#19 - I'm a NaNo Winner!

I did it!

With less than a half hour to spare, I reached my 50,000 word goal. It feels really good to set a goal and actually achieve it. It also feels good to take a little break from writing without feeling guilty. :)

#18 - Bad Days

Some days are better than others.

I've found that there's no part of my life that I get right on a daily basis. Some days, I sit down with my kids when they get home from school, go through their backpacks, get them started on their homework, read with them, and get my daughter to practice piano. Some days, I only get through some of it. Other days, I forget to do it at all.

It's that way with housecleaning, with my moods, with my scripture reading, etc.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it's that way with my writing as well. Some days I far exceed my daily goals and other days I fall way short or don't get to it at all. As the month has progressed, I've had to raise my daily goal twice because I've fallen short more often than I've come out ahead - first I went from 2000 words a day to 2500 words a day, and for the last week, I've set a new goal of 2680 words per day.

The good news is, I'm on the homestretch and the finish line is in sight. I only have 3 days left, but I also have only 7430 words left to write to make it to my goal.

On the one hand, it would be easy to say it doesn't really matter if I hit that goal. Writing 48000 or 45000 or 49000 words in a month would be a great accomplishment anyway. But on the other hand, I set a goal and I can't quit striving to reach it when it's within striking distance.

So all the housework is going to have to suffer and I might slip on homework a time or two this week, but I WILL write 7430 words in the next 3 days.

#17 - Thanksgiving Update

I want to give a Thanksgiving Update on my NaNoWriMo progress.

As of yesterday, I've written 32,304 words. I'm really excited with how well my story is coming along, but I'm a little nervous about the fact that I only have 8 more writing days, including today if I make it to writing today, and I still have to write 17,696 words. That's an average of 2212 words a day.

Right now, my story is really flowing and things are happening that I didn't even know were going to happen. The book is practically writing itself. I threw in something that I didn't even know where it was going to go, and then later on, it fit in perfectly with the way the story turned out.

I'm going to have to leave you in suspence for the details, so you'll have to buy my book and read it when it's published. :D

Wish me luck writing those 2212 words over the next 8 days!

Amendment to #16 - Ahead of My Goal

I just have to make a slight amendment to my last post. I said that I was 2576 words in the negative as of today.

The good news is, I have changed that number. I'm now 26 words in the positive! Yay me! :)

I like the idea that I can start out on Monday with no need to catch up from this week.

I'm really excited about the twists and turns my story is taking. It's starting to take on a life of its own and I can't wait to see what happens next.

#16 - The Week 2 Blues

I've got the Week 2 Blues.

I'm really stuck right now. I have written some good stuff the past couple of days, but the words aren't flowing off the ends of my fingertips like they did the first week. I've had to skip around to scenes way down the road that need a lot of setting up in order to get any kind of a word count.

I'm keeping a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet to track my progress throughout the month. There's a column that tells me how many words I've written that day, a column that tells me how many words I've written overall, a column that tells me how many words I should have written by that point in the month, and a column that tells me how far ahead or behind I am. I'm going to copy that last column below to show my progress so far.


See how much progress I was making the first four days. Then on day 5, I didn't hit my goal, but I was still ahead of my overall goal. It was day 6 that killed me. Missing just one day of writing cost me 2000 words. I've been struggling to get back out of that hole ever since. The -2576 is only because I'm still struggling to get my word count for today.

I'm going to need to write 1200 more words today just to get my daily word count, and then I have to try to squeeze out more if I want to whittle away at the deficit I created by missing a day.

I seriously need to think about exceeding my goals every day leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday in case I totally slack off. It's so close to the end of the month, I don't know if I could recover from it by the 30th.

#15 - Slacking Off

Although I started off with a bang (averaging an extra 450 words per day above my goal) I slacked yesterday with 0 words written and the day before, with only 589.

I give myself leeway, though, because my daughter was in a play and I was one of the stage moms on Wednesday and we watched the show last night.

But the part I have to hold myself accountable for is the fact that I spent a ton of time the last few days trying to make these maps of the mythical place where my story is held. I spent so much time, trying to make them look professional enough that they could be used in the book, when really the publishing company that will surely publish my book will probably hire an artist to make the maps if they in fact even want maps in the book.

So, I have some making-up to do, but I'm hopeful that I'll be able to pull it off. The story itself is really flowing when I do sit down to write and I'm having a lot of fun with it. Although, maybe part of why I'm stalling with the maps and all that is that I'm not sure what should happen next. :) I'll just have to MAKE something happen.

#14 - Kicking Myself into Gear

My writing has been seriously lacking these past few months, so I decided to do something rash to kick myself back into gear.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don't know what that is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. I believe this is the ninth year they've held the event, and it always happens in November, although the exercise would work just as well in any other month.

The biggest reason to sign up officially and write a novel in November is that it gives you some accountability to actually get it done. Since you're working alongside the other tens of thousands of people who signed up officially on the NaNoWriMo website, there is extra pressure to succeed.

I did a quick calculation of all the days I have available to write in November and figured I need to write 2000 words a day, Monday-Saturday, for the entire month of November in order to complete my novel and "win" the contest.

I did exceed my 2000-word goal yesterday by a few words, and I just finished hitting my goal for today this evening. When I came to the point where I'd written enough words, I found that I didn't want to stop. I had to finish my thought, which added an extra 150 words or so to my daily total. I'm not going to use that as an excuse to slack on Monday, of course. Every day, I plan to write 2000 words. I want to be sure I not only hit the 50,000-word requirement, but I want to blow it away.

Okay, we'll see how long that enthusiasm keeps up. I've heard it gets especially hard in week 2. I'll be checking in regularly with my status on the novel, so watch for exciting updates as the month proceeds. :)

#13 - Post-Conference Boost

I've done more writing in the last week than I have in the last month or two, but hardly any of it has been toward finishing my novel.

It's just that I went to the League of Utah Writers Round-Up conference a week ago and I was so inspired with so many great ideas, I couldn't help getting a bunch of things down on paper. I wrote some poetry, I started a new children's picture book, I worked on re-writing a picture book I've been collecting rejection slips for, and I started another novel that will probably end up being a YA fantasy.

Now my biggest problem is deciding which project to work on. Do I tough it out and finish my LDS Women's novel even though I'm not all that excited about that project at the moment? I really want to be able to say I finished a novel. I really want to get it sent in to Deseret Book and see if I can get published. I believe it's a good book. But it's so much hard work. Even though I'm closing in on finishing the first draft, there's still so much hard work to be done before I'll be ready to send it off.

Right now, I'm feeling like I should plug ahead with the novel and leave the other projects alone now that I've got the basic idea for each one down on paper. But I'm conflicted because I'm just not that excited about doing all the hard work. On the other hand, I know that there will come a point in each of my other projects where it quits being fun and turns into hard work, too, and then I'll just have two novels that aren't finished instead of one. :D

Anyone have advice or opinions for me? What should I focus my energy on?

#12 - Tagged

I was tagged again, this time by Andi so here are my answers . . .

4 jobs I've had...
Newspaper Delivery Girl
Dairy Queen Counter Person and Ice Cream Maker
Village Inn Hostess
Icing Decorator at a Candy Factory

4 movies I could watch over and over...
Ever After with Drew Barrymore
Singin' In The Rain
Back to the Future
Somewhere In Time

4 places I have lived...
Orem, Utah
Provo, Utah
American Fork, Utah
Lehi, Utah
Wow, that makes for a boring list. Sorry! :D

4 favorite television shows...
Everybody Loves Raymond
Clean Sweep
Dr. Phil

4 places I've been...
The Nauvoo Temple
Victoria, B.C.
Friday Harbor (on an island off the Washington Coast)
On a road trip from Utah County, Utah, all the way across the country to North Carolina and West Virginia, and back again

4 favorite foods...
Ice Cream
Sweet & Sour Chicken

4 websites I check often...
Local library catalogs
My kids' school website
http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/ for the recipes

4 hobbies...
Playing the Piano

4 people I tag...
I'm going to break from convention and tag no one! I have no idea how many people have been tagged on this particular one and I'm too tired to think about it right now. :P

#11 - New Favorite Color

I don't really believe in astrological signs or fortunes or anything superstitious. Really, I don't. Really.

But when I saw this test on Karen's blog and took it, I couldn't believe how closely it fit me. I'm considering changing my favorite color to lilac after this.

No, I'm not. I would never do anything so important and serious over a test so silly. I promise. I take favorite colors very seriously. :D

Your Birthdate: May 24

You understand people well and are a natural born therapist.

A peacemaker, people always seem to get along when you are around.

You tend to be a father or mother figure to friends, even to those older than you.

You enjoy your role, and you find that you are close to many people.

Your strength: Your devotion

Your weakness: Reliance on others for happiness

Your power color: Lilac

Your power symbol: Heart

Your power month: June

#10 - Taking a Break

I am taking a brief break from writing in order to hopefully come back stronger and more ready to go than ever.

A while back I posted a comment on Shanna's blog about my messy desk and how it hinders my ability to write consistently. (It was on June 26 if you're the kind of person who wants to go and see what I'm talking about)

Since that time, the situation with my desk hasn't changed. If anything, it's worse than ever. And it's not just my desk. It's my whole life that's out of control.

As you can see from my last confession, I have a lot of junk in my life. One thing that I haven't confronted very well yet is paperwork. I have 5 filing drawers that are all stuffed to the gills, and I have boxes of papers that have been shoved and stuffed in there to deal with "later". Then I have mounds and piles of papers everywhere on and around and under my desk.

I have been getting a kink in my back trying to write lately because I have to bend over all the junk in an awkward position to get to my keyboard. In fact, I feel it coming on right now, so I'll be brief.

I need to get control of my life before I can be effective and inspired as a writer. I feel strong and ready to confront the problem and I can't wait to step into the rest of my much-less-cluttered life.

Wish me luck!

#9 - Collector of Junk

I'm a collector.

No, it's not porcelain dolls stacked neatly in a curio cabinet. It's not seashells placed nicely on a shelf. It's not stamps put into an organized little book.

It's junk.

Really, just lots and lots of junk. When it piles up on every horizontal surface in the house and spills out of every junk drawer I have, I start boxing it up and putting it in the basement. Then when the boxes start piling up, we buy more gorilla racks to stack them on. And when that gets to be too much, we start talking about renting a storage shed.

I've been confronting my problem lately and this blog is part of that confrontation. I need your help and ideas and encouragement. I'll tell you what I've done so far and you can help me figure out where to go from here.

First, I bought some of those cool storage boxes with the dividers in them. I've been organizing all the buttons and safety pins and screws from the junk drawer so I actually have a place to put things when I come across them instead of just throwing them into a junk drawer. I've been organizing larger things like the kids' toys into larger bins and boxes.

Second, I've been loading up bags and boxes with stuff to take to D.I. and throwing away things that are broken or no longer have all the parts.

Third, I've decided we need to have a garage sale. Somehow, the thought that we could even get back pennies on the dollar makes it seem easier to give up some of the things we have collected.

Fourth, I'm trying to get rid of some of our baby things even though I'm not positive we're done having babies yet. Some of this stuff we've had for nine years and if we were to have another baby in the future, it'd be nice to have new things anyway.

The culmination of all this work is that when we pare our stuff down enough, we'll be able to hire a company to come in and finish the basement. I can't wait for that project to get underway, so I'm right in the thick of paring down right now. It's nice to see a lot of junk go out the door and to know I'll never have to look at it and decide what to do with it again. On the other hand, it's hard to part with those things. I'm still not sure why.

#8 - A Brag

I'm going to use this blog for other purposes than confessing my shortcomings. For instance, today I'm going to brag.

I sent one of my children's books manuscripts off to 7 publishers today.

One of the agents I sent this to actually replied with a personalized rejection, stating that on the one hand my work had merit (hooray!!!) but on the other hand, it wasn't "fresh" enough and I needed to find a way to make the rhyming work without torturing the English language. (ouch!)

It's gone through several re-writes and I'm very happy with it the way it is right now. I'm crossing my fingers hoping at least one of them sees the merit now that the English language is a little less tortured.

Let's hope some future Confession will be a celebration of my soon-to-be-published picture book. :)

#7 - Not Submitting

I haven't sent any manuscripts out in months.

I have a children's book I sent out to almost a dozen agents and I've watched their rejection letters trickle back in over several months. I kept saying that I would send it to book publishers if I didn't get anything going with an agent, but there's still one rejection slip that never came back.

I should just get on with sending my manuscript out to some of the book publishers I had in mind. I'd like to get that done soon.

Besides that, I haven't done much writing lately either. I haven't worked on my book at all in the last few weeks, although I have started a new book for children and I've written some poetry and song lyrics.

To tell the truth, I've discovered lately that there are more important things than my writing. As important as it is to me, my health and the health of my family are much more important. I need to remember to keep everything in its proper place in my life. Then I think my writing will really flourish.

#6 - My House is a Library

I have more books in my house than the closest 3 public libraries.

Okay, that's probably not technically true, but it feels like it. We moved last fall and I filled up box after box after box after box with books. One of our poor elders quorum volunteers actually hurt himself carrying boxes of books out of our house. They fill four bookshelves, and spill over into every room in the house.

Right now, we're on the verge of turning our lives upside-down in order to finish our basement. I really want it finished, but the chaos that is going to ensue for untold months while it's in the process is the part I'm not looking forward to. We have 1500 square feet of JUNK down there that we have to either toss or store in the 1500 square feet we live in. Including four bookshelves of very heavy books.

We already have six people living in the 1500 square feet upstairs, along with too many belongings and furnishings. I just don't know what life is going to be like trying to cram another 1500 square feet of junk into that space. We're obviously going to have to pare down. And buy a storage shed.

In the past year, I've sold one book on half.com. In that same space of time, I've purchased.... let's just say it's more than one book. What is it about books that makes them impossible to let go of? If I or my children ever want to read one of the books I donate to D.I. or sell on half.com, we can just march down to those public libraries I was mentioning earlier and check them out.

Maybe it's time to part with some of those books. But parting is such sweet sorrow.

#5 - I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged! I actually was tagged by more than one person on the same day basically, so I'm going to go with the one I heard from first. Read on to find out all kinds of stuff about me that you never really wanted to know and will forget soon after you're done reading. :D

Last Four Blogs Tagged:

A Writer’s Ramblings
Musings from an LDS writing mom
LDS Writers Blogck (Connie S. Hall)
Ferguson Authors - Danyelle Ferguson
Lifelong Bookworm

What Were You Doing Ten Years Ago:

I was married, living in a 2-bedroom apartment with no kids. It's weird, but I can't remember where I was working this time 10 years ago. I was either still working at a candy factory, making thousands of tiny icing decorations and punching a clock, or I had recently started working in a data-entry type job, sitting at a desk and typing in numbers all day.

What Were You Doing One Year Ago:

One year ago, I was frantically trying to get a house ready to sell, including having the hardwood floor refinished, patching holes in the walls, painting a large number of rooms, including the 2-story entryway. It was a HUGE project. I'm so glad that house is sold and we're comfortably settled in our new house! We were trying to get the house ready to list by the time we left on vacation with our 4 kids, ages 1-7.

Five Snacks You Enjoy:

Cookie Crisp
Black Licorice
Symphony Bars w/ Almonds and Toffee Chips
Nachos w/ all the toppings

Five Songs You Know All the Lyrics To:

"Dance with my Father" by Luther Vandross
"Candle in the Wind" by Elton John
98% of the songs in the Children's Songbook
50% of the first verses of the songs in the Hymnal
"5 Little Monkeys Jumpin' on the Bed" (Author Unknown)

Things you would do if you were a millionaire:

Buy my parents a nice home to live in
Buy a few acres of property and build a nice but modest home on it
Pay someone to organize my junk!
Donate a large fund to a few different charities
Build a nice investment portfolio for the future

Five bad habits:

Staying up too late at night
"Checking My Email" too frequently throughout the day
Biting my fingernails
Plotting scenes or fleshing out chracters instead of listening to the speaker in church
Raiding the pantry at all hours of the day and/or night

Five things you like to do:

Read novels
Go to book clubs and writing conferences
Take my kids to the park
Surf the 'Net

Five Things You Will Never Wear Again:

Flip Flops
Hot Pink anything
Bandanas in my hair
Stonewashed Jeans
All the clothes I took to D.I. last year :)

Five Favorite Toys:

Palm Pilot
Hands-free Headsets
GPS Watch for running outside
Dana Alphasmart

Where Will You Be in Ten Years:

I will be a college graduate, most of my kids will be teenagers. In fact, my oldest will have just graduated from High School! I'll be a published author with at least 3 titles on bookstore shelves, and I'll be living in a nice rambler on at least an acre of property.

Five People to Tag:

This keeps getting harder! I'll try to name some people I don't think have been tagged yet. If you've already been tagged, forgive me! :)

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
Elements of Style
Keith Fisher
The Greater Crater News by Darvell Hunt
Rachel's Ramblings

Okay, I don't know if anyone I've named here has already been tagged, but this is the best I could do. :)

The Rules of the Game:

The rules are that you’re supposed to remove the blog site at the top of the “Last Four Blogs Tagged” list, move all the blog site names up one, and add yourself to the bottom. Then answer the rest of the questions. Post it to your blog or, if you don’t have a blog, send it back to your friend in an email. Enjoy!

#4 - Writing on Vacation

It's even harder to work on my writing when I'm on vacation with big blocks of time available to me than it is when I'm at home with responsibilities pressing in on me at every moment. I only made my word count once and I just couldn't seem to do it the rest of the time.

The one day I wrote on the trip, I typed in the car on my Alpha smart. That actually worked out pretty well, but the next day when I turned it back on, some of my work was erased and typed over with strange characters. That was discouraging. I'm not sure what happened, but I'm assuming the buttons got pushed in the bag I was carrying it in.

Now that I'm back home and mostly settled back into normal life again, I'm going to ramp it up and get back to writing 250 words a day or more.

#3 - Fear of Writing

I haven't written a single word toward finishing my novel since the 13th of June.

I don't think that confession adequately paints the picture, though, because I only wrote 26 words that day. In addition to that, there are 18 days so far this month that I had planned to write and ended up having to record 0 words for the day in my spreadsheet. Even that sounds too generous because for the past week and a half, I haven't even opened and updated the spreadsheet at all. I just barely added the last week and put 0 in all the days.

To tell you the truth, it's not because I don't know what to write about or because I don't have time to write. After all, I've found time to journal every single day for the past month, I've found time to start this blog, and I find time several times a day to check my email and post to discussion boards on various topics.

The reason I haven't been working on my novel lies not in the field of Time Management, but in the field of Psychology. Something is holding me back. The closer I come to finishing the book, the worse my anxiety and fears loom. What if it isn't good enough? What if I'm revealing too much of myself? What if it gets published and then flops in the marketplace, or the readers hate it? What if I realize when I've finished that I went in the wrong direction on page 3 and I have to re-write the whole rest of the book? These are the fears that make my heart pound and my palms turn sweaty as I stare at the blank page.

Now, I have to consider what to do about it. The option to give up on finishing the book is not even an option, so we'll move on to a discussion of how to finish the book.

In other areas of my life, I've found it helpful to write out clear goals and positive affirmations, review them daily, keep track of my progress, and hold myself accountable.

Word Goal:
In the past, I had a goal to write 1000 words a day, and then I changed it to 1500 words and for a while, that was working for me, but when I started to slip, I think I just threw my hands in the air because I knew I couldn't reach my goal. I think this time, I'm going to start off with a goal to write just 250 words a day. If I get on a roll and keep going, fine, but no less than 250, 5 days a week. After all, that will still get me 1250 words closer to finishing my novel each week.

Overall Goals:
To finish writing this book, revise and rewrite and polish it for as long as it takes, and send it out to publishers in the hopes of getting it published.

Positive Affirmations:
I will finish writing this book.
I will be a successful, published author.
I can do it.
I'm worth it.
Now, I feel like saying Rah, Rah, Rah!

Okay, so it's a little cheesy, but if it works, I can live with that.

I plan to review these goals and affirmations at least once a week, and as far as accountability, I'm sure all of my faithful blog readers will hold my feet to the fire if I don't get it done.

Now that I have a plan in place, I hope to never again look myself in the mirror and wonder why I haven't worked on my novel for the 10th day in a row.

#2 - What is My Occupation?

I don't know what to say when I'm asked, either in person or on a form, what my occupation is.

I'm still trying to get ahold of that elusive Bachelor's Degree by taking online courses, so I could qualify to check the "student" box. On the other hand, I am a full-time stay-at-home mother to four children. Should I check "homemaker", or better yet, fill in "Domestic Engineer" in the "other" column?

I have been telling people that I am a writer, but then they want to know what books I've written. When I confess I haven't been published yet, they look at me a little funny. I know what they're thinking - that I'm not really a writer if I haven't published a book.

It's funny, too, that when I'm in the company of other writers, either aspiring authors or published ones, I will readily say I'm a writer. Among other groups of people, I'm more likely to claim "homemaker" as my occupation.

Out of curiosity, I used an online dictionary - thefreedictionary.com - and it defines "author" as someone who takes responsibility for a published work or something to that effect. On the other hand, it defines "writer" as someone who is capable of writing and has actually done so. Those definitions still leave me in the never-never-land of occupations.

I guess the only thing to be done is to get my work published. Then I can rightly assume the title Author and all of this annoying confusion will be gone.

#1 - I'm a Bookworm

I used to sit at my desk in the back row of Chemistry, Junior year, and read a book or do English homework instead of listening to the lecture.

Now, when you know that I got straight "A"s in Chemistry, that might not seem so bad. On the other hand, I might still be able to remember something I learned that year if I had paid just a little bit more attention.

The truth is, I've always had my nose stuck in a book, whether it be reading or writing, practically from the time I started kindergarten. I love being transported to another world, becoming another person, seeing life and love through their eyes.

When asked what my favorite book is, my answer is usually, "The one I'm reading right now." I know people who are critical as they read books, picking up the mistakes, getting "thrown" out of the story by tense changes or unwieldy Point of View shifts. I, on the other hand, am always so immersed in the tale, I rarely notice any of those things.

9 times out of 10, when I put a book down after reading the last page, it is with disappointment that the story is over.

When all is said and done, it probably won't matter if I remember the molecular composition of chemical compounds or the elements on the periodic table, but I would deeply regret if I lived out my days without ever meeting and getting to know Jean Val Jean.