Intro to NaNoWriMo

So, it’s almost November. This means a couple of things:

1) Halloween! (Fun night with friends, costume planning, cheap candy the day after, etc)

2) Comikaze – a convention in LA around comic books, anime, horror, etc (Reusing my Halloween costume, crazy weekend, buying a new set of dice and a bunch of $0.50 comic books)

These are fun things definitely. Interesting bits of amusement. But, in the large scheme of things, they are fleeting and inconsequential.

You see, November is National Novel Writing Month.

This is an event put on every year by a nonprofit group that encourages people (average, everyday, anyone kind of people) to prove to themselves that they are capable of great things. Namely: Complete a novel of more than 50,000 words within 30 days. This is roughly 1,667 words a day, which is about 5 pages in Microsoft Word with the way I usually write. The event is scary and stressful. It is a time of community (through forums and coffee shop meetings) and great creativity. I highly encourage everyone to at least try it once. I’m probably not selling it the best, so please check out the website and learn more:

This is going to be my 7th year attempting NaNo. I know, that number sounds scary large to me too. But my first try was in high school, so I guess that makes sense. Now, that may make it sound like I have “experience”. And I do, a bit. But I’ve only won NaNo (i.e. made it to 50,000 words) once, during my Senior year of high school. My attempts during college were . . . well, let’s say I didn’t get anywhere fast.

But this year I’m determined, and I’m going to need all the motivation I can get. I’ll post more on this later, probably, but I want to state now that I’m encouraging all the bugging/pestering/shaming I can get in order to push me to write. I’ll see if I can get a word-count widget fixed into the blog, so you can point out exactly how far behind I am.

Also, sorry about last week’s lack of post. I’m still trying to get into the flow of this.



Attack of the Cranes

So, I work at an office. A large cubicle farm that requires a map to get around.

No, really. I have the floorplan of the building in my internet bookmarks just so I can find other people’s desks. It’s loosely based on a grid system, but the building is broken up into different sections so it ruins the effect.

Should you care, I’m somewhere around P-20 (I think).

Anyway, the point is that the whole place is rather gray. And I haven’t been at my desk long enough to generate the amount of paper clutter (post-it notes on the walls, photos of kids, certificates for years spent with the company, etc) that makes it feel lively and lived-in.

What I do have, however, are paper cranes. A lot of them.

You see, when I focus really hard on a problem, or I get bored, or I get distracted, or I become frustrated, (or any reason, really) I start folding paper cranes. It gives me something to do with my hands, sort of like twiddling your thumbs or knitting.

I first learned how in elementary school in conjunction with reading the book “Sawako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” for class. Then I forgot how for a few years until I hit Junior High and was a volunteer at the local art museum. We taught visitors how to fold cranes (can’t remember why), and I pretty much had the process memorized after that.

The nice thing about origami, is that all you need is some scraps of paper to make it work. And, let me tell you, at the office, there are a lot of scraps of paper. My favorite are used sticky notes, but I usually use the standard printer paper (after it’s already finished a useful purpose). Think of this as my version of recycling. Each standard size sticky note becomes four paper cranes. From an 8 1/2″ by 11″, I can get (wait for it – give me a second to calculate this) 64 PAPER CRANES.

Have I mentioned that I make my cranes really small? Really, really small? I’ve been making them for so long that the only way they keep me entertained anymore is to make them in miniature.

A selection of my cranes, with a shiny new penny for size reference.

A selection of my cranes, with a shiny new penny for size reference.

Also, I make a lot of them. I can make 40+ a day (actual amount created is usually in inverse proportion to how productive I was in the office. Take the cause and effect however you will). I’ve been keeping track, and since I’ve started working this year, I’ve made almost a thousand of them.

The paper crane collection made during the last year of college.

The paper cranes made during the last year of college. I think it totals about 360 or so. Slow year, I guess.

It’s kind of annoying actually, I’m running out of mugs to store them in. I keep having to empty them into ziplocks and hide them in the bottom of my drawers. I’m really not sure what to do with them. I keep thinking I’ll run a thread through them and string them up in bunches of a hundred, but that almost seems like more work than it took to fold all of them.

Anyway, the point of this is, that I have an interesting office habit. I think my supervisor is still trying to wrap his brain around the concept of origami (that I’m making all of these out a single piece of paper each without any cutting). It’s just something to amuse me since I don’t listen to music or use a stress ball or anything.

Also: I apologize for the picture quality. The battery charger for my camera is hiding somewhere in the one moving box I haven’t unpacked. These were done with my (dumb) cellphone.

Ambition (or lack thereof)

I’m at an uncomfortable point in my life.

Besides the fact that I sometimes still feel like I’m in the transition from college to full-time job, I am, in fact, sort of settled. I’m renting a pretty decent place. I just found a church. The other day, I got a library card to the branch a couple of blocks away. I have friends that I can visit on weekends to hang out with and join for midnight grocery runs.

I’m in a decent spot. I have to keep reminding myself that. But there’s something that’s really dragging me down right now.

I don’t have major ambitions right now – I’ve finished most of them.

You how there are different kinds of goals? Short term, long term, etc. Well, I’m dealing with a lack of . . . let’s say “medium-to-long term” goals. I’m lacking goals that I can work on now, that I can aggressively pursue. Here’s my situation.

The “big goals” that I had for my life were (in order):

1) Score well on my college tests so that I could get into a good university, hopefully with a scholarship. (This motivated pretty much all of my Junior High/ High school life[Done!]

2) Graduate with an engineering degree. [Thank God this is over with!]

3) Get a good-paying engineering job so that I can become independent of my parents and truly enter adulthood. [Yup]

So, what’s left?

Well, I want to publish a novel one day. That’s a thing. And while I feel that’s a worthy goal, it’s something I’m working up to. Truth is, my writing isn’t good enough yet. So I’m taking baby steps (this blog, National Novel Writing Month, etc). I’m working on this, but the timeline is so up in the air, so far in the future, that it doesn’t really seem real.

I’ll also probably want to have a family eventually. You know, husband, x number of kids, etc. But I can’t focus on that right now. I’m enjoying being single. I don’t want to have to add a boyfriend to my already busy juggling attempt.

Right now? I think that’s it. That’s all she wrote.

Which is kind of sad. I was talking to a friend of mine today, and she’s talking about taking a summer away from grad school to teach English in a country where the native language is Russian. Not that she wants to teach English for a living (she was an engineer, but she wants a job in the bio/chem fields), but because she loves the country and the culture and she plans to use the English job to support her in that.

When I talked with her, she assured me that one day I’d “find something that was so exciting that I’ll start salivating at the very thought of it”. I really want to trust her on this. That one day I’ll wake up and be like “Oh, I never realized it before, but I want to move to Italy and learn to design sports cars.” I keep hoping that it’ll work like that. I want the assurance that I’ll find something like that eventually, something that just supercharges me with energy and motivating. But until then, I feel kind of directionless.

Maybe I’m relying too much on a miracle, trying to foist off the guilt of my own laziness. I don’t know.

Until next week.