Tag Archives: DrawMo

Day 1: Well-begun is half done

Back Bay Brewing cap, originally uploaded by cynthiacloskey.

It’s November, that heady month when people across the Web and around the world leave behind silly things such as reason and rationality and hygiene and take on tremendous challenges. NaNoWriMo. NaBloPoMo. DrawMo! And many other Mos of which I’m as yet unaware.

This year I’m tackling DrawMo and NaNoWriMo, with special twists on each:

For DrawMo, I’m working with just one medium: the Brushes app on my iPhone. I’m not an accomplished artist, I have never worked in waterpaint, and I downloaded Brushes just yesterday. Above you can see my first drawing. It’s interestingly difficult to paint with your finger on a tiny screen. The good news is I can only improve.

For NaNoWriMo, I’m going to do something I haven’t done in any of the years I’ve done this event: I’m going to post everything in the novel, in full, as it’s written. Yes, I’m going to expose every word of what is sure to be a really shitty first draft to the glaring light of the Web. I won’t do it on this blog — I have another site all set that is more sturdy, the better to withstand the onslaught of terrible fiction.

The thing is, I haven’t written today’s quota of words for the novel yet, and due to tomorrow’s work schedule I need to go to sleep right now. So I’ll be starting this novel a day behind.

No matter. I can catch up.

Are you thinking of getting in on this impossible challenge action? I hope you are. I could use the company.

To tempt you, I am offering a prize: an official “No Plot? No Problem!” novel writing kit, a product of the NaNoWriMo organization. I have one kit, brand new and unopened, from a past year when I was a Municipal Liaison. It includes:

  • The excellent NaNoWriMo writing guide No Plot? No Problem!, written by Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo
  • Daily noveling briefs
  • A month-long, guided, displayable log with gold stars for keeping track of progress
  • Motivational materials
  • The Radiant Badge of the Triumphant Wordsmith

You know that you want this. The price on it is $19.95, but they aren’t sold any more, so who knows what it might be worth. It’s a collector’s item. It’s a major award!

To enter the drawing to win, please comment below. Your comment must contain either (1) the working title of the NaNoWriMo novel that you will write this month, which name you may change at will later but that you commit to finishing under some name; or if you are not doing NaNoWriMo this year, (2) the title and synopsis of an original novel that you will not be writing. The wackier, the better. (That is, you don’t get more chances for writing a weird and wild synopsis, but I will enjoy reading about it more.)

UPDATE: Additional rule: To win the noveling kit, you must supply a mailing address for me to ship to that is within the United States. International postal costs are a killer, eh?

I’ll hold the drawing Wednesday, so you’ll still have most of the month to make use of the noveling kit’s advantages.

Write on! Draw on!

The day after: thoughts on my Month Impossible

Today, I did not have to write a massive number of words for a crappy first draft of a novel. I didn’t have to draw anything. I planned to write a blog post, but I was not required to do so.

I’ve never been required to do any of those things, of course, not by any regulatory or other entity. The only person who has ever insisted that I had to undertake any creative endeavor has always been me. For a lot of people, that fact makes all the stuff I completed yesterday puzzling.

Here’s what I did: I wrote the first draft of a novel, with a word count of at least 50,000 words, for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I made 30 drawings in 30 days, for DrawMo. And I posted at least one blog entry every day for 30 days, for National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). You can find my initial rationale for doing all this in an earlier blog post.

In the rest of this post, I tell what happened this month, what I discovered, and what I plan to do next.



Continue reading The day after: thoughts on my Month Impossible

Month Impossible: Day Thirty, This is the end

Cold War Clock
Originally uploaded by ckaiserca

Ten in the morning, November 30. Fourteen hours to go, fifteen thousand words to go. I am cutting it really, really close.




UPDATE: 12:15pm: Now at 37,011 words, plus one more drawing completed. Time for lunch. Lunchtime entertainment: the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

UPDATE: 3:24pm: Up to 39,019 words. Need to increase the pace a little if I’m going to make it.

I’m doing other things during writing breaks: fielding calls from clients, working on our website portfolio, discussing a template design with Anthony. Every now and then I’m checking the most recent updates on the big news of the day, a hostage crisis at Senator Clinton’s campaign HQ in New Hampshire. I’m not feeling desperate enough to grab onto this event as fodder for my plot, fortunately. I hope the situation is resolved soon.

The last few thousand words I wrote are basically a tangent to the rest of the novel. I think they might work better as a short story, and once this is all over I will go back and extricate them, flesh the story out, and see what it looks like on its own.

UPDATE 4:40pm: I don’t think I can stomach any more coffee. Mom brought over some food for my dinner. Yeah Mom!

UPDATE 5:20pm: 40,000 words. Completely out of ideas. Time for dinner, with the hope that a new idea will pop up while I eat.

UPDATE 6:56pm: 41,033 words. No ideas, but still throwing words at the page, watching them stick.

UPDATE 7:56pm: 42,044 words. Also posted the drawings from the last few days and today to Flickr. Still four drawings to go. And of course about 8,000 words. Listening to an old Robert Palmer album (they are all old, yes, but this one is very old), "Sneaking Sally Through the Alley," which I think was produced by or features someone from Little Feat. Funky and bluesy, makes me want to dance.

UPDATE 8:55pm: 44,051 words.

UPDATE 9:20pm: 45,012 words. There are creases in my forearms where they rest on the laptop edge.

I’m listening to a CD called "In Loving Memory Of…." by a band called Big Wreck. I had seen a video by them late at night years back, liked the song, bought the CD without hearing any other songs, and for once liked the whole CD. I’ve never heard anything else by them since. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, though, I can show you the video:

I remember now: the lead singer of Big Wreck = yummy.

And it looks like there are more videos — maybe they’re still making music? I’ll have to explore that … after I’m done with naNoWriMo.

UPDATE 10:19pm: 47,127 words.

UPDATE 10:46pm: 48,036 words. Closing in on the end.

I won NaNoWriMo 2007!

UPDATE 11:36pm: 50,143 words and done!

The end was hairy, and although I meant to leave all the characters alive this year I ended up killing a bunch of them in the final hour. Very strange how that works. If I do more with this particular manuscript, I’m pretty sure the ending will change.

But for now, it is perfect. Now I have just four drawings to make to complete DrawMo on time. Excuse me.

UDATE: A bit after midnight: Drawings now finished and uploaded. DrawMo doesn’t have an official measuring device, so I confess I fudged a little and kept going past midnight. It’s still the same day if I haven’t gone to sleep yet, right?

I am one weary person — but a highly creative and dedicated weary person. I’ll write up some thoughts on the month over the weekend, when my hands don’t hurt so much and when I’m more alert.

I think I will continue with daily blogging through the end of the year. I’m enjoying the conversation, even if sometimes it seems I’m talking mostly to myself. My goal was to try and rediscover what I enjoyed about blogging, and that has been the most fulfilling goal I reached.

Thanks for coming along on this adventure with me!


Month Impossible: Day Twenty-Nine, Tick-tick-tick


Originally uploaded by Poagao

It’s a quarter after nine pm, the second to last night of November. Here’s what I need to finish before midnight tomorrow night:

1. Write 19,692 words and have them verified by the NaNoWriMo word count tool (allow time for the crush of others also trying to verify at the last moment).

2. Post the several drawings made in the last couple of days, and draw and post ten more.

3. Post at least one blog entry tomorrow.

4. Remember to post on the NaBloPoMo website about the posts on this website.

None of that is too terribly hard.

Oh, I guess they sound hard. The main traits I need to make them happen are endurance, and courage. Endurance to stay awake and keep typing when I really, really would rather be sleeping or doing just about anything else; and the courage to be really, truly, definitely awful.

So let’s see how this evening goes. I’ll update this blog entry periodically with word counts and general reports. Check in via the comments if you’d like to cheer me on.

Our goal for the evening is 10,000 words — more than I’ve ever written in a single day. And here we go!

Update: 11:09pm: OK, so I was momentarily distracted by other blogs, and by the momentous launch of WearPittsburgh. Go, click on the Store tab, and buy yourself a shirt, then stock up on gifts for loved ones. The pierogie shirts are my favorites, as they spread the joy of this special food to the world.

But then I got my fingers going a little, and now we are 500 words or so closer to goal.

Which is not far, I know. We go on.

Thanks to everyone who has commented or sent an email of support. Without you, I would have given up and gone to sleep by now. Hmm, so maybe not so much thank you as damn you…. No, thank you! Onward!!

Update: 1:47am: Another thousand words. I felt my music selections were holding me back, as they were drifitng toward Elliott Smith. I do like the sad emo boys, but on this occasion the depressive, suicidal/mysteriously murdered subtext played poorly. I switched to Robert Palmer — he’s dead but died of natural causes, and somehow that was better. But I ran out of tunes. Jumped onto iTunes to buy some more, and somehow managed to nuke my iPod. It’s restoring now.

If I fail to finish this novel, I will blame iTunes. they have failed me in my hour of need.

I suppose I could tap into this huge pile of CDs that brought me solace for years before there ever was an iTunes….

Update: 3:00am: Brewed a pot of coffee, retrieved the iPod after it had mostly restored. Hate everything in the world right about now.

On a practical level, my hands feel mostly OK. The coffee is kicking in. The rest of the world seems to have gone to sleep, and left me to deal with this manuscript on my own. I’ve written 3,000 of the 10,000 words i’m hoping to complete tonight.

Once more into the breach, my friends.

UPDATE: 3:03am: Forgot to mention that I sketched a clock, the second of two this evening.

UPDATE: 3:13am: Another drawing done. Damn, they are so much easier to pull together than paragraphs of text. What’s that saying … a picture is worth what? Turns out to be just about correct, except they forgot to mention the time savings.

UPDATE: 3:38am: The novel, which started out as a fairly standard piece of fiction, has now devolved into some sort of Paul Auster/Dave Eggers/Bruno Maddox bit of meta-fiction, all self-reflective to the point of perhaps not being fiction at all. Have you read Bruno Maddox’s “My Little Blue Dress”? It’s witty and fun. Not deep, i’ll agree. But it reflects on the relationship between author and creation.

Another thousand words done. I notice that I’m having trouble capitalizing things correctly. Time for another drawing.

UPDATE: 4:24am: Another drawing, another thousand words. It’s interesting to witness my thoughts grinding down. Each thought is an effort, spelling is a challenge. I’m done for the night, and I’ll deal with the rest when I wake.

Month Impossible: Day Twenty-seven, Murderers, animated treadmills, and yet more writing

Promotional photo for Murderers, at Pittsburgh's City Theatre

I’ve mentioned before that "Murderers," currently playing at City Theatre on Pittsburgh’s South Side, is a terrific play and well worth your time and money, yes?

The play is three monologues, each by a different actor, each beginning with the sentence, "I am a murderer." The play is by Jeffrey Hatcher, a playwright with a strange and dry sense of humor that apparently is closely aligned with my own. He also wrote "A Picasso," which City Theatre put on last year and which I enjoyed quite a bit.

"Murderers" is even better. It’s full of slight asides, charming characters, murder and revenge and people saying very unreasonable things in very reasonable tones. The sets, costumes, sound, lighting and direction are all excellent, and the performances are layered, rich, and engaging. Plus, the intimate Lester Hamburg Studio is an ideal space for these intimate tales of life and death.

What did others think? City Paper loved the play too and the Tribune-Review admired it and wondered if a crime spree was bigger than imagined, while the Post-Gazette didn’t care so much for the play although Christopher Lawson admitted he laughed along with the rest of the audience. As for me, I suggest you find an evening in your busy holiday schedule to slip down to the South Side and take in this play, as an antidote to all that’s saccharine sweet about the holidays.

"Murderers" continues through December 22. Find more information, including how to get tickets, at the City Theatre website.

In other news of things I like, my close personal friends OK Go got a shoutout on the Simpsons this week:

NaNoWriMo update: You’ll note that the word count in the meter in the sidebar is speeding upward. I’m writing my pretty fingers to the bone. thank you to everyone who has offered encouragement. It may sound a cliche, but your words help me keep generating my words.

DrawMo update: My brother Anthony sharpened all my pastel pencils, so I’m set to churn out some pretty new things. And some ugly new things too — I don’t much care right now, as long as I catch up.

Month Impossible: Day Twenty-six, Let’s get it on

Steelers win. Worst ever Monday Night Football game, and possibly worst ever NFL game. But we won, and it counts.

Starting my NaNoWriMo writing for the day … now. Yeah, it sucks. Even my mom thinks I’m not going to meet the 50K goal. But she’s kind of a pessimist.

Will be drawing during breaks in writing.

Wish me luck, because I need it.

Month Impossible: Day Twenty-five, Quakers, Presbyterians, and pirates


Some thoughts at random:

  • I read the headline “Quakes kill at least three on Indonesian island” too quickly, and I thought, “But the Quakers have always been a nonviolent people.” And what are Quakers doing in Indonesia anyway?
  • Repeal Day, the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition in the U.S., is coming on December 5, so I’m on the hunt for some spicy ginger beer with which to make Presbyterians. If you know where can I get some in western PA, please email or leave me a comment.
  • I find that music from soundtracks provides good background while I’m writing. Today I listened to the soundtrack to “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” I didn’t feel inclined to introduce any new pirate characters, but I may set an upcoming chapter on an island. Tomorrow I will try the soundtrack to “Amadeus,” because I want some character to play piano. Or wear a white wig.

DrawMo update: Still running behind. One winning strategy at this point would be to do very simple drawings, to save time. Instead, I just spent about forty-five minutes drawing a leaf. But it’s pretty, so that’s OK. You can expect simpler drawings in the coming days though.

NaNoWriMo update: I nearly gave up today. I’m working hard, and obviously making much better progress the last few days, but the holiday weekend is just about gone and this next week will be tough. The final week of any month is the busiest for us at work. So as I looked at the little quota graph there in the sidebar, and thought about the time I’d need to find in each day this week, I felt a pang of despair.

But then I read Julie’s super-encouraging comment to yesterday’s post. How could I give up when I have the chance to be “the stuff of legend”? I must go on.

Month Impossible: Day Twenty-Three, Count it out

Love that sudden jump upwards

I’ve reached the happy word count of 12,345 words in my NaNoWrimo novel draft, which seems an opportune time to stop and post a short blog entry.

It is still not at all certain I’ll reach the 50k mark by the end of the month, due to what I’m gradually coming to recognize as a paradoxical combination of workaholism and procrastination.

As you know, if you’ve followed my NaNo 2007 saga, I’d blocked off today for writing and writing only. I didn’t go to the parade on my small town’s Main Street, nor the soup party that friends threw afterwards. I didn’t shop anywhere (not that I would have withstood the crowds anyway.) I had been booked for babysitting duty, but then I was relieved even of that.

In other words, today I was at home, with nothing I to do except write.

And what did I do? I researched project management tools and started constructing an elaborate set of my own making. I worked on a client project that could have waited until Monday (and made nice progress). I paid bills. Did laundry. Make a batch of oatmeal cookies — delicious, by the way.

I spent nary a moment at rest, and I found just about every thing to do aside from writing.

But then, at last, I did make myself sit down, and open the file that is the novel so far, and start typing words into the keyboard. I resigned myself to the probability — no, the near-fact — that what I was writing was complete garbage and would mean nothing to anyone around me, or even to myself.

Sure enough, just as miraculously as a hard and tiny seed cracks and sprouts and becomes a seedling, the first crappy paragraph led to another, and another, and the finally to a paragraph that was passably interesting. And then the characters, who up until then had been sort of poking at each other as if with sticks, walked into a room that was intricate and fun to write about. And then we were off and churning out some … well, it’s still crappy stuff, but at least it’s going somewhere.

And, critically, it’s pushing the word count upward.

More yet to write tonight. Probably no drawing, for fear of changing creative gears and throwing everything off. Even trying to construct a proper metaphor to explain my fear just now felt risky. I’m going back to the fiction right this moment. More updates tomorrow.

Month Impossible: Day Twenty-One, Pie Preparation


I’m on dessert duty for my family’s Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. I rarely get dessert duty — Mom usually makes most of the dishes and brushes aside my offers to make pie, leaving me to bring a vegetable or other side dish instead. But she had knee surgery recently and is healing only slowly, so she is having to rely on the rest of the family more. So at last I get to exercise my mad pie-making skillz.

I’ve had a hankering for bourbon pecan pie ever since Uncle Crappy talked about having it at a tailgate party. It’s easy to make, as is the requisite pumpkin pie that I’ll also be bringing.

The only hard part might be the crust, but I’m armed with Julia Child’s food processor-enabled recipe. Regular flour plus a little cake flour, stick and a half of butter, four tablespoons of shortening, big splash of ice water, whirl it around for a few pulses, gather it up and refrigerate for a few hours, then roll it out and put it in a pan. It’s easy as pie. (Hah!)

NaBloPoMo note: You remember that "NaBloPoMo" stands for "National Blog Posting Month," right? Today is the twenty-first day in a arow that I’ve posted at least once. I’m enjoying the experience — and the traffic to this site has gradually drifted higher with the passing days. More importantly to me, the average time visitors spend on the site is increasing, and the percentage of repeat visitors is on the rise. I hope that means you’re enjoying this as much as I am.

DrawMo: Six drawings behind, so I’d do well to make two drawings a day whenever possible. The month is almost done, and I don’t want to find myself needing to make a big pile of drawings on the last day (as I did last year).

NaNoWriMo: Another reason to keep up with the drawings is that I’ll most likely be spending the last few days of the month typing nonstop. Ooh, boy, am i in a pickle on this. I have all of tomorrow to write — outside of pie-making and feast-eating of course. And then on Friday I’ll be babysitting my niece in a house without wi-fi, which means that once she’s asleep distractions will be minimized, so novel creation can be maximized. At least, that’s the theory.

Month Impossible: Day Twenty

I had scheduled a meeting with a client tonight. I’ve always been open to night meetings, especially since small business owners sometimes have day jobs or other commitments that make it hard to meet during work hours. As I was driving to the meeting, the client called to cancel — feeling sick, not able to meet and definitely not wanting to spread contagion.

I thought, Cool, I can catch up on some novel writing and drawing and working. Came home and fixed dinner, gradually unwound a little, and realized that a night without obligations would have benefits.

So: No DrawMo and no NaNoWriMo. I’d already posted today a couple of times, so I’m still current with the NaBloPoMo challenge, but if I could I’d skip that too. I hereby allow myself to relax for several hours!

Secretly though, I’ve got an ace in the pocket for my challenges. I’m going to keep it secret for a few days, in the deluded hope that not stating it publicly will force me to stay a little on course. Ah, the ends I go to, trying to trick my own brain.