Friday, November 30, 2012

November Reading

This was not a typical reading month for me, because of NaNoWriMo. Time issues aside, I just don't like to read anything that requires a ton of investment while I'm working in my own made-up universe. So, I decided to make this month about two things: YA/children's lit, and re-reads.

His Dark Materials, by Phillip Pullman
   #1, The Golden Compass (2 stars)
   #2, The Subtle Knife (2 stars)
   #3, The Amber Spyglass (2 stars)
Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
   #1, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (4 stars)
   #2, Prince Caspian (3 stars)
   #3, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (3 stars)
   #4, The Silver Chair (3 stars)
   #5, The Horse and His Boy (4 stars)
   #6, The Magician's Nephew (4 stars)
   #7, The Last Battle (3 stars)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, by Rick Riordan
   #1, The Lightning Thief (3 stars)
   #2, The Sea of Monsters (3 stars)
   #3, The Titan's Curse (4 stars)
   #4, The Battle of the Labyrinth (3 stars)
   #5, The Last Olympian (4 stars)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NaNoWriMo Wrap Up

I did it. I finally made it to "The End," at 65,911 words, and with a day to spare.

This year's NaNo has been just brutal. I started off pretty strong, then got hit by the second week slump. Never completely recovered from that. I had some days that were better than others, some scenes that were better than others, even a few happy accidents along the way, which are always my favorite part of writing. But on the whole, it's been a pretty miserable process.

I never really got into my story. I realized early on that my main character was the only one even remotely developed. I thought I could just throw in random dares and characters and subplots from the forums, but for whatever reason I couldn't make myself do it (my argument was "none of it makes sense with my story" but I knew that would be the case going in, so I don't know what happened there), so I just had the barest bones of a plot, without any whimsical adventures to fill it in. I asked myself SO many times why I was still writing.

But . . . isn't overcoming these struggles what NaNo is about? It's not supposed to be easy. Fun, yes, but not easy. Attainable, yes, but not easy. It's supposed to be a challenge. It's something you do to prove to yourself that you can. I've been lucky so far. This year, I feel like I'm paying back taxes on my previous NaNo's. NOW I get it. I finally got the "real" NaNoWriMo experience everyone always talks about. Or at least one of them. I know there are plenty of other struggles I haven't faced. But at least I'm no longer in the "50K is EASY!" club. Believe me, if I wasn't so stubborn about getting it done, I would have given up on this novel LONG before getting there.

As for the novel itself . . . well, there might a story in there somewhere that's worth telling. Some day I might even go looking for it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 12

Opponent: Minnesota Vikings
Location: Home
Outcome: Win
Record: 8-3 (2-1)

7-4 (2-0) Green Bay Packers
6-5 (2-1) Minnesota Vikings
4-7 (0-4) Detroit Lions

With this week's win and Green Bay's loss to the Giants, the Bears are back on top of the NFC North standings. I've also added in the division records of each team in parentheses since the regular season records are still pretty close. It's going to be an interesting close to the season in the NFC North.

My initial reaction to this game is mostly positive. All phases of the game seemed pretty solid. The only real concern I have is that we lost 5 starting players due to injuries that did not come back to finish the game. We'll have to keep an eye out over the next week and hopefully most of those injuries aren't very serious.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update: Weekend #4

We are down to the final five days of NaNoWriMo. Last week was somewhat awkward because of going out of town for Thanksgiving. I did make a point of writing every day, but no more than a few hundred words. And today I got clobbered with a nasty flu, so even though we got back home last night, I wrote fewer words today than any other day this month . . . not what I was expecting when planning for the long holiday weekend.

Luckily, I don't need a ton of words. I've already won the event; I hit my 50K. But never, after my first year, have I been content with 50K. I always have to push myself to do more. Otherwise, what's the challenge? (I'm sure my tune will change the first time I try NaNoing with kids.)

So, let's talk numbers. Last year, my final word count was 65,731. That means technically I'd be content with 65,732. I'll probably hit 66K, but I'll be shocked if I go much higher than that. I do plan to see my story through to "The End" (I've only not done that one year and it still kinda bugs me) but unless something really surprises me in these next few days -- hey, it could happen -- I anticipate things wrapping up pretty quickly once my goal is in sight.

At any rate, I'm currently at 59,031, so I need, absolute minimum, another 6701. If it weren't for the Bears game this afternoon -- and getting sick -- I might have tried knocking it all out today, just to be done with it. Instead, I'll need to write at least 1341 a day for these last five days. Getting sick certainly adds an interesting twist to the end of the month, but it still shouldn't be too much of a stretch.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 11

Opponent: San Francisco 49ers
Location: Away
Outcome: Loss
Record: 7-3

7-3 Green Bay Packers
6-4 Minnesota Vikings (Bye Week)
4-6 Detroit Lions

And with that, all of the NFC North teams have completed their bye weeks. Now the rankings actually mean something again, but there are so many intra-divisional games and the division is so tight that things could swing any direction in a matter of a week or two.

Now...I knew that Jay Cutler was necessary for the Bears to have any kind of offense. What I didn't know was that his presence was needed for the defense to function. I went into this game thinking along the same lines that everyone else was. Both teams' starting quarterbacks were out, both teams have great defenses, and this is probably going to be a very low scoring game. I honestly wouldn't have been surprised if this game had ended 3-0. I was expecting more like 10-13, but either result wouldn't have shocked me. Boy was I wrong.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update: Weekend #3

Here we are at the end of the third weekend of NaNoWriMo. Like last week, I barely stayed ahead of my goals from Monday through Saturday, and then I did another marathon session at the library this afternoon. I must say, when the Bears play prime time games -- like they did last week, like they're doing tomorrow night -- it really frees up my Sundays. And having half of the Sundays in November free to spend at the library has been great.

So, thanks to a productive afternoon, I am currently sitting at 49,640 words. As long as I can manage 360 words in the next three days, my "50K by Thanksgiving" goal is taken care of. In order to beat last year's word count, I need to write at least 1347 words a day (1470 if I take Thanksgiving off; 2020 if I take that whole weekend off).

A month ago I would have called those numbers easy peasy, but this year I know it's only my stubbornness that will see me through. Because, to be honest, I'm ready to be done with this story. It's very tempting to say "screw it" to my bigger goal, throw a quick ending together tomorrow, and put this thing to rest. But, whether or not I want to, I know that I CAN write those extra words. I just have to make myself do it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 10

Opponent: Houston Texans
Location: Home
Outcome: Loss
Record: 7-2

6-3 Green Bay Packers (Bye Week)
6-4 Minnesota Vikings
4-5 Detroit Lions  :)

Quick blurb before the review of the Bears' game. The Vikings beat the Lions this weekend. That's not once, but twice that they beat them this season. It's been a while since they were sweeping anyone in this division and I'm not sorry in the least that it happened to the Lions. Moving on.

My initial reaction to this game came before it even started. Everyone needs to get the old idea of "Bears football" or "Bear football weather" out of their heads. I lost count of the number of times someone made reference to the Bears having an advantage due to the weather. It's not 1990 anymore! We have some fast receivers who like to make cuts. We have an elusive running back who is good at making people miss by changing direction. We have defensive players who like to play tight coverage using their speed. Remind me again, what part of a slippery field helps these groups? There's a reason a lot of fans (myself included) want Soldier field changed over to turf. One is because it's used for so many events and concerts that wreck the field, but the other is because it'll give our team and advantage by providing better and more consistent traction. Ok, on to the actual game.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update: Weekend #2

At the end of the second weekend of NaNoWriMo, I have 29,031 words. I'm one day ahead of where I need to be to hit 50K before Thanksgiving. I'm two days ahead of where I need to be to beat last year's word count. And I'm six days ahead of where I need to be just to win.

I'm still struggling with the story itself. But, I did a marathon session this afternoon, and in addition to doing wonders for my word count -- today is my most productive day this month, and my first 5K day since Day 1 -- it also felt good to just sort of power through the plot more than I have done all week.

I've also been really enjoying being a part of "Team IB"; a big thanks to Susie at Insatiable Booksluts for getting that going. And that brings us to the homework section of today's blog post. Today's prompt over at IB:

Re-read a really good scene from your favorite book. Write a blog post and talk about what you enjoyed about the scene, what you think made it work in terms of how it is written, and if you want, how you have or will apply that to your own writing.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Maiden Mishap

This is the first blog post in November that I am actually writing in November. Both of the previous two were written and scheduled ahead of time, one specifically because of NaNoWriMo, one because of political overload.

NaNo is going fairly well. I am far ahead of where I need to be to finish on time. I am ahead (but not far ahead) of where I need to be to beat my last year's word count. And I am only oh-so-slightly ahead of where I need to be to hit 50K by Thanksgiving, which I have done every past NaNo thus far. It's just nice to be able to breathe over that weekend, knowing that I don't have to worry about anything other than my own personal goals.

As for the story itself, well . . . it leaves a lot to be desired. I picked an idea that I didn't care much about, because in the past, "not caring" has allowed me to take some huge leaps and really have fun with an idea. This time around, though . . . the words are coming, I've never really had a problem with that . . . but I feel like they don't really mean anything. It's still early, though; there may be hope for my story yet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 9

Opponent: Tennessee Titans
Location: Away? (see first paragraph)
Outcome: Win
Record: 7-1

6-3 Green Bay Packers
5-4 Minnesota Vikings
4-4 Detroit Lions

51-20. Do I really need to say anything else? Chicago Bears fans were drowning out the Tennessee Titans fans in Tennessee. "Let's go Bears" was heard clearly on the television. This was partly due to the score and partly due to the proximity to Vanderbilt University where several of the Bears went to college. It was a fun game to watch.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Perspective from a Political Novice

I am writing this in mid-October. Some of this has been churning in my mind since August. But I am not even posting this until the election, because I'm just so sick of hearing about it right now.

I'm with ya, buddy.

You could argue that I'm just adding to the noise, but I'm not, really. At least I don't think I am. I don't want to rant and argue about the same things everyone else is ranting and arguing about. I just want to talk a little about my first election.

That's right: this is my first time voting. I know, I know. I've been eligible to vote for two previous presidential elections and who knows how many other elections in the past eleven years. Right or wrong, I had my reasons for not voting, but I decided early on that this year would be different.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It Begins . . .

November 1st is FINALLY here!

This year's NaNo has been a strange one so far (and by "so far" I don't mean the past eight hours, I mean the weeks leading up to it) just because I had so much up in the air, and I didn't know when things were going to happen, and I sort of wanted to do NaNo, but I had no idea how certain events in my life were going to interfere with that. Now that it's here, it turns out there's nothing about this NaNo that will be all that different than previous years.