The (Un)Importance of Leap Day

The hourglass is a fitting timepiece because time slips from our grasp like fine sand.

Today was February 29, the disproportionately talked about “leap day.” Some people like to make a big deal about it, but really it’s just a day. You hear all kinds of things about leap day that don’t make sense. A whole extra day! I’m going to [get more work done, go on a trip, clean the house, spend time with friends, finish my novel]. It’s leap day, nothing that happens really counts (yes, this is a 30 Rock reference).

Aside from being a date that only occurs every four years, there is no difference from any other day of the year. You wake up, go through your routine, and try to survive life. It passes before you know it and you wonder what happened to that extra day you were so excited for.

An extra day will only give you more time if you make a plan to use it. Realistically, a day is not a lot of time. Sometimes they drag on, but afterward every single day that you have experienced is no more than the blink of an eye. It’s almost as though none of it ever happened at all.

Here Comes 2015, the Year of Writing

I stumbled across this post on the Writing Realm tumblr recently and decided, without hesitation, that I’m going to try to do it.

A year-long writing challenge: 365 days, 365,000 words. One thousand words a day.

I’m sure it will be hard, and there will be probably too many days when I don’t write anything at all. Maybe some days I’ll be totally in the zone, and I’ll write thousands of words at a time. Maybe I’ll fall utterly short, but even if that happens, it’s a way to motivate myself to get back to writing. Blog posts count, and so does journaling, although I would have to count the words manually, so I’m not likely to put that toward my word count.

I can’t predict how this will go. Maybe I’ll start off well and then lose steam before too long, and the whole thing will fall apart, or it will take some time to get going but once I’m more used to writing every day, I’ll be unstoppable. Or, maybe things will just go smoothly overall, with some days worse than others, but most in a pretty good state. No, I can’t predict it, as is our general state in life–I can only try, without knowing what will happen.

I realize that some people do write this much or more regularly, and have for years, and since I haven’t been doing that how can I call myself a writer? Well. I used to write more often, but that was before the internet became as big as it is these days, with as many different options for passive entertainment. The point of the challenge, therefore, is to have a good reason to ignore all these other things I could do in order to do the thing that is one of my greatest passions. Or, used to be, and could be again if I make the effort to make it a part of my daily life.

Blogging, Balancing, Organizing–My Latest Failings

I’ve been thinking about my blogs as they exist now, and I’m not liking what I perceive.

For one thing, I get almost no comments, and that isn’t necessarily a sign that I’m an unsuccessful blogger, but it makes me feel silly sometimes. “Well, obviously no one’s that interested in what I’m writing, so why bother?”

Why indeed. I started blogging for ME, because I wanted to, because I think it’s a good way to collect my thoughts and possibly connect with an audience, even if not with the sort of pieces I really want to publish. As time goes on and my view counts stay down, and I can never seem to become a “Blogger” (with a capital B because I’d be recognizable and maybe it would even be slightly lucrative), no matter how long I do it, I get discouraged. No one actually starts a blog because they expect it to be a mega-hit. But my constant lack of visibility is essentially the same as never being picked out of the slush pile.

The metaphor may not be appropriate, because I’ve done so little submitting that my work hasn’t had a chance to actually be in slush piles. But the state of being among a huge amount of comparable blogs and never being special enough to be noticed basically puts me in the internet’s slush pile.

It’s confusing to me. How is it I have over 100 followers and usually get only 15 views or less when I post? (Dear WordPress: please fix yourself so that I actually get views when people read my posts.)

I hate when I end up blogging about blogging. Some people write about blogging for a specific reason and it makes sense for them. I only ever do as an apology, really, to myself and the few people who are interested in reading me, when I haven’t been making good use of my blog.

I don’t like the way things are with my blogs right now, both this and the No Recipe Life, and it’s making me feel like creating a brand new blog and starting over. The thought of actually doing so is almost sickening to me. I don’t want to start over yet again. So I am trying to think instead of how to arrange things on my existing blogs so that I can post about whatever I want on whichever platform seems to fit best, and it’s giving me a headache. Many people, I’m sure, would tell me to hire a consultant, but there are several reasons I don’t want to. One of those is that I can do it myself.

Listen to me. Rambling on and on with no point. As always. I’ll end with this, so I don’t just write myself off the end of the world:

Please, readers, keep some faith in me. Don’t unfollow (unless you legitimately don’t like my blog–then it isn’t beneficial for either of us, so by all means, go on your way), don’t skip my posts. Give me some constructive criticism. I care if you like this blog, and my other one. I will get it together. It won’t be today or tomorrow but if you wait a little longer maybe I can create something people will care about.

P.S. Regarding Five Things Fridays–I started doing them with the intention that they would be a way for me to wind down from the week, and attempt to get the writing ball rolling (or something) for the weekend. It turns out Friday nights are not a good time for me to plan to blog regularly, because it’s often a social night for me. In addition, all the cool ideas I had, like posting five flash pieces or five awesome literary quotes, always seem to get sidelined in favor of me complaining about random things from the day or the week. Basically, it’s not serving its purpose for this blog. Thus, I’m going to stop using that form, and I’ll try to come up with another regular post day that will actually focus on writing. I might start FTFing on the other blog, which you should go check out if you want to read my thoughts on food and random stuff.

November is not a good month for NaNoWriMo

This is my NaNoNoWriMo update. Before I get into explaining why November was just a bad choice on the part of the creators (of the traditional NaNo, not my version), let me recap what I’ve shared with you so far, and a little bit that is more recent, to get you up to date.

Although I was really excited about the project I chose to begin with and I started out pretty well in terms of keeping to the word count, it turned out the stories I was working on were not developed enough in my head to make it to the paper. As I’ve said to every person I’ve talked to about writing lately, that particular project needs more time to gestate. That sail lost wind and I couldn’t get it back. I felt that I would be able to get more done if I reopened my Sleeping Beauty retelling, of which I had already written about 18,000 words last year (and even earlier, probably). I dug up that file and started tacking words on to the end. I think it would have been better to re-read the beginning first, but I didn’t have time. I haven’t written much more yet, but I can at least see that story in my mind, so the switch was a good choice. I might actually be able to finish a reasonable word count.

If you have been here before, you may have seen that my goal is 30k for the month. I am doubting now that I’ll be able to make it, but 20k or even 25 seems reasonable. My new goal is a minimum of 20k  words, and with any luck as close to 30k as I can manage.

Fairly recently I reblogged a post about why NaNoWriMo doesn’t work. For me, the most important point is that most novels are longer than 50,000 words, many are well over twice that much, and some are that number many times over. So, the claim is that you can write a novel in a month, yet the word goal will not allow you to finish your story. My Sleeping Beauty novel (which does not yet have a title) is now around 20,000 words, and I’ve barely made it out of exposition. Granted a fair bit of that might be cut out later, but that only adds to my point–most novels get substantial chunks cut out of their first, very rough, drafts, because it’s good for the writer to write out every single scene and details, but it might not be good for the finished book to keep those pieces. So a novel that is 100,000 words in its final version might even be 200,000 in its first, full-bodied, uncut draft.

Of course, anyone who goes into NaNoWriMo expecting to have a perfectly packaged finished product by the end of the month is, at the very least, kidding themselves.

This argument is why NaNoWriMo as a concept is kind of flawed–as are most things in this world–but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. If I get enough momentum in my novel to keep writing it into December, January, February, until it’s finished, because of this month, that’s a good thing.

But November is such a bad time to have a goal like this. I don’t understand the logic of placing it at this time of year. Much of this I’m sure will just be my experience, but there must be some people who can relate. Let’s commiserate, shall we?    Continue reading

Five Things Friday: October 4, 2013

Damn, time is passing fast. Before you know it, I’m going to be 40 and I’ll wonder what the hell happened. (For reference, I’m in my 20s now.)

I’ve decided that this week I’m going to make a writing wish list. Whatever you think that means, I will tell you what I mean by that–

I am going to write a list of things I want to facilitate/encourage writing. Because I like stuff, and I like daydreaming, and I like complaining about what I don’t have. (:P) I’ll attempt to go in order from the most plausible in reality to the least.

1) This mug. I have wanted it for a while, actually, and I will get it. Perhaps for myself for Christmas or my next birthday or something. Assuming the entire country hasn’t collapsed by then because of Republicans.

I just really feel like I need this mug. I think it will help me.

2) A printing station. I’m imagining a setup with a color printer, although I’d mostly be using black ink, that would also have a scanner just in case, and a stack of crisp, clean paper underneath, easily accessible. It’s much easier to type stories to begin with than to copy them into word files from your handwritten originals, so I usually just type everything now. However, as I’ve learned from my current job, editing in word with track changes is ok but I often wish I could just have a stack of paper with the words in hard copy in front of me, and the ability to actually write on the document with an actual pen. Ah, to be working in publishing ten, or even five years ago…

But back to my own writing. I do think that printing out stories and reading them on actual paper might do something for me, in terms of seeing how the story works as a whole. I don’t have a printer right now, nor do I have easy access to a free one, and I don’t want to pay 5-10 bucks at fedex every time I need to print some of my work.

I still believe in print books. If we clap, will they stay alive–like fairies?

3) A writer’s retreat. I am picturing 5 days to a week, just being off in a little apartment/bed and breakfast place somewhere, stocked with plenty of coffee and simple food that doesn’t actually take much time to prepare, so I can just focus on writing. Maybe I could complete a few short stories or “outline” (my process never creates a real outline) a whole novel. Ooh, this is so exciting to think about!

Unfortunately, plans like this require vacation time and money. I have no money (all goes to bills and expenses) and I need the rest of this year’s vacation time for Christmas. Side note, I still think employers should allot more vacation time per year than just two weeks, although I’d be fine with them limiting how much time you can take off consecutively.

4) A complete rewiring of my brain. I am about to use the word “wire” a lot, and I know there aren’t wires in brains, but it’s like a metaphor or something. Shut up.

I feel a lot of the time like the wire that is supposed to connect the part of my brain that has ideas to the part that executes them is not connected, or was eaten through by mice (brain mice) or somehow got blocked. I just need that wire to work again and I can start getting stuff done.

5) Absolute power over time and space. This would allow me to write when the ideas and creativity and words are actively flowing, when the mood has struck, rather than forcing me to try to call them up again when I finally do have time (this is one of the reasons I use google docs–not that my notes have helped that much so far). I would really like to be able to drop everything and write when that mood does strike, without ignoring my daily obligations and therefore fucking up my life. Inspiration still happens to me, bafflingly enough, but pretty much never when writing is possible.

Oh, I know what a terrible excuse that is. It doesn’t make it less true…

On the plus side, this post has really made me feel like writing. Maybe I’ll actually get something done this weekend?

All of my fingers and toes are crossed.

What to Expect

I haven’t been doing much writing lately, although I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about numerous ideas for stories and microfiction pieces. Things have been rather crazy the past few weeks, but they should be far more settled now – so I should be getting more onto the page, instead of having to settle for writing in my head. Once I’ve had a chance to do so, perhaps I will be able to post things like:

A “collection” of microfictions, the title having something to do with Garden.

A story in fantastic imagery from the point of view of a young homeless woman.

More about the Helen of Troy novel.

And, I’m sure, quite a bit more.