It’s November

Halloween is over.

That means three things. One, it’s time for NaNoWriMo. Two, it’s time to start thinking about food for Thanksgiving. Vegan food! And, three, it’s time for Christmas music just about all the time. I don’t listen to Christmas music when writing. Other than that, I’m annoying my older son by playing Christmas music in the car; he does not share my love of Christmas music. His loss.

I wasn’t sure I’d be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. But, I decided if I didn’t I’d regret it. I normally do a lot of planning. That backfired this year. I didn’t plan enough for the novel I wanted to write, and I realized that it would require a great deal more planning to do it justice. In other words, a terrible novel to try and write in a month. So, instead, I’m writing a different novel that is very nebulous in my brain. And I’m doing it without any planning. I’m totally flying by the seat of my pants.

Wish me luck. I may need it this year.

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NaNoWriMo Update

Well… NaNoWriMo is over for another year. This was my fifth year participating, and my fourth win! Very excited about that. Thanks to all my friends and family who support me. Your encouragement and kind words are appreciated. And thanks to everyone who donated to The Office of Letters and Light on my behalf. My friend, colleague, and fellow writer, Michael Drum, and I had a great time at The Night of Writing Dangerously.

And this year, I have to give a great big shout-out to my students. A huge percentage of students in my class wrote this year. Sixteen (16!) students in my class validated their word counts on the Young Writers Program website and won! Two other students also met their word count goals but were unable to validate on the website. They’re winners too! And… joining us this year were two other students. One is a former student of mine, now in the sixth grade, and the other is a younger sibling of one of my current students. I am so proud of them all. Their enthusiasm, hard work, and creativity has been awesome to behold. I’m a very happy teacher these days.

I also have to congratulate the students who did not “win” on the Young Writers Program website or who did not yet meet their word count goals. The important word in that sentence is “yet”. I am proud of them for just trying to write a longer story, to push themselves, to try something new. And not a single one of them gave in to the temptation to lower their word count goal, even though they could. They stuck it out. I hope many of them go on to finish their stories. Even some of the students who “won” are still writing, because they may have met their word count goal, but their stories aren’t done yet.

Here are our final numbers. I validated on the NaNoWriMo website and have a final total of 51,311 words. On the Young Writers Program, I have a final total of 51,309 words. (I guess they have slightly different methods for counting words on the two websites.) Our classroom total is a staggering 226,476 words!!!

Night of Writing Dangerously 2012

I’m about ready to leave for The Night of Writing Dangerously, a fundraising event for The Office of Letters and Light. I’m very excited.

I’m currently at 28,054 words. I’m about two thousand behind schedule.

My students have written a total of 75,610 words!

Thanks again to everyone who donated to The Office of Letters and Light – and to everyone who has encouraged me. My cup runneth over.

Some Matches

some matches burn out
igniting nothing
but themselves

some matches burn
your fingers

some matches
kindle a flame

some flames burn out

some flames last a while
and then burn out
those hurt too

some flames
become a fire
that never burns out

to find your flame
you have to strike
some matches

/ / /

This poem was written to the 2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day One prompt at Poetic Asides.

NaNoWriMo word count for day two: 3669.

Separate

women, men,
we are all damaged,
incomplete

married, single,
we are all bound
within ourselves

we might wish
to be other
than we are

but that thread
that is us
governs how we think

we might want
another way,
but not truly

and then
we find the power
within us

and we are bound
to it and it to us
and we are complete

just a single thread
each of us,
yet enough

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Wordle 80 at The Sunday Whirl.

I’m gearing up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This will be my fifth year participating. I’ve written three novels so far; I didn’t “win” my first year by completing a 50,000-word novel. I’m writing the second in a planned five-book series that I’ve plotted with my boys, ages 8 and 11. I wrote the first book in the series last year. A proof copy of that book is currently going around my classroom; two of my students have read it in the last couple of weeks.

I’ve got a Virtual Classroom on the Young Writers Program website; come check us out. I’ve got twenty (20!) out of thirty-two students who are already signed up on the Young Writers Program website and added to my Virtual Classroom. And I’ve got a former student, one from last year, who is going to write again this year; she is also listed on our Virtual Classroom. My students, current and former, are rewarding my enthusiasm for writing in unexpected, but most joyous, ways.

And I’m fundraising for The Office of Letters and Light, the nonprofit organization that organizes NaNoWriMo and supports the Young Writers Program. I believe in this organization and what they do. I write. I encourage my students to write. My eldest son is planning to write this year. I have classroom materials from the Young Writers Program in my classroom, that I received free of charge. All teachers can order them free of charge. If you could donate a small (or large) amount to The Office of Letters and Light in my name, as part of The Night of Writing Dangerously fundraising event, I would greatly appreciate it.

My friend and colleague, Mike, and I are raising funds for The Office of Letters and Light, so that we can attend The Night of Writing Dangerously. You can find our fundraising page here. We went last year and had a blast. We both wrote novels last year, and helped our students write thousands of words.

Mike and I have both donated. And I want to extend a formal “thank you” to each person who has donated so far: Richard, James, and Paula. Thank you!

I’ll be away from home for three days. We’re taking all the fifth grade students on a three-day, two-night overnight field trip to NatureBridge in the Marin Headlands. We’ll get back on Halloween, in time to go trick-or-treating, but I will be “off the grid” for three days. And then I have to start writing my next novel. Wish me luck!

On You

i will umbrella your childhood
protect you from UV light
thunder and lightning

this is what i have vowed
but can i sustain that stand
and not make excuses

what shifts will i allow
in my stance about what
you are and will become

what will i bequeath to you
and what will you inherit
patience or frustration

will i be able to shield you
from the worst of me
that which is deep inside

will i be able to seize the light
shift it refract it into beauty
or will i just thunder anger

will i be able to go deeper
embrace what i have joined
and not break it

/ / /

Better late than never. This poem is in response to Wordle 78 at The Sunday Whirl. I was unhappy with my first draft. I’m not sure why. I looked at it again this morning, changed one word, and decided to post it. Go figure!

I’m gearing up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This will be my fifth year participating. I’ve written three novels so far; I didn’t “win” my first year by completing a 50,000-word novel. I’m writing the second in a planned five-book series that I’ve plotted with my boys, ages 8 and 11. I wrote the first book in the series last year. A proof copy of that book is currently going around my classroom; two of my students have read it in the last couple of weeks.

I’ve got a Virtual Classroom on the Young Writers Program website; come check us out. I’ve got twenty (20!) out of thirty-two students who are already signed up on the Young Writers Program website and added to my Virtual Classroom. And I’ve got a former student, one from last year, who is going to write again this year; she is also listed on our Virtual Classroom. My students, current and former, are rewarding my enthusiasm for writing in unexpected, but most joyous, ways.

And I’m fundraising for The Office of Letters and Light, the nonprofit organization that organizes NaNoWriMo and supports the Young Writers Program. I believe in this organization and what they do. I write. I encourage my students to write. My eldest son is planning to write this year. I have classroom materials from the Young Writers Program in my classroom, that I received free of charge. All teachers can order them free of charge. If you could donate a small (or large) amount to The Office of Letters and Light in my name, as part of The Night of Writing Dangerously fundraising event, I would greatly appreciate it.

My friend and colleague, Mike, and I are raising funds for The Office of Letters and Light, so that we can attend The Night of Writing Dangerously. You can find our fundraising page here. We went last year and had a blast. We both wrote novels last year, and helped our students write thousands of words. And we got to meet Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. He’s awesome!

Mike and I have both donated. And I want to extend a formal “thank you” to each person who has donated so far: Richard, James, and Paula. Thank you!

I hope to get back on track with writing and posting poems. I’ll also be updating my word count for NaNoWriMo here.

I’ve got a couple of web badges posted. And a small text note on the side of this blog with links to all the relevant sites.

NaNoWriMo Day Nineteen Update

It’s been a crazy week.

I did really well on Monday, writing 2,017 words, tying for my third best day so far this month. Tuesday was an average day, at 1,748 words.

Wednesday was my worst day all month. I only wrote 183 words that day.

It’s generally been more difficult for the last couple of weeks. I try to write about 400 to 500 words every morning before work. It’s quiet, and I can get started on a scene. When I get home after work, it’s relatively easy to pick up where I left off and then reach my word goal for the day.

Since the smartboard was installed in my classroom, I’ve only had a couple of days when I’ve been able to write in the morning. I’ve been spending my time adapting my lesson plans to the smartboard.

On the other hand, it’s been fun putting the pep talks from the Young Writers Program website into the smartboard software to share with my students. Not all of them have logged into the site, so I’m able to share the pep talks with them this way.

Wednesday was a particularly bad day for writing. I worked all day. Then I spent an hour with my kickball co-coach on the first day of our school’s kickball team tryouts. Then I rushed home, picked up my younger son, got us all fed, and back to San Francisco for Family Math Night. We didn’t get back home to San Bruno until 9 p.m. I was so tired, I only managed 183 words. I kept falling asleep sitting up at my laptop.

I gave up, updated my pathetic word count for the day on the NaNoWriMo website, and thanked my lucky stars for the word buffer I’d been able to build up so far this month.

I got back on track on Thursday with 1,731 words. Friday, I was very tired, and only wrote 1,045 words. I figured I’d easily reach my wordcount goals on Saturday and Sunday, so I could slack off a bit on Friday.

It was also a good day at school on Friday. Two of the girls in my class have already reached their word goals for the month. I filled in the progress chart hanging up in my classroom for both of them, and gave them their First-Class Novelist buttons. I hope they both keep writing until the end of the month.

Do I really keep track of how many words I wrote each day? Yes, I have an Excel spreadsheet where I do just that. (Yeah, I’m really that nerdy.)

Right now, it’s early Saturday afternoon and I’ve already written exactly 1,600 words. I’ll write more this evening after dinner. I’m shooting for about 2,000 words again today.

Tomorrow, I go to the Night of Writing Dangerously. I’m so excited. They reached the goal they wanted, with $50,587 raised. There have been 327 people fundraising for NaNoWriMo, with 216 of them making it to the Night of Writing Dangerously. I’m honored to be one of them, and so grateful to everyone who contributed. I’m sure I’ll have lots to say about the Night of Writing Dangerously.

Who knows? I might even post a blog entry from the event itself.

NaNoWriMo Update – Day Thirteen

I had my best day yet. I wrote 2,513 words today. I am currently at 23,759, which is 47.5% of 50K.

I thought I’d do a little data comparison today.

According to NaNoWriMo, I’m averaging 1,827 words per day. Young Writers Program (YWP) says 1,828.

NaNoWriMo says, at this rate, I should finish on November 27, 2011. YWP says November 28, 2011.

NaNoWriMo says I need to write 1,458 words per day to finish on time. YWP says 1,544.

I think I have figured out the discrepancy. Both sites agree that this is the thirteenth day. NaNoWriMo says there are 18 days remaining, while YWP says 17.

NaNoWriMo Update – Day 12

I write like
Neil Gaiman

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

So, I tried I Write Like this morning with what I wrote this morning for my NaNovel. Interesting. Maybe I should read some Neil Gaiman. All I’m familiar with so far is his work on the Sandman comic, which I loved. And I’ve got The Graveyard Book on my wishlist.

Yesterday, apparently, I wrote like Kurt Vonnegut.

It’s now about 12:30 in the afternoon and I have already hit my wordcount for today. I wrote 1,812 words today, with a running total of 21,246.

I’ve been over 1,667 words per day for nine days in a row now. I’m averaging 1,770 words per day. At this rate, I will hit 50K on November 28th.

NaNoWriMo Update – Day 9

They have the wordcount widgets up and running at the NaNoWriMo website. I’ve put the basic Participant Widget in the sidebar on the right.

I like the My Month widget, but it’s not working now, so I’ve taken it down.

Obviously, I need to write more today to reach my goal. I’m currently at 16,327, and I need to reach 16,667 today. I only wrote 362 words this morning before work.

[updated 11/19/11 because the My Month widget hasn’t been working for the past couple of days]