Frank’s 100th Post Extravaganza!

Dino image: http://clipartist.net/2011/11/11/

Well, holy crap. Welcome, All Ye Friends of Frank, to the 100th Post Extravaganza.

What will this extravaganza entail, you ask?

That’s an excellent question. And I’m going to be really honest with you, [insert your name here], I don’t really know. I’m going to make it up as I go.

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NaNoWriMo 2011: Will I or Won’t I?

The other day I happened to catch a tweet about getting ready for NaNoWriMo to begin on November 1. After asking myself where October (and September) went, I realized that it is, indeed, about that time.

In 2009, NaNoWriMo is what got me back into writing. I always think about things like, “If this had or hadn’t happened, then this or that outcome would have been different.” I do that with basically everything. My head is a weird place to be. However, I think it stands to reason that if I hadn’t been craving some kind of purpose at that point in 2009, you wouldn’t be reading this blog, for better or worse.

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The Camp NaNo Loser

I’d looked forward to Camp NaNoWriMo. Since 2009, I have loved writing my way through November, learning about myself as a writer and creating this text that, for better or worse, comes from me and is born of my own imagination. When I heard they’d be holding summer sessions in July and August this year, I signed up for the August camp and got ready to write.

It’s worth noting that I’ve reached the 50,000 mark (the word count required to “win” NaNoWriMo) in November 2009 and November 2010. In both cases, my novel was far from finished, but I had a tremendous start. Really, you’d be hard-pressed to find a novel of substance that’s only 50,000 words. I finished the first draft of my 2009 work in June 2010, and I continue to work on my 2010 work-in-progress now. So August seemed like a great time to get back into it and cross the final finish line.

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So…About That Novel.

You know that feeling when it’s like a parasite gets in your head and you feel like you need to do everything humanly possible to keep yourself busy? If you stop for even the shortest time, that parasite starts nibbling away at your brain, causing everything to unravel. I’m convinced it attacks reason first.

I’ve been doing a lot to keep that parasite at bay, and it’s got a lot of reasons to keep creeping up on me. Sometimes I deal with multiple parasites. In an effort to keep myself busy lately, I’ve continued to read everything from blogs to books, thrown myself headlong into learning something about the business world, committed myself to networking for professional purposes (after, of course, figuring out what I want to be), and started really learning about social media.

I’ve also taken up knitting and maintaining a Facebook page for my dogs. When things get really bad, I’ll have conversations with my fish, Richard Marx. I zone out with Netflix. I’m way too into The Real Housewives of NJ.

And sometimes, even after all of that, the parasite just keeps on keepin’ on.

The parasite is, I think, the reason I’ve become so incredibly passionate about writing lately. It’s not that I didn’t love writing before. I always have, and that’s how I’ve identified. There’s just something very different about my relationship with writing right now. It’s more extensive, going beyond just the creative.

And everything beyond the creative has kept me away from the novel for a while. Six months, to be exact.

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Second Novel: Turns Out, Not So Easy.

It’s not yet been a year since I experienced the pure joy of having pushed myself through finishing my first novel. I remember well what it felt like, and the Daria dvds that I bought myself as a reward sit on the chair next to me right now as a reminder. (By the way, if you want to know what I’m like in person, just watch Daria. We are so nearly one and the same.)

Earlier this evening as I was doing a mental re-cap of all of the things I’ve been juggling lately (freelance blogging, father in and out and in and out of the hospital, very sick dog, job search, remembering to feed the fish and change his water, personal relationships, health issues, a new medication schedule, exercise, sanity, just to name a few) I didn’t forget to chastise myself for not having made time to sit down and write a new blog post this week. I didn’t forget, either, to berate myself for letting another week go by in which I just didn’t get around to working on my novel. I feel awful about it. I really do. I’m at the point now where I think I might just be scared of how out-of-shape I am in my own novel. It’s been too long.

I saw something on Twitter tonight, re-posted by one of the many writerly accounts that I follow. It asked something to the effect of “Is the second novel easier?” And though I am exhausted and was just about to stand up and fall back into my bed, I knew that I had to stay and give a written answer to that, and that it had to be right here. Behold: my blog topic for the week!

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NaNoWriMo 2010: Who’s a Champ? I am!

I get it. It’s December 9th and NaNoWriMo ended over a week ago. I should have posted this then, but my immune system seems hell-bent on taking me down before Christmas. You will forgive my belated post on the matter, I hope!

When I wrote about NaNoWriMo before, I talked about how I hit the ground running. I followed that up by talking about how I survived a long weekend away and managed to write quite a bit. So here’s how it all turned out. Continue reading

Writing My Way Out of the Black Hole of Death

I get cabin fever. I get cabin fever so badly sometimes that I think I will legitimately go absolutely crazy sitting in Central PA, bored out of my mind. Because of that, I try to get out of here as often as possible, but it doesn’t always work that way. I went for four months without leaving and I almost didn’t make it.

Okay, I’m being a little bit dramatic.

But seriously, I’m bored.

This past weekend, I spent a very long weekend out of town for my birthday. I got to see most of my friends and some of my family all in one place. I had people to talk to and things to do. It was a great weekend and I had a lot of fun.

And then I had to come home.

I have this problem: every time I leave home, no matter where I go, I get into one hell of a wretched mood when I come back. I get depressed because I miss my friends. I get frustrated that I live so far away from pretty much all of them. Then I get discouraged because I can’t find a job. It’s totally worth getting out of here any time I can, but dear Lord does it suck for about a week after I get back.

In my last post, I said that I hoped I’d be able to maintain my writing momentum while I was out of town, and I did. I actually added over 7000 words, so I was quite pleased with my … discipline? Well, anyway, I was happy about it. My NaNoWriMo word count stayed above the suggested word count every day, but as I wasn’t writing quite as much as I would have been at home (mostly because I was actually doing stuff for a change), I was only up by about a thousand words when I got home on Tuesday. Continue reading

Case of the Week Twos? Nah.

Now that I’ve made it past Wednesday of NaNoWriMo Week 2, I think it’s safe to blog about it.

All of the “pep talk” emails I’ve received from NaNoWriMo this week have been about overcoming “The Week Twos” as though it’s some kind of a rash, and if you just keep rubbing some kind of ointment (don’t you just hate that word?) all over it, it’ll clear up in five-to-seven days.

I say this as though I have no idea what they’re talking about, but I do. Last year, Week Two was an uphill battle for me. I got to the middle and I started to struggle with my characters, the story, and my abilities as a writer. That’s when I started having a crisis of faith. I know that people struggle through that “mid-point” (it’s not the true middle, but it has that feeling). Last year, I struggled in the middle of NaNoWriMo. I struggled through the actual middle of the novel, I struggled through the middle when I was editing the paper copy, and now I’m struggling through the middle of the second revision. I totally understand the concept of “Week Twos.” Continue reading

Editing Woes and the Run-Up To NaNoWriMo ’10

At first I didn’t care about it. It was to be a one-and-done deal.

Then I cared a little more. Two. That’s it.

Now I’m seriously considering a third round of edits to my NaNoWriMo ’09 novel, not because I feel like this book is moving anywhere toward a publishable realm, but because as I’m working my way through writing the second draft (which I expect to grow nearly 50 pages from the first draft), I keep telling myself there are things that I will focus on next time through. I’m finding that, at least for me, focusing on one or two specific trouble areas (showing vs. telling, say) is what I’m going to need to do. I’ve been able to fix some of the show vs. tell problem spots, but certainly not all of them. This round of edits has been about organizing and clarifying. It’s about getting things where I want them to be (and moving things around, which I talked about in a recent post) and then working on more fine-tuning.

My pacing was pretty good. The past few weeks, however, have slowed me down considerably as I’ve had a number of engagements and obligations and other things to keep me abnormally busy. My goal since January has been to have the first/second edits (in my mind they’re different, but to some people they’d be the same) completed by the end of October – ideally well before the end of October – so that I could put it aside and move on to my next NaNo project.

But alas.

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My Novel: A 100,000 Word Jig-Saw Puzzle

I’m just about halfway through editing the manuscript of the first draft of my novel. I’ve written more extensively about my editing process before, but the long and short of it (for new readers or those who missed it before) is that I printed off the first draft and went through it for months with a pen and wrote myself notes, made corrections, crossed things out, drew arrows, and things of that nature. That was also my first true reading of the novel.

Now I’m taking that manuscript and reading it a second time, only now I’m doing it while writing the second draft. I went back to square one. I’m not editing in the document, I’m straight up re-typing everything. I’m glad I’m doing this because it’s helping me catch errors and I’m seeing where plot lines need to be developed. It’s tiresome at times, but I don’t let myself copy and paste anything from the original document. I don’t even open it up. Sometimes I’ll go through material that I didn’t mark in the manuscript, but as I’m retyping, I’ll think to myself that it still needs work and I’ll end up making changes. This is why I continue to love my editing process (which is good, since I’m the one using it). I’m always “getting it” just a little bit more. And by “it”, I mean that je ne sais quoi that comes with writing, which is so multi-faceted. Continue reading