Books

NaNoWriMo and the TTC

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Seven days in, and I’ve written every day of NaNoWriMo. I haven’t been able to do this in years. Most amazing part: write, edit, fine tune, and post one chapter to Wattpad every day. Up to now, at best, I wrote one chapter daily during November. Never edited before. Too scared to even post it for public reading.

It’s rather exhilarating.

And exhausting.

My body feels run over. My voice is dropping in volume. My brain wants a time out — until I begin thinking about Louise, about having fun with this story, about how suddenly riding the TTC is fodder. The worse the slog, the better the fodder. Too bad this counterforce to TTC draining, straining, enraging will last only a month. Maybe if lots of people read it and share it, it’ll continue doing good for all those who have no choice but endure whenever they step onto the red-and-white inaccessible transit. Check it out 👇

Louise and The Men Of Transit

Books

Early Exit Exiting NaNoWriMo, Entering Editing

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I promised myself that this NaNoWriMo would be like that of years ago — write a novel in a month, take a few days off, and begin revising.

I finished the novel. Took a few days off. Then one day grumbled into the next, tiring me, straining the brain. No sign of revising.<br><br>Then the spirit of noveling tapped my imagination. Thoughts began to emerge out of the gloom of fatigue and endless medical appointments. I tried to write yesterday, but neurons flagged. But today —

I was ready. My brain was awake. Neurons sparked. Imagination sprang up. I revised one chapter, well, okay, I struggled through it. But I told myself the next one was mostly dialogue. Easy peasy. Keep going. I did! And I had two chapters revised before breakfast!

I’m planning on finishing in a couple of weeks and finding beta readers. Some who know coding and some who have never seen a line of code. Game for it?

Become a Patreon patron today to get a sneak peek of my story, decide if you want to get your hands on the whole manuscript and to have your feedback help me finish it! Because beta readers are the best!!

Books

Back in the NaNoWriMo Noveling Saddle

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Last night at midnight, I joined my fellow Wrimos in the insane endeavour of starting writing a novel when one should be asleep!

It’s been too many years since I was ready to write, excited to write, able to join my fellow Wrimos at midnight on my computer. Since 2013, it’s been an exercise in desperation to be ready, to be able to overcome the chaos in my brain and the emotional shock of life events to throw myself into starting, never mind writing every day during NaNoWriMo. Some Novembers, I seriously wondered if I’d make it to the end of the month or get anywhere near the 50,000-word goal. Last year, the eye surgery added an additional complication because the general anesthetic temporarily screwed up my writing and the surgery improved my vision so dramatically, I was still adapting to seeing text on screens. I think I had to write on my iPad because the computer display with the way it required my eyes to track greater distances side to side than the iPad made me dizzy as heck. I have no problem now!

This year I want to get back to where I was in 2012: 30 chapters; writing every day; maybe blogging on it too. We’ll see about the latter because I need to regularly type some C++ code (from my lessons to make it easier on me) so that I can keep in the head space of my main character. I’ve set a goal of only 10 minutes per night of working in Visual Studio 2017 so that I won’t tire myself out toooo much. We’ll see.

But however this month goes, it feels good to be back to where I was in 2012 before events threw me off the track of my life. (To read the details of that, see my book Concussion Is Brain Injury: Treating the Neurons and Me.)

Books

NaNoWriMo: Chapter 4 on Twitter

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Chapter 4 sees Chantie take BobbyFlax up on his offer to help her learn to navigate the Twittersphere.



Books

NaNoWriMo: Chapter 3 on Twitter

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A little bit of a hiccup in the Twitter timeline. But it’s early days, and so I was able to redo @BobbyFlax’s tweets. Here then is the Twitter portion of Chapter 3 of my #nanowrimo novel in progress, Chantie:



Brain Biofeedback

Novelling Can Help Only So Much With PTSD

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Writing is good for me. Writing a novel during NaNoWriMo is exciting and takes me out of the reality of my PTSD and brain injury. But writing can only do so much. And when reality intrudes in the form of a requested conversation with one’s insurance broker, the heart can go a little wonky.

I like my insurance broker; I’ve always enjoyed conversing with him. But I hate insurance companies. My neurodoc asked me when I first began to hate them — apparently “hate” is a clue that insurance companies and any mention of them are a trigger for my PTSD. I had to think about his question. I didn’t hate them after my first encounter with them when I was in a car crash in 1991. I saw them first as a partner to help me get better then later as an adversary.

By the year 2000, insurance companies and their regulations under Ontario law had changed drastically. Instead of a let’s-get-you-better attitude, the person who answered the phone when I called after my 2000 crash, made out like she was taking my claim while giving me the runaround. Just making the claim in 2000 was hell for me. (Making a claim under current Ontario law is much, much worse.)

That’s when I began to hate them.

I suppose I would’ve been all right if I’d spoken to my broker himself, whom I’ve known for decades. But I was put through to a staff member, someone I didn’t know. Not good for someone with a brain injury. We like the familiar. We want to talk to the person we know. Then she was asking me questions in order to update my file. All perfectly reasonable. My traumatized brain thought otherwise. I struggled not to bite her head off as inside I screamed, I want to get off the phone! Now! Somehow I answered her questions and later I spoke to my neurodoc who told me that that call was a huge trigger. Huge!

Oh.

I had dreams that night, and this week, though I was in what I call my happy neutral place, the biofeedback sensors told a different story. My heart rate didn’t even try to sync with my breathing. Instead it trotted along at about 109 then zipped up to as high as 189 and as low as 37, over and over. Geeze.

You know, this is why we have emotions: to tell us how others and events are affecting us. When our affect is flat or our emotions inconsistent or AWOL, we think we’re doing okay. And then wonder why we have physical issues like gaining weight (or losing it). I’m thankful I have the biofeedback and my neurodoc to do a reality check when my emotions aren’t giving me these crucial clues.

Books

NaNoWriMo 2014: Chapter 2 on Twitter

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So far, my Twitter experiment is working out. I write my chapter; go rest, eat, drink; think over whether I should tweet out a few excerpts through my own account; decide yeah, extra work but good for the readers; type out my tweets and my characters tweets into a separate document; think them over: did I miss any necessary detail? Am I being too obtuse (I’ve been accused of that!)? And most importantly: is the character count including hashtags within the 140 limit? Then I go to it and hope for the best.

So here, in case you missed them or are unable to follow me and my growing cadre of characters on Twitter, are today’s tweets of my twovel:



Books

NaNoWriMo 2014 Begins . . . on Twitter

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I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to participate in National Novel Writing Month, which I have since 2009, this year. The thought was disturbing. But my muse came to the rescue. It said: locate a novel on Twitter. Make it a mystery. You figure out the rest. Well, I did. And though I waffled over my initial idea of playing it out on Twitter — should I or shouldn’t I? — and though I began by thinking the entire novel would take place on Twitter and ended by realizing it couldn’t — by the time I began writing Chantie’s story just after midnight on November 1st, I knew I would go ahead.

List of characters, revealed to date:

NaNoWriMo Character Twitter Avatars
NaNoWriMo Character Twitter Avatars

So here’s the deal. [Updated 6 November 2014 with questions for me, below.]

The novel takes place on Twitter, which means the characters will be tweeting at each other, which means they need their own accounts, which means, well, hey you can watch them tweet on Twitter. The only issue is that the novel includes some prose — how much I’ll find out as I write it. That prose will, for the most part, not appear on Twitter. That could make it a little incomprehensible for readers or, I’m hoping, make it more mysterious and set up conversations about what’s happening “behind the scenes.” This idea will certainly make novel writing more challenging for me. I don’t know how Charles Dickens ever got the nerve to serialize his novels as he wrote them, but I’ve always admired him and am now following in his footsteps. Eek!

I wrote the first draft of the final chapter yesterday. That will remain locked up away from prying eyes. Today, I wrote the first chapter of my novel, tentatively titled Chantie. I’m not a big fan of my title; it’ll do though. Anyway, chapter one introduces my main character Chantie Trembel, and I opened it up on Twitter with a few critical tweets giving context:



Questions and Answers
If you have any questions, tweet me!

I was debating about the timeline. I write the novel in 30 days, so should it take place over 30 days? Sort of. Because of the writing process, some of the tweets won’t be in real time. But all the Twitter chats will be done in the time they’re supposed to happen over. Where time is a factor, I will stick as closely as possible to real time.

Β 

I was thinking of having Bobby follow some of my tweeps, then I began to wonder if he did more than follow, if he interacted with them, how would that work in a published novel with issues of copyright and all? I’d ask before I did that and before I had his character follow anyone as well. But it could be fun!

All tweets by my characters are copyright protected under my name as per Twitter’s terms of service. “5. Your Rights You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services.”

Books

NaNoWriMo 2013

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I didn’t think I would do it this year. The novel I had in mind, I couldn’t get researched in time. I had trouble even with desiring to write anything, and I worried that by the time November 1st came around, I’d have some motivation back but nothing to write. And so I, unusually for me, ditched my original idea (for now) and went back to a radio play I’d written for ScriptFrenzy in 2011. All I had to do was go through it and create an outline in my Index Card app. I almost didn’t get that done either! But I did at the last minute and started writing the very first minute of November 1st.

I was off to an auspicious start. It helped that the National Novel Writing Month folks have really amped up the pep talks, Twitter coaching, online sprints, encouraging emails — I mean, we were positively inundated in a really, really good way. But it wasn’t enough. My motivation hadn’t returned, and I found myself reluctant to write. Fortunately, for me, life had dropped out of a maritime blue sky a fellow brain injury survivor who’s a trained life coach who made her mission to cheer me on. Every time I flagged, she was there to discuss the novel, me, NaNoWriMo, whatever, and wind me up again. From her, I received daily ecards, and with her astute questions, I figured out what was wrong with the ending and what I needed it to be. And finally, on the last day, the story came together and wrapped itself up, and suddenly, I was done. Phew.

I blogged occasionally on Google+, as is my wont. Herewith are the posts:

November 1

So I’m off. I don’t normally start NaNoWriMo right at midnight. But I wasn’t sure I’d get a chance to write my first novelling words during normal, sane hours of the day, and hey, it’s good to launch with everyone else at the stroke of 12:00am in my time zone! I’d been waiting all Halloween day since I woke up and saw Christmas Island start their first NaNoWriMo word sprint.

So I got 710 words written, went to update my word count, but the spiffy new NaNoWriMo website had moved the word count entry field. Argh! Where’d they put it??!! Oh. Nope they didn’t move it, they reset the time zone to PST. Pesky defaults! All good now. http://nanowrimo.org/participants/shireenj/novels/divorce-times-marriage/stats

November 2

Day two of NaNoWriMo, and I’m behind in word count. On the plus side, I wrote more than the daily allotted number today, which bodes well for the next few days, right? πŸ™‚

I’ve introduced a character that was only implied in the radio play, which means he has no name. And my mind was not up to coming up with one on the spot as I wrote in his character. So I called him the “director.” Maybe I should capitalize it, turn it into a noun name. 1,920 words today, 2,640 words so far for “Divorce Times Marriage.”

http://nanowrimo.org/participants/shireenj/novels

November 4

I wrote just over 2,000 words today for NaNoWriMo. I’m almost caught up to the daily word count. Almost. πŸ™‚ A lot of dialogue in today’s scene. Yesterday, I was wondering if I had a handle on Cherry’s character because she seemed to be morphing from how she was in my head back when I wrote the original radio play to something different today. Then I realized that I’m adding on a layer rather than changing her outright, making her less of caricature or one-note character. Gerald’s turn will come, I’m sure. But he’s such a strong character in my head, he doesn’t need tweaking. Heh.

November 5

I was almost caught up, and then today, I wrote a short chapter. I began in third person, but luckily had only written a paragraph or two when I remembered that these particular interior scenes are in first person. I went back and edited (a big NaNoWriMo no-no — one must never edit, but I had to in this case!). And once I was in first person, the words come more easily. This is definitely the right point of view for these scenes with Gerald talking to you. πŸ™‚

I’m up to 7,622 words, ahead of some of my NaNoWriMo writing buddies, behind others. Smack in the middle is OK, but it’s more fun when I’m leading the pack. Heh.

November 7

After not writing yesterday, I cracked the 2000-word barrier today. Phew. Still behind in the word count though. I’m not sure I could’ve written anymore. My character did a lot of yelling and then the exhaustion of it overtook her — and me too. #nanowrimo is doing a writing marathon on Saturday. I may join in, for a part anyway, so as to finally, finally get caught up. Been behind since day one!

November 8

Big scene at the shrink’s today in my #nanowrimo novel Divorce Times Marriage. Went a long way to making up for my low word count so far. I’m almost near where I should be — again. Cherry didn’t have much to say during this session; she mostly hid behind her hair. I find having long, or at least not too short, hair comes in handy, but it was hard trying to describe the fall of her hair and how she hid behind it without using “tell” words. Gerald, though, had lots to say. On and on. The shrink’s response was suitably rewarding. I like an active shrink!

A beefy 2,800 words or so today! Over 12,000 words this month so far!!

November 9

Today was NaNoWriMo’s NaNoThon day. I typed 3,727 words and upped my word count above where I’m supposed to be. I was hoping to type more, but I had to catch up on my coursework as well. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to have any other commitments during the novelling month, but I couldn’t resist! Anyway, it was fun being part of this planetary writing marathon while I could join in. It’s a definite keeper of an idea!

November 15

The #nanowrimo week-two-three doldrums officially dragged me down this week. But I saw the Toronto ML’s video in my Google+ feed and clicked on it to watch. You must too! Especially if you’re questioning whether you can write or want to write or if NaNoWriMo is for you. Or you just need a laugh and a non-Rob Ford thing to laugh over. πŸ™‚

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ErrolElumir/posts/eswxRbmNLqD

So I watched that, opened Scrivener, and got down to the business. And boy, did I write. I blew past all my previous daily word counts. I’m behind again in where I should be, but not as badly as I would’ve been if I’d written what I normally have this month. Phew. This is why NaNoWriMo is so great — the huge swell of support that buoys you up and pushes you along when you hit those discouraging still, windless waters.

http://nanowrimo.org/participants/shireenj/novels/divorce-times-marriage/stats

November 16

It’s my birthday, and this song keeps playing in my head:

http://youtu.be/hMb1wPfE1Iw

But #nanowrimo comes first! The writing must always come first, isn’t that what they say? Heh. So as the sun shone onto me, I ignored it and typed away on my computer until I reached the halfway point of this month of novelling, although I didn’t know it was the halfway point. I just knew it was the end of today’s chapter and found out I’d passed the 25k mark when I clicked on Project Stats in Scrivener.

I’m getting used to Scrivener. I think I’ve fully transitioned from writing my novels in WordPerfect to writing them in Scrivener. I know there are many features of this software that I don’t use yet, but for distraction-free writing, I got it down pat.

I keep forgetting to change my POV from third person to first when I get to a Gerald-only chapter. Then when it dawns on me, a loud ARRGGHHH fills the room, before I have to go back and tediously replace all the “he”s with “I”s. And that’s when I notice — once again — what a difference it makes which POV I write in when I do a Gerald scene. Gerald’s thoughts and emotions come alive in my mind when I switch to first person in a way that third doesn’t do. Anyway, Gerald’s time is done for the day, and it’s my turn to have some fun (not that Gerald was having fun, oh no, he was in agony).

25,474 words total so far.

http://nanowrimo.org/participants/shireenj/novels/divorce-times-marriage

November 21

I’ve fallen off the #nanowrimo bandwagon. I blame my metaphysics course, making me think about reality, write about free will. But that’s all done. And after I passed out from the effort, had a pep talk, read a pep talk, looked at Errol’s nanotoon, watched Scrivener go belly up on me, restart it, I finally began writing again. And that’s when I saw I hadn’t quite finished my last chapter. I thought I had, but I hadn’t really, not based on where the plot was going in the radio play I’m basing the novel on. I didn’t want to touch the last chapter. So I made a bit of a switch-up in my structure and added a new chapter. Now the chapter I was going to work on will have to wait until tomorrow.

I wrote almost 1900 words today, exceeding the daily quota but not enough to catch up from three lost days. I need another #nanothon !

November 23

OMG. After three stints of #nanowrimo writing today, after typing up a storm during each stint, I’m 1000 words short of 40k. Argh!! So close. On the other hand, I am on target now. At last!

I’ve begun writing chapters contrasting Cherry and Gerald’s activities that are happening at the same time. I’m not sure how long I’ll continue that. Maybe once more.

November 28

Holy cow. I look up from typing, click Project Statistics in Scrivener, and I’ve passed the 50k mark. How’d that happen? When’d that happen? Well, today, I know, but it seemed like I was forever catching up and then all of a sudden: bam. I won.

I won the word count part (not officially yet though). Now I have to finish my novel. I have another seven chapters to go and three days to write them in. Hoo boy.

November 30

Oh yeah. I did it. I did it! LOL! I just validated my novel and was instantly taken to the NaNoWriMo winner’s page where the “Huzzah!” video played. It’s simple, short, and amazingly uplifting and rewarding to watch that video of people you don’t know personally congratulating you. Whoot!

I made it to 50k and beyond. Even more importantly, I finished the story, and I’m finally feeling that the ending is right. I’ll probably tweak the last few lines, maybe add in more dialogue, but the tone of it, the conclusion of it, at long last works for me. And if it works for me, then hopefully it’ll work for readers too (although I’m not sure when I’ll post it into the searching spotlight of the public, always a nerve-wracking, tricky thing to do).

I wrote the entire novel in Scrivener. It went off in a different direction in the last several chapters from the original radio play I wrote in 2012 during ScriptFrenzy. And for once, I managed to keep updating my outline in the Index Card app as I went (oh, um, I forgot — gotta update the last two chapters and delete a couple…anywhoo). And I found the Scrivener NaNoWriMo obfuscation compile template so that I could quickly and easily validate my manuscript on the NaNoWriMo website.

I’m now done. I’m finding that hard to believe. Wow. Done. Gotta let that sink in.

I’m feeling rather at loose ends, like, what now? Well, celebrate with some chocolate, of course. And then peruse the winner’s page to see what the goodies are. And oh yeah, update my BiblioCrunch annual membership. That is one winner’s goody from last year that more than paid itself out to me. Best one ever!

Official word count: 59,345.