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A Day in the Life

Disclaimer: I’m writing this at 4:29 AM. I’m exhausted but, with the wild, new stress of editing War of Exiles and dealing with assorted other problems lately, I’ve found I have a hard time sleeping. The edit is going well, but editing a manuscript without taking long breaks between chapters is a completely different beast; you see all the flaws that need tweaking and you change them immediately, efficiently, and exhaustively. It becomes a nonstop struggle that you fret about daily, but I’m sure it would be fine–I’m sure I could sleep–if not for other worries. My solution: Get up again for phase 3 of responsibilities. Sometimes, it means I’m working on a short story at 5 AM (Lokisday, a short I don’t think I’ve spoken about at all here). Sometimes, apparently, it can also mean I want to write a really weird post at 5 AM. So… enjoy?

Step 1 – Wake Up

It sounds so easy.

Step 2 – Fooood?

This relies entirely on whether there is food to be had. Really, this step should be titled, “Coffee,” because coffee is often all I have for breakfast.

Step 3 – Editing War of Exiles

For me, the editing process has been like… being given a sponge and being told to clean a brick wall. Only, the wall is covered with layer after layer of old paint and the person giving the orders wants you to get down to the brick. With the sponge.

That is how it started for me.

I’d take my sponge, rub it on the wall, pull it away, see that there was a small smear of paint on it… and then inspect the wall. There might be one slightly brighter spot where I’d rubbed. So I kept at it, taking long breathers, never feeling quite right about my wall-sponging abilities. Often, I’d jump from spot to spot.

But, as time wore on, I figured out new tools. Turpentine. A… wall… scraper?… Why did this have to be a wall cleaning analogy? I don’t know anything about wall cleaning.

Whatever. The point is, I’m using stronger tools now; I can see the brick and I’m working nonstop now to get it clear.

But I’m still working the paint off of a brick wall.

I love writing. Really, I do. I could maybe use a break though; a break I will turn down every time.

Step 4 – Working out?

Probably not.

Step 5 – Actual Work

The thing about working from home is that my actual work space… is my writing space. So, unless I work out, I haven’t actually moved. In fact, I am writing this–right now–in my writing / work space. One room. One leather armchair. One TV directly in front of me, flanked by windows to the outside.

Step 6 – Video Games?

There’s a chance I can game as I work–but only if it’s incredibly simple work.

But that doesn’t mean much as video games are not exciting anymore.

And, of course. Why would they be? Working on my stories, despite the analogy, is exciting. Being outside is exciting. Seeing friends–smiling and laughing about Peeta and his cakes–is exciting.

Video games are just another thing I do in my writing / work space. My living space, I should call it. My “I’m breathing” space.

Step 7 – Probably Not Sleep

Whenever it happens, there is always the first attempt at sleep. I lie down, stretch out, turn so that my back is to my room, a wall in front of me.

And I stay like that for a while. Always, I contemplate my life. There are so many things I’m not saying on here because this isn’t the place to share them. But, regardless, I think about them–about my mortality. The constant, writerly worries come up–the thought that maybe I just suck. Maybe I’m not doing it right. “I’ve only just,” I’ll ration, “learned how to edit and proofread optimally.” It continues until I imagine being turned down by every publishing firm ever.

And, of course, at that point, I’m awake and back in my writing / work / gaming space, hammering out a post or what have you, eyes glazed over, possibly not even watching what I’m writing.

Step 8 – Why am I still up?

“Why are you still up?” my mother might ask.

“Couldn’t sleep.”

“Oh. You alright?”

“Yes. Just tired.”

There’s a range of funny, comforting things my mother might say to this. Even if it turns into a conversation about how tired she is, I’ll still smile.

The rest of this step is me doing things I half-forget–in part because they’re busy work. This morning, for example, I changed the cat litter before hopping on here. Yesterday, I started a short story and then did… something I don’t remember. Played Terraria? Maybe I played Terraria.

Step 9 – Actual Sleep

The sun is always up when it happens. Often, I’m talking to myself by then; we’re going full disclosure on the weirdness here.

Either way, I actually fall asleep this time, the ritual complete, Escribyr sated.

~~~

I have a boring, work-driven life with a passion for a field notorious for slow or non-existent returns; I currently have nothing to show for it because I’m still trying to get one of my two completed manuscripts ready for submission. I am… so close. Closer than I’ve ever been.

All I have to do is keep working–keep editing. Keep riding the oddly confined, leatherarmchairpocalypse that my life has become.

Just an absolutely unclear unit of time longer.

I can do it.

A weird thing happened to me the other day.LS-MemoryProgress-1.22.15

I finished the 2nd draft of Memory. I changed a surprising amount from the original (from one entire setting to another character’s physical appearance). So, really, it was a huge job and a lot of work. Upon finishing it, I felt like the book was far stronger than it had been–definitely a lot more unique and more finely paced.

But what I didn’t feel was any sense of achievement from finishing the 2nd draft.

It’s strange. I’ve tweeted about it. Every time I finished War of Exiles, I felt like a king. When I finished the first draft of Memory, I was also pleased. But, for whatever reason, finishing an edit of it (even this quickly) did absolutely nothing for me. There was no hurrah–no feeling of triumph.

And maybe that’s because of what a friend suggested: “That’s probably because it will never feel complete to you.” Yeah. Maybe. As a writer, I definitely fall into the trap of always wanting to pick at my work. In fact, upon finishing the 2nd draft, I immediately went back and tweaked the ending. There is always the certainty that I can find something to improve in my work, and the possibility that, to me, it will never be done and I’ll just have to publish what feels like a rough draft of it. And that’s a kind of horrible, depressing idea.

But that’s probably not the problem. Because I can work on Memory enough that it at least feels ready for publication (I’m fully aware of elements of it that still need work).

So I have to ration that finishing a draft doesn’t feel like an accomplishment anymore because… it isn’t? That sounds grim and bitter, but maybe it shouldn’t. Maybe finishing a single draft just… shouldn’t feel like an incredible achievement. At least, maybe it shouldn’t feel like a beer-chugging, let’s party kind of achievement.

Because, after a while, you pass the point as a writer when finishing a draft is an incredible thing you never thought you’d do. It’s still awesome to get a new story off the ground or finish writing one you’ve been planning for a long time, but after doing all of that, finishing another draft becomes a kind of silent step–a bridge between the greater achievements of “Finished my 1st draft!” and “Started submitting my book!”

And so maybe the achievement here isn’t the finishing of the draft… but reaching the point where I don’t care about having finished the draft? Maybe the victory here is having written enough that I’m not impressed by small victories.

That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t feel anything, but it also doesn’t mean its time for shots. It means I should, instead, smirk tiredly at having gotten to this point. It means I should, of course, roll right into that second edit and on toward “Started submitting my book!” without stopping for beer-chugging and partying.

Happy 2015, people! I hope the year’s been going well for you so far. My first fifteen days have been acceptable; pretty full of editing and working–which, along with sleep, make up the three primary modes of my life.

But before I go on here, I want to clarify the title of this post.

So, here’s the thing: this blog has changed a lot over the past few years.

It started as a super-naive and super-self-congratulatory site for War of Exiles; back at the tail end of my “I’m the best writer in the world and totally infallible!” era, I talked pretty constantly (and unironically) about how amazing and revolutionary War of Exiles would be while also heavily criticizing some writing practices and standards. Years later, I still love War of Exiles and think that it’s different enough to be interesting, but I’m also not a self-congratulating idiot anymore, so I don’t assume it’s going to be revolutionary or change anyone’s life because that’s pretty insane. I’m also not venomous about other professional’s work anymore; even if you love observing differences between yourself and other writers, actually working at the craft–being beaten down by it repeatedly–will work that raw, critical self-confidence right out of you. Years later, I respect anyone who’s gotten published and I just want to give people something interesting and fun to read; that’s all.

After that, my blog got more laid back and experimental. This is when I started Games for Writers, a series I still add to on occasion, and RED Comics, my web comic that I can officially say requires too much of my time to continue working on. This era had a little of everything, from ideas about writing to movie reviews, all posted in an attempt to find my footing. Not the worst phase of the blog, but also not what it’s become and not an era I want to revisit.

After that, and as late as 2014, this site got the tiniest bit more personal (through some of the roughest few years of my life) but eventually turned into 100% writing theory. Really, very detailed and probably too intense writing theory. “Fantasy Story Stats,” “Fiction Sins,” “3 Degrees of Story Completion:” just a lot of posts about different facets of the writing experience. Different ideas that probably already have names I’m not aware of. This I will occasionally continue doing (my next post will probably be such a post, although I’ll keep it fun because I also don’t want to die of boredom).

And that brings us to now. If my blog’s not going to be any of these things, then what’s it going to be? The one thing it has been that I haven’t mentioned here: a journal. NaNoWriMo really changed how I feel about writing. As a process, overall, but also how I feel about posting here. For ages, I tried to keep my personal experiences and my posts pretty distant from each other. For ages, it was just an article about Metal Gear, or a comic about Batman with a progress bar in the upper corner and the occasional “Update” post. But I want to change that.

Which means that this is the last “Update” post because all or nearly all posts will be “Updates” from now on. I’m considering how to do this exactly (whether to tack an update onto every post or just post weekly updates on top of whatever longer post I want to write), but regardless, the site will always be about that Progress Bar–will always be transparent about a writing process I’ve only just (maybe) figured out.

This is one of many changes I have planned for the site in 2015 and, I feel, a good beginning. I hope you agree. And I hope you’ll keep joining me for my weird, anti-social journey–our, perhaps, shared quest on the road to being published and finally sharing the grand silence of our still unseen  fantasy worlds.

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-12.12.14-CompleteWhere I Wrote: At home, in the one room I always use for writing.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Strange. The ending is a complication.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: I remember being really happy. I want to say determined, but that would imply that there was some difficulty. There wasn’t; I woke up, made coffee, and sat down with my tablet, excited to edit the bit of the ending that I had and try again to complete it.

The Experience: I’d planned a return to the New York Public Library on 42nd, but the end of Memory refused to wait for that; on Friday morning, after struggling with the last chapter and epilogue, I woke up, edited, tried another approach, and wound up finishing Memory within an hour or two.

And, yes, you read that right; I finished the novel on Friday and I’m only posting about it today, on Sunday. At this point, I’ve told exactly one person about completing it. My reason: boasting about finishing the novel feels incredibly celebratory. Which would be all kinds of silly as the book is absolutely not done.

In part because it needs to be edited. Sorely. I want to smooth out the pacing. I want to add more interesting descriptions for everything. I want to hone the world of the story. I want, more than anything else, to have the required Naming Session, during which I can finally stop calling my thief protagonist Locke, and–for the love of God–decide on a less awkward name than Memory of the Black Sun.

But also because… the ending for Memory is such a conundrum that taking one possible route with it does not feel like any cause for celebration whatsoever–I have not won yet; I have not figured it out. War of Exiles had a very clear, complete, strong ending that got unexpectedly more powerful for me every time I worked on it–every time I trimmed off excess and added another scene that needed a resolution. In contrast, I’m left staring at a handful of options for Memory, the terms of my Fantasy Story Stats buzzing around in my head endlessly; the ending can be High Spirit (emotionally comforting), or Low Spirit (emotionally challenging), I find myself thinking, only to immediately remind myself that I can find a middle ground–one of the many if’s and but’s that makes the logic puzzle of Memory’s ending a terrible little loop. I’m still weighing the matter with such honest confusion that writing this just feels… wrong.

But I still have to acknowledge that I’m on to the editing part. On to it so hard, in fact, that last night saw me whipping out the tablet on my bed at (seriously) 6AM because I had to write a scene that I knew would help the pacing and reinforce the protagonists’ relationship. I have, at least, crossed over to the phase of writing during which I can–and totally do–jump backwards in the timeline and tweak and edit absolutely everything. I’m up to the point where I can stare vacantly at a wall (or maybe at people in public) while I consider the ending for the umpteenth time, knowing as I do that there is a solution for it that I will find. Being at that phase with Memory is something I’m incredibly grateful for.

It took longer than a month; I took an extra week to put in hours at work and take care of other life things I’d been ignoring and then an extra week after that to actually write the end of the novel without rushing it. But I still, suddenly have a second novel down. If you’d asked me in mid-October of this year–just before NaNoWriMo–when I expected to finish Memory of the Black Sun, I’d have shrugged and half-asked, “2016?”

But it’s down, on paper, now–and it’s good–in a month and change, compared to the… seven years it took me to write War of Exiles?

Yep. I’ll take it.

 

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.30.14Where I Wrote: The Table Tennis Subway Plaza at the top of the lifts at the 190th St. station on the A line.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: It was genuinely good work that put me at ease about the rest of the book.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Weirdly unfazed. Unmoved is probably a better way to say it. It was a mood that led to a strange ride home on this final day of NaNoWriMo.

The Experience: I woke up to find that it was nearly 50 degrees. Excellent. That meant I could forgo an indoor location for this last 30 Days outting.

I decided in favor of a good view.

11.30.14-WhereIWrote1

This is the Subway Plaza on Fort Washington Ave., directly before reaching Fort Tryon, a place I found on my return to the Cloisters at the very beginning of this last week of NaNoWriMo.

The view of Inwood and Fort George wasn’t amazing here today–not like it was at the beginning of the week–but it was scenic enough to be pleasant and boring enough to make work easy. Not as grand as Linden Terrace inside of Fort Tryon (my second spot from Day 24, overlooking the Hudson), but thus perfect for focusing on work. Particularly convenient with New Leaf offering public restrooms a short walk north (around the back and through a door that looks locked but absolutely isn’t [meaning you don’t have to buy a generic small coffee that turns out to be $4 and change]).

Here, I ironed out more of the kinks with the endgame. To be honest, I didn’t realize there were still problems with my protagonists’ plan, but, after brainstorming way too much the past few days, last night and this morning saw really simple fixes popping into mind. Scenes that would only be possible if the set up for the endgame was like this… and hey, wouldn’t you know it, that works perfectly. I spent a good while at the plaza, working and making those fixes until the weather turned and I realized that the Subway Plaza was in the adjacent buildings’ shadow for the last few hours of the day (making it yet another spot that would be better in summer). I packed up and headed home.

And had a bizarre train ride. I wasn’t sure why exactly, but something bothered me about the day.

Broken down to my simplest reaction to it, I was disappointed. Somehow, I expected everything to fit into place at this point. I’m fine with not finishing the book on NaNoWriMo’s deadline… but I thought the last day of 30 Days would be more spectacular in some way. I saw the weather and perhaps thought that it would be sunny and beautiful–that I’d be able to tell a final, good story.

But there was nothing. And as I rode back home, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d missed some opportunity. That I’d gotten the bad ending. Which led me to the strange thought…

Well, I guess there’s next year.

Next year… to have a perfect outting? As if… I couldn’t just keep going out this year? As if I now had to return home and turn sedentary again? As if life was a video game or a meticulously composed plot? As if I’d lost anything at all?

As if I’d learned nothing from 30 Days of NaNoWriMo?

No. No, I won’t do it. Fuck you.

Because this is how life works. Life is all about throwing the curve balls at you. 30 Days has ultimately been about me repeatedly dealing with, learning from, and avoiding those curve balls. I knew that–I have for a long while now. Just like I know that the one major lesson of 30 Days is to…

Just… keep… working. To not give up. To not surrender to distractions. To not give in to the reflex to walk away from a story. To not wait for writer’s block to go away, but to keep hammering at it until it yields. To never let a piece of your work cool for so long that it turns dun and lukewarm in the open air. To not give up–ever.

And, for me, personally, to never ignore what I want and never lose faith in what I can do.

Because Memory is a chapter from being finished. I lost NaNoWriMo. Okay. I’m fine with that.

But I won myself back. For the first time in years, I finally feel like myself again and not the horribly depressed person that the last 3 years of circumstance made me.

So, this is my grand ending. I will end 30 Days with this 30th day, because I don’t want to prolong it. I don’t want to drag it out.

And because I know that regardless of challenges and deadlines and every other curve ball the world throws at me, I will finish Memory in the next few days. Nothing could stop me from doing so. I will post when I do and then take a short hiatus to handle a ton of things I need to do for myself.

Until then, thank you to everyone who’s read. Tons of thanks especially to those who Liked and Followed during the month, but also, of course, thanks to anyone who stopped here, whether you’ve come back or not; even if you never read this, thank you.

And to any writer who’s had a remotely similar experience to mine–who’s struggled like I’ve struggled–never give up. Never wait on your ideas. Never smother them with lethargy. Never write for anyone other than yourself.

But most of all, never add qualifiers. Never strictly regiment what you write. Never set standards that will break you if you don’t meet them.

Instead, just write. Don’t wait for a particular month. Don’t wait for a particular mood. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect because it never will. Write often. Write from the heart. Write in places that you love and places where you’ve never been. Write until it’s a strange addiction that you find you’re suddenly terrified to lose.

Write until it feels like maybe it’s unhealthy. And at that point, do not stop.

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.29.14Where I Wrote: Again, not by plan, but entirely at home.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Good.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Exhausted after a day of trying to find a spot.

The Experience: I tried really, really hard today.

I definitely didn’t want to have another post from home on the second to last day of 30 Days, but there was just nothing to do for it. I’d made a silent clause with myself after my experience on Day 25, a vow that I would always be ready to go home the instant one spot did not work out.

However, when I got to the City Bakery today and found that, even later in the day, it’s a mad house, I was not willing to come straight back. I really–really–wanted to get to work outside if only because I didn’t want to have another brainstorming session about an endgame I could not possibly brainstorm anymore (I’ve had Taking a Stand stuck in my head for the past two days and, although its amazing, it’s starting to drive me insane).

In all seriousness, there’s a point when planning doesn’t help because you need the random elements of freshly written progress to provide fuel for the brainstorming; in my case, I needed a very particular answer that I just couldn’t work out until I found it in the flow of a new scene as I was typing it. I desperately wanted to get to that new scene.

So I wandered Manhattan for a good two hours looking for a spot.

I considered Bourbon Coffee, but found it also totally full.

I passed on Crocodile Lounge again because beer is always, unfortunately, the last thing I need when I sit down to write.

I passed on Think Coffee, which I’d considered until I read a sign out front that said, “I Think therefore I drink great coffee.” Maybe you find that charming–and that’s fine. But I hated it enough to nonsensically glare at Think Coffee as I walked past it. Do I just hate being scripted? “You’re not stupid, right? So you like this coffee then–it’s decided!” I don’t know.

I eyed a handful of other eateries from fast food places (passed on because I’m never hungry for fast food and just… refuse to write at a McDonald’s for 30 Days [cause… fucking… no]) to a suspiciously empty cafe (I mean, not a soul was sitting in a cafe near 14th St. [a sight that’s insanely damning]).

The second to final straw was finding a decent cafe that only accepted cash and… Paypal?

The final straw was winding back around to Bourbon and finding that it was absolutely still full.

At this point, that silent clause I mentioned–the Bullshit Clause–was in full effect; I’d wasted so much time that the sun was going down. Writing outside wasn’t an option and I had a lot to try and get out. So I rushed back home.

And finally got some of my ideas down and figured out a handful of important answers. I encountered a new problem instantly and corrected that, but then hit an exhaustion wall really hard and way too fast. It felt like I only wrote 200 words, but somehow, I still went over my old goal (still stopping too early at this point).

But, as I said yesterday, I’d rather take my time than force this at all. I’m a bit worried I’ve spent too much time with the endgame and will have to heavily edit it when I’m done, but that’s a problem I’m willing to deal with when I reach it.

For now, I’m gearing up for tomorrow’s session–a combination of two scenes that are pretty intense and happening simultaneously. They end in a transition to one last scene that shuts out the conclusion–to say things in the vaguest way possible. I’m excited for it and a bit worried, but it should be fine.

Still, to whoever’s out there reading this, please wish me luck; I know I still got a good amount done today, but if tomorrow went smoothly, that would be amazing.

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.28.14Where I Wrote: First at a small lounge on the western end of Vesey St., overlooking a ferry port. Then the Winter Garden just a short way east on the same block.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Glad and grateful that yesterday’s writing issues were solved today.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: So goddamn ready.

The Experience: Today was so good.

I didn’t wake up early, but I got out at a decent time and headed for the Winter Garden, yet another entry on my short list of no-bullshit writing spots. I haven’t been there before, but it was a place that was guaranteed to be open, indoors, and have both seating and restrooms.

Of course, getting to where I thought it would be and finding signs for construction was a bit disappointing. Not completely disheartening, but just, “Of course.” Having a weird kind of sense for shenanigans now though, I decided to keep walking west; I knew that there were a ton of entrances to Brookfield Place–the building the Winter Garden is in–and that those entrances led to different parts of the building in different states of disrepair.

11.28.14-WhereIWrote2

Walking west eventually led me to a small public lounge looking over the ferry port at the end of Vesey St. There’s a fantastic chance this place has a name (very likely, it’s part of Brookfield Place), but all I really cared about was nabbing my picture, grabbing a seat, and getting to work.

The first part of today’s writing session was fixing the mess I left for myself yesterday. To recap, it was a single scene that I Frankensteined the fuck out of; I wrote the entire scene one way, replaced only the first half of it with an alternate approach to the scene (essentially changing my protagonists’ plan for the endgame) and then ended the scene with an extremely important decision that I made hastily yesterday and had to make for real today. When I stopped yesterday, it was genuinely because I didn’t want to ruin the scene even more. That makes it sound like I was super defeated, but I wasn’t; I know well enough when I’m too out of it to make sense of a confusing scene, so I called it quits with the certainty that an evening of brainstorming would help sort things out.

And it did. When I got to this lounge, I knew exactly what needed to be fixed and changed. I also knew exactly what the answer to yesterday’s important decision needed to be. All of this I hammered out in an hour or so before migrating for a restroom and a drink.

Lo and behold walking back the way I’d come and taking a longer look into an obnoxiously large entryway I’d only glanced into earlier–a large room of white marble that, aside from escalators in the middle, looked exactly like an area I’d just written a few days ago in Memory (making it so strangely inviting). What really made me enter, however, was a sign declaring that this place had restrooms. I asked the first guard I saw about them.

And he said, “Oh yeah. Just make this right, then the only left you can make. From there, you’re going to go down the first escalators you see, then go straight through the Winter Garden, up the escalators on the other side.”

Ah, I thought. Yes… Yes, the Winter Garden. Of course… Excellent.

11.28.14-WhereIWrote1

The Winter Garden turned out to be mostly under construction, which, coupled with its already being night time (and the fact that there were no light cycles to be seen or ridden anywhere, despite the sign pictured above) made it a bit… strange? I think I saw it in its worst light, is what I’m trying to say. There were palm trees and a skating rink outside. There was an extremely elaborate food court (probably the nicest one I’ve ever seen anywhere), but the combination of people huddling for warmth under palm trees in a courtyard made of marble but lined with construction ply wood made for the most confusing, disjointed first impression. Also, I didn’t find coffee anywhere. I am not complaining; I don’t want to come off sounding like one of the spoiled bastards I mentioned in the last post, but coffee is a pretty important part of my writing process these days–the means by which I either stay awake or go so insane on caffeine that the crazy fantasy ideas keep coming.

That’s all to say that of all the writing spots I’ve tried during 30 Days, the Winter Garden is likely the one I won’t return to–for writing, that is (I’ll very likely be back some time to actually shop, read, or eat).

Here, I determinedly decided to catch my characters up to the second to last chapter. When I left the ferry lounge earlier, I was intending to either find restrooms and a new spot or go home. Thus, the moment I found the Winter Garden, I was determined to continue writing. I had one extra scene to finish–a that scene ends with my protagonists leaving for the final conflict.

And that scene came about as easily as the average scene in my book–I felt it out as I wrote it, now easily trusting my sense for things I don’t like. This led to an even faster turn around than yesterday’s scene; within an hour, I worked the scene into something I liked, dropping weird, weighty elements and, despite thinking that it was an interesting idea at first, ultimately deciding against giving my protagonist a new weapon, preferring to keep him with his pistol and its handful of remaining rounds (because I’m a big fan of higher stakes and realistically bad odds).

Here, however, I finally stopped, wanting to get home and in bed at a decent time for the Dawn of the 2nd Day. But I also wanted to brainstorm the next chapter especially hard, to try and make tomorrow’s session go as smoothly as I could. That bout of brainstorming on the train was so intense and in-depth that I’m sure I looked like the weirdest weirdo to the people sitting next to me, who totally heard me laugh and whisper at least one line to myself because totally forgot I wasn’t alone.

But regardless of that going well, it is time to admit something that I’m only now sure of.

I’m probably not going to finish this book by the 30th.

There is a chance I’ll go ape shit tomorrow and Sunday and tear through the last chapters very, very easily (I have brainstormed them so hard that I wouldn’t be surprised if this happened). But there’s also a fantastic chance I’ll hit a huge hurdle that I absolutely promise I will not rush over. Because as much as I love NaNoWriMo and think it’s great, I have absolutely no qualms about failing the actual challenge to produce a better book. It’s my first time NaNoWriMoing and I’m super glad I accepted the challenge, but I will only disappoint myself by forcing the rest of the story–disappoint myself and impress no one.

But what I do promise is this–30 Days will continue until Memory is finished, because that is the victory that I want, and I refuse to stop until I get it. Very likely, that will only mean an extra day or two (Days 31 and 32 of 30 Days) on which I won’t be writing outside (unless I find that I can’t produce without being outside those days). Regardless, I will continue posting here.

But… will I soon be eating my words? Will I, in fact, go all-in tomorrow and belt out the rest of the book in one monster session? Will I only have a final, epilogue chapter to write by Sunday?? Will I freak out even more people on the train?? You can probably bet on that last one happening, yes.

But on the rest, I’ll keep you posted.

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.27.14Where I Wrote: Home. I should’ve mentioned this earlier, but I never intended to go out on Thanksgiving. I mean… it’s Thanksgiving.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Exhausted. Not horrible, but absolutely tired out.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Fine. Definitely a bit distracted though. It’s just that kind of day.

The Experience: There’s not much to write when it comes to NaNoWriMo today. I enjoyed a last minute respite before the final three days of 30 Days (what I’ve come to assign a Clocktown, glaring and snarling Moon kind of vibe to).

But writing itself was a bit… messy. I’m writing a discussion of the protagonist’s plans for the endgame and its been clumsy–the pressure to get enough out today definitely led me to write out one version of the plan I wasn’t sure about and then back track, and (after the last 26 days of experience) immediately reevaluate it from a safe distance. Was this the plan I wanted to write? No. Is this way better than the original version as you envisioned it? No. Is there a way to write that original vision? Yes. Then write the original vision.

But figuring out the details of that vision came a little rough; I wound up finishing the scene first before going back and taking my second stab at it. The problem became that, halfway through, I wasn’t sure the second version was cutting it either. This AND the end of the scene wound up having another huge, tonal decision that I rushed… and then decided not to rush; I wanted to write more but forced myself to stop before that decision became remotely difficult to reverse. So, in the end, I have the first half of the second version of the original planning scene, the second half of the first version, and a concluding line with serious consequences that might change. More… than a little messy.

But I kind of feel like it was worth it. Today, I stood home because I wanted to spend time with my mom. Not because I never do.

But because we’ve both had really shitty deals when its come to life. I’m still reluctant to go into details about myself (and I absolutely won’t go into details about her life here), but I can say that she’s had the misfortune of having a son who’s a writer. A writer who wants to help her get out of debt, so, really, the worst possible result for her because I could not have chosen a worse profession. A profession that has yet to pay off at all. I made a promise to her a few years ago that I would help with her debt–a promise that I made to myself ages ago, when I was just a kid, because she told me she knew I’d be successful some day. I have yet to make good on that promise.

And that’s part of the reason I jumped into NaNoWriMo. It’s not a static attempt to pay off someone’s debt–I promise that this was never an attempt to knock out a really horrible manuscript to pawn off for quick cash (because, of course, that would be the dumbest and worst scam of all time as writing an entire novel is neither quick nor lucrative).

But this is a kind of desperate attempt to figure out how to write more often, more efficiently, and (for fuck’s sake) more frequently. In essence, I jumped on NaNoWriMo because I want to figure out how do something I love so well that I can finally make good on the promise I made to her.

And, on a day like today, that’s what I want to focus on. The tablet I’ve been using for the past 26 days? My mother got it for me last year. This tablet that cost so much that I was genuinely upset when she gave it to me. And on the wrapping, a simple, short message: she got it for me because she knew I would get published one day.

Today, I’d like to just be thankful that I have her, of all people, for a mother.

It’s easy to feel like we’ve grown into a culture of ungrateful bastards. We complain about the speeds that our handheld, mobile computers access the entirety of the internet. We bicker, heatedly, about which video game systems are better–video game systems which are designed, ironically, to be sources of fun have almost become grounds for physical violence. It is, to understate it, absolutely ridiculous.

So, one day–today–seriously, just acknowledge something, or someone, who is amazing and always has been.

Mom, thank you. Thank you always. And I love you dearly.

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.26.14Where I Wrote: The New York Public Library in Bryant Park. In case that means nothing to you (it sounds so bland), it’s the flagship of the NYPL system–the striking Beaux Arts building with the two stone lions out in front, just a short walk from Times Square.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Really good.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Excited!

The Experience: After the insane success of yesterday (and its negligible degree of total failure), I was really excited to get back out there today.

As will probably be the standard with the rest of NaNoWriMo, I brokered no bullshit with my choice of a writing spot. In fact, as it was hailing outside (which I guess is what you’d call today’s soft, thick, slushy snow drops that pattered to the streets with the rain’s exact rhythm and tempo) I brokered no bullshit so hard that I did it twice; the first time, I chose the most straight forward and definitely open and comfortable of the spots I have left. And then, when I got to 42nd St. on the way there, I super brokered no bullshit by bailing on that spot in favor of the NY Public Library at Bryant Park.

The weird thing is, I’d never actually been to that library; in the weird way of many New Yorkers, its a giant, impressive landmark I’ve walked past many, many times without really even looking at it.

But, if I learned anything from the NYPL at Lincoln Center, it’s that big Manhattan libraries are always amazing for writing. You go in. You find a seat among other people who came into a library, of all places, in the heart of Manhattan. You all sit there, mutually agreeing to leave each other alone and make as little noise as possible. Always good.

I was instantly thrown by how amazing the library is though. I’ve become acutely aware of how easily I’m impressed by certain architectural feats and landscapes. I’m definitely aware that I go into full Lame Dad mode when I see a weird-looking building (“Wow, kids! Wouldja look at that building? What an adventure, huh?”). And, really, I’ll own that–I am a nerd who loves architecture and landscapes like he loves earth sciences and D&D. Fuck it. You got me.

But all of that is to just set up that holy shit have you been to the library in Bryant Park? My… God that place is amazing. I feel bad not capitalizing “library” when I write about it. I mean… I walked through its revolving doors and found that the elaborate stone work that was outside… was also inside–everywhere inside.

I refuse to try to put it all into detail or this post will just be way too long. Instead, I’ll explain it with a single emotion: it felt strange to be there because it felt like I was in a foreign country, standing in an ancient building that’s still in use. Of course, that’s what the Library pretty much is, but if you’re a New Yorker, you’ll understand how rare that feeling is because you’re so used to flat cement and hastily-painted ply wood.

I found that the main reading room was closed unfortunately, but thankfully, shenanigans did not escalate.

11.26.14-WhereIWrote

I found this reading room on the second floor, which afforded the same experience as the reading room I used in the library at Lincoln Center (although thankfully without the exhaustion). I sat down and got to work reading and editing everything from my late addition to the middle of the book to the start of its endgame (a personal term for a great, exciting third act).

And I was glad to find all of it good and enjoyable, but not perfect (as odd as it sounds, I would’ve been put off if it was all perfect). There was some solid editing that needed to be done and, of course, small additions to tie my new second act to the rest of the novel. The editing session was not without its bumps. It honestly took hours.

But I did finish editing the rest of what I’ve already written. And I added a small scene–a brief check-in with the villain that helps establish the endgame more firmly.

When I finished that scene, I knew it wasn’t perfect, but I was glad to add something new–glad that yesterday’s love for writing persisted today without effort. I had to stop myself from adding more, certain that I needed to get back into the mood of the conclusion first.

And now, a train ride of brainstorming later, I’m excited for tomorrow–the beginning of the endgame. The fourth-to-last day of NaNoWriMo. #BringItAlready #AirHorns

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.25.14Where I Wrote: Not the Continental Center. Not under the Brooklyn Bridge. Not at either of my South Street Seaport spots. Although not for want of seriously trying… I wrote on the train for the very first time in my life. And then… at home.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Fucking ecstatic.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Very tired. But very ready to get down to business.

The Experience: Full disclosure: I failed at the 30 Days part of today.

But today was still a truly amazing success for me. The additional encounter is finished. Tomorrow, I edit the rest, make a few small adjustments, and then jump into the endgame. I feel amazing.

And all this for a day that started with pretty heavy failure. I don’t know how that works, but I’m glad it does.

I got out at a decent time. I chose a writing spot that was no frills, knowing that I needed as few complications as possible; I had a ton on my plate today when it came to writing. Deep down, I was worried that it would be a bit too much and that the pieces wouldn’t fall into place. In prep, I got a bag of chips at Chipotle (because my love for their burritos is equal only to my total inability to eat them anymore [I think I’d just die the same way I’d just die of flavor if I ever eat another Cadbury Creme Egg]). From there, I grabbed coffee.

Coffee that was still untouched when I stood outside of the Continental Center and saw that only its lobby was intact.

Mental note: make sure your spots are still there and opened before you go to them.

But that was fine. I could just go sit under the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s not that cold outside.

Yes, it is, I discovered. It is that cold.

For the short while I was under the bridge, I was determined. I was not going to go home. I had too much to write. If this did not work out, I’d sit at Pier 15 again. Or in the Canon’s Walk again. Two other spots that were also outdoors.

And maybe that’s what did it–maybe it was the idea of hopping to different, uncomfortably cold writing spots that broke me.

… Why the hell am I forcing myself to do this outside?

Don’t get me wrong–I still like the challenge and I’m still going out tomorrow. A post will follow that. I am not dropping 30 Days when I’m already 25 days in.

But today, with my original spot a bust; with only repeat, outdoor spots nearby; and with a ton of work to put in, staying outside just felt insanely silly. That tiny bit of writing I did in the cold under the bridge was fun enough to make me smile. I really wanted to write more and I was just hampering that desire with another distracting, currently bullshit challenge. If the Continental Center had been opened, I’d have a picture for this post–I’d have rocked it there. But it wasn’t. Not… entirely my fault.

So instead, I hopped on the train, struggled in just… the most fun ways with my tablet as I continued writing on it, and then got back to my apartment and took to the one room again.

Where I totally did delete a small bit of yesterday’s work and replaced that section of the fight with actions that felt far more natural. Actions that finally pushed it from a stiff, formal encounter to a realistic event that my characters were genuinely experiencing. I don’t know the best way to explain this, but if you’re a writer, you know what I mean; there’s the boring, basic way a scene can go–the version where everyone’s standing in place and talking to each other without moving. And then there’s the dynamic version, in which your characters aren’t just disembodied voices talking at each other but people. This change made the entire scene so fun to write that I just didn’t stop.

Not until my addition was finished. All of it–even the post-encounter scene that tied the addition firmly to the rest of the novel.

I know that I kind of failed today. I’m aware that this post is the worst when it comes to showing off a nice writing spot.

I also totally don’t give a shit.

Today was amazing. It was so stupidly validating that all other failures–even the ones possibly waiting for me tomorrow–mean absolutely nothing.

Writing’s so good. So goddamn good.

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