Random Thoughts on NaNoWriMo, Day 01

A House Built of Words

Word count stands at 2362. Fun factor is high. As I key in this entry, the NaNoWriMo web site is so overloaded with visitors that I cannot log in to update my word count. Maybe later tonight, or in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

I realize that I’ll have to surpass the 50,000 word mark in order to “win,” because word counts vary quite a bit from one software program to another. I’m using Literature and Latte’s Scrivener for basic composition, but because it’s a beta 1.0 version and thus not yet to be trusted, I back up frequently online with Google Docs, and locally to an Open Office text file. Comparing word counts among the three software packages illustrates my point.

Word count aside, however, the most important element of success for me today was the surprising discovery that I am capable of writing non-stop without editing. My usual habit is to edit almost every sentence of a story as I write it. The computer has, of course, fed this habit. Before personal computers (an oxymoron that if ever there was an oxymoron), I wrote by hand, and I got nowhere fast. Because I scribble, circle, star, arrow and otherwise confuse myself. I never was any good as a note taker while at university for that very reason.

Then came typewriters riding right alongside tight student budgets. I could not afford to waste sheets of paper back then, even with using both sides of each sheet. “Wite Out” gooped up the metal keys of my powder-blue Smith Corona portable and thus cost me additional scarce pennies for bottles of rubbing alcohol that I used to clean them.

My first mechanical “word processor’ was also a Smith Corona brand, and broken plastic daisy wheels of fonts came at an expensive price.

So computers, once the prices settled into a reasonable region, were cheaper to operate, and soon became essential tools for a writer who wanted to publish work. But they allowed me to edit in an obsessive way; and although I think the overall product is better for the editing, the back and forth of cut, copy, paste and delete slows me down.

I not sure where I’m going with this unwieldy monster of a book, or where I was today, but I’ll be there again tomorrow.

No doubt exists in my mind that I’ll succeed with this project. For several reasons, at least one of those reasons being that I am retired from the workforce and so I’ve got time that others cannot devote to this endeavor. I figure that I earned that privilege by way of almost four decades’ worth of of a frustrating and tiresome career. So tiresome that I recoil at the notion of writing about those years.

Reasons for my predictions of success;

1. I am determined to succeed. I am of strong mind and old body. But where writing is concerned, old bodies, so long as they still function well enough for sitting, cannot supersede the wittiness of a writer’s mind.


2. As I mentioned above, I own the time these days, and I’m not in the mood to waste any time I might have left for living on this planet.

3. I’ve always been a man who prefers sticking with a strict schedule. I am organized in my approach to tasks. So, last night I went to sleep early. This morning I awoke refreshed at 4:30 am. I ate a healthy breakfast, whole wheat tortilla, packed with melted goat cheese, sliced fresh tomatoes, ersatz mayonnaise and Tabasco sauce. Fresh fruit on the side. Hot java filled my NaNoWriMo coffee mug. Shaved, showered and ready at the keyboard by 6:15 am.

4. I answered only a few essential email messages; the rest I deleted.

5. I ordered a couple of DVDs as a treat to myself for this evening. Tonight I’ll watch the Coen brothers’ production, The Big Lebowski. By the way, if you’re interested in a recommendation, grab hold of a copy of the Coen brothers’ The Man Who Wasn’t There. Talk about clever plotting. Twists and turns and depth of characterization and black-and-white, film noir atmosphere up the old caboodle.

6. I realize, and so I continually remind myself, that at my age I have nothing to lose but denied opportunities for success.

7. I want to be read. Took me a long time to admit this desire to myself and others, but once a secret is out, of course, it ain’t no secret any longer.

8. And last, and first, and certainly not least: After all, they’re only words. One word follows the one before.

I hope my writing companions, Gene and Nora, felt good about their own NaNoWriMo work today.

Until tomorrow, then . . .


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