NaNoWriMo and rediscovering your old work

I haven’t been blogging because I have been spending my writing time on my NaNoWriMo novel.  I am technically behind on the  word count but I’ve written more this time than any of the others. So I consider that a success. I expect that if I do write the entire story it will end up being less than the 50k words called for. Why is that? I am not actually writing the whole thing. I am working out the basic plot elements. How they get form here to there, etc. I am not writing much in way of description or fleshing out every scene.  I have a fear that even if I do get this draft worked out, I won’t have the will to go back and do all the hard work to rewrite/flesh out he rest. Means I should probably just give up.  I kid. I kid.

This is my fourth year trying to do NaNoWriMo and my fourth year trying to write this novel. That means I have three other versions of the start.  It fascinated me to look over these other versions and see many differences: not really only in style or plot, but differences in tone. The first one was a little dark with a lot of introspection and internal dialogue. After I realized the first attempt was long and rambling, I tried in the next two to use a flashforward to show that there would be action after the boring bit.  These versions also tried to be a little more lighthearted. In the latest version I’ve removed a lot of the early stuff where I gave the background on the main character.  This background is very important to justify his actions.  I will try and find some way to organically include this info in the story.

Nanowrimo

NaNoWriMo starts today. As promised I will not be repeating the mistake of participating in it’s sister event NaBloPoMo. During National Blog Posting Month people try and make at least one blog post a day.  This led to my posting of several blogs well below the mighty high standard I set. If you don’t realize that last sentence is a joke, you must be new to reading my blog.

During NaNoWriMo you are supposed to write 50000 words. That comes to 1666 words a day.  I am sure this year will go exactly as the last four have. I’ll write maybe three perhaps four days the entire month and produce, if I really try, somewhere in excess of 1200 words. Mind you, I mean 1200 words for the full month.

You’ll notice a graph on the side bar to help you track my failure and shame. So wish me luck. Or better yet, wish me some hard work.

Elmore Leonard’s ten rules for writing.

Prolific crime writer Elmore Leonard died today. I haven’t really read him if I recall correctly but I do like his ten rules for writing:

1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said.”
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

The Bar – a flash fiction

I slowly pull the sticker off my bottle. It slips off the wet surface easily. The bartender had just pulled it out of a large bucket of ice.I lined the sticker up below the previous one. I’ve done this for years. I always have told myself that I do this so I can keep track of how many beers I should be charged for. You see my buddy owns this bar and would often only charge me for half what I drank. In truth I did it to keep track of how many I had drunk in any night. Once the number reaches upward of eight to ten I found it easy to lose track.

I am sitting in the farthest corner of the cramped bar with my back to a wall. I glance around the dimly lit room and my distaste grows. Like usual on a Friday, the drunks have packed the place. A sneer crosses my lips. A bunch of thirty something drunks trying to party like they are still twenty-five. The music is too loud. The DJ calls up the latest victim to attempt to sign karaoke. Two drunken women stumble forward and and begin bellowing off key. Several couples slobber over each other awkwardly.

My buddy next to me, even older than I am, tries in desperation to impress the almost passed out twenty year old college student next to him. She leans into him and stumbles through a slurred sentence. He looks at me with a big smile on his face. I just shake my head sadly. The place smells of desperation and sad dreams.

The bartender, Al, walks over with a shot glass in his hand. Depending on the day Al looks between fifty and eighty years old. Tonight he looks eighty. It’s been a long busy day of helping to drown out these peoples regrets.

He puts the glass filled with an unknown liquid in front of me. Without a word he points across bar to an old drinking buddy of mine. He raises his glass and I waggle my bottle back at him.

I hand the shot glass to my friend next to me. He passes it on to the drunk girl. I can’t help but think I am facilitating a future crime.

My head pounds as there is a break in the karaoke. I squeeze the bridge of my nose hoping to push away the pain. I drink the last of what is in my bottle and place it on the counter.

Al reaches into the cooler asking me with his eyes if I want another. I shake my head no and make a gesture to indicate my bill. He shakes his head and waves me away. I place a twenty on the bar under the bottle and stand up. I look down at the three labels that are on the counter in front of me. Non alcoholic, non alcoholic, non alcoholic, they all say. Al still doesn’t understand the reason I come here is to support him.

I weave my way through the mass of sweating bodies trying not to touch them. The heat is oppressive. Near the door I pass by a couple making out like teenagers. I shake my head again and walk out. The cool air hits me and begins to clear my headache up. They say no one hates smokers as much as an ex smoker. I guess no one hates drunks as much as an ex drunk.

More and honest thoughts about my life as I turn 40

I think I am going to start a policy of trying to have the longest post titles in blogonia.

I realized there was more I wanted to say about turning forty. Am I who I thought I would be and doing what I thought I would be doing at forty? I don’t think so.  But honestly I really never had much impression of what my life would be like. The only thing that I have been sure of from a young age was the desire to be a writer. I’ve never really wanted a career, though I fell into one. I remember sometime in college, after I changed my major, again, what I planned to do with my life.  In answer I quoted the great American bard, Bruce Springsteen, “I want to sleep beneath Peaceful skies in my lover’s bed With a wide open country in my eyes And these romantic dreams in my head”. I meant it seriously. If at twenty you had asked me what three things I’d hope would be true of me by the time I was forty, I would have answered: be a writer, having fallen crazy in love, had adventures. Except for a year or so in the early 2000s I’ve never seriously tried to write.  I fell crazy in love once and it didn’t end well. And most of my adventures where the video game kind. On a side note, knowing how to use punctuation correctly would probably help with that whole writing thing. 

I like to get all zen and describe myself as flowing water. Translated that means I am lazy and do whatever is the easiest most of the time. These are not new self revelations brought on by turning forty. About four years ago I realized the same thing.  I decided to start living with intentionality.  Having goals and trying to reach them sums up the idea. I called it the slackers guide to life. To call it a great success would be a lie, but I did learn some important points. Having goals is good. If you aim for nothing that is what you will hit. I also learned I can’t change who I am fundamentally. I tend to do whatever I’ve formed as a habit. I can always find an excuse as to why change has to be delayed to later. On of the self-help books I read said it takes one to two months to form a new habit.  As part of turning forty I’ve come up with some habits I would like to form. So I am going to take them one at a time and spend a couple of months concentrating on that one habit.  Up first is writing six days a week.  Whether a blog post, personal journal, or working on a book, I have to put words on paper (screen) six days a week.