Nov 042012
 

It’s November already, the last resort of near-normalness before the madness that is Christmas season, and this year unlike last year I’m doing it again, NaNoWriMo. I’m attempting to write a novel (or rather most of a novel, 50,000 words) until the end of the month.

It’s already driving me crazy a bit, and it’s only the fourth day. This time I planned to plot ahead, to plan, to be sensible, and write my 2,000 words a day in the mornings, and yet  – I haven’t I did some plotting, and even got me another book on how to plot, Holly Lisle’s “Create a Plot Clinic”, the first ever book on plot that I’ve found really useful.

I think the chapter on “how to plot while writing” will get a lot of use this year.

Unlike other years the writing is already feeling slow and painful, right from the beginning, no starting euphoria for me this year. But that’s not a problem, I’ll just slog on, until I don’t, and then I’ll think about giving in and not finishing, and then I’ll get really cranky, and then I’ll buckle down, and write several thousand words in a day, and then again, and then again, and then I’ll probably finish early.

If this year is anything like the years before.

Everybody is asking me what I’m writing about, and I find it rather hard to say but I know that I’m attempting Urban Fantasy, only up until now it’s neither Urban nor Fantasy but then I’m only 5,000 words in, and there will be things happening soon. Or so I hope. And unlike other years I already have an idea of what will be happening. Which is kind of exciting.

My main character is a 30yo jazz pianist. I know where she lives because it’s my husband’s ex’s house. Fortunately for both of them my main character, Miriam (or maybe Sarah, I have a character sheet saying ‘Sarah’ as the title, and under name it says ‘Miriam’; maybe that’s my problem), is fictional so my husband’s ex won’t be disturbed by her living in the same space. Or by the grand piano that I plopped down in her living room.

So, I have this jazz pianist, a witch, vampires, and the odd musician. The witch is in danger, the pianist has to help her, she will find out something surprising about herself, and that’s all I know so far.

But. November is the month of arbitrary deadlines not only for novel writers but also for knitters! And so I am once again also attempting to knit a whole adult sweater in November. This year I’m making something for my husband. I’m using the cable from one sweater, and the pattern from another, and it’s teal, and it looks rather nice so far. I’m only a bit afraid that it will come out a little too small because that’s what it looks like right now on the needle. But I washed my swatch, and it grew enormously so for now I’ll trust the swatch and knit on.

And since I don’t have a picture of the sweater I’ll leave you with the beginning of my story:

Usually I feel bad when I come back home and the sun us already up, but this time it actually felt kind of nice. The evening before I had played the semi-regular at the jazz club, and since I could use the piano there I had left my car sitting in the driveway and had taken the bike to work. So to speak.

It’s much easier not to have to find a parking spot in the city center, and I can have a beer because the police never checks on bikers anyway.

I opened the gate and pushed the bike through into the garden. I’m lucky to have a house all to myself in one of the nicer parts of town set back in a huge garden. Of course it’s more a shed than a house, and it and the garden around it belongs to my landlords but still. It used to be a pottery up until the day the potter fell in love with a woman who wasn’t his wife, and packed his belongings complete with kiln up and left. His former wife, his three children, and his mother-in-law still live in the big house that sits nearer to the street, but they didn’t have any use for the pottery any more. A friend of a friend told me about it, and I asked if I could move in.

 

It’s always hard to find a place to live in this city but it’s extra hard when you are a jazz musician. A jazz musician with a grand piano, and not much else. There aren’t all that many people who want to live next to someone who plays the piano for hours, and hours every day. And there aren’t all that many landlords who want to rent out to someone who never quite knows where the next gig will come from.

But the old lady has a weak spot for artists. Which is how she ended up with a potter. Who was the one who built the house and the shed on land that belonged to his family. And later he had an apprentice because none of his children wanted to become a potter, and the apprentice fell in love with his youngest daughter, and so when he became to sick to work his apprentice took over the business. Until he moved out.

 

My home is basically just one big room. There is a smaller room in the back that used to have the kiln in it, and I walled off another part for a bathroom but there are no rooms as such. I unlocked the wooden door, wheeled my bike inside, and put it on the hooks I have screwed into the wall. 

Nov 092010
 

Interestingly this year I’m more behind on my NaNoWriMo word count than I have ever been. As far as I remember, at least. As every year I had wanted to do something about 2,500 words a day for the first week because it was fall break, and I thought I might be able to. True to me, though, what I did was barely meet the official 1,667 words a day goal for three days in a row, and then (bad move) skip a day because I was so tired, and there was so much going on. During a day where I didn’t have to teach, mind you. But then that was the day we took pictures for my husband’s new band, and we have been continuing the cleaning frenzy. At least my husband has, and I have helped him. On the bright side my son’s room is now both tidy and clean, all his stuffed animals have been washed, and the floor is completely empty. As in “just go in there and vacuum”-empty. We’re very pleased.

On Friday I got some news about a person I like very much that left me not much in the mood for anything. Since brooding doesn’t really help with anything, and there’s nothing I can do, I went out and met a few friends in the evening as planned but I only wrote 545 words. Saturday was about the same amount as crazy for the same reason but I did some writing. On Sunday I did meet my quota, well, daily quota despite spending the afternoon going to the pool with my son. So that was quite alright.

But then I found that going to the pool had been a very bad idea, especially with the sore throat I already had Sunday morning because then I got sick, and since yesterday I’ve been having a nasty cold. Nasty enough that I would stay home sick if I weren’t self-employed. My life being what it is I shuffle through the day barely able to think through all the snot. At least today is a light teaching day, and I intend to spend as much of it in bed as I can.

So, instead of having written 15,003 words so far as I should, or even more as I usually do, I have a meager 10,515 words so far. I’m also – nothing unusual about that – not happy with my story at all. I know from experience that only time can tell if it’s really that awful or not. I can worry about that later, once I have written it.

Since I’m feeling really bad, and am falling almost 5,000 words short, of course I thought about quitting. Nothing unusual about that as well, usually it happens somewhere in week two or three, and most often repeatedly thinking about giving up leads me to throw in a few monster writing sessions and finish early. But this year, of course again, I am so far behind, surely there will be no way to finish this without superhuman powers. Right?

Well, I just put my current number of words into my NaNoWriMo profile, and there’s a stats page telling me that if I manage to write 1,818 words a day until the end of November I will be able to finish anyway. 1,818! I know that’s a lot of words but that’s only about 150 more words per day than I would have to write if I weren’t behind.

You know what that means? That means, the thing that seems so overwhelming right now, that feels like I could never do it because I fell behind, that thing is no way near as big as I thought. Silly me.

And what do we learn from all this?

Do the math before succumbing to drama. Also, don’t throw the towel when you still have two thirds of the time before you.

Now I’m back to the keyboard for real writing. The day isn’t over yet.

Oct 192010
 

Yup, I’m doing it again this year. I will be attempting to write a novel in 30 days. Be assured that it’s only a small novel and one week of that month is fall break. And we all know that I have all the time in the world when I don’t have to teach. Right? – Right?

So this morning found me actually preparing for it. After overcoming the initial shock I thought that might be a good idea. Now before you get all crazy ideas, I’m not outlining or making character sheets or anything for the novel, that would just be weird, and neither am I cooking a month’s worth of meal in advance. I did in 2006 but it didn’t really work out the way I planned. In fact that month I spent more time cooking lunch than I usually do despite all the planning and freezing and assembling. Especially now that my husband cooks lunch eight times out of ten. (Okay, I’ll tell the truth: nine times out of ten, and that tenth time is usually Chinese takeout or something equally challenging to make). So here’s what I did to prepare:

  1. Had a talk with my husband to tell him that I want to. Again. Now, my husband has never been happy about NaNoWriMo ever. I can’t blame him. At best it’s as if I’m never quite there, at the worst I’m totally stressed out about getting my word count done while being cranky and sleep-deprived, and totally neglecting my family and housework. I didn’t actually manage to have this talk gracefully in any way but I’m happy to tell that this time (unless last year) I managed to tell him first without telling anybody on my blog. He still isn’t happy about it but there isn’t much he can do. I also might have promised to do all the housework by myself until Christmas or something. (Which works really well, which is why I’m sitting here typing instead of hanging up laundry like I should right now.
  2. Told my writing group that I want to do NaNo again. Sadly there’s only one other writer joining me. Everybody else is being sensible on me.
  3. I unearthed last year’s manuscript because right after I thought, “I want to do NaNo again!” I thought that it would be cool to write a second part to my fantasy novel of last year. I thought it might be a good idea to read that before I start writing the next part if only to get my main characters name right. (It wasn’t Selina as I had thought, no, it’s actually Serena. I think. Maybe I should get a start on those character sheets, ahem.)
  4. I started importing last year’s novel into my writing software (it’s Scrivener, by the way). Importing is easy but it might actually help to break the thing down into chapters and scenes so that’s what I’m working on right now. Also I’m making a list of characters. Just their names and who they are. I have quite a few of them by now and I’m starting to confuse them sometimes.
  5. Made a plan. Now I’m well aware that time doesn’t grow on trees and so I know that for me to write roughly 2,000 words a day something else will have to go. My plan is to skip writing morning pages and spend that time (6.15 until 6.45 in the morning) working on my novel. Then, after sending my son off to school and my husband’s breakfast I’ll write another 30 to 45 minutes. If I do that it will bring me well ahead, about 1,000 words. Then I need another writing session, maybe after breakfast instead of checking e-mail, and another one in the evening instead of watching DVDs. Sounds great, doesn’t it? And still leaves me with enough time to sleep, eat, work, spend time with my family and exercise. (Wish me luck, please.)
  6. Got into the habit of writing every day again. I had been doing so well with my “500 words a day” until mid-July but since then I’ve been struggling. But now that I’ve given myself a mighty push and a stern talking to I’ve started to work on my current story again, and I find that I enjoy that very much. The plan is to set that aside for November and start again either in December or maybe only past Christmas. We’ll see how wiped out I’ll be feeling come Advent.

Is any of you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Why not?

Dec 032009
 

I just taped my NaNoWriMo winner certificate underneath my other NaNoWriMo winner certificates. I don’t know what it is about these competitions, I can’t stand to not win. The rest of the year I’m sitting on my lazy butt and don’t do anything much. But yeah, I did it – again – I wrote 50,000 words in November. The story is about one third done, and while I like the plot and the characters the language is blah, and since this story wanted to be fantasy I need fancy words, and names, and a fake history for their country and there are a few things that have to be made logical.

nano_09_winner_120x90

Of course my plan was to continue on, and make this mad November-dash into a nice little daily habit but so far it’s been the same thing as the years before, I haven’t written one word after crossing over the finish line.

This year I managed to do this as low stress as possible, I was very good and wrote mostly in the mornings, even if that meant turning on the computer at 6.15 and writing 500 words at breakneck speed until it was time to wake up my son. I never wrote late in the evening, these days I’m just too tired for that.

Life conspired against me, and so I ended up falling behind starting the second week. And I fell behind and behind until at the beginning of the last week I was on the brink of giving up. Then I remembered that that’s always what happens, I start out all smug, ahead of the game and then I feel like I can never do it. And then I decided to finish early even, and I had two days where I wrote like crazy. The second of these days was Saturday and that was the only day in this year’s NaNo that I asked my husband to do everything else so I could write. I wrote 6,000 words that day, and I even went grocery shopping, and took a shower. (Not necessarily in that order.)

I also finished knitting my NaKniSweMo-sweater the day after. Now it is sitting there looking at me because I still need to weave in the ends, wash it, get buttons and sew them on. The sweater is very pretty, I’m only afraid it might not fit because the yarn is rumored to grow bigger with washing. Sadly I can’t show you a picture because I keep forgetting to take one while there is still light outside. My motivation for really finishing it is also quite low because I won’t be wearing it for the next months. While it is wool it doesn’t have a turtleneck, and I know from experience that only turtlenecks make me warm enough in winter not to catch a cold. So, this lovely low neckline will be something for early spring.

I found that knitting a sweater in a month isn’t all that hard for me. Even when I start five days late, and I’m knitting something in a fine gauge, that is to say with sock yarn. The knitting was very pleasant and quite mindless. I find that that’s the way to go at the moment, my head is quite full, mostly with mundane and trivial things, and so I enjoy knitting stockinette around, and around, and around. Quite unusual for me.

As every year I find December quite overwhelming. There’s the present buying, and the present choosing for Christmas as well as my son’s, my mother-in-laws, and my husband’s birthday. There’s the school things to do like helping with the Christmas crafting, making and wrapping a nice little present for my son (that’s not supposed to cost anything, nice touch), and about half a million things I just can’t remember right now. We have already reached the point where we don’t go anywhere anymore, and if you’d happen to invite us anytime until February the answer would be an automatic “no”.

I’m still blessed to be teaching quite a lot, and I mean really a lot. For the first time in years I had to turn down a potential student last week. My timetable is full. On the upside that might mean I might get my new piano a little bit earlier. Last week I suddenly had a revelation about the piano. I thought that if I wait until I have all the money to buy it I will never get it. But I could pay it in installments. That’s totally do-able. And reasonable. Yes, it is. So I’m looking at a bright new shiny piano in my future. Sometime next year, I hope.

And my husband will be giving me this for Christmas. It’s a flyer for my spinning wheel. It’s called a “freedom flyer”; that does sound lovely, doesn’t it? A friend already told me about it, and when the new “spin-off” magazine arrived there was an ad in there, and I made my husband drop everything so I could show it to him. I would have bought it right away myself with part of the money I got for teaching those two knitting workshops but then my glasses broke on Saturday, and so that money will go elsewhere. And he (my husband) said, “Does that mean you want this for Christmas?” And I said, “I don’t know, it is too expensive, and I don’t really need it.” “Do you want it?” “Um, yes.” “Then I’ll give it to you for Christmas. Go on and order it.” And I did.

Oh, and about the glasses? Turns out that I’m getting old. Well, I knew that but not only do I need glasses to help me with my nearsightedness, I need reading glasses as well! For now I’m trying to do without but this will get interesting (and quite expensive) in the future.

On the plus side I’m getting new glasses! And they look pretty! And it will be safe to wear them for driving! And I will be able to watch TV again! Because right now I’m wearing glasses that are way old, and the whole world is fuzzy and looks a bit depressing. I spend most of my time spinning while listening to podcasts…

Nov 192009
 

And here’s another quick post to let you know that I still “aten’t dead”. (Well, unless I missed something terribly important.) I’m still firmly in the fangs of NaNoWriMo, something I might have to explain because people have been asking. NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. Of course it’s totally International by now, and so I’m able to participate even though I’m not American. Every year in November aspiring procrastinating writers gather round their computers and write 50,000 words on a novel. Each one gets to write his or her own novel, and the rules are that you have to start something new, that all of the 50,000 words have to be written in November, and I don’t remember any other rules right now. Nobody is going to read your novel, or publish it, it’s just that you write and write and write. For the 50,000 words to happen you need to write 1,667 words a day though I always tell people it’s better to aim for 2,000 because there will be days when you can’t write for some reason.

This year feels particularly hard to me but maybe it just feels that way now that I’m slogging through the words, was behind. I should be well over 30,000 by now and I only managed to crank my word count up to 28,429 today because I chained myself to the computer and didn’t let myself loose before having written for something like 2 1/2 hours (with additional breaks). The story is gathering momentum though so it doesn’t feel like I’m writing uphill all the time now. I remember that from years past, week 2 is always the hardest.

People always ask me why I do it. (To be fair, people ask me a lot of things, for example why I’m not skiing, so I’m used to this.) Well, it is a bit insane but there’s nothing but the feeling you get when you reach the finishing line with your 50,000 word first draft of an original novel written by you and can show off your winner’s certificate. To see how that looks go to this old blog post of mine.

The next thing people ask me is what I then do with the resulting novel. Ahem. So far I have had two of these sitting in a nice little drawer. Then last year I pulled them out again and read through them. Well, at least one of them. The first was so bad that I just couldn’t stand reading it again. The second one has potential. I’m thinking about editing it maybe when it’s National Editing Month. (There is such a thing but I don’t know how it’s called and where to find it.)

Anyways, everything is going fine, I was only wondering why I feel so tired all the time and then I remembered: a) I haven’t slept enough again, and b) I have been doing a lot of writing on top of my regular life, duh, that’s like, you know, work. And this year November has been a bit crazy with things I have to do and places I have to go, and then I haven’t even dusted for weeks. (I have great plans of cleaning today, and even going grocery shopping. Wow.)

As you know I’m also attempting to knit a sweater in the month of November, a sweater that I started five days late and then had to frog after the beginning but – it’s coming along nicely. While I have fallen a bit behind because there were three days in a row that I didn’t feel lucid enough to start the sleeves, and while I’ve been knitting on the sleeve cap for three days now (something I would have imagined to take about two hours or so) the sweater is two-thirds finished by now.

I think there will be another crisis on the weekend since I plan to go on a yarn excursion complete with meeting an online friend from Stuttgart on Saturday and there’s spinner’s meeting on Sunday, and I know from experience that while I always think I can write my quota in the morning I rarely do, and then get all cranky. But then, who knows, this is also the first year of NaNoWriMo that I haven’t written everything late at night. Mostly because I’m so tired in the evenings that all I can manage to do is stare blankly into space and maybe knit stockinette stitch in the round.

Okay, off to clean, my son will be coming home from school in twenty minutes or so. See ya.

Nov 062009
 
  1. Just so you know what I’m doing:

  2. Yes, I decided to do NaNoWriMo again this year. First I was all sensible and only wanted to use it to get back into a regular writing habit, and write about 500 words a day. And finish a story I had started in June. Then I thought that not starting something new was like cheating. And then I thought, “Well, I can try how many words I can write comfortably without stress during fall break, and then I can decide later.” And – I think I’m hooked again. For now it’s really enjoyable if a bit crazy, I have managed to write mostly in the mornings so I could do other things later in the day without having to live with the dread of unwritten words all day long. In the past I have often procrastinated until bedtime and then written in a very bad mood and very tired.

  3. I’m also doing NaKniSweMo. But a little less seriously. Either it works or it doesn’t, and since I’m knitting a sweater with fingering weight yarn on 2.5 mm needles and couldn’t start before yesterday there’s a fair chance I won’t finish it in November. But I’ll try.
  4. nakniswemo-icon

  5. Since my last post I followed the advice of the beautiful Jo and got myself some new, low heel, pricey, and gorgeous boots from this place. So far I love them, I can even stuff my pant legs into them and still close them. They also work with hand-knit socks since I bought them one size bigger than I usually need. And I have walked in them for about twenty minutes already without chafing or anything. Great.
  6. Now I have to run and meet with my family, and get ready for lunch. See ya.
Mar 152008
 

I think it was Terry Pratchett who said that if you read enough books you’ll eventually start writing because all the words filling up your brain will start seeping out. That’s as good an explanation as any.

I have never thought of myself as a writer; but the first time I remember wanting to write a book was about 30 years ago. And I thought, “Well, if that’s what I want to do I better start now.”
I sat down and wrote into an old notebook. About three sentences into the story I despaired. This was no good. Ridiculous. So, obviously it wasn’t meant to be, I had no talent, and that was it.

Interestingly I didn’t really stop writing. I kept a journal, I wrote lots and lots of letters, and occasionally bad poetry. When there were writing assignments in school I loved doing them but none of my teachers thought they were particularly good. I didn’t know you could practice writing then. I thought you either had it or you hadn’t.

I gave up my dream of being a writer much as I had given up my dream of being a dancer at age 10, of being an actress at age 12, and of becoming a musician at age 16. (How my dream of being a musician came back is another story for another day.)

When I was 18 I entered two halfheartedly attempts at stories to a contest. I never heard anything back. It was only when I wrote my master’s thesis that I realized how much I actually liked the writing part of it. For a couple of weeks I’d spend every morning with it. After breakfast I’d get to the computer and start the day by writing into my journal. Then I went on to the thesis.

While writing about how jazz music is taught in German schools I had a lot of story ideas coming to me. I kept them in a folder on my computer where they sit until today. A friend told me about a book about writing screen plays. I had no intention of ever writing anything fictional but I bought the book, and started a script. Then I went back to the thesis. (I actually wrote a first draft of this script that I started in 1992 last year during Script Frenzy.)

It took me ten years to finally realize that my main motivation for going on towards a Ph.D. was that I wanted to write another book. Only after years and years of working on that did I realize that I’m not an academic.

But I still didn’t think of myself as a writer. And as of now I’m still unsure. Last year a new friend introduced me as, “This is Susanne. She’s a writer.” I had to resist the urge to hide and protest.

I might have a storyteller’s mind though. Through conversations with my husband I found out that not all people tell themselves stories all the time. That there are, in fact, lots of people who don’t invent characters and live with them for years.

So, when I first heard about NaNoWriMo in 2005 I immediately knew I had to do it. And I did. Twice. Which means that now there are two novels in first draft sitting in my desk drawer.

I’m a bit slow, I know, because only after writing for my blog for more than a year did I get the fact that writing a blog is still writing. (Do you hear me? You’re writers too.)

From all this I conclude that writing seems to be important to me. It feeds part of my soul. And my life feels richer for it. I still don’t know if I’m going to tell any of the stories in my head, or if one of my first drafts will ever get to be finished, but for now I’m very happy with writing about the things that feel important to me, and – and that’s the best thing about a blog – have people read my writing and come back for it.

Nov 252007
 

because the craziness of National Novel Writing Month is over.

At least for me:

nano-07-winner-large.gif

And this is what a NaNo winner looks like after writing 8,413 words in two days. And yes, I didn’t even put in my contacts today.

nanocrazy

The exceptional panic that is speed novel-writing is over. I will now return to my family to celebrate. We have had a bottle of champagne in the fridge especially for this for days.

Normal panic mode will be resumed in short order. I may even read the 150 unread blog posts in my feed reader. Or sleep, who knows.

To all of you who still are in the grip of NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo: I’m cheering you on. Keep going!

Nov 152007
 

I know I have been quiet over the last week or so. That’s because I’m a bit busy here. Though I’m contemplating not finishing NaNoWriMo on a daily basis I have been struggling to write on and on. It seems that I really am teaching more this year than last year because my afternoons are packed. Which means that all writing that hasn’t been done by lunch has to be done in the evenings. Urgh. I have been falling behind during the week slow and steady, last Thursday a did a whopping 3,000 words, and was on top of my game for about 20 hours when I decided not to write on Friday because I was just so tired and drained. On Saturday we went to a town near the Alps to spend a day practicing awareness, and while that was a very good thing to do it didn’t help the word count that much. I had planned to write on the train, and did so at 7.30 in the morning but on our way home – not so much.

Then a 3,000 words day on Sunday again, okay days on Monday and Tuesday, and then I decided that taking a guitar lesson was more important than writing on Wednesday… So if only I can write about 4,000 words today I’m good again.

You might ask why taking guitar lessons may be more important than meeting my NaNo-goal for the day, well, I have a new student. A student who is learning electrical guitar, and has been doing so for half a year already. So now I am practicing like mad to catch up with the things she already knows how to play, while teaching her the things I know how to play, and she doesn’t. Fun.

And it is, fun, I mean. Imagine playing distorted power chords over an amp. While I tend to be a little nervous about the sheer amount of noise I generate, after a while, when I manage to let go of the fear of my neighbors getting angry with me, it’s quite liberating. I’m literally rocking, and I haven’t felt like this since I quit playing drum set fifteen years ago.

So now you know why I haven’t been visiting your blogs much.

On top of all that I am not that content with my story. I find that I like making imaginary people, and I love making up their imaginary lives, I only don’t like to make up stories. Stories don’t work like real life, you have to have tension and conflict, people and situations have to change, otherwise why bother. Only while I see several possibilities to insert conflict or drama into my story I have been very reluctant to do so. I think I’m okay with this. Nobody has to read it anyway. But that means that writing stories probably isn’t the best thing for me to do. But I leave contemplating that for after I have completed my “novel”. For now I leave you with the beginning of my novel:

She thought about leaving. Right now. Never to come back. Maybe pack a bag, take her credit card, toothbrush, laptop computer, a few clothes, and leave. Walk to the train station, or better yet, take a train to the airport. Take a flight somewhere, anywhere and start over again.

These thoughts were always most appealing to her in moments like these when she slowly walked her son to kindergarten, her thoughts drowning in his incessant talking about robots. His hand in hers, his feet dragging. She felt like she had to carry him the whole way. As if he was leaning back on purpose. As if she were an ox pulling a plow through ankle high water on a rice field. Already she was looking forward to her tiny sliver of freedom. On her way back she would be able to put on her earphones and listen to some music.

If somebody had told her ten years ago that she would live a like this some day, she would have laughed hysterically. A life as bland as this, as routine and boring as this and still she’d answer every „How do you do?“ with „Fine!“? Incredible.

This is only midlife crisis, she thought. It will pass. I have a good life now. But not very exciting, a small voice in the back of her had chimed in. Who wants exciting? Only peace breeds art. Peace maybe but not boredom.

She hadn’t felt bored for decades. She thought she couldn’t feel that bored anymore. Then she had a child. Not that she didn’t want to keep it. Not that she didn’t love her son dearly. But there were so many boring things in her life now. At least she didn’t have to change diapers any longer but the sheer ennui of bringing a fiver year old to dress or undress, brush his teeth, and drink his water sometimes threatened to drown her.

„You have to find the serenity in everyday tasks.“, her friend said. „When you scrub the toilet with awareness it stops being boring.“
„I don’t mind scrubbing toilets.“

That earned her a bland look from Jasmine.

„What I do mind is spending time with the person I love more than life itself and feeling so bored that I wish to drop dead this instant.“
„Well, every marriage has its ups and downs but I didn’t think Justin were that boring.“
„I’m not talking about Justin. I’m talking about Leo. Five year olds aren’t exactly the epitome of intellectual stimulation.“
„But he is such a delightful little boy.“
„Yes, he is.“ For about twenty minutes at a time.

Iris realized that this conversation was futile. Maybe she better talked about this with other mothers. Having a best friend who was childless did add a little friction to their relationship. How could she explain to Iris how much energy she needed to put into this little person day after day? How could she explain that she didn’t find Jasmin’s quest for the perfect man the most important thing in the world anymore? That despite everything she said to the contrary she didn’t really believe she would find him?

I have to talk to other mothers. Somewhere out there I’ll find a friend. I will.

I had written this post in the morning, and as of now I actually managed to write about 4,000 words. So I’m on track again. Thanks to spirit helpers or angels who helped me and also to my dear husband who spent about 90 minutes cooking lunch on the wood stove. All of a sudden I’m feeling much lighter …

Nov 022007
 

It’s that month again. National Novel Writing Month.

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And I will be participating. I already did it last year, and so I have a feeling that it is do-able. I’m a hopeless optimist and so I’m convinced that of course this year I will be very disciplined, I will write 2,000 words every day without fail, in the morning.

Well, yes, I find that funny too. My husband? Not so much. You have to remember that I didn’t only do NaNoWriMo last year but also FAWM (February Album Writing Month), and Script Frenzy. And while I do have a note from Script Frenzy that entitles me to an open-ended sabbatical from all housework, really, that would be a little too much to ask of my husband. Especially since he teaches much more students than me, and does more housework too. (And has a blog or two and music to make.)

So, there has been a bit of a debate going on whether it is a good thing for me to write a novel in a month again. I was all committed though I start to regret it already. I have had great plans of writing thousands of words in the first few days and so far I have been struggling to write anything. See, that is so typical of me. Instead of being proud that I wrote 3,790 words of my new novel, I’m disappointed because I had wanted to write 6,000 words until today. Which was a bit of a silly plan because while we have vacation again there also is no kindergarten. No kindergarten means less productivity. Add to that my attempt to do housework, and a major procrastination tendency… And you end up with enough words to write 50,000 in November but not enough to be ahead.

Also I’m not caring about my characters much. This year I’m writing about a 40-year-old mother in midlife crisis. There are definite resemblances to me but she isn’t me. Not at all. I decided that after last years drama with aliens and psychics and teleportation, and my screen play about evil witches killing off female drummers, this year I’d write something real. Maybe even with feelings. Who knows.

Of course I had planned to prepare myself. Last year I prepared food in advance, I bought all Christmas presents, the only thing I didn’t do was an outline or any character planning. I meant to but I never did. Well, this year I prepared nothing since all that preparation last year only mad October more stressful but didn’t help much for November.

The only thing I definitely wanted to do this year was thinking about my novel in advance. Maybe even outlining it. But I couldn’t. I wrote to Sofia about it:

For my next book, I will be making an outline and Susanne , a toytown writer, doesn’t know if she could use an outline… but the thing is she uses an outline for everything else why not her writing. she uses one everyday and her writing should not be any different. For each thing she sews and knits there is a pattern and even though she may not follow it, the pattern allows her to see where she is going.

That made me think (I know it doesn’t take much for that). She is right. I’m using outlines and patterns and such all the time. Even in music I play songs that already exist. But there is a difference, at least for me: knitting and sewing and cooking all start with a vision of the finished product. I see that in my mind and then I think about how to create it. Writing to me is more like musical improvisation. I just start singing somewhere and see where it takes me. I repeat things, I do something new, it shapes itself as I do it. I’m not much interested right now in telling a story I already know. And my reluctance to outline has to do with the structure of NaNoWriMo too.

You’re not supposed to write parts of the novel before November. The whole thing has to be written in those 30 days. Otherwise it would be cheating. If I were to start writing about my characters or an outline or something, I’d end up writing parts of the novel before starting. So I need to write about the characters and the novel to find out about them and, well, there you are.

Of course that’s quite exciting. I don’t know anything about my story yet. Well, not much. The only thing that I’m ding this time around is end the writing day by starting a new chapter and writing a synopsis of it on top. Like, “Chapter two, in which Iris gets a new job and makes a list.” That is my starting point for the next day.

Oh, and this year I’m writing in English. Which means that I have to have my browser open all the time to look up words. Ahem. Very productive. But still I’m afraid I won’t be able to comment and read as much as usual. Those 2,000 words a day have to come out of somewhere.

Are any of you doing NaNo too? Or NaBloPoMo? National shoe-whatever? Naknitalong (there is something called NaKniSweMo on ravelry, but I am not on ravelry so I can’t tell you about it)? National drawing? Or are you level-headed like my husband and don’t partake in silly competitions?