The NaNoWriMo Seven Day Stretch

Sometimes the creative process is like a muscle. The more you work with it, the stronger and more efficient it becomes.

For the uninitiated, National Novel Writing Month begins its annual creep on the collective soul of the writing community on November 1st. I’ve done a lot of writing over the last few years, yet NaNoWriMo and I have always passed one another like two joggers trying to squeeze down the same path, huffing away in separate directions and desperately avoiding any sticky sweat-to-sweat contact. This year, however, I’ve decided to commit to the very first NaNoWriMo of my writing career. I shall henceforth offer up my heart (and free time, social life, sleep cycle, etc.) to the spirit of November, for her to break as she pleases.

What does that mean? It means that if I’m going to take on this marathon, I’d better hit the gym.

Jump rope fail

Metaphorically, because I’m a writer and sweating is hard.

As a prelude to November and as a personal challenge, I’ll spend October 1st – 7th with the same word count goal as a typical NaNoWriMo day in November. That means producing an average of 1667 words a day and taking all the stress that comes with it. When NaNo hits me like a truck come November 1st, I hope this exercise will give me an idea of how to keep crawling along to the finish line.

So, uh, wish me luck? I might need a lot of it. And to all you WriMos out there gearing up for November, best of luck to you as well.

– K.

Hooray sports! Do the thing. Win the points.

Like this! But in a quiet place by yourself with a word processor.

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Three Libraries, Three Days

I live in Japan, where we were recently graced with a three-day weekend. (Thank you, Respect for the Aged Day!) As the three-day weekend is the unpublished author’s holy grail of productivity, I was determined to make the best use of mine.

The Master Plan: Three libraries. Three days. No mercy.

Perfect! In theory, at least. In practice? Well…

Day 1: Kiryu City Public Library, Main Branch

After biking down and having lunch at a cafe in town, I parked in a lot that was pleasant, spacious and accented with the natural beauty of greenery. Unfortunately, the parking lot was the prettiest thing about this building. It was a whitewashed rectangle with no distinctive qualities. Being in Japan, the “whitewashed” exterior was actually many gross shades of tarnished brown, because pressure washers aren’t really a thing here. Oh well.

Kiryu Public Library Building

Isn’t it lovely?

I had to pass through a shadowy cavern created by the veranda above to get to the library doors. The interior had a vaulted ceiling and unflattering yellow florescent lights, like a warehouse straight out of 1953. The bathrooms seemed about as old, with nary a western toilet to be found. Even in their (relative) cleanliness, they had absorbed the pee-smell of the ages and even walking down the hallway made we want to pinch my nose.

As for the amenities, computers were not allowed in the study room, so I found a seat at the end of one of the stacks and set up with my laptop. Once my document was booted up, one of the library employees came up and told me I couldn’t actually use a computer there. She directed me up to some sketchy table near a rack of CDs from the 80s and so I tried to work there instead. I actually ended up getting a good chunk of work done, but as I was to find out, readily available plugs are not really a thing encouraged in Japanese public libraries, so I had to pack up and go when my battery called it quits.

I ended up finishing my goal for the day in a small cafe where I knew I could plug in, and enjoyed a delicious mango parfait while I wrote. The music got annoying after a while, especially when the songs started repeating, but at least they had electricity!

Verdict – 2/5

Kiryu Library Interior

Fun Fact: Used as a background in the anime Aku no Hana.

Kiryu Library in Aku no Hana

Which makes it at least 200% creepier…

Day 2: Midori City Public Library, Omama Branch

This library was the closest to my house and I’d been here before in a book-borrowing capacity, though I’d never brought my computer and sat down to work. It was a Sunday and relatively crowded on the bottom floor where the stacks were, so I retreated upstairs. The study room, like the previous one, didn’t allow computers, but I settled in a nice lounge area that had (gasp!) open plugs. There weren’t any proper desks or tables, but the couches were comfortable enough and what is a laptop for if not to put in one’s lap?

Midori City Public Library, Omama Branch

Pretty flowers!

My peace lasted about five minutes before two high school girls came upstairs, parked on one of the other couches and proceeded to blab to one another for the next couple of hours. This was partially my fault, as it was one of the areas marked okay for talking. It also happened to be the defacto lunch/snacking area. The worst part were the kids who came upstairs about an hour into my session and not only talked in voices far too loud for a library, but decided to play keep-away with their friends wallets until a library employee came by to shush them.

Verdict – 3.5/5

Day 3: Takasaki City Public Library, Chuo Branch

Biked to the station in the middle of a typhoon to catch the train. Soaked through my coat and “waterproof” pants before I got there. Had to buy a new raincoat and a new pair of pants. Got yelled at for trying to use a computer in a non-designated area. Again. No plugs to recharge my battery. Friend I was supposed to meet for lunch cancelled via Facebook (psa: not everyone has a smartphone) after I’d already left on the train instead of texting my phone or actually calling me. Restaurant was closed anyway. Had to walk back to the station in gale force winds and soggy everything.

Face down in the rain. Yup.

Verdict – 0/5

Things I Learned: Home might be distracting, but at least the only people talking are the ones in my head, there is always electricity and the pants are optional.

Hello World

I have a paralyzing fear of introduction posts, so please bear with me. If at any point during the program I sink to the floor and curl up underneath a desk, I promise I’m not having a panic attack. That’s just how I deal with tense social situations.

This cat may be watching ping pong.

Overstimulated and under prepared. This is the story of my life.

Oh, look! A cat! Phew. Well, at least now the pressure’s off.

I’m Kathryn Tanquary, currently of Midori City, Japan and formerly of Portland, Oregon. I write novels about fantastic creatures, mysterious powers and characters who are both flawed and fabulous at the same time. As of this posting, I have finished two manuscripts, one of which I am polishing for submission.

Though I’ve been a longtime denizen of the internet, lurking has been my primary specialty. I’m really good at that. Like, scary good. But I’m trying this blog business so I can finally start posting those comments I only ever compose in my head, which I feel is a far better option than saying them aloud to my empty room like a crazy person. There are so many amazing people doing amazing things, I want to stalk them all and learn their magics. And thus I poke my head out of my comfy blanket of anonymity and crawl into glaring light of the internet.

Look on my words, ye many, and… uh… maybe drop by and say ‘hi,’ I guess?

– K.