Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30th - A novel reflection


 I may have hit 50,000 words 2 weeks ago, but I finished the novel tonight. What a strange and glorious feeling, to know you have written a book, to know you have told a story, and to know that so much of yourself has been poured into something so grand, so outrageously colossal, and to still feel as though there is so much more to be said.

Looking back at the last three NaNoWriMo events, how much has changed, how it's so strange to have such a good grip on how much 50,000 words really is. It seems like nothing now.

2009 was my first year, and by far the hardest. I had no plot, no real idea of where I was going, plenty of breakdowns and as I recall correctly, quit multiple times throughout, then finished with 50,003 words.

2010 was my moment of true glory. A single dream fueled 68,000 morbid and beautiful words of historical fiction. Strange tides swept over everything I had to say, and twists and turns made the story stranger and harder to follow, yet easier and easier to write with each passing day. In June, I ordered a hard copy and tried to keep myself from jumping around like an idiot as I grasped it in my hands so tightly, as if it would float away. What a glorious, glorious month.

Camp NaNoWriMo was this past August, and I wrote 50,000 words about lesbian vampires despite everything. My asthma was the worst it'd ever been, and I was drinking cough syrup in hopes for even the slightest bit of relief, out of the house for 14 hours at a time, sometimes falling asleep at my computer after writing 200 words. What an awful and terribly exhausting month, but I did it. Maybe I did it just to boast, but whatever the reason, it was done.

This year, I had no outline and just a vague idea of where I was going based on what was written in my first part. 50k in 15 day. FIFTEEN DAYS. I felt on top of the world, and tonight I capped it off with the last 2,000 words, totaling the two parts together for a gloriously beautiful 106,500 words, and nearly 350 pages of sexually confused vampire goodness.

I wonder what's in store for next year. I wonder what I'll write about, and I wonder if I could do 100,00 words in a month. I wonder if I'll want to do it next year, and I wonder what the editing process for such a long book as this one will be like.

The adventures of writing are adventures like no other. The fact that I have written a total of 200,000+ words, and learned more about myself within those words than any other form of creativity makes me SO confused that not every single person on this planet does this at least once in their life.

Happy writing, everyone!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Queen Anne's Lace

So, I know I'm rather hyperbolic. Every single thing I tend to do, see or eat becomes the best thing ever, and I'm aware of that.

But, I think Queen Anne's Lace might actually be the most beautiful thing in the world.

I recently discovered a pattern for it and decided to try to tackle it. It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but once I did, I was totally hooked (HAH. CROCHET PUN!). I used Caron Simply Soft and made a couple pieces of jewelry, which fit softly and snuggly around your neck without being too warm or bulky.

My only issue with Queen Anne's Lace is that I don't know how to make more than one row with it :( From what I can tell, there is no way to turn and start a row on top of the row just made. Does anyone know of a way to do this? Because every pattern I find is for just one row, and I would really like to do more with it!

My first necklace was a beige color, and I made it extra long, then attached a button to one end. It's really nice, because the holes that the Queen Anne's Lace makes can be clasped around the button to give the necklace different looks.

While I'm not exactly sure what I can wear this with, I DO know that I LOVE it! I will get a whole new wardrobe if I have to.

The second piece of jewelry I made was actually shorter, just a choker. However, I didn't find myself as infatuated with this one. Perhaps the color is too dull, or perhaps thick chokers just aren't for me, but I think it just looks rather awkward. I decided to use brown, since I own so many earth-toned clothes, but maybe something brighter would have been a better idea.

I might give this another shot in a brighter color. We'll see.

The tutorial I used for this can be found here. The tutorial provides a lot of pictures that are very easy to follow, but I wouldn't recommend trying this out unless you are at least a semi-experienced crocheter. I also wouldn't get too discouraged, it took me about three tries of making and then unraveling shells before I was able to actually have something worth wearing.

The pattern is also a slight modification, so as to make the first shell match the last shell, instead of the first shell looking awkward, which I think is an improvement, and everything else is that same as traditional Queen Anne's Lace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Appreciation: Doilies!

I've only made one doily before, and it was a Halloween one. I don't OWN any, so it's not like when I started crocheting my first thought was "Thank God, now I can make my own doilies!" Rather, doilies were the last thing on my mind.

I made this as a Christmas present, so I'm hoping the recipient won't see this post until after Christmas. Perhaps I could hold off on sharing this, but I just had so much fun, and I'm so proud of it, I just couldn't wait to share.

This is a rose doily, that came out so splendidly, I'm actually a little surprised I made it. It took a lot more yarn than I had anticipated, and even more time. Upon finishing the white doily portion, I was feeling pretty good about it, and promptly started on the roses. Little did I know it would take me more than one skein of Vanna's Choice yarn, and I was surprised how little dark green I had when I finished the leaves.

Each rose and leaf took me about 30 minutes, but I think it was totally worth it. I think the dark green and light pink came together very well, and it has a beautiful Celtic feeling to it. I'm almost sad I can't keep this for myself to place on a dark mahogany table.

I'm still not completely sure what a doily is...for. I know, I know. You can put your vases and your snack bowls on it, or whatever, but frankly, I don't have many nice things to place on top of a doily to make it look nice. There are some beautiful patterns out there, so I can't wait to explore them and make some more. My favorite part about doilies, is that, despite how intricate they look, they're actually very easy to make. I encourage everyone to try to make one, in fact, they're absolutely fantastic! Now, this one took a long time because of the flowers and leaves, but a plain doily will add some fantastic class and elegance in just a few hours.

The original pattern for this doily can be found here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crocodile Stitch! (How To)

I feel like so much is going on this week. I've written a novel, learned how to knit, learned SO MUCH about holistic medicines for asthma, and the most exciting one: I learned the crocodile stitch.

While I can't wait to post about all my other November adventures (...Noventures?), I'm going to have to hold off for now and teach you guys this fantastic crochet stitch. I can't seem to find the actually stitch for free anywhere, but I don't see why it shouldn't be available for free. I have done one project with it, and I'm so excited! It makes things look like DRAGON SCALES! Anyone who knows me know that crocheting and dragons are two of my favorite things, and I'm finally able to combine the two into one amazingly perfect...thing!

So far, all I've made with these are these crimson arm warmers that totally look like DRAGON SLAYING GAUNTLETS! I am astounded by them, and completely in love. While the stitch requires a bit of work, it's totally worth it in the end.

I've never done a crocheting tutorial, so please let me know if something should be further clarified or expanded upon.

I'm going to be doing a small swatch totaling 5 crocodile stitches to show you how it works.

The Crocodile stitch is very simple and consists of two simple stiches, the V stitch (V-st) and the Frost post Double Crochet (fpdc).

V stitch (V-st)- Work (dc, ch 1, dc) into a single indicated stitch.

Front Post Double Crochet (Fpdc)- Yo and insert hook from front to back around the post of the dc of the previous row, then complete as for a regular dc. This is kind of wonky to picture, so you can watch this youtube clip.

So, to start, I'm going to chain 17. (This will be a ch 13, plus a 4 ch to count as one dc and the ch 1 of the 1st V-st.)

1. Dc in 4th ch from the end, sk 2, v-st, which I'm then going to repeat until the last st, where I'm going to place my last v-st

2. Now you have 5 v sts. Turn your work, sl st in 1st ch-1 space, then do 5 fpdc from top to bottom of the 1st dc of the 2nd v-st from the beginning, ch 1 at end of 5th fpdc. I like to face my piece to the left when doing this, so the bottom of the V st faces the left.

3. Now do 5 more fpdc from bottom to top. When doing this, I like to point my V st towards the right. Push down the fpdc as often as you have to so that you can do them from bottom to top, while still having enough room.

Now you have one crocodile stitch!

4. Skip one V-st, and do 5 fpdc from top to bottom, ch 1, 5 fpdc from bottom to top..

Skip on V-st, doing your next 5 fpdc on the right dc of the 4th v-st from the beginning.

Now you should have 2 crocodile sts.

5. sl st in ch 1 space of last v-st, sl st into last ch, then ch 4 (counts as 1st dc and ch 1), dc into same st. Now, make a V stitch in the spaces between the croc sts and on each side, so you'll have another 5 v sts

See how the bottom of the V sts are in the center and on either side of each croc st

6. Ch 3 (counts as first dc), and 4 fpdc around 1st side of V st, ch 1, 5 fpdc. Skip v st, repeat (so the crocodile sts will now be on the 1st, 3rd and 5th V sts, instead of the 2nd and 4th, so that the 'scales' will alternate with each other).

Repeat the row of V sts and then the rows of fpdc to create a scaly pattern.

And obviously this is just a quick swatch to practice, but when you add more scales and more rows it builds up nicely to make a very dragon like piece of artwork.

While I can not provide you with the pattern for the dragon slaying gauntlets arm warmers, I can tell you that I got the pattern from Bonita Patterns. She has a lot of crocodile stitch patterns (and I hear she even has a book, too), which might be worth spending a couple bucks to see how the stitch works in an actual piece.

I look forward to seeing all of your dragon scale armor textiles!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2011 NaNoWriMo Update #4: Day 15

50,012 / 50000 words. 100% done!


Average Words per day: 3,334 (Down by about 300 words since the 9th)
Music: The Broken Bells Pandora Station. This is officially a record for the LEAST amount of time spent listening to Chrono Cross music while writing a novel.
Average Junk Food Consumption: Way below average (I'm trying a change in diet to hopefully help my chronic asthma)

I DEFINITELY expected to have had this finished on the 13th. I was at 45,000 words the night of the 12th, and I figured if not the 13th, then no way would I get past the 14th without 'winning'. But the 13th came and went, and I only wrote 295 words. It was very apparent that I needed a break, and just tried to roll with it, however difficult it may be to write about 7% of what I've been averaging. When midnight hit on the 14th, I only had 975 words to go, and what should have taken 45 minutes or so took roughly 2 hours.

It definitely got rough in the last few days. I've been spending a lot of time online, looking at absolutely nothing in particular, and just wasting time in general. My plot also took kind of a boring turn that I didn't really care for, and I condensed the plot a lot so as to hurry things up.

There is definitely st least another 7,000 words to this story, but I'd rather take my time getting those words out in the next 15 days, or frankly, whenever the hell I feel like :)

Oh! And in even COOLER news, since this is the second part to what I wrote in August, when I added this to the 1st document, the story is 338 pages, totaling 104,494 words! How CRAZY is that?! Like a real book :D

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2011 NaNoWriMo Update #3: Day 9

32500 / 50000 words. 65% done!


Average Words Per Day: 3,611 (Up since last time by about 300 Words/Day)
Music: TOTALLY addicted to the "Indie Chill" station on Slacker. I put in on one day when Pandora had a hiccup that was lasting too long and I CAN NOT TURN IT OFF. It is perfect for my writing.
Average Candy/Junk Food consumption: About the same as last time, not outrageous.

I was hoping to hit 35k by tonight, but a misunderstanding with the boyfriend prevented me from doing so, and I ended up stuck out of the house, sans netbook, for about 3 hours.

I am definitely starting to feel...tired. Being so disconnected from everyone and everything for just over a week is starting to take it's toll on me, mentally, but I just keep writing. I guess I feel like I have a lot to say. I just finished up my first weekend since NaNo started, and I'm actually rather disappointed that I didn't get more done. However, maybe doing something besides writing for a couple days was good. And, afterall, it's not like I didn't write ANYTHING, I got about 5,000 words written over my weekend, so it could have been worse.

I'm also feeling rather egotistical. I haven't found too many other people on the site with as many words as mine, so I'm seeming to have a hard time keeping my ego on it's leash. But, you know, sometimes I think I kind of deserve this. I don't really shine anywhere else, not the way I do when I do don't I deserve to be as egotistical as everyone else for 1/12th the amount of time that they are? Maybe I'm just looking for excuses. I don't know, this has definitely been one of the more emotionally tolling WriMos since the 1st one I did.

I hope everyone else is doing well, and keeping up with where they want to be.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 NaNoWriMo Update #2: Day 6

20023 / 50000 words. 40% done!


Average Words per Day: 3,337 (Up by about 600 words/day since last update)
Music: Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy, and my Pandora station stays on Florence + The Machine more than the Ratatat station.
Average Candy/Junk Food consumption: Probably a little higher than last time, although not outrageous.

Sound the victory horns, I am DOUBLING EVERYTHING. The par for the day today is 10k, and the words per day to finish on time is 1,666...where I have doubled both of those *Curtsies*.

Yesterday got kind of rough, my story took a very morbid turn, and my protagonist was being tortured and taken advantage of, pretty much for the whole day. I was at work, and when I walked away from my computer, I felt overwhelmed, and the weight on my chest was heavy and scary. I thought maybe it was work that was overwhelming me, but we were slow, and I realized it was the story I was writing. I had to turn off the computer and read something nice (Hello, Guild comics!) so that I didn't find myself clinically depressed.

I was so excited to get home, relax a little bit, and pick up the novel again, in hopes of taking advantage of Daylight Savings Time, but after cranking out an entire 200 words in about an hour, I shut the laptop and called it a night. I had worked 12 hours, woken up early, and was still trying to stay awake even later, while writing about torturing my MC. No, it wasn't meant to be.

I actually thought I may have been running out of steam, but after cranking out another 4,000 words, and getting my supporting characters in the story to save my MC from an eternity of torture, things are looking up (for my spirits, and for Faye).

At the rate things are going, I should be finished by November 14th, so let's see if I can keep up that word average for the next week or so ;)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Update #1: Day 3

8334 / 50000 words. 17% done!


Average Words per Day: 2,778
Music: Xena Soundtrack and Ratatat Pandora Station.
Average Candy/junk food consumption: Below average for a NaNo Event.

I am rather surprised at how well this is going. I have never written a 2nd part to anything I've ever written during a NaNo event, and the words seem to be flowing almost effortlessly. I have had some panic-induced moments of writer's block, but when I slowed down, and really tried to think about it, I picked a direction, went with it, and never looked back.

I am having some procrastination issues (mostly in the form of NaNoWriMo forums, and blog posts), but even still, I am still ahead, doing well, and enjoying my story (even more so than the 1st part!)

I have some beautiful scenes, some ugly scenes, German ninjas, and I made Christopher Columbus a vampire (mostly on a whim, but I love it!). I am also making the stroy less serious and more quirky than the 1st part, and am enjoying that decision SO MUCH! Hopefully when the two parts are put together it will work out, but the amount of revising I will have to do is overwhelming, so I'm going to try not to think about that.

I am two days ahead, and and can hopefully surpass even that. I am trying to get as far ahead as I can now, so when I become overwhelmed and tired, I won't fall behind.

It looks like I'm going to have my 4th NaNo Victory this year, and a complete 3rd novel! I am so excited!

Also, I'm thinking about looking into Scrivener, but I'm not sure how easy it is to use. Does anyone have any experience with this program?