Tag: write-a-thon

Write-a-thon, day 1


So it took me a little to jar myself into writing. The pre-writing stuff (hand-writing the setpoints of the tale, researching magpies, finding where I’d set the darn story yet again–Grasmere, so I don’t have to spend as much time searching when I forget next, which I will) took an hour or so. Then there was a read through, shifting a scene later in the story, so the progression makes more sense, and then…

Well, there’s tomorrow, right?

After a day in the district office writing thematic plans, because I’m old as the hills and remember how to do that, and I am not willing to have another fall like this last spring when everyone is flailing. At least, the first six or twelve weeks will be done and organized.

I’m still dreaming. Dreams of packing. Dreams of unpacking. Dreams of moving furniture.

I swear this is as stressful for my psyche as moving house.

After this week, I want to run away somewhere. I don’t know where, I don’t know how long I can escape, but someplace far from SoCal and school. (Which leaves north, doesn’t it? Way north, I think. Olympic National Park sounds too far; Mendocino might be just right. I miss NoCal.)

And now, after a night spent more awake than not (blame it on the packing dreams) I am calling it bedtime.

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We are calling it done


and I am done in.

If the district somehow magically finds money in the next five years to renovate the old site, I can’t see myself moving back.

However, the room is packed, my stuff is in storage, and Monday I will turn in my keys (and maybe switch my classroom chairs for next door’s set. I’d love to have a complete set that matched.) I will put together next year’s kindergarten classes this weekend.

Right now there is not enough wine in the world to fix my exhaustion.

Despite the crazy summer, I cannot bring myself to skip the Clarion West write-a-thon. My goal is much simpler this year–write something six days a week. No time requirements set, no word limits. Just place butt in chair and write.

If you’d like to sponsor me, my page is here. I’d appreciate being held accountable, and Clarion West would be able make a difference in another writer’s life. I will always be grateful to have had my six weeks there.

ETA: The write-a-thon only needs seven more writers to qualify for the challenge amount of $3,000. The write-a-thon is open to all, so if you’re writing already, why not add your name to the list? Sign-ups end the 22nd, so hurry!

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So the weekend…


…was a total washout in word count. I’m doing what I do best and taking the 7000 I’d hoped to accomplish and parsing it out to other days. I’m going to add 700 a day to the next ten days and make it up that way.

You fall, you pick yourself up, you keep plodding.

Saturday’s scratch choir was fun, stressful, and exhausting. The choir director held herself back. A lot. She’s a professional, obviously expects professional-level results, and had to remind herself that many of us weren’t the regular choir. I’m sure she collapsed at the end of the night–it’s hard being that ‘on’ all day.

The fun was learning new music, of course. The stressful bit was also learning new music. We zoomed through the music. Zoomed. Sight reading was a must and while we practiced a few difficult bits, the song “Rent” was tough. At the end of the first two-and-a-half hours, we’d made it through the first half of the concert. The second rehearsal time we zipped through the second half (far more familiar musicals for some people–West Side Story and My Fair Lady) and then returned to the earlier stuff. A slightly longer break followed for dinner and change into concert attire, and then showtime.

The soloists were spectacular, which was good, because the choir was–oh, in and out as you’d expect for something so thrown together. Even the regular members who showed up voluntarily were learning the music for the first time. Still, we made it through, the audience seemed to enjoy it a lot, and we were happy to get off the risers.

About an hour and a half on risers. Let me tell you the pain. Even twitching muscles throughout, bending my knees, rocking a little, adjusting my foot position–it doesn’t give you the true meaning of standing on the risers. I’m grateful that I’d sat in the second row of chairs during rehearsal time, which meant I was on the first riser, and not say, the fifth.

If I do this again next year (which I might, it’s actually a great stretch for me) I’m sitting in the front row. There may be other issues with the front row (you can’t wiggle as much during the soloists’ performance without the audience noticing) but I won’t have to worry about pitching forward or keeping my music out of someone’s hair.

Think packed like sardines.

Yesterday’s morning mass was one of those you hate when you’re the people up front singing. We were all late for various good reasons. Mine was I couldn’t find my glasses. I searched for six minutes until I woke up people who could actually see to search with me. Three searchers and ten minutes later, I had them on my face. They’d fallen from my computer desktop, bounced off the keyboard, and dropped to the wiring space below in the back.

Whew. So we sing the first song–which all of us knew based on the title–and flipped to the correct page. Kevin, our director and pianist, stares at it in horror and plays the chorus twice in the hopes we’ll all catch on.

Yeah, so not the song we knew. At least we’d had a little time to run through the responsorial. This is why I hate summers off. You show up, you sing, and you hope like hell it works. Sort of like the scratch choir but with no rehearsal at all.

Last night was more music, because my voice teacher had a studio class. For that, we show up and sing something we’ve been working on. I’m a little more comfortable singing in front of the group–it’s a safe spot. So although I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped (totally lost the high, which sucks when you try to hit the note and you strain and fail miserably) I made it through. Paul had me go back on sing with my chest and head voice, and there’s definitely a difference when I let go and sing.

The overall consensus was that I should not hold back. I swear I am convinced I will blow them all away when I let loose.

But, ooooooooooookay. I’ll work on that some more.

And now, off to walk the dog and get started on those words. The day won’t last any longer.

Comments Off on So the weekend… | music, my favorite things

Let there be progress


Another night of writing, another night where Harley decided the outside world was a threat and must be vanquished by barking.

Since it wasn’t coyotes (they announce their presence) I’m figuring an oppossum decided to tightrope along the back fence, and since possums freeze when confronted, the barking only prolonged its visit.

We all slept in a little later this morning, which is a miracle in and of itself.

I managed 700+ words last night, most of which were new, which meant that I rewrote a section of about 1400 words. Still slogging through this, trying to get Mareet’s POV nailed (not successfully yet), pick the parts that she would notice from her hiding spot, and write new bits that weave the old bits into a cohesive narrative.

Mostly I’m hating writing the beginning again, and the fact that I will most likely have to rewrite this draft again now.

But I’m still determined.

I’ll have more hours to spend on writing this afternoon, since I’m not going out. All I have on my schedule is finishing up a baby quilt (tying and binding) for the Slug and getting that ready to mail.

So, right. Onward.

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Clarion West Write-a-thon


Another summer, another opportunity to spend six weeks kicking my butt into writing gear. My goal?

Finish the damn rewrite.

I mean it. (Pitchforks and other stabbity utensils welcome.)

For fundraising, it’s to match or exceed my own donation of $100 one way or another. Last year, I did landscapes to encourage people–and I’ll do that again, but I’m limiting myself to two for those who sponsor me for $30 or $5/week–I’ve got the bathroom from hell to finish.

A sample:

This is a segment of a larger landscape, but it’s approximately what I expect of a finished postcard. I do like embellishment, so you might find some grasses (embroidery floss or peacock hurl) or rayon threads for glitter, like I have here on the water.

If you decide to sponsor me, please let me know. I don’t always discover who my sponsors are until midway through the write-a-thon and sometimes even later, and I’d like to get a jump on these. You will get to dictate my color choices either by color range–-blues, browns, greens, via places–-ocean, lake, forest, desert, or even time of day–sunrise, moonscape, etc. You will also be able to choose between vertical or horizontal orientation.

To sponsor me, go to my Clarion West page. If you are a sponsor, I thank you! Clarion West meant a great deal to me the year I attended, and I still hold it (and all the people who make it happen annually) close to my heart.

And if you can’t sponsor, you’re always welcome to hang out and nag. I’ll whine post daily, so there will be no excuse not to make or exceed my goal. At this point, I’m expect to rewrite 40K, so now you have an idea of how much sweating I’ll actually be doing.

I should be very drippy by the time the end of July rolls around.

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36k rewritten in 6 weeks.

*collapses in a puddle of words*

1 comment » | novel, write-a-thon

It’s nearly the end


of the write-a-thon, and I’ve double-checked my goal–2K between today and tomorrow.

I should be able to whip that right out, yes?

One would hope. Luckily, I’ve the house to myself this morning because my friend has zipped off to work and won’t return until this afternoon. After my workout and a quick trip to the bank to replace a debit card I stupidly convinced myself to cut up, it’ll be all about the writing all the time.

Even with the coffee application, I’m still running on stupified this morning. Dagnabit.

Yesterday, I had lunch with KellyM at a lovely place in Pleasant Hill, and it was like a teeny tiny con as we chatted about writing. Yes, we do this regularly over Skype, too, but somehow a restaurant, food, and face-to-face interactions make it more… oh, real.

So the last huzzah of vacation continues.

Monday is going to be a real slap in the face when I hit the classroom and actually have to, you know, WORK.


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Wait–there’s a fire?


After a lovely day spent lolling by the pool with my family in Santa Barbara, we zipped home, and I ran out the door to Borders and writing.

Which I did. It was difficult to get back into it, but I tweaked all the places Jenni said needed tweaking and moved on. There was a big jump to this scene, but I can’t imagine what of any interest happened between the last scene and this one, so. Jump, it shall be.

I’m also not certain why Benim wants Kalim, and before I write more of this section, I’ll have to nail that down firmly. What I do know is that Benim’s a spy for the enemy, and you’d think that would be enough, but nooooooo.

I also have to figure out time for everyone. This is a sticky process at the moment, since it feels as though Kalim’s time is passing faster than everyone else’s for me. Or maybe it’s because he’s moving and the other main characters aren’t going anywhere physically.

Eesh. These novels. Here, have the newest version of the opening.

Kalim, arms laden, scuffed the sandy expanse of the monastery’s courtyard as he crossed. Another day closer to his acceptance date. Another day nearer to the worst possibility—never being elected soul-bearer and never leaving the monastery. More than anything, he wanted to see the world. To explore.

Bashak’s mild ridicule of his worries did not help. That had been this morning’s trial before he had dumped a task suitable for one of the younger initiates on him. The day before he had brushed him off with the casual comment that Kalim had no reason to be concerned. With a frown, he shifted the dried yarrow and a bundle of coarse-woven cloth and trudged on to the infirmary.

Of course he had to be concerned. It was his entire life in the balance.

A lookout cried out, and Kalim spun about, following the man’s pointing finger. In the distance, far beyond the open monastery gates, a point of swirling dust and sand swelled.

Excitement surged, and clutching his burdens, he dashed to a fig tree to shelter from the desert sun and leaned. No one would chastise him for gawking—others, including the masters, had slowed to a halt.

Loud cries as the men on duty processed the potential threat and rushed to shut the huge gate. But Kalim straightened, his eyes intent on the speeding object. A sandship!

More yells as the gate duty identified the approaching visitor. The gate’s forward progress halted, reversed.

Mouth ajar, Kalim watched the approaching ship. It was only the third visit in his nearly eleven years as an initiate.

The ship’s sails, shadowed with sand lifted skyward by its passage, were now clearly identifiable, as were the streamers whipping from its tallest spar. The wooden ship zipped across the desert, the scrub in its path crushed beneath its runners, while an unfelt wind billowed its sails.

Kalim’s grasp on the herbs tightened as the sandship whizzed closer. Would it stop in time? He braced himself, while a few in the courtyard broke, fleeing to the safety of the perimeter.

The sails flattened, men swarmed the rigging, and the ship skidded to a halt a few yards from the monastery walls.

Now off to figure out how close the latest fire in Kern County (Bull Fire, 4500 acres last night with 500 personnel, 7 water-dropping helicopters and 7 air tankers) is to my middle child’s Boy Scout camp. A text did get out to say they all were fine, but they have no power or phonelines. I’m not sure how a text managed to overcome these hurdles, but I’m grateful, and I’m hoping he doesn’t have to evacuate the camp like they did when he was 15 or so and flames crowned the hills above them. (Yeah, he got sent to prepare the evacuation site in Porterville for 300-500 kids. Gotta love the Scouts. If you’re ready for leadership, then, by gum, you get it. In spades.)

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Let the snarking begin!


No new rewriting the past two days. Saturday’s writing was all about nailing the first chapter and sending it out to the posse. (Which they ripped apart, and came up with… Not Much. And KellyM thrilled me by telling me it was starting to look like a Book. Eeeeeee.)

Jenni gave me a few tweaks to work on, and I’m doing those tonight before I do the rewriting. I’d be doing them now, except, well… I’m writing this, while waiting for the Spousling to return so we can head to Santa Barbara to see my mom, my sister, and one of my brothers and his family.

Half a family reunion! (Sans kids, though. Once you throw in the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, we start looking like a convention.)

Writing out tonight, and probably more once I get back home. The laptop’s coming with me this wedding veil trip north (yeah, another. At least it’s not a dress.) and I’ll find time between now and Friday to nail the rest of those words.

(Conversation between Spousling and me ensues:

Him: Is that hard to follow?
Me: I missed the antecedent.

How often do you get to use ‘antecedent’ in casual conversations? Grammarians. *tsk* :P)

And now we’re off! (And the fog is burning off here, which means it might burn off in SB before 2P. Maybe.)

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Keeping myself honest


I didn’t want to write last night–I’d spent four hours school shopping. School shopping for me does not actually involve clothing stores. It’s all about hitting Lakeshore and getting out for under $200 (score!), Office Depot (yellow Sharpies sold individually! OMG!!), Big Lots (nothing exciting here–ziplock bags and plastic storage) and Michael’s (jewels for the treasure game for four I saw at Lakeshore and refused to cough up $25, that I created for $11 for six on my own. Such is the life of a teacher.)

Not. Done. Spending. Yet.

Wait til I head back to Lakeshore with 30+ yards of laminating.

Anyway, I didn’t want to write. But the Clarion West write-a-thon is still in process, and I feel guilty if I don’t make a stab at it.

I checked out Skype. No one. So I did my trusty fallback: sign into chat with the OWW zoo peoples. Yep, they were all there. Particularly Jodi and Celia. Jodi threatens me nicely, and Celia horrified me (with the help of Jamie) to create a marshafails.com site with blinking lights and dancing hamsters, nested tables sized incorrectly, and locked frames that won’t let you escape. There was more, but that was enough to make me fling open my laptop in a frenzy.

So end result an hour and a half later: 1900 words deleted and 1300 rewritten.

Friends. What would we do without them?

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