ewhightower

NaNoWriMo 2013

In Writing on October 31, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Last November, I joined NaNoWriMo.  For those of you who have trouble navigating the Intrawebnets (my parents), that means National Novel Writing Month. At the time, I was thinking something along the lines of, “Golly, I’ve been writing Notes From The Future since April 22. I should try my hand at writing an actual novel.” So I signed up about two weeks in to NaNoWriMo and read all the stuff: 1,066.66 words per day, goals, pep talks, things and thingnesses. Sure, I was two weeks into it, but I was certain I could make it work.

I started writing Down With Dogs. Here’s the synopsis I put on NaNoWriMo: “Classically-trained non-union actor trapped in the East Bay of the SF Bay Area takes a job teaching youth theatre in order to finance his return — read, escape — to the East Coast.” As one attentive reader has recently pointed out elsewhere, my claims at avoiding biography are transparently false. To be clear, it’s writing a bio about myself as an unpublished author that I find daunting. And depressing. So I can’t take it seriously. Some might counter that with the statement that I am published via these various blogs. And that would mean something if a) I was making any money at it, and b) anyone other than bots or very close (read: obligated) friends would comment on my work.

Seeing my word count not quite meet what I thought it would, I began to worry. Then, for shits and giggles, I pasted everything I’d written for NFTF into OpenOffice and did a word count. As of November, 2012, I was well over 250,000 words. I’ll be honest: I seriously considered taking down the blog, putting Down With Dogs on a back burner, and sneakily replacing it with NFTF. However, my approach to ethics is tinged with remnants of my training as a Boy Scout. That tinge creeps in to much of what I do. Not everything, but a fair amount. So, rather than falsify my results, I let Down With Dogs languish (I did eventually write and post some of the first chapter, which the curious reader may find here). I had Thanksgiving upon which to focus, anyway: preparing two turkeys plus stuffing and gravy for 40 people, with basically no help in the kitchen whatsoever. AND a bunch of people arriving with dishes that required “just fifteen minutes” in the oven or on the (single, four-burner) stove. Which, for the record, TOTALLY FUCKS WITH THE TIMING OF GETTING THE TURKEY TO THE TABLE.  (More idiot me for not demanding Kitchen Minions.) And, while the turkeys were tasty, I believe that much of the food was cold by the time it reached the table. Big, drafty loft + no food warmers + no kitchen help + 5 last-minute warm-ups = cold Thanksgiving dinner.

By this time, I was deep into planning for The Three Musketeers at Solano College Theatre. Or, as the Administration of Solano Community College would prefer it to be called, some random classes at Solano Community College that don’t actually matter. When I am acting or directing, the project takes over my life. Which would be awesome if it always paid a living wage or was close enough to home to make it financially viable. Long story short: I poured my heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into that production. No longer under the thumb of uber-controlling Solano Youth Theatre, I intended it to be a masterpiece. It very nearly was. However, it was not enough to convince anyone that I was the right guy for the Full-Time Theatre Faculty position recently vacated by George Maguire. Within a couple weeks of the show closing I learned that I had so vastly failed at just about everything that I was not even considered worthy of a second interview. So, there you go: my talent is not enough to get me in; the only thing that matters is whether or not I have a MFA or a PhD. So, rather than having a neatly finished NFTF to show to the world, I was surviving on tiny unemployment checks as I applied for menial jobs. Every potential employer has rejected my applications, assuring me that I am either over-qualified or utterly unqualified.

An amusing example: I am unqualified to work at Orchard Supply Hardware (hereafter OSH). Here’s the response I received:

“Dear Edward,

Thank you for your job application for the Sales Associate position received on 9/22/2013.  We regret to inform you that after reviewing your application, we have decided to pursue other candidates.

Thank you for your interest in Orchard Supply Hardware.

Talent Acquisition Team”

When I went to OSH several times last week in preparation for our annual Hallowe’en party, I was unable to find anyone who could answer my questions or help me. The one person who did almost assist me was vague, uncertain, never made direct eye contact, then promised to find the answer I sought. He left and never returned. I waited for twenty minutes. But I, with twenty-five years experience as an actor and director, a superior grasp of the English language, and direct eye contact galore, I am not worthy of pursuit by the Talent Acquisition Team.

Same with REI. Same with everywhere else I’ve applied.

So, fuck it. I’m doing NaNoWriMo. We’ve nicked a financial artery and we’re bleeding out, but fuck it. I’m putting all my eggs in this basket, blissfully typing away as my car needs repairs I can’t afford, we’re weeks late on rent, Veronica is taking out monthly paycheck loans to get groceries and make car payments and pay medical bills and insurance. Lovely. Fuck it. This is what I’ve got right now.

I finished Notes From The Future on October 14, 2013. My final post received 4 +1’s via Google, two comments via Blogspot, and absolutely no shares via Facebook or Twitter. Somehow, as of today, I have 16,732 pageviews of that blog, but only 237 comments. The pageviews and comments are for all entries, for all the time I’ve been posting there, not just for NFTF. However, the majority of the comments are for NFTF. And most of those are from three people who know me. So. Here’s hoping that what I produce in November is better than NFTF.

Which brings me to my NaNoWriMo project for 2013: The Faerie Garden. I am writing 1,667 words, minimum, per day, no matter what. There will be some days when I am unable to do so: November 6, 7, 8; November 11; November 28. In preparation for those days, I write double the amount needed: 3,334 words per day, minimum, on November 3, 4, 5, 10, 27. During the next month, I am focused almost entirely on this project. The almost is reserved for Thanksgiving and a couple other slight distractions: a callback for a short film movie-musical about time travel; a medical appointment; a day of prep for that appointment; a day when an old friend is in town from Europe.

I am also leaving time open for the only thing I can see as an earning option at the moment: Tarot readings. I’m pretty darn good at this. And I really need money. So if you’re interested, I’ll charge one dollar per card for your first reading; this can be either a 3, 5 or 10-card draw. Your second reading — as in, the second set of cards drawn — is $25.00. I don’t have a working car at the moment, so you need to come to me for this. I can walk to a local coffee shop if you think that this is all a clever ruse to lure you into my house and murder you, cleverly posted publicly on my website where no one will see. Muah-ha-ha-ha, he wrote, wondering if this would actually scare away business but kind of not caring, because anyone stupid enough to fear that I will murder them is probably not the ideal candidate for a Tarot reading. Then again, I really need the money. Dilemma. Resolution: I promise not to murder you and will walk to the closest coffee shop. No murder. I promise.

Share your thoughts and reactions in the comments, please. Messages on Facebook or via e-mail are disheartening to this lowly writer, who wonders why his blog is not good enough to warrant your direct commentary thereupon.

Sincerely,

Edward

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