nanowritmo winner

Writing-wise, it’s been a busy month. I have submitted stories, collected a few more rejections, and have been declared a “winner” of National Novel Writing Month. That means 50,000 words written in the month of November. I crossed the “finish line” Sunday evening, and with two days to spare.

Obviously, this month was more about quantity than quality. But I think the raw material generated is worthy of more time, effort, and energy. So after a few days of reviewing what I have so far and making a TON of notes, I will set about finishing the first draft. After that, we’ll see what happens.

national novel writing month

AKA, NaNoWriMo…

This is where anyone anywhere can sign up for the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month (average 1,667 per day). It started decades ago with novelists. Now it’s a national organization with their own mercy. And participants write whatever style or genre they please. The idea is to have an audacious goal and get after it.

It is considered “winning” if you write 50K words or more.

When writing a novel, I do understand the value of just getting the first draft down. However, I typically like to work at a slightly slower pace and review the previous day’s work before planning back in. But there’s no time for that here.

So…I’m doing it this year for the first time. And I do plan to “win.” More than the 50K words, I’m hoping I will have a decent idea and a good start on a novel idea. We’ll see…

As of 11/17 I have 28,164 words, which means I’m slightly ahead of the necessary pace.

the streak ends…

…and another begins.

I spent the week in Virginia taking care of some family stuff. And I realized Thursday morning while driving home with some breakfast for my mother and me…that I FORGOT to exercise the day before.

It had nothing to do with time-management or willpower or “just not feeling like it.” I just got busy and it slipped my mind.

Thankfully, the streak ended on 501 consecutive days of exercising (way better than 499 or even 500!).

The new streak is now up to 2.

the recliner

Sometime around October 19 I woke at 12:30am with this strange aching sensation in my right hip and right knee. It was far from excruciating, but did hurt enough to keep me awake. For hours. So yeah, that first night I wondered if I was going a bit mad…

I had not injured myself. I was sleeping on my left side and the pain was on the right. I could not think of a single good reason for this pain. So it had to be in my sanity slowly slipping away.

In all, I would spend five nights in the recliner. It did kind of help. But I still missed a lot of sleep.

Somewhere around day two, the great Google machine directed my attention to sciatica. And like the proverbial green Oldsmobiles that seem to sprout up after you buy a green Oldsmobile of your own…it seemed everyone I talked to either had sciatica or they had a sciatica story. I learned about golfball therapy and tennis ball therapy and yoga stretches. Even Ted Lasso mentioned it when he climbed off the riding mower!

I am happy to report that my first visit to the chiropractor on 10/25 had me sleeping in my own bed again. I doubt I will ever eradicate the sciatica completely. But if I behave myself during the day (stretches, good posture, healthy diet), I’m hoping I can skip the recliner at night.


NaNoWriMo – I just passed the 10,000 word mark. The project is a novelization of a short story of mine called “All Healed Up.” The 10,000th word in my manuscript is the word “heal.” I thought that was pretty cool.

Exercise – 497 consecutive days of exercise

Bed vs. Recliner – A couple of weeks ago I was introduced to the wonderful world of sciatica! I would wake every night around 2am with this delightful pain in my right hip. So I ended up sleeping in a recliner for five nights until I made it to the chiropractor. Thankfully, I’m back to sleeping in bed. Only now I sleep with a pillow tucked between my knees.

Stories published/submitted – I have seventeen stories submitted in various places, hoping a few will find a home.

my favorite headphones

It came to may attention a few years ago that I didn’t hear so well out of my left ear. This obviously made headphones sound unbalanced and muffled. While killing time in an airport I tried on a pair of conduction headphones…and I bought them on the spot.

I have since broken three pairs of conduction headphones. And I waste no time in replacing them.

Instead of filtering all the sound through each bud and directly into your ears, the sound is conducted via the bones just outside my ears. There are several benefits to this;

-Balance – now when I’m listening to something in stereo, I’m actually able to enjoy the stereo effect. With conduction, the sound in my left ear is nearly as good as the sound in my right, both in volume and tone.

-Surroundings – since nothing enters or blocks my ears, I can hear my surroundings. So when I’m out jogging I can hear cars before I see them. At airports I can still hear announcements and various sounds around me while I’m on a phone call or listening to an audiobook or music.

-Hands-free – they obviously sound good, but the built-in microphone works equally well. So I can talk on the phone while driving or exercising or pretending not to stare at people out in public.

books on writing

Below are the books on writing that I still own.

It is indeed a lot of books. And it took a long time to read them all. If I were a smarter man, I would be able to tell you what’s inside the covers of each every one…or even most of them. And I suppose I do have notions of each. But mostly I read them with a great deal of intensity, underlining and rereading like a fiend, even refer to them later. But I try not to turn any of them to dogma. I think of it more like swimming around in each one for a while to see what sticks.

I just recently started the audio version of Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg. So far, it’s brilliant.

1,000 Awesome Writing PromptsRyan Andrew Kinder
20 Master PlotsRonals Tobias
5 Secrets of Story StructureKM Weiland
A Dangerous ProfessionFrederick Busch
A Swim in the Pond in the RainGeorge Saunders
Acceptable WordsSchmidt and Stickney
Alone With All that Could HappenDavid Jauss
Art & The BibleFrancis Schaeffer
Before We Get StartedBret Lott
Beginnings, Middles, and EndsNancy Kress
Bird by BirdAnne Lamott
Book ArchitectureStuart Horowitz
By Cunning & CraftPeter Selgin
Characters & ViewpointOrson Scott Card
Consider This Chuck Palahniuk
Craft In the Real WorldMatthew Salesses
Creating Characters Dwight Swain
Creating Short FictionDamon Knight
Creative Character ArcsKM Weiland
Criers & Kibitzers, Kibitzers & CriersStanley Elkin
Damn Fine StoryChuck Wendig
Dynamic CharactersNancy Kress
Elements of the Writing CraftRobert Olmstead
FictionMichael Seidman
First You WriteJoni Rodgers
FlashJohn Dufresne
From Where You DreamRobert Olen Butler
Glimmer Train – Building BlocksVarious. 
Glimmer Train – Inspiration and DisciplineVarious
Going ShortNanc Stohlman
HookedLes Edgerton
How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re DeadAriel Gore
How to Grow a NovelSol Stein
How to Publish a Book that People Will ReadMichael Rogan
How to Tell a Story and Other EssaysMark Twain
How to WriteRichard Rhodes
How to Write a NovelNathan Bransford
How To Write Bestselling Fiction James Scott Bell
If You Want To WriteBrenda Ueland
Letters to a Young WriterColum McAnn
Long Story ShortMargot Leitman
Make A Scene Jordan Rosenfeld
Making a Good Script GreatLinda Seger
Making a Good Writer GreatLinda Seger
Making A Literary LifeCarolyn See
Meander Spiral ExplodeJane Alison
Murder Your DarlingsRoy Peter Clark
Myth and the MoviesStuart Voytilla
Naming the World Various
Negotiating With the DeadMargaret Atwood
No Plot, No ProblemChris Baty
Nobody Wants to Read Your ShitSteven Pressfield
Novelist’s Essential Guide to Crafting ScenesRaymond Obstfeld
Novelist’s Essential Guide to Creating PlotJ.. Madison Davis
On Becoming a NovelistJohn Gardner
On Moral FictionJohn Gardner
On Teaching and Writing FictionWallace Stegner
On Writers and WritingMargaret Atwood
On Writing  Stephen King
On Writing FictionDavid Jauss
On Writing WellWilliam Zinser
Outlining Your NovelKM Weiland
Pep Talks, Warnings, & ScreedsGeorge Singleton
Perfecting PlotWilliam Bernhardt
PlotAnsen Dibell
Plot and StructureJames Scott Bell
Plotting and SuspensePatricia Highsmith
Put the Cat in the Oven Before You Describe the KitchenJake Vander
Ron Carlson Writes A StoryRon Carlson
Scene and Structure Jack Bickham
ScreenplaySyd Field
Secrets of Film Writing Tom Lazuras
Self-Editing for Fiction WritersBrowne & King
SettingJack Bickham
Several Short Sentences About WritingVeryln Klinkenborg
Steal Like An ArtistAustin Kleon
Stein On WritingSol Stein
Story Robert McKee
Story EngineeringLarry Brooks
Story StructureWilliam Bernhardt
StorycraftingPaul Dacry Boles
StoryworthyMatthew Dicks, Dan Kennedy
Super StructureJames Scott Bell
Take Your Pants OffLibbie Hawker
Telling Lies for Fun & ProfitLawrence Block
Telling True StoriesVarious, Harvard Press
The Anatomy of a StoryJohn Truby
The Art & Craft of Novel WritingOakley Hall
The Art and Craft of StorytellingNancy Lamb
The Art of Fiction John Gardner
The Art of SubtextCharles Baxter
The Art of the Very Short StoryCharlie Close
The Art of War for WritersJames Scott Bell
The Art of X-Ray ReadingRoy Peter Clark
The Complete Guide to Editing Your FictionMichael Seidman
The Elements of ExpressionArthur Plotnik
The Elements of StyleStrunk & White
The Faith of a WriterJoyce Carol Oates
The Fiction Editor, Novel, and NovelistThomas McCormack
The Fire In FictionDonald Maas
The First Five PagesNoah Lukeman
The Half-Known WorldRobert Boswell
The Hero’s 2 JourneysMichael Hauge, Christopher Vogler
The Lie That Tells a TruthJohn Dufresne
The Mind of Your StoryLenard Cook
The Modern Library Writer’s WorkshopStephen Koch
The Plot ThickensNoah Lukeman
The Scene BookSandra Scofield
The Screenwriter’s Problem SolverSyd Field
The Screenwriter’s WorkbookSyd Field
The Secrets of Story Matt Bird
The Story GridShawn Coyne
The Thirty-Six Dramatic SituationsMike Figgis
The War of ArtSteven Pressfield
The Writer’s Idea WorkshopJack Heffron
The Writer’s JourneyChristopher Vogler
The Writer’s Notebook Various
The Writer’s ProcessAnne Janzer
The Writing LifeAnnie Dillard
This Won’t Take But A Minute, HoneySteve Almond
This Year You Write Your Novel Walter Mosely
Thrill MeBenjamin Percy
Turning ProSteven Pressfield
Walking On WaterMadeline L’Engle
What If?Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter
What Would Chekov Do?Johnn Dufresne 
Why WritePaul Auster
Words Overflown by StarsDavid Jauss
Write – 10 Days to Overcome Writers BlockKaren Peterson
Write Your Novel from the MiddleJames Scott Bell
Writer’s Workshop in a BookVarious
Writers on WritingVarious
Writing 21st Century FictionDonals Maas
Writing Fiction Janet Burroway
Writing FlashFred D. White
Writing Great FictionJames Hynes
Writing HumorIan Bernard
Writing in General and the Short Story in ParticularRust Hills
Writing SubtextElizabeth Lyon
Writing the Breakout NovelDonald Maas
Writing the NovelLawrence Block
You Must Be This Tall to WriteVarious
Zen in the Art of WritingRay Bradbury