Camp NaNoWriMo April 2015 – Notes From the 24,957 Mark

Greetings from Camp NaNoWriMo! Sorry I haven’t been more active with the updates, but it’s been hectic here. Misreading my story direction map. Meeting new friends and adversaries, then losing track of half of them. Swatting at distracting mosquitoes. That sort of thing. And, because of all that, I’m almost two thousand words behind my projected pace. Most of that is my job’s fault.

Last night, somebody around the campfire asked me if I was going to include a space battle in this story. He remembered liking a space battle scene I wrote a couple years ago, and was wondering why I haven’t written another one since. Good question. So, guess what I’m working on today? I just finished drawing up my star navigation chart. Next, I will work on the battle’s choreography. And, after that…the writing!

I’m not sure I will make my word count for the day, though: some of the guys are having a pick-up hockey at the lake!

Uh…not really. I’m going out later tonight to watch the Capitals – Islanders playoff game. I still plan to write some more after I get back home, though. It will be clear who won the game by how happy or how angry tonight’s passages turn out. Of course, since I’m writing a combat scene, it would probably be best if I were in an angry mood…except that I want the Capitals to win.

That’s it for this time. I’ll attempt to do better with my updates from camp.

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Just for fun, here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

Camp NaNoWriMo
I went into this spring’s NaNoWriMo adventure without any idea what I wanted to write about. And, so far, my output shows it. It’s the biggest pile of unrelated and disconnected randomness I’ve ever penned…which is why it’s turning out to be one of my favorite new writing efforts in a while. It also explains why I’m not getting much of my other writing done these last two weeks.

Back on Two Wheels
I recently acquired a used 26″ mountain bike with a twitchy rear sprocket gear shifter, and front sprocket gear shifter that gave up a long time ago, brakes that work when they get around to it, and a seat without a cover. I would probably do better just sticking a crowbar in my wallet and buying a new bike, but I really like the way this one rides, so it’s staying.

On Guard
I’m still getting over the fact that somebody is paying me to guard stuff. Still…I learn something new about this profession every day, and, to put it simply, it’s an entirely new experience for me, so I’m embracing the opportunity.

The Second Season
The National Hockey League playoffs start this week! My team, the Washington Capitals, are matched up in the first round with the New York Islanders. I will admit that I haven’t followed hockey this season as much as I usually do, so I’m not going to make a prediction, but I very much like what I’ve seen from them recently. For the record, though, I would prefer that the Capitals win a Stanley Cup before I die and have difficulty tuning in to any of their games.

And now, if you will excuse me, I’m going back to my nonsensical Camp NaNoWriMo writing. Rock on!

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Camp NaNoWriMo April 2015 – Balancing Act

Ever go on vacation to a secluded or otherwise off-the-beaten-path-esque location, stay there for a few hours, then go to your regular place of employment and work half a shift, then go back to your vacation spot and resume your leisure and recreational activities for a few more hours, then go back to your job site for another half shift?

Neither have I.

Except…that’s exactly how I feel about this year’s spring Camp NaNoWriMo writing session.

I blame my real world requirements. I’m balancing things in my life (including my still relatively new job) fairly well (sort of), but I’m falling behind with my NaNoWriMo writing at a pace that makes me wonder if I’ll even have enough material for a short story by the end of the month.

But…at least, the ideas are starting to find their way to my campground, and I consider that a good thing, regardless of the word count.

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Goin’ Campin’

As much as I’d love to renew my connectivity to nature, this blog post doesn’t refer to the tent / cabin / RV / sleeping under the stars version of camping.


I’m going to camp NaNoWriMo!


For the uninitiated: Camp NaNoWriMo is an off-season extension of sorts to National Novel Writing Month (held in November), where writers of any skill level (even people who don’t really don’t consider themselves writers) will create a novel of at least 50K words within a month’s time. Editing isn’t important. Polishing and getting it ready for submission isn’t important. That stuff comes later. For the purposes of a NaNoWriMo event, it’s all about getting that first draft COMPLETED!


Almost on par with neglecting to pack a sleeping bag and/or dry socks and/or bug repellant, I am going into this “camping trip” with absolutely no idea what kind of story I want to write. But, then again, I started last November’s NaNoWriMo exploits equally unprepared, and yet the resulting first draft exceeded my expectations by orders of magnitude. I’m expecting equal results this time.


The trip starts on April 1, and I’ll start sending out postcards shortly afterwards. For the time being, though, I should at least figure out what I’m bringing with me.



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Saw a poster with this saying at work the other day…

Are you productive, or just being busy?
Are you productive…
…or just being busy?

This is a lesson I’m still applying to my writing efforts. I’ve noticed that, with every unnecessary ‘process’ or ‘habit’ I eliminate, the more creative output I produce.

Now, if I could just get rid of the mundane distractions…!

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Ad of the Week

Not sure why I did not think of this myself…

Rock on!

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Critiquing the Critiquers

This topic comes up on writers sites from time to time: the art of critiquing and the adventures of receiving critiques.

Depending on what stage my story is at, and depending on who I pass it off to, I will ask for my critiquers to approach my manuscript from specific perspectives: “How did I do with sentence structure?” “Can you point out typos and misspellings?” “Does the story make sense?” “Did I leave any loose ends that leave you unfulfilled or otherwise scratching your head?” “How does the story flow?” That sort of thing. Then, when it is my turn to critique something of theirs, I return the favor and the courtesy by approaching the task in whatever way they specify would match their preferences or concerns. If they want me to focus on character development, that is what I do. If they want me to find every last grammatical error I can find? That is what I do. Etc.

There is one form of critique that I have never asked for (and never will), yet I still get it at least once per manuscript: the critiquer tells me how they would have written a certain passage by rewriting it!

To express my dismay and confusion as eloquently as possible…ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I’ve never even had an editor do that to me, and they’re the gateways to a contract! Whatever happened to telling me that the passage in question is too convoluted or too rambling or too off the point?…then explaining why you feel that way without doing the actual revision for me? A few years ago, before I had any publishing credits to my name, I sent a 20 page manuscript to a fellow aspiring writer; the edited version she sent back was almost double in size because of how many passages she rewrote for me. Suffice it to say, I ditched that file and sought out a different critiquer.

When I critique, I might come across a passage that screams for a rewrite, and an obvious way of doing exactly that might cross my mind, but I fully understand and accept that what I have before me is their story, not mine, so I only point them in a direction with a humble “Consider having your character do / feel / express…”, and let the writer him/herself handle the heavy lifting…because, how else are they going to learn and improve if somebody else writes it for them?

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