Camp Nanowrimo, April 2019

Taking notes like a boss writer

Oh y’all.

Somehow this month’s nano has been so hard for me. I mean worse than that time that I wrote for two weeks and then completely changed my WIP and still came out a winner.

Worse than last April when I almost abandoned what I was writing because in the aftermath of my dad’s death I just didn’t have anything to say. (Disclaimer: if you have read my upcoming Baskervilles debut as a beta reader, then you KNOW that I had nothing worthwhile to say.)

I have a fantastic character who is technically a ghost, and she is the most three dimensional of all the characters in this story. I have a tremendous MC who is darling and unsure and brave and afraid and everything that you want your MC to be so that she is not a Mary Sue. I have two other characters that I have lived with for four and six years, respectively, who should be able to just write themselves at this point. No real effort required.

And yet I always find myself 1-2K words behind my target. I catch up, and then somehow think it’s okay to take the next day off. I am trying to be the director of the Hounds of East Fairhaven and perform on the weekends at the Georgia Renaissance Festival, but that is really just like hopping from hot mess to hot mess. Oh, did I mention that my school year at my day job is winding down, and I’m looking at expense reports and future planning and scheduling and all that fun stuff? Yeah, it’s a real party around here.

[Here is the file room in my office suite because…well, we have already been over that. Soon here/my office will be the sofa in my sitting room in between bouts of HOLY HOUSE OVERHAUL, BATMAN to be ready for the arrival of some of my British family in July.]

So I have eight more days not counting today to get this manuscript up and moving – two of those days are Renn Fest days, so make that six days. How do you find motivation when the genuine threat that what you’re writing is awful looms? This is not a new piece – this is the last in a series, and it has a lot of eyes on it. It’s like the metal footfalls of the Cybermen are tromping through my head, trailed by the Daleks, Reavers, the Borg, Control, and the entire bloody Empire – and all I can do is sit and wait for it all to arrive.

If you need me, I will be behind the couch. Writing. Maybe.

Here I go again, on my own…

It’s another Camp Nano, y’all, and I’m heading out into the metaphorical wilderness with my shiny copy of Scrivener for organization (that I’m not supposed to be doing but since I’m already a panster here we are) and my tried and true Google Docs for actual writing. This month’s foray into madness is the next (and probably last, really) in the Clobberpaws series, and is about our Ciaragh. More wordcounts and general angst can be found over on my Twitter page, but for now, I’m still sorting out the already planned material (which is none) and working on the first chapters (always the hardest).

This will also include a special character, Roxanne, whose mom won the right to have her Bridge Angel included by winning an auction. The funds raised support the Greyhound Health Initiative, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. So far I am loving getting to know Roxanne through her mom and working her into the story. So much fun! Clicking on the picture above will take you to a page where you can follow my wordcount progress if you are so inclined.

In the meantime, an admission:  Yeah, I stole the title from S4Ep10 of the Magicians, “All That Hard, Glossy Armor,” or, as our DVR explained, “Margot hits her step count.” No spoilers but HOLY MOLY that was another amazing musical episode and I only love this show more.

 Speaking of which…

Ongoing Scrivener Saga

So after many hours of struggling with my own lack of patience, I finally cracked the code and got my enormous work in progress into Scrivener. Seems that two things were working against me: 1. My laptop was trying to run the program in a compatibility mode with Windows 8, which -much like Windows Vista – was really pretty and about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. 2. Scrivener is a multi-faceted program that takes a file and manipulates it into several different formats, so when you have a HUGE file like the manuscript I was importing it’s going to take awhile.

By ‘awhile’ I mean ten minutes. I timed it. From clicking on ‘open’ in the import dialog box to the title page appearing on my screen it took ten solid minutes. The fact that I thought to time it is a completely different issue.

This is a good time for me to admit that I had an idea about what Scrivener would do, based on my use of the program for a screenplay several years ago. I had taken a manuscript then and used the formatting in Scrivener to set it up properly for a screenplay. I remembered simply cutting and pasting and poof! Screenplay!

First, I was missing a few steps in between the cut/paste and poof. So when I put my 143,000+ word manuscript into the Scrivener software I spent a few good long minutes looking for the POOF button. What I found instead was a fantastic tutorial that I watched and I did the steps along with it. The result was not a poof, but an almighty ‘oh, that’s how it works’ that was almost as satisfying as the poof I erroneously remembered.

Second, the keyboard shortcut to “split” the huge behemoth into smaller chunks (chapters) was an amazing find. When you have more than 50 chapters, finding anything that speeds up your work is a huge plus. It went on from there – the corkboard, the ability to move chapters around, the outline contained on index cards – and I am sold.

The only thing left is that I feel a bit like I am stepping out on Google Drive. I did find this wonderful article that explained how to sync up my Scrivener data with Drive so that I can work on more than one machine and have a backup that I trust. So I guess I’m not completely leaving Google Drive behind – it is still my weapon of choice for beta reading and editing. And the current work in progress was 3/4 written in Google Drive, but I’m going to work on it in Scrivener and see what the difference will look like. I’m also going to do April’s CampNanoWrimo in Scrivener so we will see how it goes starting from scratch.

The saga continues – just as I was getting excited about working on my novel from my phone. Stay tuned.

Post Camp (Nano) Blues

You don’t know how many times I have tied that same canoe up to that same dock.

When I was a kid and went to Camp Glisson, I would always be out of sorts for the first week or so afterward. I loved camp SO MUCH that I couldn’t bear to be back home, and it would take that much time to get me back to my normal routine. So that’s where I am now – still in the outofsorts with no real ETA for the backtonormal.

Bear with me. I have this piece I just finished a week ago today swirling about in my mind, the Baskervilles first novel to finish (nothing like giving a manuscript to betas that doesn’t have an ending!), and more of my prequel to the Nature Walker Trilogy to reverse engineer and do primary edits.  Oh, and in exactly two weeks I will be back at my Day Job, but my schedule this semester is going to give me an hour and a half every Tuesday and Thursday evening to sit in my office and wait for the bus, so that’s noveling time, right? Lemons and lemonade, y’all. 

Camp Mail Call

Sometime in the early 90’s, at Camp Glisson

Those of you that are familiar with me know about my love for all things camp-related and Nanowrimo-related. So the fact that I am a die-hard Camp Nanowrimo Participant should be no surprise, really. Every year I do three rounds of Novel Writing Month work, two for Camp Nano and one for Nano Proper in November.

One thing I love about Camp Nanowrimo is that since it is set up like virtual summer camp you get the daily inspirational emails in the form of #CampCarePackages and they are jam-packed full of advice that you can use even after camp is closed for the year. I wanted to share the care package from Friday because it speaks to who I am as a writer on a very deep level. Enjoy, and don’t forget your bug spray or sunscreen. It’s brutal out here in the wilderness.

Camp Care Package: Writer’s block v. “writer’s laziness”.
From: Camp NaNoWriMo
To: NancyEDunne

Author Claire Kann takes over as your first Camp Counselor this July! She’s providing this week’s Camp Care Packages:

I’m the kind of creator that doesn’t experience writer’s block. I suffer from what’s known as writer’s laziness—and I know I’m not alone. When this happens, I can’t even force myself to get my work done. But instead of sitting and staring at a blank page, I’ll give myself a set number of minutes to indulge in media that will inspire me to get back to work. Writing a romance? Watch your favorite romcom! Knee-deep in horror land? Find a book that has the same kind of spooktacular themes you’re exploring. I often find that’s enough to jumpstart my writing.

Art…is art, is art, is love.

So today, instead of focusing on the holiday (that will come later when the yahoos in my neighborhood start lighting fireworks and my dogs think that we are under attack), I’m focusing on something a friend of mine said on Facebook – that today she is celebrating living in a country where she has the ability to create art without the government infringing on it or stopping it, at least not at this point anyway. (Apologies to Erin for that ugly paraphrase of the beautiful post she wrote this morning.)

My art is writing. I’m not a Tolkien or a JK, mind you, but I do find a great deal of katharsis and calm in writing. I let my characters do things I would never have the courage to do. I let them say things that I think ON A REGULAR BASIS but would never say because, well, SOUTHERN AMERICAN. They go places I only dream of going and live in worlds that if discovered to be real places – well, I’d never come back out, is the thing.

I create those sentences and actions and places. I create those characters – they may be based on real people, but I have given them life outside of the people that served as inspiration. I do all these things in this terribly creative art form, but it isn’t usually called art. Why not? Is it less art because it is words? Because thank goodness for spell check? Because I have beta readers who point out to me that “a king would never talk like that” or an editor who finds the umpteenth time that I have used the phrase “beat feet” instead of hurried or ran? Because it relies on the imagination of the reader to give the characters voices – even though they talk to me in my own mind with their own voices, their own intonation, and their own accents?

Maybe it’s because I want to hide behind my work – I am the first one to say that I’m not a REAL writer or author. But that’s not the case, it seems. I am an artist – words are my paints, the laptop is my canvas. I put the notes of the words together to form chords of paragraphs, and those paragraphs link together to form the sonata that is a chapter. I choreograph my characters on the stage of the world I’ve built.

Well, either an artist or a fascist dictator, which brings me back to the holiday today and the fact that I need to think about shutting the blinds and finding something loud to watch on telly – or diving back into Orana, and only coming out when I absolutely must. Because I’m that kind of artist, and my writing is my art – or because we are four days into Camp Nanowrimo and I don’t want to get behind.