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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Ten Pounds Later, My Weight Finally Bothers Me

When I zipped up my big winter coat, a red coat that I absolutely adore, it was uncomfortably snug. I had to suck it in to zip it up, and even then I was afraid of busting the zipper. At the time I was all wired up to my Holter monitor, so I tried to write it off as the wires and monitor adding the extra padding. But a part of me knew it couldn’t possibly add that much.

I’ve never really struggled with my weight. Actually, that’s not true. I’ve never struggled with gaining weight. Almost all of my struggles have been maintaining or keeping weight on due to several health factors (metabolism, heart issues, a bone disease that actually does play a part in build, and a stomach disorder) that have kept me underweight my entire life.

Back to that zipping up. I felt horrible. Embarrassed, ashamed and ugly even though the weight gain doesn’t appear noticeable in terms of looking at me. But my coat didn’t shrink and then I confirmed it on a scale. In the last four months (since I don’t weigh myself regularly and have not needed my coat, the last time I weighed myself was four months ago) I have gained ten pounds. Probably not a big deal for most people but I’m under 5’4” and my previous weight was around 117 pounds, so I’ve gained ten percent of my entire body mass, and I can guarantee it isn’t muscle.

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A Romantic Trip of Firsts: Wyoming, Montana, Yellowstone, Dinosaurs, Sitting Back

Last week my husband took me on a special (and surprise!) romantic trip. I knew it was happening as far as, “We’re going somewhere, so pack,” but beyond that I knew nothing. And that’s the way I wanted it! It struck me after, when thinking about what a wonderful and monumental trip it was in terms of firsts, that this is the first overnight trip my husband has surprised me with. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t planned a lot of romantic overnight trips, it’s just that I was “in the know” about where we were going and what we doing. And he has done surprise trips too, but they’ve been day trips, so this was incredibly special to me. I love being surprised and may not be the easiest to surprise.

Final Destination!

My husband just showed me the weather while blocking out the place, and I knew we were driving and not flying. I figured this meant wherever we were going would be no more than nine hours away. And based on the weather it was going to be COLD. Automatically my mind went north, so Wyoming. I figured it would just be a mountain excursion (they have mountains in Wyoming, right?) like our trips to Estes Park. I wasn’t really thinking what could possibly be in Wyoming because A) that defeats the purpose, I wanted to be surprised, and B) I didn’t know if we were going to Wyoming. When we surprise each other we are allowed to mislead one another, so he could have been totally trying to throw me off our actual plans.

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Collecting Guilty Pleasures

Anyone who knows me knows I have a reading problem. Or more accurately, the problem is I don’t have enough time to read everything I want to. And I don’t just want to read “the good stuff” but the stuff I loved growing up – even though I see just how awful the writing is now. Or if the writing doesn’t suck, it’s just so juvenile that it’s embarrassing. I call these my “guilty pleasure” books.

I have a bunch of series in my guilty pleasure wheelhouse. The ones that took the spotlight were Fear Street and Sweet Valley High, and once I collected all of the books in those series, I went on to collection Sweet Valley Junior High, Sweet Valley Senior Year, Sweet Valley University and Elizabeth. Having finished those I am collecting Christopher Pike books, Buffy the Vampire Slayer novels/books, Angel novels/books, Sweet Valley Twins and Friends (sixth grade), and my first love and what got me hooked on reading, The Boxcar Children.

If that sounds like a ridiculous amount of books, you’re not wrong. I have collected (in good to like new condition) 468 guilty pleasure books from the series I have completely finished. The series I’m now working to complete would total 531 books, and out of those I have collected 442 of them (and counting, I have about ten on the way, but until I see there condition or receive I don’t count them).

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