Camp NaNoWriMo on the Horizon

Holy guacamole Batman, I can’t believe that time is already upon us once again. My literary lovelies, my wordy birdies, my alliteration afficionados: camp nano will be back in full swing this April, and for any of you planners (and a few of you plantser) out there- now is the time to get started.

A few of you may be wondering what kind of gibberish is escaping my keyboard today, but never fear- I won’t leave you hanging out in the cold today.

So, a quick breakdown for those who have never heard of Nano: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual writing challenge that takes place every November. The brave souls who choose to gather their writerly weapons and embark on the ambitious quest have a single challenge: write 50,000 in 30 days. You can share in your successes and failures on the message boards, full of thousands of other writers who are just as crazy as you.

But what about the other eleven months of the year, you ask? Oh, how glad I am that you brought it up. These brave warriors armed with their pens and laptops started to get anxious when they weren’t engaged in their quests. They knew that any brave adventurer needed to train, to prepare for their daring November mission. So they created the notorious Camp. Think of it like Camp Half-Blood (for you Percy Jackson lovers), but for the writerly world. This Camp is a safe haven for the writer, meeting in April and July every year.

But don’t worry, my daring friends- you need not travel far to engage in this adventure. This Camp is a virtual endeavor- you sign up, create a project, and can even join a cabin. The cabins are probably my favorite part. You can join a group of other writers and have your very own private message board. You can meet other people who are just as crazy as you, bond over books, snacks and beverages, share stories, obstacles and successes. You can cheer each other on and participate in short writing challenges to boost your word counts. I’ve met many amazing people that I have kept in touch with over the years. I’ve made connections forged in the fires of the pages, bound together through the fluid chains of words.

Another feature you get to see during Camp that you don’t get for your November challenge: customizable goals. During Camp you can do whatever you want- you can set your finish line anywhere you would like. You can be ambitious and go for the coveted Double Nano (100,000 words), or go lower if you know that life is going to be crazy for you that month. You can set your goal to words count, pages, hours- anything you wish.

But wait, you say- I am not a novelist, why on Middle Earth would I want to join a writing challenge? Another good question, my fearless friend. With Nano you can sign up for any kind of project under the sun. Do you want to start writing in your journal more? Register it as your project- you are now mired in the pits of nonfiction (but beware, my dear- reality is often much stranger than the fiction that we write). Or perhaps you are hoping to pump up your blog (I know most of my dear readers have one), well sign up and start creating those beautiful posts so many are waiting to gobble up. The choice is your, my friends- this is a choose-your-own-adventure of a sort.

The challenge, if you choose to accept it, can be found at Camp NaNoWriMo. It is never too late, my friends. We shall embark on April 1st, but you can still join after that start date. You will always be welcomed with open arms in this crowd. I’ve never found the support that these fellow adventurers have bestowed upon me.

In the immortal words of Albus Dumbledore, “Let is step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress adventure.” Writing is predominantly a solitary endeavor, perhaps finding a few friends along the road wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen. Are you ready? The world needs to hear your words, find others who will raise their voices with you.

Camp Nano Cabin Search

Hello there, my dear friends! Camp Nano kicks off tomorrow at midnight- I am really hoping I will manage to stay awake for the late night start, but there is always a possibility that I will turn into a pumpkin instead. I wanted to extend an invitation to anyone who may be interested or is sitting uncomfortably on the fence- if you would like to join our little writerly challenge, we still have plenty of room available in our group. All ages and genres are welcome (the more diverse the better). You don’t need to have any crazy goals for July- just a love for writing and an openness to talk with other people who share this little passion of ours.

For those who haven’t heard of it- it’s a virtual writing challenge, so no real sleeping bags are needed (unless you want one, then by all means- enjoy). If you would like more info, you can peek at the website right here Camp NaNoWriMo, or feel free to leave me a comment! I’ve participated the past couple of years, and though I’m not an expert, I’d like to think I’ve explored it enough to answer any questions. And if, as I hope you will, you decide to take the plunge and join this lovely little adventure- let me know- I have plenty of room for a friendly face in our cabin.

Happy writing, my friends! It’s going to be another crazy ride.

Camp Nano Adventures- If You Dare

Pull out the marshmallows, charge your laptop and stock up on your favorite summer treats- Camp Nano is back! At the end of the week we go charging into yet another literary adventure, my dear friends- if you dare to take the plunge. The July session of Camp Nano is set to begin at the stroke of midnight this very Friday. Be still my beating heart, I cannot wait!


Last camp didn’t feel particularly authentic to me. I was in an incredible cabin full of active and vibrant individuals who were constantly chatting and running word sprints together. It was truly inspiring- and yet, I had opted to work on an editing project for the last go-round. Granted, it was something that I deeply needed to invest in- but truthfully, I felt a bit left out. So this time around I am perhaps ignoring my better judgment and trying my hand at a brand new project. In fact, I will be working in a genre I don’t generally dabble in- a touch of historical fiction will be shaping my summer. 

I’m so excited; I have my plot all lined up, a soft sketch of my characters is sitting firmly in my mind, and I am ready to hit the ground running (If I manage to stay up until midnight on Friday, that is). It feels so good to play with a new story after I’ve spent so long diving into prior projects that are still in disrepair, no matter how much tlc I smother them with. I have new characters to know, new sets to craft, new shinanigans for them to dance through.

But the one thing that I am still on the lookout for: a few wayward writers in search of their own adventure. I set up a cabin this year (a bit later than usual), and now I am hoping to find some brave souls to embark on this journey with me. They’ve made camp so versatile this past year that you can really do just about anything with it. There are new methods of tracking your work, new styles you can claim- which makes your nontraditional paths much easier to traverse. I’ve worked on new novels, editing, poetry and even blog posts in previous years- the opportunities are endless. Not to mention the fact that they’ve expanded the figurative walls in each cabin- now you can easily accommodate 20 people in each group. And did I mention they finally set it up so you can name your cabin? It’s the little things in life that bring the most joy, I promise you this.

So if you dare to dream of the written word, my friend; if you have adventures running through your blood and stories singing in your heart- what do you have to lose? Take the plunge, my dear. Would you like to join me, fellow traveler? The fire is warm and the company is good. I can’t promise we will succeed in our endeavors, but I can swear that the journey will be well worth the work we put into it. Much like the brave little hobbits prodded by a wise wizard- you won’t know what you are capable of until you take that chance and step outside of your comfort zone. Please, dear friends- do you care to share in an adventure?

Nano Adventure Comes to a Close (raise your glass)

It seems strange to think that we set out on our daring adventure just 30 days ago. And yet here we are, standing at the final stage on our figurative journey. The foes have been met and the dragons slain (or tamed, if you hold pro-dragon beliefs). We are battered and weary as allegories and alliterations dance through our tired minds, sped on by the hyperboles of our rhetoric. Whether you reached that goal or not- we have done this crazy thing, and come out on the other side. We are haggard, but we still stand.

This past month has been a whirlwind. And yet, after the dust has settled, and all has been said or done; I must admit, it has been a truly beautiful chaos we have found ourselves in. Life does not wait for us to finish that last paragraph or discover that awaiting plot bunny, no, it goes on no matter what crazy goals we have set for ourselves. Thanksgiving brought with it family fun and visits with old friends who have moved farther away than I’d like. There have been roadblocks and pitfalls (and I am still not over the horribly-awful-no-good-very-bad defeat of my Cougars at the Apple Cup this year. Luckily, my Husky friends were kind and didn’t run it in too bad.) And I am also a tad disappointed with my loss during our Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. Next year I will bring bribes for all voting participants. I’m just saying- I brought out Carlton! You know- ‘now this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down…’ (you know you sang that to the tune- and probably finished the next few lines). Who would have known that I would get Trumped in the end? (Pun very much intended: I lost to Trump and a reindeer yard ornament that was safety pinned to a sweater- they tied. I can only hope that my step-dad was truthful when his shirt promised to make Christmas great again).


My computer problems persisted (it still does not like the internet), however, it did miraculously decide to reconnect to the internet right after I managed to hit my goal- so I swooped in and validated: thank you computer gods who had mercy on me. I owe you some peppermint hot chocolate…or whatever it is you enjoy- perhaps some 001010110 scarves. 

So, this Nano I decided to try AGAIN at doing something completely and totally insane. I made a goal that I have attempted to reach every year (and every time, I have failed miserably). My goal: 100,000 words in one month. That’s right, I was one of those masochistic psychos that decided to attempt a double Nano this holiday season. I know what you are thinking, why put yourself through that writerly agony when you could instead be eating mounds of pumpkin pie completey ensconced in entire containers of whipped cream? Well let me tell you something: I am nothing if not a multi-tasker. Type with one hand and hold the fork in the other. Boom! Problem solved. (Word of advice, do not forget about the fork unless you think your laptop would look good with a pumpkin coat).

I don’t know what was different this year; I was just as busy as I typically am, life was filled with the normal drama and surprises. But I was determined. I jump in head first and just hoped that I could learn to fly. Sometimes all you really need is blind and reckless faith to force you out on that ledge. But you know what? All of the best stories start right there, with your toes poking over the edge.

This year it just felt right. I was hell bent, I was frazzled, but I was finding my muse and the motivation to dance with her. And so I clickity clacked well past my bedtime. When I wanted to watch my show, I waited to hit my daily goal before turning it on. I jumped way ahead of the curve, I fell behind, and ultimately, I rallied.

And you know what happened? I did it. That’s right, I actually met my crazy goal, not only that: I surpassed it. It was reach for the stars, over the moon World Series kind of stuff. I will proclaim it proudly: I wrote over 100,000 words in 30 days.

But you know what? It took me years to get to that point. It took a perfect aligning of inspiration and circumstances to allow me to even have a shot. And I honestly don’t know if I will ever be able to do it again. I can’t tell you that what I wrote was gold- because I was a tad delirious through half of it, and I am sure that the editing gods will smite me with their well-worded wrath. But for me, this year, that was not the point. This year I wanted to prove to myself that I could push past all logical endurance and achieve something that felt impossible. I wanted to remind myself that these crazy dreams of mine might not be as far-fetched as they have always felt. If I could accomplish this, well then, perhaps I can take another step and reach for something else. Maybe I’ll finally start sharing my work with my loved ones, or find the internal validation that I need to finish editing a project and step out in search of an agent. This year I was searching for my grit. And I found it.

We have fought a hard battle my friends, and I am so incredibly proud of all of us- I have been keeping up with the nano blogs, the message boards, the Facebook groups. Look at all we managed to accomplish- whether we hit our goals or not, we stepped out there, pen raised in the air and screamed our challenge to the blank page. Having the courage to even take that step is inspiring. And knowing that so many other people joined me on that front line makes me feel a little bit less alone in this wide world of ours.

So tonight, I raise my glass to you: cheers, my friends, there is no one I would have rather shared this adventure with. Thank you for keeping me inspired. Thank you for giving me the reason to keep on pushing and hit my goals. Because this year, that was the real difference: having this blog and all of you to keep me responsible. Thank you for helping my make my little dream a possibility.
And so, without any further ado, and for the last time this Nano season, let’s take a look at the final numbers:

Word Count: 113,269 out of 100,000

Percentage of Goal Complete: 113%

Current Mood on Project: you know how on Fridays your are happy and exhausted all at the same time? That’s how I feel. So happy I did this, and yet also simultaneously thrilled that I am done and can bury my nose in a few neglected books for the next week or two


 

Rushing Through Halftime: Nano Update #3

We have officially passed the day 15 mile marker and have started the Nano descent; love it or hate it, we are now sledding down the mountain to our inevitable conclusions. And of course: what a week it has been!

Truthfully, my week didn’t start out all that strong on the writing front. I was caught up in some good books I was reading (and listening to on audibles), and was stealing spare minutes to page through to the next chapter. One of them was equal amounts fascinating and disturbing. ‘This is Your Brain on Parasites’ will not only educate you, but convince you that you have little critters in your brain controlling your movements like a robot. It will also teach you that your cat is an evil mastermind. And washing your hands is vitally important. In spite of the fear enduring moments, I loved it nonetheless, and would recommend it to anyone interested in finding some good fodder for a sci-fi thriller or zombie novel (if you are working on the latter, you also have to give ‘Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep’ a shot).

On Friday morning I almost caught my hair on fire. Okay, that might be a tad dramatic, but my hairdryer did start changing it’s speed and then smelled strongly like burning plastic. I opted to risk getting a cold and ran out of the house with sopping wet, stringy hair because I was terrified my little drier would explode in my face. I also left it in the sink far away from any flammibles just in case spontaneous combustion decided to become a thing in my house while I was at work. Good news: it did not.

A weekend dentist appointment (I know, I’m a glutton for punishment apparently) left me with a deep appreciation for things that I generally take for granted. First: whoever created localized anesthetics was an amazing human being and I owe them an immense gratitide for all that they did in the name of pain management. Based on the sounds I heard coming from my gaping mouth, it’s a good thing I was so numb I could barely blink my own eye. I walked out of that office feeling like two-face from Batman- the entire right side was totally numb and unmanageable. I attempted to act like a normal human being while walking through Target (on a mission to replace my aforementioned hairdryer) though I suspect they noticed something was a tad off when I kept running my hand over my mouth to see if I was smiling with both sides. I also rediscovered the importance that I put on the spoken word in my daily life. How, you ask? Well, when your tongue is numbly rolling around in your mouth like a water wiggle, it takes a concentrated effort not to lisp or bite it. Repeatedly. In situations like that, silence is truly golden.

Last night was also a bit of an adventure: started out by going out to a rare little date night to see ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.’ Word of advice: get up right now, find the nearest showing and go see it. Feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt- I am a hardcore Harry Potter fan and love anything and everything about that world. But nonetheless- still see it. It’s cute, it’s fun, the settings are gorgeous and the actors did a phenomenal job adding memorable quirks to their characters. I loved it.

On the way home, however, the real adventure began. It was only about 9:30 at night when we say a car almost hit another while changing lanes in front of us. The offending vehicle veered away before things went south. I thought that would be the end of it- it happens to all of us, I’ve been guilty of those mistakes myself. But then the weaving started- back and forth across two lanes of highway traffic right in front of us. At one point he was driving right in the middle, straddling the line between the lanes. And then he started tailgating an older woman in her car. So I did something I have never done before: I called the police. We kept an eye on him until our exit. I don’t know what wound up happening. He looked really young, too young. I can just hope that nothing happened after we lost sight of him.

Needless to say, it was a relatively eventful week. My writing, however, was starting to suffer; perhaps ‘starting’ is the wrong word- my writing was continuing to suffer. The week two slump hit me hard. And I used my week one progress as an excuse to relax, to do other things, to let my project languish. In fact, I spent a good portion of this past week behind schedule. I had lost all of the lead that I had gained in the first few days on Nano. I had been halfway through my goal before week one was out- a huge lead; I lost all of that. 

But then, this weekend; I rallied. Yes, in the midst of my regularly scheduled life, an amazing thing happen: the muse decided to grace me with her presence again, that fickle little fairy that she is. I had been burnt out- it always happens to me in week two of Nano, I hit a slump and fell face first into a literary rut. Climbing back out feels amazing. I didn’t add as many words as I had originally wanted to over the weekend, but I have the drive to push forward. Last night when we got home I even went straight back to my laptop and started tapping away. I finally had to force myself to put my work away and go to bed at 11:30 (this is late for me).

I’m trying to run with this for as long as it holds out, because that muse does not tend to stick around long. I’m not moving as fast, but I would like to think that I’m getting out higher quality content. At the very least, I’m working through some stronger ideas and plot points than I had originally figured out. So I’m running with it. 

I feel like I’m really going to do it this time, if I can just keep up my momentum and keep the work going steady. I’m afraid to get too excited though; I’ve stumbled at the finish line before. I have had years where I made it up into the 80k range and then fell off the cliff when I tried to fly. The key is to focus on one day at a time and not get too far ahead of myself.

So let’s peek at the numbers and see how it’s going:

Word Count: 81,721 out of 100,000

Percentage of Goal Complete: 81%

Current Mood on Project: feeling like I just drank a Monster energy drink and I’m ready to rock the keyboard (or cry trying)

Still Surviving: Nano Update, Week Two

Wow, my friends, what a test this last week has been! And yet, we have all survived- perhaps a bit haggard, a tad battle worn; but we are still standing tall. Don’t worry, I won’t be delving into anything political, today we are going to keep things light because I think that’s exactly what we need. That being said, when I wrote my update one week ago, I truly thought that the election madness was nearly at an end. This just goes to show that I always jinx it. I’ve been a bag of mixed emotions lately, but I am getting back into my groove because that’s what will be best for me right now.

So, my first week had gone better than I could have imagined. Going into week two, I knew that I was not going to be able to keep that momentum up. I was okay with that. For starters, I was sick, and didn’t really kick the crud until Friday. Tuesday, naturally, was a lost writing day for me, given the historic implications of the day, I think that can be forgiven. And I will be honest, like a car wreck, I have been unable to look away from the news since then. It’s bad for me, I know this And I’m starting to think I’m a bit addicted to my social media- the best cure: focus on my writing, and when I want to look on my phone, I have to open my kindle app and read a little bit of my book instead. 

Saturday was pretty awesome though- we spent a ton of time in the car, but we were able to drive down to the coast for an early Thanksgiving with my extended family. I always forget how much I miss them until I’m around them. We got there just in time to join them for a delicious dinner, and after that we went with my aunt and cousins to take all of their kids out onto the beach for a walk. I missed them- just talking, laughing. They’re great people who I really need to start breaking out of my box and making more time for. I had a blast, and realizing that my cousins brought water bottles of mimosas on our walk just reminded me that these ladies are my spirit animals. After that, we had a long drive back home- but it was lit by a big bright moon the whole way. It was gorgeous. All in all, a successful day, even if there was no writing involved.

I have hit one little snag that has me a bit worried though. You see, every nano I run into some kind of technical difficulty. For the first few years, back when Link was just a puppy, I had a slew of years where he would attempt electroshock treatments and chew through all of my charging cables. Repeatedly. Lucky for me, this is a phase he has finally grown out of. But this year, my laptop decided to make its own political statement. Apparently it is sick of the state of current events and it has cut off all communication with the outside world until further notice. Even my fiancé- who is a master in computers- wasn’t able to get it to change its mind. Hence why you may have noticed a slight downfall in my number of posts this past week. I am currently typing this out on my phone, which, needless to say, isnt particularly ideal. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. My laptop isn’t that old, but I can’t do the things that i have to do if it won’t connect to the internet. It makes this blog difficult. And I have no idea how I will be able to validate my nano if I can’t get my words copied to the website. But I am not going to panic yet. Nope, one more week in willful ignorance will not kill me. I can be in denial until the panic attack hits.

So, on to the writing: the real purpose of this post. I didn’t really get a lot of writing done until yesterday. I finally sat down for a few hours last night and was able to crank out a few thousand words. I tapped into the myriad of emotions I’ve been feeling this week, and it flowed like wine. And I hit a pretty momentous goal. I made it to 50k yesterday, which means that I am still on track to get my illusive 100k this year. I am thrilled! But, honestly, I’m also a bit terrified. This is the first time my goal has really felt tangible. And I am so scared that I will flop in these coming weeks and mess it up. It wouldn’t be the first time. I fizzle and pop. I am so scared that I will ruin the advantage I was able to give myself. I’m trying to keep the anxiety away and let myself just enjoy the fact that I’m still hanging in there, but those moments of doubt always find their way back in. 

So, without further ado, my goal update, by the numbers:

Word Count: 57,649 out of 100,000

Percentage of Goal Complete: 57%

Current Mood on Project: Starting to wear out, but still smiling 

Nano, Week One: The Update

We have survived the official first week of Nano, my friends! Whether you hit a home run or are whittling away one word at a time- we have all accomplished a lot so far on this adventure. I think we deserve a cookie…or two…or perhaps an entire cheese pizza, which is what I am about to eat because I mysteriously forget how to cook in November. (The best part: I’m not even cooking it, my fiancé’s best friend is. Shout out to him and his mad pizza wielding talents, this ‘starving artist’ thanks you. I’ll be sure to write you into my very first dedication. If I remember, because let’s face it, I forget everything).

This week was a record setting one for me, and I am so unbelievably proud. Although I know that I owe a lot of my success to a few lucky circumstances. For starters, I was fortunate enough to have a few days off from work at the beginning of November. When you couple those days with a very understanding fiancé who was kind enough to limit distractions as much as possible (constantly fighting the dog who’s sole purpose in life is to get me as far away from my laptop as possible). I was able to just sit and work, and since we were still in the enthralling beginnings, those words actually came easily for once. Now, I know a lot of that is because this is not my first rodeo with this story. This is essentially a complete re-draft of the project I worked on last Camp, which meant that I was already familiar with my characters, I already knew where the plot holes were and I’ve had several months to figure out how to pave them over. Even though the original content was all scrapped and a lot of the previously used plots were completely changed- I still know how I wanted the beginning of this story to play out. As of this weekend, I have hit the uncharted territory, and I know that my progress will begin to start creeping once again. The rest of the month wont even come close to my first week, but that’s okay. This was exactly the kind of week that I needed to have after the past two months I’ve spent floundering.

With one minor exception: too many late night writings led me to finally catching that cold I’ve steadily avoided for the past month. I felt it coming on the other day, but I opted to keep on pushing through and working in spite of it. As it turns out, my body is actively rebelling against my lack of balance, and is demanding a change. One that I am more than willing to give it. As of right now, I am ahead of schedule on my goal, and I can afford a bit of self-indulgence until I’m running on 100% again.

So cheers, my friends, I raise my glass of Emergen-C to you (because that’s what I have, sorry, no hot toddy’s from me today). May you have a happy and healthy month, and may the words flow easily from your pen (or keyboard). We can do this!

 

Current Stats:

Word Count: 47,572 out of 100,000

Percentage of Goal Complete: 47%

Current Mood on Project: Smiling in spite of the sniffles

dumbo-sneese