Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo - take four

It's almost November and, like many writers, that means I'm gearing up to embark on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  This will be my fourth attempt to write 50,000 words - FIFTY. THOUSAND. WORDS - between November 1st and 30th.  Nothing else in my life is slacking during this month.  I don't get to take a sabbatical from work or being a Mom or being a wife.  I just have to add this gargantuan task into the already crazy mix.  I know it can be done - I "won" the year I was pregnant with baby sister after all.  Although I could argue that life was way less crazy back then with only an eight year old in the house to care for.

In anticipation of the event, my writer's group met this week and I laid out my rough ideas and got tons of great feedback, as always.  We discussed things I need to remember to think about.  Hard questions were asked, ones I hope I have answers for stewing around in the soup of my subconscious where this story's been brewing. Brainstorming for things that could happen to make the story different and unique that I'd never considered were thrown around.  I don't know what I'd do without those three women...

This NaNo feels different.  I've got a plot structure and my version of character studies that double as story lines that feel much like a plot.  ME!  A PLOT!  I've sharpened my tools and laid them neatly in my writer's toolbox.  And I've committed to both myself and my writer's group that once I start writing come November I'm not stopping until I've got a completed first draft.  Time to step up, grow a vagina and put my money where my mouth is about this writing stuff.  Which I'm sure is why things feel different this time.  It's the anticipation of knowing that something big might be happening... and hoping you don't fuck it all up.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life is a whirlwind... hold on tight!

I'm forcing myself to take a break from the whirlwind of life I'm currently caught up in.  I didn't realize the 30-day blog challenge would result in me missing writing here every day but it did and I feel like I've abandoned my poor blog.  You know what they say, it only takes twenty one days to create a habit and clearly I've developed the habit of writing every day.  Success!

Last week was a frenzy of planning and execution to celebrate Big Sister turning ten years old.  We had three days of celebration in a row between our little family, her friend party and extended family party.  We survived and I didn't have much time to get hung up on how fast the last decade has flown by.  Seriously, I have a ten year old?

Immediately I was thrust into planning mode for the next big thing happening just days later...

Tomorrow Hubby and I leave for Las Vegas to run our second Ragnar Relay of this year.  I know I have been running all summer but at the same time I fear I haven't trained enough.  I guess we'll see on Friday and Saturday how well I'm prepared this time around.  The first time I did everything by the book and by the numbers - meaning I followed the twenty week training program faithfully.  Was it beginners nervousness or my stressing about having to run twenty plus miles in two days that motivated me?  Could have been a little bit of both.  Now, I'm a seasoned Ragnar alumni who knows what to expect, have WAY easier runs on tap AND get to run mostly downhill - for real, this time - AND at half the elevation than I normally train in.  So, I'm less stressed and haven't been running the kinds of mileage I probably should have been since my longest run is *only* six miles.  The classification of each of my runs are moderate, easy and moderate - compared to hard, very hard and hard last time.  Either I'm a genius not to have been stressing all summer or I've set myself up for failure like an idiot.  Honestly I fear it could go either way.  I'm looking forward to a van full of people I know well and love and seeing a side of Vegas I've never seen before.  Regardless of how I run, I know it will be a blast.  Hubby and I are viewing it as a four-day mini vacation with a little bit of running thrown in and are looking forward to spending some quality time together while our girls spend a party weekend with their fabulous nanny.

When we return, I'll again only have two or three days to prepare for the next big thing:  Halloween - my favorite day of the year.  We have a neighborhood party with the kids, an adults-only party, a family party AND the school festivities all on tap BEFORE the actual trick-or-treating.  I'm still sad I am not going to be running the Halloween Half with several of my friends and loved ones but there's always next year.  When I look at how crazy the last half of October is it is probably for the best that I threw in the towel on squeezing a half marathon into the mix.

And there will be no rest before the next big thing:

The day after Halloween, I'm embarking on my fourth National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where I will *finally* emerge at the end of November with not only a win but a completed first draft of a novel.  Technically I'm still working on the same novel I started back in 2008 but the only thing the same about it has been the title and basic premise.  Now I have a plot structure outline, a synopsis, character studies, etc. and will hit the ground running on November 1st.  I'm so much more hopeful this time around than any of the previous attempts I've made to write this damn novel.  My intention is to blog along the way so you all can see the process but I'm not promising it will happen more than sporadically.  I'll be writing a novel - fifty thousand words - in thirty days after all!

This glimpse into my life, which lately has been even more frantic than usual, has been brought to you by Folgers coffee - the only thing really keeping me going and awake most days.  Ironically, the thing I should have been doing the most this week in preparation for Ragnar is resting and getting lots of good sleep and I'm quite certain I'll be exhausted when we hit the road in the morning.  At least I can sleep in a moving car without getting sick...

So, is it just me or has life been on a fast track lately for anyone else?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Living in denial

I hate it when people say I can't so something.  Most of my teen years were spent proving that just because you told me I can't, I'll show you I can.  It hasn't much changed in adulthood.  There are merely less instances of it now that I no longer live with my parents who were the ones most often telling me I couldn't.  But what happens when it isn't a person who tells me I can't?

After Ragnar (and it's intense training so I didn't die during it) were over in June, I went back to just running for the love of running.  And it was great.  Then a friend put together a team for the Ragnar in Las Vegas and invited me and Hubby to join.  I had to go back to training hard AND acclimating to running in the heat, which I still hate but can actually do now.  The only saving grace is that I have much less mileage and mostly downhill to run on this one so it didn't require as much training.  Plus, I knew I'd done Ragnar once this year so no sweat doing another one, right?  At that point all thoughts of doing anything else competitive for the year were abandoned and we proclaimed 2011 as the year of Ragnar.  To try and do anything else might just make me hate running.

And then one of my favorite cousins-in-law convinced me to do another half marathon since her sister was making her do it. It's the same half I did last year so I knew exactly what to expect with the course.  And, it is a week after Las Vegas Ragnar so I could do a half marathon training program - with a few tweaks - and train for both at the same time.  No sweat!

Now we are less than three weeks from that half marathon race day.  Next week is Ragnar.  I  need to taper off in preparation for Ragnar race day which means no super long run this weekend.  Last week I mapped out a ten-mile route and limped through only six of them when my calf cramped up and I couldn't stretch it out.  (Hydration, hydration!  You cannot slack on it when you are a runner!)  Yesterday my training plan called for a twelve-mile run but I hadn't yet done ten so I mapped out a little easier route and attempted the ten again instead.  And I made it seven before giving into the temptation to skip the last little loop and turning toward home.  At that point I was pushing myself to run and not walk because of the pain in my foot from my nemesis, plantar fasciitis.

I'm facing a sad reality that I may not be capable of running a half marathon no matter how much I want to or how much I've been training for it.  I have yet to do multiple runs in the same day to really be ready for this Ragnar AND I can't push my poor foot further than eight miles without excruciating pain.  My sister - who constantly amazes me with her powers of perception - told me yesterday that I should have been dealing with my "injury" for months instead of living in denial.  Case in point - I can't even call my plantar fasciitis an injury without quotation marks.

So, it is with much consternation and reluctance that I declare - officially now - 2011 as the year of Ragnar and only Ragnar.  If I can get my "injury" under control I'll try for another half next year just to prove I can do it.  And I'll take small comfort from knowing I'm achieving something just as significant.  By doing two Ragnars in the same year, I will earn two medals when we cross the finish line in Las Vegas next week.  And that "Saints and Sinners" medal will be awesome!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blog Challenge Day 30 - A motto or philosophy

Here I go again - over thinking a silly blog challenge topic.  So off the top of my head here's a bunch of mottoes I most often live by.  If you want something you have to just go and get it.  Life isn't going to give you something unless you've put in the hard work.  You want to be a writer?  You write every day and learn all you can about how to do it well and be successful.  You want to be successful at something else, you find out what it takes to be that thing and you do that every day.  You want a new job, you start acting like you already have it until someone notices you're already doing the work and chances are you'll get promoted.  Never give up on your dreams, no matter what.  And never focus on the negative.  Focusing on the negative and the set backs along the way just bog you down from progressing forward toward whatever it is you want.  Grasp life by the horns and hold on for the ride.  As long as you are living every day and doing what makes you happy you are leading a fabulous life.

I hope you've enjoyed this crazy blog challenge... thanks for sticking with me through the whole thing.  Now, I'm off to work on my novel.  November approaches after all!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A year ago today

I read a blog post this morning where the blogger looked back on what she had written a year ago.  I got curious as to what I was doing a year ago so I took a look at my own posts.  Here's what I found from October 2nd, 2010:

Here's today's hard reality of being a writer.  Sometimes the projects you spend two years of blood, sweat and tears on don't end up published.  Sometimes, they don't even end up finished.  My first novel is currently going into this bucket.  I made this decision subconsciously a couple of months ago but I wasn't really ready to let my baby go.  I've spent two full years on it, still believe in the idea, still love my characters and eventually will return to it.  But, because I love it so much I'm not willing to use it as my "first" and thus major learning experience.  So, I'm shelving it... for now.  I've spent the last couple of months editing and finding more work than I thought to get it up to par and ready to write the ending.  I still know where it ends and how, just have to finish the re-write of what's already written so I can finish it up at some point.  For now, I'm switching gears and preparing for this year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which starts November 1st.  This time (my third) I'm going in armed with another year's worth of learning and knowledge about how to write better and will spend October coming up with an outline so I am better prepared.  I am not sad, I'm being real.  And if talking to other writers this year and learning from them has taught me nothing else, it is that it takes writing many completed books to finally figure out how the whole process works.  Getting caught up and overly attached to one project over another just sets you up for disappointment.  So, I've tried my hand at urban fantasy - this year I'm tackling a straight out fictional work.  We'll see how I like it since I don't even know what "my" genre is yet.

So here we are today...  Last year I was ready to shelf my novel and in fact tried to do just that.  What I got was a failed attempt at last year's NaNoWriMo where I languished halfheartedly with a new idea and eventually went back to my original one - the darling I cannot kill.  Then, thanks to my writer's group and my friend's editor, I discovered another layer of the toolbox of the writing craft that I didn't even know I didn't now about.  Now I have a completed plot structure with completely different characters, a new twist, new motivations, the works.  And I am going to finish the damn thing before I move on.  I haven't spent this long world building and figuring out how my characters really tick just to throw it away or shelf it before it's done.  Besides, I tried that and the characters rebelled.

I've done so much research and learning recently; I am a different writer than two months ago.  On tap for this October is expanding on my plot structure by outlining basic scenes (and sequels) so I can hit the ground running.  I'll finally be equipped to complete a first draft during this year's NaNoWriMo in November since this time I am even more prepared than in years past.

Do I have illusions that this will be the first novel I publish?  It would be nice but I know it probably won't be.  However, I will still learn by finishing it and then revising, and querying and all the other things that go into the job of becoming a published writer.  And then I'll start another story and another and at some point I'll really know enough to get a publishing deal so I can then call myself an author instead of 'just' a writer.  Here's to another year of chasing the dream with all the hard work it takes to make it happen... may I live through it and still enjoy it.

Blog Challenge Day 29 - Hopes, dreams and plans for the next year

I'm not someone who sits down and makes goals and then breaks them down into short term steps to reach long term steps and then march through them and arrive at the end where life will then magically be perfect.  I leave that up to people who buy day planners and subscribe to that kind of philosophy.  Instead, I take every day as it comes and live it to the fullest.  I have a vision of what the future looks like and every choice I make hopefully leads me closer toward it.  But, if I somehow end up on a side track that turns out pretty cool, the route will shift.  Case in point, when I was in high school I dreamed of being a pilot and for a while I was training for that and exploring the possibilities.  And then I stumbled into a job that ended up being way more fun and I've built a career out of it.  Same thing when it came to being a parent - TOTALLY stumbled into that one but then embraced it and never looked back. If I were a goal setter, I'd look like a failure on paper when looking back.

So, for the next year I hope life (and my hard work) takes me to a finished first draft of my novel, better job satisfaction working under my new supervisor, another Ragnar relay completed, another half marathon with a better time than the first one,  continued success with my fitness insuring many more years of life ahead of me, lots of time spent with my kids making fun memories, and quality time with Hubby who I've now been with for eighteen years next month. Throw in time with my extended family and close friends and my year should be pretty full.  And of course I'll share the ups and downs of all of it with you, my readers.