Tuesday, January 17, 2017

There We Are!

I have some smiley faces on my pocket calendar. They're pretty much every other day, so I still don't have a week with no more than 3 zero days. However, I'm off to a good start this week. I wrote SOMETHING the past three days. I think I'm finally getting my footing; getting my rhythm.

I even have something to share with you folks, but I'll get to that at the end of the post.

I started to really hold myself accountable this week. Not only did I finally start marking my calendar with the days I did and didn't write, but in the individual dates sections I even noted what I wrote, when, for how long, where I was, and in some cases how many words. I started to do the same with reading as well.
The :-/ faces are days where I did research or outlining.
Technically still counts, but I didn't write a narrative.
Ah, my glorious handwriting.... >_>
When I know that I have to record it, I'm less likely to let my mind wander, and I'm less likely to let a day go by without SOMETHING being done. I mean, look at Thursday, that silly blank day. No writing. No reading. Pathetic. 

It also occurred to me last night that I have two instructional books that I'm working through, but if I haven't completed the exercises in the chapter I'm hard pressed to want to keep reading. So, I'll need a fictional book to read this month too!

"X all the Y" meme
Originally created by Allie Brosh
Yeah, I actually have THREE books going at once! Geez! At least only one of them is a narrative. One of the other two I'm going to slowly read throughout the entire year. I think it's manageable....

Anyway, the narrative is going to knock out another one of the book challenge components: Finish a series I started. Granted, this could be a cheeky way of getting multiple books read, depending how far into the series one is compared to how many are left in the series. I could go with the Enderverse and have something like one story left in the "Speaker Trilogy," or two more stories to finish Ender's storyline, or seven if I were to finish up Ender and then go into the Shadow Saga, or eleven if I'm also including the four books about the Formic Wars. That's not even including the six books Orson Scott Card has planned. You can see how this challenge point can give me a year's worth of reading just by itself....

Me? I went the easy route. I've been very slowly chugging away at the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan. It's basically "read one book, read other things, read the next book about two years later" for the three-book series. Not the best way to do it, since I have a hard time remembering what happened in the previous book. Riordan does have his narrators give a broad overview of the key points from previous books that the readers need to know. Still, I feel a bit lost the first couple of chapters until I get my footing again. Especially when there's a returning character that is supposed to be impactful and I go "Wait.... who is this again?"

I still say that, for some reason that Hubby and I can't put our fingers on, the Kane Chronicle books just aren't as engaging to us as just about every other book Riordan has written. Still, I started this series, and by gum, this challenge is going to have me finish it!

So, I now have my "A Writer's Book of Days" writing book filled with prompts for the year, and I have "Ready. Set. Novel!" as my "book with red on the cover" as well as a workbook for me to figure out an actual manuscript to write and complete. Finally, I have "The Serpent's Shadow" as my narrative to read. I got this....

I have to say, "Ready. Set. Novel!" was such a great gift! Well, all of my writing books were, but right now I'm focusing on this one. It is written so humorously, and the exercises are fun and exciting. I actually look forward to opening the book and going over the next exercise. I never had that before. Not with all the other "improvement" books nor with the MasterClasses. Those exercises felt like actual homework. These, though, are definitely an enjoyable part of my day to work towards.

I mean, check out this opening passage:
   Hi and welcome! We're so glad you made it. We were just hanging out and chatting with your new novel. Have you met your book yet? Really interesting! Great storyteller! And good-looking too!
   You've clearly got a winner on your hands, and we're excited to spend the next month helping you two get to know each other a little better. As part of that process, we'll take field trips, block out opening scenes, stalk some characters, brainstorm intriguing twists, draw maps, and forge a majestic plot cannon that will launch you headlong into novel-land. By the time you've filled this journal, you and your novel will have a complete blueprint for your new life together.
   You'll also have a very nicely colored picture of Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
And yes, there is indeed an actual coloring page of Dostoyevsky in the back of the book.
Author of "Crime and Punishment"
Yes, they do also have coloring pages of "Frankenstein" author Mary Shelley, the renowned Jane Austen, and Gustave Flaubert, who is probably best known for penning "Madame Bovary."

Also in the back of the workbook is a page to give yourself high fives when you need encouragement:
"Come back and high five this page to
celebrate all your noveling triumphs!"
Be wary, though, because on the very next page is a boot to kick yourself in the pants if you start slacking.
"Turn to this page anytime you're in need
of a good old-fashioned pants kicking."
How can I NOT have fun with this book!? Heck, part of me wants to call it quits on this post right now so I can get back to working though it.

I do have more to say, though, so I won't jump ship on this post. However, if you haven't figured it out yet, I'm giving "Ready. Set. Novel!" rave reviews already. If you need writing help, I highly suggest you pick this book up. Even if you find it at your local library and do what I do: write in a separate journal instead of in the workbook itself.
This way I can reuse "Ready. Set. Novel!" however much I want
without having to buy a new copy every time I want to write a new novel.
Not that I would mind giving NaNoWriMo more money....
I've also decided to follow the advice from "A Writer's Book of Days" and try writing long-hand again, instead of doing all of my daily writing practices on the computer. I'm still not much of a fan since I then have to take the time to transfer all of my long-hand writing onto the computer if I want to post it anywhere. Plus my carpal tunnel acts up when I write by hand too long; my fingers lock, my wrist throbs, and the tips of my fingers get stupid cold from the reduced circulation. In other words, it's probably not the healthiest option for me, considering how tightly I grip pens, no matter how hard I concentrate on loosening my grip.

Still, Judy Reeves claims there's something textual about writing in a journal that people just don't get when tapping at a keyboard. There's a slowing of the mind since most can't write as fast as they type. However, I attempt to keep that hurried pace, hence the terrible handwriting, and probably the tight grip of my pen to make sure it doesn't go flinging across the table.

Another reason why I'm caving in and trying to write long-hand for this workbook: I kind of like the idea of these 365 prompts as journal entries that I can go back and look upon. I mean, I can do the same with the computer, but there's something organic about flipping through actual pages; seeing the horrendous handwriting; not relying on technology; having something even more portable than my laptops.
I already have about 30 untouched journals, so, naturally,
I had to make a Walmart run to pick these up. The purple
one on the bottom is my "Ready. Set. Novel!" journal.
Granted, I've only done the January 13th prompt thus far, so I haven't really written anything in the actual journals yet. I'm going to backtrack and start at January 1st, and then work my way through the journals one date at a time, like a true diary. However, since I am so far behind, if I write from a prompt I didn't reach yet in the diaries, I'm going to go back to my computer.

It's what I did already with the one prompt I did do thus far. I actually even cleaned it up a bit, and that's the new story I have to share today, both with you and with my writing group tonight.

"Survive the Night"

OK, I REALLY have an itch to get back to writing, so I'll hope to have something, or a few somethings, new for next week. My focus really needs to be a flash-fiction to fit Ronoxym's challenge, since I still haven't written a narrative less than 1000 words....

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