NaNo Recap, 2017 Goals

Hello Internet,

I did it. I won NaNoWriMo with just over 52,000 words written this past November. Under typical circumstances I would be so enthusiastic that I would make an announcement the moment my finger hits the “validate” button, but I honestly didn’t feel good about my “accomplishment” when I reached my goal and I still don’t feel any better looking back at things now. It was hardly my best work. I largely recycled my ideas from last year and completely butchered the rest because my thoughts were garbage. I thought I would find my way to motivation station somewhere along the way, but it turns out I was on the wrong train the whole time; I think I knew from the beginning I was on the wrong train, but I went along for the ride because I hoped it would change course. It never happened. Things just kept heading toward destination disappointment.

For some context, 2016 has been personally one of the worst years of my adult life. I let some unfortunate circumstances get in the way of my own happiness, and my writing and other creative projects suffered the consequences. Then, when I finally got myself out of that rut, it was already time for NaNoWriMo again, and NaNo was supposed to be just the thing I needed to get back on track. After having previously survived the challenge in 2015, I thought I had learned about all of the struggles I could possibly face throughout the month of November. The month started with getting sick at the exact time I had scheduled time away from work to write for five days straight. That was a huge blow to my confidence because I knew how much I struggled before, and this was supposed to be the chance I had to get ahead and relieve some pressure. Then just days after all of that nonsense, the results of the US election presented a new obstacle; he-who-must-not-be-named was elected president.

It’s not about “my side” losing. I could handle that if I didn’t already know that nearly everything his administration represents threatens the well-being of many of my friends and family. But the thing is, I do know, and I have a permanent knot in my stomach because of how sickening it is to see people being treated as less than human. Everything people worried about with this new administration is already happening, and I am doing what I can to fight for a better tomorrow.

These last couple of months have been difficult for many, and ultimately, I’ve felt like my novel has needed to take a backseat to everything else going on. It hasn’t felt as important. So instead of working on my writing projects, I have been immersing myself politics so I can better understand and help solve the issues America faces. I can’t sit back and be silent.

Even with all the chaos and uncertainty surrounding these new executive orders and how they will affect us all, there is still the matter of self-care. It is important for me to set aside some alone time to recharge because my introverted brain can’t handle all of the deep political conversations I’ve been having lately. Sometimes I have to deal with people that think problems don’t exist simply because it either doesn’t affect them directly or the suffering people must have “deserved it” somehow. It’s exhausting to interact with people like that because they aren’t willing to reason; they just want other people to shut up so they can go back to not caring about politics or other people. I used to despise politics but I realized at some point how awful that was to have the privilege of not getting involved. My eyes have been opened and I can’t live with myself if I know I haven’t done everything in my power to stand up for those that can’t stand up for themselves.

So, what do I do to take care of myself when I need time away from the world? Well, mostly I’ve been reading tons and sneaking occasional naps on my days off of work. That’s what works for me and I’m sticking to it, but after two months of not writing, it’s definitely time for me to be okay with getting back to my novel. I spent too much time away from my work after NaNo 2015. As much as I’d love to be a full-time peaceful protestor, I can’t ignore my own needs. And who knows? Maybe my novel is my key to changing the world. So consider that my New Year’s resolution. I am giving myself until the end of the year to finish a full draft of my novel. Now that I’ve said it, I have to do it.

U.S. Election and NaNoWriMo

Today, I am compelled to speak briefly about the presidential election here in the United States of America. I know many people are disappointed with this year’s choices (some of us are still salty over Bernie losing), but if you are eligible and able to do so, then please get out there and vote! I won’t tell you who to vote for; I just ask that you look at the facts and vote your conscience.

PLEASE VOTE

Alright, I promised an update on my progress with NaNoWriMo. Due to the beginning of the month starting on a weekday, I had already known that I was in for a rough start. I only wrote 1,200 of my 2,000 words goal on the first day. On the second day, I managed to write a measly 200 words, then nothing more for the following three days. I wasn’t so concerned at this point because I knew that I would have five whole days dedicated entirely for purpose of working on my story. However, sometimes plans get interrupted. Late last week I was gifted with a cold, so my head has been cloudy in these past few days. I am already a chronic daydreamer and get easily distracted from my writing, so my natural shortcomings and the challenge of managing a cold left me with the inability to focus on any task for more than a few minutes. By the end of Saturday, I had only written about 2,000 words.

Coming into Sunday morning, I was starting to lose my drive. I mean, I had spent my ENTIRE Saturday sitting in bed, staring at my laptop screen, with only 600 words to show for it. I was desperate to pump out more words, but I didn’t want to spit out a bunch of meaningless drivel. So, I went to the NaNoWriMo website and tried a couple of word sprints. I hadn’t tried them before, as I was afraid that they would take me too far away from the path that I thought I was on. I was completely wrong about word sprints. I am now a firm believer in them, as I had managed to write over 6,000 words that day AND improved my plot.

After so much productivity on Sunday, I gave myself a little bit of a break yesterday. I still wrote 1,400 words, but I took a lot of breaks. I also took a lot of time to listen to what my characters have been trying to tell me, rather than force them into a particular direction. Part of my problem was that a couple of my characters have been terribly weak, so my story has been stagnant. Now that I’m finally figuring this out, I’m starting to find my rhythm and what works for me.

I’m currently sitting at 9,466 words. I still have a long way to go, and I may not meet the overall goal of 50,000 words by the end of November, but I am more confident that I have a better story than when I started this journey.

How about any of you? How has your NaNoventure been so far?

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NaNoWriMo Eve

For some wrimos across the world, the clock has struck midnight. Writers have heard the call to action, and their fingers click feverishly across their keyboards as they begin the race toward the 50,000 words finish line. Where I’m located, it’s still October 31st, the magical night of Halloween, but in just a few short hours, writers in my area will be joining forces with the rest of the world for NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately for myself, I will have to wait until after I get home from work tomorrow before I can participate. As anxious as I am to start working on my novel, I definitely need my sleep.

Last night, I opened up a new Scrivener document and tinkered around with character and setting ideas, but didn’t really add anything new. Aside from that and my endless daydreaming, the only other thing I’ve done to prepare was skim through the first 5 chapters of my NaNo project from last year. I can’t help but feel nervous about how little it seems I’ve prepared, but I have also learned over the years that my brain is sharper and more focused under pressure, so blindly into the madness I’ll go.

If you have any writer friends or family members participating in NaNoWriMo, please be especially patient and supportive this month. This is a huge endeavor, and speaking from my own experience, the hardest thing for a writer is in fact writing.

I have some dedicated time off of work next week to work on my novel, and I’m going to carve out a section of time to post a more detailed update here about how NaNoWriMo is going.

Happy Halloween, and good luck fellow writers!

NaNoWriMo Prep 2016

National Novel Writing Month is almost upon us! For the entire month of November, I will be participating alongside thousands of writers across the country (it’s actually intercontinental now) to write a 50,000 words novel. This challenge is for aspiring writers of all ages, so go to http://www.nanowrimo.org to sign up if you’re interested.

I jumped in headfirst last year with an idea I’d been brewing for over year, and I somehow managed to make my word count goal; I wrote 50,785 words in 30 days. That was a huge milestone for me. I committed to writing nearly every single day. Only a few of those days were easy; most days I came home from work and spent hours trying just to get my brain to focus. I am not a quick writer, and my perfectionism prevents me from getting words on a page until I have tired myself out from trying so hard and desperation kicks in. The few words I end up with are often ones I am not proud of, but  I keep telling myself that’s what editing is for. Editing is a necessary part of the process, and it’s totally okay if my first draft is terrible. I can always fix it later.

This year, I am doing a rewrite of last year’s novel. In preparation for November, I am reading through my story and all of my notes. The reason I am doing a rewrite is because I need to make a lot of changes and polish it up so I can prepare for the publishing process. That’s my goal, anyway.

If you don’t want to participate, but would like to support NaNoWriMo, check out their donation and merchandise page. They have a new scarf in their store (pictured below) and some other awesome things like notebooks, coffee mugs, t-shirts and more.

Good luck to my fellow wrimos out there, and happy writing!

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Summary of PAX West 2016

I attended PAX West for all four days over Labor Day weekend, and I’m officially a month behind on posting this. Overall, it was a great experience, as usual. There was so much to see, and it was impossible to do everything, but I was able to check off all the necessary things on my to-do list.

On the first day, my friends and I sped through all of the floors to take a mental note of all the things we wanted to see. The first thing that stood out to us was the Resident Evil Haunted House. I honestly didn’t take the time to read what it was all about, but when I hear the words “haunted house,” I’m sold. We didn’t get to it the first day, and we tried the next two mornings to get there with no luck. Each of the day’s tickets were capped within about 10 minutes of opening. On day four, the final day, my friends were too tired to continue with the con, so I continued on a solo mission. I made it a point to be one of the lucky few to get through the doors as soon as the clock struck 10am. And I made it. I got a pass for 12:30pm, but a girl next to me insisted on trading with me so she could go at the same time as her friends. It worked out in my favor as I got to walk right into the house.

I was called into a dark room with an old dining chair in the center, facing a TV screen. An antiqued lamp swung above. I was told to sit in the chair, and a woman put a VR headset on me. This was my first VR experience, so I had no idea what I was doing. The woman did mention that my character in the simulation would be tied to a chair and unable to get up the entire time, but she stuck a controller in my hands so I could press start. I ended up being a bit disappointed with the demo because for one thing, I don’t scare easily, so the zombie noises and a man getting attacked in front of me was little boring. Second, all I could do was sit there; it was not interactive at all. Though, I suppose haunted houses aren’t necessarily interactive either, but they do affect more senses than just sight and sound. Oh well. I got a free t-shirt out of the experience, so there’s that.

I am not a huge youtuber, but I was with someone throughout the convention that is. She had been talking for weeks about how she wanted to see Markiplier and Pewdiepie. We tried and failed in an attempt to make it to Markiplier’s autograph session, but we did make it to his panel at Benoroya Hall, and we had a good time. I certainly wasn’t expecting to see two marriage proposals on stage either, but it is a thing that happened.

The rest of my friend’s dream was completed when we discovered Pewdiepie was LITERALLY right behind us at the Sanshee booth in the expo hall. He was incredibly nice and even let my friend snag a picture with him.

On day two or three (it’s all a blur now), I waited in line for about 30-40 minutes to paint a miniature figure. Out of only two options, I decided to paint the Valkyrie, and it proved to be quite an ambitious choice. We were only given 45 minutes to paint. Yikes! If any of you have ever painted a miniature before, then you’ll know that is only about half the time a person needs to do a detailed job. I definitely ran out of time, but I packed in as much color as I could, and even though I wasn’t able to get any details in her face, I’m still proud of my results. The small backdrops that Reaper Miniatures set up for the painters were a nice touch. I liked being able to put my Valkyrie right into action and show her off.

Sometime during the weekend, my friend had accidentally left her credit card behind at a nearby restaurant, so while she and her boyfriend went back to get it, I wandered into the Exploding Kittens room and picked up a copy of the first expansion, Imploding Kittens. The creators also happened to be signing people’s merchandise at the checkout, so of course I had to ask for autographs. And what’s even better than autographs is the new “alter the future” card in the expansion, which features a picture of a creature called a furmaid. A FURMAID. What more can I say?

Another card game I love is called Cards Against Humanity. I took a stroll through their store and found a card pack inside a box of “Corn Holes.” In case you were wondering, yes, there really is food inside. The cereal looks just like the picture, but no, I haven’t tried it…yet.

There were two life-size dinosaurs on the main show floor, and I REALLY wanted to get my picture taken with one of them, but there were also so many other things I wanted to see, and I couldn’t handle waiting in line for two-three hours for a picture, or anything else for that matter. So, I didn’t get a chance to sit on either dino, but I did get to sneak a picture of the Tyrannosaurus Rex with no people around it while I was waiting for a friend who was competing in the Gears of War tournament.

The last item worth mentioning is Fluffy/Cerberus. I had to get myself a Cerberus plushie. He’s so cute and squishy! Everyone needs a three-headed dog in their life.

That’s a wrap on my PAX highlights! Let me know if you were there and what you liked about it.

The Beginning of Things and Stuff

Hello World,

I’ve been meaning to start a blog for several years now. I have plenty of excuses as to why I held myself back, but none of them are any good, so I’ll spare you the details and just dive right in!

Today is all about mermaiding. More specifically, mermaid dress. I FINALLY crafted my first mermaid tail after over a year of planning. By “planning,” I mean that I bought some shiny mermaid spandex sometime last year and haven’t done anything at all until recently.

It’s now been a couple of months since I actually finished the project, and I have yet to try it out for a swim, but hopefully I’ll get over my public anxiety long enough to wear my tail in front of other humans.

In case you are wondering, yes, trying to sew this tail was incredibly frustrating. At least it was in the beginning. It took me entirely too long to figure out that I needed to use a specific needle for stretchy fabrics. Once that was sorted, I did a quick zigzag stitch down the sides. I have yet to hem the tail, but it is wearable, and I can always do that later. Also, since I had to make the fin a separate piece for the fabric change, I left it unattached, that way it’s easier to manage putting on and taking off my monofin. It was also going to be a nightmare trying to sew the fin to the rest of the tail. I mean, I am no expert seamstress and I will not ever pretend to be.

I can’t wait to see how awesome this tail is going to look in the sunlight. When I get around to swimming in it, hopefully I’ll remember to take pictures of me in it.

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