Nikki's Notebook

My journey as a fiction writer and a place for my projects, writing and otherwise.

Posts Tagged ‘nanowrimo

Benefit by doing things that others give up on.

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fortune cookie

Benefit by doing things that others give up on.

That’s what my fortune cookie said last Friday at the grand opening of Co.Lab Duluth. I thought it was fitting, because I was finishing my word count for Camp NaNoWriMo, and am working toward finishing the rewrite of my novel. I’ve been working on this project since November, and there have been many temptations to give up on it. It took a long time to get a little bit of writing done at Co.Lab’s grand opening, though, because the grand opening events were so fun! We got there in time for the breakfast buffet, and stayed for lunch and the happy hour at the end of the day. I’m really excited to have a CoWorking space here in Duluth. I love the concept and hope to someday make money independently so that I can justify paying for a spot there! Preferably writing novels, of course 🙂

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Kayaking: one reason I love Duluth.

This is how we watched fireworks on Wednesday. We’ve talked about doing this since we met, because Chris had done it before. We just never got a chance. This year, we finally did it. The fireworks in Duluth are set off from a barge in the bay and it can be quite challenging to find a good spot that isn’t crowded that also has accessible parking. Plus, kayaking + fireworks = gorgeous. We put in from a beach on Park Point before it got dark, and then chilled out in the water, paddling around until it was fireworks time. Seeing the city from the water, the sun setting behind the hill, floating on the water, was just perfect. Now I want to go kayaking every day.

Camp NaNoWriMo (still) and a New Publishing Community, Asymmetrical

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cats are plotting against meI have been slacking on the blog a little bit and the cats are angry. I’d like to blame it on Camp NaNoWriMo starting last Thursday, but to tell the truth, I’ve been slacking a bit on that, too. I’m only about 1,000 words behind, and I have a whole week off next week, so I’m not too worried. It’s not NaNoWriMo’s fault I’ve been slacking on the blog, it’s the beautiful weather’s fault! On Saturday, Chris and I managed to do almost exactly nothing productive, which is an accomplishment for us. We went flower shopping with his mom, then went to his parents’ house and walked on the trail behind it along the creek for a couple of hours. Gorgeous. Sunday, the yard work consumed us. I planted the flowers. They are pretty. Summer is wonderful, until it gets too hot and/or humid.

I am excited about a new website, Asymmetrical. It is a site about publishing online, and currently has a community page that is pretty active. When they say publishing, they mean many things, but it’s a lot about micropublishers (a solo publisher) and exploring the changes that are happening in publishing of all kinds because of the internet. I myself usually lurk, but am so proud of myself for posting an introduction there! Now I will have to start participating in discussions more. The project will be more than just a community eventually, and I think it’s going to be good. Check it out!

Written by nikkinbird

June 5, 2012 at 6:32 pm

First revision of a short story – still more work to do!

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UntitledI just finished the first revision of my short story that I’ve been working on for awhile. First I scribbled all over it in red pen, then I set to typing up all of those changes. Since I was adding a character, many of the changes involved writing new stuff, and that’s where I always get stuck. I think, “I’m supposed to be editing!” and I get myself into a different mindset than the one that allows me to freely write rough drafts. I stuck with it, though, and now I’ve gotten one step farther in the process. I’ve only ever finished one short story before, and that was because it was for a class. Doing it again paves the way for more successes, since I’m learning more about my process and what works for me and what doesn’t. My hope is that eventually the process will go faster because I’ll be more used to it and it will become more of a habit.

Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, and I’m trying to prepare myself to be immersed in my novel again. I have a lot of changes I have to make, and it will be mostly a complete rewrite. This is technically “cheating,” since the rules of NaNoWriMo are to write a new novel, but I am using NaNoWriMo as a motivational tool. Camp NaNoWriMo is cool because it puts you in a virtual cabin with cabin mates. When I first signed up, it was too early to have cabin mates, but now I have them! I’d better go introduce myself soon.

Last week, we had some spectacular thunderstorms. Gru is afraid of the thunder and lightning, but we enjoyed the storms. Storms are a perfect opportunity to hang out in a cozy coffee shop and write, or have a fire and hang out at home and write. See picture above: fire, wine, writing, and scared dog. A perfect memorial day weekend!

Written by nikkinbird

May 30, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Camp NaNoWriMo, here I come!

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Well, it’s May already and that means it’s time for me to start preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo for June! I just got an email about all of the camp goodies that are in the store, and I want all of them! Just look at them. I want the poster. And the coffee mug. And the merit badges. And the camp care package. And the tshirt. All so cool!

Since I am using Camp NaNoWriMo to motivate myself to revise my novel from November, I’m kind of cheating. I’m not starting a brand new novel for the 50,000 word goal. My thought is, though, that things like NaNoWriMo are a tool to help me accomplish what I already want to accomplish anyway. My revision will be an almost complete rewrite as well, so having a word count goal will still be a legitimate way of tracking my progress. And boy, do I ever need the motivation!

In the past, when I’ve done NaNoWriMo in November, I’ve usually let it sneak up on me. I’ve never outlined, or planned very much ahead of time. This time, I am going to try outlining and some more advance planning. I still think November’s more spontaneous writing helped me–after all, I wouldn’t even know my characters or the world they’re operating in if it weren’t for all that writing! But now I need a clearer roadmap of what they’re doing so that this revision actually will improve the original draft.

Sponsor me!

If you support my novel writing efforts, consider sponsoring me at my StayClassy fundraising page! I always try to donate a little bit to the Office of Letters and Light when I do NaNoWriMo, but now I want to try to support them even more! Their resources allowed me to teach NaNoWriMo as an afterschool class and spread the novel writing love to some awesome kids, and the whole program provides encouragement, support, and community to tons of writers all over the world. I love it, and if it sounds cool to you, consider supporting my efforts. Plus, your donations will help guilt me into sticking to my word count goal for the month!

Written by nikkinbird

May 9, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Writing a Novel and Handknit Sweaters

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Maybe I shouldn’t keep comparing writing to knitting, but since they are two of my favorite things to do, it seems natural to me. I also think it can be valuable to look at how we acquire skills. Some tendencies and habits can carry over from one type of pursuit to another.

The first sweater I ever knit for myself, I ripped out and used the yarn for a different sweater. That second sweater, I never got buttons for, the sleeves were a slightly awkward length, and I sewed together sloppily. I think I also made up my own way to do a hood instead of looking up hood construction somewhere else. It wasn’t polished and I didn’t wear it much before I accidentally washed it (100% wool) in the washing machine, and I wasn’t too sad that it felted a bit.

UntitledI never finished my third sweater, but it had lots of potential. That’s it in the picture here. That sweater was an ambitious sweater. Knit on tiny needles and with tiny yarn, it took a long time to complete. It came with me on a college orchestra trip to Turkey, and on my semester studying abroad in Argentina. On one of the dusty bus rides through the mountains in Argentina, knitting away on the second sleeve, I lost my stitch marker. I no longer had any idea how many repeats I had done of the sleeve increases. Yes, I was that close to finishing that sweater, and I let a little thing like losing my place in the pattern stop me from finishing it. It’s been hanging in my closet since, the second sleeve in its own little bag in my knitting bin in the basement.

My fourth sweater has been my most wearable, though it’s still not perfect. My fifth is the same, except that the first time I knit it, it was way too big and I ripped the whole thing out and completely reknit it.

Now, what about my novel? Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged about the revision of my novel. Things are not working out, the plot isn’t lining up (I’m not even sure I have a plot!), it just feels like it stinks. Often, I will hear a quote from an author about their first novel, saying that it wasn’t so good, they were glad it never got published, or anything like that. I think my first novel is going to be like that. I almost feel a little bad blogging about all of my novel progress, when I strongly suspect I will never be sharing this particular novel with anybody. Maybe I shouldn’t think of it like that, but that’s my suspicion and it’s not really helping to motivate me to finish this revision.

One way I am managing to stay encouraged is to think about those sweaters. Just because I had to rip out my first sweater didn’t stop me from knitting. I didn’t think, “Wow, that sweater turned out really horrible, so I probably shouldn’t ever try to knit again.” Instead, I took the yarn I’d used and knit a whole new sweater out of it. And then I went on to knit other sweaters, none perfect yet, but all improved. So, even if my novel doesn’t turn out as perfect as I’d hoped, I’m learning as I go, and my next project will be better for having written this one.

I do promise, that even though I’m having misgivings about this novel, that I will continue with it through at least this revision! I am determined to do that, because I know that I will learn from it, and be more ready for the next novel. Now back to work!

Camp NaNoWriMo and Proofreading for Project Gutenberg

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Alamo crossing her legs :)The internet has so much information and so many things to discover, and it’s always changing. Even with the tons of new things there are to keep track of, there are other things that have been around for a long time, in internet years, and I can’t believe I didn’t know about them earlier! Here are a couple of things I just found out about even though they’ve been going on for years.

Camp NaNoWriMo

Did you know there is a summer NaNoWriMo? It’s called Camp NaNoWriMo, and they do it in June AND in August. How did I not know about this until now? They call it “An idyllic writers’ retreat, smack dab in the middle of your crazy life.” Only it’s a virtual retreat. When you sign up, you can choose to be included in a “cabin” with other participants, so you have a built-in support group. I’ve signed up to participate in June, and we’ll see about August.

I won’t be writing a new novel in June. Instead, I’ll be working on my second draft of the novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo in November. It has been tough to motivate myself to revise this novel. I started it completely unplanned in November, so I really had no idea where it was going, and it’s basically going to be a whole new story. I feel a little sad to have put all of that work into it only to rewrite it, but I wouldn’t have these characters, these ideas, the world building, or anything, if I hadn’t written in November. To help myself stick with it, I’ll be attending Camp NaNoWriMo in June so I can set myself a goal and have some accountability in sticking to it. I have to say I adore The Office of Letters and Light for doing all of this every year.

Proofreading for Project Gutenberg

Another discovery I made is that Project Gutenberg has a program for volunteer proofreaders to help process the books that are scanned and made into ebooks. As a spelling, grammar, and punctuation nerd, this is a project that appeals to me. I’m good at proofreading! I also like Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg provides free ebooks for books that are in the public domain (i.e. not under copyright anymore). The books are scanned from physical copies and put through OCR software, which recognizes the text. But, the software sometimes gets things wrong, and that’s where proofreaders come in! Click through the Distributed Proofreaders Walkthrough to get an idea of what it’s like to help out this way. I’ve signed up for an account, read the proofreading guidelines, and printed out the guidelines reference sheet. Today I took the proofreading quizzes, which helped me reinforce what I’d learned by reading the proofreading guidelines. Now, I get to proofread my beginner’s pages and get feedback from a mentor!

The picture above is of Alamo. Just thought I’d include a picture, since I haven’t had a reason for a photo for awhile! We think it’s funny when our pets cross their legs, and I take every opportunity to snap pictures of these poses.

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