Updates! Inktober, NaNoWriMo, Photography, and More!

Hello again! Those that follow my blog (who knows why), will be happy to know that I have many posts incoming. This is an exciting time for blogging, and I plan to write a post (however brief) for each day of October. This is part of two events that happen this time of year, Inktober and NaNoWriMo. Inktober is actually for comic book artists and illustrators and requires them to do one doodle or drawing for each day of October. However, I’ve decided to do my own version, which is to blog about the history of photography. I’ll also be doing some blogging about NaNoWriMo prep and a tiny bit about teaching, travel, and family stuff.

As most of you know, I’m no longer on social media, and I love it. I don’t miss Facebook or Instagram at all, and it has been very freeing and relaxing to go about my life without having to make it look good for Facebook and Instagram likes. I know some of you miss seeing the kiddos, and are looking forward to Halloween costumes, so I will be posting a few updates about the kids this month.

I also have a novel update! Brace yourselves, this is big. My novel is currently at 51,000 words! I have written the ending, and have what is effectively a rough draft, but it’s pretty messy right now and not quite ready for readers. Typical publishing length for a mainstream novel is about 70,000-80,000 words, so I’ll also be fleshing it out and adding scenes. However, I’m spending October getting it in shape and hope to start sending it out soon. This is the closest I’ve ever been to finishing so I’m pretty excited.

First post about the history of photography coming soon!

What Inspires You?

I was thinking today about how much I am motivated and inspired by reading about and watching videos about writers and teachers. After reading an article about a revolutionary and hard-working teacher that I am assigning for class today, I was inspired enough that I plowed through an enormous stack of grading.

Sometimes, I get inspiration in unexpected places. An episode of Mad Men might inspire a lesson for my class the next day (on messages in the media, not adultery, lol). A movie might inspire me to write a novel. Inspiration is a tricky thing. I am usually not inspired so much by specific ideas as I am by excellence itself. Seeing a great movie makes me want to tell a great story, even if I’m using a different medium.

Where do you turn to for inspiration, and what inspires you?

My Hail Mary Pass

Wikipedia refers to a Hail Mary pass as “any forward pass made in desperation, with only a small chance of success.”

I love this.

Isn’t this the way we live our lives? I know it’s how I have lived mine, so often closing my eyes and throwing everything I have into some small distant spot in the future, hoping like hell that I make it.

When I moved to Flagstaff seventeen years ago I had no money, no job, no car, and no prospects of any kind except for conditional admission to Northern Arizona University. Because I had been kicked out of the U of A, had flunked out of community college (yes) and had spent the last two years working at one sucky job after another (telemarketing, bagging groceries, cleaning motel rooms…), I felt like I had nothing left to lose. So I packed up my belongings, jammed myself into the backseat of a car driven by the friend of a friend, and headed up to NAU. I had a very short period of time to get financial aid, get housing, get a job, and make decent enough grades that I was taken off of academic probation. I did all of those things.

Now I am a tenure-track professor at that same university and I live with my high school sweetheart and a magical little boy named Oscar. I have always felt like I scored the game-winning touch-down.

Except for one thing…

I haven’t achieved my dream of becoming a writer.

I always assumed that by this point in my life I would be writing novel after novel, selling each one for a high advance and being able to live off of my income as a full-time writer. I’m not even close to achieving that. I’ve tried writing three different novels over the course of the last ten years, and none of them has broken the one hundred page mark.

Then in November I made one last attempt, one last forward pass made in desperation, with only a small chance of success. I tried to write 50,000 words in thirty days. For the first time in a long time I was able to stay focused about my writing, and more importantly I was able to stay excited about my story. The characters I was writing about came to live in my heart.

I finished! My first draft is 53,630 words long. I got this certificate to print out and the nifty winner badge in my sidebar.

My novel is nowhere near finished. The whole draft is currently a huge, unruly mess. The first half is pretty complete and polished, as is the last chapter (I actually wrote the end first), but the middle needs a lot of fleshing out and revising. I’m guessing that the final novel will be at least 90,000 words. I still have a lot of work to do.

Nanowrimo Day Fourteen–Word Count 29,067

I have officially passed my previous personal best of 28,000 words for Nanowrimo. This is my sixth year participating and this is the most I’ve ever written. Actually, this is the most I’ve written on any novel, ever.

I want to thank everyone who has been following along and cheering me on.

The word count widgets seem to be working again, so I put mine back underneath my profile. This way if I don’t get a chance to post every day, you can still follow my word count.

Halfway! Wordcount–25,875

I am halfway to my goal of 50,000 words for the month of November and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m a little nervous because my plot is getting pretty big and I’m afraid I’m going to lose track of it all together. I need to make a list of characters and locations to help me keep track of everything, not to mention an outline of some kind. The most words I’ve ever written during Nanowrimo was 28,000, and it looks like I am AT LEAST going to pass that previous personal best.

Tomorrow Oscar is 9 months old! His birthday falls on Friday the 13th, and since he was born on a Friday the 13th I’m thinking of having a little party for him. All this means is just me, Darin, Oscar, and a cupcake. Because sometimes I need an excuse to eat a cupcake. I’ll probably wait until Oscar is in bed because we are not ready to give him sugar yet.

Tomorrow is also his routine appointment with his pediatrician. I’m curious to find out how much he weighs. I will also know more about the H1N1 vaccine (whether or not it’s available and whether or not I’m going to give it to Oscar).

I sense another blog post coming on!

Nanowrimo Day Nine and Ten–Word Count 22,239

I haven’t missed my nightly writing session! For those of you who were wondering (I think two people might still be reading this blog, lol) I didn’t post last night because I wanted to leave up the picture of Oscar for one more day. I have the feeling people might be getting sick of these NaNoWriMo posts.

I am almost halfway there! However, my story is not halfway completed, so I think this novel might end up being longer than 50,000 words. I can’t type as fast as the story comes to me, and last night I woke up twice thinking about what was going to happen next.

The word count widgets I grabbed from the NaNoWriMo website are malfunctioning, so I’ve temporarily removed them from the sidebar.

Hope everyone is doing well! Now back to my story…

Nanowrimo Day Eight–Word Count 18,594

This is the first time in my entire life, since I decided in the seventh grade that I wanted to be a writer, that I have written consistently every night for a week. I didn’t even write this consistently when I was writing my dissertation.

My novel is clipping along. Something truly astonishing happened tonight. I cried when writing about one of my characters. She is alive for me now, and I feel more compelled than ever to tell her story, which is no longer my story, but now belongs entirely to her.

Nanowrimo Day Seven–Word Count 16,240

Still plugging along. Not much to write about today. My fingers hurt and I’m tired. I feels really good to keep up with and exceed my goal of writing 2000 words each day. I’m 2,240 words ahead of my goal and more than 4,000 words ahead of where I need to be to make 50,000 words in thirty days.

I added a couple of new widgets to my sidebar which show my writing progress. I probably won’t keep all three; I’m trying to decide which one I like best.

I like the one that says I am 1/3 of the way done with my novel!

My plot is beginning to get complicated. Tomorrow I need to do a little research and outlining.

Nanowrimo Day Six–Word Count 14,046

This is how I felt tonight when I sat down to write. I was so tired that I almost skipped this writing session. I’ve been writing at night after Oscar goes to bed, and tonight I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep my eyes open. A familiar little voice told me that I’m ahead on my word count, so it’s ok to skip, JUST THIS ONCE.

This is the same voice that tells me it won’t hurt to have a couple of cookies (right before I eat the whole package). In other words, it’s the voice of the devil. The one that sits on my shoulder and laughs at me when i write a sentence and asks me who I think I am, trying to write a novel. Who am I kidding? It’s the one that makes my angel cry.

Tonight was different. Tonight I knew that if I skipped, the spell would be broken and I would be done. It’s that simple. If I miss one night, I’m done. You might think that this is crazy, extreme thinking, but I know how my mind words. I know about motivation and momentum.

So I sat down with various treats to keep me going and I began typing. And I typed, and typed, and typed. When Oscar woke up and cried, Darin went upstairs and got him to go back to sleep.

That’s true love.

And for one more night, I am a writer.