Reading and Writing (NaNoWriMo Pt 2 and Waiting)

Another productive morning.

I decided to carve out a few hours each morning Tuesday – Thursday for reading and writing. And this is Day Two of that endeavour.

It’s going well. I have been productive each day – and feel as though I am getting things accomplished. Then, I reward myself with The Sopranos on A&E at 11.

No Plot? No Problem Chapter Two

In Chapter Two of Chris Baty’s 50,000-ish word book, he speaks about time – the management and mismanagement of time. In this, he challenges us to spend a few minutes writing down each activity that we have worked on throughout the day (bathing, eating, working, playing on the computer, etc) and to write down how much time we have spent on each.

We then look at our day’s activities in three categories:

  1. The required activities
  2. The highly desired activities
  3. The forgo-able activities

and figure out how much time we have spent TOTAL on the forgo-able activities. This is where we find time to write our 30-day, 50,000-word novel.

It’s up to each of us what to decide what are our forgo-able activities. For some, it might be time with family. For others it might be computer games. And for another, it might be activities that can be pawned off on someone else, like laundry or mowing the lawn.

Then, we use that time to write our 1,667 words per day.

Additionally, in this chapter, Baty writes about using friends and families as tools to keep up motivated. For some, it could mean asking people to nudge/push/shove us into our word count. For others, it might mean shame-filled incentives such as declaring yourself a 50,000-word god or goddess and having to adhere to that for fear of ridicule. And again, for others, that could mean setting up bets or monetary “punishments” for not reaching that 50,000-word goal (Baty suggests that if we fail to reach 50,000 words, we contribute a substantial amount of money to an organization we abhor to keep ourselves on task).

For me? That ever-achievable illustrious novel-writing career and the independence that offers is enough to keep me on track. I make that promise here and now. For fear of ridicule and fun-making.

Waiting by Ha Jin, Part Two

What a delicious book. Another 100 pages into the book, I am no less enthralled by it than I was at the beginning. The more words I read, the more deeply I find myself in the story and the more intrigued by the characters I become. I don’t know the ending – I have a few guesses – but the introduction to the novel promises struggles and difficulties along the way. Does Lin Kong successfully divorce his wife, Shuyu? Do he and Manna Wu stay together? And if so, are they happy? The journey is fun.

(spoiler alert) As an example, toward the end of the second part, Manna is violently raped by a former-officer and friend of Lin . This plot twist was not surprising to me as I expected this (plot-wise, I didn’t feel as though her much-discussed virginity would remain intact throughout the novel and Lin and her chaste relationship).

However, I was not disappointed by this plot “twist.” I was pulled into this piece of the story as much as I have been by every other plot point to date. It was done well, with grace, enough violence to jar me, but not so much that I feel that it is used for shock value.

However, the “repercussions” of the rape are jarring. Manna’s apologies to Lin about putting herself into that situation and losing her virginity is are unsettling. His reaction (wonderfully out of character) is surprising. And the reactions of Manna’s colleagues and friends are abhorrent, yet feel correct for the place, the time, and the political environment.

I look forward to the remaining pages with glee. I can’t wait until tomorrow to finish the book. Ha Jin has put together a wonderful piece of literature. I hope the last 1/3 of the book does not disappoint.

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