Musings & Thoughts for Tuesday, October 27, 2020, or: Getting Into the NaNoWriMo Mindset

Image by Angela Yuriko Smith from Pixabay 

Hello there, Dear Reader. It is morning here in New Hometown, Florida, and it’s just a little after 9 AM Eastern. Currently, the temperature outside is 79˚F (26˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. With humidity at 92% and an easterly wind of 7 MPH (11 KM/H), the heat index is 79˚F (26˚C). And following the same pattern as the past few days, the forecast for today calls for partly sunny skies with a high of 89˚F (32˚C), with rain expected in the evening hours. The low tonight is expected to be 76˚F (24˚C)

Today I will be spending much of my time doing research for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge for 2020; since I was 10 years old, I have dreamed about writing a novel, but for a plethora of reasons, the most ambitious literary projects I have completed are two screenplays (plus one third of another that I was asked to contribute) and one short story (Reunion) that I wrote a long time ago and self-published through Amazon two summers ago.

I did write a 40-page science-fiction “novel” for my ninth grade English class at Riviera Junior High School when we studied the structure of this style of prose writing in the second semester of the 1979-1980 school year. It was a clichéd mash-up of Star Wars-like space battles and Cold War-turned-hot melodrama titled Hypercraft One: A Sound of Armageddon and it earned one of the highest grades in Ms. Allen’s fourth period English class (five As, since it was graded in five areas), partly because it was well-written (for a ninth-grader, anyway), and partly because my manuscript went beyond the 20-page minimum.

Obviously, Hypercraft One – impressive as it might have been for ninth-grade me – was only a “novel” because it had the structure of one – but it wasn’t a 50,000-word “long fictional narrative which describes intimate human experiences.”[1] The NaNoWriMo challenge is all about the creation of a 50,000 word manuscript within a 30-day period. That means that I have to write 1,666.666666666667[2] words a day from November 1 to November 30, 2020.

Yesterday I announced my project on the NaNoWriMo website; it is one of the requirements for participants, especially at this point in the game where we are less than a week before the 30-day challenge begins less than six days from today. I had, as they used to say in the 1940s, the “heebie-jeebies,” but I wrote the novel’s title – The Tonic of Their Victory: A Novel of Normandy – and the genre – historical fiction – in the appropriate spaces.  Thankfully, NaNoWriMo doesn’t require writers to give any more details than that, because as of right now, I can’t give the Powers That Be there anything beyond that.

(C) 2015 WMG Publishing

Since I am a “free-form” or “seat-of-the-pants” writer and don’t do outlines or even story boards – two things that are recommended by most of the “how to write novel” books I own – I ordered (somewhat at the last minute) Dean Wesley Smith’s Writing into the Dark: How to Write a Novel without an Outline. I should have done that earlier this year, but between my tendency to procrastinate, my focus on blogging, and the distractions – both good and bad – of everyday life, I did not. As the publisher’s blurb puts it, “Dean takes you step-by-step through the process of writing without an outline and explains why not having an outline boosts your creative voice and keeps you more interested in your writing.”

I also ordered The D-Day Visitor’s Handbook: Your Guide to the Normandy Battlefields and WWII Parisby Kevin Dennehy and Stephen Powers. Though The Tonic of Their Victory is not a D-Day-centric novel, it is, even in this nebulous state of preliminary concept, set during the Normandy campaign, so I figured that this 192-page book will be a good reference to use.

Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. USA. A BTO wearing an M1 “steel pot” helmet. U.S. Army photo.

I will probably spend most of this Tuesday doing research for the novel, but I also need to take a shower, change into street clothes, and go for my walk before the temperature climbs to that 89˚F (32˚C) high. But before I go, let me share a few bits of trivia I’ve learned about the 1944 U.S. Army:

  • When a GI wrote a letter to his wife or girlfriend, it was called writing a “behavior report.”
  • A medical corpsman was called a “bedpan commando.”
  • A World War II–era M1 helmet weighed approximately 2.85 pounds (1.29 kg), including the liner and chinstrap.
  • The Army’s M-1941 field jacket was also known as the “Parsons jacket” because its design was based on a civilian windbreaker suggested by Maj. Gen. James K. Parsons.
  • A GI who served as an officer’s messenger was known as a “carrier pigeon.”
  • An infantryman was sometimes referred to as a “cornplaster commando.”

Well, Dear Reader, that’s all the “dope” or “scuttlebutt” I have for now. I will go out while the temperature is still on the tolerable side, and then it will be time to hit the books and do a bit more prep for The Tonic of Their Victory. I will also try to write another blog post this afternoon. So, until then, my friend, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

[1] Per Wikipedia.

[2] Per my computer’s Calculator app.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

3 thoughts on “Musings & Thoughts for Tuesday, October 27, 2020, or: Getting Into the NaNoWriMo Mindset

  1. I’ve never really paid any attention to word counts before (not even in school, when we were told that some random assignment had to be a certain number of words minimum – I always just exceeded the minimum because I run off at the mouth, lol). About how many pages does 1,667 words translate to, assuming a normal font size?

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