Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Reconciling Saying No to NaNoWriMo

So, as you all know, we're almost a week into National Novel Writing Month.  Congrats to you if you've joined!  I've always wanted to participate, and I thought this would be my year, but now I sit her eyeing all of the NaNoWriMo twitter posts with envy.

YES!  I want to do a 30 minute sprint!  YES!  I want to compare wordcounts.  YES!  I want to eat half a bag of jelly beans and wash it down with Mountain Dew.  Ew, actually, not that last one.

But, the point is, I can't NaNo this year.  I thought this would be my year, with maternity leave starting and my work winding down.  But, unfortunately, even though work is winding down, I'm not officially done until Nov 30 (the LAST day of NaNo, of course.)  Who planned this!?  Oh, right, me.  And, not only that, but "work winding down," does not equal "free time," as I thought it would.  Instead of NaNo, I'm doing NaGSDMo, aka: National Get Shit Done Month.  The formula is as follows:

Less Work = Training replacement + setting up meetings for my clients to meet my replacement + readying nursery + prenatal visits, which just seem to keep increasing in frequency like nobody's business + prenatal preparation + prenatal fitness + wading through the 3-million different kinds of carseats to choose one + finding SOME time to relax before baby comes!

So, no NaNo this year.  But, there are still great things that can come out of this month, writing-wise.  I get so wrapped up in the NaNo hype, forgetting that many great novels AREN'T written in a month.  And, if they are, it's not necessarily November.  I mean, there are definitely others who can't participate in NaNo because of other life duties, like all those dudes growing huge moustaches!  I mean, it must be the same; I'm growing a baby, they're growing a moustache.

Without further ado, I'd like to share my list of NaNoNoWriMo activities.  Just writing, no pressure to finish a novel.  Consider it like auditing a course; you learn the material but don't have to take the test.  A lot of these may sound to some of you like sound practice for All The Time, and they are!  But I haven't been very good at keeping up my practice.  So, if you're like me, you can take these to heart this month.

  • Write every day.  It doesn't matter how much.  As long as you've put a line in, or even moved things around or jotted a quick note to yourself about how to change a scene, it counts.
  • You can "sprint" too.  Even though you aren't doing NaNo, and thus may not have arranged your life to accommodate 50 thirty-minute sprints every day, you can still sprint a few times.  Maybe just three times a week.  Maybe 2 times a day you can fit in.  But, the point is, take some of that shared NaNo energy and put it into your own writing. 
  • Team up with buddies.  You can team up with your NaNo buddies to do some sprints and word-wars, or you can just team up with another NaNo dropout like yourself.  Perhaps one of your crit partners wants to get online and race with you, or a friend in a writing group.  You don't have to be excluded just because you aren't in it for the marathon.
  • Arrange your writing area as though you WERE doing NaNo.  Keep snacks handy, have your computer and notes already set up at all times.  That way, when you do get those 2 or 3 or 35 minutes to get some words down, you're already halfway there.  (or, at least 10% of the way)
  • Set your own goal and share it.  You might not get 50,000 words by the end of Nov, but maybe you want to have at least 20,000.  Or even 10,000!  Or maybe your goal is to finish edits on a current project, or to outline and prep a new project.  Whatever it is, share your goals with a few writing buddies and you can keep each other accountable.  (And, maybe compete if it's motivating for you. ;) )
  • And, finally, take advantage of the fact that you AREN'T participating.  This means you can edit whenever you want, without the pressure of time and wordcounts weighing in on you.  You can leisurely read through your pages to make sure you're still going in the right direction.  You have the luxury of time, so take it!
So, are any of you guys foregoing NaNo this month too?  If so, why?  And, even though you aren't participating, what are your writing goals?  Let's check back at the end of November and see how our National Non-novel Writing Month went!

Get writing!

ps - anyone want to race? ;)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

One Paragraph Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

I think I used to do this segment about once a month back when I was blogging more regularly, but now I think I'll switch to just doing it whenever I read a book I really, really enjoy.

And, boy did I ever enjoy this book!!


I hadn't heard of Rae Carson before last week, when a (very generous and possibly delusional) friend of mine compared my writing to hers.  It was a flattering comment, but after reading (edit: devouring) The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I have to decline the comparison.  Carson's writing is genius.  It's not just her beautiful and effortless prose; her plotting is absolutely fantastic.  She manages to weave together several complete stories, allowing them to mingle and braid in such a way that draws the reader in until you can't get out again.  In addition to that, her character arcs are incredibly well-constructed (though not overly obvious).  Elisa, the main character, grows and changes in ways that both make sense but also surprise the reader.  The flow is very natural and not forced at all.  I've read so many books where the character arc is forced, as though the author thought to themselves, "Well, I want her to get from here to there by the end of the book, so we'll just make that happen."  In the Girl of Fire and Thorns, every single thing that Elisa goes through contributes to her transition across the novel in subtle ways.  These subtle changes add up to create on kick-ass arc.  And, while we're on the subject of characters, I'd like to add that the relationships between the characters were also surprisingly different from the typical YA cliches.  First off, I want to both congratulate and yell at Carson for not being afraid to "kill her darlings."  There were definitely some kleenex box moments.  And, while there is something of a love triangle (or, V maybe?), it isn't the run-of-the-mill "she likes him and he likes her but she also likes him and he also likes her; which one will she choose?"  The relationships in this book were more realistic, and along with the characters, the relationships had their own arcs, which I appreciated.  For characters you'll love, a plot that will draw you in, and writing that is exquisite, I'd totally recommend this book.  Sorry, I'm gushing. :)  Let's move onto the nitty gritty.

Front to back time: 3 days

Favourite character: I found Humberto to be the most likeable character.  However, as far as complexity and intrigue, I was very interested in watching Cosme and Alejandro's characters unfold.

Musical Accompaniment: Did a lot of reading in coffee shops, so whatever they had on. :)

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Have any of you read this?  Any thoughts?