December 29, 2008

My goals for 2009

I’m too self-skeptical to make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I’ve set the following goals. (These could also be considered my list of Big, Fun, Scary Things for 2009.) This list is subject to additions, deletions and alterations at any time.

  • Find a permanent job. I’ve been doing the IT contracting thing for a while now, but that puts me in a volatile sector in a volatile career field. Choosing a place to settle down is a gamble. What if they have massive layoffs, or move the office to a distant state? (Both have happened to me, and I had been happy in those jobs.) What if the company looks good on paper, but turns out to be another Dickensian, Dilbertesque or Kafkaesque environment? (I’ve worked in all three. A sense of humor is mandatory.)
  • Start learning Polish. I’ve often threatened to learn a second language. In addition to high school Spanish, and German and Koiné Greek in college, at various times I’ve toyed with Italian, French, Latin, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Icelandic. I couldn’t ask for a cup of coffee in any of those languages. Polish, with its scarcity of vowels, is intimidating, but I admire Polish culture and have enjoyed many Polish writers in translation.
  • Start learning yoga. I have the For Dummies book. I don’t intend to become a human knot, but I would like to become more fit and less stressed.
  • Start meditating. I’ve meditated sporadically, by which I mean about five times a year, for a couple of decades. I need to start revving down my type-A personality. I might even begin sleeping eight hours a night. (Why is everyone laughing?)
  • Write a play. I’ve written plays before, but that was in my dadaist period; they made no sense and were completely unstageable. (As I recall, one ended with the destruction of the universe.) I’d like to script something that could actually be performed.
  • Write song lyrics. I’ve written the lyrics for two or three songs in my life, and I still don’t know what I’m doing. I hope to learn. Composing melody is beyond me.
  • Write at least one poem a day in April. I do this every year for National Poetry Month, but I think it still counts as an adventure. I usually end the month with at least one or two keepers.
  • ScriptFrenzy. This is the cousin to National Novel Writing Month; the goal is to write a full-length film screenplay in one month. Unfortunately, ScriptFrenzy coincides with National Poetry Month. (There goes my “eight hours of sleep” goal.) I’ll be collaborating with my wife, Anne, in this adventure.
  • Create my personal website. I’ve owned the domain for years. I keep tinkering with the site design. It’s time to just do it.
  • Publish a piece of fiction—for pay—in currency, not copies. Just to prove I can.
  • Make a good start on that philosophical-epic-dramatic poem I have notes for on a million scattered scraps of paper. (Working title: “Polyphanic Idiographies.”)
  • Recycle the abandoned items on this list for 2010.

November 30, 2008

NaNoWriMo Accomplished!

NaNoWriMo Winner 2008

NaNoWriMo Winner 2008

I finished NaNoWriMo about 6:30 this morning, with a hundred words or so over the 50,000 goal and my story wrapped up.

The characters are inconsistently drawn, you can drive an SUV through the plot holes, the dialogue is often clunky, and I only found the narrator’s voice in the last few chapters. Nonetheless, I think I have something worth revising. It made me laugh, it made me cry, I was sleep-deprived.

It was a fantastic and frustrating experience.

November 16, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 16

I’ve been sporadic about writing this past week, and I’m about 3,800 words behind schedule, but I’m making up ground. I’m running into plot cul-de-sacs. When I had trouble coming up with something to write tonight, I had my main character receive letters from his siblings. Those were good for about 700 words, but more importantly, it kicked my brain into gear.

I think I’ll come out of this with something worth revising, but it will need major reconstructive surgery.

Anyway, the stats:

Today’s word count: 2,314

Total word count to date: 22,836

November 11, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 10

…though I’m writing this on Day 11.

My scenes are getting longer, but that’s because I’m having a hard time finding a way out of them. They end without resolution, and abruptly.

On the other hand, my protagonist (whom we have been following from age 5) is now in 9th grade, so I have a lot to say. As a nerd, and more importantly, as a self-righteous, arrogant prig, I did not have a happy high school experience. I brought a lot of it on myself — but when adults do the kinds of things to one another that teenagers do, they go to prison. If my experience was anywhere close to typical, we all leave adolescence with PTSD. (I just remembered: I need to talk about zits.)

I’m rambling. Maybe to put off yesterday’s stats, which are not impressive. Here they are:

Yesterday’s word count:739

Total word count to date: 17,759

November 9, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 9

Today’s word count:3,403

Total word count to date:17,020

I had a productive session at the write-in this evening. I think I actually created some good scenes.

On the other hand, I once thought I had won the lottery, but when I woke up I was still broke.

NaNoWriMo Day 8

Today’s word count: 1,834

Total word count to date: 13,617

I know the next major plot point I want to reach in my novel, I just can’t decide which of three paths to take to get there. How I get from A to B will influence the development of all the major characters.

I’ll sleep on it, and return to the dilemma (trilemma?) tomorrow with a fresh lack of clarity.

November 8, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 7

I took yesterday off for important personal reasons (poker), which put me a little behind, but I’m back on track now.

Today’s word count: 2,120

Total word count to date: 11,783

I keep thinking I know where the story is going, and it keeps going somewhere else.

November 6, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 5

I took yesterday off to help save the country. Today, I’m back at it. I had to work late, though, so didn’t get in as much writing as I’d hoped.

Today’s word count: 1,008

Total word count to date: 9,663

November 3, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 3

Today’s word count: 1,762

Total word count to date: 8,655

I’m taking tomorrow off so I can watch the election returns obsessively. On Wednesday I’ll return to my novel with either a renewed sense of creative vigor, or a desire to lose myself in an imaginary world.

November 2, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 2

Today’s word count: 4,670

Total word count to date: 6,893

My characters are developing themselves in directions I never envisioned or intended. They insist on being who they are, not who I want them to be, and doing what they want, not what I want them to do.

If I had plotted out this novel before starting, I’d be really ticked off.

The prose still stinks, though.

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