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Monday, November 30, 2009

I Did It!

Well, I did it. Seven hours shy of the deadline, I squeaked past the 50,000-word mark and hit my goal--50,043 to be precise. And for those who know the saga, I'm right at the point where I've arrived at that hideous (and hilarious, in hindsight) housesit in England. So I'm actually quite eager to continue telling my wickedly honest tale.

I'm two for two now doing NaNoWriMo, I'm happy to say. Less happy to admit that neither of these two books is finished--yet! But some people manage to knock off a book a year, others a book their entire lifetime, so I'm not giving up hope. In fact, I fully anticipate applying the seat of my pants to the seat of my chair tomorrow...well, after picking up my neighbor from the airport, going shopping, stopping at a friend's for dinner...

Perhaps, on second thought, it'll be Wednesday when I hit that chair again. Give the poor, weary chair a day off. It's earned it, right?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Writing Down the Home Stretch

It's Sunday evening, with just slightly more than 24 hours to go before my writing deadline.

The heading on this post is misleading. I wish it were the home stretch of the book itself but, no, it's just the first 50,000 words. Still, that's nothing to sneeze at.

I've been working steadily now the past few days and have managed to creep up to 46,353 words, leaving me just a few hours of work hanging over my head until I'm ready to submit my coded manuscript to NaNoWriMo.org for validation.

Although the first draft has a long way to go, particularly in the upcoming revision period, I'm starting to feel like it's actually beginning to resemble a book...kinda sorta. But standing at 50,000 words when it only reaches as far as the end of 2007, well, I'm lucky that it's not a novel. Novel lengths are typically 80-100,000 words whereas non-fiction can sometimes slide in as high as 200,000. I think if I'm not too afraid to wield that scalpel--or sword as the case may be--I can probably cut out the dead tissue and get it down around 100,000 words when it's finished.

In the meantime, I look forward to submitting my coded draft tomorrow night. Tuesday my neighbor returns from the UK and he's fully expecting to jump into my home improvement projects within a day or two. It's my hope to get the downstairs rooms presentable before my next house guests come at Christmastime.

Entertaining is wonderful. It really forces me to tackle projects like cleaning and reorganizing that I so easily toss onto the back burner. Much like my writing, I'm afraid. But that's where entertaining November as National Novel Writing Month comes in, to move me from beneath that Sword of Damocles and in to the operating room where I belong.

God knows, my not so patient little puppy can't wait. She's already trying to excise my toes as punishment because I'm ignoring her.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Writing at Top Speed

Well, it's day 28 and I have taken just way too many days off this month. If I'd kept up with the daily average, I'd have 45,000 words under my belt but I'm only at 38,700. Still, I was horribly behind upon waking yesterday and worked all day. So there's still hope I can catch up and make my 50,000 words by midnight Monday, or 7:00 PM EDT.

Still, things are flowing. I've left Spain finally, in my narrative, and am now enjoying a few weeks in northern Italy. It's wonderful, actually, reliving the experiences, even the bad ones.

I did take off a couple of days to have a Thanksgiving dinner of sorts. Since it's not a holiday celebrated outside the USA, none of my guests had ever been to one before. We had it on Wed, not Thu, due to other people's commitments--again, it's not a holiday here!--and did we have fun. Hardly traditional as you can't get a turkey to roast, not that my oven can roast anyway. Too much steam buildup, a problem with tiny ovens I'm told.

So we had stuffed pork tenderloin in pastry with an apple sage sauce. The pork, admittedly, got slightly charred in the toaster oven as I had no confidence in my regular oven that the pastry would brown, but none of us missed the bird and I thought it came out tasty enough for an experiment. Or maybe it was the pomegranate Champagne cocktails that took the sting out of it. Or the surprise chocolate birthday cake for one of my guests who'd just celebrated a birthday two days earlier. Any way you slice it, it was a fun evening.

For anyone who wants to try the Champagne cocktails, chill 5 ounces of Cointreau or Grand Marnier with 5 ounces of pomegranate juice and 1 ounce of fresh lime juice. Pour into Champagne flutes about 1/4 to 1/3 full and top with sparkling wine or Champagne. Makes 8 yummy drinks.

I hope everyone who celebrates the holiday had a lovely one. But now it's off to cram in some more writing if I'm to make my Monday deadline. No wonder the characters have worn off my keyboard....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Writing Continues

Day Five and I'm at word count 9154, putting me at nearly 20% of my November goal.

It's been a stressful day not because of the crazed dogs wrestling all over the place or the pressure of hitting the 8335-cumulative-word mark I'd set for today, or even being unhappy with the quality of my work. It's because I was writing about my first day in Spain.

That was the day I was robbed on the motorway. March 3rd. 2007. 1:30PM. On the AP7-E15 Motorway from Barcelona, just south of Valencia. Due as much to my own stupidity and lack of sufficient caution--I've never been the suspicious type--as just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Reliving the entire circumstance word by word, trying to portray the very real fear I'd experienced, caused my hair follicles to tingle and my skin grow clammy. A sweat while writing? Come on! But maybe it means the telling is good; I can only hope.

Those aching, rigid ropes in my neck are telling me it's time to call it a day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Dedicated Month for Writing

Today is day four of my 30-day November National Novel Writing Month commitment. (See http://www.NaNoWriMo.org for details, if you're interested.)

All renovation and decorative work has come to a screeching halt so I can hit my daily quota of 1667 words per day. I'm cheating actually--being what is known as a NaNoWriMo Rebel--by using this goal to work on my nonfiction travel memoir instead of penning a completely new novel as is the general point of this now international project. It appears more than 270,000 folks around the world are participating this year. My goal is to hammer out as much of this first draft by end of November as I can.

I tried this project last year and despite an ambitious travel schedule through various states on my trip back to the USA, I managed to get 50,000 words written on a historical fiction draft. That book has been set aside while I work on the nonfiction, simply because it's allegedly easier to publish nonfiction.

The challenge this year is to do it despite babysitting my Tilly's brother for an entire week while my friend is visiting the UK. The two of them tear around like absolute maniacs until they have no choice but to drop from sheer exhaustion. One might argue they keep each other occupied and therefore free me up to write. But we're still in the house-training stage and accidents happen mainly when they're doing just that, playing hard. And they're irresistible when tearing around at top speed playing tag.

If my fingers could fly across the keyboard as fast as they fly across the floor and up and down the furniture, well, I'd probably finish the entire book this month. Now there's a goal!