Is NaNoWriMo Hard?

The answer is yes. Unbelievably, soul-crushingly hard.

I call this the "Write By Whatever Means..." strategy

I call this the “Write By Whatever Means…” strategy

Last year, I wrote my first complete book in about 10 months. A year later, I am certain the book needs extensive revision and does not make sense to publish now (my first book: a memoir? At age 25? Sami, you delusional, egotistical fool!). All the same, just 10 days ago, I still believed in my incredible abilities to write quickly and make it to the finish line.

That has hilariously all changed, due to the “borderline unsustainable”* schedule required to win National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. 1,667 words a day x 30 days = 50,000 words = screw my social life. I can write 750 words in 25 minutes! I reassured myself. Only if these 750 words are a stream-of-conscious diary entry! I strategically ignored myself.

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Today I am supposed to write 2,905 words. Due to my poor discipline, I am 1,238 words behind my schedule. Therefore, I am procrastinating with this blog post. Even my blog post is difficult, because 10 days of NaNo has changed me.

My inner editor and my inner drafter used to have a fairly loving, symbiotic relationship. Drafter would drag her feet just enough (a.k.a. constantly) to inspire Editor to soften her voice and offer timely, helpful feedback, and the occasional cheerleading. Now, Drafter is forced by the whip of word-count demands to write alone, desperately, sometimes with spelling errors (!). Editor does not take kindly to being silenced, so she lives in the margins of the Google Doc I use to write, leaving behind increasingly abusive comments and rows of yellow highlight.

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Inner Editor would like to point out the timestamps are completely inaccurate and Google Docs should be ashamed of itself.

Before NaNoWriMo, I liked my first “drafts” of scenes enough to often include them nearly verbatim in the final script. Now I hate them. I hate them all, I’m a terrible writer, and I should give up forever. Except…

Into week two, I feel myself approaching a membrane in my consciousness. Where, before, I saw the written word a narrow bridge for the tongueless voices of my thoughts to reach the ears of others, I now see a waterfall to burst a dam. Perhaps I will now, finally, immediately think in words (odd writer that I am, my natural state is to think in pictures and vague emotions, and the words only come after warming and thinning like syrup over flame). Perhaps I will short-circuit the connection between mind and keyboard.

A diorama I made for another writing project

Or, at least, I’ll train myself to draft like rabbits breeding and, at the end, my trigger-happy editor will have a maniacal slaughter.


*words of Kelly Lagor

VIP Access (to My Writing)

I’d like to express my weekend in mathematical equations:

San Diego heat advisory + parents going out of town + permission to turn on their AC (for the animals) = Write-in Lockdown

4 cups of coffee + 6 Bloody Marys + 1.5 Adderall + 18 hours = 7362 words

P.S. Thank you Kelly and Ed for joining me, and for knowing what that one word is like 7 times.

Writing party

Five months ago I vowed to make something out of six hours of recorded interviews with my dad and half a botched collab-book-effort that I’d started in October, and to be talking to an agent before I turn 25. This weekend I passed the 60,000 word goal I made for myself when I started to track my progress in a spreadsheet.

There’s still more book to write (I need at least another 10k for my Christian phase), but I’m, obviously, fucking pleased with myself.

Anyway, I’ve started mentioning this wordy beast when people ask what I’m doing with my life. You know, because besides drinking, it’s all I’ve been doing with my life. A few champions among fools have even offered to help edit, so I’ve been writing names in a note in my phone. HAHAHA I will hold you to it!

If, “The author writes letters to her father about the childhood she kept secret from him,” aliens, ghosts, and/or my overwrought emotions interest you enough that your response is, “I would totally read that and offer my very-solicited advice,” then let me know. I’ll add you to the VIP list.

For everyone else, here is the public-access free sample. It is about being a VIP, of course.

July 22, 2014

Dad,

I was writing a letter to you when a friend of mine called. She had two VIP wristbands to a Stephen Marley / Slightly Stoopid concert and her other friend cancelled, and wouldn’t I go with her? “And hang out with a bunch of stoners? I hate stoners! I used to be one.” She laughed, and picked me up in just 20 minutes.

Of course, the weather was stunning, cloudy but warm and comfortable. Our hookup included access to a free pre-show barbecue; macaroni salad, beans, chicken wings, ribs, which I ate in that order, and with plenty of homemade sauce for the meat. We sat in a shaded area with no more than 60 people, listening to the attractive DJ who had gotten my friend the free access — who you could say is “courting” her. We stood our ground shyly for awhile; a band member came and shook our hands and we smiled, oblivious until we saw him signing autographs. We played at the starstruck game and followed two friendly women to take photos with the lead singer. Then the show began and we went backstage.

Backstage itself, I quickly realized, is a bit silly. I couldn’t hear anything but noise, and while viewing the audience from this angle did make me feel a little important, I would only ever go to such things if a friend connected me with the opportunity for free. Which is, I suppose, how these things work.

After we availed ourselves to free drinks (tipping, of course), DJ sweetheart took us to the stands with his pass. It was hilariously difficult to convince them to let us into the general admission area, so my friend’s new sweetheart joked, “Oh, you can eat lunch with the president and use his bathroom, but you can’t, like, you can’t…”

“Go in his front yard!” I laughed. Though they wouldn’t let us in the pit, we made it to seats, up a few rows. Sleep Train Amphitheatre has sweeping stands and grass, which I would like to sit in someday, at the very top. Cheerful brass rang out from below and Stephen Marley’s son waved his flag, at times looking more like a proud, miniature man and not the little kid I had just seen running frantically through catering before the show. We danced in our chairs, wiggling our hips and our knees and playing invisible drums with our hands. Sunlight broke through clouds far to my right, and I stared at it streaming down.

I was so grateful just to be feeling happy again that I could have cried. Tears did spark my eyes, a little. How lovely is my life that a friend can take me for an unexpected adventure, with good company and good food and music? And I am so grateful the clouds parted so I could enjoy this day. I am much stronger than last time, and as always I have so much support. If this is really depression I am fighting, it won’t be as bad as before. I am already feeling so much better.

Meta Post – What is SDSurvivalGuide?

First, announcement!: I will be moving posting day to Tuesday as an experiment for awhile. This should negatively affect almost no one because you can still check my blog on Thursdays; it won’t even be a problem.

I was checking my stats and there’s actually a consistent buildup of traffic on Tuesdays. Tuesdays are, in fact, exceedingly boring, even with all the taco deals in town. So I will attempt to make Tuesdays less boring and bring content to those shouting at their phones/laptops, “Internet, amuse me!” (Everyone does this, right?)

Secondly, ohmywhatthefuck I had some internet success WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? And, what, more importantly, is this blog about?

This website started with a dream. I could take all my knowledge about partying in SD (which is vast, primarily because of my main woman, Katelyn) and share it through the power of the internet. I could form an elite group of partiers who would descend on events like glitter locusts and leave kickbacks sparkling with glaze of alcohol and shimmer of sex-sweat. Meanwhile I would provide consistent weekly content to attract readers and build my reputation as an aspiring writer.

Over time I realized it was just NOT feasible to invite internet randos and even my facebook randos to all the parties. People just want to party with cool, non-creepy people, okay? Reddit does have public kickbacks, so go be with them if that’s what you want.

(I am still toying with a snapchat auditions idea — blast out a call for cool people to join me at parties, and those with impressive snap responses will be sent the time/location. Stay tuned.)

So, all that’s left is the writing part. How on theme do I have to be? I don’t know. Contrary to popular belief, no one pays me for this. My payment is the feedback I get when I run into people I know around SD. The unexpected followers. “Hey Sami! I’ve been reading your blog, it’s really good!” Aww shucks, buddy.

But! Glorious discovery this year! It turns out that what the people really want is feminism! (This post broke my all-time views record.) And I could write about that endlessly. Here’s my life: 1. Work 2. Go to bar/club/party 3. Encounter a situation that needs feminism 4. Want to write about feminism. So, the theme now includes feminism. Because I said so.

Anyway, the real truth is I’m writing this blog (and in-part started this blog) because I’m also writing a book. I knew that being able to show to agents/publishers that I can cultivate an audience and output consistently would only help me. I knew that I wanted to practice writing under deadline, and to develop my voice. And I knew I wanted to wrap my head around San Diego.

So, please do feel free to give me feedback (the comments section allows you to post without signing in to anything). Expect updates about the progress of my book after I get an agent (planned sometime later this year). And get ready for Tuesdays to be less boring.

<3 sami

P.S. consistent feedback suggests the internet needs more cute/wacky pictures of me:

Yes I am wearing a bunch of beanie babies I hot glued together as a garment.

Yes I am wearing a bunch of beanie babies I hot glued together as a garment.

 

FOMO NO MO’ (How to Cope with a Fear Of Missing Out)

So the strep and its zombie cousin stole 4 weeks of my summer.

I MISSED PRIDE.

I had some serious FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) anxiety that could only be staunched with coping strategies of questionable healthiness. Please benefit from my guide and learn how to conquer your FOMO.

FOMO Coping Strategy #1 — Disparage their fun!

pride-freebie-trash-rainbow-flagNope to the festival, I’m not going to pay to let people hock their merch at me, even if their merch has little plastic rainbow flags stuck in it. Last year I did get free stuff. Free TRASH stuff. The only thing I even wanted to see this year was the parade, but ew parking and ew getting up early and ew the sun.

Nightlife? Who wants to pay $20 for a block party that ends at 11?? And how much did Rich’s charge for cover? I heard Brass got up to $30.  You know what, people said it wasn’t as fun as last year (even though it only was the most historical year of Pride in my life as an adult so far…) But like three people said it wasn’t as fun.

FOMO Coping Strategy #2 — Your alternate plans are so much cooler/mature/subversive

wine-F-1-locations-if-you-see-kay-menage-a-trois-recordsYes, I had to stay in, and yes for my health I didn’t want to drink. But wine is just juice. I can have juice. I also invited over a couple of attractive people. Attractive people who recently went through antibiotic regimens like me! We covered the floor with records: Steely Dan, Roxy Music, Talking Heads, Undertones, Elvis Costello. Our tastes are so sophisticated. And we got all artistic with some body painting. And we went night swimming. (Because swimming in a pool at night when you are sniffling and coughing is sound decision-making. Thanks, wine juice.)

FOMO Coping Strategy #3 — Escapism

minecraft-custom-skin-princess-village-pigsI’m not into minecraft anymore; I’ve just played too much of it and you can only put so many low resolution cubes in your castle before… Oh, heyyyyy there, Minecraft. On a new server. With my brother.  You build the farm. I’m going to go chop some wood. Let’s put the mine shaft outside the main house instead of underneath it, this time. Holy what happened to 4 hours?

FOMO Coping Strategy #4 — That-fun-thing-you’re-missing actually would have killed you. Obviously.

chloraseptic-cough-drops-meds-sick-sinus-robitussinWe all know that the Zombie Strep is activated by heat and debauchery and I’m sooo glad not to spend a boatload of money to 1) get sunburned at the parade and 2) get drunk in a pit of attractive queer women who want to make out with me. Do you realize how many strains of new and exotic viruses are flying in from around the country, world even?  No thank you, spawn of swine flu.

FOMO Coping Strategy #5 — You are going to have way more fun! IN THE FUTURE. It will just blow away all the fun you used to think was so important, haha, silly you

pspride-palm-springs-pride-laptop-sunglassesOther cities have pride, and on weekends that don’t coincide with the nastiest string of sicknesses I’ve had since I was too fever-delusional to watch anything with more emotional intensity than South Park. Palm Springs Pride, woo here I come! Palm trees! Warm weather! Drinking! Everything I would have got in San Diego but not in San Diego……..Oh, heck yes, Palm Springs night…life…?

Anyway.

How are y’all nerds coping with your SD Comic Con FOMO? I’m using my family reunion as an excuse to dip town, as well as strident self-affirmations that I don’t care about Comic Con because I suck at geekitude anyway and it’s not like all my friends are going (all my friends are going).


Unrelated Life Update

lookin-sultry-in-the-sun-balboa-pink-sunglassesHey you. I’m going to do Novel November. Exciting! By the end of that month, I’ll crank out a swanky first draft of a book I’ve been prepping since last year. I’m sort of anti-procrastinating by doing some of the legwork right now. Feels like I’m breaking the rules. I love breaking rules.

One of the most important steps to successful novel-ing is developing your “Elevator Speech,” which starts with an intro/summary that you can say in one breath. To some schmuck in an elevator. Who you found out is a publisher/agent/millionaire/popular-kid. And you need them to like you. And you have 1 minute of juicy trapped-together-in-elevator time. Go.

Through conversations with her father, a daughter discovers the ghost of her dead brother inside her childhood alter ego as an alien princess.

Maybe sort of interesting, ya? Let me clarify. I’m writing a book that is a true story. Nonfiction. About me.

Through conversations with my father, I discover the ghost of my dead brother inside my childhood alter ego as an alien princess.

So, it is really important that I get honest reactions to these scripts. Please respond privately in the box below, or with your real face on the facebooks.

Your reaction can be one word. Even if you just type “WTF?” into the box, it will give me some idea of how the world feels about my story.  Be as critical as you want. I haven’t even started writing the book yet. Maybe I’ll write a book about belly button lint instead. Anything can happen at this point.

Thank y’all <3