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The donation gifts from Camp NaNoWriMo have arrived, and I love the sticker design so much that I stuck it on the cover of my journal. This Midori Traveler’s Notebook is one of my prized possessions, and I plan on sticking with it for years to come, so this sticker will always be there as a reminder to write, to get lost in my writing, and to remember how much joy I experience whenever I do write.

It’s not really a reminder that I need all that often; writing has become so much a part of me that a day that I don’t write is a day that feels off. Sometimes, though, when the story gets away from me, and I lose sight of my original intention, of the thread of the narrative or the path of growth for a character, I can fall into some despair.

But I just need to remember the feeling of satisfaction, of accomplishment, that I feel at the end of a NaNoWriMo event. Whenever I lose sight of the end, I can look to my journal for a reminder.

Happy day 29 of Camp NaNoWriMo! There’s not much time left now, but you can do this!

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One of the first photos I uploaded to this blog.


Milestone of the day: this post is my 500th post on this blog! Hooray!

I started this blog in 2012 because… Well, because I was bored. And honestly, putting together online profiles for social media and blogging sites used to be one of my favorite methods of procrastination. Three years and five months later, I’m still going strong, and as I go back through my old blog entries, I realize just how much I’ve changed and grown, and how much I’ve really stayed the same.

One of the most obvious ways in which I have not changed is that I am still writing. In addition to this blog, I’m also keeping up my journal habit and I’m getting back into the groove of writing more creative pieces, whether that’s fiction, poetry, or even the odd personal essay. And it always surprises me just how much I write, and for how long I have been writing.

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A photo from a day where it was sunny and it rained, 2013. On Valentine Street, Sydney, Australia.

During my senior year of high school, I had a lot of trouble falling asleep, had a lot of trouble concentrating on my school work, and though on paper I seemed to be functioning just fine and even excelling in some areas, I was struggling. On a whim, I started writing in a notebook one night, inspired by Wreck This Journal and, oddly enough, by the guidelines for keeping a laboratory notebook for my Chemistry class. My original intention was to take down as many observations of my life at any given moment, hence looking to the lab notebook guidelines for inspiration. What ended up happening was I started writing anything and everything: snippets of conversations, dreams, rough drafts of homework assignments and pieces of flash fiction (though I didn’t know to call it flash fiction at the time).

And I’ve been writing ever since. But though I have my journals, that totally private space where I can let my mind wander and roam, uninhibited by self-consciousness or self-doubt, I have this blog as well. And now, this blog has become as much a part of me as my journaling, my writing.

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From the first time I ever baked bread.

I’m looking forward to the next 500 posts. And the 500 posts after that. And however many hundreds or thousands of posts I’ll create throughout the life of this blog. Maybe I’ll hold onto this blog forever, my own little corner of the internet where I gather everything I like and reflect on how times are changing, and I’ll look back at the end and laugh at my youthful self. Maybe I’ll end this blog when I move onto whatever the next era of my life is, abandoning it until it becomes an ancient ruin, a ghost of a past life.

Whatever happens next, I’m still blogging now.

So here’s to writing 500 posts, and to 500 more,

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Thanks for reading and growing with me!

I spent much of the afternoon deep-cleaning my apartment, and I’m particularly proud of my now spotless. The cleanliness will come in handy when I start editing my Camp NaNoWriMo novella, and it’s perfect for getting into the mindset of seeing this project with new eyes. (But, knowing me, it may not stay this tidy for very long…)

I’m not usually one to be picky about my writing environment. As long as I have a reasonable amount of privacy and the area is generally tidy, I’ve trained myself to be comfortable with writing anywhere and everywhere. Still, it’s nice to have a home base, to have a corner that’s always there, ready for me to sit down and fall into writing.

I really need to learn how to keep my desk clean. If not for the writing space, at least for the aesthetic.

Happy day 27, campers! April camp is close to being over!

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Yesterday, I met up with some friends to have dinner and dessert in the Lower East Side. I feel like the Lower East Side is one of the few areas in the city that I haven’t really explored, and there are some amazing restaurants and hidden areas that piqued my interest. Of the neighborhoods that I’ve visited throughout my time in New York, the ones in the southern part of Manhattan are consistently my favorite.

Every year I feel the need to reacquaint myself with the city, because sometimes I forget that I really live here, and I need to take some time to sink back into this place. It feels like I had a huge growth spurt and I need to take a moment to realign my mind with my body. Getting out to the Lower East Side last night was a good start to the process.

And I love being in areas of New York that are explored in books. I read The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker earlier this year, and it has such vivid descriptions of New York that I felt the urge to follow the same routes that the characters walked. Though the areas have changed since the 1899, which is when the book is set, I felt a new appreciation for the locations mentioned as we walked through the older parts of the city. New York has such a rich literary history and tradition, and I don’t think I’ve ever really appreciated that until very recently.

So this is what I’ll be doing for the rest of the week. Getting to know New York again, through shared meals and easy walks.

Happy day 26 of Camp! Hang in there, campers!

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I woke this morning and exercised. I went for a little longer than usual because I have this week off, and it felt good to deviate a little from the usual routine. Then, for the rest of the morning, I proceeded to journal and write about this month’s Camp NaNoWriMo, how I’m going to go about revising, the next projects I want to tackle, and how I’m going to keep the NaNo spirit alive throughout the year.

Because that last item is the hardest part for me. I feel this incredible rush of motivation to write a story during the month, but once the month is over, it’s incredibly difficult for me to keep it going. The hope is that as I revise this novella and keep working on until it reaches a stage where I can share it, so I’ll be able to keep up the NaNo spirit that way. But what about the rest of the year? And the years after that?

To keep this potential anxiety spiral at bay, I plan. I have plans for my July Camp NaNo project and November’s NaNoWriMo. I have a tentative revision plan for the months in between. And the hope is that, as long as I continue to push myself to create, I’ll continue to have ideas to explore and stories to tell.

It’s not an option to believe otherwise.

Happy day 25, campers! The month is almost through! You can do it!

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I am proud to say that I’ve finished the first draft of this novella at about 38,000 words, and so I have officially won this month of Camp NaNoWriMo!

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I was honestly so tempted to not finish today. It’s Sunday, and I’ve taken the week off for a much-needed staycation, and so I figured that I would be able to take my time to reach the end. On top of this, my computer was running into some problems (I do really need to replace it), and so I was ready to call it a day and try again tomorrow.

But, I pushed past this, fired up my tablet, which I hardly ever keep charged, and powered through the last 2,000 words I needed and verified my word count.

So now, I’ll be taking the last week of April to relax and not think about this story at all, and then I’ll pick up editing it throughout the months of May and June. As of right now, I’m planning on participating in Camp again in July, and we’ll see if I’ll be taking up a new project or continuing to work on this story during that month as well.

Happy day 24, campers! The month is almost over, but you can do this! Keep on writing!

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I had another one of those ridiculously busy Saturdays where I was out of the apartment for most of the day and then needed a nap until dinnertime.

So I haven’t written anything for my Camp NaNoWriMo novel yet today. And I’m thinking that maybe today I won’t actually write.

There’s not much else to say except that I am glad that I’ve reached my word count, and now I just need to finish the draft of this story. I just hope that I don’t end up putting it off so much that I end up not finishing by the end of the month. That would just be too disappointing.

Happy day 23, campers! Hope you all are doing alright.

As of this post going up, my word count has officially passed my goal for the month! I haven’t yet verified it, but I’ve vowed to myself that I won’t do that until I actually finish the story. (Which, if everything goes according to plan, still needs about 1700 words.)

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I’m so glad that the end is truly in sight now. For a while I’ve been feeling quite rundown, and April turned out to be a much busier month than I had anticipated. I was trying to do so much that I felt like I couldn’t actually accomplish this, that I would fail to reach 35,000 words somehow, and I would have to recover from that disappointment.

But no, I have, for all intents and purposes, made it through, and now there’s just about 1700 words of wrap-up left before I can call this draft done.

Being nearly done comes at a funny time; I’ve used a few of my vacation days to take next week off because I am in desperate need of a vacation (even a staycation), and it would have been the perfect time to work on this project. But no, I had to go and finish early, which means that I’ll have to fill my days with something else to do other than writing.

It’s a blessing, really. I love writing, and I’m sure that by the end of the week I’ll miss it terribly. But I need to get some variety in my life. I need to get my head out of my notebooks an computer screen for a while and breathe in the spring air.

Regardless, I’m not done yet. I have 1700 words left to go, and I’ll be blogging through the rest of the month.

And then, comes revision.

Happy day 22, campers! Hope you all are hanging in there!

In recent days, I’ve been able to add so much to my word count that my estimated “Words Per Day To Finish On Time” has decreased to a few hundred per day, rather than a little over one thousand per day. And as I approach the 35,000 word mark, I realize now that, to finish the story, I’ll be closer to 40,000 words.

That’s a good place to be, I think. I want this to be a rather short novel, probably closer to a novella, and when I do finally finish, I’ll be just around the right length.

 

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From my day off two days ago. That Camp NaNoWriMo mug inspires me.

 

As I approach the end of the story, I keep thinking about the ways in which this story has grown. I said before that I actually put some planning into this, roughly sketching out the plot and the characters and doing quite a bit of research before diving into writing it, but I still didn’t quite have a complete picture. I didn’t have an ending. I didn’t have all of the character names planned. I didn’t have everything the story needed, and instead filled in those details as I wrote. I had ideas before I started writing, but I discovered even more ideas along the way.

It might make revising hell, since I’ll have a lot to fill in in earlier chapters, but now, near the end, I have a better understanding of the whole picture. I figured out the more nuanced message I wanted to get across with the story, and now, that message will help inform the revision.

I’m near the end of this story, but there is still so much to do. And you know what? That’s great.

Happy day 21, campers! The end is in sight! You can do this!

Day 20 and I am tired. I’ve written about 300 words so far today, and (as I have been saying these past few days) I’m unsure if I’ll be able to get much more out of me before the day is through.

Then again, nearly every time I’ve said this, I get another burst of inspiration, and I’ve been able to push past the exhaustion and get in more words. According to the handy Camp NaNoWriMo stats calculator, if I keep going at my current pace, I should be able to finish a few days early, allowing for some much-needed relaxation time at the end of the month.

With this possibility in mind, I find myself in the same situation I was in at the end of November, when I contemplated where to go at the end of the month, what to do next in my writing life. At that point, I made the decision to try and keep up that creative energy I had at the end of NaNoWriMo, to make a commitment to keep on writing throughout the year.

In many ways, I failed to do that for the first quarter of the year. I wrote every day, and did my best to write something creative every day, but it was hard to stick to something, hard to finish a project. Now that I’m reaching the end of a project with Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m asking myself the same question of “How do I keep this spirit alive when there isn’t a NaNoWriMo event going on?”

I will definitely be doing Camp NaNoWriMo again in July, but until then I’ll probably be editing this novel and planning my next project. And I already have so many ideas for the next thing I want to do, it’s hard to sit down and make a commitment to just one of them.

But that’s another thing that NaNoWriMo has taught me: how to see things through. I think most of my dissatisfaction with my writing so far this year stems from the fact that I never really held myself accountable to finish a story. Sure, I would write every day, but there wasn’t that extra level of holding myself to see it through to the end. I find that I achieve with NaNoWriMo, but I have yet to really make it happen without the (essential and rewarding) guidance that the month gives me.

And I wish I could share some advice on how to make it happen, but I’m still figuring that out for myself.

Happy day 20, everyone! I believe that today is also the first day of winning, so congrats to everyone who has already reached their goal for the month!

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