Monday, November 17, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Days 9-16

My NaNoWriMo attempt will not complete during the competition dates, but that doesn't mean I count it a failure. Most days I'm getting some words in, some days only a hundred or two and others a couple thousand. I keep at it, and I keep solving problems in my attempt to tell the story before me.

I won't win NaNoWriMo, but I will finish my novel. That's the thing I care about. NaNoWriMo is a great event and I hope to win one day, but right now what it represents for me is a springboard towards my dream of finishing and publishing a novel. I'm not going to let that same inspiration be a weight that drags me down, so not completing my 50,000 words before the end of this month isn't a failure. It is just the reality of finishing this novel.

The truth is, if I don't, it isn't about what I did or didn't do today. The larger factor is how rusty and out of touch I am with writing. It takes practice, like any skill, and I am woefully lacking in that practice. This novel, of course, is providing just that. And I'll continue to practice beyond the month of November. I'll practice by finishing this book no matter how long it takes. I'll practice by writing short stories that fit on a page when they strike me. I'll practice by telling stories that fall into a dozen or two pages when I need to tell them. I'll practice when revise my drafts and turn them into something better and learn from my mistakes.

I won't give up.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Days 7-8

Day 7 I took a deliberate break, as a gamble. I was feeling some strain and I needed to show myself that I can take a break when I need it, so I spent the evening watching a movie with my son (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) instead of writing that evening.

I decided to catch up starting this weekend, but slowly instead of trying to do enormous days that would just kill me. 2000 words a day is enough to catch up over the next week without pushing myself too hard, and I do think I can do that. I did 2200 words on November 8th, and they were good words and a scene I was happy with. I'm feeling good.

There are a lot of questions about how to get through some of the "rising action" that needs to happen between now and the planned summit of my story, but I'm feeling ever more confident that I can get there. Not just that I can get there, but that I can get there through an engaging story that someone might enjoy reading. I'm really feeling good about this.

So, plans can change. You need to adapt if what you're doing isn't working. Writing advice from a recent NaNoWriMo update is very fitting.
It is not important that you stay the same writer you are now

Saturday, November 08, 2014

I Miss The Old Google Chrome

I miss the days when Chrome felt like a window onto the Web.

Google Chrome was my favorite browser for a long time, almost since it first was released.

I wasn’t just buying into the Google fanclub, or at least I want to believe it was more than that. What I saw in Chrome was something that I felt was exactly right in the world where I saw the web growing more powerful and able every day.

At one point I recall saying that Firefox was about how much the browser can be for you, while Chrome was about how it can get out of your way and expose the web itself as directly and cleanly as possible.

I was behind this idea of a window into the web full heartedly because I thought it was the best way to promote everything the web could be.

How much has this changed?

Today, I’m not sure if the situation has reversed, but I am certain that my old view of Chrome is no longer something I can stand behind. Chrome has changed a lot and shifts further from its roots as a neutral arbiter of a clean web. Sadly, I don’t suspect this is going to change.

At one point Chrome represented a pure web, which is important because we need a voice that affirms the web is a worthy goal on its own.

This is no longer the feeling you get when looking at Chrome with the host of “Chrome Apps” ready to be installed, built from a platform that was born of the web, but walks its own line. Chrome has different classes of app-citizens, web apps and Chrome apps, and this is a drastic departure from its earlier days when it took those pure web applications and thrust them into the desktop kicking and screaming. I remembered how excited and happy I was to click that “Open as Window” option among the applications that were really nothing more than a bookmark. Suddenly, thousands of amazing web apps became near-first-class citizens that sat right beside my native applications.

I was sure that I was given a peek into the future.

Screenshot+2013-04-16+at+12.25.14+PM.png

Maybe it was inevitable. Embrace, Extend, Extinguish is the mantra that seems to drive Google product decisions. They play the game well.

I’m not saying Chrome apps aren’t a nice thing. I’m not saying they aren’t without merit. But Google made a very calculated and deliberate decision to sunset their support for pure web apps to push their own platform. Browsers always have new APIs that are experimental or that they’ve implemented from a standard first, but Chrome apps don’t represent even that illusion of playing nice. Even Microsoft is doing better with this for the last several releases of Internet Explorer.

It was a nice ride, Chrome, but I don’t think you can be my browser anymore.

Friday, November 07, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Days 5 - 6

Today was my worst day writing yet. I spent two hours writing less than 300 words. What doesn't make sense is I had a better idea what I wanted to write today than I have had on any of the days up to this, so how did I have so much more trouble getting that down? I had the scene I wanted to write all worked out ahead of time, at least the basics. I was making it all up as I went up to here and I was able to write a lot better than this.

Maybe knowing something up front caused me to second guess myself like what I was writng didn't match up? I don't know, but i need to get over it. I still haven't finished the scene.

My plan to catch up is to write 1500 tomorrow and then 3000 on both Saturday and Sunday. I think that will get me where I need to be. On the weekend I'm going to find an hour each day and write out on the porch in the cool air. Some change of scenery would be good.

See all my posts about NaNoWriMo 2014

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Range of Content on Planet Python

I've gotten a number of requests lately to contribute only Python related material to the Planet Python feeds and to be honest these requests have both surprised and insulted me, but they've continued. I am pretty sure they've come from a very small number of people, but they have become consistent. This is probably because of my current habit of writing about NaNoWriMo every day and those who aren't interested not looking forward to having the rest of the month reading about my novel.

Planet Python will be getting a feed of only relevant posts in the future, but I'm going to be honest: I am kind of upset about it. I don't care if anyone thinks it is unreasonable of me to be upset about it, because the truth is Planet Python means something to me. It was probably the first thing I did that I considered "being part of the community" when I submitted my meager RSS feed to be added some seven years ago. My blog and my name on the list of authors at Planet Python are both as old my son, who's birth gave me the push I needed back then to focus on my software craft and build the freelancing business that launched my career.

In my mind you can't separate the Python and the personal. So these complaints that any of my posts that aren't explicitly about Python would appear on the feed feel... wrong. And they also feel strange, because if everyone on Planet Python had only contributed Python material to the feed I would have found it boring years ago and unsubscribed.

I never saw it as a place to read Python content, but as a place to read content written by Python developers. We have a lot more to say than our indented language and that's a good thing. The posts about our other interests give the community character and introduce us to each other. To strip the community down to our writings on and only on Python software developments feels so cold and impersonal. Is that really what people prefer?

Please let me know what you think, on either side of this. Either way, I've been asked to provide a narrow feed and I'll do that. I just wanted to get my feelings out on it and I'd like to know: Am I the only one who would hate to see Planet Python that was nothing but Python posts?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Day 4

I ended today with only 6671 words. Staying on par would have been 6667 so I was only four words over, and worse I only wrote 1600 words today. That's technically under goal for the day, but I'm on pace for the month. I made the mistake of not getting even a little writing time in during the morning, before work, so I had everything to do sitting down at night. If I aim to get back on track I need to get in 30 minutes tomorrow morning and the mornings after that, giving myself a head start for the day.

Jory MacKay's How I Forgot to Write was a particularly personally hitting piece to read as my daily writing motivation. If we aren't careful we can let the skills we have wane and that is certainly something I think happened to me at some point in the last five years, and regaining those skills is a big part of what I'm doing NaNoWriMo.

The six-step program outlined is full of gems. Among the two that I hold most closely to my own writing: Find a routine and Learn to love editing. From these two the most important lines I'm carrying away today will help motivate me.
what matters is that you set a schedule and stick to it.
 and
Writing is editing.
 But, really, you should read the whole piece.

See all my posts about NaNoWriMo 2014

Monday, November 03, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Days 2 and 3

Yesterday I did my best to make up some of the time I lost in an opening day that knocked some of my pride out. I wrote a lot slower than I had anticipated on Saturday and I didn't expect that to change, so I took advantage of a Sunday with little plans to take up my time and had three writing sessions.

I wrote around each meal, so three through the day. My son took it upon himself to join me for two of them, and he got a little distracted when he learned what text formatting was in his word processor (Google Docs) but setup upon himself a goal of three sentences a day as a minimum, and more if he more ideas. This is a good goal for an eight year old writer.

There is a line I have to walk where I'm not encouraging him enough on one side and I'm just trying to push him because I want to share writing with him on the other. He didn't want to write on Monday, but I let it slide because of the balance I need to keep on that line.

I ended yesterday above schedule, but I'm basically on par today with 5058 words on a day when 5000 would be the goal. 58 words over barely count, so keeping ahead is going to mean a chance of pace. My plan is a 30 minute writing session in the morning after my morning pages, which can hopefully help me hit 2000 words every day.

Today I sought out a piece in my reading queue on writing and I found an interview with Stephen King on writing first lines. This is good, because I don't have a first line yet.

Open a book in the middle of a dramatic or compelling situation, because right away you engage the reader's interest. This is what we call a "hook," and it's true, to a point.
 I encourage anyone with the interest to read it, and anything else King ever has to say on writing.

See all my posts about NaNoWriMo 2014

Saturday, November 01, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Day 1

Word Count: 2075 / 50,000

Today I began the first writing of my 2014 entry in the popular NaNoWriMo contest. This is my second entry, but I haven't finished the challenge in the past and hope this year is the first i make it. I feel good about it. As part of this, I'm trying to read more and read more about writing, too.

An exerpt from todays piece on writing, This Is Your Brain on Writing by Damien Walter:

During brainstorming, the novice writers activated their visual centers. By contrast, the brains of expert writers showed more activity in regions involved in speech.
Damien continues to lay out three problems caused by this disconnect in mental approach. I recommend reading his post

See all my posts about NaNoWriMo 2014
I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

Blog Archive