No-write November?

So here’s the deal: I’m about to disappear for a while.

Or, at least, that’s what I’m guessing might happen. I’m actually not sure. I’ve never done this before. Done what before, you ask? This. NaNoWriMo.

For the uninitiated (or the still-uninitiated–I mentioned this briefly back in “Confessions of a (Nonfiction) Writer”), NaNoWriMo (na-no-wry-mo) is short for National Novel Writing Month, which, in America, is actually a thing, and also happens to be November. So, every November, a giant group of wannabe/lapsed/functioning/experienced (maybe?)/aspiring writers take on the totally-unrealistic-yet-somehow-still-achievable goal of writing a 50,000 word novel–in a month.

The rules are simple enough: over the course of a month, write 50,000 words that add up to a single, completed story. You cannot begin before November 1st, or finish after November 30th. You can research and outline ahead of time (I’ve done neither, unfortunately), but that’s it. If you stick to the schedule, you write an average of 1,667 words a day. It’s a bit strenuous. It’s a bit insane. It’s also a bit of a time-suck.

Which brings us to the topic of today’s post: I’m doing it this year. Yes, me, she who feels accomplished if she somehow manages to post once a week; me who hasn’t actually accomplished that feat since August. Me, whose one post deemed by the blogosphere to be worthwhile was one describing just how difficult and painful writing fiction can be. I’m going to write a novel. In a month.

So, maybe, don’t expect to be seeing a lot of me this November. Unless you’re on NaNoWriMo yourself, that is. Then, expect to see me posting daily, adding to my word count like (famous sports person) adds (points/goals/scores/touchdowns) to their (set/match/game). Because YES, I’m going to finish this thing. Time to conquer my fiction rut, with the help of the writer friend who got me into this and the massive writerly community that will judge me if I fail. Peer pressure for the win!

And, if you’re a NaNoWriMo-er, feel free to look me up–my handle on there is bekahg. I’m sure we’ll all need a little encouragement at some point of the month! Sixteen-hundred words a day is a lot no matter what’s going on in your life; with my schedule, it might just mean the end of every nonessential behavior, like blogging.

Or, you know, the beginning of every nonessential behavior. As I write this post, I’m very aware that I’m doing it solely because I have something else more important to work on that I don’t want to do. Procrastination is a powerful force, too.

Peer pressure versus procrastination: which will win? Stay tuned to find out.

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How old are you?

“Can I see your ID, please?”

I look back at my escort, picking up his beer without a question, then back to the woman before me, dressed in colonial garb and, apparently, expecting me to whip my ID out of some cleverly-concealed pocket in my bridesmaid’s bouquet.

“Um, I don’t have it with me right now,” I say, gesturing to the stairs at the end of the aisle that I finished walking up not more than 30 seconds ago.

She doesn’t miss a beat. “OK, just come back when you do.”

“OK…”

I turn to walk away, but she stops me: “Take the drink; just come back when you have your ID.”

Back in the staging area of my friend’s wedding, I fume as the rest of the bridal party has a nice little laugh at my expense. I’m still young, I know, but yet the two bridesmaids who actually are underage made it through without a second thought.

“Hey, it’s a good thing,” one of the groomsmen tells me; “It’ll be a compliment when you’re older!”

Yes, but I’m not older yet–and, from the looks of things, I might never look to be.

I’ll like it when I’m older, I’ll like it when I’m older. This little maxim has never been quite satisfying–some promised future appreciation can’t help a lifetime of being offered the kids’ menu when you’re 14, having a drivers license picture in which, everyone agrees, you look 12, though you were 16 when it was taken, and being mistaken, even after graduating college, as a high schooler. As a kid, you measure age in halves and quarters and months; as an adult, you want to be past being questioned on such subtleties.

And it happens all the time.

I pull out my drivers license and a friend catches sight of it–“Oh my gosh, how old were you? 7?” 16. I describe what I do, and someone asks if I went to school for that; I say yes, and they say “Wait, how old are you?” 23. No, not 19. Yes, I know I look younger. Sigh.

I’m 23. And 23 is not old, I know. Not even remotely so. And most places claim they card anyone who looks younger than 35; so, in theory, I should be more worried if I don’t get carded.

But 23 is still a heckuva lot older than 19. As a 19-year-old, I was living away from home for the first time, still figuring out what this whole ‘college’ thing was and trying to stay afloat. As a 23-year-old, I have worked (and paid) my way through college, spent a year on my own living and working abroad, and begun to discover what it is to live as an independent adult. The span of those four years mean so much more than whether or not I can legally drink in America: they represent a huge part of who I am, what I know, and what my character is like.The maturity gap between what I look to have experienced and what I have experienced is immense, and that’s what bothers me.

At dinner tonight,a friend tried to encourage me, noting that, as soon as I start talking, you can tell I’m not 19. And that’s something, I suppose, but let’s face it–those all-powerful first impressions are formed long before anyone says a word. This is especially pertinent given the fact that I am currently single. Because let’s be honest: if the guys who think you’re their age are actually way younger than you, and the guys who are actually your age think you’re way younger than them, you’ve got a problem. Especially when you consider that women mature faster than men to begin with, and that in your early 20s, age matters more in this sort of thing than it will in a few years. Again, sigh.

I’ve put a fair amount of caveats into this post; yet I know that, for those of you reading it who are older than me, this all probably still sounds immensely childish. I know that–in your heads, if not in the comments–there will be many of you echoing the old It’s a good thing, and you’ll love it when you’re older! bit. And I’m sure you’re right. But I’m not older yet, and I’m sick and tired of not having even the years I do have counted for me, along with all the lessons, memories, and personality-shifting moments they brought with them. My age is part of who I am, and I long for it, like the rest of me, to be known.

So please spare me a few moments of self-pity for years of being thought less of–after all, I’m only 23, so I’m still allowed to complain, right? No? OK then, just pretend I’m 19. Everyone else does.

Blog Awards

Hello lovely people! I tend to be quite horrible at responding to things like this, and for that, I apologize. BUT, recently (very relative term, there…) I was nominated by two wonderful fellow-bloggers for two blog awards, the One Lovely Blog Award by Playful Meanderings, and the Liebster Blog Award by Read Stuff With Me. Thank you both so much! I feel very honored.

Thank you, Playful Meanderings!

Thank you, Read Stuff With Me!

So in order to truly claim these awards, it’s my understanding that I have a few responsibilities to fulfill. Let’s take them one at a time, because I’m a list person and that’s just how I roll.

One Lovely Blog:

Zee rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Add The One Lovely Blog Award to your post.
  3. 
Share 7 things about yourself.
  4. Pass the award on to 15 nominees.
  5. Include this set of rules.
  6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs

7 things about me:

  1. I am a coffee fanatic. I’m the person who asks restaurant waiters what kind of roast they’re serving, and who avoids Starbucks whenever possible in preference for better-roasted, better-made coffee from independently-operated coffee shops.
  2. I currently live in California, and am one of the only people living there who gets really excited when it gets what passes for chilly outside. (Still not cold–last week on the radio, the weather forecast was ” cooler today, with a high of 93 degrees”–yes, in October.) The reason for this is that I was born and raised in the PNW (so, cold and rainy quite a bit of the time), and then spent the last year in Taiwan (so, tropical-to-subtropical year-round), meaning that I am currently going on a year and a half without a winter, and I miss it.
  3. When not writing (which seems to be far too often lately…sorry about that), I am a book editor by trade–freelance, at the moment, so if you are ever looking for someone to copyedit and/or proofread for you, let me know! I’m game to edit most all writing (erotica excepted)–short or long, fiction or nonfiction. (Shameless plug, I know, but…)
  4. I love traveling. So far, I have visited or lived on four continents, out of which, somehow, Europe is not one. I hope to hit my last two fully-governed-and-inhabited continents, Europe and Africa, within the next five years or so, and then I’ll begin the encore round.
  5. I’m a dog person. (As a side note, my definition of “dog” is “large enough that it could not possibly be mistaken for a cat, chinchilla, or other small rodent.”) My black lab, Zoe, lives with my parents right now, but I eagerly await the day when I will live somewhere that allows for animals, so I can return to being a *real* dog owner.
  6. I love rivers. Whether I’m swimming in them, floating down them, kayaking along them, or just sitting beside them, I love having a river nearby. My family’s home is riverside, and it took me a few years of living in Seattle before I realized that that was the only thing missing from my life there: there’s plenty of water to be had, of course–lakes, canals, Puget Sound–but none of them are rivers. And rivers are the best.
  7. I adore scarves.I have a pretty good-sized collection and, as soon as the weather permits, I am rarely seen without one on. What’s not to love? Extra warmth, extra color, extra fashion points (Maybe? Not much of a fashionista…), and extra fun. I would write “Scarves are the best,” except that I just that about rivers, so, for those who get the (obscure in America) reference, “Scarves are cool.” As are fezzes.

The Nominees:

I have to be honest and say that I feel wholly inadequate to select nominees for this award, for two reasons: there are SO many amazing blogs on WordPress, and I have been SO negligent in seeking them out and exploring them. But here’s what I’ve got, in no particular order:

  1. Confederacy of Spinsters
  2. Don’t We Look Alike?
  3. Ameliael
  4. Abuchon
  5. Xenogirl
  6. Our Small Moments
  7. Snotting Black
  8. Elizabethly
  9. Mittens Kittens
  10. Daniel Koeker
  11. Change is Good……right?
  12. Girl on the Contrary

Also, I’m going to branch out to non-Wordpress sites here, because I have some friends on other platforms who, quite frankly, rock. Their blogs are:

  1. To Earthward
  2. Alina Sayre
  3. A Road without End

The Liebster Award:

The Rules:

  1. Answer the questions that your nominator posed to her/his nominees
  2. Pass the award on to five other bloggers
  3. Ask five questions for one’s nominees to answer

Questions for Me:

Who is your favourite author and why?

  • Someone actually asked me this earlier today, so I’ve got a whole slew of answers cooked up. Classic author: Leo Tolstoy, because he somehow makes me care about each of his tiny details while absorbing deep philosophical thoughts and telling just really good, well-constructed stories. (Insider’s tip: don’t start with War and Peace.) Modern nonfiction author: Malcolm Gladwell, because duh. Best-written, most entertaining, most informative books out there. Go read them. Now. Modern fiction author: Michael Chabon, whose writing inspires me by it’s amazing fluctuations between paragraph-long sentences and tiny ones that drive the point home fast. Truly, truly a master of the craft in every way, and someone who I aspire to be like.

Share with us one childhood memory, happy or sad, which had an impact on you.

  • When I was 6, my family went to Disneyland with my best friend’s family and another pair of family friends, who didn’t have kids at the time. It was a great time overall (as is often–hopefully always–the case for young children at Disneyland), but my best friend and I share one memory of the trip which stands out for (what passes for) trauma, more than fun. On one of the days we were there, our parents took our older siblings into the haunted mansion and left us with Mike, one of our family friends. While we waited, Mike unknowingly committed the worst of adult injustices towards kids: he ate a candy bar. Without sharing. It wasn’t until years later that my friend and I compared notes, yet we both distinctly remember it–Mike, with his Airhead, and us, just standing and watching, wishing we had some. It was pretty impactful.

If you had to choose one person on planet Earth with whom you share the closest relationship, who would it be?

  • I plead the 5th–WAY too hard to choose!

What can make you smile in times of distress?

  • Having a dog to pet–either that, or my dad or brother stubbornly persisting in telling stupid jokes until I break and have to laugh.

Which is the most amazing and influential movie you have ever seen?

  • I’m going to shift the question here and say Memoirs of a Geisha, which just so happens to be my favorite movie, as well. I hated it the first time I watched it, but loved it ever after: the gorgeous cinematography perfectly captures the spirit of the book, and the bittersweet sensation of the story is a welcome change from the easy endings of most movies. LOVE it!

My Nominees:

  1. Melissa writes D.C.
  2. Alice’s Adventures
  3. 2 Dollars a Day Ghana
  4. Jump!
  5. Words for Worms

My Questions for Them:

  1. What is your single biggest pet peeve, and why?
  2. Would you rather lick a walrus tusk (while it’s still attached to the walrus, of course), or have a camel stand on your foot for 30 seconds? Why?
  3. If you could do absolutely anything in the world and magically be amazing at it, what would you do and why?
  4. What (or who) inspired you to start blogging?
  5. You have one day left on earth, an unlimited sum of money, and a device that travels through time and space. Where do you go, and what do you do?

So I’m sure I no longer deserve these awards, what with my massive lapse in writing and my failure in responding to my wonderful nominators in any sort of timely fashion. BUT, those I’ve nominated certainly do deserve them–and everyone should go check out their sites! They range from travel blogs to parenting ones; writerly musings to photo blogs. I hope you enjoy what they have for you! And, again, thank you Playful Meanderings and Read Something With Me!