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…

Well, that escalated quickly.

[Disclaimer: Nothing like that, no books were harmed in the making of this post. It’s just that my nano has taken off again, rather like a house – or, in this case, book – on fire. Book burning is still awful and closed-minded and useless. Don’t do it. Read. There we go.]

So for a few days, I was stuck – horribly stuck – at best, my nano word count was falling behind. At worst, I had lost my voice as a novelist and all of Orana had abandoned me. Same thing, really, if you throw a panic attack in the middle over a poorly elbow in your dominant hand when both of the things that define you (interpreting and writing) involve the pain-free movement of your right hand and arm.

I did what any rational adult in my shoes staring at a blank page would do – I hit the panic button and freaked WAY the heck out for a little while, and then I started thinking about my support system as a writer. You may think that we sit at our IKEA desks all alone in our writing sheds, surrounded by lovely greenery and sipping a mug of tea as the ideas just flow out of our heads into our novels, but I am here to tell you this: if that is the truth, I’m not sure what it is that I am doing because it involves sitting on my worn leather couch, laptop on my knees, wolfhounds clambering about on clobberpaws and crying. Lots of crying. Anyway!

I have recently gotten to know someone that I’m fairly certain I already knew from another time in my life – a fellow novelist who attended the same college I did in the mountains of northern Georgia. So after all the crying and panicking, I sent him a simple text that said that I was struggling to find an antagonist and that my protagonist was stuck, sitting on a horse in the Outlands and watching someone ride toward her. For two days, I literally did not know who it was that was riding toward her. His responses led me to my antagonist, and to the rider who is merely the catalyst for the main story arc. Since then, I have written more than 10,000 words, and even though I am not at my daily wordcount target it is in sight. I still am not sure what the antagonist’s story is, but at least I’m back heading in the right direction.

So writers, lean on each other. It doesn’t mean that you don’t know how to write or that you are a phony (impostor syndrome, anyone?), it means that you are using the community we find among like-minded individuals. You are doing the work, and you do not have to do it alone. Now, get your characters off those lonely roads and into some good plot points!

It isn’t writer’s block, it’s writer’s uncooperative neighborhood.

You know that feeling when you have started another Nanowrimo and you’re cruising along and your story is basically WRITING ITSELF and… Wait, no? Yeah, me either.

It has been going relatively well until I was sidelined by an outrageously strained elbow over the weekend (it’s a thing, y’all, and I’m almost certain it came courtesy of my day job but moving on…). I’m now 4,000 words behind the target for today, but that’s not the worst of my troubles.

THERE ARE NO BAD GUYS IN THIS STORY SO FAR. No bad hombres. No tortured and vengence-seeking souls. So far there are three characters. Let’s not dwell on the fact that I’ve written 16k plus words with only three characters, shall we – FIND MY VILLIAN!  While this sort of pantsing – a nanowrimo term for writing by the seat of your pants, with no outline or anything – is fairly normal for me, this is the first time that I haven’t been able to come up with any sort of climactic plot point…so I’m scared, really scared.

Okay, not really. Maybe a little. My point here, though, my Brave Lettuce Readers, is to heed the words of your English teachers (or, in my case, my mother) and DO THE WORK – in this case, an outline ahead of time. My main character has been begging for an origin story since before Wanderer so I give it to her and what does she do? Wander around in the Outlands on her magical horse and THINK DEEP THOUGHTS.

I’m telling you what, if she doesn’t stumble into something awful soon I’m gonna have to start killing off characters, and since I only have three – three and a half, actually, since one is only writing letters – it isn’t going to be pretty.

Are you working on a nano this month? How’s it going? I’d love to hear about your projects in the comments – maybe that would help me kick her in her robes and get this story going.

Well, here we are again.

In my Facebook feed this morning was a list of “memories,” things that I posted on Facebook on November 1st all the way back to 2008. Apparently, since 2010 when I discovered this sickness addiction wonderful program, I have been posting that I’m starting a new project every November first.

Dull FB status. Exciting and potentially life-changing real life. For once I am not working on a revision or sequel or prequel related to the Orana Chronicles or Clobberpaws/Proud Racer. I know that I said that Clobberpaws 2 would be this year’s Nano but I just can’t make it a daily project. Daisy has been gone for almost two years now, but it’s still too raw and the last book had her in it and – you know what? It doesn’t matter why, really. It is happening, and more will happen with it after the first of the year, and that’s what needs to be said about that.

Nope, this year’s Nano is another attempt at something that doesn’t exist in a fantasy world or have talking animals. Boy, that’s one heck of a description of my writing, huh? Nancy Dunne, you say? Oh, yes, she writes about dogs and cats that talk and elves. You know, no big deal.

Boy, I hope no one is really saying that about me as a writer. Anyway, moving on…

This year’s Nano is a crime novel first and foremost. I’ve tried that before and failed miserably. But try, try again, as they say. Because it’s me as a writer, there will be supernatural characters. Because it’s me as a person, it’s set in a theatre and there are both Deaf and hearing characters – though that part may fall through because I’m nervous about portraying genuine Deaf characters. The theatre part will hold, though. It’s going to be a play within a play, like one of my favorite One-Act Plays, The Real Inspector Hound. Watch this space. I’m sure that it will get weird before it’s over.

Pre Nano Freak Out

So there are always loads of voices in my head, pulling me in different directions and begging me to tell their stories. Seriously. Being a writer should carry a DSM diagnosis some days because I’m honestly not always sure that all these voices are coming from me. Gin would say that she is the loudest, with Sath a close second – but then there are the Proud Racers and the Clobberpaws and the Baskervilles and, and, and… It gets a little out of control in there.

Autumn is here and finally the weather is cooperating – I have worn a scarf to work all three days so far this week! With fall comes another opportunity for sleep deprivation and fast food/coffee binging: NaNoWriMo. Long-time Lettuce Readers know that I have been a nano fanatic since my first foray into 50K in 30 days way back in 2010. Don’t tell Gin, but it probably does mean that her voice is the loudest – she was there in 2010 and has been for all my nano “wins” in the eight years since.

This time I had planned to focus my nano-ing on the second in my Clobberpaws series – now that we have both Willow and another Irish Wolfhound, Ciaragh, it just seems right – but that story is moving more in spurts than the slow, steady chaos that marks my other projects. I had just about decided to return to Orana next month, focusing on a backstory novella for a character – Tairn is jumping up and down and waving her hands madly, as are Elys and Hack – when an idea popped into my head during a class I was interpreting yesterday. Without disclosing too much, this project is my exploration of meta – a play being performed that mirrors a real live event happening to the players – and because it is me you KNOW there will be supernatural something or another involved.

By the end of my lunch hour (aka sanctioned noveling time at the workplace), I had a plot outline, a cast of 11 characters, and an older piece of work that I could insert as a prelude or prologue for this… this… whateveritis. There are actors and Deaf characters and interpreters. So, away we go with the normal “Pre Nano Freak Out” which seems to be morphing into a “Pre Nano Planning Session.”

Y’all – there are bulleted lists and reference materials, and this is not about Orana or elves or anything like that. Who am I?

(Shut it, Gin.)

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.