The Deep Breath Before November

Technically, I should be working right now. I have a website to maintain, articles to write, other author’s short fiction to read for Fiction Vortex, and a thousand little projects around the house patiently waiting for me to get off my butt and get to work.

Instead, I have given myself the day off. Except for this communication to my Misdirected readers, I suppose. But that doesn’t really feel like work. More like a one-sided telephone conversation with a really large group of friends.

Celebration of The One (Out of Two)

Today’s day off originates thanks to the day itself: Halloween. Those of you who know us and love us know that Halloween is one-half of the two monster holidays celebrated in our joint household. (The other being Superbowl Sunday. We’ll talk about that one closer to February.)

This year, as usual, we have decorated, bought candy, re-decorated, considered and rejected costumes, made some additional changes to our decorations, and finally arrived at today – the holiday itself.

Lor will undoubtedly make more changes to our decorations today, though.

We discussed moving to a “skeleton” theme this year but ran out of planning time. So, instead, we pulled the trusty “spider” motif out of storage. Upon applying it to the house, we decided it needed a little more “Oomph.” We added bits here and there, and now it looks like this:

Yes, that is a gigantic spider hanging just over the mailbox under the eaves. Let’s hope our mailman is not an arachnophobe.

Now, we sit and wait for the hordes of little monsters to come and beg for candy and toys. (Yes, we give away both. The kids actually like the little 10-cent bubbles and slime better than the actual candy. Who knew?) Lor still has to carve her pumpkin, but otherwise, we rest in the calm before the storm.

Speaking of that…

The (NaNoWriMo) Storm Descends

A month from now I’ll be an author.

Again.

Well, sort of.

For the first time, I’ve decided to participate in the National Novel Writing Month event. This is a challenge to novelists to complete an entire novel in the month of November.

Well, sort of.

The target for the month is 50,000 words, which would be a very short novel indeed. (Inheritance, for example, clocked in at 85,000 words +/-.) So, really, what I’ll be left with at the end of the month is a framework of a novel. Hopefully a beginning, a middle, and a resolution. Introductions of my main characters and plotlines. And the warm and fuzzy glow from having actually finished a book.

Well, sort of.

For me, the main goal is to see if I can finish a story in a month. My stories normally are long and rambling affairs that take me literally years to complete. I cut dozens of scenes totaling thousands of words out of Inheritance. Over the course of seven years! With the majority of that work taking place in the last two years, of course.

So the real question is: can I remain focused enough to write an average of 1,600 words a day? Every day? For a month?!?!?

November is gonna be a beast. I still have my commitments to Fiction Vortex: I will be reading and editing 10,000 words of text every week.

I still have my commitment to Misdirected: I will still be blogging once a week here.

And I still have client writing work: you know, the stuff that actually pays for food and coffee.

Somewhere, in all this, I am going to have to find time to write an average of 1,600 words a day. Every day. For a month.

I am simultaneously frightened and excited. What if the whole thing crashes and burns and I give up after 4,000 words?

But, a little voice keeps asking me: What if it is good?

Starting tomorrow, I am about to find out.

 

…And A Question For You

As part of the project, I am going to be keeping a log of sorts of what I manage to do every single day. Otherwise I will never finish. I know myself well enough to be aware that if I don’t hold myself accountable, I will hit a rough patch and say “Oh well, couldn’t do it.”

So, the question becomes: are you, the readers of Misdirected interested in this log?

If you are, I will log somewhere public. I have a Tumblr page that has literally been sitting ignored for months that I could dedicate to a “micro-blog” tracking my progress.

But, if no one is interested, I will simply write things down in a journal for my own edification. Let me know what you think on Facebook or Twitter.

Hyper Ventilating,

Jeremy

 

Happy Halloween!

The “How To Host A Murder” Party. A wretched collection of scum and villainy.


The day has arrived! The house is decorated, the creepy music soundtrack all queued up, and Stranger Things is ready to roll on the TV in the living room. Halloween is here!

Honestly, though this is by far and away Lor’s favorite holiday, it has not been one of my favorites for a very long time. Normally, I prefer to just stay at home, spend some time on Facebook, check out everyone else’s costumes as they attend their Halloween functions, and tell myself that I don’t really like these kinds of events anyway.
But, the real problem is that I have always hated how I look in costume. Lor loves playing dress-up and can carry any costume with style and panache. I always felt like an over-inflated balloon that someone had stuffed a costume on. Lor was forever getting after me to participate more fully with her, and last year I told her, if I lost a few pounds by next Halloween, I would participate.
A little bariatric surgery and 88 pounds later, it was time to pay up.
To my surprise, I had a really good time. While Lor put up our giant spider web on the side of the house, I designed our spider-infested front door. (Which has made many visitors very uncomfortable.) We carved pumpkins. We worked together to pick treats for our trick-or-treaters. (Toys and eyeball bubblegum, no candy this year.) Instead of letting Lor do all the work while I grumbled like the Halloween version of the Grinch, I threw myself into the holiday and found out I had been missing an awful lot of fun over the years.
As for our costumes – we were invited to a “How To Host A Murder” party last weekend, set in the 1940s. We got to dress up in period costume, which was awesome. And we looked really great, if I do say so myself:
You handsome devil, you. And Lor looks good too!
Who knew that Halloween was so much fun? Normally I would just sit on the couch with my hand in the candy basket – one for the kiddos, one for me. Not anymore! Now I am out there wearing suspenders and doing…stuff. Yeah, That’s me! I am officially converted to holiday participation.
Come Christmastime, No More Threats Of Santa Costumes For Me!
– Hawkwind

Candyphobia

As the days grow shorter and we can begin to feel the bite of colder air, our thoughts turn to the upcoming holiday season. No, not Christmas – what, are you nuts? I still have plenty of time to think about that. No, actually, I refer instead to the most popular holiday in our household:
Halloween.
We are just about ready. The skeletons, pumpkins, and headstones have been pulled out of long-term storage. Lor has made some last-minute additions to our design elements. (See the gigantic arachnids above.) We have even begun looking at costumes, a rare event for the two of us. 
However, a shadow hovers over the household. A frightening subject that we shy away from in terror. A taboo that we desperately wish to break, one step waiting to be taken into the gaping maw of madness.
I am referring, of course, to buying candy for our trick-or-treaters.
In previous years, we would stock up. We get hundreds of trick or treaters at our home, so we would buy huge bags of candy from the local grocery store to be prepared. And we would get the good stuff, too: Twix, Reeses’ Cups, Snickers, and Heath bar minis all made regular appearances in our bowl of goodies. No cheaping out on the kiddos for us, no siree.
And, invariably, we would overbuy. So, for a week or two afterwards, we would indulge in the remnants of our Halloween Candy Explosion, until it was finally all gone.
This year – yeah, not so much. The LAST thing I need is a whole lot of candy sitting around the house just waiting for me to eat it. Sign me up for one ticket to Bariatric Surgery Failure Island. Just not going to do that to myself.
So, instead, we have been buying other trick-or-treat items. Toys, stickers, erasers with spooky designs on them. We tried this last year as well. Lor was enthusiastic, I was skeptical. I was positive the kids would hate these little dollar-store items.
Which serves to demonstrate how little I know about kids. The toys were a huge hit – more popular than the candy by far. There are apparently Halloween scouting apps for smartphones that tell parents which homes are giving out the best stuff – and our house got listed as the best one in the neighborhood. Never underestimate the appeal of plastic fangs and spider rings.
However, I can’t stand the idea of not giving out more traditional Halloween fare as well, so a day or two before the event we will head to a Family Dollar or something, and buy a big bag of off-brand candy. We will make sure that it contains nothing that we like whatsoever. We will allow each trick-or-treater to pick one piece of our off-brand candy and one toy, and fervently hope that we don’t run out. Nothing worse than having to head to the store on Halloween night for an emergency supply purchase.
And, if any candy is left over the next day, we will immediately give it away to someone, so we don’t learn to like whatever the remnants are. Prudence, you know.
Repeating “I Will NOT Buy Snickers” To Myself,
– Hawkwind