Sunday, 30 November 2008


Forty six hours and ten minutes.

Thirty days.

Three exams.

100,249 words.

So... can you tell which days the Sundays are?

Gettin' there

90052 down, 9948 to go.

It seems almost absurd that I've struggled so much every year (except my first) to get to 50K. 50K's so little. And I've only once actually finished my story within that 50K — last year, when I had extremely little plot. I think, probably most of the stories I've written would be done at about 70, maybe 75K. It's hard to know, since I never have finished them.

This year, I'm hoping the incentive of actually getting my story published in book format will be enough to motivate me to write. It's tough that NaNoWriMo is in November, since as soon as it's over you're into Christmas — you don't have time to revise or edit it; and by the time January or February rolls around and your holiday's over, you aren't in "the zone" any more and your novel isn't exactly top-of-mind.

I realised on Friday that my motivation has died since I finished "Book One" (my story consists of two "books"). I had planned out Book One in great detail; Book Two, although I know the beginning and end, is pretty hazy on the middle, and hence much harder to write. I almost feel as if I'm writing a new story, since the focus of the plot changes dramatically in Book Two.

Having said that, writing nearly 5000 words today has started to get me a bit back in the "flow" — get back in my character's mind, come to grips with the new problem. It's just not something I've dealt with before.

I'll be fine. I just wish I'd planned Book Two out a bit more thoroughly; I certainly don't have time to do so now. But after I've written my 100K, I'm definitely going to plan out (in minute detail) every scene of the rest of Book Two before I go any further in writing it.

But back to writing. That evil ruler won't usurp the throne on his own....

Total words today: 15,158.
Total words overall: 100,249.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Week Three goal

Less than 10,000 to go!

Not till I finish, obviously; but less than 10,000 to go till I reach where I'm meant to be today: at 76,682 words. Wow, that sounds like a lot.

I've written 67,061 total words at time of writing: 6680 words today (although just over 1000 of that was before I went to bed). That feels like a pretty damn good effort already, to me. But I'm so motivated, I so want to get to this word count because I've said I would, so I can buy my book, and to write 16,301 words in a day!

This may sound difficult, and it will be. But I can do it. As proof that it can be done, may I present rejectednightmares, a writing dynamo who signed up to NaNoWriMo yesterday and wrote 20,000 words that day. (Making the rest of us look bad!)

But if rejectednightmares can do 20,000 words in a day, I can do 16.

Besides which, I've advertised to both the NZ NaNoWriMo forum and on this blog that I am going to get 76,682 words by midnight tonight. If I fail at something I've publicised so widely, it'll just be embarrassing (which, of course, is why I publicised it so widely). Now I have to make it!

So, 67,061 at the moment. 76,682 by midnight.

Now look at me go!

7.47pm: SEVENTY THOUSAND! Man, that's a good feeling. I think every ten thousand is always a great feeling. But seventy thousand! That's huge. I hope so much I manage another 6542 words tonight! It's gonna be tough....

Total words today: 16,402.
Total words overall: 76,783. I WIN!!!

Saturday, 22 November 2008


They're back in stock!

I love GoodBooks. It was just a temporary out-of-stock thing, after all. And I thought they were lying to me!

Now, to get 20,000 words in the next two days so I can buy me Arabella.


Total words today: 3050.
Total words overall: 60,381.

Monday, 17 November 2008

The problem with winning

I've won NaNoWriMo. No matter what I do from now — won.

While this is a fantastic feeling, it's dangerous, too. The NNWM graph doesn't go any higher than 50k; it's like anything higher doesn't matter.

I know this isn't true, and I'm still excited about my story and where it's going. (Part of me wonders if this shows something wrong with it already... am I not writing it properly? Everything I've read, my own experience, all says that I should be thoroughly sick of my story by this stage.)

The other Kiwi aiming for 100,000 words mentioned, when he hit 50k a few days ago, how much his motivation lagged afterwards. I hoped it wouldn't happen to me, but I think it's hard not to lose a little drive.

It's such a good feeling — I've done it! I've won! — that it's easy to forget how much of a long haul there still is left to go.

I've found it interesting that the stages in my story are still coming at the same places, proportionally. My motivation levels, writer's block, plot climaxes, character development etc are occurring at the same stages of the month, not at the same word counts.

Now that I'm at 50k, it's harder to keep going. I'm lacking the push.

It may all be in my head, because I was expecting this to happen. But I need to make myself keep writing, at least 1000 words a day, and trying to catch up so I can have 75,000 by Saturday (hey, it could happen).

It seems incredible how much I've done, and I feel my writing classes, reading and previous novels all helping me.

Anyway — it's past 11pm, so I'm off to get my 1000 words.

I won't let myself lose motivation.

Total words today: 1009.
Total words overall: 51,126.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Half way.

I didn't make my Week Two goal.

After various computer issues yesterday (two crashes, one set of lost words and one case of laptop dying completely), I missed my Saturday goal (40,000) and clocked in at midnight with 38,000 words. But I stayed up till nearly 2am, getting out my last 2000 words, and went to bed happy.

Today was less successful. I had an unproductive 5000-word morning before I had to skedaddle to meet up with friends, and didn't get any further time to write until Dan and I finally got home at nearly 10pm.

With the greatest will in the world, and a complete disregard for RSI, I cannot write 8000 words in two hours. My fingers just don't type that fast.

But I did make it to 50,000, and for that I'm happy. After all, getting to 50k is still the official goal: getting to 50 is always a good feeling, and getting there on the 16th is a fantastic accomplishment, to me. (Oh no, I just realised — I'm going to have to aim for 100,000 words every year now!)

I'm disappointed I didn't make my weekly goal, though. If we hadn't had to go to Wellington for the weekend, I probably would have made it, but that's not the point. I should have been more organised during the week.

I don't like not meeting my goals: I feel I've let myself down. More importantly, I feel I've let Dan down, because the whole reason I'm doing this weekly goal thing is to stop myself from getting behind and stressing Dan out too much. The incentive thing isn't really relevant, since GoodBooks don't even stock said incentives any more.

...but, you know what? I have fifty thousand words.

Total words today: 11,713.
Total words overall: 50,117.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Lost words

From now on I'm backing up my file every day. Plus saving it in a separate file for each day. That way I won't lose the last three days' work.

Since I've been really lazy the last few days, I only lost 966 words. But it still hurts pretty badly, especially when I'm so far behind with my goal.

I lost most of a scene, and there's no way I'm rewriting all that at the moment. So I'll have to go back later — at some stage when I'm less furiously angry with myself — and write the whole scene again.

And now I have to go on with an incomplete scene in my novel, which is messy and which I've been trying really hard to avoid this year, finishing every scene but one before I moved on.

I have back-ups, but my most recent back-up was made four days ago.

I had decided to write on my laptop for a while. So I copied my NaNoWriMo folder onto my pen drive, overriding what I assumed were the old files. Unfortunately, it seems I had been writing on the pen drive copy; so now I've overwritten it with an old file from several days ago, losing my word count from today, yesterday and the day before.

I'm angry with myself, and I'm really sad. I'll still keep my lost word count; but I've lost a part of my story. It's not just word count — it's story I've lost.

I should be glad that I only lost 966 relatively unimportant words. I should be glad I didn't lose a 10,000-word day — I think I'd have broken down if that had happened. But I can't be glad. Losing even 966 unimportant words hurts. It was a tricky scene to write, too, and I'd done it.

This is so demoralising.

Total words lost today: 966.
Total words written today: 1601. EDIT: 4693.
Words both written and lost today: 654.
Total words overall: Whatever. I don't care. I want to cry. EDIT: 38,404. You tie a knot, you move on.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


They're temporarily out of stock.

The books, I mean; the Georgette Heyer books I promised myself as a reward for being up to date at the end of each week. All the titles I wanted are now out of stock; they aren't listed any more in the catalogue, and I doubt they'll be re-listed.

A twelve-thousand-word day! Not all for nothing, since I've still got a nice word count, but all to find I don't get the reward I'd hoped for — it sucks. They were all in stock a week ago!

It just sucks that I now get no reward.

I guess I'll think of some other reward. I might buy myself The art of racing in the rain by Garth Stein, which I've wanted to read for a while. But I still need three other "rewards".

It's just disappointing that my cheap incentives — books I really wanted — are now all out of stock. The same titles are available in a different series, but I want the same series so it'll look all pretty in my bookcase. And honestly, GoodBooks are the cheapest I've found those books.

Oh well, Dan and I are moseying down to Wellington this weekend, and I think Borders stocks the same series, so I might get one there. But somehow it's not quite the same... achieving your goal, and just being able to click that "Buy" button online. Or achieving that goal, and going proudly into the local bookshop the next day. The local bookstores don't stock Georgette Heyer.

I'll tie a knot and move on. It's just disappointing.

Total words today: 298.
Total words overall: 33,399.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Share the joy

OK, I know this is shockingly unoriginal of me, but: for Christmas this year, I want one of three gifts: a gift that grows; a gift of hope; or a gift for life. I figure that birthdays are probably more a time of individual gift-giving; at Christmas you need to buy heaps of presents for heaps of people, and it's just so much easier if you can just glance down a catalogue (or three), select a gift for the amount you feel like spending, and just buy it.

When it comes to my birthday next year, I'll be selfish again; but for Christmas it just makes sense to get a gift that helps those in need. To that end, I've also decided to buy gifts like this for other people this year; and it makes it so much easier to just go to one catalogue.

It's not like they have to be impersonal gifts, either. There's a wide range of presents in the three different catalogues, and I've already had fun going through and selecting baby food for a child-loving person, school uniforms for a fashion-conscious friend, etc....

I guess I'm preaching here, so I'll stop. But that's what I want for Christmas this year, and I think it'd be really cool to give these gifts to other people who would appreciate them — people who may not need anything themselves, but who would appreciate knowing that their gift has helped someone who needed it.

Plus I feel that's a little bit of the spirit of Christmas, isn't it? Not the original baby-Jesus meaning, but a more recent meaning: help those in need. Give someone the means to a better life. Share the joy.

Total words today: 1010.
Total words overall: 33,101.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Writing for money

Recently I read a blog post where the author mentioned the unlikely chance that a writer will ever sell a book, let alone make much (or any) money off said book. He noted that we all dream of making it big, of being the next Terry Pratchett (or whoever you admire), of reeling in cash.

I've often seen/heard/read people talking about the "dream" that writers have of getting some fantastic amount of money from books, and it occurred to me: I have never thought about making money from books.

I would love to write a book, to sell a book, to see people enjoying what I write. But money? I don't care. I'm keeping my day job. I just want people to enjoy my writing. For all I care, if I made any money I'd donate it to a charity somewhere. In fact, that's a cool idea. But make money? No.

Sure, I'd love to be the next big name, but I know that won't happen; I'd just love to be published. I want to create and to craft words, to make magic, to provoke emotion and to stir thought. I don't want to write the next crappy Mills & Boon novel which might make me money; I want to write something good, that I can read and love and respect, that I can give to my parents.

It's hard to explain. I just want to write a book that I think is good, and that a publisher thinks is good enough to publish. Money doesn't mean anything; I'd never want to make a full-time career of writing, because I always want to keep my head in "the real world". But I love writing, and this NaNoWriMo so far has really reminded me of that; I'm in love with this story so far, and I love my characters and my world and my plot.

I write because I love writing. I'll try to get published to see if I'm good enough to be published. And I want to sell books to share my writing — never for money.

Total words today: 1891.
Total words overall: 32,091.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Twelve thousand

So to get to where I'm meant to be today — 30,006 words — I'm going to need to write 12,000 words. I'm determined to get this, so I can not only buy that book, but to complete my self-imposed goal of keeping up to speed every week. This week I slipped, mainly due to exams and being sick.

But overall, I'm happy with the amount of words I'm getting out. Twice I've felt I've reached a mental wall, and usually, I'd skip the scene and either start a more interesting one, recount a character's dream, or introduce a new character. This year, I've just finished the scene off quickly, and moved on to the next. There's one scene I haven't finished; but it's by no means essential to the story, and I may cut it out entirely in the rewrite.

I'm going against a lot of the advice I give out to my NNWM participants, this year. But having written five hasty, unreadable novels, this year I'd like to write a good-sized, readable first draft of a submittable manuscript.

My outline is helping me hugely — it's so good to have a written scene-by-scene playout. So far it hasn't at all impeded my creativity; it just keeps me focussed. I know where I want to go to next, and how many words it should take me to get there. The only exception has been when one scene took 800 instead of 300 words; so for my next scene, rather than taking up 400 words, I found it more effective to sum it up: "When we woke up the next morning, the house was still there. Our neighbours were gone."

Overall, my estimated scene lengths are conservative (which is good, I thought they were too generous); at this part of the story, I've written 4000 words more than I had projected.

So it's good. It's all good. But now I need to stop congratulating myself on my current 18% — and get to writing twelve thousand words in one day.

Total words today: 12,026. WOOHOOO!!
Total words overall: 30,200. Passed the quarter-mile mark!

I rock so hard! Man, that was good. My story is awesome. I'm awesome. The world is awesome!

I also do not want to have to do another 12,000-word day. Ever.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Why you shouldn't vote

OK, I know this probably seems like one of those silly titles like that American celebrity "Don't vote" ad, but I'm quite serious.

First, I think it's your responsibility to read up on party's policies and vote according to those policies.

Second, there's a general perception that it is your duty to vote.

I disagree. I think that you have a responsibility to vote; if you forego this responsibility, you also forego any complaining rights about whatever government ends up in power or any governmental policies you don't agree with. If you don't vote, you forego that right to complain.

On the radio recently, they were asking "undecided" voters to call and say what they were thinking. The first girl who rang up said she knew it was her duty to vote, and she was going to, but she couldn't decide because "Helen Clark has those teeth, but then I don't know how John Key would look as Prime Minister". First: there are more than two parties you can vote for! Second: if that is your rationale for voting, you should not vote. It is not your duty to inflict the most attractive politician on the world, regardless of intellect, policies or ability. If you can't be bothered doing the very simple homework on different parties, you should not vote.

If you want to vote but you don't know much about different parties' policies, may I suggest this website. If you can't be bothered going through them all, just check out the couple of areas (e.g. education, justice) that are important to you; at least you'll have some idea of what you're voting for.

I also suggest voting for a minor party that supports the major party you want to see in power. Most people vote for the major parties: if you vote for a little one, it'll stop the fat cats taking over Parliament on their own.

Total words today: 1394. (I was still going, but it was midnight.)
Total words overall: 18,061.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Pity Parade

Last week I mentioned an ad made by MUSA promoting universal student allowances; and I want to comment on a couple issues the ad raised for me.

The ad refers to our national "student debt". I assumed it meant student loans. But it means debt: credit cards, hire purchases, mortgages, finance deals, personal loans, overdrafts... and student loans.

In general, it's students' choices to get that finance, with the vast majority going on expensive electronics, cars, clothes and alcohol. So many students are incapable of managing their own finances that they spill over into voluntary debt. They only "need" that money for groceries because their own money's gone on alcohol. Don't show me that pity parade.

There is a very small minority of students who really do have no money, and they should get financial help. But they are a very small minority.

If you go straight to university out of high school, you have no idea of the value of money; of budgeting; of bills and rent and the cost of life. You're out in the big wide world for the first time, and the world has a lot of pretty things... with price tags that you can avoid with finance deals.

And thus the debt mounts up.

And having a universal student allowance? That's just the way to even more irresponsible spending by students. I think students should have a break before uni, to save up some money and understand the world a bit before you plunge idealistically into studying a world you've never experienced. It would have been a lot better for me if I had.

And when you moan about NZ's "harsh repayment scheme": if you live economically it can be done. If you compare student loans here to in the States, we're so much better off. Not to mention — interest-free! Booyah.

(Update: New MUSA ad released)

Total words today: 5152.
Total words overall: 16,667. Yee-ha!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Why now?


I was talking to my Mum tonight (because there's no one better to talk to when you think you've failed your exam, especially when you have a good boyfriend and Dad to back up Mum), and my body's just been slowly collapsing on me lately... as I was saying to her, I've been incredibly stressed for the last few months, more so than ever before, and my body was dealing with it and dealing with it and then after I had my exam on Saturday my body just kinda went ohhhhhh... now I can relax. And I'm thinking no, I've still got two more exams I still need it to survive for!

Sadly, it didn't, and while I think I bluffed my way through Imperial Rome, I don't know if I managed to scrape together the 33% needed in my exam today. I've also been flu-ey for the past couple days, leading to the deterioration of brain as well as body — my voice has now faded to that oh-so-sexy husky tone, accompanied with sexy sneezes and coughs — and yesterday I simply could not think until about 4.30pm yesterday, after I had got home and slept for about six hours in all my day clothes, ick.

Hence, it's been very hard for me to study. When I went into my exam today, and saw three topics that I'd been studying on that morning, and knew that I knew the answers to all of them, my brain could not produce what on earth I had been studying. It just... wouldn't. And it didn't, so I had to produce some mediocre crap and waffle through an exam that I should have known the answers for, and now I'm afraid I'm going to fail.

I just wish my body had waited a few days before dying on me. Why now?

I think it was just worn down with stress, and I accept that when you push yourself that hard you're going to get sick sooner or later. But why now?

Total words today: 160. Shut up, I've been exam-ing.
Total words overall: 11,515.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008


So I've come up with an incentive to get myself to complete my word goals each week: books.

I love books, and due to my upcoming summer job I'll soon have all the money I could possibly want... or, at least, more than my student allowance and ten-hour job are currently providing. So I thought a relatively cheap incentive would be to buy myself a book at the end of each week, if I complete my word goal by midnight of the Sunday.

I love Georgette Heyer, and own every single one of her historical romances, mostly in old, falling-to-pieces (literally), water-logged (through me reading them in the shower and bath) wrinkled and bent covers. But the wonderful GoodBooks store has each and every title in a beautiful new edition, each of which is horribly spell-checked and has a cover which has nothing at all to do with the plot or characters. Nonetheless. Beautiful; new; much nicer than my current ones with the pages falling out.

For Week One: Frederica
Week Two: Arabella
Week Three: These old shades
Week Four: Devil's cub

This is mostly an incentive to keep me on track, so I don't have to do 80% of the novel in the last week, like I did last year; to keep me consistent, and to stop me from completely stressing out and hence stressing Dan out.

Oh, yeah. When I mentioned to him I was thinking of increasing my word goal this year, he looked thoughtfully at me, and said: "Well, I don't know. How much do you want to be single by the end of the month?"

Total words today: 1183
Total words overall: 11,355

Monday, 3 November 2008

Two down, one to go

Very, very, very tired. Feel flu-ey and didn't sleep well last night. Was up late studying. Answered exam questions at length, ran out of time and bullet-pointed end of last essay; not sure how relevant essays were to some questions. Six questions in exam = evil. I ended up studying eight topics, which meant I didn't know them really in-depth; so answered the three short questions well, I think, but the longer ones weren't as good. Ended up using four of the topics I'd studied for and two that I hadn't.

Should pass. Other than that, too tired to care.

Would like to sleep now. Not going to study any more today — I found it hard enough just now trying to remember what topics I actually wrote on. Brain quite dead.

Lost ability to write coherent sentences again.

After exam, the parking machines refused to read my credit card. Then alarm battery stopped working and couldn't unlock car, until I texted Dan both problems, when alarm magically started working again and I found a used ticket. Got into car, waited 45 minutes for ticket to work, left. Texted Dan that all was well. Unfortunately, his phone had died, so the poor guy got cash out specially, drove all the way up to Massey, bought a parking ticket for me, looked for me in vain and then drove back to work twenty minutes late from lunch. That guy is so sweet, and I feel really bad about it. I would cook his favourite dinner tonight, but I don't think he has one.

Would like to go sleep now. But NaNoWriMo guilt consuming me.

Might write about how tired my character is and what a crappy mood she's in, and what an awesome boyfriend she has.

That sounds good.

Total words today: 2738.
Total words overall: 10,172. 10%!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Motivation level: 10

I think I've decided. I've written 6510 words to date — granted, it's the weekend — but I've been doing it unhurriedly, without stressing, and I'm liking what I've put out. It needs rearranging and editing, but I still like my story, my characters, my world, and how it's all progressing so far.

So I think I'm going to go for 100,000. Yesterday I wrote 3070 words between 8pm and midnight, while watching a movie and chatting far too much on the forums; my outline's working really really well so far, and keeping me on track and focussed in what I'm doing; today I wrote 3440 words in two hours, and I figure if I can keep that up then I'm sorted for November. I easily set aside two hours most evenings for writing a novel, and make up the rest on a weekend.

I hope I don't get disenchanted with my novel too quickly. I realise and accept that that's just a part of life; but one of my 101 goals is to submit a novel for publication, and if I can get this one to 100,000 words and then revise it, this might just be that novel.

And so far, amazingly, I'm still loving what I'm writing. I know it's got a long, long way to come; but for a very fast-written first draft, I like it. And as I write, I'm thinking about (and occasionally applying) some rules of writing I've learned from my writing classes over the past year and a half; and I've got heaps of research to do to back up what I'm writing about (how edible really is goat stew?), but I'm even looking forward to doing that, and to building this world more believably than I've built others.

I'm really looking forward to writing 100,000 words on this story.

Total words today: 3440.
Total words overall: 4364.

Saturday, 1 November 2008


I wrote 22 words at midnight and then went to bed. Studied this morning for exam today; and tonight, rather than studying, I think I'll do some of my novel instead — see if I can get up to my daily limit.

Problem is, what's my daily limit? I still don't know what to aim for. Four people voted I aim for 50,000 words; one person voted 70,000 words; and three voted 100,000.

50,000 doesn't seem much of a challenge any more; so I guess, based on the poll, I should go for 100,000. But that just seems like a lot of words.

I don't know.

Maybe I'll decide at the end of Week One — see how I'm going then.

100,000 words just seems like a lot.

Just like 50,000 words seemed my first NaNoWriMo....

Total words today: 3070. Woohoo!