Sunday, November 29, 2009

new job, new job, new job!

Sort of, kind of. I'm still doing essentially the same things with newspapers, but covering different topics and for a different community. Starting on Dec. 10, I will no longer be covering Saline and Milan sports... which means I'll also no longer be paginating the sports sections/sports tabs for Saline, Milan, Chelsea, Dexter, Ypsilanti, Belleville and Manchester.

My new position will be the copy editor of the Manchester Enterprise. I will be the editor and main content writer for the village's paper, mostly covering the school district, the chamber of commerce and the various township council meetings.

I'm pretty stoked. In all honesty I don't really know much about the village yet, but I hear it's filled with incredibly warm and local people. They sound great. I'm mostly just excited to try something new. I've been doing the sports thing for over a year now and I think I've come a long way. There are always ways I can continue to improve, but this change definitely came at a great time for me personally as well. I needed it. Bad.

I'm going to be thrown into the water without much time to adjust, as well, because it looks like my first edition as the Manchester editor will be Dec. 10, and then the following week (Dec. 24) I'll be responsible for taking care of Chelsea, Dexter and Manchester thanks to a coworker that wants to use his unused vacation time.

This week our sports editor Don Richter (who will take my place with Saline and Milan sports in the coming weeks) is also on vacation... so I get to paginate AND dummy the other sports sections. He pretty much said, "Hey, good practice for when you become editor." Then he laughed. I didn't think it was funny.

In fact, I assumed the next few weeks would be a breeze, and that they would be a time when I could relish in my final days as a sports writer. Well we all know what happens when you assume...

What happens is the Don vacation thing, along with our seasonal sports preview tab. So I get to do that too. Everyone's copy is due Thursday and we build the pages on Friday I THINK I DON'T KNOW NO ONE TELLS ME THESE THINGS. But it will get done. It WILL get done. I guess that means I have to get started on my preview stories. That will be a fun, awkward conversation.... "oh hai! I'm not covering your team anymore! but give me the lowdown on your drama before I hand you off like an unwanted newborn!" Just kidding... I love winter. Hockey could kick any other sport's proverbial bottom. Just saying..

epic fail on the horizon

So I entered into National Novel Writing Month on Nov. 1, which I had early described as the craziest and most ridiculous idea I've had in a while. Now here I am... it's Nov. 29. I officially have just over one day left and, well, I'm not going to make it.

That's correct. I have epically failed to amass the 50K words necessary to don the NaNoWriMo crown. Granted, lots (thousands, even!) never manage to get there either. I could go into a bunch of excuses as to why I will be short (about 15K short, in fact), and it would probably include things like family emergencies, a new promotion at work, friends coming to town, the premiere of the movie New Moon, and my short hiatus trip to Florida.... but I'm not going to do that. Truth be told, I could have made it if I'd stuck with it. I checked out my progress graph, and basically I was completely on track through Nov. 15. I was only about 2,000 words short of where I was supposed to be according to my 1,667 words/day goal. But then I essentially didn't touch the story for a week. A good, solid week of nothing. Then the following week I wrote probably 3 out of the 7 days to finally get past the halfway point.

So I've decided that I signed up for this stupid contest for a reason... and that even though I might not be done YET, I'm close enough now that I can taste it and will be pushing through December on my own. I will get to that 50K goal before Christmas if it kills me. And then if there's still more to say, I'll keep going.

So maybe I am a winner of this contest. After all, the point of the whole thing is simply to get people writing... so pick up those slovenly waste of space people who dream about writing novels but never do it. I was one of those people, and I somehow managed to pull myself out of it. It feels great, so why stop?

QED, I'm a loser with a winner's heart. This project will get finished by the New Year, and I have NaNoWriMo to thank. I'll definitely be participating in this little contest again next year. With a year under my belt, I think I'll do even better next time. I'll know which non-writing behaviors to avoid, I'll take my laptop out of my home at least once a day if I'm feeling stubborn, and I won't allow myself cookies and cake until AFTER the word count of the day has been reached.

But for now... time to add a few more thousand to my current total. It looks like I'll land at just under 40K. That estimates to roughly 120 pages of a book. Not too bad at all, methinks.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm award-winning, yo

You heard it here first. But probably not because I found out like a month or so ago... but now I finally have the official pieces of paper.

I won some Michigan Press Association Better Newspapers Awards. I won four to be exact, and they send you one of those certificates, like the one you get for being an Honor Roll student in middle school. It's flimsy, and I think I have this exact certificate stationary from Staples. I might even be able to fake winning five, or TEN!

So I took first in my class for Sports Column, which I mean, let's be honest, that's the most important category for me... because it's almost like they're judging me as a person. My column is undoubtedly the thing that's the most fun to write, gets me the most crap from people, and exhibits my *true* voice. Blah, blah blah... so the verdict is in and I win.

I also nabbed second place for a sports feature on some Milan ice hockey brothers that are all playing on the same team at once. There are four of them. Then I grabbed first place for Sports coverage of Milan and second place for sports coverage in Saline.

In the scheme of things this probably doesn't mean a lot to people, but I was pretty excited. I have a feeling most people only care about awards when they don't get them, so I'm pretty happy to be in the winning column. Also my resume looks cooler now. Almost like I'm legitimate. Almost.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NaNoWriMo in full swing...

This is serious business. It does seem to be working though... I'm deep into the National Novel Writing Month contest. My participation success hinges on completing 50,000 words by Nov. 30. I'm a *titch* behind on the daily word count goal... I'm like 1.5 days behind, putting me at about 14.5K. Not too shabby.

It's a good thing we aren't allowed to edit, because I can feel myself doing things that I don't like. For one, I'm usually very cerebral when it comes to character decisions and how the plot moves. But in all honesty, I would never finish this project if I tried writing it like I write everything else. I write for a living anyway, so I really just don't have the hours needed in a day to be able to take a few days to work through an impending decision in my head. I just have to write it.

So what all of this basically means is that I can almost guarantee that the rewrites alone will alter about half of the book. But that's what December is for, editing... or so I'm told.

Right now I have several characters going that aren't coming off the page well. They are lacking physical description, emotional tendencies and a general persona to fill up their own space. My lead is still a tad too self deprecating. But the hooker? She's a complex little thing. She might be my favorite character so far, which actually is good because a character like that needs to be likable.

I went out and bought a mini notepad to keep my NaNoWriMo efforts more organized. I read that someone else who's doing this keeps pads of paper all over the house for when an idea creeps into their head. I thought that was great because I can always remember those moments when I think of something but might not think it's important enough to track down paper for. Then after it's gone from my memory, I'm pissed. This will hopefully curb some of that.

Other than that it's been more of the same... working lots, but not more than usual... keeping my little apartment life in order (or trying... that monthly massive clean is looming...) for Chris and I... and trying to stay in contact with friends, family, etc. Now I know why lesser mortals who obsess over their work have no friends or family. It's a job in and of itself to keep your relationships strong when you work as much as I do. I suppose I can sleep when I'm dead, but I may very well die on Dec. 1 after this is all over.