NaNoWriMo 2011: Part 2

It’s 3AM, so I have to consider this as the end of Day 2.

Got a little further along, but it’s literally all been character development – haven’t even touched the main plot or characters yet. HA! This is going to be boring as hell for anyone who I let read it!

Despite participating since 2008, I attended my first ever NaNoWriMo regional event today with some others from The Blogenning. I figure the social involvement is the one thing that really might help push me all the way to 50k. Then again, it’s only been 2 days and I’m just passed the minimum pace mark.

Hopefully get a few hundred more words in before bed and then maybe a thousand or so before work tomorrow.

Playing in the background: Prime Suspect (U.S. version)

Quote of the day:

Hector, in contrast, seemed to struggle, his behavioral issues only growing more pronounced with age. His doctors and teachers often grew despondent with how little progress they were able to affect. Despite this, Matron Mullery was suspicious that a burning intellect lay behind the pained fury of Hector’s storm-grey eyes.

Current Word Count: 3,407/3,33(where I am/minimum pace count)

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NaNoWriMo 2011: Part 1

So day 1 is behind us. *whew*

1,765 words and already got about another 600 towards Day 2. That’s not a bad start considering that so far I’ve written the first half of a prologue and the first part of chapter 1, but the tail of neither. And still haven’t introduced my main character. Hopefully that’ll happen with chapter 2.

Yes, I write short chapters. Thankfully that’s acceptable in the genre I’ve chosen to write – thriller/action/mystery. I was tempted to switch to horror and match Brandon and Ian in a competition for fucked-up-ness, but that isn’t something I think I could write for more than a few days without getting really bored. Instead I’ll just do my normal job – inflict copious amounts of damage on their psyche, this time in an effort to inspire.

Obviously this blog is going to slow a bit now that NaNoWriMo has begun. I’ll try to post every couple of days. I actually took a bit of time and surfed through my old LiveJournal account, where I recorded my last NaNo efforts. I know most people always think they’re passed writings are crap, but I always think that mine were wittier and funnier, like I’m losing my touch. Then again, those posts were pretty frustrated.

Tonight is going to be the first time I attend a NaNo write-in. Wonder how many looks I get writing on my cell phone. With the battery shot, my laptop just isn’t worth lugging around. Okay, back to the grind.

 

Playing in the Background: Blue Planet marathon on Animal Planet

Current Word Count: 2,353

 

Reading – A Glimpse into My Past

Richard Sugden Library

I love to read. Growing up in a small town, much of my youth was spent in the library, devouring first the children and young adult sections. By the time I was 8 I was a veteran user of the card catalog, spending hours in the adult half of the building. The library was my baby sitter – I loved the solitude, the silence, and, most of all, the access to so much information. When I wasn’t in the library or at school, I was at home, either in front of a computer or buried nose-first in a book. This carried into High School, when I spent long hours in the library at Copley Square, one of the oldest public libraries in the country, while waiting for my train home. While in High School, where community service was promoted to such a degree that we spent every Friday for half our senior year volunteering, I worked at my city’s library. My love for books – particularly good fiction – was the reason I always romanticized being a writer.

The new home of the Worcester Public Library, finished only a few months before I began working there. I actually really liked the old factory that was it's temporary home during construction.

That was one of the reasons I started this blog – to push my reading into writing. It was 2008, and my efforts with creative writing had waned as I progressed through college. I still read quite voraciously, it just wasn’t triggering the urge to create like it had in my youth. So I challenged myself to read and review 100 books in a year. Unless you include graphic novels, which I didn’t, I didn’t even get close. I could make excuses –  I had started late in the year (Around April) and it was also the first time I attempted NaNoWriMo – but the truth was that it’s actually a pretty tough goal.

And there was one massive side effect – I burned out. I’m a bit ashamed of the fact that I didn’t really touch another book till mid-2010. Sure, I kept reading, but 2008-9 marked my return to comics and graphic novels, left untouched since I was a child. I read 3 books in 2010 – 2 of them in airports waiting for connecting flights. It wasn’t until recently, as my interest in graphic novels began to wane and I sought inspiration for the upcoming fustuarium that is NaNoWriMo, that I was really able to pick up a book and lose myself in the pages (in large part thanks to a book gifted by a friend).

BPL Central Branch, where I spent many evenings during High School

 

Honestly, it was a bit like coming home.

So even though NaNoWriMo starts next week, I hope to once again post reviews here. I’ve got A LOT of catching up to do, so there are going to be quite a  few titles you’ve already come across elsewhere. The first two will hopefully go up this weekend. And as NaNoWriMo progresses, in an effort to refrain from distractions like music and television, I’ll probably once again return to my old refuge and friend, the Library, hoping that the embrace of it’s musty scent and yellowed light catches a spark of creativity where only vexing emptiness sat before.

Untappd

This weekend marks the first anniversary of Untappd, a social networking site for drunks beer enthusiasts. It’s a lot like an adult version of Foursquare, allowing you to share favorite locations and beverages with friends. I’ve been a member since February ’11 (some of you may have noticed the badge in my social chainlinks), and find it one of the more useful social applications. For starters, there’s the badges – I know, it’s tacky and shallow, but what can I say, sometimes that’s just who I am. That said, some of the challenges are quite enjoyable and really help expand the beer palate.

And therein lies the real value of Untappd – it is one of the best means of discovering new beers. Whether through badge-chasing, recommendations from your friends, or looking at what’s trending (divided into micro and macro brews, but also can be location based), Untappd does a real good job of expanding your knowledge base. It will even offer suggestions based on your previous beverages.

To celebrate the anniversary, Untappd hosted parties in three of it’s largest markets – LA, NYC, and Boston. Sadly I was unable to attend last night, but I hear it was a great get-together. I believe they may have even marked their 2 millionth check-in!

Happy Birthday Untappd!

Interested? Well, Untappd is available from your computer, but it really shines when you use it on your smartphone, either through their special mobile-friendly website (same URL) or in their new native app (available for both Android and Apple). If you join up and check in sometime in the next few hours you’ll still be able to get the Anniversary badge! But don’t fret if you miss it – the next special event is November 3rd, International Stout Day! Stout is also my favorite style of beer! Won’t you join me in raising a pint to celebrate it’s glory?!

Something Witch-ed This Way Comes

So earlier in the week I challenged members of The Blogenning to do/eat/play/create/watch/verb something new.

My new thing: a trip to Salem, MA, which is typically known known as “The Witch Capital of the World”. For those of you unaware, a series of accusations and trials occurred between 1692 and 1693 resulting in a number of deaths. While trials for witchcraft weren’t completely uncommon in Europe or Colonial America, the Salem Witch Trials marked an atypical concentration, with over 150 people arrested and held on the words of neighbors. Roughly 30 were convicted of either being a witch or supporting witchcraft and the vast majority of them were dead before the Governor stepped in.

And now during the month of October, Salem conducts “Haunted Happening”, becoming the Halloween center of New England, if not the entire country. Promoting healthy family-friendly fun and tolerance, there are a number of Museums, attractions, and events. I was lucky enough to have some friends free for the day, so we all went together. Wax statues, carnival food, a haunted “Frankenstein’s Lab”, a candlelit tour of the haunted sites and graveyard, and kitchy souvenirs – what more could you ask for?! Well, except for the graves of the actual accused witches – but no one knows where those are. Instead you have The Burying Point, the 2nd oldest graveyard in the United States.

The Burying Point at Night

If you’re interested in visiting Salem for the amazing atmosphere, my only pieces of advice would be these:

1: Try not to go on Halloween weekend. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but there has been an increase in drunken buffoonery the last few years, resulting in a large law enforcement presence and a 10:30pm curfew for Halloween night (streets close, but indoor celebrations continue). It’s also crazy busy with revelers, which I personally dislike.

2: Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have much of a budget – there’s plenty of fun to be had on the cheap.

3: Take public transportation. There’s a ferry, which is fun, but the train is faster, cheaper, and more frequent. Besides, you never know who might be driving.

Great finish to the night

And, of course, the most important thing is to have fun!

Live Dangerously

Every week a member of The Blogenning picks a topic for the collective to write a post about. Last week Ian started our second rotation with the topic of NaNoWriMo. This week is my turn.

While the last time I picked the topic it came to me pretty naturally, I was a bit puzzled at what to do for this one. And then it came to me. To not just write a post, but to try and do something: to issue my fellow Blogenauts (yes, I’ve just coined a new term) a challenge!

Now, now – just hear me out. I recognize that we’re all busy people and there’s no fun in forced obligation. So this challenge can be as simple or as time-consuming as you deem it.

The challenge: Try Something New.

I love new things. To explore, learn, and grow. To break from the monotony of routine and stretch your horizons. Personally, I think it’s a necessary part of living – providing an opportunity, however small or short-lived, to wake the brain, rekindle the senses, and rejuvenate the spirit. To make a memory that stands out, above the muck of the day-to-day. There’s even some research to back me up! My WTFood pieces are an example of how I try to apply this to my life. I love how much social networking has provided a means of discovering events and places.

So, fellow Blogenning members, here’s the challenge:

Try something new and then share it via a post. It’s fine if you don’t have a lot of time – it can be something small. Here’s a cultural example: two weeks ago was the Jewish high holiday of Rosh Hashana – the start of the new year. A lot of people are familiar with the traditional apple-and-honey custom – but there’s actually one far more interesting: the new fruit. As part of welcoming the new year, a person is supposed to eat a piece of fruit that hasn’t been eaten for at least a year. Judaism even has a blessing for every time something is done for the first time (Shehechiyanu), expressing thanks for the experience and opportunity to grow.

A new food – how difficult is that? But, just in case you aren’t the epicurious type, I came up with a few examples, breaking them into simple and challenging. The thing to keep in mind is that it should be new to you!

Simple: Try a food you’ve never had before; Play a type of instrument foreign to you; Take a new way home from work; Go to a new restaurant

Challenging: Bake a pie from scratch; Write an original song; Explore a new part of the city; Go to an ethnic restaurant with a type of food you’ve never had before (i.e. Tibetan, Ethiopian, etc)

See, none of those are particularly daunting! Okay, maybe the pie from scratch – that’s a bitch the fist few times. So embrace my challenge – who knows, you might even surprise yourself and enjoy it!

 

p.s. I’ll be posting my “new thing” later this week as a kind of ‘part 2’.

In Preparation for NaNoWrimo: Part 1

As I said, I’ve been pushing myself to shake loose some mental cobwebs and start writing. I’ve come to like using Google Docs for one reason: I can access it anywhere. There’s even an app, letting me write – however awkwardly, using my phone.

One of the corporate sponsors of NaNoWriMo is Yarny, which I believe is still in beta. It’s very similar to GDocs, pushing the idea of writing to The Cloud. Except it gives you some interesting options – tags, color indexing sections for easy reference, etc.

Yet while I’d love to give it a shot, the fact that GDocs has an app really makes it unbeatable (there’s also the communal sharing thing, but that doesn’t matter in this context). I don’t know how viable an option that’d be for Yarny (it would be an interesting feat of programming), but I’ll keep an eye on them just in case.

Moving on, I decided that I’d post some of my writing here. That way it’s public and I can’t be tempted to use it for NaNoWriMo. Below the cut is the first 2,000 words of a short story I’ve been working on. Though it’s mostly been written in spare moments here and there, what’s kind of sad is that’s barely over a day’s work at NaNo pacing, but it’s taken me about two weeks to get this far. It’s fantasy, which is the genre that comes to me most naturally, and I hope to keep expanding it over the next couple of weeks. Maybe even finish it.

To that end I present what, for now, is titled: Over The Cliff.

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