Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Here we are, and it's halfway through the month of July. That also means that, if you are on target, you should be half-way through your novel, if you're writing one this month (A bit more on that later.).

I am, and I am not. My goal is the standard 50k words, and I'm past 25k, so in that sense, I am more than half-way, and I'm intending to have all 50k by the end of the month and "finish". But I don't think I'm 50% through the overall plot arc that I have outlined for myself. And that's just fine with me. I'll keep writing when the month is over, and work on this until it's completely done, and then I'll revise it. But first, what am I doing and why?

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It happens every November; the challenge is to write 50k words of a novel in one month. If you can, to also finish the novel, or at least a first draft.

I have classes in November. (Yes, I'm actually signed up for fall classes now. I'll post about that soon if I remember to.)

That means that I almost definitely won't have time to write a novel. To do it in a month with 30 days, you have to write 1,667 words every day. Even excluding planning, re-reading and re-writing, that would take me an hour and a half to two hours every day. I'm just not going to have that much time, mixed in with my classes. I'll still take the time I need to do my MS writing; that chain will not be broken again.

But there's a Camp NaNoWriMo going on this month. It's run on exactly the same principles as the regular NaNoWriMo, except it's in July. Because it's a month with 31 days, you only have to write 1,613 words every day.

I chose to do it this month because Mur suggested it is a Facebook post. It took me all of 15 seconds to make my decision. Also, I don't have any classes, and I can stay up late just about every day this month, and nobody will mind. I have done so; usually I'm up until midnight or 1, finishing my writing for the day. And I've been sleeping in until about 9. For those of you who know me, you know that this is unusual. I'm usually on a strict 10-6 sleeping schedule. But this has been working out for me, and I know I can switch back when I need to for fall classes.

I am currently at 27,608 words. I am more than half-way done, and I've been on or ahead of schedule every day this month. I think that's the big secret: never get behind. Never miss a day's words just because it was a bad day. Just keep plugging away. At the end of the month, you will have your novel.

It hasn't been easy. I've encountered plenty of problems, but I've also had a lot of support and help. I'll talk about each briefly. I'll also try to put up a post at the end of the month with my overall experience.

There was one day where I was gone all day at a school orientation. I think I walked about 5 miles outside, in 102 degree weather, and I had to be back for an advising appointment at 8:30 AM the next morning. That night, I only wrote 370 words. But I had been writing 1700-1800 words on all of the others days, so I had built up a cushion. After writing those 370 words, I was still on schedule for the day, and I jumped back in the next day and have since built myself up another nice cushion, though I hope I don't need it.

Always build yourself this cushion. Especially if you expect something like this to happen. Even if you don't you never know what's coming. Be prepared.

I fall slightly to the discovery writer side of the spectrum between discovery writing and outlining. I started the month with about 5-10 pages of notes to myself, world building and plot outlines, all jumbled together, as the free-writes that they were. I have been going along and doing more detailed outlines, usually just a few chapters ahead. I am alternating viewpoints between my two main characters at every chapter break, and I "finished" chapter 9 last night. I'm at a point I've been at before. I don't know what's happening in the next chapter. I have broad strokes for where the characters need to end up in a few chapters and why, but today I'm going to have to brainstorm as to how exactly they'll get there. Once I do that, I'll know what to do for the next few chapters. After that, I'll do it again. Because I have an overall outline, and I know where and why I want to go to my main plot points, I've been able to map my way along. It's also allowed me to adapt my story as I discover how is is going. I think it's a good balance for me, but it's required a fair bit of work outlining and discovering that I can't actually count as writing words during the month, so I'm working more than just my 1613 words per day.

Those have been the main issues. I've also had some amazing support.

To get myself in the mood for writing, I've been reading every day. Refilling the well, if you will. I've continued to tear through books, like I talked about in my last post. I've also continued to buy more of them. And I'm getting ideas all the time. Some of them pertain to this story, and keep it feeling fresh. Others I store in another file that I'll use later; it's just my general ideas folder. And I'm never short of interesting ideas. Keep reading, keep coming up with news ideas. It's kept me excited and engaged in my writing.

I listen to the song "Misty Mountains Cold" from the Hobbit movie every day before I start writing. I don't know exactly why, but it so perfectly evokes the sense of mystical and daring adventure that I so love about fantasy. It is just... I love it. It's beyond words. It's just a feeling that I get when listening to it. Like... Heck yes. THIS IS FANTASY. I also have a copy of the words of the entire song, copied from the book, pinned to my wall where I can read it from where I'm sitting. That always helps disconnect me from whatever mood I'm in during the day, and get me into a writing, adventuring mood. Find whatever it is that helps you get into the zone, and use it. If you're in the mood, writing is so much easier, and sometimes, it's exactly what you need to snap yourself out of whatever mood you've been in for the rest of the day.

But I think the biggest help of all has been the friends. In a Camp NaNoWriMo, you're placed in a cabin with 7 other writers who have all signed up. You can request cabin mates. 5 of mine are also from the Magic Spreadsheet; we all requested each other. The other two are randomly placed people. Those who are active (About half) are amazing. We have been talking to each other, posting updates and support, and being generally encouraging. I love the atmosphere of the cabin, and I think these people are awesome. Seeing their progression, seeing that it's possible, yes, it gives a sense of competition. And that's fine. It's perfectly friendly competition. But it also gives a sense of companionship. It's been amazing, and I'm definitely keeping in contact with some of these people after the month is over. We've already discussed forming a critique group, and we've already looked over what one of the members has done so far this month. So get yourself a group of like-minded writers, and communicate with them. It makes everything easier. Writers are not meant to work in complete isolation!

So that's been my month so far. Of course, I've done plenty of other things, and I'm starting to feel more like myself again. I think that the writing, the 2+ hours daily spent living in and creating my own world, has helped tremendously with that. I'm glad that I chose to do it. I'll post another feelings/update at the end of the month when I meet my goal. Because I will meet it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I've been depressed lately. And by lately, I mean since about 9:30 P.M. Wednesday, June 19, 2013. And that's about all I'm going to say on the subject. The stuff I said in the last two posts about being happy and having the time of my life? Ignore that. It's gone. Done. Finished. *sigh*

But I'm not here to wallow in my depression. I'm here to talk, at least a little, about how I'm handling it. You have probably seen the pictures of books in previous posts, the stack that I have been accumulating since the beginning of the semester, which I will be digging through viciously once I get a chance. Well, that chance has come. My stack, as of Wednesday afternoon, was at 26 books. I went out Thursday afternoon and got 7 more, bringing my total up to 33. Yes, when I'm depressed, I go to the bookstore. I don't go out drinking or gambling. I go buy books.

My stack is now down to 27. I've read 5 books in 5 days. And they weren't easy books, either. All told, easily 2200-2500 pages combined. And I'm not going to stop. I have 27 books and 2 months, and every single one of those books is going to be finished by the time I start the fall semester.

But why? At least in my mind, the explanation is simple. I don't like my life. I don't like the world I'm living in. It sucks. So, I leave it. Not permanently. Suicide is never the answer. And not in any way that harms my body--never alcohol or drugs. No, if something has a lasting effect on me, I want it to be positive. So I leave this world for the world of my books. I've been to three alternate Earths, and two other planets. I'll talk about them in a moment. But they've been my refuges, my escapes from this Earth. If I could, I would go live on one of them, somewhere else.

First, I read the second Alcatraz book by Brandon Sanderson. It was probably just as funny as the first one, which I have decided is the funniest book I've ever read. And this one actually made me laugh out loud at least three times while I was reading it, no mean feat on the worst day of my life. Thank you, Mr. Sanderson.

Then I read WARP, the new book by Eoin Colfer. I loved his Artemis Fowl series, and so I got this one in hardcover, new from the bookstore. It was good. It felt a lot like the Artemis Fowl series, which was fine by me, because I love those. It would be nice to get something that felt different from an author, but I'm just fine with the same stuff, because I have plenty of different authors to pull from when I need something else.

The Crimson Crown, by Cinda Williams Chima, was excellent. It was a powerful finish to her Seven Realms series. It felt fresh and new, and at the same time, utterly familiar. The rooftop scene was painful for me to read. Her books feel a lot like Tamora Pierce, to me. I'm really looking forward to Chima's next book. I'm moving more lately (Not that you can tell from the books I've already listed...) into fantasy, and away from the YA, but there's a few authors that I will stick with, and she's definitely one of them.

I dug into Mur's book, The Shambling Guide to New York City. I don't do Urban Fantasy, almost as a rule. I don't really have any other books that I would really class in the same category. And that's just fine. It's just not my thing. But this book, this was a good book. Well written, strongly paced, it pulled me along all the way through. And it had a few good parts that made me laugh as well, something I desperately needed. This is definitely a series that I will be following through as more books come out.

And finally, I read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Up until this point, I was at 4 books in 3 days. Alcatraz is middle grade, and I would say that WARP and Crimson Crown are both YA. The Shambling Guide is urban fantasy. Name of the Wind is Epic Fantasy. Like I said earlier, I like to get lost in my worlds. The more richly realized a world is, the longer and more personal the story is, the longer and more convincingly I can get lost. That's why I love Epic Fantasy. Epic Fantasy fits The Name of the Wind like a sock. From page 125, "In some ways, this is where the story begins." It's beautifully done, and quite original. I will be starting Wise Man's Fear, the sequel, tonight. It should take me a good few days, since I have finals this week for the summer semester. I will also be buying the sequel in hardcover on release day. This is definitely one of my all time favorite authors and series, and I can't wait for more.

So yeah. Next time you're depressed, don't leave the world by hurting yourself in others in any way. Rather, let a marvelous and beautiful book transport you to somewhere far away.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hair Part 2.

A while back, I wrote a post about hair. It's a bit fragmented and scatter-brained, sorry. You can read it if you want. It tells the story of how my Calculus II teacher cut his hair and freaked everyone out. I liked what he did so much that I decided to do the same thing. Here is 17" of my hair that was cut off and donated to Locks of Love.

Not only that, but because I made a school decision--I will be at UT Austin in the fall, I dyed the hair that was left brilliant orange. Plus, I shaved, and all that. It was quite a shocking change, but I like it. Here's what I looked like.

By now, the dye has worn off, so it's partly bleached, partly normal color, while it grows out. I'll be going to get it cut at the beginning of July, so it will look normal for orientation and my ID picture at UT. As normal as it can look for being short.

I cut and dyed my hair the week of finals, so it was like the picture above when I went in for classes that last week. The reactions I got were priceless. I have video recordings of several of them. I don't think I'll ever post them, because some people, shall we say, over-reacted. But they make me smile.

I've liked having my hair short. For the first few weeks, I missed having long hair. But now, I like how easy it is to wash and take care of, so it will probably stay short for the foreseeable future.

That's about all I have to say on the subject of hair right now. As far as life, it's been nuts, but I'm having the time of my life. I'll be trying to write some more posts soon to bring you guys up to speed.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Classes Are Over

So, I turned in my last assignment this morning. I have nothing else to do for this semester except wait for my grades. I hope they're good.

It was a long semester. Very long. And yet, all to short. I could have used at least a week's worth of extra days, sprinkled in there when things all happened at once. But that's the past, and I survived. My grades should be in by Thursday.

But I won't be at home then. I'm leaving tomorrow morning to spend a week in North Carolina, fossil hunting. I'll probably write and post several more times during that time.

This is just a quick post to say that classes are over, and I will be coming back. I've got a lot of things that I want to talk about, and I'm never at a loss for words, so don't worry about that. There will be more posts. Lots of them. :)

I'm finally, finally, finally reading a book. One of like 25 I have sitting here waiting for me. I wonder how many I'll conquer before the summer semester starts. A lot, I hope.

I fell off the rice and planet hunting train during finals week (That's a post in itself, right there.). I stuck with the writing though. My project derailed itself at the beginning of the week, and I mostly did random streams of consciousness and brainstorms on other ideas that I have, but I was still writing. Sometimes on my phone after I went to bed. But I did it every day. I'll decide soon if I want to try to fix the first project, or just move on to something new.

Good things are happening in my life, but I'm not allowed to say anything for two weeks. You'll know when I am. :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Trophy Wall

Another quick update on me. I'm still doing what I always do, working on schoolwork. Above is a picture of my trophies for this semester--the testing center forms for all of the tests that I've done. In the upper left is the form I had to fill out to petition to take an overload of classes this semester.

I'm quite proud of my trophy wall.

I have completely finished my history class, so these last three weeks, it feels like I only have 17 hours.

I don't have any tests this coming week, although that's fine because of how much homework and whatnot I have.

Next week I'll have 1 test.

Then I have 4 in class finals the last week. Because two of them are each spread out over two days, it's going to feel like 6 exams.

I'm looking forward to it. I'll probably make a post sometime near then about what scores I'll actually need on the finals to make an A in each class.

Rice and writing are going fine. I've broken 100 days in a row in writing.

I have at least 20 books on my to-read pile now, so... Yeah. I'm thinking that I'm going to try to review them when I finally get around to reading them. I need to find a direction for this blog; I'm thinking about going with book review+chronicle of my journey to becoming a writer. Because I will be a writer, dang it.

If you have any other suggestions for things I could blog about consistently, things that could be themes for my blog, post a suggestion in the comments. (School goes without saying.)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Quick Update

I'm still here, and I'm alive. I'm not depressed or anything, just crazy busy. I'm going to give myself permission to take the next 5 weeks off from this blog, so that I can finish out my semester, and not fail any of my classes.

I'm doing awesome in school. I turned in my history book report this weekend, after getting my essay approved the weekend before. That means, unless the teacher has something he wants me to change about the report, that I'm completely done with that class, making the end of the semester that much easier.

Easier? Ha. I have a government test tomorrow, as well as two math tests this weekend. I am scheduled for a total of 9 tests in the last five weeks of classes. And I'm going to get As on all of them, darn it.

I just wanted to let you guys know (I'm not sure why I bother. Nobody actually reads this.) that I am still alive, and will be returning to posting regularly as soon as I can.

Writing and Rice are going well.

Until later, bye all.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Priorities. They're important. I have them, and I know what they are. Some people might disagree with me, but in my personal opinion, I have them straight. (Then again, most people do, in their personal opinions. But that's not what this is about.)

I'm going to quote Dan Wells here. This quote comes, not from any of his books, but from an episode of Writing Excuses. I can't remember which one. During the episode, the podcasters were talking about motivation, and finding time for writing. Dan said, "When you do not have time for something, that is not an issue of scheduling, it is an issue of values."

Now, this seems a simple and obvious statement at first glance. And it is. But sometimes, seeing things so simply and clearly stated is what we need.

When you don't have time to write, it's because you don't value it, don't prioritize, it enough.

When you don't have time to do your schoolwork, it's because you don't prioritize it.

It's not because you have issues with scheduling your time efficiently. It's about what you prioritize.

Once I came to that realization, I accepted that there are just going to be some things that I'm not going to be able to do. Other things, I'll be able to do when I have the time for them. And some things, I'll prioritize, and make time for. I value these things more highly than anything else. Let me give you a list of what's at the top of my priorities, how I decide what absolutely must be done, and what can slide.

1. School.

2. Necessary Body stuff. (eating, etc.)

3. Writing.

4. Sleeping.

5. Everything else, in various orders.

Note that I list school first. That's because it is. If it means that I have to miss a meal to be in class on time, or finish a test, I'll do it. If it means not sleeping one night to finish homework, I'll do it. School, and doing well, is that important to me. I've done all of the above several times.

Writing in this context means creative writing, not this blog. That's why the blog sometimes slips, even though I'm still writing everyday. I'm sorry for that, but I'm not going to bump it up on the priority list.

Now, I won't miss a meal to write. But I will stay up late, even if it means I only get 4 hours of sleep instead of 5. I've decided that writing is more important to me, and suddenly, I've been able to write every day. It's amazing what setting your priorities - your values - can really do for you.

Take a minute to ask yourself: What are your values?

Then, stop and ask: Am I telling myself the truth?

If you are, you will truly prioritize those things at the top over others, even to the detriment of others. But if that's just what you say your values are, then that won't be reflected in what you actually do with your time. It's worth thinking about and examining. I created my list, and wrote it down, and I constantly remind myself of what my priorities are. I still have to remind myself of what my priorities are, and I do so all the time. But because I do so, I stick to them. I suggest that if you're having trouble finding the time to do something that you say is a high priority for you, you do the same. It's what worked for me, and it might just work for you.