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An interesting side effect of NaNoWriMo

Thursday, November 03, 2011

(For anyone not familiar with this form of self-induced torture, NaNoWriMo is a yearly challenge to produce a novel of 50,000 words or more during the month of November. See for more information.)

I'm the first one to admit that I have a real problem with self-discipline, second only to issues with procrastination. I began writing the 50,000 word novel to see if I have the self-discipline - or can develop it quickly enough - to complete the writing challenge. I started a day late (see above re: procrastination) and so far have roughly 2500 words down - about a day and a half's worth. However, this is the second day in a row that I have sat down with the intent to work on the novel and have done so.

Two days in a row may not feel like much to you self-disciplined types out there, but for someone like me, it's a real milestone. Not only did I actually begin something, rather than just thinking and/or whining about it, but I kept at it for a second day.

Oddly, this little burst of discipline or motivation or whatever we want to call it, has already begun to leak over into other areas of my life. For the second day in a row, I ate a healthy breakfast and will soon have a healthy supper. I also - two days in a row here, kids - got a wee bit of exercise and intentionally drunk a glass of water. Again, for lots of people this will not seem like much of an accomplishment, but for me, it really is, for I am the poster child for Short Attention Span Theater.

Luckily it does not have to be great writing, it just has to be writing. So I'll keep at it for another day, and then perhaps a day after that, which will surely be some sort of Personal Best. And we'll see what happens from here.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HIPPIECHIC68 11/8/2011 6:41PM

    You are ahead of me...I procrastinated so much, it wasn't until I read your blog I thought...I was going to do that!

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    (left my browser open for four days and this was still here waiting to be posted....)

In't it amazing how things start to fall into place when you force yourself to do what you do best?

Love being overwhelmed by the why-did-I-ever-stop-doing-this bewilderment and the why-did-I-wait-so-long-to-get-back-
to-me regret.

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FRACTALMYTH 11/7/2011 1:47PM

    I want want want to do nanowrimo... I have at least two novels begging to be finished (and probably more if I went through the pile of paper under my wardrobe... but alas, once again, I get up superearly to work because I must earn some money, spend a precious hour following around some lovely interesting Sparkperson, feel guilty, return the nose to the grindstone until the offspring awaken (while snatching my exercise in 10 minute breaks every hour) and there is no time for the intense creative endeavour I dream of. One day. Ah well. When I grow up I want to be an old woman. Since I am starting baby number 3 at the well-ripened age of 38, I had better make sure I am healthy enough to be an old old old old old old old woman, if I am going to get done all that I want to do! Enjoy your nanowrimo-ing for at least one Sparkfriend who both envies and dreads your splendid isolation and the freedom it brings with it!

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F.SILVI 11/7/2011 1:01PM

    Good luck! I am slowing working my way toward 50k. See you in the winner's circle!

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PIXIEMOM13 11/7/2011 10:07AM

    Thats great. Unless a last minute idea hits me and just DEMANDS to be written it looks like I'm not doing Nano this year. But my husband I'll be as good support for him as I can. (Like he is with me in my weight loss and fitness endeavors.)

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REBECCAMA 11/7/2011 8:25AM

  Way to go!

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APPLEPIEAPPLE 11/4/2011 11:40AM

    Sounds challenging. My husband wrote short storys of Sci-Fi and sold a couple. My son dabbles as well. Me, I try, but I just can not seem to find the nitch that I can put into those many words.

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HIPPICHICK1 11/4/2011 11:09AM

    Practically every person I know is writing a novel this month! This is great!!! You know that you are a natural when it comes to writing and if the side effect of writing every day is eating breakfast and exercising a bit then I say NaNoWriMo your brains out grrl!!

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CEKER9 11/4/2011 2:04AM

    emoticon emoticon
Since you are doing an awesome writing task, I commend you and trust that you make it through until you have enough words to meet the challenge. And that you continue to have the "spin-off" positive effects with your efforts.

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RUSSELLORAMA 11/3/2011 11:41PM

    That's definitely a cool side effect!

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REDWRITINGHOOD 11/3/2011 11:15PM

    I'm so happy for you!

I tried NaNoWriMo several times and failed. Mostly because I have this horrible perfectionist streak that rears its head every time I have any good amount of writing down. I want to edit right away rather than just let the words flow. I need to work on that. I decided to pass on NaNo this year. I just didn't need to pressure myself with that additional stress. Maybe next year. :) I might try the PAD Chapbook Challenge this November, though. I do PAD (Poem a Day) every April (except this year) but can't seem to focus enough to produce to the prompt every single day. I save the prompts in case I need something to kick start writing for me and I produce some really good work (even if it isn't every day of the month), so it's all good. :)

Good luck NaNoing! I shall NaNo vicariously through you this year :)

Comment edited on: 11/3/2011 11:16:15 PM

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MLH148 11/3/2011 10:26PM

    It is amazing how NaNoWriMo forces you to find time you didn't know you had-- and you can use it for other things as well-- like exercise. Keep it up!

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    My best writing comes in spurts of inspiration and I can't force it. It's either there or it isn't. I admire you for trying this. It would be hard for me.

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PUDLECRAZY 11/3/2011 8:38PM

    Good gravy ~ that sounds like an ambitious project!

Writing is probably the major thing I procrastinate about. I don't like it. Yet I have to publish in our publication for our school twice a year. I am told I am a good writer, but I agonize over the right word, the right turn of a phrase, whether I have clearly expressed myself, etc. I used to think I wanted to write books, but my professional writing totally quashed that notion because I find writing makes me want to do a million other things instead of sitting down to write.

So, I am in awe that you are taking on this challenge, and totally understand the procrastination.


Comment edited on: 11/3/2011 8:39:35 PM

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SUZYMOBILE 11/3/2011 6:43PM

    I'm so excited for you, in part because I know you're a great writer. Well, I like reading your writing anyway. And the slopover effect is wonderful!

I keep meaning to "write more." It's on my list of things that I keep meaning to make more time for, but then I just write a blog here or write a review on TripAdvisor and call it a day. Plus, the day's over by then. The discipline of a novel?? Yikes! I'd have to outline the damn thing first. (Spoken like a true procrastinator, right?)

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BETHGILLIGAN 11/3/2011 5:48PM

    YAY!! Good for you!! Glad it's "leaking" into the rest of your life, too! You go, girl!

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I don't understand today's Healthy Reflection

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

"Think about the last time you had the choice to fold under pressure or to rise to the occasion."

This is similar to when well-meaning (or not, I guess) folks ask if you're all right. What can you say? I've wondered, if I were to answer, "No, I'm not all right, not in the least" if the questioner would then press the magic rewind button and make the trouble go away. The closest to the usually obvious answer, "NO!" that seems acceptable is, "I'll be fine."

"Folding under pressure" sounds like a delightful option, a sort of Victorian era swoon, that causes one to be gently lowered onto a velvet-upholstered day bed. The next day the swooner would be sent someplace quiet, to wear a white dress and sit outdoors on a bench on the lawn, feeding ducks. "Shhh. It's all been too much for her, the poor dear."

I do understand that sometimes people handle bad times poorly, and this could, I suppose, be called "folding under pressure." We've also all seen people who, when confronted with disaster, mutter, "the heck with all this" and leave the mess for someone else to clean up. But to me, the first person is trying to rise to the occasion, just doing a poor job of it, and the second is neither rising nor folding but refusing to take part altogether (which may be avoidance and may be self-preservation and good common sense - but that's not what we're talking about here.)

Maybe it's naive of me, but I believe people genuinely do try to rise to whatever occasion presents itself. Because of their own histories and personal make-up, they may meet with varying degrees of success, but I can't imagine anyone saying, "No, sorry, can't cope. Must take to my bed and wait til you've all solved the situation. Don't forget to bring my tray and be sure my tea is hot and sweet - shock, you know."

To add to this, I believe that the worse the situation, the more people are willing and able to respond. Evenings when the mosquitoes are bad might find folks hiding indoors, but in times of war or natural disaster or just severe family hardship, people are quite good at assessing the situation and acting. We may joke about a "crise du jour", but I believe that in a genuine crisis, most people will make a mighty attempt to "rise to the occasion."

It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.
Sir Winston Churchill

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    I agree. I tend to be the type that usually rises to the occasion but have had days where I did go to bed because I was so clumsy or fried that having a knife in my hand almost ensured I would lose a digit. LOL. It was fun to give up and go to bed with the vapors.

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MINDHORIZON 11/3/2011 1:24PM

    I suspect that only rich Victorians were able to swoon like that. The vast majority probably had to buck up and deal with the hard work at hand. And it was hard work back then. After all, we didn't have washing machines, dishwashers, automatic heaters, and the like. Just getting through the day required manual labor.

There are some who would hide and do nothing when pressure demands otherwise, even when pressure is minimal. I think the majority will do what it takes to get by. A select few will excel under pressure.

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_UMAMI_ 11/3/2011 10:32AM

    I've been handed a lot of stress this year, and I've lost it a few times. I don't think I folded so much as exploded. (imploded?)

The only time I'd say I "folded" would be when someone close to me sensed my struggle and said, "Are you ok?" (or the like). THEN all manner of emotions bubble up and I'm a mess. So, I've been avoiding people I know, for the most part. Probably not so good.

Though I didn't see the original Healthy Reflection, I liked your take on it.

(and OUCH, all that typing has me needing to retire to my chaise with my bottle of vapours)

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HIPPICHICK1 11/3/2011 9:12AM

    For some reason the term "folding under pressure" sounds like a laundry term to me today. Folding clothes as fast as you can as more and more come tumbling out of the dryer or off the clothes line and are heaped onto the bed.
Maybe all the pottery-making is making me daffy!

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    I like how you put that. Especially today. Today I feel like I want to be Victorian and swoon. However, that isn't an option. No one to pick up and take over--not that there is much to take over, really. I'm just feeling overwhelmed again and I need someone to sit with me and help me through what I have to do. Except there isn't anything anyone can really help with. It's just stuff at work and my homework. So, I'm going to go take a 5 minute walk and start again, and hope things feel a little less heavy (darn those lead pencils). :)

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PUDLECRAZY 11/2/2011 3:28PM

    I enjoyed your blog! I agree with WalkingtheWalk - it is hard for people who naturally rise to the occasion to imagine people who do not. I've been around both people who do and people who don't.

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WALKINGTHETALK 11/2/2011 11:58AM

    great blog with some definite truths. It reminds me of a time in my life when my husband and I made a very difficult decision while our daughter was ill in hospital and the hospital social worker we were talking to commented on how strong we which I responded "We aren't strong. We are just doing what we have to do" which she responded "but some people don't"

I think people who "rise to the occasion" just can't imagine that there is an alternative.

thanks for a very thought provoking blog!

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SUZYMOBILE 11/2/2011 11:25AM

    I'm so glad that you're back blogging! I do agree with you, but unfortunately there are those who do "fold under pressure" and take to their bed or the bottle (medicinal or liquid). On the other hand, when put in extraordinarily stressful situations (such as the Chicago fire or the great San Francisco earthquake) groups of people often do act rationally and altruistically--such as the lady in Chicago who set up an impromptu soup kitchen in the midst of the rubble. I read a book about that a few years ago.

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A true "ghost" story for dog lovers

Monday, October 31, 2011

First a bit of background: I live in a 200+ year old house out "back of beyond". I believe I have ghosts, or whatever you want to call them - all benign, helpful presences - in the house almost all the time. The house has seen lots of births and deaths and everything in between, and with the exception of my daughters, everyone in my family and my husband's family has passed on, so there are plenty of contenders for "spook of the hour."

Last night at about 11:30, I was upstairs in bed reading when I heard a noise. It sounded like a, "Whoop! Whoop!" followed by a sort of grumbling noise - not a scary growling, but the sort of sound a big dog makes when it settles down. We have plenty of coyotes and other wildlife, but while the sound was sort of familiar, it didn't sound like coyotes or the town's resident wolf (we'll discuss that another time) and besides, it sounded like it came from the downstairs hallway. Lucy, our midsized couch-potato dog, was of course sound asleep, and Kona, our ancient collie, passed away last summer after a series of increasingly debilitating strokes.

The sound didn't seem threatening and I don't scare easily anyway, so I kind of pushed it out of my mind and went to sleep.

Kona, in his youth, used to have these streaks of exuberance where he'd race through the house, round and round, knocking over tables and people and anything else silly enough to stand in the way of an 80 pound dog having fun. I was thinking the other day (when I had to drag Lucy out of bed at 4:00 to go take a walk with me) that Lucy had never done anything like that, even as a puppy. Coincidentally, last night at supper time, Lucy, quite uncharacteristically, had grabbed her bone and then gotten down in that front-down, hind-end-up posture that means "let's play!" and then taken off in her first around the house zoom, an unprecedented three loops.

This morning I figured it out, and if you've ever owned a collie, you've probably figured it out, too. Collies are known for having a very wide range of vocalizations, and the reason I didn't recognize his "Whoop! Whoop!" was because it was his youthful voice, not the raspy, breathless voice he had in his last couple years. Apparently his spirit had been around all day, influencing Lucy and inciting her peculiar exuberance.. And that grumbly sound was, indeed, the sound of a big dog settling in, right at the foot of the stairs where he always slept, still keeping an eye on his household.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EMRANA 10/31/2011 8:22PM

  Awwww! I love paranormal stories and this one was really sweet!

Happy Halloween!

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KIYOSHI04 10/31/2011 6:55PM

    brought tears to me, too.
just lost my mastiff this summer. been hoping all day for a peek from beyond from him.
gosh how i miss that dog.
i am glad that your pup decided to pop in and say hello.

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_UMAMI_ 10/31/2011 6:46PM

    Sweet! Love surpasses physical boundaries.

And interesting that it was happening when the veil between worlds is supposedly "open".

Happy Halloween! I've been thinking about your spider comments for over a week!

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BETHGILLIGAN 10/31/2011 3:07PM

    Awesome!! I love this! I wish a couple of my old doggies would visit!!

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MORTICIAADDAMS 10/31/2011 2:55PM

    How cool that Kona decided to come for a visit! It's good to know that your loved one still is around.

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APPLEPIEAPPLE 10/31/2011 2:24PM

    Nice to have a another protector near. Here is mine. 10 years ago my husband passed away. I was alone and one night I chose to get out the old Quija board. But as I was playing with it- it suddenly spelled out "U B Good 2 Me" It had to be my husband. Since then occasionally something happens which reminds me of his pranks. For example: A pillow would suddenly fall on me from the back of my chair at the right time he would have done it. I would need an answer and somehow the book I needed would appear. Or May be just a coincidence.

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CEKER9 10/31/2011 1:42PM

    Nice to know you are being watched out for by and old friend!

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SUZYMOBILE 10/31/2011 12:13PM

    Ahhhh! I was hoping for a good ghost story from you for Halloween! This one not only provided a Halloween ghost story, but a few tears as well. How I wish Dingo could come back and haunt us, but (a) he could never find us here and (b) ghosts have never graced me with their presence. (I must be unusually spirit-insensitive for a Scot, though occasionally I'll have a precognitive dream about something totally insignificant and stupid.) Now, however, I'm in email touch with the folks who bought our house in NH. If anyone experiences Dingo as a ghost, it will be them, poor souls.

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Fun stuff...oh my.

Friday, October 28, 2011

And now fall to your knees and thank God that these aren't your next door neighbors.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

INFLATED 11/2/2011 3:59PM

    Our neighbor would probably have used his gun on it. He threatened the people that used to own this house before we bought it that he would shoot a hole in the pool because they had wild parties and shined a big spotlight while they were up at 2 AM.

I like quiet. "Every day I'm shufflin'" emoticon

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PUDLECRAZY 10/29/2011 7:33PM

    LOL! One more reason I love living in the middle of nowhere. Fun to look at, but I would not like to live next door. My kids would have loved going there, though.


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_UMAMI_ 10/28/2011 10:38PM

    not letting me select url, so I can't see....wahh!

Oh, Brian (my secret boyfriend) clued me in on your dire winter storm warning. NOW I get your apprehension from yesterday!
Stock up and hunker down, m'dear!

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APPLEPIEAPPLE 10/28/2011 11:29AM

    LOve it!! emoticon

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HIPPICHICK1 10/28/2011 10:48AM

    It's a pretty cool video, but would have been better with zombies, vampires and ghouls dancing in the driveway.

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MORTICIAADDAMS 10/28/2011 10:40AM

    Love it!! It's my favorite song right now.

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SUZYMOBILE 10/28/2011 10:21AM

    I thought you had that going on at YOUR house, with the light blobs an' all ...

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DIY Tip - something Bob Vila never mentioned

Monday, October 24, 2011

Never stay up until after 1:00 a.m. stripping wallpaper in your two-hundred year old house, while the tv in the next room is showing stories of Hauntings, all of which seem to begin,"The family was happy in their home, until they started to RENOVATE..." emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DANCINGGARDENER 10/27/2011 11:37AM

    It wasn't YELLOW WALLPAPER was it????


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MORTICIAADDAMS 10/26/2011 3:44PM

    ROFLMBO!! Sounds spooky!! emoticon

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HIPPICHICK1 10/26/2011 9:50AM

    Thanks for the tip!! YOIKS! emoticon

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LUNADRAGON 10/26/2011 4:16AM

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs at that hour, it was just hallucinations. You were sleeping between the wallpaper.

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SLIMMERKIWI 10/25/2011 5:20AM

    I tell you what - if that had been ME I would have been a heck of a lot slimmer and the flush would have been working overtime - LOL!


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ACIMPEGGY 10/24/2011 9:33PM

    Bet you tend to munch then, too.

Funny! emoticon

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SUZYMOBILE 10/24/2011 8:16PM

    And now it brings to mind a very creepy late-19th-century story called "The Yellow Wallpaper," by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

This is where the movie audience is yelling at the heroine, "Get out of that house!"

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JANEDOE12345 10/24/2011 5:28PM

    Allow me to wish you the very best as you decline into total madness. I say a padded wall is always more comfy than wallpaper.

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BETHGILLIGAN 10/24/2011 1:33PM

    Maybe you could decide you LIKE that wallpaper???? You're my hero to even be doing this alone in the middle of the night even!!!

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SUZYMOBILE 10/24/2011 1:14PM

    So .... in the immortal words of Paul Harvey, where's "the REST of the story"?? Do you have any ha'nts?

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