Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Giving Thanks "Tree"

So, today is Thanksgiving in the United States. Which means it's the last Thursday of November.


That means I missed yesterday's update and I once again didn't even notice it was Wednesday.

Honestly, if it weren't for the numerous "Happy Thanksgiving" posts in my Facebook feed or the "Happy Thanksgiving" texts that I've been getting, I wouldn't have even remembered today was a holiday.

Downside to working retail and having to work on Thanksgiving; as least a part of it.

Hubby is at work now and I'm running around the house to try to do some last-minute cleaning before heading to visit my mom and sister for the weekend. First Thanksgiving in three years that I've had off, but it still doesn't feel like a holiday. When we go to the feast with my mom's siblings on Saturday; THAT will feel like Thanksgiving to me.

Right now all I feel is tired. Thanksgiving is obviously a huge holiday for grocery stores and we've been crazy all week. I felt so bad for customers at the beginning of the week because I honestly lost track of what day it was and forgot that new week means new sales. When I was suggesting things that were on sale LAST week I had the biggest "you're an idiot" looks.

Sorry, customers, I'm burned out.

Although most of the time off will be spent traveling, I'm hoping that taking a vacation this week will help recharge me.

Lord, I have no clue what state I would be in if I had tried to stick with NaNo.

On the plus side, I was able to let my mind wander. After this month I've been able to figure out more of what I'd like to do with Lottie. I've also learned more about being patient and really plotting out everything. Really giving a story time to build and grow. I was always pretty good at having a generic road map, but I also allowed my characters to just run off with the story.

While I'll most likely stick with that strategy when it comes to my writing, it's insanely hard to do when I don't already know the characters. It was easier when I was just writing fanfiction. I knew the characters inside and out and just needed an inspirational spark to get going. I feel like I've really matured the last year as I learned to build Gyateara and the X-Future reboot, and now Lottie and the other vampires of the Cobleskill World of Darkness.

Yes, I don't have much writing to show for November. I have one chapter before giving up NaNo, and I barely touched the X-Future board. However, I was able to recharge my writing brain so I'm once again excited to work on these stories.

Plus, I used the month to crochet instead and I'm actually about 70% done with my niece's Christmas gift already! I might actually have one done BEFORE the gift-date! Whoot! I also have a few presents gathered up/completed for my November-baby friends. So I have a few pitstops while visiting my mom. Speaking of which, I've got a moderate chunk of my mom's gift out of the way too. And my sister's set. December may not be as stressful-gift-giving-wise as it was in years past.

I'm most likely going to still be crocheting like mad and barely writing next month, but I'll at least be relaxed enough to keep my mind wandering so I can jumpstart 2015 with massive writing ready to go down on paper. That's something, right?

Now to finish up with a tradition my mother started with us. Here is my list of things I'm grateful for; one for every day of November leading up to Thanksgiving.
  1. My husband. He is my rock, my best friend, my grounding, my mind when I've lost it, my snuggle buddy, my big kid/Mommy-trainer, my smile and happiness, and my human space heater in the chilled months. I love you, baby!
  2. While we are still struggling, we are able to survive on the paychecks Hubby and I bring home. We can pay our bills, we are never hungry, we can keep a roof over our heads, we can stay warm, and we can still scrounge up enough money to entertain and destress ourselves on occasion.
  3. While on the subject, I'm thankful that there is still a one-screen movie theater in town. It's tiny. It's quaint. It's cheap; only $5 per ticket. It has big movies relatively soon to release dates. It's because of this theater that Hubby and I could watch the movies we were really looking forward to on just the change we've gathered over the month.
  4. My unofficial roomie Quarthix. It's been fun - distracting; hence the messy house, but still fun - having him come over nearly daily. A lot of the people we socialize with up here still feel a lot like Hubby's friends who grew to became mine as well. We all have a good time when together, but it still seems like it's awkward for them to be alone with me, and so they almost never come over except if Hubby's around. Quarthix - while mostly only visits Hubby - has no problem hanging out with just me, and it's been fantastic to finally find someone other than celestialTyrant that is truly a friend of BOTH mine and Hubby's.
  5. While talking about Quarthix I have to talk about his fiance too. It's great for Hubby and I to have a "couple friend" and we found them in these two. They love hanging out as a foursome, and her family has even invited us over to family events on at least three occasions the past year. We have fun just hanging out at each others' apartments and having game nights.
  6. Yeah, we're including this separately. I LOVE game nights. We just play four-player video games, or board games, or card games, etc. Quarthix's fiance even offered for us to do some sort of Dungeon Master study sessions so that we can team up and start our own D&D game instead of waiting for other people.
  7. Spink and her fiance need to be on this list too. While we don't really hang out with them as much as Quarthix and his fiance, this is another great couple that I enjoy hanging with. Yes, Spink still feels like "my" friend and her fiance "Hubby's" friend, but the four of us have a good time; if the duo can find free time in their tight schedules. Spink also works with me, and it's nice to have an ally at work; I have so few. She's also my exercise buddy and she pushes me to Zumba with her. We also Zelda together, so win all around!
  8. Keeping with my thankfulness of friends, I'm increasingly thankful for ChibiSunnie. She has become an ever-increasing presence in my life, and she always has the best timing. She seems to know exactly the right thing to say and the exact right time to tell me them. She manages to pick me up when I'm the most down, and cheer me on when I need the most push. She's one of my biggest fans and loudest cheerleaders.
  9. I'm also grateful that after 20-some years my bestie from elementary school is still in my life. I'm glad I get to visit her this weekend, as well as spend time with her son who just so happens to be my godson. We may not be as close as we once were, but the fact that our friendship endures and we can still stay up until 2am catching up is fantastic.
  10. Speaking of being close, I'm thankful that my sister and I are really clicking. It kept about 25years, but we're finally the sisters I wanted us to be. We miss each other dearly when away. We talk a lot more frequently. We joke with each other. We have fun as we hang out. We enjoy the time we have together. We support each other. She has really matured and stepped up, and I love that we're finally friends. Now, don't get me wrong, we've always been close - at least, I always tried to be close - but we would butt heads more often than not. For my Hey Arnold friends, I'd be Olga to her Helga.
  11. I've always had a passing enjoyment for American football. It was mostly watching New York Giants games whenever I could catch them, really pay attention during the playoffs, and regardless of how well the Giants did over the season I'd watch the Super Bowl. If nothing else but to watch the commercials. This year I grew a huge appreciation for the sport. In part it was because Hubby has been teaching me more and more about it. In part because I unofficially started hosting football parties for Quarthix, his fiance, and any other friends of ours that wished to visit. It was also in part because I was talking to my sister more during the games and bonding over them. It really helped me connect with Quarthix and my sister. So, THANK YOU, FOOTBALL!
  12. Even though it seemed that EVERYTHING went on my car at the same time, it is up and running within budget and set for my drive down to visit family for Thanksgiving. There's still a few things that need fixing, but it's in good enough condition to legally be on the road, and so I shouldn't have to worry about breaking down or traffic tickets.
  13. It was incredibly cold this month. Winter decided to come early up here. However, the weekend that I didn't have my car because it was in the shop the weather was unseasonably warm. The second-to-last weekend in November and I was walking home from work in 70-degree weather. The few times it was close to freezing it wasn't windy, and so it didn't seem so cold while in my winter coat. So, with all the walking I did this weekend I wasn't cold once. I'm SUPER grateful for that since I don't do well in cold.
  14. This one is going to seem super silly, but I'm grateful for this one street in my town. It's mildly out of the way when it comes to driving due to having to stop and turn instead of going straight. However, it does cut off a few minutes if you take this street while walking between my home and work. So I was able to really experience this road for the first time this weekend. I love it because it's pretty much the only place in the whole town that is a solid row of Cape Cod style kit homes. Between the style of home, the size of the property, and the types of trees in the front yard, it was like walking through my hometown. It was a nice strip of my old home nestled in my new. I even half-expected to see my hometown's public park as I turned the corner. It was a nice reminder of where I came from, and it was comforting.
  15. Space heaters, and the family members that buy me them. As I mentioned two up, I don't do well in cold. So having the space heaters available to keep me warm without kicking on the heat is fantastic! It's cheaper if we don't need to warm the whole place, and it's a way for me to stay toasty without roasting Hubby. He used to be a Polar Bear Swimmer, and so he more-or-less thrives in about 50-60 degree temperatures. Meanwhile, I'm frozen in anything less than 70 degrees.
  16. YouTube and free GooglePlay downloads. I get such a wide variety of music for free that I can custom-make my own radio playlist. I have something for every mood I'm in and it helps me through the day. Should I expand this to me being thankful for music in general?
  17. Netflix and friends willing to lend out season DVDs. Hubby and I can't afford too many TV channels, and so we miss a lot of awesome shows. As long as we don't mind being a season or two - or ten - behind, we can use Netflix - and a few friends - to watch these awesome stories and competitions. We're currently addicted to Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen, and a buddy lent us the first season of Game of Thrones. While it's not as gorey as I thought - it's still super bloody - it has a LOT more nudity than I was expecting....
  18. Emoticons/Emojis/Facebook Stickers. Whatever you call them, they are fantastic! It's sad, but a large majority of my recreational human interaction is online. Being a writer I can still express myself fairly well, but the addition of emoticons really helps me get the full feeling across. Now I know the person I'm talking to gets exactly how I feel or what I mean. They can see the non-verbal that is so crucial to communication. Just ask Phfylburt. We're constantly joking that I'm reverting back in to speaking in hieroglyphics and that I can basically hold an entire conversation consisting of only Facebook stickers.
  19. Here's a really weird one, but I'm thankful that my niece seems to finally be warming up to me. She's still young - not yet two - and so she's in that stage in which she's weary of those she doesn't see all that often. Although I have seen her at least once a month all year, that's still pathetically little in the eyes of a toddler. I get that she knows she recognizes me, but is still unsure as to how we're connected. She's clingy to her mother or my mother-in-law whenever we're together, but yesterday I was able to get her to laugh, smile, and I was actually able to capture a smile or two on camera!
  20.  Facebook games. They are addicting. Facebook as a whole is an addition I keep getting suckered back in to. However, it's free entertainment - well, aside from the monthly internet bill - and it helps Hubby and I unwind without spending our limited funds.
  21. To try to promote all employees really taking the new "service message of the day" to heart, our store co-manager went around and asked us about the message of the day. Anyone who he felt answered appropriately received RedBox free movie rental coupons. Hubby and I had two to share, and so we got to finally watch a couple movies that were sitting on our "to watch" list for a while. Wow, we got a lot of free/discounted stuff this month/year...
  22. Digestive Advantage's Lactose Defense Formula by Schiff. I never realized how much I LOVED dairy until I became lactose intolerant. I was in so much pain, or I was depressed that I couldn't eat my favorite foods, or I was debating between the other two options or spending the massive amount of money of tearing through a full box of Lactaid just about every week. Then I tried Lactose Defense. What a godsend. Just one pill a day - so only about $9 a month - and I can have as much dairy as I want for the full day. A cheap solution that allows me to eat what I love without being doubled in pain later.
  23. Crocheting; more specifically, that my one friend in college taught me how to crochet and read patterns. My stuff still comes out looking silly and far from professional/sellable. However, yarn is cheap and people seem to enjoy the crafts I make them. It's a way for me to still show someone how much I care without breaking the bank. Hmmm, maybe I should extend this to "I'm thankful people at least pretend they appreciate the gifts I make them..."
  24. While I'm still thankful for the actual NaNo program, I'm grateful that Hubby convinced me to give up this year. Writing is once again fun and an escape as opposed to a stressful chore.
  25. The growth I've made with my writing over the year. From day to day it didn't seem like much, similar to watching a child grow, I'd wager. However, when I think back to everything I've learned since January, I really have changed to a more mature thought process and perspective. I've struggled, but grew with each struggle. I now have a better idea of what I want to do during the upcoming year.
  26. I can't finish this list without including you guys, my readers. I have no clue why you stick by me when I barely put out anything besides excuses and I routinely miss my weekly update time. Yet not only did you stay, but you've grown in number. It humbles me that you all enjoy what I'm doing that much. I'm amazed with every positive bit of feedback and plea for me to keep going with my stories. You are the forgotten heroes of my life. If I didn't have an audience I don't know if I'd be as determined to keep up with this blog, or writing in general. It would just be something else to add to the fail-pile and the "What if" list. Thank you so much for keeping me on a path I've wanted for two decades.
  27. Finally, I'm grateful that I had today and yesterday off. I had so many last-minute things I needed to do to get ready for my Thanksgiving Weekend trip. I barely had any time to relax yesterday; I can only imagine how behind or crazed I'd be if I had to work. Plus, I can have things set for when Hubby gets home instead of either us completely ignoring the holiday or him being forced to cook after his shift.
Mom, if you're reading this, know that even though you didn't make the list I am eternally grateful for everything you've done for and given me. There's just too much to ever fit on here...

With that I shall bid you all a happy and safe holiday. If you happen to not be American, then I'll just wish you a fantastic last weekend in November. Enjoy this last bit of calm before the craziness of the holiday season kicks in to full-swing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Writing Vacation Rekindles the Muse

Wow. It's been so long since I've used my netbook, I nearly forgot where I had left it. Worlds of difference from before it broke and I practically lived on this thing. Always on it while watching TV, or brought it with me to use on work breaks, or stashed it to work on writing while visiting a friend's place - in case said friend and Hubby decided they'd rather Magic - or even hide in my own bedroom with it in order to get writing done.

I guess the change is in part that I have more things that I need to work on now than I did over a year ago. Mostly, though, I think it's just because the laptop isn't fully fixed yet. I'm still stuck with my power cord needing to be plugged in at all times and the netbook itself lags way more than it ever did before. So I can't do as much with it as I used to.

Still. Going a week without touching it, or even realizing that I haven't touched it until I go to use it this morning... woah.

I've been spending my much more relaxing November week away from writing. Hubby and I used a free DVD rental to finally watch X-Men: Days of Future Past. For me, it's the same as the first X-Men movie that came out back in 2000. It was marvelously inaccurate to the actual comic book canon, but still very entertaining.

I've spent a few days getting back in to replaying Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The real drive there, I think, is both the fact that I've had sea shanties from Assassin's Creed: Black Flag stuck in my head - so, why not go with a LoZ "pirate" game - and also the fact that Hubby lent Spink his copy of The Wind Waker. Watching her play it made me want to start up the digital copy we got with our Legend of Zelda themed WiiU. I have to say, the biggest kick I've been getting out of it is that they updated the game so Link can take selfies with his pictobox now. I also like that I can move the gamepad around to scan above me when using the bow and arrows, rope, pictobox, or telescope. It's neat to look around Link by looking around my living room. Plus, it's so much fun that I can still play on the WiiU while Hubby is watching TV or playing on the XBox. LOOOOOVE being able to just play on the gamepad!

I've also gotten pretty far in my long list of crochet projects. I'm nearly done with a belated birthday gift I needed done before the end of the month. I have the Christmas gift for my niece about 75% of the way done already. Which, is insanely amazing considering her blanket was completed AT HER HOUSE on Christmas last year, and the matching pillow was finished two days after her first birthday. I'm also just starting up another family Christmas gift. I may actually get these all done on time!

That doesn't mean I HAVEN'T been working on my stories, however.

I'm still mentally developing Lottie. Although, I'm now wondering if I should do with her what I'm doing with the X-Future reboot. Sure, the whole thing will still be a White Wolf "Vampire: The Masquerade" fanfiction - I can't change it too much - but I'm debating keeping the main characters as the players of our LARP. I'm leaning more towards just taking certain aspects of the characters and rework them in to originals for the story. For instance, instead of taking Dan exactly as Ronoxym created him, I can use the element of Dan being a Brujah Seneschal - essentially a Vampiric Vice President - that Lottie wants to manipulate in to Prince - Vampiric President of a city.

For Victor I can just make a generic tough-guy punk; perhaps a former rock star from the late 80s/early 90s. Quarthix hasn't put much depth in to Victor yet - or at least, hasn't displayed much depth - and so he's easy enough to customize in to my own story version. The group from Albany were all NPCs, and so The Bard didn't exactly create well-rounded characters, which leaves me with another spot where I can sink my teeth in to new characterization. As much as I love Hubby's two characters, aside from maybe using both as ways to manipulate the Cobleskill group, I don't foresee a need for either of them. In fact, aside from maybe including Katelyn as someone that is just as suspicious of Lottie as Lottie is of her, I don't see a need for any of the actual LARP characters besides Dan and Victor.

So, I've been trying to rethink my cast of characters. I know that I want to include the following:
  • Lottie
  • Dan and Victor - in some shape or form
  • Flashbacks including Lottie's husband Cooper and her sire Minnie
  • The Tzimisce that killed Minnie; who is still nameless - and technically genderless - at this point
  • The Prince of Cobleskill; who is Prince Stone if I go by the LARP
  • Possibly Katelyn and The Gangrel
  • At least brief appearances by Molly, Hank, and Joe from the Albany group
  • Possibly Hubby's characters Aiden and Billy
Obviously the big "bad guy" would be the murderous Tzimisce, but I need conflicts other than that. I need antagonists to push the story forward. I still need a plot. I'll have to see where my brainstorms take me.

Lottie's tale isn't the only thing I've been thinking about lately, though. The other day I randomly realized that I still haven't watched Joss Whedon's take of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing". I then wondered - no matter how much I love Joss Whedon's work and the cast he picked - could it possibly dethrone the near perfection of Kenneth Branagh's version. Further contemplation about my favorite Shakespearean play resparked my urge to turn it in to a Hey Arnold fanfiction. So, for the past couple of days I've been mentally plotting out how to go back to my original fandom and write a story loosely based on Much Ado About Nothing; since I still can't find a good way to do a straight retelling.

Thinking about Hey Arnold again also rekindled my desire to get back to my long-forgotten What Is Truly Meant To Be. I actually had a comment about the story over on DeviantArt the other day. Funny how I was re-inspired to start working on it the day before someone commented on the tale. Please note, no one has read/commented on WITMTB more-or-less since I last wrote a chapter for it; about a year or two ago.

Fair warning though, guys:
Due to the amount of cleaning and crafting I have to do before the end of the year, the amount of WRITING I'll be doing before January will most likely be minimal. But I'll keep harvesting these plot bunnies and placing them in cages until I have the time and room to let them develop and mature.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why I'm Glad I'm No Longer NaNo-ing

I really don't want to write this post. I dreaded it a bit, to be completely honest. Mostly due to what I have to say.

I'm giving up on NaNo.

At least, for this year.

It was a rough decision for me, but one I'm glad I made.

Last week I just barely squeaked out a chapter and even so, I was still about 6,000 words behind where I should have been to hit the end goal. This week? I didn't write a word. Not a single one.

I'm drained and haven't been sleeping well lately. Every time I'm in a quiet room so I can think and write I end up passing out. The only way I can keep myself awake is with insane amounts of coffee - something I almost never drink otherwise - or when I'm socializing. I blame the later on the fact that I'm truly an extrovert although I have become a bit of a homebody the past few years.

A few more days ticked by with no progress. The ONE day I was fully awake in a completely quiet house was when I had my day off last Friday. How did I spend my time? Not writing.

Nope. I figured "I'll check out my Facebook notifications while I have coffee and breakfast. Then once those two items are done I should be through with my online maintenance, and I can finally write." Instead I finished my notifications with a link to a article my friend posted. Which reminded me of another article I had read a few months back that I had been meaning to send to another friend. I couldn't really remember the title of the article, and so I did a search for the basics of it. I did find the article I was looking for, but I also spotted about seven others that piqued my interest.

I told myself I'd just read those real quick and then I'll move on to writing. I still had about five hours until I needed to be somewhere. Then the phone rang.

It was my husband wondering if I could bring him a lunch when I came in to do my own stuff at work. That's when I realized that I had just lost about four hours to reading Cracked articles. Each one had hotlinks in their sentences enticing you to read that linking article if you weren't 100% sure what they were referencing. Articles lead to three more, which lead to another three more; it was like chopping off hydra heads. Once you were done with one, more popped up in its place.

I had gotten completely lost on, and also lost my opportunity to get writing done on my only day off that week. I rushed to get ready and slap together a meal for Hubby and me before zipping off to work; arriving 15minutes late for the meeting I was purposely going in to work for.

This, my friends, is why I don't Tumblr. I get lost easily; I have an addictive personality like that. DeviantArt? Spent 4hrs just looking up Gambit pictures once. Writers' Huddle forum? Ali had to send me a message on Facebook telling me to get off her site and go get something to eat. YouTube? Just yesterday I spent a good hour just going through multiple videos by "Outside Xbox". Cracked? Well, Friday wasn't the only day I've lost hours of my life reading their articles. Stupid archives....

Well, after my epic fail of doing ANYTHING productive on Friday, I snapped.

I hadn't been feeling well; sleeping well - as I stated at the top of this post - and I was feeling like a loser for not being able to motivate myself to write; regardless of all the procrastination-killing articles I've both read and posted here.

Now let's sprinkle in that I had a couple of personal issues arise. My time not snoozing or working was now spent trying to fix; organize; and emotionally deal with what was happening in the world around me.

For those concerned: I'm now fine. My husband is fine. My mother is fine. My sister will be fine. My in-laws will also be fine soon; we hope.

The issues were all both major and minor at the same time; depending on how one approaches the situation.

Either way, it compounded stressors and took up more of my time than I'd care to admit.

By the time everything was all figured out it was about the 9th and I had only written about 3000 words. About a fifth of what I should have been up to.

Add in that for some reason our Vamp game was pushed back to this upcoming Saturday instead of last week's. For me, it means that what I hoped to have been two events that could respark my interest in the project - the game on the 8th and 22nd - narrowed down to just the one event this Saturday; given that the one after that would be the Saturday Hubby and I would be visiting my family.

So a large portion of my inspirational infusion was taken away. On top of that, the last game we had Lottie essentially did nothing. It was painfully obvious that particular session was essentially written to advance one or two characters; but not all of us. A large portion of the time I was chatting with Quarthix; a buddy of ours that has become a near-constant staple in my apartment lately.

Anyone who read my solitary chapter for Lottie's story will know Quarthix as Victor's player.

Point being, last game didn't really spark my imagination with me being either a bored and confused character not knowing what to do with Lottie aside from stand there and twiddle my thumbs, or I was out of character and just socializing.

Toss in that I won't have another opportunity to play as Lottie until THIS Saturday, and that's a big dip in drive and inspiration.

Between being exhausted and stressed out - which indeed lead to a bad head cold - and then my drive to tell Lottie's story more-or-less killed in the role play; I just fell further and further behind.

And I hated myself for it.

"It's simple" I'd tell myself "It doesn't even need to be good; just get SOMETHING down on paper."

"Write the actual raid on NYC. Who cares if you suck at fight scenes; just do it. Perhaps the next portion of the story will come to you by then. Heck, the raid could even be two chapters since it took two game sessions to complete."

"You can't even write for an HOUR every day? What is wrong with you!?"

I went from hopeful to depressed. Something I was looking forward to was becoming such a chore. My means of escaping, recharging, and de-stressing was doing the exact opposite. Every time I thought about writing I just remembered how far behind in my word count I was. It wasn't an escape; it felt more like a "time out"; an activity I wanted to escape from. It wasn't recharging me and exciting me; it was draining me to the point of me passing out every time I tried. I was getting even MORE stressed about writing; and ticked off at myself for not doing it.

It got so bad I even wept at least once.

I kept calling myself a loser for giving up. I debated if the truly was my passion if I kept avoiding it. I wondered how I could ever make a career out of writing if I not only couldn't put in the effort to write - even after literally scheduling time to do so - but I also would give up after falling behind.

I fell in to a really dark place this week as I wrestled with myself about this whole NaNo thing. Hubby nearly ordered me to stop attempting; he didn't like what it was doing to me. That's when I finally submitted.

It was the best decision I could have made.

Yes, I'm still a bit disappointed. It's not even half-way through the month; I could still attempt a half-NaNo of 25,000 words. But I know I shouldn't try. Nearly the entire last week of the month will be shot due to Thanksgiving and the traveling/visiting I'll be doing. Between driving, socializing with my mom and sister, getting ready for the large family dinner, SOCIALIZING at said extended-family Thanksgiving dinner, meeting up with my bestie and godson, and possibly sticking around enough to help them move in to their larger apartment... when will I have time to write? Maybe in the few quiet hours at the end of the day, but I'll probably be more inclined to just watch a movie with the family.

The more I think about this month, the more I realize how quickly it goes by. I still have so many gifts I need to make; and waiting until December to do so always ends in both disaster and me not enjoying the holiday season. My apartment looks like a warzone. Hubby tries to help, but he gets just as exhausted from work as I do; plus Quarthix is an easy distraction with his constant visits.

I'm surrounded by time crunches and clutter and that just adds to the stress I already have going. Worrying about hitting self-imposed deadlines is the last thing I need to add to the pile. I need to learn how to organize and balance my life first.

I also didn't really have any NaNo buddies. Cyhyr was again off in her little solo-writing world that works best for her productivity. Power to her, but isolating herself so completely - an infinitely easier task for an introvert - doesn't really help motivate me. I'm that person who won't really exercise without someone else nudging them to. Apparently I need a writing buddy just as much as an exercise one. Even if I don't feel like doing so, if Spink told me "let's go Zumba" I'll jump right on it. If my mom said "Let's go take a walk" I'd be glad to go with. If Cyhyr said "Let's write 1000 words and then send them to each other by the end of the day" I'd be motivated. Without these people nudging me on, I'm a bump on a log waiting for my own motivation to kick in.

So I officially threw in the towel on Sunday.

It was a fantastic feeling. I felt such a weight lifted. I cleaned. I jumped on to X-Future; which I had also been neglecting and was therefore holding up the limited playing others were attempting to do. I sang in the shower. I even played a video game; something else I haven't really done outside helping Hubby push through levels of Hyrule Warriors.

I was in a fantastic mood and was actually energized for the first time since November started.

I've also become inspired again. Partially.

I realized that without the LARP hand-feeding me a plot for Lottie's story, I didn't have one. I had her past mostly figured out, and I had a few goals. I had no clue how to get from point A to point L, though.

She's on a mission to track down Tzimisce in order to avenge her murdered sire; oh, and she wants to figure out what happened to her husband that went MIA in WWII. Fantastic. How is joining the group from Cobleskill going to help with any of that? I had no clue. Still don't.

I was stalled because I had a CHARACTER concept; not a story one.

The inspiration that struck after I threw in the NaNo towel was a series of discussions Lottie would have with the Cobleskill characters. Mostly further character development; growing the dynamic between her and the other characters. I still don't really have a plot, but I'm beginning to see how her day-to-day life would go down in the meantime.

I needed to figure out how she'd try to convince Dan to overthrow the Cobleskill prince; and why she'd want him to in the first place. That part was easy; I have had that speech lined up since before the last game; the one where Lottie did absolutely nothing.

I needed to figure out how she felt about the Gangrel in the town. She's not a fan of vampires that forsake their former humanity. Tzimisce turn themselves in to perfect versions of humans as a way to surpass them, or they manipulate themselves in to horrid beasts to escape their humanity. Gangrel also get in touch with the "inner beast" that awakes when becoming a vampire, but they become more animalistic. A Gangrel that has lived long enough may look more like a were-creature than a human. I needed to figure out how Lottie would handle that.

Lottie also needed an ally in the city; a confidant. I was going to default to Dan since he was a fellow Brujah. However, Dan's played by Ronoxym, and it would feel too much like Devon and Willow. Especially since Dan and Katelyn are so close, and so she'd just default to Nyssa.

I then thought about Lottie connecting with Hubby's one character Billy. While I can see Lottie getting amusement out of the silver-tongued lawyer, I really don't see her trusting him enough to have him be her confidant. Besides, it seemed too easy to pair up my character with my husband's.

I then thought about Victor last night. He's a rough and tumble no-nonsense kind of guy. Probably not someone Lottie will become romantic with - I didn't really want to bring in romance anyway; that's too cliche - but I could see him being someone she'd be drawn to. Even in game - mostly because there wasn't much for Victor to do either - Lottie and Victor were hanging out; which is why Quarthix and I spent the majority of game just talking.

Seeing the socialization of the Cobleskill group weave together in my head has really helped me out. I may not post any other chapters anytime soon, but at least writing is again an escape. I can once more let my mind wander. I can get these conversations committed to paper; to later lace together once I have a plot to stick them in to.

Lottie's talking to me again; well, she's talking to OTHERS, but I HEAR her. So maybe waving the white flag wasn't such a bad decision after all.

Yes, I still have a lot to learn and a lot of maturing to do before I can turn writing in to a career. I'm still a little unsure if I'll ever get there. I still have doubts that I'm as passionate as I claim; maybe I'm just holding on because I've had the dream for two decades. Investing that much time in something I give up on seems like such a waste.

Yet the majority of me feels more confident now. I'll just have to get my barrings and try again with the rest of my writing group. The majority of them can't stand that NaNo is in November; the busiest time of the year for them. So we're voting on when Struggling Writers Society will do our own NaNo; probably in June or August.

I'll try another crack at it then; as a Camp NaNo participant, perhaps.

In the meantime, I'll jot down the conversations Lottie's having. I'll play my video games that have been stockpiling. I'll clean my house and work on my crochet projects. I'll focus on the tradition my mom raised me on: Giving Thanks Tree; adding a new thing to be thankful for every day throughout November.

I may even follow Laura Miller's advice, even though I couldn't stand how she presented it. I'll let you know what book(s) I can make it through.

So, if you're like me and NaNo has become more of a chore than a fun exercise, give it up. There's no shame in it. It's not worth the stress you're giving yourself. Just wave the white flag, dust yourself off, and just let yourself ENJOY writing again; at your own pace. We'll tackle 50,000 words again in the summer.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

1st Week of NaNo: COMPLETE

Sorry about the delay. I was too busy NaNo-ing yesterday that I didn't get to working on this post until about 11pm. I passed out about five times while writing it. I would wake up and notice that my sentence became something along the lines of "he's not a fan of 'a wall of text' and so I have to spread out mayonnaise and then add pickles to the right side door."

I don't even know where half the stuff came from. Yay, sleepy stream of consciousness.

My update wasn't done, but it also wasn't making any sense anymore. So I submitted to having a late update and I gave up for the night. Then I had work first thing in the morning up until 1pm. I did have my chapter done and posted before midnight last night though. Does that count?

Man, I need to remember to write up the short "what I did today" blips on the actual day they happen, not wait until Tuesday and then quickly try to compile them.

I was excited to get started on writing during NaNo. Plus, I had Wednesday off in who knows how long, and for who knows how many more weeks. I was geared and itching to write. I ended up bombarding The Bard with a whole bunch of questions about our game, and some insight in to Lottie; my vampire character whom I'll be writing about during NaNo.

I spent hours researching 1940s lingo/slang, when the draft was extended to include 18-year-olds, and the different WWII attacks/campaigns that were getting started shortly after August. I just absorbed as much background info as I could.

Mostly more researching in order to get as ready as I could for writing Lottie this month. I wrote down a bunch of info that I already knew about Lottie, and wrote down questions I needed answered about her.

I sent a copy of the list off to The Bard for him to look over. He was supposed to send me back some critiques and notes before I moved on to the actual project. Unfortunately, he's not a fan of "a wall of text" and so I have no clue if he actually read what I needed him to.

In the meantime, I'm a bit stuck until I get the answers I'm looking for. I'll have to focus on the plotline Bard came up for us for the game, and then branch out from there as Lottie's story starts to develop. Here's hoping it works that way...

Thankfully it wasn't November yet, because this day was just a wash. I dropped Hubby off at work, messed around on Facebook for a little bit, cleaned up a touch, and then went in to the shower. After showering, grooming, tracking down make-up and putting it on - a very slow task for me since I rarely wear it - and figuring out what "Halloweeny" outfit I could wear, it was time to go to work for my two hours of wellness. I did my work, and then waited around a little bit for Hubby to finish his shift. Add in some grocery shopping and by the time we got home the Trick-o-Treaters were already heading out. The whole event was nearly done by the time Hubby and I finished dinner. Didn't even see any of the kids all dressed up. Such a bummer. Did get a surprise visit from the sister-in-law and niece. She was an adorable little owl for Halloween. We then finished the night with a few "monster" movies: UltraViolet and ZombieLand.

Well, it was a bitter-sweet day. I had a long, tiring day at work. Saturdays are already crazy. The first of the month - when everyone gets their social security/benefits checks - is even more crazy. Both happening on the same day is already recipe for disaster. Now add in an unexpected: our store's main competitor was closed for three hours while the electric company did maintenance on the power lines. This meant all of THEIR customers became OUR customers. Sprinkle in that the power outage also hit residentials, and so now we also have people who couldn't make themselves coffee or a hot breakfast.

Not. A fun. Day.

One of the newest members of the X-Future board just happens to be my co-worker: Spink. Originally, we were going to swing by my place after work, allow me to get changed and grab the game, and then we were going to her apartment to Zumba; mainly because she actually has the floor space for more than one person to dance. Hubby even had my clothes all picked out, the game all packed up for me, and he had made me a lunch so I was all good to go. Problem being, after all the running around at work, neither Spink nor I wanted to Zumba. We wanted to stay at my place and play Hyrule Warriors.

Oh! That's right. I never told you guys. Hubby preordered the Dynasty Warriors/Legend of Zelda cross-over game.
Gonna Do A Thing
It's so pretty!!! :D <3
How Hubby and I spent our October...
Anyway, point is, we decided to stick around and play that. However, Hubby already had a friend over and they were playing the latest Madden game. Spink still stuck around and we chatted for an hour or so before we could swipe the system away from the guys - who did end up playing HW as well - and that's pretty much how I spent my Saturday.

Normally, I would have used the time Hubby was preoccupied with his game to sneak away and write. However, I couldn't just disappear while Spink was around. Plus, we rarely get time to socialize outside work with her in college right now.

Sure, I missed a day, but it was only the first day. I can catch up. I can consider it a Last Hurrah before I have to give up socializing.

Ironically, while I wasn't able to get myself to write, I was able to convince Cyhyr to get cracking. She always seems like she WANTS to participate in NaNo, but never seems to actually do so. After a little nudging, she managed to write 3047 words before she called it a night. Pretty impressive for someone who was just going to let another NaNo slip by. Here's hoping she keeps up that momentum.

After failing at both writing during Saturday and writing while my husband was on the overnight shift, I had no other alternative. I had to write in the afternoon shortly after picking Hubby up. We had a delayed Halloween party - which, I guess, could have been considered a Dia De Los Muertos party since it was on that Mexican holiday - that evening. I didn't want to lose another day of writing, and so while Hubby napped before the party, I hunkered down and got to writing. I only got 1415 words in before I had to stop and get my costume together. Not nearly enough to make up for missing a day; not even enough to "complete" this one day of writing. However, I got words down on paper - er, up on Google Docs - and that's more than a lot of people do. I also didn't give up even though I had a moderately full day. So I consider that a minor win. Is it bad that part of me wanted to ditch the party and keep writing???

Another tiring day. Part of the problem being that a co-worker screwed up so badly that our boss had enough and sent her home; leaving us short-staffed. Then the person who was supposed to come in early in order to help cover the staffing hole had some sort of issue and not only didn't show up early like she agreed, but showed up late for her normally-scheduled shift.


I was also still a bit sleep-deprived from the socializing and attempting to still get some writing done. Finally, I think I'm coming down with a head-cold; probably due to the lack of sleep.

As soon as I got home I went in to the bedroom in order to write. I didn't care that Hubby had one of our couple friends over. I felt a bit bad for the fiance since she wasn't actively playing Madden with the guys, but she seemed content to be hanging out with them before I showed up. I figured she'd be fine while I knocked out a few words. Perhaps an hour or so and then I would have caught up to the target word count. I'd allow myself the reward of socializing then.

Problem was that as soon as I sat in bed I leaned against my upright stack of pillows and promptly passed out. Hubby woke me about two hours later when dinner was ready. We ate, the couple went home, and the primetime shows Hubby and I are really in to were on.

I'm sure I can push through and catch up Tuesday; as long as I drink enough coffee...

After two full cups of coffee, I was alert enough to finally finish off my chapter. I'm not at all excited about the pacing. It felt too slow, and I introduced about 10 characters at once. Probably not the best idea. But it's NaNo. We don't go for perfection. We go for getting the words on to the page. Sadly, the words just aren't getting to the page fast enough. Missing Saturday and Monday killed me. I even failed at hitting the suggested 1667 daily target word count; ending with only 1662 words. My end count for this first half-week was only 3077 words. A "full" two days of NaNo would be 3,333 words, and so I didn't even hit that even though I did actively wrote for two of the past four days. Having full - and tiring - days at work have been really killing my motivation; evidenced by my nap Monday. I'm hoping that I can catch up at some point this weekend. Or at the very least, Wednesday since I only have a six-hour shift, and I'll have the house to myself for a couple hours. Plus, I'm now working on the more exciting fighting chapter. My only concern this time is that I was never all that great at writing fight scenes.

In the meantime, feel free to read my first chapter. As I stated in my last post, I'm attempting to publish a new chapter every week during NaNo. However, that's only five chapters for a 50,000 word story; unlikely. Here's hoping I can really pick up the pace and write multiple chapters....

"I Don't Have A Title For This Story Yet"

How about you guys? Anyone working on NaNo too? How far are you?