NaNoWriMo Update #4 and Wrap-up – Week of November 22-30

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Source: Tumblr

This week. Oh boy. It was a fun one! and by fun I mean miserable and yet liberating all at the same time. Yes, that’s an odd sentiment for me to have about the end of NaNoWriMo 2016. Did I win? Nope. Did I get close? No way. Did I learn anything? TONS.

NaNoWriMo for me is not just about ‘winning’, it’s about practicing the discipline of writing. I wrote a solid 25,000 words this month, not to mention the book reviews I’ve caught up on writing in this week after I threw in the imaginary NaNo towel of defeat. So I didn’t hit 50,000 words. Last year I wrote a total of 4,500. This year I wrote more than 5x that. I call that a win in my book, and since it’s my life, my scorebook is the only book that matters, right? Right.

The week started off rough. I had driven home for the weekend for Thanksgiving, and I was spending the whole week there. Little did I realize how good I have it in Boston. My parents’ house is much darker than I remember it (60-year old houses don’t really have recess lighting), and since I was working at the dining room table, I wasn’t feeding the woodstove regularly, which meant I was basically always cold. Not ideal working conditions.

Beyond that, I finally had a breakthrough with the scene I was writing, but the cold and the dark sapped my energy, to the point where it was quite a struggle to hit the 25,000 word count mark. And that’s with my scrapped scene still included, by the way. Still, I can’t blame my failure purely on lack of warmth, light, or discipline. They all contributed in some way, but I was also missing something else. I was spending so much time writing that I hadn’t left myself any time for reading. My imagination thrives on reading. I had tried to cut out as much of my reading as possible because I didn’t want to distract or influence myself from or about my story in any way, but this led to one of my least favorite things in the world: a reading slump. Which quickly became a writing slump, and then the Thanksgiving holiday (and my entire family being home) enabled me to put off writing again and again until I was back in Boston, where I looked at my computer and felt, well, nothing.

There was no spark left. The reading slump (and very probably some hormones as well) had taken all my inspiration from me, and I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. Instead, I admitted that I needed a vacation from writing (probably until January) because my family is super important to me, and the holidays are just too insane to get any reading done and still write.

I threw myself into finding things that inspire me all over again, but I also let myself cry. I cried watching the Gilmore Girls revival. I cried finishing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (review coming December 13th). I cried watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (twice. I saw it twice. review coming January 2017.) I cried reading The Boston Girl in a single day (review coming December 20th). Like I said, I needed to cry. Crying is extremely cathartic. And, now that I’m caught up on my reviews (I actually finished writing my last reviews for the year yesterday!), and I’m back on a regular reading schedule, I’m feeling much more myself, but I still haven’t found my spark. Hopefully, it will come back sometime in the next month or so, but if I have to put off working on The Everest Chronicles a little longer, I’m okay with that. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with this book in the last 12 years. What harm is there in another few months?

So, no NaNoWriMo win for me, but I am 25,000 words closer to having a complete first draft! Woohoo! I’m pumped to see where my story ends up taking my characters. I have the main plot outlined, but the in between bits keep running off in new directions, and it’s exciting! If you want to know what I was up to during the last week, check out my notes below.

(Day) Day # – Goal/Actual Word count (Daily word count) (ahead/behind)

(Tuesday) Day 22 – 36666/24044 (250) (-12622)
Having been gone for a month, I made a point of driving over an hour to meet a friend for lunch and then head over to the bridal shop to visit my old coworkers. It was a slow day, and everyone who was there was pretty psyched to see me, so it was a very nice visit. 🙂
(Wednesday) Day 23 – 38333/ 25347 (1303) (-12986)
My sisters arrived home for the holiday Tuesday night, so Wednesday was dedicated to hanging out with them. I also had to drive my dad to the dealership because his truck was acting up. But I did find time in the afternoon to sit down and pound out some words. I’m beyond excited that I hit 25000! Those last 5000 words were the hardest part of the entire month for me, but I made it. I can’t say that I knew I was going to give up here, but I had had a pretty good feeling I was going to quit at 25k for the last few days. I just wouldn’t allow myself to give up before I got there.
(Thursday) Day 24 – 40000/ 25347 (0) (-14653)
Thanksgiving was amazing. On my dad’s side, the biggest family holidays are Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. Every other holiday you have no idea who;s going to show up, but on those two days just about everyone is there. This year, of the 38 of us, we were missing only six, and that includes the newlyweds, the one working in LA, and the group who went to Cali to visit the other side of their family.
(Friday) Day 25 – 41666/25347 (0) (-16319)
Black Friday at my house doesn’t mean shopping until you drop. It’s all about baking. We baked 33 dozen cookies in under six hours this year. We have six or seven different kinds of cookies that we’ve perfected recipes for over the years, though we’ve only made three kinds this year so far. While it’s just me and my mom and whatever friends I can recruit doing the baking now, it used to be my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, me, and my siblings. Baking day has always been my favorite. We also went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Yay!
(Saturday) Day 26 – 43333/25347 (0) (-17986)
I spent the day leisurely driving back up to Boston, but I made a point of stopping to visit my friend from highschool who lives in Connecticut. She was my first ever best friend, and while we’ve been friends for TEN YEARS now, I still hardly ever get to see her. Hopefully, with my travellig back and forth from NJ to MA now, I’ll get to see her a lot more!
(Sunday) Day 27 – 45000/25347 (0) (-19653)
I think I spent the entire day watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Wait, yes. I did. It’s six hours long, and I needed to take breaks to breathe. I also found a church to go to in the area! Hooray!
(Monday) Day 28 – 46666/25347 (0) (-21319)
After crying through Gilmore Girls, I thought I couldn’t make my face look worse by finishing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I was wrong, but it was worth it!
(Tuesday) Day 29 – 48333/25347 (0) (-22986)
I may have the read The Boston Girl in one day, and it might need to be added to my list of favorite books of all time.
(Wednesday) Day 30 – 50000/25347 (0) (-24653)
I decided to take a rest day. I wrote this post, and did a lot of ‘End of NaNoWriMo Processing’. I accomplished a lot this year, and I am super proud of myself. Even though I didn’t win, I think I deserve a T-shirt and a mug. Also the theme this year for NaNoWriMo was/is pretty awesome.

I’m not giving up in any way, shape, or form, but I do need to do some work to get my spark back. Don’t worry, I’ve lost the spark many times before and it always returns. In the mean time, I’m looking forward to diving into my reading list for next year to try and get ahead on my reviews. That way, when inspiration does strike, I’ll be ready for it, and I’ll have time to devote to writing without getting too far behind on my reading. Here’s to another amazing year of being surrounded by and creating works of art with words.

Until Next Time,

~Amanda

November Update – 2016 Goals Check-In

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Well, I can’t say the past two weeks have really flown by, but neither can I say they crawled. They seemed a mix of endless days and quick parts. I am now mostly settled into my new residence in Boston. In case you’ve missed the past two updates, I’m living with my aunt and uncle and watching my baby cousin during the day because they needed to go back to work.

Thus far, I love it. In fact, today might be the first day of real rain we’ve had since I arrived, and I find that I don’t mind it at all. The sound is actually pretty soothing as I write. I’ll be sharing a post about my adventures in the city probably sometime next week.

Watching the monkey, aka my cousin (who like myself and my uncle were born in the Year of the Monkey!) is actually pretty fun, though mostly only because I’m not on night duty, so I start each day with enough sleep and energy to keep up with him. It’s interesting to watch him develop and learn new things. So far, I’ve taught him how to do raspberries… which may have backfired in the form of me getting spit on every time we feed him solids. Oops. My Bad. But it is adorable to hear him practicing though the baby monitor when he first wakes up from a nap.

We celebrated my grandmother’s 80th birthday at the beginning of the month! She’s one of my favorite people in the world, and while my mom and I couldn’t attend the actual party, we both drove to Connecticut (my mom from NJ, I from Boston) and had our own party the next weekend. Any time I can spend with her is always well spent.

I’m headed to my parents this weekend for the first time since the move! Sometimes it’s weird to think that I don’t live there anymore, but to me it will always be home, whether I’m at college, living with my aunt and uncle, or living on my own. I’ll be home for a whole week, and I’m excited to get some quality family time in, as well as some quality writing time. NaNoWriMo is hard work! Hopefully, I’ll be able to pop down to the bridal shop to visit my old co-workers as well!

So far this month, I think I’m doing pretty okay with my goals. Let’s check them out:

TOTY 24 Goals:
Write Every Day – Almost! I’ve missed a total of three days, and I half-assed it for two more. So, I’ve basically written 10 of the first 14 days. Two-thirds isn’t bad, though!! I’m only down ~5,000 words from where I’m supposed to be word count wise for the month.

Apply to Full Time Jobs – COMPLETED!

Apply to Grad School – After attending the open house at Emerson, I really like their program. AND I found out that I don’t have to take the GRE! So, come December when NaNoWriMo ends, I can start on the essays, brushing up my professional/academic resume and speaking with contacts about recommendation letters.

November Goals:
Write 50,000 words of the Everest Chronicles – I’ve just crossed 20,000 words yesterday! I’m on track for 40,000, but I’m still hoping to hit that goal of 50k! See my NaNoWriMo weekly updates for more information. Links will go live with the posts.
NaNo Prep
Week One (1-7)
Week Two (8-15)
Week Three (15-21)
Week Four (22-30) + Wrap Up

Write 8 posts – This is number 3? I think? I have the first two weeks of NaNoWriMo updates posted already, and there should be 2-3 more of those, as well as 1-3 posts pertaining to my exploration of Boston. So far it is much smaller than I expected.

Walk 30 miles – Being in a new city means there are endless things for me to explore! I use a step counter app on my phone, and so far I’ve walked ~22 miles! It’s not much, but I’m getting there!

Read 5 books – So Far: 1. As in, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It took me a while, as you can see. And yet,  it was the first 300 or so pages that took me the longest to read. I spent them curled up in the fetal position, waiting for the pain to start, rather than tearing through the plot like people sometimes rip off band-aids. I knew what was going to happen. I’ve read the book before. And yet… and yet trying to stop while you read that book is like wearing the Horcrux too long, or asking a dementor to please follow you around every minute of the day while you wait in agony to find out the fate of your favorite characters. Let’s just say there is a reason I finished the novel in 36 hours when it first came out. And yes, I still cry for every death, and yes, the first time I read about THE DEATH, I threw the whole book against the wall. Or, well, I would have, but at the last minute I aimed for my pillows because I had signed for the book when it came and hadn’t told the rest of my family it had arrived yet, and therefore didn’t want them coming in to find out what the noise was. I felt that I deserved to read it first after having to wait a solid week when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out before I could pry it away from my mother and my brother, who quite literally just passed it back and forth 24/7 until they finished it. Apparently, they thought I read too slowly.

I started Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but that’s a whole other story I don’t need to get into right now. Basically, I had to stop because it was distracting me from NaNoWriMo. My brain simply could not process new Harry Potter information while trying to live in the made up world that I’m writing about.

I have a list of other books I want to read this month, but I have no idea how far I’m going to get with them, especially since I’m already behind on NaNoWriMo after spending two days travelling for my grandma’s birthday and another day that was devoted simply to reading the last 500 pages of Deathly Hallows. Not sorry about it. Not at all.

Updated November TBR:
Definitely Reading:
Harry Potter (7): Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Completed
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – 25% finished
FB&WTFT (1): Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Still on Pre-Order
Big Magic – Just started
2016 Best American Travel Writing – This is my read-on-the-train book. Quite good so far!
Ebenezer Scrooge Mysteries (1): The Humbug Murders

Hopefully Reading:
You Are A Badass
Present Over Perfect
Pretty Happy

December TBR:
Definitely Reading:
Thrive
The Boston Girl
The Keepers (1): A Wizard Named Nell
Lois Lane (1): Fallout
TH&TC (1): The Hammer and the Cross
TH&TC (2): One King’s Way

Hopefully Reading:
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Manage Your Day-To-Day
Explorer’s Guild G (1): A Passage to Shambala (~300 pages left!)