Halfway House

posted on November 16th, 2009

National Novel Writing Month continues. Yesterday, the 15th, I posted on Facebook the following cryptic (but obvious) status update: “Linda M. Au is halfway.” A friend commented underneath: “They make houses for people like that, you know.”

Everybody’s a comedian. And I hate playing straight-man.

Ignoring snide, sarcastic, rude comments from otherwise loving, caring, nurturing friends, I have forged ahead into the second half of the murky waters of National Novel Writing Month. The novel is progressing nicely. Characters are divulging secrets to each other. Some are finding dead animals in the trash. One completely disappeared into thin air. Yet another made a second pot of coffee.

Yessir, things are really flying now. I can’t wait to see what happens in the second half of the month. Why, some of them might accidentally order a steak medium-well, or forget to add fabric softener to the rinse cycle! The mind reels with possibilities! No wonder I look forward to November each year—when the creative juices are flowing like, well, like sludge. Yes, that’s it: glacial floes of marvelous literary sludge, direct from my over-caffeinated brain into my fingertips and out the keyboard of choice for the day.

The good news is that Café Kolache gets more business from me during November than they do the whole rest of the year. So, that’s good news for them, at least.

On a Side Note: I’m writing in the afternoons this year, and saving late evenings for reading instead. I was chugging along steadily reading through Diana Gabaldon’s newest in the Outlander series, An Echo in the Bone: A Novel (Outlander), taking my time because, well, it’ll be halfway into the next decade by the time we see another book in the series. Then, last Friday, Amazon delivered Stephen King’s newest novel, Under the Dome: A Novel. I was curious, so that evening, I thought I’d take a peek at it before diving back into Gabaldon’s book. More than 125 pages later, I looked at the clock: 2 A.M. Ever since then, I’ve been using sheer force of will not to throw caution (and laundry and grocery shopping and personal hygiene) to the wind in favor of reading this marvelously gargantuan tome. I suppose, in its own way, that’s as succinct a review as you’re going to get.

What are you reading? I have an idea: Instead of giving me recommendations for reading material (I have plenty to read!), give me recommendations of books to AVOID. That way, I won’t waste my precious reading time.

And Now, Back to Our Originally Scheduled Program, Already in Progress:  I may be behind on my personal word count goals, but I am doing just fine by NaNoWriMo standards. (Over 27,000 words.)

Reunited States … Off and running!

posted on November 7th, 2009

I’m nearly a week into this year’s National Novel Writing Month and so far I can report more success than I’ve experienced at the start of one of these things in a long time. The story started slowly (in my mind), and I felt as if the first few chapters were being yanked out of me like this wisdom tooth I should have had pulled sometime during the Reagan Administration. But we were all so giddy on capitalistic free love and wishing we weren’t so damned poor and uneducated that I never got the tooth pulled, and once I had the money to get it done and the abiding personal despair necessary to submit oneself to dental torture (this would be during the Clinton years), it no longer troubled me and I moved on to other things, such as weak ankles that turned on me faster than Hillary turned on Bill after the election.

But I digress. Weren’t we talking about my writing? Sorry, I’m in the bad habit this month of dragging every stray thought out until it’s coughed up blood and lies trampled in the streets like a dead–oh, sorry.

Since I will be out of town for the last five days of November, my personal goal has been 2,000 words per day. So far, so good. In fact, I’ve found that early afternoon is a splendid time for me to write–as long as I leave the house completely. If I stay in the house, I end up continuing the household chores I’d started that morning (which always include leftover dishes, baskets of dirty laundry, and crop harvests in Farm Town). So, my system is this:

– Do mundane chores in the morning (laundry, e-mail, showering, straightening up the house, more e-mail, icing a few people in Mafia Wars, checking the mail for royalty checks for novels I haven’t published yet).

– Pack up the AlphaSmart Neo, the iPod, and the Kindle and head out to one of my favorite places to write (either Cafe Kolache in Beaver, Pa., or a Panera Bread, even though their tables are way too freakin’ high to type at comfortably).

Once I’m out of the house, armed with enough gadgets to make Steve Jobs and Bill Gates fight over which one of them gets to have my baby, I get a lot of work done.  A lot. And, it doesn’t feel like work.

Next time, I’ll write about write-ins–those oddly paradoxical gatherings where writers engaging in the most solitary career choice in the nerdy world sit next to each other in public, presumably to write novels, and end up with collective word counts like 300 … or 217 … or 0 … over a three-hour period.

For now, though, I’ve hit my goal again, and I’m up over 12,000 words in six days. (Do the math, people! You can’t ALL be English majors!) And it’s 2 a.m. here (the real 2 a.m., not that fake 2 a.m. referenced in my last post) and I’m ready to hit the bed before my eyelids become as heavy as the cement shoes of Tony Soprano’s  turncoat relatives, where one false move earns you enough ill will from the boss to … oops, sorry.

But I digress … during a month where digressions are our friends. And, I apologize that this post has more links than a sausage factory.