So…Erm…Ugh…

Okay.  Now I’m stuck and I don’t know what to do.  Today and yesterday, I’ve just been staring at my Scrivener window and doing nothing.  I can’t write.  I have things to write, sort of.  I just don’t really want to.  Yesterday, I only barely made my goal for the day by writing about one sentence to a paragraph or two in a dozen different scenes and chapters, until it all added up to 500 words.  Today, I really don’t have a way of doing even that, but I can’t seem to write.

I don’t want to take a break, though.  I want to write.  I even wrote a few hundred words in a separate story, but this one particular one, I can’t seem to go anywhere.  I want to take a break from it, and work on some of my other stories.  But at the same time, I want to finish this one.  I haven’t finished a project since last May (an entire year ago), and this is the closest I’ve gotten since then.  I’m, I think, about half way through the novel.

But I’m staring to get…bored, I guess.

So should I switch to another story or try to get past this and just keep writing until I reach the end?

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Shim’s Imaginary Flaws

[Warning: I haven’t really edited this post much, and there’s a lot of ranting. So read at your own risk.]

I wrote nearly two thousand words again yesterday, and I was planning on trying to get at least half way there again. I made it to 500 words, then promptly smacked my hand on a bookshelf. That turned into an excuse to take a break from writing, because it was just a tad bit painful to bend my fingers, and I ended up doodling a dragon, instead.

And….well, if you can’t guess it, now I’m just wasting time so I don’t have to go back to the writing. It’s not that I don’t want to write, per se, I guess I’m just stuck. I mean, okay, yes, I’m supposed to be writing a scene I don’t really like. Mostly because it involves my seven year old character getting injured, and I guess my big-sister-instincts just do not like that idea. I’m probably going to have to find a way to change the scene or something.

But it feels like there might be more to it than just that. I have an outline, so I could very well just pick a different scene to write, and do that, but I can’t seem to figure out how to do that, either. Something feels wrong with my outline.

I have tons of theories of what it might be. My characters aren’t developed enough, and so I’m having trouble getting into anybody’s head when I write a scene. Or maybe I have one of those subtle little plot holes like I had a few weeks ago again. Or maybe it’s because I’m worried that I don’t have enough space in my novel to properly get all the way through my character arcs without rushing things.

Or maybe it’s something else entirely.

But I’m starting to worry that I’m imagining flaws and problems in my writing. Anytime something doesn’t go right, or I don’t understand something, I try to come up with a problem so that I know what I’m facing and how to overcome it. Only it never works out that way. My “solution” never ends up working right because my “problem” really isn’t what I thought it was. It’s happened like that time and time again.

I’m just making things up. I’m a perfectionist who’s trying to perfect something that she’s so inexperienced about, she barely has any clue what she’s doing before she tries to perfect it. I mean, all I really have to compare to is published authors who are so much farther along than I am. And how can I really compare? Especially since the ones I’m most likely to compare myself with are my favorite authors.

Yes, hello, Brandon Sanderson, your writing is about a million times better than mine. But does that mean mine is good or bad? It’s not as good as his—obviously—but…is it bad? I look at things those authors have and do and how they do it, and then at mine, and everything seems to fall short. John Flanagan has amazing characters. You could probably pull everything out of the books except for the dialogue and I’d still know who’d be saying what and not just because Ranger’s Apprentice is one of my favorite book series. My characters…blend into one another and seem identical half the time.

But do they really do that, or am I just seeing it that way because my writing isn’t as good as Flanagan’s? Brandon Sanderson has some of the coolest magic systems I’ve ever seen before. My magic systems seem either stereotypical, or don’t make any sense whatsoever. Or both at the same time. But are they really like that?

The only flaw I know for sure exists is my tendency to skip over writing descriptions. I know it because you can see that most of my pages are nothing but dialogue, and because I’ve caught myself doing it, and because I’ve had people tell me they’re having trouble picturing anything more than a white room around the characters. And I’m not writing the beginning to the chapters in Ender’s Game, so that doesn’t work.

Worst part is, I can’t even really ask anybody to read any of my writing and tell me what I’m imagining and what I’m not. I don’t have anything for anybody to read. Sure, I have my nearly 30-thousand word novel that I’m currently working on, but some of these flaws I’m seeing in my writing are only picked up on (if they exist) if you’ve read the whole novel. Character arcs, plot holes, and so on. (Which only adds to the proof that I’m not seeing things clearly. If you can only see them if you’ve read the whole novel, and I’m not even finished writing it, then how do I know it exists?)

Besides, very, very few people have ever read any of my novels all the way through, and I don’t really believe that anybody I give my work to will change that. My mom read one draft, but she had promised me she would, so she was obliged to. My cousin read another draft, but I had the story printed out and could literally hand her a page until she’d reached the ending. A few other friends read another draft only because they wanted to fangirl over my characters, because the only thing that made them (or the entire book) interesting was their pointless banter. But everybody else—including all of my supposed beta-readers? I’m lucky if they come back for chapter two.

If there’s a point to this whole post, I’m not really sure what it is. I guess I just need to keep writing until I finish a story again. Who cares if I’m any good or not? It’s a first draft, for goodness sake.

Mostly Pointless Rambling

You know, I realized, this blog is…completely pointless.  And not because it’s a circle.   I mean, what’s the point of this blog?  You’d think, from the name, it has something to do with writing, and probably fantasy, but really, that’s not very specific.  So all it ends up being is ranting about my own writing.

Heh.  No wonder nobody really reads this blog. I don’t even know how to make it more interesting, either.

Anyway, that’s off topic.  I’m still sort of writing.  Sort of.  Meaning, I’m supposed to be writing one project, but I’m too lazy to do so (hey, it’s spring break, right…?), and end up writing random things for random other projects that are really not well-written or anything and there’s only one person I know who could really appreciate them.  (You know who you are, V.)  Eh.  I’m still writing, though, right?

I’ve also been messing around with other things.  My parents started playing a new MMO that’s supposed to have a pretty good character creation thing.  So I messed around with it, thinking maybe I can create ssome characters that look like mine from my writing, you know, for the purpose of figuring out exactly what the physical appearance of my characters are.  (And apparently I don’t really know the as. I spent a good five minutes going through my notes, trying to figure out the height of a certain character.  All I really knew was that she was shorter than my excessively tall character, but that’s kind of obvious.)  I ended up getting incredibly frustrated at the game because the hair styles are pathetic.  There isn’t even a simple braid over the shoulder, or simple long hair, or anything like that.  All they have is…weird things.  (You can put mohawks and faux-hawks on both female and male characters.)  That and all of the characters are adult, and, well, all of my protagonists are my age.  Hmm.

I ended up giving up, and decided to do something else.  After all, I’m a writer, but I’m also an artist.  I can’t seem to figure out how to draw my characters (yet…I’ve only 99.9998% given up on that…), so I pulled out a 3D Animation program, called Blender 3D.  Then I ran into a new problem being that I didn’t know how to use it.  I was familiar with a really old version (though not good at it) and this brand new version had slightly different controls.

Gah.  In other words, I needed to look up some tutorials.  And deal with the fact that I already knew half the controls, even though the other half I didn’t know.  So I was a total beginner because I didn’t know that alt-F is how you move the viewpoint, or that control-1 shows the back view, yet I knew that B pulls up the selection box, A selects everything, TAB switches to Edit mode…. and so on.

Goodbye, pride.  I hope you like the shoebox I stuffed you inside of.

It was a little frustrating, but the tutorials are actually better than I’d thought, at least as I long as I can deal with the fact that I’m making really cheesy-looking items.  And here comes in my perfectionist side.  And that it’ll be a while before I can create any models of any of my characters.

I also, while talking to fellow blogger and friend, Kiwi, I realized part of my extended writer’s block problems.  I have…absolutely no schedule.  But I used to.  Back when I wrote a minimum of a thousand words, with a two fifty average, every single day, I got up every morning at roughly seven, or sometimes even six-thirty, before school, and just wrote.  I’m still only half-awake, which means still half-asleep, so my imagination has no limits, and I can get a whole lot done.  At least, assuming my siblings allow me to.

But I don’t do that anymore.  Now, instead of getting up early, I sleep in until eight, when my mom drags me out of bed because I have to start school.  No early mornings.  I might be tempted to try to get up earlier anyway, even if I’m dead-tired, but my parents have a new rule that my siblings and I aren’t allowed to use the computer in the mornings.  Yeah, yeah, sure, I can still use a notebook, but, really?  All of my notes, my outlines, everything is on my computer, and I need those to write.  Plus, I just can’t write by hand as fast as I can type.  If I only have an hour, I’ll still probably only get maybe a few hundred words down, and I’m already doing that with my lack-of-schedule writing, so what’s the point?  I might as well spend that hour sleeping.

It’s frustrating.  And discouraging.  I’ve noticed I’ve been discouraging about a lot of things.  Gah.

On a somewhat better note (yeah, I know, this post is already long enough, but I’m rambling here, sorry) I’m going to join a troop thingy…how would you describe it?  I suppose it’s basically a Christian version of what Girl Scouts is supposed to be.  (Because the real Girl Scouts is awful.  I know, I was one for a year or so…bleh.)  So, camping, and outdoorsy stuff and such.  I’m mostly excited because I want to do some of the wild-life stuff, for two reasons.  One, mere curiosity.  I want to know how to start a campfire!  And use a pocket knife without cutting my thumb off!  And so on!  I really hope they do stuff like that, though.  I may be a girl, but I don’t want to do just girl stuff because I’m female.  Not to say I don’t like being female (I’m wearing a skirt as I type this, in fact…I’m also really more of a girly-girl than a tomboy), but that doesn’t mean I don’t like things like that.

Of course, I also want to do things for writer purposes.  You know how many times I’ve said, in my writing, in the vaguest way possible because I didn’t know what they were really doing, “They started a campfire and cooked their food”?  A lot.  Way more than I’d like.  Heh, it’s obvious I’m a city girl, isn’t it?

Oh well.  Hopefully we’ll do just as much wildlife survival as we do home ec and community service.

And now, to make this post even slightly interesting, did anybody know that “smilingly” is a word?  It is.  It’s really awkward to say, though.

Outlining Again and Actually Writing a Little

So…follow up to the rather down post from yesterday.  Despite all of the problems I’m facing, somehow, I just can’t give up on my writing.  I guess I just have too many stories that want to be told.  In other words, when I couldn’t sleep last night, I decided it was as good a time as any to try to figure out what was wrong with the outline for one of my stories.

Turns out, the problem was actually that there were several plot holes that were subtle and overlapping themselves in such away that it just confused me—which only frustrated me and prompted me to not deal with the story at all.  I’ve mostly fixed it, now, though I’m still confused by it.  I couldn’t even tell you exactly what the plot holes were, really. It was kind of weird.

Somehow, fixing that outline seemed to open up a wall.  Suddenly, ideas and inspiration came crashing down on me, all day today.  In fact, over the course of the day, I’ve written roughly 1.8k, which is more than I’ve written in…a long time.  Usually, lately, the most I can get in a single day is about 1,500 words.

I feel strangely good.  I’m not doing terrific, or anything.  For example, I keep getting distracted by the Internet.  (Which is probably why I’m writing this post instead of bumping that word count up to 2k.)  I’m also still having a little trouble really getting into my character’s heads, and I know I’m going to have to do a lot of editing to get rid of this internal monologue that crept its way in, but I’m actually writing!

Okay.  I should probably stop wasting time on my blog and go get that number up to 2k, eh?

Little Sisters and a Little Bit of Stress

So.  Way back in November, I decided to write a novel.  Y’know, for NaNoWriMo.  I actually didn’t end up writing said novel, instead writing an outline for a different novel, but that’s not important.  The important part is, I decided to drag my younger siblings in with me on the wonderful craziness of NaNo.  One brother decided to write a Minecraft fan-fiction, while the other made up a story about a can and a ghost who ran away from their home and the cat’s cruel master.  Neither finished their story, but considering their age, I think they both wrote a decent amount and I was very proud of the fact that they at least tried.  (I’m also happy to hear that one of them plans to finish his novel this up and coming November.)

Then came my little sister.  She’s younger than the two boys, yet she’s always loved telling stories.  Never written them down, but certainly told them verbally enough to practically be an expert.  Or, well, as close to expert as an eight year old gets.  I convinced her into joining NaNoWriMo as well, and she wrote a story about a dragon who got lost and has to find her way home, with the help of a friendly cat.  (It amused me greatly that two of my siblings’ stories had cats in them as one of the protagonists…now I’m tempted to add a cat into one of my own stories, just for the fun of it.)

She completed her goal of a thousand words and finished the story, on about the 24th of November.  The story was awesome.

As you can probably guess, considering it’s like the opposite time of year as November, I just helped her finish editing it.  It’s even more awesome now.  I love it.  She had quite a few spelling and grammar errors (including switching back and forth between present and past tense, using comma splices, and so on), but she is only eight, so I helped her fix them up.

Now it’s pretty much finished and she’s even illustrating it with little sketches of some of the scenes.

I’m the proudest older sister there ever was.  And also…one who’s kind of discouraged in herself.

I haven’t finished a project since last May.  That’s nearly an entire year ago.  That was a story I believe I mentioned in an earlier post about my lack of motivation, which is now back in the outlining/figuring-out-what-in-the-world-is-going-on-here stage.  Or, er, the drawing board, I guess.  I’ve got so many plots holes…

But that’s for another rant.  Anyhow, there are a few excuses for my lack of finishing anything.  I lost both my uncle and my grandmother in June, and since then, there’s been enough family drama to, well, fill an entire soap opera.  Or three.  But right now?  After all, that was way back in June.

I’m…not really sure.  I just feel stressed.  I’d like to blame school, but we’ve actually figured all of that stuff out.  I know what I’m doing the next two years of highschool and maybe even a vague idea of what comes afterwards.  No need to be stressed.  Yet…I keep feeling stressed out.

It finally occurred me that it’s really the writing itself that’s the problem.  I can still do most of my creative process.  I can outline, I can brainstorm, I can even do some world-building and some sort of character development (I’m not very good with that part yet, unfortunately, without doing discovery-writing….which is weird, since I’m more or less an outliner at this point…hmm.).  But  whenever I sit down to write, that’s when I get stuck.

Turns out, I can’t seem to get into the story.  Any story.  I’ve got five of them, after all.  (Or was it six?)  I’ve found I can still, occasionally, write random scenes here and there, but nothing important and nothing that actually goes anywhere.  I tried writing a new short story, too, and that didn’t work either.  I tried just sitting and writing nothing, I tried switching to a notebook, and I even tried taking a break from writing altogether and coming back later.  No matter what I do, no matter how I try, no matter even which story I work on, I can’t seem to lose myself into my writing anymore.

So that’s what the problem is.  That’s why I’m completely stressed out about any of my writing and avoiding it.

I also…have no clue why this is the case and what in the world to do about it.

Gah, so this post turned out far more complain-y than I intended…I had really just wanted to talk about how proud I was of my sister. Heh.  So, yeah, there it is.  Anyone have any suggestions of what to try?   And anyone else have awesome little sisters?

So-So Productivity and Scrivener

Well what do you know.  I abandoned my blog again.  Unlike last time, I have a more legitimate excuse—I’ve been dealing with both lots of family drama and also trying to fill out my high-school transcripts.  Talk about stressful.

Anyhow.  Doing Camp didn’t quite work how I intended it to.  Meaning, I’m not doing as planned, but once again am stretched out between four projects.  Again.  I also haven’t kept track of any form of “word-count” at all, which means according to the Camp website, I have written a whopping zero words.  I’m not terribly worried, though, because I really have done more brainstorming and outlining than actual writing—and it’s kind of hard to convert that into a word-count.

Besides.  I didn’t want to do Camp to write a novel.  I just wanted to use it to motivate me to do something.  That something might be a lot of weird things and with absolutely no concentration on one project, but it’s still something, isn’t it?

I’m going to blame part of my not-as-productive-as-I’d-like-t0-be-ness on Scrivener.  I got the program for Christmas last year, and it is an awesome writing program.  Never before have I been able to organize and sort my writing and notes and everything so well, and I’ve started to have trouble working in anything else.  Which means, whenever I have to let one of my siblings have a turn on the computer, suddenly the program I use on my tablet, Pages, which I’ve used for years, seems very incompetent and I’m struggling to write anything in it.

Gah.  Even notebooks seem pathetic now.

Okay, that’s enough ranting.  I’m curious, though, what writing programs does everybody else use?  I hope I’m not the only one who doesn’t use Word. (Granted, I can’t use Word, since I have a Mac, but still.  I could use the Mac equivalent, Text Edit, except the very idea gives me the shudders.)

 

Description, Short Stories, and Still No Motivation

So, I’ve been taking a break from writing for nearly a week now.  It’s gone pretty well, aside from the fact that I’m bored out of my mind and feeling rather lazy.  I’ve wasted time playing silly video games (and going nowhere with them, as apparently I have terrible reflexes), I’ve gotten sick with the flu (which, since I didn’t get the fever that everyone else in the family had, really just feels like a glorified—not in a good way—cold, where the symptoms hit you all at once, instead of gradually.), I’ve watched cop shows and cooking shows with my mother (which is a little strange, since neither of us are particularly interested in cooking), and I got a song stuck in my head that I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard before, involving either the cello or the violin.  It was beautiful, and I would have written it down, except that I… don’t know how to write music.  Not a clue.

So, in other words, my week has been pretty unproductive and I’ve been really wanting to get back to writing.  I went and rambled at my mother about how frustrated I’ve been, which led to two things.  First, she went and read the prologue of Steelheart aloud, mostly to show me how important description was (description is one of my weakest points with writing, as I’ve probably said before).  I’m once again reminded just how brilliant of an author Brandon Sanderson is.  Second, she also told me I should stop writing novels for the moment, and concentrate on some short stories, so I can improve what I’m doing without getting caught up in a big project and all of the problems that arise with novels.  (I’m pretty sure the parasite guy wrote a post on using short stories in this method, though I can’t find the actual post.)

Well.  Brilliant.  In the three years I’ve been writing, I’ve written maybe four or five short stories, three of which were flash-fiction and under a thousand words (and the other two were just above a thousand).  I didn’t put any amount of effort into any of them, and I didn’t really do any editing aside from basic grammar.  Honestly, I’m not really sure how to write a short story—or, even worse, what to write one about.

So, in conclusion to all of this, writing is still stressing me out about and I’m pretty sure I should take a longer break than just a week, even though not writing is…still stressing me out a little.  Being sick doesn’t help, though, so maybe this week will be better off.  I’m certainly hoping.

Writing Needs Motivation, Part Two

When I want to be, I can be a very stubborn person.  I’ll admit, when I don’t want to be, I can give into things far too easily, but that’s beside the point.  When I’ve really put myself into something, I’m not going to just go and give up.

So, as you can probably guess, I’ve still been trying to write.  I did some brainstorming with a friend of mine, fixed about half a dozen plot holes, and I started to feel confident again.  I wrote an outline for my story, and although it’s not as good as the outline that I wrote for NaNoWriMo (which is kind of ironic, considering that most of what’s written during that is…not very good at all), I think it’s not too bad.  Of course, when I started writing it, I was immediately unhappy with it.  Nothing came out how I wanted, even remotely.  It didn’t even sound how I wanted it to.

It didn’t occur to me what the problem was, however, until earlier this evening.  After deciding to take a bit of a break, I decided to rewrite a scene that I’d written a few weeks ago, and immediately, it came out disastrous.  Frankly, I’m not even sure what went wrong—probably a mixture of things, really.  So, I decided to go read one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors, Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan, but it only seemed to make my own writing seem worse.  I think I write too wordy, with long sentences, but it throws my flow off, and even with all of the words, I lack description.  Oh boy, description is definitely one of my weakest points.

As I realized that, my first thought was, Well, there goes my chance of trying to go somewhere with my writing anytime soon.  Then, I realized something else.  I want to publish one day.  I’m not trying to, say, get on the Bestselling list (though that would be awesome), because I doubt that would ever happen, but I would like to share my stories with the rest of the world one day.  But, of course, if that’s why I keep writing, then am I ever going to get anywhere?  Probably not.

Frankly, it embarrasses me that this has become what’s making me keep writing, so, I’m going to change it.  I am writing for me, nobody else.  I have a story to tell (or three), and I’m going to tell it, whether it takes me three months, or fifteen years to do so.  I’m only a teen, right?  I have my whole life ahead of me, and I sure don’t need to rush anything.  In this case, quality over quantity.

So, I’m going to take about a week break from writing, to separate myself from my stories and all of the frustration that I’ve been facing with them.  I’m not sure if taking a break from writing entirely is a good idea, but I’m not sure it’ll really hurt anything.  And, considering the fact that half the family (including myself, possibly) are fighting off the flu, I’m not sure I’ll be able to write much this week.  Plus, I think I might try to be more analytical in my reading, and try to pick up some tricks and things (which, admittedly, probably means that I shouldn’t keep reading an average of three or four books a week).

Guest Post: What Happens When Things Go Right? (A.K.A. An Extremely Unprofessional Guide to Writing Happy Endings and Getting Past Writer’s Block in General)

This is my hundredth post!  Plus, it’s about a week away from this blog’s first anniversary.  So, to celebrate, I asked a good friend of mine to write a guest post.

I hate writing endings, and always have. It’s so bothersome to have to say goodbye to your favorite characters, and leave the story for a while. The most daunting thing, to me, however, is that when you’re done with the book the next step is editing. Editing is, perhaps, annoying, but it certainly gets the job done. This is something that I have yet to convince myself of, but hopefully this has convinced you.

But–back to endings: once the climax is over in a story, it’s often very hard to gain motivation to keep going. You’re sitting there, very happy that you’ve finally written the juicy bits, but now have no exciting things to look forward to. You’re sitting there, and no interesting twists are coming to you.

You’re sitting there, and you haven’t written a word.
This, my friends is where the Plot Rhino comes in.

Now, if you are at all familiar with NaNoWriMo and its forums, you have probably heard of the term Plot Bunny. But, just incase you haven’t, Wikiwrimo defines it as “a story idea that refuses to go away until it is written.”

The Plot Rhino is a creature of my own creation (as far as I know) and it can be very useful, but also very dangerous. It is exactly the same as the Plot Bunny, only, instead of a plot idea, it contains a bigger plot idea.

I imagine that now you’re probably wondering where I’m going with all of this. “What,” you ask, “is the significance of a small plot idea versus a bigger one? What’s the difference? And why a rhinoceros? Why not a lion?”
Do not fear, though, as your questions will be answered. (Well…maybe not that last one. But really, what’s wrong with rhinoceroses?) I only ask that you follow me for a bit longer.

Here are two arbitrary examples.
-A girl is banished from her home after her godmother finds out that she is half-demon. The story continues as if it were an alternate version of Cinderella, but instead of dropping a glass slipper she drops an engraved weapon.
-What if everything in the world were made out of cheese?

Which one is a Plot Bunny, and which one is a Plot Rhinoceros?
If it isn’t obvious, the first one is a Plot Rhinoceros, and the second, a Plot Bunny.

Now, you may disagree, and say that they are BOTH Plot Bunnies. If you do, I respect your opinion but have to disagree. To me, a Plot Bunny can BECOME a Plot Rhino–all it needs are some horns on its snout and an imagination, which I believe all writers ought to have.

So, next time you’re stuck writing an ending, think about the Plot Bunny that first convinced you to start writing, and turn it into a Plot Rhino. (I’m sure the bunny will love being big for a change.)

–The Orange Elephant

Day Six-ish: So Much For That…

For someone trying to reach 75k in a month, I seem to be doing pretty well, word-wise.  I’ve got just over sixteen thousand words, and it’s only day six.  I’m not really sure how far ahead I am, but I am at least a little bit.

Unfortunately, story-wise… I’m not doing so well.  Essentially, I’m trying to write a prequel to one of my earlier novels, because I realized that a few of my characters have some pretty important things happen in their childhood that I can’t seem to tell well enough when it’s just backstory.  But that means this book spans about five or six years, in total, and I keep rushing through it.  Fifteen thousand words, and I’ve already gone through three years of three characters’ lives.

Whoa, wait a minute.  If I keep up at this rate, I’ll be finished at 30k.  That’s…not even a novel, let alone my 75k goal.  See, November is National Novel Writing Month, which kind of means that my 75k goal isn’t just to write that many words in a month, it’s to write that many words in one novel in a month.

So I’m stuck.  I realize that I’m kind of summarizing instead of writing.  I tell the basics and move on and I really need to get into the nitty-gritty details.  Otherwise, it’s too short and it’s probably not much fun to read, either.  Problem is, for whatever reason, I’m really having trouble doing that.  I guess maybe it’s just that whenever I think about this story, I always see it the way it was as a backstory—with only the important details and nothing else.  So I’m really having trouble writing it.

It’s frustrating.  Really, really frustrating and I wish I could figure out how to get past it.  At the moment, I’m trying with just brute force, and that’s not working the greatest, but, hey, it’s NaNo.  Who cares if I write with grace?  That’s for December.

Right?