CAMP NANOWRIMO, 2021: Recaps & Revisions

good morning, cyberspace!

And just like that–it’s August. Somehow I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that we’re 8 months into 2021, but I don’t think Time really cares about that. This summer has been quite possibly the strangest I’ve had in a great long while, but you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve had highs. I’ve had lows. I’ve made new friends and I’ve experienced new adventures. I’ve suffered injuries–both physical and emotional. I’ve watched fireworks. I wore a dress and wielded a sword and stood on the lawn of a castle. I’ve eaten ice cream for breakfast. I’ve risen to new levels and dropped off the face of the earth. And all the while, God has been working inside of me, showing me that He’s not even close to being finished with whatever this season of life is.

And I’m strangely okay with that.

This year more than ever I’ve begun to notice the subtle shifts in His plan for me. I’ve seen steps taken in the dark become more clear. I’ve watched His hand pulling strings to take me where I’m meant to go. And it’s beautiful. And it’s scary. And it’s exciting.

And I’m sitting here at the end of summer just basking in the fact that this crazy life I’ve been given really is something magical. I’m lucky, guys. I’m very, very lucky.

And also I failed NaNoWriMo miserably. So let’s talk about that, shall we? XD

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camp nanowrimo, 2021: recaps and revisions

The results are in, my dearest peasants. You might want to shield your eyes, though. The shame is exponential.

INITIAL WORD GOAL – 50,000
SECONDARY WORD GOAL – 33,000
FINAL WORD GOAL – 22,000
WORDS WRITTEN – 15,561
CHAPTERS COMPLETED – 8

Not gonna lie, when you stack the numbers up together, I feel pretty stinkin’ proud about my progress this month. Project Goblin has been a story YEARS in the making. I started it back in 2018, shelved it, and honestly wasn’t sure I’d ever get to a point where it could be written the way it deserved. It’s such a big, whimsical undertaking, and even now I’m not sure I’m writing it correctly. But I’m trying. And sometimes that’s all we can ask for.

The words I wrote this month aren’t anywhere close to perfect. But they’re mine, and they’re leading me one step closer to the story I see in my dreams. It feels monstrous at the moment–the editing process has already begun to stress me out–but it’s a journey that I’m willing and determined to take. I believe in this book. I believe in these characters. And I believe that this story is one that deserves to be written and read and loved. And for right now, that is more than enough to keep me moving forward.

I’ve also been continuously surprised by the turns this book has taken–both plot-wise and structurally. This story has taught me that it’s okay to let your process shift, that nothing is set in stone once written, and–most importantly in my humble opinion–that talking mimes most definitely wear socks. Never before have I had so much freedom with switching up major plot points midway through telling a story. Normally something as catastrophic as plopping entirely new cast members into the book halfway through would be cause for concern. Now, however, I’ve learned to just kinda shrug it off, test them out for a few scenes, and then scrap them later on if I change my mind.

…have I mentioned the fact that this first draft is a complete and utter mess? *sweats nervously*

Another interesting tidbit about this novel: the deadline (hard deadline, by the way. my soft deadline whipped by without a second thought.) for this book just so happened to be a couple days ago. I saw the notification pop up on my phone calendar, and I just kinda…swept it away. XD Because there wasn’t a way in this universe that I was going to meet it. BUT. I was much closer to hitting that goal than I’ve ever been to hitting ANY of my initial novel goals, and I feel pretty darn good about that, peasants. I may not have finished the book in July, but I’m getting closer to figuring out how to make reasonable deadlines for myself, and that is something I’m going to celebrate. (I’ve also taken this opportunity to make NEW deadlines, and EEP, that’s pretty exciting!)

Once the first draft of this book is officially done, however, I’m debating whether or not I should post some snippets. I know a lot of you expressed interest in meeting my talking mime named Martin, and honestly? I really really want you guys to meet him. Like immediately. XD But alas, we shall have to wait and see!

Overall, this month was a process of learning, conquering my writerly fears, living life to the fullest (both in and outside of the page), and taking the time needed to reprioritize my crazy, chaotic writerly existence. So while I may not have won Camp NaNoWriMo, I did win in SO many other aspects of my life, and for today, that’s enough.

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…and in OTHER news…

And in other, non-Camp related news, I have some very big things coming up within the next couple months!!!! And while I can’t tell you what they are exactly quite yet, I AM going to vaguely elude to them! Because I’m a monster. It’s fine.

THING NUMBER ONE – August 3rd!

This one is very exciting, because it’s not just a happy thing for ME, but it’s also a happy thing for YOU, and I’m so so so excited to reveal it to you all!! More information is coming in JUST TWO DAYS!!! So definitely swing back here on Tuesday to get all the juicy details on this most exhilarating surprise! (and if you think you know what this one is about, hit me up in the comments. I’m very eager to see if someone actually knows. XD)

THING NUMBER TWO – September

While I can’t give any specific dates for this one quite yet, I can tell you that I’m extremely excited to be a part of something very big, very exciting, and very very terrifying at the same time! I’ll be able to give more info soon, but for right now, all I can tell you is that this Thing is coming in September. *zips lips* THAT’S ALL I CAN SAY, PEASANTS. (don’t bribe me with cookies, I can’t stand that kind of pressure…)

THING NUMBER THREE — Unknown

This last thing happened literally just this last week, and I’m STILL reeling from the news of it. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to tell you all about it (hopefully I’ll be able to tell you all about it?), but rest assured that as soon as I get the okay, YOU’RE GONNA KNOW ABOUT IT. XD (also, to cut into the suspense, I did NOT get a book deal, literary agent, or am otherwise anywhere near publishing a novel at this point in time. but this is still a really huge step for me in a direction I’ve been wanting to go for–oh, I don’t know….MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE–so I’m just. You know. Chilling. Completely chill-like. it’s fine.)

Did I mention that this month has been CRAZY? Because y’all. This month has been C R A Z Y. I can’t even begin to describe how blessed I feel to have this pocketful of secrets to share with you all soon. It honestly feels like all the loose strings in my life which I’ve been flapping around aimlessly for the past few months are finally–FINALLY–coming together. I truly hope that I’m able to do justice to the opportunities I’ve been blessed with, because if my intuition is telling me anything, it’s that this is going to be a year I’ll never forget.

talk to me, peasants!

And that’s everything for today, my friends! I’m honestly so excited for August. I’ve got so much that I want to do and write and live, and I have a peculiar feeling that this month is going to be magical. And obviously this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that this also happens to be my birth month. Nope. Not even a little bit. XD

But that’s quite enough about me! Let’s talk about you! For those of you who participated in NaNo: how did July go? were you able to meet all of your writing goals? what was your favorite writing memory from Camp NaNo?

And for my peeps who didn’t do Camp NaNo this time around: what kinds of adventures have you been undertaking this past month? do you have any end-of-summer book recs for Yours Truly? (I ended up reading quite a lot last month, and I’d really like to keep that momentum into August!) and–most importantly of all–do you have any guesses for my Super Secret Announcements coming soon???

Let’s talk about all of the things down in the comments below, and until next time….

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021 – Week 3 (?): lol, idk what’s happening at this point

good morning, cyberspace, and welcome to Kenzie has a slight mental breakdown but it’s fine because Camp NaNoWriMo is supposed to be FUN!

This is my favorite time of year, guys. Absolutely. Literally nothing has been going wrong the past two weeks and I am THRIVING! *nervous laughter intensifies*

Ahah…. Okay, let’s just get to the stats, shall we?

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CAMP NANOWRIMO WEEKS 3 — THE STATS

CURRENT WORD COUNT — 10,467
REVISED WORD GOAL — 33,000
WORDS BEHIND ORIGINAL GOAL — 39,533
WORDS BEHIND SECONDARY GOAL— 22,533
WORDS PER DAY TO CATCH UP — 3,756
PROBABILITY OF THIS HAPPENING — 0.002%

Ahem… Well. As you can see from the above statistics … it is highly unlikely that I’m going to win Camp NaNoWriMo with these goals. XD Which, you know, is kinda disappointing, I’ll admit. But I’ve made peace with the disappointment and have decided that, while I could choose to beat myself up over this most unfortunate circumstance, I’d rather embrace it, instead! Why? Because throughout this crazy month of complete and utter chaos, I’ve also rediscovered three invaluable truths about my creative process–truths which have provided more creative momentum for me in the past week than I’ve had in the past six months.

What are these truths, you may be wondering? I’m so glad you asked. XD

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KENZIE’S FIELD GUIDE TO CHAOTIC CREATIVITY

RULE ONE — goals are good. adjusting your goals once they become problematic is better.

I did this once already this month when I dropped my initial goal of 50,000 words down to 33,000. Obviously at the time I thought this would be sufficient enough, but it has since come to my attention that this is STILL too big of a chunk for this month. So, in the vein of acknowledging this season of writing I’m in and being kind to myself, I’ve decided to drop my goal once again to a grand total of 22,000 words!

(there actually is a solid reason for 22,000 words, but that will probably become more apparent next month. so. just go with it for now. XD)

Am I sad that I won’t be hitting 50k by the end of July? Yes. But am I going to consider myself a failure for not meeting it? Nope! This is a very strange, malleable time of life for me, and I’m choosing to enjoy the process rather than burn myself out over deadlines.

RULE TWO — words don’t get written unless you write them

This one sounds so blatantly obvious, but like … it’s true. XD I tend to think that procrastinating my writing till the very last dregs of the day is going to be enough for me to hit my word goals of 1,000 to 2,000 words, but trust me when I say that this RARELY. EVER. WORKS.

Writing takes time. Time takes dedication. Dedication means prioritizing, making a plan and sticking to it, and finding a writing routine that WORKS.

For the longest time, I didn’t have a writing routine. I just let myself write whenever I found a spare moment, which meant there was never much structure to the way I did things. I’ve always prided myself on my “chaotic energy”, but something I’ve learned this month? You can still be chaotic within structure. In fact, it’s 100% more fun to do it that way, because you actually get things DONE.

Which is, you know, more than I can say for the way I did things a month ago. XD

RULE THREE — it’s okay for your process to change

I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t really like change all that much. It scares me. Makes me queasy. I like things to be easily understood and quickly accomplished, and anything that requires blind trust and shaky footsteps into the unknown is certain to make me scream. But just as I’m learning that it’s okay to give yourself grace when you fail, I’m also learning that change is a good thing. Change is progress.

Change is what makes us grow.

And though it TERRIFIES me that my writing process–and even my writing style?–has begun to change, I know that there is growth within the change. I’m learning. I’m experimenting. I’m creating. And that’s okay.

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At the end of the day, this session of Camp NaNoWriMo has–once more–gone nothing according to plan. My commitment wasn’t as strong as I would have liked, I chose to spend time away from the screen in favor of reading good books and spending time out in the real world, and while I know that’s a solid part of being a writer and prioritization, it still hurts to know that once again I’ve managed to put all my grandiose plans to flame. But you know what, friends? There’s always a gleaming light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of hope that says “there’s another chance to try again, my dear”. And that gleaming light, that glimmer of hope … it’s called November. *manic laughter intensiFIES*

Evil Laugh GIF

also yes this blog post is completely all over the place because I have a RESCUE MISSION TO WRITE, FRIENDS. brb gotta go bust a scarecrow, wizard, enchanted enchantress, and not one, but TWO little girls out of a goblin king’s castle. it’s fine. everything is fine.

talk to me, peasants!

for all my fellow NaNo participants out there: how is YOUR camp going? are you crushing your goals like the good little goal crusher that you are, or is the writing coming a little bit slower than you would have liked? either way, you are doing FANTASTICALLY and I have cookies for you over on the side-table. (grab one on the way out, won’t you?)

for those NOT doing NaNo: how has your month been so far? reading any good books? going on any fun adventures?

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

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *

CAMP NANOWRIMO, WEEKS ONE & TWO: Adventures, Adjustments, & Whirlwinds

good morning, cyberspace!

Many apologies for the no-show last week! It’s been a Time over here at Smudged Thoughts central, and while I’d had this post all drafted up and ready to go by the scheduled due date, I just kinda … forgot to post it …?

Aha. Anyway. We’re going to pretend like that didn’t happen and sally onwards anyway. XD Alsooo, since it’s already the end of week two by the time I’m writing this, I’ve decided to squish weeks one and two together into one post! That way we can just sorta squeeze by and pretend as though everything is normal and good and right with the world. (I’m so smart, oh my word.)

AHEM. MOVING ON.

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july 5, 2021

The first week of Camp NaNoWriMo is almost over—by the time this is posted, perhaps it has already passed us by—but for me, the adventure of writing 50,000 words by the end of the month has only just begun.

This past weekend has been a whirlwind. For many, the fourth of July meant fireworks, extra days off from work, and—if you’re a writer doing Camp NaNoWriMo—hopefully a word sprint or ten. But this year, Fourth Of July looked just a little bit different.

There was no writing. No sprinting till midnight to hit a certain word goal before calling it quits. But there were castles, toads, a very haunted looking gravestone, suspension bridges, dresses, and…

…swords.

Many, many swords.

Y’all. Words cannot even describe how insane the past two days have been. How insane this past year has been. I know we’re only six months into it, but just within the past four months, I’ve been graced with the extraordinary opportunity to meet five of my beautiful writer friends in the actual, wide-open plane of existence known as reality.

Phoebe. Kate. Ruby. Ally. Leona.

Five people who have impacted my life in ways I will never be able to comprehend. Five girls who have helped me grow not only as a writer, but as a friend. I will never forget the emotions felt when meeting each of them for the very first time. I will never forget what it felt like to tackle them in the biggest of hugs and refuse to let go. I will never forget the absolute chaos we get ourselves into when we’re together.

You live your life thinking nothing ever changes. You watch the sunsets fade and the seasons pass and you wonder whether or not the dreams in your heart will ever come to pass. And then something like this happens. Something as beautiful and wild as finally meeting the friends God has put into your life—though unfortunately not always in your state. And you realize that it’s not that nothing ever changes, but the things that change you happen so very little and so very far in between that you simply must cherish them when they do occur.

This weekend, I spent 24 hours with four members of my writing group. They are crazy. They are wild. They are real. And for the first time, I’m fully comprehending that they are mine.

Were words written this past week? Eh. Not exactly. But the moments we created were moments that will live inside my memory for the rest of my life. And that is so much more precious to me than 3,000 words.

However. It wouldn’t be a Camp NaNoWriMo update if I didn’t mention some of the writing adventures I’ve been getting into—and, trust me, the first two days of Camp NaNoWriMo were filled—so I suppose now is as good a time as any to add an awkward transition to the statistics portion of this weekly recap! XD

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THE STATS

DAYS 1-5

WORD GOAL: 8,065
WORDS WRITTEN: 3,119
WORDS BEHIND: 4,546

Okay, so looking at the stats, this isn’t very good progress, I’ll admit. XD Typically, I prefer my overall wordcount to be larger than the words I have yet to write. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be happening this month. (again, I’m not sorry in the slightest. just a little worried at this point. it’s fine. everything is fine.)

The word count may not be quite what I want, but the story that I have written so far has been an absolute BLAST. After working on some (minor) revisions before the start of Camp, I decided to start off right after my weird little cast broke into the Goblin King’s castle. There were some finer details which needed smoothing out—one of them being my mime.

Ah yes. My talking mime. His name is Martin, and he is—currently—my favorite character I’ve ever created. (at least for this story, though I’d go so far as to say he’s my favorite among all my stories, ever.) I honestly have no clue where the inspiration for this sad little man came from, and—if I’m being totally honest—where he came from in and of himself. He’s odd, slightly depressed, is missing his shoes, and is probably the most complexing character I’ve ever had the pleasure to write, simply because he’s so … odd.

I’d like to say that the entirety of Project Goblin is filled to the brim with odd, slightly terrifying creatures, and anyone who’s ever heard me talk about this story in incomprehensible snorts and squeals would probably agree with me on that. But despite the fact that reading through a chapter of this story would most likely give a small child nightmares, I have to admit that the weirdness is probably what’s making this book so much fun to write. There’s just something about dark, creepy forests and weird, slightly mutilated characters that makes my Tim Burton fangirl heart squeak with delight every time there’s a twist and bend in the plot line. And while I’m not entirely sure where this story is going (to be quite honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever know where this story is going until the end of it), I’m so incredibly excited to be the writer behind this project.

Aside from the talking mime and the invasion of the Goblin King’s castle, I’m also proud to announce that I’ve officially hit 30,000 words in this manuscript! I totally thought I’d hit this milestone like a week ago, but alas alack, apparently I lied. XD I’m currently at 33,811, which means I only have (insert awkward silence for math 46,189 words left until I hit my overall goal.

Which shall hopefully be enough words to wrap this book up and call it done. *grins awkwardly*

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july 11, 2021

I have officially lost my marbles. I mean, anyone who truly knows me knows that I’ve already lost my marbles (more than once, even), but this time … yep. They’re gone.

If you look at my progress this week strictly through the lens of word count, not a whole lot happened during this second week of Camp NaNoWriMo. If, however, you take a peek at the inner workings of my mind, you will see that there has been a major, almost terrifying shift.

My friends. Colleagues. Fellow scribes and poets.

I have officially become a scene skipper.

I’m not sure what, exactly, possessed me to do this. I’ve never scene skipped. In fact, I usually pride myself on my ability to slough through the chapters which truly bore me just so I can get to the ones I’m excited to write. But this past week I was staring at the blank page and thinking about how, if I could only just make it through this one scene, then I could finally write the fun stuff, and I just … snapped.

I snapped.

I clicked open a new document in my binder, titled it ‘chapter 16’, and started writing. Before I knew it, I had an entire chapter down and was heading into chapter 17–all within a single day.

And all without finishing off chapter 15.

It was a beautiful freedom, I must admit–albeit terrifying–but during this brief stint into insanity, I have discovered two things about my creative psyche:

  1. It is, in fact, possible for me to outline a book and enjoy it. Maybe it isn’t for EVERY book that I write, but it is certainly working for Project Goblin, and I’m definitely interested in plotting books in the future…
  2. If I’ve done enough plotting and am comfortable enough in the stability of my plot to know what happens multiple chapters in advance, I can successfully scene skip without any immediate issues.

These should, under normal circumstances, be cause for celebration. But as a writer who’s found peace with the fact that she’ll never be a massive plotter, I’m a wee bit worried about how this is going to affect all future endeavors of mine.

On the other hand, however, I’m extremely excited to see where this new inspiration takes me! Perhaps my next novel will have a 12k outline, complete with road signs and plot point maps. Who can say?

Certainly not me. XD

In other news, I’ve hardly done any writing this past week. XD We’re already heading into the tailend of Week Two, and I’m only at *checks word count* 5,000 words total for the month.

This is, of course, exceedingly mood-dampening, but I have faith, my friends! …faith in the fact that I’m dropping my word goal from 50,000 to 33,000. XD

Okay okay, so I know that dropping my word goal should probably make me feel ashamed and all that nonsense, but like…? I literally have no shame. I’ve discovered that the first draft of this book is going to be weirdly small (for a Kenzie Keene novel, that is XD) and I’m PREEEEEETTY sure that 33,000 words will be plenty for me to wrap this book up? According to my plot map, I have about 6-8 chapters left to write before this guy is complete. Which means that I…might…actually….???? finish this book before the end of July??????

I’m crossing all of my fingers and toes at this point, friends. I’m also VERY worried that I completely miscalculated, but lol whatever. It’ll be what it is and I’m excited. XD

(also 10/10 going to still shoot for 50k because why not so YEET. we shall see how this goes, peasants. XD)

Alas. If I’m to write 50k 33k before the end of July, I guess I should get cracking. It’s gonna be a LOOOOOONG month, my friends. XD

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talk to me, peasants!

how did the first two months of Camp NanoWriMo treat my fellow Campers out there? is anyone else egregiously behind on their word count? or are you blissfully ahead and can’t hear my distant sobbing through the intensity of your maniacal laughter? let’s talk about ALL of the Camp NaNoWriMo things down below, shall we? And until next time…

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Take Two (in which Kenzie writes a book)

good morning, cyberspace!

It’s no secret that I didn’t win April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. Or the NaNoWriMo before that. Or, dare I say it, the NaNoWriMo before that. (actually, I might have won that one? It was during quarantine, and I’m pretty sure I won. but anyway, back to my obviously important point.) Lately it would seem as though my NaNoWriMo success rate has been anything less than resplendent, and it’s come to the point where I’m almost too scared to participate, because I know there is a very likely chance that I will not come through on the other side victorious.

However, despite the little voice in my head telling me I should think about simply skipping this year’s second session of Camp NaNoWriMo in pursuit of a simpler, less stressful time, I’ve decided to go full gung-ho and dive headfirst into a chaotic summer of epic disaster!

…aka, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo next month, peasants!

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CAMP NANOWRIMO 2021: TAKE TWO (in which Kenzie writes a book)

I know I should probably be dreading this, seeing as though my last few attempts at doing the NaNo were rather sad. But I’m honestly just so excited to dive back into this community. There was a time in my life when I was a constant lurker in the NaNo forums, when any conversation pertaining to me was nary without the mention of NaNoWriMo at least once. Or twice. Or three times. Usually within a single sentence. XD

And as I grow older and my NaNo track record decreases, I’ve begun to wonder if maybe I’m just getting too old for NaNoWriMo. Perhaps I’ve become one of those writers who’s too “seasoned” to participate in something as frivolous as a crazy writing month filled with intense word counts and an even more intense sleep schedule. (or, should I say, nonexistent sleep schedule, amiright? Ah? Ah? distant sobbing) But then I take a closer look at where these thoughts are coming from, and I realize that it doesn’t have anything to do with age or skill at all—I’m simply not putting my all into it as I used to.

It’s not something anyone likes to admit, but I’m sitting here today and putting these words down because they need to be said: the past few times I’ve tried NaNoWriMo, I’ve allowed myself to be buffeted by all that life has to throw at me and have let my writing fall by the wayside.

And that’s not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing! Life is important, and obviously I want to experience as much of it as this world has to offer. But I also want to write my books and share them with the world, and the only way that’s ever going to happen is if I have the courage to sit down and put words to the page, no matter how scary that prospect may seem.

So today, I am throwing all caution to the wind and shouting into the grand void that I WILL be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo next month! And—yes, I’m going to say it—I’m going to win.

Obviously I wrote a whole blog post about how I was going to win April’s Camp back in March, but … yeah. That didn’t work out too well, did it. XD Ah well. This time around, I don’t have anything fancy to share with you all. No great tips or tricks for defeating writer’s block. No special hats or survival kits or playlists. This time, all I have is me, a notebook, a pen, my laptop, and a story that I desperately want to get written. And chances are, the draft I crank out over the next couple months will be nothing like the story I eventually want to share with you all. But I’m getting the skeleton down. I’m figuring it out the only way I know how—by experimentation—and that, my friends, is an exciting adventure in and of itself. Future Kenzie may have a beast of a time trying to edit this monster, but Present Kenzie is going to enjoy herself to the highest extreme during this drafting process!

THE GOAL

As of right now, Project Goblin is sitting at a very sad 30,000 words. I promised myself I wouldn’t share any of my deadline goals here on the blog (you know, since I’m absolute garbage at actually following them once written), but I will say that at this current word count, I’m very, very far behind on where I wanted to be in this draft. I had a very solid word goal established for the end of June, but due to some unprecedented events and one too many days I let slip by without even trying to put pen to paper, I’m sorry to admit that it will take nothing short of a miracle for me to catch up to my final deadline.

That is, unless I’m able to write 50,000 words next month.

Some might call it idiocy to try and reach this goal. Some might call it madness. I prefer to call it a dash of optimism with a touch of insanity.

Under normal circumstances, I would take a moment to stop and think about the fact that my day-job is about to get a little bit more complicated and demanding (yay, promotions!) and do I REALLY want to tackle such a large commitment right through the thick of that? I would also sit myself down and say, “Kenzie. You do realize that trying to pump 50,000 words out within a single month is going to drain you both creatively and mentally, right? You do realize this is going to be VERY BAD for your mental health…right?” But to be honest, I feel exceptionally good about this very abrupt change of plans. I’m excited to push myself (healthily!) and see where I end up. I’m eagerto test my limits and see just how far I can go without falling.

I have no interest in hurting myself, of course, but if writing is something that I want to do full-time in the not-so-near future, then I have to take the baby steps to get there today. And those baby steps include fitting my writing life into my everyday living—not the other way around.

Of course, I’m not ignoring the fact that we are entering what is—by nature—one of the busiest months of summer (for me). But due to some unforeseen recent events (which I’m definitely not going to complain about), this month isn’t going to be near as busy as it normally is! Most of the events I participate in during the month of July have either been canceled or … I’m just not doing them. XD So aside from a road trip (more on that in the future, hopefully!), this month is wide open for ALL OF THE CREATIVE ENDEAVORS! And that is a very freeing sort of feeling, my friends.

THE PROJECT

I’ve already mentioned this above, but the project I’ll be working on this month is the first draft of Project Goblin! …..still. To be honest, I thought the first draft of this book would be finished by now, but alas. I guess my timeline was a little bit off.

I will say that while I’m definitely not trying to rush this drafting process, there are many other projects on my radar for 2021 which I’m very eager to get to (one of them being an editing project, which is extremely exciting!), and if I’m going to stay on track with my gameplan for those projects, Project Goblin’s gotta hurry up and get a move on. XD Normally I wouldn’t care so much, but the editing project has a very, very hard deadline, and I … well. Let’s just say that if I’m unable to complete the first draft of Project Goblin by August, it’s going to have to take a pause whether it likes it or not.

Also, I’m sure none of you are wondering this, but I’ve been trying to decide whether or not I want to try and blog during this crazy intense month of drafting. Every single time I participate in NaNo, I say that I’m going to blog through it. But then that sort of falls by the wayside (along with my project), and essentially I accomplish none of the things I said I wanted to accomplish. However, after much thought, I’ve decided to try this one more time.

As far as I’m able, I would really really like to blog during Camp NaNoWriMo! I’m not sure if it’s actually going to happen or not, but we shall see! It’s definitely on my radar of things I’d like to do, and even if it’s only weekly updates that take literally two seconds to slap together, I still want to maintain a presence during July. (you know. especially since I’ve been MIA for the past couple weeks. XD)

However, please do not be shocked if it turns out I’m unable to hold up to this. I have literally no clue what sorts of things July may hold, and because of that, I can’t promise that blogging is going to take a high priority. My first and foremost priority this month is drafting Project Goblin. After that … well, honestly I don’t really know. XD

But rest assured that whether or not I’m lurking around the blogosphere this month, there WILL be blog posts in August, and—if all goes according to plan—something very, VERY exciting happening that month, as well! (mwahahahahahahahahahaha!)

>>> <<<

talk to me, peasants!

Is anyone else participating in Camp NaNo next month??? If so, I’m actually using the website again this time around (I haven’t been using it previously, and the struggle is REAL), so please come and friend me! Also tell me what kind of project you’ll be working on, and whether or not you’ll be blogging during Camp! I want to hear about ALL of the fun creative things you’ve got planned this summer!

And as always, until next time …

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *

CAMP NANOWRIMO 2021 – The Results

good morning, cyberspace!

The end of April is nigh upon us, and I have–once again–gone the whole month without any sort of update on the going’s on of Camp NaNoWriMo. I would love to say that this is because I have been writing myself into oblivion, diving deep into the heart of the stories which I so proudly claimed I’d be working on this month until my well of creativity simply burst with all the excitement and inspiration of which drafting a goblin book should produce.

This, however, would be a lie. Like many people, I undergo ruts of creative dryness. It’s something I try very hard to push through, and, in doing so, usually tend to scrape myself so dry that the time needed to recover thus inflates dramatically. And I think, my dear peasants, that this is what happened last month.

And potentially the first four months of 2021. Lololololol.

It’s been a slow period for my writing so far. According to my writing tracker, I’ve written 40,336 words this whole year–which, looking at as one complete sum, doesn’t seem like a grand total one should turn their nose at. But behind those words have been truly painful moments of confusion, wondering if I’m really cut out for this whole thing, and swatting at the little voices inside of my head which tell me I should simply give up, shave my head bald, and become a goat herder in northern Italy.

(for reference: my google search history now has “does italy have goat herders” plastered to it, and I’m pretty sure my personal FBI agent is wondering if I’m okay. [answer: no, bob. i am not okay.])

But I find that no matter how many creative ruts I may go through–no matter how many times I may need to step away from the world and reevaluate what’s important in my life–it seems that I always come back to the same conclusion: this is what I want to be doing. Despite how many words I write in a month. Despite how many times I fall short. Despite how many experiments and events and ideas fall through the cracks, I am a writer, and it’s pushing through those dark days which prove it. Because if I didn’t love writing, if this wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing with my life, if this was just some passing phase for me, I wouldn’t keep coming back to it. I would have given up by now. I would simply disappear in a cloud of smoke and maniacal laughter and become a used car salesman.

And the fact that this has not yet happened is a testament to the fact that this–no matter how badly I failed Camp NaNoWrimo–is where I’m supposed to be.

And so, my friends, it is with mild shame and more than a few “I should have seen this coming”s that I tell you last month did not go accordingly to plan. And I realize that I technically had two plans for how April should have gone, but alas. Neither of these happened.

…at all.

Oh, I tried to follow the plan, of course. I think we can agree that I always try. But like with many of my grand ideas, things happen, Life hits, and suddenly I’m swept off my feet down a swiftly moving river towards who even knows where, only to end up deposited right back at square one three weeks later.

And this is where I am today.

But I can’t say as though I’m horribly disappointed with my progress this past month. Sure, it isn’t anywhere near the 30k I had initially planned on, but I can’t say that the whole month was a total waste. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that I’m pleased with the direction this Camp took, because it has led me to things far greater than a heavy word count ever could.

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CAMP NANOWRIMO 2021 – THE RESULTS

i. the girl and the goblin king

As of the moment I’m writing this (April 26th, 11:06 AM, for anyone weird enough to wonder that), my current word count for Apirl is 12,994 words. This puts me 17,006 words away from my 30k goal, which is lowkey disappointing, not gonna lie. At this point, I would have to write about 4.2k every single day till the end of camp to catch up. And since I’ve just started to gently rekindle the spark of my creativity, I’m not even considering trying this. In life, there are some things we must simply give up on.

Today, I’m choosing to give up on Camp NaNoWriMo.

bill murray comedy GIF

But not completely! I may not be able to hit my first goal of 30k, but 15k is looking preeeeeetty charming right about now. And since–as anyone who read my last post will know–I started rewriting this story right at the end of March, having 15k down during the first month of drafting is not something to sneeze at. (actually, please don’t sneeze at anything in today’s day and age.)

So my new, unofficial goal since it’s too late to change my goal on the website for Camp NaNoWriMo is 15,000 words towards Project Goblin. I only have to write 2,006 words in four days in order to hit it, and if I somehow manage to mess this up before May, you have my permission to slap me in the face with a fish.

A rotting fish, specifically, as I find those are most suitable for proving a point.

ii. project sunset

i did absolutely nothing towards this goal for the entire month of April, and I have no shame since I am not quite ready to jump back into this story quite yet

The Girl and The Goblin King decided to take up all of my story brainpower this month, and while I’m disappointed that I couldn’t reenter the world of Shelby and Ed as quickly as I’d have liked, I’m extremely excited for the twists which TGaTGK has taken, and look forward to reading through my trash draft of Project Sunset in the future.

Also read as: ASDFGHJKL THIS MONTH WAS A MESS LOL

in conclusion…

…April’s Camp NaNoWriMo wasn’t the 30-day creativity-filled writing retreat which I had planned on it being. Instead, it was a bumpy, messy, “holy guacamole, what’s happening” kind of time, and while I’m extraordinarily thankful for all that it has taught me and all the many things I’ve discovered along the way, I can’t shake the slight disappointment within me that says I should have–could have–done better.

And maybe you’re a bit like me. Maybe your April wasn’t quite what you’d expected, either. Maybe your plans were stacked so high that the weight of them crashing down nearly crushed you. But the truth is, if given the chance, I wouldn’t go back and change anything about the past month. Yes, it was chaotic. Yes, it was messy. Yes, I made wrong decisions and mistakes and should have chosen different paths than what I did at the time. But the fact remains that all those left turns and obstacles brought me to this moment right here, where I can honestly look you in the webcam eye and say, “I wrote 13,000 words this month. I have 13,000 more words in my pockets than I did 26 days ago, and I am proud of those words, because I know I poured every bit of my heart and soul into them.” And while it isn’t 30k, it is 7 chapters of a novel which I’m excited to be writing. It is 13k that I didn’t write just because, but which I wrote with intention and passion.

So could I have done better? Maybe. But I know for a fact that what I did do is work that I’m proud of, and my wish is that, at the end of this crazy month, you can look at the work you’ve done–however big or small that may be–and say the same.

talk to me, peasants!

to all the ones who participated in NaNoWrimo: how did your month go? were you able to write all of the words, or did you, like me, learn valuable life lessons instead? XD

to those who didn’t participate in NaNo: what sorts of adventures–or non-adventures–did you get up to during the month of April? have you been reading good books? journeying to new places? discovering new hobbies?

Let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down in the comments below, and until next time…

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

CAMP NANOWRIMO, 2021 – a subtle change of plans + my camp nanowrimo survival kit

good morning, cyberspace!

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. I suppose I should have seen this coming, since nothing I plan ever goes quite like how I want it to, but I can’t say as though I’m disappointed with the very sudden turn of events my life–most specifically my writing life–has taken.

Do you guys remember how I mentioned very recently how The Plan for Camp NaNoWriMo 2021 was to finish the first draft of Project Goblin? A draft which I was already upwards of 30,000 words into? The draft of which I was confident I could finish within a single month?

Lol. Yeah, that plan flew out the window towards Neverland and hasn’t been seen since.

So, as it turns out, I’ve been struggling with writing this book for a couple months now. As a Plantser, I never truly know where the story is taking me until we get there–that’s part of the fun and mystery of writing for me–but I am familiar with the gut feeling that what I’m writing is wrong. Somehow, inexplicably, I can feel when what I’m writing isn’t what’s supposed to be written, and this division between my conscious and subconscious completely stalls the process.

And for the past two months or so, I’ve been feeling this exact phenomena. Day after day I’ve sat down to write, only to find myself staring at a page half-filled with words which don’t feel true to the story I’m trying to tell. And day after day I’ve wondered if perhaps there was something about this story that I’m missing. But the stubborn writer inside of me decided that this was just a phase–that if I just kept pressing forward, I would eventually hit the rhythm that I’ve been searching for.

Unfortunately, I can now report that this did not happen. I did, however, find something a little bit better.

I found an epiphany.

I don’t have these rare moments of brilliance often. In fact, I’ll confess that I typically only have one true moment of complete genius per book–if, of course, I even have one at all–but every so often, usually at the peak of frustration, all the pieces I’ve been struggling to fit into place finally click together. Suddenly, everything that was once foggy and uncooperative is perfectly clear. And that is precisely what happened with my smol trash gremlin, Project Goblin.

I was sitting at Pizza Hut, scribbling down a list of the story’s main cast members in a tiny notebook with a garish pink pen, when all of a sudden I had this beautiful, mind-boggling epiphany. An epiphany so shiny and perfect and new that I immediately began scribbling down ideas for it, completely ruining my linear character chart and ignoring my sad slice of pizza as it sat steaming on the plate in front of me.

All thoughts of food were gone; there was only room in my head for a single thought.

“they’re off to see the wizard”

Except it isn’t a wizard they’re off to see, but a goblin. And they weren’t going to ask for something they never had, but what was once stolen from them.

Despite the fact that “they’re off to see the wizard” really has absolutely nothing to do with the new direction of my book at this point, it still serves as the main epiphany moment, and is therefore my battlecry as I set off on this brand new reinvention of the story before me. 30,000 words of Draft Zero were stuffed away in a separate drawer–potentially never to be seen again–and I am now working from a brand new document, titled Project Goblin 2021. (I’m very clever with naming things, you see.) I’m about 2 and a half chapters in, my main character is finally (oh my WORD IT’S HAPPENING) starting to act like an actual human, rather than a cardboard cutout that just sort of wobbles around the world I’m building from scratch, and–best thing of all the things–I’m finally excited about this story again. That thing I thought was missing has finally been found, and I no longer have to question whether or not I should press forward or head back. I have direction. I have inspiration.

I finally have hope for this mess of a book.

And in honor of the fact that I completely ditched everything I’ve written for the past five months lolololololol finally have direction, I thought it’d be fun to finally reveal everything inside of my NaNoWriMo survival kit! Because I promised if I got around to it, I’d share that with you all, and I figure this will be a NaNo quite desiring of a survival kit if ever there was one before. (my sanity ditched me like five days ago and hasn’t since returned, so.)

>>> <<<

kenzie’s camp nanowrimo survival kit — 2021 edition

i. greg

Some of you may know this, others may not–my laptop’s name is Greg.

I do not, despite popular belief, tote around a singular man named Greg where’ere I go for writing inspiration. If, however, your name is Greg and you would like to apply for the position of part-time writing assistant, the fact that your name is Greg will probably (not) give you an edge on your application.

ii. usb drive

I haven’t backed up my novel in about five months. This is actually a terrible decision, and I wholeheartedly recommend NOT doing this if you’re planning on making any considerable sized dent in your manuscript this month. XD

Please, please–if you have any sort of consideration for your novel and time at all–buy a good (emphasis on GOOD) USB drive and backup your novel. Frequently. Once a day is good, but TWICE a day is better, especially if you’re writing a lot.

Many years ago I went through this phase of using adorable animal-shaped USB drives, and every single time my novel got corrupted and I lost thousands of words.

It was awful. I soon despised that penguin and octopus, let me tell you. So while the dark, stick-shaped drives at Best Buy might SEEM boring and unassuming, sometimes that’s precisely what you need in order to make sure your manuscript is safe.

Don’t trust your book to an octopus, friend. I beg of you.

iii. story-themed notebooks

Even though I tend to write my books on my laptop, it doesn’t feel like I’m actually writing a book until I have a story notebook to go along with it. everlost had a bunch of wide-ruled school notebooks–bits and pieces of story and plot bunnies scribbled out across them to the point where finding what I was actually looking for was somewhat of an impossibility. Project Sunset had a single squatty journal purchased specifically for that project. (the theme color for the story was yellow, and therefore I obviously needed a yellow notebook) And Project Goblin has an adorably wonky looking thing which I got from one of my coworkers as a birthday/parting gift when I left my last job. So, in order for this month to be a success–or, at the very least, survivable–I’m keeping this notebook close at hand for any moment when writing on a screen just won’t cut it.

Sometimes you just need a good stack of paper and a pen in order for the thoughts to start flowing, and when that time comes, it’s a lot easier to have a notebook already squared away for that exact purpose than to start asking random strangers in the restaurant for their napkins and half-chewed pens.

iv. pens & pencils

To go along with the notebooks, you always need a fresh assortment of pens and pencils to keep your creativity flowing during a high-stress month such as this. In fact, I would highly recommend beginning your collection of favorite writing instruments sooner rather than later, because those things have a nasty habit of disappearing right when you need them most.

v. project playlists

I recently got Spotify Premium with my family–hello, no ads!–and oh my goodness, I’m obsessed with making playlists! Most of them are for my drives to work or actual work (we get to play our own playlists over the speakers. it’s phenomenal), but quite a fair few in my dragon hoard are handcrafted playlists perfectly tailored for my books. The ones I’ll be using the most this month are for The Girl and The Goblin King and Project Sunset, since those are the stories I’m currently working on, but blogospherical is another well-loved music set which will be used quite frequently. XD

vi. my writerly muse

a.k.a. my smol bird friend, Durachi. I think the majority of you know by now that I have a cockatiel, but I think I fail to mention just how integral he is to my writing life. Durachi is incredibly helpful during the drafting process. He’s very patient with me when I start daydreaming during play-time, and exceedingly helpful with choosing which pens and pencils to use.

The scary ones, of course, get thrown away. (my hunch is that he can sense when they have no creativity left inside them, and therefore that makes them frightening. which, I mean, same. XD)

vii. my kindle

Since I’m going to be reading and taking notes on Project Sunset this month, I kind of need something to read it on. And since reading it on my laptop will only make me want to go in immediately with a red pen and edit All Of The Things, I’m going to read it on my kindle instead. This way, I can train my brain to see it in actual ebook format, rather than “writing” mode, and the only remaining danger is accidentally setting my entire kindle on fire out of sheer embarrassment and having to buy a new one from Amazon!

viii. reading material (for when I’m stuck)

I recently stopped at the library and picked up an embarrassingly large stack of tomes to read when I get creatively stuck, so hopefully these will get me through those annoyingly depressing dry spells….

(and also I hope I can renew these because there’s NO way I’m gonna read them all in two weeks….)

ix. an assortment of snacks (for when I’m hungry)

Aside from the typical chocolates and candies, I’m also going to start squirreling away tea and Dr. Pepper. Because sometimes you really just need a caffeinated boost to get you through the writing day, and there is truly no caffeine boost like that of the Dr. Pepper…

(I also work at a coffee shop, so for the most part I’m set on tea. In fact, I should probably stop drinking so much of it when I’m there. XD)

x. a good dose of dedication, persistence, and just a singular ounce of sanity

To be fair, I usually don’t have a whole lot of either of these at any given time, but I’ve learned that if I’m very, very careful, I can typically find a little bit of each if I try hard enough.

The sanity is entirely hit or miss, though. I never know if I’m going to have my head when I wake up in the morning, but by golly, I’m officially getting good at going throughout my day headless. At this point, I should probably move to Sleepy Hollow or something.

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talk to me, peasants!

And that, my friends, is my Camp NaNoWriMo update/what’s inside my survival kit! For all my fellow Wrimos out there, what sorts of things do YOU put inside your survival kit? have your camp nanowrimo plans altered at all since the start of the event? and have you ever had an epiphany so wonderful and huge that it made it physically impossible for you to eat pizza? (this was a first for me, and I’m genuinely curious if it happens to anyone else.)

As always, let’s talk about All Of The Things down in the comments below, and until next time…

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

Camp NaNoWriMo, 2021 – preparation

good morning, cyberspace!

Camp NaNoWriMo is just over a week away, and I am officially starting to panic. Not in an “oh my goodness I’m going to die” kind of way, but an “lol things are happening and I’m not sure if they’re good but YEET LET’S DO THIS ANYWAY” kind of way. It’s honestly very inspiring, and I’m even more excited for April than I was before, which is … saying something.

Aside from panicking about the approaching NaNo, my brain has also decided to start splitting itself away from the projects I’m supposed to be focusing on, and has instead popped a very intriguing, very time-consuming idea into my head. As of right now, it’s still in the very first stages of speculation. I still don’t know when or if or how long it will take to finalize should I continue with it, but I can say that while this new project is exceedingly exciting, I’m forcing myself to keep its progress to a strict minimum in the weeks to come. Most–if not all–of my writing time is currently devoted to Project Goblin, this blog, or writing random short stories for my own sheer amusement. Anything else is simply a distraction.

…or that’s what I’m trying to tell myself, at least.

I definitely did not start a Scapple board two nights ago onto which I’ve started flinging all of my wildest hopes and dreams for this project. Definitely not. (stop looking at me like that, I’m completely fine.)

Anyway, in honor of Camp NaNoWriMo’s ever-quickening approach, I’ve decided to make a list of completely non-writing related things I’d like to accomplish before the first of April! I mentioned in last week’s post that there really wasn’t much to do for Project Goblin prep-wise, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing I can do to mentally prep for NaNo! So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

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camp nanowrimo, 2021 — preparation

one – deep-clean my room

First thing’s first, I’ve been undergoing a deep, DEEP clean of my room lately, and I’d like to get that finished up before Camp NaNo comes. It’s not so much of a “this will help get me in the mindset for writing” kind of thing, but more of an “if I have all of this random stuff-purging done before April, I won’t have any excuses to procrasticlean”. And let me tell you–I am the QUEEN of procrasticleaning.

So the first step on my to-do list is to get all of my random junk tidied up and sorted out! And while I’m sort of half-n-half when it comes to cleaning, I’m actually weirdly excited for this one. I’m really enjoying the purging process, and I feel like once I’m done, I’ll have more of the things I truly enjoy, and less of the stuff that’s simply taking up space.

two – set up my story board

Or, as my writing group fondly dubbed it, my murder board. Essentially, I recently had the grand idea to start plotting out the scenes that still need to be written for Project Goblin–and any editing notes I’m going to be making for Project Sunset–out on my corkboard! My mom gave me a whole stack of neon-colored index cards which are PERFECT for color-coding different stories, and I’m extremely excited to start. Plotting has never gone too well for me in the past, but I think if I leave it open enough, my curious brain will still find nooks and crannies to investigate and pilfer through, which will continue to add a sense of discovery to the writing process which my brain so clearly craves.

three – prepare Project Sunset notebook

In order to start taking notes on Project Sunset, I need to get my notebook ready. I haven’t taken notes on a draft since everlost, and I’ll admit I’m a little bit rusty. But I have some Thoughts on how I want to take notes for this project, and while it may seem a little too advanced for my simpleton of an easily-distracted brain, I’m still choosing to be optimistic about this approach.

I also have a really cute notebook that I used while drafting this book, and MY GOODNESS I’m so excited to use it again… Toting that notebook around literally made me so happy when I was writing Project Sunset, and getting to bust it out again kinda feels like coming home.

four – equip myself with proper work attire

Fun fact: both jobs I’ve held within the past two years had mandated work attire. At Goodwill, I had to wear a bright blue shirt and–for the first 8 or 9 months–khakis. (this later turned into jeans, and my dear goodness it was the most wonderful change) At the coffee shop, I have to wear a store shirt and either a hat, visor, or headband. (I usually choose the hat.) I never really put much thought into mandated work attire other than the typical “huh. I wish I didn’t have to wear this today” kind of thing, but recently….recently I’ve begun to notice something.

The first day you wear your work uniform, you have this weird sense of imposter syndrome. You look at yourself in the mirror and wonder how on earth you managed to hoodwink your employer into hiring you, because holy guacamole you’re underqualified for this position. But then, as you get trained (or, in the case of Goodwill, thrown on the register and wished the best of luck) and begin to learn the ins and outs of the industry, you start to feel this strange sense of belonging when you go to work. You know what you’re doing (kinda), you love what you do and do what you love, and your uniform signifies that. You’re no longer an imposter in a hat. You’re someone who belongs.

And not only that, but for me, personally, I’ve noticed that whenever I’m at work, I have no trouble getting myself to stay dedicated and determined to succeed for my allotted time on the clock. There’s no sense of wanting to procrastinate. There’s no endless scrolling on my phone as soon as there’s a lull in work. Whenever it quiets down and there’s nothing straightforward to be doing, my brain automatically clicks into “find something productive to do” mode.

It shocks people when I tell them I’m a disorganized mess. It boggles their brain meats. Why? Because the person I give to others at work is a complete opposite of the person I give to myself. When I’m working for someone else, I’m committed and “on” at all times. I’m dedicated to my work and am willing to learn and grow and get better with each passing day. When I’m working for myself, I tend to grow stagnant. I tell myself that this pressing thing I’m supposed to be working on can be done tomorrow. I let myself procrastinate. I tell myself deadlines don’t matter.

But spoiler alert: deadlines DO matter. And as someone who hopes to someday be self-employed, I need to start treating my personal deadlines and goals with as much respect as I treat those imposed on me by others.

So I’ve been doing some self-reflection. I’ve been digging a little deeper into my psyche to understand the why’s behind this most confusing jumble of mental blockages. And after much thought and one too many lost staring contests with the floral patterned wall, I realized that there is one significant difference between my days clocked in as a writer and my days clocked in as a barista.

…at the coffee shop, I have a hat.

And it may not seem like much, but I have come to the conclusion that this hat is instrumental in my excellent work ethic. So after some digging, I decided to purchase a writing hat.

It’s coming in the mail on Friday, and I’m going to start wearing it every time I sit down to write.

…I cannot be stopped, peasants.

five – gather and curate my nanowrimo survival kit

Every year, I try to create a survival kit for Ultimate NaNo Success, and every year, I hardly use the things which I so carefully place inside of it. But this year … yeah, this year isn’t going to be any different. But I’m still going to create my survival kit, because GUYS. IT IS FUN.

And if you don’t believe me, you’ve clearly never created your own survival kit, and therefore I urge you to go change this immediately.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to be placing inside my Survival Kit this year, but I guarantee it’s going to have some sort of Goblin-esque themed notebook, my USB drive (a must for intense drafting), and an assortment of pens and pencils I shall completely ignore in favor of a random black pen I find in the family pencil basket. (I’ve accidentally stolen a lot of those pens, actually… My apologies to my family members who can never seem to find a normal pen anywhere.)

Also maybe some snacks, my laptop (obviously), and a carefully curated playlist which I will also completely ignore in favor of my work playlist, which is fondly dubbed ’tis but a bop. (I’m so clever, oh my goodness.)

If my survival kit turns out to be something rather noteworthy, I’ll do my best to write a blog post on it! But for right now, I’m gonna stick with a Vague Mention of the thing. XD It really is fun putting these together, though, so seriously. 10/10 recommend creating one for yourself. (and if you DO end up making one, tell me all the things you put inside of it in the comments! I want to hear about others’ survival kits!!)

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talk to me, peasants!

And there you have it–my list of to-do’s to mentally prepare for the gloriousness that is Camp NaNoWriMo! Not listed are the sleepless nights and internal screaming matches between me and the Void, but I figured those were safely implied.

But now it’s your turn! what sorts of things do you do to prepare yourself–physically, mentally, etc.–for NaNoWriMo? do you have any “writing attire” that you wear while writing, or–similarly–any talismans that bring you good luck when writing? what kinds of things do you store in your writerly survival kit? are you participating in Camp NaNo this year, and if not, how can I convince you to change your mind? XD

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

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

Camp NaNoWriMo, 2021 — planning + plotting

good morning, cyberspace!

In honor of nothing particularly interesting happening in February in regards to my writing journey, I move to completely ignore last month’s statistics and instead pretend like everything is fine and my goals for the year are definitely not going up in flames before my very eyes. All in favor, say aye!

Lovely. Let’s move on!

So! It’s March! The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, my writerly muse has finally decided to return from his extended vacation in the Bahamas (thanks, Chess), and I–after a long, tiring winter–have decided that now is as good a time as any to dust off the potential I left to rot in the back of my closet and scrape together some semblence of a writing routine to get me through the next few months! And–with any luck–finally make some substantial progress on my current works-in-progress!

This surge in creating inspiration is aided by the fact that Camp NaNoWriMo begins next month (!!!). This will be my fifth year participating in the Camp session of NaNoWriMo, and let me tell you, folks: I could not be more excited. Camp NaNoWriMo–April’s session, in particular–holds a very dear place in my heart. It has helped me stay accountable to and finish so many of my writing projects, and–with any luck–this year it will be instrumental in doing it again.

I have many plans and ideas and goals for this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and while a part of my brain fears I may be biting off a wee bit more than one man can chew, I’m also incredibly excited to see what the next couple months have in store for both me and my projects!

…ah yes. You read that correctly. I’m going to be working on project(s) next month. Because I am nothing if not incredibly optimistic about the amount of side-hussles I can maintain.

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camp nanowrimo, 2021

With Camp NaNoWriMo just around the corner, there are two types of people crawling out of the woodworks: the writers who squeal and scream about Camp Nano and all their exciting plans for the month ahead, and their friends, who are even now buying earplugs to avoid the long, endless ramblings of writers who know not when to stop talking about half-bred goblin kings and monstrous trolls who may or may not actually exist.

I, of course, belong in the former category, and rightly so. I earned my “I’m a NaNo Fanatic” badge at the tender age of seventeen, when my friends would roll their eyes every time I started in again on the gloriousness which was Camp NaNoWriMo. “Here we go again” was a phrase I quickly became acquainted with, and one I adjusted to with just as much ease. There was a time when I wondered if perhaps I was a wee bit overexuberant in my NaNo excitement.

I now know that there is no such thing.

This year, however, while I’m planning on working on multiple projects, I am hoping that it’s a quieter sort of NaNo for me. I’ve only just gotten my excitement for writing back since it slipped out the window last autumn, and while I’m trying to get as much out of this sudden inspiration-fueled stint as I possibly can, the last thing I want is to use it all up and be left stranded again. So the plan is to gently grow my creativity over the next two months, carefully easing myself into longer writing projects as I reestablish myself into the writing groove I completely fell out of. Of course, as with most of my plans, I’m not holding out much hope for its success. But they say the best way to grow is to try everything you possibly can until eventually something sticks, so I guess I’m on a solid path.

(me. i said this. don’t judge me, please, i’m small.)

But all that aside, the projects I have prepped for Camp NaNo 2021 are–if I do say so myself–some of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on in a while. They’re books which feel like stepping stones towards the writer I want to be someday, and with a month filled with stories like that, well … what can possibly go wrong?

(*nervous laughter*)

project one – the girl and the goblin king

For anyone who’s been paying attention (lol, not me), The Girl and The Goblin Kingi is my YA paranormal fantasy, complete with goblins (duh), a starving artist, creepy triplets, and an anthropomorphic tree. So, essentially, it’s like a nightmare come to life, and I adore every single part of it.

There’s not a whole lot to do in regards to prepping this one, actually. I’m currently knee-deep in the first draft, so the majority of prep-work is simply me showing up to the story every day and putting words to the page–something I have obviously been struggling with. In a perfect world, I’d like to work out some of the kinks that I’ve begun to find within the narrative before April so I can start with a mostly clean slate, but this is, unfortunately, a first draft. And first drafts are messy, complicated, and in more ways than one, honestly terrifying to look at. If I’m able to simply hit the midpoint before April 1st, I’ll count my preparatory work as a win.

As for the actual NaNo-ing part of this project, my goal is to finish the first draft of Project Goblin by the end of April. March 31st is my soft deadline for this story, but with such a wild winter, I’ll be more shocked if it happens than if not. So my hard deadline for this project is April 30th, and if I don’t hit it, I will cry and eat a cookie in compensation give myself grace, because that is what I would give to anyone else in my shoes.

(oh, look at that. i think i spot some growth.)

project two – project sunset

Ah, yes. Anyone remember my sunshine child from last April? The gang is returning for another Camp this year, but this time, I’m going to be reading the words I wrote last year! (much nail-biting. such fear.) I literally have not done a deep edit or revision since the Great Everlost Expedition of 2018, and–if I’m being perfectly honest–I’m kind of scared to dive in, here. BUT. I remember greatly enjoying the revision process. It’s something I’ve come to love over the years, and taking something that was once pretty good and turning it into a semi-polished really good thing is where I feel I can really shine as a writer. Or perhaps I just feel that way because most of my first drafts are absolute garbage and I’m trying to convince myself that this does not make me a terrible writer. WHO CAN KNOW. XD

Prep-work for this simply involves compiling all the chapters I’ve written into a PDF (already done), and sending it off to my kindle for reading (soon to be done). Since all I’m doing for this project in April is reading through the book and taking down notes for revision, I’m not too concerned about finishing it within a month. This is mostly a “my brain needs a break from Project Goblin–OH LOOK. SHINY NEW THING” kind of project, so it’s very low-pressure, which is NICE.

I would, however, very much like to get the whole book read and have a solid plan for revision come May if I can! But that’s simply a cherry on top of the Project Goblin First Drafting cake. If it turns out that Project Goblin gets finished, and this poor, unfortunate little pancake is left miserably on its own till the end of Camp, I can’t say as though I’ll be disappointed. I’ll be too ecstatic over my brand new book baby to care too much. XD

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In all truth, I really just want to have some fun with my writing next month. I’ve spent so much of my career wondering if I’m “professional” enough to be a writer–if my words were good enough, bold enough, deep enough. Everyone looks at the greats and sees their writings as these deep, existential plunges into the human existence, and there are moments when I look at my life and the words I piece together and wonder how on earth I could ever compare to those who came before me. I’ll never be the next Hemingway or Tolkien or Lewis. I’ll most likely never write something that will be praised by the masses for its intricate tug into the heart of human life. But I can write things that are strange and quirky and odd. Things that will keep both my readers and myself questioning my ever-decreasing sanity. And I am so excited to take that deep, irreversible plunge into my own originality next month. I want these to be the first steps I take in which I truly allow myself to breathe, to stretch my wings and step off the cliffs of normality into the piercing waters of the unknown. And if it turns out that what I create truly is awful and unfit to be published, then I guess the intense fun I had while writing it will completely outweigh its crippling uselessness to me. XD

talk to me, peasants!

what are you guys working on next month? are any of you participating in camp nanowrimo? have you participated in the past, and if so, do you prefer camp or the OG nano? and for all the writers like me out there, have you ever had to remind yourself that writing should be not only an adventure, but fun? I think sometimes we get so caught up in the act of thinking of our writing as a profession that we forget to have as much fun with it as possible in the process–and I don’t want to stay inside that rut.

Anyway, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS down in the comments below, and as always, until next time…

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

featured photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

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)

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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*

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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…