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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Prompts
Ryan Andrew Kinder
20 Master Plots
5 Secrets of Story Structure
A Dangerous Profession
A Swim in the Pond in the Rain
Schmidt and Stickney
Alone With All that Could Happen
Art & The Bible
Before We Get Started
Beginnings, Middles, and Ends
Bird by Bird
By Cunning & Craft
Characters & Viewpoint
Orson Scott Card
Craft In the Real World
Creating Short Fiction
Creative Character Arcs
Criers & Kibitzers, Kibitzers & Criers
Damn Fine Story
Elements of the Writing Craft
First You Write
From Where You Dream
Robert Olen Butler
Glimmer Train – Building Blocks
Glimmer Train – Inspiration and Discipline
How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead
How to Grow a Novel
How to Publish a Book that People Will Read
How to Tell a Story and Other Essays
How to Write
How to Write a Novel
How To Write Bestselling Fiction
James Scott Bell
If You Want To Write
Letters to a Young Writer
Long Story Short
Make A Scene
Making a Good Script Great
Making a Good Writer Great
Making A Literary Life
Meander Spiral Explode
Murder Your Darlings
Roy Peter Clark
Myth and the Movies
Naming the World
Negotiating With the Dead
No Plot, No Problem
Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit
Novelist’s Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes
Novelist’s Essential Guide to Creating Plot
J.. Madison Davis
On Becoming a Novelist
On Moral Fiction
On Teaching and Writing Fiction
On Writers and Writing
On Writing Fiction
On Writing Well
Outlining Your Novel
Pep Talks, Warnings, & Screeds
Plot and Structure
James Scott Bell
Plotting and Suspense
Put the Cat in the Oven Before You Describe the Kitchen
Ron Carlson Writes A Story
Scene and Structure
Secrets of Film Writing
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
Browne & King
Several Short Sentences About Writing
Steal Like An Artist
Stein On Writing
Paul Dacry Boles
Matthew Dicks, Dan Kennedy
James Scott Bell
Take Your Pants Off
Telling Lies for Fun & Profit
Telling True Stories
Various, Harvard Press
The Anatomy of a Story
The Art & Craft of Novel Writing
The Art and Craft of Storytelling
The Art of Fiction
The Art of Subtext
The Art of the Very Short Story
The Art of War for Writers
James Scott Bell
The Art of X-Ray Reading
Roy Peter Clark
The Complete Guide to Editing Your Fiction
The Elements of Expression
The Elements of Style
Strunk & White
The Faith of a Writer
Joyce Carol Oates
The Fiction Editor, Novel, and Novelist
The Fire In Fiction
The First Five Pages
The Half-Known World
The Hero’s 2 Journeys
Michael Hauge, Christopher Vogler
The Lie That Tells a Truth
The Mind of Your Story
The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop
The Plot Thickens
The Scene Book
The Screenwriter’s Problem Solver
The Screenwriter’s Workbook
The Secrets of Story
The Story Grid
The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations
The War of Art
The Writer’s Idea Workshop
The Writer’s Journey
The Writer’s Notebook
The Writer’s Process
The Writing Life
This Won’t Take But A Minute, Honey
This Year You Write Your Novel
Walking On Water
Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter
What Would Chekov Do?
Words Overflown by Stars
Write – 10 Days to Overcome Writers Block
Write Your Novel from the Middle
James Scott Bell
Writer’s Workshop in a Book
Writers on Writing
Writing 21st Century Fiction
Fred D. White
Writing Great Fiction
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular