Today is the halfway point to my NaNoWriMo deadline of November 30. Unfortunately, I’m still behind in my target word count—today should be 25,000 words. Still, though, I got a little jolt of happy to see my total creep past the 20,000-word mark. At 1.5 spacing, that’s nearly 60 pages of not very good prose! Way more than I’ve ever committed to a single document, fiction or otherwise. So I’m going to give myself a little pat for that and try to get up to at least 22,000 by bedtime tonight. I’m also hoping to finish this gigantic editing project I’ve been laboring on for the past several weeks. Only 1 1/2 chapters to go on that, which I should be able to knock out by the end of today. Once that’s off my plate I can really pick up the pace with my writing.

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But I’m making progress. I’m very, very close to 14,000 words, having managed about 2,000 words this evening. A few more sessions like this ought to bring be up to speed by the end of the week, and I hope to create a little surplus this weekend so that next week will go a little smoother. I’m starting to have anxiety dreams about making my word quota.

Argh. I was off to a very strong start, even ahead of my daily targets at first, but then life got in the way (in the form of continuing freelance work and a parental visit that consumed precious evening hours), and as a consequence I’m now about 2,000 words behind where I should be for today. I’m going to try my damnedest to reach 10,000 before I go to bed tonight, which will mean I only (only!) need to write a little over 3,000 words tomorrow. Ugh! I’m also getting a little tired of my storyline, so I need to shift gears a bit. How, I don’t know, but I’m hoping something will just sort of flow from my fingers tomorrow.

As Bethie points out in the comments in the post below, this whole quantity over quality thing is proving very, very difficult for me. I am, have always been, a compulsive self-editor. I simply can’t keep writing if I know there’s a glaring error on the page, or if I know I just used the same adjective or phrase within the past few paragraphs. It makes me crazy. I scroll back up constantly to fix tiny things, which is stupid, since nobody will ever read this “book” anyway. It’s simply not sustainable.

I think I need to fix myself a drink. Maybe a black Russian will loosen my uptight little paws and allow me to let the words fall as they may.

UPDATE: Yes! Alcohol does work! One small cocktail, and 1,100 words flew onto the virtual page. Fitzgerald and Hemingway were really on to something. Now, all I need is a whole bunch of amphetamines, a la Kerouac, and I’ll be a literary superstar in no time.

Rather, I need goals. The past few months have been busy, but also rather aimless. Fun, but nothing that really bears reporting (aside from my trips). So, heading toward the end of fall and into winter, I have two goals. First, and most consuming, is that I’ve signed on with National Novel Writing Month. This strikes many people as odd, since I’ve never expressed any interest in being a Writer (I write competently but not creatively), much less a novelist. Indeed, I haven’t written fiction since I was in the 8th grade, and I recall that effort at a short story as desultory at best. I like (need) assignments, which has always carried me in a journalistic direction. But I figured I needed a little direction and a lot of challenge this month, so I’m going to do my best to follow NaNoWriMo’s rules and churn out 50,000 words—a pretty short novel, actually—by November 30. In addition to generating the sheer volume of words, the big hurdle for me will be to resist my compulsion to edit and trim as I go along; the project’s directive of quantity over quality runs against nearly 20 years of academic and professional training on my part. To my surprise, though, it’s going rather well so far; I’ve managed to get 3,500 words down in the past two days, and while my fingers itch to revise and refine, I actually don’t hate what I’ve written. I have a long, long way to go, but if I can focus, I think I can do it.

Goal #2 is to get back into running. After competing in three back-to-back half marathons over the summer, I simply got tired of training, and in the absence of another race goal I cut back to one or two very slow, short runs a week over the past couple of months. Now I’ve decided to enter the Hampton Beach Half, which takes its runners down New Hampshire’s wee coast in the middle of February. The hour gained over the weekend has made getting up for early morning runs much easier, and I did a pleasant (but slow; I’ve lost some stamina) four miles before work this morning. I love running in the cold and look forward to building my endurance back up.

So that’s all; a book and a race. Guitar skills could use some serious sharpening as well; can someone give me an assignment?

Squirrel, AMS

I found this little guy decorating a bike basket in Amsterdam. Cheerful!

I’m back from what I hope will be my final trip for a while: a culinary tour of eastern Tennessee, which is a bullet I took for the work team. It was a lot of fun and I met a lot of cool people, but boy do I feel puffy and tired from a week of too much food and social activity, but not enough physical activity. Impressions?

Farm animals!
Sheep, Locust Grove

Desserts:
Cakes, Magpie's

Really cool farmers:
Cruze Family dairy

Mushrooms (everybody grows them there):
Mushrooms

And bluegrass music:
Bluegrass band

I’ll try to do a similar photo-roundup of the Netherlands in the next day or two.

Well, I’ve been too busy with the day job and evening freelance work to do a proper recap of last week’s visit to the Netherlands. But at least I got a couple of squirrel shots while there, so that’ll have to suffice for now. I found this proud fellow at a bakery in the western canal district of Amsterdam last Monday afternoon, when I stopped in for a delicious apple pastry:
Bakery squirrel, AMS