The clock of NaNo Doom

Every year I reserve the last two weeks for NaNo prep. Some years it goes better than others.  2019 has achieved an abysmal low.

On the 17th my computer’s power supply cacked out. Would not recharge.  To make it extra fun I had some governmental paperwork, that could not even be done over the phone as the governmental eforms also cacked.  A rushed search for a new universal power supply and then a second universal power supply and I was good or a day and a half.

black whirlpool in the water

Whirlpool by David O’Hare. Attribution under Creative Commons 2.0

Then then that stopped charging.  Holding it in hard made connection, but not enough to charge.  The socket to the motherboard came loose, and my tech said that people don’t do that kind of welding any more.

It was a five year laptop, that had already had 3 fans and 2 keyboards.  Some keys were starting to stick again and the case grill had cracked off.  I’d used it hard, but I was going to have to suck it up and finally leave Win 8.1 for the supposed bliss of a touch based interface.

That is actually why I don’t want it even after 48hrs of working on set up.  There’s hidden settings, and control panel is NOT default present in the start menu.  I’ve been having an ongoing issue that mouse ro;;over in both sometimes desktop and very frequent browser acts like a right mouseclick.  It’s not an ad and fussing with settings didn’t help.  I reduced the issue about 75% when I disabled touch screen in my browser.  But it still happens, with a syster right click blocking what I’m working on.

It is a more powerful machine, but the ONLY neat feature was that my active desktop background appeared automagically when I logged in on the first boot.  I’m still waiting for that burst of enlightenment and joy Win10 promised.

Make sure you back up into the cloud, its way better than any of the old hardware solutions.  Backup your bookmarks and anything you do creative. Expect to take days to weeks to recover.

And try not to have a disaster near NaNo.

The Winds of NaNo

grains falling through hourglass

In Search of Lost Time by Alexander Boden on flickr, without changes, per Creative Commons.

Summer heat and RL issues finally faded this week, leaving me less than three weeks before Nano starts. I was thinking of skipping this year as I have too many WIPs for my comfort, but I realized that the structure and deadline act like a booster vaccine for my diligence. This year was much warmer and I had a huge months-long worker turnover so I only got a relative few chapters/stories finished.

Some years during NaNo, I get my original story drafted (the challenge) AND substantial stories and blogging done. I need engaging story ideas!

I have another week before I get into this year’s prep, which is as a pantser, deciding which story idea to use and decite what plot elements to include. One big choice is whether to do original or fanfic. I don’t know yet. thens a vry primitive summaryabout a paragraphor or broad outline. Before the 23rd, I want to post for a WIP and polish & release a dark fantasy with demons- that has a more horror ending. Third, in the next few days a horror I submitted for the AITHWIP Halloween might be chosen.

Definitely moving into my most active writing part of the year! The boost usually lasts until late spring, Summer heat and humidity really thwart my cognitive function!

Little peeve of the Day

Trigger and Content warnings:

I can understand the need to warn readers that the work may have a disturbing event in an article or story. Unfortunately, disturbing things like violence, rape, and abuse are part of life. Even if they all ended tomorrow, there’s still plenty of people carrying scars. Even in the future when we are all gone, you cannot fully understand an era or people if you are ignorant of how violence or the threat affects people.

So these things will remain in our psyche for a long time. Ignoring them will not make them go away. In fact, ignoring them leaves victims less able to react in disbelief and shock. Nor does it provide ideas or hope. Better to show survival and coping, that being a victim is not the end.

Trigger and content warnings allow people who have issues with a particular trauma skip over sections or an entire story. It is a kindness, a bit of the golden rule, and good business. Kindness that a trauma isn’t refreshed. A golden rule as you don’t need people picking at painful areas for mere amusement. And really good buisiness for a writer. Fool me once, slipping in a trauma I wasn’t ready for and YOU are the abuser. I will leave a comment sometimes, I won’t be back for more stories, and I will not recommend it.

Once Broken, some things may not be easily fixed

Tags and warnings are important.

But warnings spoil my story! How can I shock or surprise my readers if I tell them bad things are about to happen? It will weaken my story, real life doesn’t warn you! Stories, older stories don’t have warnings!
You just have to deal with it. Older stories were far less graphic, things that need content warnings were mentioned in euphamisms and happened off camera. The character will still be surprised their hand is amputated by the villain, the reader will still feel their shock and pain, so the warning will not harm your target reader who likes angst, and it gives a fair chance for readers bothered by that violence to skip over a section. It’s a win-win, for a tiny bit of spoilery if handled well, you don’t tick off readers.

Okay, Okay. I’ll put warnings in, but I’ll put them at the end of the chapter in the footnotes so it doesn’t spoil the story… They can skip to the end of the chapter to see the warning, then its their own fault.
Now that is just cruel. (and a little obsessive about refusing to warn) You care so little for the readers, you think they want to skip back and forth because you are too lazy to properly tag and do a postscript half-a apology for being offensive? You do not respect their agency, and think lying by omission is just great. It’s not that important and the story is SO good they won’t care. Don’t fool yourself, you are breaking their trust with this deceit. If you cannot be honest why should I have to zig zag, when you missed the meaning of ‘warning?’

Warning tags won’t stop people who trust your tags are accurate or don’t care, but do you really want to alienate those who do care about their pain? (they have money to, young author) Tag your stories.

Temptation…

I am very tempted with the DC Universe service. I have a long fondness for the characters, and I am very intrigued by the Doom Patrol trailor.

But I really don’t believe in subscribing to more than 2 services. I was interested in getting Disney service due to the Clone Wars… but my faith there is not strong.  DC already crashed and burned when bringing the dark, nihilistic Batman into a shared universe. It almost had to go up. Diana and Arthur did it right, and Billy has the right optimism, too.

The issue is that I am fond of my cable lineup and I am not sure I can convince anyone in my family to drop a tier.

Make a Joyful Noise

Time always slips by so fast during the holidays, doesn’t it? I was waiting for the notice that an anthology I contributed to had gone live. The final deadline was mid-November, and NaNo kept me busy and left me exhausted as December started. So it took me about a week to learn the anthology had already gone live.

Then it took me a few days to make sure it was listed on my Amazon author page with my own chapbooks and collection.

This flash anthology was put together by and for students of Holly Lisle. These are all very short stories, of five hundred words or less, created after her free flash fiction class. They lean toward the fantastic, but I believe we include every major genre. The great thing for you is that the ebook version is free, and available in multiple formats. (You can of course get a dead tree version if you decide to collect everyone’s autographs to say you ‘read us when…’)

Take a chance on us, the first one’s free. 😀

Nano lesson #8: The Final Sprint

The good news is that we are now in that final stretch of NaNo. If you have been diligent, or did extra ahead of time to allow for Thanksgiving feasting and Black Friday madness, you should be in good shape.

I mean 1,667 words a day isn’t that much? I’ve seen plenty of comments on blogs from ethics to manners that roared past that number. I’ve seen run on sentences that sent on forever. How many of us finished that thirty page research project in three days for high school? Fiction can be way easier because you can make up shit. That’s why it’s called fiction.

NaNo whirlwind 2017, original neon whirlwind by Creativity103 without change, used under Creative Common 2.0

I easily average over a thousand words a day writing. I switch from project to project when one gets blocked or a plot bunny bites. Usually I do comments or blog entries, and write for two active fiction stories every week.

But doing nearly two thousand every day for NaNo lasts long enough that I have to prune my other activities just to get it done. The later in the month, the more has been has been pruned. TV and movies are much lower. Socializing too, but that’s been on a downward trend since college. Sleep has been hard hit, but that’s back to holding at six to seven hours. Some years, plot bunnies from EVERY other unfinished story attack to distract me, leaving fang and claw marks everywhere. Shopping for the holidays takes a big hit, even ordering online doesn’t help when the online system at Michaels told us they were out of stock three days in a row, but a friend walked right in and bought several from a flat. By the end of the month, family is a little better at not bothering you. A little, and only for humans. The four leggeds do not understand NaNo anymore than they get daylight saving time.

If you have made use of all this scavenged time, you should be over 40k words by today and hit 45k by tomorrow night. You may be tired and hate the story, but at this point you’re so close it would be stupid to stop.

And if you have fallen behind, you have only five days including today. Cut out more and write more. If you never really got rolling, write anyway. Write about the problems you had this year and how to avoid or lessen them for next time. Make it about a learning experience instead of about your lead.

Even after multiple successes, it is rarely any easier. The first draft is easy for a very, very inspiring idea that won’t let go. I think that has happened maybe twice in the last twelve NaNos for me. Twice were total wrecks and did not finish. The others were hard and sometimes brutal. But I made it through them. A majority of the stories were posted online as fanfic, or sit in a trunk hoping for effective editing and revision.

But there is always next year. There are also two Camp NaNo sessions where you can practice the pace or pick a different goal. Just keep at it. Someone will love your story, the tricks are to be clear in telling it and find your fans.

Get to it! And good luck!

Nano lesson #7: Burnout, aka Thanksgiving

Resting and adaptability sometimes just are not enough, the last few days are usually brutal. The various Thanksgiving hosting and food issues, plus even limited shopping for the holidays are not just distracting, but exhausting. This year Thanksgiving was early. You might think that a full week after the holiday means you have massive time, but no. It’s just that you only have three weeks for prime writing this time before the holiday, instead of closer to four.

There was a major illness in my immediate family this fall, so food and even cleanup had to be reconfigured. (Turkey breast in the slow cooker and dropping the stuffing) We also had a panic attack when sibling announced that all the leftover potatoes fell on the floor! But the bigger disaster was that a new helper eagerly rubbed pepper on the turkey, for a house where no one uses pepper at all and we only keep a little for guests at the table. The family attacked the turkey & gravy, mashed potatoes, and asparagus and took a communal nap. (forgot the fresh cranberry relish again!)

Holiday street light decorations shining along the river

image by Jack on flickr at [https://flic.kr/p/5LPmyy], under Creative Commons 2 [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/]

Of course the culture seems to have decided to replace watching football with competitive shopping, in stores that barely close for the longest holiday travel weekend of the year. I have some shopping done, but will make cards after NaNo ends. One issue is that shopping for normal things is about five times as as slow and exhausting as normal, like for just plain soda out of stock on Tuesday. I’m not buying a TV or phone, so the door busting doesn’t even open my door let alone bust anything. I will be looking at laptops real soon now as my 3rd fan is very noisy. It seems to work fine, but apps to monitor heat add extra overhead. I’ve been watching it for heat and stress for over a year, but noise is the only issue and gives me a headache sometimes. Researching a new one will take time, time I can’t afford during NaNo. Even if prices will be very good. I don’t know how long I can nurse this one, as much as I love it. All things pass.

But later.

The holiday + Black/Cyber/Giving brouhahas make even normal business a challenge. And writing something intentionlly thoughtfull? Concentration and time are near impossible for a couple of days. A day and a half away doesn’t seem like that much, but it is.

Getting started and back in the mindset is like an opening night. You have to ignore the butterfllies and all the little imps that remind you the slowcooker is stained with smudges of dried glaze at the top and you need to order and collect dogfood. They can wait a couple of hours.

Better yet, see what you can offload to other family members. But down on rec reading and even checking the news. Anything really big and family will tell you.

Use an idea you were doubtful of earlier. Add something lighter, as too much angst is a drag! Recast a favorite piece for your world if it doesn’t break the setting. I may look for a random plot or prompt list to do a scene. Write a tabloid reporter or newspaper like National Enquirer reporting of story events, even more fun, have the characters see the story and have them react big!

The first thing is to just start writing again.

That’s what editing is for later.

Just write! And let the devil take the hindmost.