Now That NaNoWriMo is Over . . .

Now that NaNoWriMo 2018 is over I can pretty much relax in the month of December. Some things I put on hold I can now dive back into again, first of which is a lot of reading. I bought all kinds of books in October, checked out a few at the library in November and I have a huge stack of backlogged comics and graphic novels to get back to. I’m also in the works of building several music playlists on Spotify to share with the world as I get back to being the little kid DJ I wanted to be at age 8 (before I discovered MTV and wanted to be a musician myself). I think the gift of music is one of the greatest things in the world and sharing music gives me a ton of joy. Speaking of music, I did find myself adopting an acoustic state of mind and grabbing my acoustic guitars for a few spells during November. I’m tempted to resume songwriting for yet another solo acoustic project, but I dunno, we’ll see. I should also start uploading music from the vault to the new online music platform I’ve discovered. Deal with my musical past before moving on to my musical future. Lots to do as always. And I’ll get back into a writing groove in January, which is pretty much a New Year’s tradition for me.


So . . . NaNoWriMo 2018 — how did I do and what did I learn? Well, I did about 25k words, a little over half the goal (the stats below pretty much say I half-assed it, haha). Short of the overall mark, sure, but not a failure because in prior years I didn’t even manage 7000 words, so this was quite the achievement, I think. As for what I learned from the experience? I learned to just . . . let go. Finally. Turn off, hell, FIRE that inner editor and just do a word vomit onto the blank page continuously with no looking back. Basically pants it, which I haven’t done in a very long, long time. Probably not since year 5 or so of my years of writing and I’ve been writing prose since 1993, more seriously since 1999 probably, when I got more serious about the craft, which ironically probably killed that free-spirited writer in me and I became more self-conscious and overly self-aware. I was starting to write to impress rather than write just because I was compelled to. Writers’ workshops and a few stints as a story editor made me even more hyper-aware of story and writing craft, but also greatly diminished my productivity due to my developing an obsessive-compulsive approach to my craft. NaNoWriMo’s ultimate purpose, aside from inspiring novelists to produce novels, is to ultimately inspire writers to LET GO AND BE FREE IN THEIR WRITING. Prior to this year, that was a nigh-impossible thing for me to do. And even though this year’s NaNo was a giant step in the right direction, I’m still a recovering self-editing freak. My therapy continues. I’m looking forward to NaNoWriMo 2019. Maybe I’ll really take a risk and start a completely all-new, spontaneous, unplanned novel project for that one. Ha!


Brandon L. Rucker’s NaNoWriMo Final Report

Target Word Count
50,000
Target Average Words Per Day
1,667
Your Average Per Day
851
Total Words Written
25,558
Words Remaining
24,442
At This Rate You Will Finish On
December 30, 2018
Lifetime Achievement: Total NaNo Word Count
33,468
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A Guitar Is Always Nearby

On the eve of Thanksgiving I was up in my bedroom alone while all the girls were downstairs watching this season’s Hallmark Christmas movies with their mom/aunt. I was getting sleepy really, having burned the candle longer this week than I should have. So I was starting to come to terms with the possibility that I was going to finally miss a day (night, really) of NaNoWriMo productivity after going a RECORD 20 DAYS STRAIGHT this year. I truly did not want to break the streak, which is just a personal goal of accomplishment, but I was a little too drained to muster the mental energy (I’m sure that whatever mental reserves I had left were exhausted after getting home from work and reading seven or so chapters of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis).

An easy distraction for me in general is listening to music, whether it’s old favorites or discovering new-to-me artists and their tunes. Last night I was listening to various acoustic songs and since I have my two acoustic guitars in my bedroom at all times I wound up grabbing one of them and learning an old song I’ve always loved and wanted to be able to play someday. Mission somewhat accomplished . . . I can play parts of the song, but it’s a bit of a struggle since I’m not a great fingerpicking guitarist (on the bass I play with my fingers quite proficiently).

And lo, a little later as I’m contemplating surrendering to bed, I grab the guitar again to just see what comes out of me spontaneously and I just happened to come up with two parts of a new song, another in a long line of simple acoustic songs that I need to ultimately finish and record to make another collection/album. Immediately I had a vocal melody for the verse part and so as not to lose this unexpected burst of creativity, I grabbed my phone and hit record on the audio recorder app because at my age there’s no way I can leave it to chance that I’ll have the total recall of anything, especially brand new notes to a new song. Case in point, this morning I can’t for the life of me even remotely remember what I wrote last night, so it’s a good thing I recorded it. Afterward I laid in bed trying to conjure some lyrics for the verse melody, but it was to no avail. I threw in the towel and gave in to sleep with the light still on.

I write all of this simply to say that it’s real easy for a musician to be distracted and tempted to play when a guitar is always nearby.

Oh, an what was that song I learned? “Desolate Ways” by MORBID ANGEL (sample below).

And now it’s time for morning tea.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Acoustics

The Writ, The Read & The Rock – 11.19.18

It’s been a while since I’ve done the weekly look back, so here is a retro report on the past week or so . . .

++ The Writ ++

So since the start of November I have been participating – for the third year in a row now – in NaNoWrimo (National Novel Writing Month for the rare uninitiated). In the past I hadn’t lasted more than a few days to a week at most. This year I’ve survived nearly three weeks, mainly by finally embracing not giving into my usual OCD about editing every word, phrase, sentence, paragraph and page to some semblance of “perfection”. I’m also not sticking to one novel project, instead just doing word vomits on multiple projects as they arrive to me because as always this creative mind of mine is always littered with a multitude of ideas – old and new. It’s just how I’ve always rolled, so why fight it? As I write this very paragraph I’m currently tallied at 17,852.

NaNo-2018-Writer-Badge


++ The Read ++

As a lifelong bookworm I’m always reading a variety of material, from novels to comic books/graphic novels, to short stories and nonfiction, etc. I rarely walk out of a library (or bookstore for that matter) with just one book. Let’s suffice it to say that recent trips to Barnes & Noble, all four local branches of Half-Price Books and an Amazon order altogether cost me $$$!!! And a week later I was at the library walking out with yet another armful. A good chunk of my reading is research for my own writing, you see. So it is what it is. Don’t judge me. Unlike people, books rarely let me down or disappointment. Currently the two books dominating my attention is ACROSS THE UNIVERSE (2011), book one of a YA sci-fi trilogy by Beth Revis, and THE WICKED + THE DIVINE – Vol. 3: COMMERCIAL SUICIDE (2016), an urban fantasy/modern mythology serialized graphic novel series by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.

The latter was a series I originally started when it launched in 2014, but I lapsed on it. So I’m getting caught up one volume at a time. The former has one of the most engaging first chapters I’ve ever read! Many a writer – new and old – could take notes on CHAPTER 1: AMY. I don’t read a lot of YA books and even though the two protagonists  are young in this book they hardly announce themselves as YA – they’re just interesting people in a harrowing situation deftly portrayed within a very compelling, suspenseful narrative. 94 pages and 15 chapters in I can see why this novel, a debut one from Beth Revis, has garnered so much critical acclaim. And I have no idea what’s to come in the following two books that complete the trilogy. But I’m anxious to get there. Guess that means another trip to a bookstore or yet another Amazon order. It’s a bookworm life I lead.

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++ The Rock ++

This past week or so my music listening has typically been wide ranging as usual, starting with METALLICA, 2PAC, OUTKAST, WU-TANG CLAN and FUGAZI, and ending with BLONDE REDHEAD, DEF LEPPARD, PJ HARVEY and DAUGHTER. In the coming week I plan on getting back to SOHN, LONDON GRAMMAR, SONIC YOUTH and APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE, but really the music selection relies heavily on any given mood, so we’ll see how the week plays out.

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Not to Disappear (2016) by DAUGHTER

In other rocking news: I did not play my guitar or bass this past week. Actually, I haven’t played since NaNoWriMo started. Clearly that’s NOT rocking.


++ In Closing ++

We lost a pop-culture icon recently, a loss I knew was inevitable any day now and one I knew I would exclaim with shock loudly when I saw the news come across my feed. Rest in peace STAN LEE. Thank you for all the Marvel comics you co-created with countless collaborators and all the ones you “presented” by the time I started reading regularly in the Fall of 1986. Especially thank you for the X-MEN who weren’t my introduction to Marvel Comics (that was Spidey and Hulk) but were my main draw to superheroes overall. I might not have enjoyed my teen years quite as much without them.

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NaNoWrimo: Day 5

I’m under 5k on Day 5. Clearly not the hare so that makes me the tortoise. AKA King Molasses. AKA the undisputed Emperor of  S  L  O  W.  AKA Slowpoke Rodriguez. But, at least I’m doing good at breaking the habits of old. More on that in a later post. At any rate here’s a nice graphic. #NaNoWriMo2018 #Day5 #iWrite

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“NaNo Prep: How to Go From Plotless to Polished” | Derek Murphy

November is just around the corner, and as we gear up, we’re sharing advice on how you can best prepare for a month of writing. Today, author and designer Derek Murphy shares his advice on how to turn a messy work-in-progress into a polished draft in November:

NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity to push your boundaries and see how much writing you can get done in thirty days. If it’s your first time shooting for 50K, write whatever is easiest for you. However, if you’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for a few years and have struggled to turn your newly generated manuscript into an actual book that sells, here’s some advice that should help:

Save a Darling—Plot Ahead

First of all, if you started your story with very little plotting, it’s likely you have dozens of powerful scenes but no backbone to hold it all together. And it’s very difficult to go back and operate on your manuscript after it’s finished. “Kill your darlings” is good advice, but painful for a reason. It’s hard to cut the stuff you love—but if it confuses the narrative or doesn’t need to be there, it’s hurting the story.

Rather than spend a month generating content and then months of frustration trying to polish it into something that actually sees the light of day, it’s much easier to plot before your start—at least loosely. For most commercial fiction, I use a simplified hero’s journey with 12 major plot points.

As long as I hit most of those points in roughly the right places, I know my story will stand strong even if the writing falters. You don’t have to chronicle the exact details of every scene, and you shouldn’t worry about writing beautiful prose, but having a rough idea of your pivotal scenes will make it much easier for you to finish a powerful story in record time.

If you get stuck halfway through your NaNoWriMo novel, it’s usually because you’re sinking into the muddy middle—where you didn’t plot enough events to carry the story forward—so you invent a bunch of random and increasingly incredible plot developments to span the gap, then rush towards the epic conclusion. The problem with this is your story will feel rushed and implausible. [more]


Click the link to continue reading “NaNo Prep: How to Go From Plotless to Polished” from the Nanowrimo blog http://blog.nanowrimo.org/post/166851438740/nano-prep-how-to-go-from-plotless-to-polished

The Novelling Month Approaches — The Writing Tree

We’re already over halfway through September, which means November is fast approaching. For many writers, November means Nanowrimo, the annual challenge to write a novel in just one month. This blog post gives you some tips to help you make the most of the month, and improve your chances of success. Is Nanowrimo for you? […]

via The Novelling Month Approaches — The Writing Tree

Notebook 9 | Waving the White Flag

I’m baaaack! Yeah, I wasn’t gone long and as I stated last week, you know what this quick return means. Details below.


How ’bout that NaNoWriMo experiment?

So what did I learn within my first couple of days of NaNoWriMo?

  • My new fiction prose is VERY rusty. I seem to be sharper when working on my previously written prose when revising and editing. And I can flow here in a nonfiction or even a journalistic mode with ease. I suppose my previous years in the role of a fiction editor as well as spending the last 5 years mostly writing nonfiction will do that to a fella’s fiction flow.
  • Contrary to my optimism, I can’t use a first-person POV for a long-form prose narrative like a novel.
  • Aside from very short fiction, I am far outside my comfort zone when stuck with the lack of narrative control that is 1st person POV. That lack of narrative authority.
  • My best prose writing days might just be behind me, or so my mind, lacking confidence, has been whispering to me. At least in terms of long prose fiction. We’ll see how it’s looking once I (someday?) shake the rust off.
  • It turns out that what I’ve been writing for one long-term character of mine has actually been the story intended for a different long-term character of mine who belongs to a different and even more aged unfinished project of mine (which originates as far back as the mid-to-late 1990s).

So what does this mean moving forward?

  • Well, at a mere 1,426 words in the first week on a troubled project, it’s safe to say I’ve failed NaNoWriMo 2016 and have effectively bowed out of the initiative/contest.
  • You can say that all of this is a litany of excuses, and that’s fine, but at 43 I know full well how my psyche works against me.
  • Serialized fiction seems to be the ideal setup for my wayward, unsettled self. I’ve been telling that to myself for a while now. Get in quickly for a short intense burst of creative output, get out and back to life, come back to do it again, rinse and repeat.
  • My online library, archive and de facto publisher RUCKERPEDIA could be the perfect venue for that mode of operation. Stay tuned.