Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily...

I know adverbs are supposed to be bad. I've advised against them countless times. Use verbs and nouns whenever possible: they're stronger can can carry the weight of a sentence better than mere adjectives and adverbs.

But sometimes the adverb is so much easier! If I write "What's going on?" she said sleepily, you know exactly how she said it! I don't necessarily have to describe the whole scene or her body language in order to express that simple point: she was tired.

I didn't mention that it snowed yesterday. It must have been the first snow of the season. It was a cold rain when I left work last night, but by the time I made it home it was a fluffy snow that coated the grass. I was sad to see it gone in the morning.

Odds and Ends

Insecurity can be quite the barrier. Lately I've felt like I don't have anything interesting or unique to offer on any subject. I feel insular.

It's November 30, the last day of NaNoWriMo, NaBloPoMo, and my own made-up NaNoFiMo. I'm 6000 words shy of my goal, but I offer the following excuses: working extra hours; celebrating Thanksgiving (so much turkey and football!); and feeling insecure about these final chapters.

Still, I'm ahead of schedule for my original goal of finishing in 2011. Even better, today's not over. Maybe I can knock out a thousand words.

By the way, my library has a contest each week. We write the first line of a book on a white board at the front desk, and if patrons identify the source material, we give them a cool bookmark. I've made a blog chronicling the ones we've done so far (I still have to publish fifteen or so): Check it out and let me know if you have any suggestions!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baby baby!

Three or four years back, a ton of my friends were getting married. In the past couple years, some of these friends have started having children. And just this year, two of my oldest (duration, not age) friends have become pregnant. One, an awesome and lovely woman with whom I went to grade school, high school, and college, is due to give birth December 5th. In a strange coincidence, that date happens to be the anniversary of the day I was hit as Carleen and I tried to cross a busy road. I'm excited for that date to take on a new significance. Carleen and her husband have kept a blog journaling their first year of marriage and, now, their journey into parenthood. I recommend it.

My other friend, Nancy, was my roommate through all four years of college. It's only in hindsight that I see how much of a saint she was to put up with me! After college she moved back to California, and I couldn't have been more excited when she fell for a guy from Southwest Ohio and returned to the Midwest a few years ago. Nancy's four months pregnant and, like Carleen, I know she'll be a terrific mother.

Speaking of babies, mine isn't quite ready for the world. As you can see, I've colored in a few rectangles. Progress is being made. But I'm still a couple thousand words behind. Still, I'm hopeful to finish this month, allowing December to be revision month, and then January I can give my baby to beta readers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

So Bad!

That's what I call the writing I've done today: So bad!!! With work and life and hesitation, I've managed to fall behind in my November word count goals. According to my lovely NaNoFiMo chart, I should be celebrating 70,000 words today. Instead, I started today a few hundred words shy of 66,000.

I'm writing an arraignment hearing, thinking the whole time, "This is horrible! Why am I even writing this? I should be trying to figure out how to avoid this scene!"

But I'm trying to take a cue from the brave writers of NaNoWriMo, pursuing quantity over quality. Marching toward their goal with the understanding that not everything will be perfect; when the month and contest is over, they can mine their words for useful pieces. Maybe it's just a couple sentences, maybe it's half. Heck, maybe it's most of it. But the point is, they can't worry about that during the contest. Self-doubt is the enemy, here.

I glance back at what I have written and want to erase it. It's so easy to hit backspace, to highlight hundreds of words and delete them with a single key stroke! But I'll leave it. Maybe there's a gem or two in there; at the very least it gets me closer to where I need to be--because I can't wait to have the whole thing written, to print it out and examine it from beginning to end. I keep thinking of balls I've dropped along the way--"oh, I never mentioned this detail"; "I should clarify these points"--and stop myself from going backward. Once I'm done, once I have those 75,000 or so words, I can look at those balls (there has to be a better turn of phrase, but I need to get back to work!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Write! Write! Right?

I'm behind on my writing goals: I'm just past 65000 when I should be heading toward 67000 today. I've been picking up a lot of extra hours at the library, and the commute drains me.
If I've taken a few days off from writing, it takes me a while to get back into the narrative voice and write with any kind of sustained flow. These last few chapters feel plot heavy. I'm trying to resolve everything in a satisfying way. But I much prefer writing characters who are wallowing. Not characters in court rooms with lawyers and judges and handcuffs. If I don't like writing it, my reader won't like reading it, right? Okay, I'm just going to plow through. Easier to revise when there's something written.

Anyway, no excuses. Write write write!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I made a low-tech progress chart today for my made up National Novel Finishing Month (NaNoFiMo). From now through the end of November, I will fill in a block for every five-hundred words. Today involved some minor editing and revision based on the great feedback I received at last night's writing class. It's great hearing reactions from readers who aren't as close to the text as I am--and once they point something out, it seems obvious. But I know I wouldn't have found it on my own.

I also moved some pieces around. Between changing points of view and jumping around in the timeline, I was having trouble keeping track of when events took place. And if I, Puppet Master, was having trouble, then surely my readers would too.

The progress chart gives me the simple reward of coloring in at least one rectangle every day.

Turning Tides

I heard something comforting on the Diane Rehm show this morning as they discussed the election results from last night: 2006, 2008, and 2010 were wave elections, Democrat, Democrat, Republican, respectively. In 2006, people didn't like what Bush was doing in Iraq or the direction of the economy, so Democrats swept in. 2008, the nation was ready for a Democratic president after eight years of President Bush. In 2010, following the rise of the Tea Party and reflecting discomfort over the growth of government (bailouts, national health care law) regardless of the merits of each piece of that perceived growth, Republicans took over.

But the problem was, according to a panelist on NPR, that "extremists" replaced politicians who might actually compromise, who would work to get things done. The replacements, both at a state and national level, were people who actually had a disincentive to compromise. They were rewarded by their respective parties for allegiance to ideology, not allegiance to the citizens they represent. But voters, the panelist argued, didn't want extremists or ideologues. They just wanted to send a message that they didn't like where things were headed.

The panelist also argued that 2012 will not be a wave election. We're not going to sweep left or sweep right. We're going to be an electorate looking for people who will actually get things done. But we are largely a conservative nation--we are uncomfortable with change that happens too fast. Look at the results from Ohio last night for evidence of that: Issue Two, which would have limited collective bargaining rights for unions, failed. Governor Kasich and the Republican-controlled state house had enacted that and, unsure of the ramifications, we said "Not so fast!" But Issue Three, which was a referendum on the American Care Act (it said that we cannot be forced to purchase health insurance in Ohio) passed. I had voted no--I want Ohio to support the President's efforts to insure all Americans--but I understand why it failed. Private health insurance seems like such a scam; instead of being mandated to buy their insurance, I would rather pay taxes into a national health care pool. But while the ACA is flawed, it's a move in the right direction: health care is a right, not a privilege; everyone, regardless of "pre-existing conditions" should have access to affordable coverage.

Anyway, I feel like the tides are turning. Call me naive or overly-optimistic, but with the threat of double-dip recession receding and unemployment dropping (even if only slightly), I bet this holiday season will be a good one. I think we're heading in the right direction. And #occupywallstreet and the President's consistent message of "jobs, jobs, jobs" of late have shifted the media and nation's focus from debt and deficit to growing our economy and reducing inequality.

Hope that wasn't too rambling :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Everything Falls into Place

After college, and during my two years of AmeriCorps and one year of grad school, I lived at home. Then I lived with a roommate for a couple years, and once she moved out to get married, I lived alone for the next few years. There were times when I felt sad or lonely, but more often I loved the solitude. I took care of myself. I paid my bills, changed jobs, made friends all on my own. And I felt a pride in doing so. I considered myself fiercely independent.

I'm living with my boyfriend now. It's been almost a year, actually, but don't tell my nana. It doesn't matter that I'm thirty-one. But my boyfriend is skilled in ways that I am not. He knows how to fix things that are broken, to change his own oil or flat tire. He tackles problems immediately rather than nudging them aside until they become so big they must be tackled. Then, of course, are his myriad computer skills.

And so I become dependent in unexpected ways. I get my oil changed in time because someone reminds me. I eat an actual dinner instead of the chips and dip I might have scarfed down, alone, a year ago. I pass up that second glass of wine. I get an awesome android smartphone because I know, now, that it's awesome. I don't have to figure it out for myself.

Some days I think, Once I finish the book, everything will fall into place! I'll figure out who I am and what I'm supposed to be doing. Whatever those answers, I'm very happy to be living with my boyfriend. It's wonderful having someone to come home to after a long day, someone who encourages me to keep writing when I want to procrastinate, and someone who makes me laugh and understands my dry sense of humor.

So I'm good. I'm more worried about my parents, my mom in Cincinnati and dad in Kenya. Her house was broken into Thursday afternoon; young men took televisions, jewelry, and cash. If they're brazen enough to do that in daylight, who's to stop them from coming back? And in eastern Africa, "Kenya has gone after al Shabaab, invading (sort of) Somalia to flush out this al quaeda affiliate. It is a big chunk to bite off, knowing that these shabaab guys are into revenge, kidnapping, retaliation and blowing things up." The US has issued a travel advisory for American citizens, and my dad's been cautioned to avoid Nairobi, particularly places tourists visit. For the most part, he's out of the city. But it's hard to stay away for long.

Tomorrow I'll go to my grandma's and watch the Bengals (they're 5-2!!!). Last week both my brothers came, which was a nice surprise.