Concussion is Brain Injury

Camp NaNoWriMo?

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Ever since my CCAC therapist left, the one provided by community care under medicare, at about the same time my parents left the city, I haven’t succeeded at Camp NaNoWriMo. It was difficult as it was. I worked hard to ramp up to doing both Camps in April and July, in addition to NaNoWriMo in November, and could only ramp up because of health care and parental support. In fact, my therapist believed so much in my ability to write three books a year, that her belief in me rose me up over fatigue, my brain-injury related reading and organizational problems, and other issues that made writing every day quite exhausting. When you believe in a person and act out that belief, you empower them. No one else has come close to what she did for me because she initiated action based on her belief.

When therapist and parents left, my brain-injury issues plus PTSD suddenly exploding blocked me from starting or, if I managed to start, finishing Camp NaNoWriMo.

That may sound like a cop out, but cognitive work, being productive, initiating, deciding things, being organized, are complex brain functions. We don’t think about them as adults because the brain learns and makes automatic these functions as we grow up over 21 years or so. Going back to year one after concussion is a bit disheartening and needs all-in support and treatments to get back to adult automaticity. Trauma, bad memories, flash up a big stop sign to it all, as well.

I’m rambling.

I think I’m going to try Camp NaNoWriMo again. Ever since I fired him then had a talk with and rehired him, my neurodoc has become actively supportive, helping me with my reading practice. He’s also the only one to occasionally prod me to write an article for Psychology Today. This past November, for the first time, he took my NaNoWriMo writing month seriously. Previously he thought it was just some trivial thing that if I didn’t succeed in writing during it, I could write another time, and I was just being rigid minded if I got upset about being unable to write during NaNoWriMo because of exhaustion and/or PTSD. He’s now understood it’s a critical filling in of cognitions my brain injury took from me. The only substitute for NaNoWriMo are humans who sit with me several times a week, like during the ten weeks medicare granted me help to write Concussion Is Brain Injury: Treating the Neurons and Me.

My neurodoc said he could help me with sticking to Camp. I have no great expectations. I’m setting the bar low and a goal for something I really need to do: update the pages tied to the Learnings chapters of my concussion book. I’ve learnt a few new things since I published it, especially in reading, as regular readers would know!

I’ve left signing up almost to the last minute. I haven’t yet identified all the web pages I need to update or figured out a schedule. This kind of prep is what my CCAC therapist would get me to do. Don’t just think about it – write it down in my calendar, outline it on my iPad, set up files on my computer. And sign up!


Concussion Is Brain Injury Crowdfund Over: The Writing Begins

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End of Crowdfund Campaign for Concussion Is Brain Injury Update

Extending my crowdfund campaign seemed like a good idea. Maybe people who’d been thinking about it would use the extra time to make that pledge, to say with their hard-earned income that they believed in and supported updating Concussion Is Brain Injury through PubLaunch. My campaign certainly received more retweets, likes, and shares! People threw their support behind it.Concussion Is Brain Injury

Unfortunately, the pledges just about dried up. And meanwhile, my energy stores dropped and dropped, and my pain rose up. I was starting to get mighty pissed at the pain in my right hip and lower back waking me up every morning, even after I’d thrown everything I had at it one night and managed to quiet it down to almost zero.

And so I hunted around and gathered new sources to prop up my flagging energy. As I write this, even those sources are flailing futilely in the wake of my injured brain screaming, “Uncle!” as in, I give up. No more work!!

I used to have a habit of pushing myself until I crashed. It took me well over a decade to learn how not to do that. This past month has been a blast to that past! But some of these newish energy props are keepers.

Now that the crowdfunding is over and that it will be an Ingram Spark book not a polished book with the Iguana Books imprint — not enough funds were raised for proofreading, distribution, and marketing — although at least in the last hours, pledges came in to cover the full editing costs! — Alright!!! — I will hunker down and focus on rewriting it with the help of Camp NaNoWriMo (it’s amazingly well timed for me this year).

Camp NaNoWriMo 2016

Since it looked right up until the last minute that the funds would not cover structural editing and my injured brain can barely see the big picture of my book — or read it, except with the aid of the Kindle Paperwhite in small chunks — my neurodoc is reading out my Index Card app outline to me.

I began this new method with reading the chapter titles out to him, and the next time we spoke, he read the titles back to me. But now, he reads the Index Cards out loud as I try to absorb. Over and over he reads each card title slowly; over and over he reads any notes on each card with careful enunciation. Nothing happened the first few times, but last week, we focused on the first section of the book, and I began to see. I moved the index cards around, wrote in new ones, and he read them back to me again, starting from the beginning. I added and moved more cards. He took my iPad back and again read them back to me from the start.

Suddenly, my brain quit. Nothing made sense any more. But he asked me if I thought it flowed better, the first section we worked on; I thought so. He did too. He was really happy he could do this for me and that it worked.

On the weekend, I manually copied the work I’d done in the Index Card app over to Scrivener for Windows (their iOS app is coming too late for me) and wrote one of the new chapters. I again reviewed the outline in the app and tweaked the first part of it. The middle to end remain out of my perceptual grasp. But it’s getting there.

And so to the twenty-eight people who backed my crowdfunding campaign: I am writing new chapters and revising the old ones. I don’t know how long it will take me without the full resources I needed, but your faith in me is committing me to finish my book. Thank you!!!


Camp NaNo: The Final Push

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I got a little antsy last week. First I’d gone into Camp NaNo word count deficit, then I’d recovered and gotten ahead, but then I took a look at this week’s schedule and went Eek! How was I ever going to write and keep up with all that I’d scheduled? There’s a reason you’re supposed to clear your calendar during NaNo month. So I decided: if I was going to finish my romance novel, I was going to have to do it on Saturday, 23 June 2012. It would entail me writing more hours than I  before, and it would entail me fleshing out my story. That was the other problem – I’d pretty much finished my story, but I had thousands of words yet left to write to reach the 50,000 goal.

I had to trust my inner writer, the one I don’t have conscious access to.

And that writer came through. I wrote in several spurts over the day last Saturday with breaks in between. I finished the story and then went back to the beginning to look for plot points or small scenes where the detail could be filled out to add to the story. I didn’t really want to put fluffy filler in (hopefully, I didn’t!). It was painful going, then all of a sudden I realised I was only a couple of hundred words away.

I put all the chapters together in one document and redid the word count.


I was now 1,000 words away. Somewhere, I had lost track of my word count and must’ve doubled … um, quadrupled counted.

I was ready to throw in the towel. But I took a break, a nap, a snack, and suddenly my mind was working again, thinking of details that would be good to add.

I had my thousand. Woot!

But wait. I couldn’t celebrate too soon. My word count was just a smidge over 50,000, and Camp NaNo’s word count validator may not agree with WordPerfect’s word count calculator and decide it was a smidge below. Camp NaNoWriMo hadn’t yet opened its word count validator, and so I saved and waited. Then late last night, I realised I’d forgotten to validate! Oops. If I was officially below, that wouldn’t give me much time to get back to romance writing. I quickly copied and pasted the text.

I won!



Going into Camp NaNo Deficit

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It was a tough week, writing wise. I was having trouble with where my teen romance novel was going; worse, I was having trouble with how to navigate the writing life in Canada itself. As many of you may not know, there is anti-female writer and anti-visible minority bias on the part of reviewers (and judges), which journalists in the US and apparently in The National Post too, have brought into the light. Then I got quite behind in my word count as those two forces built up in my head. It was all very discouraging. But I skimmed through a couple of Harlequins — to see how the masters of the genre do it and to get back into the mood — and I spoke to my editor, and all was right again with my novelling. Herewith my last week of Google + posts on my Camp NaNo progress:

June 15

I’m a little behind. Ahem. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so far behind before in a NaNoWriMo event. It’s been a distracting week, though it wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t hit a lull in my novel, felt dissatisfied with how the story and characters were shaping up.

But I had a talk with my editor (not on this novel but on other things), studied a bestselling book in the same category as my novel for how the author had approached the material and, in particular, her writing, and all of a sudden my mind cleared, and I knew what I had to do: go back to the beginning and flesh out the scene much more. Now I know better who my characters are. Note to self: must outline and must fill in character templates. Lesson learned.

June 16

I was about ready to give up on my Camp NaNo novel. It’d been a tough week for writer-me, and it had sucked out all my desire to write. It didn’t help that I wasn’t sure if I was on the right track with this novel, worrying whether it was moving too slowly for the genre.

I decided to read a Harlequin — they are, after all, the best in the romance biz — to see if that would kickstart me, or would at least give me ideas as to the kind of writing style that worked with readers. That didn’t do much to get me going. I then spoke to my editor. Simply having a sympathetic ear about the things that were gnawing at me about being a female, minority writer in Canada and North America (which we know now from evidence not just anecdotally truly is discriminated against by reviewers and contests), turned things around for me. I read another Harlequin to get me in the mood (really, they’re all the same, yet somehow that doesn’t lessen their attraction with readers, and I began to understand why), and I woke up this morning ready to rock and write.

I wrote in three spurts. I promised myself some cheesecake if I completed my first task, which was to revise the chapters I’d already written to change one of the key characters slightly but significantly. Having done that, my novel no longer felt like it was sitting on sand but the solid rock of the right characters. In my next writing stints this afternoon and evening, I wrote new chapters. I haven’t quite got caught up on my word count, but I’m fewer than 600 words behind. Given how far back I was, that’s not bad.

June 17

From a deficit to well ahead, I went in today’s Camp NaNo writing sessions. My fingers hurt, my arms are lines of pain, my shoulders ache. But it was worth it — especially as I got to and past the scene I wasn’t looking forward to writing. It’s a necessary scene but not an easy one. 6,772 words today, for a total of 32,879 words written so far.

Glad that’s over! Now it’s full speed to the climactic ending. 🙂

June 18

Week Two’s Camp NaNo pep talk was on inspiration, or rather how it’s not what gets you through the long slog of the novel writing process. You gotta write whether inspired or not. You can’t wait for that fickle mistress. Today was definitely a day devoid of inspiration and motivation, and it took my schedule and all my willpower to sit my butt in chair and get typing.

Yet somehow, once I put fingers to keyboard, the scene wrote itself. So quickly, I was short a few too many words, and I went back and fleshed out a few descriptions to draw out the emotion. There’s spare writing and then there’s too-efficient writing!

I got another 2k written today, almost up to 35k total.

But how the heck am I going to write another 15k words?!! I’m almost at the end of my story. Hopefully, my fingers will tell me!


Has It Been Eleven Days of Camp NaNo Already?

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My, time flies when you’re novelling or rather dragging your feet as your fingers make futile efforts to type. On the up side, though I fell behind in word count, though I sank into a lull, though I wanted to chuck the whole thing, I only ever missed one day of writing. And I’m pretty much on Camp NaNo word count goal too, as you can see through my Google+ posts I reproduce for you below. Now, if only I could get myself motivated to paste the Camp’s badge on my website …

5 June 2012

Waking up is hard to do. Waking up on a cold June morning to write another chapter, one you have no idea what you’re going to say in, is groaningly difficult. But a blanket around me and a CES device (cranioelectrical stimulation) clipped to my ears, and I’m good to go. Now all I need is content.

No matter how often it happens, it amazes me always that though my mind be blank of ideas, once my fingers are on keyboard, the words start flowing in and flowing out onto the screen. It helps to put myself into the story, not just to think of it as an aloof storyteller, but to be right in there, sitting next to my characters in the canoe or at the kitchen table eating French Toast. Yup, descriptions of food and cooking appear in this novel too. I can’t help it. A character’s gotta eat. 1,692 words today

6 June 2012

I like the target board with an arrow on it, showing where you are on the word count, on the Camp NaNo website. The arrow is finally starting to visibly move on my board. It’s a tiny little bit on the way to pointing to the bull’s eye. A tiny bit is better than no bit, though I thought it’d be more. I think I forgot to enter my word count yesterday. I’m going to have to add it up again. I haven’t been using a spreadsheet like I have in past Novembers. Maybe I should. It’s not so difficult keeping track in the early days, but it’s not even a week, and already I don’t know where I am in the total word count. One of these days, I hope the NaNoWriMo folks will allow you to enter a daily word count and they’d add up the total for you. But then maybe most people type one massive document, while I open a new document for each new chapter or day of writing. 1,892 words today. Don’t know the total! 🙂

Update: I put all my documents together and redid the word count. Up to 10,330 words total! I’m past the big 10k hurdle. Woot!

8 June 2012

Well, I quit.

Actually, I quit yesterday.

Quit writing a novel on my iPad first thing in the morning, that is. It’s not that I couldn’t write — well, ok, it was getting harder and harder to get the ideas to flow — it’s that I’d tire quickly and it was becoming like the end of a torturous race after you’ve hit the wall to finish a chapter. It was also not that fun. I want to enjoy writing this novel. I want to engross myself in these characters. They’re nice characters. Interesting characters. And I wasn’t involving myself enough in them because of my fatigue. It’s hard enough after breakfast and with a cup of coffee at hand; it was becoming impossible before I’d had even a bite.

I suppose writing screenplays on my iPad right after I’ve woken up is easier because they’re shorter, don’t involve internal dialogue, and are all about the visuals (though the radio play I wrote in April was all about the audio). Whereas, books involve every sense. And well, I’m more serious about my books. Screenplays are strictly a creative exercise — plus it’s easier to reach the 100-page mark than the 50,000-word goal of NaNoWriMo.

So today, I filled my demanding stomach, pumped up my brain in caffeine (the coffee and chocolate kinds), and sat down at my computer. It was much easier and faster typing on a solid keyboard than on the iPad, even on the iPad’s Bluetooth keyboard, which is what I usually use when writing a blog post or longer piece. I am still fatigued but more ready. So I guess readiness and sitting up properly, my body telling my brain, pay attention, write and continue to write to the end, is better.

As Ben from Camp NaNoWriMo said in his pep talk, “Take this week to figure out how you write best, and then use those rituals to get yourself moving.” I did, by accident, and I think I’ve figured out how I write novels best. On my computer!

I wrote 2,891 words today. Not enough to get back on track, but a good haul nevertheless!

9 June 2012

I can type more words and type for longer on the computer than on the iPad … or maybe it’s not because of what I’m typing on but when. Being fuelled up with breakfast and coffee makes for a more productive writer, methinks.

I’m caught up to the word count, and I do believe hitting the 16,670-words-by-Sunday-night goal is totally doable now.

After an initial hello from a couple of them, my Camp NaNo cabin mates are pretty silent on the message board, though not in their novelling pursuit, if word counts are anything to go by. Still, one seems to have stopped, and one seems to have not started at all. But such is the NaNoWriMo life. You start, you stop, you don’t start at all, you get going in a hail of words raining down on your keyboard in a mad dash to beat the deadline. I’m hoping, though, that for once, I’ll finish my novel before the last day. I have completed the word count goal before the end, but not the novel itself. I shall need to step up the pace if I’m to do that.

11 June 2012

I’d hit a lull in my novel over the weekend. I thought by spending my Sunday writing time reviewing and fixing some of the character interactions in previous chapters — something I usually do as things change from what I’d envisioned originally the deeper I get into the novel — that that would “reset” me and get me enthused again, get the novel underway again.

But nope.

As I was moping about this morning, I suddenly remembered the NaNoWriMo motto: toss something unexpected in. That’ll work for Camp NaNo too, I thought. Now their suggestions are usually along the lines of flying monkeys and pink possums, but I decided on introducing a couple of characters in a little differently from the usual “Hi! I’m Susie!” variety. I am setting the novel in cottage country after all; there are all sorts of drowning possibilities. It’s amazing how that one little NaNo piece of advice got my fingers flying over the keys. From zero to 2,284 words in less than an hour. Awesome!


Camp NaNoWriMo: The First Days

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I am once again blogging at Google + on my writing experience during a NaNoWriMo event, this time Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ve never participated in Camp NaNo before, and it’s different from the November event fer sure. It’s casual and uses camping motifs. I’m not posting every day like I did before, but here are the ones for the opening weekend.

1 June 2012

I hadn’t written the minimum number of words, I realised, when I checked the word count in iA Writer after I’d finished my first chapter. Do I try and add more or make up the word count tomorrow? Oh, what the heck, the scene could use more details, maybe stretch out the bickering between the first two characters of my story. Sometimes word count goals are useful. The scene, I think, is much better for adding another 200 words. But still I’m short 59 words. Oh well. I’ll make THOSE up tomorrow.

Oh yeah, didn’t I mention? I’m in Camp NaNoWriMo! The summer version of the annual National Novel Writing Month that I participate in every November, for the last three years anyway. I thought I would try this new event in June with a lighter kind of novel, one that doesn’t require extensive background reading or research. I need a break after all the physics I learnt (and relearnt) last summer!

I wasn’t sure how it’d go, if I could do it at this time of year, especially as I have other books I’m supposed to be revising and preparing. But I’m liking it — so far. I’m feeling pretty peppy after typing out 1,609 words using my Apple Bluetooth keyboard. No way I could type out that many words using the iPad’s onscreen typepad. Let’s hope tomorrow goes as well!

(Check out the comment on G+.)

2 June 2012

When I awoke this morning, I absolutely didn’t feel like writing, mostly because apart from a couple of lines, I had no idea what I’d write. Plus I hadn’t decided on two of the characters’ human names yet, and I needed them now, that is, if they were going to appear in the last chapter. Of course, I got out my iPad anyway and began writing, whether I wanted to or not. Camp NaNoWriMo was bustling with activity and calling me to get in on the action.

The two nameless characters had to appear at the start of the chapter. I wrote and hoped their names would appear on the screen like magic. Well, not like magic, but close enough, long enough to get the main action of this final chapter going. I say “final” because I usually start writing my novels wih the last chapter. I like to know where I’m going. This month was slightly different in that I began with the first chapter, or probably more like the prologue, because I needed to know where I was starting before I could know for sure where I’d be ending up.

More words today than yesterday, yay! 1,846


Writing, Revising, and Heat

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Camp NaNoWriMo (or as I like to shorten it, Camp NaNo) is in two days, and I ain’t ready, not by a half mile, I ain’t. I’m also awake too early. You’d think those two sentences would mean I could get my Camp bus in gear and set off. Nope. Instead I’m punchy from lack of sleep.

Monday, I finished my third NaNoWriMo novel Time and Space. I did those final find-and-replace kind of edits, the ones where I blithely hit “Replace All” and then wonder what I’m replacing, if the software will make some sentences look strange or have the grammar police, with me leading, charging after it screaming, you screwed up, there’s an extra period at the end of that sentence! Well, that’s what editors are for, I soothed myself while I went on to my next Find-and-what-the-heck-Replace-All edit.

Monday, I spoke to my editor and discovered, holy cow, my brain injury book will be started on next week! And here I was moseying along, not chivvying my feedback person to get the rest of the feedback to me. I had already made a change here and there since sending my manuscript off to Iguana Books, and I was planning on incorporating the feedback I’d received a couple of weeks ago, planning being the operative word. So tout de suite to the computer I went before the humid heat descended and rendered me heat-comatose on the couch!

I rewrote the opening and chucked out lots of good stuff. Maybe I’ll slot bits and pieces back in in other places. Maybe not. The hardest part of writing — or sometimes when in a mad frenzy of rewriting under deadline, the easiest — is cutting things out. I don’t usually have to do that because my first drafts are always too short. Time and Space after two revisions, is finally over 80,000 words. But Concussion IS Brain Injury was over 100,000 in its very first incarnation. I created it from my over-60 blog posts on the topic. I’m a bit wordy when it comes to brain injury, or maybe not wordy, but I do have a lot to say.

At the same time as I was incorporating feedback, I was getting some blog posts out of my head and into the computer so that I could add them to my brain injury manuscript. I got one written and published. And then the muggy heat wave hit. And my body decided enough with writing or doing much of anything. Thankfully, it’s cooling down today. The birds are happy; the raccoons are banging up a celebration; and I’m blogging.


Camp NaNoWriMo?

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I’m thinking of doing Camp NaNo.

In 2009, I wrote my first novel She during National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo as it’s popularly called. It was just the thing I needed to help me write as my brain injury had robbed me of initiation, of the thing that gets you organized and doing things. I went on to have She edited and published over the next two years.

In 2010, I tried out ScriptFrenzy, NaNoWriMo’s smaller script-writing cousin. I wrote a screenplay adaptation of my first award-winning book Lifeliner. I didn’t show it to anyone; I didn’t feel it or I was ready yet. Then in November I participated in NaNoWriMo for the second time and wrote Aban’s Accension — now at Iguana Books waiting and waiting and waiting to be edited.

In 2011, I joined ScriptFrenzy again, this time writing a stage play on the insurance game. That one I’d like to do something with, but am not sure what. Yet. And leaving it practically to the last minute, thinking I’ll never be ready in time, even though I had been doing background physics reading for months, I launched myself into my third NaNoWriMo and third novel, Time and Space, which I’m currently revising.

2012’s ScriptFrenzy this past April was a purely creative exercise for me. I began with a title and an idea. I had no outline, no sense of how it’d end. It was … interesting. But I liked the flexing of my purely creative muscles. This radio play is for my eyes only. On the other hand, I’m looking forward to writing a book in November intended for public consumption. I already know the ending, the basic story arc, as I’ve been pondering it for awhile. However, in between then and now is Camp NaNo.

The folks who run NaNoWriMo started Camp NaNo last year. I thought about joining but went nahhh. This year, the person-who-organizes-me sat me down in January and said let’s get you writing regularly. Add Camp NaNo to your schedule. Okay, but I have no idea what to write. You’ll think of something, she retorted in that-don’t-give-me-silly-excuses way.

Okay then.

She recommitted me this past week to doing it. She was right too, I do have an idea. I’ll talk about it later. First, I gotta go check out how this Camp operates.