Monday, November 26, 2012

How I spent my November

     I thought about not posting a blog this week. But I’m already a little ashamed at how much I have dedicated to this ‘novel’ I’ve been working on all month. And my blog is a writing exercise that I set upon to write regardless of what was happening in my life other than me being away from my laptop for an extended time. The fact that I am working on a novel should not stop me from working on my blog this week. The regimen must be followed.
     I love to pretend that I am a writer who writes novels. But I really do try to not be presumptuous about it. It’s audacious enough that I write a blog once a week and post it and link the post to Facebook. If all I cared about was writing, I would be working on that and not posting or sharing. Let it be known then that as humble as I like to pretend to be, I like the attention I get from writing. There, I said it.
     November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I have been anticipating this more than my Death Valley sabbatical. I tried to do it last year and my laptop died on day two. Good excuse. But I don’t think I had what it took to write 50 thousand words in a month, which is the goal of NaNoWriMo. And in the end, it took me a year to write 45,491 words. But this year I did something I don’t usually do. I set my mind on something with the determination to complete it. I would write a 50 thousand word novel in 30 days. I decided that if I was serious about it, I would have to get up early in the morning to write. I would have to write every day, even days where I had to be somewhere that same morning like work or church. I would continue to do everything I did every morning including feeding the chickens and if not feeding the family breakfast, arranging that it would be done. All the while I would have to write at least 1667 words a day every day for 30 days. I didn’t want to be doubtful of my perseverance, but I tend to be lazy sometimes.
     The day after Halloween I woke up at about 4:30 am. I started the story on page one. I had spent some time the weekend before writing a few character biographies and even an outline. That morning, the first of the month I wrote 2919 words. I was surprised and pleased with myself. I was ahead already. I did well the next day. That Saturday I wrote twice and got in 5581 words that day. By the time the first week passed, I was 5000 words ahead of the goal. The least I ever wrote in one day was 1400, and by then I didn’t care. I knew I would make 50k.
     On Thanksgiving morning, after 22 days of getting up at about 4:45 am, I hit 50,191 words. The most I had ever written before was about 53 thousand words and it had taken me a couple years. I was joyous, but not all the way joyous for one great big reason, the story isn’t done yet.
     I got the idea for my story from a short story I read years ago. I wanted to take the idea and go with it. So yes, the idea is not original. But I made it mine. All the characters and most of the conflict is what I have thought up. But as I wrote, I realized that the story was taking a very different turn. Suddenly the whole outcome of the story changed. So did the genre. I kept at it, discovering more as I wrote. Today, I wrote a scene where the antagonist was revealed to be a megalomaniacal crazy man. I was upset. I had pushed him too far. This afternoon I started to re-write. I still need to re-work it. I don’t know what came over me. Maybe it was the music I was listening to. Maybe I hadn’t slept right.
     But I haven’t explained the problem. The story isn’t done yet. I have 5 days to finish it. I have several events I know must happen and I need to fit them in. To me, I have not successfully completed NaNoWriMo if I have not ended the story, regardless of word count.
     When I started this morning the word count was 56,374. I wrote 2244 words but then deleted about a third of them and started a re-write. Then this evening I sat down and composed my blog. I still feel I should share what’s going on in my life.
     By Friday, November 30th I hope to have won NaNoWriMo. That means the story is done. I won’t have a finished novel per-se. It will be a first draft. And I noticed that like a lot of my blogs of late, the work of writing doesn’t really find its voice until almost two thirds the way in. If I ever work on this novel more, I will be slicing a lot out of the first half.
     So when I’m done composing this blog, I hope to get back to work on Havoc’s Children, my novel. I just want to say how much of a blast it’s been writing it. I tried to not let my obsession affect my family, but I’ve been running on less sleep than usual, spending more time on my computer and probably being a little edgy too. In absolute truth, I don’t care that much about publication and never anticipate earning a living at writing. But if I ever did publish, I would have to have a note of thanks at the beginning: First to my family for tolerating me, and also to people who stop and ask me how my writing is going and friends who read my blog. Like I said, I can’t pretend that I don’t appreciate a little attention. Thanks for your support and encouragement everyone.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm thankful for clichés

     I am expecting my E-mail from the “Clichés Я Us” anytime now. I think they send suggestions to all amateur bloggers about Thanksgiving. I think we’re expected to write about what we’re thankful for or something, but then remind everyone about how we should be thankful like this all year. And that is undeniable. There are blessings all year. For that I am thankful.
It feels nice to fall back on a cliché when I’m feeling lazy. But it feels so much better to come up with an original idea. There is something thrilling about a serendipitous bit of good writing when it comes from me. And for that I am thankful.
Sometimes I feel bad about reveling in my blessings. I have such a wonderful family and a home and a job that I love. Sometimes I feel a little hesitant about saying how much I appreciate it all because not everyone has what I have. I think I might be afraid of putting people off by saying what a great job I have if someone else doesn’t have one. Or a single person might feel resentful of me. But I need to get over it. I think it’s a character flaw for me to think that way. I am trying to work through it and remembering a few things.
First of all, after I lost my daughter to cancer, I knew of cancer survivors who felt bad about sharing anything with me. But I loved hearing stories of victory. I never resented anyone living even when I lost Naomi. Knowing that someone conquered and overcame cancer felt like a little victory to me too.
Another thing is this. There are some things I have that others don’t. I am remarkably blessed. But there is one thing that I have that anyone can have. This helps me to overcome things that I couldn’t overcome on my own. If you know what I’m talking about then maybe you have this too. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll give you one hint. It’s what most of us Christ Followers are thankful for first and foremost. If you don’t have that, you can have it, it’s free.
And I will use whatever cliché I have to in order to convey what I am most thankful for. I have a friend that I can talk to who took me from where I had placed myself. He met me where I was and brought me to where I am. And we’re not even all the way there yet. I still have considerable improvement to undergo. And for that I am thankful.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I know I have an important point here somewhere...

     I could blame a lot of things for the condition of my blog the last few weeks. My favorite excuse is my truck crapping out on the side of highway 395 a month ago. That road trip and sabbatical was supposed to refresh my soul. How can I write anything good with a stale soul? It’s like trying to bake with sawdust and kitty litter instead of flour and sugar.
     All excuses aside, I have been a little uninspired lately. I have had trouble getting to the point I think I want to make. The weird thing is that my blog will start to make sense around the third paragraph or so, but I still post the preceding ones too. But if this blog entry isn’t making it, don’t skip forward. Stick with me. This may be as good as it gets.
     I’m a little tired this week. My fault entirely and I have no regrets here. I made up my mind to participate in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal of this is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I wanted to accomplish this. I have written 47 thousand, and some word first draft before that took a few years of off and on writing. With this, I am aiming for 50,000 words in 30 days. As of day 11, I was at 25,104 words. I’m ahead for now.
     I’ve been doing this by getting up before 5 every morning and writing for about two hours. It’s not easy when I work until 10 at night. Sometimes that means less than 6 hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation can make me a little edgy. I am trying the best I can not to inconvenience anyone by my pursuit of this venture. But I’m afraid I can’t always appear to be wholly together. Prajna is being very patient with me, but for the most part would rather not hear me talk about how the story is going. And that’s okay. We love each other very much.
     Prajna knew I had a little eccentricity when we met. But still she let me kiss her that first time 21 years ago this Wednesday. And as much as I love writing I love her more.
     There, it took to paragraph 5 this time to say anything meaningful. But if that’s the best thing I can write this month, how much I love my wife, then so be it. My “novel” is nothing, literally. Although it’s saved to several computers and an online backup, nothing is printed out. It’s all just magnetic lines of computer data. Vanity of vanities. But that’s okay because way up at the other end of what’s real is my lovely bride of almost 20 years with a love we share that is just about the realist thing I have ever felt in my life.
     I’m going to try to keep up the writing for the rest of the month and maybe get some sleep in when I can. Maybe next week I will say what I’m thankful for. If it starts out confused or cliché sounding at first, bear with it. There may be a gem by the end.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Make a real difference

            It looks as if chain-link fences know every candidate and proposition, but they’re confused as to who is right. In Hawaii it’s unlawful to have large signs anywhere. I remember candidates standing by the side of the road, waving like shore-bound Liverpool residents bidding farewell to the Titanic. Regardless of who the waving candidate was, I always smiled and waved enthusiastically back as if they were my favorite celebrity. They would smile harder and their wave would strengthen.
     Nowadays I am spared most campaign ads thanks to having no TV and keeping the commercial radio stations at least at low volume. Fences and hills are covered with signs all over my area. I don’t see the point in them. They seem as persuasive and/or useful as a telemarketing call. Of course they can’t convince me of anything. My mind is made up. I know what I want in this election.
     I will tell you what I want in a presidential candidate. The ideal president would be about five feet, eight inches tall and about 200 pounds. He would have blue eyes that looked partly closed most of the time, a big nose and mostly straight brown hair. He would have a penchant for crooked smiles and raising one eyebrow and even duck lips when being photographed. His voice would be tenor/bass with clear diction but a nasal quality to it.
     I don’t mean I want to be president. I just want the president to just be a dead ringer for me. (I hope that sentence doesn’t trigger any FBI alerts) I would love to work part time as a presidential impersonator. If the chief exec looked just like me I could make big bucks doing my own advertisements for car dealerships or mattress outlets.
     That’s what I want in a president; someone who I can get rich off of. Doesn’t everyone want that?
     Maybe not. I really think that most people want what’s best for everyone. Sorry, I wasn’t really being selfish, just trying to be a little silly. I don’t want a different line of work. I honestly do love my custodial job. I don’t mind cleaning up stuff. I set up and break down and even do a little security. If my job sounds a little similar to the president, the similarity ends with the great people I work with and the positive feedback I get. I don’t know why anyone would want to be the president anyway. So I am skeptical of any candidate.
     Why would anyone want that job? Oh, sure they might accomplish a lot and then get glory for it and written up in history books. Is that why? I don’t know.
Here is what I do know: I am not as responsible for what the president does as much as I am for what I do. It’s real people out of the spotlight that make the biggest difference in the world. I am still astounded by the dozens of volunteers at my church for children’s events and ministry to the hungry. Those are men and women down on the front lines making a difference in real lives. And they don’t do it because they were voted into anything. They serve in God’s name because that’s what we were called to do. I don’t want to diminish the importance of voting. But I don’t think putting my favorite person in office will make as much of a difference as I can personally do. If every candidate I wanted was in office it wouldn’t exempt me from stepping up. Regardless of who is elected, the real work to make a difference will continue.