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44,972 Words: My Personal Best Novel

This year I did not win NaNoWriMo and that’s okay.

Last night at our final write-in at IHOP, with an hour left until midnight I realized that I couldn’t keep my eyes open and that the “words” I was typing were pure gibberish. I had 5,028 words left to go and I just threw in the universal survival towel.

I am not a quitter by nature, but realizing that I’d been awake for almost 24 hours, that the platypus fetus was getting really uncomfortable and fidgety, that greasy diner food just wasn’t going to cut it, and that I’d technically finished the story some 3,000 words prior gave me permission to be done.

That’s why I consider this year’s novel my “Personal Best.”

This November a lot of life stuff happened.

  • My big sister got married in the Bahamas.
  • I had a cold for the entire month.
  • I am four months full of baby in the making.
  • Took said fetus to its first funeral.
  • As a result of said funeral, scrapped my two first attempts at writing this month’s novel and started over, from scratch, on day 14.

Yep. For this year, good enough is in fact just that

For the last five years, NaNoWriMo has become my personal tradition for November. I send my inner editor packing for the month and set out to write those 50,000 words of a beautifully  awkward rough draft. Over the course of writing a novel in a month characters appear and disappear. Names of places get changed, altered and expanded for additional word count padding and in the end I have some sort of sloppy story frame on which to hang future revisions.

Because after all, you can’t edit a blank page.

When this whole writing a novel thing caught on as an actual thing that people do, it spelled the end of the someday novelist. As in, “Someday I’d like to write a novel.” I first heard about NaNo while in college when a friend started talking about the novel she was writing. In a month. Like right before the end of the term. No big deal.

My jaw dropped a little because as an English major I think I was still holding onto this silly belief that you need someone’s permission to write something that big. You know, like a professor or at the very least, a publishing house. But that was before the Kindle and major online self-publishing made having an idea for a novel — no matter how caffeine-fueled and two-bit the idea is — a practical reality.

Or at least, that’s how I see the upward trend in NaNo’s popularity. There’s a young writer’s component now wherein middle and high school age students write novels in conjunction with their regular English class curriculum. They even have another month, and another event set aside for writing screen plays. And at the end of the day, the whole thing is run by an eight-person nonprofit. Really, it’s pretty epic.

I have found community through NaNo. In Georgia, I’m pretty sure that meeting the local not-Atlanta branch of writers and being adopted by them helped keeping me from going completely insane. Here in Colorado, it’s nice to know that once a year I can just drop in to people’s lives and be there without any other commitments attached.

So this weekend, my pirate mister and I are going to work on tending to the mountain of dirty dishes in the sink. Play video games, get out and go for a bike ride and resume being functional adults.

Maybe I’ll even get out of my pajamas.



Oh November…

The house is on hold for the month of November whilst we both take on NaNoWriMo.

I made some really cool closet curtains that I will share in the near future. It just probably won’t be until after I have achieved 50,000 words on this year’s study in zen writing.

Be well and warm and enjoy fooding!


Project list for 2012

I said this over on the Skills blog but I’ll say it again here.

I’m not a fan of making New Year’s resolutions. Mostly because I’d feel bad about deviating from my resolve. And really let’s be honest here. We’re quite good about beating up on ourselves without adding extra cannon fodder aren’t we?

I used to make them. You can flip through my old journals and at the first of every new year I make a series of resolutions that I usually failed to keep. My most popular resolution from year to year was almost always “write more.” But without guidelines that’s an empty statement.

Sometime after college, probably while in Georgia, I stopped even writing down my resolutions. I tried the day zero project for several months where I set out to do 101 things in 1,001 days. But those don’t count as New Year’s resolutions because I started it in the fall of 2007 and had a definite deadline.

I think that’s the rub though. The deadline. That’s why NaNoWriMo works so well. You have to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. Period. There’s no wiggle room when the goal and the rules of the game are both so clear.

So even though I’m not going to set down a series of personal resolutions, I would at least to take a moment to draft the Jade House’s tentative project list for 2012. We might not get everything done and that’s okay. We stressed enough about the house last year. Now we’ll just let the projects happen as they happen.
Things to do for the Jade House:

  • fix/remodel the upstairs bathrooms
  • make it so that the sinks don’t leak
  • hang pictures
  • attempt a to grow things outdoors
  • get the garage cleared out
  • replace/repair the garage door
  • replace the front and back doors
  • finish painting
  • declutter…yeah…we haven’t been here a year yet and already I feel like we’re accumulating clutter
  • unpack all boxes

No worries. Right?


Ways to View a Room

Our friend Brydon recently referred to visiting our house as “porn for the apartment dweller.” Not only because we’re still trying to extract layers of grime from the corners, but because there is so much more room here than what we’ve previously had. And maybe because we’re adding the extra voyeur element to the Jade House by blogging about it.

The Jade House is still in a state of chaos, but it is gradually becoming organized chaos.

We’ve started moving things from the garage to the basement into organized piles based on the boxes’ designations. Kitchen and dining room on one side. Bedrooms and office stuff in another corner. Rinse, repeat.

As a room gets painted, we’re starting to fill it. This makes the house sound stupid grand, when really it’s just your normal house in suburbia. But it’s A LOT more space than either of us has ever had to ourselves. We come from families where we could have had our own bedrooms, but ended up sharing with our siblings anyway.

The whole concept of having rooms (plural) to fill on our own is super exciting and still a little daunting. We’ve figured out the office (kind of) and once the wireless is set up the computer box will move off of my short dresser and downstairs.

Last weekend Mr. Pirate finished painting what we currently refer to as the guest bedroom.

As we tried different orientations for my old bed (under the window and against the wall where the desk is) it occurred to me though that it could be something else. A guest bedroom that is only a guest bedroom seems like a waste of space so we’re considering making it a multi-use room. Like maybe it’ll be a library too, or a writing room, or some kind of crazy mix of all these things with clever storage tossed in there. I like clever storage. Ikea is my place of ultimate clever storage.

What it won’t be though is cold. Today we’re going to hang curtains since Colorado decided that it is now fall. As in, right now.

Even though we only have pine trees we’ll be picking up a couple of rakes this afternoon too since leaves from across the neighborhood have blown into our yard. It’s cool though. This whole yard business satisfies my own urges for house porn.

For several months prior to our closing we’d go for walks around the neighborhood and I’d point out parts of people’s yards that I liked. Even the ones that I couldn’t see, but hear. Like the water feature in someone’s backyard that you always hear just gurgling away.

It’s all becoming less overwhelming though. Our bottom-line goal right now though is to get writing places set up by Nov. 1. NaNoWriMo will be here before long and we need to find a sense of normal before that happens.