National Novel Writing Month 2018: Actual writing has occurred

Finally past that horrible flu thing (with only a bit of a lingering glass-edged throat to endure), I have resumed writing my novel. In the last two days I’ve managed a weirdly precise 6,800 words. I don’t even need a calculator like I normally do to know that’s 3,400 words per day or double the daily average required. I’m at a total of 14,725 words, where I should be at 23,000+, but it’s not as bad as it looks, because I now require a pace of just over 2,000 words per day to finish by November 30, something I don’t see as a problem unless I get the flu again or are hit by a blimp.

I haven’t committed to a dictation session yet and will probably hold off until the weekend, where if it backfires horribly, I will still have time to fall back to the more conventional hunt-and-peck method.

Anyway, it’s nice to be writing again, and it’s nice to see that even after long dry spells I can still find and slip into the groove.

National Novel Writing Month 2018: The flu story

I came down with the flu right as this year’s NaNoWriMo started and the effect was predictable: I didn’t write.

Now, I have written, even if you don’t count the existing words from the third version of Weirdsmith I’m using (now with the working title of The Journal), but most days I have lacked either the physical energy, the mental energy or both. And this has been one of those horrible, lingering flu bugs, with that feeling of tiredness being the most persistent symptom (others have ranged from light fever, loss of appetite, head and lung congestion, pressure headaches, and the always fun dry, hacking cough).

Normally this would be a disaster. We are at November 11th and with a daily word count of 1,667 to keep on pace, I would need to be at 18,337 words. Instead I am at 7,925 words.

To finish on time I would need to write an average of 2,214 words per day, a boost of about 547 words above the regular pace. This is actually doable, so there’s no need to panic.

More to that point, I have now finished my voice dictation setup and my coughing has settled down enough that I should be able to do it fairly reliably. I am curious to see how this can boost my word count (and how accurate the results are. Initial testing was pretty good, with a few lapses, though I’m not sure yet if it was me being mush-mouthed or Dragon being weird or some combination thereof).

I’m also going to pick up a digital voice recorder and use that during walks to also get in more “writing” time.

The hardest part in resuming actually has nothing to do with the way I am feeling, but that I had left the story off at a rather dull point–something that may be expunged in a revision–so I need to look past that and dive back in to the “good” stuff.

Onward I go. I will report as warranted, through tears of joy or despair.

Book review: In Such Good Company

In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the SandboxIn Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would feel bad rating this book lower than four stars because it is an adorable, gushing and heartfelt love letter to the show Carol Burnett put on for 11 years.

If you are looking for behind-the-scenes dirt, you’ll find none here, save for one brief mention of a troublesome guest star who walked out. Apparently high at the time, Burnett only goes so far as to allude the person was “on something.” Even with the worst guest ever she pulls her punches because she is just that sweet.

Her reminisce does touch on some negative aspects of the era in which The Carol Burnett Show ran, though (1967-1978), particularly the sexism that allowed men to be “commanding” and take charge on their shows, where women were expected to keep quiet and know their place. Burnett, to her regret, played along, finding the absolute nicest ways to raise any criticism when she thought the writing of a sketch was weak, or a particular bit just wasn’t working.

The majority of the book, though, are reminisces of Burnett’s favorite episodes, sketches, characters, musical numbers and guest stars. She lavishes praise on her own cast and the many people who appeared on the show and you can’t help but come away with how incredibly kind and generous she is. It made me want to go back in time to be on the show. Especially if I could go back in age, as well. :P

I was 14 when the series ended in 1978, but I watched the last four seasons or so and loved it nearly as much as Burnett herself (though I was a little impatient with the musical numbers and I didn’t catch a lot of the references in their movie parodies–though I still clearly remember the trampoline in their Airport ’75 spoof).

There are a surprising number of photos included (Carol watched every episode as research for the book) and while they are screen grabs, they immediately took me back to the 70s (the contemporary fashions are as tacky as you’d expect), the nostalgia hit immense and satisfying. If you read the ebook on a tablet, the photos are in color as a bonus.

If you expect deep insights or as I mentioned earlier, dirt, you may come away disappointed, but Burnett walks the reader through the entire production of the show from first script reading to taping, with lots of amusing bits sprinkled in. In the end, this was what I expected–a fond look back at Carol Burnett’s favorite part of her long career, showcasing her own personal highlights from her show–and it is the warmest, friendliest book I’ve read in a long time.

View all my reviews

Flu shmu

The past week I’ve been on this weird up and down thing with the flu. Normally when I catch a bug it takes a predictable course. For the first couple of days I feel progressively worse, then I start to steadily improve after.

This particular bug started last weekend, when I just generally felt tired for no apparent reason. I skipped my run and generally didn’t do much. I went to work on Monday and again felt tired. I woke up around 1 a.m. Monday night to find myself shivering, even though I was tucked under the blankets and felt warm. Later I did feel warm, as in sweating profusely. I was officially sick.

I stayed home the next two days, then returned to work on Thursday, feeling better, but not great. Strangely, on Friday, I felt a lot worse again and once more stayed home. Saturday was worse, still, and I didn’t go outside the condo the entire day. I ended the evening sitting here with a desk fan blowing air at my face to keep me cool. Finally, we come to today, which started much the same, with naps, followed by tea, followed by more laying down and doing very little. I finally went out, to the store, and by the time dinner was over I began to feel a tiny bit like my normal self. It’s almost 9 p.m. as I type this and I once again sip in tea. I’ve turned the fan off now because I no longer feel like I’m broiling in my own skin.

I am hoping I finally have a little energy tomorrow.

Tonight, I look at my output for the weekend re: NaNoWriMo and the word count is easy: zero. I wrote nothing, because every time I sat to write, I was too tired to muster anything before going back to laying down some more. I also left almost all of my usual weekend chores undone. Still, cleaning the toilets can wait until I feel better. I would be more alarmed at the lack of writing output for NaNo, but I have an actual outline this year, and a bit of a buffer, so I should be able to get back on track fairly quickly (ho ho).

Anyway, my only real wish for myself for 2019 is to have good health, because this year has been rather the opposite. It seems a reasonable thing to wish for. I hope it is!

November, shmovember

I am starting the month with the flu, which is sub-optimal for my health and for National Novel Writing Month, which began yesterday.

Last night I attempted to write after revising the earlier work I’d done on what is now going by the bland working title of The Journal, but by 9 o’ clock I had written nothing, had no energy, then went to bed, where I burned up and had literal fever dreams.

Today–or tonight, to be more precise, I have a little more energy and a new thermometer confirmed I only have a mild fever, but I am still lacking the energy to really put out words. Tomorrow’s weather is The Rains, so I’m thinking I’ll have a good go then, especially if I’m over the hump of this latest beating to my health that is the year 2018. Not that I’m complaining! It’s been, uh, interesting. Yes. Interesting. Grist for the mill, fodder for my writing. Or something.

Anyway, on with November and the official start of the two month Christmas blitz. Ho ho ho.

National Novel Writing Month 2018: ‘Twas the night before NaNo…

When all through the house…er, condo…not a creature was stirring, except me, making sure I’m actually ready.

As I mentioned on Broken Forum, I’ve got most stuff set up:

  • Story with actual plot outline
  • Daily word tracker
  • Updated laptop with writing apps installed

Note I said writing apps. That’s because I’m still flipping between using WriteMonkey or FocusWriter. Both are installed on any machine I’ll use and both save to text format, so there’s no issue if I switch from one to the other, or even back and forth. At this point I’m leaning toward FocusWriter because it’s been more recently updated and has fewer options to distract me.

Now to find out if I’m looking back on 50,000 words in a month’s time or a puddle of tears over what might have been.