NaNoWriMo, MRI, TBF, and WLT

I’ve spent the past week writing and rewriting a post about attending the Texas Book Festival. No matter how many times I revised it, it sounded dull and complaining. Actually, it sounded worse than complaining, but if I use the word I have in mind, I would be crossing a line drawn in the sand years ago by both my grandmother and Emily Post, a Rubicon of sorts, and then who knows what might happen to my personal lexicon. It’s a slippery slope.

Suffice it to say the day was HOT and we got the last space in the parking garage, on the eighth level, and then found the elevator out of order. On the plus side, I visited with Sisters in Crime members Russ Hall and Sylvia Dickey Smith and got an autographed copy of Sylvia’s latest novel, A War of Her Own. On the minus side, Russ and Sylvia thought it was just as HOT as I did. They’d been inside that tent for two days as opposed to my two minutes. After taking a couple of pictures, I suggested that David get the car and pick me up. He did. He reported he climbed fourteen flights of eight steps each. I thanked him and turned the AC up to gale force. We ended at the Magnolia, where David got his omelet.

It still sounds like complaining.

Never mind.

I’ve signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month–which begins November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight on November 30. Write-ins are planned all over the Austin area at coffee shops, bookstores, and libraries. The Writers’ League of Texas will hold a lock-down (or maybe a lock-in) one night from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. I’ll go to write-ins but not the lock-down. I get claustrophobic thinking about being locked down, even metaphorically. It sounds too much like getting an MRI. It also sounds a lot like graduate school. Been there, done that.

Modified Rapture! I just checked the WLT Facebook page to find the date of the lock-down and instead found the sentence I wrote last Sunday at the TBF. On my way out, I picked up a prompt at the Writers’ League table, sat on the curb and wrote the rest of the sentence, then tossed it into the fishbowl. And voila! There it appears, among the Top 10. It’s #8. The honor is not on a par with publication of a book, of course, but it’ll do quite nicely for the time being.

To prepare for November 1, I’m reading¬† No Plot? No Problem: A Low-Stress, High Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel, by Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo. He offers many valuable suggestions for surviving the month. One, however, should be excised before the book goes into another printing, namely the section headed “Eating Your Way to 50,000 Words,” which includes the sentence, “Allowing yourself loads of restaurant meals, sugary treats, and exotic beverages is the best way to keep your spirits high during the exhausting mental acrobatic routines you’ll be pulling off next month as you write.”

Restaurant meals and exotic beverages might work, but if I want to keep my spirits high, I’ll stay away from sugar. Last week is proof. Again. After a period of abstinence from white stuff, I ate a slice of bread, and in five days I was tripping down the primrose path arm-in-arm with a jar of red plum jam. It was not coincidence that the day after my rendezvous with said jam jar, I decided I should make a bonfire of all my pages, destroy my files, and give up writing altogether.

Lacking the energy to do all that, I took the pledge one more time, ate meat and green stuff, and the next day was back at the laptop.

My advice to anyone trying to do anything in thirty days: stay off the sugar and most of its relatives.

I have decades of experience in this area. With every paper I wrote in grad school, I put on five pounds and then spent several weeks taking it off. Sometimes losing it took longer. I carried Lord Tennyson around for months.

To Mr. Baty’s credit, the photo on the back cover of his book suggests that he’s never had a problem with sugar. If he were told of its poisonous properties, he might add a footnote saying readers should consult their medical professionals before eating their way to 50,000 words.

It’s after 2:00 a.m., and I swore Saturday morning that I would be in bed before midnight. I need to end this post but can’t figure out how to do that. Possibly because the post has no point. Probably because it’s after 2:00 a.m.

So I shall simply declare this is the end.

THE END

 

Texas Book Festival

 

Enjoying a good book at the 2009 Texas Book Fe...
Image via Wikipedia

 

I just told David that if he would accompany me through the author and book tents at the Texas Book Festival, I would treat him to breakfast at the restaurant of his choice.

Who could resist such an offer? Not my husband.

This is not surprising, since it’s after 2:00 p.m. and so far all he’s had today is coffee.

We spent yesterday morning at 15 Minutes of Fame, writing, and most of the afternoon at Austin Java with three other Famers, talking about writing, graduate school, surgery, a blue cheese hamburger, and whatever else came along. When all was said and done, mostly said, time for visiting TBF had flown.

In the past, we’ve had good times there. We’ve heard Ted Koppel, Scott Turow, Lucian K. Truscott, and John R. Erickson, author of the Hank the Cowdog (Head of Ranch Security) series.

One year I sat on the floor of the House Chamber and listened to Elmer Kelton. While I was waiting for the program to start–I’d gotten there extra early to get a seat down front–Liz Carpenter came in and sat right behind me. I was too shy to turn around and say hello, of course, even though I knew Ms. Carpenter would be pleased if I did. She wasn’t shy at all.

Another year in the House Chamber, I heard Horton Foote. His soft voice and slow drawl–true Southern, unmixed with Texas twang–was music, just like his words on the page.

I won’t get to hear Kelton or Foote, or anyone quite like them, again. Or Liz Carpenter either.

So I’m grateful that the TBF allowed me to see them up close, to feel that for just a moment, they knew I was there, thanking them for the pleasure their books and plays and mere existence had given me over the years.

Now we’re one our way to walk through the tents, visit with some writers we know, buy a few books, help support TBF’s grant program for public libraries, and celebrate the printed word.

Then on to an omelet at the restaurant of David’s choice.

Adapters, palm pads, and bezels

The prodigal laptop has returned.

It’s been on a six-day retreat in Houston, getting its hinges fixed. Several weeks ago, one of them popped and bad things ensued. Bits and pieces in the back loosened and bent, and the monitor started to come apart at the seams. I was afraid it was going to spit little internal organs all over the carpet.

I wrote a post about the laptop, a long, chatty narrative ending in self-analysis. Then, when I was inserting a photograph, several paragraphs vanished. Clicking the Undo button thirty or forty times didn’t bring them back. By that time, I’d worked on the piece so long that it had become cloying, and rewriting would have sent me into a carb coma,¬† so I scrapped it. For anyone who cares about my mental processes, here’s the nutshell version: The laptop broke about the same time my plot was falling apart, so instead of fixing either of them, I let them gather dust. When CP convinced me the plot was doable, I arranged for the laptop’s repair.

There. A zillion words on a topic of no import reduced to two sentences. I don’t enjoy watching my words disappear, but if they did so more often, the world would be spared a lot of foolishness. Or if not the world, a small but treasured portion of it.

I’d thought the laptop would be away for at least ten days, so the six-day turnaround time surprised me. So did the little extras I found upon opening the box–a new adapter and cord, and a palm pad. The old cord was so frayed and patched that I was reluctant to let it accompany the computer. And either the laptop never had a palm pad in the first place, or I thought the original was packaging and disposed of it.

According to the packing slip, I also received a new LCD bezel. When the mood strikes, I’ll look it up.

While the laptop was out of commission, I used the desktop, which was fine, but the straight-backed chair discouraged me from writing as much as I otherwise would have. I also felt that the discomfort somehow stifled my creativity.

When the laptop returns, I thought, I shall write like the wind.

The laptop has returned.

The bezel, it appears, has nothing to do with wind speed or acceleration.

Consequently, I must end this post and be on my way. Real life beckons.

Mrs. Hinderleitner, carrying a sign that reads Save the Siluro River, is picketing Molly’s place of business, and a righteously indignant Molly is headed outside to confront her.

I have to get there in time to grab a front-row seat.