NaNoWriMo 2017: The Official Weigh-In

It’s another November, which means another go at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In past years, I’ve always made my goal, but have also been chronically behind. The first year, I had a late start. The second year, it just came in bursts. And last year, I was kind of derailed by the whole election thing. Sometimes I even start strong, but falter by the first week. This year is a whole other story.

I didn’t actually write anything until day four. I was completely prepared this time around. I made outlines, I refamiliarized myself with excepts I had already written of said manuscripts and explored the material with a fresh perspective. I did all of this by the afternoon of October 31. But then, in the early evening on October 31, I had a grand mal seizure and that kind of sidelined me for a bit. The first day I felt really weird, much like I imagine a drunk person feels like. No filter, everything I felt, I felt with extremes; I was hot, dizzy, sick and achy. It was awful. Honestly, I’m still coming down from that a little. Less sick, still hot and achy, and I’ve gotten my filter back and my emotions aren’t yo-yoing so that’s progress.

I worried that this would be another year, I would be epically behind and trying to catch up all month long. I mean if there was a year when that would be understandable, it would certainly be this year, all things considered. But on that fourth day, I wrote over 4,000 words. And I’ve written every day since. In fact, my daily average if you start on day four is 2,970 words written each day. And I’ve written a total of 29,703 words towards the 50,000-word goal. To say that I’m psyched is an understatement. I’ve never been caught up before, and this time I’m not only caught up – I’m ahead! If I keep writing at this pace, I’ll finish by November 22nd. I’m already 5 days ahead of schedule if I want to finish by the end of the month. Continue reading

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Seized

How was my Halloween? Eventful. Scary for my husband. Depressing for me. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I have epilepsy. It isn’t a secret or a revelation, it’s just kind of always been there. When I was younger, my doctors and parents thought I had epilepsy and specifically absence seizures (then called petite mal seizures). Medication didn’t make a difference and as I got into my late teens a few neurologists questioned if I had epilepsy or even had seizures. It became a power struggle of sorts. Doctors arguing about if I did or didn’t have epilepsy or seizure activity. Most acknowledged seizure activity but questioned if I actually had a seizure disorder.

In college, I had two major episodes that I now understand were focal seizures. Before that I was only familiar with absence seizures, where I am gone for three to five seconds. I don’t shake, but sometimes my eyelids will flutter. I have no muscle control during them and cannot function. If I’m talking, I stop immediately. If I’m holding something, I drop it. If I’m walking, I stop. I cannot move during these seizures and just freeze until they’re over. I don’t know I’m having them because they are so short and don’t have physical after effects. I only know I have them if I fall or drop something, but don’t remember doing either. So with these timing is everything.

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Another Year of Pumpkin Patches, Omaha Visits and Halloween

Every year, my husband and I have a good time getting ready for Halloween. Our neighborhood has a lot of kids, who seem to bring their friends because we get A LOT of trick-or-treating traffic. So we carve a few pumpkins, have a few spooky decorations (but not too scary for the littler kids) and buy a lot of candy. Last year we even dressed up! We also have made it a tradition the past few years to go to Omaha and go to the local pumpkin patch with my family.

This year we kind of fell behind. We still went to Omaha and it was a lot of fun. We got to see people, eat at our favorite places and of course go to the pumpkin patch. I also threw my husband a surprise 40th birthday dinner with all of our friends and family in Omaha. Because we were going to get pumpkins we didn’t fly this time – we drove. Which was okay since we love our new car and it makes driving and riding shotgun so much more enjoyable (and having working heat doesn’t hurt either! 😛 ).

We had a good time at the pumpkin patch, but there’s not a lot to say there because it was much of the same. Though this year my husband finally got to try their chicken pot pie, and we also got some apple cider donuts. (We planned to meet up with my family to share them, so we got eight but ended up eating seven ourselves before we saw them, because they were AMAZING. We waited in line forever, but they were worth it.) Usually when we pick out pumpkins, we have to wander around a bit. Last year we went earlier in the year, and this was still the case. But this year, shockingly, we found the perfect pumpkins in under five minutes – like they were right there along the edge of the patch. It felt weird not looking and walking around, but these pumpkins were big, round, no blemishes – in a word, perfect. Why mess with perfection?

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Another Year, Another NaNoWriMo

For the past three years I have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, and this year will be no exception. It’s a great way to try to jumpstart the creative process, and get into good, regular writing habits. But like any good thing, there is another side to it too.

In the past, the pressure to put out words has affected the quality of words I put out. I noticed it my first year doing this, and that helped me try to combat it in my second. And I did with a little success, but only after I eased up on the rules. Instead of working on a single novel I allowed myself to work on a series, because at the time I was working on a collection of novels, which was more or less one big story told over different novels (think Harry Potter, only the content was nothing like Harry Potter).

The third year, I was better still but I had eased up on the rules even further. My new rule was that I could work on any manuscript, as long as it was longform. So it could be a memoir, a novel, basically anything that spoke to me. I know you aren’t supposed to write more than one book at a time, but I am terrible with this – call it commitment issues.

This year, I think I’m going to keep the rules where I set them last year. I am somewhat tempted to count any creative writing that is up for publication because I write personal essays for publication that are usually around 3,000 words each, but I don’t think I’m going to do that because I see November as a time to really try to finish a manuscript – and I’m not putting together a book of essays, so they shouldn’t count.

I have had such a major dry spell this year, I’m excited and really hopeful that this year’s NaNoWriMo will get me going (and that I’ll actually hit the goal this year, without sacrificing quality).

Any writer or person who feels they are not a writer but have a story they want to share, literary dabblers and avid readers – November is the month to try. 50,000 words by the end of the month. You’d be surprised what you come up with when you’re in the habit of writing each and every day. I encourage everyone to give it a shot, but make their own rules. Do what works best for you instead of the traditional idea (unless that is what works for you). Quality over quantity – always. 😉

-DMW

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Corn Maze!

Every fall, there are people are getting in the mood to be scared, putting up creepy decorations, looking for costumes or splurging on candy; most people have a favorite Halloween tradition. And let’s face it, many people start “getting ready” before October gets here. For me, my favorite thing about fall is less about Halloween and more about it actually being fall: corn mazes. Seriously, I cannot get enough of them!

Maybe it’s from growing up in Nebraska, which I think at least ties (if not flat out wins) for Corn Capital of the U.S. Maybe it’s because I love mazes, like remember those puzzle books as a kid – yeah I loved that. I also decided if I ever won the lottery, I would have a hedge maze like they have in the movies because I love mazes so much. In fact, the “corn” aspect isn’t really relevant. But it’s not like there are tons of hedge mazes spanning over several acres to check out. 😛

Every year I have to do at least one corn maze. Sometimes it’s when we visit Nebraska for Halloween. And sometimes it’s here. In 2015, we did a corn maze in Colorado. It was massive and had overlooks (and I want to go again this year!). At the time we were with our niece and nephew who were four, so we didn’t get to really try to find our way out as much as follow curious kids around, enjoying the time with them and also making sure we didn’t actually get lost (because they’d tire much faster than we would by ourselves!).

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