Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo, Week 2!

Oy, I’ve been SERIOUSLY derailed on my feverish prison-memoir-writing spree.  Something came up that has made it extremely difficult to get much of any writing done the last week.  Right now–with 20/30 days of the month up, I’m at 128,000 words on Rebel Hell: Doin’ Time For Barely a Crime; I started the month at 96,000 words.  Grand total thus far is about 32,000 words.  I’m actually still on track to meet my low-end goal, which was 40,000 words on the memoir.  But what I really wanted to accomplish was getting in a novel’s-worth of writing done in November on the current book.  50,000 words.  It’s still possible, but unlikely–I’ve reached the end of the time period for which I’d hand-written notes and diary-type entries while incarcerated.  I no longer have much of a skeleton–except for that which is in my mind already–to work from.  Which means overall slower-going.

I’m still loving what I’m writing, I just haven’t been doing enough of it.  This book is my most experimental narrative BY FAR.  I’m employing all kinds of different techniques to try and create in the reader feelings that are similar to the ones was experiencing while locked up.  These include footnotes, jumbled chronology, flashbacks, flash-forwards, dreams, and tons of foreshadowing.  I’m happy with how it’s going.  I had no idea as to whether or not I’d be able to pull off what I’m attempting, given that I’m juggling so many different techniques and variables, all while trying to maintain a coherent, compelling narrative.  But I think I’m managing to do a pretty damn good job with all this weirdness–it’s necessary weirdness, to me, because it’s such a weird and unusual and unique story!  Hoping I can get back on track and finish out the month strong!  Here’s a tasty little tidbit I wrote today:

     In any case, I get fed up with busing tables after 5 days.  I can’t take it anymore.  The pain is accruing.  I’m not miserable just during the actual work; it also carries over into my non-working hours in the unit.  Finally I decide to do something about it.  Every night, I ask the nurse at Medline if my records have arrived yet, so I’ve got at least a weak pulse on that.  On workday 6 in Dietary, I check in and then immediately head to the supervisor’s office at the back of the kitchen.  The blonde female supervisor, Mrs. Wilson, is in there, as is Watson.  As I mentioned, the former is fairly nice.  But Watson—he’s a serious dickwad.  He’s tall and ugly with a wild thatch of dark gray hair; his sagging face has that constant morose look of the unhappy, middle-aged man with the potentially-unconscious suspicion that his life is a pitiful waste.  I’m not even looking at him.  I’m speaking directly and only to Mrs. Wilson.  Explaining why it’s too difficult for me to bus tables.

     “Ohh, what’sa matter,” Watson says with thick sarcasm, “you got back problems or somethin?”

     “Well, a little bit, but my knees are the real problem.  I’ve had 5 surgeries on them.”

     “I got bad knees too.”

     Finally I look at Watson.  He’s a heavy smoker—I can tell because he always emanates that ash-smell.  Being around him and his unbearable smarminess and lack of compassion makes me alternately yearn to smoke a cigarette, and yearn to put out a lit cigarette on his eyeball.  “That sucks,” I tell him.  “Knee problems are no joke.”  At this point I’m still trying to be cordial to him.  Already it’s a struggle.

That’s it for this week.  Good luck with the rest of the month–finish strong, you’re rounding 3rd base! 🙂

May the Writing Gods fill me with inspiration and motivation to get back on track!!

May the Writing Gods fill me with the inspiration & motivation to get back on track!!

NaNoWriMo, Week 1!

Me with the 1st draft of my handwritten-in-prison, epic animal liberation political thriller: The Liberators, 1,600 pages!

Me with the 1st draft of my handwritten-in-prison, epic animal liberation political thriller: The Liberators, 1,600 pages!

The first week of NaNoWriMo has passed.  Read my previous blog to see how I’m doing things a little differently.  In a nutshell, I’m not trying to write a novel, because I was already well into writing my prison memoir Rebel Hell:  Doin’ Time For Barely a Crime when November began.  So my goal was to write at least a novel’s worth of words on the memoir this month (50,000 words).  And so far it looks like I’m on track!!

 

I started the month with 96,000 words written.  I’m now at about 112,000, meaning 16,000 words written in 8 days.  2k/day on average, which puts me well on my way to accomplishing my personal challenge.  I’m also very pleased with what I’ve been writing.  This is by far my most experimental book; I’m trying to craft a Januscript that, in the reading of it, makes the reader feel like they’re actually feel certain elements of the prison experience.  Mainly the way it creates in the Inmate’s mind a certain sense of the malleability of time.  So I’m using footnotes and flashbacks and flip-flopping chronology and dreams to try to mirror those sensations for the reader, and I’m pretty pleased so far with how I’m doing—especially since it’s just a first draft and I’m writing fiendishly!  It also happens to be (I think) very, very funny.  Funny in pitch dark, irreverent, grotesque, heart-wrenching ways.  Which is exactly what I’m going for!

 

I tend to heavily overwrite on my first drafts; I’m not always sure what I want to say, or what I want to happen.  So I kind of “doodle” my way toward the (soy-) meat of the scenes and the socio-political themes.  Then, in the second draft, I edit heavily, with the aim of cutting at least 20 percent or so.  Couple examples:  The first draft of my (rewritten) first novel High Society was about 355 pages, and now it’s at 285 (24.5% cut).  The first draft of my third novel Redwood Falls was 460 pages, and now it’s 365 (26% cut).  Of course it would be nice if I could just write it the “correct” length the first time around, but that’s just not how it pans out with my writing style and abilities.  And hey—all that extra writing, and hence editing, that I have to do because I have what Stephen King calls “diarrhea of the word processor”—it just means I get more practice.  And even though I’ve been writing novels for 11 years now, there’s always room for improvement!

 

Happy NaNoWriMo, and good luck for Week 2!