Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 is over

NaNoWriMo 2011 has come to a glorious end. I say glorious because I'm exhausted and ready for a break and I actually won. I squeaked by with 50,165 words despite a rather difficult month. I most certainly don't have a complete novel, but I do have much more salvageable material than I did last year at this time. Now I'm going to take a break from my novel to focus on some writing over at WVU (Writer's Village University). Not to mention some focusing that I need to be doing on all of the household items that I've neglected for the past month. I plan to return to my novel in January and flesh out the rest of the story as well as fill in some gaps. Then I'll turn my attention to editing. I'm hoping to get some valuable feedback from my peers at WVU. From what I've seen so far, that shouldn't be a problem.

That's really all that I wanted to say in this post, but don't think I've forgotten about my review of the Unicomp SpaceSaver M keyboard (in case you actually read my previous posts). I'll get to that soon as well as another writing project that I plan to post here in serial form.


P.S. - Check out my shiny NaNoWriMo 2011 winner's badge. Sorry, but I'm pretty proud of it :)

Hooray! I made it!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Some thoughts on my NaNoWriMo journey

I thought I should post something since it had been some time since my last post. I know the title of my blog allows for some leeway in this regard, but I do actually have a few thoughts I'd like to jot down if only for myself. And, who am I kidding? They probably are just for myself.

I have to say that I had mixed emotions about participating in NaNoWriMo this year after the death of my step father in October. On the one hand, it seemed much to soon after such a sudden loss, but on the other hand I felt it would also be a great distraction. In addition to that, I felt like I had a really great story in mind that I had been thinking about since the last NaNoWriMo. So mixed emotions or not I dove right in.

At first I made fairly steady progress. I was averaging two thousand words per day and the story seemed to be off to a solid if somewhat mediocre start. Then with all of the stresses and sad thoughts as of late, I started to slow and view the writing as a chore. I continued to write anyway, but I soon found that I was just writing for the sake of writing. The story was really going nowhere and there was a day last week that I almost threw in the towel. But I didn't, I kept writing and maybe that's the best advice anyone can give you. Just keep writing.

I'm glad that I did because I think it helped me find my way back to the fun of it. Allowing myself just to let go and write even if it was terrible. If I hadn't done that I wouldn't have had the really great day of writing that I had yesterday. It's not as if the writing I did yesterday was a shining example of brilliant prose. It wasn't. What it was, however, was fun. And amidst the fun I wound up with some useable chunks of writing for my novel.

I think if I hadn't just kept writing, then the piece of advice that I received in my email from Chris Baty, Executive Director of the Office of Letters and Light, wouldn't really have hit me the way it did. He suggested that instead of just trudging along scene by scene, we skip to the end. That's right, you can eat that piece of cake first. Admit it, that's what you wanted all along anyway. Go ahead and write that ending, then go back and write the pivotal scenes that get you to that ending. That way when the end of November rolls around you'll have not just 50,000 plus words of meandering story, but an entire story arc. How satisfying will that be? Of course you'll still have to go back and fill in the transitional bits, but it'll be so much easier when you know where you're going. Oh, and by the way, don't forget to throw in a monkey for good measure.

So that's really all that I wanted to get off of my chest. I'm off to write my ending and those pivotal scenes. Oh, and one more thing, I broke down and bought my Christmas present early. I know I said I couldn't justify spending the money on one, but I bought it anyway. Yes, that's right, I bought a SpaceSaver M by Unicomp for my MacBook. The monkey made me do it!

P.S. - I'll write a post with some good pics of the new keyboard soon :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

An old Dell QuietKey is new again

I'm still managing to keep up with my word count for NaNoWriMo, but the other day I found myself thinking back to the good old days of the IBM model M keyboards. They had such a wonderful clicky tactile feel. Yes I said clicky. They were truly fantastic keyboards and were built like tanks. I found out that a company called Unicomp holds the patents to the old M's and is making new versions. While I think that's fantastic, I just couldn't justify laying down close to $100 on a keyboard for myself right before the holiday season. So imagine my delight when I came across an old Dell QuietKey that I had gathering dust on the top shelf of my closet.

The Dell QuietKey isn't quite on the same level as the model M, but for a keyboard with plastic switches and no springs it's about as good as it gets. The action on these things is wonderful and the build quality is superb. I think the one I'm using is close to fifteen years old. I'm actually typing this post on it now.

The real beauty of these keyboards is that they are pretty easy to take apart and clean. Lucky for me considering the shape this one was in. My youngest daughter had used it for a period of time and spilled all kinds of food and drink in it over the years. Yes, you could actually spill things on these old keyboards and they would continue to work. Truly well designed pieces of machinery. Anyway, I've taken some pictures and detailed the stages of cleaning below just for fun.

The Dell QuietKey...

Taking off the keys...ewww...what is all that?

The keys on the QuietKey are pretty easy to pop off with a flat head screwdriver. Just be gentle and you won't do any damage.

All the keys removed and freshly cleaned.

Once all of the keys were removed, I just blew it out with some canned air. Then I took some cotton swabs and dampened the ends with a little windex. Then I went to town swabbing in between the switches. It took a good hour to get it to this stage. Now onto the keys...

Cup full of keys.

The keys are pretty easy to clean. Just fill the sink with some warm, soapy water and let them soak for about five minutes. Then just give each one a once over with a washcloth. After that it's just a matter of letting them dry and then reassembling the keyboard. You can find some good pictures on Google to make sure that you get all of the keys back in the right place.

My Dell QuietKey in it's new home.

I'm actually using this fine keyboard on my MacBook for NaNoWriMo at home. All I had to do was buy a simple PS/2 to usb adapter. You can find them on Amazon pretty cheap and they're super easy to use. My Mac actually brought up a screen that allowed me to configure the keyboard once I plugged it in for the first time. I'm really looking forward to using this keyboard. I don't know if my family is quite as thrilled because despite its name the keyboard really isn't that quiet. It's probably a lot more quiet than a model M, but it's certainly not quiet. I love it anyway.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And so it begins

Day one of NaNoWriMo is done for me and I've managed to log 1,923 words for the day. It's a fair start, but to be honest I had planned on trying to reach 3,000 words the first day to give me a little edge. After I finished the first scene though, I already had close to 2,000 words and I was at a good stopping point. If I launched into the next scene I'd either have to write a little later than I wanted too, or I'd have to leave off mid scene. I don't really like to stop mid scene because I have trouble getting back into the right flow. Tomorrow will start with a reaction scene followed by some more dramatic action, so hopefully I'll log another 2,000 words or more.

I definitely have a better game plan this year, so I'm hoping the writing will burst forth out onto the page like a mighty river escaping its banks. Sorry, cheesy...real cheesy. :)

Good luck to all my fellow NaNoWriMos out there!