Archive for category Goals
According to the internet (and really, if we can’t trust the interwebs, who can we trust!?), Chinese philospher Lao-tzu wrote, “A journey of a thousand leagues begins beneath one’s feet.” The common paraphrase for that, of course, is, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.”
A journey of my own, one I’d been simultaneously preparing for and putting off my entire life, started more than three years ago with the single, not-terribly-kind sentence, “I have come to the conclusion that I am not a very good writer.”
With that sentence, I set about proving to myself that either I could be a writer or, well, just couldn’t. One way or another, though, I was bound and determined to find out.
In the course of the year that followed, I did, much to my delight, in fact, demonstrate to myself that I could write regularly if I put my mind to it. Even more importantly, what I wrote entertained my wife—sometimes to the point of laughing through tears—and that meant everything to me. Better still, not only did I write blog posts for Puddintopia that served as much-needed exercise for my atrophied writing muscles, but I also ended up with a complete novel, too. Oh, sure, I always hoped I’d end up with a novel, at some point, but I had no idea if it might take me half a decade to get there.
Turns out it didn’t.
My four year-old son, The Attitude, apparently just started a new stage in life. For the last few nights, he’s been slow to get to sleep and has been waking up tearfully in the middle of the night.
Kind of reminds me of my twenties, but let’s not go there.
In my son’s case, I’m afraid it’s worse than a few questionable late night decisions. The poor kid is seeing bugs all around him.
I mean, he’s not really seeing bugs, thank goodness. But unfortunately, there’s just no convincing him that his room is clean and bug free. Even when we turn the lights on and show him it’s just a trick of his eyes in the dark, his 4 year-old brain will not be assuaged.
There are bugs. In his room. At night. Flying around. He is certain.
It’s apparently a repeating pattern in my life that something that starts innocently is ultimately destined to end up hovering around the patently ridiculous.
For instance, tell me after just having a baby that “it’s really cool being a parent”, and somehow I’ll deduce that if that’s true of only one kid imagine the benefit of having a whole horde of your very own! Which is how, ten years later, I’m having dinner nightly with four-fifths of a basketball team.
Or, if you mention to me one day that you had the best ever pot stickers last night, twelve hours later I’m likely to be face down in the lo mein pan at the Grand Dragon Buffet, sweating hot and sour soup and with my pockets stuffed full of egg rolls* and mei fun noodles (which aren’t half as fun as they sound). Read the rest of this entry »
Three years. 36 months. 1096 Days. That’s how long it’s been since I finally returned to the blog I began in 2002 and mostly ignored until 2010. That’s how long it’s been since I decided that I was going to either prove I could be a writer, or I was going to shut the hell up about wanting to be one when I grew up.
That’s how long it’s been since I started a personal challenge to write 120,000 words in 2010.
On January 30th, 2010, I opened my first post with a rather ominous sentence: “I have come to the conclusion that I am not a very good writer.”
I was wrong about that one. When I first started, I wasn’t a writer at all. I was an Read the rest of this entry »
There are few things more motivational than publicly making a grand, almost ridiculous claim (for instance, “I’m going to run in a half marathon in the next 18 month“) and then failing to back-pedal away from said claim with excuses of, you know, the usual stuff: drunkenness, concussion, mind-alter drug ingestion, or temporary possession by an alien demon from the Quarx dimension. Of course, if I’d someone only made such a wacky claim once and let it be, it might be easily overlooked by others. But then when you go and make a regular habit of working toward said goal, while even documenting your progress, well, eventually people figure that maybe you’re just stupid crazy enough to actually follow through.
So, of course, then they think they’re entitled Read the rest of this entry »
Have you ever noticed that everybody nowadays seems to have lists and lists of stuff they’re actively checking-off to feel like they’re, you know, accomplishing those ever important “life goals”? There’s the pile of books you just have to burn through because everyone says that they’re each, respectively, the best thing since Snooki’s book*; there’s your “Bucket List” (which is currently the length of a elephant’s trunk and growing), that compilation of everything you simply must experience before your number comes up and it’s time to exit the Ride of Life at the back gate; there are all those movies you have to see and all the places you need to set foot in just so you can say you were there; all the stupid little repairs you need to do around the house because that dumb toilet keeps overflowing…
It’s early afternoon on January 1, 2013. After another raucous celebration to usher in the next 365 days, people everywhere are a slowly, determinedly getting themselves into motion, while trying very hard to ignore that splitting headache and the fact that vampires have, in fact, been correct about that annoying daylight all this time.
Luckily, I managed to avoid the dreaded New Year’s Hangover myself. I didn’t it the sauce too hard with the kids last night, but maintained myself in a mature, dignified manner. Well, or as mature and dignified as one can be wearing his pjs and a bluish, sparkly hat.
Since we’re all slowly getting started along the path of a whole new calendar, in keeping with tradition, I figured today for a good time to take a quick look back and a somewhat more detailed look ahead. To sort of get our bearings before we stomp off into the uncharted wilds of 2013 like a drunken mountain dwarf with a bad eye.
I probably don’t need to say to much in the way for review, though, of course. Since this is a blog and all, the point of which being to chronicle my daily adventures (or lack thereof), the archives can provide plenty of review of 2012 without much intervention from yours truly. Last year, I learned a pretty important lesson S.C.U.B.A diving for the first time, starting sending out queries for my first novel, Famine, did a piss-poor job of getting started on the next Big Project: a non-fiction book, reconsidered (and revised and revised and revised) my query letter, turned 40-1 years old, learned quite a few things from little league baseball, started the ridiculous Weekend Debate feature around here (which I’ve grown to love), also started the equally ridiculous practice of writing movie reviews in 100 words or less, took a vacation to the beach, had a bad day, decided it was time to start running, learned quite a lot about querying over the course of a few months, decided I want an agent who really does love my work, and spent November writing a second novel as part of NaNoWriMo, and (finally), paid good money to see a Bengals’ game, because I’m a parent, which apparently is equivalent to “sucker”.
Whew, what a year!
Oh, and what was the most visited post of the year? You’ll never guess. Hands down, it was this one, a REPOST of the Green, Tasteless Beer poem I originally wrote and posted in 2011. Since St. Patrick’s Day, it’s gotten more than 10% of this blog’s total number of hits in 2012. Which just goes to show you, you never know what the Hell the internet is going to do.
So, what on tap for 2013? Well, more writing and more querying. In the next month or two I’m going finally start revising my NaNo novel in hopes of having it ready to query come spring. Also, remember that non-fiction book? Yeah, it’s still not done, and it’s blocking me up worse than a four-person dinner at The Melting Pot. That’s got to be finished soon, because I’ve got ideas for two more adult novels that I’d like to write, this year if possible.
I’m also going to extend my experience running in the coming year. On November 2, 2012, I ran 5 kilometers, on purpose, at all once, without stopping to die or suck oxygen like a lineman after running back a fumble. Running has been difficult to get in consistently since NaNo, then the holidays, and now winter arrived in devious succession, but one way or the other, I intend to run a 10k in the spring. And then it’ll be time to seriously start work on the that half marathon.
My feet are going to take quite a betting this year.
My liver, however, is going to get a bit of a reprieve. Now, don’t get silly, I’m not planning to give up the sauce altogether. Where’s the fun in that? I am, however, going to change how I consume it a little bit. See, over the past few years, I’ve been drinking out of these quite a bit:
In case you don’t immediately recognized that, it’s a 22-oz beer glass. I use them frequently because, well, I often find myself cracking open a bottle like this:
No, I don’t mean a Bastard, necessarily, but a 22-oz bomber full of beer. The thing is, though, I really don’t need to be drinking 22 oz of beer at a time. Kind of the same way no one really needs to eat at the Chinese Buffet, and doing so will inevitably lead to shame and self-loathing. Luckily, though, through a happy accident, I just happened to receive a box of brand new glasses for Christmas. To be more specific, 17-oz pilsners. If you ask me, a 16- or 17-oz glass is just about perfect for filling with 12-oz of beer and leaving just the proper space for an inch or two of frothy head. See? So for 2013, I’m going to be drinking from the somewhat more reserved smaller glasses.
And that means no more 22-oz bombers for me, at least not on a regular basis. Bottles of that size should be shared, so unless I plan on sharing, I’m going to leave them right where they are on the shelf.
I fully expect my liver, by midsection, and my head to thank me come Jan 1, 2014.
That’s my look ahead. What are you looking forward to in 2013? You know I’d love to hear it. Oh, and if you happen to be a writer trying to find your way into an agent’s good graces, drop me a line and say, ‘Hello!’ We’re all in this together, I’d like to get to know as many of you as I can.
Happy New Year, my fine readerly folk! Now, get out there, kick some ass and take some names.
As I said on twitter last night, I plan to kill it for the next 365 days. So let’s all crush it, together!
In case you’ve been wondering, yes, I more or less dropped the ball. Remember the way back time, when the planet was still young, dinosaurs roamed the Earth, the calendar page said, “August”, and I had yet to begin the November sprint of chaotic word-spewing that was NaNoWriMo 2012? Back in those sunny, happy, rose-colored days when I announced I’d be getting my lazy cushion-press off the couch and taking a few tentative first steps towards eventually running a half marathon?
The first of of said tentative steps was following the Couch to 5k program, getting myself into shape to run 5 kilometers at a stretch without falling over in a wheezing pile of grease sweats and huffing not seen since the Big Bad Wolf a quarter mile into it. And you know what? That program freaking works. Because on November 2nd, I logged my first run of five kilometers.
Of course, ever since I first started the transition from “blubbering heap of carbon in a semi-constant state of lethargy in my recliner” to “actual human being making actual regular use of his, you know, actual bones and muscles and stuff”, I’d intended to write up one of the my patented* “10 Things I Learned From…” post. Yes, as we all know by now, NaNo pretty much precluded me from any substantial bloggery in the month of November.
Honestly, I’m surprised I put up anything other than re-linked cat jpegs.
Nonetheless, November is past, and the time has (finally) come for 10 Things I learned from Couch-to-5k.
- Your lungs will hate you first, but they’re team players; they’ll get over it. Your legs, however, will hate you much much more, and they hold a grudge like a spurned sorority girl
I’ve probably used the word “wheezing” more times since August in the “Running”-categorized posts here than the entirety of the three years I’ve been regularly writing Puddintopia. I honestly, truly believed that it would be months before I could run even a mile without clutching my throat and gasping like an unfortunate Imperial officer on Darth Vader’s ship. Instead, even once I actually got into the more regular jogging portion of the program, I found that the whole thing was possible to survive, as long as I didn’t run at full sprint like I was trying to steal home or something.
Unfortunately, with all good news must come some bad (seriously, that’s like, written somewhere in a Properties of the Universe** guidebook or something). The bad in this case was that although I found it possible to jog quite a ways without my lungs exploding like a kid’s balloon, my legs weren’t so forgiving. See, as it turns out, that number your scale gives you each morning isn’t just an Arbitrary Mocking Index. The higher that number, the more pissed off your shins, thighs, hamstrings, and (in my case, especially) knees are going to be when you pound concrete for 45 minutes straight.
- Week 7 is a bitch
If you haven’t looked at the Couch-to-5K program, why not take a moment to do it right now? Done? Great. Now, as you can see, Weeks 1-6 are fairly well broken down into manageable pieces of walk-jog-walk, lather, rinse, repeat. And then you get to Week 7, and suddenly it’s RUN ALL TEH MILEZ, NO WALKY-WALK FOR YOU, LAZY MCLAZERSON. AND TRY NOT TO DIE! On paper, this looks scary. At the end of week 6, it’s positively terrifying. So, feel free to do what I did and repeat Week 6 before you move on to Week 7. Don’t worry, your 5K goal will still be there, waiting for you, a week later. But doing Week 6 2x saved me from the potential of failing Week 7 miserably – and giving me bad feelers about the whole idea – when I wasn’t quite yet ready for it.
- Hills are evil. Like, more evil that that creepy thing in that creepy movie. Also, deceptive.
If you’re anything like me, you used to think you lived a pretty flat neighborhood, topographically. You know, because when you’re rolling through it in your gas-powered Middle-Aged Man Sedan, you don’t really realized that gentle slopes make your house the highest-standing point in the surrounding two miles. Guess what? The minute you start trying to push yourself through that same ‘hood using your own feet for propulsion, you’ll suddenly find yourself subconsciously evaluating every street your pass for it’s levelness. Because hills? They suck when you’re running. Even little ones.
- You need a running buddy. Seriously.
Maybe you need a little extra motivation to keep you on the straight and narrow when it’s Tuesday evening and you need to get your second workout of the week in. Or maybe (like me) you tend to think every effort at jogging is actually an Olympic trial being filmed by hidden camera, meaning no matter what kind of pace you should be following, left to your own devices you’ll be sprinting as if being pursued by a hive of pissed of yellow-jackets before you hit your 1-mile mark. Running buddies can help with these inconsistencies, and many more things. So get one. My buddy was the Puddinpop, who did a great job of keeping me jogging at the right pace, even without knowing it.
- Everyone you’ve ever known will support you
This is a big one. Everyone…and I do mean everyone…you know wants you to succeed. Partially because it’s great to see people we know set goals and strive to reach them. But it’s also partially because every person we know who spurns the carbon-heap lifestyle is one more sign that there’s yet some hope that humanity isn’t doomed to lose the foot race when the Zombie Apocalypse finally comes. So, as you make progress along your C25K path, you’ll receive no shortage of supportive comments and pats-on-the-back. And it’s awesome. You might have to make your body go the distance, but a lot of people end up carrying your spirit for you.
- There’s a whole different kind of guilt for runners
Sometimes, it doesn’t work out. I mean sure, you probably could have gotten your run in, but it was dark and raining and there were wolves outside, so you just…didn’t. That’s when the guilt comes. It’s like no other guilt I’ve ever felt. I mean, I certainly know the “My Mom is Disappointed with Me” guilt, the “Why Did I Scream At That Poor McDonald’s Worker Like a Crazy Person” guilt, and even the “OMG, I’m Going to Die or Upchuck Eggrolls For The Rest of My Days, ” post-Chinese buffet guilt. That last one might be more shame than guilt, but whatever. The point is, the guilt you carry around when you know you could’ve run, but instead decided to be a pansy and hit the snooze button burns worse that those Atomic Wings you had last year during the Super Bowl. Eventually, you realize it’s better just not to miss your workout.
- Endorphins are, like, real, Man!
Sure, I’d heard all about these mythical “endorphins”. But after an entire childhood of holding myself stock-still after losing another round of “Freeze Tag” and an adulthood beset with attempts to run that ended in tragic failure, I was convinced these endorphin things were as made up as Sugar Bear, the hooker with a heart of gold, and John Madden. Wait…what? He’s a real person and not an animated caricature? No way. That’s crazy talk.
Anyway, no, I didn’t believe in endorphins. But then, three weeks into working the program, I got back to the house one evening after a workout and the Puddinette was forced to suggest I calm down and take my endorphin high-induced nonsense someplace else and do something productive with the extra energy, lest I get on her One. Last. Nerve. As I tend to live tap-dancing on that one nerve, she had every right to make said suggestion.
That’s the moment I realized, that, Yes, Virginia, there is a Endorphin Claus.
- You will believe you’re embarrassing yourself
If you are coming off of your couch and just getting started, it’s hard not to think that seeing you lumber down the street is likely to be an image that strikes fear – or amusement – into the hearts of young and old alike. You don’t look like a runner, you won’t move like a runner, and odds are good, at some point or another you’re going to need to “tie your shoe” for extended periods, at times which will likely be oddly coincident with jogging uphill. The first time your running app (and yes, you should get a running app) posts your workout time to your facebook page, you’ll imagine it includes captions such as, “Massive aquatic mammal seen flopping through neighborhood” or “0.25 miles, 10 minutes, 0 point.” But all that’s nonsense that lives no where but the dark, evil, doubting recesses in your head. Indeed, no matter how you think you’re doing, you’re out doing it. You’re running, at that, by definition, makes you a runner. So hold your head up high, keep your arms and legs moving, and leave all that other nonsense in the street.
- You will get lapped by old people
It took my 45+ minutes to run that first 5K. This is not Olympic Record Pace. In fact, it’s pretty much standard human walking speed, which I believe is roughly 4 miles/hour. I have little doubt that while stumbling through my neighborhood in a hoodie, I look more Norm from Cheers than Rocky from, um, Rocky. In fact, there was one Saturday morning run when a guy who had to be 60 if he was a day – and carrying his own paunch, however less, um, grand, than my own – caught up to me from behind, politely said “Hi” as he passed me, and was gone from my sight five minutes later. But you know what? If I hadn’t been out, he’d have gone jogging past my house that Saturday morning and would’ve been out of my sight in less than a minute. I call that progress.
- You will end up loving it
The very first running post I wrote started off with a very honest admission. “I loathe running,” I wrote. But as it turns out, what I really loathed was doing it wrong, trying to do too much too soon. Admittedly, I still don’t like inside running (and am struggling at the moment to decided how to survive a winter in Cincinnati – especially one that’s apparently going to be full of cold rain – without treadmill or gym membership). But running itself has become something I enjoy much more than I ever thought possible. Let me be an example of that, if nothing else; proof that even though you hate running too, there may yet hope. And then maybe give your own stab at this or some other program a try. What’s the worse that could happen? Sure, the effort might do little more than reinforce your hatred, but then again, it might, as I found, reverse it.
*I don’t actually have a patent on this.
**Mental note: write a Properties of the Universe guidebook
November, thankfully, ran its course and finally had the common decency to expire like that milk you weren’t sure about anyway, or the tags on your car. And while the end of the eleventh month obviously means that another jingle bell-ridden, egg-nog inebriated, green-and-red-tinsled Christmas season is upon us, the more immediate point is that NaNoWriMo 2012 is…OVAH!
So, everybody made it out, right? We didn’t leave anyone behind? Because, you know, you never leave someone behind. Admittedly, I’m not 100% certain why that’s supposed to always be the case, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with John Wayne and not being a pansy. And if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that you don’t eff with The Duke, and you do your best to at least not act like a pansy when his name is mentioned.
I’m still working on the not acting like a pansy. But so far his spirit hasn’t shown up in boots and spurs in an angry rage to slap me around a few times. Which is a plus.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. NaNoWriMo. With November over, it’s time for me and the hundreds of thousands of other writers out there to breathe a sigh of relief, reflect on the month past, and possibly celebrate a little for managing to complete NaNoWriMo.
Yes, I am among those reveling in success. And, lo, there was much rejoicing.
The exciting thing, of course, is that now I have a 50,000+ word manuscript that I get to spend the next months pruning, tending, hacking with a word cleaver, or maybe just bulldozing into something awesome. But that’s not all I got out of my experience with “30 days and night of literary abandon”. No no. Because, even more than that, I managed to learn quite a few things about both myself and writing that will, hopefully, serve me well for years to come. Like a good bartender.
Here, then, are “10 Things I Learned during NaNoWriMo 2012”
- Writing, is, in fact, a muscle – I’d heard this one before plenty of times. Admittedly, I’ve pretty much dismissed it every time because, well, I have the maturity level of your average 12 year-old and hearing that something is “a muscle” makes me think “love muscle.” Let’s be honest, now, no one needs to be thinking that, especially me when I’m trying to write. Anyway the idea here is that just like someone – and by someone I mean you, not me – can spend quality time working your biceps repeatedly in hopes of being able to lift something heavier than 12 ounces of beer, the more you write, the more you can write easily. That’s the theory, anyway, and I was never sure if I believe it. As it turns out though, yes, that does appear to be the case. For the last six of the 18 months during which I chipped away at Famine, 500 words was my daily word goal. And yes, I got them out and finished the book, but some days those 500 words were like pulling a Hungry-Hungry Hippos game board out of my backside. This time around, though, I was able to drop the hammer and get it done, without all that hippy moping and dragging my feet. I suspect that’s largely because I’ve been Just. Do(ing). It. for some time now.
- Then again, speed might be born of a lack of awesome – Sure, the fact that I was able to churn out something like 2000 words-a-sitting with this new book might be because I’ve more practiced at writing these days. But more likely this new-found ability to drop the Hammer of Drafting ™ and roar through the Writing Fast Lane like lunch at Burrito Billy’s working down digestive tract has more to do with quality than practice. See, when I wrote Famine, I agonized over every sentence of dialog, every chosen verb, every last detail as the words went on the page. Which was great come revision time, but not so great that it took me a year and a half of excruciating, no-epidurals-for-you, book-birthing labor to get it out. This new book? It ain’t perfect. Seriously. The plot might be holier than a stinky cheese, the characterization is uneven (at best), the dialog in spots might as well be me talking to myself, and if there’s one place in there where a character “nodded in agreement”, there’s a hundred of them. This new novel needs much more revision than Famine ever did. But that’s okay. I could take a year to revise it and still be ahead of my previous time line.
- Thinking about writing is actually harder than the writing – Some days I just didn’t think I had it. It’d be late in the evening before I got the kids to bed and the assorted chaff of daily life sorted and settled to the point where I could begin writing. Then I’d notice an Underworld marathon on FX or something and I’d seriously consider pouring six or seven fingers of Jim Beam (what? Hey, don’t judge me! You don’t know me, man!) and bailing on the day’s word count completely. But as I’ve said, NaNoWriMo is a harsh mistress, and with November being a scant 30 days, one day of throwing in the towel completely was risky business. So, instead, I’d sigh to myself and get to work, hoping I could coax out 500 words before crapping out. Usually, half an hour later, I’d be 1000 words in and just getting to the good part, raring to go. Sometimes you gotta stop thinking about the task at hand and just work the task at hand and things will kind of take care of themselves.
- That said, work is work – Of course, I’d like you to be believe that every part of writing my NaNo novel was rainbows, unicorns, and multi-colored pillows stuffed with Pegasus feathers. That I simply opened my mouth nightly and the words poured from my gaping turkey-hole like sparkly letters formed of blinding sunshine. But, um, no. As much as it’s awesome to have a story go from being nothing but wisps of foggy craziness in your noggin to something real that someone else might actually read, that doesn’t happen without some serious friction against the proverbial grindstone. Yes, the words might have come rolling out once I got started, but by the time I finished an evening’s drafting – whether by making word count or by falling asleep at the keyboard (yes, it happened) – my brain was sore and tired from the thinks and I was plum tuckered out. It was absolutely fun and satisfying, but that’s not to suggest it wasn’t work.
- Thanksgiving sucks – Normally, I’d never say this. I loves me some Thanksgiving, hm-mmm. I mean, come on, a day dedicated to eating and football? I heart cooking! I heart food! I heart football! The whole thing is so perfectly up my alley, how could I possibly bad mouth it!? Well, look, as a holiday, Thanksgiving was still totally the puppy’s flopsy ears. But as a writer trying to wrap up NaNo, having a Big Family Holiday a week before deadline was about as convenient as an extra thumb on the bottom of my foot. I got no writing done on Thanksgiving. Yep, that’s dreaded word count goose-egg. I’d hoped to make that up the next day, but no, there was somehow no time to write on Friday either. Just like that, two days of productivity evaporated like coke within 300 yards of Lindsey Lohan. Obviously I did eventually make up for the Lost Days, but I can’t help but wonder if I’d have been able to finish if T-Day had been a week later in the month.
- Fellow writers roolz! – The best part of being down in the trenches of NaNoWriMo is that no matter where you are, you’re surrounded by thousands of other writers either sharing the trench-foot with you, or who understand its wet, cold, throbbing discomfort. As your brothers- and sisters-in-arms, they’re happy to give you a word or two of support on the hard days, especially during the notorious Great Dread at the middle of your novel that makes you question whether you’re a huge Liar McLiar-Face pretending to be writer. Several times throughout the month, I tweeted my NaNo progress and every single time someone, if not several someones (often people I don’t interact with regularly), tweet back with words of urging and support. It was a thousand kinds of awesome.
- I vomited a pile of steaming question marks – I would like to think that the 50,000+ words I dropped last month represent a work of breathtaking wonder. That, once revised and published – after several publishing houses go toe-to-toe at auction for the privilege to print it – it will become a beloved member of every household, a story told for generations and immortalized in stage, film, graphic adaptation, and a limited edition set of Burger King iced tea glassed. But let’s be honest. We’re talking about 50,000 words I generated in less than 30 days, at least some of which I’m not sure I remember writing while I dozed in my recliner. Could it be a work of true genius that will afford me a place among the pantheon of Great American Authors? Possibly. Then again, there might be pages of little more than, “Puddin sleepy, Puddin work, Puddin sleepy, Puddin work, Puddin BURN,” repeated over and over. It might be great. It might not be worthy of being used for kitty litter; something even a billy goat would turn it’s nose up at. Right now, it’s anybody’s guess.
- Without an outline, I wouldn’t even have that – Even not knowing what I’ve got on my hands here, what I do know is that I could not have managed putting the plane down on runway 3-0 L if I hadn’t had an outline. There’s much debate amongst the writerly set regarding the pros and cons of plotting versus pantsing. No, that’s not what it means, perv. It means, ‘flying by the seat of one’s pants’. Back in the days when I dreamt of being a writer artiste, I assumed I would pantster the hell out of it, letting my brain-pudding craft a flawless work of wonder and awe intuitively, as the Muse dictated. But then I started, you know, actually writing, and realized the Muse is a drunken whore who rarely has anything productive to offer. The process, for me, at least, is a lot more Fred Flintstone than Fred Astaire. With that realization came the understanding that without a roadmap, I’d never finish any novel. So it was with Famine, and even more so with this latest novel, because when you only have 30 days, you don’t have time to, in the infamous words of Bugs Bunny, take a wrong turn at Albuquerque. So, yes, I outlined the thing, and I’m glad a did. Sure, the outline changed a bit once the writing magic started to happen. But without any guide ropes at all, I’d have never gotten the horses into the barn on schedule.
- Sure, I could do this again – “So, Puddin,” you ask, “NaNoWriMo 2012 is In. The. Bag. Whaddya think? Will you do it again?” It was, after all, my first time. And as first times go, it’s was pretty All Right. So, sure, why not do it again? Admittedly, given how I’d written my first novel, I figured it was a fools’ task that I’d never manage in a million Novembers. But then I got to the actual work of it and found that it was possible, even for me, to set aside that constantly tsk’ing internal editor and just vomit forth a bowl full of hot, wordy gruel. And I’ll be damned if it wasn’t satisfying as Hell. You know, like when you finally hurl out in the parking lot of a bar after a night of chucking back Jager shots and buckets of beer.
- Then again, I might not – Then again, I’m not sure I prefer this method of drafting a novel. I won’t know for certain what I think until I finish revisions, let other people – my fabulous beta readers – have a crack at it, and ultimately, close it up, call it good, and move on to the next project. This method is certainly different than the last method. But finishing the first draft is only the first step in this method, so I suspect it’ll be some time before I ultimately determine if it resulted in a lesser, equivalent, or even better quality product by comparison. And that, more than anything else, will dictate whether or not I ever NaNo again.
And thus, my adventures in NaNoWriMo 2012 come to a satisfying, if long-winded close. We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast of rambling daily nonsense, 100-word movie reviews, Weekend Debates, etc. We thank you for you patience.
Is this thing on?
Check. Check 1. Check 1-2. Chuck. Chuck Toast.
So, um, hello! In case you don’t seem to know me, or in the more likely case just can’t remember me, I’m Puddin. I mostly do all the nonsense rambling around here.
Well, at least I used to. I’m sure you remember my previous work here? Yes, let’s all conjure some rose-tinted memories of the halcyon days of yesteryear (you know, like, er, October) when Puddintopia was the kind of blog that actually had new posts published with some regularity. Like, several times a week even. Or whenever I had a brain mite twitching around in my grey matter making me want to Write The Crazy Down for Posterity.
But alas, November has a been a dark, cold month. It’s been thirty days of hanging on sporadic haiku and bad limericks, and cringing at tumbleweeds as they roll across the website like an old, abandoned mining town.
Look, I’ll just come out and say it: I’ve been a bad, horrible, absentee blogger.
All this, of course, can very squarely be placed at the feet of the one unarguably culpable party: NaNoWriMo.
Well, kiddies, I haz Teh Good Newz. At 9:16 PM last night, I finally finished it.
Look, look, I even tweeted to that effect:
— Jason A. Rust (@jasonarust) November 30, 2012
If it’s been tweeted, it has to be true, right?
So. Yes. The exceedingly awesome news is that I have, in fact, finished the first draft of my second novel. It’s a Middle Grade Science Fiction story that I’m looking forward to having my kids read. And yes, writing a book my grade-schoolers might be interested in reading was a big factor in deciding to do NaNo this year.
Of course, because I wrote the entirety of the thing in a mad, frantic 29-day dash of vomiting words into a document like I had some very specific, very unusual form of Tourette’s, this particular manuscript isn’t going to be fit for human consumption for possibly months yet, I reckon. Well, short of hobos burning it in a steel drum for warmth and a little Holiday cheer, that is. I guess it’s fit for that type of consumption straight away.
But as a book? You know, for reading? As I said last night shortly after the triumphant announcement:
Of course, it’s a gibbering pile of word slop at the moment, but hey, it’s a draft, right?
At the moment my new precious baby manuscript – big brother Famine will just have to get used to having a sibling, I suppose – is a cobbled together patchwork of some great ideas, some crap ideas, some fun characters, some partially realized characters, and a stable-as-a-house-of-cards-plotline mixed up with a dash of uneven narration, and a somewhat sporadic Voice. So I’m going to take a few weeks and let it sit there, by itself, and think about what it’s done.
Wait, that’s not right.
Let’s say we hope it will use that time to, um, ripen, I guess. Or something. Whatever. The point is, in a few weeks, or possibly after the first of the New Year (assuming that whole Mayan End-of-the-World thing doesn’t ruin Christmas, and like, everything else too), with my mind focused on revisions, I’ll pick up the manuscript with fresh eyes, a hammer, a cleaver, and one of those dog poop scooper things you see the prim ladies carrying around in the neighborhood.
In other words, I’ll roll up my sleeves to get busy on making this new novel not just finished, but awesome.
But for now, I’m pretty damn happy with myself for sticking to, and ultimately completing, a task I thought sort of ridiculous at the outset.
Oh, and yes, I’m officially back in the saddle here at Puddintopia. I hope you all still care enough to follow along.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a celebratory bottle of beer to open.