NaNoWriMo 1 me 0

I know it’s only the 28th, but I give up. National Novel Writing Month -NaNoWriMo- wins.

It did not kick my ass. It chewed me up, spit me out, and pissed on the pieces.

After 30,000 words I realized that I had contradicted –badly contradicted– pretty much everything I said in chapter one.

I tried to reconcile the two and that just ain’t gonna happen.

The personalities are diametrically opposed. For instance, personality #1 was a teetotaler and personality #2 always had a drink nearby. This was easy enough to explain, add something devastating to the dude’s life and it works. Unfortunately, it only works until the critical scene where he pulls a gun out of a nightstand and puts two 45 cal Hydra-Shoks in a man’s heart.

Needless to say this complicated matters to no end because the original guy had never owned or fired a gun in his life. The whole never deliberately hurting anyone was integral to his “live by your wits” point of view.

There were other small complications, however, the major problem was that the only way my hero could be both pacifist thief and gunslinger tough guy was to have multiple personalities.

This guys original personality was the story’s anchor, but up until the changes crept in he was boring, ungodly boring. The paradigm shift made him a lot more interesting.

I know what I did wrong, I wrote it one chapter at a time, only concentrating on the scene in front of me.

The end result, 30,000 wasted words, eyestrain, headaches, heartburn, and no frozen dinners left in the fridge.

I need a break. no more editing, no more grammar, no more punctuation, no more spelling, no more…

Story prompts – running the Grand Canyon

I was looking for story prompts when I remembered these old family photos and thought they might serve as the core of a story. Or perhaps a nice little side story to flesh out a character.

This lot is from Dock Marston’s “first ever outboard motorboat run of Grand Canyon” in 1951.
shooting rapids on colorado river 1951

Shooting the rapids on the Colorado river

18 ft aluminum boat

Jimmy Jordan in the Junebug
From the Wikipedia:
Dock next turned to the question of outboard motors. In 1951, he orchestrated the first successful down-run of outboard motorboats through the entire Grand Canyon. The 1951 “Marston Motorcade” consisted of two outboard motorboats and three stock Chris-Craft Speedsters. The 18-foot aluminum hull outboard motorboat June Bug was piloted by Jimmy Jordan and the second boat of the same design, the Twin, was piloted by Rod Sanderson. The two outboards were powered by twin 25-horsepower Evinrude outboard motors. While the June Bug completed the cruise, not far below Separation Canyon, the gearshift on the motor of the Twin gave trouble,and the boat was taken in tow, much to the disgust of its crew.

woman standing under sandstone umbrella

camping in the desert by colorado river 1951

My grandfather was a friend of Jimmy Jordan so he talked them into letting him come along as a cook. Of course, this was back when travel down the Grand Canyon was unheard of so it was a great adventure. Now there are so many people going down the canyon that they need a toll booth.

Field Notes Notebook

This is the notebook that lives in my back pocket.
worn field notes notebook
I buy them on Amazon at 3 for $10, so they’re cheap enough to keep several around.

There are a bunch of cheaper brands of notebooks, but, after trying several cheap units, Field Notes has turned out to be the best compromise between cost and durability.

On the other hand, if you want a notebook that can withstand an amazing amount of torture, go with Moleskine. They come in all sizes and shapes, and it’s taken me two years of continual use to start seeing the damage.

My favorite size is 3.5 x 5.5. They fit perfectly in my pocket so they’re always there. But, as you can see, after several months of abuse they do begin to wear. They also develop permanent lumps and folds. That makes it difficult to write. However, since I use this one for quick thoughts and reminders to buy groceries, it may be annoying, but the book is still useful.

The one in my pocket is a general purpose notebook for those days when inspiration strikes. The rest in a desk drawer or my briefcase, and are generally labeled by subject.

Sometimes I actually stick to the subject. Mostly not, but sometimes.
(And this is why I don’t keep a bullet journal. If you’re OCD or at least reasonably well organized, a bullet journal is wonderful. But, they don’t work for someone whose mind bounces around more than Ricochet Rabbit. -Like me, for instance.)

At any rate, the point of this post is this: How often have you found yourself searching for something to write a phone number or that flash of inspiration on? A small notebook like this can save your life. They’re inexpensive, unintrusive, and handy if you need to write a note-to-self.

I always have one with me, but at home, I use cheap, spiralbound, subject notebooks, or legal pads.

Legal pads are the most fun. They leave me enough room that I can write what I need to get down, and I still have enough room that I can scribble spider webs in the corners, while I stare into space wondering what the heck I’ve gotten myself into this time.

Hobby Lobby sale

I went to the Hobby Lobby out in Henderson to buy a cork board to keep track of my characters and their relationships.

Simple enough; until I got sidetracked by a cheap 18×24″ dry erase board. It was $8 and the store was giving an additional 20% discount. While the 20×28 unframed cork board was about $9 but wasn’t stiff enough to suit me.

I was forced to spring for a set of erasable markers to go with the board. But at $6 for a multicolored set, it’s probably cheaper than buying all those of post-its and thumb tacks I’d need if I went with the corkboard option. And, the markers take up a lot less space.

hobby Lobby dry erase board label

Hobby Lobby dry erase board

I haven’t fastened it to the wall because I like to sit back and scribble down my thoughts. Being erasable, I can also stare at it for a few minutes and make whatever I don’t like disappear.

The front is slick white, but the back is plain brown with no slick finish, so I can also use it as a support for my drawing pads. Of course, that will smear my notes, but by the time I resort to sketching, I’m pissed at the characters anyway.

This system works for me, but I grew up in a time long before computers and smartphones became ubiquitous. As a result, I prefer a handshake to IM, and writing physical notes rather than relying on my computer. –Besides, if the power fails, I can keep working.

But if you’re a lot younger than I am, and almost everybody is, you may want to stick with a tablet or computer.

Yes, I know I can do anything in Scrivener I can do with a whiteboard, but it doesn’t feel the same.

Yup, I’m old. So, pencil and paper suit me just fine.

As a side note: taking the advice of a published author. I’ve gotten in the habit of giving my characters generic names from the git-go, like Ralph, George, or Nancy, so they feel more like people. Which makes it easier to give them personalities. That way I have a chance of figuring out what the heck they’re going to do next.

Pixie, Story idea number one

I’ve decided to start posting character ideas and short story concepts for anyone that wants them. –Also to remind me to get off the dime and write more.

I have an unwelcome house guest. A damned pixie moved in.

I tried calling a pest control company. The woman that answered sounded sincerely sympathetic while she explained that Pixies were on the endangered species list, but In the background, I heard people laughing…. Assholes.

After seeing shows like Peter Pan, the image that springs to mind when you hear the word “pixie;” is a cute little girl with wings. Right?

Well, I honestly believe that it was someone’s attempt at humor because in real life they look more like a horsefly.

On top of having an ugly house guest, I have to watch where I sit or stand and I had to put locks on my cupboards because it turns out the miserable little bitch isn’t housebroken. Trust me, there’s nothing like reaching for a coffee cup and getting a handful of pixie shit to kick-start your day.

Have you every smelled pixie shit? It’s kind of like a combination of ammonia and skunk. It makes cat piss smell like roses.

Here’s the kicker: it turns out that Pixie dust is just sparkly pixie dandruff. It’s just like cat dander, and it causes the same sort of allergic reaction. Complete with wheezing, uncontrolled sneezing, and blurry, watery eyes.

I’ve taken to locking my bedroom door to keep it a pixie dust-free zone. But every night she bumps up against the door, over and over, all the while buzzing like a housefly trying to get through a closed window.

You know, I read an article that said pixies are smarter than most dogs. Well, if they are, then I got the one that rode to school on the short bus. I mean, how freaking smart can she be if she can’t figure out that the door is closed and she’s not getting in?

The other day I couldn’t take it anymore and threw a bottle of Aqua Velva at her.

All that did was break the bottle and leave a mess for me to clean up. Which, by the way, she loved. That’s how I found out that pixies find the combination of perfume and alcohol in aftershave to be irresistible. Now my apartment not only smells like aftershave mixed with pixie shit, I’ve got a drunken pixie to deal with. No wonder my friends refuse to come over.

I spoke to a professor who’s published a number of books on the supernatural and such. He said she bothers me because she likes me.

There is a God, and she hates me.