"We're all just fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make." – Jerry Ellis

Archive for the ‘NaNoWriMo’ Category

What’s Going On These Days…

One of the things that I do that drives my kids crazy is to start a sentence and not finish it when I’m talking. Sometimes it’s because I assume they know the end of the sentence, but other times it’s just because I’ve gotten distracted. I realize that my blog has kind of gone in the same direction as some of those unspoken sentences.

Here lately, I’ve been very distracted from blogging and writing in general. As a Financial Peace University graduate, it’s good, because the reason is that I’ve been working a side job as a form design contractor. It’s a great gig—I can work in my PJs on the couch on my laptop. However, as a paid gig, it takes precedence over other things—like writing. I wish I could put things on hold like laundry or housework instead, but for some reason it’s frowned upon to go out with no clean clothes.

So as to not leave some of the more recent blog topics dangling like a participle in one of my unfinished sentences, I thought this would be a good time to follow up to some “goings on” around here recently.

The Wall

The new view from the living room into the kitchen.

The new view from the living room into the kitchen.

The wall we removed the week of Thanksgiving was successfully taken out without incident. Over that weekend, Darrell removed the wall and finished it with the wooden trim he painted, leaving a strip in between the two floors of the kitchen and living room unfinished (for now—I’m not the only one who runs around like a loon).

The strip that needs to be covered.  There's a teeny little hole that peeks into the basement.

The strip that needs to be covered. There’s a teeny little hole that peeks into the basement.

He touched up the paint on the living room side, and I decided that it really was time for a new color in the kitchen. My friend brought over a gallon of paint she had leftover from a project at her house, so we tried it out in a couple of spots in the kitchen. The color is “smoked taupe” and it looks pretty good. Now we just need to paint!

Here's "smoky taupe", the color we'll probably go with.

Here’s “smoky taupe”, the color we’ll probably go with.

 

Robotics

 

Our Engineering Notebook

Our Engineering Notebook

Last Saturday the Nuclear Unicorn Girl Assemblers (NUGAs) attended the FIRST Robotics qualifier competition. After an (almost) all-nighter the night before, complete with printer issues and a few robot hiccups, they managed to do quite well. (By the way, the girls did win the 3D printer, we just haven’t received it yet!) The game, called the Cascade Effect, required our robot to try to score points on the game field by knocking out the kickstand of a container that had wiffle balls in it, and then trying to loft them into these tall beakers. The teams were assigned other teams as alliance partners for six separate matches. The girls had to make sure that the robot was programmed keeping in mind that another robot would be in the same general area, trying to do the same general thing. One robot starts on a ramp and the other one on the floor (hence, two possible programs to use). There is also an “interview” type of judging session (our girls rocked!) and an Engineering Notebook they have to turn in documenting their work and how it progressed.

A scene from the qualifier.

A scene from the qualifier.

In the robot matches, the girls came in tenth out of thirty-three teams, which was amazing. They did not make the cut to advance to the next competition, but we are attending another qualifier next month to try again. This month we will spend updating the robot, its programming and the presentation to wow them at the next competition. The girls all learned a lot from Saturday’s competition—and I know I gained valuable insight as well. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing the kids that do the FIRST Tech Challenge are. The atmosphere at the competition is one like no other. Yes, they are competing against each other, but teams are continually helping each other with troubleshooting and supplying items that a team may have forgotten. Officially it’s called “gracious professionalism” and it’s stressed throughout the competition. It is so encouraging to see it being practiced by these very mature, very smart young adults.

Adelaide/NaNoWriMo

Maybe next year???

Maybe next year???

Poor Adelaide. She never saw it coming, which is kinda crazy because seeing things coming is a big part of her story. Adelaide is a little bit psychic, but not of anything of importance. Just weird, small stuff that doesn’t really amount to anything, so she really keeps this “gift” a secret. Until this nudge causes her to uncover the plot of a murder. Now, usually-reserved Adelaide has to go out on a limb to protect people she loves. Will she risk leaving behind her “normal” life to set the story straight?

That’s the premise of my silly little story I started for NaNoWriMo at the beginning of the month. I’m not anywhere near the 50,000 words that is the goal by month’s end, mostly because I didn’t see my side job coming. It’s not a huge deal, so it does fall into the realm of possibility to be the type of thing that my character would get a heads up on.

I haven’t completely shelved her at all. I just have gotten swamped with home improvement projects, robots, work and Christmas. Hopefully someday Adelaide will get all the attention she deserves so she can be brought to life on the paper. In the meantime, I just keep writing her story in my head.

When I’m not thinking I’m George Jetson on the treadmill screaming, “Jane, stop this crazy thing!”

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Happy NaNoWriMo!

 

Another first for me this year is participating in NaNoWriMo. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s short for National Novel Writing Month, where writers commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November in an attempt to have a rough draft by month’s end. On the website, www.nanowrimo.org, participants create a log-in where they can share some info about themselves and their novel (there’s even a place for a novel cover art). More importantly, it’s where aspiring novelists can log their word count for each day and get motivation from authors like Veronica Roth, who wrote the Divergent series.

For me, NaNoWriMo serves as the kick in the seat I need to actually sit down and put my ideas in some sort of coherent document. I am always on the lookout for inspiration.

The funny thing is, I read a book about NaNoWriMo a few years ago and was fascinated with the whole approach simply because it made writing a novel seem actually doable. Apparently that’s a problem for some critics of the concept, who complain it is just a bunch of amateurs cranking out crap. I agree that is true if all that a writer is concerned with is word count, but I think the idea behind it is more important than just putting some number in a website. For us aspiring writers, who like to tinker with words, but haven’t set a definite goal, NaNoWriMo can be what it takes to get our ideas written out in some fashion. Most of us realize that a great, polished piece takes much more time than a month to work out from beginning to end. And those who don’t know that, who think writing is easy peasy, well, they learn pretty quickly that it does take effort, thought and time.

At the end of November, I hope to have a lot of words written in my story, Adelaide. The idea of it has bounced around in my head for a time now, but I didn’t really have motivation to put it down on paper, let alone turn it into a novel. I’d love it if I could actually make it 50,000 words! But I am also realistic enough to believe that even if my word count reflects a “win”, it doesn’t mean I’m going to have a piece ready for submission on December 1. What I’ll have, though, is many hours practicing the craft of writing and disciplining myself to devote time to “butt in chair”. Time that I may have spent in October vegging in front of the TV, I’ll be spending in front of the computer instead this November.

The other cool thing about NaNoWriMo is, similar to what happens in the blogging community, a bunch of people rally together to support one another. Who can find fault in that? Writing can get kind of lonely, so for extroverts like me, having a group of people to reach out to makes the solitary act of writing a teeny bit more social. In fact, I can thank two of the girls on our robotics team for getting me to participate in NaNoWriMo this time around. Olivia, who also loves writing and words, asked me if I was doing it and asked me if I was going to participate. At that point I had been on the fence with the idea, but her enthusiasm was contagious. It was fun talking to her and her sister, Cecilia, last night about our word counts and what we’re doing to get rolling with our stories. Later, when we were driving home Erin asked me if she could try to write something for NaNoWriMo. Of course I said yes, because who knows if this first taste of writing gives her the writing bug. Anything that can inspire young people to try something new with their writing is definitely a positive.

If the website traffic from over the weekend is any indication, NaNoWriMo at least still knows how to generate a buzz. The website gave me an error or two and was a little slow; I’m sure it was due to people setting up their accounts and checking out the great resources. A week into this month of intense writing, I’m guessing it may die down a bit as the newness wears off—like how people are when they first start a diet or exercise program. The first days are exciting and full of promise, but when the hard work part kicks in, it’s awfully easy to get discouraged. Yes, I do include myself in that category!

So three cheers for NaNoWriMo! One cheer for being a motivating tool, another for giving writers a sense of community and a third for promoting writing to our youth. If any Dragonfly readers are participating, I’d love to hear how your story is progressing. Message me on their site. My user name is Lighthearteddragonfly.

Happy Writing!

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