Tag Archives: nanowrimo

Obstacles, Large and Small

Fall is just about here and my heart is in a perpetual state of ache.

This time of year has always been my favorite as it seems to elicit some sort of dreamy longing, forcing me to act and act passionately before winter consumes everything. The world dies, and I can finally be creative– it’s pretty sick and twisted, and the limitation is a little outrageous, but it’s true.

This year is no exception in regards to the feelings, but the part where I must act and act passionately has been stifled and smothered by the wet wool sock I like to call “work.”

I am not worked to the bone. I experience very little work-related stress. I help people sometimes and do my boss’ busy work the rest of the time. It’s calm. It’s easy. But it’s killing me.

Doesn’t help that the commute is an awful one: one hour each way, into the sun in the morning, into the sun in the afternoon, in a realm where men and women view 45mph speed limit signs as “guidelines,” bumper-to-bumper traffic one direction, seven thousand stoplights the other, all while my car is on the verge of breaking down.

The truth of the matter is this: I dedicate 50 hours of my time per week, over $400 of my gross monthly paycheck (to taxes and “benefits”), over $100 of my net paycheck (to gas for the 2hr/day commute), and 80%-90% of my sanity to being bored. I go home, collapse on the couch, turn off my brain, go to sleep, wake up the next morning and dedicate more time and money to being bored. This is what being a “responsible adult” has brought to me.

There is a light down the tunnel, however! December will be the end. I’ve been counting down the days for months, now, but it’s starting to feel real. Days are getting colder, my car is about to keel over, I can count in terms of weeks rather than months. No doubt, I have to start making arrangements…

But wait! No, stupid! I need to be writing!

“Relic” has the potential to be a huge hit, and I’m not just tooting my own horn. The concept of “New Adult” alternative-world fantasy with Caribbean Gothic undertones isn’t one I’ve heard of in recent times, but those who have read the story as it stands are enamored, or at the very least intrigued. Only a few drafts in, I know the story and characters are there, but pouring the words out has become increasingly difficult. I’m at a point where I have to bank on myself, on my ideas, on the people and places I’ve created, to tell the story as it begs to be told. But after 8 hours of staring at a computer I hate, at a desk I hate, in a chair I hate, in a room I hate, at the job that bores me to tears, I can hardly stand to feel my fingers across my keyboard once I get home.

The time will come, once again, when my writing will not be stopped. But the further I slip into this depression, the more reluctant I feel, and the more reluctant I feel, the more depressed I become. Every waking moment is another obstacle to overcome, a hurdle to jump, one foot in front of the other until December when I can end this soul-suck.

I can’t wait that long, so the next best thing to intrinsic motivation is an external stimulus. I tried to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this year, but it didn’t really work out. However, traditional NaNoWriMo is on the horizon just as well. What better way to send off the job that has destroyed me and start running head-first into writing full-time than to complete 50k words on “Relic”?

I had originally planned to have “Relic” completed by December, but recent changes and suggestions by beta readers have prompted me into rewriting all together, pushing my deadline back by quite a bit. I was thinking “next summer” as a deadline, but now I realize that there is no excuse to not have something close to done by the end of February.

October for planning: To keep my creative juices flowing, and to construct a proper outline.

November for writing: Daily goals implemented by NaNoWriMo will keep me going, and I know I can do it– I’ve won NaNoWriMo once before.

December for life and love: With quitting my job and a trip to Scotland in there somewhere, I’ve gotta take some time to love me, to love my boyfriend, and to fall in love with life and my own work ethic again. December is for living, experiencing, feeling, so I can put all of that joy and life back into my writing.

January to finish the new draft: To finish and to polish. Working in Scriviner now means I don’t have to toil over rewrites and edits. Everything should be easily accessible and easily changed.

February for final drafts: To rework it all where it needs reworking and otherwise to let it rest.

It will take a lot of forceful thought on my part, but I can’t sit and struggle for breath when all I have to do is stand to reach the surface again. I’ve only had a few dry weeks, but I’m feeling the effects of my lack of creativity. I want so badly to pretend counting the days will help, but it’s making the days count, instead, that will serve my purpose best.

To those of you who read: Thanks for bearing with me this long. This post turned more into personal word-vomit than anything helpful or informative, but I had to look at it from a different angle, voice it more securely, see it written in front of me.

I’m tired of wasting away. If I’m to put everything I have into writing, I can’t very well run on empty.

/rant

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Camp NaNoWriMo Failed Again! … Or Did It?

Last month, I tentatively accepted the “challenge” of Camp NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar, it is simply a summer-time version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which takes place each November, the “goal” being to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I accepted the challenge, and I failed.

But how much can one fail at something self-paced?

Ultimately, I got a couple thousand words written on one project, nearly one thousand on another, refined a second draft of the first 1/4 of a WIP novel, accepted a handful of very helpful beta readers, redefined the “genre” of one project, joined several (very) beneficial writing groups, created a digital book cover, and unveiled a few plot twists even I didn’t know were coming.

This is what I love about the NaNoWriMo institution. It allows you to set a goal. It prompts you to keep going when the going gets tough. It creates atmosphere for you to brainstorm with other users and even to utilize some of the great ideas that aren’t being used (with full consent of the original creator). It gives you insight from other authors– some very successful, others just seeing the first results of their accomplishments.

I prefer the November writing to the summer writing. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the holidays, maybe it’s tradition– I really don’t know.

But Camp helped me figure a lot out, it coaxed me into working on aspects I hadn’t considered.

So maybe I failed at the original goal I’d set for myself (25k words on a new project), but it sure rocked.

Really looking forward to November. No one needs an excuse to write, but sometimes it’s really the best kick in the pants possible.

Kudos to all of you who participated, those of you who reached your goals, and those of you who have been inspired.

Write on!

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God’s Out Sick: Excerpt I

This is an excerpt from my novel-in-progress, “God’s Out Sick,” the project I’ve been working on for Camp NaNoWriMo.

This, as all other works posted here unless otherwise noted, is © me, this blog, S.Rae Meisinger and is not to be reposted, recreated, altered, or used anywhere else without permission. Contact me for more information if you would like to use it.

Constructive criticism always welcome.

This is real life.

 
The words gorged themselves on the pause’s antipathy, growing larger and more fearsome by the moment. Before he could even gasp, Adam had lost his breath under the weight of the phrase. A swelling heat licked his cheeks crestfallen-red. Smiling diffidently, he rolled his shoulders as though he could cast the implication away like a stubborn shiver. He swallowed past his bloated tongue.
 
“I guess you just don’t get it,” he snickered to cover the breathless hitch in his voice. “I already know this is ‘real’ life. It’s been real for me for a long time.”
 
Before he had even finished the thought, Penny threw his hand from her own and stood up, turning her back on him. From paces away, Adam could hear her still exhaling her exasperation. He rolled his eyes and leaned back in the chair, causing the wicker to creak. It was impossible to keep from falling into the same mechanical routine with this Penelope as he would have with his own so many years ago. They may as well have been fighting about too many late nights, or her favorite dress ruined by careless paint spatters.
 
“We’ve had this conversation before, Adam,” she sighed at the wall.
 
That was news to him. He ran his hand down the length of his beard, stopping just before the end to tug the skin of his chin to a small, fleshy peak before releasing it to snap back into place. “Oh, really? When?” 
 
Indignation and doubt painted those words with sarcasm and that automated response at once made him feel disconcerted. Eerie familiarity broke in cold sweat across his forehead. She wasn’t his person. Not really. She looked and sounded and even smelled the same, but she wasn’t his Penelope. Interacting with this version was never supposed to have happened. It was as unnatural as talking to a clone created postmortem and yet it felt as ordinary as kissing the woman he loved good-bye as she left for work each morning. Once upon a time…
 
Adam stood at the precipice of truth and looked deeply into it. He remembered what “crazy” felt like, but the room around him, the thick, lifeless clay walls, the stagnant, dusty smell, what was happening just beyond the protected neighborhood, the circumstances that led him to not-Penelope, the friends he’d made, the people still facing persecution, the cause he fought for– none of it was a mere product of a broken mind.
 
Penny wheeled around, her temper pinching her eyebrows together in deep wrinkles. Her fists started as white bludgeons, then opened to pale and deadly talons sinking into her waist where they perched, poised for attack.
 
“Oh, I don’t know. I guess it was maybe six months ago?” She squeezed her hips, digging fingernails into the fabric of her dress. At every pause and questioning inflection, she shrugged and shook her head exaggeratedly. “Do you remember that, hmm? Just before we admitted you. Wouldn’t that make sense?”
 
Adam licked his bottom lip, avoiding looking directly into her eyes. His were searching the floor while he picked through the files of his own mind, thumbing through for proof of his sanity. Six months prior, he guessed he had been on the plane where he buckled under drug addiction at age seventeen, just before his initial leap into this strange future. Explaining that to her would amount to nothing, but it was enough to ground him once again.
 
Tongue still pressed wetly to the pink corner of his lip, Adam looked up at Penelope, exposing the lower whites of his eyes, wringing his hands together to squeeze relief from the reflection. His head swiveled slowly to sling the word “No” around the entire room, to coat her in the elongated vowel. The hesitation he felt began to lift, resolve taking its place. With a modest cluck of laughter he rose from the chair, a groan of friction vibrating through the small, dark space as the chair’s feet slid noisily across the smooth floor. The impatience on Penny’s face diminished into suspicion as Adam took long strides to meet her.
 
“It doesn’t make any sense. If I could count every day on the time-line of my consciousness, as I am now, my relationship with Penelope would have ended five years ago.” The corners of his lips turned up into a cordial smile. “Give or take some. Time isn’t as cohesive as it once was for me.” 
 
Penny frowned. Only an inch or two in front of her, he watched her pupils dilate and constrict as she digested the notion, trying to dissect what he said. While she calculated, he imagined he could hear a machine-like whir governing the eyes’ movement– anything to make her seem less real, less intimate than he perceived her. 
 
Then she broke. The butts of her palms slammed into his chest, thrusting him backward. One step was due to her force, the other for the sake of distance. He threw his hands up in surrender.
 
“Five years ago? You mean when we started our family? You’re a bastard. A sick, Godless bastard!” By “Godless,” her tone had become shrill and loud and Adam’s small smile had spread to a reactive grin. Penny’s long white neck pulsed, one vein bulging blue while red heat spread from her exposed collar bones to her cheeks. Her lips quivered and her talons fell limp at her sides, no more than a fragile girl’s fingers. Like a popped balloon, she had one vicious outburst and then deflated into her overwhelmed emotions.
 
Adam shrugged, allowing his defensive palms to drop as well. “That’s what they keep telling me.” He approached her again, understanding glazing him in empathy. Collecting her hands in his, he watched disheartened tears well and spill.
 
“Why do you hate me?” She muttered, blinking hard and sending more rivulets down her face. “Why do you hate the life we built, our kids?” Penny’s voice was a croaky whisper, but the guileless tone shocked his heart.
 
“Now, hey, I’m sorry this is happening to you. But I don’t hate you. Hell, I don’t even know you.”
 
She sobbed hard, slumping forward as though he’d dealt a deliberate blow.
 
“Listen, damn it!” Adam squeezed Penny’s fingers, the twinge of pain sending her gaze wide-eyed back to his. She sniffled. “I am not who you think I am, I may not even be what you think I am. You have children, but they’re not mine, you have memories, but they’re not with me. You have a life, but I’ve never been a part of it until now.”
 
She shook her head in denial before he had finished speaking. Adam released his hold on her, but did not retreat. “I left my Penny years ago. We lived together for a few months, but we fought all the time. One time because she didn’t want the baby we were going to have together. That was the last time. Did you fight with your Adam?”
 
Penelope’s eyebrows slanted, her mouth opened and closed a few times as though trying to dislodge the right words. Finally, she rasped, “No… Not really. Not until–“
 
“He started going a little nuts?”
 
She pressed her lips together and nodded. Adam nodded with her.
 
“I get that it doesn’t make any sense, but you gotta help me out. I need to get back to my friends and I need no one who ever interacted with your Adam to know I was here. Can I leave and trust you with this secret?” 
 
Another nod.
 
“Good.” Adam smiled, this time genuinely and without the pretense of simple habit or self-preservation. All at once, he wanted nothing more than to kiss her, but there was no time for that kind of confusion. She would be all right. Everyone was always all right. 
 
In the next moment, he was already across the room, slinging his bag over his shoulder. The soles of his shoes slapped against the concrete floor with renewed vigor and the pack’s weight felt like the embrace of an old friend. He reached the brass handle of the basement door and turned it halfway.
 
“Adam?” Penelope’s voice echoed. He turned, releasing the knob with a metallic click. “I’m sorry that I– that she–“
 
Adam held his hand up to gesture a halt. “Those memories are somewhere else in time, now. We only have this very instant. Let’s do something good with it.” With a smirk, his backpack, and no idea how to become reunited with Molly and Anna Lisa, he left Penelope Clark with the kind of resolved conclusion he’d craved over an infinite span of space and time.
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Camp NaNoWriMo – Week 1

I don’t know about you, but for me camp has already been ridiculously helpful.

Notoriously, I’m a pantser. Meaning (for those of you who don’t participate in the NaNoWriMo fun) I fly by the seat of my pants when I write. I kind of just compile character composites I enjoy, have one main plot point, and write it out by allowing my characters to tell the story for me.

I’ve realized in this first week that my usual method won’t work for this one.

My initial goals in starting were to complete 25k words (probably not gonna happen), create an actual outline (probably gonna happen), and to come up with a more suitable working title than “Untitled Religious Apocalypse” (definitely already did happen).

With one goal down, another developing each day, and the other just waiting to happen, I’m feeling rather successful though my word count is still at the big goose egg.

“Untitled R.A” has become “God’s Out Sick.”

3k words I’d written when this novel was nothing more than a concept will not have to be discarded as I’d originally thought.

Two more characters have developed integral roles.

My plot has gone from one centered around my own personal beliefs and has exploded into one with multiple facets and more substance than I even really know what to do with.

And I’ve done more research on multiverse theory than I ever thought I’d do in my life.

Slowly but surely, I’ve been working on writing down major plot points. I will not physically begin writing again until these plot points successfully lead me from opening page to conclusion. This has been the most challenging thing for me.

However, as an author, as a NaNoWriMo “winner” in years past, as a reader, I know that I need this step before I can begin. I can reach word count goals by the seat of my pants, but I can’t construct a world, a Universe, where multiple characters are all tied to the fates of each other and to each ripple in the story. 

So far, with each plot point I’ve written, I’ve discovered a new connection, a new twist, a new setting, a new fuse to light, more characters, more problems, and more answers.

Outlining isn’t the most exciting thing I’ve ever done for a NaNo Project, but it’s already been the most productive.

What struggles are other Campers coming upon? What little moments or changes in routine have already surprised you? How’s the first week going, over all?

I’d love to hear from other WriMos!

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Universal Inspiration – Camp NaNoWriMo

It’s that time:

Camp time.

Usually I’m not one for the NaNoWriMo summer sessions, but with muse bursting from my mind’s seams, I’ve resolved to participate if for nothing else than outlining.

The WriMo community has been one of the leading wellsprings of resources for me in my many years of writing, including but not limited to that sometimes hard-to-come-by resource: Inspiration. Every novel I’ve started and/or finished (with the exception of “Untitled R.A.”) had its beginnings at the start of some November. Hell, such fantastic works as “Water For Elephants” by Sara Gruen and “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan have humble roots in the yearly jaunt (find more published WriMos here). And that, for me, only serves as further incentive.

Because if they can do it, why can’t I?

Camp NaNoWriMo is a little different than the big shebang of 11/1. No stringent word-count, doesn’t have to be a novel, opt to join writing groups, etc. But it still offers that same community-based supply of writing tips, prompts, goals, discussions, links, documents, and more.

And it’s just a great excuse to write like the wind.

If you are a WriMo (or are thinking of becoming one), what has the experience offered to you as a writer? What have you learned or taken away from Camp or the “true” NaNoWriMo? Are you participating this year?

I’d love to connect with you!

Write on!

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