NaNo-ing My Compost Pile

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This NaNo will be my most autobiographical NaNo yet. I will write “Meatful Things”* next month, the story of me and my compost pile, and all the things that did could go wrong… So how many ways can a compost pile go wrong? After all, nature makes compost piles every day, all around the world. Business as usual…

 

Unless…

 

You add people.

 

I mean, unless you add the wills and whims of people into the making of a compost pile.

 

So what goes into the compost pile? Apple cores and onions skins?

 

Absolutely!

 

Coffee grounds and tea leaves?

 

Sure!

 

Bacon grease and chicken bones?

 

Well, that’s not recommended.

 

But pigs and chickens decompose in nature just fine.

 

Well… OK.

 

How about litter box crap and offal from the neighbor’s hunting trip?

 

No way! But I see you’ve already taken the liberty… I see the compost pile is steaming and teeming with flies…

 

Yep, back to nature. How about I add-

 

No! Don’t say anything more! The compost pile is out of control. I don’t wanna know what you’re gonna add next…

 

It’s my spookiest NaNo to date, and it’s in the spirit of the season. Speaking of compost piles and Halloween, these creations are gonna end up in my decomposition pile in a few days…

Kitty-o-lanterns!

Kitty-o-lanterns!

 *

Like this guy…

Fall sunflower.

Fall sunflower.

 *

In the meantime, wanna stalk me and my NaNo-ed compost pile? Click here!

 If you can’t wait until “Meatful Things” is fully decomposed finished and available, here are 11 spooky bedtime stories, just in time for Halloween…

And how about treating yourself for Halloween? Check out these short story anthologies (I have a story in each) – a different theme for each collection:

Theme-Thology: Invasion

Theme-Thology: Day I Died

Theme-Thology: New Myths

Theme-Thology: Real World Unreal

 HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

*Loosely based on true events.

 

11-30-14 UPDATE:

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Winner, winner, compost dinner!

50117 words of compost!

I rule compost!

 

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La-De-Da-Na-No-Wri-Mo

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Jumpin’ on the NaNo Train again, but this time, I’m gettin’ all literary. Thumbin’ my nose at my usual genre plots. So what the heck is a “literary novel”?

Wiki says,

“To be considered literary, a work usually must be ‘critically acclaimed’ and ‘serious.’ In practice, works of literary fiction often are ‘complex, literate, multilayered novels that wrestle with universal dilemmas.’ “

Further burrowing into the wiki rabbit hole, I find it has something to do with art, beauty, and the way something tastes. Hmm…

Wanna hop on the NaNo Train? 50,000 words of literary, of genre, or of anything, in 30 days. Better hurry, though. This NaNo Train is ready to roll!

CHUGACHUGACHUGACHUGA

*****

UPDATE:

I won with 50187 words of literary novel!

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HUZZAH!

Author Nick Hornby Wrote This…

…as a “pep talk” for fellow WriMos.

But I think it applies to any writer undertaking any writing project, and it’s the best answer I’ve seen to the questions “How do I know whether I’m a writer?” and “How do I know whether I’m a good writer?” So I’m re-posting it here:

* * * * *

One of the questions that is probably troubling you at the moment is this: How do I know whether I’m a writer? And the question can only be answered with another question: Well, do you write? If you don’t, you’re not. If you do, you are. There’s nothing else to it. If, in a month’s time, you have produced a novel, or a chunk of a novel, and you have never written before, then you will have changed your status, simply and crucially. Ah, but are you a good writer?  Because that’s probably the question that best articulates the nagging doubt that has held you up hitherto. And I’m afraid you will never know the answer to that one. No writer does. (Some writers think they do, but they are usually wrong.)

By contrast, it is easy to tell whether you are a good high jumper. If you knock the bar down every time, then I regret to tell you that you are not. You cannot be an underrated high jumper, or an unlucky high jumper, or an overpraised high jumper, or a high jumper whose reputation relies entirely on his or her connections to the wealthy and influential. Your high-jumping work cannot be trashy or elitist or obscure or sentimental. If you work in the arts, however, life can get pretty confusing.  There is no bar to knock down, and as a consequence, there is no sturdy judgment to be made. Shakespeare—he was good, right? Like, officially? Tolstoy didn’t think so, and neither did George Bernard Shaw.

It’s no good looking to writers for definitions of what constitutes proper writing, because you will drive yourself crazy, and you won’t find anything that you can build into a coherent whole. “Writing a book, full time, takes between two and ten years,” Annie Dillard said in her book “The Writing Life.”  Tell that to PG Wodehouse, who wrote ninety-eight books and forty-five plays in a seventy-five year career. You could argue, I suppose, if you were singularly obtuse, that Wodehouse was a humourist, and therefore didn’t write real books. Yet there are many people, and I am one of them, who think that Wodehouse was one of the greatest English prose stylists of the last one hundred years. Wodehouse wrote, wrote fast, made money, produced prose and characters that have endured. He looks like a real writer to me. OK, here’s some advice: If you find yourself producing a book every few weeks, don’t panic. It could mean you’re a comic genius.

It’s a mess, the arts. Critics don’t agree with each other, readers don’t agree with critics. And real writers—if I may become definitive for a moment—change their minds about their own worth and talent somewhere between two and seven hundred times a day.

I’m trying to tell you that your own opinion of your work is entirely irrelevant, and so is the opinion of others. You have a job to do, and that job is to write a novel. You have a bar to jump over, in fact. And to jump over that bar, you will need a pen (or pencil), or a typewriter, and paper. Or a computer. Or some kind of recording device, and someone with a keyboard who loves you very much. You will need to stop checking Facebook every five minutes, and to this end I recommend an app called Freedom, which will block you from your own internet for hours at a stretch. You need a story and characters and something to say about them, although it’s possible that some of these elements won’t arrive until after you’ve begun. You don’t need an agent or a grant or a publisher’s advance, and you don’t need to know whether your book will be studied at university in two hundred years’ time.

Walk into a bookshop and you will see books that you love and books that you hate, books that were written in three weeks and books that took thirty years, books that were written under the influence of drugs and alcohol, books that were written in splendid isolation, books that were written in Starbucks.  Some of them were written with enormous enjoyment, some for money, some in fear and loathing and despair. The only thing they all have in common—and actually there is the odd honourable exception even to this rule—is that their authors finished them, sooner or later. How do I do it? I swear, and smoke, and hate myself for my presumption. And if any of that works for you, then I’m happy to have helped.

-Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby is the author of beloved contemporary classics like Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, and About a Boy, all of which have been made into films.

* * * * *

So how did I do in the 2012 NaNo?

Check out my update!

Mayans Predicted this NaNo Is the Last NaNo

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Heck ya, I’m doin’ NaNo again this year!

I’ve been so busy, that’s all I’ve got to say for this post…

Except that you can stalk my NaNo progress here…

And you can check out my “Birdbeat and Summer Move” story and / or get an update on my actual move here…

And my next post will be the day after NaNo.

See ya!

CM

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UPDATE 11-16-2012:

Half-way through NaNo, and I’m a bit behind in my word count. But I’m determined to cross the finish line a winner, because I think this is the only way this particular book is going to get written, and I have to write this book, because it’s the first book in a trilogy. Books two and three I already wrote. Plus I already brought a winner’s tee-shirt. Gotta live up to the hype. So now I must go NaNo . .

UPDATE 11-30-2012:

YIPPEE!! I’m done, and proudly jutting out my chest in my winner’s tee-shirt. 50127 words wrung from my brain. Gloppy and gloopy and in dire need of editing. But they’re 50127 word of “novel,” nonetheless. I’ll reveal that a couple of my main characters are singers / Christian preachers, so I have chunks of song lyrics and Bible verses here and there in my novel. I’ll also reveal that I found this, written by an official NaNo staff person, on the official NaNo website: “If you are quoting other works (such as lyrics, poems, movies, plays, books, etc.) you MAY count them towards your final word count goal. (Whether or not the items are copyright and you’re allowed to publish your book with such excerpts is an entirely different matter.) Opinions differ on whether or not this is ethical, so in the end, only count what you absolutely feel you have to.”

So not only did I win, I won by skating on the thin ice of ethical ambiguity! I RULE!!

A-NaNo I Go-Go

I won last year’s NaNoWriMo, along with about a million other writers (give or take tens of thousands). So even after a Halloween of having a tooth capped, enduring the day at the mall (waiting for my ride home to get off work), and getting a second-degree burn on my finger that night (the result of ne’er-do-well Halloween spirits, not my own stupefying dunderheadedness), I’m back for another month of literary purging. I’ll be writing outside of my comfort zone, and torturing my protagonist in some very creepy ways. I can’t wait! Oh yeah, unlike my first seat-of-my-threadbare-pants NaNo, I even made a brief outline and wrote an even briefer synopsis* for “Mark + Dot” after reading Lazette Gifford‘s guide, NaNo for the New and Insane.

Wanna see?

Here it is anyway:

/ + .

Mark Dodd is an attractive, intelligent high school senior. He has a scholarship to Vassar. After college, he plans to travel the world as a political journalist. He knows he will make his mark on the world. His religious girlfriend Holli is a virgin, and will stay a virgin until she marries. And she won’t get married until their schooling is complete. But Mark wants just one tiny release in his lucky and privileged life before starting at Vassar.

Dorothy, also a senior, is in special education classes and has a genetic facial deformity. After years of being an outcast, she’s ready to move up in the pecking order, and demand respect from her peers. For the last two years, she’s carefully read and re-read her Feminine Health and Hygiene booklet. At the big graduation party, Mark meets Dorothy in an empty bedroom. Twenty minutes later, Mark leaves the room in shame, and Dorothy falls asleep on the floor between the wall and the bed, her legs and pelvis propped up with pillows.

Ten years later, Mr. & Mrs. Dodd are living in the same town they grew up in, go to church together, and have seven surviving children- all cognitively impaired and with facial deformities, like their mother. But all are a blessing, as confirmed by the church. But Mr. Dodd just wants a release in his blessed life. Online, he reads rumors of a planned massive political protest in Boston. He finally leaves home to make his mark on the world.

/ + .

I’m incorporating my “at least 50000 words in November” NaNo goal into my Row80, Round 4 goals. Stalk my progress here or here.

*Subject to minor revisions and major clarifications.

/ + .

Are you NaNo-ing? If so, are you new or insane?

/ + .

MidNaNo Update

At the mid-point I have 27,915 words!

And what have I learned so far?

CODPIECE

I mean, “WORD UP!

WORD UP- it’s the codpiece. I mean, it’s the code word (as the lyrics say).

So enjoy the videos, but then no more codpiece until you get those words up!*

Candy helps. Scroll down my “Survival Guide” post for a good karma candy list.

*Unless you’re a really freaky freak, and your NaNo is already past the 50,000-word mark. In that case, you have permission to watch the codpiece in a loop, if you’d like. Ya lucky freak.

/ + .

EndNaNo Update

w00t

PWN

“It’s peanut butter jelly time!”

Yes, I’m excited I won again, and did it a day early, and with an extra 495 words. I’ve no idea who first wrote the above memes. But I still like them after all these months years, and think them entirely appropriate.

50,495 words of Mark + Dot

Round Of Words / 80 Days

Back in November I successfully completed the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I wrote a 50,002-word (as yet unedited) novel in 1 month. That experience was so stressful such an empowering accomplishment, I decided I can’t wait for next November to sign up for another timed group writing project. A depressing helpful lesson I learned from NaNoWriMo is I am more likely to accomplish personal goals if I’m accountable to other people- even if those other people are virtual strangers online.

A Round of Words in 80 Days will happen 4 times during the year. Round 1 begins January 3 and ends . . 80 days later. (You do the math, I’m more of a word person.)

Each Round has 3 challenges- measure, chunk, and blog. For Round 1, my personal challenges are:

1.  Measure- write a draft of a new novel in 80 days.

2. Chunk- write at least 700 words of my new novel per day.

3. Blog- as you see from this post, I already have that part nailed.

Now to sit down and pick up my tools:

Happy New Year, and Happy Writing!

Daily Check-Ins:

Date  Words

1-3     715

1-4     712

1-5     765

1-6     808

1-7     897

1-8     768

1-9     752

1-10   775

1-11   845

1-12   875

1-13   793

1-14   727

1-15   710

1-16   773

1-17   704

1-18   784

1-19   704

1-20   743

1-21   765

1-22   748

1-23   762

1-24   713

1-25   737

1-26   715

1-27   736

1-28   760

1-29   745

1-30   767

1-31   778

2-1    727

2-2    738

2-3    780

2-4    707

2-5    707   (again!)

2-6    746

2-7    727

2-8    720

2-9    733

2-10  728

2-11  792

2-12  767

2-13  710

2-14  990

2-15  765

2-16  855

2-17  758

2-18  806

2-19  882

2-20  708

2-21  745

2-22  718

2-23  763

2-24  710

2-25  710   (again!)

2-26  725

2-27  748

2-28  720

3-1   732

3-2   725

3-3   728

3-4   810

3-5   802

3-6   718

3-7   750

3-8   838

3-9   725

3-10  825

3-11  797

3-12  735

3-13  868

3-14  805

3-15  715

3-16  722   (brief novel outline- I do things backwards)

As the draft of my novel is basically done, the remaining word counts will be from “character profile worksheets.” The word counts will include the pre-written questions.

3-17  715

3-18  736

3-19  707

3-20  713

3-21  705

3-22  708

3-23  722   DONE!

One Novel, One Month, One Pain in the Task

Me: I have a 50,000-word novel due at the end of the month.

Sigo: What happens if you don’t get it done?

Me: That’s not gonna happen.

Sigo: But what happens if you don’t get it done?

Me: Well, that’s not gonna happen, but if it did, let’s just say the universe would end at that point. So I’ve gotta make sure that doesn’t happen.

November is National Novel Writing Month. Participants commit to starting, finishing, and submitting (for an official word count) an original novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. It doesn’t have to be a good novel, or even a properly written novel with clean spelling, punctuation, and structure. It just has to be at least 50,000 words of “novel.”

On the first of the month I put my current novel-in-the-works on the back burner and signed up as a NaNoWriMo neophyte. I hoped to use the pressure of NaNoWriMo to finally bust out of my self-editing OCD. And writing a novel in one month would be pretty incredible too.

My first couple weeks were full of procrastination, and I adapted this Three Stooges skit:

Pal: Hiya, Pal!

Me: You call me pal?  Why, I haven’t heard that word for years. You know bub, I once was a naïve author like you.

P: Oh congratulations!

M: Ah, but it wasn’t always thus; I can look back to the days of yore when I was a very happy naïve writer. Then one day, that rat came and destroyed forever the all the naïvety I’d ever known. I’ll never forget that day, I just sat down at my computer after a full day of not writing, and there was an open invitation in my inbox. 

P: What did it say?

M: Oh it was one of those cold-blooded invitations: “Dear Writer: Write a novel in one month.” I was obsessed with the idea that I could do it. The trail led me to Twitter; I found I missed starting by three days when I got there. And I swore right there on Twitter I’d do it and have my glory; now on with the chase. Wikipedia, Facebook, WordPress. And then I came face to face with the rat that had taken over my life, it was in “NANOWRIMO,” “NANOWRIMO!” Slowly I wrote, and step by step, inch by inch, I walked up to it, and I smashed it, I hit it, I bonked it, I bopped it, I mashed its face and I wrote the words down!

P: Ooh, ooh! Take it easy bud, take it easy!

M: Excuse me kid, it’s that word, “NANOWRIMO,” Every time I hear it tears me apart!

 

So what have I learned at the half-way mark? . .

1. Writing 1,667 cohesively sensible words a day is hard.

2. After not writing 1,667 words a day, writing 2,000 cohesively sensible words a day is even harder.

3. Sub-plots set in bars and night clubs are fun and easy to pound out.

4. A 50,000+ word novel written in one month is the same as a 50,000+ word cartoon written in one month, but also includes weariness-induced spelling, grammatical, continuity, and logic errors.

5. Heed T. S. Eliot’s advice.

 

And now I must NaNoWriMo . .

 

11-30-10: I’m a WINNER with 50,002 words!