Tag Archives: winter

NaNoWriMo2017 – Week One

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This year’s National Novel Writing Month just happened to coincide with the first time I’ve been out of work in a while. I work for a temp company, and my assignment ended the last day of October (fun day, having the last day be Halloween!). Until they give me another assignment (or I find another job through applying), I have, uh, some free time.

So, on the one hand, it’s fabulous I suddenly have all this time. Since I’ve been so busy working, writing, taking care of goats and my partners, dealing with depression, etc, etc, it’s been amazing to be able to do things like: clean the house. Actually fold and put away laundry. Write for a few hours, instead of a few minutes. Plan meals. Get a few barn projects completed I’ve been putting off forever. Excetera.

On the other hand, it’s become blatantly obvious to me that I’m somebody who really needs structure. As much as I love setting my own schedule, if I don’t structure myself, I will get nothing done. Maybe it’s depression, maybe it’s just my ADD. Either way, I hear it’s pretty common, so maybe you know what I’m talking about.

So! Over this past week, I instigated a routine. I’ve heard for a while that getting dressed, even though you work from home, helps you be productive. Because clothes that are too comfortable tend to make you relax and not doing anything.

So, the first thing I did last week was put on real clothes. Comfortable ones, but clothes nonetheless. (Sidebar TMI: I hate my bras, so instead of that, I put on a comfortable sports bra. Still supportive, but not constrictive, ya know?)

Secondly, is something that’s probably a little sexist of me. In the past, and on the first day I was officially ‘working from home,’ I starkly remembered: I have really bad dark circles under my eyes (I’ve had them since I was a kid), and when I catch myself in the mirror during the day, all I could think was how tired and sick I looked.

So I broke down, and put on just a little makeup in the morning. Nothing complicated at all, just eyeliner and cover-up under my eyes to take away from the dark circles.

Is that terrible? I feel like it’s terrible, but I don’t care. Because I definitely noticed a change. I didn’t feel gross when I looked in the mirror, despite the fact that I know my reaction comes from an unrealistic standard of beauty pushed on women from capitalism and the media. I felt good about myself. Which set me up well for getting what was needed done that day.

After a week of this, I’ve come to realize that doing a household chore that’s not related to writing (bringing it back to the whole point of this post), helps spurn the writing productivity. Maybe it’s because it gives me time to think over what I want to write that day, I’m not sure.

Maybe, however, it’s because my most productive writing times seem to be late morning and late afternoon. I used to be a night owl, no doubt about it. But somewhere between working so much and life, that’s been changing for a while (I can barely think straight after 10pm… I’m becoming old!). This last week I found the word-churn happens around 11 until 1, then there’s a lull, and it picks up again a few hours later.

Anyway, the point is, I think I found a routine that will work for the time being.

Something else that happened, though I’m not sure if it’s an actual pattern or just a coincidence, is that I was much more productive at the beginning of the week versus latter in the week. I think I’m going to test that out going forward, and make myself go write at a coffee shop or something to see if a change is what’s needed there.

ANYWAY. That’s a lot of personal technical stuff to be talking about here in this blog post. Let’s get to the fun part: the writing.

As I have mentioned before, I’m working on a New Adult cyberpunk-ish that’s exploring environmentalism and the relationship between developed and developing countries (or really… oppressed and oppressor). It’s also got quite a bit of romance and philosophy and all sorts of fun science-based ecology.

If you stalk me all on social media you might have seen me relaying some frustration with colonialism tropes, trying to be different, and REALLY trying to get away from the “white savior” tropes. On a basic level, I think I’ve got the concept down. For the minutia though… the first doubt-hurdle of NaNo has appeared.

It’s really easy to fall into what’s ‘comfortable’ in interactions between characters. Especially in a romance, which is pretty heavy in this book simply because of the themes. (The female MC wields ‘fertility’ power. She realizes how much her gifts could help said oppressed society, and tries to help the future leader of this society while rather falling for him.)

Right off the bat I have a problem because writing ‘incoming White Person falls in love with Indigenous Character and saves them’ has been written about a million times, and can be pretty offensive. Simply because it takes agency away from the ‘oppressed’ society and centers the ‘white savior.’ Somewhere along the line I’ve started wanting to flip ‘white saviorism’ on it’s head and center the marginalized voice in this circumstance.

I thought I wasn’t writing that, but the more I get into this story, the more I have to yank myself out of that trap. To start with, based off of lovely advice from CPs, I’ve changed this into a dual POV that had both the ‘outsider’ and the ‘insider’ as voices. With dual POV, it’s not just the ‘outsider’ that had a voice. It’s de-centered her narrative some. (That’s what I’m writing for NaNo this year: fulfilling the second POV to balance the narrative.)

The second thing I’m doing to avoid this trap, is that the ‘outsider,’ with her magic gifts, is not going to be the main person spearheading the ‘saving’ and revolution of the ‘oppressed’ people. They’re doing that all on their own, but she, trying to be an ally, is going to help them, because she has a gift that could really help. (In that, I’m trying to explore what it actually means to be an ally, to write a story where the ‘invader’ isn’t the ‘hero’ per se.)

I wrote a draft last NaNoWriMo, and this year, I’m diving it into again with the different POV. Now that I’ve dove into it again, with a lot more information on tropes, it’s the little details keep catching me up. Just in the interactions of the main characters, it’s too easy to slip into themes of all the other stories I’ve read before without being different and avoiding bad stereotypes.

At the same time, I want them to feel natural. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at the slow burn, and some of that comes from just letting it flow. But can I trust my instincts on so much of this, when ‘instincts’ often come from a place of seeing the same tropes repeated?

*bites nails endlessly*

Unfortunately (and fortunately), this is NaNowriMo, so you don’t get time to become paralyzed over things. Well, mostly. I freaked for a bit there. I did my best at making their relationship what it is at the very beginning, and all I can do now is edit later.

I’ve just hit ‘Act Two’ (for lack of a better word) in the novel. The first act is messy, just starting to get them to understand each other before I ruin everything, and a little dark. Act Two may be my favorite intellectually because because it’s a huge learning curve for the female protagonist, where she really starts to learn about the people around her and what she could do to help. She starts realizing — the restlessness she’s been struggling with in her previous life has an answer, and it’s here, where she can do the most good.

But it’s a minefield. How do I write from the perspective of the ‘white savior’ without de-centering the perspective of the people who really matter — the indigenous to the region she’s wanting to help?

(I don’t have an answer to that, I’m still working on it)

I actually wrote all of that last NaNoWriMo, so it’s kind of a moot point (editing, editing, editing…) but I am writing from the other POV during this time, which means that I can really start to explore everything that I’m worried about.

*cue paralysis*

This act centers around my female MC escaping and trying to get home. Unfortunately, she had to avoid all sorts of danger from all sides, and my male MC is trying to a) track her down, but b) keep her from harm.

In this, there’s a lot of focus on her. But I can’t make it all about her and her discovery, even though that’s what she’s doing for herself right now, because colonialist trope problems. But, that’s where they are naturally. However, my two protagonists also don’t have contact with each other in Act 2, which means I can really get into the differences of their perspectives and talk about these issues I’m worried about.

I could argue, that in Act 3, it centers a lot more back upon the ‘Indigenous’ voices and how she can assist but doesn’t take over their fight for revolution. So maybe Act 2 doesn’t need to be the make or break. At the same time, since I’m writing from this different POV, I want to give an alternate to ‘white person discovers new culture etc etc etc’ narrative that can shine a light on everything I’m trying to say.

*crickets*

Yeah, I’m worried about it too. The best I’ve got so far is to talk about themes of what ‘white person invaders’ really looks like from the inside, the reactions and otherwise, and try to poke at that whole complicated issue. Can I do this well enough? I’m not sure. (Lord knows I’ll need to hire as many sensitivity readers as I can get my hands on.)

In my heart of hearts, though, I’m worried that the real issue is not the minutia of the story but the concept itself. I’m worried that the very core of the story is flawed for what I’m trying to do. It’s still a story about an invader coming to an indigenous culture and trying to ‘help’ it… it’s still has a romance across this whole complex situation… it still deals with a power imbalance between two civilizations that I probably don’t understand the nuance of.

At the core, I am trying to write about the relationship between societies like this, with environmentalism as its focus. With what I’ve learned about the pitfalls of this, I’m trying to write a story of a ‘good’ ally with an alternative to the normal stories we’ve seen. Am I fudging the problems of writing this while not completely turning it on it’s head? I’m not sure. I can justify my decisions in why elements exist in this story, but I’m not sure I have the talent to do it well enough.

So that’s what I’ve been struggling with during Week One of NaNoWriMo.

After all of this worry and negativity though — writing from the second POV, Zavier’s POV, has been amazing. I love writing him. I probably like him as a character better than my original main character. And I feel like, if I do this right, I can really do something wonderful with this story.

Right now, though, I just need to hammer out these words. Most of these things are issues I’m going to have to figure out during editing, because I’ve already settled on what my core story is going to look like. NaNoWriMo is not the time for redoing everything! And maybe I’ll gain some more insight as I continue writing on how to solve some of this…

ANYWAY. That’s a really long post! How is everyone else feeling this NaNoWriMo?

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My Winter – as told by goats

All right, so we’re going to stray from the usual writing topic for this post. Partially because I’m not sure what to write about here, and partially because I want to.

As many people around North America are experiencing, spring time is here. (Except not in Oregon apparently, because we got freaking SNOW just earlier this month.) I thought I’d display my winter, as according to goat pictures… You’re going to be subjected to many pictures of goats. Goats in the winter. Goats in snow. Baby goats. Goat noses. I’m pretty sure you’ll survive the torture.

If you follow me on Instagram, many of these pictures many be familiar — but never in a fun story and all together like this!

Let’s start with a moment from Fall.

Three of my goats traveled to my parent’s house during the summer to clear some of their brush. As the weather turned, they came home. And it was a little comical. First, we had Phe and Duchess, who wanted to drive.

And then there was their expressions when they arrived…

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What… where have we been taken to!?

Phe and Blackberry immediately got into a fight, as they were herd bosses in their respective herds, and they had to work out who was herd boss of the overall herd now.

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They eventually figured out there differences and everyone loved each other again.

Now let’s talk about the holidays. Thanksgiving I ended up spoiling them. Look at this masterpiece of edibles I created for them. Apples, two kinds of grain, vitamins sprinkled on top…

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The boys were a little lost on how to eat the apples, but everyone else pretty much thought they’d died and gone to goat heaven.

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When Christmas came around, we (the humans) were a bit more selfish. We decided to drag all the goats out to my parent’s house Christmas Eve, so we could spend the night and not worry about having to run back home to feed them. I have many sides of the family, so the holidays become pretty hectic bouncing from house to house. Moving the goats made it so we didn’t have to run back to our house as well.

(Goat Brains: torn between eating the food
— and staring at the world as it sped by them)

They weren’t too happy about their small temporary enclosure, but they sure did like the walks that the whole family took them on for the days we were there. Things to eat EVERYWHERE. My parents definitely enjoyed their company, and my extended family was eager to meet the ladies I talk about so much…

(Sari is very concerned I’m leaving in the loud metal machine)

Not long after that, the first snow hit. I’m pretty sure that the goats have never seen snow before… or at the very least, never seen that much snow, where it actually stuck around. It’s too bad WordPress doesn’t support video files; I have a fantastic video of them racing back and forth with me once they figured out it didn’t hurt them.

No one wanted to leave the barn, but I kicked a few goat butts outside one day to make them get exercise. Needless to say, they weren’t really happy with me (Sari stood there pathetically while trying to only stand on two feet at the time).

And they had NO idea what to do with all the white cold stuff at their feet…

(Goat brain: Do we eat it??)

A month or so later, Beltane and Inanna became old enough to need to establish their hierarchy in the herd with each other, so that was a big day. (Note mom in the background making sure it doesn’t go too far.) I’m still not entirely sure who won. I think Beltane (the black one) did. Again — I also have a very funny video of Beltane playing king of the hill and refusing to let her sister get up on the brick mountain with her…

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And now that we’re halfway through MARCH, the sun occasionally does come out to grant us with it’s presence. The goats won’t step outside if there’s a hint of rain, so it’s a pretty big deal when the sky is clear.

It’s pretty great to go outside with them and read, too.

My summers are peppered with memories of napping out in the sun with the goats (who will lay with/on me and nap too), so besides the obvious I’M SICK OF THE RAIN, I’m pretty excited for summer to get here. I also can get a decent amount of writing done when I go outside with a laptop and watch them graze. They are fairly distracting when they try to jump on me and the computer of course… but that’s another story.

And don’t worry, I won’t blog TOO much about goats. Though, I’m pretty sure I’m going to post something when Sari and Blackberry kid (early May!), so look forward to pictures of brand new babies in not too long here…

Until then, toodles! I hope this was fun and entertaining for you all. Feel free to comment and share!