Pages

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sad Dollars

In philosophy class, as we struggled to stay awake and keep our drooping heads from wilting to our desks like winter flowers, my... eccentric teacher (let's call him Russ*) paced around the room explaining monism. I can't tell you what monism is, because all I wrote in my notes was "monism: livin' in a material world, and I AM A MATERIAL GIRL do do dododo do do".

The face of monism.

But despite my apparent delirium during that lesson I can still remember a question posed rhetorically in tones that belied a further point in mind (which, I confess, I probably tuned out): "If I were to offer you a pill that would basically turn you into a robot, sapping you of all emotions good and bad, would you take it?"
Now, I'm not going to debate the merit of this question because the obvious answer is no. But I am willing to bet that each one of us has different reasons for denying that opportunity.

I'm sure most of you are thinking of some pansy reasons like love or family or 'positive emotions are worth the negative emotions' or some other bullshit.  That's bullshit. I already said that.

Well, it's not bullshit. Those are valid reasons and I agree with them. But as I briefly ran the question through my mind before falling back asleep on the comfortable metal top of my desk, I realized that there was a secondary motivation lurking beneath the obvious. I found myself wondering what having no emotions would do to my writing, and felt appalled when I realized it would basically erase my ability to write creative prose.

Writers deal in emotional currency, dollars of ecstasy and sorrow and the tiny coins of loss, jealousy, subplots. Without emotions I would have to way to play with the emotions of my readers. In my opinion, being an empathetic person is the best path towards writing successfully; to understand the emotional pain and joy of others is to be able to recreate it and use it for the advancement of your theme, to be able to create characters that feel and bleed and evoke emotions in their readers as well.

There is a place in writing for technical skill, for an immense vocabulary and grammatical constructs and knowing when to use "as if" instead of "like" ("as if" if the next clause contains a verb). But there is also a place in writing for using the death of your character's mother to tug at the heartstrings of your reader for the purpose of advancing an agenda or an end (I firmly believe a novel without a theme is just fanfiction full of OC characters- and that's the worst kind of fanfiction).

So, friends, I would never give up my emotions. Partly because I love you (yes you), but partly because giving up my emotions would force me to give up on writing, and, if there's anything I've learned from this crazy month, it's that I can't give up on that.

Introspectively yours,

Abby

*Russ is his name.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

That's right, ya'll.
It's the 27th day of November, a full three days ahead of schedule, and I've finished NaNoWriMo. I've written 50,052 words in 27 days, give or take a couple days where I wrote nothing at all and then made up for it with 3K sprints (and, today, a 5K sprint).

It's been a crazy whirlwind of a month- some days. I'd love to get introspective, but I'm saving that for later (I have a post written out already, don't you worry). Right now I just want to brag and maybe do a little dance. Or, I would, if I wasn't so tired.


Here's my month, boiled down to some fancy stats provided by the NaNoWriMo website. I've been looking at that motherfucking bar graph all month, wishing it was a line graph because the little stunted bars that failed to reach the goal line pissed me off so much.

I guess the bars that rise majestically above it, though, make up for that.

As you can see I wrote the bare minimum for awhile as I got back in the swing of writing. The first day I struggled insanely, barely met the goal, allowed fleeting thoughts of giving up to swirl around. But then around day 10 I hit my groove, and suddenly writing 1,667 words a day seemed ridiculously easy. Indeed, the only problems that arose were the days when I was absolutely too busy to write a word- happened more often than I remember- and then I was in a hole for the next day.

The last week, fittingly, was the most hectic, because of the two days I mentioned before that I skipped. I wrote about 2K a day on average to catch up, and over the past few days I've been a maniac; 3K, 3K, 5K, finish. And what a finish.

The 50,000th word was "I'm", which is super lame, but before I added some more words to beef up a confusing sentence it was "like" which was terrible. That means nothing, though, because I edit as I go and I am very likely to go back and add a scene or two if I think I missed something, even before I'm finished writing the plot.

So where do I go from here? Well, I'm going to take a well-deserved break for a couple of days to finish my college essays, and then I'm getting right back on that Word document, which has been open perennially. I don't think I'll close it. I still have probably another 50K to go before the book is finished; to be honest, I haven't got a definitive middle picked out yet, so I could spool it out for hundreds of pages if I wish. I just might, if only to make the editing process even more hellish.

And then there's editing, and then there's a finished product, hopefully, eventually. There's still a long road to travel and then retrace my steps and cut down the weeds that grow along the way, but I've got nice-ass hiking boots and a stick and everything so I'm all set and rearing to go, and also ready to retire this hiking metaphor because seriously, who hikes? Ew, nature.

I'll see you all in a day probably because now I'm addicted to writing.

SUCCESSFULLY YOURS,

ABBY
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

I Am the Hipster

~43,000 words into NaNo with four more days to go, I've officially morphed into the hipster. It has happened; I am the hipster, they are the hipsters, I am the girl sitting on a couch writing a novel to Belle & Sebastian Radio on Pandora with a bit of French influence and a stuffed owl sitting next to me.

The only bit of non-hipsterness I have clung to is my thorough rejection of most tea. To be fair, I tried very, very hard to like it, simply for the hipster factor (well, more the artsy writer factor), but I have trained my taste buds to despise any flavor besides sweet, so nearby is a steaming cup of hot chocolate provided to me by one of my NaNoSwap partners and Oreo pie from Thanksgiving.

I'm trying to be very chill about the next week, because I am caught up on my word count for now and the endgoal seems almost laughably within reach.

But that would be too easy! Indeed, the world chuckled at the suggestion of an easy finish and instead decided to throw back in the stress of college. For, by next Friday, I need to turn in all of my college applications (I might not turn in Tufts or George Washington until later because I'm not dead set on those colleges and I'll be damned if I let them get in the way of my novel).

Oh, God. Zooey Deschanel has made a wild appearance on this radio, and worse, I recognized her voice before I even saw that it was her. Ready for the kicker? I'M NOT SKIPPING IT. It's calming and cutesy and twee and whatever, okay? I'm writing a novel, don't judge me.

Zooey would never judge me because she is a carefree manic pixie girl with no emotions except love and sparkles.

Jeez, the song just used the word "ephemeral". I don't even care. And now we're into Italian folk music. I highly recommend this station.

Anyway, I'm refusing to get this stress get to me. The only acquiescence (+110 word nerd points for guessing that was a real word) I have allowed myself to make is giving up League for the week, which is really hard because all my friends and I are talking about now is a ranked team. This is the proverbial fork in the road where I choose between pursuing a career in writing or being a professional League player. (Notice how neither requires a college education? WHY AM I GOING TO COLLEGE.)

Aaaand, the buzzer attached to the metal collar around my neck is going off. If I don't get back to writing soon it will fatally electrocute me. That, I swear, is the only other way I've shown weakness. Other than that I am a productivity machine.

Bzzzzzt'dly yours,

Abby

Friday, November 23, 2012

here it comes

Here comes the dispensal of grammar and words that are actually words, dispensal is a word thank you Blogger spell check. I am officially 3,000ish words behind schedule because of a series of really busy days even though right now I can't remember what I did over any of them and I also can't remember where my legs are because long ago they were either replaced by or fused with this blanket. God I wish these words could count towards my NaNo words.

Anyway I wanted to finish earlier, by November 28th, because I bring HOLY CRAP COMMERCIAL OW. Pandora commercials are the worst; you shouldn't be allowed to interrupt the soothing tones of Simon and Garfunkel with your enthusiastic ad for Dance Central. I want to throttle that voice actress. Because I leave for Northeast festival the 28th and I'm not sure I'll have time to write, let alone catch up if I'm behind. But if I'm to finish in five days I'd need to almost write 5,000 words a day, which is totally made up and a blind guess because my brain is a giant hole of suck right now, but it's probably in that ballpark. You can imagine how my prose is going.

You know what, no, even Hall & Oates are not allowed to have a commercial on Pandora. Can I get an injunction going? What the hell is an injunction? I'd google it if I had the motor skills to work a mouse right now.

My brain is mush; why? Well, suspiciously structured sentence, I decided for some ungodly reason that going out not only at midnight on Black Friday but then staying up until 5 AM (oh yes, sleep is for the weak) and going out to a different mall for five hours. So I was up for about 26 hours straight, came home to take a nap, went through a dream black hole vortex that ate my brain function and made me wake up in three hours to a pounding head and phlegm all up in my throat tube, you're welcome for the image. All I wanted to do was go back to sleep, but I was forced to get up by the presiding anxiety that I didn't have a body and that three days had passed. Also, I was 5,000 words behind.

So now I'm sitting here with an aching head and owlish eyes and a father looking at me rather concernedly. In case you were wondering, I did shop fairly well at Black Friday and it was a lot of fun going with my friends, but holy balls, what was I thinking.

This seems to be a common trend.

What am I doing-ly yours,

Abby

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rocky VI: Balboa Writes a Novel

It seems like November is flying by.

It's almost alarming, the rate at which December is swiftly approaching. I have so much writing on my plate it's difficult to think about anything else; the date in my mind has hovered around the 7th or the 10th for awhile now, refusing to note the march, or rather quick-step, of time.

Let me list for you the writing I need to finish by December:


  • 19,397 more words of my novel
  • An essay on rationalism (this is due on Tuesday)
  • Two essays for Boston University
  • Two essays for George Washington University
  • Various installments of the research paper due for my capstone (which is also this novel- why I have to write a research paper on writing a novel is beyond me)
  • Two short essays for Tufts University
  • An essay for University of Southern California
I'm beginning to feel like Rocky, an underdog up against all of the work life is throwing my way. That's how Rocky was, right? He was a writer? I haven't seen the movies but I know the gist.

This list is more for me than for you; I'm sure none of you care about my workload. But if I don't get more organized soon, I'm bound to drop the ball somewhere, and I'm absolutely determined to keep all of my balls.
Don't pretend you weren't thinking it.

One unexpected boon, however, is that after writing massive amount of words every day (I've skipped at least two days that I remember, of course, but they were usually followed by 3K+ marathons the day after- like today) the piddling 250 word essays seem almost comically short.

Doesn't mean I want to do them. Right now, my novel eclipses everything in my eyes, which is dangerous because it is a total fantasy that this will turn out to anything good or remotely publishable. I would never expect my first-ever novel to be anything good. But since writing is what I want to do with my life this seems like the most important first step, way ahead of college.

Of course, since writing is what I want to do with my life, it follows logically that I should get used to writing all kinds of things, including college essays. The conundrum.

I'd like to post an excerpt for you all, but since my character still has not gotten her lazy ass out of her house and on the road, nothing jumps out as especially important.

Exposition-heavily yours,

Abby

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Halfway There and Post Offices

WELL, WRIMOS!

It's that time of the month again- no, I don't mean that time of the month where I curl up into a sobbing ball on the floor and curse all of the men in the world- it's November 15th.

This is the day where, in the paranoid, dark landscape of my mind, hopeful Wrimos are judged on their novel's progress, for it is exactly halfway through the month. And, following obvious logic, I should be halfway through the 50,000 wordcount goal.

And guess what? I TOTALLY AM.

Shutterstock really captures my life perfectly. 


I am not halfway through my novel; it's actually only getting started. But I have officially reached 25,000 words- 25,072 to be exact.

 My 25,000th word was "Thank" and, fittingly, that's what I want to do right now: thank all of you. I want to thank my friends for understanding (most of the time) when I tell them that I would love to hang out, or interact with them during a free period, or talk, but I really must write. I'd like to thank my teachers for sort of begrudgingly accepting, if not understanding, that I would love to participate in class but I really must write.

And though I'm still not sure that there are any of you, but for the invisible masses reading my blog, I'd like to thank you for reading even though, while I would love to update more consistently or with funnier posts, I really must write.

And though I really must be writing (lies, I'm going to play several victory games of League because that is how professional authors work, trust me, I've asked around), I'm going to share with you a fun story about my day yesterday. It is a story that involves social anxiety (as does almost any story involving me), sassy Postal workers, and car tricks. Have I hooked you successfully? I am such a good writer.

If there's anything you should know about me, it's that I am an incredible procrastinator and possess an almost sloth-like level of laziness. It was a combination of these two things that led to me swinging a screeching car around the corner of my best friend's street with an untaped and unaddressed package hurtling around the floor. I had five minutes to get to the bank, pick up money, and then book it to the post office to mail a package already a couple weeks late to my NaNo Swap partner. In typical fashion, even though I bought the items days ago and I had about four hours to simply throw them in a box and mail it, I waited until it was do-or-die to do or die.

And die I might have, from the way I was speeding down the road. I was going first to pick up my friend because, as I texted her desperately, I was scared and I needed moral support to mail a package. After she jumped in the car and I sped like a demon through the ATM, actually achieving squealing tires status, we arrived at the post office, conveniently situated only about half a mile from my house, with one minute to spare. The manager was ominously closing the blinds on the doors as we dashed inside, me somehow clutching my car keys, my wallet, and the package to my chest, looking every inch the pesky teenagers we were.

There were a few other people in line and two tellers waiting upon them. I watched uncomfortably as one of them gathered their things and left, leaving only a kindly looking man with blue eyes to deal with the last three people.

I was, of course, the last person in line, and it was past five, but I approached the man with what I hoped was a beguiling look and placed the box on the counter.

"I'd like to ship this to California?"

I saw the older gentleman's blue eyes turn icy as he looked down at the open box.

"Did you want to tape it first?"

An accurate representation.


I was unprepared for the amount of sassiness that smacked me across the face like a white glove. Clearly, the gauntlet had been thrown down, but I was still hoping to cling to the innocent young lady guise.

"Oh yes-"

"There's scotch tape on the counter, but I can't guarantee it'll work." Now, before you ask why I didn't just tape it at home- and yes, we had packaging tape- let it be known that I had never mailed a package before. Letters, yes, but for some reason I figured they might need to inspect the contents to make sure it wasn't, you know, a set of razors or depleted uranium or anything. This is what I mean by being socially anxious, and that was exactly why I'd brought Kylie along. You know, moral support.

I bound up the box as best as I could, imbuing the scotch tape with belief and faith and hoping it would make it stronger, and then brought it back to the man, who was doing his best facial impression of someone tapping their foot in irritation.

"Where's the address?"

I'd thought they needed a special address form to fill out.

"I-I thought you needed to write it on there."

"Just stick a piece of paper on it. Write fast." The manager was standing by the closed doors, looking on. "You know, it's five after five, and I'd like to get out of here. And you walk in at five with a package and nothing is ready. I would really like to go home, but you are completely unprepared."

Here is where my espoused fiestiness (not a word? should be a word) set in. I completely understood that I was late and it was costing him a few precious minutes of his life, but I was not okay with his needling comments about my preparation. After all, I was only trying to make things easier for them; if they had indeed needed to go through the contents I was trying to save them the trouble of ripping off the tape and reapplying it. How was I supposed to know that mailing dangerous objects was an acceptable and ignored practice? This man clearly expected too much of me.

"Would you rather I come back tomorrow?" I asked, I imagine, politely but forcefully.

"Well I would rather-"

"Should I come back later?"

We had an epic staredown.

Exactly this.


"What kind of shipping do you want to buy?"


Fuck your rules, and your paperwork, and your SASSINESS.


Successfully yours,

Abby

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Too Tired to Write a Real Post

I bring you this excerpt for two reasons: I like the direction it's taking my novel, and I'm not sure if it makes sense.
That's where you come in! Please let me know if the flashback is too abrupt or terrible. I usually hate flashbacks but in a novel where her upbringing is so important to the way she acts, I have to keep going back and explaining my main character's childhood. Gah.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Thank you, Laurel,” Elsie said seriously, holding her little green bowl of mac and cheese in her hands, staring into my eyes with all the sincerity she could muster. She believed strongly, almost dogmatically, in politeness; except, of course, when she and Fernando got into fights.
I had seen this systematic politeness before, in the children of stay-at-home, upper class mothers. It was an affliction of the higher classes, little girls in sweet dresses with innocent eyes kowtowing to powers greater than themselves in social status and money without any real knowledge of what they were doing or why. It was a habit best preserved in children, when it was still a positive and desirable trait; it was when the guileless children blossomed into women trapped in a community cultivated by their parents that the unending politeness mutated into something more dangerous.
Elsie with her great brown eyes, like a cow’s before the slaughterhouse, would grow up into a young woman with a sweet disposition and a quiet voice. As she puttered around the kitchen, eating her mac and cheese with a fork and twirling every couple steps, I saw it laid out before me like a cosmic dare, an oracle of Southern women and their future. I saw politeness morph into passivity, humility into meekness, a desire to please dominated by a quest to quench every other personal dream that did not fit with her predestined future and the demands of her friends and family.
I felt a crushing sorrow as I watched her, so free in her youth, not yet fully expected to conform to her parents’ expectations. For now, they could blame any unorthodox behavior on her age; brush off her tantrums as a phase, explain away her tendency to talk to inanimate objects by mentioning her overactive imagination. But it would only last for just a couple more years; her introduction into the society, walking down a marble staircase in the Leaf and Burrow Country Club in a glimmering dress and a charismatic smile would be the end of it. From then on, the expectations would pile up and begin to smother her. I saw this as clear as the daylight streaming through the bay windows in the kitchen, flowing across the floor and over the expensive trappings of her home; I could feel it in my Southern woman’s bones. I knew her future because it had been my past.

A breezy Virginia day, one of those days that reminded you of Virginia’s proximity to the North; a borderline state that had the searing Southern sun but the occasional gust of crisp, clean Northern wind. The breeze moved through my dress with the ease of a lover, airing out the heavy fabric that clung to my skin as I clomped in my heels towards the car with my mom in tow.
“Laurel, dear, please don’t get your dress dirty. Remember to lift it off of the floor; it looks sloppy if you let it drag.”
“Yes, mom,” I replied rather breathlessly. Staring at the empty, cloudless sky granted me a sense of weightlessness, as if the white lace straps of the dress would soon morph into feathery wings and carry me off into the boundless heavens.
“Watch where you’re going!” my mother admonished me as I stumbled on a crack in the driveway , the spiky heel of my gold strap shoes forcing my ankle sideways. Pain spread out from my joint in a fiery pulse, shooting up my leg and back down again, but I straightened myself with some difficulty and took a couple limping steps to the door of the car. Folding my bare legs into the car and leaning back on the leather seats was bliss, feeling the weight taken off of the pain in my ankle, and I sighed in relief. Mother got in the passenger seat, looking towards the door in anticipation of my dad.
“Do you feel ready?”
“Yes, mom,” I replied. In truth, I felt nothing but a vague annoyance at being dragged away from my plans to spend the day lazing in front of the TV. Underneath my apathy was a strange nervousness, too, but it manifested not in my conscious but in the automatic tapping of my fingers on my thighs. I refused to acknowledge its existence.
“Where is your father?”
“I don’t know.”
There was a silence. My mother and I never talked much, had no time for heart-to-hearts when we were constantly interrupted and sought after by my brothers or my father, any of the men in the house. Because of this, we were at odds with each other when we were alone; there was pressure to say something, to bond, but neither of us knew how. My mother, being the socialite and expert on small talk, eventually struck up conversation.
“I remember when I was introduced at the club,” she said offhandedly, staring out the dashboard at the towering dogwood tree casting a slight shadow onto the house, attenuated by the sun nearing its noontime peak. The dogwood was rustling gaily in the wind, shaking off the heat with glossy green leaves, and the remnants of its beautiful and tragically short-lived blossoms littered the vibrant grass.  She seemed lost in the world of the dogwood for a couple moments. I attempted to join her there, losing myself in the chattering branches, but I found myself distracted by the buzzing of a lonesome fly against the far window. I watched its doomed path instead.
“It was one of the most stressful days of my life,” my mother resumed, and I started, so drawn in was I by the peripatetic fly and its journey around the interior of our car. I felt a kinship to the nomad. I joined in her tiny laugh. “There was so much to do and so little time to get prepared. I felt such pressure to be perfect for this; it was nearly suffocating. Or maybe that was just the dress.”
My attention was diverted by this. I never felt like my mother understood the way the subtle hand of society put pressure on your shoulders and dragged you downward to your knees like a disobedient dog learning to sit, but maybe there was more to the perfect matron than I had suspected all my life. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There's more, but I don't want to overwhelm you. So ta-ta for now!

Finally caught up and tiredly yours,

Abby

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Shocking Revelation

Afternoon, faithful blog readers (Lauren!!),

It's 1:36 PM and, despite having been in this institution of learning since 7:40 AM I am only 100 words away from 15,000 words, the daily goal. After this blog post, I'm going to go back to writing and try to get ahead, since my new goal is to finish before the 28th, when I leave for Northeast Theatre Festival.

I find myself wanting to speed through this post. Not because then I will be freed up to listen to music, or read, or mess around with my friends in my Anatomy and Physiology class, or any other procrastination that usually defines my life.

I want to speed through this post so I can go back to my novel and write.

Oh, god. You can use gifs on Blogger. It's going to be like Tumblr. You just can't enable me in this way.

However obvious it might be- she's a writer, obviously she'd like to write!- it's a big thing. The biggest problem I've had with my writing over the years is loving it. Deep inside, I've always had the desire to tell stories, to see my words in print and enjoyed by others. I don't only want to entertain people with my words, I want to move and change them, challenge the way they think. That's not going to be this book; there's a chance that won't be any of my books; but it is my dream.

It's not the motivation I had a problem with, it was the actual writing process. Ever since my first attempt at writing a novel two NaNos ago, which I gave up on about 12,000 words in and then tried to come back to to no avail, I have gotten out of the habit of writing. There were periods when I tried to write short stories or poems every day, but I would eventually run out of inspiration and give up.

This cat knows too much.

After resolving, finally, to finish this novel or die trying, I figured it would be an uphill battle, involving multiple breakdowns, a struggle to meet each day's wordcount- you know, the material for hilarious blog posts about my eventual insanity. Unfortunately for this blog, I once again love writing. And friends, it is a beautiful thing.

As for the progress of the novel, it is 26 pages so far and I have about two chapters written. I haven't gotten to the main conflict or anything but exposition so far, which might seem like a failure but it gives me hope that this plot will be unlike the others and actually fill 50,000+ words. In my view, it seems like it will be 75,000+; after NaNo I will be participating in Row80 to finish the novel, and then the editing process begins.

It'll be a journey. To tide you over, and because I've been working on going back and adding imagery, etc., to the scenes, here's another excerpt.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


“It is, isn’t it? But I feel much better now. You know, this party isn’t half bad. I usually dread these things- everyone feels so contrived. Tonight is different. There’s a certain sheen that people don’t usually possess, a brightness in the way that they walk and spout the socially acceptable lies- I don’t know if you’ve noticed?”
As silence spun out on a reel and filled the room, nervousness bloomed in my stomach, and I was worried I’d taken it too far. I had suspected Tanya was more astute than she let on; it was something in the way she wouldn’t let her husband strong-arm her around the party circuit, in the way that she would sometimes slip me a look during a particularly vapid conversation, like a secretive agreement that we both saw beyond the influx of meaningless words. But as Tanya said nothing, only stared at me with unnaturally bright brown eyes, I started to believe that it was only ever a trick of the light that made me envision those companionable glances and comprehension. After a couple seconds, during which my mind whirred, trying to come up with an acceptable path out of this conversation, she narrowed her eyes in an appraising manner. I felt like I was being analyzed.
“What?”
She reached into her purse and grabbed one of the bottles she had salvaged from the floor only a minute or two ago. It was filled with little white pills that clattered around, reminding me of the call of a rattlesnake. The grin disappeared from my face.
“It’s Ritalin, don’t look so startled. I wouldn’t do anything illegal- well, really illegal,” Tanya said, smiling broadly and, with a bit of a struggle, undoing the plastic cap. “It’s fantastic, really changes the way you see things. You won’t be bored at another party ever again, I promise. What you just described? About this party and how it shines? That’s what it feels like all the time.” She chuckled and it sounded dissonant to my ears.
“No thanks, Tanya.”
The beatific smile wavered, but regained its brilliance. “You don’t want to save one just in case? You don’t have to take it now, but you might thank me later!” She shook the bottle in what was supposed to be an enticing way. The sound echoed around the tiled bathroom like gunfire. One of the pills dislodged itself and flew onto the counter, but neither of us made a move to retrieve it. I sighed and tried to take any tone of reproach out of my words.
“I’m alright, thank you for the offer, though. I’m glad it works for you.”
Tanya shrugged and recapped the bottle, stowing it back into her carry-all bag.
“I’m glad you don’t need it, honey. I suppose I’d be a better person if I didn’t.” She smirked, reaching around me for the door. “But you people don’t want to see the monster I am usually. Ta-ta, dear, I’m going to enjoy the rest of this party. See you out there.” In a moment she was gone, leaving only the lingering smell of her perfume behind her. 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Beautifully focused and forever yours,

Abby

Monday, November 5, 2012

Like Pilar, Chugging Along

Day five, and I have officially reached my wordcount goal for today, even though I spent 13 hours of my valuable time at school and at least an hour embroiled in political debates on Facebook.

The best way to move democracy forward.

My favorite part about that picture is that several keys are missing or loose on that keyboard, presumably because of how angrily the child of Mike Dirnt and Justin Pierre was typing to his adversary.

I see it.

Anyway, I come bearing witty captions and an excerpt of my writing. Finally. I know this is the moment you've all been waiting for, but I didn't want to be a word-slut and just start posting my literature all over the place wantonly. But this is our fifth date, at least, and I think you all deserve it. Here we go!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My brothers and I, a crowd of five pressed up against the faux-wood door to the kitchen, heard only one valuable word of the disgraceful conversation: suicide. Just the word buzzed like an alarm in our ears, even without knowing the meaning.

“Lee,” I whispered urgently when I observed my oldest brother, five years wiser than my vulnerable six years, moving away from the door as if it were blazing hot. “What’s ‘suicide’?”

He turned to me with wide brown eyes, a reflection of my own and descended from our father, his small mouth hanging open in macabre excitement.

“It means,” he started, and then paused, either for dramatic effect or to try to come up with the words that would convey the most shock value, “it means that Mrs. Rushmore took a gun and shot herself.” Tears welled up in my eyes even as my heart began to hammer.

“What d’you mean? Don’t she know guns are dang’rous?” This was something taught to us as soon as we could understand the concept, because our masculine father kept a hunting chest full of aging and rusting guns in the basement, with a combination lock on it. The ancient chest was passed through the family, down from his grandfather, who used to go hunting with the other Virginia rednecks in the woods for innocent animals. Even though my father had only touched the guns once in his lifetime, the time that the Smyth’s dog caught rabies from a skunk and he thought it was going to come near our house and threaten his children, I think it comforted him to know that, as the man of the house, he would be able to defend his children and wife if anything happened.

“Of course she knew guns are dangerous, she’s an adult. It means that she did it on purpose, stupid,” Lee said intently, waiting for my reaction.

“Why would she do that, Lee? You’re a liar,” I said, relieved that it was merely another exaggeration, an attempt by my brothers to scare the littlest child.

“You can think so,” he said, shrugging, “but you ask dad: suicide means she chose to die.” This was also a popular bluff, telling me to ask my parents in order to prolong my fear just a little longer, but something in how easily he gave up the gambit made me nervous.

“Okay, I will,” I said defiantly, though my fingers were clenched at my sides; growing up as the youngest in a household of five boys made me foolhardy, if nothing else. Neil, the second youngest child and only a year older than me, was similarly na├»ve and stood with me.

“I’m goin’ too. You’re pullin’ our leg, Lee,” he said angrily, and it was comforting to feel him at my side. “Let’s go, Laurel.” He grabbed my hand and steered me through the living room in search of dad, who was destined to find out about Mrs. Rushmore’s fate from work colleagues instead of the troupe of Southern housewives. That was one of the rules of society.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WHEW.

To explain the title of this blog post, I would like to refer you all to the book Hemingway's Boat, by Paul Hendrickson. It is an incredibly insightful biography of one of the most complex American authors to ever grace the literary scene, and I love it. I'm also reading Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, and that's even BETTER.

I have no mental power to make the rest of this post witty because I need to scurry off to bed. Big day tomorrow! All of the days are big days! I am slowly going crazy!

With too much work, eternally yours,

Abby




Saturday, November 3, 2012

Falling, Then Crawling Back

Welcome to day three of NaNo. I have officially made it farther into the challenge than I did last year.

A mediocre achievement. 
Despite early challenges including, but not limited to: a mental breakdown, some crying, an entire day of non-productivity, and some hysteria, I have pulled out of my initial disappointment and Gotten Shit Done.

The first day, it took me four hours, including one that I spent convincing myself not to quit early, to reach the daily goal of 1,667 words. I shut my computer with a sigh after updating my word count to a measly 1,712. The second day, I didn't write at all. I had no inspiration and no time to sit and force words out of my reluctant fingers.
Which brings me to today, 3,000some-odd words in the hole when I woke up this morning. But I am happy to report that in just another 863 words, which I plan on finishing tonight because marathon writing can only last so long, I will be caught up and sitting pretty on a novel that is evolving from a mess to slightly presentable.

It still takes me an embarrassingly long time to write and focus, but I have found one unexpected boon: after going through several 'inspiring' writing playlists, I have found the single most productive playlist I've ever made. It's the Kanye West Radio on Pandora, with a Lil' Jon influence.

Sophisticated writing. 

I hope you guys are at least the tiniest bit entertained by my ill-prepared journey through this treacherous writing land, filled to the brim with the dragons of overwrought metaphors like this one. So far, the hardest thing is avoiding League. I have not been successful thus far.

Contentedly yours,

Abby

Thursday, November 1, 2012

"Kind of Dope"

Greetings on the first day of NaNo, Blogosphere!

What the computer looked like when "Blogosphere" was last used

I am typing my report live from school, the place where dreams go to die and students go to catch up on the sleep they lost procrastinating homework. More specifically, I am typing merrily through Statistics class, where a discussion on bias is going in one ear, rattling around just long enough for me to look productive, and then taking its leave of my mind. The great thing is, I can blame this distraction on NaNo and deem it productive!

The subject of this blog post stems from my previous class, English (more specifically British Lit, most specifically Free Period). When I walked into class looking like a close approximation of someone about to lose their mind,
Heeeeeeeeeeere's NaNo!
wailed "It's beginning!" and slumped into my chair in preemptive defeat, my english teacher tentatively asked me what was eating at me. Naturally, this was a chance to complain about the stress monstrosity that is NaNoWriMo.
The natural questions ensued: "Can you start before?" "Does it have to be a novel?" "How many words exactly?"

And after a thorough if hysteria-tinged explanation, she calmly regarded by twitching features and said, "You know, that's kind of dope."

My English Teacher. Actually. (Also, my crown)


It is kind of dope, even if I haven't written a word yet.

NaNoWriMo is a chance to go productively crazy. November is full of the excitement of an over-full workload, of juggling writing with life and feeling like a warrior against the regular, non-NaNoing world. Beyond that, there is a wonderful community in place of people going through the exact same thing all around the world, with their own struggles and conditions but the same goal of 50,000 words.

And friends, it's pretty dope.

Excitedly yours,

Abby