NaNoWriMo ’19

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          I have never been more busy and overwhelmed by work in my 29 years of teaching. 55-60 hours a week for a salary that contracts for 37.5 […and that’s all I’m going to say about that–I don’t want to be a pisser-and-moaner as I chose this career. Neither, however, do I want to pretend the situation is fair or equitable, so I’ve made my note, now back to the subject at hand!]. Still, despite the workload, I’m going to try my hand at NaNo once again. Three “wins,” as the NaNo gods like to say, and two losses, which they do not like to say, leave me with no illusions as to how hard it will be under present work conditions.
     As plans slowly swirl and simmer, rising from the cavernous depths of soul-crushing career sludge concerning plot-lines, characters, research, etc. (stop with the Beowulfian alliteration already–you’ve had your rant!), and I begin to take notes, a few observations need annotation.

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Outlining: What-If Exercises and Variants

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     It might be expected that N. and A. are in love. What if N. doesn’t love A. at all, but fearing that if he turns to K., she will lose access to the resources he represents, she sincerely tries to love him as he desires, but in the end just can’t—and though she saves her people and truly expresses her heart, she sets the great tragedy into motion (hell-if-I-know what that tragedy is yet!)?

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I’ve Decided to Set Aside WIP 6.1

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Why I have stopped working on my present WIP
     Though I have written nearly 80k words worth of WIP6 rough draft and research to date, the plot and story presently feel more disjointed and awkward than I imagine a rough draft should. I have therefore called a halt to any further composition until I have put my story through some sort of structured filter (read outline) by which it can be examined for missing and/or misshapen features. What follows is my plan.

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I Am Ready To Leave This Place of Death

     It’s 05:00 now. I’ve set the sprinklers (for damn near the first time in four years). I’m drinking coffee too wound-up to sleep another moment. This place is filled with memories of Callista and my marriage. The emptying rooms echo, which is good for singing and prayer but not for being alone and remembering the dead. By the time the sun sets, however, my tenure in this place of death will be done.

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Rejection’s False Advertising

     The major move continues. Yesterday, we loaded up my brother-in-law’s truck with storage items and filled a rented 10′ x 15′ space with a lot of things I identify with and that defined who I’ve been. I have placed more precious things—swords, bagpipes, special collections—in storage with kind friends and relatives. I am going to go “live” in an 11′ x 11′ bedroom with about a third of my library crammed into seven bookcases lining the walls. I jokingly refer to it as “The Monk’s Cell” but think of it more as a “Hospital” or “Chrysalis” where I will convalesce and treat my divorce wounds.

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The Timing of It All

     I’m presently writing prelim notes for my WIP. The working title is Arenn’s Sorrows. I’ve followed Holly’s curriculum to about halfway through Lesson 9: “How To Plan Your Project Without Killing Your Story.” If I’m lucky, I’ll get the rest of it done by October’s end. Regardless, I plan to start the rough draft on November 1st using NaNoWriMo as my gate.
     I’m still struck by the timing of it all: that by the evening of the 29th the move will be done, that the lease is up at midnight on the 30th, and that I’ll say “goodbye” to Bridgewood and the Last Library forever. A day later we’ll celebrate Samhainn with a fire in the pit and on that night, as the cinders whirl upwards like fiery prayers, the world will change.
     While my grieving will not nearly be finished, and I’ll forever wish with all my heart that circumstances were different, nonetheless, on November 1st, I will begin again and plan to celebrate with a 1,667+ word day!

“And some folks say, he’s up there still” 2

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Nevada falls     A colleague of mine–to whom I will forever be grateful—had taken up the mantle of advisor and revived the high school backpacking and outdoor club. She organized the field-trip and I was invited to go along as part of the staff contingent. Though excited, I was apprehensive. It had been nearly twenty years since I’d last hiked in altitude, and I was no longer in the shape I was. I had gained 100 pounds, developed a “bad” knee and lost nearly all of my stamina. All week I brooded on whether or not I should bow out. Prom is next weekend, I thought; I could use this weekend to work on associated projects. I have tons of grading to do; I could get it done on Saturday. My mother was–and is–sick; she might need me for something. I had moved multiple times and couldn’t find my hiking gear (particularly my boots).
      Friday after school, however, I ended up purchasing a few items and settled on using my day-hikers–don’t let that fool you; I hadn’t used them in true anger for years. I continued to wrestle with cancelling almost until my alarm rang at 03:00. As it was, I arrived a bit late, but just a bit before the last person boarded the bus. It was only when I’d settled into my seat, that I decided I was going.
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“And some folks say, he’s up there still” 1

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Yosemite vista-point     After being asleep for over a decade, I unexpectedly woke up in the mountains yesterday. It was like a sudden and unlooked for encounter with an estranged friend or like going for a familiar walk only to have the ground give way. Standing at the stone railing of Yosemite Valley’s photogenic vista-point, memories and emotions spooled as I my eyes reacquainted themselves with a place I had not seen in years but which I had once known and hiked often. I slowly become aware of myself, the dull throbbing in my knee, the effort to draw a satisfying breath, the leaden heaviness of my limbs, the telling gray of my beard, and the wide yawning void between then and now. Surrounded by youthful energy and exuberance, I was brought up short by just how far this [old] “…hawk…” was “…from the moon.” And I realized, I wasn’t simply looking at the Valley. I was gazing into a mirror and the estranged friend I found there was not someone else; it was me.
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