Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Nano Day 29 and I'm a winner

So here it is, the winner icon. 50,088 words in 29 days. I must be getting better at this because I finished with a day to spare. And not only did I produce the required words, I wrapped up the story arc of Diary of the Future, so I don't need to add any story. The first draft is complete! Woohoo!

Word wars certainly helped me focus on the word count (thanks Di), and I plotted out bits of story while driving to work. And by attempting to write every day, I managed to keep the story in my subconscious at all times.

But today was agonising, knowing that I was so close to the finish line (46607 as of last night), all I wanted to do today was finish the story. Not work. I wrote over 1400 words during teabreaks, lunchtime, and while waiting for my lift home. Came home and typed up the long-hand and then started word wars to finish, and it actually came out slow. Perhaps I didn't want to let go of the story after all. But I had to drive the story forward to the final three lines, which I wrote yesterday.

I stare at the flames as the diary burns, the leather cracking under the intense heat. The future was an unknown quantity. And that’s the way I like it.

And now playing on my computer is the song Winners by Moving Pictures.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Nano Day 26 & new Chickollage products

I went to my writers group meeting yesterday, and Jennifer has been very busy with the collage, handing me nine more designs for the Chickollage shop.

So here is one that I have uploaded today: Jen gave it to me in blue, and I had a play in photoshop and also created a pink edition.

But I think the design looks so cute on the teddy bear's shirt. More of Jen's designs will be available through the week. And at the rate Jen is working, her designs will outnumber mine very quickly.

So Nanowrimo is going well, and I'm on track to finishing, with 40,200 words committed to my computer's memory (and backed up on the flash drive).

Now I just need to steer the story to a logical (but not predictable) conclusion and make sure it doesn't go off on any wild tangents. But also ensure that it doesn't conclude before the 50,000 words are up, or I'll be forced to go back and add a heap of dialogue tags.

I'd considered putting a teenage pregnancy into the story but have rejected this as too much of a cliche, so that's one issue that doesn't need to be dealt with. However, there is still teenage heartbreak and the last words I have written this evening are 'Oh Nickie, what the hell have we done?' - a definite marker for the end of Act Two.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Focusing on the future

Yesterday it was my birthday. Despite this, I did not take the day off from the Nano challenge, and I wrote another 2600 words.

As of last night, I had cruised past the 35,000 word target -- well on my way to achieving the Nanowrimog goal, and even better, FINISHING THE STORY within the time frame.

I feel truly alive when I'm writing, when the characters are speaking to me and acting of their own accord, events happen that I did not imagine, and my subconscious works overtime. This is the part that I love. I have deliberately tackled Nano very fast this year. No dithering in front of the computer, wondering what I'm going to write.

I set the Wizard for thirty minutes and write as fast as I can. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. But my personal best for thirty minutes is over 1200 words.

This love of creativity has become a common theme in each of my stories.

In Kissing Toads, Jessica is a photographer but in many ways, it has become just a job. She documents her search for Mr Right with her camera, and holds an exhibition of the subsequent photos. The journey and her creativity become more important than finding a man.

In Making the Cut, Chloe realises that Luke is the love of her life just as rumours start circulating that he is leaving the country town. She makes a documentary featuring the students and parents of Bilby Creek to convince him to stay.

In I'm with the Band, Kat is on a personal journey of self-discovery which includes singing on stage with her rock idols, writing a song and recording it.

And in my lastest Nanowrimo outpouring of creativity, Diary of the Future, Nickie not only exercises her creative talents by writing diary entries in advance and watching the events unfold, she also discovers a talent for painting. And she and her boyfriend Craig (another art student) have nicknamed each other Salvadore (as in Dali) and Frida (as in Kahlo)

So, I'm an advocate of creativity in whatever form turns on the muse and brings her out to play. I encourage everyone to discover their creative talent. Write, draw, knit, scrapbook, cook -- experiment and discover your muse.

After passing yesterday's milestone, I have upped the ante on my Things to Do Before I Die list. My goal is to have a publishing contract in my hand by the time I'm 40. 364 days to achieve this goal.

So with a goal comes a plan:
NOVEMBER: Finish first draft of Diary of the Future. Win Nano!!
DEC/JAN: Edit Making the Cut
FEB: Submit Making the Cut, Finish I'm with the Band
MAR/APR: Edit I'm with the Band
MAY/JUNE: Edit Diary of the Future
AUG: Chill out and find more writing mojo at Byron Bay Writers Festival

There's no 'new' writing in the plan. (although I'm sure it will happen in the rewrites). It's time to focus on the editing and rewriting and knocking the manuscripts into shape, because there has been one element missing in the process in the past. SUBMIT. And that, will be the keyword to propel me towards the goal.

Besides, there is always the momentum of Nanowrimo next November to spin out another first draft.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nano Day 22 - Ebay Loot - Calendar Sale

Nano Day 22

I squeezed past the 30,000 word mark last night, and with just nine days to go (including today), I should make it to the finish line as long as I continue placing my butt in the seat, and the fingers on the keyboard.

Last night's writing had some surprising, unplanned elements, but they ended up being very pleasing in the overall story of the book, and the continued motif of how much of her life Nickie chooses to write in advance.
Today was a bonus. With the computer system down at work, I managed to write over 1000 bonus words, so I am way ahead for today's tally. A couple more word wars and I shall be done, and I should just about be reaching the second turning point of the story.

Ebay Loot

I've been scoring a few things of Ebay - this Moving Pictures sticker, a groovy looking radio promotional sticker from the band's heyday.

and this CD single by Alex Smith.

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about this single (remembered something about a photograph). I had the single on cassette at one time, and having moved seven times or so since, was wondering if it was still in my possession. I could not remember the song or the music. So that morning, I logged onto my email and discovered the Ebay lot waiting in my email searches. Like it was meant to be. It was fate. Think and the universe shall provide.

Chickollage Calendars
Cafepress is having a 20% sale off calendars at the moment, so now is a great time to grab a Chickollage Collage Poetry Calendar, and have a collage poem a month for every year in 2007.
Visit the Chickollage shop for unique Christmas gifts. It's hard to believe, it's just over a month away!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nano Day 16

It's 11.20 pm and I'm barely awake after several word war challenges. Woohoo, I've past the 20K mark, so while I'm still behind on the word count, I have gained over 5500 w0rd in the last two days.

I've reached another incident in the story, where Nickie is about to write in her diary in anger,with devestating consequences. Consequences that will make her realise that the diary can be a destructive tool if used in the wrong way, and with the wrong emotion projected.

I haven't been consistent. I haven't written every day. There have been some days that I've been too tired after work, and I've only been brainstorming the story at work. No actual writing. But I'm really pleased with the amount of words that I've managed to write during my half-hour challenges with the wizard. It has shown me that I can write fast.

There will need to be a lot of editing. But that's okay. That will be later. It's the story that I want to discover now.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

In Memorium - my mum Judith 30.04.49 - 12.11.97

Today it is nine years since Mum passed away. I have already written a tribute during Pink for October here. But I thought I would add a few more thoughts about my mum today.

Mum learned to drive when I was 13. Her first car was a beat-up old Audi with no guts, and until recently, I did not realise that an Audi was a prestige motor vehicle. She wasn't game enough to drive across Gladesville Bridge because the car had no power. Her next car was a VW and she used to kangaroo hop down the street in it (on purpose) and wind down the road. She rarely looked up how to get anywhere - I think she enjoyed losing her way. And she'd turn left when I told her to turn right. But getting her licence was the best thing she could've done because it opened up a whole new world for her.

It started when I was about 6. Mum had a couple of mice. And the mice multiplied and multiplied. So when she was pregnant with my sister, the mice were farmed off and she started collecting ornamental mice instead. It was always so easy to buy her a present, and there are still times when I go into a gift shop, see a gorgeous mouse ornament, and think mum would love that. Here is part of her collection - the ornaments I gave her over the years, now back on display in my living room.

Mum was a marvellous cake decorator and president of her local cake decorating guild. She always had one or two cakes on the go, but one of the favourites that she made for me was this dragon cake. When I turned 27, I decided to have a 7 year old birthday party, and we all played kids games and ate chocolate crackles. It was a lot of fun for both the pretend kids and the real kids and mum made me a dragon cake for the occasion.

Mum painted this picture for me when I was about fifteen from a photo that a friend had taken. The painting has hung in my bedroom in many different dwellings since then, and now has pride of place in the lounge room.

Our house was a menagerie when I was growing up. Dogs, cats, birds (including Chook the cockatoo), chooks, fish, even a baby lamb at one time. Whenever there was a stray, it would land on our doorstep and find a home. It's not a tradition I've carried on. I'm happy with my singular cat Dorkus, and he is also happy with the status quo.

Mum was always fun and lightened up any room she walked into. She didn't judge people and took everyone on face value. All the neighbourhood kids wanted to hang around for her friendship, her cooking and her love. It was a sad day nine years ago when the light was turned off, far to early, for the bright light that was my mum.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nano Day 8

I've just realised its Week Two of Nanowrimo. Time to read Week Two of No Plot, No Problem and get my head into the headspace.

I managed to type a Nanoism tonight:

'I wipe the smile off my face. I can’t get too cocky. But somehow I think Dad will be putting his head in his pocket more often.'

I'm sure I meant to type hand in his pocket, but now I've got this interesting image of 'Dad' walking around with his head stuck down his pocket, much like an ostrich with his head in the sand.
I had a couple of Word War challenges with Di from Canberra. Didn't beat my personal best from last night. But with three challenges, I managed to increase my novel by another 2620 words, which I think is pretty good for a weekday. However my total word tally to be on track now should be 13,336 words so I'm still trailing at 10,560 words.

My Nanowrimo Report card says that if I keep up today's pace, I will finish on November 23rd. It also says that if I keep up Monday's pace (zero words), I will NEVER finish, and that's in a big beautiful red block just to rub it in.

Ah well, tomorrow is another day....and right now I need sleep.

Writers Mantra Journal available at The Chickollage Shop

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nano Day 7

Whoops! I've fallen behind on the word count. Sometimes the day job can do that to you. I think I became a bit complacent when I realised how much I could write in half an hour if I just put my mind to it. And decided I had all the time in the world.

As I'm writing this, I've got a song blaring 'Shout' by Moving Pictures, to celebrate the last half hour of writing. I downloaded a Talking Alarm Clock and it uses the wizard from Microsoft Office. I set the timer for five minutes away and he appears and tells me to start writing. After 30 minutes, he appears again, this time with a song to celebrate. My personal best for half an hour of writing is now 1132 words.

I have now written the first turning point: the point where Nickie discovers that her diary can control the future.

The scene begins with a 'Groundhog Day' type rerun of the embarrassing conversation about flatulence with Craig. Nickie is aware that the scene is replaying but no matter what she tries to do, she cannot help but repeat her own words and actions.

This is how the scene ends:

I leaf through the pages hurriedly, finding my way back to January 5, the date of the first conversation. The page is blank. As if nothing ever happened that day. Yet all of the other pages are filled with prose and angst and the invocation of Craig. But January 5 is a blank page still waiting to be filled. I know that I first bumped into Craig last Tuesday.

I know that this blank page is a lie, and I remember writing the entry. But what if I accidently wrote the entry on the following week, and then the event repeated itself because that's what was written in my diary.

I drop my pen. No, not humanly, not physically possible. Surely me, Nickie Symons, could not have created the future just by writing it.

But there was only one way to find out...

And I start writing an entry for Wednesday January 13.

I wouldn't have long to wait to test my theory. 24 hours and I would know if my journal was the diary of the future or if I was just going mad.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Nano Day 4

Nano Day 4 is not yet over for me (8.15 pm as I start this post) but I thought I would post early, then I wouldn't be trying to post at midnight.

So far today, I have written 1902 words which included two half hour sprints - 1. 924 words and 2. 958 words. The first was in an online writing challenge. Several Nanoers from Oz met up on MSN, chatted a bit and then had a 30 minute word war. So I decided to do the same again tonight, and I think I will continue doing sprints when I'm at the computer from now on, plus take advantage of the word pockets at work.

I would still like to achieve another 1400 words tonight to get me back up to speed. So I will do two more word sprints before I go to sleep.

In the meantime, I've been adding some more products to the Chickollage shop in the section 'For the Writer'

Firstly we have Jennifer Gordon's design: Serious Stuff Writing, available on a journal, mousepad and numerous apparel: let the world know you take your writing seriously.

Every writer needs to do some research. Whether, it's rehashing a lived life or studying historical facts, you can only write what you know.

So what's an erotica writer to do when the pickings are slim, the days are chaste and there's no prospects on the horizon?

It's time to advertise for an assistant! This and other designs (similar phrases, different fonts) available now on numerous items here.

When I was writing Kissing Toads, I mentioned my work in progress to one of my father's mates who is probably only a few years older than me. He asked if there were any sex scenes. When I said yes, he asked (in front of my partner) if I needed any help researching them. Yuck! I certainly did not take him up on his offer, but that little comment has inspired these items. Enjoy!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Nano Day Three

I'm tired. I just hit the button to create a new blog, instead of editing this one. As if I need another blog! Time for bed, I think.

It was a strange day at work today. We have fifteen people leaving to go to different parts of the organisation. Some will be working upstairs, some downstairs, another moving interstate, and my podpal is changing teams. In the six years I've been there, there has never been so much change in one day. So I did the social thing tonight and went to the pub after work to say goodbye etc. I said I was going for an hour, but 2.5 hours later I left the pub and drove home in the rain.

Then I watched Love My Way on DVD, episodes 7 & 8 from the first series. I won't go into detail because someone may be planning on watching and I don't want to give any spoilers, but it was heartbreaking...

...and left me in no mood to write.

It's a good thing I wrote during breaks at work today. So I've pushed up my total a little, not a lot. I'm still running behind on the required average word count, but as long as I write every single day, I will get there. And I'll be participating in an on-line writing challenge tomorrow morning.

And as soon as Nano is over, I have to edit. I was asked by many people this evening how the writing is going, have I sold my book yet...I need to stay on track so one day soon, I have good news to report.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Nano Day Two

The Thursday Thirteen is postponed this week, as I try to get my head into Diary of the Future.

Here is an excerpt from Nickie's diary:

OMG, OMG, you're never gonna believe what happened today. I had a real live conversation with Craig. And Sonia Scrag was nowhere in sight.

Ooh, I'm still thinking about it now, replaying it over and over and over in my head. Rewinding the video, fast forwarding, wishing I could delete stupid comments I made.

God, I hope he doesn't think I'm dumb. Or thick. I mean, I was dumbstruck when I bumped into Craig. Seeing him at the mall and actually talking to him was the last thing I expected to happen.

He is such a hottie. That blonde sweep of fringe that half covers one of his dark brown eyes. And that smile. I'm surprised that Colgate hasn't signed him up to do toothpaste commercials. Because its pretty damn special. And when he smiled at me today, it's a wonder they didn't have to call a mop to aisle ten.

Mum was right about one thing. I should've got a summer job. But in Woolies, not Target. Then I could've been hanging around Craig all summer. And got paid for it. Double bonus.

So that's where I ran into Craig. In Woolies. Mum sent me down to pick up some bread and milk. Told me to make myself useful. And I spotted him from the end of the aisle, stacking cans on shelves. So I went and walked up near him, and nonchantly picked up a can of baked beans like it was the most fascinating object in the world. I didn't want to be the first to say hello. Because it would be mortifying if he sneered at me, or didn't return my greeting. So I just pretended that I didn't see him, and acted like I had serious business with that can of baked beans.

And then he spoke. I swear my heart stopped beating, and I gasped for breath, as he said. 'Be careful, Nickie. They make you fart.'

I turned to him. 'Craig, hello, I didn't see you there.'

He smiled. I think he knew the game I was playing. Because for a start, Craig isn't thick.

'Sure, sure, Nickie. But those beans should come with a health warning sticker. Danger: causes flatulence.'

I spun the can around in my hand. 'You're right. Trouble is, my little brother has requested baked beans. And my brother's tantrums are deadlier than his farts.'

Craig chuckled. 'And how old is your brother?'


'Yep, farting is a productive hobby for a twelve year old.'

'Hobby? I reckon it's a weapon of mass destruction.'

'Don't worry. He'll grow out of it.'

'I'm not so sure of that. Danny has farting battles with my thirty year old uncle.'

'Do they take bets? Well, Nickie you'll have to invite me over to one of your family barbecues. It sounds entertaining.'

I blushed. I couldn't believe it. I have a massive crush on this guy and I've just spent five minutes talking about farts. That would be something to share with the grandkids.

I like the scene, and the whole flatulence conversation. Super embarrassing for a 16 year old. But I think it will be extremely funny when Nickie has her deja vu moment with this scene, and realises that she is reliving it again. And later this will show her the power of the diary.

The writing progress hasn't been as good as yesterday. I didn't do the usual writing during breaks at work. At morning tea, I was on the computer in the tearoom checking out the status of my ebay auctions. I was outbid on two auctions, and I put in a successful bid for another (will be posting about that when I receive the item) and then at lunch time, I was running around town, as one tends to do on payday.

So I'm not going to try and push through until midnight tonight. I really need some more sleep. I was very hyper last night when I finished writing so I didn't sleep for a while. And I can't afford to sleep in and be late for work. Anyway the weekend will soon be here with a long luxurious stretch of writing time.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Nano Day One

Woohoo! I'm off to a great start! So if I can set this pace for the rest of Nano, I will be finished with time to spare!

I'm not yet sure who all my characters will be, but I'm sure they will show up as I need them.

So now it's time to sleep, and it has been a well-earned rest.

Meter courtesy of Writertopia

And I have a 'widget' in my sidebar which will automatically update my progress as I update my wordcount on the Nanowrimo site. No more fiddling around with the template.

I will try to be back tomorrow with a Thursday Thirteen - thirteen great theatre productions I have seen. And as I used to work in the theatre industry, and have seen hundreds of productions, it was extremely hard to narrow it down to thirteen.

Good luck to all the Nano'ers in the Northern Hemisphere still working through day one!

Good night!