Romancing the Procrastination

Do you doodle when you should be writing?

OK.  For National Novel Writing Month, I’m deep into Act 2, the long middle, the oh-no-one-dang-thing-after-another part and — what is that sock doing there — and should I make espresso or run out to Starbucks — is there any milk left and why can’t anyone tell me if they’ve drunk the last of it so I can go out and get more – can I send someone to get it — and shouldn’t I really make a Thanksgiving countdown “To Do” list for food prep, and ….

Asterisks - for those times when time elapses!

I took a phone call (forgot to turn off the ringer for a writing sprint), and I’ve left my heroine stranded in the Hamptons in July with a bad sunburn and she is torn because she really likes this guy but she’d rather be back at air-conditioned work in the City and – do we have any cookies in the house?

Must get back to writing… must get back to writing.  Maybe handwriting will jumpstart me.  Is there any paper in the house?  A pen?  How about the flap from a box of whatever?  You know, reduce, reuse, and recycle?

Distraction and procrastination are harsh masters.  If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see that I even became distracted from my distraction when I began to misspell “doodle.”  Misspell “doodle,” people!

That would drive my heroine crazy.  She has enough problems without me!  The guy she likes will be going back on the road soon (he’s a Minor League player) and this is her chance to connect with him.  But sunburn.  I gotta get her back to the City.  Now.

Love of La Bella Supermoon

Supermoon 2016 HaileyReede

Supermoon = Full Moon (or, technically speaking, a new moon) + Occurring at the Time of the Moon’s Closest Point to the Earth (perigee) in Its Monthly Orbit.

For some, a regular old full moon is a time of romance  –

Theatrical release poster designed by Olga Kaljakin as per Go see it - or see it again!

– or maddness, or high tides.  This one, this 2016 supermoon, is the closest, largest full moon since 1948.

Supermoons, special supermoons, 1948, Cher – distractions or plot bunnies during this demanding time of National Novel Writing Month and National Blog Post Month?

Alas, this November 2016 supermoon itself was not much of a distraction here in New York City.  The sky was intermittently overcast and rainy.  What’s a girl to do?  Hence, I supplied my own supermoon (see first photo).  And then, why not an owl?

Romancing 270

This is the sticker that is handed out to voters in the New York City area. At my polling place, they were out of these by noon. Huge turn-out. HYUGE!

If you have an interest in American presidential politics, right now you are glued to whatever media you prefer.  Technically, we are voting for “electors,” representatives in a group.  In order to win, a presidential candidate needs 270 of them.

Those who know me in the actual, as opposed to the virtual, world, know where I feistily stand on the issues and candidates.  But here, in Blogland, how much public political opining does a reader want or need from a romance writer?  Just in case this is important to you, I voted.

As a public service, I herewith provide a map of electoral votes state-by-state:

Electoral votes state-by-state in map form by Hailey Reede.

Have fun predicting!



Love of Humanity, Writing, and Espresso

Espresso Gone - Oh no! (1)

This has been a magnificent and hard-working day.

Magnificent: The weather is perfect for the New York City Marathon.  I have a great view of the Marathon.  The City is in good cheer.  My family understands that I have several writing projects and I’m working on them.

Hard-working:  Wait – “projects” makes them sound like hobbies with which I tinker.  No!  I have a writing assignment with an imminent deadline, the daily NaNoWriMo word production, and, of course, the blog-every-day-in-November challenge of NaBloPoMo.  I’d love to start with my NaBloPoMo writing first – about the beauty and significance of the New York City Marathon – with pictures!  But that will have to wait.

Meanwhile, I made a pot of espresso and drank the whole thing!  More?  Sure, I could make more, but it would be wrong.



Romancing the NaNoWriMo Win Hailey wins NaNoWriMo 2014. This is the certificate.

55,142 Words Later

For our first assignment in law school, even before any class had convened, we were to read an article that appeared to be written in English – with a soupçon of Latin thrown in for good measure.  We all knew, for example, what the word “summary” meant.  Heck, in high school and/or college, most of us had probably bought summaries of, say, novels in which we should have luxuriated, but had only two nights to master.  Similarly, “judgment” was quite familiar to all of us.  But, and some of you are probably way ahead of me here, put them both together, and “summary judgment” is, at best, a distant cousin in meaning to it’s commonly used components.

Because I know some of you will not sleep unless you know the definition of “summary judgment,” a workable definition is this: it is a court’s judgment for one party and against the other party where there is no dispute between the parties as to material fact regarding the dispute or a portion of the dispute.  That raises the issue of “what is a material fact,” which leads me back to the article.

As I recall, the article’s author taunted us misguided, over-confident, know-it-all, former skim-the-assignment-and-regurgitate-it-on-the-test kids to persevere even in the face of having to redefine reality.  Words we thought we knew had strange meanings and were combined oddly.  It sounded like English, but, then again, it didn’t.  Towards the end of the piece, the author noted that we had probably skipped over dozens of words and phrases in order to complete the reading instead of dutifully looking everything up.  Yup.  Guilty as charged.

Eventually, and this means, for me, a few years later, all of those words were part of my everyday lexicon.  I didn’t skip any of those semi-English, sometimes Latin phrases; I scoured prior legal opinions and statutes for them.  And, in using them, I had lost that “new driver” feeling.

One of the Latin phrases in the article was res ipsa loquitur – meaning: the thing speaks for itself.  It’s often used when referring to negligence cases, and – –

OK, I’ll stop with the Intro to Law class.

In my small section in law school, there was a woman who married our Contracts professor after our first year.  Inside her wedding band, he had the jeweler inscribe, “res ipsa.”  Her finger was too small for the “loquitur” and it didn’t matter.  For a bunch of tough, analytical curs, we were all swoony over the romantic symbolism.  We’d pass her in the hallway sometimes and greet her with an admiring “Res ipsa, baby!

Which brings me to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  Late yesterday, I made it to 55,142 words of my romance quartet.  I haven’t fully digested the experience.  I’m going to let the manuscript rest, like yeast dough, for a few days before I edit, rearrange, add to, and punch it down.  In the midst of writing 50,000+ words on one story line, several others invaded my imagination.  I jotted them down, and refocused.

On the NaNoWriMo website, if you are a registered user (it’s free, and I am), you have the ability to upload your daily word count, and then to upload your novel (it is immediately scrambled and deleted) to have that count validated.  You are sent a link to the NaNo staff cheering you with congratulations – it is awesome.  Then, you are provided with a link to your completion certificate.  Mine is above.

This win was a huge experience and maybe I’ll write more about it later.  In the meanwhile, as per my completion certificate, above, res ipsa, baby.

Romancing the Jump

Today marks a special milestone.

Today, I made the jump.

What jump?  The word count jump.

I made the word count jump.

Yesterday in NaNoWriMo land, Day 20, I should have completed 20 Days X 1667 words per day, for a total of 33,340 novel words.

For every registered writer who enters their daily word count, your dashboard on the official site shows you your words plotted against the total expected words so far in a nifty little graph.  From the start of NaNoWriMo until yesterday, the bars that represented my word count did not meet the ascending line that represented the target.

This is to say that, yesterday, my total was 31,028.

Today, I put my head down and barreled through.  It’s Day 21.  The target is 35,007 total novel words.   And my total is <drumroll> 36,195.  My word count bar is above the goal line for today.  <hooting around, flapping wings – – but quietly so as not to wake the kids>

We can talk about whether or not there is any real world significance to the actual number of words in a novel or the worthiness of keeping a steady level of productivity another day.  Today, I made the jump.  : )

The Romance of Feedback: NaBloPoMo versus NaNoWriMo

I once had lunch with a writer, someone I knew well from high school, who had brought her play for me to read – in front of her.  The play was cleverly written; it was a roman à clef – or, perhaps more properly, une pièce de theatre à clef.  It was about office politics that she had experienced and there was a vampire replete with cape and the other accoutrements of vampiredom.

Every time I laughed or my eyes popped, she’d grab the manuscript away from me and say, “Where are you?  What did you just read?”

This lunch took place at a time when the internet seemed like a private communication system between MIT and a few other, select, research universities.  In-person was it, baby, for immediate feedback on your work.

Writers need feedback.

It’s easier today.  Now, we email and blog.

With that in mind, I have begun the first three days of November writing for NaBloPoMo first, and avoiding NaNoWriMo until I could delay no further.  The results speak for themselves:


This leads me to the work of University of Pennsylvania research psychologist Angela Duckworth.  Duckworth is associated with studies on “grit,” that is, persistence and passion for long term goals.  An individual’s high “grit” factor correlates with success and leadership.  Says Duckworth and her coauthors:

We define grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals.
Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress.  The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.  Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.

 Marathon?  Check.  Stamina?  Check.  Disappointment leading to change in trajectory.  Hmmmm.  I’d like to ask Angela about this one.  Isn’t an essential element of learning the ability of an individual, whether rat or human, to modify or change behavior in response to feedback?  Is that not a definition of “change in trajectory?”  My NaNoWriMo word-count stats were, well, disappointing if my goal is the community-unifying 50K – although I am on track to finish 16,000 words (my individual goal) well before the end of the month.

I think I’m going to define myself right back in the game – while modifying my strategy to begin tomorrow with my novel (NaNoWriMo), and blog (NaBloPoMo) after.  What about you?

The Romance of NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo

There is an amalgam of optimism and insanity in signing up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo).  Both are month-long self-challenges that could, possibly, cause a writer to form a Good Habit: writing every day.

Preparation for NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo 2014 begins with a list for Hailey Reede.

I slipped into my first NaNoWriMo challenge a few days ago, after a great, overdue discussion with a friend.  She’s doing it.  “Why not you?” she queried.  And, as if in a dream, I found myself on the NaNoWriMo website entering my information.  Fifty-thousand words by the end of November 30th is the goal of NaNoWriMo.  Just before November began, I tweeted (and doesn’t that make me sound like a social media savant), my first real tweet: Like waking up in Vegas and finding oneself married to a stranger, I find that I have signed up for my first NaNoWriMo.  (No, no!  Not that I have done that!  It’s just that I have a vivid imagination.)

In the spirit of in for a penny, in for a pound, I signed up for blogging everyday this month as well.  This seems like a natural pairing: enter the mysterious productivity zone, and then report about it to the world.  Of course, no one need see a writer’s wretched 50,000 words – the idea is to produce a draft without criticism or self-criticism.  A blog post, however, by its very nature, yearns to be seen.

As for insanity, there’s making a commitment to writing amidst the growing demands of the holiday season, as well as the usual (and sometimes unusual) family (and sometimes work) stuff.  There’s the sword of Damocles  – the threat of feeling “cut down” if one does not achieve the glory of 50,000 words.

Fifty thousand words is at the low end of most novels’ word counts.   That’s 1,667 words to write per day in November if you are including all weekends and Thanksgiving.  Would it comfort you to know that Animal Farm comes in at a mere 29,966 words?  Or that Harlequin seeks only 30,000 words for it’s erotic romance line?  Or that Indie author Hugh Howey successfully markets both his longer works (such as Sand at 252 pages/87,832 words) and his shorter works (such as Glitch, at 15 pages/4,884 words).  Jasinda Wilder’s Big Girls Do It Better (Book 1), is an appetizer sized 32 pages, but her break-out hit, Falling Into You is 369 pages.  Does size matter?  Really?

For my four-part series, I wasn’t aiming as high as a cumulative 50K.  Sixteen thousand would have been fine for me.  And so, on this Day 1, my own tiny struggle is: Am I aiming for the NaNoWriMo completion badge of 50,000 words – and can I make it, or will I feel grateful to have steadily produced whatever it takes to finish this work?

Set the technicalities aside for now.  This beginning is a cautiously happy one.  I shall push forward with a story I believe in and in the company of virtual and actual thousands.  For this little while, writing need not seem lonely – – and I just might end up with a completed four-part work.

[cross-posted at]