Beg-A-Thon Final Update Week #5

Current state of the pumpkins in the backyard.

This is my final write-a-thon update. I’m turning in my draft to beta readers on Thursday and then taking a much needed break from screen time so there will be no week #6 update.

I am behind and I have a super busy day today where it will be tough to get revising done. And I’m sitting here cropping a pumpkin photo. Not a good sign.

Thanks again to all my donors. The fundraising is going great. In the most recent report, the funds raised for the write-a-thon are up to $15,514.

Donations are still happily accepted.

Manuscript currently stands at:

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Beg-A-Thon Week #4 Progress Report

I was aiming for something a little more clever with this, but I am fried on screen time and need to get a break from the computer.

I am still write-a-thoning but since I’m revising it’s harder to quantify the work I’ve done this week. I’m over a quarter of the way through this revision which is probably less than I’d like but not as bad as it sounds. At this point I’m smoothing out continuity and fixing the most dreadful prose passages and re-writing various bits that aren’t quite working yet.

I think I am on target to make my goals but I have two early soccer home games between now and my deadline of July 28. (I know, poor me.) We kick-off at Noon tomorrow which means I need to be having my match day pizza and beer at around 10:30am. This is the only time I drink before Noon because I am too old for day drinking.

I’m also having insomnia issues on and off which isn’t unusual for me but the timing could be better.

Thanks again to all my donors. The fundraising is going great. In the most recent report, the funds raised for the whole shebang are up to $14,033.

You can still donate. Even a few bucks is appreciated.

Manuscript currently stands at:

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Beg-A-Thon Week #3 Progress Report

This week I did just over 11,000 words. I remain on target for my goals.

From here on out it makes no sense to measure by word count. I need to tidy up about 24K per week to get the draft to the beta readers by July 28th.

Now that I look at it like that, it seems impossible. Oh well. I’ll do my best.

So I wrote a complete (not pretty) draft since starting on May 20th. That’s pretty incredible. I’ve always considered myself to be a slow writer.

I had a fairly substantial outline to work from but I need to remember not to let myself get too gummed up at the beginning because I figure out a lot of stuff as I go along.

One of the things that makes this possible, like I said before, is letting everything else slide. This is agonizing for me but when you want one thing you have to sacrifice something else. Bob is out of school so he picks up more of the chores. I also (oh so painful) gave up about 90% of my reading time. I had time to power skim the New Yorker and that was it. I used my time on the bus to work out the next bits I wanted to write.

So if my outline says “woman discovers she’s really an alien.” Then while I’m on the bus I’ll write notes about how she figures out her craving for raw meat and the strange appendages she has growing out from behind her knees aren’t normal so she goes to the science library to do research but realizes she’s being followed by a purple Cadillac…

And so on like that so when I sit at the computer I’m ready to roll.

I try to preserve my back and neck and wrists by regular breaks.

I do any number of these things:

Shoulder Stretches with a belt.

Wrist and forearm work (This is a class preview. It might sound technical but watch the demo. These are great.)

Foundation training back exercises. I am generally the type to be put off by branded exercise systems but I’ve been doing the basic exercises regularly as part of my recovery from the back debacle of 2015 and I think it’s helped a lot.

Those are my secrets to writing a whole bunch in a short time. Although to be honest I’m not as confident in this manuscript as I was in the last one.

Thanks again to all my terrific sponsors. My report showed over $10K in donations already. Not for me but for the whole thing.

It’s not to late to donate.

This is what the tomatoes are doing. I’m going to put the cages up this afternoon. I did a half-assed job of throwing them out there and have ignored them ever since so probably not going to be a big tomato year. (Again.)

A couple more links.

I’m not a big pork eater but I’ve been anxious to try out a new recipe and this Cuban Roast Pork caught my eye. Right now the house smells amazing.

For a huge portion of my career I worked with the Metlakatla Indian Community in SE Alaska. This is a terrific article and photo essay about basketball in the Community.

That’s this week’s update.

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Brain Jelly

First draft is done. Or maybe better to call it draft .75

There are huge sections where it isn’t pretty. If I drop dead suddenly don’t try to read it!

I thought I did the same thing last time. Finished in the 60’s somewhere and built up to 75 when I prepared it for the beta readers.

I looked at my website for last August and it doesn’t look like that.

I should keep better notes about my process since it changes so much.

Now I’m going to go back and fix it up and fill in the skinny parts and hopefully have it readable by the end of the month.

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Beg-A-Thon Week #2 Progress Report

It’s hard to believe that I’m disappointed with 15,209 words this week but I had a little blip yesterday and pooped out my productivity streak. A blip meaning I had trouble writing. I was here with the butt in the chair most of the day.

I had hoped to finish out the 1st draft yesterday. I’m hoping I can do that tomorrow. I’m behind my schedule but I built in some padding so I’m not in a full panic yet. Today went much better but still no first draft.

What? Oh, yeah. That was 15,209 words this week. They weren’t pretty but I’m getting the work done.

In other news, the cough is down to an occasional gurgle and I can finally exercise again. I also learned from the full body coughing that my back is at about 98% at this point, too. It took a year but that’s better than never.

The flip side of 15K words a week is I have let everything else slide including my personal relationships. Sorry!

Thanks again to all my fantastic donors. I continue to promise to send you a love note soon.

And it’s never too late to donate. Even a few bucks is appreciated:

Click here to donate!

Current progress:

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Beg-A-Thon Week #1 Progress Report

Week #6 2008 — This is my Clarion West class with Chuck Palahniuk

I wrote 9,723 words this week. I should sit here and work until I hit 10,000 but I also tidied up my entire manuscript and I have shocked even myself with my capacity to sit here and work all day long on a weekend.

Time for a break. Tomorrow is another day and I want to beat that work count next week.

Here are my rock star classmates participating in the Write-A-Thon:

Maggie Croft

Christopher Reynaga

Carol Ryles

Kira Walsh

Rajan Khanna

Caren Gussoff

Me again

And our workshop administrators

Neile Graham

Les Howle

Here’s the status of the project of August:

I need to pay attention to my poor neglected husband.

Super huge thanks to everyone who has donated so far. I will send you a personal love note soon.

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It’s Beg-A-Thon Time!

I found this photo from the Squirrel circus of 2016. Action shot of squirrel number one fleeing the premises. (I typo’d that as “feeling the premises” and almost left it.)

I started writing at 7am this morning and I did take a number of breaks but I’ve been working almost all day.

The Chicago trip was fantastic but I got home Monday night and then Tuesday I had a soccer game (Yes, I know, poor me) so I didn’t get home until 10pm. I woke up Wednesday morning with the crud.

I’m not feeling terrible today but I still have major coughing fits and I had just put a cough drop in my mouth when my husband came in here and set a frosty glass filled with strawberry colored frozen beverage in front of me.

He just finished school yesterday and he is in “OMG, I have the whole summer to play” mode. I am still working and I have a first draft to finish by the end of the month. I’m not quite in the same head space.

So, back to the drink, I looked at and said: I just put a cough drop in my mouth.

But it was pretty and smelled good.

How much booze is in this? I asked.

He said: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, about a shot and a half.

I gave it back to him. If I spend the entire day writing that means I did not do anything else and I have chores to do before I can get fuzzy on a fruity drink.

I last did the Clarion West Write-A-Thon in 2011. I wrote an excellent introductory post about it then.

My stated goal is to write 1000 words a day although it’s not going to work exactly like that. I need to try to have a draft ready for beta readers at the beginning of August so I need to write about 17,500 a week for the next two weeks (That’s about 10 pages a day). Then I’ll have a first draft and for the last 4 weeks of the Write-A-Thon I will need to spin my first draft of poop into a readable draft of gold.

This would be much easier if I didn’t have a husband, a job, a soccer team, a vacation, cooking, cleaning and a never-ending pile of administrivia to contend with. But I’m going to try to make it happen anyway.

If you are rooting me on during this insanity – please consider throwing a few bucks to Clarion West. Small donations are very happily welcome. My donation page is here and there are tons of other writers to support if you don’t like me. There are other ways to donate here.

I hate making blanket dramatic statements like this, but the workshop really and truly changed my life and I am so grateful that I was able to attend.

Here is the progress on the project of August:

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Tifo from our rivalry game against Vancouver Whitecaps.

We won and I think this is the first match this season that I watched again on TV when I got home. We’re having a rough start.

I’m in Chicago this weekend for a wedding.

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Disappearing Mac Salad

This is Roscoe, the other next door cat and current ruler of the stoop. I can’t remember the last time I saw Toes out there. I saw Noah out there getting hissed at. I was out watering and for a second I didn’t want to disturb him until I remembered that he doesn’t live here. I do.

Now that I’m in the middle of a writing project, there is no spare creative energy of any kind.

Almost every meal is tacos or Trader Joes prepared foods or something I can stretch out for 2 or 3 meals. I have no ideas for gifts. I have no energy for house projects except for light organizing. I have no ideas for posts. I have no ideas.

We have just reached the point where we pick more berries than we can eat each day. Not complaining!

I found 3 extra brain cells and squandered them to make something other than tacos this weekend.

Since it was so hot I did a ton of food preparation on Friday. I made a mac salad and a couscous salad. I made a jello mold with fruit. Don’t laugh. It’s refreshing on a hot day.

On Friday I made Kenji smash burgers. Recipe here. Video and recipe here. I very very highly recommend. I kind of messed it up and it was still amazing. Plus it’s fast and easy. Use American cheese and make the special sauce. You won’t be sorry.

I have enough beef left for one regular and one mini smash burger tonight. The mac salad is already gone. There is a ton of couscous salad.

Project of August:

I’m actually behind on this. I got stuck. And then I panicked. And then I sat here staring at the screen going: OMG, think of something! Quick! Hurry! You’re falling behind! Think of something!

Turns out: That doesn’t work. I had to back up. Take a couple of days to unravel and regroup. I think I’m back on track now.

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Hey. This Thing Still Work?

My husband is hilarious. He’s going on an overnight trip and I bought him some food to take with him. (I’m hilarious too because the first thing I thought when he told me he would be gone overnight was: oh yay. I can clean the oven.)

He blustered through the door this afternoon to pick something up at the house before he ran out and did errands. He suddenly stopped and said: You bought me snacks.

He was thrilled. We had to stop and look at them. You know, fancy stuff like beef jerky and “nutritious” bars with almonds and dried cranberries.

I’m working another project of August. I’ve been outlining and planning and I finally am grinding out words. The timeframe is a little tight but I can do it. (er, I think.) Already I panic every time I see something added to the calendar.

So far, I’ve been invited to 5 things on June 11. Is that some sort of magical day? Keep in mind that in a big year, I’m invited to 5 things all year. One of the events is a wedding out of town and the bride asked me to save the date last summer so gratefully, I don’t have to dither around trying to pick.

Earlier this year I found a bowl of pumpkin seeds I saved from my pumpkins. I was replacing it with a new bowl and for some reason I threw the old bowl in the compost.

Right now my back garden has tons of potatoes, tons of tomatillos and surprise: tons of pumpkin volunteers.

There were so many I finally had to break down and yank some of the pumpkins which broke my heart. Let the pumpkins live! A couple hours later I realized, I could transplant them to the front. I usually sprout them on the window sill to put out front anyway. So I dug them out of the compost and planted in the front yard.

You can see how thrilled they are to be there. I’m going to sprout some seeds on the window sill, too. I pretty sure these are going to end up back in the compost.

And look how quick the slugs got at them. That was less than 24 hours and there were huge holes in the leaves. Slug bait has been slung.

Project of August which I hope will have a name soon:

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