NaNoWhyTho: In Which Kenzie Tries Again

good morning, december!

Well, it looks like the WordPress editor has undergone another drastic change. HUZZAH! It really must be a new month up in here. XD

So! Yesterday I told y’all about my smol little book gremlin–Project Goblin. And also about how I kinda sorta failed NaNoWriMo. This was, of course, an unfortunate circumstance. But in true Kenzie fashion, I have decided to bounce back, and bounce back strong.

And this time around, I will not fail.

After some chatting with my lovely writing group–known currently as The Cabinettes (shhh, it’s an inside joke)–we the people decided to partake in a new sort of NaNoWriMo. A second chance NaNo, you could say.

A NaNo which we have fondly stole the title for from twitter dubbed NaNoWhyTho.

I’m not sure if we have a specific goal for the month, but I think the general concensus is trying to write 15,000 words in the month of December–either in the 24 days leading up to Christmas or in the 30 days of Decmeber excluding Christmas.

Honestly, at this point it’s sort of like a free-for-all for all participants involved.

season 3 chaos grenade GIF by Billions

However, for me, personally, I’m going to be trying the latter option–which is to write 15,000 words within 30 days.

Again.

See, November did not go well for me. This I have mentioned before. (see: yesterday’s post) But I don’t want to let this year go by without participating in some sort of creativity challenge! I want to write and be merry and watch the snow fall down outside while cozying up in warm fuzzy socks and lowkey panicking because Christmas is less than a month away and I still haven’t found presents for every single person I’ve ever met… I want to work on my book and feel like an author and simply create. And it’s been a ridiculously long amount of time since I’ve felt this way.

So naturally I should milk this for all it’s worth, amiright?

Sad The Office GIF

But I digress. This is a relatively small post to announce a greater act of epic and complete idiocy and chaos, and I’m lowkey extremely excited about this, folks. This is NaNo: Take Two. And if I have anything to say about it, this time around I’m going to win.

(also, I know better than to make any major promises, but I’d really like to keep you guys updated on my word count throughout the month! so I will try my best to do regular posts with–at the very least–word count updates. but if this blog happens to go stagnant silent again this month, you can find updates over on my instagram page, @thesmudgedthoughts. I’ll be doing daily updates in my stories [hopefully], so come check us out on the ‘gram, my friends! [ew ew ew ew i will never use the phrase “the ‘gram” again, I swear)

>>> <<<

talk to me, peasants!

what sorts of crazy, chaotic things are you up to in this new month, my friends? hit me up in the comments and let me know what books you’re reading, what stories you’re working on, and all the many exciting Christmas-y things you’re planning for this last and final huzzah of 2020!

As always, until next time…..

photo credit: Ben Kolde on Unsplash

Know The Novel – Part Two: Project Goblin’s Steady Decline

good morning, cyberspace!

Aaaaaaand we’re back! Turns out November was not the month of intense creativity that I had so auspiciously predicted back in October. November has miraculously come and gone in a blip, and I’m sitting here at the end of it wondering how on earth we ended up here so quickly.

Back in October, I told y’all that I was going to be participating in National Novel Writing Month. I even went so far as to announce which project I would be working on, shared many of the story world’s nifty details, and even promised that a whole bunch of NaNo crazy was going to be coming your way within the coming weeks.

Unfortunately, none of this happened. Which is a shame, obviously, but–as I mentioned above–November was nothing like I had planned. There was a lot of personal growth done, as well as hitting a severe creative slump during the first half of the month which crippled me creatively for a solid two weeks. But I’ve finally started to break through it, and even though my manuscript isn’t near as plump as I would like for the final day of NaNoWriMo, I am definitely all the wiser and–dare I say it–healthier than when I started.

So today, to jump back into blogging and reorient both myself and you guys into the project I’m working on, I’m going to be participating in Part Two of Christine Smith’s Know The Novel linkup! You can read Part One right here, or just dive right in to find out how my writing went–or, more accurately, didn’t go–this month!

KNOW THE NOVEL – PART TWO: PROJECT GOBLIN’S STEADY DECLINE

i. How’s the writing going overall?

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhmmmmm…. To be honest, not very well. XD As I mentioned above, this month was pretty bad creativity-wise for me. I totally thought I’d be able to crank out a solid 15-20k before the end of November, but it turns out that I’ve barely managed to write *checks notes* 10,000 words.

…which is actually a lot less depressing than I thought it would be.

Knowing what I’ve been going through this month, I’m actually really proud of the progress I have made on this story, and also with all the love and enthusiasm that I’ve continued to hold for this project. I still have a LONG way to go before hitting the end, but I’ve been wanting to write this story for so long that I know without a shadow of a doubt that I’m going to keep plugging away at it until I eventually find my way. It just might take a little longer than initially planned, and that’s okay. Every story is different, as they like to say, and if this book takes me a whole year where Project Sunset only took me a few months, I’m going to be okay with that.

ii. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?

The discovery! I’ve made many little discoveries just within this month alone–such as the fact that my one character, who, for as long as I could recall, was mute, actually can talk. And not only can she talk, but she’s also extremely snarky with what few words she chooses to say.

Or the incredible epiphany I had about my villain, which I wholly and 100% owe to the beautiful Phoebe, who introduced me to this song right here.

10,000 words isn’t a whole lot to find discoveries within, but the ones that I have found have made what little progress I’ve made so entirely worth it.

iii. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?

Okay, so this one is easy: I adore them. Each and every one is so weird and quirky and odd, and it’s so refreshing to write a cast that freaks me out as much as they fascinate me.

As far as who my favorite is to write about … I would probably have to say Todd. He’s by far the toughest nut of a protagonist that I’ve ever had to crack, but there’s something about his confusing personality that intrigues me. And I know that once I finally crack him open, I’m going to absolutely fall in love with this weird, awkward individual.

iv. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

I don’t think I’ve written enough of it yet to truly be surprised, but I definitely have had some AHA! moments that really helped deepen my love of this universe. As I mentioned above, I had this absolutely delicious idea for my villain, who–up until this point–had been nothing more than a vague blip on my radar. But now I have his character pinned down a little better, and I am SO. STINKIN’. EXCITED. to get to him within the narrative!!! It’s going to be amazing…

Another thing that surprised me was the fact that my goblins have voices. And use English. I was thinking I was going to have to create an entire goblin language for these weird little creatures, but alas. They popped into the story speaking words and talking about ripping out spines and I just adore them to pieces already.

v. Have you come across any problem areas?

I have, actually! My main problematic area has been struggling to get into Todd’s head, especially within the first few chapters of the story. These are the pivotal scenes where we learn his character and motives and what and who he’ll risk everything for, and I feel like I’ve done a rather poor job of setting that up before the adventure begins.

However, as I write this, I now realize that things like this take time and finesse–two things which don’t typically come with a first draft. So maybe my problem is more my inability to let myself to move forward and enjoy the discovery of it all. Maybe I’m clinging too much to the idea that this draft has to be perfect that I’m not giving myself the chance to discover who Todd really is.

….and I think I just blogged myself out of my writer’s block, guys.

vi. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

Aside from the fact that I just figured out where my writer’s block came from, I think my biggest victory has been in creating an outline that works for me, rather than against me. I suppose this could be attributed more to the planning stage of this novel, rather than the writing of it, but outlines have always been so negative for me. So the fact I’ve been able to create one which I actually enjoyed writing and–more importantly–following feels huge. I love my outline. I love how vague yet stable it is. I love knowing that if I’m ever stuck, I can follow my Plot Checkpoint map and get myself back on track within a matter of minutes.

But as far as actual writing goes, I just really love getting to know my characters better. They’re all so strange and different, and I’m loving every second I get to spend with them.

vii. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?

Okay, Christine, WHO GAVE YOU THE RIGHT TO ASK SUCH FASCINATING QUESTIONS. I am in awe over here, okay.

But I digress. I’d really like to answer this question as truthfully as possible, and I’m not entirely sure what the answer is.

Part of me says I’d be Iniko–the strange old wizard who likes hitting people over the head with his cane and saying things like “aye” and “ye bloody idiot”. But then another part of me says I’d be Jasper–a scarecrow with a horrible sense of humor and a penchant for setting things on fire.

And then, clawing in the back of my head like the annoying little turnip that he is, Reality tells me that I would most definitely be Todd. Because he is awkward and strange and does virtually nothing with his life until two knobbly goblins come crashing through a crack in his wall.

And I mean, if that isn’t me, I don’t know what is. XD

As far as actions go, I honestly can’t say I’d do anything differently than any of these characters. If I was Iniko, I would 100% do everything he’s been doing (including dying, which … I mean, we’ll get into that later). If Jasper, I would probably accidentally set my hair on fire, but I’d definitely still pester Martin to the end of days and continue to make a fool out of myself willingly.

And if I were Todd … well, I think I’d still make the choices he’s going to make. What those choices are, I’m not entirely sure yet, but I have p l a n s, and out of most of those plans, I think I’d make the same calls as he will. After all, it’s not like I’m giving him much of a choice…. *insert mysterious snickering*

viii. Give us the first sentence or paragraph then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!

And here’s where things are gonna get scary. XD Oh goodness. I hate sharing first draft material, but I guess I must. You know, since it’s part of the tag. please don’t judge me, peasants

OPENING PARAGRAPH

She wouldn’t smile. That was the thing about girls—no matter how hard you tried, they refused to smile, especially if they were in a a sour mood. And the girl staring back at Bartholomew Todd was in the sourest mood of them all.

SNIPPET ONE

A gush of wind whooshed through the room, whipping Todd’s hair back against his forehead. The crack in the wall was now a solid three feet wide—large enough for Todd to make out the creatures standing on the other side of it.
There were two of them. Short and crooked, with long legs and stubby bodies that sat plumply above their thin, knobbly knees. Thick, square heads perched atop their chubby torsos, made even larger by the size of their enormous, gleaming eyes, thick as dinner plates. Cinched ears poked out on either side of those enormous heads, thin and stumpy in comparison with the rest of them.
Todd’s heart snagged in his chest, and his hand instinctively reached for the first thing he could think of to defend himself: the desk light.
The plug yanked out of its socket, and the metal burned cold into Todd’s skin, but he hardly noticed it as the creatures within the crack poked their large, knobby heads into his apartment. Their giant eyes caught the moonlight and reflected black, catching on Todd almost immediately.
“It’s another one,” the first one hissed, his nose cinching in disgust. “Rotten smellies. Should have known from the stench.”
“We should takes it with us. Give it to his Highny-ness. He wouldn’t chop our toesies off if we broughts him a present…”
“Or perhaps we could eats it. Snap its little head off and drink from its inner juices. It’s been far too long since we’ve eaten real flesh…”
“His Highny-ness wouldn’t like that very much, no-how.”
“His Highny-ness wouldn’t have to know. We could break his spiny ridges and make his Highny-ness a nice new comb.”

SNIPPET TWO

“Is he dead?”
“Uh-huh.”
“How do you know?”
“He looks dead, don’t he?’
“That don’t mean he’s dead.”
“Yeah huh.”
“Nuh uh.”
“Does, too!”
“Prove it.”
“How?”
“Poke him with a stick.”

SNIPPET THREE

“Yer the one who dodged in front of that curse, my dear,” Iniko said from the fireplace, where he was throwing an extra bundle of wood onto the sad smoke pile. “I didn’t ask you to do it.” His voice broke through Todd’s examination of the room, startling him enough to make him jump. The shadow eyed him warily, and Todd fidgeted, wringing his hands together to keep them from trembling.
The potted tulip was not amused.
“I saved your life, you idiot,” she sniffed. “You didn’t have to ask. But a simple thank you would have been appreciated.”
“I did thank ye.”
“You put me in a pot!”
“And thereby saved yer life in return. Yer welcome.” Bouncing up onto his tip toes, Iniko grabbed a watering can off the mantel and waved it towards the flower, driblets of water plopping to the creaky wooden floor. “Speakin’ of, ye need a drink, love?”
The tulip scowled, her eyes becoming slits in her petals. “I loathe you.”
“You look dry.”

…I’m not entirely sure what to think of these snippets, to be honest. XD

ix. Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far! (For example: Have you made any hilarious typos? Derailed from your outline? Killed off a character? Changed projects entirely? Anything you want to share!)

Oh goodness, I wish I’d changed projects entirely. That might have helped me through some of my writer’s block. But if there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that switching projects this early on only feeds my bad habit of never finishing anything, so the only choice I have is to persevere.

However, I think the most interesting thing that I’ve witnessed so far with the creation of this novel has been how difficult it is to sink into this story world I’ve spent so much time dreaming about. It’s like I’m so invested in what I want this world to be that I can’t allow myself to write the world as it is. I know in my heart that things never come out on the page as they are in my head, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing that I could just splat everything I’ve ever conjured up about this book into a document and sift through it, stitching the pieces together until its in some semblance of coherency.

So I guess that’s my next step moving forward: stop pressuring myself to write everything perfectly from the get-go. Stop romanticizing the perfect worldbuilding and plot twists. Stop holding myself up to a standard which will come in later drafts and just write.

I feel like I go through this with every single first draft I write, but now that I know this is what’s causing a block, perhaps I’ll be able to actually write through it.

x. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all!

Oh goodness. A normal writing day this month looks like me glancing at my computer, yawning, and then picking up my kindle to watch Netflix before inevitably taking a nap. XD

This month has been a strange one, guys, I’m not gonna lie.

But a typical writing day for me normally looks like me grabbing my laptop and bullet journal sometime in the afternoon or early evening, sitting down at either the desk by my bird cage or our dining room table, and popping in my earbuds before writing for a solid hour or two. If I’m REALLY trying to push a specific wordcount, I’ll stay up until 10 or 11 writing. If I have to work the next day, I’ll write earlier in the afternoon so that I don’t have to worry about not getting enough sleep.

Back when I worked at a thrift store and typically worked the night shift, staying up until well past midnight was the norm for me and my writing. I would camp out in my room with a blanket and my laptop and write late into the night, listening to the night sounds outside and reveling in the fact that I was doing something magical while the rest of the world slept. Now that I work at a coffee shop and open, however, I’m in bed by 9 o’clock. Which, you know, makes writing into the night a tad bit difficult. XD

It does come with its perks, though! For one thing, I’m typically home by 2:30, which means that the rest of the day is open for my creative endeavors. and now that I’m finally beginning to settle at my new job–YEET!–I’m excited to start using those afternoons for my writing.

So, swiveling back around to the point of this ramble, I don’t really know what my current writing day looks like. But by golly, I’d love to find out. Perhaps I’ll have to experiment and write a blog post on it someday…. *side-eyes teetering future blog post pile*

>>> <<<

talk to me, peasants!

And that, my friends, was part two of the Know The Novel linkup! I know my answers were a bit vague and mysterious, but like … I really haven’t written that much this month. XD Ah, well. There’s always December, right?

Anyway, let’s talk, shall we? What kinds of projects have you been working on this month? Have you been productive, or did your brain–like mine–decide you needed some unforeseen rest? Is anyone else sort of freaking out that Christmas is only 26 days away? And what sorts of books have y’all been reading? (i’m on a massive book binge, so any recs are wholly and completely appreciated XD)

For everyone participating in NaNoWriMo, I’d LOVE to hear all about your stories! And if you’ve written any blog posts about your current projects, PLEASE send me links! I’d love to read them!

As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down in the comments below! And until next time…

NaNoWriMo 2020: Should You Participate?

good morning, cyberspace!

That title is unapologetically clickbait and NO. I shall not change it. Mwahahahahaha. *coughs and adjusts the neck of my cape awkwardly* Ahem.

So as you can probably tell from the subtle bite in the air, October is quickly approaching. Or approaching as quickly as anything is expected to approach this year, which means that time is completely irrelevant and doesn’t exist. We could wake up to a fierce December snowstorm tomorrow and no one would bat an eye. But I digress. October is coming, and with it comes preptober, and for any well-worn NaNo veteran, you know exactly what this means:

The screaming.

The hair-pulling.

The sleep-deprivation.

NaNoWriMo is nigh upon us, my friends. And this year–not for the last time–I’m questioning whether or not to participate. And since I know for a fact that I’m not the only writer pondering this *waves happily at my writing group* I thought it would be fun to go over some of the pros and cons of NaNoWriMo that will more or less affect my decision on whether or not to participate.

Whether or not you choose to participate this year is completely up to you, of course, and I’m not here to sway you to either side–though you would think that is the purpose of this post. Some of the things that I consider cons might be meaningless to you, and that is perfectly okay. We’re all friends here. We can settle our differences over pitchfork battles and tea.

But before we start sharpening our blades, let’s discuss the actual pros and cons.

Read More »

CAMP NANOWRIMO CONTINUES!: Episode V (and a half) – Wordcounts and Laptops

GOOD MORNING, CYBERSPACE!

Today I’m popping in to say that I really don’t have a blog post this week.

. . .which is kinda weird, since I’m technically posting this as a blog post, but . . . you know. Ignore that oxymoron.

Basically, I’ve been really enveloped in my Camp NaNoWriMo story, Project Sunset, and haven’t exactly made the effort to carve out any of my writing time for blogging. I could say that I deeply regret this decision, but honestly? The fact that I’m so in love with my book is a wave that I’m going to ride for as long as I possibly can, because soon enough I’ll be absolutely dreading even trying to write a single word. And at that point, I’ll probably bust back into the blogosphere with all the force of a thousand suns.

(oh, look at that. I’m finally beginning to understand my own brain! hallelujah.)

So instead of an actual blog post this week, I thought I’d just bullet-point a few highlights from the past week of NaNo!!! Because that’s both simple AND recap-ish! It’s a win-win situation, amiright?

*claps hands together* Let’s go!Read More »

CAMP NANOWRIMO CONTINUES!: Episode V – Weeks 1 & 2 (and LIVESREAM NEWS!)

First thing’s first, before we pop into the main topic of today’s blog–I HAVE SOME SUPER IMPORTANT LIVESTREAM NEWS!!!

Today (April 18th), Phoebe, Ally, and I are going live over on Ally’s Youtube channel (The Nature of Pages) for our second ever Plots & Plans livestream!!! We’re going to be talking about writing and Camp and hosting writing sprints, so if you want to come and join the fun, come join us at 3 pm EDT right HERE! (please come. I’ll give you cookies!!)

. . .and now back to your regularly scheduled programming. . .

Blog Divider

GOOD MORNING, CYBERSPACE!

This blog post is late. Obviously. You can probably tell that by the slapped together graphic and the fact that it was NOT released on Tuesday morning. Which, despite the fact that I pretty much never post on a Tuesday morning anymore, is actually my reserved posting time.

But I digress.

Truth is, this post is late in going up because I have been reading. And also writing. A lot. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve become so infused with fictional realms that I’m really quite astounded I haven’t dissolved into a flurry of paper and ink by now. (there’s still a potential this will happen soon, so if I spontaneously disappear from the internet, YA KNOW WHY.)

But all this writing and reading and very-much-not-being-here has a very simple explanation, and I’m sure you all know what it is.

CAMP NANOWRIMO. It’s in full-swing, folks. We’re officially two three? who even knows anymore weeks in. And holy guacamole, my friends, have I been writing a book.Read More »

CAMP NANOWRIMO CONTINUES!: Episode IV – Sam & Eugene

This episode of LET’S CHAT! is brought to you by Agatha Crispies! Start your little sleuth’s morning off right with Agatha Crispies–a breakfast they’ll never forget! (now available: Chocolate Agatha Crispies! Now with 50% less fat!)



KENZIE: Good morning, Cyberspace, and welcome back to another episode of LET’S CHAT! Today I am joined by special guests Sam and Eugene as we continue our journey through Camp NanoWriMo! Sam, Eugene, thank you both so much for being here today.

SAM: Thanks for having me.

EUGENE: She was talking to both of us, you idiot.

SAM: *waves him off* Eh.

KENZIE: So, as you both might already know, you’re here to answer some of our viewer submitted questions. We’ve been sitting on these for over a year now, so hopefully you guys feel up to answering them with the utmost respect and civility.

EUGENE: If you were hoping for civility, I have no clue why you forced me to be interviewed alongside him. That was a very poor choice on your part.

SAM: The shirt you’re wearing was a poor choice on your part, old man.

EUGENE: Oh, for the love of–

KENZIE: QUESTIONS! Who wants some questions?

SAM: Oh, I have some questions, all right. . .Read More »

CAMP NANOWRIMO BEGINS!: Day 1 – Freebies and Frenzies!

GOOD MORNING, CYBERSPACE!

I’ve been flipping and flopping over how to start this month off here on Smudged Thoughts. As you all know, April’s Camp NaNoWriMo is one of my absolute F A V O R I T E months of the year, which means that I naturally want this first post–this first step into the month of April–to be something truly special.

I debated character interviews, Camp NaNoWriMo blog tags, pep talks, writing prompts. . . But none of them felt right. During all of this mental brainstorming, however, I was working on a side project of my own–a simple little thing that I was planning on using to make this Camp NaNoWriMo the best NaNoWriMo I’ve had thus far. Spurred on by my constant failure at tracking my writing process, I decided to delve into the confusion that is Google Spreadsheets and create my own kind of progress tracker–a tracker which, instead of being filled with a bunch of useless information I had no desire of knowing, was filled with the kinds of things I was actually excited to track.Read More »

CAMP NANOWRIMO APPROACHES!: Episode III – Liam & Eleanor

This episode of LET’S CHAT! is brought to you by . . . Sir Arthur Conan Doilies! Now available in 221 different colors!



KENZIE: Good morning, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of LET’S CHAT! In our last interview, we got a sneak peek into the lives of Ed, Shelby, and Beau–three of the main characters within the universe of SK! Today, we’re going to be interviewing two new characters from that very same cast!

KENZIE: Ladies and gents, boys and girls, please give a big, warm welcome to Eleanor and Liam!Read More »

CAMP NANOWRIMO APPROACHES!: Episode II – Preparing for Camp (#campnano2020)

GOOD MORNING, CYBERSPACE!

Last week I announced what project I was going to be working on for Camp NaNoWriMo 2020. This week, we’re going to be diving into my preparations for the end of the world Camp!

A few years ago I made a post detailing my NaNoWriMo Survival Kit, and–quite honestly–most of the things I listed in that post still apply. I still hoard candy like the smol little gremlin that I am. I still collect notebooks and hide them into every nook and cranny in my room. I still stuff my friends into my briefcase and haul them around lest they abandon me. However, there are some things I’m doing this year that are a little bit different than years previous. I have some new materials that I shall be trying to utilize for productivity in April (planners, a google spreadsheet??? [what is this madness??]) and–if all goes according to plan–hopefully they’ll help me conquer my goals and become the ultimate productivity master!

(this is not happening. i’m just gonna call it now, folks.)

So this week in my Camp NaNo 2020 series, we’re going to be taking a closer look into my step-by-step guide to preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo!Read More »

So This Is Christmas. . . (feat. a brief November recap, where I’ve been, what I’m reading, and a mess of a blog post)

WARNING: this post has virtually no direction whatsoever. please excuse the mess that awaits your eyeballs, for it has been a while since I have even thought about blogging. thank you.



good morning, cyberspace!

Goodness. It’s been a hot second since I’ve hopped onto the blogosphere, hasn’t it? I had every good intention of keeping you all updated on my NaNoWriMo progress throughout November, but that idea kinda fizzled into nonexistence once the month actually began. Truth is, November was a roller coaster. A crazy, hectic, maniacal beast of a roller coaster (please see the screen grab below), and I’m really quite surprised that I even made it out alive.

But the important thing is that I am alive, and I did survive, and, even though I have virtually no blog posts to commemorate or acknowledge last month, by golly, we did it, folks!

I mean, yes, I completely and miserably failed NaNoWriMo, but let’s just forget about that little issue for the moment, shall we? Aha. Hahahaha. Ha.Read More »