until NaNoWriMo 2012 ends!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NaNoWriMo SunSal Recap

For those who have been following along with my NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation sequence posts, the sequence is now completed. Check out this link to view all of the posts together.

Asana 20 - Mountain Pose


NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 20
The journey has come full circle as every ending is a new beginning.

Each sun salutation sequence flows into the next -- or into the time to sit down at my computer and write!

November flows into December and my focus shifts, but new adventures begin.

Will my NaNovel be an irredeemable mess? Or will December see me plunging into a new month filled with massive re-writes and edits to polish November's gem until it shines?

I'm not going to make a prediction at this point. Simply embrace the challenge, enjoy the wild ride and see where this journey takes me.

To all of you out there participating in the NaNoWriMo adventure with me this year, I wish you the very best of luck, good health, restful sleep and wild creative energy.

Stand tall, head held high, eyes on the horizon. Commit to the journey and dive in!


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Asana 19 - Extended Mountain Pose

(Urdhva Hastasana)

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 19
This is the victory pose.

With a strong final push -- carried by the inner strength I have built throughout this journey -- I surge up out of thunderbolt into my tallest, strongest mountain.

The final Urdhva Hastasana represents the zenith of my journey, the pinnacle of success and achievement.

My eyes look up.

I revel in the glory of newfound length.

And enjoy sweet victory.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Asana 18 - Thunderbolt


NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 18

Look Ma! No hands this time!

Because I am strong.
I am powerful.
I can do this.
I will do this.
I am doing this!

Asana 17 - Halfway Lift

(Urdhva Mukha Uttanasana)

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 17
The homeward stretch.

I rise refreshed, almost levitating into a long, flat back.

All of the pieces come together, the final kinks are ironed out.

The crowd, awaiting at the finish line begins its roar.

I am awake and alive.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Asana 16 - Standing Forward Fold


NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 16
Time for a playful, energizing rest!

My back leg steps powerfully into Uttanasana, tail bone shoots for the stars, and spine hangs long and relaxed, the crown of my head reaching towards mother Earth for a revitalizing drink as I look back along my path and marvel at how far I have come.

Uttanasana is also looking inwards toward the self. Revelling in the strength and beauty, creativity and passion which resides within -- and remembering my holy responsibility to love and nurture myself.

Don't force the journey. Work hard. Play hard. And rest. Keep well-hydrated. Stand up and stretch. Eat healthy food to feed body and mind. A writer well cared for is a happy, successful writer.

Asana 15 - Standing Lunge

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 15

The third and final lunge in my Sun Salutation sequence is the longest and strongest yet. Eyes return to the horizon -- now the finish line is in sight!

Asana 14 - Twisted Lunge

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 14

I love to incorporate this beautiful spinal twist into my sun salutations. It's dramatic and sensuous as I slide my hand up the outside of my shin, opening my heart space and reaching up for the sky. Voila!

Twists are a reminder that life -- and novelling -- isn't all just about the straight and narrow. Allow the plot to explore unexpected places. Allow the characters to take on lives of their own. Open up and learn from your own story how to make it stronger.

Asana 13 - Standing Lunge

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 13

The second lunge in my Sun Salutation sequence is about taking great leaps forward. I soften my knees and sink back into my haunches, drawing on my powerful legs to drive that lunging leg right up between my hands.

My chest lifts forward, proud. My body (of work) continues to lengthen, back leg long and strong behind me. Eyes are on the horizon once more, facing the road ahead straight on.

Asana 12 - Downward Facing Dog

(Adho Mukha Svanasana)

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 12

Downward Facing Dog is the quintessential love-it-or-hate-it pose. When I'm on top of my game, well-rested, well-hydrated, strong, I could hang out in down dog for ages, continually lengthening, strengthening and deepening into the pose. When I'm tired and cranky and weak, I fight the pose, wanting it to be over NOW.

Are you a lover or a fighter?

By this point in my NaNoWriMo quest, I aim to be well ahead of the game. Strong. Confident. Enjoying the journey.

Asana 11 - Upward Facing Dog

(Urdvha Mukha Svanasana)

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 11

I love Urdvha Mukha Svanasana. It's a glorious stretch for the whole front of the body, awakening flexibility for the spine, and powerful toning of the thighs and buttocks.

Upward Facing Dog is also the "breakthrough pose". The darkest hour is past. The grit and determination that carried me through Plank Pose and Crocodile have paid off as I rise up to greet the dawning sunshine.

Up Dog is over the hump. The journey home from this point is joyful and fun, revelling in the strength of poses and words laid out behind me.

NaNoWriMo Bear

This guy is so cute!

NaNoWriMo Bear

Teddy bears are a long-standing tradition in Second Life and now, thanks to team member Ziggy Quirk, the SL Wrimos have our very own bear, complete with his own NaNoWriMo participant badge, NaNoWriMo 2007 pencil and his own little auto-biographical story which reads:

Once upon a time there was
a toy bear sitting on an
avatar's shoulder.

The view was okay, and the
company was great,
but there was never going
to be enough coffee
to write 50,000 words
in a month.

I'm not a coffee-drinker myself, but I am a south paw and was tickled to see that Wrimo Bear is too! (It's not easy to come by left-handed stuff in Second Life.)

Survey Says

The polls are closed and the votes in. The new title of the SL Wrimos' group adventure story is:

All My Avatars

A slow starter in this race, "All My Avatars" came from behind to edge out "As the Grid Lags" and "Bytes of Our Second Lives" on the final day of voting. It was a very close vote however, so I have decided to keep the (tied for) second choice titles as our story's alternate and sub titles. (Condolences to those who voted for "The Ruthed and the Restless". I thought that one was pretty funny myself, but I guess it's a little too esoteric for the unwashed masses.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

As Yet Untitled

The start of novelling craziness is less than a week away.

I have finally found some other NaNovelists in my geographical region.

I posted in the regional forums over three weeks ago, looking for other local Wrimos and last week I sent a poster around to all of the public libraries in my region, inviting other Wrimos to connect with me.

My first response came on October 16th from someone who said she didn't think there were too many of us in this area, but she was and hello. Then today, another forum poster who claims that the NaNoWriMo crowd in our region is alive and well and they have meetings planned -- but then declined to post details of said meetings in the official forums.

Ah well. I have a strong writing team in the metaverse.

The SL Wrimos are 81 members strong as of this writing and still growing. So far, we have two meetings per week planned from now through the end of November and a wrap party (otherwise known as the "Thank Goodness It's Over" party) for the first weekend in December (and, unlike certain of the meatspace regional groups who apparently wish to remain insular and closed to new blood, we do post the times, locations and agendas of our meetings to our thread in the official NaNoWriMo forums as well as in the group notices of our open enrollment Second Life group).

The SL Wrimos even have our own blog! It's not so much a web log in the traditional sense. It's a group story which some of us are creating together -- a bit of craziness about Second Life -- just for fun.

SL Wrimos Team Blog

The SL Wrimos blog/group story doesn't have a title yet. If you hurry, you can help us decide what our title will be. The poll closes in a few short hours and, so far, the competition is fierce. "All My Avatars" has just pulled into a slim 11th hour lead over early favourites "As the Grid Lags" and "Bytes of Our Second Lives" but "The Ruthed and the Restless" is still in the running. Visit our as yet untitled adventures to vote for your favourite and check back often to see what sorts of scrapes Newton Newbie and his friends have gotten themselves into most recently.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Second Life Wrimos

One of the key factors of NaNoWriMo is the companionship between writers who are participating in the experience together. There is an active NaNoWriMo group in my old town, but not so far in my current town -- so I decided to start an online group in my virtual world. Thus was born the SL Wrimos.

As of this writing, the SL Wrimos are 45 members strong. These are all current Wrimos, participating in the 2007 challenge, who have joined the group in the past two weeks. Compared to the regional groups listed on the official NaNoWriMo web site, we stack up as a fairly decently sized crowd. (The regional groups listed on the official NaNoWriMo web site include new sign-ups, returning participants and dead wood -- participants from last year who are not participating in the challenge this year but have not yet been purged from the NaNoWriMo database. Remove the dead wood from the regional groups, and our little team of metaverse writers looks even bigger.)

The SL Wrimos are planning several different types of meet-ups in November to help us all help one another to achieve NaNoWriMo success. Meeting themes proposed so far include:

Downtime Dips - a chance to relax in my hot tub in a peaceful park setting and chat about anything but NaNoWriMo.

Koffee Klatches - a social get together in an in-world café where any topic (NaNo or not) goes.

Reading Circles - Wrimos read excerpts from their work-in-progress to the group. Group members provide positive feedback and comments. (Remembering that November is not the month to get too critical.) Authors may also wish to ask questions of the group regarding specific aspects of their stories.

Block Busters - suffering from writer's block? Explain your stumbling block to the team and we'll all brainstorm together ideas for a way out. (This could be a great creativity-inducing exercise for all Wrimos, not just those who are struggling with a block.)

Write-Ins - a staple of NaNo writing groups. Team members get together in-world for speed writing sessions and challenges and to cheer one another on for their progress during the session.

We also have members who are creating in-world builds and scripting cool gadgets dedicated to NaNoWriMo. There will be a NaNoWriMo school bus in the sLiterary sim which will track the combined word-count of all SL Wrimos, and I'm hoping to put together "titlers" which will enable SL Wrimos to proudly display their current individual word count above their avatar's head. Additionally, all SL Wrimos receive this fabulously stylish t-shirt upon joining the group:

Rainbow sporting the fashionable SL Wrimos T

(Now I know I've got you hooked because every avatar needs another free digital t-shirt!)

What are you waiting for? If you're participating in NaNoWriMo this year and you have a Second Life account, come and join us in-world for some NaNovelling fun and support. Look us up in search (Search -- Groups -- SL Wrimos) or IM Rainbow Drake for a group invite.

Write on!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Price of Democracy is Eternal Vigilance

Never before has this statement of Jefferson’s rung so clearly and truthfully for me as it has throughout the discussions and events leading up to tomorrow’s Referendum in Ontario.

On October 10th, 2007, voters in Ontario will be asked to vote on the question:

“Which electoral system should Ontario use to elect members to the provincial legislature?”

The only choices we will be given as possible answers are:

“The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post)”


“The alternate electoral system proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly (Mixed Member Proportional)”

As can be expected with any referendum question, much has been written on both sides of the debate concerning the pros and cons of the proposed choices.

To read arguments in favour of the proposed MMP system, I direct you to the Vote for MMP web site:

To read arguments against the proposed MMP system, I direct you to the No MMP web site:

Remembering Jefferson’s caution to us all, I implore you to read arguments from both sides of the debate. The pro-MMP faction, as can be expected, have a tendency to cherry-pick the statistics and examples which prove their case: that MMP would be good for Ontario. Similarly, the anti-MMP side tend to highlight statistics and examples which prove their point: that the MMP system proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly would be bad for Ontario. In order to separate the propaganda from the facts, it is indeed necessary to remain vigilant, and a thorough examination of both sides of the debate will assist in this task.

It is necessary to remain vigilant not only when examining the two options being presented to us in tomorrow’s Referendum, but also when examining the question itself, why it is being presented to the Ontario electorate at this time, and what a vote in either direction will mean for the people of Ontario.

On April 18, 2007, Bill 155, Electoral System Referendum Act, 2007 received Royal Assent and became law in the province of Ontario. This new law required that:

“If the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform recommends the adoption of an electoral system different from Ontario’s current one, a referendum on the recommended electoral system shall be held in conjunction with the 2007 general election." 2007, c. 1, s. 2.

Bill 155 also required that:

“The result of the referendum is binding if the recommended electoral system is selected in,

(a) at least 60 per cent of all the valid referendum ballots cast; and

(b) more than 50 per cent of the valid referendum ballots cast in each of at least 64 electoral districts." 2007, c. 1, s. 4.

and that:

“If the result of the referendum is binding, the government that is formed as a result of the 2007 general election shall, on or before December 31, 2008, introduce legislation to adopt the recommended electoral system." 2007, c. 1, s. 5.

On May 15, 2007, the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform did recommend the adoption of an electoral system different from Ontario’s current system, therefore, a referendum on their recommended system is being held in conjunction with the 2007 general election tomorrow, as required by law.

Section 4 of Bill 155 sets out the conditions under which tomorrow’s referendum will pass (the result of the referendum be binding) and section 5 details new legislation which our new government will be required under law to adopt if the result of the referendum is binding. It is important to note that, if the result of the referendum is not binding, there would be no mandate for the government to enact electoral reform but neither would there be a mandate to maintain the status quo.

In this respect, the wording of the Referendum question is somewhat problematic. On the surface, it may appear that voters are being asked to choose our current system or to choose the Citizens’ Assembly’s proposed alternative, but this is not the case. We are simply being asked to accept or reject the Citizens’ Assembly’s proposal.

Certain supporters of the Citizens’ Assembly’s proposal would have you believe otherwise.

In TV Ontario’s biassed discussion of MMP vs. FPTP moderated by Steve Paikin on The Agenda, Rick Anderson attempted to convince us that it is “disingenuous” for voters to admit that there are problems with the current system and yet still be against the system proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly.

"There's the status quo,” said Mr. Anderson, “If you like it, defend it. If you don't, there's an alternative and that's called MMP."

Similarly, in the same program, Marilyn Churley calls out to young people, “This is your chance to change the system. It’s a once in a lifetime (perhaps) opportunity.”

Eternal vigilance indeed.

The fact is, it’s not people who seek to make a better change than what has been proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly who are being disingenuous, it’s people like Mr. Anderson and Ms. Churley, who are attempting to manipulate us into voting for an obviously flawed proposal by convincing us it is our only chance for electoral reform. It is not.

Selecting “The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post)” on tomorrow’s Referendum does not hand the government a mandate to keep the current system. It simply says that you don’t want to trade the current system in for one that would be worse.

If you don’t like the current system, there is more than one alternative. If you vote against the proposal submitted by the Citizens’ Assembly, you will still have opportunities to change the system –- opportunities to change the system for the better. Don’t be bullied into voting for an electoral system that you don’t want.

To recap:

If the proposed MMP system receives enough votes in tomorrow’s Referendum as detailed by section 4 of the Electoral System Referendum Act, 2007, our new government will be mandated by law to implement that proposed system and all of it’s flaws.

If the people of Ontario vote against the system proposed on tomorrow’s ballot, we can continue to fight for positive electoral reform. We can stand together and demand that the government of Ontario reconsider the issue and listen to all of our voices next time around. We can make a difference. We can get it right.

TVO Debate Debacle

Last night I watched TVO’s re-broadcast of its September 27th episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin. I was appalled.

The episode was entitled “MMP vs. FPTP” and was billed by Mr. Paikin as a debate on the merits of electoral reform.

Mr. Paikin introduced the episode with the question “Is our electoral system broken?” but then clearly framed the entire episode and “debate” from the perspective that his question had already been answered in the affirmative.

Following Mr. Paikin’s “Tonight on The Agenda” introduction, the episode cuts to a video montage during which we are subjected to a TVO voice-over which begins with the citing of two of the pro-MMP faction’s major complaints against our current First Past the Post system, then repeats Mr. Paikin’s “Is our electoral system broken?” question. The montage then cuts to a video clip explaining what Wednesday’s referendum question is, introduced with the voice over, “The vote on how we vote,” and followed up with an additional voice over question, “Which electoral system is right for Ontario?” The next clip in the montage is a propaganda video from

None of the guests invited to “debate” the proposed question for the evening had spoken at this point, yet Steve Paikin and TV Ontario had already given us their answer to their own question.

Following the montage, a general introduction of the studio audience, and an invitation to the at-home audience to submit questions and comments via email, the guest panellists were introduced.

Rick Anderson was introduced first and correctly identified by Steve Paikin as “representing the vote for MMP”. Marilyn Churley was introduced next, again correctly identified as “also in favour of the new proposal”. Sheila Copps was introduced third, her opinion on the question not given. Then David Fleet was introduced by Mr. Paikin as being “also on the no MMP side” (from which we can infer that Ms. Copps is as well, and Mr. Paikin is correct on both counts). Finally, Mr. Paikin introduces the fifth member of the panel with the following words:

"And of course we need somebody who will come right up the middle and explain some of this craziness to us, Dennis Pilon, is here. [aside] Adam, if you would, let me see Dennis' book, I promised I'd show it. [end aside] He's from the University of Victoria. The Politics of Voting: Reforming Canada's Electoral System. I hope you sell 10,000 copies."

Steve Paikin introduced Mr. Pilon as an impartial expert on the topic at hand, yet Dennis Pilon is anything but impartial on the question of Electoral reform.

The Edmond Montgomery Publications (publisher of Mr. Pilon’s book) web site, in its overview of The Politics of Voting, states:

“Pilon explains why our current system fails to provide Canadians with proper democratic representation, and examines the myths and political influences that have held back change.”

Additionally, if you GoogleDennis Pilon”, you will find several other examples of his speaking out in favour of the proposed MMP system and against our current system. Clearly his is not an unbiased voice - yet Mr. Paikin attempted to manipulate us into believing that it was and gave Mr. Pilon special status on the panel as the only academic. The anti-MMP vote was given no academic voice on the panel.

The “debate” itself proceeded in this same vein, with Mr. Paikin continuing to demonstrate his pro-MMP bias throughout. For some reason, I had expected better of TV Ontario.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Asana 10 - Crocodile

(Chaturanga Dandasana)

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 10

Chaturanga Dandasana is time to dig in.

It's grit.
A calm, focussed mind.
A steady breath.
Perseverance through strength of will.

Crocodile is the Fire in the Belly pose.
It's the Long Dark Night of the Soul.

No matter how dark things get. No matter how murky the road ahead. No matter how tired you feel...


Asana 9 - Plank Pose


NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 9

Plank Pose is where things start to heat up.

It's easy to let go in this pose, allowing the belly to sag and the shoulders to fall forward -- but Dandasana is not the place to let go. Dandasana is about strength and integration of the whole body.

It's a tough pose for me because a lot of weight is born by the upper body, where I'm not strong, but Dandasana is not just about the shoulder and arm muscles. Chest and abdominal muscles are key, and the whole of the legs remain firm to strengthen the pose.

Dandasana is mid-NaNoWriMo. Many words have been laid down on the page. Ideas are flowing freely. October's crazy dreams and flashes of inspiration have been incorporated into the work, and the story is flowing nicely. Now it's time to get serious.

The story's "caretaker" gives way to the "work horse" who must pull all of the story's threads together, remain strong and focussed and get the job done.

Asana 8 - Downward Facing Dog

(Adho Mukha Svanasana)

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 8

A dynamic, yet at the same time restful pose, Adho Mukha Svanasana engages the whole body in a calm, flexible strength.

Like other inversions, down dog turns my world upside down and invites me to see things from a new perspective. It reminds me that sometimes it is necessary to take a step back from the story and look at it from a different angle. How do the different characters see this moment in the story? How do the readers see it? How will history record this moment? Lose the blinders and clear out the fog that causes tunnel vision and try something new.

Down dog also makes me aware of every cell of my body. There is no strain, but everything is interconnected, working together to tone, lengthen and shape my body.

So too with my novel. There will be many threads to my story at this point. Many characters. Many settings. Many viewpoints. As the story's caretaker, I must honour each individual piece and guide its journey as the parts come together to create one beautiful whole.

Asana 7 - Standing Lunge

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 7

Hello hips! Lunging postures are a wakeup call to a part of my body which really takes a beating from prolonged sitting. Yoga gives back my hip openness and flexibility.

Spiritually, lunging back is about taking big steps -- really BIG steps -- and trusting enough to take them, even when I cannot immediately see the direction in which they will take me.

Registering for NaNoWriMo is a leap of faith.
I've never written a novel before.
Now I've pledged to do so in 30 days!

This lunge reminds me to dive in and take the plunge. The details will take care of themselves.

Asana 6 - Standing Forward Fold


NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 6
Uttanasana is letting go.

I release my breath and allow my chest to fold towards my thighs.

My abdomen is lifted and my legs stand strong, but there is no strain in this pose.

Shoulders relaxed. Neck relaxed. My head hangs freely.

My spine lengthens without force, freely following the flow of gravity as that same gravity flushes my brain with oxygen-rich blood.

Uttanasana reminds me not to force my story. I have a solid foundation. I can allow my characters time to play; time to explore where they might like to go.

Contrivances which stifle need to be released. Breath deeply, relax and write with the flow.

Asana 5 - Halfway Lift

(Urdhva Mukha Uttanasana)

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 5
The halfway lift introduces another shift of focus -- just as my NaNovel will have shifts of focus to keep the story vibrant and interesting. (And, considering the invitation to my readers to vote on the next direction of the story, I need to remain open to many, perhaps unexpected, shifts!)

Urdhva Mukha Uttanasana is also a lengthening pose, stretching out the backs of the legs and the entire spine from crown to tail. All of that desk-sitting while I type promotes a tightening and cramping of muscles which need to be released and re-lengthened. Urdhva Mukha Uttanasana irons out the kinks in my body and is symbolic of ironing out the bumps and blocks in my story, leading to a smooth flow of energy and ideas.

Asana 4 - Modified Thunderbolt


NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 4
Utkatasana is a powerful pose, but I'm still warming up here so I take a modified pose with my hands supported on my thighs.

My weight shifts back into my heels as my tail bone reaches towards the floor.

Utkatasana is a shifting of focus. It's about taking risks without fear of falling.

My legs are strong and support me in the journey, just as my writing muscles are strong and carry me through NaNoWriMo.

This modified Thunderbolt is also a connection to the Wrimo community -- a reminder that we are not alone. There are many of us, all around the world, taking this challenge together. Sharing encouragement and support.

Asana 3 - Extended Mountain Pose

(Urdhva Hastasana)

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 3
Urdhva Hastasana is reaching for new heights.

The strength and centredness of Tadasana are my anchor as I lift up out of the soles of my feet.
Every muscle is strong and engaged.
Lengthening my whole body.
Becoming more.

50,000 words is a lot.
A lot more than I have ever written in one work of fiction before.

NaNoWriMo is an opportunity to expand not only my word count, but also my strength and flexibility as a writer.

Asana 2 - Mountain Pose


NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation - Asana 2
Standing tall in Tadasana, ready to begin the journey.

My feet are firmly planted. Toes spread wide. Energy is drawn upwards from a solid foundation, straight to the crown of my head.

I take Mountain Pose with my palms facing forward, opening my shoulder girdle and heart-space. Symbolically opening myself to a receptive frame of mind.

Tadasana is proud.
Tadasana is confident.
Tadasana is strong.

Chest lifted and shoulders relaxed.
Nothing can stand in my way.

With my eyes on the horizon I see and embrace the road ahead.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Asana 1- Mountain Pose with Salutation Seal

(Tadasana with Anjali Mudra)

NaNoWriMo Sun Saluation - Asana 1
A traditional beginning pose, common to many Sun Salutation sequences.

The Anjali Mudra is a centring and honouring seal. The hands are pressed together before the heart, symbolizing unity and wholeness. A joining of my active, energetic need to pound out 2000 words in a day to my creative muse, receptive to the influx and shaping of new ideas.

Anjali mudra is a recognition of the divine spark of creativity in each one of us. It is about remembering to be peaceful in the midst of stress and centred in the midst of chaos, remembering that we are all wonderful wellsprings of creativity with fabulous stories to tell, and remembering that we are all in this together.

When I perform Anjali Mudra I am saluting myself, the new day, and Wrimos everywhere who are partaking of this journey with me.

I honour the place in you in which the entire universe dwells.
I honour the place in you which is of Love, of Truth, of Light and of Peace.
I honour the place in me in which the entire universe dwells.
I honour the place in me which is of Love, of Truth, of Light and of Peace.
When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are one.

Whoever and wherever you are attempting NaNoWriMo this year, I salute you!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

NaNoWriMo SunSal

I mentioned in my previous post that daily yoga practice will be an integral part of my NaNoWriMo experience.

I have practiced yoga for many years and taught yoga for three, but, when I stopped teaching last January, I needed to take a break from the practice. Now it's time for me to get back into it and I feel that the energy of NaNoWriMo is exactly what I need to get going again. Therefore, I have developed a Sun Salutation sequence to practice throughout the month of November which is intricately linked to my NaNo quest.

Sun Salutations are common to most (if not all) Hatha yoga practices. They are a series of asanas (poses) executed in a flowing sequence, traditionally performed to greet the new day. (I personally have seldom practiced yoga first thing in the morning but, since my NaNo regime also involves hauling myself out of bed considerably earlier than I have been rising in recent months, I have decided to give greeting the new day with a Sun Salutation a try.)

The sequence I have designed includes 20 asanas as follows:

NaNoWriMo Sun Salutation:

1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with Salutation Seal (Anjali Mudra)
2. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
3. Extended Mountain Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)
4. Thunderbolt, hands to thighs (Utkatasana)
5. Halfway Lift (Urdhva Mukha Uttanasana)
6. Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
7. Standing Lunge
8. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
9. Plank Pose (Dandasana)
10. Crocodile (Chaturanga Dandasana)
11. Upward Facing Dog (Urdvha Mukha Svanasana)
12. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
13. Standing Lunge
14. Twisted Lunge
15. Standing Lunge
16. Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
17. Halfway Lift (Urdhva Mukha Uttanasana)
18. Thunderbolt (Utkatasana)
19. Extended Mountain Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)
20. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

For readers who are familiar with Sun Salutation sequences: Yes. This one is a bit long. The reason for this is one of the sequence's connections to my NaNo quest.

My goal is to write 2000 words per day. This would get me to my 50K project goal five days before the end of November. (What can I say? I'm an over-achiever. That, and 2000 is a nice round number and 1667 not so easy to work with.) If I perform my Sun Salutation sequence 10 times each day (5 times each side) I will be executing 200 asanas per day. Each execution of an asana therefore represents ten words that I will write that day. It's my own little "word made flesh" warm-up and pep rally for each day.

The sun salutation poses have such wonderful connections to the creative writing process and in particular the NaNo writing process which I will be following in November. I'll blog about each pose separately, with photos and my thoughts on how they relate to NaNoWriMo, but before I do that, the obligatory disclaimer:

The sequence of poses I have listed in this post and will be describing in subsequent posts was developed for my own personal use. There are no intellectual property rights governing yoga asanas. As such, each of the poses described may be used freely by other individuals, however, not every pose is suitable for every body.

If you find these posts useful for your own personal journey, you are free to take from them what you choose, but my words and images should in no way be construed as my directing you to perform any of these exercises. I am not.

It is possible to injure oneself practicing yoga, and any physical exercise regime which you choose to undertake is done so at your own risk. If you are unfamiliar with which exercises are and are not healthy for your own body, please consult with a health care professional before commencing any physical activity regime.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

NaNoWriMo and Health

If you surf around the NaNoWriMo web site and participant sites and forums, you're likely to come across references to pulling all-nighters and consuming vast quantities of coffee and sugar. Such is not the path for me.

In my youth (In my youth! Ha! I still feel strange writing that. When did I stop being "in my youth"? I have no recollection of that happening and yet, bizarrely, here I am.) I wrote on caffeine and junk food. At Queen's I even popped chocolate covered espresso beans for a couple of years. (Gave those up the day I injured my wrist doing cartwheels down my residence hallway at 5:00 a.m.) These days, my body doesn't take so kindly to that sort of abuse.

I still very much enjoy fine dark chocolates as a special treat now and then, but the milk chocolate candy bars that were a staple of my diet 20 years ago are no longer edible to me, I rarely consume potato crisps, and coffee is a once-a-year treat (reserved for special occasions when I am out with friends in an establishment that serves really good coffee with chocolate and alcohol in it). These days, any period of being especially busy is not an excuse to lay in a hoard of junk food but rather reason to try even harder than usual to eat a healthy, nutritious and well-balanced diet.

If you've been keeping up with posts over at The Polyphagous Dragon you may have noticed that the quantity of "sweet treat" posts had been increasing as of late. That needs to stop in fairly short order if I am to be ready for November. I need to remember how to eat "healthy in a hurry". I need to make a few other changes too.

Such as: changes to my physical activity regime. Until recently, puppy dog and I were hiking 4 miles a day, every day. Then we moved house, and the new living arrangements somehow led to abandonment of our morning walk and sometimes working right through the evening walk too. The puppy doesn't mind (only dog I've ever known who isn't wildly in love with going for walks), but I do. My body minds. I need to be hiking at least 4 miles a day, and I need to get back into yoga as well. Upping my keyboard time in November equates with an INCREASE in the need to do those things, not a decrease. Therefore, when I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, I resolved that November would not just be about pounding out a novel for me but that it would be about doing so healthfully. I resolved that, during November 2007 I would:
  • Rise at 6:30 a.m.
  • Practice yoga daily.
  • Check in with the Wrimo community daily but only during fixed, pre-ordained times and strictly refuse to surf or cyber-socialize during other times.
  • Hike a minimum of 4 miles per day.
  • Eat three, healthy, well-balanced meals each day.
  • Write 2000 words per day - no falling behind the 2000 word/day pace and creating a last minute crunch.
  • Log off my computer by 10:30 p.m. every day.

The above is the aspect of my NaNoWriMo plans that experienced Wrimos will no doubt tell me is an unreasonable goal. NaNoWriMo is supposed to be crazy. It's supposed to be a life-consuming, throw-your-schedule-out-the-window, long-dark-night-(or is that tea time?)-of-the-soul, abandon-all-hope-all-ye-who-enter-in, suffering out of which we all emerge joyful and victorious into the bright light of day on December 1. (There are even Wrimos who, believing that 50,000 words in a month isn't crazy enough for them, are aiming to write 3 or more novels!) For me, however, NaNoWriMo is about a community and a deadline and hopefully a chance to generate enough interest in my project to have some fun with the "choose your own adventure" concept, and an opportunity to practice writing 50K words in a month WITHOUT sacrificing my health. I'm vying for the whole package.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Limping Along

The NaNoWriMo web site is limping along under the weight of early keener sign-ups and addicted veterans rushing back to the forums after a week-long blackout, but it's functioning without too many glitches. (I was successfully one of those "early keener sign-ups" but I've been flipping back and forth between NaNoWriMo and Blogger, updating my blogs while my web browser struggles to load each NaNo update in another tab.)

I'd post the link to my brand spanking new NaNoWriMo Profile Page -- but if you go there now you'll only slow down the servers even more, so let's leave that web site for the hard core WriMos for today. I'll post links once things have calmed down a bit.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Concept

National Novel Writing Month is "a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing." The challenge is simple: write a 50,000 word novel entirely within the month of November. This breaks down to 1667 words per day - a feat I wouldn't have been daft enough to even contemplate during the last few years when I was juggling two jobs but, now that I'm freelancing and can set my own schedule for November, the word count should not be a problem. So I've set myself a WriMo challenge with a twist:

Each day during the month of November I shall post my NaNo writing for that day to a new blog I have set up for the purpose: Raindancing Dragons. Each day's installment of the story shall leave one of its main characters with a key decision to make -- and you, dear readers, shall have the opportunity to decide which decision is made by voting in the poll posted in the blog's sidebar. I shall then write the decision which has garnered the most votes into the story.


Well, okay, maybe not always seriously. I reserve the right to write your decision into the story irreverently, comically, tragically, seriously or in whatever other vein I see fit -- but I will write it in!

Here's how it will work:
  1. I will post the day's writing to Raindancing Dragons normally between 10:00 and 10:30 p.m. my time. (My time = GMT-4 November 1-3 and GMT-5 November 4-30.) [If Life conspires to throw me off my posting schedule, I will attempt to notify you of the next day's ETP (Expected Time of Posting) here in the Dragon Dreams blog when I make my daily post the day previous to the expected anomaly.]
  2. During this same window of time, I will post a new poll in the Raindancing Dragons sidebar. Each poll will pose a question relating to a dilemma faced by one of the characters at the end of that day's installment and offer choices for how that character may choose to deal with said dilemma.
  3. You may vote for one of the choices offered by me in the poll, or write in your own choice as a comment to that day's post. (There are a few simple rules for write-in votes, as described below.)
  4. Each poll is open from the time of posting until the following day's update window (when it will be replaced with the new poll).
  5. The character choice which has received the most votes during the time the poll was open will be written into the story.

The Rules
  1. Please do not attempt to spam the polls. Each reader is entitled to one vote per day.
  2. Recruiting your friends to read the story and vote for your choice is allowed and encouraged.
  3. Sadly, I am functionally a monoglot. Write-in votes need to be submitted in standard English or I am not likely to understand them.
  4. Write-in votes should be proof-read for spelling and grammatical correctness. (I am familiar with a variety of nationally standardized spellings for various English words, but I will not attempt to decipher "textspeak" or plain old laziness.)
  5. Each poll gives you the power to get inside the head of one of my characters and vote on an important immediate decision in her or his life. The polls do not give you the power to play God. For example: "Laura decides that this entire project is a crazy idea, packs it all in and heads for home," would be an acceptable vote on the question "Does Laura accept the challenge and register for NaNoWriMo?" "Laura decides that this entire project is a crazy idea, packs it all in and heads for home, encounters no obstacles along the way, never regrets her decision to abandon NaNoWriMo and lives a quiet and pastoral life happily ever after," would not be an acceptable vote. Make sense?
  6. Keep it clean. My story is intended for an adult audience -- but two of those adults are likely to be my parents! I reserve the right to discard any and all votes which I deem (in my sole discrection) to be inappropriate for publication in a public blog with my name on it.

Why am I doing this?
  1. Because I think it will be fun.
  2. Because I found out about NaNoWriMo through Blogger and immediately started thinking of ways to integrate my experience of the two while honouring the spirit of each.
  3. Because I think it will be fun.
  4. Because I think it will prove an interesting challenge.
  5. Because I think it will be fun.

I hope you'll join me in November for a little Web 2.0 meets "choose your own adventure" stories meets NanoWriMo mayhem. Until then, you can continue to check back here for more news of my NaNoWriMo plans and pop on over to Raindancing Dragons for a fun, pre-NaNo practice poll.

Write on!

New Focus

Kendal is leading the way in the blogging realm - far ahead of any of my own blogs with 57 posts to Confessions of a Canine Cyber-Widow since my dog and I first ventured into the blogosphere on June 13th. The Polyphagous Dragon is alone in second place with 28 posts (not a bad showing, since my recipe blog was launched over a month later on the 19th of July). The NCI Alumni blog is currently sitting at 14 posts, all written by yours truly in spite of the fact that it is meant to be a group blog, but I resigned my administrative & leadership roles within NCI last week and handed off management of the blog to a former teammate, so its content should cease to be mine in fairly short order. Which brings us to this blog.

Dragon Dreams was my first blog, meant to be my personal blog and perhaps main portal into the blogging realm, but in three and a half months, I posted 3 times. Not exactly an auspicious start.

Why has Dragon Dreams floundered? Could it be because I am a child of a time when personal journals were considered, well, personal? (I have one, which I've kept regularly for over 18 years now, but it's not published on the Internet!) Add this to the fact that I've become blog-happy and simply launched a new blog every time I set upon a new topic to write about and it's easy to see why my personal, topic-less blog has been sparsely populated. Things are about to change.

Sometime during this past summer's web travels, I stumbled upon a link to NaNoWriMo and knew immediately that I would be taking part. I have been writing fiction since I was five years old and always loved it, but I also love eating well, and the bottom line was the bottom line: My prospects for financial security were greater if I spent my time writing business and technical documents than if I pursued creative writing. So I compromised. I accepted a full-time employment situation and then took on another part-time job besides. I would work hard and save my money and retire to become a fiction writer once financial security had been assured.

My plan worked well for a number of years. Working hard certainly happened. (I frequently gave 70+ hours per week to my employers.) Living frugally and saving money happened too. (I was on track to own property mortgage-free by my 40th birthday.) Then events transpired beyond my control such that I now find myself no longer a corporate slave sometime earlier than my originally planned "retirement". There are strong indications that I still have a long life ahead of me, and a return to full-time employment at some point seems likely, but today I am free and finances are such that I can afford to devote November to writing a novel. So that is what I am going to do.

NaNoWriMo was born in San Francisco in 1999 and has since spread like wildfire around the globe. In November 2007, I will join an international community likely six figures in size, attempting to pound out a 50,000+ word novel entirely between the start of the day on November 1st and the end of the day November 30th. This blog will be an integral part of that quest.

True to form, I have launched a new blog, Raindancing Dragons, which will host the actual content of my NaNovel, but Dragon Dreams will be the staging site for my project and the place to go for news and commentary on my NaNo adventure. Stay tuned for more details coming soon!