Archive for the NANOWRIMO Category

Camp NANOWRIMO Wrap Up: To The Future and Beyond

Posted in NANOWRIMO with tags , , , , , on May 2, 2013 by cueball

Camp-NaNoWriMo-2013-Winner-Lantern-Circle-BadgeThe stories of people coming out of the closet fascinate me.  Mostly, for the simple reason that I always find it interesting when people decide to be honest to themselves and everyone around them about who they are.  I find the stories of artists and writers who start late in life just as inspiring.  Both of these type stories always involve the moment.  The moment when the person looks at their life and says, “Is this it?  Is this what and where I wanted to be and is this all I’m going to have in the end?”

For me, that is the sign of truly being an adult:  Looking at your life and saying one of two things: I like where I am or I don’t like where I am.  And, if it is the latter, making a decision to do something about it.

I believe in a theory or conception of history called “horseshoe nails.”  I stole it from The Illuminatus! Trilogy.  I read this in junior high and besides being some of the funniest satire and parody I have ever read there is a small part in it about studying history.  I think I may have changed the intent of the book’s use of horseshoe nails, but the underlying intent is the same.

The name of theory comes from Richard III and “My horse, my horse, my kingdom for a horse.”  (I think I’ve explained this before, but I don’t care, I love the theory too much.)  Richard gets thrown from his horse at the Battle of Bosworth field because his horse throws a shoe, thus losing the battle, and ending the Plantagenet Dynasty.  The theory states that history is best studied by looking at all the little moments, decisions, and accidents that lead up to the big moment we all remember.

This is an interesting way to look at history that I’ve adapted.  It makes history more fun.  You go back and read the histories of the big moments there is always a progression of smaller moments that precede the big one like a highway line on a map.  It isn’t always straight and it sometimes seems to double back on itself, but it inevitably gets you from point A to point B.

I can look back at the decision I’ve recently made to (hopefully) go to grad school and get an MFA (if I’m accepted) and make writing a full time career and see the little moments that led to the decision.  The most recent is a friend (Terry Lankford, aka Eightball) sending me an email with a link to the

National Novel Writing Month was something in the back of my head I thought about trying in years past, but I just hadn’t.  This time, however, I went to the website and explored it a for a day or so and signed up for the sight.  I got an email a week or so later and it mentioned the camps.  It said one was starting on April 1 and I just happened to have an idea for a book.  So, I signed up for the camp and here I am with my word goal met and one more (maybe two) chapter left to finish this skeletal first draft.

This whole experience changed how I view writing and to some extent myself and my life.  So, most free time between now and September will be dedicated to finishing the book, getting it published (self-published at the very least), and applying to low-residency MFA programs.  Time to finish these last two chapters.



Posted in NANOWRIMO with tags , , , , on May 1, 2013 by cueball


That was the final word count for my first NANWRIMO excursion.  My goal was 50000, so there is that.  The funny thing is that the book still has another chapter before I’m done, but that is fine.  The work on the book really begins in about a week after I’ve taken some time away from it and can then start adding the meat to bones of this 50k+ word skeleton.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and about the weird world of writers.  The stuff about me can wait and I will hopefully make some announcements by the end of the fall about that and about what is going to happen with this book.

The world of writers however is a great place.  As much of a solo endeavor writing is, it only works when you have a community of people around you to talk to and bounce ideas off of and just commiserate about the nature of this beast.  Thanks to all the writers and blogs I have found through this beginning of my writing career particularly whiteravensoars at Random Acts of Writing.

I did pretty much drop off the face of the earth and just write and go to work (which did suffer. there is only so much brain work you can do during the day.).  The blog suffered, but I am a little different and I am back.

Oh yeah, you should really watch Rectify on Sundance.

Day 15 and 16: Chopping through the wilderness with a machete

Posted in NANOWRIMO with tags , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2013 by cueball

I didn’t post yesterday because I just wanted to get up and jump in to the writing.  I had a little ground to make up and too many ideas flying around in my head.   I made up some of the ground and I’m going to pick up a little more today and tomorrow.

My work schedule has gotten me writing in the afternoon and evening today and tomorrow.

Currently, I am at a little over 26,000 words.  I am dead in the middle of it.  I feel like I’m on some journey through a rain forest and I’m just hacking my way through with a machete, hoping I’ve picked the right direction because I honestly have only the most minute sense of where the hell the clearing is.  I know it’s there and I have a notion of what it is, but I can’t give you definitive explanation of it.

Just finished listening to an interview Ron Rash did on WFAE in Charlotte this morning.  It was great to listen to even if Mike Collins’ and his enthusiasm sometimes gets in the way of the person he is interviewing.  The World Made Straight is one of my favorite novels and I am making my way through his newest short story collection Nothing Gold Can Stay.  The thing I like the most about Rash is that he is like Faulkner and Joyce in using one particular place to speak to the universal.

Enough procrastination.  Time to get to work.

Day 14: I Had A Better Day Than Jamie Lannister

Posted in NANOWRIMO with tags , , , , on April 15, 2013 by cueball

Yesterday was far from a good day of writing.  An untimely mid-shift at work disrupted me.  A mid-shift means I have very little time to write in the morning and no energy to write at night.  I did a little work first thing and tried to work at lunch, but that is a fool’s errand.

This is going to be short post, I need to get to work and make up for yesterday.

Day 13: Pushing Water Uphill With Your Hands

Posted in NANOWRIMO with tags , , , , on April 14, 2013 by cueball

Yesterday was a hard day.  I got a lot of work done but it was filled with starts and stops to figure out what was happening to the characters and where they were going.  It was hard, but it was also rewarding.  The days where the ideas and the words come flowing easily are the most fun days to write, but the days when it seems like pushing water up a hill with your hands are the most rewarding.

My work schedule is going to make writing difficult today.  I have to be in at an hour and leave at an odd hour.  Hopefully, I can get some work done at lunch and more later tonight.  I’ll definitely get some in tonight, it’ll just be a question of whether I can get space to work at lunch.

No big thoughts about process or the philosophy of writing today.  I’m just glad to have the opportunity to participate in Camp NANOWRIMO.  It is a wonderful project that is developing a community of writers.  Writing is at its core a solo artistic endeavor and it attracts a large number of individuals with reclusive predispositions.  However, all writers do crave the knowledge that there are others going through the same struggles and who are asking the same questions.

That community combined with the opportunity for you to prove something to yourself is an immeasurable gift NANOWRIMO is providing to all of us participating in it.

Day 12: The Wall and The Drug

Posted in NANOWRIMO with tags , , , , on April 13, 2013 by cueball

Yesterday was good day in front of the keyboard.  It could have been better.  I had to stop and go to work in the middle of couple of good thoughts.  That isn’t the bad part.  That comes from trying to serve two masters at the same time.  It is not impossible, but it is exhausting.  This must be what hitting a mental wall feels like.

Coming home after work is an almost impossible time to write.  My body is too tired and the day is too short to really get any worthwhile work done.   Lunch is the best option, but it is one hour and just as you are getting into a rhythm it is time to quit.

I will keep trying to write at lunch mostly working on ideas and not actual execution.  This will have to do until the situation resolves itself.

The thing I didn’t expect out of this is the thing that has affected me most.  I knew this would be an experience that would show me if I could write a book.  The answer to that is yes.  It may not be a good book, but I’ve proven to myself that I can sit and concentrate long enough to finish writing an actual book for people to read.  What I didn’t expect was how this experience would change how I view everything.

The idea that I was a writer was a dreamy notion I clung to for a very long time.  That idea has been given form in a novel that I am half way done writing a first draft for and enjoying the hell out of the experience.  With this corporeal thing sitting right here, that moves the idea from notion to somewhat reality.  I feel like I’ve walked through a door I cannot and do not want to go back through.  That means something(s) cannot stay the same when this month is over.

Circumstances and perhaps places will have to change soon.  This writing thing is like a drug.  I need to keep doing it for my own health and happiness.  It feels too good.

Day 11: Work Gets In Your Eyes

Posted in NANOWRIMO with tags , , , , on April 12, 2013 by cueball

Yesterday was another good day.  I am on the right pace and will probably move ahead of the expected pace in the next few days.  These will actually be the hardest three days coming up.  Not because of the writing, though I am a point in the story that the writing has gotten harder as the stakes for the characters has started to rise, but because of other occupational obligations.

Getting in the work before heading to the job makes things harder.  It is the added pressure of not only filling in your word quota for the day but doing in a certain time period.  Maybe the added pressure is good and gives the work urgency.  On the other hand, you could just start throwing words down without any regard to the ideas behind them and commit a lot of bad writing.  Or maybe the added pressure makes you resent the job that pays you so much you feel like calling in sick or you are thinking about this instead of what you should be thinking about during the eight hours someone is paying you to do a specific job.  (I really just wanted to see how long a sentence I could write.  48 words, nice.)

Anyway, time for breakfast and writing 1700-2000 words that make sense.