Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pages and Popcorn

After school and a quick trip to pick up milk and eggs, I talked the children into watching Speed Racer with me. Meaning, of course, I stood in the living room and called, "Who wants popcorn and a movie?" It's like a magic child summoning spell. As opposed to the non-magic kind of spell I suppose. Sweetling started getting the movie set up while I went into the kitchen to make the popcorn.

Yes, we have bags of microwaveable popcorn, but for some reason, I wanted to make it. I put the butter in the microwave, trying to ignore how much butter was soon to be poured over our snack. I got down the Whirley Pop pan, put in the tablespoon of oil, and poured in the 2/3rds cup of kernels. While I was working, I was thinking. How many typed, single-space pages is 1667 words anyway? Five hundred words per page seemed like a reasonable estimate. So, 50,000 words is like, what, 100 pages? One hundred pages is a completely obtainable goal. It didn't even sound like that much. Surely I did some math wrong.

I stood there, redoing my math in my mind and twirling the handle of the whirley pop. And, in fact, I did do some math wrong. The Whirley Pop takes 1/3rd cup of kernels, not 2/3rds. I became aware of this fact when the kernels were well into their popping process. Suddenly the whirley pop handle would no longer turn. The whirley pop lid opened of its own accorded and began spewing out popcorn. I very sensibly shrieked, and then turned off the heat. Did you know that popcorn in a hot pan will continue to pop even when the gas flame is extinguished? I grabbed a bowl to pour the excess popcorn into...and discovered that the popcorn, while quick to spill over the pan, onto my stovetop and onto my floor, was strangely resistant to being poured out of the pan. Contrary stuff. Apparently, before the popcorn pushes its way out of the pan, it first fills up every available space inside the pan. I had to pry the popcorn out with the end of a spatula. (And yet, once out of its confinement, it was once again fluffy.) I poured more tablespoons of butter over the popcorn than I want to own up to, and headed off to watch Speed Racer.

Despite the fact that we had two large bowls of popcorn (there was too much to fit in our normal popcorn bowl), Sweetling wanted a cinnamon roll mid-way through the movie. Noticing that it was nearly 5pm, I told Sweetling she needed to have dinner first. Cause, you know, responsible parent and all. But cinnamon rolls sounded really good. So, still being the responsible parent, I made us some scrambled eggs and we had cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs for dinner while we watched more Speed Racer.

The Jedi came home at about half-past five. He said, "It smells like popcorn in here."

"Yes," I agreed. "I made some."

"For dinner?" he asks...and for some reason looks puzzled.

"With cinnamon rolls," I clarify.

"Ok, Charlie Brown." And the Jedi headed downstairs to his computer, which is so much more logical than his wife. (I later offered to make the Jedi some scrambled eggs too; he elected to eat cold leftover chicken instead.)

I decided that this was probably not the best time to ask the Jedi what he thought of National Novel Writing Month. I saved that discussion for after Tae Kwon Do. It went like this...

"So, there's this...thing...called National Novel Writing Month."

Blank stare.

"And the goal is to crank out 50,000 words in a month."

"To write a book in a month?" comes the incredulous clarification.

"No, no, no. Not a book. Just 50,000 words of a story. Not in a publishable format. Just a free-writing, really."

"How many college papers is that equal too?"

"Well," I say, impressed with my mathematical foresight, "a doublespaced page averages about 250 words. I'll just be single spacing my writing, so that's about 500 words a page I think."

"So, about 100 pages."

"Yes!" I'm thrilled that my math wasn't completely off. But I'm more thrilled with how easy that goal sounds.

"That's like 3 pages every day."

"Uh-huh," I agree, still happy.

"Every day," stresses the sensible Jedi.

"Well, yes, it will be the every day part that will be difficult, but I can crank out that much writing for any of my little board rps when I'm involved in them." (This isn't quite true....just ask Christopher Robin how many days it takes me to get around to posting. But, the Jedi doesn't need to know all the nitty gritty details. After all, reality is already on his side. Sooner or later it will swing around and make his point for him.)

Here's my bio from my user profile on the NaNoWriMo site:
This is my first year attempting the NaNo. I think I'm doing it, just to know that I have done it. I attempted natural child birth for the same reason. There are just times that I need to prove to myself that I can do it. I'm strong enough. I'm capable enough. I started Tae Kwon Do in August for a similar reason. I needed to know that I was tough enough to spar with the men who were double my weight, that I could stand my ground against a bigger, stronger opponent.

That makes me sound like a tough, determined individual. The thing is...most of the time I'm soft-spoken, gentle, fun-loving. I teach preschool and walk through the halls of the church with a chipmunk puppet. I participate in praise dance and wear a flowing white dress. I throw the crusts of my toast out for the birdies. I pick up fall leaves and press them in my phone book. I spend my day homeschooling my two precious children.

I'm not a hard, do-or-die type of person. But every now and then, its good to know that I can kick through a board. (Even if I did kick the instructors three times before I nailed my board.) And so....50,000 words. Here I go.

Now my question is....do I want to make a separate blog for my NaNo story? I'm never going to actually get this writing in any shape to submit to a publisher. And I'm missing a few critical elements, like, you know... a plot. So, I'm not writing with the goal of maybe polishing it up and selling it. But, if I'm going to write 50,000 words, I'd like someone to read them, maybe. So, should I post my story on a blog? What do you think?

ps...all of that was 1,123 words.


Missy said...

About Elfie

Location: Cincinnati, OH

Favorite novels: This is an unfair question. I am restricting my answer to favorite novels I've read in the past 3 months: A Hero of Our Time, The Canterbury Tales, 1000 Acres, The Road

Favorite writers: (Warning, this list includes plenty of non fiction writers): William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, John Donne, Richard Rodriguez, Simone de Beauvoir, George Saunders, Michel Foucault, Cormac McCarthy , Toni Morrison, and of course, Douglas Adams

Favorite music: The Firebird Suite

Non-noveling interests: cooking, baking, eating, painting, ballroom dancing

Joined: October 29, 2008

This Year: Official Participant

Brief Author Bio:

This is me supporting my sister. See, sister? Support. It's her first year attempting the NaNoWriMo, and it's certainly mine. I'm an academic by both trade and passion, and for some reason I've decided that my November should become even more chaotic. So in addition to my critical essay duties, I'm going to try my hand at this creative hocus pocus.

Call this a foolish act of bravery and exercise in humility (those who know me may doubt the latter). It's bravery because it's new: I'm very comfortable in my world of sources and annotated bibliographies. I love my pages of well-documented and painstakingly refined arguments and interpretive frameworks. Creative Writing is a very foreign landscape without any of those comforting markers. Creative Writing is a world of whim, fancy, and personhood--as the great Philip Sydney (yes, Im -that- sort of a canon academic) said--poets create a zodiac of their own wit. This is an exercise in humility because my wit mind leave me with a blank and boring sky.

To November! A month of the GREs, my first colloquium as a presenter, a term paper on Foucault and Fairytales, and just maybe, my first fifty thousand words of fiction.

((p.s--this is an anonymous comment because google doesn't think I'm me. Ive tried every password combination known to man--ARGH!))

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. Word. Your serious about this? I was just sitting back thinking "oh, she's just muling something around in her head and reality will set in at any moment." I should have known.

I mentioned this to my husband and hinted that it sounded like fun. The look he gave me implied I should never mention it again. It took eight years, but I think he's figured out he probably should attempt to take the food away from me before I try to bite more than I can chew. And believe me, I most definitely would have choked on this one.

More power to ya',
Many Blessings,

P.S. Don't you worry, Girl, you have the "Cool Visa" Award. I'll let the blogosphere know...just as soon as I have a third person admit they have actually read my blog more than once. Reading my blog twice would count as a "faithful reader" in my book, don't ya think?