Archive for November, 2009

NaNoWriMo Report

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Today’s the last day of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I specifically took it off to do a last blast on my novel.  But it’s also my 20th day of this headache.  So, I took it easy.  I have found that taking a Maxalt does wipe me out the day I take it but then the headache eases up for a few days, so I took a Maxalt.  I managed to get the grocery shopping done, which I had avoided on the weekend, and the laundry, which my son brought home from his weekend with his Dad.

I did finish writing up a scenario of the vision I have gained for the book.  I’ve definitely gotten less stuck than I was at the start of the month.  I think it could use another month (at least) of brainstorming.  But for December, I want to tackle The Mystical Mantle.  I think I will definitely have new energy for it.

I’m having fun with tracking my progress, though.  I always was a numbers person.  In the past, I never liked using word count.  So much of writing is revising, and you may need to take out more words than you write, so I like to go by time instead.  However, NaNoWriMo led me to see the value of using word count when you are doing a rough draft.  It helps you to keep your hand moving.

Since a lot of my revising of The Mystical Mantle is going to be inserting some new material, I may use some of that for writing the new material.  Anyway, I made myself a new spreadsheet like the one I was using for NaNoWriMo to track my progress, and I can use it for my blogs, too.  It’s rather fun.  I think I will also keep track of my time.  I had already decided to evaluate whether 30 minutes a day is a doable goal for 2010.  I enjoyed the goal of 15 minutes a day in 2009.  Maybe now that I’m in the swing of working full-time, I can do 30 minutes a day in 2010.

Anyway, I hope to still write a review or two tonight, but as far as novel writing goes, I am calling NaNoWriMo done for me for this year.  I did not meet the 50,000 word goal, but all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed participating, so for me it was a grand success. 

Here are my final statistics:

Words written on my novel:  17, 294

Blogging: 15,092 words

Total words, novel plus blogging: 32,386

Reviews written:  18

Other blog entries:  32

That counts Sonderquotes, which are other people’s words, and easy to write up.

All in all, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this focus on writing, and it gave me new energy.  I also got all my pictures put up and the boxes in my room unpacked, so I also feel pretty much moved in to my new home — what’s left is basically putting away some last bits of clutter.

So now all I have to do is get rid of this headache.

Write on!

Best of Lists and NaNoWriMo

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

So the end of the year is approaching, and everybody’s coming out with their best of the year lists.

I have to admit that I hate that!  How can you say what were the best books of 2009 when 2009 isn’t over yet?  And of course that would be to admit defeat — to admit that I will not, in fact, finish reading all those great books that are piled at the foot of my bed clamoring to be read.

So, I make my Sonderbooks Standouts lists in the following year.  The years that I was really on top of things, I printed my list on January 1st.  But that was awhile back! 

For my list of the best books I read in 2006, I decided to copy the Newbery Medal and call the list the 2007 Sonderbooks Standouts, since I was making the list in 2007, and I didn’t want it to sound horribly out of date.  Besides, 2007 was practically over by the time I got that list made!  So my list of Standouts goes from 2001 to 2009, but it looks like 2006 is missing whereas really 2009 is missing — does that make any sense?

Anyway, NaNoWriMo is almost done, and I got just slightly slightly more caught up on books I’ve read and want to review.  At the start of the month, there were 35 books waiting to be reviewed, and this morning, there were 30, so I made a tiny bit of headway.  At this moment, there are 31, and I think by the time I go to sleep there may be 33, so it’s not actually great progress.

I did not get very close to the 50,000 word goal for the first draft of a novel.  However, I did experiment with the reckless, brash way of writing through a first draft.  I think I work better with more of a plan — The Weekend Novelist approach of writing key scenes first.  However, with the particular book I was working on this month, I had tried that approach and reached a dead end.  This was like a month of brainstorming that gave it new life.  I think I will spend the next two days printing out what I produced and write out a scenario of what I’ve got, and I think I can come up with a plan for writing that I can really get excited about.

I’m happy that I did NaNoWriMo.  It shook me up.  Reminded me that writing is fun, and that creative juices flow better if you spend more than 15 minutes at a time.

For 2009, I had a New Year’s resolution of writing for at least 15 minutes every single day, and I kept it almost perfectly.  Probably only missed about a week’s worth of days (actually more days this last month, when I had that nasty headache — but I was writing a lot more on the other days, so it was okay).  But I was getting in kind of a rut with that.  I was revising a book I finished a long time ago, and it was getting kind of mechanical, a bit of a drudgery.  I’m hoping I can get back to that book with a bit more excitement now.

So, here are my goals now:

I’ll still keep a word count for the last two days of November.  Let’s see.  For writing plus blogging, I’m up to 30,772.  Think I can write 10,000 words on each of the next two days?  Hmm.  I’m not so sure!  So that won’t be part of the goals.  Here are the goals:

1)  Write up a scenario for the novel I worked on for NaNoWriMo.  All the writing I did got a little incoherent, but some things were coming together.  I’m going to write it up so I can come back to it after December.

For December:

2)  Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!  I want to review all the books I read in 2009 so that I can make my Sonderbooks Standouts lists right at the start of January.  It would be nice to scoop the Newbery and the Printz!

3)  For December, I am going to experiment with a goal of writing on my book for 30 minutes a day, instead of the 15 minutes a day goal I had for 2009.  If it seems do-able, that will be my new goal for 2010.

4)  I want to finish rewriting my earlier book by the end of December!

And then start looking for an agent!  It’s time to SELL that book!  (The Mystical Mantle is a middle grade novel about a princess whose father offers her hand in marriage to the person who wins a quest to gain the Mystical Mantle of Meteorology from the Obstreperous Ogre.  She decides to win the quest herself so she doesn’t have to be a prize.)

I now have four books in different stages of completion.  Unicorn Wings, my first novel, is sitting in a drawer, chalked up to experience.  The Mystical Mantle is being rewritten.  A retelling of One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes is in first draft, and my NaNoWriMo novel is in early shaping stages.

But, see, NaNoWriMo got me to that place.  Before I was slowly, slowly revising The Mystical Mantle, so some day I was going to get back to Duet’s Story. (“One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes” is an awfully long name.)  NaNoWriMo at least showed me the charm of working on one project for a specified period of time!

So, here goes!

And I’m also getting satisfaction out of reporting my progress in this blog.  I always did get a kick out of checking things off, and it has that sort of feel to it.  🙂

So, two days left in November.  I have both days off.  In those days my plan is to somehow consolidate what I’ve written on Dear Diary, my NaNoWriMo novel, so that I can come back to it after I’ve finished rewriting The Mystical Mantle.  I also hope to get as many reviews written as I can and try to get the to-be-reviewed number down to less than 30.

Oh, one other lovely thing about NaNoWriMo is that it transformed what was potentially an awful month into an actually good one!  This is my seventeenth straight day with a headache.  In my worst moments, I’d like them to just hook me up to an IV and make me sleep through them.  Now, mind you since Thanksgiving it’s mostly been a lot less severe.  But still.  This has given me something to be very interested in, something to remind me that life is very very much worth living.  Life is good!  That’s what writing does for me.  And NaNoWriMo reminded me of that.

Real Butter

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Last night, as I was getting in bed, it dawned on me.  Real butter.  That’s why the fudge I made yesterday was absolutely perfect, melt-in-your-mouth, delicious.  Hmm.  Was it really? Yep. Perfect. Definitely much better than ANY of the fifty or so times I made it as a child.

How is it better?  Well, it’s creamier, fudgier, not a hint of graininess.

What did I do different?  Well, come to think of it, not once in all those times I made it as a child would I have ever thought to have used real butter.

I’m looking at the recipe now.  To be fair, it does say “butter or margarine.”  You only use two tablespoons, and you don’t even cook with it.  You mix in the butter right after you finish cooking.  Then you let it cool.  Then when it’s cooler, you vigorously mix in vanilla until it turns into fudge.

Now, my fudge was always close to perfect — just on the grainy side.  But isn’t it just possible that margarine didn’t quite blend right with the sugar/milk mixture and melted and rehardened just a little grainy, as opposed to how yesterday’s batch did, all fudgy and, well, buttery and smooth and absolutely perfect.

I’m sure my mother would have let me buy butter for making fudge if the idea had ever entered my head.  I didn’t even think I liked butter and never would have dreamed of using butter.  My housemate in college, Karen Tullsen, introduced the idea of using butter in baking, since she never did anything else.  Then my husband persisted in using butter when making his traditional Sunday morning pancakes with our boys, despite my complaints about the smell.  Eventually, believe it or not, I grew to like it, even the smell.

And, truth to tell, margarine over the years has grown to look more like “spread” and less and less like butter and I have changed to where I would never use anything else in my baking.

I do feel sorry for my child self.  All that work.  All that agonizing over whether the sugar was completely dissolved, when a simple change to using real butter would have solved the problem!

There are all kinds of simplistic sermon illustrations out of that, but I will refrain, I think.

On the good side, I am pleased that now I am much more confident that this batch of perfect fudge was not a strange, irreproducible fluke that will live in time as a legend.  The perfect fudge that I supposedly made on Thanksgiving Day when I was all alone but that no one else ever tasted.  Now I feel confident that I could do it again. 

So I do not have to worry if there doesn’t happen to be any left when my son returns on Sunday night.  I will simply have to make another batch.

What can I say?  I am shut up in the house alone with a pan of my favorite fudge, and it is absolutely perfect.

I should also add that I am third of thirteen children and I never did learn self-control regarding sweets.  If there are sweets around and you do not eat them now, you will probably not get any. 

And my goodness that fudge tastes good!

And although my headache still is not precisely gone, it is not worse, so at least the fudge is not making me sick, right?

Can you tell that I am not even trying to fight it?  Will you despise me utterly if I confess that a part of the reason I made fudge on Thanksgiving Day was that I knew that I would be alone in the house for the next three days and would get to eat it up all by myself?  If you are tempted to judge me too harshly, chalk it up to the fact that I can safely say that not once when I made fudge as a child did I ever get to eat even half of the fudge myself. (No wonder I “tested” so much of it while cooking!)  That must have been a little fantasy indulgence right there.

I’m hoping for a writing blitz today — alternating with reviews and writing on my NaNoWriMo novel.  I’m hoping the headache will stay subdued enough to allow for that.  Wish me luck.

Betty Crocker Cookbooks, Fudge, Pictures, and Home

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

I have two bright red Betty Crocker Cookbooks.  One is copyright 1972.  It has lots and lots of smudges.  Especially on the page for fudge.  Oh, how many times I tried to make penuche (brown sugar) fudge, without the nuts of course. 

What I made tasted wonderful, but it was never quite right.  Always just a tiny bit grainy or maybe a lot grainy.  Oh how I agonized over that recipe.  You have to stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved.  Was the sugar dissolved yet?  Of course I had to lift the spoon out and feel it with my finger and see if I could feel sugar and see if I could taste sugar grains.  And of course with a gas stove defining medium heat was a little tricky.

Then there was 234 degrees on the candy thermometer and the soft ball test.  Did it have to be a precise ball?  Of course, after the cooking, you had to cool it down, and then mix “vigorously” until it was “smooth and no longer glossy.”  How glossy is no longer glossy?  How vigorous is vigorous?

As an adult, I bought a book on making fudge but I don’t think I ever did make it again.  Incidentally, it said that humid weather is great for making fudge.  I wonder if that was our problem in California….

Then, a few months ago, much to my own surprise, I tackled a recipe for cinnamon brittle.  I followed the candy thermometer and waited and waited for it to get to the right temperature — and took it off the heat the moment it did — and the candy then proceeded to incinerate!  I learned that maybe my thermometer measured a little low.  And thought some day I should try something easier, something softer on my teeth, like fudge….

Yesterday, I cooked a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for my son and me.  For Thanksgiving dinner I pull out the Betty Crocker cookbook I bought with the gift certificate we got as a wedding gift, copyright 1986.  It’s also bright red, but in loose leaf with a wipe-clean cover.  It’s where I go for my two very favorite Thanksgiving recipes — mushroom stuffing and candied sweet potato slices.  Mmmm, I love that stuffing recipe.  It’s basically celery, onions and mushrooms fried in butter and mixed with bread cubes and some spices, but yum yum!  I do dutifully fix it early and stuff it in the turkey, but the truth is I like best what I just cook in a dish on the side.  I really need to cut the recipe in half or a quarter, because I never ever stuff such a huge turkey — but there’s no leftovers I like better!  And I don’t make it any other time, and it keeps well, so what’s the harm in it?  Yep, I stick Handel’s Messiah in the CD player and start chopping celery and onion and mushrooms and it’s holiday time in my heart!

And then, of course, the candied sweet potatoes.  As I was mixing the brown sugar and butter and cinnamon, I got to thinking:  How is this any different from fudge?  I’ve really got to make fudge….

So.

Last night as we were sitting down to pumpkin pie, my husband arrived to get my son for the weekend.  (We had expected that traffic would make him later than usual, but I suspect he got off work much earlier than usual, because it was the earliest he’s showed up in a long time.)  So I have a grand and lovely weekend all to myself.

And this morning I woke up to find my headache of fifteen days actually mostly gone!  It’s making little visits, but is mostly leaving me in blissful, happy, glorious freedom!

So, what could I do?  I decided it was time to MAKE FUDGE!

And the crazy thing?  That fudge came out absolutely positively perfect!  It is melt-in-your-mouth not a hint of graininess magnificent brown sugar fudge. (Excuse me.  I need to make sure I’m telling the precise truth.  Yep.  Creamy. Fudgy.  Delicious.  Mmm.)  Now, remember how I learned that humidity helps with fudge-making?  Well, today was definitely humid.  But I feel a little bad for my poor child self.  If that’s all there was to it, how come it was so hard for her?  (But, boy was I glad I learned that lesson about my candy thermometer — I stopped cooking before it got to 234 degrees because it did, in fact, pass the soft ball test.  I’m glad I did!)  Now, I did plenty of testing, but probably not, in fact, as much as my child self used to do.  So maybe there’s something in that.

Anyway, now alone in my house with a pan of absolutely perfect fudge, two questions remain.  The first is will my headache be able to stay away if I ingest that much sugar?  The second is will there be any left for my son to taste when he gets home Sunday night?  Of course that brings up a third question:  Is there any reason for him to know that there was any fudge?

So far, consuming the end of the pan of fudge (Hey!  I had leftover turkey dinner, too!) has only gotten my headache better, so I call that positive reinforcement.  Hmm.  A friend was wondering if my headaches might be related to hypoglycemia.  I wonder if this would support or refute that hypothesis?

I’m also in a great mood (or is that a sugar high?) because today I really and truly finished putting up all the pictures on my walls.  Yes, I still have a few boxes to unpack.  But for me the true measure of when you are moved into a new home is when you have your pictures on the walls.

It’s tricky for this move.  So many of the pictures include my husband.  What do I want on my walls for this my new life? 

Mostly I’m including the happy young family pictures.  I’m including the pictures of the boys, young and joyful.  I’m including the pictures of us traveling all over Europe.

Most of the pictures we had on our walls always were ones that I took.  Steve never took much interest in what we put on our walls — Usually I’d drag him into helping me decide what to put up, but he’d let me put up whatever I wanted.  So I haven’t changed too much since he left.

And most of the pictures are my own photographs.  Photographs of castles.  Photographs of beautiful places.  Photographs of places that make my spirit soar.  And of course photographs of people I love in beautiful castles that make my spirit soar.

When I moved into this place, I said that it felt a lot more home-y than the apartment where I was before.  That’s even more true now that I have my own pictures, symbolizing my dreams, on my walls.  I do need to get some more current pictures up there next — but I think I will do that by getting myself a digital photo frame for Christmas and filling it with digital photos.  But that’s a whole new project!

As for the boxes, I had four piled in my closet, and I decided that I would empty the contents onto my bed on each of my four remaining days off in November.  So I will be dealing with the contents of box one before I go to bed tonight.  I am already excited because I discovered where my Blocking pins were hiding, and now I can block and sew up that sweater I finished knitting this summer!

Okay, that was all a long digression.  It was a lovely Thanksgiving Day.  I didn’t exactly get a lot of writing done, though I did spend fifteen minutes on my novel.  I still want to do a few more things this weekend before I officially declare myself moved in, but I am feeling much much more at home.

And my headache is worlds better, perhaps even gone!  And I am so very very thankful!

Here are my NaNoWriMo stats:

Words on my novel in November: 14,766.

Words on my blogs in November: 11,916

Total words written in November on my novel plus blogs:  26,682.

So I’m happy that I at least got past the halfway point, even with a record-breaking mind-blowing headache.  Life is good!

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I really and truly have three days off!  That is going to be lovely and luxurious and, I hope, thankful.

It won’t be as productive as I had fondly hoped because, the truth is, I’m on the fourteenth day of a headache, and I’m really drooping.  Had to figure out a way to lounge as I type.  I’ve gotten headaches all my life but I never conceived of a 14-day one.

On the good side, it’s not all that bad today, painwise.  After the corticosteroid ran its six-day course, the neurologist gave me Indomethacin.  Yesterday I took a Maxalt, and today it’s almost, almost gone.  I did some stuff this morning and then took a nap.  The nap actually made the headache stronger, but I feel too weak to keep going, so I’ll probably take another nap before long.

But the cool part is, I can work at my own pace, hang out, get some pictures put up, do some writing, write some reviews, take some naps, and there’s just no pressure, and it’s all okay.

Remember my goals for the month were first to finish moving in, and I’ve already made progress toward that today.  I’m pretty much giving up on the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words, but I DID work on my own goal of 15 minutes a day of writing, and I DID work on my own goal of doing some writing on my novel today.  And last night I got a couple more reviews written, and I plan to get some more today.

So I’m thankful.  For my home.  For my job.  For my time off.  For my son who will share my meal with me.  For my husband who provided me with great health care and who will give my son a great weekend.  For good food and the ability to prepare it.  For a cozy weekend and the wonderful opportunity to spend it working on the things I really want to do.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Good Enough

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Well, that last post about how maybe I could write 50,000 words in November after all?  Sorry, it isn’t going to happen.

And that’s okay.

I still have six days off left in November, and three work days.  So I need to think through how I want to spend them.

Now, part of this does depend on how things go with these marathon headaches.

I did see a neurologist, and she gave me a corticosteroid that’s giving me some relief.  But it’s something of a catch-22.  When the headache goes, there are some side effects of agitation and an elevated heart rate and not feeling great that aren’t really conducive to clear thinking, either.  When those side effects let up, mostly the headache is coming back.  Actually, both the side effects and the headache were better this afternoon — right before it was time to take another pill!

Anyway, I only have a couple more days of the corticosteroid, and I hope, hope, hope that will be the end of this headache, which is on its tenth day right now.  By then, I’m hoping either the neurologist’s tests will reveal what is causing the new bout with headaches, or else the new preventative she gave me will kick in and they will let up.

So, all that is to say, it’s not the time to burn the midnight oil or skip meals.  I’m going to be gentle on myself, but decide what I want to accomplish in this last week of November.

My son’s going to be with his Dad for Thanksgiving, but I have Wednesday off, and he gets out of school early, so we’ll have a little pre-Thanksgiving feast together, and then I can have a nice cozy weekend retreat for the rest of the weekend, working only on Saturday.

One thing that working on NaNoWriMo did remind me is that I do enjoy writing an hour at a time, that this is actually rather easier and more enjoyable than doing it only fifteen minutes at a time.

It reminded me that, yes, I want to be a writer, and, yes, a writer writes.

So, no, I probably can’t possibly finish 50,000 words on my new novel by November, but I can still make some good progress, and any progress is good progress is good progress, and that is good enough.

Here’s what I’ve decided to make my goals for November:

1.  I will try to finish moving in.  This means finishing putting up my pictures throughout the house, and unpacking the boxes in my room and the spare bedroom.  This will feel very good!

2.  I will see how far I can get on my novel.  I will try to put in at least an hour a day, where possible.  It would be nice to get at least halfway to the 50,000 word goal, but we will see.

3.  I will try to get at least one review posted per day, preferably two or three.  I have a stack of 35 books I want to review, so I’m not going to get caught up in November, but maybe that can be my goal for December.  Of course, the main problem is that when I’m not feeling well, the one thing I can do is read, so the stack just keeps on growing.

As Thanksgiving week begins, I’ve been thinking of how much I have to be thankful for.  NaNoWriMo reminds me that the one thing I ALWAYS wanted to be was a Writer.  I used to think I’d accomplish that by being a stay-at-home Mom supported by a husband, but now I’m finding that being a full-time librarian is actually a bit more conducive to a writer’s work habits.  And I’m definitely more involved in the world of books.

But a writer writes.  It will be interesting to see how many words I can get written in a month, even when I’m plagued by headaches.

So far, on my novel:  13,699 words.

On my blogs: 7,535 words.

Total: 21,234 words.

Write on!

NaNoWriMo Progress

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Well, yesterday on my day off I learned that I make far, far more progress if I write on my novel for an hour at a time instead of fifteen minutes.  Funny how that works!

I later did another hour, and later wrote two reviews, and the word count really spiked.  Then it dawned on me:  With 15 days left in November, I have 8 of them off and am working on 7 of them.  I made a spreadsheet, and if I do an hour on my working days, and at least two hours on my off days, I really might still be able to hit 50,000 words.

Yes, I still want to catch up on my reviews.  I still want to get moved in to this townhouse.  But yesterday I did get some pictures up and I did get some reviews written.

A lot is going to depend on how these headaches go.  The day before yesterday, I didn’t do any writing at all because my head hurt and I couldn’t think clearly.  But yesterday, I told myself to wait to take a nap until I had done an hour of writing.  I actually found that writing for an hour was a better treatment than a nap, because writing is more distracting!  And you can only nap so long.  There comes a point where no matter how sick and weak you feel, you won’t be able to go to sleep any more — and you’re left with lying in bed feeling sick and weak.  How much nicer to distract myself with writing.  Though to be fair, I think that the nap was what I needed to have the strength for the second writing session of the day.

And actually, I’m finding that writing a review with a headache is a little harder.  With the novel, I’m writing a first draft, and first drafts are supposed to be bad.  But with the reviews, I very much would like to be coherent and thoughtful, and that’s a bit harder to do with a headache than writing a bad first draft.

So, my progress so far, at past the halfway point:

On my novel: 11, 158 words

On my novel plus my blogs: 17, 512 words.

Still a long way to go!  But it’s still just possible….

Progress

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Why do I always, always, always think I can get more done on my day off than is humanly possible?

Today I slept most of the morning.  But I refuse to get down on myself for that — I figure I’m still recovering from the prolonged headache, getting my strength back.

This is only the first of quite a few upcoming days off, and I’m hoping they will get more and more productive.  And, again, ANY progress on my novel is good progress!

So far, I have written 4,895 words on my novel and 2,011 words on my blogs, for a grand total of 6,906 words.

Write on!

NaNoWriMo & Newberys, Headaches & Hassles

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

I’m thinking about life.

November isn’t turning out like I expected when I decided to try NaNoWriMo after all.  It’s Day 10, and so far, I’ve written 4,214 words on my novel.  I had hoped for 2,000 words a day.  I thought that adding to my personal goal with anything I write on my blogs would make up the difference, but so far I have only written 1,114 words on my blogs, for a grand total of 5,328 words.

But you never know.  Today my headache is finally gone.  Calloo!  Callay!  And all the odd days off in November are starting up.  I have Veteran’s Day off, then Friday, then Sunday and Monday (for working the previous Sunday).  On Thanksgiving weekend, I’m working Saturday, but I get Wednesday off to make up for it, and I’m taking the last day of November off to attempt a last blitz on NaNoWriMo.  My son will be with his Dad for Thanksgiving, so I will have no excuses not to do some writing.

My headaches have been something of a puzzle.  After being completely under control for years now, why are they suddenly acting up?  They haven’t been very severe, but so persistent.  I have an appointment  with a neurologist in a couple of weeks to begin finding some answers.  It will be interesting to see if they stay away until then.  I’m not sure if “headaches” are really the problem, or if it’s a symptom of another problem.

Then there are the hassles from my husband over visitation logistics.  We were best friends for at least 15 years.  We both love our son.  Why can’t we just talk with each other about what times are good for each of us?  I don’t know, and it can absorb far more of my attention than I want it to.  I wish I had my husband and family and best friend back — yet I am surely enjoying this life of doing what I am interested in without worrying about whether it’s taking too much time from anyone else.

Today I learned that I was not accepted for ALSC’s Bill Morris Seminar in January.  But the nice part is that I have no more assignments of books to read.  I’ve finished the reading for the online Newbery class I was taking (It was wonderful!), and now I’m very curious if I could read lots of books that were published this year, if I might be able to guess next year’s winner.

What am I trying to say with all this rambling?  Well, that life is full and interesting.  Two of my best days this past month were when I had headaches — but I went hiking anyway, and walked in the glorious, gorgeous, incredibly beautiful Autumn woods and took some wonderful pictures.  Somehow surrounded by majestic beauty, everything falls into perspective.

One of the cool things about NaNoWriMo is that it looks like a whole lot of people who do it don’t meet the goal of 50,000 words.  So that is NOT failure, by any means!  But the fact is, 4,214 words toward my novel is 4,214 words that weren’t written before, and that is a wonderful thing.

I learned so much in the Newbery class, and read so many incredibly good books.  I’m excited about posting reviews of them and getting my website caught up — and then beginning to put in place some of the suggestions from the Kidlitosphere conference (which I attended the day before the latest headache started) and building community and making a better blog, and making connections.

I was excited when Nina Lindsay of School Library Journal’s Heavy Medal blog visited our Newbery class and recognized me as a frequent commenter on her blog.  Community and connections!  That’s the sort of thing they encouraged at the Kidlitosphere conference — and I want to get around to following more of my fellow conference attenders’ blogs.

When I did look at some of them, I found that some are doing NaNoWriMo!  So I added them as Buddies on that site.  (And I am down as SondySue on that site, so feel free to add me, if you’re reading my blog!)  It’s all about Connection…

So, this is my plan for my big day off tomorrow:  Post several reviews of Newbery winners, spend at least an hour on my novel, rake some leaves if it’s not raining, and put up some pictures. 

Can I do all that in one day?  Well, if not, that’s okay, too.  Life is full and interesting, and headaches & hassles really can’t stop that.

I’m excited that I’ve found something I’m passionate about:  Books and what makes them great.  And writing books.  And sharing great books with children.  And talking about great books.

 And even more exciting is that I’m making more and more connections with other people who share my passions and find what I have to say interesting.  (And lucky me, it’s even related to my job!)

And meanwhile, I’ve joined a new small group at church and am making good friends, and I live in a place where fabulous hiking is close at hand, and I have a homey “new” place and I’m getting settled in.

Life is good!

NaNoWriMo

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month!

I wasn’t going to.  It seemed foolish.  Here’s why:

I’m currently working on revising my earlier book, completely rewriting it, but still a revision.  I want to finish it!  So if I take a month off, it will take that much longer.  Still, in the big scheme of things, at 15 minutes per day, a month off just isn’t that much.

I had decided that I have two goals:  1) Catching up my Sonderbooks site with the huge stack of books I have read that are waiting to be reviewed.  I also want to implement some of the fantastic blog-related ideas I heard about at the Kidlitosphere Conference.  2)  Getting MOVED IN!  We moved in May, for goodness’ sake!  I want my pictures up and my boxes emptied.  I’m so close… and yet so far.

I’ve been plagued by almost daily headaches for the last two months.  I have had to do less, not more.

I’m currently taking a wonderful online class on the Newbery Medal.  It’s keeping me busy.  When it finishes, I hope to learn that I’ve been selected for the Bill Morris Seminar in January, complete with assigned reading.  Even if not, I have stacks of books I’m dying to read.

I’ve never written a novel with Word Count goals, always time goals, which suits me better, or so I’ve always thought.

Okay, those were my reasons why not.  But the very thought of doing it made me smile.  That alone seems like a good reason to consider it.

Here are some more reasons:

1.  I have a book for which I’d thought through the plot and written a couple key scenes but hadn’t started the first draft of — ideal for this sort of thing.

2.  One of my goals for the year was to write another novel.  I got sidetracked by my revision, but this could make it happen.

3.  If I don’t meet the goal of 50,000 words, so what?  I would still be that much farther, and I can do it as part of a big community.

4.  In a way, it’s a way of thumbing my nose at my headaches.  Gives me something else to think about and focus on.

5.  I was already writing 15 minutes a day.  I can even keep that up and add in that word count.  So what if it’s not very high?

6.  I’ve never used word count as a goal before, but isn’t it worth a try for a month?  Especially when I have a novel idea all ready to be started as a rough draft?

7.  Just thinking of doing it makes me smile.

So — I’m going to do NaNoWriMo.  However, I decided that right up front I will modify my own personal goals.

Because I really really do want to catch up on the reviews on my website, for my own personal purposes, I will count any words I post on a blog.  My goal for the month of November will be to write 50,000 words on my new novel and my blogs.

For the novel, I will only count words on the new rough draft I started this morning.  That will be the word count I post on the NaNoWriMo site.

I will still do 15 minutes per day, and more when I get the chance.  For this month, I will only work on the new novel, rather than revising old ones.  Here’s hoping this will bring a fresh perspective!

This morning I took a half-day off.  My word count so far is:

Novel:  1635 words

Blogging:  606 words

Total:  2,241 words

Write on!