stories

30 Days of NaNoWriMo

As I mentioned in the Camp NaNoWriMo Winner post, I’m still missing the last 8 days in my 30 days writing adventure (see 7 Days, 14 Days, and 22 Days of NaNoWriMo for the previous days). Well, here they are!

  • Day #23: If you pretend you’ve just started writing, would it become easier?

The main issue with WriMo, at least for myself, is how the whole thing become excruciating the longer you’re doing. The start is easier because you’re excited, you have an idea you feel great about, it feels like sunshine and rainbows. But as you dwell deeper and deeper into the story and spend more and more time writing, you feel the need to put it aside. Yet the whole point is not to do that, so whatcha gonna do?

  • Day #24: Just 1 week left… Which sounds like torture, considering I’ve been doing this for 3 weeks.

It. Does. Not. Get. Better. You’d think being near the end and reaching your goal should give you the mythical boost you so need right about now. Maybe you’re too far away from the end? Yeah, last-minute boosts are more like your thing, but you can’t really complete the 30K words on the last day.

  • Day #25: Mercy, mercy! Just shoot me already.

Chinese water torture has nothing on monthly writing months. I feel like Dolores Umbridge’s sitting next to me, chuckling at the sight of horror I’m in while attempting to catch up with my word count. Except the word count’s not my issue, but the inability to move beyond some plot points. The failure to continue writing the story I wanted to tell.

  • Day #26: What was I supposed to be writing about?

By now my brain has probably gone into retirement and I’m more zombie than human. I can’t think, I can’t function, but we’ve got just a few days left and somehow I’m still typing. I say typing because I’m not sure the stuff that’s coming up on the screen can be considered writing.

  • Day #27: If no one wants to shoot me, I’ll just start breaking stuff.

If you believe I’m joking, that’s some serious wishful thinking. When you spend a month doing heavy writing you start feeling like the Hulk. Enraged, full with strength you want to throw around at any chance you find. Starting from the not-so-lovely place you used for writing in the first place.

  • Day #28: Don’t stop the music writing. 

Maybe if you drink another bucket of coffee and stay up all night you’ll get ahead of your goal in a single day. Or maybe you’ll put yourself in a coma and sleep through next year’s writing months. Both options sound appealing so you give it a go.

  • Day #29: I CAN FREAKING DO THIS!!

Since validation can ultimately be done on the last day at latest, the 30th is never that important for me. My goal is being prepared for that day, so that I’m not frantically trying to come up with crap just to finish the whole event before the last minute clocks out. It also lets me enjoy that last day with joy and gratitude while looking back at what I’ve accomplished in the previous days. However, it also means that I’m one day short in the month and that my 29th day is always a witch with a B. The only way to get through such a day, is to remain hopeful and keep yourself motivated.

  • Day #30: Best month ever!

[Yes, I’m using an Obama gif for this] IT’S OOOOOVER!! Okay that thought makes me sad about it, but I can just glance at what I’ve written and it puts a smile on my face (that’s when I’m reading stuff from the early days, the writing from the last couple days make me want to hug the desk with my face). If I wasn’t tired I’d be jumping up and down with joy the whole day. It’s profound happiness, makes you wonder what other accomplishments feel like this.

As I said in a previous post, congrats to both those who did and didn’t manage to complete their Camp NaNoWriMo goals. Just remember that once you recharge the batteries you should tie yourself to the chair once again (for writing, not for kinky business).Strike while the iron is hot, don’t make your writing any harder by letting the idea fly away.

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22 Days of NaNoWriMo

What comes after 7 Days of NaNoWriMo and 14 Days of NaNoWriMo? Well of course, 21 days! Except apparently I can’t math and just now I realized 4×7=28 while I’m aiming at 30, so I’ll be doing 8 days for the last two weeks. I do sincerely hope that anyone else attempting Camp NaNoWriMo is making great progress and their story is getting along well!

  • Day #15: We’re JUST HALFWAY through the month?!

Usually you’d be the first person to look on the bright say and think “hey you’ve made it through half of it!” but you’re so tired all you can think is “ugh I have to do this for the same amount of time I’ve been doing it till now” and that’s a painful thought.

  • Day #16: Remain calm, don’t panic, and keep writing. Okay, maybe panic a little but definitely keep writing.

Pushing yourself to do something every single day, no matter what it is, is going to be troublesome. And the best way to get through any problem is to keep your head cold and keep trying.

  • Day #17: The weekend starts today, you can do this if you put your mind to it, right?

Just think of the wonderful feeling once you’re done, that majestic sensation should keep you motivated! There’s still time even if you’ve fallen behind. No plan was ever straightforward, they all have their setbacks so you just have to go beyond yours.

  • Day #18: Who am I kidding, if I was using my brain I wasn’t even going to start this in the first place.

At this point you realize you’re fighting against every little atom in your whole body whenever you attempt to sit down and write. Any motivation and hope you gave yourself the previous day have already left the premises before you woke up. It’s like there’s an evil Santa visiting you every night and stealing all your positive thoughts so you’re forced to regain them on your own every morning. Or is this all just a game and you’re always restarted to the first level?

  • Day #19: Argh where did my weekend go?!

Does the whole world turn against you whenever you decide to do this? Because it sure feels that way. At this point you’re not even sad, more like frustrated and angry and you want to go set things on fire (but not really).

  • Day #20: Another freaking Monday… I’ve had it with this thing.

The more you try to push yourself away from it, the harder it hits you when you finally come back to it. No matter what you’ve started writing, you’ll have to finish it.

  • Day #21: Okay, ten more days and you’re done. Kind of… Just keep writing dammit.

If a head could fall from one’s shoulders due to stress and frustration, you’re fairly sure yours would be rolling on the floor right now. But thankfully that could only happen in fiction. Which reminds you… What are you doing and why aren’t you freaking writing?!

  • Day #22: Just 1 week left! Okay, almost. But almost is good enough, right? Right?!

You’re nowhere near as smug as Matthew McConaughey, but you feel you should be. Both because of what you’ve written so far and because you’re almost close to the finish line. Give yourself some credit, because others likely won’t do that. The best way to reassure yourself you can make it through this month is if you look back at what you’ve managed to do so far.

14 Days of NaNoWriMo

About a week ago I did a 7 Days of NaNoWriMo post, covering the beginnings of an attempt at Camp NaNoWriMo. The extraordinary National Novel Writing Month takes place in November, but the Camp is a smaller sibling project that takes place during April and it gives authors more freedom in comparison to the first. Yet, despite providing you with choices, some flexibility in what you write, how you write, and at what pace, do not delude yourself that it’s any less of a difficult or demanding task.

Writing in its self, no matter the form and purpose it takes is  an excruciating and agonizing assignment lead by an exhausting process of brainstorming, planning, and organizing plots which you’ll then spend day and night splattering with ink over paper, only to wake up in your sleep and burn out all the nonsense you realize you’ve written. But pain, misery, agony, and all the tragedy in life produce emotions, they stir our imagination and once those vanish, you’ll have in your hands the impeccable fruits of hard labor. Whether a short story, a group of poems, or the start of a novella, you’ll have at least the foundation for a written piece of work that speaks this is brilliant and must have taken effort or talent. Or maybe that’s just something I tell myself to help me sleep at night?

Either way, grab a pair of goggles as we’re flying off with a steampunk hot air balloon to revisit day 8-14 of Camp NaNoWriMo.

  • Day #8: Ugh, my Wednesday is a Monday?!

The strong victory feelings you had the day before seem faint and distant, as if they were a million light years ago. Any remote sense of accomplishment evaporated with the realization that another heavy seven days are ahead of you. Begrudgingly you push everything and everyone aside and attempt to turn the table and be productive.

  • Day #9: What do you mean it’s my birthday tomorrow and this is the Easter weekend?!

Not only are you behind with your word count, but with this coming avalanche of events in the next couple of days you’re well aware you’ll be buried under deep snow and your word count will remain as frozen as the Antarctica. Will you ever recover? Will you be able to dig your way up to see the sun again? Are you capable of rising from the ashes like a Phoenix? No one knows, especially not yourself, but this seems like the perfect time to start panicking.

  • Day #10: Time to pretend I’m interested in festivities and non-writing things.

Stuff such as socializing, small talk, long conversations with people you barely know are so low on the list of things you wish you were doing at this very moment, one is quite certain that even breaking things, running around naked on the streets, and murdering anyone nearby, rank higher. Yet when there are celebrations there’s usually fancy delicious food, various selections of drinks, and hopefully a cake big enough for one to drown in it. You can never say no to all wonders that feed your soul and you’re certainly not saying no to cake. In some ways this helps you survive and put on a manic laughing face as you’re internally screaming to sit down and write.

  • Day #11: Wishing it was a lazy Saturday and that you had a few less drinks the previous day.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, wash down your thoughts in alcohol and hope they never reappear again. But those little demons turn out quite the swimmers, and while you’re trying to get your head straight they decide to punch you like a boxing bag, repeatedly. You’re so swamped you’re contemplating the idea of saying screw it and taking a nap. Resistance is usually futile, but you try your best not to give in on the temptation.

  • Day #12: Stop the holidays, stop the celebrations, for goodness sake stop the people!!

You feel holidays is the name given to some supernatural beings sent on planet Earth to beat you up, devour all your energy, creativity, and leave you exhausted, bloated, unable to do anything remotely productive. Doesn’t look like you’ll be doing any writing today.

  • Day #13: Please shoot me and make sure you don’t miss.

The holidays keep going, which can’t really be said about your word count. More food, drinks, too many people and conversations for your taste, no sign of that glorious cake you recently had, and for all you know your brain has left the station. It may not have reached its new destination but it has definitely started the journey of leaving your head.

  • Day #14: Remind me why I do this to myself every year?

The festivities might finally be over, but they’ve left you feeling like you spent the last few days running marathons, yet it doesn’t appear that you’ve won any of them as you see no trophies nearby. All you see is the obvious lack of writing, a plethora of plot points you have yet to plan out and write, while your mind says go to bed and don’t wake up till the end of April. Apparently, the weather finally left its Winter mood and embraced the Spring temperatures, but you’ve been so busy typing you haven’t even had the time to look outside.

You tell yourself to keep going, you’re already halfway there — you can definitely survive another two weeks of this, right? Somehow you’re not really sure, but you’re dead set on trying and you go grab another cup of coffee.

7 Days of NaNoWriMo

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, lately I’ve been slacking somewhat (for example I didn’t get to do a Short Story this past Sunday). However, as far as excuses go I have the second best one — I’m attempting to do Camp NaNoWriMo. Which is the evil twice-removed cousin of NaNoWriMo, which would then be the stepmom or mother of evil and the very best possible excuse for slacking. If you’ve never tried either of the two, the best way for me to describe them to you is as monthly tortures composed of coffee, stress, self-loathing, coffee, random tantrums, mood swings, coffee, keyboard bashing, self-bribing with cake, and did I mention coffee? But if you do get through all of that, you’ll probably have the joy of owning a written piece of a decent length and very crappy quality. That’s why usually we take a short break to replenish our batteries, after which we continue the torture but now by editing instead of writing.

If you’re extremely fortunate you’ll have an amazing product to be proud of that you can show off to others who’ll look at you with awe. If you’re less fortunate you’ll find comfort in the fact that you’ve done the impossible — you’ve produced a novel in a month’s time. Sure, it may be something that you’ll hide in the most secluded corner of your computer forevermore because it doesn’t deserve to see the light of day ever again, but you’ve had fun and experience and those always come in handy. I’m getting off-topic though, the idea of this post is to illustrate how usually the first week (which I’ve now survived, woo!) tends to go.

  • Day #1: Like stealing candy from a baby.

It starts as in the fables, this new land you’re discovering is gorgeous in every way and as peaceful as it can be. There is no sign of trouble anywhere and it’s a beautiful day so you even do your writing with as much leisure as possible. You’ve been preparing mentally for this for a while now and you’re quite sure in your capabilities and the plot you’re going for.

  • Day #2: Everything is great and whimsical.

Another day of productive work, you haven’t come across any issues yet and you feel this is your year. This is the year when you out-write all your friends and produce the best story humanity has ever seen.

  • Day #3: A few bumps on the road can’t stop me.

It can’t all be that pretty, you must have some rough patches and at least they make for a good story. You reassure yourself you can make it through this and a small drawback isn’t stopping you.

  • Day #4: When I set my mind to it, I’m unstoppable.

You’re ready to move beyond yesterday’s trouble, you sit yourself down with a bucket of coffee by your side and you do some quality catching up. Heck, you even get ahead so you have less to write tomorrow!

  • Day #5: Okay, maybe I lied a bit yesterday.

You already start feeling the weight on your shoulders fingers. It’s day 5 and you want to keep going strong but you desperately need a break so you attempt writing what you can without pushing your limits. You’ve earned some comfort and you can always catch up the next day, right?

  • Day #6: Why is this happening to me.

I’ll catch up tomorrow is the most basic mistake, yet somehow you manage to throw yourself under that same bus every year. You even fall for that multiple times in the same month. You’re tired, you have other things to do, your mind is blocked, you feel like the whole world is on fire, and you start regretting you decided to do this.

  • Day #7: How am I doing this, and can I please keep doing it for another 3 weeks?

You have no idea how you managed it or where you found the will from, but you sit down and catch up for the whole week. Was it the fact that you hate losing this early? Was it because you’re competitive and you wanted to show your friends you’re not a loser? Or was it simply because you promised yourself a whole big pile of awesome pizza which you’ll eat all by yourself? Doesn’t matter, so as long as the job gets done.

I guess it also doesn’t matter that by the end of the first week you’ll already be suffering from typing disease, where you’re prone to do some ‘typing‘ no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Top Ten Thursday: Book Re-reads

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I’m not good at a number of things, and one of them is re-reading books. Yes, re-reading is good as it helps you catch things you’ve missed the first time around, it helps you understand everything better, etc. etc. But my mind just rejects the idea, I don’t find any joy in reading something I’ve already read, the book simply isn’t as appealing to me the second time around. But, as with everything, there are a few exceptions. Here’s my list of 10 books I’m okay with re-reading at any time and place.


10 – Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I forget in which school year I had to read this, but I’m fairly sure I re-read it a few times during that year already. I did enjoy the Adventures of Tom Sawyer as well, but it pales in comparison to its sequel and the story of the adventures Huckleberry Finn had. The most intriguing thing is how the book manages to dive into touching subjects such as racism, religion, and war, yet it manages to remain light and friendly. It’s both funny and scary, it’s for children and it’s for adults, and it’s simply put extraordinary. It’s pure classic and it’s something that everyone should read no matter at what age they decide to do so. But more importantly, everyone should be brave enough to pick it up least one more time for a re-read.

9 – George Orwell’s 1984

I don’t know when I read 1984 for the first time, but I do remember when I re-read it for the last time and that was 4 months ago. It’s one of the best literally pieces of work I’ve ever read and most definitely the best dystopian and political fiction book. It’s written in such a simple manner yet it’s structure and content is frightening complex. It was a brilliant read the first time around, but more so on the second and third read because you just can’t soak in all the fantastic bits and pieces in a single reading. It also happens it has one of my all-time favorite quotes “Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

8 – Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels

Is there anyone who didn’t enjoy this? It was likely one of my favorite reads during my school years, and those were quite low in numbers. All the voyages, all these fantastic and diverse places, the plethora of characters and events that follow his journey, they’re so well written you would think this is a diary of a real person’s travels and not actually a novel written as a parody for the traveler’s tales subgenre. If you have to pick a few books to take with you on a stranded island, this should definitely be one of your picks. That is, if you humor can stomach jokes on your own not-so-good situation. If you can’t appreciate a good book then this would be a bundle of gibberish for you, while for everyone else it should be something joyful no matter how many times you’re reading it at this point.

7 – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

It’s my understanding that at the initial release the book was considered quite controversial and had very mixed reviews. Yet the story lives to this day. In fact, it was so influential it actually spawned a whole genre of monster horror stories, movies, tv shows, plays, and illustrations. Some may have disliked the way the book was written or found it too awkward/weird, which I can somehow understand for the early 1800’s. But it’s clear that the story of a scientist who devotes himself to his work to a point where he not only bends but breaks the rules and uses unorthodox experiments to achieve his goals is quite intriguing. Or maybe it’s the rise of said work/creature/whatever which can no longer be controlled as it now has a mind of its own that’s intriguing? Maybe it’s a bit of both, I’m not fully sure myself, but I am sure I’m not tired of rereading it yet.

6 – Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment

Might be a controversial piece, it seems opinions are divided on it, people either hate it or love it, or they don’t even know it. There’s very little middle ground when it comes to Crime and Punishment. For myself, the story of Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov is perhaps one of the best reads I’ve ever had. The moral dilemma of whether the end justifies the journey, of whether bad actions are acceptable if they’re meant to help achieve greater good, is still present and debatable to this day. Who is worthy and who isn’t, who gets to judge and decide, and does ridding the world of those deemed unworthy in order to help the worthy sound like something okay to do? Can we justify our bad actions with a simple it’s meant to help me provide greater good?

5 – Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde was one of the first writers I started appreciating, likely because his work was more available than the work of many others. Call it commercial if you will, but you knew there was always some book of his in the local libraries. The first time I read about the Picture of Dorian Grey was during an early age English class, though it was more of a summary and it was used for other purposes (not for lit reading). The summary itself sold it to me, it was a fascinating yet creepy tale. It was quirky. It was something different than what you’re used to hearing, and for some reason that was appealing to me. To this date I’ve read at least a dozen versions or editions of it and I still like each and everyone one of them.

4 – Dante Alighieri’s Inferno (The Divine Comedy)

I rarely find someone who loves Dante’s Divine Comedy, let alone someone who loves it as much as I do. The first time I read it was during High School, and I was meant to read just the Inferno part but I was hooked and I went on reading he whole thing. While I did some heavy reading during High School, I usually avoided the school readings because most of the books were ridiculous, horridly translated from their originals, or some were just bad books (I understand this may not be the case for everyone, the school reading lists vary from country to country and from generation to generation). Dante’s Divine Comedy, specifically Inferno, was a refreshing change and something I’ll forever cherish.

3 – JRR Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of Rings)

I don’t think I have come across anyone who doesn’t love, enjoy, or at least appreciate the work of Tolkien. I do know some people don’t like fantasy so they shrug it off or blurt out various things how the books aren’t that great, but I don’t think there’s a person among book lovers who does’t at least understand the importance of Tolkien’s work. He had a craft like no one else, he was master of the written worlds and he’ll forever remain as such. It doesn’t matter which of his books I would pick up but the details will always be as entertaining the 100th time as they were the 1st time around. Yet, my journey with his work started with the Fellowship of the Ring so I like it just a tad bit more than the rest of his stories.

2 – JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter)

The Harry Potter series was my very first series of books, and it was my introduction to the world of fantasy. Fantasy being my favorite genre, you can see why I could reread it any time, I consider it important because of the influence it has had on me. Out of the whole series though, Half-Blood Prince is my favorite. It’s the first book out of the series which I think goes beyond the children audience. But, more importantly, the revelations and information available in this book make it my favorite.

1 – GRR Martin’s A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire)

This is a more recent obsession of mine, as I only started reading the series about five years ago, around 2010/2011. The reason it finds itself at the top is of course the writing style and the many hidden details, foreshadowing, and double-meaning writings. When it comes to a Song of Ice and Fire, each sentence’s as important as the next, and every word brings something to the table. It doesn’t matter how many times you have read and analyzed the books, on your next reading you realize/discover something new. If we take and review the whole series I believe that we’ll find out Storm of Swords is firmly placed as the best book from the series and that’s why I’ve selected it from the published books.

Once Upon a Bus Ride

“Know how to travel from your town to a nearby town without a car, either by bus or by rail.” ~ Marilyn vos Savant

The old saying is, if you want to truly get to know someone, see how they act at home. But, if you ask me, if you’re at someone’s home they just won’t act as if they’re home. Even if you’re someone’s closest friend, you cannot capture someone’s ‘at-home‘ attitude by visiting them there. People don’t act their self when their closest people are around, but when there are no people around at all, or when there are simply no known people to see them. This is where bus rides come into play — to me, bus rides is like an open book where you can read about people’s characters.

There are people who spend their bus rides with a book, obviously avid readers as in my opinion bus rides are not the most comfortable reading place. Another group brings their own pillows from home in the bus so you know character-wise that comfort plays a huge part in their lives. Many girls do their make-up in the bus, so you can tell they are short on time (whether because they’re bad at organizing their time or because they’re very busy you can probably tell by whether they’re in a rush or not). Some other folks tend to sleep through their bus rides, and you can probably see if they’ve intentionally not slept so they can be sleepy there (this would be where I’d go, if you’re curious) or if they’re trying to fall asleep but are not tired so they cannot (so they’re just not sure how to spend the time). Another possibility are folks who are constantly chatting, whether to those sitting around them or on the phone, you just know they’re a very social person.

You could even look at people’s baggage (as in, see how they act around it, don’t peek into people’s baggage)! Did they leave all their baggage underneath the bus, thus implying they’re not very worried about their possessions? Or did they try to get everything up and place them around their seat, implying they’re clinging to their possessions? You can even see how well they handle organizing by seeing how much they have packed, but to make an estimate you would need to know where they’re going to and whether they’re going on a business trip or a vacation, or something else entirely (basically, you will need to engage in a conversation).

Look around the bus, notice who’s looking outside the windows with a sad look, you’ll know they’re worrying over something. Or find those giggling to themselves, you’ll know they’re remembering fun memories. Look at how they treat the ones sitting to each other — obviously an outgoing person would chat with the person next to them, while those who do not do well in an unknown person’s presence would do everything, including changing seats, to avoid sitting to someone. Their face expression when they glance at the fellow passenger could even tell you what they’re thinking of that person who is sitting next to them.

As with any good story, there are many characters with many plot-lines, and sometimes the book we read only captures one side of a story or not everything is as we initially assume as we tend to learn too late. Meaning, a bus ride may give us a wrong impression of a person, or it might not give as any impression at all, as stories have people who are just passing by or are simply mentioned once. If they’re of no importance then the reader would obviously forget them rather fast. But there are also those characters who leave a mark on our soul, whether it’s a good one or bad, and the next time you meet each other, even if it’s after many years, you would still remember that good old bus ride story. Because at the end, the life of every human being is a story, and bus rides are nothing more but a library bookshelf that contains these stories in books that come and go as the bus stops and moves.