Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: accountability

Accountability

This could easily become a political post but, since I am already late getting to work this morning, I’m going to limit it to writing. As I posted yesterday, NaNoWriMo is upon us. It is a great way to hold yourself to some level of accountability in your writing — not so much in quality but in quantity. If you participate in the “official” NaNo, you are pledging to do your best to write 50,000 words in 30 days. You can log into your NaNo account and update your word count daily or as you want. It will show you not only how many words you’ve written, but how many you have left to meet your goal, your average word count per day, etc. It is a tool and should be looked at as such and nothing more.

That’s important because there are a lot of folks out there who flinch and shy away when they see the 50k word requirement. But here’s the deal. It isn’t set it stone. Just like New Year’s resolutions, it is something to shoot for. No one is going to hit your knuckles with a ruler if you don’t make the goal. It is nothing more than a tool to be used to help each of us establish a writing habit, one we can continue after November ends.

But, not everyone thinks they can meet the goal. Some folks, as I said, shy away when they see the number of words. Others know they are slow writers — and there is nothing wrong with that. I’ve said before and will say it again, there is no one right way write. Everyone’s process is different.

That doesn’t mean you can’t do NaNo. You can still sign up. You can use their tools, both in tracking your word count and in finding inspiration. Or you can do your own version of NaNo and set your own goals. The key is to set a goal and try to meet it. It doesn’t matter if it is 5k words or more or less. The goal is to write.

I honestly had no intention of doing NaNo this year. Then, as I said yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend and we decided to hold one another accountable for the next six months or so. Our goal? To publish a new piece every month. It can be a short story or novella or novel. Me? I know I can’t do a new novel a month. But I can put out a short story or novella on those months I’m not publishing a novel. Better yet, those don’t take as much time to write and can be done while watching football or — gag — Survivor with my mother. So I give up some time gaming during the evenings. That’s all right.

All that led to me deciding to go ahead and do NaNo. It is another way to hold myself accountable. But, because I have that dreaded word counter staring me in the face, I have to fight my own tendency to shy away. I’ll still be here blogging. I’ll update my NaNo count if not daily at least several times a week.

I will, hopefully, not only hold myself accountable but will meet the 50k word goal.

Now it’s time to make another cup of coffee and get to work. Oh, and the word count for yesterday was 4,007 words, not counting the blog post. If I count that, I did over 5,400 words. Hopefully, I can keep that up because I know there are going to be days this month when I won’t get to write. NaNo falling in November, with its Thanksgiving holiday, always messes me up. I just have to figure out how not to let my count diminish too much during the last half of the month. That is where I have to maintain my accountability.

Fingers crossed I manage to do so.

Who or what is to blame?

Yesterday, a friend of mine asked where all the anger was in the wake of the terrorist attack in Orlando. He had seen outrage and disbelief, sorrow and shock, but very little real anger. Part of it, at least in my case, was simply the need to process what had happened. But, with each hour that passed, with more information being released, I became more and more angry. Not just with the shooter but with others who stepped up to use the tragedy to press their pet agendas.

That anger hasn’t lessened any this morning. How can it when we have the President refusing to acknowledge that the shooter professed allegiance to ISIS? How can it when Clinton — and Obama before her — says that this is just another reason why we need more gun control? How can it when ACLU attorneys blame Conservative Christians for what happened?

Let’s face it, folks, no one forced Omar Mateen to buy the guns he took into the club with him in the early hours of yesterday morning. No one forced him to target that particular club. No one forced him to do anything — he chose his path, guided by who knows what? Are there indicators that he became a follower of radical Islam? Yes. But there is still a great deal we don’t know.

There is something else we have to face — tightening up gun control rules won’t stop crimes such as this. Whether we want to admit it or not, whenever there is a demand for a commodity, a black market will pop up if there are not legal ways to get it. Make those legal ways too difficult to navigate and, guess what, a black market will pop up. All you have to do is look at life behind the Iron Curtain for proof.

I’ve mentioned here before that I spent several months behind the Iron Curtain when I was younger. I visited what was then Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and the then Soviet Union. We knew there was a black market in the first three nations but it wasn’t as pervasive as what we found in the Soviet Union. Part of it was a desperation by the people to get items we don’t blink an eye about getting and part was to raise money. The Soviet economy was a joke, failing on all levels except padding the pockets of those in power.

It wasn’t even a hidden black market. Maids working in hotels would listen to conversations — and check luggage — to see if someone might be willing to “trade”. They wanted things like birth control pills, clothes, even my Mickey Mouse watch. Hell, one wanted to buy my St. Christopher medal. Not that I was willing to sell it, not with a transatlantic flight ahead of me.

We learned quickly what to look for. Just as it became a game to see how quickly we could spot which of our tour guides was reporting on our comings and goings, we learned to find the ones who were willing to trade with us for things we thought common place. We talked to people who had survived Stalin and World War II and who talked about how often the black market was the only way they had survived.

It didn’t matter if the item was in short supply or if it was outlawed, there was a market for it. All you had to do was know who to ask. Or know someone who knew to ask. Risky? Of course. But in a country where oppression was the rule, people would take risks. They had to. As beaten down as they were, there were still those who refused to bow down.

But let’s look closer to home. How have prohibitions worked here?

Think about that for a moment. The last time we tried a real prohibition of anything — liquor — it failed miserably. At least it did from a governmental point of view — at least from a non-corrupt governmental point of view. What we got were a number of police and politicians who looked the other way in return for money finding its way into their pockets. Organized crime came into its own during that period, running liquor and more.

Prohibition lasted 13 years, if I remember correctly and never really succeeded. Liquor was smuggled in from Canada. Speakeasies took off. Bathtub brew found its way into the homes of otherwise law-abiding citizens. The demand was there and people found a way.

But that’s not the only attempt our government has made to control the supply or distribution of something. Our so-called war on drugs is another example. We’ve seen how that has fared. It has failed. Our jails and prisons are filled with people who are users and low level pushers while the masterminds are, on the whole, untouchable.

Now we get the renewed call for more gun control laws. Do those politicians and others crying out to ban assault weapons — which is a misnomer when it comes to the weapons used by the bastard in Orlando — think that will get all the ARs and other similar weapons off the streets? Do they think it will keep black market trading of those weapons? If they do, they are either badly misinformed or they refuse to look around and see what is happening now.

Oh, but, Amanda, we need to close all the gun show loopholes.

Bullshit. Before we start worrying about that, ask yourself if we shouldn’t instead worry about how the FBI, the agency that investigated the bastard shooter multiple times, interviewing him 3 before determining there wasn’t enough evidence to think him a real threat, didn’t connect the dots when he bought the AR and Glock last week. The FBI is the agency running the background checks. The shooter was, allegedly, on the terrorist watch list. And yet intra-agency communication apparently didn’t trigger anyone to ask why this person they had been looking at might want these two weapons.

More gun control legislation isn’t what will stop tragedies like this. If the shooter truly was a radical, he would have found a way to kill as many people as he could, whether he could legally buy a gun or not. He would have gone to the black market. He would have used a bomb of some sort and that could have resulted in a great many more deaths and injuries that his guns did.

So, am I mad? Hell yes. I’m mad at those still pounding away on what happened to push their political agenda instead of paying attention to what the facts say and putting the blame where it really belongs — with the shooter and, if the allegations that he was a follower of radical Islam, with the tenets of that form of Islam. (and no, I don’t blame every follower of Islam for what happened any more than I blame every Christian for what happened in Waco so long ago.) I’m furious at the shooter. I want answers from the FBI for why it missed the signs.

It will take a long time for me to stop being angry. What happened in Orlando can’t be ignored. Nor can the causes behind it — the real causes, the ones supported by facts.

Accountability Post

Like many writers, I belong to several writing related groups. Two are in-person critique (and support) groups. There are several on-line groups as well. One of those is a private group where we don’t so much critique one another’s work as we’re there to answer questions about the process, discuss what we’re doing and why, and brainstorm. Yet there was no accountability. Until this past week when my friend and fellow blogger at Mad Genius Club, Cedar Sanderson, challenged us to set a daily writing goal AND post our daily outputs. Judging not only from how my writing has been impacted but from how others in the group have responded, that daily accountability has helped most, if not all, of us.

I’ve never been one to set a hard goal for how many words I’m going to write in a day or week. The few times I’ve tried it, it backfired on me. Life interfered or the story dried up. Something would almost always happen to stop the flow. But not this time. Now the writing is happening and, with the exception of yesterday when I only had time to blog because I had to clean house and cook and do all the stuff you do to get ready for company, I’m meeting the goal of 1,000 words a day. More than that, I’ve been blowing past that goal most days.

That’s been a great feeling, especially because I’d been stalled on Nocturnal Challenge. Perhaps that has been the difference this time. I was stalled on Challenge and had finally given up and started working on something else. Then Cedar issued her challenge and, well, Mac and Company from the Nocturnal Lives series started clamoring for my undivided attention.

(Of course, so did at least six other stories, all of which have been told to hold on. I’ll get to them shortly.)

I will admit that Nocturnal Challenge is still presenting me with challenges. For one, I’ve completely tossed the last half that I’d already written. I realized pretty quickly that I’d forced it and had forced the characters to do things they wouldn’t normally do, at least not in the situations I’d thrown them into. That was my fault. I wasn’t listening to my characters and I wasn’t trusting my gut. I had it in my head that this series would end with Challenge and, being the stubborn woman I am, I was determined to end the series with Challenge no matter what.

Only, the series can’t end here. Not unless I wind up making Challenge three books in one. Which would be okay if it was only going to be digital but it’s not. So, I had to rethink what I’d done and, much as it hurt, toss the tens of thousands of words (don’t worry, they are in another folder. I have learned never to throw anything completely away when it comes to writing. You never know when something will come in handy later.)

I’m probably two weeks away form finishing the novel. I say probably because after I finish the ending, which will be another day or two depending on how much work I can get done this weekend, I will have to go through the entire thing, making sure I have the ending properly set up in the first half. Then it will be off to the beta readers and, as soon as they finish, final edits and out to the public.

After that? I’ll be finishing up Honor from Ashes, the third book in the Honor and Duty series, and Dagger of Elanna, the sequel to Sword of Arelion. After that, well, I need to put the finishing touches on Skeletons in the Closet (yes, Amber, it is almost done.) There are a couple of other standalone projects coming up and then it will be back to the series work. So, yeah, I need accountability to keep me on track.

Oh, man, who am I kidding? I need a keeper and someone with very pointy boots to keep me on track.

In the meantime, this image is acting as quasi-inspiration for Nocturnal Challenge. The storm clouds of rebellion have been sown and life for Mac and her family and friends will never be the same.

Attraktives Prchen ber den Dchern von Tokyo

 

(Image by Carsten Bachmeyer, Dollar Photo Club)

 

Accountability post

Yesterday our critique group met and, as is usual, I asked everyone what they happened to be working on. Part of the reason I do that is so I know what might be coming in for critique for our next meeting. Another reason, the most important reason, is to hold each of us accountable for what we are doing — or not. It is very easy to say “I don’t have time to write.” And, yes, there are times when that really is true. There are times when real life becomes so busy or overwhelming there just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything that has to be done.

However, more often than not, we use the not enough time excuse as just that — an excuse. We still find time to watch TV, to play video games, to stare off into space. We hit the snooze button two or three times instead of getting up a few minutes early. You get my drift.

It isn’t that we don’t want to write. Often, when I find myself making excuses for why I don’t have time to write, it is because there is something about my current work in progress that is bothering me. It could be my subconscious telling me there is something about the plot or characters that isn’t working. It could be that I’m at that point in the story where I’m uncomfortable because it hits too close to home. It could even be that my craft has taken a step forward and things don’t quite feel like they did before. It happens to all of us. The key is finding out why.

That is sort of where I am right now. I have finished the rough drafts for two novels — one is a very big departure from what I normally do and, as a result, I’ve fought it for several years. Skeletons in the Closet is part romance, part supernatural I’m not quite sure what and part humor. I could handle the romance and supernatural part. But the humor — where it came from, I don’t know and I found myself fighting it all the way. Because it is so different from what I’ve done before, I am going to let it sit for a couple of months before going back to do my edits before sending it off to the betas. I know I need to look at it with fresh eyes and without the “WTF was I thinking?” that I still feel when looking at it right now.

The second draft that is finished — and it is in very, very rough form — is Nocturnal Serenade. I know it needs a lot of work, as in filling in descriptions, expanding some scenes, etc. By the time I finish, another 30k words or so will probably be added. If anything, this reads right now like a very detailed outline. But it is the way the book came out. I think I know why. I have been pushing to finish drafts before LibertyCon. That way they aren’t pushing on me for a few days when I know writing isn’t going to happen.

The next book I need to write is Honor from Ashes. I have the basic plot in mind but it isn’t quite there yet. Part of the problem is Dagger of Elanna, the follow-up to Sword of Arelion, is pushing to be written. Then there is the military fantasy that has been playing at the edges of my imagination for a couple of months that is finally starting to take hold.

I have a feeling, I’m going to be writing several projects at once — if I can find the time.  😉

coverSword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1)

 

 

 

 

 

Nocturnal lives boxedNocturnal Lives (Boxed Set)

 

 

 

 

VfAVengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 1)

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