NaNoWriMo 2010 Results

‘Way back in the beginning of November I posted that I’d be participating once again in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) once again. The object of the exercise, to refresh your memory, is to pound out a 50,000 word novel in the space of a month. Just because.

The fact that I’m just now revealing how I did should be your first clue. Yes, I’m a terrible procrastinator, which is one reason that, once again, I failed to make the leap to Novelist. I did set a personal record – 25,869 words – but the astute mathematical mind will note that this is nowhere near the necessary 50,000 words.

Ah, well. Next year.

NaNoWriMo 2010

It’s November again, time for the annual self-flagellation known as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo (sometimes referred to as simply “NaNo”) is an annual challenge to budding writers to complete a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. This year marks the fourth year I’ve participated. I’ve never won (“winning” is just completing the 50,000 word goal. There are no prizes except bragging rights), and last year  barely made it to 10,000.

This year I’m determined to cross the finish line; just as determined as I’ve been each year. On the first day I managed to knock out 1,668 words (average need to complete a novel in a month: 1,667). I think I have a few tricks to get to the goal. We’ll see.

For more info, visit the NaNoWriMo site.

Random Thoughts (Christmas ’09)

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. I start decorating the weekend before Thanksgiving, because the big dinner and football take up too much time. Once a month, on the 25th when possible, I listen to Christmas music for an hour or two. I stock up on Febreze Fresh Evergreen and Snow candles and air freshener in December so I can enjoy them throughout the year. “Winter Village” is my iGoogle theme year-round.

It’s not the presents and gift-giving; it’s not the nostalgia of the holiday programs (although it has to be close to a national emergency to make me miss “A Charlie Brown Christmas”); it’s not the music; God knows it’s definitely not the snowy weather (which I hate) that keeps me singing “We Need A Little Christmas” in my increasingly raspy voice.

It’s the general atmosphere, what the season does for most people’s attitudes at this time of year that I look forward to most. People who are Scrooges or Grinches the rest of the year find their hearts, if only temporarily. Children are on their best behavior, hoping that being on the straight and narrow for a month or so will make up for eleven months of naughtiness. I don’t know that there’s ever been research done on the subject, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that there are more smiles flashed, hands shook, and hugs given in December than any other month.

I love, love, love the season (of course, I do my shopping online; getting anywhere near a mall would dampen my enthusiasm)!

A few random memories and other tidbits:

  • I don’t remember my first Christmas. Give me a break; I’m 58 fer cryin’ out loud.
  • One year we had an aluminum tree, illuminated by a lamp with a rotating wheel that held different colored sections of cellophane.  You don’t see that much any more.  Probably a good thing.
  • I think it was in 1963 that we were living in Walnut Creek, California. For Christmas the family piled in the station wagon and drove to Anaheim and spent Christmas Day at Disneyland.
  • My five favorite Christmas recordings, in no particular order: “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” – John Lennon and Yoko Ono; “The Little Drummer Boy” – The Harry Simeone Chorale; “Christmas Canon” – The Trans-Siberian Orchestra; “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” – The Trans-Siberian Orchestra; “Christmas Time Is Here” – The Vince Guaraldi Trio.
  • We lived with my grandparents for a spell when I was younger. I remember one Christmas season (probably the same one with the aluminum tree mentioned earlier) one of my siblings happened to look out of the window to see a strange man waving his arms around and jumping up and down. We couldn’t quite see him in the dark, but he seemed very frightening. The youngest of us started crying as the strange figure came knocking on the door, although the adults were laughing and telling us everything was OK as they opened the door and let the strange man in. He was, of course, outfitted in the requisite red-and-white and fur-trimmed uniform, and the adults were ho-ho-ho-ing and saying it was only Santa Claus. We were all encouraged to sit on his vast lap and tell him what we wanted for Christmas, but none of us kids were excited about it; yes, we were all familiar with Santa and had met him several times at local shopping centers (yes, Virginia, this was long before the concept of “malls”), but this guy…his hair and beard were scraggly, his face was battered, he didn’t speak (not even one “ho”) and his eyes seemed like holes cut into his face. Which, of course, they were; this Santa was, in fact, my grandfather dressed in a rather old and well-used suit and a mask that must have dated to the Civil War.
  • One of my fondest childhood memories is of Mr. Jingeling, the Keeper of the Keys. He started out as a character created at Cleveland’s Halle’s Department Store in the mid-50’s to sell toys during the holiday season. He proved to be so popular that he’s been around ever since. I remember seeing him during his daily spots on Capt. Penney’s show on WEWS.
  • For my son’s second Christmas, we stayed up late, getting everything just right, and set up the video camera so we could catch the look on his face when he came into the room. Getting up early, we double-checked everything, made sure the camera angle was perfect, and as his mom was bringing him, I pushed “Play” and “Random” on the CD player, which had been preloaded with various titles of Christmas music, including Volume 4 of A Very Special Christmas. As Cam came into the room, he eyes widened and his jaw dropped at the sight of the tree and presents. The camera caught it all, including the audio playing in the background: “Christmas in Hollis” by Run DMC. Not exactly the mood setting music we were hoping for.
  • My five favorite Scrooges:
  • #1 Alastair Sim

    #2 Jim Carrey

    #3 Mr. Magoo

    #4 Michael Caine

    #5 Rowan Atkinson (as Ebenezer Blackadder)

  • (Added Dec.16) Mrs. Claus would visit us on New Year’s Eve (a ruse, I would imagine, to get us off to bed early so the adults could enjoy midnight). Our stockings would be hung somewhere with care (we didn’t have a chimney), and we would awake in the New Year to find she’d loaded them with apples and oranges and other healthy snacks; no doubt to atone for the sweets and so forth that her health-unconscious husband had filled us up with. We weren’t crazy about Mrs. Claus.
  • (Added Dec.22) Somehow, in 5th Grade at Spicer School in Akron, Ohio, I was chosen to participate in the school Christmas play. I probably volunteered, but I don’t remember the details. I do remember that I was supposed to be a shepherd (Shermy!), but I didn’t have any lines to memorize. Probably had to sing a carol with everyone. I was really looking forward to it…until the day of the play. I got stage fright before I even left the house, and had my mom call me in sick. What a wuss. Merry Christmas to all schoolkids who dread the holidays because they’re afraid they’re going to look silly in front of their peers.
    I’m sure as the season goes on I’ll add to this list. I tend to wax nostalgic as I hear certain songs, see certain things, and even smell certain smells. Hope your season brings you special memories, too.

    Merry Christmas!

NaNoWriMo Update #3

It’s official! For the third straight year, I am a NaNoWriMo Failure!

When last we met, I was “up to” 9300 words and change. This past week, I have added somewhere in the neighborhood of zero words. Despite the exciting prospect of adding several thousand words of sexual fantasies to my project, I chose to find other things to spend time on, like my job, my karate classes, watching football, etc.

Basically, this NaNoWriMo ended like the others I started, in a morass of frustration, excuses, distractions, and, ultimately, disinterest on my part.

November, in my rationalization, is not a good month for this. The latter part of the month may be productive for those without concern for family togetherness and power shopping, but during and after Thanksgiving, I’m in holiday mode, and spending several hours a day concerned with word count does not contribute to my Christmas spirit, Past, Present or Future.

So once again, I abandon my characters and replace the NaNoWriMo logo on my Facebook page with a generic photo of myself, and begin avoiding my friends who have more fortitude than I do, so I don’t have to answer the inevitable “How’s the writing going?”

Maybe I’ll try it again in February, just to see if I can do it. There’ll be no football, no holidays, no distractions.

We’ll see.

NaNoWriMo Update #2

Well, the short story (Ha!) is that I had an unpleasant week, particularly in regards to my writing. Or attempted writing, I should say.

To begin with, a couple of years ago I was diagnosed with macular degeneration in my left eye.  For about a year-and-a-half I received an injection of Avastin directly into my eye every other month, until my ophthalmologist was satisfied that the disease was under control; although I would never again have normal vision in that eye, at least things were not going to get worse. That was in July of ‘08.

I’ve been returning quarterly for checkups. Last week, iDoc (as I lovingly refer to him, since I have trouble pronouncing “ophthalmologist” in one take) saw a spot that concerned him,  ran some tests and found some hemorrhaging.

So this week began with another injection in my left eye. Lovely.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my karate nights; generally after class I’m not energetic enough to come up with plot points and snappy dialog.

I was able to get some writing done during work hours, but not enough to make up for the time I slacked off during my home hours.

Basically, while I should be at 23,338 to be on track for 50,000 words, my completed word count is 9,341.

What’s the solution for catching up? I have two strategies:

The first is a website I recently discovered called “Write or Die”. It’s been mentioned several time in the official NaNoWriMo forums. I gave it a quick try, and wrote 800 words in about 45 minutes, which is a good pace for me. There’s something about a virtual gun being held to you head which makes it easy to ignore your infernal internal editor and spew out prose at a furious pace.

The second is a shift in genre. Until I can get myself back on track, I’m turning from Science Fiction/Adventure to Porn. That’s right. You heard right. Have you ever read porn? Of course not. Neither have I. But I imagine there’s nothing really literary about it, just pages and pages of excruciating descriptions of activities that we all know and enjoy, but never discuss.

We’ll see if a few steamy (or seamy) sex scenes increases my word count to the point that my main character can return to his Sci-Fi Adventure refreshed and ready.

Check back next week.

NaNoWriMo Update #1

The first week is complete. How am I doing?

I ‘ve put 5461 words to paper. Er, virtual paper.  I should be at 11,669. So I could be doing better. Lots better.

I’ve read from others that have completed the 50,000 words in past years that the second week is easier than the first. We’ll see if that’s true for me.

Time for my characters to sing a lot of songs, have long, drawn-out dreams, and have copious amounts of sex, all written in excruciating detail.

That should get the ol’ word count up!

Wish me luck.


In a few hours, it will be November again, which means in a few hours it will be time for me to take another shot at writing a novel.

Yes, once again it’s National Novel Writing Month, in which several thousand people will spend 30 days attempting to create, if not The Great American Novel, at least a finished product.

While the event, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is usually referred to as “NaNoWriMo”, that’s about the only aspect that’s abbreviated. We’re not talking short stories or novellas here; the challenge is to complete a 50,000 word work of fiction in only 30 days (by way of example, the word counts of both The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Of Mice and Men are roughly 50k).

Why? Why not!

I’ve attempted the feat three times now, and the best I did was about 17,000 words.

This year I intend to finish the task. Despite the full-time job, despite the teenager, despite Thanksgiving and Black Friday and football and decorating for Christmas, I will break the 50,000 word threshold.

Check back for weekly updates on why I’m getting behind.

(For more information about NaNoWriMo, visit