Monday, November 10, 2003

Matilda, that is.

After that scathing letter she wrote me, and my chagrined and lame response to it, well...

I more or less started over. Same plot, same characters, but they meet differently in a somewhat different world.

And Matilda's parents are in no way involved.

And my word count is now back at 2507.

I can still do this. I can. My daily word quota is just bumped up. With 20 days to go, I now have to produce at least 2500 a day to make 50,000 by Nov. 30.

Hey, I just wrote 2507 words this evening.

And those are all new words, i.e., no recycled text from the previous version.

I'm saving that desperate ploy for, say, Nov. 29, when I'll maybe introduce Sook the Arapaho Thai chef just for the sake of padding.

Let's hope not. 
  There's a highly therapeutic forum over at the NaNoWriMo website consisting of imaginary letters to the novelists from their characters. The forum is entitled "Dear Author of my life, you are really ticking me off" and can be read in full at THIS URL.

But for those of you too lazy/unconcerned to check out the whole thing, I here post my letter from Matilda, and its response.

Dear Qate:

I can understand why you're making me cross-country ski everywhere, really I can. I sense from your not-entirely-but-still-sorta clumsy foreshadowing that I'm in Year One of the three-year winter before Ragnarok (though as your boyfriend observed, would that really start in Wyoming, just because YOU happen to live there?) and it's the future when we're running out of fossil fuels so we can't use cars just whenever we want to. By the way, that is why I have to ski everywhere, right? You'd better not be just making me ski my ass off because you feel like it. There'd better be a reason why my truck is always frozen in the driveway.

---- Wait, you DIDN'T know it was the future and there was a fossil fuel shortage???????? What the hell is wrong with you. If I could reach you, I'd poke your eye out with my freakin' ski pole, you moron. ----

But why did you have to drag my boring old motel-owning parents into this. Isn't this supposed to be about me and Modi, the god-like energy executive who is secretly behind its being Fimbulvetr? I mean, he's cool as all hell and kind of sexy (you are going to let me bone him before this is all over, right? Right? Listen to your boyfriend, dummy. You said no sex scenes, no bullshit romantic subplot/dada and what did he say? That's right. He said "Blah." And he was RIGHT!!!) and oh, yes, he's TRYING TO BRING ABOUT THE END OF THE WORLD.

Can we please, please, please ditch my parents?


Oh, and how exactly is Modi going to "set the tribes to warring"? So he's got the weather thing happening, that makes sense. But the war part. Hm?

And do I get to go see his crazy uncle sometime?

What about his brother?

You know what your problem is? You are still thinking you're Garrison Fucking Keeler instead of your own self who is interested in a lot more than just listening to a bunch of old men sit around at coffee and talk about buckshot and rain gutters and whether or not the guy who owns the grocery store is a crook. Let yourself cut loose and be the weirdo you know you really are.

Ditch the coffee boys and stop listening to Prof. Rodewald, wouldja? Your boyfriend has the right idea. Think big and be bold and remember, I need to get laid, OK?

Still keeping my fingers (and ski poles) crossed,

Matilda Barto

Dear Matilda:

Baby, I had to start somewhere. I had to establish the scene, the winter, the difficulty of living under it, give people an idea of who you are and where you come from. But if you really don't think your parents and their tribulations running the Barto Hotel accomplish that, I'll axe that stuff (but, dear Matilda, that sets my word count back rather a lot, and it's barely over 5000 as it is!).

And yes, you'll get laid. But you might regret it. Remember what happened to Semele.

Kidding, I'm kidding.

I think.

And yes, I'm letting Tim be my muse. I even wear his shirt when I write, now. It's helping already.

Keep cool, you crazy cat (ha! ha! Like you have a choice! It's Fimbulvetr!!).

Your ever loving,


So, ten days into NaNoWriMo 2003 and now I'm clinging like Linus to a security blanket of sorts.

My boyfriend of just over a month or so was here over the weekend and left behind his periwinkle blue dress shirt, and after an hour of ruining my novel so far (you, my readers, will never see the botch job. I swear this isn't me copping out or over-reacting. I tried to majorly change two characters and they fought back) I grabbed it and put it on (after a glass of shiraz failed to bring me out of my funk and anxiety) and immediately felt better. It still smells like him.

This is incredibly comforting.

Now, of course, I have a new problem. The more I wear this shirt, the more it's going to smell like me and the less it's going to smell like him. And I'm not going to see him, in all likelihood, until after National Novel Writing Month is over.

Dilemmas, dilemmas. 
Monday, November 03, 2003
  AND I'M OFF...

I'm a little under 4000 words into this year's novel, and am much happier with it so far than I was with last year's effort at any point in the process, so I already feel like a winner!

This year I took advantage of a unique but unofficial NaNoWriMo feature. I went to the enemies sign-up forum and got myself a NaNoRival: a humor columnist from Georgia name of Amy Eason. We're about the same age, used to writing to deadlines, but that's about all we have in common. She has five kids and a husband, I have the Collie of Folly. She writes in the morning, I write in the dead of night. She's writing soulful, thoughtful women's fiction (not, she assures me, romance) about a mother and daughter, I'm writing a viking-infested nightmare about the three years' winter (Fimbulvetr) that precedes the end of the world (Ragnarok).

So far, she's only about 200 words ahead of me in the long march towards 50,000. She's sure to leap ahead of me this week, though, as I've got meetings and rehearsals galore, culminating in the Ducks Unlimited banquet and a visit from Thor's Son himself on Saturday. Unless I stay up even later than usual and sacrifice even more sleep, I'm likely to lag.

Unless I cant' sleep in my motel room tomorrow night, which, you never know.

Along with Amy has come yet another enemy, too, who is also a humor columnist, also married with like five kids, only she lives in West Virginia. Bex Hall, have at you.

She's ahead of both of us. Wah.

Anyway, as I said, the writing itself is going much more smoothly. I'm actually sort of pleased with what I'm producing, what I'm learning about my protagonist Matilda (wow! Her family has owned and operated a huge funky Victorian hotel in the heart of the tiny town of Colter Valley since 1923! Who knew!), how Modi is shaping up, and my ability to describe the wintry Wyoming landscape in ways that owe nothing to, say, Chuck Box, after all.

At present, Modi is sitting in eerie silence behind his desk, watching Matilda quickly finish a cup of coffee brought to her by his persnickety Mormon secretary. Matilda is fidgeting. Nice tension.

Hope I can keep this up! 
Thursday, October 30, 2003

The title says it all. As I sit here typing, it is 12:57 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 31 and I've got 23 hours before I can officially start writing my 2003 NaNoWriMo novel.

NaNoWriMo being National Novel Writing Month, a yearly challenge for all those who think they'll write a novel "someday": stop yammering and start writin'. Participants are given the entire month of November... in which to write an entire novel. 50,000 words minimum, which translates to the infamous 1667 words a day.

I pulled it off last year with about nine hours to spare. Most of the fruit of this labor can be seen at the blog I published last year, The Coffee Hour In Saratoga.

This year I'm attempting no such formal innovations as trying to tell a complete story through morning coffee gossip conversations and nothing else.

What I am going to do, well, I'm still thinking about that. Definitely something less fantastic and more publishable, that's my goal.

And while I do, it, I'll keep track of certain amusing stats right here at

I've got stat-collectors scribbled on my walls (chalkboard paint!) to aid in this process, including:

POCC (pots of coffee consumed)

CIGS (cigarettes or cigars smoked, hopefully none)

BI (=Bangs Index, or the number of times I consult the writings of the late rock critic Lester Bangs for solace, comfort, inspiration, or energy)

A tip of the hat to the wonderful, the marvelous, the amazing Gyrating Bhtch, Chicago's most FlavoRiffic band, for the idea of tracking my progress this way. Many years ago, when the boys were recording their seminal rock opera Captain Flywheel and the Produce Section under the influence of nothing stronger than Blue FlavoIce (and these were college men, not 12-year-olds; they could have turned to tougher stuff), kept every FlavoTube, nailed it to the rafters of Meister Mueller's Mansion's basement, and chalked up the number of FlavoIces consumed, number of trips to the bathroom, and other Fun and Popular Facts about each of the band members during the session. 
Kate Sherrod's 2003 National Novel Writing Month journal, with up-to-the-minute stats, rants, musings, bitchings, and taunts for my NaNoWriMo Enemy, Amy Eason.

10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 /

Powered by Blogger