as the “should I have gone with one of the seven other ideas bouncing in my head” quandary.
I’ll admit that I tried to psych myself up. I tried to tell myself to just focus on my NaNo story now that I knew the results. I tried to tell myself that it didn’t really matter because I still have a faithful following regardless. I tried to tell myself that I could just start breeding plotbunnies for the Christmas contest coming up next month. Yet I still got in my writing funk and couldn’t shake it. Rejection – no matter how tiny – stings and all writers have to learn how to deal with it in their own right.
But enough moping! I say we celebrate those who properly beat me out of my prize!
Well, now that I’ve done almost an entire blog post just about the contest…. Let’s get back to the NaNo updates, shall we?
As I mentioned above, I was in a funk. I TRIED to concentrate on my NaNo story, but I just couldn’t really get in the mood to write. I punched out about 600 words – which is better than the NOTHING I’ve done the previous two days – and then stalled.
Part of the stall, however wasn’t because of the funk. It’s because I got to a part where I need to write a prophecy. I know prophecies tend to have significant years and that certain significant events usually occur on significant anniversaries of other significant events. All this said; I went to my handy dandy word document where I wrote down the backstory timeline of the world of Albion – well, the current era of Albion at least. But as I read through it I realized I based my dates too much on the ages I wanted key players to be when main events happened, but didn’t put any thought in the years between the events. For instance, the events of the main story take place 73 years after the main villain is born, 33 years after the cornerstone event, and 26 years after the main antagonist is born. These main events should definitely have more of a significance in the years passed between them. I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked for about two hours and still wasn’t content in how everything turned out. Such a waste of a day!

I just could NOT get started on my writing again until I had that timeline figured out. It was driving me bonkers! Working and re-working the timeline in my word document just wasn’t working. I needed something more visual than that.
So I got some of the multi-part continuous printer paper that we have stored with our D&D resources. I only had four sheets to work with, so I divided the full sheet in to four rows and 27 columns – each column just barely wide enough for half a sticky note. Although I knew most spaces would be blank, some of the events were moveable by a single year or two, so I needed exactly the count of 100 years. I then wrote down all of the important points of the backstory on half-widths of sticky note, and proceeded to place them on my gridded out timeline.
I started with the timeline I had after fussing with it yesterday. I then tweaked and adjusted so years were more significant to each other and people didn’t seem insanely old in the grand scheme of things. Creating world backstory is HARD WORK! Sheesh.
The construction of the grid, plus writing out the events, and shifting everything until I was satisfied took a total of about two hours! Either way, I feel accomplished and I think this visual representation was a LOT easier for me to navigate so I could progress faster. I’ll have to keep that in mind for future endeavors – although I sort of always knew that… I mean, I need to stop and draw nearly every character I’ve ever created to get them fully in my head. Same for house layouts. When I did the Halloween story last month I stopped for a few hours so I could research normal layouts for rowhouses, then take the rough layout of the Pataki home – which ALWAYS changes if you pay attention, I don’t think even the creators knew the layout – and finally compiled my own layout for the Old McKinney house. Even though the reader didn’t really know much of the layout, *I* needed to in order to continue my writing. u_u boy am I pathetic…. :-P
Well, I sat waiting for Hubby at work – similar to what I’m forced to do on Sundays when he does the price changes – and in my two hour wait I managed to finish off chapter 4. So even if I’m still over 9000 words behind, I’m at least hitting my secondary goal of at least one chapter completed each week. It’s only Wednesday, though. Perhaps I can get a second one done again.

Once a year in November, Americans quit tobacco use for at least 24-hours in an attempt to have it kickstart a lifetime of being tobacco free. As the Wellness Champ of my store, one of my job duties required me to do SOMETHING to promote the day. Thus I spent about four hours of my own time to organize. That’s my OWN TIME, unpaid, at home, while CT was visiting last night. I put together Quit Kits with a whole bunch of information and goodies for people attempting to quit today, I made a promotional poster, and I “laminated” some anti-smoking posters using transparent contact paper. This resulted in me listening to the guys while they played Mario Party 8, but I couldn’t join in… :-( It also resulted in me not writing another word for the rest of the night. So add another 400 to the tally of how far behind I am.
As for today, I woke up bright and early to get ready – dressed professionally and whatnot. I set up one of those sample carts they have at grocery stores; I plastered it with the anti-smoking promotional posters and the Quit Kits. I called it the “Propaganda Cart”. I then stood by Customer Service all day while every single smoking employee avoided me like the plague. I did give away seven of those Quit Kits to customers, so I guess it wasn’t a total wash.
By the time Hubby and I both finished with work, did some quick shopping, and picked up Chinese food – Hubby had a craving and some extra cash in his paycheck - it was roughly seven when we got home. We ate dinner, watched our Thursday shows, and I didn’t write a friggen word! So much for catching up.

Both Hubby and I had to be at work bright and early today, but I did notice before heading in that I had a Facebook message from one of the admins of the Hey Arnold group that hosted the Halloween contest. She sent me the grade sheets five of the admins filled out for my story; even though PinkLotus27 kept saying there were nine judges. Unfortunately, I had to wait until I got back home at about four before I could see what I got. I averaged out to having roughly an 84% on my story. Not too shabby in the grand scheme of things, but still not good enough to have placed. Now I’m super curious what Chibi got for her story, as well as what she and Chopfe got on their drawings.
The thing that really got me though were the conflicting comments. How am I supposed to improve on stuff like that? Some people told me that everyone was in character for the most part, but I slid Arnold out of character a little here and there – which I’m inclined to believe; I’m horrible with keeping the stupid football head in character. Others told me that I had everyone dead on the entire time and that it was like they were reading an episode. Then there were some comments stating that I did the transitions perfectly, and others who said they were a bit “robotic” and “rushed” – whatever that means.
Another thing that got me was that I lost points in originality! The main reason why? Because I purposely wrote the story to play out like an episode. I ended up losing points in originality because of that! One of the judges even commented that I lost originality points because I wrote an urban legend which “has been done”…. Um… the rules said “Halloween-themed, ghost story, or URBAND LEGEND”. Since I purposely avoided them doing something on Halloween specifically – a refreshing twist I would think – I therefore HAD to do either a ghost story or urban legend in order to fit the criteria. I then lost points for it? Worst part? I thought my story was a GHOST STORY and not an urban legend at all. :-P
I do have to say though, that Hubby was adorable. Yeah, I was a bit bummed out when I saw exactly what my marks were – and the comments that went with them. However, I tried shaking it off. Again, this is an inconsequential fandom contest. If I can’t brush off this “rejection” how can I handle publishers telling me no? Hubby on the other hand – who hasn’t read the story yet, mind you – started raging. “What are these people’s criteria for judging? Why is grammar part of the grading when most of these people speak Spanish? How can some of them say something like ‘You did great with your transitions,’ and then give you 14 out of 20 in that category? It makes no sense! How can they possibly think your story wasn’t original? Who else thought to write like an episode? That’s unique!” The overly protective and defensive comments continued. I think he got more riled up than I did. I kept trying to remind him that he hadn’t read the story yet and so most of the comments COULD be very valid, but he wasn’t hearing that. He’s adorable and I love his support!
Anyway, after the Contest Grading Raging, Hubby and I quickly got ready for our Vampire LARP. I personally wanted to skip it since I was still so far behind on my NaNo writing, but we haven’t played in about three weeks, and since I was in the fight scene we were finishing today if I didn’t attend I would sort of screw it up for everybody. Especially seeing as how “everybody” ended up being Hubby, his BFF who runs the game, and Omnibladestrike. There was no way they’d be able to do anything with any fewer players.
Considering the last time we played I sat around twiddling my thumbs for about an hour or so while we were waiting on Omni to show up – time I COULD have spent working on that Halloween story – I decided to bring my netbook with me this time. Perhaps I could get some writing done.
Nope. For the first time like…. EVER… when it came to LARP we actually started up more-or-less on time. Yes, we again had to wait on Omni, but BFF had something planned for one-on-one with my character and his, so we just played that out.
I did manage to type out forty words before he decided to do that quick scene…. So I got SOMETHING typed today. Does that count?

Another semi-worthless day.
Did my normal wake up early for work thing. Got out of work super early – 11:30am – and hung out with Hubby and the guys. If you haven’t noticed, it’s now become a thing for the guys to crash my home on Saturdays. Since Cyhyr and her boyfriend can no longer make their weekly Monday visits it’s nice to have this new weekly social get together – even if I miss out on a lot of it due to work and them playing Magic.
Anyway, I caught up on my massive amount of Facebook notifications – since I hadn’t checked FB since reading the grade sheets – ate, and waited around downstairs for a little bit. Since Omni and CT were both at the house we were gonna continue our Super Mario Bros. Wii game and try to beat it today. Instead they Magic-ed.
At about 1:30 I gave up and went upstairs to write. I managed a little over 900 words before passing out. Whoops. Well, fully refreshed, I woke up when I got called back downstairs so we could play Mario. That lasted until about 11pm. OMG, I’m so awesome with this “Don’t be sociable for just one month; just write, everyone will understand” thing, aren’t I? :-P So….. yeah…. So much for catching up on that word count today as well.

Alright, so, admittingly, considering how long this one post is, if I did give up on the diary blogging and just stayed offline throughout November – like I do in April – I probably would be a lot farther in my story. I just spent an hour updating this blog post, and I’ll probably spend another hour fighting with the formatting like I did last week.
Anyway, I had a sandwich and a nearly-full mug of coffee chillin’ next to me first thing this morning. So I once again attempted to conquer my story. Especially since this boring thing is four chapters down and STILL in the exposition phase. We haven’t even started the epic tale of them searching for the jewel shards, meeting the antagonist, or finding out the secrets of Connor’s past.
I did manage to at least tear through today’s 1667 words while I was awake via shots of my mug of coffee. Woke up at 2am to bring Hubby in to work and have been up since! Sheesh! To be fair, though, between this blog update and a lot of time doing more research – I really need to stop doing that - I only wrote for about two to three hours in the six I had available. Still, that just demonstrates that if I get my act together and find two uninterrupted hours I should be able to at least avoid falling farther behind. I mean, if I keep up the pace of 1667 words per day from now on out I’ll only hit 33,487 words, but it’s better than stopping at my current 16,513… right?
I’m just super nervous about this upcoming week. The house is a disaster. There’s crap EVERYWHERE. The dishes are all in the sink. So I have at least one full day of cleaning to do, but I’m working every day until Friday – yup, that includes working Thanksgiving. We’re hosting Thanksgiving on Wednesday, which means I have Monday and Tuesday to clean – like THAT’S gonna happen! @_@ We also need to fold and put away laundry as well as packing for our trip to PA for Thanksgiving with my family. We’re going to attempt to head down to PA after I’m done with work on Thursday. We’ll probably miss the Thanksgiving dinner my mom is making, but we can have leftovers! Then I’ll spend time with my family on Friday and probably won’t have any writing time. Saturday is the extended family Thanksgiving gathering. Sunday we’re heading home. That’s pretty much an entire week that I don’t foresee any writing time! I’m hoping to at least finish Chapter 5 so I have that new chapter for you folks next Sunday, but who knows.

So, I guess I just need you guys to wish me luck and we’ll see how well I do next week.

For my fellow Americans – I sound like such a politician – I wish you a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving. 

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