Attack of the Work Ameoba

This is me working with the help of the cats, 'cause that's what I've been doing all weekend. >:P
I haven't written anything, but I'm getting lots done for work! Both today and yesterday I went in to work and then brought stuff home to work on.
The good news? Our deadline will be met and I've managed (so far) to keep up with my new responsibilities and the architect I'm working with continues to tell me how happy he is that I'm working on his job.
I will finish this novel, I just hope I maintain my sanity through this week.

I've been visiting John Scalzi's Whatever blog for a week or so now and it seems like a pretty good blog. He's a science fiction writer and has some interesting things to say. I'm adding a link to my interesting links list.

Now, I've procrastinated long enough. Time to get back to work... on work.


How sad is it that I feel guilty for only managing 1 hour of working between 6:30 (when I got home from the office) and 9:30 (when I left for soccer).

And we won our soccer game (6-4) though we were all tired and there were way too many turnovers. Fortunately, the game ended, because they were decreasing our lead pretty steadily in the second half.


Quote on Writing

Here's a wonderful quote I stole from a writer's website. It's what Michael Chabon said about writing a novel being like a war.

...always begun in the highest enthusiasm, with full confidence of right, and of the certainty of it all being over by Christmas. Two years later you're in the trenches and the mud, with defeat a real possibility, doubting everything, in particular the wisdom of the commanding general.

Vive le novel!

Hooray! Anne's Head Didn't Explode!

The last two hours pretty much blew my brains. I solved every problem except Peace in the Middle East. Sorry, I'll have to do that over the weekend.

Seems like the sleep one night work the next is a pretty good strategy. I did another average day of writing last night and didn't feel tired until 11:30 or midnight.


I'm sure I had other fascinating things to say, but it's 5:30 and I'm going home. I'll try and edit to add the fascinating things when I remember them, but I'm not making any promises.


New Strategy

Last night I tried a new strategy - go to bed when I'm tired. I might be less tired and more productive the next day. I'll let you know how it goes. Tonight I'm also going to try postponing decompressing for later in the evening. Start writing earlier. I don't know how that'll work either, since I'm usually more focused after I've had some down time.

The other thing that's starting to seep in is that my work is seriously affecting my writing schedule right now. Not only is work more stressful than last year and requires more alertness at the office, but I've been working overtime and trying to get the same amount of writing done. I'm supposed to work overtime (unpaid, blast it) this weekend and I'm regularly working an hour of overtime a night. Plus I'm taking home work. I managed to ignore the roll of drawings Monday and Tuesday, but last night I got my "homework" done. I can't postpone tasks like that, since other people's work depends on my checking thier results.

I'm prepared to say that I haven't finished the 50K in 30 days. It may be a fact of life. I'll still finish the novel, maybe even manage to get it published. I'm not willing (yet) to write nonsense for nonsense's sake. For me the goal is not to write 50K words (I know I can do *that*), but to write 50K words reasonably well and enjoy the process. This may not be the month I can do that.
I'm not prepared to throw in the towel yet, and I plan to go down fighting. ;)


Not a Draw >:(

Arrrggghh! Yesterday I was so tired I ended up trying to write and failing. Not because there wasn't anything to write -- the words were there. I just couldn't get my language center enough juice to power the sentence constructor. So instead I sat there stupidly looking at the screen and thinking nothing. So I wasn't sleeping AND I wasn't writing. Brilliant [/sarcasm].
I know the words were there because after I went out into the freezing cold to do something, I woke up and wrote for a few minutes until the tiredness crept back in.
I need a different strategy on weekdays. I just don't know what it is yet.


Engines at weekday speed

Yesterday I had a productive evening, it just wasn't all writing productivity. I also made catfood and worked a little late. I wrote, not my goal of 2K words (which will get me to the finish line on time), but I did manage to write 1.2K words (my average to date). So I didn't gain ground, but I also didn't lose any ground.
"All right, we'll call it a draw."


My Support Group

Aside from my wonderful friends and family, I have two feline writing assistants. Here's the usual weekend tableau...

On a High

Ah, I managed to write over 3K words today, and I made myself stop because I have to go to bed. I've definitely hit a rich vein of story. I really hope it carries me though the week!
No TV!

Edited to Add: I didn't mention that I was not especially productive on Saturday. I wasn't bad, but I wasn't a good as I need to be to finish this novel on time. I suppose 2 out of 3 ain't bad though...



The tarot card trick is working even better than I'd imagined. Originally, it was just something to get me through rough spots, but last night, it actually solved a small plot problem I hadn't figured out a way through. The question was how to get the main couple to go somewhere together and meet a certain person at the same time. In the meanwhile, I decided that pacing-wise they needed one more day, so off the gal went to work. The card that was next in the stack is the one you see in this post. I looked at it and saw a disaster at the diner (not the actual meaning of the card). Oh well, I thought, not really necessary, but maybe it'll add some background color. It was only when the consequences became clear that I realized this was a pivotal moment. My gal was out of work temporarily and they need money. Presto, time and motivation!
Anyway, I'm feeling more comfortable in the style of the story and last night I wrote 2K words. I've still got a long way to go to catch up, but I'm feeling good about it. :)


Fine Slash Between Optimism/Pessimism

I should be sunk in the depths of literary depression, since my word count did not rise much last night. I was "bad" and wrote replies to emails last night.
But the weekend is approaching! How much I will write this weekend? Why, thousands of words, of course! How can one be depressed in the face of so much potential? Sure, I have a dinner party to go to on Saturday, and a soccer game on Sunday, but I should be able to fit in the necessary 10 to 12 hour stints around that.

In other news, I bought a Swiss Army Knife to replace the one that was confiscated by the airport security. I think that there should be some kind of system to be able to retrieve those on the return trip. Maybe bags like you put film in to be processed. Write your vital info on the bag, get a receipt slip, and then on the way back, pick it up from some little office on your way out of the airport. I'd even be willing to pay a small charge to do this.
But things are just things and I guess it gives us an experience in letting go of material things.


Too pooped...

...to do anything but sleep.
I tried to produce some writing today and after churning through a mere 500 words in an hour and a half, I decide to run away (run away! run away!) and wake to write another day. I'm way behind though, which worries me a little. But there's nothing for it but to try and make the best of it.
For the moment though, I'm going to bed. I can barely keep my eyes op...

Chug chug

That's either me downing a lot of hard liquor.
Me trying to keep producing words even though I'm behind where I was last year, which was already behind where I "should" have been if I did the same amount every day. Actually, that makes me wonder about "shoulds." I don't operate under "should" in many areas of my life... ok, I'll admit to following convention while driving my car and in doing work at the office. But I don't follow convention in my personal life. So why should I be straining to reach an arbitrary average? It's not really a minimum -- that would be 0, since it's technically feasible to write 0 words per day for two weeks, then produce 4000 words per day and finish early. I guess that line for me is not an idea, but more of a goal to strive for - and that's only because it's above where I am. If I were (I wish) sailing along above it, I might use it as a mark of where not to drop below. It's arbitrary, and I know it's arbitrary, but it's something to measure my progress against.
I'm including a picture of the graph that I live by during November. The purple line is the "should" line that I've been talking about. The blue line is where I'd go if I keep a consistent pace with what I've done to date. (Hmm, the maker of this spreadsheet seems obsessed with consistent pace.) The light pink line is last year's data and the dark pink is this year's. I guess that, knowing my own habits, I'm a little more keyed into patterns of work repeating.

Oh, and the dark blue line at the bottom is daily word counts. You might see a dip in the graph there that shows that Monday I wrote nothing towards the novel. Mainly that's because I got paid that day and so was able to go out and go grocery shopping, get medications and chicken for the cats, etc. Then, when I came home, I made the chicken into cat food and put it in the freezer. So, a bunch of household errands got done and no writing. Last night I got a late start on writing, for some reason, but managed to stay up late enough to produce some decent amount of words. I didn't make the "minimum" (1667 words), but I did slightly better than my pace up to that date. If I at least maintain a reasonable pace during the weekdays, I can use the weekends to make up the deficit.
The good news is that the story was flowing better last night, and I actually wrote faster than I usually do. I've also got a game I'm playing with this novel. I shuffled a tarot deck and have it sitting on my desk. When I think, "ok, what happens next?" if I don't know, I flip over the top card and then try to incorporate something in it -- usually a character or an event -- into the story. It's giving the story a nice organic feel. Characters appear and give the sense that they'll be back, or a series of events will go a little differently than you'd expect. Obviously, if it doesn't really make sense, I'll either ignore it, or write it and edit it out later. But that hasn't happened yet.
One thing I am sure of -- I really like the family that is the center of this story.


Weekend Good. Weekdays Bad?

Well, I got lots done on the novel this weekend. Not as much as I would have liked, but I made it through a tough spot in the story (thanks to my ranting on this blog). But this week I've got lots of other stuff planned. This evening it's groceries and make catfood. Tues. and Thurs. I'm helping with a tai chi class. Wednesday I'm going to a poker class. Ok, so that last one is definitely not a responsibility, but our office's holiday party is going to feature Texas Hold'em poker and blackjack. Last year I lost lots of fake money at the blackjack table. This year I hope to do better at poker. The only drawback is that I suck at poker. Fortunately, our office manager set up a "learn poker" night. So you see, I must go. (Yeah, don't look at me all skeptical like that.)
My hope is that I use this pressure to eliminate procrastination (which always happens when I have tons of time) and still manage to write enough to keep my head above water until next weekend. I also hope to write during my lunch hour, which should help a little. We'll see. It also entirely depends on how easy or hard the story is flowing. Sunday I would have made out like gangbusters except that the story was flowing slower than molasses in January in the Artic circle.
Crossing fingers and toes...


Drugs Please?

Hey anyone know where to get some good acid or speed?

Thankfully I got lots done this morning (cleaned the house) because this afternoon has been dismal. I'm at a tough spot in the story and for some reason it's not coming out of my fingers very fast. Argh! I am taking this thing too seriously! Maybe it would be better if I turned the two antagonists into snakes or something... hey... that's not a bad idea, actually...



Well, I managed to have a fairly productive day, thank goodness.
This morning I went to a good friend's house, had some good conversation and breakfast before we went outside into the cold to collect some free plants. My friend is a wonderful gardener and she was thinning and relocating some of her plants. She offered some to me and hey, I couldn't turn down free plants, now could I? She gave me some ornamental grasses that I planted on the side of my house next to the alley. She also gave me some flowering plants, hyssop and yarrow, that I planted in front, along with transplanting a similar flowering plant from my backyard to the front. And she gave me some herbs - oregano and chives - that I planted in the backyard. First, however, I had to rake up the enormous amount of leaves that the ash tree in the back yard dumps all over. I couldn't find my big garbage bags (except for one), so I had to pile most of the leaves in a giant heap in the middle of the backyard, ready for when I get some bags.
Having been super industrious, I came inside and after only a little procrastination (surfing the internet and eating a late lunch), I managed to start writing. Now, 6 hours later (5.5 hours of writing, .5 to eat dinner), I have written 2500 words or so. Not bad, not bad at all. I write very slowly, obviously, which is why persistence is so very critical. While I was writing, I was sure I was going slower than I did last year, but when I look back at my records I find that last year was just as slow. Ummm, yay? On the positive side, even though I am running behind where I "should" be (if I were writing the same amount every day), I am doing slightly better than last year at the same time.
Making progress, thank goodness.

Edited to Add: I have to acknowledge my wonderful sidekick, Martin, who has been beside me all the way. Well, except for a couple naps on the fireplace to warm up. :)



Geez, I'm tired and it's only 9 o'clock. I've written some, but not enough. The urge to go to bed is preety darn strong.
Ooop, Matti just got off my lap, which makes me feel marginally less tired. Maybe I can get something more written.

In Cute Cat News (CCN instead of CNN), I turned on the gas fireplace and Matti stared at the flames for a while, trying to figure out what they were.

Looking on the bright side

Well, I might be tight on money now (due to my determination to not carry any debt from the vacation I took in September), but things will be looking up soon. I had my annual review at work today and it went very well and I got a good raise. I knew it would be a good review, as my boss has been saying very complimentary things of late and actually gave me a promotion (more responsibility) a month or so ago. Oddly enough, last night I had a bit of a panic attack and was sure I was going to be nailed to the wall for any number of minor sins (spending too much time online checking TWoP, for example). So, I got double benefit out of the review process -- a positive and encouraging review from my boss and a list of "things I need to work on" from myself. (Better that way than the reverse, eh?)

Also, I am a big fat procrastinator when it comes to NaNoWriMo. I didn't write anything yesterday. The bright side of this one? Today, though I have "wasted" time on the internet (reading back issues of belsum's awesome baby blog, for example), I have (cue dramatic music) not turned on the TV! That's right folks, I have fought the lure of the brain-sucking demon called Television (and it's henchmen, Cable and DVDs) and lived to tell the tale.
So now, I suppose, it's time to get to work. :P


Cue Evil Chuckle

I just read something that triggered an "aha" moment. I know what I'm getting my sister for Christmas. And I have a month and a half to find it. Muahahahaha!
(Why the big deal? My sister is a freakishly good gift-giver. I always want to give her something as cool as she gave me, and that's not an easy thing to accomplish.)


Sucky Timing

Last year, when I started NaNo, I remember buying myself all kinds of comfort snacks and easy-to-make-dinners. This year, I'm having a major cashflow problem. I've put a moritorium on all spending until my paycheck next Monday, but that's a "mortgage paycheck" so I'm not entirely sure I'll have lots to spare from that one either.
Darn it, spoiling myself on food indulgences is one of the ways I was rewarding myself! (Stupid goody-two-shoes voice is saying: "Maybe you should find more healty ways of rewarding yourself, chuck.")

Lunch hour lost

If I were a really diligent writer, I would have written during my lunch hour. Instead, I spent:
15 minutes waiting in the office "kitchen" to heat up my leftovers
6 minutes eating lunch
29 minutes visiting an online forum (catching up on the "general gab" thread and formulating a reply) and various friends' blogs.
9 minutes writing this blog entry.
Pretty sad, eh? Well, hopefully when I get home tonight I will remember how much fun I had writing last night, after I finished procrastinating for a couple hours.
I know common NaNo thought puts the tough writer's block wall at the second (?) week, but for me, if I can get *started* and establish a routine, I'll be good. Last year the first week was the hardest for me. We'll see how this week goes.
Wish me luck.