A New Normal?

I have been feeling off for the last couple of days; I just could not stay awake so took lots of naps. And I’ve been a little loopy; dropping things, unsteady, hungry all the time, upset GI system. Then it dawned on me – it’s the chemo stupid!! Since I have chemo only every 3 weeks now, I feel so good most of the time that when I don’t feel good, I forget what’s causing it. One of the side effects of the Pemetrexed (Alimta) I’m getting is severe fatigue, so yeah, I felt like I had to sleep a lot. Combine that with the GI symptoms (and I won’t go into details on that one!), and yeah, I’m going to feel crappy for a day or two. I should have it figured out by now that by the end of Friday of the week I get my infusion, I’m going to feel like crap. Now I have it figured out – until the next time.

The scheduler at my oncologist’s office called me Friday to set up a CT scan for my next visit, and to assure me that my PA had talked to my oncologist and they knew I was concerned about the increase in the CEA level, and that’s why they scheduled another CT scan to get a sense of what’s going on. I will meet with the oncologist right after the CT scan so there won’t be a wait before getting the results. I will also have my CEA level checked the Friday before my Tuesday appointment so we can discuss that at the appointment, too, and not have to wait until a day or two later to get the results. I wish there were a faster, better way to see what’s going on without having to wait to have tests, and then having to wait to get the results. I find the further into this journey I get, the more impatient i get. 

I also think I need to stop researching clinical trials and treatments. I normally like to be prepared, but I think I’m overloading myself and confusing myself about the options available. So I think I need to take a break for a while. And I need to get back to focusing on my writing; I have sorely neglected my stories for quite a while. What brought this home to me is a couple of new followers on my fiction blog; I haven’t added anything to it in over a year. Time to get in gear and write!

 

December Blues

It’s a good thing I did NaNo last year, because this year I knew what to expect. I have heard from other participants that this is not uncommon. I call it the post-NaNo blues, or letdown. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a reaction to a month of living, breathing, writing, a novel. The pace is frenetic, the feeling is one of frantic panic. And then it’s December 1st, and there’s nothing to write. There is time to bask in the knowledge that we spent 30 days writing in every spare moment, and whether or not we met the goal doesn’t matter, we survived NaNoWriMo.

So now what? It’s a curious feeling, and one that is strangely familiar. It’s like those first few days and weeks after graduation when I could read whatever I wanted; I could read a novel, or two, or three; there was no research to be done; no papers to write; no deadlines to meet. Yes, it’s like that.

And then there’s the fact that it’s December, and the hours of daylight are dwindling fast. It’s dark when I leave for work and it’s almost dark when I get home. My energy level sinks, and by around 7pm, I’m ready to go to bed. But I don’t. I stay awake and keep busy, writing, reading, playing with the dogs, watching TV. I know that winter doesn’t last very long. I spend time outside as much as I can because I know sunlight is good for me. I take Vitamin D, extra Vitamin B & C, watch what I eat, and wish I was a bear so I could hibernate through these months. I remember when I lived back East, and it was dark by 4 or so, and the days were cold and the nights colder, and I’m glad I live in Arizona where here in Dec we’re still seeing highs close to 80 and think it’s cold when the lows get in the 40s.

So the December blues only last for a month. January comes and the hours of daylight start increasing again. And before I know it, we’re all complaining about how hot it is, and it’s a dry heat so it’s somehow not quite as bad as the heat and humidity in places like Alabama and Florida. But it’s still hot, and miserable, and we start wishing for fall.

And the cycle continues.

Reflections on NaNoWriMo

Image

Done for another year. Last year was the first year I participated in NaNoWriMo, so it was interesting to do it again and see if the same things happened as last year. Yep, they did.

Writing frantically, every day for 30 days, means there isn’t time for editing. Last year was difficult because first, I’m a short story writer, and second, I tend to edit as I go. I didn’t think I could write a novel of 50,000, but I did it last year, and again this year, so last year wasn’t a fluke.

The other thing I found interesting is that my novels didn’t go where I wanted them to go, and people and events crept in when I wasn’t paying attention. This year, I wanted to write a history of the Divine Sisterhood of Animal Magick, which was something I came up with in a short story. I thought I would start way back in the Dark Ages to show how the sisterhood started and then write vignettes about the sisterhood and its members at different times in history. Silly me!! I should have known better! These were to be people taken in as young girls and tested for their ability to talk to animals, and how they were treated, etc. But I ended up with People who are Magic, and can either time travel or live forever as each vignette had the same characters. And that wasn’t being lazy, as I had all the names for each time period picked out.

There were also storms at sea, and storms on land, and a ship getting blown off course during a hurricane and ending up in the New World. And when I came up with a name for the ‘castle’ in North Wales where it all began I was kinda spooked to find out there really is a ‘castle’ with that name, and it was built in the 16th Century. 

So now I don’t plan to write at all during December. I will catch up on the stack of books waiting to be read, and the blogs that need to be read and commented on, and the new followers and commenters on my blogs that need to be acknowledged, and the list goes on. In january, I will go back to editing last year’s novel and start editing this year’s. And I will probably do some research that I should have done in September and October. But it’s hard to do research if I don’t know where the novel is going to take me.

And yes, I’ll do it again next year.

🙂

And …Done!

Phew! Another 50,000+ word novel is written but not yet finished. Now it will sit and I will ignore it until January when I will pull it out, dust it off, and see if there’s anything worth salvaging. I think there is, but that just may be the November euphoria speaking. So now I have two novels to finish and edit, which is probably a good thing; this way I can switch back and forth when my head starts to hurt from one of them.

So now I can catch up with all the blog posts I’ve missed, and visit all those who were gracious enough to visit and/or like and/or follow my blogs.

For those of you still writing – Onward and Upward!! I’m rooting for all of you.

Coming down the home stretch!

Only three days left after today, and I’m running out of steam, but I’m not giving up. I have written several vignettes, each in a different time period, so when I run out of ideas, or plot, or dialogue, in one, I can pick up in another. But even that is getting harder to do. This is the point in November when I realize I have no idea what I have written; when my plot lines start to tangle or fall apart; when my characters either go AWOL, or refuse to do what I think they should do.

As I realize I have a little over 3,300 words to write to reach the goal, I find it harder and harder to write. Suddenly, the dusting needs to be done, there are dust bunnies to be vacuumed, dishes to wash, dogs to play with – well, I think you get the idea. This is when I tell myself I won’t do this again. But then I look at that little Certificate from last year’s NaNo that says I wrote a novel in November; and I look at that t-shirt that says ‘Greetings from the Winner’s Circle’; and I know I will do this again. It isn’t writing the great American Novel that keeps me coming back; it’s the fact that there is a whole community of crazy people out there who put their lives on hold for 30 days in November, to write. And that’s why I’ll do it again next year. After I finish my 50,000 words for this year!!

🙂

NaNo Day 15

Halfway through the month and I’m waaay behind on word count. I’m struggling through this one. By the time I get home from work, sitting down to write isn’t always what I want to do. It’s a good thing I will have Thursday and Friday off next week. That’s four days of writing, I hope.

I’m not sure what my characters are up to, but they’re not giving me much help. But I’ll keep plodding along; and introducing new characters; and chiding the current ones to get with the program. 

NaNo Day 7

I’m behind again, but that’s okay, because a long weekend is coming up. And my characters are giving me fits. The main character from the beginning of the story, set some time in the 12th or 13th century has suddenly shown up in Regency London, and I have no idea how she got there. I guess I’ll have to just keep writing, and if I’m lucky, she’ll tell me how she got there and where she’s going. Then some crazy character showed up and looks like he might become another main character. Didn’t see that one coming at all. Maybe he’ll show up in London, too? Who knows! Stay tuned! 🙂

NaNo Day 4

Day 4 was actually pretty good. By writing off and on all day, I was able to catch up with the word count. By the end of today, I should be at 6,668 and have actually written 6,758. I like to be ahead, even a little, to account for the unforeseen things that come up in life. So now I’m going to reward myself by zoning out in front of the TV for the rest of the evening while I finish the laundry.

I have a general idea of where I want to go with my story, but my characters seem to have other ideas. The first part of the story went well, at least I think so. The second part isn’t going so well, so I may have to rethink that. Maybe I’ll just put something between the first part and the second part to bridge the gap a little more.

The story is about a Sisterhood of women who have special powers to hear and talk to animals. What I wanted to do is write about the beginnings of the Sisterhood in ancient times and then write a story about how it was faring in different periods of history. I think I may have to expand from just animal-talk to other forms of ‘magic’ as well. Or at least, that’s where the story seems to be going at the moment. And that’s the thing about writing for me, I can have a plan, a plot, an outline, characters, etc. but it all makes no difference once I start writing. My stories have a life of their own once they leave my head and start down my arms to my fingers! 🙂

Aside

November is…

…National Novel Writing Month! Affectionately shortened to NaNoWriMo, or even just NaNo, it is a month of pure writing with no editing. The goal is to write a minimum 50,000 word novel. Considering that the standard average is 250 words/page, that’s a 200 page book; not very long really, but it’s a start. Of course, most of the participants don’t stop at 50,000 words; that’s just a goal, and that works out to 1,667 words every day.

NaNo is a program of the Office of Letters and Light, a non-profit dedicated to helping people write, including programs in schools to get kids to write. If you want more information about their programs, check out their website here: http://www.lettersandlight.org/

I participated last year for the first time and made my goal with a couple of days to spare. The hardest part for me was the not-editing part. Whenever I write, I have to fix typos and grammatical errors as soon as I see them, so stopping myself from doing that was really, really, hard. But then I discovered that in the past, I had used the editing as a stalling tactic, because it definitely interrupts the flow of the story. I went into NaNo thinking I couldn’t do it as I had only ever written short stories (and some very bad adolescent poetry!) So I surprised myself with how I was able to sit down and just write.

I know there are some writers who start with a plan and an outline, then flesh it out with characters, and timelines, and all sorts of details about what happens to whom and when. I’m a percolating pantser when I write; I have an idea percolating in the back of my brain for a while, but when I actually sit down to write, it’s a seat-of-the-pants kind of thing. (There was quite a discussion on the NaNo Forums about different methods of writing – very interesting!) I have tried the planning and the outlines, but it’s basically a waste of time, because as soon as I start writing, the characters take over and go, do, and say, whatever they want, not what I want.

So I will do it again this year. This time I have a plan of sorts; I at least know what I will write about. Last year, I sat staring at a blank screen until about Day 4. So beginning November 1st, I’ll be frantically writing every day when I get home from work, and all day on weekends and Holidays. And hopefully, I’ll have another story ready to edit by the time December 1st rolls around.