NaNoWriMo 2021 Wrap Up

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I survived NaNoWriMo 2021 and ended up with quite a few more words than I anticipated.  I finished things off with six straight hours of online write-ins (hosted by various MLs in my region) and a final total of 68,999 words.  I wrote every single day in November, with a low word count of 9 words in a day and a high of 6,422.

My original story idea came with a plot outline and some solid characters.  I got distracted for over 20,000 words with a side plot romance that wasn’t even supposed to exist.  When that had run it’s course, I wasn’t feeling very engaged with the original story idea, so I ended up starting something entirely new.  This was a romance and getting from meet cute to dating managed to get me through the rest of November.  While I like my characters, I’m not sure I like the story itself enough to finish it or edit it, but maybe I’ll revisit the idea later.  It wouldn’t be the first time I thought there was nothing to be done with a NaNo draft only to reread it a few months later and find it much better than I remembered.

I hope all of you who participated in NaNoWriMo this year met the goals you set for yourselves, whether that was the traditional 50,000 words, to write every day of the month, or just to increase your word count on a project.  Since I’ve proven to myself that I can write 50k in a month (or 100k if I really put my mind to it or have more time away from work) my goal was to write every single day, and I’m proud of myself for meeting that goal.

Here’s to an enjoyable holiday season, writing through to the end of the year, and keeping the habit going into 2022.

NaNoWriMo Week Four 2021

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It’s been another strange year of NaNoWriMo for me.  No in-person gatherings changes the characteristics of the challenge a little, and I miss seeing everyone, but I’m glad we’re all being safe by not increasing our exposure risks.

I started out with one idea, spent nearly 20,000 words (or more?) on a tangent side plot that I hadn’t originally planned, and then completely abandoned it all to work on a new idea.  But I wrote my 50,000 words and then some, and I’m still writing through the end of the month, so I’m going to call that a win even if I did project hop a bit.  I plan to earn my NaNo badge for updating my word count every singe one of the 30 days of November, so I still have a few days to explore this newer idea.

If you’re making your NaNo attempt this year, I hope it’s going well, whatever that means for you.

Image Prompt Response 082 – Unicorn Muse

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I chose the image of Beau, my ML mascot rainbow-maned unicorn boy for my twenty-minute sprint this time.

Title: Unicorn Muse

Beau waited patiently for the lights to be turned off and the humans to go to sleep for the night.

He’d chosen a potentially dangerous path when he’d selected his form for the human world.  Everyone had told him that the type of toy he was inhabiting was typically bought by small children and subject to all kinds of abuse, but he’d believed in the vision his mother had before he was selected to journey to the mortal world to inspire humans.  She’d seen his final form as a Muse, so he’d selected the nearest thing he could.

He’d materialized on the shelf of a store in his tiny plush body with little or no ability to move on its own, even if it had locomotion.  The “legs” it had been given weren’t even big enough to qualify as feet compared to the rest of the plush body.  That was the advantage of magic and selecting a form that was incredibly light.  He’d explored the store after it closed and decided to settle on the very top shelf of the display of plush toys that looked like him.  It had proved a strategic decision.

The next day, before the store even opened, one of the employees selected him and two others just like him and purchased them.  He spent the remainder of the day sequestered in a bag, but then she took him home.  He could tell as soon as they were in her space that she was a very creative sort.  It permeated her little dwelling.

It was a few days later when he and the others were taken with her somewhere.  One of the inanimate plush with no spirit riding within was given to a lovely woman who was incredibly excited.  A few days later, he was presented to a different woman.  She was just as excited as the first one.

He’d been with this woman for a few weeks now.  She was just as creative as the original, but in a different way.  And today, she’d made alterations that he was fairly sure put him in the form his mother had seen.  He had to wait for her to go to sleep, and then for the man she lived with to go to sleep as well.  When only the cat was still awake, Beau carefully flew to the bathroom, locking the cat on the other side and turning on the light.

He had a rainbow.  Tail and main had both been adorned with carefully tied colorful threads, enhancing the original pink.  Beau approved.

Over the next few weeks, he began to understand the extent to which the woman he’d been given to would help spread and enhance his influence, much as she’d enhanced his mane and tail.  Once a week she gathered with other writers to talk and share ideas.  Almost a month after she’d enhanced his own colorful hair, she did the same for her own, returning home with six colors of the rainbow.  That was the week the larger gatherings began.

Beau was taken along to a large party, and then more and more gatherings of writers.  He didn’t always understand human speech properly in his tiny plush form, but he learned there was a large writing event that happened once a year, and the woman he’d been gifted to organized gatherings for others, along with the original woman and the other she’d gifted a plush unicorn.

His choice of form had led him to a ringleader of a local creative writing community.  He’d already learned that she dabbled in sewing and other small crafts, and many of the writers she met with drew or crafted in some other way as well.  The original woman who’d purchased him even painted.

At every gathering, his new owner would bring him out of his special place nestled in her bag and display him for all to see, sometimes alongside a sign or tucked near her laptop on the little stand she used.  He helped others finder her, and he brought smiles to their faces, and when she called out “Ready!  Set!  Sprint!” he let his power wash out over them as they typed furiously.

Image Prompt 082 – Write the Rainbow

A pair of flannel pants made from a white fabric with a rainbow pattern of hearts featuring a patch pocket sewn on to match the pattern below it.
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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Full disclosure: The images I had originally selected to be the November and December image prompts have gone MIA with a computer transition.  So these are being drawn from somewhere other than the usual places, so please enjoy.

NaNoWriMo Week 1 2021

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We’re only a few days into NaNoWriMo and it’s going both better and worse than expected.  Better in that I’m keeping up with daily par, which I was a little worried about this year.  Worse in that I don’t feel like my story is going anywhere yet.  Maybe I shouldn’t be worried about that, since someone very accurately predicted that I’d actually get to the beginning of my story on day six.  Maybe I have great things to look forward to starting tomorrow.

As usual in November, this is going to be a fairly short post so I can focus on my novel project for the month.  I’m beginning to fall in love with my characters already, which is always a good thing, but I’m not super attached to my plot outline, which is not entirely unexpected, but I was hoping the plotting experiment would stick longer.  Maybe I’ll come back around to it later.  I do have the seven-point plot structure for the team’s emotional journey which fairly closely parallels the outside-the-team conflict which is nice.  We’ll see how it goes when I get past exposition stages.

For everyone out there doing the November challenge this year:

Good luck and word speed to you!

NaNoWriMo Is Coming

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I am not ready.

I still don’t have my idea.

This will not stop me from writing 50,000 words in November.

Well, most likely it won’t.

We are still not at the latest date I picked a NaNoNovel to write.  I still have two days and change to come up with an idea.  I have dozens of partially completed ideas I could work on instead of starting something new.

Regardless of my own level of preparedness, I am excited for NaNoWriMo.  I’m involved in prep and planning both for my local region, and for two big global events.  I’m looking forward to some intense writing sessions over the first two weekends during those events and hopefully a lot of words too.

I hope all of you planning to join the challenge with me are slightly better prepared.  May your words flow freely and your ideas come easily.  And I hope your characters surprise you a little, just because.

And a Happy Early NaNoEveAween to you all!

Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2021

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This time last year, I was geared up and ready to go for NaNoWriMo like I’ve never been before.  I got my idea record breakingly early and was writing backstory scenes and exploring my characters for several weeks before November and official word count tracking began.  That project held my attention for a solid four months, and I ended up with at least three novels worth of words.  I felt lucky as I was writing, because I was watching so many around me struggle to write due to the everything going on at the time.

This year, the everything is getting to me.  I don’t even have any ideas, or past projects I’m considering.  I did a little brainstorming last week and have a kernel of a possible idea, but it’s not enough to really spark my attention.  Probably because I don’t have any characters yet, just a vague setting and plot thread I could follow.

Most of my projects start with a character (or two).  I almost never start with the plot.  I’ve been trying to find a character that will grab my attention this year, and so far, I’ve had no luck.  That aside, the NaNo prep is actually going fairly well.

I attended a workshop about outlining for novel writing, and the strategy the author presented was actually very helpful for thinking about how a plot is supposed to work.  I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to apply it prior to drafting anything, but I should be able to use it either as a revision tool, or as something I create once I have the characters established enough to figure out the plot points (or at least the hook and the resolution).

I’ve been preparing my physical and mental spaces, preparing my friends, working with my fellow volunteers on local and global event set up and planning, and getting my calendar sorted out.  I even froze some meals and stockpiled some snacks.  All I need to do is get a bit ahead on laundry and I’ll be all set as far as everything not writing is concerned.

I’m not too worried about the writing part just yet.  I am locally infamous for picking my idea out on Halloween.  It’s still early for me to have my idea if we’re looking strictly at precedent.  But there’s still a little worry that all the everything is going to get in the way, and I won’t be able to write this year.  If that turns out to be the case, then I just need to have compassion with myself and not berate myself.  I’ve written a lot of words during NaNoWriMos of the past.  One less productive year doesn’t make me any less of a writer, any less of a participant, or any less period.

Here’s hoping your NaNoWriMo prep is going better than mine if you’re participating (especially if you’re a planner).  If you aren’t participating, you can check out all the details here and learn about the wacky challenge I take on each November.

Image Prompt Response 081 – Wedding Photos

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I chose the image of the castle ruins seen on my Welsh Dragon Haggis Tour back in 2005.  I managed to find the original image I wrote this prompt to despite the compute drive kerfuffle that lost my originally planned image prompts for this month.

You may recognize a couple characters from Image Prompt responses 20 and 62 if you’ve been reading here for a while.  They don’t have a book of their own yet, but there are some scenes lying around that could develop in that direction one day.

Wedding Photos:

Ian angled the camera up toward the second story of the structure while he waited for the wedding planner to finish positioning people.  He made sure there was just enough of the sky above the wall in frame to add a nice lighting effect to the finished shot, making the sky seem like a bright white haze above the wall.  With any luck it would turn out artsy enough to get some prints ordered online.

He turned back to the group and made sure he was ready to start snapping pictures as soon as the wedding party and family members were arranged as requested.  This was the set of formal photos the bride and groom’s families wanted.  Posed shots with certain members in them.  After this, he and the wedding party would have time to do the pictures the couple wanted for themselves.

“I think that’s everything,” the wedding planned said after Ian had finished taking several shots of the entire two-family group.  “I’ve got everything on my list for the families,” she said to Ian.  She turned back to the group and raised her voice.  “Family members, thank you for your patience and cooperation.  We’ve got everything we need from all of you, so please make your way carefully back to the path and down to the reception tent.  The wedding party will remain here to get a few more photographs before joining you.”

Ian sighed quietly and glanced about as the group began to disperse.  The bridesmaids and groomsmen had formed a bit of a huddle to one side, between the families and the couple, who were standing a little away, her leaning in and his arm around her shoulders.

Ian quickly got a few pictures of them enjoying the quiet moment, as well as a few that showed their wedding party being a buffer for them.  He really liked this couple.  Weddings usually weren’t his favorite thing to shoot, especially when they involved travel, but they’d wanted him because of all his pictures of ruined castles and other structures as much as for his portrait work.  They liked his versatility and that he loved the old structures like they did.  The groom was just starting out a career as an archeology professor and the bride was an engineer who specialized in restoration and preservation of stone structures like the one they were standing in.

Ian caught a movement in the corner of his vision and turned to look.  Up on the second floor, somewhere visitors were barred from going without special permission, stood a petite man with pastel blue hair and blue butterfly wings.  Well, man was a bit of a misnomer.  One of the Fair Folk.  Ian smiled up at Ailill briefly before returning his attention to the wedding party.  He still had work to do, and he knew Ailill would just watch quietly, hidden by his glamour from anyone but Ian, until Ian was done with work for the day.

“We’ve got at least half an hour before anyone starts getting restless,” the wedding planner said.  “I advise wedding party shots as quickly as we can manage, then we can send them down to keep everyone happy while we get the couple shots you want.”

“Sounds good,” the groom replied.  “Mostly we just want to find interesting backdrops to use and situate ourselves less formally.”

“I know you wanted to rely on the eye of the photographer more for these,” the wedding planner said.  “I’ll try to stay out of the way and be helpful.”

The bride smiled.  Ian was pretty sure she’d hired this wedding planner specifically because the woman was willing to back off and give them control again when the situation warranted it.

“I think we can get some good variety with different angles in here,” Ian said, “and it would be nice to try a few in the two smaller rooms as well.”

“I agree,” the bride said, beaming at Ian.  “I wish we could go up to the second floor, but they were very adamant that it wasn’t safe yet.”

“I took a look at the stairs,” Ian said.  “they’re right.”

Ian spent the next ten minutes giving stage direction to the group, and the wedding planner was actually great at helping when he wanted to do something like vary the heights across each row and things like that.  She knew everyone’s names.

By the time they’d gotten enough with the wedding party, the sun had shifted just a touch, giving the whole place a slightly more mysterious look.  Ian was pretty sure it would give the couple shots a slightly surreal and out of time look to them.

“Do you need anyone to stay and help with your dress?” the wedding planned asked.

“I can help,” the groom said.

“And with just them I can do anything that he can’t,” Ian added.

“You can go on back with the party,” the bride told the planner.  “Thank you for everything.”

“I’ll keep everyone happy and settled until you arrive,” the wedding planner said.

The bride waved to her party as they headed out of the castle ruins.

“Now, take a breath and relax,” Ian advised.

The bride laughed.  She looked truly joyous.  She then took a deep breath in and let it out slowly.  Her groom followed along with her breath, and they leaned in, foreheads touching.

Ian got pictures.

“How about the two of you just wander and explore and I’ll get candid shots,” Ian said.  “If there’s anywhere you’re particularly fond of, we can do some more posed and composed images as we go.”

“Thank you for being so wonderful today,” the bride said as her groom offered her his arm.  They began to stroll through the ruined castle together.

“It’s wonderful to be here to capture everyone’s joy, especially yours,” Ian replied.  He did like that aspect of wedding shoots.

“And that’s why we picked you,” the groom said.  “No one else ever said anything about capturing the emotions of the day, just the memories.”

“We all think of it differently,” Ian replied.  He didn’t know how other people talked about their photography.  He hadn’t talked with other photographers much about it since university.

Image Prompt 081 – Castle

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.  There was a media storage snafu somewhere in my life this past month, and the images I’d selected for this image prompt have vanished.  I’d already written my response, so I used my notes from that to pick out some pictures that would have at least been related to one of the original two.  With luck I’ll be able to find the original image before next Friday and I can share it with the piece I wrote.  In the meantime, happy writing.

I’ve included some images to work from.  Pick one (or several if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Routine, Comfort, Transition, and Change

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I’ve been going through a transition period with my work routines lately, and it’s had me thinking about my routines, my comfort levels, transition periods, and the inevitability of change.  So today, I’m going to take some time to think and reflect on all those things and what they’ve meant to me over the past few years and what I foresee in my near future.

This may tangentially touch on some pandemic related topics like work from home and transitions to and from that, but I won’t be talking directly about the causes, just my individual routines and experience, so I haven’t flagged this post like my other more focused pandemic related ones.  Still, take good care of yourself and skip the read if you need to.

Routine:

I live and die by my routines.

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