On Tricks & Treats

I never really understood April Fool’s as a thing. The concept of a day set aside to play pranks and tricks upon friends and unsuspecting strangers seemed at best foolish (assuming the prankster is genuinely good at pranks) and at worst cruel (what usually occurs since most people actually suck at pranks and tricks). For the most part, my friends and I have never really recognized the day or its festivities.since we are the kind of assholes that prefer our pranks with an element of surprise and psychological terror. (I swear we love each other very much)

Perhaps my distaste for the holiday has had some association with my distance from friends and groups that I would want to actually mess with. In truth, April 1st has become more about CampNaNoWriMo for me. It’s my own personal “treat” amid all the tricks. It is a month set aside to work on any personal creative project. While I try to get as much writing done as possible (like this blog and other places), there is something pleasant about committing to a specific project within a set time.

So, if you have any creative projects you’ve been putting off or wanting to start, I suggest you join the NaNoWriMo community and make April bow down to your will and dedication!!!!

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I WON NANOWRIMO!!!!

So the title pretty much says it all. On my third attempt, I finally was able to finish and win NaNoWriMo. My story is not quite done technically. I have a better conclusion in mind that I want to add to what I currently have, but i still wrote over 50,000 words on a brand new story in the month of November. It was not easy. At times, it kind of sucked, but I pushed through and still wrote.

I had wanted to keep up with this blog during the month of November, and I had managed to do so up till the last week. I was just too behind on word count and needed to concentrate solely on the NaNoWriMo project. Now, that it is done, I guess I’ll return to normal blog entries tomorrow. Or take a huge nap; haven’t yet decided.

Anyway, NaNo was fun. I kicked its ass. Hopefully some of you will join me next time around and slay the 50k word beast!

On Failure

I am still plugging away at NaNoWriMo, but I am behind in my word count. I am hoping that the upcoming weekend and break from work will give me some extra time to play catch up. However, I know that there is a chance I will not win NaNoWriMo this year. Essentially, I might fail in my quest to kill the word dragon and take my novel crown.

The thing is, I am kind of okay with that possibility. Don’t get me wrong. I am going to work my ass off for the remainder of November to try for that glorious victory. I will be writing for most of my last weekends and during Thanksgiving vacation. I am holding off on playing the two beautiful looking games I just bought (Dragon Age Inquisition and Shadows of Mordor). At some point, I will probably pull an all-nighter just like my college days.

The point is that even with doing all this, I still might not finish what I set out to do and that is okay. At this point, I have written more words for a single project than I have in a very long time. I also have a complete story in notes, so that i can and will eventually finish this story in progress, though perhaps not in November. Basically, I might fail NaNoWriMo, but I still managed a few smaller victories in the process. Not to mention the entire experience has been genuinely fun up to now and I doubt that will change anytime soon.

Just like with anything else in life; the point of failing is learning what you need from the situation, getting up, dusting yourself off, and moving on. So, I will gladly fail this round because I will still come away with something to show for my efforts. Hopefully, if I do happen to stumble, I’ll be able to turn the momentary lapse into something I am proud of.

Wish me luck that I will not fail at this, but know that doing so is not the worst thing that could happen.

On Allowances

No, I am not going to speak about the small sum of money you were given as a child for doing basic household chores or not being a total screw up as a kid. Frankly, I never got such a thing because it was expected of me to do shit around the house. I also, kind of, secretly hated all the kids in my school and neighborhood that got an allowance, especially since they seemed to be the terrible ones.

No, I mean allowances in the original sense of permitting something in a regulated and specified manner. Sort of like what Dave Grohl meant in one of  his more colorful quotes:

      You listen to this man!

You listen to this man!

Now, to be fair, I slightly disagree with him on the topic of The Voice because I unabashedly love that show. However, I completely understand the point he is trying to make. All artists should allow themselves to suck for a bit.

No one, except for those truly rare talents, is good, much less great, at their beginning. I even doubt those exceptional individuals who claim that their first works were good. Every creative person, regardless of your medium or level, needs a few allowances. We need those quiet moments of reflection and work to see our creations in a new light and discover things about them and ourselves to put into the next project.

I think this is why I like the idea of NaNoWriMo so much. Very few scribes in history have ever written a tome in so few days, but that’s the essential point. You are not writing a masterpiece in November; you are simply writing down the story you want to tell. It is a permission slip to suck at writing along with thousands of others across the country.

This is good. You are supposed to be bad. Even the organizers of NaNoWriMo know and expect this which is why they have Revision commitments for January and February. So, take the challenge and do something just because you love it. Let yourself be unimaginably terrible at it content in the knowledge that you are supposed to be and in time will improve. And even if you don’t, you still probably had some fun on the ride.

I’ll leave this with a pep talk of sorts on the subject by the ineffable John Green:

On Community II

So I have actually written a post on the idea of community before, but I wanted to use a more specific example to illustrate its necessity and power. Unsurprisingly, this example also relates to and uses the NaNoWriMo community.

Currently on Day 5 of NaNoWriMo and somehow managing to keep up on word count. Let’s see how long that lasts. Coffee seems to help.

It really is.

It really is.

Anyhow, I was writing on Day 2 (Sunday) of NaNoWriMo and I hit a slump. As I usually do when this happens, I decided to listen to some music, but didn’t know what to go with. Since I knew that there were several other NaNo participants working on the forums and keeping in touch through Twitter, I sent out a massive signal requesting “writing music” suggestions.

I expected a couple of responses within a day, instead I was inundated with suggestions for the next 48 hours. Seriously, complete, random strangers were telling me their preferred music for writing, why they liked it, where to go and find some good tunes all because I added a hashtag to a tweet.

Not saying that now these people and I are friends or that we will ever be more than strangers, but for a brief moment we were connected and aid and advice was altruistically given without conceit. It still might be corny, but there is something oddly beautiful about the existence of these moments and the communities that are built around them.

Also, it’s not too late to try your hand at NaNoWriMo. If you ever felt like writing a book, sign up and start. There are a bunch of us along for the ride.

National Novel Writing Month! (NaNoWriMo)

Today marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short. It is an annual challenge to anyone and everyone who believes they have a book in them. Take the month of November for yourself and finally write that story, book, or novel that you have inside you and put it to paper or screen or whatever.

I have attempted this task before and unfortunately failed in my attempt. I don’t know if this time will be any different, but it is always worthwhile to at least try. I managed to get a decent start today and hopefully will continue the momentum. I am going to try to keep up with this blog for the month of November without dying or stressing out.

We’ll see how it goes. To everyone else doing NaNoWriMo, best of luck and I’ll see you on the other side.