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.



17 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo, MRI, TBF, and WLT

  1. Lordy, I enjoyed this post, Kathy! You continue to marvel me with your writing wit! I should take lessons—after a slice of white bread and plum jam.
    The TBF was extremely hot and the asphalt we stood on for 10 hours a day did a trip on my standing ability–but it was great fun! Loved getting to meet David–not to mention seeing you. Also, another highlight was when a couple came up (two women) and said they had come to the book festival to see me, and had been searching for my booth to see if I had a new book out! (thankfully, I had A War of Her Own waiting for them). Made the whole weekend worthwhile–that and seeing you and meeting David.
    Hugs, and keep posting! Sylvia


    1. Okay, I’ll own up–David and I went to the TBF to see you, too. And since I came away with your book, the day was worthwhile for me. Next year we shall hope for a blue norther.

      But do be careful with the bread and jam.


  2. This post has several important points, and I now feel duly updated. Relocation to the Texas Book Festival to the North Pole might make life easier next year. I am very excited that you are doing NaNoWriMo, I simply can’t wait to see what will happen. Your style so begs for a novel. But the plot? What will you do? Old family or local history or something all together different?

    What is more, will you be posting your 1500 words a day online? Might your novel include cats? Questions, questions: my great shortcoming is a journalist’s curiosity.

    Whatever you write, the best of luck:-)


    1. There are days–six or seven months of them–that I’d like to relocate Texas in its entirety to the North Pole. This is the warmest TBF I remember, but I believe it’s usually held in November.

      Proposed novel: Updated old family/local history plus whatever else comes to mind. I’m trying to write the cozy mystery I want to read, sort of a blend of Agatha Christie and Clyde Edgerton. I’m also trying to rebuild my hometown, which is there but not there any more, and populate it with people I knew. There will be a cat. I hope there will be a goat. I think there will be a 1930-something Buick named Penelope. I won’t post my 1500 words (actually, I think it works out to 1666.666666…., which, when I look at all those 6s, concerns me a bit). But I’m thinking of posting an excerpt of something I’ve already written.

      I welcome your journalist’s curiosity. Ernest Hemingway said a writer shouldn’t talk about his work, and here I am talking about it. But Hemingway also strongly implied that women should be happy washing socks.


        1. Thank you. I hope a publisher will want something of mine someday. Thank you for wanting to read it. If you’ll be first in the queue, does that mean I get to go to London for a book signing? You have no idea how much I want to get back over to that side of the Atlantic. And to stay there.


  3. I don’t think I have that many words ready to come out right now, but I applaud all those who take on the challenge. I’m glad you resolved to turn away from the jam jar before destroying all your files. Isn’t it amazing how what we put in our bodies affect our minds so profoundly? I’m still working on what works for me and what doesn’t. It’s a struggle. I do know I can’t eat my way to anything but disaster. Tough when you love to cook as much as I do. I’m constantly looking for healthier alternatives.


    1. I think the best thing to do is figure out what works best. We’re individuals, and we operate in different ways. I guess my one advantage is that I don’t like to cook, so we eat mostly uninteresting food, but then there’s the thought of frozen lasagna…However, more writing sometimes leads to less jam, so I’m hopeful. And looking forward to when you’re ready for more words to come out. (Though after looking at all your book reviews, I think you’ve built up an impressive word count.)


  4. I missed you, Kathy. And Sylvia, I was there to see several people, but one of them was you!

    Having helped manage a Sisters in Crime booth at TBF for a couple of years, I can attest that they’re ALL hot. Those tents are HOT!

    Good luck with NaNo!


    1. I don’t know how anyone could have been found in that crowd unless they were manning a booth. I was impressed that the tents were still packed when I finally arrived. It makes me feel good to know that people care that much about words on paper. Or on hard drives, or wherever they end up.

      There’s something wrong when a celebration of books involves melting down authors. And yet we still aspire to be authors…

      Will you have a booth next year?


  5. If I can afford it, which means if I can share with enough people. OTOH, I have no idea how much they cost now. Oops, I just found it online. $875. OK, so if I find 24 other writers to share it with, I’m totally there.


    1. Good grief. Well, if I ever have anything to sell, and if we can find 22 other writers to share it with, I’ll be totally there with you.


  6. So sorry your dad wasn’t great. Since I’m always inside during TBF, I had no idea it was so hot outside. We had good crowds at the Austin Museum of Art events. One was beyond standing room only – people sat on the floor, listening, not caring that they couldn’t see the speakers or the slides.


    1. The TBF was earlier than usual this year, wasn’t it? I was expecting November weather and got October instead. But it was much better than no TBF at all. What a shame we went so long without it.


    1. I’ll see what I can do. I think it’s a random thing. Actually, I have no idea how it works. I wish Blogger and WordPress would get together and allow the avatars to follow us when we comment.


    2. I changed the avatar to something a little more attractive, or at least less grumpy. I don’t recall selecting the other. Guess I did, but I don’t know why.


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