Michaeline: Thanks Given

Kana and Yuta, my housecats, form a ball of snuggle on the sofa. (E.M. Duskova)

It’s been a good week for me. We’ve had unseasonably sunny days, lots of visits from kitties and plenty of snuggles from the domesticated pets. And there was NaNo, which brought me a good story and some nice story seeds this week.

Before I talk about National Novel Writing Month, I do want to say a word or two about Thanksgiving dinner. It’s almost always on a workday in Japan, so I often do my best with some roast chicken and wait for the community Thanksgiving that we do in a huge kitchen with loads of people. (Loads being about 60 or 70 people eating, in our case.)

I miss seeing those people, but it was relaxing not to have to get up early and drive 45 minutes each way for a day of cooking and cleaning (and the very, very nice meal). And since I’m not working for anyone but myself these days, I decided to make a modified Thanksgiving feast. Roasted chicken thighs with sage. My mom’s dressing, cut in half, and mutated with my mom’s scalloped chicken recipe. It’s onions and celery in way too much

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Michaeline: NaNoWriMo Weekend #1 (2020)

The cover from a pulp magazine featuring a lady fortuneteller, a pale smoky vision in distress, and a young man looking seriously and dreamily up as if thinking his own thoughts. TEXT: UNCANNY, SPOOKY, CREEPY, TALES. March Ghost Stories. The MAN with the FOUR ARMS. The PSYCHIC DETECTIVE. MUMMY NUMBER 249.
My Project Cover, via Wikimedia Commons. If I run out of ideas, “The Man with the Four Arms” could be the next story I write. 25 cents!

It’s a very weird NaNovember weekend if you are an American citizen or care about one. I feel like the race could be decided at any minute . . . but I also feel that we won’t really hear any significant news until Monday.

I’m going to go with that last feeling – it allows me to get some writing done for more than 15 minutes at a time. At any rate, being cautiously optimistic is doing wonders for my motivation, while the tension is producing some deliciously weird effects in my writing.

As I mentioned in the post title, it’s the first weekend of National Novel Writing Month, which has become a bit of a misnomer. The game started in 1999 with freelancer Chris Baty and a few of his friends who decided they’d like to try and write A Great American Novel, or at least a novel, in 30 days. By 2000, the game was international, according to Wikipedia, with 140 participants.

The website also started in 2000. I’m a nine-time player (including this year) and one-time winner, although “winner” is also misleading. Finishing a story makes you a winner in my book. I am also a multi-time “cheater” – the basic rules Baty set out was that the novel must be new, must not be co-authored, and has to be submitted in time to verify the 50,000 word count.

Sometimes I followed those rules; other times I tried working on second drafts as a “NaNo Rebel” (officially recognized on the website, too, as a rebel). I do have to admit, I never won (and never even completed a story) the times I tried working on a second draft. Only with fresh, new material did I complete a new story . . . usually coming in at around 40,000 words and with a fairly good through-line for my plot.

This year, though, NaNo has gotten very casual with the rules, and I fully approve! Your “novel” has been rebranded as a

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