Hi, there – again – Dear Reader. It’s late afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida, and it’s warm and humid outside. As I start this post it is 5:42 PM Eastern, and the temperature is 80˚F (27˚C) under cloudy skies. With the wind blowing from the east-northeast at 10 MPH (16 KM/H) and humidity at 68%, the heat index is 83˚F (28˚C). Not unbearable, but still not crisp-and-cool fall weather.
I spent most of my afternoon reading from Sandra Gerth’s Show, Don’t Tell and Dean Wesley Smith’s Writing Into the Dark: How to Write a Novel Without an Outline to prepare myself for this year’s NaNoWriMo 2020 challenge. I also did some online research on the U.S. Army’s 30th Infantry Division, looked at my two new World War II atlases, and tried to read a chapter from James Holland’s Normandy ’44. (I say “tried” because every time I pick up the book to read, my mind starts screaming Why the hell did you decide to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge? Are you nuts??! When I read the how-to books, I can focus more and even think along the lines of Hey, that makes a lot of sense! Or Hmm, I never thought of that before!)
And with November 1 some six hours away, I am trying hard to remind myself that (a) I signed up for this voluntarily last year, and (b) that NaNoWriMo is, when all is said and done, supposed to be fun. It’s a contest, after all, as well as a personal challenge to write a novel in 30 days. It doesn’t have to be a polished final draft that has been edited, revised, and rewritten x times; it just has to be a 50,000 story using the structure of the modern novel, but in any literary style you like. (One idea that I had but wasn’t too sure that I could sustain was to tell the story of the GIs in The Tonic of Their Victory as a series of “columns” written by one of the characters, war correspondent Alan D. Grant. I probably won’t do that, but the idea did flit across my noggin a few days back like a neon-lit B-26.)
So, yeah, tomorrow is N-Day, and I am trying to figure out if I should wait until I wake up tomorrow morning to get started or should I try and start at midnight? I only did the all-nighter thing twice when I was younger and full of piss-and-vinegar – as well as cockier and foolish.
The first time involved writing the first draft of a research paper I had to do for my 12th grade English class. In that case, I had asked the teacher, Ms. Sallie DeWitt, if I could do something “out-of-the-box” (although that term did not enter my lexicon until I was in my 30s) and write the “history” of a hypothetical Third World War. I really didn’t want to do a traditional research paper about any topic that research papers traditionally cover, so I pitched a work of speculative fiction that would still require me to do research and create an outline and index cards for but would still allow me to be, um, creative.
I wasn’t too keen on having to do an outline – a tedious, boring process that I loathe and assiduously avoid, even to this day – or index cards. If memory serves, I was so unenthusiastic that I – true to form – waited till the last minute to do and did such a miserably bad job of it that my teacher had to give me low marks for both the outline and the index cards.
As for the rough draft of the term paper…
Well, I’m fairly consistent when it comes to procrastination, so I literally waited till the day before the rough draft was due to even start writing that sucker. I no longer have any copies of my World War III scenario – I threw away the rough draft because my typing was not the greatest back in 1983, and I loaned the final version to one of my friends on the college student newspaper staff a few years later and she never returned it – so I can’t even give you a brief synopsis. But I do remember that I literally went to my bedroom in the early evening and typed out the entire story (some 25 pages) from 6 PM until it was almost 2 AM. I had to be up by 5:30 AM because the school bus picked me up between 6:15 and 6:30, so I doubt that I even tried to go to sleep after I finished the last page of that rough draft.
The second time that I had to do an all-nighter was when I – as usual – had to turn in a three-to-four page book report about some book or other for my social environment class at Miami-Dade Community College in the Winter Term of the 1984-1985 school year. Back then I didn’t have a computer, so I had to use the same Smith-Corona electric typewriter I’d used in high school to write that assignment. To be honest, I had not liked the book much – too “leftist” in tone for me – and my enthusiasm level was almost in the negative numbers, so I waited till the last minute to do the assignment.
That wasn’t a good idea – I ended up having to ask for an extension because even after working on that book report for hours on end, I was still short in the required number of words (I believe it was a 2,000 word assignment). The professor, who sadly died in the late 1990s when she was hit by a vehicle outside her home in Kendall, liked me and granted me the extension, but only after she read what had already turned in.
So…even though I am tempted to try and stay up all night to at least get some of the day’s word-count done before daylight, I am relatively sure that I’ll go to bed before midnight and get some sleep. We’ll see, though.
I think that, for the duration of NaNoWriMo, I will limit my presence here on A Certain Point of View, Too to one post a day rather than the usual two (or sometimes three!) posts. Again, even though NaNoWriMo is not about writing a ready-for-publication novel, I do need to focus my energies on The Tonic of Their Victory so I can at least create a readable first draft manuscript. And even then, since I have not started the novel and therefore don’t know how I’ll feel after my writing day ends, I can’t promise that I’ll be posting here once a day. I’ll try to, though. Okay?
Well, that’s all the news I have to share with you for this last Saturday of October 2020. It’s Halloween, and The Caregiver bought a ton of candies to hand out to trick-or-treaters, although I am not sure how that’s going to go in these times of COVID-19, masks, and social distancing. I do know that pandemic or no pandemic, at least some kids will be out in the neighborhood, going door-to-door in their costumes, and getting candies and other treats from their neighbors.
So, I think I’ll close for now, Dear Reader. I hope your Saturday has been a good one so far, and as I always say, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.