Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NaNo NaNo

At long last NaNo seems to be progressing apace. If this continues this may be the first Nano (National Novel Writing Month for those who haven't run into it before) where I'm not desperately behind in word count in the last few days. Fifty-thousand words in thirty days is a pretty doable amount if you write every day, but if you skip a few it turns into a monster pretty quickly. For last years Nano I was so far behind I had all but given up coming into the last three days. I had more than 12,000 words to go, and little time during the day to write.

Then a rather nasty miracle happened. My kids got sick sequentially. I spent three nights running, up all night, but mostly unoccupied. I was hanging out in the guest bedroom (also my office) with whichever kid was sick. They would sack out on the bed, and I would type while waiting for the next round of vomiting. Three days later, I was absolutely staggering, but I had also managed to stagger over my 50,000 word mark. Of course many of those 12,000+ words had to be discarded for complete incoherency, but for Nano purposes, they counted!

This year it's looking completely different. I'm not only on my count, I'm actually ahead. I'm over 35,000 words - so only 15,000 words to go, and more than a week left in the month! I should pass 40,000 words by the time we get to my in-laws on Wednesday, and if I can't hack out 10,000 words in four days of hanging around in my Mother-in-laws living room, I should give up on this writing idea. Which would (gasp!) finish my word count three days early. I'm even happy with how the story is developing. It's been interesting attempting to draw a character with aphasia. So much of character in stories is done with dialogue that it's a challenge to have to work entirely in other ways, but I think I've made a good start of it.

My next challenge is to try to fit an exposition on the Lundehund (the Norwegian puffin-hunting dog) into the story somewhere. Nano challenges are traditional, and mine this year, courtesy of L, is to fit all the articles I write for Damn Interesting! into the text somewhere. This prevents me from losing possible word count to the need to create articles instead of novel, but also makes necessary some very strange plot twists. Such as when a minor character got turned into an antipope and then murdered. They seem to be working out though. In my experience from two previous Nanos, the weird plot things you do for challenges often end up being the best, most distinctive parts of the book. Like the 500 year old lawyer in Ghost Dancer that resulted from L's challenge to include a character from her book (set in the modern day) in my book (set in the twenty-eigth century).

Of course, L makes me look like a complete slacker. She passed 50,000 words on day 13. Stinker.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More Teaching

Sensei is out of town for the rest of this week, so K - the other senior adult - and I will be covering the classes. I only found this out Tuesday - so I haven't had a chance to prepare, but I also haven't had a chance to get nervous.

The other thing that cropped up as a possibility (after the new year), is that Sensei may not be able to make some of the scheduled class times on a regular basis, and would need me and/or Karen to simply take over teaching those classes most weeks.

I told him I was willing, and I am, but the idea of being responsible for a regular class is a bit intimidating yet. So I am at one and the same time both scared and extremely flattered. That Sensei trusts me sufficiently to be willing to turn over a weekly class if necessary is a good feeling. (Though is it horrible that I also thought, somewhat gleefully, that teaching the class would also likely lead to testing for purple soon? I feel ready for the test, so I'm mostly waiting on Sensei to decide to let me take it.)

On the other hand, I'm really hoping that whatever the conflict is doesn't turn out to be something negative for Sensei. He didn't say anything definite, but his very reticence is a little alarming.

It's a good thing all this is happening in Nano month (26,000 words and counting!). I'm too damn busy to stew over it the way I would normally. I'm eating up all my time trying to figure out how the antipope gets killed!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lennox Legacy

Well, I'm back from Ohio and the Lennox Legacy Tournament. We had six people in all show up from our dojo, which is the most I've seen even in local tournaments. That we got that many to a tournament six hours away seems quite miraculous.

The tournament was a lot bigger this year than last. Last year there were five contenders in adult intermediate kata (men & women combined). This year we had almost a dozen. Last year there were two of us in women's adult intermediate kumite. This year there were eight of us.

I'm satisfied, though not thrilled with results. Personally I took a third in weapons (which I am thrilled about), was middle of the pack in kata (which is fine considering how new I am to this kata), and nowhere in kumite. Both of us adults from my dojo finished nowhere in kumite, probably due to the lack of practice lately, plus the small number of adult students in the dojo to practice on. We felt reasonably encouraged though, as none of the fighters in our division seemed out of reach to us. They weren't faster, or more skilled particularly, they just adjusted for our fighting style faster than we did for theirs.

There was one guy in the intermediate adult ring who was majorly impressive though. He took gold in kata, in weapons, and in the mens kumite. Nice guy too - so if anyone knows Taz, tell him congratulations!

The kids had a mixed day - we had two beginner little girls, and two pre-teen boys - one intermediate, one advanced. There was a mix-up in the beginners 8-11 ring, and several competitors were allowed in who belonged in the intermediate or advanced rings. Seriously, there was a brown belt in the beginner's ring. As a result one of our girls took 4th. Had the more advanced people been removed, she would definitely have medalled. Our intermediate guy took a medal in kata, as did the advanced guy. One took 2nd and one took 3rd, but I'm not sure which was which.

The only disaster of the day was with advanced 8-11 fighting. The coordinators moved which ring the kumite was in, after the kata had finished, and they failed to announce it over the loudspeakers. Since our advanced boy had wandered over to the ring next door to watch the intermediate boy fight, he missed the switch, and was not allowed to fight, which upset him terribly. He would likely have done well, too. We have a plethora of intermediate-to-advanced preteens in our dojo, so they get the kind of varied fighting practice the adults don't, and generally do quite well in tournaments. I do wish they would be more careful about that sort of thing in the kids' rings. If there's a screw-up with the adults, that's one thing, we can deal. For the kids it can feel like the end of the world.

After the tournament there was a bo seminar by Hanchi-dan Duessel. It was fascinating, and I learned a lot, though I came away feeling like my head was just stuffed. There were some distinctly odd moments though, as the bulk of the participants were black belts, some quite advanced, and Sensei Duessel spent a good deal of the seminar instructing them (quite severely) on how to properly go about teaching bo. He appears to take quite personally the general failure of Isshin-ryu dojos to properly teach weapons' basics before starting the students in on kata. We did cover a lot of the basics in the process of showing how to teach, though, so there was plenty there at my level for me to bring away and work with.

All-in-all I had a great time. The more people I meet in the larger Isshin-ryu community, the more comfortable I get at these events, and the more I enjoy them. Of course it would be nice to start walking off with more medals, but in the meanwhile I'm enjoying myself anyway.